Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted December 10, 2017 10:23 p.m. EST

A Fed Rate Increase Is Expected. But What Comes Next?

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to acknowledge the strength of the economy by increasing its bench mark rate by one quarter of a percentage point Wednesday, after its final policy meeting of the year, as it continues to slowly unwind its post-crisis stimulus campaign. It will be just the fifth increase since the financial crisis. Investors, however, already are looking beyond that decision. They want to know what comes next and whether the Fed, which will soon have a new chairman and several new governors, will deviate from Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen's patient approach.

Ahead of Brexit, Paris Tries a Business Makeover

France has long been known for its open hostility to corporations and its suspicion of personal wealth. Now, the country is in the midst of an epic attempt at national rebranding. Labor laws are being changed and new legislation has slashed a “wealth tax” that was said to drive millionaires out of the country. There’s a sense of urgency behind these changes. Hundreds of financial companies may need to relocate thousands of London-based workers before Britain leaves the European Union, the withdrawal known as Brexit. That has set off a high-stakes international competition among cities hoping to become Europe’s financial capital.

Once the WTO’s Biggest Supporter, U.S. Is Its Biggest Skeptic

As officials from the 164 countries in the World Trade Organization gather in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this week for their first major meeting in two years, they will be watching to see whether the United States, once the group’s biggest advocate, is seeking to subvert it. The WTO's supporters have said it has fallen short of its ambitious goals to create trade agreements among scores of countries with different economies, cultures and income levels. And in recent months, the Trump administration has led the United States in stepping back from its traditional role at the head of global institutions like the WTO, throwing their future into question.

Net Neutrality’s Holes in Europe May Offer Peek at Future in U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday to roll back the net neutrality rules in the United States. While the EU has such rules in place, telecom providers have pushed the boundaries at times in Sweden, Germany, Portugal and elsewhere, offering a glimpse at the future U.S. companies and consumers may face if protections are watered down. FCC chairman Ajit Pai is seeking a sweeping repeal of the Barack Obama-era rules, paving the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content or to restrict access to some websites.

Small Talk and Big Ratings

Producer Michael Gelman was there in the 1980s, when Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford were putting on a casual morning show for a local New York audience with pleasant banter. And Gelman is still there today, as he oversees an incarnation of “Live” co-hosted by Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, who are keeping the mood light in a time of divisive politics and fraught discussions of social issues. "The hosts have changed, but the overall concept continues on: two people, a man and a woman, and enjoying the chemistry between them,” Gelman said. Ratings provide evidence that audiences agree with the strategy.

Volkswagen Chief Suggests Ending Subsidies for Diesel Cars

The chief executive of Volkswagen said Sunday that the German government should consider phasing out the subsidies that encourage Europeans to buy diesel cars, a startling change of position by the company largely responsible for diesel’s popularity in Europe. “We should question the logic and purpose of diesel subsidies,” Matthias Müller, chief executive of Volkswagen, said in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt. “The money can be invested more sensibly to promote more environmentally friendly technologies.” Müller is the first German auto boss to publicly suggest that the government should stop subsidizing diesel, a step that would certainly hasten the technology’s demise.

Holdover Films Chug Away at the Box Office as ‘Last Jedi’ Looms

To paraphrase Gandalf by way of J.R.R. Tolkien, early December is the box office’s deep breath before the plunge. New films are held back as Hollywood waits to capitalize on Christmas. The major studios served up nothing new for the second weekend in a row, allowing “Coco” to remain the top draw at North American theaters. But eight big movies are scheduled to arrive in wide release over an 11-day stretch starting Friday, when “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” touches down. Playing in 3,748 theaters, “Coco” took in an estimated $18.3 million, for a three-week total of $135.5 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data.