DealBook Briefing: Amazon Looks at New Sales Taxes — and Shrugs

DealBook Briefing: Amazon Looks at New Sales Taxes — and Shrugs



Loic Venance/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Banks didn’t sweat in the latest stress tests

Nearly all of the big American banks passed the Fed’s latest check of their financial health with flying colors. So they could keep lending even if the economy went south. (The only small stumbles were by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley; that could affect their ability to pay dividends.)

Wall Street’s take? That the government can, and should, now let banks take more risks. Regulators appear amenable: “We want to tailor those regulations for institutions,” Jerome Powell, the Fed’s chairman, said earlier this month.

Peter Eavis’s take: The robust health of banks is in stark contrast to their near-death state a decade ago. But the resurgence is evidence to some that the post-crisis rules haven’t stopped lenders from making good money. To some industry skeptics, that suggests restrictions should remain.


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Trump’s trade war could hurt American innovation

The Trump administration has repeated its argument that a trade battle is necessary to stop China stealing American intellectual property, and using it to dominate the industries of the future. The president demonstrably has valid concerns — but his approach may backfire.

One example: Paul Mozur of the NYT describes a heist of American intellectual property, in which engineers at a Taiwanese semiconductor company tried to smuggle designs from Micron Technology into China.

But Jim Tankersley and Cade Metz of the NYT explain that the administration’s focus on tariffs may be misplaced:

Experts in artificial intelligence say the administration should push for more investment in academic and government research, instead of cutting back on scientific research across the government.

Elsewhere in trade: The European Union has struck back at the U.S. by introducing tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of American goods. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued that the trade wars aren’t hurting the U.S. economy, and that America has “more bullets” left. And how the global trade fight and uncertainty over the Iran sanctions are hurting Italy.

Shelters for migrant children are a billion-dollar business

An NYT investigation into the scale of the operations used to house, transport and watch over migrant children detained along the southwest U.S. border contains eye-popping numbers.

More from Manny Fernandez and Katie Benner:

The nonprofit Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody.

More immigration news: House Republicans rejected a hard-line bill on immigration policy and delayed a vote on compromise legislation (it’s probably doomed, too).


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Tech workers keep rebelling against government work

From Google to Microsoft to, now, Amazon, workers at tech titans are increasingly protesting their employers’ government projects.

A letter from Microsoft workers that criticizes the company’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement gathered more than 300 signatures this week. Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Amazon employees have joined civil rights groups and investors in protesting the company’s sale of facial recognition technology to law enforcement. They have also demanded an end to services for organizations that work with I.C.E. (All this echoes Google employees’ campaign to halt an A.I. project for the Pentagon.)

The big question: Tech employees increasingly want their companies to be ethical and held accountable. But with government contracts so lucrative, how much will their executives care?


Brian Krzanich

Mike Blake/Reuters

Brian Krzanich is the latest C.E.O. ousted in the #MeToo era

He resigned from Intel yesterday after its board discovered that he had a “past consensual relationship” with a female employee, in violation of a non-fraternization policy. The NYT reports that the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault probably influenced the board’s approach.

Shares in Intel fell 2 percent yesterday, as investors worried about the company needing a new permanent C.E.O. The semiconductor world is evolving rapidly, Intel has struggled in mobile and A.I. chips, and it’s already ceded its longtime throne atop the sector to Samsung. So there’s little time to waste.


Graydon Carter

Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Graydon Carter might be planning a comeback

Months after stepping down as Vanity Fair’s editor, the ebullient media executive is said to be working on a venture with the investment firm TPG: a gossipy media company with a robust party-planning operation.

More from Alexandra Steigrad of the New York Post:

Carter’s new company would put him back in the game and, in some respects, in head-to-head competition with the likes of Vanity Fair — at least where it comes to Carter building a full-scale party-planning operation, one source buzzed.

Bonus gossip: The Post added that Mr. Carter offered to buy Vanity Fair from Condé Nast shortly before leaving, and got a rapid rebuff.

Revolving door

Virgin Atlantic named Shai Weiss, its chief commercial officer, as C.E.O. (Bloomberg)

Deutsche Bank is said to be dismantling its global corporate strategy group. The team’s head, Ali Almakky, may leave the firm. (WSJ)

Partners at Egon Zehnder, the prominent corporate headhunter, elected Jill Ader as chairwoman, snubbing the firm’s C.E.O., Rajeev Vasudeva. (FT)

The speed read


• Gossip from the Walt Disney-Comcast fight for 21st Century Fox: bad blood between Comcast’s Brian Roberts and Disney’s Bob Iger; Murdoch family intrigue; and media moguls bonding over boats. (WSJ)

• JAB, the deal-hungry conglomerate building a coffee-and-food empire, is reportedly close to raising 5 billion euros, or $5.8 billion, for a consumer fund. (Bloomberg)

• The bankrupt radio network operator iHeartRadio rejected a $1.16 billion takeover bid by John Malone’s Liberty Media. (Bloomberg)

Politics and policy

• Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with the chairman of Halliburton and other investors in a real-estate project that his own foundation was involved with; that might violate federal conflict-of-interest laws. (Politico)

• Airbus said it might withdraw from Britain if the country can’t secure a deal with the E.U. on Brexit. (Bloomberg)


• Twitter was on the rocks two years ago, but it has made a startling comeback. Here’s how. (And here’s how Nintendo also returned from the brink.)

• Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has reportedly been privately answering questions from state attorneys general about Cambridge Analytica. (Bloomberg)

• A.I. learns from human data, which reflects human biases. Can we fix that? (NYT)

Best of the rest

• Chanel has published annual results for the first time in 108 years. (NYT)

• Basic income could work — but maybe only the Canadian way. (MIT Technology Review)

• The natural gas industry has a $2 billion a year methane leak problem. (NYT)

• Here’s the membership list for a very exclusive club: bank executives charged with crisis-era crimes. (DealBook)

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