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Good Morning. In today’s edition, retail disruption has a silver lining, Nissan takes the keys from Carlos Ghosn, Washington asks allies to drop Huawei, and more.
Millions of Americans are flocking to stores over the Thanksgiving weekend. The drumbeat of retail closings—actually quieter than last year’s, with 19% fewer store closures through Nov. 16—sends a more upbeat signal for the surviving chains: They are drawing their fallen rivals’ displaced shoppers.
Following the collapse of Toys “R” Us and store closings by Sears, retailers including Best Buy and Target pursued their business and picked up market share.
Macy’s said its Midwestern stores are getting a sales lift from the failure of regional chain Bon-Ton Stores. Even struggling J.C. Penney said it was picking up business from the demise of Toys “R” Us unit Babies “R” Us.
“We believe approximately one-third of our store base is being favorably affected by department-store-competitor store closings.”
— Bruce Besanko, finance chief of Kohl’s
Futures pointed to lower openings for the Dow industrials and S&P 500 on their return from the holiday, though European indexes were higher in midmorning trading after sliding Thursday on continuing oil-price volatility. Analysts are concerned that oil, which slipped further Friday, is signaling weaker global growth, as well as reflecting oversupply. Shares in China—a bellwether for those global growth fears—took a beating Friday, including a 2.5% drop in the Shanghai Composite.
Allegations also emerged that Mr. Ghosn spent some $18 million in company money to buy and renovate personal homes and used a subsidiary to make multiple payments to his sister for phantom consulting work. Mr. Ghosn was arrested Monday in Japan on suspicion of conspiring to lower his reported compensation on Nissan’s securities filings by around $44 million over five years.
The sudden arrest is exposing rifts in the Nissan-Renault alliance he built and ruled for more than a decade. Renault’s directors were in shock over Nissan’s handling of the matter.
Greg Kelly, a Nissan board member and former senior executive also jailed, became well known inside the company as gatekeeper and confidant to Mr. Ghosn. Nissan alleged he was the financial misconduct’s “mastermind.”
Mr. Ghosn joins a queue of corporate chieftans accused of mismanaging expenses: Executives at companies including Mercedes-Benz, WPP and the former Hewlett-Packard have exited in recent years following questions about their use of company money.
Washington asks allies to drop Huawei Technologies. Citing cybersecurity risks, the U.S. government—in an extraordinary outreach campaign—is trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in friendly countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from the Chinese company, which dominates the global market.
American officials have talked to their counterparts and telecom executives in countries where Huawei equipment is already in wide use, including Germany, Italy and Japan.
One U.S. concern centers on countries that host American bases. The military has its own satellites and telecom network for sensitive communications, but most traffic at many installations travels through commercial networks.
From reporter Stu Woo:
The U.S. government is shifting from defense to offense: Whereas it previously focused on keeping Huawei telecom equipment out of America, Washington is now trying to persuade allied countries to restrict Chinese equipment on their own turf. U.S. officials have briefed government counterparts and foreign wireless carriers about the risks, and are considering giving more financial aid to countries to buy Western telecom equipment. They worry the Chinese government could compel Huawei to spy or disrupt communications.
Would you watch football without all the violence?
The NFL, facing a concussion crisis, is tinkering with rules to better protect players. Anxiety over head injuries has gotten to the point that people inside football wonder about the sport’s long-term future. Well, the Journal’s Jason Gay asks, what if the league went further than rule changes to make a kinder, gentler game?
Big experiment in tiny satellites
This NASA illustration shows the twin MarCO spacecraft flying over Mars with Earth and the sun in the distance. They are the first CubeSats—a kind of modular minisatellite—flown into deep space. NASA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Inspired by the success of small satellites orbiting Earth, aerospace engineers are coming up with audacious ideas for inexpensive, high-risk deep space missions. A major test is nearing: The two smallest and cheapest spacecraft ever to cross between planets are about to reach Mars, cruising alongside NASA’s $828 million InSight robotic lander. While InSight descends to the surface Monday, the 30-pound briefcase-size satellites will hang back in orbit as communications relays.
Conference Call: Ask About the Best Tech Gifts
This Cyber Monday, Nov. 26, at 1 p.m. ET, join Personal Technology editor Wilson Rothman in conversation with columnists David Pierce and Joanna Stern for a rundown on the best tech gifts for you and your loved ones. Write in to email@example.com, and we will answer live during the call. Register here.
What We’re Following
Washington Calling: President Trump mixed Thanksgiving cheer with politics in phone calls to members of the military, offering gratitude along with complaints about the judiciary and talk about border security.
Brexit Progress: Negotiators for the European Union and U.K. agreed on an outline of future ties, taking the country closer to an orderly departure—though domestic opposition remains.
Farewell Gesture: The outgoing Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to testify.
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What Else We’re Reading
In an interview, Hillary Clinton said Europe should curb immigration to stop rightwing populists. (The Guardian)
Toy seller F.A.O. Schwarz has been reincarnated, but it isn’t the same. (New York Times)
Tariff measures imposed by G-20 countries now cover a record $481 billion in global trade, according to the World Trade Organization. (Bloomberg)
Michele Cody of Michigan said: “It doesn’t surprise me that Trump would side with a dictator over freedom of the press. Trump’s repeated castigation of the press never ceases. GOP has become Greed Over People. This is just another Trumpian maneuver to erode both the judicial system and democracy.”
Sean Fitzpatrick of Virginia wrote: “Somewhere or somehow, our politicians and media pundits got the idea the U.S. should presume to rule over Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. There is no American empire. The president is correct to choose the relationship over punishing Saudi Arabia.”
Alan Dechovitz of South Carolina shared: “If the United States chooses its allies based on each country’s conformance to what our public assumes are accepted norms of international behavior, then the United States will be alone in the world.”
Stephen Martin of Arizona wrote: “In this instance, President Trump is being a hard-nosed realist and is absolutely correct. As Lord Palmerston said, ‘Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.’ Saudi Arabia is an indispensable ally and hegemon to Iran. He should, however, thoroughly condemn and distance the United States from Mohammed bin Salman, a toxic leader who is the reverse of King Midas. Everything he touches turns to lead. He is the poster child for Lord Acton’s observation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Question for the next 10-Point: Going back to our article above, what are your thoughts on violence in football? Email us your comments, which we may edit before publication, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure to include your name and location.