The daily business briefing: June 7, 2018
Mulvaney fires his entire consumer watchdog advisory board, two of EPA chief Scott Pruitt's top aides resign, and more
Mulvaney fires consumer watchdog's entire advisory board
Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has fired all 25 members of the agency's Consumer Advisory Board, days after some of them publicly criticized his leadership. The panel advises the watchdog agency's leaders on regulations and policies. The decision came after Mulvaney made a series of moves to shift from the pro-enforcement positions of his predecessor, Richard Cordray, and align the organization more closely with business interests. An agency spokesman said the critics appeared "more concerned about protecting their taxpayer-funded junkets to Washington, D.C.," than protecting consumers. National Consumer Law Center attorney Chi Chi Wu, a board member, called the dismissals "a huge red flag in this administration's ongoing erosion of critical financial protections that help average families."
Two top Pruitt aides leave EPA
Two of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's top aides resigned Wednesday after coming under scrutiny in connection with Pruitt's spending and ethics issues. The aides, scheduler Millan Hupp and senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt, worked for Pruitt in Oklahoma, where he was attorney general, and followed him to the EPA, where they received substantial raises that bypassed normal White House procedures. The departures came as Pruitt faced more allegations of misusing his position, including having aides help in an effort to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchisee position. Democrats on a House committee investigating Pruitt released an interview transcript Monday in which Hupp said Pruitt had her do personal errands for him, including asking the Trump International Hotel if Pruitt could buy a used mattress.
Venezuela releases two Chevron executives
Venezuela released two local Chevron executives jailed since April in an oil industry corruption investigation, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing authorities and sources. "They are free," the state prosecutor's office said, explaining that the men, Carlos Algarra and Rene Vasquez, had been offered an unspecified alternative to remaining behind bars. One source said Algarra and Vasquez were required to report to authorities every two weeks. The arrests at Chevron's Puerto La Cruz offices were the first involving a foreign oil firm since the government started detaining dozens of executives at the state oil company PDVSA and its partners.
Global stocks rise after Dow closes above 25,000
Asian markets gained on Thursday as global stocks got a boost from Wednesday's gains on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose Wednesday by 1.4 percent to close above the 25,000 mark, while the S&P 500 rose by nearly 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq Composite gained almost 0.7 percent. In Asia, Japanese stocks led Thursday's gains, with the Nikkei 225 rising by 0.9 percent. European stocks also gained early Thursday after European Central Bank officials indicated conditions were right to start discussing unwinding their massive bond-buying program. U.S. stock futures rose early Thursday, pointing to a higher open.
Report: Solar-panel tariff blamed for stalling power projects
President Trump's solar-panel tariff has resulted in the elimination or stalling of more than $2.5 billion in major solar power projects, Reuters reported Thursday, citing developers. The projects involved thousands of jobs. The losses are only partially offset by plans companies have announced to build or expand solar panel factories in the U.S., which total about $1 billion so far. The White House did not immediately comment on the report. Trump announced the tariff in January over industry protests that the policy would hurt one of the nation's fastest-growing industries. Solar developers installed $6.8 billion in utility-scale projects last year, and the industry employs more than 250,000 people in the U.S., three times as many as the coal industry.