Count me among the many lamenting the loss of Sen. John McCain. It’s not just because of his irrepressible commitment to candor, which made him every journalist’s friend. And it’s not that I regret he fell short of the White House; his performance in face of the financial crisis in September 2007 suggested he may have been unmatched to the job.
But McCain had an all-too-rare willingness to put country above party, and to devise bipartisan solutions to the biggest problems bedeviling the nation. The budget deficit. Climate change. Immigration. Campaign finance. The legacy of Vietnam. He may not have gotten it right in every case, but he was always willing to go where other partisans feared to tread.
Much has been made, rightly, of 2018 as the “Year of the Woman,” with a flood of female candidates running in midterm elections. But it is also the year that a new generation of military veterans—many who served post-9/11—are entering politics. Some 400 veterans are running for Congress alone. That could mark an inflection point for politics. Veterans account for just 19% of today’s Congress, down from peaks of 75% in the House in 1967 and 81% in the Senate in 1975. McCain’s sterling example gives reason to hope that a fresh crop of politicians who have proven their commitment to country could help pave the way for solutions to our broken politics.
More news below.
Elon Musk says it was “now or perhaps never” for Tesla to go private, due to what he anticipates will be a huge increase in its value—but in the end it was not to be. The plan would have forced technology mutual funds to trim their stakes; it may have let competitors such as Volkswagen take stakes in Tesla; and it would have shut out many small investors. The Saudis were also divided over the idea of backing the plan. So Musk dropped it, and the stock is now down 5%. Wall Street Journal
The U.S. and Mexico have reportedly made progress in talks regarding cars and energy, making a revised North American Free Trade Agreement more likely. According to Bloomberg, a key breakthrough regards a “lighter” sunset clause, for which the U.S. has been pushing. Of course, even if the U.S. and Mexico shake hands, Canada needs to be on board. Bloomberg
Uber is to place less emphasis on cars and more on electric scooters and bikes, as the latter are better suited to city life. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the Financial Times that the move would hurt Uber’s profits in the short term, but was essential for the company’s long-term goal of shifting focus away from cars in inner cities. FT
The Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing has suspended one of its carpooling services following the rape and murder of a female passenger. As with similar services such as Uber, passenger safety is a major issue. Didi Chuxing has halted its Hitch service and fired two top executives after the latest incident in the city of Yueqing in Zhejiang province. Associated Press
Around the Water Cooler
U.S. Stock Futures
U.S. stock futures hit a record high in Asia this morning, thanks to Fed Chair Jerome Powell backing a gradual approach to raising rates. Powell also signalled that more rate hikes were coming, even though President Trump has vocally opposed such a move. The Fed has already raised rates twice this year. Reuters
Frequent price changes for products and more overall consistency in pricing across platforms could be keeping inflation down, said Harvard Business School associate professor Alberto Cavallo in a paper presented to central bankers over the weekend. Economists generally expect inflation to speed up in times of low unemployment. Reuters
Shunning the Dollar
Countries such as Russia, China and Turkey are turning their backs on the greenback, due to the U.S.’s insistence that any deal made in dollars is subject to American jurisdiction. They’re building alternatives to the SWIFT system for cross-border, inter-bank transactions, and urging trading partners to avoid using the dollar in bilateral trade. The effect on the U.S.’s global sway could be transformational—and soon. CNBC
The British government is setting aside at least $118 million in planning for a satellite navigation system to rival the U.S.’s GPS and the EU’s Galileo, as the country will probably lose access to the latter after Brexit. The U.K. has already spent $1.8 billion on Galileo, and the cost of developing a British alternative is likely to cost billions more. BBC