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The cost of landing Amazon’s new offices: $2 billion
Amazon confirmed yesterday that it had picked New York City and Northern Virginia for its new hubs. (Nashville will get a logistics facility as a consolation prize.) But skeptics are asking whether the price tag — a combined total of $2 billion in tax credits, rebates and other incentives — was worth it.
Here’s what each location promised:
• New York offered Amazon more than $1.2 billion in incentives, and a pledge that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio would stop bickering long enough to see the project through. The city also agreed to a helipad for Jeff Bezos.
• Virginia promised about $800 million in incentives (and the all-important helipad, too). It also rebranded the neighborhoods that will host Amazon’s office as “National Landing.”
Officials from each location said that Amazon’s offices would create at least 25,000 jobs. But critics say the incentives set a worrying precedent: Bryce Covert writes in an NYT Op-Ed that other companies will now expect similarly extravagant windfalls in exchange for offices. And some local politicians have already publicly opposed the plan.
Meanwhile, Shira Ovide of Bloomberg Opinion thinks Amazon may have outsmarted itself: “The year of hoopla during a period of deepening anxiety about powerful technology companies means there will be more attention on whether Amazon is a good corporate citizen.”
More tech job news: Amazon and Google are in a race to hire software developers.
Theresa May’s make-or-break moment
British and European Union officials reached a long-awaited draft agreement yesterday over Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc. Now comes the hard part.
At 2 p.m. today (9 a.m. Eastern), Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain will meet with senior cabinet ministers to assess the plans. They reviewed the draft text overnight, though the details haven’t been made public.
Getting to this point has not been easy, and it involved months of labored discussions — particularly about contentious issues like the Irish border. But Stephen Castle of the NYT points out how pivotal today’s meeting is:
The presentation of the draft agreement is a moment of truth for Mrs. May, who is desperate to avoid a chaotic and disorderly “no-deal” Brexit. But she cannot be assured of support from hard-line Brexiteers in her cabinet, whom she may need to face down.
If the deal is rejected today, Mrs. May’s leadership could hang in the balance. If it passes, it still requires approval by E.U. officials at a meeting in Brussels later this month — and would then be subject to a highly unpredictable Parliament vote.
Oil’s plunge may roil the markets
The price of oil continued to slide this morning, with Brent crude hitting $65 a barrel in London after falling 6.6 percent yesterday.
There may be some technical trading issues at work here. But fundamentally, the markets worry that there’s too much oil. “When you put all these ingredients together, you have a recipe that’s not really conducive to an $85 market environment,” Michael Cohen, an oil analyst at Barclays, told the FT.
Oil’s drop has already had an effect on the stock markets, with energy stocks dragging down the S&P 500 yesterday, and that could worsen today. But there’s one potential upside for investors: Falling oil prices and a strengthening U.S. dollar may convince the Fed to pause its interest rate increases.
Jay Powell discusses the U.S. and the global economy. A Q. and A. with the Fed chairman, organized by the Dallas Fed (watch it here at 6 p.m. Eastern), could provide hints about the central bank’s future monetary policy.
The Labor Department publishes October consumer price data. The Consumer Price Index rose by just 0.1 percent in September, suggesting that inflation was being kept in check. Analysts anticipate a 0.3 percent rise for October.
SoftBank gives WeWork a huge cash boost
The Japanese conglomerate will invest $3 billion in WeWork, giving the co-working start-up more money to expand — even as its losses continue to grow.
SoftBank’s new cash solidifies its status as WeWork’s single biggest financial backer, and gives the eight-year-old start-up a valuation of at least $42 billion. More important, it will help the company offer more desks for rent around the world.
The cash comes at a crucial time: WeWork disclosed that it had lost $1.22 billion so far this year. The company says it still needs to spend on growth, but it could eventually focus on turning a profit. If, or when, it decides to go public, that could become vital.
CNN sues the White House for banning its reporter
CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration yesterday, arguing that its withholding of press credentials for the correspondent Jim Acosta violated the Constitution. More from Mike Grynbaum of the NYT:
“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” CNN said in a statement. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”
The Trump administration plans to fight back. But Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer who represented the NYT during the Pentagon Papers case, told Politico, “I can’t think of anything that is likely to lead to a victory for the White House.”
