The Dow tumbled 600 points yesterday and the Nasdaq moved into correction territory, as traders worried about rising interest rates and the possibility that the Fed will make a “policy mistake.” President Donald Trump fed those concerns in an interview in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, criticizing Fed chief Jerome Powell. “Every time we do something great, he raises interest rates,” Trump said, adding that Powell “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates.”
Yesterday evening, I visited one of the few people who understands what it’s like to be in Powell’s shoes: former Fed chief Paul Volcker. Volcker famously saved the U.S. economy from double-digit inflation in the 1980s by jacking up rates, despite massive criticism. I asked him what advice he would give his successor about handling White House attacks, and he responded: “You’ve got to ignore it,” adding that it’s “more significant when the Congress opposes you,” because Congress actually has the power to rein in the Fed’s independence.
Powell apparently has learned that lesson. A Reuters report yesterday said the savvy Fed chair had at least 33 meetings with members of Congress in June, July and August, according to Fed calendars, and had three times as many congressional meetings in his first seven months in office as did his predecessor, Janet Yellen.
Volcker, who has been ill, is doing a few interviews to promote his new book, Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government, out next week. He said that while Fed watchers tend to focus on monetary policy, “what we have learned in the last 30 years is how important a strong regulatory system is…. Regulation, in a way, is the greatest challenge.” The reason? “Regulation is much more heavily lobbied” than monetary policy.
More news below.
Tesla just reported its third quarterly profit in its 15 years of existence, and the first since 2016. Analysts expected a loss of 3 cents per share, but Tesla posted a profit of $2.90 per share. So Elon Musk’s Model 3-based assurances are looking good now, and the firm’s share price is up 15%. Fortune
Yesterday’s Wall Street selloff (see above) continued in Asia this morning, but things calmed down by the time trading started in Europe. In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 1.6%, Australia’s ASX 2.8%, and the Nikkei 225 3.7%. China’s CSI 300 fell by as much as 2.8% but bounced back. In Europe, the STOXX 600 was down 1% at one point but was back up to a 0.37% gain at the time of writing. JPMorgan’s Kerry Craig: “There are a multitude of reasons why markets came down in early October, but everyone said it would be OK, because U.S. corporate earnings would prop them up. But they have not been as strong as expected—cracks are appearing in earnings.” Financial Times
The advertising giant WPP saw its shares slump by as much as 18% after it cut its sales outlook and forecast a declining profit margin. New CEO Mark Read, who is trying to turn things around, said WPP has been too slow to adapt. Read wants to simplify the sprawling operation and said today that WPP will sell a stake in its data and market research unit, Kantar. Bloomberg
Facebook has failed to convince the British privacy regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), to back down from levying the maximum possible fine against it over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fine is just $645,000, but that’s because the offense occurred before the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The ICO’s line is that Facebook messed up very badly, and if the GDPR applied it would have received a much larger fine. ICO
Around the Water Cooler
Nokia is planning substantial job cuts as part of a plan to save €700 million ($798 million) a year by 2020. The telecoms equipment firm’s restructuring will see the creation of a new “enterprise” unit. The Finnish company’s Q3 results beat expectations but still underwhelmed some analysts. Reuters
A hacker made away with the details of 9.4 million Cathay Pacific passengers—the worst airline data breach yet. The revelation whacked the carrier’s share price down to a nine-year low. The information takes included credit card and passport details. Cathay said Wednesday that it had confirmed the breach back in May. Fortune
Google has abandoned plans to open a new campus in the rapidly gentrifying Kreuzberg area of Berlin, following massive protests. Instead, the firm said yesterday, it will give the site for the proposed campus—a former substation—to two social organizations. Google, which denied that the protests had forced its hand, will move into offices in the already rather office-y Mitte district instead. TheLocal.de
Amazon is one of the investors in a $50 million funding round for the German smart home startup Tado, best known for its smart thermostats. Other investors in the round include the energy firm E.ON, Total Energy Ventures, Energy Innovation Capital, Inven Capital, and the European Investment Bank. Tado’s products are for sale in all European Apple stores. Tech.eu