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Marc Ross Daily
April 27, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

Marc Ross Daily  = Global Business News at the Intersection of Politics + Policy + Profits

Subscribe here
https://goo.gl/bSQKwA

TOP FIVE

✔️ North, South Korea aim to declare end to war this year

✔️ Huawei pulls €500m bond offering moments before pricing

✔️ ‘Mexico First’ campaign could end welcome for U.S. oil giants

✔️ At least Macron got a kiss: Now Merkel's up to sway Trump

✔️ Trump warns other nations not to undermine U.S. World Cup bid

ROSS RANT

Team Trump’s China gamble

The Trump administration's top economic and trade officials — including Steven Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Robert Lighthizer, and Peter Navarro — will head to China next week to try to prevent tit-for-tat tariffs from taking effect. But analysts doubt they can convince Xi Jinping to make any big concessions. 

Trump the deal marker seems confident.

‘I think we’ve got a very good chance of making a deal,’ Trump said earlier this week.

Trump went on to say, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is headed to China in "a few days" to resolve the ongoing trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. "They trade with us [but] we can't trade with them," Trump declared. Both countries have proposed tariffs on the other, after the Trump administration's Section 301 investigation into China's business practices.

American business continues to be baffled by Trump's goals in China trade battle. No one seems to have the answer to one key question: What will it take for Trump to declare victory and withdraw his threat to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese goods? 

"Based on my conversations, both with U.S. government officials and Chinese government officials, there's been a lack of specificity in what China could do that would satisfy the United States and avoid the imposition of tariffs and investment restrictions or anything else," Erin Ennis, vice president  the US-China Business Council, said during a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by the Global Business Dialogue, an industry-funded.

Have you ever made a trip to a foreign land with no agenda and clear outcomes?

Usually it is for fun and vacation.

When it is for business and deal making it is called a boondoggle.

Maybe Team Trump will get to see the Great Wall so it won't be a complete waste. 

Huawei pulls €500m bond offering and America’s Huawei probe - Why you should care

Huawei scrapped a bond sale after it emerged that America’s DOJ is investigating the Chinese telecoms giant over suspected violations of Iran-related sanctions. 

Bankers and fixed income investors close to the deal said demand for the bond was strong on Wednesday evening until the company called off the deal without explanation. Some investors speculated that Huawei stopped the deal because the company was aware of an investigation and wanted to protect buyers from any impact on the price of the security.

The €500m ($605m) offering would have been the firm’s first euro-denominated debt sale. The probe reportedly concerns Huawei’s shipments to Iran of products originating in America.

Why should you care?

America’s Huawei probe will lead to China to find its own American target.

Tim Culpan, the technology columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly, in his recent column writes that whether or not Huawei is guilty of busting American sanctions isn’t the point.

With various U.S. government agencies searching for excuses to clamp down on China’s top technology hardware company, all this attention could fall under the rubric of violating a ban on sales to Iran, espionage, or anything else the U.S. government doesn’t like.

He writes it is possible that Huawei may have committed infractions. Or not.

Regardless, what is essential is that American investigations into alleged violations are being escalated. From one rogue company – ZTE Corp. – to another. Two is a coincidence; three is a trend.  If another Chinese company is investigated, Beijing will have the cover it needs to get even tougher on the U.S. and its corporate giants.

There is a lot of smoke around Huawei for a company few Americans can properly pronounce. Start paying attention to this company because regulators in Beijing are and the impact will shape commerce on both sides of the Pacific.

GEOECONOMICS

NK + SK: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in greeted each other at the border, then walked hand in hand into South Korea.

Bloomberg: North, South Korea aim to declare end to war this year

Modi-Xi: Taking place today and tomorrow in Wuhan, China, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with China’s President Xi Jinping. Talks between Modi and Xi are intended to manage tensions rather than break new ground.

In 1980, the economies of India and China were almost identical in size, with GDP just below $200 billion. Today, China’s economy ($12 trillion) is six times larger than India’s ($2 trillion).