Yet Noah Feldman of Bloomberg Opinion says that, politically, Mr. Trump has already won by undercutting the news media.
Innovation may be needed to maintain America’s national security
The National Defense Strategy Commission said in a report published yesterday that the “security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades.” The panel urged Congress to act:
Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.
The commission noted that authoritarian nations like China and Russia were seeking “the means to project power globally,” and added that “the proliferation of advanced technology is allowing more actors to contest U.S. military power in more threatening ways.”
Its report suggested a number of priorities for Congress. Its conclusion: “Innovations in operational concepts and leap-ahead technologies are vital to sustaining U.S. military advantages” in the long term.
More security news: Another report, by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, warned that China’s tech industry also threatens U.S. national security.
Binny Bansal stepped down as the C.E.O. of Flipkart after an investigation into an allegation of personal misconduct.
The English Premier League hired Susanna Dinnage from Discovery Communications as the soccer league’s first new C.E.O. in two decades.
Gavin Darby will step down as C.E.O. of Premier Foods amid pressure from the activist investor Oasis Management.
Starbucks will lay off 5 percent of its corporate work force.
The meal-kit company Blue Apron plans to lay off 4 percent of its employees.
The speed read
• G.E. will sell part of its stake in the oil field services company Baker Hughes for about $4 billion. (WSJ)
• Dell is reportedly in talks with investment banks to sweeten its takeover offer for its tracking stock. (Reuters)
• Steve Cohen said that he had raised $5 billion from outside investors for his new hedge fund, Point72. (FT)
• The S.E.C. is investigating whether Snap failed to disclose enough information to investors before its I.P.O. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
• House Democrats may push for a higher corporate tax rate, potentially unraveling one of President Trump’s signature moves. (Bloomberg)
• They’re also intent on uncovering Mr. Trump’s tax returns. (Bloomberg)
• The hedge fund manager Ken Griffin criticized Mr. Trump for publicly attacking the Fed. (FT)
• John Kelly may be ousted as the White House chief of staff in a Trump administration shake-up. (WSJ)
• Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, said that the administration’s infrastructure plans include building more energy assets like pipelines. (CNBC)
• The Trump administration is reportedly holding off on imposing tariffs on car imports, for now. (Bloomberg)
• Congress probably won’t renew sanctions on Russia before the end of the year. (Bloomberg)
• Japan’s economy is struggling, in part because of trade tensions. (NYT)
• Citigroup’s C.E.O. argues that trade discussions should consider services, and not just focus on goods. (WSJ op-ed)
• Apple, Alphabet, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle spent $115 billion on stock buybacks so far this year, almost double what they spent in all of 2017. (FT)
• The health unit of Alphabet’s artificial intelligence subsidiary, DeepMind, is being absorbed into Google Health, and privacy advocates are worried about what will happen to the data it uses. (CNBC)
• The I.M.F. is urging central banks to consider issuing digital currencies. (FT)
• The scooter-sharing start-up Lime is branching out into cars with a new trial in Seattle. (Bloomberg)
• A Big Tech lobbying firm, the Internet Association, is opening an office in London to help influence British tech regulation. (Wired)
Best of the rest
• Juul said that it would stop selling most e-cigarette flavors in stores and halt social media promotions amid a public backlash over teenage vaping. (NYT)
• Something bad may be brewing in the credit markets. (Bloomberg Opinion)
• Litigation communications, where the wealthy bolster their reputations to help win legal fights, has become big business. Just ask Jho Low, the financier at the heart of the 1MDB scandal. (NYT)
• The solution to a tight labor market? “Try paying more,” the Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari told businesses. (CNBC)
• The E.U.’s highest court ruled that the taste of a cheese does not qualify for copyright protection. (NYT)
• An Edward Hopper painting, “Chop Suey,” sold for $91.9 Million at Christie’s yesterday. (NYT)
• How to tell if Black Friday deals are actually worth buying. (NYT)
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