More Saudi news: Saudi Arabia used a troll farm to silence dissidents on social media and recruited a Twitter employee for help. McKinsey, which has been criticized for its work with South Africa, said it was “horrified” that a report prepared for the Saudi government may have been used to attack protesters online. Many Saudis appeared skeptical of their government’s explanations about Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. And why it’s odd to see business leaders acting as morality police.
The White House plans a new middle-class tax cut
The Republican tax cuts might not be rallying voters. But President Trump hopes another cut will do the trick: He said this weekend that he and Republican lawmakers have “a very major tax cut” planned for middle-income people.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the NYT that the latest would be “specifically focused on the middle class and not beyond that,” and that it would be released “shortly.” But the NYT notes that the timing appears politically motivated:
There is no chance of such a plan passing even the House before the midterms, let alone the Senate, because Congress is in recess through the election. So the move appears to be an effort to give Republican voters a jolt of enthusiasm as the polls are opening — and perhaps an acknowledgment of how small a boost Mr. Trump’s signature tax bill seems to be giving Republicans in the battle to control Congress.
Still unclear: how big the cuts would be or whether they would add to the federal deficit.
A cruel cost for pregnancy discrimination
Refusing to accommodate pregnant women is often completely legal under federal law. But some women in strenuous jobs lost their pregnancies after employers denied their requests for light duty, according to an investigation by the NYT.
Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Natalie Kitroeff have more on such working conditions:
Pregnancy discrimination is widespread in corporate America. Some employers deny expecting mothers promotions or pay raises; others fire them before they can take maternity leave. But for women who work in physically demanding jobs, pregnancy discrimination often can come with even higher stakes.
The New York Times reviewed thousands of pages of court and other public records involving workers who said they had suffered miscarriages, gone into premature labor or, in one case, had a stillborn baby after their employers rejected their pleas for assistance — a break from flipping heavy mattresses, lugging large boxes and pushing loaded carts.
Companies like the warehouse operator XPO Logistics and the grocery chain Albertsons have been sued over working conditions. (XPO and Albertsons have denied wrongdoing.)
The NYT adds that legislation to expand protections for expecting mothers has repeatedly stalled in Congress since 2012.
It’s another big week of earnings. Halliburton, Hasbro and Kimberly-Clark report quarterly results today.
Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain updates the House of Commons on Brexit. She is expected to say that 95 percent of her withdrawal agreement with the E.U. is settled. The remaining 5 percent includes the contentious Irish border issue.
CBS loses its interim chairman
The company said that Richard Parsons, who took over after the broadcaster ousted Les Moonves, would step down because of illness. He’ll be replaced by Strauss Zelnick of the video game publisher Take-Two Interactive.
Mr. Parsons is known for his steady business hand — something CBS needs as it recovers from a fight with its controlling shareholder and a scandal over sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Moonves.
More CBS news: Nancy Dubuc of Vice and Susan Wojcicki of YouTube are among the executives whom industry insiders think should be considered for the C.E.O. job.
The Trump bump for stocks is weakening
President Trump has bragged about how well stocks have performed since he came to power. But while markets remain higher, recent selling has eroded many gains. As Peter Eavis of DealBook explains, if the S.&P. 500 falls further, Mr. Trump will struggle to compare himself favorably with other presidents:
The S.&P. 500 is up 29.4 percent in the 710 days since Nov. 8, 2016. Over the same number of days after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, the benchmark posted a gain of 32.1 percent. The performance of stocks under Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama fall far short of the rally that took place after Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996. The S.&P. 500 soared 48 percent over the equivalent period.
A growing budget deficit (exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s tax cuts) and escalating trade tensions (spurred by his tariffs on Chinese goods) continue to weigh on investors’ minds.
Also weighing on the markets: Revenue growth at U.S. companies appears to be slowing.
A big bank turns to fintech to speed up loans
On Deck Capital, an online lender to small businesses, is teaming up with PNC Financial Services. On Deck’s pitch: Make loans to small businesses relatively quickly. It currently has $1 billion worth of loans on its balance sheet, but it can earn revenue by letting established banks use its underwriting technology. PNC, the eighth largest American bank, says using On Deck will cut costs, speed up lending and help find new customers. (JPMorgan Chase has worked with On Deck since 2016.)
PNC’s small business customers should be able to get a loan through On Deck within hours. “By compressing weeks down to a couple of hours, and eventually minutes, you transform the way small business access capital,” Noah Breslow, On Deck’s chief executive, told Peter Eavis. (The service will also be open to businesses that aren’t PNC clients.)
Facebook hired Nick Clegg, a former deputy prime minister of Britain, as its head of policy and communications.
Goldman Sachs reportedly plans to name Todd Leland as the head of its Asia-Pacific division. The current heads, Andrea Vella and Kate Richdale, will spend more time with clients.
Fox hired Charlie Collier, the AMC executive who developed “The Walking Dead,” as its broadcast chief.
The speed read
• How Blackstone reportedly signed Saudi Arabia for its $40 billion infrastructure fund: a steep fee discount. (Bloomberg)
• Fiat plans to sell its Magneti Marelli car parts business to a company owned by KKR for $7.1 billion. (WSJ)
• Facebook is reportedly looking to buy a big cybersecurity company. (Information)
• Tiger Global Management has reportedly raised $3.75 billion for its latest tech investment fund. (FT)
Politics and policy
• Republicans, distrustful of mainstream social networks, have created their own apps. (NYT)
• President Trump claimed that China is meddling with the midterms. Cybersecurity companies disagree. (Bloomberg)
• Voter interest in the midterms has surged. (WSJ)
• Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is said to be open to changing how the U.S. determines which nations are currency manipulators. (Bloomberg)
• The White House’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said China had done “nothing” to ease trade tensions before the G-20 meeting in Argentina next month. President Trump reportedly has no plans to ease his tariffs.
• Europe and the U.S. want to find quick trade results, but that might be hard. (WSJ)
• Trade wars are damaging the W.T.O.’s reputation. (FT)
• Many economists testifying to the F.T.C. about the growing power of Big Tech have received money from … Big Tech. (Fast Company)
• Uber says it will start delivering food via drones by 2021. (WSJ)
• YouTube’s effort to curb extremist content appears to be working. (Wired)
• Can Detroit reboot itself fast enough to fend off automotive competition from Silicon Valley? (WSJ)
Best of the rest
• Four days after Canada legalized marijuana, shops have almost sold out of weed. (Fortune)
• UBS discouraged its staff from traveling to China after one banker was stopped from leaving the country. (NYT)
• Seattle’s minimum-wage experiment appears to have worked after all. (NYT)
• The problem with prosecuting Newsweek’s former owner for fraud? There were no losses. (DealBook)
• The secret lives of central bankers. (NYT Op-Ed)
• “The Mega Millions jackpot is at $1.6 billion. With a B.” (WaPo)
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