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Advocacy group grades banks as failing on guns
Guns Down America, a gun-control advocacy group, has graded 15 banks based on their support for the gun industry, Tiffany Hsu of the NYT reports. Most received dismal appraisals.
• “Six of the banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, received failing grades. Citigroup earned the highest one, a B.”
• The group used a 100-point scale that weighed factors like “a bank’s loans to and investments in gun makers” and “discounts and deals it offers to N.R.A. members.”
• Citi got an 84. JPMorgan got a 48. BB&T, the lowest-ranking bank on the list, got a 20, in part for loans and financing that it arranged for gun makers like Smith & Wesson.
• “We’re not interested in shaming banks or running a campaign focused on how evil they are,” Igor Volsky, the group’s executive director, told Ms. Hsu. “Our end goal is to change the way banks make decisions when doing business with the gun industry.”
• Ms. Hsu writes that “several banks contacted for comment said that they had not been consulted and that the group had relied on arbitrary metrics.”
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.
“My arrest this morning is outrageous and arbitrary”
Carlos Ghosn was arrested for a fourth time today, as prosecutors hit him with new charges of using company funds for personal ends. The former Nissan chairman claims that it’s part of an effort to silence him.
This time, he was accused of using a Nissan subsidiary in Oman to send millions of dollars of payments to one of the carmaker’s foreign business partners, which then passed it on to a company Mr. Ghosn controlled.
Mr. Ghosn did this three times between 2015 and 2018, resulting in $5 million in losses to Nissan, according to prosecutors.
He may be held in solitary confinement for at least 20 days, the FT reports, citing unnamed people close to his family. It adds that it is highly unusual in the Japanese legal system for someone released on bail to be rearrested.
Mr. Ghosn blamed “some individuals at Nissan” for his “outrageous and arbitrary arrest,” saying they were attempting “to silence me by misleading the prosecutors.” He had tweeted yesterday that he planned to hold a news conference next Thursday to tell “the truth about what’s going on.”
That tweet and arrest raise an interesting question: Did he violate the terms of his bail, which restrict his internet access?
Facebook user data spills out again
Cybersecurity researchers have found data about hundreds of millions of Facebook users stored publicly by a third party on Amazon’s cloud servers, according to Bloomberg.
• “In one instance, Mexico City-based digital platform Cultura Colectiva openly stored 540 million records on Facebook users, including identification numbers, comments, reactions and account names. The records were accessible and downloadable for anyone who could find them online.”
• “In the Cultura Colectiva dataset, which totaled 146 gigabytes, it was difficult for researchers to know how many unique Facebook users were affected.”
• The researchers also “ had trouble working to get the database closed.”
• “A Facebook spokesperson said that the company’s policies prohibit storing Facebook information in a public database. Once it was alerted to the issue, Facebook worked with Amazon to take down the databases.”
It has been over a year since the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed how widely Facebook had shared user data with third-party app developers. The social network began to audit that data-sharing last year, but the research report shows the struggle the company still faces.
More: Facebook is paying the British newspaper The Telegraph to publish sponsored articles that play down concerns about its practices. New research suggests that its algorithms target ads by race and gender even when advertisers request a broad audience. And have Mark Zuckerberg’s tech regulation proposals been treated unfairly?
Trump joins the trade talks
President Trump is expected to meet China’s trade envoy, Liu He, in Washington later today. That could be a sign of progress on some of the sticking points surrounding a potential deal, according to Bob Davis of the WSJ.
The U.S. and China have been at odds over tariffs imposed on $250 billion of Chinese goods. Washington sees them as a way to ensure that China sticks to the deal; Beijing wants them removed as soon as it’s signed. China has few other hard demands, and U.S. businesses have urged the Trump administration to remove the tariffs.
There could be workarounds. The U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has “been using the tariff issue to push for another U.S. priority — that China agree to a no-retaliation clause in a trade deal,” Mr. Davis reports. The plan, which could let the U.S. unilaterally impose levies on Chinese goods if China does not comply, could “help him persuade Mr. Trump to approve the agreement and lift a substantial amount of tariffs.”
“Mr. Trump is looking to announce on Thursday the date of a summit with Mr. Xi,” an unnamed Trump administration official told Mr. Davis. “That’s a big signal the two sides are on the cusp of a deal, trade experts say, and a resolution of the tariff issue.”
But “the situation is fluid, and plans could change,” the official added.
Should we tax unrealized capital gains?
Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate’s tax-writing committee, has an idea that could radically change how America taxes the 1 percent, according to the WSJ.
Mr. Wyden proposed taxing gains in asset values annually, at the same rate as other income. Gains are currently taxed only when investors sell an asset, and at a top rate of 23.8 percent, rather than the 37 percent for ordinary income.
The senator said his plan would “eliminate serious loopholes that allow some to pay a lower rate than wage earners, to delay their taxes indefinitely, and in some cases, to avoid paying tax at all.”
