The daily business briefing: May 24, 2019

Harold Maass
Theresa May resigns


U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announces resignation after Brexit failures

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday announced her resignation after failing to pass a deal on the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. May said she felt "deep regret" that she could not fulfill her promise to lead the Brexit process, saying she had "done my best." Parliament rejected the deal she negotiated with the EU three times, and she lost crucial support when she proposed a new plan that could have let lawmakers call for a second referendum on whether to leave the EU at all. May took over as prime minister shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum, following David Cameron's resignation. She will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a leadership contest on June 10. [The New York Times, Vox]


Trump unveils new bailout for farmers hurt by trade war

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a new $16 billion bailout for farmers hurt by tariffs China has imposed in response to President Trump's higher levies. China's president, Xi Jinping, this week called for his people to brace for a "long march" like the periods of hardship endured throughout the country's history. Global stock markets, including the main U.S. stock benchmarks, plunged on Thursday as investors worried there was no end in sight for the escalating U.S.-China trade war, which Trump started to get China to drop policies he said were unfair to U.S. companies. "I do not see a path to a deal," said Council on Foreign Relations fellow Edward Alden. [The New York Times]


Facebook removes billions of fake accounts

Facebook removed a record of nearly three billion fake accounts from October to March, the social network said Thursday. In its Community Standards Enforcement Report, the company revealed that from January to March of this year, it removed 2.19 billion fake accounts, nearly as many as the 2.3 billion monthly active users the social network had in the quarter. The number of fake accounts deleted was up significantly from the last three months of 2018, when Facebook says it removed 1.2 billion accounts. Facebook attributed the uptick to "automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time." The company estimated that 5 percent of monthly active accounts are fake. [Facebook, CNET]


SpaceX launches first part of orbiting broadband network

SpaceX on Thursday launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 satellites that will make up the first part of what the private space company plans to be a 12,000-satellite network called Starlink that will provide high-speed internet connections for users on the ground. SpaceX chief Elon Musk said revenue from the internet service could far exceed what the company makes on satellite launches, and help finance its effort to reach Mars. SpaceX is one of several companies working on deploying satellite constellations to provide internet access. Amazon is developing its 3,200-satellite Project Kuiper, and U.K.-based startup OneWeb started rolling out its network with the launch of six spacecraft in February. [BBC News, Ars Technica]


FAA expects Boeing 737 MAX jets to return to air as soon as late June

The Federal Aviation Administration expects to clear Boeing's grounded 737 MAX jets to resume flying as soon as late June, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a private briefing U.S. regulators gave members of the United Nations' aviation agency. Approval to return the planes to operation would allow airlines to avoid extending costly flight cancellations that already have affected the summer travel season. American, Southwest, and United Airlines suspended 737 MAX flights into July and August due to the FAA grounding that followed two crashes of the best-selling jets that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. FAA representatives cautioned that, despite hopes the jets could start carrying passengers again, there was no set timetable to resume flights. [Reuters]