Trade: Deficit climbs despite tariffs and rhetoric
The U.S. trade deficit soared to a 10-year high in 2018, said Jeffry Bartash in MarketWatch.com. Despite “frenzied efforts by the Trump White House to reduce the gap,” the deficit jumped 19 percent in December, according to data released this week. It grew to $621 billion for the year, the highest deficit since 2008. While the U.S. exported a record $2.5 trillion in goods and services, the Trump tax cuts “supercharged consumer spending.” Despite tariffs imposed last year, imports of Chinese goods actually rose 6.7 percent over 2017.
Opioids: Purdue Pharma looks at bankruptcy
Purdue Pharma is exploring a bankruptcy filing to halt more than 1,000 lawsuits linked to the opioid crisis, said Laura Strickler in NBCNews.com. The maker of OxyContin is being accused of using “deceptive practices to push addictive drugs” while misleading doctors and patients about the risks of prescription opioids. Purdue, owned by the Sackler family, has argued that the Food and Drug Administration approved the warning labels on its products. Filing for Chapter 11 protection would stop the mounting litigation and “allow the drugmaker to negotiate legal claims.”
Huawei: Preparing to fight the U.S. in court
Huawei is preparing to sue the U.S. government for banning federal agencies from using the company’s telecom equipment, said Raymond Zhong and Paul Mozur in The New York Times. The controversial Chinese equipment maker “is likely to argue that the provision is a ‘bill of attainder’”—it singles out the company for punishment without trial, which the Constitution forbids. Meng Wanzhou, the company’s CFO and daughter of the founder, is currently in Canada fighting extradition to the U.S., and has argued that the case against her is politically motivated and driven by U.S. trade interests.
Aerospace: Boeing’s KC-46 tanker stalls
Boeing was forced to halt deliveries of the KC-46 tanker last week after Air Force pilots found loose tools and debris inside the planes, said Dominic Gates in The Seattle Times. Flight training on the KC-46, a new model derived from the commercial 767, was delayed in late February to resolve the issue. Boeing “airframes are supposed to be routinely swept” by mechanics and quality inspectors before they are shipped off the assembly line. What seems to be a serious lapse “comes as Boeing says it intends to cut almost 1,000 quality inspectors over the next two years.”