The daily business briefing: June 7, 2021
Google reaches antitrust settlement with French regulators, Yellen says higher interest rates could be "a good thing," and more
Google settles antitrust case with French regulators
Google has agreed to pay a fine of nearly $270 million under an antitrust settlement with French regulators, France's competition authority said Monday. One thing French regulators alleged was that Google's advertising server gave its online ad auction house unfair advantages in advertising auctions, including providing information on rival bids. Under the deal, Google also has made a three-year, binding commitment to make it easier for competitors to use its online-ad tools. Google did not immediately comment on the settlement, although it has said that advertising technology works with competitors' products. The commitments made by Alphabet Inc's Google only apply in France, but they could serve as a template for resolving similar complaints in other countries, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Yellen says higher interest rates could be 'a good thing'
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that President Biden's $4 trillion spending plans will be good for the country, even if they lead to inflation into next year and higher interest rates. "If we ended up with a slightly higher interest rate environment it would actually be a plus for society's point of view and the Fed's point of view," Yellen told Bloomberg News as she returned from the Group of Seven finance ministers' meeting in London. Yellen said the United States has been "fighting inflation that's too low and interest rates that are too low now for a decade," and if Biden's plans to add $400 billion in spending per year over a decade nudge both back toward a normal interest rate environment, "that's not a bad thing — that's a good thing."
El Salvador president proposes making bitcoin legal tender
El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, announced over the weekend that his country could soon become the first in the world to accept bitcoin as an official form of payment. "Next week I will send to Congress a bill that will make bitcoin a legal tender in El Salvador," he said in a video broadcast at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami. "In the short term, this will generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy." Digital payments application Strike is working with officials in the Central American nation to resolve logistical problems and prepare the financial infrastructure needed to handle bitcoin transactions quickly. Strike CEO and founder Jack Mallers called the Salvadoran president's announcement a "shot heard 'round the world for bitcoin."
Granholm says GOP position on infrastructure 'perplexing'
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm harshly criticized Republicans on Sunday for what she called their "perplexing" position on infrastructure spending. President Biden last week pressed the lead GOP negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), to back an infrastructure plan with $1 trillion in new spending, reflected in his recently trimmed proposal for a total of $1.7 trillion. Republicans responded by adding $50 billion to the $257 billion in new spending in their counteroffer. Granholm warned that "there will be action" on infrastructure, with or without Republican support. "This has got to be done soon," Granholm said on CNN's State of the Union. "It's just curious why there isn't more coming together."
Stock futures struggle after last week's gains
U.S. stock index futures struggled early Monday after last week's gains left the S&P 500 0.2 percent short of a record high. Futures for the S&P 500 were down by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were little changed, while those linked to the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent last week, leaving it up by 12 percent so far this year. The Dow and the Nasdaq also rose last week. Investor confidence in the economy got a boost on Friday when the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 559,000 jobs in May, fewer than expected. The gains were enough to ease concerns about the state of the recovery but not enough to support arguments that the Federal Reserve needs to change its easy money policies.