FINANCIAL NEWS

Asia cautious about possible Trump rethink on trade deal

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 09:27
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan and New Zealand reacted cautiously Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump signaled he might reopen talks on a Pacific Rim trade deal that he pulled the U.S. out of shortly after taking office....

Asia cautious about possible Trump rethink on trade deal

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:23
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan and New Zealand are reacting cautiously to U.S. President Donald Trump's request that his administration re-examine a Pacific Rim trade deal that he pulled the U.S. out of shortly after taking office....

AP sources: US, Emirates near deal to solve air subsidy spat

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:20
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and the United Arab Emirates are nearing a deal to resolve a years-old spat over alleged government subsidies to Emirati airlines that the major U.S. airlines claim have tilted the competition against them, four individuals familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press....

AP sources: US, Emirates near deal to solve air subsidy spat

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:16
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and the United Arab Emirates are nearing a deal to resolve a years-old spat over alleged government subsidies to Emirati airlines that the major U.S. airlines claim tilt the competition against them....

Driverless cars give hope to blind - are automakers onboard?

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:09
OCALA, Fla. (AP) -- In 2012, Steve Mahan, who is blind, climbed into the driver's seat of a self-driving car and rolled up to the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in a video that's been viewed more than 8 million times online....

Driverless cars give hope to blind - are automakers onboard?

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:07
OCALA, Fla. (AP) -- Advocates for visually impaired people worry that the self-driving-car industry is leaving them behind as it develops autos of the future....

Trump creates task force to scrutinise post office

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:16
President seeks report on pricing linked to USPS contract with Amazon
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

How to take on Big Sugar and win

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:00
Camilla Cavendish, the initiator of the UK’s tax on sugar, says it’s time to start treating it as nicotine
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

NASA’s hunt for extraterrestrial life

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:00
‘The question of whether we are all alone has haunted us down the corridor of time’
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Shipping industry poised to agree emissions target

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:00
International Maritime Organization seeks to halve sector’s greenhouse gases by 2050
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Potanin opposes ‘shootout’ for control of Norilsk Nickel

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 06:00
Chief says miner is too important to decide future with rival Deripaska in an auction
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Hearst Takes Full Ownership of Fitch Group

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 05:44
Media conglomerate Hearst is becoming the sole owner of the Fitch Group, buying the remaining 20% stake in the credit-ratings information provider for $2.8 billion.

Russian sanctions felt deep in Irish countryside

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 05:00
Rusal plant near Limerick is key alumina supplier to Europe but faces uncertainty
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Rusal sanctions lead to panic buying of alumina

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 05:00
Price of key aluminium ingredient jumps 30%
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

We cannot rely on personal impressions alone

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 05:00
There is a lot to be said for our own experience, but it has obvious limitations
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

China traders, farmers shrug off risk of US soybeans tariff

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 04:53
SHANGHAI (AP) -- Chinese soybean farmers, importers and processers say they are unconcerned about potential Chinese tariffs on American soybeans in an escalating dispute with the administration of President Donald Trump over trade and technology....

White House Plans to Escalate Trade Pressure on China

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:57
The Trump White House, confident that its hard-line strategy is succeeding, is planning to ratchet up the pressure on China by focusing on new tariffs and threatening to block Chinese technology investment in the U.S.

Trump sets up Postal Service task force as Amazon tension rises

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:42
President has long criticised retailer’s package delivery contract
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

China to conduct live-fire drills in Taiwan Strait

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:42
Naval exercise billed as largest ever underscores rising tension in western Pacific
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Zillow Intends to Buy, Flip Homes

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:01
The real-estate listings company is getting into the business of buying and flipping homes, a risky and untested business model for the online service that could disrupt the traditional brokerage business.

Comey book escalates attacks on Trump

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:05
US president is ‘unethical and untethered to truth’, says sacked FBI director
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Investors make cautious return to corporate bonds

FINANCIAL TIMES - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 01:28
Concerns over lofty valuations and inflationary pressures had been dissuading buyers
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

The Latest: Trump reverses position on Asian trade pact

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:57
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on the U.S. trade dispute with China (all times local):...

Pence to meet with 4 Latin American leaders during summit

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:06
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Mike Pence plans to meet with four Latin American leaders during his weekend trip to Peru for an international summit where he is filling in for President Donald Trump....

