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Stock investors aren’t the only ones suffering
This year could go down as dismal for investors in all kinds of asset classes:
• Bitcoin fell below $4,000 over the weekend. It lost a third of its value in under a week, and is down about 80 percent from its high of nearly $20,000 last December.
• Many other markets, including emerging-economy currencies and commodities, are struggling.
• The WSJ notes that “90 percent of the 70 asset classes tracked by Deutsche Bank are posting negative total returns in dollar terms for the year through mid-November.”
The contributing factors include slowing global growth, trade tensions and rising interest rates. More on what to make of it all from Greg Ip of the WSJ:
The question is whether markets, in adjusting to these new realities, will overreact to the point that they endanger the expansion, on track to become the longest ever next summer. The answer for now appears to be no, but the trends are troubling.
Ghosn’s auto alliance tries to avoid tearing itself apart
Leaders from Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi are scheduled to meet this week in an attempt to keep their partnership alive after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn. They have their work cut out.
Nissan’s C.E.O., Hiroto Saikawa, has said publicly that Renault has too much control over his company — the French company owns a 43 percent voting stake — despite selling fewer cars. And Bloomberg reports, citing unidentified sources, that Nissan is taking steps to revamp the alliance’s rules, which could include a change to Renault’s ability to pick the partnership’s chairman. The French government, which owns a big stake in Renault, says the partnership shouldn’t change.
Mr. Ghosn remains in custody in Japan, where he is suspected of violating financial rules. He has reportedly denied the accusations. And the WSJ reports on a potential legal defense: that he didn’t report details of deferred compensation because he believed it wasn’t necessary.
More: Mitsubishi’s board voted today to remove Mr. Ghosn as chairman.
Campbell Soup nears a truce with an activist hedge fund
The food and beverages company is close to reaching a deal to give Third Point two seats on its board and input on a third new director, the NYT reports. An accord would end a monthslong battle over the fate of the 150-year-old food maker that has included a debate about whether the company should be sold.
More from Noam Scheiber:
Third Point believes that its input into the selection of the next chief executive is a critical concession, according to the other person with knowledge of the talks. Many of the descendants of John T. Dorrance, the condensed soup inventor, have acknowledged the need to restructure the company even as they have chafed at what they see as an assault by Daniel Loeb, who runs Third Point.
Apple case heads to the Supreme Court. The company is accused of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the iPhone app market and making consumers pay over the odds. Justices will weigh a big question: Can consumers sue for damages in these kinds of cases?
Hiding a dire climate report amid Black Friday mania
Late last week, the Trump administration published a climate change report with an incredibly stark warning: If significant steps aren’t taken to rein in global warming, environmental damage could disrupt supply chains, exports and crop yields. That could wipe 10 percent off the size of the American economy by 2100.
If you missed the news, that may have been the point.
The report is the most comprehensive scientific study to date about how climate change will affect the U.S. It also directly contradicts the Trump administration’s climate-change policies.
But because the report was mandated by Congress, the White House was required to publish it. Unidentified sources told Coral Davenport of the NYT that editing the summary of its conclusions to play down the findings had been considered politically and legally risky. Instead, the report was published the afternoon of Black Friday — in the hope that Americans weren’t paying attention.
Brexit’s next big hurdle: Parliament
The E.U. formally approved a draft agreement yesterday for Britain’s momentous departure from the political bloc. (Some European leaders even expressed sadness.) But Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, needs her Parliament to sign on, and that may be her biggest challenge yet.
British lawmakers are expected to vote on the 585-page withdrawal pact early next month. Mrs. May argues that they should either approve it or face the chaos of a no-deal Brexit. (The E.U. warned that there was no possibility of renegotiating the agreement.) A legislative victory will not be easy: Hard-line supporters of Brexit say the deal leaves Britain tied too closely to Europe, while some opponents are still hoping for a permanent customs union with the bloc — or a second vote on Brexit altogether.
Markets appear to believe that Mrs. May will ultimately win, though some analysts say the prime minister shouldn’t count on using the threat of a market and currency plunge to gain support ahead of the parliamentary vote.
