China: A record trade deficit
The U.S. trade deficit with China hit a record $50.1 billion in July, said Jeff Kearns in Bloomberg.com. The increase, from $45.7 billion in June, is the biggest in three years. The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting retaliation from Beijing. All told, U.S. imports from China rose 0.9 percent, while exports to China fell 1 percent. Hardest hit among U.S. exports were aircraft, corn, and soybeans. Farmers have complained that the tariff would hurt them most; soybean exports, worth $12 billion, are expected to fall further.
Scams: Theranos to shut down
“The blood-testing company accused of perpetrating Silicon Valley’s biggest fraud will soon cease to exist,” said John Carreyrou in The Wall Street Journal. Led by youthful, high-profile CEO Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos has raised close to $1 billion from top Silicon Valley investors to “disrupt” the blood-testing business. Theranos’ hyped technology, however, turned out to be illusory, and Holmes now faces criminal fraud charges. Theranos tried to drum up interest from 80 potential buyers over four months, but no buyer emerged for the once hyped company, and its patents will now be turned over to creditors.
Workers: Tech shares the benefits
Microsoft announced a new policy that requires the company’s contractors to offer paid family leave, said Danielle Paquette in The Washington Post. The company set a minimum of 12 weeks, at two-thirds salary, or at least $1,000 a week, for all contractors with 50 or more employees. Microsoft itself, like many other tech companies, offers generous leave to its employees. However, the industry has been dinged for relying on subcontractors—who pay lower wages and don’t offer nearly the same benefits—for everything from staffing cafeterias to testing software.
Banks: More trouble at Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has fired more than a dozen employees in a widening expense-account scandal, says Peter Rudegeair in The Wall Street Journal. The analysts and associates are accused of doctoring receipts for food orders from services such as Seamless.com and Caviar.com. Like other investment banks, Wells Fargo pays for meals for employees who work late; some allegedly altered the time stamps on their orders to qualify. Wells Fargo has faced a number of recent scandals, including one in which bank employees opened more than three million fake accounts to meet sales goals.