DealBook Briefing: Trump’s Wounded. Will Business Feel the Pain?Good Wednesday morning. Bloomberg has turned Brexit into an oddly addictive 8-bit game. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)
Two big strikes against the Trump agenda
President Trump’s White House has been dealt its most serious blows yet. The guilty plea by Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and the conviction of Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, will rock the administration. Especially damaging: Mr. Cohen’s admission to paying a porn star hush money at Mr. Trump’s request, apparently violating campaign finance laws.
How much will that hurt Mr. Trump’s ability to govern — and to continue deregulating business?
Well, legal and political experts agree that Robert Mueller probably won’t seek to indict Mr. Trump while he is in office, and that lawmakers are likely to shy away from impeachment.
But all eyes are on his allies in Congress. Mr. Trump, Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion argues, is now “an unusually weak president.” The rewards of helping and protecting him may be shrinking.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.
The bull market’s 3,453-day winning streak
Today, stocks will cross a threshold: the 10-year-old bull market will arguably become the longest on record. (The argument’s about rounding.) Matthew Phillips of the NYT explains why that matters, and why not all Americans will be celebrating:
It ranks among the great booms in American market history. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has soared more than 320 percent since emerging from the rubble of the financial crisis in March 2009, creating more than $18 trillion in wealth. But the gains haven’t been spread among the masses. Stock market wealth is heavily concentrated among the richest families.
Facebook meddling goes global
The social network has identified several new campaigns to mislead people around the world and removed 652 fake accounts, pages and groups trying to sow misinformation. Facebook says that this time the activity originated in Iran and Russia, and targeted Latin America, Britain and the Middle East, as well as America.
The motivation looks unchanged, however. More from Sheera Frenkel and Nicholas Fandos of the NYT:
The aims of the latest campaigns appeared to be similar to those of past operations on the social network: to distribute false news that might cause confusion among people, and to alter people’s thinking to become more partisan or pro-government on various issues.
Things could get worse. Axios describes how creators of misinformation are learning to dodge social media rules and fool savvier readers.
Bonus misinformation story: “Only 15% of Russians believe Kremlin interfered in 2016 U.S. election.”
Two Silicon Valley giants split on whether to I.P.O.
Uber took another big step toward its public market debut, planned for next year, by hiring a C.F.O. with a Wall Street pedigree, Nelson Chai. (He came recommended by a board member: John Thain, his former boss at Merrill Lynch and CIT Group.)
Slack, by contrast, is looking to stay private as long as it can, and has raised another $427 million at a $7.1 billion valuation. Lex isn't impressed: It reckons Slack and other holdouts risk missing their chance to cash in on the stock market run. But if investors remain happy to throw money at private companies, why should Slack rush to go public?
The grocery industry has an appetite for start-ups
Amazon’s $13.4 deal for Whole Foods started a trend. Traditional grocery retailers are lusting after digital technology; online companies are seeing benefits in bricks and mortar. See, for instance, Kroger partnering with the online grocer Ocado to automate ordering; Target acquiring the same-day delivery company Shipt; and the e-commerce start-up Boxed selling a minority stake to Aeon Group, one of Japan’s largest retail chains.
They’re all trying to solve the same very difficult puzzle, says Erin Griffith of the NYT:
Food shopping is one of the last major holdouts to online retail. Groceries are unique in that their inventory is perishable, fragile and heavy. Grocery customers often shop at the last minute, like to see the food they are about to eat and don’t want to pay high delivery fees.
Chieh Huang, the C.E.O. of Boxed, poses the big question: “Are technology folks like us going to figure out retail faster than the retailers figure out technology?”
Women-owned businesses are rising. Their revenues? Not so much.
American Express commissioned a report on the state of U.S. women-owned businesses, based on Census Bureau data. Some findings:
• Some 40 percent of U.S. businesses are now female-owned, up from 29 percent in 2007.
• Women of color made much of the difference. While the number of women-owned businesses grew 58 percent from 2007 to 2018, the number owned by women of color grew 163 percent.
• But employment and revenues aren’t on the same course. All these businesses are responsible for 8 percent of total employment (it was 6 percent in 2007) and claim 4.3 percent of total business revenue (up from 4 percent).
JPMorgan kicks off a Wall Street price war
The banking giant unveiled an investing app that lets customers make at least 100 free trades for a year. That’s a bold move — JPMorgan previously charged $25 for such trades — but one it’s hinted at for a while. The inspiration: Amazon Prime.
The announcement whacked shares in the big online brokerages — TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab and Etrade — by as much as 7 percent. Why? Because it creates huge pressure to offer zero-commission stock trades. Start-ups like Robinhood already did that, but they’re not JPMorgan. As the Bernstein analyst Ethan Brodie put it to clients yesterday: “Free is the new cheap.”
Philip Noblet, HSBC’s top deal-maker in Britain, is joining Jefferies as its head of U.K. investment banking.
The speed read
• The mattress giant Serta Simmons will buy an upstart rival, Tuft & Needle. (CNBC)
• Private equity firms are said to be interested in buying local TV stations. (CNBC)
• Benchmark plans to keep its next venture fund at around $550 million, despite recent successes. (WSJ)
• SoftBank is leading a $300 million investment in Getaround, a car-sharing start-up. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
• Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled an anticorruption bill that would bar lawmakers from owning stock. (WSJ)
• Representative Duncan Hunter of California was charged with misusing campaign funds. (NYT)
• President Trump could start manipulating the dollar, analysts suggest. (Bloomberg)
• China tariffs could raise the prices of Fitbits, leather sofas, pillows and more. (NYT)
• American tariffs on imported cars are being delayed. (WSJ)
• Mexico’s new president doesn’t want energy included in a revised Nafta. (WSJ)
• Cryptocurrencies are gaining — thanks to short-sellers covering their bets. (Bloomberg)
• What it’s like to be a target of the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear. (WSJ op-ed)
• How Tesla’s board could protect the company from Elon Musk. (FT)
• A California fire chief says Verizon throttled his department’s wireless data. (Fortune)
• China says that 800 million of its citizens now use the internet. (Bloomberg)
Best of the rest
• Some see Utah as the next great source of oil. (NYT)
• Prosperity is rising; happiness isn’t. (NYT Op-Ed)
• Venezuela’s new currency is paralyzing the country. (BBC)
• How the financial crash shaped our literary tastes. (FT)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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