Is the world a better place because of Elon Musk? I believe it is. We need dreamers, people who focus on the big prize, who aim for Mars. I like his vision of a new energy future (even if his takeover of SolarCity hasn’t worked as planned). And I give him single-handed credit for making electric cars, once the New Coke of automobiles, sexy. My first ride in a Tesla Roadster was one of my life’s two great driving experiences (the other being the Dodge Dart that was my first).
But would I invest in Tesla? Or order a Model 3? That’s another matter. Musk’s tendency to over-promise and under-deliver doesn’t inspire confidence. Nor is it encouraging to hear he has been spending his nights sleeping on the factory floor, or that he installed a third assembly line under a temporary tent, or that he is pushing his robots beyond their recommended limits. I’d like to see a little more stability before entrusting him with either my retirement savings or my morning commute. The market may value Tesla more highly than GM. But I prefer a CEO who has the confidence to sleep soundly in her bed at night.
Still, the Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Musk’s mad scramble did finally achieve his goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s in (almost) a week. And here’s what the New York Times found when it was given an unusual peek under the hood.
Other news below.
The U.S. now has a leftist, nationalist president to its immediate south, with the overwhelming victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s elections. AMLO, as he is known, is Mexico’s first leftist president in decades. He has appointed a moderate businessman named Alfonso Romo to handle economic affairs during the transition period. Notably, Romo favors a policy allowing foreign investment in Mexican energy. Reuters
If President Trump goes through with his threatened tariffs on auto imports from the EU, the Europeans may hit the U.S. with duties on up to $300 billion worth of products. This would mark a serious escalation in the burgeoning trade war, dwarfing the levels of tariffs that we’ve seen so far. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reportedly drafted a bill to pull the U.S. out of WTO rules that put a ceiling on tariffs. It’s called the “United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act”—or “FART.” (No, really.) Fortune
Stocks across Asia were sharply down this morning over trade war fears. The CSI 300 index, representing equities in Shanghai and Shenzhen, fell almost 3%, with the financial sector being particularly hard-hit. Tokyo’s Topix fell 2.1%; Seoul’s Kospi 2.4%; Singapore’s Straits Times index 1%. Meanwhile, the Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 0.9% after a few hours’ trading. Financial Times
There are yet more indications that North Korea is stepping up its nuclear activities rather than winding them down. A week ago it was satellite imagery showing that nuclear facilities are being upgraded, and now U.S. intelligence believes Pyongyang has increased production of nuclear fuel. All this despite President Trump’s recent assertion that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat, and “we will immediately begin total denuclearization of North Korea.” As experts have repeatedly pointed out, the North Koreans have a very different idea of what denuclearization means, seeing it as a long process that’s reflected on both sides. CNBC
Around the Water Cooler
Tesco and Carrefour
The British and French supermarket giants Tesco and Carrefour have struck up a “long-term, strategic alliance” that they say will cut costs through joint purchasing power. The deal, which the companies expect to be formalized within a couple months, will apply to the purchase of own-brand goods and goods that are not intended for resale. The plan could help Tesco fight back against the planned consolidation of Sainsbury’s and Walmart’s Asda. Fortune
Thyssenkrupp and Tata
Activist investors in Thyssenkrupp are not happy with the German company’s joint venture with India’s Tata Steel—a merger between the two companies’ European steel operations. The investors reckon Tata’s profit slump makes the deal unattractive. Steelworkers’ unions are happy, though, as Tata says its “ambition” is to avoid compulsory redundancies. Bloomberg
You will no doubt be astonished to hear that Facebook continues to share data about friends of its users with dozens of companies, despite previously saying it no longer did so. According to a document it submitted to Congress, Facebook is still sharing such information with 61 companies ranging from delivery services to dating apps, but it says it is just providing a transitional period to the companies to allow them to comply with policies it introduced, uh, three years ago. Fortune
Novartis’s Sandoz unit is acquiring the rights to sell an epinephrine injector called Symjepi, which is a rival to Mylan’s EpiPen. Sandoz is buying the rights from Adamis Pharmaceuticals, which said yesterday that the Novartis business will pay an up-front fee along with performance-based milestone payments. Adamis and Sandoz will share the net profits equally. Wall Street Journal