The daily business briefing: June 11, 2019

Harold Maass
Chinese shipping containers
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Trump shifts trade threats back to China after Mexico deal

President Trump, fresh off a deal suspending threatened tariffs in exchange for an anti-immigration crackdown by Mexico, returned his focus to China trade policy on Monday, renewing his threat to raise levies on $300 billion in goods imported from China. "People haven't used tariffs, but tariffs are a beautiful thing when you are the piggy bank, when you have all the money. Everyone is trying to get our money," Trump told CNBC. Trump said his proposed tariffs forced Mexico to get tougher on undocumented migrants trying to get into the U.S., and would work on China, too. "The China deal is going to work out," he said. "You know why? Because of tariffs." Geng Shuang, spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Beijing does "not want a trade war, but we are not afraid of fighting one," adding, "If the U.S. is ready to have equal consultations, our door is wide open." [CNBC, The Washington Post]


Trump says the Fed hurt the economy with rate hikes

President Trump on Monday launched a fresh round of attacks against the Federal Reserve, saying the U.S. central bank had hurt the economy by raising interest rates too fast. Trump has called on the Fed to lower rates to boost the economy. He suggested that the Fed's independence put him at a disadvantage in relation to Chinese President Xi Jinping because Xi can steer his country's central bank. "The head of the Fed in China is President Xi," Mr. Trump said in an interview on CNBC. "He can do whatever he wants." Trump complained that Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the rest of the Fed's five board members "really weren't, you know, they're not my people," even though he picked four of them, including Powell. "They certainly didn't listen to me because they made a big mistake," Trump said. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


House subcommittee starts review of tech giants' power

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday opens its investigation into the market dominance of tech giants including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will lead the subcommittee hearing, said on Fox News Sunday that "these are monopolies." Several of the Democrats running for the party's 2020 presidential nomination have proposed breaking up the industry leaders on antitrust grounds, something Cicilline said would only be "a last resort." President Trump has suggested big fines like those imposed by European antitrust regulators to boost competition. The tech companies have mostly withheld comment on the investigations, although Google has said such scrutiny "often improves our products and the policies that govern them."


Stock futures rise as U.S.-Mexico trade tensions fade

U.S. stock index futures rose early Tuesday, adding to Monday's gains despite President Trump's renewed threat to raise tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.4 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. All three of the main U.S. indexes also rose on Monday as fears over trade tensions with Mexico receded following a deal to suspend new tariffs threatened by Trump. The Dow gained 0.3 percent, closing higher for the sixth straight session. The S&P rose by 0.5 percent, and the Nasdaq jumped by 1.1 percent.


Travelers' photos exposed in border-contractor data breach

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday confirmed a data breach affecting photos of travelers and license plates held by a government subcontractor. The images, involving fewer than 100,000 people, had been moved to the subcontractor's network and were stolen in a "malicious cyberattack," a spokesperson for the government agency told TechCrunch. The breach followed a series of such hacks targeting private sector firms, and CBP said it appeared to have resulted from a violation of "mandatory security and privacy protocols" outlined in the company's contract. Customs and Border Protection said none of its own systems were "compromised." The breach came weeks after a report that a contractor called Perceptics, which provides license plate readers at land borders, had suffered a breach. The identity of the company in the breach described by Customs and Border Control was not immediately confirmed. [TechCrunch, CNN]