Nightly Business Report – April 11, 2019

ANNOUNCER:  This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) challenge.  CEO Jeff Bezos calls on his rivals to raise worker pay and the biggest retailer of them all strikes back.

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Surprising winner.  As fast- growing start-ups go public, there`s one company that appears to be coming out on top.

GRIFFETH:  Target (NYSE:TGT) big business.  A trillion dollar tax proposal
is taking aim at some of the biggest companies in the nation.  

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for
Thursday, April 11th.  

HERERA:  Good evening, everyone, and welcome.  

We begin tonight with the world`s richest man.  Amazon`s CEO Jeff Bezos and the dare that he lay down to rival retailers.  In his annual letter to
shareholders, Bezos challenged Amazon`s competitors to top its $15 an hour minimum wage saying that the country`s workers will benefit if retailers compete on pay.  His invitation stands in stark contrast to his usual
shareholder letters that have historically outlined Amazon`s long-term
strategy. But as Rahel Solomon reports, that wasn`t the case this year.



Today I challenge the top retail competitors, you know who you are, to
match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage.  Do it!  Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back.  It`s the kind of competition that will benefit everyone. Amazon`s top competitor, Walmart, responding quickly with their own jab, tweeting a story claiming that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) had paid no income taxes for the last two years, adding: Hey, retail competitors out there, you know who you are, how about paying your taxes?

Walmart`s president and CEO, Doug McMillon, explained that while their
minimum wage is $11 an hour, their average employee makes $17.50 plus

DOUG MCMILLON, WALMART PRESIDENT & CEO:  We have great health care offers. We have changed our leave policy.  A birth mom can now get up to 16 weeks paid leave.  It`s not just starting wage, it`s the whole thing, and when you get the balance right and the whole system that you have, retention will go up.

SOLOMON:  So when it comes to wages or benefits, what`s important to the
American worker?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, that`s a good one.  I think the benefits.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Starting wage is so important because it`s easier for me to budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I go with paid time off.  That was the most
important.  You should be able to leave and not have to worry about it.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Money is great, because we all have bills to pay, but I think there are other things more important than that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Younger people probably think, you know, the starting salary kind is more important, but it`s the benefits.

SOLOMON:  The move to raise wages has reverberated across the retail
industry.  Today, Macy`s (NYSE:M) CEO Jeff Gennette described his company`s employee compensation plan.

JEFF GENNETTE, MACY`S CHAIRMAN & CEO:  We created this thing called Path to Growth, so every single colleague, all 130,000, get a quarterly bonus as a result of the production of that store, that call center.

SOLOMON:  Last week, Target (NYSE:TGT) announced it was raising its minimum wage to $13 an hour, with the goal of $15 by 2020.

These wage increases speak to the state of the labor market with retailers
spending more to attract a top talent.



GRIFFETH:  And on Wall Street today, stocks closed little change as
investors get ready for the start of earnings season and the release of
quarterly results from some of the big banks that are coming out tomorrow. But today, it was a mixed finish.  The Dow fell by 14 points to 26,143. The Nasdaq was down 16.  The S&P 500 was up just 11 cents.

HERERA:  To the economy now, key gauge of inflation that posted its biggest increase in five months.  The producer price index rose 0.6 percent in March lifted by a rise in gasoline prices, but despite the gain, economists
say underlying wholesale inflation remains tame.  A separate report shows
weekly jobless claims fell 8,000 to below 200,000.  That`s the first time
that has happened since 1969.  

GRIFFETH:  And the strong labor market is just one of the reasons why the
vice chair of the Federal Reserve said today the U.S. economy is doing


RICHARD CLARIDA, FEDERAL RESERVE VICE CHAIRMAN:  We had a really strong year last year with 3 percent growth, and I think growth may slow a bit this year, but the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, inflation is at
our goal or slightly below.  So, the U.S. economy is in a good place.  


GRIFFETH:  And that sentiment was shared by the brand-new president of the World Bank who said concerns about slower growth are not coming from the U.S., but rather from Europe.


DAVID MALPASS, WORLD BANK PRESIDENT:  We are seeing slower growth, but as far as the U.S. and China, not so much of the slowdown is coming out of them.  It`s more coming out of Europe that`s something that people can work on.  The uncertainty coming out of Brexit is a challenge for growth in
Europe and it`s very, very important that that growth begin to pick up.  