FT: Huawei pulls €500m bond offering moments before pricing

Huawei
 scrapped a bond sale after it emerged that America’s justice department is investigating the Chinese telecoms giant over suspected violations of Iran-related sanctions. The €500m ($605m) offering would have been the firm’s first euro-denominated debt sale. The probe reportedly concerns Huawei’s shipments to Iran of products originating in America.

Why the head of Pacific Command will be the next US ambassador to South Korea instead of Australia: AP reports,  Australia’s prime minister said Wednesday that the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, will not become Washington’s next ambassador to Australia and will be posted to South Korea instead. 

The Thucydides trap: Bloomberg reports, China will become the dominant economic power in Asia in the near term but will not displace the U.S. militarily, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said in an exclusive interview. He also stressed the need for the major powers to act in a “constructive” way to contain the potential military tensions when a new power emerges to rival a hegemon like the U.S.

‘Mexico First’ campaign could end welcome for U.S. oil giants: NYT reports, as Trump moves to recast trade and border relations with Mexico, American oil companies are worried that the prospective winner of Mexico’s presidential election will play his own nationalist card. The leading candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, wants to reverse policies that have tied a knot between Mexico and the United States in recent years in energy production and consumption. And he has promised to make sure that oil never falls “back into the hands of foreigners.”

Schönen tag: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with Trump today at the White House.

A former State Department official told the NYT, “Merkel is going to Washington and it looks like the U.S. just doesn’t care.

At least Macron got a kiss: Now Merkel's up to sway Trump: Bloomberg reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has one advantage when she meets Donald Trump to discuss a host of conflicts: expectations she can sway the U.S. president are close to zero. After three days of back-slapping bonhomie with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump is allotting two hours on Friday for a White House meeting with the leader of Europe's biggest economy.

Trump's UK visit: Trump will visit the U.K. for bilateral talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on (Friday) July 13. Expect all meetings with crown and state to take place outside of London Town and well away from planned protests.

It will be a 24-hour visit during which he will finally be granted his wish of meeting the Queen.

A Brexit choice between bad and worse: A customs union won't solve Britain's problems — but it's better than the looming alternative.
Bloomberg - Michael Bloomberg

Britain's economy grew by just 0.1% in the first quarter, its weakest pace since 2012

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson: To the delight of Conservatives everywhere, Davidson last night announced that her and her partner Jen Wilson are expecting, with the baby due in October. 

NYT - Editorial: Mr. Macron comes to Washington: President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Washington was certainly grand theater: the hugs and kisses with President Trump, the dandruff whisked off his lapel, the first lady's broad white hat, and then the 40-year-old French wunderkind rising before Congress to deliver a stern lecture in elegantly accented English on why the American president is wrong about multilateralism, protectionism, nationalism, Iran and climate change. Mr. Macron no doubt planned the bait-and-switch for some time.

AMERICAN POLITICS

NYT: For many, life in Trump’s orbit ends in a crash landing

"Half of the top aides who came to the White House with Mr. Trump in 2017 are gone."

Trump’s ever-mounting scrap heap: Politico Magazine reports, the president is under fire, but it’s the people in his orbit who end up in disgrace.

Sen. Menendez ethics: The Senate Ethics Committee "severely admonished" Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) for accepting gifts and advocating for the interests of Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor, and campaign donor.

CNBC: John Kasich met privately with billionaire donor Ron Burkle as the Republican Ohio governor considers a run for president: Sources

Republicans moving up in race for California governor and U.S. Senate, poll finds: SJMN reports, with 40 days to go until the June 5 primary, two Republican candidates for governor are fighting for second place, and a little-known GOP candidate could also make waves in the campaign for U.S. Senate, according to a new poll. The poll, released Thursday by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies, found Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, continuing to lead the field for governor with 30 percent among likely voters, followed by Republicans John Cox, a San Diego County businessman, at 18 percent, and Travis Allen, an Orange County state assemblyman, at 16 percent.

ENTERPRISE

BMW to export from China: In 2020, the carmaker will produce its first electric SUV at its Chinese joint-venture factory.

