Oct 3, 2019

DealBook Briefing: Europe Deals a Big Blow to Facebook

11-14 minutes - Source: NYT

CreditCreditDenis Charlet/Agence France-Presse, via Afp Via Getty Images
Good Thursday morning. Vanity Fair just published its latest New Establishment list, and those riding high include Jeff Bezos, Susan Wojcicki of YouTube and Ted Sarandos of Netflix. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.).
The E.U.’s top court ruled this morning that an individual country can order the social network to take down content and restrict global access to that material, Adam Satariano of the NYT writes. It expands Europe’s role as the world’s digital cop.
The European Court of Justice’s decision came in a case involving an Austrian politician who wanted Facebook to remove disparaging comments about her that had been posted on an individual’s personal page.
It’s a defeat for Facebook and other digital platforms, placing more responsibility on them to patrol their sites for content deemed illegal.
And it widens Europe’s ability to govern global tech companies, though it comes days after the same court ruled that the E.U.’s “right to be forgotten” privacy law does not extend beyond European borders.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Michael J. de la Merced, Lindsey Underwood and Stephen Grocer.

CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images
Stock futures are up slightly in premarket trading this morning, after indexes tumbled yesterday amid concerns that the trade wars are only deepening economic problems. But there’s plenty of reason to remain concerned.
The S&P slid 1.8 percent yesterday, its worst drop since late August. Shares in energy, financial and industrial companies all fell sharply, while crude oil prices and yields on government bonds also dropped.
Recession may no longer be a concern, but a slowdown still is. Other reasons to worry include the most recent Institute for Supply Management survey of American factories, which showed that activity levels had fallen to depths unseen since the end of the financial crisis. And spending on nonresidential construction fell 0.5 percent in August, showing that businesses are slowing down their investments.
The U.S. is increasingly in thrall to global economic problems. Yesterday’s sell-off was preceded by an even bigger one in European markets. And Greg Ip of the WSJ writes, “From tariff-related tension to a German auto-emissions scandal and a Chinese credit squeeze, forces weighing on external economies have begun to wash back on the U.S.
That’s why any signs of economic optimism should be tempered by skepticism, Neil Irwin of the Upshot writes: “We are only starting to see the delayed economic impact of a series of trade escalations over the summer and of a slowdown in the global economy.”

Americans, prepare to pay more for that glass of French wine
President Trump is ready to impose $7.5 billion worth of tariffs on European goods —including airplanes, French wine and Spanish olive oil — after receiving permission from the W.T.O., Ana Swanson of the NYT writes.
They’re part of long-running American complaints over European subsidies to Airbus, and are meant to help the U.S. recoup some losses that Boeing sustained because of the E.U.’s trade practices.
The list of products subject to U.S. levies “reads like a gourmet shopping list,” Ms. Swanson notes. The administration will levy a 25 percent tax on imports of Parmesan cheese, mussels, coffee, single malt whiskeys and other agricultural goods from Europe. (CNBC notes that U.S. travelers may end up paying higher fares as a result of levies on Airbus planes.)
Mr. Trump’s new tariffs are the biggest action against the E.U. since the administration imposed levies on imported steel and aluminum last year, and threaten to sour already-strained relations between the two allies.
But Europe may have a chance to respond. While E.U. officials say they’re eager to find a solution, they’re awaiting a W.T.O. decision in a parallel case on whether the U.S. improperly subsidized Boeing. That decision could be announced early next year, and the E.U. has drawn up a list of $20 billion worth of American imports that it could tax.
Chinese consumers are being more cautious with spending during this economic downturn, Alexandra Stevenson of the NYT reports.
• “The Chinese economy is slowing, and the cost of living is rising,” Ms. Stevenson writes. “The trade war with the United States shows no sign of ending. Wage growth is sluggish. More young people are chasing fewer job prospects.”
• “For China’s young people, who have never experienced a prolonged slump in their lives, the shift is especially stark. China has seen slowdowns before, but its consumers kept spending through most of those downturns.”
• “The retreat of Chinese consumers — a powerful force generating $4.9 trillion in economic activity a year — will have global repercussions. Their appetite for homes, cars and iPhones transformed the world, powering global growth and making fortunes for companies like Apple and General Electric.”
• “It also poses an immediate challenge to China’s leadership, which draws its legitimacy from the wealth and confidence of the Chinese people.”

