Business News at a Glance
Posted March 21, 2018 9:52 p.m. EDT
Facebook’s Zuckerberg Vows to Bolster Privacy Amid Cambridge Analytica Crisis
After several days of silence, amid a growing chorus of criticism, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg publicly addressed the misuse of data belonging to 50 million users of the social network. “We have a responsibility to protect your data,” Zuckerberg said Wednesday in a Facebook post, “and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.” Zuckerberg, 33, was trying to quell a ballooning crisis over reports last weekend that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had used data that had been improperly obtained from Facebook to target voters for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Think Cryptocurrency Is Confusing? Try Paying Taxes on It
With this year’s April 17 tax filing deadline fast approaching, many virtual-currency traders are sweating over their tax returns. They’re confused by the complicated rules, many of them stemming from guidelines issued by the IRS in 2014, governing the taxation of virtual currencies. They’re afraid that the windfall profits created by last year’s cryptocurrency boom, which sent currencies like bitcoin and Ether skyrocketing and created a new class of crypto-millionaires, have left them with huge tax bills. And, of course, they’re worried about drawing the eye of the IRS.
Trump Targets Chinese Goods for Stiff Tariffs
President Donald Trump on Thursday plans to announce at least $50 billion worth of annual tariffs and other penalties on China for its theft of technology and trade secrets, which administration officials say has robbed U.S. companies of billions of dollars in revenue and killed thousands of jobs. The measures will be targeted at imported Chinese goods in as many as 100 categories — hitting everything from shoes and clothing to consumer electronics — and will impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States, people briefed on the measures said.
Sex Trafficking Bill Heads to Trump, Over Silicon Valley Concerns
The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that strengthens the policing of sex trafficking, over the opposition of many internet companies. Lawmakers are trying to catch up to the reality of prostitution long after the bartering of children and adults moved from the streets to the web. The 97-2 vote was the culmination of a multiyear effort by Republicans and Democrats to allow state law enforcement officials to go after websites like Backpage.com that facilitate sex trafficking. The bill would also suspend protections that shielded internet companies from legal liability for the content on their sites.
Tricky Path at Fed: Keep a Growing Economy From Overheating
When Jerome Powell presided over his first policy move as chairman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, it was against a backdrop of very good economic news: Unemployment is low and falling; inflation is low and stable; financial markets remain buoyant. That is also the bad news because there are a lot more ways for the economy to get worse than to get better. Powell faces the tricky task of trying to keep growth going, and his success as the nation’s most powerful economic policymaker will depend on his ability to judge the various risks to the current expansion.
Fed Raises Interest Rates for Sixth Time Since Financial Crisis
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday by a quarter of a percentage point and signaled that the central bank is on track to raise rates another two times in 2018, while expressing increased confidence in the economic recovery. The Fed said it would raise its bench mark interest rate to a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, marking the sixth time since the financial crisis that it has raised rates. They said they expect to raise interest rates three times next year, an increase from the two increases in 2019 that they forecast in December.
Meredith Says It Intends to Sell Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money
Since the Meredith Corp. announced its $2.8 billion deal for Time Inc. in November, the company has hinted it might not hold on to Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money. Those titles, heavy with news, clashed with the company’s portfolio of lifestyle publications like Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Allrecipes. On Wednesday, Meredith made it official: In a news release, the company said it planned to sell those four former Time Inc. titles. Meredith also said it was immediately laying off roughly 200 employees and that it would eliminate about 1,000 more positions over the next 10 months.
Targeting Tech Giants, Europe Unveils Digital Tax Proposal
European authorities Wednesday proposed revamping the way many technology companies in the region are taxed, outlining wide-ranging changes that they hope will curb tax avoidance across the European Union. The system would tax a company’s revenues in the countries where they are generated, rather than its profits. Regulators say profit-shifting allows some businesses to use regional offices in low-tax countries to reduce payments. The plan pits the European Union against the United States as both sides battle to retain corporate tax revenue. It is one of a number of issues on which Brussels and Washington have clashed.