2019年11月22日 星期五

DealBook: Will Anyone Buy Elon Musk’s New Pickup?

Tesla yesterday unveiled his company's new "Cybertruck," an electric pickup that it hopes will rival Ford's F-150.
November 22, 2019
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Elon Musk unveils Tesla's new pickup.
Elon Musk unveils Tesla's new pickup.  Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Tesla’s pickup of the future
Elon Musk yesterday unveiled his company’s new “Cybertruck,” an electric pickup that Tesla hopes will rival Ford’s best-selling F-150 line, Karen Zraick, Neal Boudette and Daniel Victor of the NYT write.
Let’s get this out of the way: It looks weird. The vehicle has a stainless steel exterior with a triangular roof. It is … pointy. “It’s not going to be for everyone,” Mr. Musk said in an interview before the unveiling.
Still, it’s impressive on paper. The top-of-the-line $69,900 model, which has three motors and all-wheel drive, is claimed to be able to tow 14,000 pounds, go 500 miles on a charge and accelerate like a Porsche. (Two cheaper models, including a single-motor rear-wheel drive version for $39,900, will be less impressive.)
But demonstrations of its toughness did not go smoothly. Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, threw a metal ball at the driver’s side armored window, which immediately cracked. “Maybe that was a little too hard,” Mr. Musk said. (A sledgehammer blow to a body panel, however, did not leave a dent.)
The big question: Who will buy it? Some analysts are doubtful that the vehicles will appeal to traditional truck buyers. And how many tech-savvy early adopters really need a space-age pickup?
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jamie Condliffe and Gregory Schmidt.
Ningbo Zhoushan port in China.
Ningbo Zhoushan port in China.  China Stringer Network/Reuters
New tariffs may hit China before a Phase 1 deal
China says that it’s keen to strike a trade deal with the Trump administration, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that it might not happen before additional tariffs kick in on Dec. 15.
“We want to work for a ‘Phase 1’ agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality,” President Xi Jinping said today. “When necessary we will fight back, but we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war. We did not initiate this trade war and this is not something we want.”
• And the WSJ reports that “China’s chief trade negotiator has invited his American counterparts for a new round of face-to-face talks.”
But a deadline is getting ever closer. On Dec. 15, the Trump administration is scheduled to introduce another round of tariffs on consumer goods from China, like tablets, smartphones, laptops and other products.
“I’m not sure we’re going to get a deal done by Dec. 15,” Myron Brilliant of the Chamber of Commerce told CNBC today. “I hope so, I want to continue to emphasize there is an opportunity here between now and then.”
More trade news: Lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on President Trump’s revised North American trade deal — but talks are set to continue through the Thanksgiving break, with a vote possible in the weeks ahead, House leaders said. And the auto industry is puzzled over Mr. Trump’s lack of a decision about imposing tariffs on foreign auto imports despite a passed deadline.
  Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
How Schwab set itself up for a TD Ameritrade purchase
After CNBC first reported that the discount brokerage firm Schwab was in talks to buy its rival TD Ameritrade, other publications dug into the rumor. Here’s more from the WSJ:
• “The companies have held on-and-off talks for months and were close to a deal Thursday, though there is still no guarantee they will reach one, people familiar with the matter said.”
• “If they do, it would likely value TD Ameritrade at around its current market value of $26 billion.”
• “But the merger is likely to receive scrutiny from regulators given the firms’ dominant positions in the industry and their direct contact with individual investors.”
“This would create a Goliath in wealth management,” Mike Mayo, a Wells Fargo analyst, told the FT. Schwab is the country’s largest discount broker, and TD Ameritrade is No. 2.
Consolidation in the industry is a “logical conclusion,” Charles Schwab, the founder of his namesake company, told CNBC last month. Schwab and TD Ameritrade have been forced to reduce their trading fees to zero as they face challenges from start-ups like Robinhood, an app-based trading platform.
In fact, scrapping stock trading fees might have helped Schwab, Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion notes. Its decision in September to eliminate them essentially forced TD Ameritrade to do so, also — but the fees account for just 7 percent of Schwab’s revenue, versus 36 percent of Ameritrade’s. That means TD Ameritrade’s stock and valuation took a bigger hit than Schwab’s, presumably making the purchase more affordable.
Could Facebook limit targeting of political ads?
The social network may soon become the latest of the major U.S. tech platforms to tighten up on digital political advertising, according to a report by Emily Glazer of the WSJ.
• “Facebook is discussing increasing the minimum number of people who can be targeted in political ads on its platform from 100 to a few thousand, according to people familiar with the matter.”
• “The potential move is part of an effort to make it less easy for advertisers to microtarget.”
It would be a concession by Facebook if it takes effect. Mark Zuckerberg has strenuously defended Facebook’s now weeks-old policy of letting politicians post any claims they want — even false ones — in ads. But that decision has been heavily criticized, especially over the way those ads can be tightly targeted to small groups of individuals so they are not seen by the broader public.
Other companies have already taken some action. Google this week announced that advertisers would no longer be able to target political messages based on users’ interests inferred from their browsing or search histories. And Twitter is to stop accepting most political ads.