Former CEO of Alaska Telecom Firm Accused of Fraud

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:03
Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former CEO of Quintillion Networks, has been arrested after federal prosecutors accused her of forging contracts to induce firms to make more than $250 million in investments.

Coal Magnate Says He May Not Need Trump's Help to Save His Company

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:03
Robert Murray, after warning that Murray Energy could be pushed into bankruptcy if the Midwest coal industry failed to get a federal bailout, said he now expects his company to thrive whether or not the Trump administration intervenes.

Horror, cheap and in-demand, comes to Hollywood's rescue

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:02
NEW YORK (AP) -- Finding dependable, bankable box-office hits for anything without a superhero has been a downright scary proposition for Hollywood....

Trump flips on trade pact, weighs rejoining Pacific-Rim deal

AP Business - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:02
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a striking reversal, President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a free trade deal he pulled out of during his first days in office as part of his "America first" agenda....

Disney Has to Make Offer for All of Sky If Fox Deal Proceeds

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:57
U.K. regulators said Disney must make an offer for all of Sky, if its proposed acquisition of assets from 21st Century Fox moves forward.

Zuckerberg flubs details of Facebook privacy commitments

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:49
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) -- Over two days of questioning in Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chief revealed that he didn't know key details of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission that requires Facebook to protect user privacy....

Former coal lobbyist confirmed as No. 2 official at EPA

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:36
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Thursday confirmed a former coal industry lobbyist as the second-highest official at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting him next in line to run the agency if embattled administrator Scott Pruitt is forced out or resigns....

Hostess Brands Names New CEO

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:35
Hostess Brands has named a veteran consumer packaged-goods leader as its next president and chief executive starting next month.

Proxy advisers support Ohio bank in battle with activist investor

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:32
Stilwell Group is trying to win a board seat at Wayne Savings Bancshares.

Banks refusing gun industry business is 'troubling,' CFPB chief says

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:31
Opting out of doing business with the firearms industry is "troubling" behavior from banking institutions, said Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, during a hearing on Thursday.

Payday loans, CFPB data collection and Warren face-off: Mulvaney's 2nd day on Hill

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:26
Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney took heat from Democrats on whether he planned to take the agency's consumer complaint portal private while responding to Republican fears that its data collection activities pose a data security risk.

Trump flips on trade pact, weighs rejoining Pacific-Rim deal

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:19
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a striking reversal, President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a free trade deal he pulled out of during his first days in office as part of his "America first" agenda....

MB Financial to exit national mortgage lending

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 23:11
The Chicago company said its decision was largely based on intense competition, very low margins and economic changes.

Showtime's 'Circus' returns with new co-host Alex Wagner

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:54
NEW YORK (AP) -- A lot has changed since the three hosts of Showtime's "The Circus" shared duck at Washington's Momofuku restaurant at the end of the show's last season....

Buffett turns hostile against board of USG

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:51
Berkshire Hathaway boss ups ante in effort to sell stake in building materials group
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

The Latest: Senate confirms Trump pick for No. 2 job at EPA

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:48
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump's nominee for the No. 2 post at the Environmental Protection Agency (all times local):...

The Latest: Agencies are asked to probe $30K tabloid payment

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:28
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Latest on the $30,000 payment in 2015 by the company that publishes the National Enquirer to buy a salacious rumor about Trump (all times local):...

Online lenders adopt the model they sought to disrupt

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:25
As upstart companies mature, they face pressure to develop deeper relationships with their customers. That is leading some to offer to a wider range of products, including deposit accounts.

Debt to the Penny for 04/11/2018

US TREASURY DEBT DAY-TO-DAY - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:15
Debt Held by the Public: 15,457,761,371,722.06
Intragovernmental Holdings: 5,664,072,569,725.80
Total Public Debt Outstanding: 21,121,833,941,447.86

Democrats ask if military job was dangled to Manafort lender

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:11
Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch sought records related to a banker's communications with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign, and about his bank's loans to Manafort.

Brussels warns tech groups over ‘fake news’

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 22:03
Plans for regulation say social media ‘turned a blind eye’ to online manipulation
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Panel tackles lack of high-speed internet in Indian Country

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:59
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Two western senators are proposing to expand access to a $4 billion federal program that has allowed public schools and libraries throughout the U.S. to obtain high-speed internet at affordable rates as one way to close the digital divide that persists across American Indian communities and other rural areas....

