While you were sleeping, President Xi Jinping gave a major speech promising to increase the access of foreign companies to China’s financial and manufacturing sectors, cut imported car tariffs, and reduce ownership restrictions for foreign car companies. Xi didn’t mention President Trump in his 40 minute speech, but it was clearly an effort to ease trade tensions.
Markets rallied on the speech. But analysts said most of the proposals have been promised before, and the president was short on specifics and timetables.
“Ultimately, U.S. industry will be looking for implementation of long-stalled economic reforms, but actions to date have greatly undermined the optimism of the U.S. business community,” said Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council.
Separately, Fortune editor Clifton Leaf and I travelled to New Brunswick, New Jersey, yesterday to visit with Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky, who is one of the leaders of a growing group of CEOs who recognize there is a trust crisis in business today that is putting new demands on them to prove their contributions to society. For J&J, that’s been hardwired in the company since its credo was crafted in 1943 by company chairman Robert Wood Johnson, stating that “our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.” Employees and the communities in which they live and work get second and third billing in the credo, and only then does it cite “our final responsibility” which is “to our stockholders.”
Gorsky says the demands that approach puts on the company have intensified in recent years, due to the transparency brought about by social media as well as the rising expectations of employees and customers. Gorsky is one of the CEOs who has signed up for Fortune’s CEO Initiative, which is a community of corporate leaders committed to addressing major social problems as part of their core business strategies. You can read more about the initiative here.
More news below.
The Russian ruble is in big trouble—it fell 4% on Monday, and on Tuesday morning it fell a further 4.1% against the dollar. This is all due to the U.S., specifically its new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and top officials, and the ramping up of its rhetoric against the Kremlin over its support for Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, in the wake of the regime’s alleged chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma. Wall Street Journal
Glencore Caught Up
Meanwhile, shares in Rusal, controlled by the freshly-sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, fell a further 8.7% on Tuesday after seeing their value halved on Monday. And Ivan Glasenberg, the CEO of mining giant Glencore, has resigned from Rusal’s board. Glencore owns an 8.75% stake in Rusal and also saw its shares fall (by 5%) on the news of the Deripaska sanctions. Glencore said it was “committed to complying with all applicable sanctions in its business.” CNBC
Uber has lost another big case at the European Union’s top court. The court ruled this morning that a French court was within its rights to fine Uber for running an illegal transport service (specifically its UberPop service, which used regular people as drivers rather than licensed professionals.) Uber has consistently tried to pitch itself as a tech platform rather than a transport service, a status that comes with different regulatory burdens. Fortune
Deutsche Bank has explained the ouster of CEO John Cryan, saying he was too slow in his decision-making. Paul Achleitner, the chair of Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board, pointed out that the bank’s share price has fallen from €17 ($21) a year ago to less than €11 today. He also defended the nomination of former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain to the supervisory board—German media have criticized Thain’s pre-crisis spending, but Achleitner says the board “needs members with long experience in international finance.” Bloomberg
Around the Water Cooler
As Mark Zuckerberg prepped for his first congressional hearing today, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes said he was amazed Zuck hadn’t had to explain the company’s data-sharing practices before. “[Zuckerberg] and the whole corporate leadership at Facebook—it’s shocking to me that they didn’t have to answer more of these questions earlier on. The idea that this was unforeseeable seems like a stretch,” Hughes said at a Financial Times event. FT
Black Lives Matter
Speaking of Facebook, it turns out that the biggest Black Lives Matter page on the social network was in fact a fake, run by a middle-aged white guy in Australia who published links to fundraising pages, and apparently raised nearly $100,000 through the ruse. The revelation brings up issues around how well Facebook authenticates those running pages on its platform. Fortune
Pizza Night Data
How much data do you reveal when you go about your daily routine using modern technology? The Wall Street Journal has a great piece on that, using as an example two imaginary people who are trying to set up a pizza-and-movie night. Let’s just say that the simple activity involved in doing this gives a huge amount of data to companies from Apple and Facebook to Domino’s. WSJ
President Donald Trump is livid over an FBI raid on the offices of his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is “an attack on our country” and a “real disgrace,” the president thundered. Agents took documents relating to the porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump, and whom Cohen paid $130,000 shortly before the election. CNN