HERERA:  And speaking of Brexit, European stocks closed higher after the
U.K. was given more time to figure out its exit from the European Union.  
The decision averts a disruptive global economic event at least for now.  
Late last night, European leaders at the end of a six-hour summit said the
new deadline would be October 31st.  

This is the second time, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has been granted
an extension. The president of the European Council urged May not to waste this time.

GRIFFETH:  And another country in the global spotlight right now is India.  
It`s one of the world`s fastest-growing economies and it is hosting the
world`s largest election.  

Polls opened today and as Seema Mody explains, global investors are going
to be paying very close attention.  


SEEMA MODY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  It is an election like no other, 900 million eligible to vote making India`s national election the world`s largest democratic exercise.  The decision for voters comes down to this — allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue as leader of the country for the next five years or give Rahul Gandhi, head of the Congress party, a shot.  The stakes are high.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  The stock
market is up 70 percent in the past five years, and with over 500 million
Indians connected to the Internet, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) pouring millions into generating Indian content.  Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter working around the clock to get more Indians online while also combating fake news.

India has given birth to a number of tech unicorns, Ola, Flipkart among
others, backed by major investors like Softbank, Tiger Global, and Sequoia

JOHN CHAMBERS, U.S.-INDIA STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP FORUM:  The prime minister has outlined a vision and strategy for a digital India, catching a business model change, a social model change and an economic change and a technology change in one and he`s positioned his country for the future in that.

MODY:  While Modi is largely seen as pro-business, experts say some of his
actions suggest otherwise.  

ALYSSA AYRES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  The Modi government has moved further on increasing FDI caps in a number of different sectors, but it also has moved backwards on increasing tariffs to some extent.

MODY:  And experts caution a more protectionist Modi might make economic policy a bigger concern for both citizens and foreign investors.



HERERA:  And here in the U.S., Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to
tax the largest and most profitable companies.  It`s a plan she says will
raise $1 trillion over the next decade.  

John Harwood is following the story for us tonight from Washington.

So, John what exactly is Senator Warren proposing?

JOHN HARWOOD, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:   She`s proposing what she call, Sue, the real corporate tax that would be 7 percent that would be levied on corporate profits in excess of $100 million.  If you make less — the company makes less than $100 million, small business, medium-sized business wouldn`t touch them at all, but 7 percent on that amount.

GRIFFETH:  Why not just increase the existing corporate tax?  

HARWOOD:  Well, Elizabeth Warren is arguing the corporate tax doesn`t work.  It doesn`t capture a lot of corporate income because of the deductions and loopholes that corporations could use.  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) which you discussed earlier in the program made $10 billion profit in 2018, didn`t pay any federal income tax.

What Warren wants to do is to apply the tax to the amount of profit that`s
reported on the financial statements to shareholders, where corporations
don`t have the incentive to reduce their reported profits.  That`s what she
wants to capture and this would be on top of the corporate tax.  

HERERA:  It sounds like that would affect quite a few companies and by how much?

HARWOOD:  Elizabeth Warren says that it would hit about 1,200 companies.  That`s based on an analysis from economists at Berkeley.  Twelve hundred companies and raise $1 trillion over ten years.  When you combine that with the wealth tax that she`s proposing as well as the increase in the estate tax, she`s proposing altogether $4 trillion in higher taxes over ten years. That`s $400 billion a year.

HERERA:  John Harwood in Washington — thanks, John.  

GRIFFETH:  And given the deadline to file your taxes is just days away, a
bill that was passed earlier this week by the House caught our attention.  
It`s called the Taxpayer First Act.  The intent of this bipartisan measure
is to update the IRS systems, but one of the provisions would bar the IRS
from offering a free tax filing service to the public.  

If this bill becomes law, it would be a big win for an H&R Block (NYSE:HRB)
or for Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), the maker of TurboTax, not to mention all the
small local tax preparation services around the country.  This provision
was the result of an intense lobbying effort by the private tax service
industry, a companion bill, by the way, has been introduced by the Senate.  

HERERA:  So, that got us thinking about corporate influence and lobbying in Washington.  The National Association of Realtors, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, as well the American Hospital Association were among some of the top spenders last year.

Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive
Politics, joins us now to talk about that.  

Welcome, Sheila.  Nice to have you here.  


HERERA:  That`s just — we have other companies that we want to talk about, but the story that Bill just brought us is just one example of how
lobbyists can influence the outcome of legislation.  But is it always at
one person`s advantage over another or one industry`s advantage over
another?  Or sometimes, does it really benefit the consumer?  

KRUMHOLZ:  Oh, certainly, there are bills lobbied on intensively and passed that do benefit the consumer.  In some ways, maybe they are at a
disadvantage in other ways.  Very often, there are companies and industries pitted against each other, and there may be winners and losers.

It`s impossible to say it`s always good or bad for the consumer.  

GRIFFETH:  We have a list of the top corporations and what they spend as
well.  You got a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Alphabet Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), you got an AT&T (NYSE:T), you got an Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).  And they have various issues with the government.

Where do they get their — what do they get for their money that they spend
there on some of these issues necessarily?  

KRUMHOLZ:  You know, the lobbying money is where they cash in on their
campaign contributions.  So, the campaign contributions, by access, and
then their lobbyists and in some cases, dozens of lobbyists or armies of
lobbyists can go, march up to Capitol Hill and have their client`s
perspective heard.  So, it`s the opportunity to plead their case and try to
shape policy coming out of Congress.  

GRIFFETH:  Does it get an AT&T (NYSE:T)/Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) merger
through?  Does it keep Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) from having to pay more in corporate taxes?  What about the privacy issues that Alphabet and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) face or the antitrust issues?  Is that what they`re going after here?

KRUMHOLZ:  Absolutely.  There`s no guarantee, of course, that they`re going to be successful in their lobbying campaign, but they hope they will be and they`re willing to spend in the case of lobbying billions of dollars every year to have that opportunity to shape policy and regulations.

HERERA:  That`s — that`s an example how it`s working for the corporations.  
What`s an example where it`s actually worked for the consumer?  

KRUMHOLZ:  Well, there may be different opinions on this, but there
certainly were people lobbying for health care reform and for financial
reforms — reforms that were not popular among many health companies and Wall Street firms, but consumers may — some consumers may view those as successes.

So, there are winners and losers and there are consumers on each side of
each fight.  The question is whether the money is having the power over the policy or whether it`s driven by the merits of the argument.

HERERA:  Right.  On that note, Sheila Krumholz with the Center for
Responsive Politics, thank you.  

KRUMHOLZ:  Thank you.

GRIFFETH:  Time to take a look at some of today`s “Upgrades and

We begin with shares of Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY).  They were downgraded to
neutral from buy at Guggenheim Securities.  The analyst sees limited stock
gains, even though it has the best long-term growth prospects in the
industry, he says.  The firm removed its $134 price target.  The stock fell
more than 1-1/2 percent to $125.15.  

U.S. Steel was downgraded to underperform from buy at Bank of America
(NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch.  The analyst cited market conditions here in the
U.S.  Price target now, $18.  Shares were down 3 percent today to $16.69.  

HERERA:  Chipotle was downgraded to hold from buy at Jefferies.  The
analyst cites the stocks valuation after a 65 percent gain in the first
quarter.  The price target is $700.  The stock fell more than 1 percent to

Keurig Dr. Pepper was downgraded to underweight from equal weight at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).  The analyst cites concerns about growth rates for the single-serve coffee business.  The price target is $24.  The shares were off 4 percent to $26.87.

GRIFFETH:  Still ahead, Boeing (NYSE:BA) faces a number of questions about its plane that`s considered a cash cow for that company.


HERERA:  It`s been almost a month since the governments around the world grounded Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX, and since then, Boeing (NYSE:BA) says it has made progress, I should say, on a fix for the plane`s flight control system.  But how long until the MAX is back in the air and will passengers be okay flying in it?

Phil LeBeau takes a look.  


PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Outside Boeing`s plant in Renton, Washington, 737 MAX jets parked, waiting to be cleared for takeoff.  At an event in Dallas, Boeing (NYSE:BA) CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company is making progress fixing the plane`s flight control system, suspected of causing two MAX crashes.

DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CEO:  Overall, our team has made 96 flights
totaling a little over 159 hours of air time with this updated software.  
They will conduct additional test and production flights in the coming
weeks, and we continue to demonstrate that we`ve identified and met all
certification requirements.  

