Business News at a Glance
Posted June 7, 2018 10:40 p.m. EDT
Trump Strikes Deal to Save China’s ZTE
President Donald Trump handed the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE a lifeline Thursday, agreeing to lift tough U.S. sanctions over the objections of Republican lawmakers, his defense advisers and some of his own economic officials. The deal will help defuse tensions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who personally asked Trump to intervene to save ZTE. The Commerce Department said in exchange for lifting a seven-year ban that prevented ZTE from buying U.S. products, ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its board and senior leadership, and allow a handpicked compliance team inside the firm.
How the Gig Economy Is Reshaping Work: Not So Much
On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its first in-depth look at nontraditional work since 2005, and came to a startling conclusion: The old-fashioned job remains king. Roughly 10 percent of U.S. workers in 2017 were employed in some form of what the government calls “alternative work arrangements,” a broad category including Uber drivers, freelance writers and people employed through temporary-help agencies — essentially anyone whose main source of work comes outside a traditional employment relationship. Far from a boom in gig work, that represents a slight decline from 2005, when about 11 percent of workers fell into those categories.
Facebook Bug Changed Privacy Settings of Up to 14 Million Users
On Thursday, Facebook said it had again failed to keep the information of millions of users private. As many as 14 million Facebook users who thought they were creating private posts last month that only a small group of friends could see were, in fact, making public posts that anyone could view. Facebook blamed a software bug for the problem. In a statement, Facebook said the bug affected users from May 18-22. By May 27, the company had changed the affected posts from a public setting back to a private one.
Former Fox News Analyst Calls Network a ‘Destructive Propaganda Machine’
Ralph Peters, the retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who quit Fox News in disgust in March, gave another searing attack on Thursday, saying that the network was “doing a great, grave disservice to our country.” Speaking on CNN, Peters said, “With the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine." He said Fox's prime time hosts echo Trump’s debunked theories that a “deep state” is undermining his administration and joined in the president's attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and other democratic institutions. “I wanted to just cry out and say: ‘How can you do this? How can you lie to our country?'”
Amazon Wins Exclusive U.K. Rights to Broadcast Some Premier League Matches
Amazon won rights Thursday to broadcast Premier League games in Britain for the first time, a deal that highlights the seismic shifts happening in sports and television entertainment, as deep-pocketed digital outlets compete with traditional broadcasters like NBC, Disney and Sky in Europe. Amazon will exclusively broadcast to its Prime members in Britain 20 matches. Amazon has been pushing aggressively into sports. Last year, it paid about $50 million to stream 10 “Thursday Night Football” games, an arrangement that Amazon and the NFL have since extended.
Google Promises Its AI Will Not Be Used for Weapons
Google, reeling from an employee protest over the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes, said Thursday it would not use AI for weapons or for surveillance that violates human rights. But it will continue to work with governments and the military. The new rules were part of a set of principles Google unveiled relating to the use of artificial intelligence. In a company blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai laid out seven objectives for its AI technology, including “avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias” and “be socially beneficial.”
Prolific TV Producer Greg Berlanti Extends Deal With Warner Bros.
Take that, Netflix. The prolific television producer Greg Berlanti has signed a new deal that will keep him at Warner Bros. for six more years, the studio announced on Thursday. Other producing powerhouses — Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy — have abandoned traditional TV studios in favor of nine-figure deals with Netflix, and Berlanti was seen as another prime target for the streaming service. He is the executive producer of “Riverdale,” “Blindspot” and “Arrow,” among others. Streaming services are in a sprint to lock down creative talent behind the camera to long-term deals. Kenya Barris is in negotiations to get out of his deal with ABC and possibly decamp to Netflix.
Betting on Crisis, Hedge Funds Short Italian Bonds
The prices of Italian stocks and bonds have plunged since last week when the government put forward by a populist coalition, which includes the Five Star party, was rejected by Italy's president because the would-be finance minister had been publicly critical of the country’s membership in the eurozone. Yields on short-term bonds rocketed to 2.7 percent from 0.24 percent. The euro’s value relative to the dollar fell to an 11-month low. Many investors were caught by surprise. But for hedge funds that were wagering on a new Italian debt crisis, the market turmoil was a profit bonanza. And they are betting there is more to come.
An Oil Auction Provides Brazil a Needed Boost
Oil companies bid for offshore drilling rights in an auction in Rio de Janeiro Thursday that provided some welcome good news for Brazil’s economy after weeks of political uncertainty and unrest. Consortiums that included companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil bid about $808 million, and would give the government a large percentage of the oil they produce — far higher than the minimum amounts set by the government. The auction, the fourth since September, came days after a strike by truck drivers over rising diesel prices paralyzed the country for nearly two weeks and prompted the resignation of the CEO of state-owned Petrobras.
Luxury Sales Are Rebounding in China. Just Not in Stores.
Sales of luxury goods in mainland China are forecast to grow by between 20 and 22 percent this year, according to a report by Bain & Co. But on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities, luxury shoppers are hard to find. That's because they are buying luxury goods from elsewhere — and increasingly online. As a result, luxury brands have revised their pricing strategies in China and have worked to cater to local customers. They communicate with customers via WeChat, a messaging and social media app, partner with regional celebrities and “influencers,” and offer additional services like white-gloved delivery staff.