Friday, 1st September
Hundreds of chief executives—including Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, GM’s Mary Barra, HP Enterprise’s Meg Whitman, Marriott’s Arne Sorenson, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, and Warren Buffett—published an open letter late yesterday urging President Trump not to end the program known as “Dreamers” that prevents the deportation of people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
In the letter (which you can read here), they point out that all the affected people “grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks, and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes. More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle and 16 percent have purchased a home. At least 75 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients as their employees.” It says deporting those workers would cost the U.S. economy $460 billion.
The unusual public letter marks a new stage in the battle between big business and the president. Earlier this year, before Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, CEOs like Cook registered their concerns in private phone conversations with the president. But now, they’ve either lost that access, or concluded that private appeals don’t work.
So instead, they are making their concerns public. That’s a tactic aimed more at putting their opposition on record—and showing public support for their employees—than actually attempting to influence the decision. If the last six months are any guide, their public protest will only deepen the president’s determination to undo the program.
• Wells Fargo Scandal Mushrooms
Wells Fargo said an outside review of its fake accounts scandal found an additional 1.4 million potentially unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts—65% more than the bank initially owned up to. The review looked two years further back (to 2009) than Wells had initially done, which raises more questions about the efforts of ex-CEO John Stumpf and his board to clear up the issue. Either way, the bank is right back in Congress’s crosshairs in the short run. Fortune
• The First Federal Aid for Harvey Is On Its Way
The White House has prepared a request to Congress for an initial $5.9 billion in recovery aid in response to Hurricane Harvey, according to CBS. Much larger, future installments will be required, but the initial funds will replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster coffers through Sept. 30, it said. Estimates of the total damage from Harvey rose towards $150 billion, while the death toll reportedly hit 44 and a chemicals plant owned by France’s Arkema exploded after losing power to its refrigeration systems. President Trump, meanwhile, pledged $1 million of his own money to disaster relief. Fortune
• Apple Sets Date for Its Big iPhone Reveal
Apple said it will hold a long-awaited press reveal for the new iPhone (or iPhones) on September 12. Reports indicate the company will launch two new minor upgrades to the iPhone 7 along with a new flagship iPhone 8. Elsehwere, Apple urged the Federal Communications Commission not to abandon the principle of Net Neutrality, arguing that “providers of online goods and services need assurance that they will be able to reliably reach their customers without interference from the underlying broadband provider.” Fortune
• Macron Divides and Rules on Labor Reform
Emmanuel Macron’s government unveiled detailed proposals to liberalize France’s labor market and end the country’s chronic unemployment problem. The new rules give smaller companies in particular much more scope to settle labor issues directly with workers, and cap their liability related to appeals against layoffs. The freshness and size of Macron’s mandate has meant that the country’s traditionally militant labor unions have only offered muted resistance. Only one of the three biggest unions has announced strikes to protest the measures. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Verizon’s Due Diligence to be Tested
A judge said Yahoo must face nationwide litigation brought on behalf of well over 1 billion users who said their personal information was compromised in three massive data breaches. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., ruled that the users all now face heightened risk of identity theft. The decision is a setback for Verizon, which paid $4.76 billion for Yahoo’s Internet business in June, and which now has the associated liability. Verizon had cut its offer for Yahoo as the scope of the breach became clear. Whether it applied enough of a discount will now be sternly tested. Fortune
• VW Plots a Way Back Into U.S. Market
Volkswagen executives set out their hopes for restoring the company’s fortunes in the U.S. market. VW’s namesake brand has only recently addressed the lack of a competitive offering in the key SUV sector. It expects to double output of Atlas SUVs in Chattanooga to around 100,000 a year. Back home in Germany, the company won an important legal victory as a district court rejected a test case in which VW diesel buyers were seeking compensation for being misled. VW has escaped financial penalties in the EU because of the many loopholes in German and EU law, which effectively rendered its engine management software legal. Fortune
• Samsung Joins the Autonomous Driving Game
Samsung said it has received a permit to test self-driving vehicles in California. The company is planning to develop a self-driving car algorithm capable of driving in adverse weather. Earlier this year, Samsung had bought car audio maker Harman International Industries for $8 billion in another move aimed at strengthening its presence in connected car technologies. Fortune
• Pot-Committed to Nuclear in Georgia
Georgia Power, part of Southern Company, threw nuclear power a lifeline, recommending that the troubled new-generation Vogtle plant should be completed, despite running years late and billions of dollars over budget. The move is a surprise after Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company pulled the plug on the VC Sumner project a month ago. Georgia Power said it needs another $1.4 billion to complete Vogtle, which will have cost a total of $19 billion by the time it comes online in (fingers crossed) 2021. FT, metered access
Summaries by Geoffrey Smith; email@example.com