The daily business briefing: June 24, 2021
Software pioneer John McAfee dies in prison, Buffett donates $4.1 billion to reach midpoint in philanthropy pledge, and more
Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison
British-born U.S. antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee was found dead in a Spanish prison by apparent suicide on Wednesday, hours after Spain's high court authorized extraditing him to the United States to face tax evasion charges. McAfee was 75. His lawyer, Javier Villalba, said McAfee died by hanging after falling into despair during nine months in prison. Last month, he said in a court hearing that because of his age he would spend the rest of his life behind bars if sent to the U.S. and convicted. "The United States wants to use me as an example," he said. McAfee was indicted on tax evasion charges in Tennessee, and faced a cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.
Buffett donates $4.1 billion, hitting midpoint in philanthropy pledge
Warren Buffett said Wednesday that he was donating $4.1 billion worth of shares in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four other foundations. The billionaire investor's latest annual donations brought him to the halfway mark in his commitment to give away all his Berkshire Hathaway shares. "Today is a milestone for me," Buffett said in a statement. "In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares — more than 99 percent of my net worth — to philanthropy. With today's $4.1 billion distribution, I'm halfway there." Buffett also said he would resign as the trustee at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as he has done from all corporate boards except Berkshire's. Buffett's departure from the Gates foundation comes as it faces turmoil from the fallout of its founders' divorce.
Senators announce bipartisan infrastructure deal
A bipartisan group of senators said Wednesday they had reached a tentative deal on a compromise infrastructure package ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Biden at the White House. Biden originally asked for a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package, but his latest proposal was for $1.7 trillion. The senators are suggesting a roughly $1 trillion plan that would include road, highway, bridge, and other traditional infrastructure work, including $579 billion in new spending. The group met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the blueprint. "We're very excited about the prospect of a bipartisan agreement," Pelosi said. Republicans objected to Biden's plan to pay for the legislation by raising corporate taxes, and Biden rejected a GOP proposal to raise gas taxes.
U.S. bans solar panel material imports from China company over forced labor allegation
The Biden administration has banned imports of an important solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. because of allegations the company uses forced labor, Reuters reported Thursday, citing two sources briefed on the matter. Separately, the Commerce Department has imposed restrictions on exports to Hoshine, three other Chinese companies, and the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps because of their alleged involvement in forced labor and high-tech surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region. Beijing has called the allegations lies. China's foreign ministry said Thursday that Beijing would take "all necessary measures" to protect the companies.
Stock futures rise with S&P 500 near record high
U.S. stock futures made solid gains early Thursday, putting the S&P 500 in position to make a run at a new record high. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.5 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures rose by 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 has gained 1.8 percent this week, despite modest losses of about 0.1 percent on Wednesday that put the index 0.4 percent below the all-time high it reached last week before the Federal Reserve rattled markets by raising its inflation forecast and saying it expected to start raising interest rates in 2023, sooner than previously expected. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this week the central bank expects a recent inflation spike to be temporary.