Skip to Content

Another Front Opens in the U.S.-China Trade War: CEO Daily

Good morning from Fortune’s Los Angeles bureau. Digital editor Andrew Nusca here, filling in for Alan.

Sun Tzu famously wrote that the art of war is subduing the enemy without fighting, but there’s little artistry in the bruising blows between the U.S and China in their prolonged trade war.

Global markets were on the ropes yesterday after President Trump vowed to impose a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, including smartphones and apparel, next month. The maneuver—which comes on top of an existing 25% tariff on $250 billion of goods and was reportedly opposed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, among others—follows the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut in more than a decade.

In Washington, a bellicose Trump argued that President Xi was trying to slow any negotiations ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In Beijing, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce said the U.S. ought to “show sufficient sincerity”—an exhortation the agency has been making for more than a year.

But a 300-point plunge on the Dow is hard to ignore. One year in, the U.S-China trade war continues to make mincemeat out of manufacturers’ supply chains, hiking consumer product costs and cutting corporate outlooks from Charlotte to Cupertino.

Some CEOs have expressed fear that the duration of the dispute would irreparably harm their businesses; others seem less distressed. (Most, naturally, aren’t saying much at all.) But the best counsel might just come from a tweet-happy American president paraphrasing an oft-quoted Chinese general-philosopher:

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”

More news below, and have a wonderful weekend.

Andrew Nusca

andrew.nusca@fortune.com

@editorialiste

TOP NEWS

July Jobs Data 

Friday will bring U.S. employment data for July, a chance to assess the state of the economy just ahead of the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut since 2008 on Wednesday. Job growth is expected to have slowed in July, compared to June, while wages are expected to have increased gradually, according to Reuters forecasts. The picture the data shows will also likely affect expectations of whether further rate cuts are in the offing this year. Reuters

IMF Job in the Air

After Christine Lagarde was nominated to become head of the European Central Bank—leaving her post as head of the IMF—the debate over her successor has struggled to reach consensus. The French finance ministry, which is leading the search, said Friday there is not yet an agreement, but several names are in the mix: Spain’s finance minister, the Netherlands’ former finance minister, and current Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Mario Draghi, current head of the ECB, was a favorite, but at 71 he is too old for the post under IMF rules. France24

Facebook’s FTC Probe   

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking at whether Facebook has used its acquisitions to contain potential rivals, as part of its antitrust probe into the tech giant, the WSJ reported. The company has acquired around 90 companies over 15 years, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook revealed the existence of an FTC probe in its earnings last week but didn’t provide any further details. WSJ

Bank of England Keeps Rates Steady 

Even as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit appears to be mounting, the Bank of England held interest rates steady on Thursday. That baffled some investors, especially with the pound sitting near a two and a half year low on Brexit fears. Bloomberg

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Ogilvy Under Fire

The advertising agency is facing a backlash over revelations it has been making advertisements for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, amid widespread outcry over the detaining of migrant children at the border. Ogilvy’s chief executive has defended the company internally, saying it has worked for the U.S. government for decades, and the agency does have a history of taking on controversial subjects. FT

From CEO to Youtube Star

When the head of a regional German bank retired, he got a nickname—”Money Manni”—and set up a Youtube channel. On his channel, he gives financial advice in simple terms, especially targeted at young people. He says he doesn’t aim to make money, but he does take it seriously, filming in a studio in his basement and giving the clips self-explanatory names like, “Was ist ein Kredit?” (“What is a Loan?”) Bloomberg 

A Fish Market Tech Startup

A new tech startup to get you fresh fish is based in the Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx—but it still relies on some old-fashioned human experience. Namely, someone needs to determine if the fish is actually fresh—and that man is Robert DiGregorio, a 68-year-old fish market veteran who has the nickname “Bobby Tuna” and is author of a book on tuna standards. Five years ago he didn’t know how to use a computer, he says, but “I’ve bought and sold literally millions of pounds of fish.” New Yorker

Fighting Logic 

And finally, to get your weekend off to a silly start: the Wall Street Journal has this story about the complicated demands of the stars of the latest Fast and Furious movie. When no one wanted to lose a fight compared to their co-stars, so Vin Diesel devised a complicated metric system to ensure fair fight scene time, with numerical values for each head butt, kick and body slam. It wasn’t used in the end, but fight choreographers admit that balancing combat egos is a delicate dance. Wall Street Journal 

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.