The Week in Business: Nike Faces a Sneaker Critique, and Christine Lagarde Needs a Replacement


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Here’s all the business and tech news you need for the week ahead, so you can catch up quickly and then enjoy the rest of your long, lazy July Fourth weekend.


Nike planned to celebrate Independence Day with a special-edition sneaker emblazoned with the Revolutionary War-era version of the United States flag (with 13 stars for the original colonies). But the shoes were abruptly pulled from the market after Colin Kaepernick, a Nike spokesman and former National Football League quarterback, privately pointed out that the flag had become associated with white supremacist groups. Nike said that the sneaker was canceled “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.” Fresh criticism followed. Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona announced that he would cut off funding for a new Nike plant in his state that would have employed more than 500 people, expressing disappointment that the company “has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”

Facebook is cracking down on spammy posts with misleading and even potentially harmful health claims, including bogus cancer cures and those ubiquitous weight-loss “miracles.” Last month, the tech giant updated its algorithms to filter out sensational health content, and now claims to have reduced its prominence in users’ news feeds. One guy you probably won’t be seeing anymore: a supplement salesman who promoted injections of baking soda as part of cancer “treatment.”

Undeterred by President Trump’s repeated refusal to turn over his tax returns, the House sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to try to get a peek. The Treasury Department has previously denied similar requests, maintaining that they needed a “legitimate legislative purpose.” The lawmakers’ new argument? That they actually don’t need a reason to demand the documents (even though it’s perfectly clear: they’re investigating Mr. Trump’s previous compliance with tax law, or potential lack thereof). The Trump administration has called the latest developments “presidential harassment.” But that’s now for the federal courts to decide.


The market will be watching this Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve releases the minutes from its June meeting and its chair, Jerome H. Powell, testifies before Congress about the state of the economy and summarizes its quarterly economic projections. Both events may shed more light on the Fed’s plans to cut interest rates. (Investors are now expecting a quarter-point cut in July.) On that note, Mr. Trump has nominated Judy Shelton, one of his longtime economic advisers and a vocal proponent of slashing interest rates to zero, for one of the open Fed seats. He also tapped Christopher Waller, research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (and a more conventional Fed pick).

Christine Lagarde has been chosen to take over the European Central Bank, which sets monetary and banking policies for the 19 countries that use the euro. The first woman to hold the top job, she will succeed Mario Draghi, whose term ends in October. Now a pressing question: Who will take her current position as leader of the International Monetary Fund, which promotes global financial stability and international trade (a particularly daunting task in the Trump era)? The head hunt has begun.

Speaking of unilateral trade decisions, Mr. Trump wants to impose retaliatory tariffs on $4 billion in goods from the European Union, including cherries, whiskey and cheese (no!). His decision has inflamed long-simmering tensions over competing European and American aviation businesses. The back story: The United States contends that Airbus, the European aerospace company, received illegal subsidies that gave it an unfair advantage over Boeing. Mr. Trump’s tariffs would have to be authorized by the World Trade Organization to take effect, so for now they’re just a threat. Whether it’s an effective one remains to be seen.


More on Boeing: The aircraft manufacturer has pledged $100 million to those affected by the two 737 Max plane crashes that have plagued the company’s reputation (and bottom line) for months now. Elsewhere, things are looking up at Tesla. The company said it delivered a record number of cars in its second quarter — good news after its major dip in sales earlier this year. Also better than expected: June’s employment numbers; 224,000 new jobs were created in June, much more than economists’ projections of 170,000.



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