A senior Boeing engineer filed a formal internal ethics complaint this year alleging that the company rejected the inclusion of a safety system in the 737 Max in order to cut costs, the NYT reports.
The system could have reduced risks that contributed to two deadly crashes, the engineer, Curtis Ewbank, suggested. “In his complaint to Boeing, he said managers had been urged to study a backup system for calculating the plane’s airspeed,” the NYT reports. “The system, known as synthetic airspeed, draws on several data sources to measure how fast a plane is moving.”
“Ray Craig, a chief test pilot of the 737, and other engineers wanted to study the possibility of adding the synthetic airspeed system to the Max,” the NYT adds, citing the complaint. “But a Boeing executive decided not to look into the matter because of its potential cost and effect on training requirements for pilots.”
Boeing provided the report to the Justice Department as part of a federal inquiry into the design of the 737 Max. Investigators have questioned at least one former Boeing employee about the accusations, the NYT reports, citing unnamed sources.

CreditBebeto Matthews/Associated Press
A recent protest at the Whitney Museum of American Art has brought new scrutiny to the relationship that museums have with wealthy board members, the NYT reports.
Warren Kanders resigned from the Whitney’s board in July, after a report that tear gas made by his company had been used against migrants on America’s southern border stoked protests against the museum.
“The tumult at the Whitney sent a lightning bolt through the entire museum world,” Robin Pogrebin, Elizabeth Harris and Graham Bowley of the NYT write. “If board members can be forced out because of what they do for a living, what does that mean for cultural institutions that depend on their generosity to survive?”
About 40 percent of the more than 500 trustees of the most popular art museums in the U.S. work in or derived their wealth from the finance industry. Many other board members are in real estate or the energy industry.
There’s a lot at stake for museums. Many rely on trustees — who pay millions of dollars to join and give annual donations in the six figures — for more than 20 percent of their budgets.
Vernon Hill will step down as chairman of Britain’s Metro Bank by the end of the year.
Dave Lewis will depart as C.E.O. of Tesco, the British supermarket chain, next year. He’ll be succeeded by Ken Murphy, Walgreens’ chief commercial officer.
Celeste Guth, whom Deutsche Bank named as its global head of M.&A. only a month ago, is leaving to join PJT Partners.
The investment bank Moelis & Company has hired Ted Conway from Barclays as a managing director focused on specialty finance clients.
SoftBank hired Ralf Wenzel, the founder of the food delivery company Foodpanda, as the C.E.O. of its Latin American joint ventures arm.
• Vice agreed to buy Refinery29, the online women’s lifestyle publication, for $400 million. (NYT)
• BlackRock has reportedly held talks with Tencent of China about a potential partnership that would help it enter the Chinese market. (WSJ)
• The cybersecurity company FireEye has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to help it consider a sale of itself. (Reuters)
• Blackstone agreed to buy 65 percent of the indoor water parks operator Great Wolf from Centerbridge in a deal that values the company at $2.9 billion. (WSJ)
Trump impeachment inquiry
• House Democrats moved to subpoena the White House over the Ukraine scandal, prompting angry blowback from President Trump. (NYT)
• Rudy Giuliani has consulted with Paul Manafort, the imprisoned former chairman of the 2016 Trump campaign, as part of his investigation into a conspiracy theory involving Ukraine. (WaPo)
• The Ukraine whistle-blower asked an aide to Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for advice on how to proceed. (NYT)
Politics and policy
• The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to temporarily block a subpoena by Manhattan prosecutors requesting President Trump’s state tax returns. (NYT)
• The federal government now guarantees $7 trillion worth of mortgage-related debt, 33 percent more than it did before the housing crisis. (WaPo)
• Senator Bernie Sanders was hospitalized yesterday after treatment for blockage of an artery, raising uncertainty about his presidential campaign. (NYT)
• The C.E.O. of the German insurer Allianz bitterly criticized the European Central Bank’s easy-money policy. (FT)
• Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain presented a new plan to leave the E.U. by the end of the month. (NYT)
• Start-ups like Rhino could let renters lease apartments without a security deposit. (NYT)
• Apple’s C.E.O., Tim Cook, publicly criticized President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the program to help young undocumented immigrants. (CNBC)
• Uber is reportedly set to open Uber Works in Chicago, a program that will match temporary workers with businesses that need to fill gaps. (FT)
• Postmates and DoorDash want to deliver groceries rather than just restaurant meal orders. (WSJ)
• Google is rolling out Incognito mode for Maps. (Gizmodo)
Best of the rest
• Federal prosecutors have reportedly begun an investigation into U.S.A. Swimming over its business practices and accusations that the organization stifled sexual abuse claims. (WSJ)
• AdvoCare, which used sports stars to market its health products, agreed to pay $150 million to settle charges by the F.T.C. that it was a pyramid scheme. (NYT)
• The spying scandal at Credit Suisse has cast a pall over Tidjane Thiam, the Swiss bank’s C.E.O. (WSJ)
• Manhattan apartment prices are facing their steepest slide in nearly a decade. (FT)
• Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that lung damage in patients with vaping-related illnesses resembles a chemical burn. (NYT)

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