The news at a glance
Retail: Amazon pledges to hire 100,000 workers
Amazon is planning a massive “hiring binge” over the next 18 months, said Ángel González in The Seattle Times. The e-commerce behemoth announced last week that it will add 100,000 full-time U.S. workers, bringing its U.S. workforce to more than 280,000 full-time employees. The hiring spree will cover “a wide range of disciplines, from developers and engineers who work on cloud computing to the burgeoning armies of lower-paid warehouse operators.” The announcement came on the heels of a blockbuster holiday season—Amazon shipped more than 1 billion items through its Prime delivery and third-party service—but the timing seemed designed to appease President Donald Trump, who has been a fierce Amazon critic.
Amazon isn’t the only firm scrambling to issue job announcements before Trump’s Twitter ire is directed against it, said Nandita Bose in Reuters.com. Trump tweeted thanks this week at both Walmart, which said it would hire 10,000 workers, and General Motors, which pledged a $1 billion investment in the U.S., even though both companies’ plans had been “previously announced.” German drug firm Bayer also reiterated a pledge this week to add 3,000 previously announced jobs. Recycled news appears to be one corporate strategy for staying on Trump’s good side.
Fashion: Luxottica, Essilor to merge
Italy’s Luxottica Group and French lens manufacturer Essilor are merging to create a global eyewear giant, said Inti Landauro and Manuela Mesco in The Wall Street Journal. The deal, announced this week, will create a $49 billion company controlling about 27 percent of the global eyewear market, putting the firm “far ahead” of rivals such as Johnson & Johnson and Safilo Group. The fact that the companies have different business models—Luxottica predominantly makes frames, including Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Essilor focuses on lenses—suggests the deal is likely to be approved by European regulators.
Currency: Trump wants to stop the rising buck
Donald Trump “threatened to overturn two decades of U.S. economic policy” this week “by questioning the strong value of the dollar,” said Sam Fleming and Shawn Donnan in the Financial Times. The greenback, which is trading near a 14-year high, dipped to its lowest level in a month on Monday after Trump told The Wall Street Journal that the currency is “too strong” and is hurting U.S. firms’ ability to compete with China. It’s a stark departure from previous administrations, which have “ritualistically” refrained from commenting on the dollar’s value.
Finance: Moody’s pays up for crisis-era ratings
Moody’s credit ratings agency agreed last week to a nearly $864 million settlement with federal and state authorities for its overly rosy ratings of risky mortgage securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis, said Karen Freifeld in Reuters.com. The world’s second-largest credit-rating agency will pay $437.5 million in fines to the Justice Department, while the remaining $426.3 million will be split among 21 states and Washington, D.C. Standard & Poor’s, the industry leader, struck a similar deal last year, paying $1.38 billion for its role in the financial crisis.
Autos: Fiat Chrysler accused of emissions cheating
U.S. regulators have accused Fiat Chrysler of using software to cheat emissions tests, said Nathan Bomey in USA Today. The Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board said last week that the automaker installed illegal software on 104,000 dieselpowered cars and trucks, “causing them to spew harmful nitrous oxide emissions.” The vehicles met emissions standards in lab testing, the EPA said, but failed in more extensive on-road tests that were implemented after Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal emerged. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne adamantly denied the charges and said the company would fight them.