China: ‘Phase one’ deal pauses trade war
President Trump signed the first phase of a trade deal with China this week, said Bob Davis and Lingling Wei in The Wall Street Journal, marking “a pause in the trade war.” The pact cuts some tariffs and suspends planned increases, though many U.S. tariffs will remain. In exchange for the tariff cuts, Beijing has agreed to “ramp up” imports from the U.S. by $200 billion, including $77 billion of manufactured goods, over two years. China also assented to some protections for trade secrets, without committing to any changes in its own laws. China says future negotiations will “depend on how phase one is implemented.”
Banks: A record quarter for JPMorgan
“JPMorgan Chase posted the best year of any U.S. bank in history,” said Michelle Davis in Bloomberg.com. The bank earned $36.4 billion, “an unprecedented figure for both JPMorgan itself and U.S. banks as a whole.” And it wasn’t alone. The past year was “the best for bank stocks in more than two decades,” with shares of big banks rising more than 40 percent. Profits rose from consumer credit, a bellwether for the broader economy. But the greatest jump was in investment banking and bond trading, which benefited from a series of Fed rate cuts.
Alphabet: Top lawyer leaves after misconduct claims
Google parent company Alphabet said this week that its controversial chief legal officer, David Drummond, will step down, said Jillian D’Onfro in Forbes. “One of the most long-tenured, influential employees at the company,” which he joined in 2002, Drummond was being investigated by the board over claims that he had inappropriate relationships with other employees. The board is also looking into Drummond’s handling of complaints against former Android chief Andy Rubin, “who reportedly received a $90 million exit package” despite credible allegations of sexual assault. Drummond will receive no exit package but has sold more than $200 million in stock in the past few months.
Labor: N.J. workers could get severance in layoff
A “first-of-its kind” law in New Jersey would force companies to pay severance to workers impacted by mass layoffs, said Kate Gibson in CBSNews.com. Dubbed the Toys R Us bill, for the toy chain that laid off “tens of thousands of workers with little or no compensation after declaring bankruptcy,” the law requires any company that fires 50 or more workers to “give workers a week’s pay for every year worked, and extend the employee notice period for mass firings to 90 days from 60 days.” The bill passed the state assembly this week, 55-22.