YouTube’s plan to clean up the mess that made it rich: Extremist propaganda, dangerous hoaxes, videos of tasered rats—the company is having its worst year ever. Except financially. https://bloom.bg/2r4iEu7

Amazon’s doubled its profit in the first quarter and said it would raise the price of Prime membership to $119 a year from$99. 

100 million products now available to Prime members in two days or less.

A Walmart deal for a majority stake in Flipkart, at a roughly $20 billion valuation, is expected soon. 

Intel’s profit surged 50 percent, helped by sales of server chips and other data center equipment.

Facebook faces tough questions in Britain that it avoided in the U.S.: NYT reports, in London, Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, faced more than four hours of questions from a British parliamentary committee over the company’s data-collection techniques, oversight of app developers, fake accounts, political advertising and links to the voter-targeting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Southwest Airlines has firmed up an order for 40 Boeing 737 MAX jets worth $4.68B.

Subway plans to close 500 of its 26,000 U.S. locations this year while opening 1,000 internationally.

TRENDS

A robotic port in China won’t need humans to unload ships: Autonomous trucks and cranes will move containers all day. http://bit.ly/2vW9rKc

Why we should bulldoze the business school: There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. 
Guardian - Martin Parker

Over 400 startups are trying to become the next Warby Parker. Inside the wild race to overthrow every consumer category: Wharton professors, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs are fueling an entire generation of Warby Parkers. Now there are more than 400 startups tackling products from toothbrushes to bras. What could go wrong? http://bit.ly/2I5oKT9

Who creates a nation’s economic value? A challenging analysis that forces us to reconsider how our economies work — and who it works for. https://on.ft.com/2vW9zJG

"Among other things, we need to re-think the relationship between markets and governments; make a clear distinction between creators of wealth and those who merely extract it; embrace bolder collective ambitions, notably a shift to a greener economy; and spend on the future, instead of embracing a sterile and counterproductive austerity." 

CULTURE

Louis Arthur Charles = Name for newest UK Royal family member

Venice to start turning tourists away: The Times reports, officials in Venice plan to turn away day-trippers and keep visitors separate from residents on main thoroughfares as crowds descend on the lagoon city over May Day. The “urgent” measures, which the mayor said were unprecedented, aim to control a stifling tourist boom that brings up to 120,000 visitors on peak days, more than double the dwindling population of 53,000.

FT: Helicopter noise blights the ‘hipsters’ Hamptons’ https://on.ft.com/2r3wkpe

SPORT

NFL Draft: Quarterback Baker Mayfield went first overall in the NFL draft, to Cleveland.

The Browns didn't disappoint. It doesn't matter.

Can you say London Jaguars? The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, offered to buy the English national soccer stadium, Wembley.

NFL and Amazon renew partnership to stream Thursday Night Football globally during 2018 and 2019 seasons to over 100 million Amazon Prime members.

Trump warns nations against opposing US World Cup bid: Morocco is putting up an unexpectedly strong challenge to host 2026 tournament with Fifa officials reportedly rankled by Trump’s travel ban. https://sc.mp/2HzfU3e

Bloomberg: Trump warns other nations not to undermine U.S. World Cup bid

FIFA is expected to decide in June on the host for the 2026 competition, which will be the first to feature an expanded 48-nation field.

@realDonaldTrump: The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don't support us (including at the United Nations)?

Knights the hottest show on Vegas Strip: AP reports, the Vegas Golden Knights remained undefeated in the playoffs by dominating the San Jose Sharks 7-0 in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals. The hottest show on the Las Vegas Strip got even hotter as the Knights — who were 200-1 at many sportsbooks to win the Stanley Cup before the season began — opened their second playoff series with a rout of the Sharks that was over before the Zambonis hit the ice.

House of Lords, Kim-Trump Summit, P&G, Amazon Prime, 420, Ikea

Marc Ross Daily_Forward (1).png

House of Lords, Kim-Trump Summit, P&G, Amazon Prime, 420, Ikea

Marc Ross Daily
April 19, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

Marc Ross Daily  = Global Business News at the Intersection of Politics + Policy + Profits

Subscribe here
https://goo.gl/bSQKwA

TOP FIVE

✔️ Oil at 4-year high

✔️ Lords votes to amend Brexit bill

✔️ How aging aircraft may dictate Kim-Trump venue

✔️ P&G slogs through ‘difficult’ markets for sales growth

✔️ 100 million people globally are now paying for Amazon Prime

ROSS IN THE NEWS

CGTN - American: Just how close is the US to a trade war with China? I was on CGTN-America last evening for an interview with Mike Walter on the state of US-China commercial relations.

