The Week in Business: The Price of Chaos
Musk tops the list
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, is the richest person in the world thanks to a year-long rally in Tesla’s share price that rose 743 percent in 2020. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr. Musk’s net worth came to $ 195 billion at the end of the day – $ 10 billion more than that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has held the superlative title since 2017. It’s worth noting that if Mr. Bezos hadn’t given away so much money that year (or gave up about 25 percent of his Amazon stock in his divorce), Mr. Musk wouldn’t have taken the top spot. However, Tesla has done exceptionally well, reporting profits and a 36 percent annual increase in sales for the past four quarters.
What’s next? (January 10-16)
Biden Stocks his cabinet
With his presidency secured, Mr Biden spent last Thursday filling out his economics team. He appointed Isabel Guzman, a former Obama administration official, to head the Small Business Administration. The role includes overseeing several pandemic programs related to helping small businesses, including the paycheck protection program, which has been criticized for poor management. Mr. Biden also appointed Governor Gina Raimondo, a moderate Rhode Island Democrat with a background in the financial industry, as his trade secretary. And for the labor secretary, the president-elect selected Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who is expected to help deliver on Mr Biden’s promise to improve wages and protection for workers, and better security measures against pandemics enforce in the workplace.
The transition of the president
Jan. 8, 2021, 10:32 p.m. ET
The wrong direction
The December employment report showed that the economy was falling for the first time since last April. That’s bad news, but not surprising – coronavirus deaths are breaking dismal records every day, vaccine distribution remains incredibly slow, and many companies have hit their breaking point. The economy still has about 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic began. This makes Mr. Trump the first president since Herbert Hoover to step down with a smaller economy than at the beginning. And monthly retail sales are expected to decline for the third straight month when they are released this Friday. This is an especially daunting sign as December is usually a big month for shopping.
China from the market
Under heavy pressure from the Trump administration and after several days of waffling, the New York Stock Exchange agreed to remove three Chinese telecommunications companies from the list. The exchange initially defied Mr. Trump’s order to prevent Americans from investing in companies tied to the Chinese military, stating that it was not explicit enough. The lack of orientation reflects confusion within the government about how difficult it is to take a stance on China. The delisting is also likely to lead to further tension between the United States and China in the Trump administration’s final days. It is unclear whether President-elect Biden will reverse Mr Trump’s order when he takes office.
Hundreds of Google engineers and workers have voted for union formation, the result of years of activism and a rarity in Silicon Valley. Boeing has agreed to pay $ 2.5 billion to the Justice Department to settle the criminal complaint it conspired to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration over its flawed 737 Max jets. And now that luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy officially owns Louis Vuitton Tiffany’s, expect some big changes at the top – like the installation of Alexandre Arnault, the 28-year-old son of Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, as Executive Vice President of Product and communication.