Kabbage is said to acquire startup backed by Mack, Pandit

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:51
Orchard Platform Markets, a provider of lending data and services backed by the former heads of Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, is set to be acquired by small-business lending platform Kabbage, said people familiar with the deal.

US bank earnings season: 5 things to watch

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:25
JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will set the tone with results on Friday
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Facebook to stop spending against California privacy effort

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:20
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Facebook says it will stop spending money to fight a proposed California ballot initiative aimed at giving consumers more control over their data....

New twist in CFPB fight: Judges question Mulvaney’s dual role

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:13
A panel of judges remained skeptical of claims by Leandra English, deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that she is the rightful head of the agency. But they didn’t sound convinced that current acting Director Mick Mulvaney is, either.

Trump tells economic chiefs to consider rejoining TPP

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:08
President facing opposition in many US farm states to his trade policy
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Tesla, Safety Agency Duel Over Fatal-Crash Probe

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:03
Federal safety investigators and Tesla broke into a feud over the probe of a fatal crash involving the auto maker’s semiautonomous driving system, with dueling explanations emerging for the company’s departure from a formal agreement in the inquiry.

Banks were told tax reform would spur lending. They’re still waiting

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:38
Investors are growing worried about lackluster loan growth this year at community banks.

$30,000 rumor? Tabloid paid for, spiked, salacious Trump tip

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:32
NEW YORK (AP) -- Eight months before the company that owns the National Enquirer paid $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate who claimed she'd had an affair with Donald Trump, the tabloid's parent made a $30,000 payment to a less famous individual: a former doorman at one of the real estate mogul's New York City buildings....

Wynn Resorts in Early Talks to Sell Boston-Area Casino Project to MGM

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:30
Wynn Resorts has been in talks to sell its partially built Boston-area casino project to rival MGM Resorts International, as Massachusetts regulators continue their investigation into the company’s handling of sexual-misconduct allegations against founder Steve Wynn.

Grading Treasury’s CRA reform memo: ‘Incomplete’

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:21
The Treasury Department’s long-awaited report on modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act was heavy on glittering generalities but light on specifics, which explains why the report punted the real job of making needed reforms.

VW appoints new CEO and overhauls corporate structure

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:20
Müller to step down immediately to be succeeded by Herbert Diess
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Profits rise at Bank of the Ozarks, but so do expenses

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:18
Loan growth and higher yields helped offset a 20% increase in expenses at the Arkansas bank in the first quarter. Meanwhile, it warned of one-time rebranding costs to come in the third quarter.

Mining company challenges its 'bad actor' label in Montana

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 20:15
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- An Idaho mining company was due in a Montana courtroom on Thursday to challenge its designation by state officials as an industry "bad actor" because of pollution tied to its CEO....

Smart Toothbrushes Tell You Everything You're Doing Wrong

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:55
The artificial-intelligence-enabled Colgate E1 comes with an app that ensures you’re scrupulously cleansing day and night. Admittedly, it’s a little weird.

Facebook Doesn't Expect Revenue Impact Over Privacy Concerns

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:51
Facebook Inc. doesn’t expect the recent uproar over its users’ digital privacy to affect sales significantly, a top advertising executive for the global social-media platform says.

Trump Tells Advisers to Study Rejoining Pacific Trade Pact

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:49
A little over a year after withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Trump has asked his top economic advisers to study the possibility of re-entering the trade pact negotiations.

Firing Rosenstein over Russia probe is risky for Trump

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:41
Future of the deputy attorney-general remains uncertain as president’s allies circle
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

Lawmakers say Trump exploring rejoining Pacific trade talks

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:40
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining negotiations on the Pacific Rim agreement after he pulled out last year as part of his "America first" agenda....

Mining company challenges its 'bad actor' label in Montana

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:28
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- An Idaho mining company was due in a Montana courtroom on Thursday to challenge its designation by state officials as an industry "bad actor" because of pollution tied to its CEO....

Macron defends his reforms in rare TV pitch

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:23
President urges France to keep faith with policies amid growing discontent
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

BofA, Citi plan next-gen branches

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:13
Bank of America is investing heavily in videoconferencing at unstaffed branches, Citigroup is experimenting with gamification and Union Bank’s Purepoint Financial is going entirely paperless.