Trade war? 

Not really.

More like a trade irritation.

You can watch the clip here: http://bit.ly/2HyWF8P

GEOECONOMICS

Oil at 4-year high ahead of OPEC-Russia meeting: FT reports, energy stocks and crude-linked currencies rally as investors eye longer production curbs

How the US positioned its warships to trick Russia ahead of Syrian strikes: Navy Times reports, the guided-missile destroyers Donald Cook and Winston Churchill never fired a shot in Friday’s allied airstrikes against Syria, but as it turns out, they were key to the mission’s success. 

UK's House of Lords votes to amend Brexit bill over customs union http://p.dw.com/p/2wI2Z

Bloomberg: May defeated in Lords on Brexit, signaling more challenges ahead

Former UK PM David Cameron says he doesn’t regret holding the Brexit vote in 2016, but still wishes the country had voted to remain.

Germans divided over impact of globalization: studyhttp://p.dw.com/p/2wIh7

Angela Merkel snubs Emmanuel Macron on plan for EU monetary fund: FT reports, Chancellor sticks to party line and disappoints French president ahead of reform summit.

Macron is rightful heir to the spirit of 1968: Today’s protesters want to cling on to the past, not seize the future.
FT - Philip Stephens

Macron wants to save Europe. He’ll need to save France first: Bloomberg reports, the French president heads to Washington in hopes of gaining support for his ambitious agenda. https://bloom.bg/2K06J9h

China conducts war games, and Taiwan is the target: NYT reports, China carried out live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its state news media reported, an exercise intended to show the growing strength of its navy and deliver a message to self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as its territory. 

WSJ: Trump says he’ll walk out of Kim meeting if it’s ‘not fruitful’

NYT: Meet me in Mongolia: How aging aircraft may dictate Kim-Trump venue
 https://nyti.ms/2J7uuuO

What’s inside made-in-China electronics should worry federal customers, study says: WP reports, the U.S. government is dangerously vulnerable to Chinese espionage or cyberattack because of its dependence on electronics and software made in China, a risk that threatens to grow as Beijing seeks global technological dominance, according to a study for a congressionally chartered advisory commission. Information technology products made by enterprises owned or influenced by China could be modified to work poorly, conduct espionage or otherwise interfere with government operations, said the report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is scheduled to be released Thursday. Much of the government’s annual $90 billion in spending on information technology is devoted to Chinese products, offering Chinese officials an opportunity to seed U.S. government offices with spyware and electronic backdoors that could be exploited for cyberattacks, said Jennifer Bisceglie, chief executive of Interos Solutions, which conducted the study. https://wapo.st/2HbKVd0

WSJ: China wary of Qualcomm’s $44 billion NXP deal amid tensions with US

NYT: Huawei and ZTE hit hard as US moves against Chinese tech firms

Bloomberg - Daniel Moss: US earns more in China than trade numbers reveal: That leaves American companies vulnerable to retaliation by Beijing. It also gives them more reason to defuse trade tensions. The huge missing ingredient in the trade deficit number is the business done in China by American companies. General Motors Co. sells more cars in China than at home. There are more Apple Inc. iPhones used in the Middle Kingdom than in the U.S. Overall, China subsidiaries of U.S. companies sold $223 billion of stuff in 2015, reckons Deutsche Bank AG. 

The timeline for a potential U.S.-China trade war: 

May 1, exemptions to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum expire.

May 22, the public comment period ends for another $50 billion worth of tariffs, and the Trump administration can announce a final list of targets.

August 18, potentially the deadline for the administration to act on an investigation into Chinese trade practices. But there’s a provision for a 180-day delay after that.


NAFTA: Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States are hoping to wrap up their talks for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement with a preliminary deal within the next three weeks.

