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Tangled Relations: Saudi Arabia, Trump and U.S. Businesses

The disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi after visiting an embassy of Saudi Arabia in Turkey has brought renewed attention to what’s been true for years: the United States — and its president — has an important, and extremely complicated, relationship with Saudi Arabia. In recent years, U.S. businesses have developed even deep connections to the Middle Eastern country. Now, in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s disappearance, CEOs of some of the largest financial firms...


Cities Want Amazon. But Is HQ2 a Good Deal?

By the end of this year, Amazon says it will choose the city where it will build the company's second North American headquarters. Since it announced the project, cities across the country have jumped at the chance to host the mega-office. Now, Amazon has whittled the list of contenders down to 20, including New York City and Newark, N.J. The campus, wherever it lands, will be a big prize. Amazon says it will bring 50,000 employees earning high median incomes in addition to $5 billion in...


The Cost of the Office? Trump's Billion-Dollar Loss

Nearly 20 years ago, Donald Trump famously told Fortune magazine that he could run for president and make money doing it. "It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it," he said in the 2000 interview. But now that he's president, the story is looking a bit different. A report from Forbes magazine this week concluded that the presidency has not enriched Trump overall: Measuring Trump's net worth before he announced his run for the...


Modernizing the Music Business for the Streaming Era

Amid an atmosphere of intense political partisanship, a rare and remarkable thing happened in Washington this week: Both parties came together to solve a problem — in this instance, in the music world. With music streaming on the rise, lawmakers hammered out legislation that will update copyright laws and create a new licensing system for streaming services in an effort to bring the music business into the 21st Century. The legislation, known as the Music Modernization Act, (renamed the...


The Case for ‘Medicare for All’

This election season, many leading Democrats have come out in favor of "Medicare for All," the single-payer health care plan from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The bill, which two years ago hardly had any support, is now popular with about a third of the Senate Democratic caucus, including many rumored 2020 presidential candidates. It also got a big boost from the most famous Democrat of all: former president Barack Obama, who said recently "Democrats aren’t just running on good, old...


The Financial Crisis and the Boom in U.S. Oil Production

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15, 2008. It was an event that set off a downward spiral in the American markets and ultimately led to a global recession. Leading up to the anniversary, there’s been a lot of reflecting about what happened and what, if anything, has changed. There's also been a lot of analysis about how the recession had many unexpected responses, like the rise of the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street and the...


Congress Considers Reining in Big Tech

Silicon Valley is back in Washington, D.C. Executives from the two of nation's leading tech companies — CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg — went to Congress this week to face questions from lawmakers about their efforts to prevent foreign influence in our elections and to respond to charges of bias against conservatives. It’s not the first time Congress has grilled tech executives in an attempt to untangle the effect of social media on democracy; Facebook founder Mark...


'Taking Tesla Private' Creates Public Mess

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has had a rough year. His effort to get a relatively affordable electric car, the Model 3, to a mass market has been rocky. Profitability has been an ongoing issue. And his own sometimes bizarre behavior has gotten the attention of both gossip blogs and investors betting against the success of the company. Amid a tumultuous time for Tesla, Musk sent out a tweet that sent investors scrambling: He had a plan to take the company private, and funding to back it up. An...


Can a Bull Market Beat a Blue Wave?

For a long time now, the economy has been doing quite well, thank you very much. Job growth is up, unemployment is near a 50-year low and the stock market has been on a bullish climb for more than 10 years — nearly the longest stretch in its history by some accounts. All that good economic news has the Trump administration pleased. The president’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow boasted that the White House’s policies — including protectionist tariffs, tax cuts and loosening of regulations...


The Crisis Before the Financial Crisis

Ten years ago, in September 2008, Lehman Brothers failed. It marked a decisive moment in the financial crisis, one where the U.S. economy plunged into what we now know as the Great Recession. With such a momentous anniversary approaching (September 15, if you want to mark your calendar), you can expect there'll be a slew of stories that look back at what happened and where things stand. But there’s another anniversary that’s not getting as much attention. Ten years before Lehman, in 1998,...


Where are All the Female CEOs?

Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, announced this week that she is stepping down after leading that company for 12 years. With her departure, that leaves 24 female CEOs at companies in the S&P 500 index, less than five percent. Earlier this year, during an interview with the podcast Freakonomics, Nooyi spoke about the challenges of getting and keeping women in top positions. "How are you going to attract women to the workforce, where we need them, but allow them to balance having a...


The Big Business of Cannabis

This week, a new policy from Manhattan’s District Attorney Cyrus Vance went into effect. His office will no longer prosecute people for using marijuana (unless it's deemed public safety threat) or for possessing small amounts. "I believe it is more proportionate to the offense to have someone given a ticket to go pay a summons than to be arrested or to have a criminal record," he told WNYC News' Richard Hake. Vance is not alone. Across the country, politicians and prosecutors in more and...


The Regulatory Rollback Carmakers Thought They Wanted

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has been talking about boosting America's automobile industry. Specifically, he wants to roll back the stricter standards for carbon dioxide emissions that were placed on cars by the Obama Administration in 2010. The auto industry has been griping about the so-called CAFE standards ever since. Last year, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group, wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency which read “even under...


Can The Fed Stop a Trade War?

Jerome Powell has only been serving as Chairman of the Federal Reserve since February, but he's already having to contend with some unusual circumstances. This week, he appeared before Congress to speak about the state of the economy. Lawmakers wanted to know what America’s top central banker thinks about President Trump's steadily escalating trade war. Since January, Trump has imposed or threatened to impose tariffs on 10,000 different products the U.S. imports from Mexico, Canada,...


Deciding the Future of Healthcare

If President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is approved, he will potentially be making decisions on some of the nation's most contentious issues. That includes topics like abortion, corporate regulation, and healthcare. The Obama-era Affordable Care Act has been at the center of partisan debate since it went into law, and reports swirl of rising premiums and plans that offer few benefits. With yet another challenge to the ACA working its way through courts in...


A Sign of Future Recession

By all accounts, the U.S. economy is doing well, and has been for a long time. Unemployment is at an 18-year low, businesses are growing and the stock market has been on a historic, bullish climb. But some on Wall Street are closely watching one economic indicator — the yield curve — that has a history of predicting an end to all of that: Recession. The yield curve — a somewhat obscure (if you aren't in finance) display of interest earned, or the yield, from treasuries — rises from low to...


Trump, Trade and Tariffs

With all the back and forth lately about trade and tariffs, you can’t be faulted for feeling a bit confused about where exactly the U.S. stands. The Trump administration has already implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum, threatened other tariffs elsewhere, taken a lot of flack from other countries about it — including, critically, China and one of America’s closest allies, Canada — all while Trump and his administration make contradictory public statements on policy. This week on Money...


The Conflicts of Wilbur Ross

In the Trump administration’s trade deal negotiations, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has a leading role, particularly in China. He’s been in the room with officials in Beijing and is often called upon as the public face of the White House’s policies. This week, he appeared before the Senate Finance Committee hearing to defend tariffs on steel and aluminum. But as that was happening, new reporting from Forbes magazine found that for most of last year, Ross — a former businessman and...


As Regulators Crack Down, Funds Roll in for Electric Scooters

As Silicon Valley creates driverless cars and attempts to commercialize space travel, several companies are aiming to disrupt a much more modest mode of transportation: Short trips taken by motorized, battery-powered scooters. Dockless, app-powered scooters have popped up in cities all along the West Coast in recent months, and tech investors are taking notice. One scooter company, Bird Rides, is reportedly raking in millions from venture capitalists and is aiming for a $2 billion...


Game Over: The Collapse of Toys ‘R’ Us

Back in the day, Toys ‘R’ Us brought to mind cheerful images: lots of kids having fun, rows and rows of shiny toys and games, Geoffrey the Giraffe and a great jingle (got that song stuck in your head now? you're welcome). But the iconic toy company is now closing up shop, laying off more than 30,000 employees and shuttering its U.S. stores amid bankruptcy. It's demise is the cover story for this week's Bloomberg Businessweek, entitled "Tears 'R' Us: The World’s Biggest Toy Store Didn’t...