Shutdown and Business, Hopeful Markets, iPhone Production: CEO Daily for January 9, 2019
Good morning. David Meyer here, filling in for Alan from Berlin.
The partial government shutdown is having an obvious impact on federal employees—everyone needs to get paid—but it’s also having an increasing impact on businesses, with warning signs coming from a variety of sectors.
Bankers and lawyers are reporting that some planned IPOs are being pushed back because of the partial closure of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wanted to list shares for the first time this month? Tough luck, biotech firms such as Gossamer and Alector. It looks like this will be a rare January without any major U.S. flotations.
Over to property. The National Association of Realtors surveyed 2,211 agents and found a fifth had clients who were impacted by the shutdown—some were federal employees who suddenly couldn’t pony up the cash; some are just jittery about economic uncertainty. Not good news for a housing market that’s already slowing.
“It’s a completely unnecessary negative,” Association chief economist Lawrence Yun told Bloomberg. “If the shutdown quickly ends, then this will not become an issue. If it becomes prolonged, then it will hurt the economy.”
Defense contractors are also worried. Even though the DOD is funded for this fiscal year, many of the contractors also have deals with currently unfunded agencies such as Homeland Security and NASA. The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) warned yesterday that State and Commerce Department closures were blocking weapons sales to allies and partners.
“Every day the shutdown lasts, the impacts grow and become more difficult and more expensive to fix,” said AIA chief Eric Fanning.
And to top it all, craft brewers are finding themselves unable to launch new beers, because they need approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is, you guessed it, shut down.
Indeed, all kinds of small businesses are facing issues as a result of the shutdown—they can’t get loans from the Small Business Administration because it’s closed; and again, those furloughed federal employees don’t have cash to spend.
Who’s responsible for all this? President Trump may be trying to pin the blame on the donkeys, but new polls suggest voters are fuming at the White House, not the Democrats who refuse to fund Trump’s wall. Politico says 47% of voters blame Trump, while a Reuters survey puts the figure at 51%—both polls say just under a third of respondents blamed congressional Democrats.
For the sake of the economy, something has to give, and soon. And with numbers like those above, it seems increasingly unlikely that it will be the Democrats doing the caving-in.
More news below.
Asian and European markets are up and U.S. futures are firmly in the green, thanks to cautious optimism over the results of now-completed trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. The fact that the talks went into an unscheduled third day today has led some to believe the discussions were serious, and may produce something concrete to avoid the continuation of the trade war. CNBC
Apple is reportedly decimating iPhone production over the next three months. According to Nikkei Asian Review, the firm asked its suppliers to cut production by 10% last month, marking the second such reduction in two months. Nikkei
The European Banking Authority is urging the European Commission to consider pan-EU cryptocurrency rules. The EBA is particularly concerned that exchanges and wallet services currently do not fall under EU financial services legislation, and even though they are covered by a patchwork of national laws, the inconsistency could leave consumers exposed. Fortune
Sears will hold a court-supervised auction on Monday, and CEO Eddie Lampert will compete. The Sears board could have rejected Lampert’s bid, which he has now promised to boost, in which case liquidation proceedings would have begun. Lampert’s ESL will provide a non-refundable $120 million deposit to participate in the auction. Wall Street Journal
Around the Water Cooler
CNBC has a damning piece about the culture within Facebook, where people are constantly pressured to act as though everything is just groovy, and anytime someone expresses dissent they start getting calls from above. Some employees described the atmosphere as “cult-like,” and the bubble seems to have contributed to Facebook’s failure to deal with the News Feed’s impact on the 2016 election. CNBC
Departures at London Heathrow—one of the world’s busiest airports—were temporarily suspended yesterday following a drone sighting. Last month a drone sighting caused much longer-lasting disruption at Gatwick, one of Southeast England’s other big airports. BBC
Eurozone unemployment figures are at a 10-year low of 7.9%. The drop was not expected, with economists estimating 8.1%. The reason? Largely falling jobless numbers in Italy and Spain, which have the worst employment rates in the Eurozone after Greece. By way of comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate last month was 3.9%. Reuters
Bounty hunters are indirectly buying data about people’s locations from the big U.S. phone carriers, including T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T, according to a new report. It’s common knowledge that law enforcement gets to access such data, but that the data gets onto the black market? Not so much. Motherboard