DealBook Briefing: Welcome to the Trade War

DealBook Briefing: Welcome to the Trade War

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Photo Scott Pruitt Credit Evan Vucci/Associated Press
Scott Pruitt is gone, but the E.P.A. will still go easy on fossil fuels

The cabinet official whom President Trump praised for sweeping efforts to deregulate business resigned yesterday after months of ethics investigations. But don’t expect the E.P.A. to change.

Mr. Pruitt’s interim replacement is his deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who could prove even more adept at rolling back environmental regulations. From Coral Davenport of the NYT:

Unlike Mr. Pruitt — who had come to Washington as an outsider and aspiring politician, only to get caught up in a swirl of controversy over his costly first-class travel and security spending — Mr. Wheeler is viewed as a consummate Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules.

The agency has drafted a new power plants rule that would be much less stringent than President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Photo Credit Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Walmart is taking a stand on social issues, but it’s risky

America’s biggest retailer has headquarters in the deeply red state of Arkansas, and its core customer base tends to be politically conservative. But Walmart has been taking a stand on issues like gun control and gay rights to improve its image among younger, more liberal consumers.

More on why the retailer is following other companies and speaking out on hot-button topics, from Sarah Nassauer of the WSJ:

Today, around 72% of Walmart shoppers want the company to “take a stand on important social issues” and 85% want the retailer to “make it clear what values you stand for,” said Walmart’s chief marketing officer, Tony Rogers, in a June presentation to reporters, citing a survey by research firm Kantar.

Finding the right balance is tricky: One customer complained to the WSJ about not being able to buy ammo from Walmart anymore, and said he had urged his friends to boycott the retailer.

There may be a better recession indicator than the yield curve

For years, the Fed has used the yield curve — which tracks the payouts from Treasury securities of different repayment periods — as a barometer of economic health. But it’s now reconsidering whether the tool is a useful predictor of recessions.

Economists worry that the yield curve could soon invert — when the yields of two-year Treasury notes rise above those of 10-year notes, the reverse of the norm. Historically, that’s been a sign of economic trouble. But there are other reasons for an inverted yield curve, including the Fed’s interest-rate policies.

So the central bank has started looking at other indicators, including the interest rate used in the federal funds market. Whether that’s a more useful tool, however, remains an open question.

Photo Credit Jason Reed/Reuters
Big Pharma has been paying F.D.A. doctors after drugs get approved

If drug companies give money to physicians before they sit on a Food and Drug Administration panel to approve a therapy, it would clearly look like a conflict of interest. But what if payments comes after?

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The journal Science found that to be more common than one might think:

In examining compensation records from drug companies to physicians who advised FDA on whether to approve 28 psychopharmacologic, arthritis, and cardiac or renal drugs between 2008 and 2014, Science found widespread after-the-fact payments or research support to panel members.

The situation is ethically troubling, regardless of the time of payment, especially since the sums can amount to millions of dollars. But Science says that the F.D.A.’s safeguards “are not designed to prevent such future financial ties.”

Photo Drew Faust Credit Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Revolving door

Drew Faust, the former president of Harvard, has joined the board of Goldman Sachs. (Goldman)

Three former executives from Social Capital — Arjun Sethi, Ted Maidenberg and Jonathan Hsu — have started their own venture fund. (Business Insider)

Heinrich Hiesinger stepped down as ThyssenKrupp’s C.E.O., days after the company announced a merger with Tata Steel. (FT)

The speed read


• Boeing agreed to buy control of Embraer’s commercial-jets business for $3.8 billion, in a move to build smaller planes. (NYT)

• Singapore’s competition regulator threatened to unwind a merger of Uber’s Southeast Asian business with Grab, over antitrust concerns. (WSJ)

• Glencore is buying back $1 billion worth of its shares to shore up its stock price after it disclosed that it had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. (FT)

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• Steven Cohen has been blocked from accepting British investors in his new hedge fund. (FT)

Politics and policy

• Michael Cohen has hired Lanny Davis, a lawyer who helped defend President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings, as an adviser. (NYT)

• What President Trump is looking for in his next Supreme Court nominee. (Politico)

• Mr. Trump mocked the #MeToo movement at a campaign rally in Montana. (WaPo)


• Amazon is threatening another industry: advertising. (NBC)

• Tech giants succeeded in shooting down a bill in Europe that would have imposed some of the world’s strictest copyright laws. (NYT)

• California is trying to enact its own net neutrality bill. (Verge)

• Samsung predicts that its record-breaking earnings streak might come to an end. (WSJ)

Best of the rest

• How much patience does the White House have for a hawkish Fed? (DealBook)

• It’s getting harder for employers to fill jobs. (CNBC)

• U.S. regulators fined Credit Suisse $77 million for hiring relatives of powerful Chinese officials to win business. (NYT)

• Hop into an Uber, hop out with a new business plan: Is ride-sharing the new LinkedIn? (NYT)

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