LEBEAU:  Sources say Boeing (NYSE:BA) will submit a plan to fix the MAX
within a couple of weeks, but experts doubt the planes will be flying soon.  

JEFF GUZZETTI, FORMER DIRECTOR, FAA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS:  Well, I expect that the airplane is still several weeks away from getting a — the final gold seal of approval to be flown again and not so much because the software fix is a problem, but just from an optics standpoint.

LEBEAU:  The FAA, already under pressure on Capitol Hill, will need to
convince other regulators around the world that the MAX is safe to take off
again, and that may take a while since the FAA stood behind the plane while other countries grounded it.  The three U.S. airlines with the MAX are not planning to fly it again until late May or early June, and some think those plans are too optimistic.

JAMIE BAKER, J.P. MORGAN:  Right now, we look at the month of September as the earliest possible, practical date for return to service and there are a
lot of unknowns there.  

LEBEAU:  The big question, will travelers balk at flying the MAX?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I honestly wouldn`t feel safe.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would I feel safe flying a 737 MAX?  If they have a fix for the software, I would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just like they rushed it into production in the first
place, you know?  Now, they`re trying to rush it back into the — they`ve
got some work to do.  

LEBEAU:  That work includes convincing regulators, airlines and the public
that the 737 MAX is safe.  All have skeptics who will be scrutinizing
Boeing`s plan to get the plane back in the air.  



GRIFFETH:  Uber has officially filed to go public in what could be the
biggest IPO in years.  In documents released late this afternoon, Uber
revealed it operates in more than 700 cities around the world, its revenue
rose more than 40 percent last year, but operating losses totaled just
under $2 billion.  The company did not disclose the market valuation it
wants to achieve for the company with this offering, but it did say it
plans to sell around $10 billion in stock.  

HERERA:  And as all of these IPOs come to market, there`s one well-known
established company that`s a surprising winner.  

Josh Lipton has more.  


JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Big start-ups are taking the public market plunge and deep in their financial statement, one name keeps popping up — AWS, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Web Services, the company`s cloud computing platform.

There`s Pinterest which is expected to price its shares next week.  The
photo sharing, social network plans to purchase at least $750 million worth
of cloud services from AWS through July 2023.  

Lyft will spend at least $300 million on Amazon`s cloud between this year
and 2021, and there are other ride-hailing companies looking to AWS, too,
like Uber, Ola, and Grab.  

Start-ups like many companies are shifting to the cloud, technology that
lets them offload their storage and computing needs and access their data
from anywhere.  In that market, investors say AWS boasts key strengths.  It
was the first to market back in 2006 so the company and many of the start-
ups now going public grew up together.  

JERRY CHEN, GREYLOCK PARTNERS:  And now after 13 years, Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) has the longest list of many services, databases, storage,
logging, analytics, and increasingly, they`re becoming more global.  So, if
you`re a start-up that`s growing fast and if you expand to Europe, expand
to Asia, get from zero to 60 in three seconds, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) now can serve your needs anywhere around the world.

LIPTON:  But Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) also has plenty of competition, and
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been selling into the enterprise for years, so
companies may just stick with it.  Microsoft`s cloud customers include
Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Airbus and Honeywell just to name a few.  

And then there`s Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).  Investors praised the company`s products but say it needs a stronger sales force.  Google`s newest cloud boss understand that challenge, announcing plans just this week to ramp up his sales team.

As for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), its investors care a lot about AWS because
it`s the company`s profit center.  Last year, nearly 60 percent of Amazon`s
operating income came from its cloud business.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.  


GRIFFETH:  PagerDuty makes its debut on Wall Street and that`s where we
begin tonight`s “Market Focus”, with the company, the first notable
software IPO of the year.  

PagerDuty helps technical teams spot problems quickly and respond to
consumer complaints.  The offering price at $24 a share and they soared on
their first day of trading, up nearly 60 percent to $38.25.  

Meanwhile, Marriott and travel site Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) have reportedly signed a new multi-year agreement.  According to CNBC, negotiations were tense, but in the end, Marriott was able to negotiate a commission rate around the 10 percent range compared to the previous 12 percent range. Shares of both companies rose in today`s trading.  Session with Marriot up to $133.25.  Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) was at $124.59.

