Business review from the Economist
Ghosn released in Japan, but on short leash
Carlos Ghosn was released from detention in Tokyo after posting bail of $9 million. The sacked chairman of Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault had been held in custody since mid-November on charges of financial wrongdoing at Nissan, which he denies. Under strict bail conditions, Ghosn will stay at a house under 24-hour camera surveillance. He is not allowed to communicate with people over the internet.
Scott Gottlieb said he would resign as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb, 46, a physician, millionaire venture capitalist and cancer survivor, had worked to speed up the approval of new drugs, but he was disliked by the tobacco industry for his forceful attempt to halt the epidemic of teen vaping and proposal to ban menthol cigarettes. In his resignation letter, Gottlieb ticked off a list of accomplishments, including accelerating the approval of generic drugs and modernizing the process for handling novel gene and precision therapies to treat those with cancer and other diseases.
Fabio Schvartsman, the chief executive of Vale, stepped down. Prosecutors had asked for his temporary suspension after the collapse of a dam in Brazil that held waste from one of Vale's iron-ore mines, killing at least 186 people. Scores are missing.
Chevron and ExxonMobil significantly increased their production targets for shale oil in the Permian Basin, underlining how bigger oil companies are putting pressure on smaller independent firms that operate in the region.
The U.S. economy grew by 2.9 percent in 2018, its best performance in three years. The surge in growth in the middle of the year, thanks in part to tax cuts, was offset by decelerating consumer spending toward the end of the year.
Mizuho booked a $6.1 billion write-down. That was mostly because of restructuring costs, though Mizuho also lost money trading in foreign bonds, which many Japanese banks turned to in search of higher yields when interest rates turned negative at home.
The U.S. removed India from its Generalized System of Preferences, which lowers the barriers of entry for trade on certain goods, claiming that India had failed to provide equal access to its markets. President Donald Trump has stepped up his complaints against India's trade practices, notably its stiff tariffs on imports of U.S. motorcycles.
Huawei sued the U.S. government over its ban on the company's telecoms equipment from official networks. The United States says the Chinese firm represents a security threat, which it denies. In Canada, a court heard the U.S. request for the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer.
Lyft filed for an IPO, overtaking Uber, its bigger rival in the ride-hailing business, in the race to float on the stock market. Lyft will probably list in April on the Nasdaq exchange. Uber is expected to launch its IPO later this year.
Gap decided to hive off its Old Navy business into a separately listed company. Old Navy sells a cheaper clothing range than Gap-branded apparel and provides almost half of the Gap company's sales. Gap became big in the 1980s, but it has struggled recently and closed stores.
Global politics from the Economist
Algerian president decides not to run again
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president of Algeria, defied protesters by registering to run for a fifth term in office, but he pulled his candidacy on Monday. The ailing octogenarian is widely seen as a figurehead for a cabal of generals and businessmen, who hold real power. They sought to assuage critics by promising that if Bouteflika was re-elected, he will hold an early election, which he would not contest.
The U.S. closed its consulate-general in Jerusalem, which had acted as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. The State Department said this did not signal a change in policy; the consulate's operations will be handled by the new American embassy to Israel in the city.
The Netherlands recalled its ambassador to Iran after the government in Tehran expelled two Dutch diplomats. Tension between the countries has risen since last year, when the Dutch government expelled two Iranian embassy workers over suspicion that Iran was involved in the assassination of two Dutch-Iranian citizens.
Rwanda accused neighboring Uganda of supporting rebel movements aimed at overthrowing its president, Paul Kagame, and closed a key border crossing. Relations between the two countries have soured as they battle for influence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
China's prime minister, Li Keqiang, said the country would aim for GDP growth this year of between 6 and 6.5 percent, down from 6.6 percent last year and the slowest rate in nearly three decades.