US publishers worry about pricier newsprint with new tariffs

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 19:09
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Newspaper publishers across the U.S. already strapped by years of declining revenue say they're dealing with an existential threat: Recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint driving up their business costs....

The Latest: Lawmakers say Trump will look into trade talks

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 18:56
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on the U.S. trade dispute with China (all times local):...

US publishers worry about pricier newsprint with new tariffs

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 18:21
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Newspaper publishers across the U.S. already strapped by years of declining revenue say they're dealing with an existential threat: Recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint driving up their business costs....

US publishers worry about pricier newsprint with new tariffs

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 18:17
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint are causing anxiety among U.S. publishers who say they'll be forced to shut down or make further cuts in an industry already depleted by years of declining revenue....

Origin Bancorp in La. plans to go public

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 18:10
The 106-year-old bank is looking to raise $90 million, with plans to use half of the funds to redeem outstanding preferred stock.

Macron: France must face up to new economic challenges

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 17:55
PARIS (AP) -- French President Emmanuel Macron declared Thursday that strikes and protests will not prevent him from overhauling the nation's economy - comments that came as train workers, hospital staff, students, retirees, lawyers and magistrates are challenging his economic vision....

Regions partners with mortgage fintech

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 17:33
The bank says its partnership with Lender Price will help streamline and simplify its home loan process.

Silicon Valley Long Dominated Startup Funding---Now It Has a Challenger

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 17:16
An exclusive WSJ analysis shows how venture-capital investment from Asia is skyrocketing, threatening to shift power over the world’s innovation away from the U.S. The surge positions Asian investors to win stakes in markets that Western companies covet, or that have national security implications.

Pompeo vows to restore US diplomacy as secretary of state

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 17:15
The former CIA director downplayed his reputation as a hawk at confirmation hearing
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

ECB Worried About Trade Wars, Euro's Strength at March Meeting

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 17:01
European Central Bank officials warned at their March policy meeting that trade wars and a strengthening euro risked undermining the eurozone’s economic recovery, underlining the ECB’s caution as it prepares to phase out its monetary stimulus.

HopFed in Ky. reaches compromise with its harshest critic

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:57
The company will add a representative of Stilwell Group to its board. The investment firm, which has long criticized HopFed's leadership and strategy, agreed to support the company's recommendations at future annual meetings.

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten struggles to retake the lead from Amazon

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

RAKUTEN is a jack-of-all-trades. Since pioneering e-commerce in Japan in 1997, it has been a rare example of a highly entrepreneurial Japanese firm. Today it spans more than 70 businesses providing credit cards, a travel agency, a golf-reservation system, matchmaking, wedding planning and insurance. It owns Viber, a calling and messaging app and has invested heavily in Lyft, a car-hailing service. Now it is adding another: on April 9th the government gave Rakuten a concession to operate Japan’s fourth mobile network (Rakuten currently runs mobile services using another operator’s infrastructure).

Rakuten sees this as the next step in building its “ecosystem”. It reckons it retains its approximately 95m registered users in Japan by being a trusted brand that can provide customers with everything they need at every stage of their life, and by rewarding their loyalty. Customers get points if they use their popular Rakuten credit cards, for example. These they can then spend on other...Continue reading

Catching the bitcoin bug

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

SINCE the heady days of late 2017 and January of this year, crypto-currencies have gone into retreat. Bitcoin, the best-known example, is now worth just a third of its value at its peak (see chart).

But there remain plenty of true believers in digital currencies. They point out that prices are still well above where they were in 2016. And interest from institutional investors is still strong enough for analysts to want to make sense of the crypto-phenomenon.

The latest bank to take a shot is Barclays, which devotes a lot more of its “Equity Gilt Study 2018” to the impact of technological change on finance and the economy than it does to either equities or gilts. Its report describes crypto-technology as “a solution still seeking a problem”.

It identifies four challenges in particular. The first is trust. In most countries, consumers and businesses have faith in the currencies issued by the government. The second is sovereignty: the potential for tax avoidance and loss of...Continue reading

The outlook for US government debt

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

THE bond market used to be the prime exhibit for those predicting low long-term economic growth. In the summer of 2016 the ten-year Treasury yield briefly dipped below 1.5%, as expectations for growth and inflation sagged. Things have changed. Earlier this year the ten-year yield briefly went higher than 2.9%. Even after recent share-price gyrations, it remains around 2.8%, well up since the start of 2018. The rebounding interest rate partly reflects higher confidence in global growth. Inevitably, a new set of pessimists now voice a fresh worry: that bond yields might go on rising for less welcome reasons.