Black Friday isn’t saving brick-and-mortar stores
Foot traffic in U.S. stores fell between 1 percent and 9 percent the day after Thanksgiving, compared with last year, according to analyst estimates. That means physical stores couldn’t necessarily find solace in one of the biggest shopping periods of the year (and the traditional scenes of crowds wrestling for TVs were fewer.)
But online shopping? That surged 23 percent, to $6.22 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. And the WSJ points out that more families felt flush and spent more this year, thanks to a robust economy. Major retailers were pleased about the results. “I think that retail is at a really good place at the moment, online and in stores,” Greg Foran, C.E.O. of Walmart U.S., told the WSJ.
And they may have more reason to celebrate today: Cyber Monday sales are expected to reach $7.8 billion.
Elon Musk says he’s likely to go to Mars
The Tesla and SpaceX C.E.O. told Axios that there’s a “70 percent” chance that he will go to Mars — but added that it would be no picnic.
Mike Allen of Axios asked Mr. Musk if his vision of sending people to the Red Planet aboard rockets built by his private space company was “an escape hatch for rich people.” Mr. Musk argued that people would “be working nonstop to build the base” with “not much time for leisure.” He also said that “there’s a good chance of death” both during the journey and when on the planet.
That sounds like a “no” to the escape hatch question. But Mr. Musk added that lots of people do things for the challenge: “There’s lots of people who climb mountains. People die on Mount Everest all the time.”
BlackRock named Geraldine Buckingham as the new head of its Asia-Pacific operations.
G.M. will reportedly shut down a factory in Oshawa, Ontario, affecting 2,800 workers.
The speed read
• Bayer’s $63 billion takeover of Monsanto isn’t paying off yet. (WSJ)
• Saudi Aramco’s C.E.O. said that buying majority control of the chemical maker Sabic would help the oil company grow. (Bloomberg)
• Logitech, the keyboard maker, said it had ended talks to buy Plantronics, the maker of Bluetooth headsets. (Reuters)
• Venezuela struck a $1.4 billion deal to keep Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of its state-owned oil company, out of creditors’ hands. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
• Democrats will vote this week on whether to choose Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. (WSJ)
• Democratic and Republican lawmakers are starting to investigate Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. (NYT)
• Republicans criticized President Trump’s pledge of support to Saudi Arabia. (WSJ)
• The Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini threatened to bring down the government if the country is forced to make more concessions to the E.U. over its budget. (Bloomberg)
• How Mr. Trump tweets by dictation. (Axios)
• Separatist states that describe themselves as independent have helped Russia avoid international sanctions. (WaPo)
• Silicon Valley is nervous about the Trump administration putting new limits on technology exports. (FT)
• India and Australia are working together to counter China’s dominance. (NYT)
• Wall Street executives who work closely with Beijing are annoying the Trump administration. (FT)
• U.S. aluminum tariffs have pushed down metal prices in Asia. (Nikkei Asian Review)
• Chinese scientists claim to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies. (MIT Technology Review)
• The British Parliament seized internal Facebook documents believed to contain information about the company’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Details from a 2015 anti-competition lawsuit against Facebook’s data use could be made public. The social network also acknowledged having hired the P.R. firm Definers. And when should Mark Zuckerberg give up the reins?
• U.S. mobile data plans are some of the most expensive in the world. (Motherboard)
• Mind-machine interfaces are helping paralyzed people experience the world. (New Yorker)
Best of the rest
• More institutional investors are turning their backs on tobacco and weapons. (WSJ)
• Monopolies may be the new normal for U.S. industries. (NYT Op-Ed)
• How Guy Raz used astonishment to create a wildly successful business podcast. (NYT)
• Goldman Sachs reportedly overhauled its oversight measures shortly after its scandal-ridden 1MDB deal. (FT)
• Tariffs and a tight job market are putting the brakes on new infrastructure projects. (WSJ)
• There’s a new kind of dating app for the rich and single. (FT)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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