The daily business briefing: December 7, 2022
The Trump Organization is convicted of tax fraud, China lifts 'zero-COVID' testing and isolation restrictions, and more
Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud
A Manhattan jury on Tuesday found former President Donald Trump's family real estate business guilty of criminal tax fraud and other financial crimes in a 15-year scheme to dodge taxes by compensating top executives with luxury apartments and automobiles, private school tuition for their relatives, and other fancy perks. Prosecutors said the case demonstrated a "culture of fraud and deception" at two Trump Organization entities — Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. The Manhattan district attorney's office got the Trumps' long-serving chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, to plead guilty and testify about the scheme, which he orchestrated. Trump and his eldest sons, who run the company, were not directly implicated. Trump said he was "disappointed with the verdict" and would appeal.
China eases toughest 'zero-COVID' restrictions
China announced Wednesday that it was lifting some of the most severe restrictions under its "zero-COVID" policy. The policies had ignited a rare outburst of anti-government protests, with some demonstrators calling for President Xi Jinping to step down. Beijing said people who get infected now can quarantine at home instead of isolating in government facilities if they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Citizens also no longer have to show negative coronavirus tests for most public venues, and can travel more freely within China. Lockdowns that have damaged the country's economy now will be more narrowly targeted, focusing on buildings or floors instead of entire neighborhoods and towns, and will be lifted after five days with no new infections.
2 women sue Apple, saying stalkers used AirTags to track them
Two women, one from Texas and one from New York, filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple this week saying their ex-romantic partners had used the company's AirTag devices to stalk them. The lawsuit accused Apple of insufficient privacy protections, resulting in an "unreasonably dangerous product" that lets stalkers use the devices, barely larger than a quarter, to track their locations, potentially putting them at risk. One of the plaintiffs said her ex-boyfriend hid an AirTag in a wheel well in her car and followed her. The other said her estranged husband harassed her after hiding one in her child's backpack. Apple said earlier this year it was working with safety and law-enforcement groups to find ways to discourage unwanted tracking with AirTags.
Stock futures slip further as recession fears rise
U.S. stock futures fell slightly early Wednesday after a two-day selloff. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, at 6:45 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.4 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 1.0 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, on Tuesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 2.0 percent as investors grew increasingly concerned that the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes to tame high inflation would tip the economy into a recession. "Fears are growing that economies are in for a rough time ahead as feverish inflation and the bitter interest rate medicine being used to bring it down take effect," Susannah Streeter, an analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown, told Barron's.
Musk fires a top Twitter lawyer over 'Twitter Files'
Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday that Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, one of the social media platform's top lawyers, "was exited" from the company. Musk indicated that Baker's departure was linked to his release of internal communications he says showed biased policy decisions at the company before his recent takeover, including the suppression of a story about Hunter Biden's laptop. Musk, who has fired several top Twitter executives since completing his $44 billion acquisition of the company, has said the "Twitter Files" show previous management sought to benefit Democrats. Baker did not respond to The Wall Street Journal's request for comment on Tuesday.