AMERICAN POLITICS

WSJ: Gorsuch sides with liberal justices in immigration ruling

USTR Robert Lighthizer
 spent more than $917,000 to furnish the two trade offices near the White House, according to contracts reviewed by WP. 

I assume all this furniture was Made in America?!?

Across Midwest, farmers warn of GOP losses over Trump’s trade policy: NYT reports, China’s proposed tariffs on soybeans would hit hard in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota and other states with highly competitive House and Senate races. After an initial round of tariffs on a modest share of American exports, the Chinese have displayed a more keen awareness of the electoral map and moved to punish those industries whose misfortune will be felt most intensely in states and districts pivotal in 2018.

Marco Rubio, darling of GOP establishment, hires a thorn in its side: NYT reports, as chief executive of the influential conservative think tank Heritage Action for America, Michael Needham waged years of unforgiving political warfare against the Republican Party establishment, deepening the divide between party leaders and grass-roots activists that helped elevate Donald J. Trump to the presidency. Now Mr. Needham is leaving his job there to become chief of staff for one of the Republican establishment's favorite sons, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The move is certain to raise questions about whether Mr. Rubio, whose hopes of becoming president in 2016 were dashed by Mr. Trump, may be positioning himself for another run.

Germany at the White House: Trump will welcome Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to the White House on April 27, 2018.

There are at least 100 buildings in San Francisco that are both over 240 feet tall and built on ground that has a very high chance of liquefying in an earthquake.

Facebook enlists conservative help to resist privacy rules: Politico reports, an email seeking US groups’ assistance against EU-style regulations came as Mark Zuckerberg was preparing to testify to Congress.

ENTERPRISE

A Bon-Ton liquidation jeopardizes US mall owners already in trouble: CNBC reports, as Bon-Ton heads to liquidation, the shuttering of more than 200 regional department stores jeopardizes U.S. mall owners already struggling to fill empty stores.

A robot has been trained to achieve one of the most difficult tasks confronting humanity: assembling Ikea furniture.

FiveThirtyEight is moving from ESPN to ABC News. 

Walmart is making its website a little less like Walmart: WSJ reports, the retail giant will launch a redesigned site in May with higher-end brands in mind.

Walmart is a beast and is making a lot of wise moves.

Chinese money floods US biotech as Beijing chases new cures: Bloomberg reports, venture-capital funds based in China poured $1.4 billion into private US biotechnology firms in the three months ending March 31, accounting for about 40 percent of the $3.7 billion that the companies raised in the period overall, according to data provider PitchBook. 

P&G slogs through ‘difficult’ markets for sales growth: WSJ reports, Procter & Gamble reported weak sales growth in its latest quarter as the company continues to face challenges in its shaving business and other categories being disrupted by more nimble competitors. 

Procter & Gamble is buying Merck's consumer health business, giving P&G new vitamin and food supplements to add to its over-the-counter business. The deal is worth $4.2 billion.

Buying market share is a not a positive.

Sears opened its first-ever store in Chicago 93 years ago. This summer, it will close its last department store in the city.

Deck: Future of Retailhttp://bit.ly/FutureofRetailMarcRossApril2018

More than 100 million people globally are now paying for Amazon Prime.

Netflix plots $1bn European investment drive: FT reports, the streaming service will double production budget in the region in 2018.

Netflix, which has clashed with movie theaters, may be ready to get into owning cinemas to screen its original work.

TRENDS

Earbuds and tastebuds: Does chocolate taste better if you're listening to Pavarotti? Ad Age looks at how marketers are pairing music and sounds with different tastes. http://bit.ly/2EXEJPU

The loos at Lollapalooza: Music festivals are using RFID bracelets and anonymized data to track and improve the user experience, like shortening the lines at the porta-potties. http://bit.ly/2qGm4Dl

The ultra-cheap phones even iPhone users will crave: WSJ reports, flip phones, and candy bars are back, with low prices, great battery life, and some modern conveniences. https://on.wsj.com/2J5FFV2

CULTURE

AP: 420's long, strange trip to pot holiday began in California http://bit.ly/2HfExgS