They point to three threats. The first is monetary policy. The Federal Reserve has raised short-term interest rates by 1.5 percentage points since December 2015. At their March meeting, rate-setters slightly upgraded forecasts of how far rates should eventually rise. Last October the Fed began shrinking its $4.5trn portfolio of assets, mostly government debt, amassed since the start of...Continue reading

The proxy-voting season kicks off on Wall Street

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

JING ZHAO’S main occupation is translating Latin classics into Chinese. He runs a small think-tank, the US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institute. He lives off rents from property bought cheaply after the financial crisis. But this quiet, intellectual California resident has a surprising sideline: submitting proposals to be voted on by the shareholders of companies in which he owns small stakes. That makes him part of a movement that is forcing management at some of the world’s biggest firms to consider not just profitability but broad shifts in social attitudes.

The annual meetings of America’s listed companies, usually held between February and June, have come to constitute “proxy season”—so-called because shareholders need not cast their votes in person. This year proposals from Mr Zhao will be on the ballot at four giant firms. He wants Apple to create a human-rights committee, citing its decision last year to bow to Chinese censorship by removing hundreds of “virtual private network” apps from its Chinese app store. For Twitter, he proposes a new committee to oversee issues such as human rights and corporate social responsibility. A third proposal would lessen Elon Musk’s dominance over Tesla by giving the board more power. And finally, he wants changes to remuneration policies at Wells Fargo, a big bank that...Continue reading

The shipping industry attempts to cap carbon emissions

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

ACROSS the river from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) headquarters in London protesters have pressure-hosed “IMO DON’T SINK PARIS” into the muck lining the walls of the Thames. The river bank is not the only thing that is dirty.

Shipping and airlines were the only greenhouse-gas-emitting industries not mentioned in the 2016 Paris climate agreement. This was, in part, because assigning emissions is hard. To whom should you designate emissions for shipping Chinese goods, made with South Korean components, across the Pacific to American consumers? But similar problems did not stop airlines quickly agreeing on an industry-wide limit. This week delegates to the IMO, a United Nations agency responsible for shipping safety and pollution, met in a belated attempt to catch up. A deal was due as The Economist went to press.

It may not be an impressive one. A preliminary agreement set out to achieve cuts of 50% on 2008 emission levels by 2050. Ambitious nations, like those in Europe, think the industry should be carbon-free by then. Shipping produces 3% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, similar to an economy the size of Germany’s, and that is likely to grow.

Lack of cleaner shipping technology is not a constraint. New design standards are already lowering harmful emissions. Zero-carbon fuels are becoming...Continue reading

Kinder Morgan’s frustrated attempt to build an oil pipeline reflects badly on Canada

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

ALMOST all Canada’s oil and gas is landlocked, so getting it to market requires pipelines—lots of them. But building them requires skills more suited to circus artists than engineers. They must walk the financial high wire, jump through ever-changing regulatory hoops and juggle conflicting demands from environmental groups and numerous governments. The list of failures is long. It includes Northern Gateway, meant to bring Alberta crude to a port in northwestern British Columbia; Energy East, which would have linked Alberta to the Atlantic coast; Pacific Northwest, to bring gas to the west coast; and the legendary Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, first proposed in 1974 and dropped in 2017 by its last, exhausted promoter.

Another flop is likely following the announcement this week by Kinder Morgan, one of North America’s biggest pipeline firms, that it would freeze spending on the Trans Mountain Expansion, a C$7.4bn ($5.9bn) plan to triple the capacity of an existing pipeline carrying fuel from Alberta to...Continue reading

Upstart meal-kit companies may need a new recipe for growth

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

FOR all the allure of televised fare like “MasterChef” and “Chef’s Table”, the reality is that many people are loth to rustle up anything more taxing than a bacon sandwich. Cue the recent emergence of more than 150 companies to make cooking easier. Two of the largest, Blue Apron in America and Germany’s HelloFresh, deliver boxes of pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes to doorsteps worldwide for a fee of around $60 a week.

