The daily business briefing: September 19, 2018

China retaliates against Trump's latest tariffs, the Justice Department investigates Tesla over Musk's tweet, and more

Elon Musk in Chicago
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. China retaliates against latest U.S. tariffs

China announced Tuesday that it would impose new tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation for President Trump's latest levies, which affect $200 billion in Chinese imports. The Trump administration said Monday its 10 percent levies would take effect on Sept. 24 and possibly rise later, although Trump previously had proposed setting them at 25 percent right off the bat. "China is forced to respond to U.S. unilateralism and trade protectionism, and has no choice but to respond with its own tariffs," the Finance Ministry said in a statement on its website late Tuesday. China's tariffs will apply to a list of 5,207 U.S. products, although Beijing also reduced the levels of its tariffs from what it originally proposed.


2. Tesla under investigation over Musk remarks

Tesla is under investigation by the Justice Department over CEO Elon Musk's controversial recent tweet saying he was considering taking the company private and had secured funding to do it, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing two anonymous sources. He later said he had dropped the proposal. The New York Times subsequently reported that Musk never really had secured funding and that what he had written was more of a "flip remark." In addition to the federal fraud investigation, Tesla faces an inquiry by securities regulators looking into whether Musk misled investors. Tesla shares dropped 5 percent Tuesday following Bloomberg's report.

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3. Netflix shares jump after Emmy success

Netflix shares surged Tuesday after the video-streaming powerhouse grabbed 23 Emmys Monday night. The Crown alone took home five Emmys. Netflix's haul tied with that of HBO, which had led all networks with the most awards for 16 years. The company received 112 nominations, beating HBO by four. Netflix has bet heavily on original content to attract and keep subscribers. The company is spending as much as $8 billion on original content this year, and could have about 1,000 original series by the end of the year. Netflix stock has fluctuated but is up by more than 90 percent since this time last year.


4. SeaWorld fined for downplaying harm from Blackfish documentary

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday fined SeaWorld Entertainment and its former CEO $5 million for failing to disclose how badly the 2013 documentary Blackfish was hurting its business. The documentary was critical of SeaWorld's treatment of the killer whales at its parks. The SEC said the company's executives had expressed concern about potential fallout from the film before it was released, and that the company and former CEO James Atchison made false and misleading statements in SEC filings and earnings calls. A senior communications official at the company said internally within months of the film's release that it had made SeaWorld's reputation "positively radioactive," and Atchison fretted in an email about cancellations and pressure surrounding the company's killer whale program.


5. Danske Bank CEO quits after money-laundering investigation

Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen resigned on Wednesday following an investigation into $234 billion in payments, many of them suspicious, that were made through the Danish bank's Estonian branch. "It is clear that Danske Bank has failed to live up to its responsibility in the case of possible money laundering in Estonia. I deeply regret this," Borgen said in a statement describing compliance, communication, and control failures. Danske Bank said its investigation concluded that Borgen, Chairman Ole Andersen, and the board of directors "did not breach their legal obligations toward Danske Bank." The news came as regional leaders are calling for a new European Union watchdog to prevent financial crime after several big money laundering scandals.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.