Business News at a Glance
Posted May 22, 2018 9:55 p.m. EDT
Congress Votes to Relax Dodd-Frank Bank Curbs
A decade after the global financial crisis tipped the United States into a recession, Congress agreed Tuesday to free thousands of small and medium-size banks from strict rules that had been enacted as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to prevent another meltdown. In a rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the House voted 258 to 159 to approve a regulatory rollback that passed the Senate this year. The bill stops short of unwinding the toughened regulatory regime put in place to prevent the nation’s biggest banks from engaging in risky behavior, but it represents a substantial watering-down of Obama-era rules governing a large swath of the banking system.
Trump Denies Making Deal to Help Chinese Tech Firm
President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that he was not happy with how recent trade talks with China had gone, and said the United States had not reached a deal to suspend penalties on the Chinese telecom firm ZTE, disputing reports that the administration had decided to go easy on the company in return for trade concessions. “There is no deal. We will see what happens,” Trump said in response to reporters’ questions. It was the latest turn in a negotiating process that has sent the president vacillating between taking a tough stance on China and saying he would try to help the country recover lost jobs.
Beijing Curbs Car Tariffs in Trade Gesture to U.S. That May Barely Register
China has carried out a pledge to cut tariffs on imported cars and car parts, the latest move by Beijing to ease trade tensions with the United States. The American auto industry and its workers, however, might be unimpressed. China’s Finance Ministry said on Tuesday that it would trim tariffs on imported cars to 15 percent of their wholesale value, from 25 percent. It also cut tariffs on imported car parts, reducing them to a standardized 6 percent. Analysts say the change is unlikely to motivate automakers to shift production away from China.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg Gets an Earful from the E.U.
European lawmakers barraged Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, on Tuesday with questions about his company’s global power, its role in elections and its misuse of user data. One even raised the prospect of breaking up the social media giant. But the meeting in Brussels ended with members of the European Parliament complaining that Zuckerberg had used the session’s format to evade specific questions and just repeat statements he had made in the past. The meeting had been billed as part of Zuckerberg’s apology tour for Facebook’s mishandling of its users’ data. European authorities have emerged as the world’s most assertive watchdog of the technology industry.
Hollywood Shifts Focus of #MeToo to Lower-Paid Women
Gina Pitre had come to dread working at Walmart. A manager, she said, used to touch her inappropriately and make suggestive comments. Pitre, 56, who earned $11.50 an hour fulfilling online orders in Mississippi, said she felt degraded and angry. Pitre saw a television news segment about how female Hollywood stars and producers had started Time’s Up, a group to help women combat harassment. A related initiative, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, connected Pitre with a lawyer and is helping fund her lawsuit against Walmart and one of its managers. Hollywood, it appears, is making good on its promise to focus on women outside the limelight.
Civil Rights Groups to Amazon: Stop Selling Facial Recognition to Law Enforcement
In late 2016, Amazon introduced a new online service that could help identify faces and other objects in images, offering it to anyone at a low cost through its cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services. Not long after, it began pitching the technology to law enforcement agencies. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union led a group of more than two dozen civil rights organizations that asked Amazon to stop selling its image recognition system, called Rekognition, to law enforcement. The group says that police could use it to track protesters or others whom the authorities deem suspicious, rather than limiting it to people committing crimes.
Pair Convicted of Bilking Valeant in Kickback Scam
A former executive at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and the onetime head of a small mail-order pharmacy were convicted Tuesday of using a secret kickback arrangement to defraud the drugmaker. A federal jury in New York City found Gary Tanner, the former Valeant executive, and Andrew Davenport, at one time the chief executive of Philidor Rx Services, guilty on all charges, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Tanner and Davenport are to be sentenced Sept. 19 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Each faces up to 65 years in prison, according to a Justice Department spokesman.