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Aug 8, 2016

DealBook Morning Edition - August 8, 2016: Think Tanks Becomes Vehicles for Corporate Influence by Amie Tsang

The New York Times
By Amie Tsang
Think Tanks Become Vehicles for Corporate Influence They are regarded as research centers independent of moneyed interest, but think tanks have to chase funds, too and, in the process, have pushed the agendas of corporate donors.
Thousands of pages of internal memos and confidential correspondence between the Brookings Institution and its donors, obtained by The New York Times and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, show that financial support bought assurances of “donation benefits,” which included setting up events featuring corporate executives with government officials. The donors included Lennar Corporation, one of the nation’s largest home builders; JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank; and the software giant Microsoft.
Similar arrangements exist at other think tanks. Executives reject any suggestion that they are tools of corporate influence campaigns and say they are simply teaming up with donors that have similar goals. But lawyers specializing in nonprofit law said the Brookings agreements raised questions. “Tax deductions are subsidies that are paid for by all taxpayers,” said Miranda Perry Fleischer, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. “And the reason the subsidy is provided is that the charitable organization is supposed to be doing something for the public good, not that specifically benefits the private individual or corporation in the form of providing them goods or services.”
America’s Failed State As debates drag on about Puerto Rico, the situation is getting worse on the ground, but it appears to be a land of contradictions. Patriots denounce Yankee imperialism and shop at Walmart. Unemployment is at 12 percent, but there is no one to pick the coffee crop. Some have fled for the mainland, fearing a situation like Detroit, but others still are staying or coming back in the hope that the coming federal oversight board will bring change.
Miguel A. Soto-Class, president of the Center for a New Economy, a research institute in San Juan, says people ask him regularly how to prepare. But he does not know because the situation has no precendent. Mary Williams Walsh talks to some of the people on the island grappling with the unknown.
On the Agenda Donald J. Trump will present his latest economic plan at the Detroit Economic Club at 11:30 a.m.
A Moment for More Women to Speak Up Experts expect the accusations against Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, and the comedian Bill Cosby to prompt more women to speak out, but some people worry that this could be another Anita Hill moment. Ms. Hill, a law professor, accused her former boss, then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment. It raised awareness about workplace behavior, but Ms. Hill faced intense criticism.
The majority of harassment episodes still go unreported and some plaintiff’s lawyers contend that the risks of speaking out have actually increased. The charge of “troublemaker” might dog women who speak out for the rest of their lives. Still, the accusations against Mr. Cosby and Mr. Ailes could push employers to take discrimination claims more seriously.
Steinhoff Targets the U.S. With a Deal for Mattress Firm
Steinhoff International, a South African discount retailer, made a $3.8 billion bid for Mattress Firm Holding, the largest bedding retailer in the United States.
Anbang Denies Report of Bid for InterContinental
Anbang Insurance Group denied a report by a British newspaper that it was considering making a bid for InterContinental Hotels, a group based in Britain that owns the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands.
Worst Banks in E.U. Stress Tests Have Paid $22 Billion in Dividends Since 2011
The 10 poorest performers in European Union bank stress tests have paid almost 20 billion euros, or about $22 billion, in dividends since 2011, increasing the potential burden on bondholders and taxpayers should they fail.
Alipay Opens Wallets in Europe
Alipay, the payments platform affiliated with Alibaba, is signing deals with brick-and-mortar retailers in Europe in an effort to bulk up its offering for Chinese tourists and expats.
Hacked Bitcoin Exchange Returns Online
Bitfinex, the Bitcoin exchange based in Hong Kong that was hacked last week, said it was beginning to bring its system back online after telling users that they would lose 36 percent of their deposits.
When Every Company Is a Tech Company, Does the Label Matter?
Technology is now so pervasive in business that it might be time to call G.E. and Johnson & Johnson tech stocks, not just the Silicon Valley stars.
From left, Tom Barrack, Steve Mnuchin and John Paulson
Trump’s Economic Team: Bankers and Billionaires (and All Men)
The 13-member team includes several billionaire bankers and investment managers, but no women and few economists.
Two houses on the market in New Haven. The asking price of the house with the porch is $249,000, around the median sales price in the United States. If G.D.P. and income had grown as slowly in the second half of the 20th century as they have since 2000, typical Americans could afford houses more like the other one, for sale at $130,500.
We’re in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here?
Economic growth in advanced nations has been weaker for longer than it has been in most people’s lifetimes.
Captain Greg Kerr, a British Airways pilot, on an iPad. British Airways has built more than 40 custom iPad apps for its work force.
Once Taunted by Steve Jobs, Companies Are Now Big Customers of Apple
Corporations are turning to Apple’s products for their tight-knit hardware and software, advanced security and intuitive interfaces.
Clinton Creason beneath the fiber line that delivers high-speed internet to his home in Zena, Okla.<br /><br />
How to Give Rural America Broadband? Look to the Early 1900s
To provide high-speed internet to remote areas, local power companies are borrowing techniques that were used to electrify towns in the United States nearly a century ago.