Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted June 19, 2018 10:41 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2018 10:42 p.m. EDT

In Trade War With China, White House Says Beijing Has More to Lose

President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on almost every Chinese product that crosses into the United States sent stock markets tumbling Tuesday and drew condemnation from retailers, tech companies and manufacturers as the possibility of a damaging trade war with the world’s second-largest economy appeared increasingly likely. The Trump administration remained unmoved by those concerns, with a top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, insisting that China has more to lose from a trade fight than the United States. He also declared that Trump would not allow Beijing to simply buy its way out of an economic dispute by promising to import more U.S. goods.

Creators of TV Shows Open Fire at Fox Over Defense of Policy

For years, the Murdoch family has maintained a separation between its Fox News network and its sprawling entertainment empire. But that corporate buffer seems to be disintegrating, with several prominent creators of hit TV shows expressing disgust in recent days with the 24-hour news channel’s coverage of the Trump administration’s border security policy. Steve Levitan, the creator of “Modern Family,” which airs on ABC but is produced by Fox’s television studio, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he was “disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews.”

Microsoft Employees Protest Work With ICE, as Tech Industry Mobilizes Over Immigration

In an open letter posted to Microsoft’s internal message board on Tuesday, more than 100 employees protested the software-maker’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and asked the company to stop working with the agency, which has been separating migrant parents and their children at the border with Mexico. “We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits,” said the letter, which was addressed to the chief executive, Satya Nadella. The letter pointed to a $19.4 million contract that Microsoft has with ICE for processing data and artificial intelligence capabilities.

As CEOs Condemn Splitting Up Migrant Families, Goldman Chief Offers Sympathy

As a chorus of corporate leaders condemned the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents, the White House on Tuesday got some surprising sympathy from a past critic: Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs. Blankfein described the situation on the United States’ southern border as “heart-rendering.” At a New York Economic Club lunch on Tuesday, however, he said, “It’s easy to criticize and it’s easy to say what you would do if you didn’t have to bear the consequences of what you decided.” Blankfein’s measured view of the policy was at odds with those of other corporate chiefs, some of whom expressed outrage Tuesday.

Amazon Urged Not to Sell Facial Recognition Technology to Police

Some Amazon shareholders are calling for the e-commerce giant to stop selling its facial recognition technology to the police. A group of 19 socially responsible investors, including firms like Sustainvest Asset Management and the Social Equity Group, are applying pressure to Amazon over privacy concerns they have about the technology. Amazon began marketing a facial recognition system, called Rekognition, to law enforcement agencies as a means of identifying suspects shortly after the tool was introduced in 2016. The system has been used by the Police Department in Orlando, Florida, and the Sheriff’s Department in Washington County, Oregon.

Commerce Secretary Shorted Stock as Negative Coverage Loomed

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shorted stock in a shipping firm — an investment tactic for profiting if share prices fall — days after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the Kremlin-linked company. The transaction, valued between $100,000 and $250,000, took place last fall after Ross became aware that journalists investigating offshore finances were looking at his investments in the shipper Navigator Holdings, whose major clients included a Russian energy company. The New York Times emailed a list of questions about Navigator to Ross on Oct. 26. The transaction was first reported Monday by Forbes.

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to Limit Sales of Cellphone Location Data

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint said Tuesday that they would sharply limit arrangements that give marketers and other businesses access to cellphone customers’ location data, after disclosures that the information was used to track people without their consent. Verizon announced its change in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has been investigating location privacy issues. He had asked Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to audit their relationships with companies that buy and sell access to consumer location data, known as location aggregators. A Sprint spokeswoman said the company was “beginning the process of terminating its current contracts” with location aggregators.

New Group, With Conservative Credentials, Plans Push for a Carbon Tax

Proponents of a market-oriented plan to fight climate change by taxing greenhouse-gas emissions and giving the revenue to U.S. taxpayers are starting a campaign to run advertisements as early as this fall and introduce legislation in Congress as early as next year. The plan’s supporters have formed a group called Americans for Carbon Dividends that will lobby for the proposal. The group includes well-known members like Trent Lott, the former Senate Republican leader from Mississippi, and Janet L. Yellen, who led the Federal Reserve under President Barack Obama. The initiative has already won endorsements from some environmental groups.

Disney Picks New Chiefs of Animation

Pete Docter is a 6-foot-5 Minnesotan who lives in a literal tree house. Jennifer Lee is a 5-foot-3 Rhode Islander and self-described former “flute-playing band nerd” who loves books. On Tuesday, they became two of the most important people in Hollywood. As expected, The Walt Disney Co. named Lee to lead its revered Walt Disney Animation Studios and Docter to lead its Pixar Animation Studios. Both were given the title of chief creative officer. They succeed John Lasseter, 61, who managed both animation studios until earlier this month, when he resigned following complaints about his workplace behavior.