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The Week in Business: Stock Market Falters, and the US-China Trade War Brings Drama to the G-20

November 25,2018 23:17

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By Charlotte Cowles

Nov. 25, 2018

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Hello! Welcome to With Interest. For those of you joining us for the first time, this Sunday newsletter contains the most important business and tech news, highlighting the essentials from the past week and what’s in store for the next. Tell friends they can sign up here.
Let’s get started. Cyber Week is upon us, and if you want to be part of a national trend, don’t even leave your kitchen: For the first time ever, Americans are expected to buy more holiday goods via mobile device than computer or (heaven forbid) leaving the house for a brick-and-mortar store. So take a bite of leftovers, flex your thumbs and help break some spending records — sales in the United States are predicted to top $1 trillion this year. Just make sure you’ve got a napkin handy. Your screen doesn’t want any cranberry sauce.
Nov. 19–25
Tech Stocks Take Markets For a Ride
The economy may be soaring, but the stock market is getting airsick. A brutal midweek sell-off added up to a collective $800 billion in value lost by the tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google’s parent, Alphabet. (The S&P 500 was down 3.8 percent, one of its worst performances ever during a Thanksgiving week.) Analysts attribute the turbulence to President Trump’s global trade conflicts, a tightening labor market and rising interest rates, all of which threaten corporate profits. It may also be a sign that we’re headed for an inevitable slowdown in growth, ending one of the longest bull markets in history.

For Trump, Arms and Oil Outweigh Murder
In a written statement packed with exclamation points, Mr. Trump pledged his support for Saudi Arabia despite the C.I.A.’s conclusion that the country’s de facto ruler ordered the grisly murder of an American resident, the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Trump cited United States-Saudi economic interests, including a $110 billion arms deal and $340 billion in other promised investments, although those numbers were quickly contested by experts. Mr. Trump also thanked Saudi Arabia for keeping a lid on oil prices and Iranian power. Critics say the president is emboldening a dangerous regime, while others say his strategy — while morally repugnant — is a pragmatic one.
Ghosn: Out as Chairman, Still in Custody
Carlos Ghosn started the week as chairman of Nissan, chief executive of Renault and chairman of the board at Mitsubishi. But since his arrest in Tokyo on Monday for financial misconduct — over allegations that he underreported his pay package by almost half — Mr. Ghosn has been removed as chairman of Nissan and will probably remain in custody for a while. A larger-than-life figure (he rented out Versailles for his 2016 wedding), Mr. Ghosn is known in France as “le cost killer.” The alliance he engineered between Nissan and Renault effectively created the world’s largest carmaker, and his downfall leaves a gaping vacuum in an industry that’s already faltering under trade tensions and shifting consumer demands.

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CreditGiacomo Bagnara

Nov. 25–Dec. 2
It’ll Be a Dramatic G-20
Mr. Trump will face off — er, gather — this week with world leaders at the annual conference of the Group of 20 nations. On the docket: a meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, with whom he recently crossed paths (and exchanged public smiles) in Paris, as well as talks with President Xi Jinping of China, who will presumably not be smiling. The prospects for a trade truce between the United States and China do not look good, and other nations are feeling heat to pick sides. At the recent Pacific Rim trade summit, officials from the two countries argued so bitterly that no resolution could be reached — a first in the conference’s three-decade history.

The Fed Is Watching
The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday will publish its first-ever Financial Stability Report, a new assessment of the country’s potential “vulnerabilities” based on financial data like bank loans and household borrowing. Announced earlier this month, the report will be issued twice a year from now on. The central bank is also mulling changes to the annual stress tests it has imposed on the country’s biggest banks since the 2008 financial crisis. Separately, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates again in December, despite pressure from Mr. Trump.
Mexico Gets a New President
On Dec. 1, Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be inaugurated as president of Mexico, succeeding Enrique Peña Nieto. Known as AMLO, the incoming leader is Mexico’s first leftist president in decades, and has already become the object of widespread denunciation for inviting Nicolas Maduro, the embattled president of Venezuela, to his swearing-in. (Vice President Mike Pence will also attend.) Mr. López Obrador has embraced Mr. Trump’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico so that he can focus on his own country’s flagging economy, but the two presidents may be headed for a showdown over immigration, a topic on which they do not agree, to put it mildly.

David’s Bridal, the country’s largest wedding retailer, has filed for bankruptcy protection — but don’t worry! Brides will still get their dresses. Also, Taylor Swift signed with Universal Music Group’s Republic Records for an undisclosed amount after parting with her previous label of 12 years, Big Machine Records. And now, another reason to envy French women: A new law takes aim at the gender pay gap in France by requiring companies to report how much they pay female and male employees. If there’s a discrepancy, the company has three years to fix it, or else they’ll face a fine of 1 percent of their total payroll.
What Counts?
22 million: The number of Chinese citizens who could be “punished” by Beijing’s new rating system, which will track and score the city’s population based on their “social credit” by 2021. Those who exhibit “pro-social behavior,” like volunteering, will be rewarded with better medical and transportation services, while criminals and government dissenters will be subjected to higher surveillance.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page BU2 of the New York edition. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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