Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 9, 2021

Prosecutors say Elizabeth Holmes lied to Theranos investors, Biden calls for shifting half of U.S. power to solar, and more

1

Prosecutors say Elizabeth Holmes lied to Theranos investors

Prosecutors told jurors Wednesday at the start of the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., that she defrauded patients and investors to raise cash and keep the now-dissolved blood-testing startup afloat. "Out of time and out of money, Elizabeth Holmes decided to lie," said Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney. Leach said Holmes, a Stanford University dropout who led the company to a $9 billion valuation before it imploded, falsely claimed the company's revolutionary technology could test for numerous health problems with drops of blood. Theranos' high-powered investors included former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal. Holmes' lawyers said she was a hardworking entrepreneur whose business simply failed, like many startups.

2

Biden calls for shifting half of U.S. energy to solar by 2050

The Biden administration on Wednesday unveiled a plan to put the United States on a path to get nearly half its electricity from solar power by 2050. Meeting the goal would require major upgrades to the power grid, which currently gets less than 4 percent of its electricity from solar energy. The big jump roughly matches what most climate scientists say is necessary to avert the worst damage from climate change. The Energy Department said in a new report that the U.S. will have to double the solar energy equipment installed over the next four years, then double it again by 2030 to achieve the growth necessary to meet the long-term target. President Biden made reducing planet-warming emissions a focus of his campaign. He announced last month that he wants all new cars to be electric by 2030.

3

Yellen tells Congress to act fast to avoid debt limit fallout

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday urged Congress to quickly raise the U.S. debt limit, warning that the economy could be severely damaged if lawmakers let the federal government run out of money. She said without action that could happen "during the month of October." A debt-limit standoff could cause uncertainty that will hurt financial markets, Yellen said. "We have learned from past debt limit impasses," the secretary wrote in a letter to congressional leaders, "that waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States." 

4

Stock futures fall after 3rd day of losses for Dow, S&P 500

U.S. stock index futures fell early Thursday ahead of weekly data on jobless claims. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all were down by about 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent on Wednesday, their third straight day of declines. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which hit a record high on Tuesday, lost 0.6 percent as Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google-parent Alphabet shares all fell. Signs of labor-market turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic continued, as the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed there were two million more job openings than unemployed people in July.

5

Schumer rejects call to 'pause' push for Biden stimulus spending

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that the Senate was "moving full-speed ahead" on President Biden's $3.5 trillion budget plan, rejecting a call from some Democrats to slow down the timeline. "We want to keep going forward. We think getting this done is so important," Schumer told reporters during a conference call. The statement came after moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called for a "pause" in the push to pass the key component of Biden's economic and legislative agenda. "Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation," Manchin, who wants to trim the package to $1 trillion to $2 trillion, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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