For now, investors appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach. Major global indexes are up, as are U.S. futures. But between the North Korea talks, the Fed’s expected interest rate increase and British lawmakers’ high-profile vote on a “Brexit” bill, there’s a lot that can happen this week.
The court decision that could reshape M.&.A.
Deal makers across all industries are waiting for tomorrow, when Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington is to rule on the government’s effort to block AT&T’s bid to buy Time Warner. If he rules in favor of the $85.4 billion deal, expect M.&A. to continue its relentless pace. If not, acquisitions could take a hit.
At stake are deals like CVS’s $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion bid for Sprint and, of course, the impending battle over 21st Century Fox. Expect Comcast to decide quickly whether it wants to challenge Disney’s $52.4 billion offer.
Michael de la Merced’s take: If Judge Leon rules against AT&T’s deal, expect a hit to M.&A. — but not necessarily a huge one. Why? Because companies need to grow, and borrowing money to finance deals is still cheap. And it will be hard to stop a deal train that posted more than $816 billion worth of transactions through May this year.
M.&A. extra: The Justice Department said that it had no known contact with Michael Cohen, whom AT&T had paid $600,000 for “insights” into the Trump administration’s thinking on its Time Warner deal.
Net neutrality dies today. Can it be brought back to life?
The Obama-era rules that ordered broadband providers to treat all web traffic equally are scheduled to end today. It’s a major milestone for Ajit Pai, the Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who called for a deregulated internet from his first day in the position.
The argument for: In a column for CNET, Mr. Pai asserts that the new rules “will protect consumers and promote better, faster internet access and more competition.”
And against: Critics argue that the change will allow telecoms to block access to some sites or charge more for fast connections.
The last-minute appeals: Congressional Democrats are still trying to save net neutrality. And many states are seeking to introduce their own net neutrality rules, though those efforts may be quashed by the F.C.C.
The political flyaround
• The Republican tax overhaul isn’t likely to create more investment in the U.S., because companies have put money in tax havens. Meanwhile, blue states are still trying to find ways to shield their residents from the new rules.
• President Trump may be feeling emboldened these days, but White House aides feel burned out — and are looking for the exits. (NYT)
• The Trump administration still doesn’t have a science adviser. (NYT)
• Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain is trying to hold her party together as Parliament holds a series of crucial votes on her government’s Brexit efforts. (FT)
KKR is set to buy a health care company that comes with problems
The private equity giant is expected to announce as soon as this morning that it will buy Envision Healthcare, one of the country’s biggest doctor-staffing companies, for about $46 a share. It would be one of the biggest leveraged buyouts in recent years — but would give KKR ownership of a company facing lots of scrutiny.
Envision has been under pressure for reportedly charging hospitals where it runs emergency rooms an unusually high number of out-of-network billings. While the company has questioned the validity of the research behind that claim, it has faced sharp questions from Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, over the matter, and investors have sued over the reports.
It’s not clear whether those issues would go away if KKR bought control. But Envision’s growing hold on hospital E.R.s may be tempting enough to go through with the deal anyway.
The deals flyaround
• A year after Amazon agreed to buy Whole Foods, the food and grocery industries are racing to Amazon-ify. (WSJ)
• Big bank mergers in Europe are a distant prospect. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea. (Heard on the Street)
• The London Stock Exchange could still win the race to host Saudi Aramco’s I.P.O. — if it makes further concessions. (Lex)
• Blackstone is said to be offering discounts to attract more investors to its $40 billion infrastructure fund. (FT)
How automation could make the Fed’s job impossible
The Federal Reserve has two core mandates: maintain a stable economy and maximize employment. But Martin Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan and a professor at Harvard, argues in a WSJ op-ed that the coming erosion of jobs by A.I. and robotics could make it impossible to achieve both at once:
Job losses will be caused not by low demand, but by supply shocks as artificial intelligence allows machines to replace labor… Policies that increase aggregate demand will not succeed in replacing the jobs that technology makes obsolete.
Technological disruption will make the unemployment rate a very noisy signal of the demand level. The Fed’s policy goal should therefore be shifted so that it focuses solely on price stability
The tech flyaround
• China’s technological prowess is being called into question in the wake of the ZTE debacle. (NYT)
• A new hacking episode helped exacerbate a $46 billion rout in cryptocurrencies. (Bloomberg)
• Amazon is under scrutiny for unethical working practices at a Foxconn factory in China that makes devices for the American tech giant. (Guardian)
• The U.S. is once again home to the world’s fastest supercomputer. (NYT)
• Lowell McAdam will retire as Verizon’s C.E.O. in August. His legacy includes building on his company’s network dominance and avoiding the deal making that defined his rivals. (NYT)
• John Lasseter won’t return to Disney after a leave of absence, following reports of unwanted hugs in the workplace and other misconduct. (NYT)
The speed read
• The world’s largest investment banks are now more profitable than they were before the financial crisis. (FT)
• Italy’s finance minister says the country will stay inside the eurozone. (FT)
• Meet the White House staff members who tape back together documents that President Trump has ripped up, in order to comply with the law. (Politico)
Correction: Friday’s newsletter misstated the name of a horse race over the weekend : It was the Belmont Stakes, not the Preakness Stakes. (Justify, the favorite, won.)
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