Good morning from Paris.
Fiat Chrysler said early this morning it was abandoning its merger proposal for Renault, and cited French politics as the reason. The French government requested a delay to get Nissan on board, but also has been pushing for jobs and other guarantees. “It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully,” Fiat Chrysler said.
Separately, I spent time yesterday with a man who is trying to reduce car usage: Nicolas Brusson, CEO of BlaBlaCar, the carpooling service. What makes BlaBlaCar unique—compared to the likes of Uber, Lyft, Didi and Grab—is its focus on the long-haul market–shared cars as an alternative to buses, trains and planes between cities. The company is operating in 22 markets, but has stayed out of the U.S. to date, in part because of a “last mile” problem. Users in European cities can easily use public transport to meet a driver at an convenient location; but in the U.S. that is more difficult. Aside from Europe, the company has made deep inroads into Brazil and Russia.
Brusson touts BlaBlaCar not just for cost and convenience, but for environmental benefits, citing a study that concluded BlaBlaCar was reducing CO2 emissions by 1.6 million tons a year. The company also touts its social benefits, saying carpooling over longer distances creates unique opportunities to “enable exchanges between people who might never have otherwise met.”
More news below.
President Trump has waved his tariff stick in Beijing’s direction again, telling reporters: “Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening. We’ll see what happens… I could go up another at least $300 billion and I’ll do that at the right time.” It’s not clear what goods would be involved here. Reuters
Huawei may be shunned in the West, but Russia and China are busy falling into each other’s arms right now, and the telecoms giant just scored a contract to develop 5G networks for the Russian operator MTS. President Xi happens to be in Moscow right now for a state visit with his “best and bosom friend,” President Putin. My enemy’s enemy and all that. Meanwhile, China has also given Huawei a boost by granting local carriers 5G licenses. BBC
The price of crude is down more than a fifth since April, thanks the twin issues of poor global growth and fears of oversupply. Prices fell 3.4% yesterday, triggered by news of a spike in stockpiles, which are 6% above the recent average for this time of year. CNN
Amazon has a new delivery drone design that looks a bit Star Wars-y—it takes off vertically before tilting to fly horizontally. Amazon Prime Air VP Gur Kimchi: “It has performance that we think is just incredible. We think the autonomy system makes the aircraft independently safe.” That’s a nod to regulators, and shortly after the unveiling, the FAA said Amazon could test it for a year in limited circumstances that don’t involve deliveries. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
The Swiss competition authority will fine Barclays, JPMorgan, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland some $91 million this week over the rigging of foreign exchange markets. That may not seem like a lot, but remember the EU has just fined them (and Japan’s MUFG) $1 billion over the same issue. Financial Times
The investment bank Centerview Partners is getting a new Chicago office, which will be headed up by someone who has a useful contact or two: Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and former chief of staff for President Obama. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was quick to draw a distinction between her wing of the Democrat Party and more corporate-friendly players, tweeting a link to the news with the words, “Not all Democrats are the same.” CNBC
YouTube has banned videos promoting discrimination against any group based on the alleged superiority of another group, or denying that “well-documented violent events” such as Sandy Hook took place. However, there have been indications that filtering such content out by algorithm isn’t working—at least one historian has found his channel suspended because it included archival material of Nazi speeches. And the launch of the new rules has also been undermined by YouTube allowing homophobic content from a conservative commentator to stay up. Wired
Beverly Hills will ban most tobacco sales by 2021—that’s cigarettes, cigars and even e-cigarettes. The only outlets allowed to sell the stuff will be cigar lounges and hotels. It’s the first American city to institute such a ban, although a Hawaii lawmaker has proposed doing much the same thing by raising the smoking age to 100. Fortune