Regular readers of this newsletter know we try to avoid politics. But it’s hard to ignore the anti-big-business din coming from the 20 Democrats who participated in the first debates of a too-long presidential primary season on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Health insurers earned top honor among the demons, with several candidates wanting to wipe out the industry in pursuit of “Medicare for all.” Big banks still score special scorn. “Big tech” is targeted for a break up. The words “fossil fuel industry” are spoken with ultimate contempt—as if any of us could get through our day without them. Defense companies and pharmaceuticals companies also rank high among the villains. “We can’t demonize every business,” former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper protested at one point last night. But moderate voices like his were largely lost in the din.
President Trump has driven many business leaders from the Republican Party with his trade policies, immigration policies, and general approach to issues of science, truth and social justice. But Democrats seem determined to make sure the dispossessed don’t cross into their camp. Little wonder a majority of Fortune 500 CEOs now see themselves as independents. In today’s politics, they have no home.
Here is a summary of the action in last night’s debate. More news below. Enjoy the weekend.
There Goes Jony
Apple design guru Jony Ive is leaving Apple—but that doesn’t mean he won’t be designing for the company anymore. Ive is setting up his own independent design company, and Apple will be a primary client. Still, some are seeing the move as part of Apple’s shift from product development to services. Wall Street Journal
Volkswagen IPO’d its truck unit, Traton, this morning. It wasn’t a great start. Already priced pretty low, Traton’s shares slid slightly after their launch. Demand for German listings is generally rather lackluster at the moment. Reuters
The Lego family-empire firm, Kirkbi, is to buy the U.K.’s Merlin Entertainments (in which it already holds a one-third stake) for around $7.6 billion, along with investor partners including Blackstone. This will give Kirkbi control over the Legoland themeparks, as well as landmark experiences such as the London Eye and the Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museums. BBC
Iran’s energy ministry has warned that massive cryptocurrency-mining operations are destabilizing the country’s power grid and causing consumption spikes. Electricity is heavily subsidized in Iran, making it a good place to make a buck by conjuring up power-intensive virtual coins. But now the government is trying to shut down such operations. RFERL
Around the Water Cooler
The French telecoms giant Orange has raised $616 million by selling its remaining 2.5% stake in the U.K.’s BT. Orange had the stake as a result of BT buying its British mobile joint venture with Deutsche Telekom, EE, five years ago. But it apparently had no strategic need for the stake, and the cash could help Orange boost market share back home. Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a lengthy interview to the Financial Times, in which he claimed liberalism was “obsolete” and sang the praises of globalization. Putin on Trump: “He seems to believe that the results of globalization could have been much better for the U.S. than they are. These globalization results are not producing the desired effect for the U.S., and he is beginning this campaign against certain elements of globalization. This concerns everyone, primarily major participants in the system of international economic collaboration, including allies.” FT
Chinese academia is getting more funding to research the U.S. and trade, after being accused of misunderstanding the U.S. and therefore being unable to handle the Trump administration’s trade offensive. International relations professor Shiu Yinhong: “[The trade war] proved that our world outlook had important gaps, which made us unprepared for the increasing trend towards selective ‘decoupling’ [with China].” South China Morning Post
Old Navy CEO Sonia Syngal writes for Fortune about the importance of making all customers feel welcome: “No customer is the same as any other, and that’s exactly as it should be. Income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, religion, disability status, or shape should never be a barrier to feeling and looking your best.” Fortune