The daily business briefing: August 23, 2019

Harold Maass
Trump heads to G-7 summit


Trump heads to G-7 summit to discuss global economy

President Trump heads to France on Friday for this weekend's Group of Seven summit. The annual meeting of leaders from the world's biggest economies will include a Sunday meeting requested by Trump on the state of the global economy. The summit's host, French President Emmanuel Macron, has said the gathering was unlikely to conclude with the traditional joint communique as G-7 countries struggle to contain tensions with Trump, who has a history of clashing with fellow leaders at the annual summit. At his first G-7 gathering in 2017, Trump threatened trade tariffs and announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. At last year's meeting in Canada, he abruptly withdrew his signature from the joint communique, angry over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's post-summit news conference. [Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press]


Overstock shares jump after CEO resigns CEO Patrick Byrne resigned Thursday after revealing that he had a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, a woman accused of acting as an unregistered Russian agent. Byrne said in a letter to shareholders that he had to quit because remaining in the job "may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships." Byrne said in a previous interview that he met Butina at a 2015 libertarian convention, and that she eventually started asking about people connected to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and President Trump. He referred to his role in the "deep state," saying he had helped FBI agents he referred to as "Men in Black" with their investigations. Overstock shares rose by more than 10 percent after Byrne announced his departure. [Overstock, The New York Times]


Google shuts down 210 YouTube channels over Hong Kong misinformation

Google said Thursday it had yanked 210 YouTube channels after finding they were linked to misinformation about Hong Kong protesters. The announcement came days after Twitter and Facebook suspended nearly 1,000 accounts tied to a disinformation campaign attributed to the Chinese government. The news came as anti-government protesters prepared for a "stress test" at Hong Kong's airport this weekend. Hong Kong's top court on Friday extended an order requiring official approval of mass demonstrations. Activists plan to sidestep the ruling, avoiding directly defying the order but disrupting transportation to the airport by all going there at the same time, overloading rail and road traffic. Demonstrators forced the airport, one of the world's busiest, to close temporarily last week by blocking access and clashing with police. [CNBC,]


Companies, states agree to fight robocalls

Twelve major telecommunications companies and attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., announced new efforts Thursday to combat the scourge of illegal robocalls. In the deal, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and the other firms agreed to deploy call-blocking technology at the network level and provide other tools, like call labeling, for customers who want more screening options, all free of charge. There is no timeline for executing the plan. The Federal Communications Commission, which approved rules in June to encourage telecoms to block illegal robocalls, praised the agreement. Americans receive billions of robocalls a month, and robocall scammers bilked customers out of an estimated $9.5 billion in 2017. [NPR, The Associated Press]


Stock futures gain ahead of Fed chief's speech

U.S. stock index futures rose early Friday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the central bank's annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, symposium. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.2 percent, while those of the Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent. Investors will be looking for clues on the Fed's next moves on interest rates. Minutes from Fed policy makers' latest meeting, where they decided to cut interest rates by a quarter point to boost an economy threatened by trade tensions, showed that officials were divided, with some policy makers arguing to cut interest rates more sharply while others pushed to keep them unchanged. [CNBC]