Business News at a Glance
Posted November 27, 2018 10:17 p.m. EST
Trump Signals a New Willingness to Reach a China Trade Agreement
President Donald Trump is projecting a steely facade as he prepares for a critical meeting on trade with President Xi Jinping of China this weekend at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Argentina. But behind his threats of higher tariffs is a creeping anxiety about the costs of a prolonged trade war on the financial markets and the broader economy. That could set the stage for a truce between the United States and China, several U.S. officials said, in the form of an agreement that would delay new tariffs for several months while the world’s two largest economies try to work out the issues dividing them.
For Lease: Publicly Owned Land to Drill On, Dirt Cheap
Energy speculators are grabbing bargain drilling rights to sprawling pieces of federal land in the West because the Trump administration has put so much land up for lease. In one deal, the government allowed Robert B. Price, the chief executive of a London-based oil and gas company, to secure drilling rights on nearly 67,000 acres east of Miles City, Montana, in a special noncompetitive sale. His cost: just $1.50 an acre a year in rent, compared with the more than $100-an-acre average paid by bidders, on top of rent, in competitive auctions in Montana in the final four years of the Obama administration.
GM Cutbacks Anger Trump
When General Motors announced that it would idle five North American plants and eliminate thousands of jobs, it said the move would ease the burden of spending billions of dollars to develop the battery-powered vehicles of the future. But the White House put a question mark over those plans Tuesday when President Donald Trump — irate over the cutbacks — threatened to punish GM by ending federal tax credits that have helped underwrite that automaker’s electric-vehicle fleet. So a day after announcing a plan meant to put it on firmer financial ground by shedding money-losing operations and refocusing its resources, the automaker found itself on the defensive.
Juul Has Workaround to Decrease Nicotine: Increase Vapor Cloud
Juul Labs has soared to the top of the U.S. e-cigarette market in just three years with its high-nicotine products that give off just a wisp of vapor. Now, facing public backlash and overseas restrictions, the company is working on a way to lower the nicotine in its pods — but still maintain a potent punch from the addictive chemical. Juul is developing a pod for sale overseas that is higher in vapor, which can enhance the rate at which nicotine is absorbed in the body. Some experts said the higher vapor could potentially make the pods even more addictive, increasing the risk particularly to young people.
Condé Nast to Replace Its Chief Executive
Condé Nast, the once-flush publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and other magazines, is looking for a new business leader after years of losses. The company said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., would step down after his successor was found. A corporate restructuring will go along with the change in leadership. Last year, Condé Nast lost more than $120 million. It has put three magazines, Brides, Golf Digest and W, up for sale, and announced that it would end regular print publication of one of its oldest titles, Glamour.
In China, Billionaires Sidle Up to the Party
Jack Ma, China’s richest man and the guiding force behind its biggest e-commerce company, belongs to an elite club of power brokers, 89 million strong: the Chinese Communist Party. The party’s official People’s Daily newspaper included Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group and the country’s most prominent capitalist, in a list it published on Monday of 100 Chinese people who had made extraordinary contributions to the country’s development over the last 40 years. Other super wealthy party members include Wang Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda Group, a property and entertainment conglomerate, and Xu Jiayin of the Evergrande Group, a property developer.
Zuckerberg Snubs a Multinational Inquiry Into Facebook’s Practices
Officials from nine countries examining Facebook’s business practices have spent weeks trying to get the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to face questions at a hearing. On Tuesday in London, Zuckerberg was represented by an empty chair. He skipped the session, which was organized by a British committee investigating Facebook and the spread of misinformation. In Zuckerberg’s absence, officials from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, France, Belgium and Britain spent more than three hours grilling a Facebook executive who stood in for him, criticizing the company’s influence on democracy, its distribution of false news and its use of personal user data.