Blue Apron is also serving up a belly full of woe to investors. Less than a year after it went public in June with a $1.9bn valuation, its share price has fallen by 80%. Although the shares of HelloFresh, which debuted on Frankfurt’s stock exchange in November, have risen by 24%, analysts are concerned that both services may fall prey to competition not from rival startups, but from big grocers.

Supermarkets have gobbled up the meal-kit idea and made it their own. Instead of enrolling customers in a weekly menu of meals, these companies offer...Continue reading

The departure of the VW boss heralds a big shake-up

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

From dieselgate to Diess?

MOST chief executives relish a jump in their company’s share price. But spare a thought for Volkswagen’s Matthias Müller as he watched the gauge of value leap by 4.5% on April 10th. That was galling because investors were responding to rumours, in effect promptly confirmed by VW’s board, that he was to depart this week after less than three years as head of one of the world’s top three carmakers.

The pensive Mr Müller, 64, rarely had the air of a man enjoying the limelight. His contract ran until 2020, but he had become increasingly frustrated at internal opposition to his efforts to change the way the company was run in the aftermath of “dieselgate”, a crisis sparked by VW’s rigging of car-emissions tests. To an outsider, changes such as more decentralisation and the sale of peripheral businesses hardly seemed controversial. But they were too much for some. He may be happy to go; the board referred to his “general willingness”...Continue reading

American sanctions, and fears over Syria, roil Russian markets

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

ON APRIL 6th America imposed harsh new sanctions on Russia in response to its “malign activity” abroad. Rattled investors sent stocks tumbling when the Moscow exchange reopened on April 9th. The principal stockmarket index fell by 8.3% that day. The rouble sank sharply. Oleg Tinkov, a banker, lost $250m, but brushed it off with reference to a previous daily loss of $1bn. “Being on the Russian stockmarket is like living on a volcano,” he said.

Geopolitics drove markets through the week. Tensions over Syria (see article) and talk of potential sanctions on Russian government bonds weakened the rouble further. A fiery morning tweet from Donald Trump threatening Russia sent stocks tumbling again on April 11th. But when the treasury secretary came out against sanctions on bonds later that day, the rouble and the stockmarket perked...Continue reading

America’s once-moribund chemicals industry is booming. But politics threatens to get in its way

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

“THIS is what $3bn looks like.” So beams a manager at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPC), a petrochemical company jointly owned by Chevron and Phillips 66, both American oil firms. She throws open her arms in a figurative embrace of a giant cracker (pictured) built by the firm in Baytown, a gritty part of Houston. The new plant turns vast quantities of ethane, which is derived from natural gas, into ethylene, an important building block in plastic. Another nearby facility, which the firm has recently expanded, converts the ethylene into plastic resin that is sold worldwide. All told, CPC has spent some $6bn expanding its chemicals-production infrastructure around Houston.

A decade ago, this would have been unimaginable. Chemicals firms in America, beaten down by rivals from the Middle East that enjoyed cheap feedstocks and others from China feasting on subsidised capital, had not invested in new local plants in years. Growth in global demand for chemicals, once roaring, had slowed thanks to the...Continue reading

Deutsche Bank gets a new chief executive

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

THE supervisory board at Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, has been sounding out replacements for its chief executive for weeks. On April 8th it made its choice: Christian Sewing, an experienced insider. He starts with immediate effect, replacing John Cryan, who became joint chief executive in 2015 and sole boss a year later. It is the latest in a series of quick changes for the bank.

Mr Sewing is the first German in 16 years to serve as Deutsche’s sole boss. He is also the first in many years without a career in investment banking. In his 25 years at the bank he has worked in commercial banking, auditing and risk management, most recently as joint head of the retail division, which he successfully slimmed down. The appointment is seen by many as heralding a shift in favour of retail banking, especially since Marcus Schenck, joint head of investment banking, is also leaving after being rebuffed in his efforts to expand his division.

Yet the circumstances surrounding...Continue reading

British law firms seek similar across the pond

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

MOST of London’s “magic-circle” law firms are intrepid creatures. Over the past 20 years they have busily expanded abroad, opening offices everywhere from Antwerp to Yangon. But despite having hundreds of lawyers on the ground in America, one prize has proved elusive: laying down deep roots in the world’s most litigious market.

Allen & Overy, a top-tier London firm, would like that to change. It has reportedly been in merger talks with an American firm, O’Melveny & Myers. With O’Melveny denying any plans to merge, a union, which would create one of the world’s largest law firms by revenue, may not get off the ground. But that is unlikely to stop Allen & Overy from approaching others in its pursuit of an American alliance.

