Keep an eye on Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. He wrote a heart-felt post to his employees after a visit to the store in El Paso where a tragic shooting killed 22 people. “It is difficult to find words strong enough to describe the way we feel,” he began. At the end, he wrote:
“We are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
Thoughtful and deliberate are both words that apply to McMillon, in my experience. But the paragraph above sure sounds like prelude to a new policy on gun sales.
McMillon is in a tough spot. On the one hand, his stores are at the heart of red state America, and many of his customers believe learning to use guns is part of a moral upbringing. They believe folks on both coasts are plotting to take theirs away.
On the other hand, Walmart already has shown a willingness to take action on guns—stopping hand gun and assault weapon sales, and raising the purchase age to 21. Would it now move to a total ban?
Some employees are urging McMillon to do so. One of them posted a memo urging a “sick-out” strike to support the effort. Another circulated a petition calling for the company to stop gun sales.
As the nation’s largest seller of guns (but not the guns used in the recent shootings) any action Walmart takes will have a profound effect. Stay tuned.
More news below.
Stocks Bounce Back
After logging the largest drops since the start of the year earlier this week, gains across global markets this morning were due to unexpectedly strong economic indicators: Chinese export numbers showed a 3.3% gain in July from a year earlier, and French economic data showed the country was growing. Amid a stormy economic picture, one analyst said the figures were “arguably as upbeat as might have been hoped.” WSJ
Rate Cuts Abound
As stocks markets show signs of recovery, there are plenty of indicators of the pain the U.S.-China trade war is expected to inflict globally—now in the form of rate cuts by central banks in India, New Zealand and Thailand. A cut by Australia’s central bank is expected next. Those are all part of a move an analyst called “defensive action” against slumping growth and worries the trade war could morph into an all-out currency war. New York Times
Another Blow for Huawei
The Trump administration has pushed its penalties against Huawei one step further, with a congressional measure to stop any U.S. government agency from buying Huawei equipment. The measure also covers several other companies: ZTE, Hikvision, Dahua, and Hytera. Huawei is already on a trade-related blacklist, though some restrictions against the company had been pulled back in June. FT
Uber is due to report its quarterly earnings after market close on Thursday, after Lyft, its main rival, reported on Wednesday. Lyft registered rising losses, but also strengthening revenue (by 72% from the same period last year), and an upbeat forecast for the rest of the year—enough to make its shares jump initially. Despite the earnings loss, the CEO said it was a “milestone quarter on our path to profitability.” Fortune
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Koch’s Safety Crisis
For years, the accident and death rate at Georgia-Pacific, a pulp and paper company owned by Koch Industries, kept rising and rising—largely without interruption. A collaboration between Fortune and ProPublica investigates what went wrong. Fortune
Rosneft in Venezuela
Venezuela needs gasoline, and it has only one option left: Russian state-owned Rosneft. The company has become the last supplier to the country under President Nicholás Maduro, and that has given Russia leverage over the country as U.S. sanctions deepen. Rosneft is already under some U.S. sanctions after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but still has enough room to continue trading. FT
Ireland’s Housing Crisis
Ireland may have recovered from the financial crisis, partly by drawing multinational companies—especially tech companies—to the Emerald Isle. But now another property crisis is looming, as Dublin has become one of the top 10 most expensive places in the world to rent, ahead of even Tokyo and Singapore. That makes renting—never mind stable homeownership—precarious for many, especially young people. New York Times
Was E-Mail a Mistake?
The expansion of big offices gave rise to the need for “asynchronous messaging”—messaging where the receivers are not all participating at the same time—and so, e-mail was born. But in the earliest days, it was not a given that this was actually good for work or productivity. Now, researchers say e-mail can be useful—for delivering this newsletter, for example—but for collaboration and reaching conclusions, it’s largely a bust. New Yorker