But political campaign strategists want Facebook to stand pat, Mike Isaac of the NYT reports. Some strategists have “told Facebook that if it followed Google by limiting how political campaigns target audiences, it would hurt their ability to reach unregistered voters and make it tougher for smaller organizations to collect donations online,” Mr. Isaac writes.
Global growth could stagnate, the O.E.C.D. warns
The global economy is entrenched in a rut, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which says that situation will not change until governments alter their policies and investment practices.
• Rather than hope for a cyclical upswing, government authorities should look beyond short-term fiscal fixes, the O.E.C.D. says.
• The outlook also flags more systemic problems from climate change, technology and a shift in the geopolitical order.
Pessimism about the global economy stands in contrast with more upbeat signals coming from financial markets, William Horobin of Bloomberg writes. But the O.E.C.D. nonetheless expects global growth to remain weak for the next two years.
The challenges are daunting, but solvable through clear policy changes that focus on the long term, the O.E.C.D. argues.
• “There is a unique window of opportunity to avoid a stagnation that would harm most people: restore certainty and invest for the benefit of all,” said the organization’s chief economist, Laurence Boone.
More economic news: The global economy is experiencing a shift driven mainly by emerging markets, Christine Lagarde said in her first speech as the European Central Bank president. And personal loans are “growing like a weed,” which is a potential warning sign for the U.S. economy.
Shepard Smith
Shepard Smith  Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Shepard Smith defends freedom of the press
The former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith yesterday called for a steadfast defense of independent journalism and announced that he would donate $500,000 to a group that advances press freedoms around the world, writes Michael Grynbaum in the NYT.
The money will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization.
“Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature, doesn’t it?” Mr. Smith said at the group’s annual dinner in Manhattan. “Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news.”
Mr. Smith called for unity in the news business to ward off government encroachment on free expression, while offering a few subtle barbs at President Trump’s treatment of the press.
• “Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon,” Mr. Smith said.
• “Press freedom is not the preserve of one political group or one political party,” he said. “It’s a value embedded in our very foundational documents.”
Revolving door
WeWork announced that it would lay off 2,400 workers around the world and an additional 1,000 employees as it closes or sells divisions that are not parts of its core business. Roughly 1,000 building maintenance employees will also be transferred to outside contractors.
Ellen Kullman, the former chairman and C.E.O. of Dupont, will be named president and C.E.O. of Carbon, a 3-D printing company, where she is already a board member. The company’s co-founder and current C.E.O., Joseph DeSimone, who was recognized as a “Groundbreaker” at this year’s DealBook conference, will become executive chairman.
The investment firm Franklin Templeton named Jennifer Johnson as its new C.E.O. She takes over from her brother, Gregory Johnson, who will become executive chairman.
The speed read
• The U.S. cosmetics maker Coty is reportedly planning to sell a portfolio of professional hair and nail care brands worth up to $7 billion, with potential bidders said to include Unilever and Henkel. (Reuters)
• Xerox has threatened to make a hostile bid for HP if the company does not open its books. (Reuters)
• Exxon Mobil reportedly plans to sell up to $25 billion of oil and gas fields in Europe, Asia and Africa to raise cash for new investments. (Reuters)
• Bumble Bee, one of the nation’s largest canned tuna providers, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. It has an agreement to sell its assets to Taiwan’s FCF Fishery for roughly $925 million. (WSJ)
• Saudi Aramco’s I.P.O. has reportedly attracted approximately 73 billion riyals, or about $19.5 billion, in institutional and retail share orders so far. (Reuters)
• Louis Bacon, the veteran hedge fund manager, is closing his flagship funds at Moore Capital Management to external money. (FT)
Trump impeachment inquiry
• Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia expert, criticized Republicans for promoting what she called a “fictional narrative” embraced by President Trump that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 elections. (NYT)
Politics and policy
• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was indicted on corruption charges, posing a heightened threat to his personal and political future. (WSJ)
• Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, has filed more paperwork to run for president as a Democrat. (FT)
• Former President Barack Obama urged Democrats “to chill out” about the differences among the party’s 2020 candidates. (NYT)
• Barry Lee Myers, whose nomination by President Trump to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration remained unconfirmed by the Senate, asked the White House to withdraw it. (NYT)
• Several websites owned by a former Fox News executive, Ken LaCorte, push inflammatory items — stories, petitions and the occasional conspiracy theory — to the public, according to a new investigation. (NYT)
• Microsoft was granted a license from the U.S. government to export “mass-market” software to Huawei. (Reuters)
• Google is coming under scrutiny over concerns about how it might employ user data from its acquisition of the wearables maker Fitbit. (FT)
• Why the Fed thinks a digital dollar is not coming anytime soon. (MIT Technology Review)
Best of the rest
• Here’s a juicy inside look at the fall of WeWork. (Vanity Fair)
• Democratic senators want the Fed to do more to prepare for the economic hit of climate change. (WSJ)
• A close look at the Deutsche Bank C.E.O.’s last-ditch plan to save the bank. (Bloomberg)
• How Amazon became a C.E.O. factory. (WSJ)
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