HERERA:  Tesla and Panasonic (NYSE:PC) have put on hold plans to expand
their Gigafactory.  The $4.5 billion plant is where the two companies
jointly make battery packs for Tesla`s car and energy products.  Some
investors have expressed concerns about demand for Tesla`s vehicles.  But
in a statement, Tesla says demand for its energy cells continues to outpace
supply.  The stock fell more than 2 percent to $268.42.  

There are reports tonight that the owner of the Golden Nugget, Tilman
Fertitta, and Eldorado Resorts, are considering a bid for Caesars
Entertainment.  But according to CNBC, Caesars has not decided to put the
firm up for sale.  Shares of both companies rose.  Caesars closed at $9.40,
Eldorado at $48.97.  

GRIFFETH:  Health care reform has been front and center in Washington for years now, but, of course, re-working the system has proven to be an
incredibly complex undertaking.  While that topic was in focus again today
at the annual congressional Democratic retreat in Leesburg, Virginia, and
that`s where we find Ylan Mui tonight.  


YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Democrats are planning to tackle the cost of prescription drugs and access to care in the coming months, calling it one of their top priorities.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA (NASDAQ:CA)), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I want to focus so much on health care because that goes right to the kitchen table
of financial security of America`s working families?  

MUI:  Lawmakers heard from Kaiser Permanente CEO at the retreat.  His
message —

BERNARD TYSON, KAISER PERMANENTE CEO:  Stay focused on the affordability issue and remember, it`s not just one or the other, it`s both.  It`s the affordability of coverage, and the affordability of care.  That is what the American people are suffering from.

MUI:  He fielded questions from lawmakers on community health, climate care management, and how the U.S. compares to the rest of the world.  As for big, new proposals like Medicare for All, Tyson says Congress doesn`t need to go that far.

TYSON:  We have commercial, we have Medicare, Medicaid, ACA and other
programs.  I would argue that we have enough in the tool kit already to get
to universal coverage.  

MUI:  Republicans have rallied against the idea, criticizing it as
government-run health care.  Instead, 17 Senate Republicans introduced a
bill this week to protect pre-existing conditions.  

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA), FINANCE CMTE. CHAIR:  These are, of course, better campaign slogans than serious solutions to the problems facing Americans.  On the personal level, I have found that most people would rather have control over their own health care rather than have the
government make those decisions for them.  

MUI:  One thing both parties do agree on is that prescription drug prices
need to come down.  Initial discussions are already under way between
Democrats and the White House.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui in Leesburg, Virginia.  


HERERA:  Coming up, why a proposed tax in New York is being called a triple bogey.


HERERA:  Mortgage rates ticked higher according to Freddie Mac.  The 30-
year fixed rate averaged 4.12 percent last week, and that was up from 4.08
percent the previous week.  It also marked the first time in seven months
that it rose two weeks in a row.  

GRIFFETH:  Finally tonight, states with big budget deficits are always
searching for new sources of revenue.  Well, New York state is the latest
to come up with one, but avid golfers are not going to be happy about it.  

Robert Frank explains.  


ROBERT FRANK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  A bill making its way through Albany would more than quadruple the property taxes paid by golf clubs.  The bill in both the Assembly and the Senate would allow towns to tax golf courses at their highest and best use.  That means that rather than taxing them as golf courses, they could be taxed as developable land. That will increase property taxes four to ten times their current levels.

The hikes will be especially steep for clubs in Westchester and Long Island
where development property is scarce.  The New York Golf Association
estimates that up to one-third of all of the clubs in New York state would
close if the bill is passed, costing jobs and a lot of economic activity.  
The state has about 250 private golf clubs and about 500 public courses.  

The bill grew out of a dispute with Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County.  In his financial disclosure forms during his campaign, Donald Trump valued the course in Briarcliff Manor at more than $50 million, but his lawyers filed papers with the state declaring the value for tax purposes at only $1.4 million.

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef whose district includes the Trump course told me that too many clubs have used a legal wrinkle to get artificially lowest estimates, and that when you have some of these clubs, quote, not paying their fair share, everyone else in these towns picks up the cost.



HERERA:  And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Sue Herera.  Thanks for joining us.

GRIFFETH:  I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great evening.  See you tomorrow.  


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