- CBS's board is doing a not-great job.
- There's good news and bad news in the jobs report.
- Trump’s latest tax-cut scheme should be a non-starter.
- Elizabeth Warren has some advice for the SEC.
[Not] Great Quarter, Guys
CBS Corp. reported quarterly financial results last night, and aside from some decent numbers, nobody involved covered themselves in much glory.
For one thing, embattled CEO Les Moonves showed up on the conference call, which was aired live on CNBC, to discuss the results with analysts. But neither he nor any other executive would talk about sexual-harassment allegations against him. That CBS is still trotting Moonves out as its public face despite his troubles – which the board has reportedly known about for months – exemplifies the leadership void at CBS, writes Tara Lachapelle: “Two of the biggest hallmarks of good corporate governance are transparency and accountability. CBS’s board has failed at both.”
None of the Wall Street analysts on the call pressed CBS about the allegations either – though they would seem to be of some material importance to a company that is also brawling with its controlling shareholder over whether to merge with Viacom Inc. One analyst even stuck to the cloying Wall Street convention of declaring it a “Great quarter.” Stop doing that! Matt Levine argues analysts aren’t paid for confrontational journalism, but rather to stay as close as possible to the companies they cover, in order to glean financial information for their own clients. Still, not a great quarter, or look.
Good News/Bad News Job Report
The longest stretch of job growth on U.S. record continued in July, and unemployment dipped to a amazingly low 3.9 percent. On the other hand, wage growth was too slow to keep up with inflation, and the job growth was a little tepid.
This sort of good-news/bad-news dynamic shows up the deeper you dig into the numbers. Justin Fox, for example, notes the percentage of prime-working-age Americans holding a job still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels. And it’s still far below its all-time peak before the 2001 recession, and badly lagging similar ratios in other big economies.
Digging still deeper, Justin pinpoints the problem: Men are still not working at nearly the rates they have in the past: “[T]here are still a lot of prime-age men out there without jobs (8.6 million in total, according to the BLS) who could conceivably be put to work.” Click here to read the whole thing.
On the bright side, Mark Whitehouse notes the percentage of black Americans with jobs has improved much more quickly, closing much of what was an abysmal gap with white workers:
Skip Trump’s Tax-Cut Double-Dip
President Donald Trump deserves some credit for the economy’s continuing recovery, thanks partly to the extra steroid boost of his corporate tax cut. Naturally, he wants to cut taxes even more, by tweaking the capital gains tax. But he wants to do this without Congress, and such a tax cut would shower more cash on the wealthy, probably wouldn’t help the economy much, and would send government finances even deeper into the red, Bloomberg’s editors write:
“Unaffordable, unfair, inefficient and quite possibly unlawful – for just one idea, that’s impressive.” Click here to read the whole thing.
Elizabeth Warren Is No Fan of This SEC Broker Proposal
Trump’s Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed making brokers put their clients’ interests ahead of their own – imagine! – which sounds like a great idea to, say, clients of brokers. But the SEC doesn’t want to hold brokers to a fiduciary standard, and it doesn’t want to let customers sue those that fall short. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren writes this doesn’t go far enough. “The last thing the average American saver needs is to lose money because of conflicted advice from their brokers,” she writes. Click here to read her four proposals for a better plan.
It’s getting harder and harder to tell why Warren Buffett is so fond of Kraft Heinz Co., writes Tara Lachapelle:
A flurry of dealmaking in the pipeline sector is the sign of the end of a long era, writes Liam Denning:
Democracy just took another hit in Zimbabwe. – Leonid Bershidsky
The EU’s pity for Theresa May will only get her so far. – Ferdinando Giugliano
How Democrats can fight Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. – Francis Wilkinson
A new book has a recipe for saving America’s heartland. – Noah Smith
The shifting health-care debate is good news for Republican politicians, not so good for conservatives. – Ramesh Ponnuru
“Responsibility aversion” may be holding people back from being good leaders. – Faye Flam
Some goats got loose.
What it’s like to carry around a reusable straw.
How to kill off a TV character.
The real science behind the Megalodon (in theaters soon).
National Geographic’s photos of the week.
Note: Please send Trapper Keepers, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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