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It’s not just Facebook, big tech revolt has begun — Nomura

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A Facebook logo is seen at the Facebook Gather conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2018. -- REUTERS

Facebook Inc.’s terrible week may be just the beginning of a backlash against tech companies that could wreak havoc across global markets.

Nomura Inc. currency strategist Bilal Hafeez warned that a host of factors, from populism to tighter regulation, are converging to undercut tech stocks at a time when their valuations are near extreme levels. The fallout could sweep far beyond the confines of equity markets, weighing on currencies and benefiting haven assets like the yen, Hafeez wrote in a note published Tuesday.

“The bottom line is that trade wars, populism, income inequality can be looked at in isolation, but together they all point to a reaction against the growth of fluid intangible-intensive industries such as the data/platform companies,” he said.

Shares in technology-related firms have slumped this week after a disclosure that Facebook released data of 50 million users to an analytics firm that helped elect President Donald Trump. Just last week, investors were pouring cash into the sector at a rate not seen since the height of the dot-com bubble. Hafeez didn’t mention the Facebook controversy specifically in his note.

A fundamental trigger for the bursting of the tech bubble will be the shift toward a more populist political climate that means that U.S. policy is shifting back toward more tangible asset industries, such as manufacturing, according to Hafeez. Other catalysts include increased scrutiny about how social-media data is being used and tighter regulation.

“Today thanks to the increasing concerns that platforms and data-holders have been ‘gamed’ by corporations and foreign governments to manipulate consumers and voters, there is a growing backlash from individuals and governments on how these platforms can operate,” Hafeez said. “For governments, this could result in greater regulation on how and where the data/platform companies can operate.” — Bloomberg