For the big British firms, America holds the key to greater profitability. Its allure in part reflects its importance on the world stage. Judgments made in America’s courts, such as those in anti-bribery cases, have ramifications beyond its...Continue reading

How developing countries weave social safety nets

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

SOUP kitchens serve the needy for free; restaurants serve the hungry for money. In parts of South Asia, eateries near mosques sometimes fall into a third category. They feed the poor sitting patiently outside, whenever a pious or charitable passer-by pays them to do so. Alms-giving of this kind provides one traditional safety net for the destitute in developing countries. But it is, thankfully, not the only one.

According to a new report by the World Bank, developing countries spend an average of 1.5% of GDP on social safety nets designed to stop people hitting rock-bottom. (The rich countries in the OECD spend on average 2.7%.) Among these are workfare schemes, pensions, free school meals and cash handouts, sometimes conditional on recipients sending their children to school, getting them vaccinated and the like. This spending has reduced the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day) by 36% on average in the countries examined by the World Bank.

South Asia’s...Continue reading

Indian states squabble over how to share out federal cash

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

THE population of Uttar Pradesh is over 220m, enough to make the northern Indian state the world’s fifth-most populous country. But statistics still used by bureaucrats in New Delhi put it at less than 85m. Antiquated census data are used to split everything from federal funding to seats in the national parliament. A proposal to use up-to-date figures has created a political storm.

In the mid-1970s India’s southern states were doing better than northern ones at controlling population growth. That meant losing federal power and money, both doled out in proportion to population. The inelegant solution was to keep using census figures from 1971, an arrangement that became indefinite.

But buried in a recent government memo is a proposal to use figures from the most recent count, in 2011, for federal funding. Southern states are fuming. Their populations have risen since 1971, but nothing like as much as those of Uttar Pradesh and its neighbours (see map). They have also become much richer than...Continue reading

America’s gripes with China make a deal hard to imagine

THE ECONOMIST - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54

Trade warriors at work

AFTER weeks spent threatening tariffs on an ever-greater share of Chinese imports, President Donald Trump seems to be in a more conciliatory mood. On April 10th a speech by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, prompted him to tweet a prediction: “We will make great progress together!”

Many besides Mr Trump share that hope. If China offers him a deal that he is willing to sign, a trade war may still be averted. Or sense may prevail, as it did last month, when American allies such as Canada and Mexico were exempted from tariffs on steel and aluminium. But such optimism shades into naivety. China hawks in the American administration have long seethed over aspects of the relationship with China that rarely feature on Mr Trump’s Twitter feed. Those problems predate his presidency. And they do not look easy to resolve.

The rules-based system of international trade works best for problems that are clearly defined, and when it is easy to...Continue reading

Hong Kong intervenes to support its currency

FINANCIAL TIMES - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:54
Authority buys HK$816m from the market after slide to weak end of its US dollar peg
Categories: FINANCIAL NEWS

State pension funding hits record shortfall, report finds

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:43
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) -- A public employee pension crisis for state governments has deepened to a record level even after nearly nine years of economic recovery for the nation, according to a study released Thursday, leaving many states especially vulnerable if the economy hits a downturn....

State pension funding hits record shortfall, report finds

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:36
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) -- A study finds that state-run pension plans for public workers across the country were in worse shape than ever in 2016....

A smoother ride for investors in shaky times, but with risks

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:25
NEW YORK (AP) -- While the stock market was busy heaving up and down in recent months, some funds were offering a steadier, slightly less-nauseating ride....

Rite Aid Shareholders Sour on Albertsons Deal

WALL STREET JOURNAL - US. BUSINESS NEWS - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:24
Some Rite Aid shareholders plan to oppose a merger with grocer Albertsons Cos. that they believe undervalues the struggling pharmacy chain.

World trade body warns of 'domino effect' in US-China spat

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:13
GENEVA (AP) -- The head of the World Trade Organization says he understands that President Donald Trump wants to create U.S. jobs, but warns that getting tough on trade can trigger a "domino effect" that could derail such goals in the first place....

Fly now, pay later: Are travel loans a good deal?

AP Business - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:08
Dreaming of a spring getaway with white-sand beaches and a cool drink in your hand?...

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