Business review from the Economist

Top CEOs try to reorient their beliefs

The Business Roundtable, the foremost association of chief executives in the United States, caused a stir when it redefined the purpose of a company, ditching the decades-old orthodoxy that increasing shareholder value should be the only objective. Now, the bosses said, companies should also look out for the interests of customers, workers, suppliers and communities, and aim to increase diversity and protect the environment. The statement was signed by almost 200 CEOs, encompassing relative upstarts, such as Amazon and Apple, as well as companies that trace their roots back well over 100 years, including ExxonMobil, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and Macy's.

Germany's central bank warned that there was a real risk the country could slip into recession, describing the economy as "lackluster." The Bundesbank pointed to data showing that industrial production is still slowing.

Thailand's government announced a $10 billion stimulus package to spur growth in the economy, which has been hit by a surging currency, leading to a slump in exports. GDP rose by 2.3% in the second quarter compared with the same three months last year, the slowest rate since mid-2014.

China's central bank set a new benchmark interest rate in a move that it described as a "market-based reform." The Loan Prime Rate will more closely resemble what commercial banks pay it to borrow.

U.S. regulators approved an easing of the restrictions on trading by banks that had been introduced under the Volcker rule during the financial crisis. The changes, first proposed in May 2018, simplify the legal definitions of what constitutes proprietary trading, where banks use their own money to invest. Critics contend that weakening the rule will allow banks once again to engage in risky bets through opaque financial instruments.

Cathay Pacific's share price had another turbulent week following the surprise resignation of Rupert Hogg, its British- born chief executive. Based in Hong Kong, the airline has become enmeshed in the city's recent political strife. China's state-run press has called for a boycott of Cathay because of its staff's participation in ongoing street protests. Separately, Alibaba has reportedly postponed a listing of shares on the Hong Kong exchange in part because of the political uncertainty.

The U.S. Commerce Department extended the exemption period under which some U.S. companies can conduct business with Huawei, to Nov. 19. This is primarily to allow rural telecom providers more time "to wean themselves off" the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment, which has been slapped with a ban over national-security concerns.

SoftBank was reported to be planning to lend staff up to $20 billion so that they can buy stakes in Vision Fund 2. That would come on top of the $38 billion that the Japanese conglomerate is itself plowing into the venture-capital project, raising questions about SoftBank's exposure to potentially risky tech startups.

Global politics from the Economist

Italy's prime minister quit as backing slips

Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister, resigned after Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League party, withdrew his support for the coalition government. The coalition's other party, the Five Star Movement, must now try to form a new government. If that fails, Italy may face a general election.

International radiation monitors confirmed that they had detected a recent accident near the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, believed to involve a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Separately, and despite worries about safety, Russia launched the world's first floating nuclear-power plant, which will power its eastern Arctic region.

Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, confirmed that with his permission senior aides have been holding discussions with U.S. officials for months. That stoked speculation that the United States might be discussing a deal to remove Maduro, whose socialist policies have ruined Venezuela. The U.N. has reported that 20% of the population is malnourished.

Argentina's finance minister, Nicolas Dujovne, resigned in the wake of the market turmoil that followed a triumphal showing by the populist-Peronist presidential ticket in a pre-election vote.

São Paulo was shrouded in smog caused by fires raging in the Amazon rain forest nearly 1,700 miles away.

Nigeria marked the third year without a documented case of polio, which cripples children. When it is certified as free of the virus, the whole of Africa will be considered polio-free. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan still harbor the disease.