MacKenzie Bezos found a great way to upstage her ex: signing the “Giving Pledge,” which is a promise to give away half her wealth to good causes while living. Jeff Bezos hasn’t signed.
That’s not to say Bezos hasn’t made big charitable giveaways. Business Insider published a list of some that have been publicly disclosed. But for the richest man in the world—at an estimated $114 billion—they seem a bit stingy. Meanwhile, the No. 2 and No. 3 on the billionaires list—Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—have both signed the pledge; in fact, they started it along with Melinda Gates.
Worth noting that Gates’ generosity blossomed after his showdown with government antitrust authorities. Is Bezos waiting for the same? Might be good for business, as well as for the world, if he jumps on this bandwagon sooner rather than later.
More news below.
Asia-Pacific rare earths miners have seen their shares soar, following veiled threats from a Chinese official that the minerals could become leverage in the U.S.-China trade war. But how much of a threat is that in reality? It seems China’s near-monopoly on rare earths, which are essential for building electronics, is temporary at best. Fortune
An Ethiopian Airlines pilot warned senior managers of a need for better training and communication, following the crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max in October. The warnings came months before a Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed. The pilot, who was not involved in that disaster, warned that “it will be a crash for sure” if pilots encountered a malfunctioning flight control system. Bloomberg
Morgan Stanley says a recession may be coming. Chief U.S. equity strategist Michael Wilson, highlighting a fall in manufacturing activity: “Recent data points suggest U.S. earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think.” Wilson is bearish, but his initial S&P 500 call last year, which he did not adjust at any point, turned out to be the most accurate. CNBC
Huawei has filed a motion for a summary judgement to halt the U.S.’s “illegal action” against it. The company is pointing to the fact that the U.S. still hasn’t shown its evidence for deeming Huawei a security threat. The Chinese telecoms giant also told media that the ban against supplying it with U.S. components and software would “directly harm” U.S. companies and jobs. BBC
Around the Water Cooler
Bernie Sanders is formulating a plan that would force large businesses to put some of their stocks into an employee-controlled fund, so workers would get regular dividends. He also wants corporations to give workers seats on their boards—an idea that’s already been proposed by Elizabeth Warren, and that is commonplace in Germany. Washington Post
The U.S. Treasury Department held back from labelling China a currency manipulator in its latest foreign exchange report, though the country is still on the watchlist for meeting some criteria, alongside Japan, South Korea and Germany, plus new additions Ireland, Italy, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. India and Switzerland are off the latest watchlist. Bloomberg
Central banks such as that of Sweden may be exploring the possibility of issuing official digital money, but Germany’s central bank chief is skeptical. Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann warned that the development could exacerbate bank runs in crisis situations, and introduce volatile demand. After all, if interest rates are low and you have digital money, why keep it in a commercial bank account? Reuters
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock is one of the many people running to succeed Theresa May at the helm of the Conservative Party (and the U.K.,) and he’s pitching himself as the pro-business candidate. Referring to Boris Johnson’s infamous “f*ck business” comment, reportedly made in response to industry’s concerns over the impact of a no-deal Brexit, Hancock offered this to the Financial Times: “f*ck, f*ck business.” If nothing else, the British asterisk sector has a rosy future. FT