Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted June 11, 2018 10:01 p.m. EDT

Diesel Scandal Deepens as German Authorities Target Audi Chief and Daimler

Germany’s car industry suffered fresh damage Monday after prosecutors said a top Volkswagen manager was a suspect in a criminal inquiry and officials ordered Daimler to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles equipped with illegal emissions-cheating software. Munich prosecutors said they had opened a fraud investigation into Rupert Stadler, leader of the Volkswagen’s Audi division and a member of the Volkswagen management board. Stadler, whose home was raided by investigators Monday, is the first active member of Volkswagen’s upper echelon to be identified as a suspect in the inquiry. Later in the day, the German Transport Ministry ordered Daimler to recall 774,000 vehicles in Europe because of emissions software.

China Tests a Solar Highway

A section of highway in China is paved, not with asphalt, but with solar panels. The potential appeal of solar roads is clear: Generating electricity from highways and streets could conserve a lot of land. The electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated, meaning virtually no power would be lost in transmission. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.

Foxconn Is Under Scrutiny for Worker Conditions

A new report by China Labor Watch, a New York-based labor advocacy group, and the British newspaper The Observer claimed that a Foxconn factory in Hengyang, China, had violated employment laws. The factory produces Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and Kindle devices. Amazon confirmed to the newspaper that its own audit of the factory this year had revealed how Foxconn had been employing too many agency workers and that they were not rewarded suitable overtime pay. Foxconn said that it was “carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by that report.” The Taiwanese company is the biggest contract electronics manufacturer in the world.

Peter Navarro, a Top Trade Skeptic, in Line for Promotion

President Donald Trump could soon promote Peter Navarro, a trade policy adviser, to a more powerful position in the White House, elevating a longtime trade skeptic who has found himself sidelined by more pro-trade voices inside the White House. The president has agreed to promote Navarro to assistant to the president from his current role as deputy assistant, giving him more access to top strategy meetings, said two trade experts close to the White House. Natalie Strom, a spokeswoman, said the White House had no personnel announcements to make. Navarro’s promotion was first reported by Inside U.S. Trade.

E-Commerce Might Help Solve the Mystery of Low Inflation

Unemployment is sinking and businesses are churning out more goods and services. Yet even with the economy standing on tippy toes, prices and wages are climbing more slowly than anyone has expected. Now a growing body of research is putting the blame more pointedly on e-commerce. The spectacular growth in online shopping is not only tamping down inflation more than previously thought, but also distorting the way it is measured. The studies reinforce the views of Federal Reserve officials who see the internet’s increasing influence as a leading suspect in why inflation routinely falls short of their 2 percent target, considered the sweet spot for keeping the economy humming without overheating.

Facebook Gives Lawmakers Follow-Up Answers, but Not Much Is New

During two days of grilling from Congress in April, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, repeatedly promised to “get back to” lawmakers on questions he could not answer. On Monday, Congress released the social network’s follow-up responses to those queries. In 454 pages that were made public by the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, Facebook provided information to more than 2,000 questions from lawmakers on topics including its policies on user data, privacy and security. Yet much of the information that Facebook included was not new and the social network sidestepped providing detailed answers. In 224 instances, Facebook simply asked lawmakers to look back at previously answered questions.