Business Stories of the Week: Aug. 4

by August 4, 2017
The New York Times reported Avon Products, the maker of door-to-door beauty products, announced on Thursday its chief executive, Sherilyn S. McCoy, will step down at the end of March. The company is the latest in a string of companies targeted by activist investors. ("Make-up" photo courtesy of Pexels).

The New York Times reported Avon Products announced on Thursday its chief executive, Sherilyn S. McCoy, will step down at the end of March. The company is the latest to be targeted by activist investors. (“Make-up” photo courtesy of Pexels).

U.S. bridges are (still) breaking down

America’s roads and bridges are similar to those in developing countries, President Obama’s former transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, recently told NPR. It’s been a decade since the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 and injuring 145 more. Yet a decade later, experts say there are still tens of thousands of bridges and roads that are in critical need of repair or outright replacement. On Tuesday, NPR reported nearly 55,710 bridges nationwide need to be repaired or replaced, citing data from The American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Avon chief gets the axe

Avon Products, the maker of door-to-door beauty products, announced on Thursday its chief executive, Sherilyn S. McCoy, will step down at the end of March. Avon is the latest company targeted by activist investors, who have pressured the company to reshape its management and speed up its turnaround, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Activist shareholders have recently put some of the world’s most well-known companies in their sights, including Whole Foods.

Trump threatens Congress’s health benefits

President Trump isn’t giving up on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, despite multiple failed attempts by Congress to pass a bill, reported Kaiser Health News on Tuesday. Over the weekend, Trump threatened to withdraw health coverage for members of Congress and some of their staffers if they can’t pass a bill. Experts warn this could result in a D.C. brain drain, as staffers would effectively see their salaries cut. The administration also has been threatening to stop payments to health insurers for reimbursements of discounts they are required to provide to lower-income customers to offset deductibles and other cost-sharing. Market experts warned such a move could prove disastrous.

Americans despise cable providers

In many U.S. cities, consumers can only reliably log on to the internet—get the news, send emails, stream Netflix—through one provider. The cable industry is mostly a monopoly in urban areas, The New Yorker’s August 7 and 14th edition reports. Five companies control the telecommunications market in America: Spectrum and Comcast, Verizon and A.T.&T., and CenturyLink (which is mostly available in the West). That’s made cable providers one of the most despised businesses in the country, outranking airlines, banks and drug companies, reports The New Yorker. Now Democratic leaders are taking note: Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, has vowed to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers—singling out the telecommunications industry.

Cheap tickets come with a catch

On Monday, Bloomberg reported on the time wasted flying big-bargain airlines, including Spirit and Allegiant. In recent months, flying on low-fare airlines has often meant delayed or canceled flights as they’ve struggled to run their operations reliably.  Spirit Airlines Inc.’s main challenge is a labor meltdown with its pilots, while Allegiant Travel Co. is focused on a “wholesale effort to sharpen its aircraft maintenance policies and practices,” reported Bloomberg. So far, the delays haven’t kept travelers away: The low fares continue to lure passengers.

Uber leases unsafe cars

The ride-hailing company Uber knowingly leased recalled vehicles to drivers, including a sport-utility vehicle in Singapore that burst into flames, melting the interior and cracking a football-sized hole in the windshield, reported Dow Jones Newswires on Thursday. The car was leased after Honda Motor Co. recalled the vehicle for an electrical component that could overheat and catch fire. The decision to leave the recalled Honda cars on the road, while waiting for replacement parts, adds to a growing list of ethical crises that unfolded at Uber under former chief executive Travis Kalanick.