The Trans Pacific Partnership was signed in New Zealand by 12 participating nations today, but the trade agreement still faces a long and tortuous path to approval in Congress. President Obama released a statement calling for ratification “this year.” But with Hillary Clinton, who once called the agreement a “gold standard,” now opposing it, and her opponent Bernie Sanders calling it “disastrous,” approval during the election campaign will be difficult. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the president not to push for passage before the election. And Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch warned yesterday that the road to ratification for trade agreements is typically long.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that this process can – and often does – take very long to complete,” he said. “In fact, it’s not an exaggeration, or even all that remarkable – to say it can take years to get an agreement through Congress after it is signed.” The earliest opportunity may be a post-election lame duck session, but don’t hold your breath. And how a President Clinton might embrace the plan after campaigning against it is anyone’s guess.
Separately, Clinton last night shrugged off questions about why she took $675,000 from Goldman Sachs to make three speeches. “I make speeches to lots of groups,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. But why take $675,000? “That’s what they offered.” (Watch the exchange here.)
Meanwhile, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, appearing on CNBC yesterday morning, refused to say whom he was supporting in the election. “I don’t want to help or hurt anybody by giving them my endorsement,” he said. Blankfein supported Clinton in her 2008 campaign, and has widely been reported as helping her raise money for her current campaign.
Aren’t elections fun? More news below.
• Credit Suisse posts massive loss
The Swiss bank spooked investors when it reported the biggest quarterly loss in seven years as it wrote off goodwill and set aside provisions for litigation, while a slump in trading also deepened losses in the securities unit. Bloomberg reports that shares slumped to the lowest since 1991. “The numbers are terrible,” said one banking analyst. Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam has pledged to focus the bank on wealth management and to tap growth across Asia. The bank will also cut 4,000 jobs under an accelerated cost-cutting program. Bloomberg
• Redstone steps down as CBS chairman
Sumner Redstone, the 92-year-old billionaire who controls the voting shares at both CBS and Viacom, has stepped down as executive chairman of CBS and has been replaced by CEO Leslie Moonves. Observers say the ailing media mogul could resign as chairman at Viacom at a board meeting on Thursday, and that speculation lifted Viacom’s stock. The potential change at Viacom is more significant as the cable company has faced more pressure of late due to a plummeting stock that has underperformed its peers. Fortune
• Will the Fed raise rates in 2016?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that investors are rethinking their expectations for interest-rate increases this year, with more coming to the conclusion that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise rates in March and possibly not even for the rest of the year. Futures markets now predict there is little chance that the Fed will increase rates at its meeting next month, and a less-than-even chance that it will raise rates this year. That’s a sharp reversal from six weeks ago, WSJ says. “Now, expectations for a rate increase are being aggressively reduced in the currency market, and that is being priced into the dollar,” a Credit Suisse analyst said. Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
• Delta Air Lines CEO to retire
Delta Air Lines President Ed Bastian will replace Richard Anderson as chief executive in May, a move that was long expected but will also see one of the airline industry’s most successful and outspoken leaders retire. The carrier said Anderson will retire effective May 2 and become Delta’s executive chairman. Anderson had led the company since 2007, leading Delta through a merger with Northwest Airlines and turning it into the No. 1 airline globally by market value. Another notable move by Delta was a decision to buy a refinery in 2012, which after months of losses has turned a profit. Reuters
• Sharp prefers Foxconn’s takeover bid
Various media outlets have reported that Japan-based Sharp has selected Taiwan’s Foxconn as its preferred bidder in takeover talks, a deal that would pave the way for the biggest acquisition by a foreign company in Japan’s insulated tech sector. Foxconn has offered to invest around $5.9 billion in the struggling electronics maker, one source told Reuters, more than double the amount proposed by a state-backed fund. Sharp Chief Executive Kozo Takahashi confirmed the company was focusing on talks with Foxconn, although he denied having officially designated the Apple supplier as preferred bidder. Reuters
• Lawmakers gear up for drug price hearing
A congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that is probing decisions by pharmaceutical firms to drastically raise the prices of their drugs could be a colorful scene assuming former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli shows up. While Shkreli has been advised by his new lawyer to invoke his Fifth Amendment privileges, the much-vilified executive has been known to follow his own playbook. Investigators are looking into the actions of Turing and Valeant Pharmaceuticals – which each bought drugs and then immediately drastically hiked their prices to make a quick profit. Howard Schiller, Valeant’s interim chief executive, is expected at Thursday’s hearing. CBS News
Around the Water Cooler
• Can GoPro bounce back?
GoPro’s shares have experienced an epic adventure since the action camera maker went public in 2014 – a quick fast ascent followed by a steep, long drop. The stock was again pressured on Wednesday after GoPro reported quarterly sales fell 31% to $437 million as customers failed to materialize during the all-important holiday season. CEO Nicholas Woodman says GoPro’s challenge is to make the brand “simple,” with plans to stop selling entry-level cameras and also make changes to the software to make it easier to access and edit GoPro content. Fortune
• Cisco buys a hot startup
The networking titan has paid $1.4 billion to buy Silicon Valley startup Jasper Technologies, which specializes in software that helps manage wireless connections for Internet-connected equipment. Jasper’s software is used by some pretty big names, including Coca-Cola and Starbucks. The company is seen as a big player in the Internet of Things, a growing sector of connected gear that Cisco is aiming to dominate as that technology progresses. Jasper, which was a Fortune unicorn, sold at around the price of its latest private valuation. Fortune
• Shkreli’s E*Trade account lost millions
Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli suffered a roughly $40 million drop in the value of a trading account used to secure his bail following his arrest on securities fraud charges, a U.S. prosecutor said. The account contained mostly shares of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, a drug company that Shkreli briefly ran. KaloBios filed for bankruptcy late last year, wiping out most of its equity value. The drop in value is so severe that Shkreli may need to post new assets to secure his $5 million bond. Shkreli’s criminal case arose from his prior management of hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and Retrophin Inc, a biopharmaceutical company he led before being fired in 2014. Fortune