Challenges to the plan include how to value gains in complex assets, how to handle declines in value, and how to apply it to illiquid holdings like real estate.
The proposal “is a breathtakingly terrible idea,” Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, told the WSJ.
On some tech issues, Trump is going global
President Trump’s aversion to regulation and his go-it-alone nationalism are wavering in the face of technology questions, Steve Lohr of the NYT reports.
• “In September, the Trump administration abandoned its hands-off approach and began working closely with the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to create international guidelines for the design and use of artificial intelligence.”
• “The administration has also started to discuss a new law to protect privacy in the digital age, seeking consensus domestically and common ground internationally. It has fielded more than 200 public-comment filings from advocacy groups, corporations and individuals.”
The administration has “moved from indifference to engagement,” Julie Brill, a former commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission who now helps oversee regulatory affairs for Microsoft, told Mr. Lohr.
“The shift is a pragmatic recognition that regulations that will affect the nation’s tech industry and its citizens are coming, and that if federal officials want a say in them, they must participate,” Mr. Lohr writes.
Who was first with 5G? It’s a photo finish
The race to give citizens superfast wireless data networks reached a conclusion yesterday. But there’s no clear consensus on which city is the world’s first to enjoy 5G, the WSJ reports.
• “Verizon launched 5G wireless service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis on Wednesday, a week ahead of its planned start date, while carriers in South Korea deployed their service in the Seoul metropolitan area the same day.”
• “It is unclear which country struck first. South Korea’s large carriers, which had eyed a Friday start, hustled to switch on 5G services at 11 p.m. local time. Both SK Telecom Co. and KT Corp., the two largest operators, claimed to have the world’s first 5G smartphone subscribers. Verizon said its customers in those two cities were the first.”
The development of 5G has become politically charged. America and China, in particular, see it as a means of asserting technological prowess. And the battle has entangled the Chinese telecom company Huawei, with America and others declaring its 5G hardware a risk to national security.
Expect to hear more about the race.
Condé Nast has hired Roger Lynch, the former chief executive of Pandora, as its new C.E.O.
PG&E confirmed that it has appointed 10 new directors, including Nora Mead Brownell, a former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, and Jeffrey Bleich, a partner at the law firm Dentons.
Zeina Bain, one of the Carlyle Group’s most senior female deal makers, has left for a competitor, ICG.
Apple promoted its M.&A. chief, Adrian Perica, by having him report directly to Tim Cook instead of the company’s C.F.O.
The speed read
• The radio giant iHeartMedia filed to go public yesterday, though it hasn’t decided between an I.P.O. and a Spotify-like direct share listing. (NYT)
• SoftBank is reportedly in talks to raise $15 billion more for its Vision Fund. (Bloomberg)
• The consulting firm Accenture agreed to buy Droga5, one of the big independent advertising agencies. (NYT)
Politics and policy
• The arrest of a Chinese national carrying malware at Mar-a-Lago shows how hard it is for a presidential home to double as a moneymaking business. (WaPo)
• The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested six years of President Trump’s tax returns, while the House Intelligence Committee has asked for documents related to his inauguration. (NYT)
• Senate Republicans resorted to the “nuclear option” of limiting debate on presidential nominations for federal courts and administrative posts to speed up confirmation of Mr. Trump’s picks. (NYT)
• Some of Robert Mueller’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William Barr’s summary of their findings underplayed troubling conclusions about President Trump. (NYT)
• Ethiopian investigators said that the pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed followed proper guidance. (NYT)
• Some pilots said that Boeing should have provided more instructions for disabling the anti-stall software suspected in the two crashes. (WSJ)
• The family of Ralph Nader’s niece, who was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, plans to sue Boeing. (NYT)
• Boeing hasn’t halted 737 Max production despite the global grounding of the Max 8 model. (Bloomberg)
• Prime Minister Theresa May and the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, have begun talks to devise a Brexit deal that could garner cross-party support. (NYT)
• Parliament passed a bill to force Mrs. May to seek a further delay to the process and avoid a no-deal Brexit. (FT)
• Tesla delivered 63,000 vehicles in the first quarter — fewer than expected and down 31 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018. (NYT)
• A.I. experts have called on Amazon to stop selling its facial-recognition technology to law enforcement because it’s biased against women and people of color. (NYT)
• Australia passed a law threatening huge fines for social media companies that fail to take down “abhorrent violent material” rapidly. (NYT)
• MIT is cutting ties with the Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE over security risks. (FT)
• Google will now require suppliers to provide their workers with benefits, including parental leave and minimum wages. (Wired)
Best of the rest
• Has the yield curve predicted the next recession — or are its warnings being overplayed? (FT)
• Six women have sued Jones Day, one of the world’s largest law firms, for pregnancy and gender discrimination. (NYT)
• A report by BlackRock says that investors underestimate extreme weather risks. (FT)
• China’s stimulus plan might be working. (FT)
• Much of the U.S. is experiencing a Japan-style decline in working-age residents. (Upshot)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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