Business Stories of the Week: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

by November 10, 2017

In a bid to win fourth-quarter sales, retailers are accelerating Black Friday deals, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. (“Boutique” photo via Pexels, CC BY 2.0)

Paradise Papers expose wealthy dodgers

On Monday, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 380 journalists and 95 media partners unveiled a global investigation into the offshore activities of the world’s most powerful people and companies. The Paradise Papers investigation exposed offshore holdings of political leaders and their financiers, including some of the world’s biggest companies, which cut their corporate tax bills through secret financial maneuvers. The stories revealed the offshore activities of the world’s rich and famous, including Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Trump administration along with 100 multinational corporations such as Apple, Nike and Botox-maker Allergan.

Higher ed advocates warn about tax bill

The proposed Republican tax overhaul would send higher education costs soaring and would hurt students, families, faculty and universities, critics said. On Wednesday, The Plain Dealer and reported the tax overhaul is opposed by The American Council on Education and 45 other higher education associations. A letter sent by the group to the House Ways and Means Committee warned the proposed legislation would undermine the financial stability of two-year and four-year colleges and universities both public and private. While the bill would cut rates on businesses and most Americans, many tax benefits would be slashed, including those that benefit higher education.

Retail’s crisis is just beginning

Consumer confidence is high, unemployment is low and the U.S. economy is booming, but the retail industry is in crisis, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. While retailers announced more than 3,000 store openings in the first three quarters of this year, chains also said 6,800 would close. More chains are filing for bankruptcy and are rated distressed than during the Great Recession. And that’s caused a spike in the number of late loan payments by malls and shopping centers, according to Bloomberg. While online shopping has certainly hurt brick-and-mortar stores, many long-standing chains are also overloaded with debt,  making it tougher to weather tough times, Bloomberg reported.

AT&T gears up for battle

AT&T will fight the government’s request to sell cable network CNN to win antitrust approval of its proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc., the company’s chief executive said on Thursday. Reuters reported the Justice Department recommended that AT&T sell either DirecTV or CNN in order for the merger to be approved. Regulators are concerned the combined company could make it harder for competitors to deliver content to consumers using new technology, a government official told Reuters.

Home ownership stays out of reach

A staggering half of Americans and Europeans believe they will never own a home, according to a new study released Tuesday. Fortune reported Dutch bank ING found that 45 percent of Americans and 56 percent of Germans and Britons do not believe they will ever achieve home ownership, although more than 60 percent want to. ING economists found that a combination of rising home prices, stagnant wages and jobs that aren’t stable have put homeownership out of the reach for  many people.

Black Friday comes early

Black Friday, traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, has already begun for some retailers, reported The Washington Post on Thursday. Best Buy began offering “Black Friday” discounts on hundreds of items, including big-screen TVs, Apple Watches and tablets on Wednesday. Walmart also is offering deals on pajamas and TVs, while Amazon is offering dozens of deals each day in a “Countdown to Black Friday.” As the Black Friday competition has gotten stiffer, retailers are moving up deals as they try to win sales in the fourth quarter, which can account for up to 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue, The Washington Post reported.