You can consider health care and immigration off the table in Congress for the next two years. Democrats used the health care issue to win control of the House while President Trump pounded away on immigration to boost Republican representation in the Senate. Neither side is going to compromise on the issue that proved to be their most powerful political weapon. Investors in health care stocks saw that as good news, pushing United Health Group stock up 4.2%, Pfizer up 3.2% and Merck up 2.4%.
If the White House and Congress want to accomplish something in the next two years–besides endless investigations–that leaves infrastructure. Nancy Pelosi, poised to become Speaker, said she talked to President Trump Tuesday night “about how we could work together” and that “one of the issues that came up was…building infrastructure for America.” Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said he also spoke with Pelosi about infrastructure as an issue “where there could be a bipartisan agreement.” And the President, in an otherwise combative conversation with reporters, said “we have a lot of things in common (with Democrats) on infrastructure.”
Worth remembering that for all his bluster, President Trump sees himself first and foremost as a deal maker. And on this topic, there is a deal waiting to be made… although like the tax bill, it would likely be at the expense of the federal deficit.
More news below.
Robert Mueller’s probe of the Trump campaign’s Russian ties has been thrown into jeopardy following Trump’s sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mueller’s probe was reporting to Sessions’s deputy, Rod Rosenstein, because Sessions had to recuse himself from the matter. But now it seems Mueller is reporting to the new acting AG, Sessions’s former chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, who is seen as a Trump loyalist and is certainly an on-the-record critic of the Mueller investigation. Bloomberg
Robyn Denholm, the CFO of Australian telco Telstra, is Tesla’s new board chair. She’s been on the board since 2014, but now she’s stepping in to replace CEO Elon Musk as chair—a position the SEC forced him to vacate in the wake of his “funding secured” Twitter fiasco. Denholm will leave her Telstra job in the coming months, which is handy as those company names must get awfully confusing. Fox Business
Toshiba failed to find a buyer for its U.K. nuclear business, so it’s going to wind the business down, starting in January. That throws into doubt plans for a new nuclear power station called Moorside, enraging unions. Toshiba expects to take a $131.8 million hit from the winding-down of its NuGen business. BBC
Vacuum cleaner maker Dyson has scored a major victory in its fight against EU energy-labeling rules. Dyson (whose vacuums are bagless) had argued that the EU regulation on the matter was unfair because it calculates energy efficiency in vacuums when their bags are empty, not when—as real-world conditions will usually involve—the bags are partly full. The EU General Court agreed with Dyson and this morning annulled the regulation. AFP
Around the Water Cooler
Another Privacy Bill
There’s another privacy bill in town, and this time it comes from… Intel. The chipmaker is seeking a sponsor for an effort that would shield companies from civil actions if they tell the FTC that they’re trying really hard to protect consumers’ data. That said, the proposal would also force companies to be clear about how they use people’s data, and executives could be jailed if they falsely certify compliance. Reuters
Meanwhile in Europe, the NGO Privacy International has filed complaints under the EU’s tough GDPR privacy law against a bevy of behind-the-scenes data brokers Oracle and Acxiom, ad-tech companies Tapad, Criteo and Quantcast, and credit agencies Equifax and Experian. The group said the firm “judge, profile, categorise, and exploit your data, from the shadows. It is fundamentally problematic that there are companies that you are unable to effectively challenge that shape major milestones in your lives, from buying a home, to growing a family, and more.” Privacy International
China’s imports and exports for October exceeded forecasts, and its trade surplus for the month, $34.01 billion, was lower than the $35 billion that had been expected. Its trade surplus with the U.S. was $31.78 billion, down from $34.13 billion the month before. Does all this show China is weathering the U.S. tariffs well? To an extent, though the figures partially reflect increased orders for Chinese exporters in the run-up to the tariffs taking effect. CNBC
Dual Use Concerns
The Financial Times has an interesting piece on how U.S. officials are concerned about American AI technology going to China, as the government there demands private companies share with the military technology that could be useful for military purposes. The American military cannot demand the same sort of loyalty from Silicon Valley. Financial Times