Today, let’s tour the world visiting leaders in a pickle. We don’t have to look very hard; quandary is the default state for leaders. Here are four whose troubles may be even more difficult than your own.
—Thousands of protesters jammed the streets of Caracas yesterday demanding a referendum on the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro. Power Sheet has been chronicling the Maduro mess because it’s such an appalling example of a humanitarian crisis caused entirely by terrible leadership. Venezuela could have a thriving economy, but instead many of its people can’t find food or are dying from shortages of common medicines. Maduro is still responding by doubling down on failed policies. It’s a classic case of refusal to confront reality, and it will get worse before it gets better.
—Brazilian President Michel Temer faces impossibly high expectations. Getting rid of President Dilma Rousseff was cathartic and necessary for Brazil, but the country’s recession, high inflation, and deep-seated culture of corruption won’t improve anytime soon. Rousseff is right in objecting that the ostensible reason for her impeachment — violating federal budgeting rules — was just an excuse. Citizens were furious over the crumbling economy and corruption that was even worse than they thought. But replacing her won’t fix those problems, and the country will suffer buyer’s remorse within months.
—Prime Minister Theresa May must negotiate Brexit, and she can’t win. The U.K. voted in June to leave the EU. Then the Tories chose May to succeed David Cameron, who promptly resigned to make way. Then everyone went on holiday. Now it’s time to negotiate the exit, and Brexit supporters think they voted for more and better jobs, a stronger economy, lower taxes, and fewer immigrants — a combination that cannot be delivered. When you can’t win, what do you aim for?
—Donald Trump can’t simultaneously please his base and retain any prayer of winning in November, so… He decided to please his base. After muddying his centrally important immigration policy last week, Trump this week set out to clarify it, which he did. He rolled out a fuller version of his hard-line promise to build a wall, make Mexico pay for it, and deport illegal immigrants — a policy that can’t win mainstream support and that prompted at least two members of his Hispanic advisory board to resign. The clarification will likely be clarified.
And if you’re suffering campaign fatigue? Remember that, by tradition, the campaign doesn’t actually begin until Monday. Enjoy the long weekend.
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What We’re Reading Today
China opens investigation into Uber’s sale to Didi
Travis Kalanick‘s sale of Uber’s China business to rival Didi Chuxing hit a speed bump, as Chinese authorities decided to probe the deal for antitrust violations. The Ministry of Commerce apparently has no timeline for resolving the matter. Investigators have met twice with Cheng Wei‘s Didi to gather information about the deal and to understand why the company didn’t apply for an antitrust review. TechCrunch
Who owns Anbang Insurance Group?
As Anbang invests in U.S. companies, buying New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel and trying (but failing) to buy Starwood hotels, investors and governments want to know more about who owns the business. Many of the shareholders reside in Pingyang County in China and are related to chairman Wu Xiaohui. But learning more about this highly secretive company isn’t easy. NYT
SpaceX explosion marks another setback
A SpaceX rocket exploded spectacularly while being fueled yesterday, destroying a Facebook satellite set to provide Internet access to Africa, an important project for Mark Zuckerberg. It’s the second rocket disaster in 15 months for Elon Musk‘s space company. Musk is running Tesla and SpaceX while serving on the board of SolarCity, leading some analysts to wonder if he’s stretched too thin. TIME
Walmart cuts 7,000 jobs
Doug McMillon‘s company will make the cuts from accounting and invoicing positions at stores, typically held by higher-paid, longer-tenured employees. McMillon wants to move more employees to the store floors, improving customer service, as a way of differentiating the Walmart experience from what shoppers get from Jeff Bezos‘s Amazon. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Employees that dislike their career…
…are more likely to report back pain and get sick, says new research. Fast Company
If you feel stuck in your career…
…try another industry. You might bring unique insight that your new employer lacks, and the skills learned can broaden your abilities. Fortune
Only 10% of millennials that do not have family money…
…plan to leave their job in the next year. Millennials not receiving $5,000 a year or more from parents account for 91% of the age group. Harvard Business Review
Fiat Chrysler’s “unnatural acts”
Did Sergio Marchionne‘s company inflate sales figures? Investigators trying to answer that question have found that executives would sometimes tell sales managers the “unnatural acts department” is open. The question now is whether that phrase was code telling sales managers to inflate sales in order to reach targets. WSJ
SolarCity’s $400-million error
As Elon Musk‘s Tesla prepares to finalize a merger with SolarCity, it turns out the investment firm advising the solar panel company, Lazard, understated the company’s value by $400 million. The deal will go ahead as planned. Lazard blamed a computational error in SolarCity’s spreadsheets. Fortune
Car companies look to protect drivers of autonomous vehicles
While accidents have raised questions about the safety of Tesla’s autopilot feature, other car companies will offer similar tools but with more safety measures. For example, Mary Barra‘s GM will release its SuperCruise autonomous feature next year; a camera will monitor whether drivers are watching the road and will flash warning signals if they’re not. NYT
Up or Out
Fran Shammo will retire as Verizon’s CFO at year-end, to be succeeded by Matt Ellis. Variety
Fortune Reads and Videos
Hillary Clinton raised $143 million in August
That’s 58% more than July’s $90 million. Fortune
Apple quietly moves…
…employees, but not within Cupertino, California. Over the past week it has shifted thousands of employees into a 1.1-million-square-foot Austin, Texas, satellite campus. Fortune
Walmart launches its holiday layaway program
It has also named its top 25 toys for the year, marking a very early start to holiday shopping. Fortune
Harley-Davidson will let 200 employees go
Revenue is falling as the company loses market share to Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“My grandfather once told me there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to be in the first group; there was much less competition.” — Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Have a great Labor Day! Brainz