When I interviewed Carlos Ghosn in 2012, he professed great appreciation for the Japanese. “I have a lot of love and respect for the country, and I have the weakness of thinking it is shared, because I’m still there. I haven’t been chased out of the country yet.”
Well no more. It was clear yesterday, after his arrest for false pay filings, that Ghosn has lost the love and respect even of his closest colleagues. “From a governance perspective, it was a problem to have so much power concentrated in one person,” said Hiroto Saikawa, his handpicked successor at Nissan. Ghosn’s behavior sparked feelings that “go far beyond regret to anger.”
Ghosn’s demise puts yet another nail in the coffin of post-World War II globalization. He in some ways represented its pinnacle—a Lebanese-born Brazilian who came to run three different global companies all at once: Renault in France, Nissan and Mitsubishi in Japan. When he first assumed the joint-CEO position, many thought he was a harbinger of a new, cross-cultural business future. But now he marks that future’s demise. With Ghosn gone, Japanese business has returned once again to its insular ways. And much of the world is heading in a similar direction.
But for all of Ghosn’s seemingly superhuman capabilities, it was always too much to expect one individual to simultaneously run two—much less three—companies in such very different cultures. And it was certainly a mistake to let him do it for so long.
Asked in 2012 whether he thought having one person run two companies on opposite sides of the globe was a good idea, he responded: “It’s not normal. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Agreed. More news below.
Apple’s reported slashing of iPhone production orders had the predictable effect of hitting the stock markets, but not on its own—Facebook’s continued woes lent a helping hand, as did the Ghosn scandal. Yesterday the Dow ended up down almost 400 points, and the Nasdaq fell 3%. Today, the Nikkei fell over 1% and the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite over 2%. At the time of writing, Europe’s Stoxx 600 index was down 0.5%, and U.S. futures indicate further imminent declines. Dow Jones
Asylum Ban Ban
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to ban people from seeking asylum if they cross the U.S.’s southern border at non-approved crossing points. A San Francisco judge issued a temporary nationwide restraining order last night, saying President Trump does not have the authority to “rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.” Washington Post
The Trump administration is considering curbs on exports of A.I. and other emerging technologies, in order to stop the Chinese from getting their hands on the tech. The list of possible new export restrictions covers everything from computer vision and microprocessor technology to futuristic things like quantum computing and mind-machine interfaces. Financial Times
The French Bank Société Générale will pay $1.34 billion to settle sanctions and money-laundering charges by U.S. and New York state authorities. The bank was accused of facilitating over 2,500 transactions involving the likes of Iran, Sudan and Cuba, in breach of American sanctions laws. It apparently tried to cover up the sanctions-busting by making inaccurate notations on payment messages. Wall Street Journal
Around the Water Cooler
SpaceX’s Big F—– Rocket (BFR, with the “F” standing for Falcon or, um, something else) is now called the Starship, Elon Musk has announced. To be precise, the spaceship part is now called Starship—the booster for the company’s largest planned rocket will henceforth be known as “Super Heavy.” All very prog rock. BBC
But Her Emails
Indian Central Bank
India’s government and central bank have been butting heads over things like monetary policy rates, but a nine-hour meeting between the two sides yesterday resulted in “a better outcome than expected,” IHS Markit economist Rajiv Biswas told CNBC. The Reserve Bank of India said it had agreed to establish an expert committee to examine how much it should be holding in its reserves. CNBC
Election Day should be a holiday to allow more people to vote, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has suggested. The soon-to-be-youngest-woman-in-Congress said the voting holiday could perhaps be swapped out for another holiday such as Columbus Day. Advocates of a voting holiday say it would allow for greater turnout, while critics claim service-industry workers would still need to show up for work that day. Fortune