Financial Daily Dose 12.03.2019 | Top Story: US Threatens Tariffs on French Goods Over New Digital Services Tax

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Because who wants a nice quiet December, right? Yesterday, the U.S. opened yet another trade war front by proposing retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on a wide range of French imports after announcing that “it found France’s newly enacted digital service tax to discriminate against U.S. companies.” The proposed levies wouldn’t take effect until 2020, offering at least some hope that the countries can negotiate a wider deal on global international taxes in the meantime – Law360 and Reuters and Bloomberg and NYTimes and WSJ

China chose to keep trade off the table by targeting NGOs with sanctions in response to recent US legislation that supported protesters in Hong Kong. The decision was rare good news for hopes that a phase 1 deal between US and China is still possible in the coming months – Bloomberg

But let’s not get too excited, okay?  – MarketWatch and Bloomberg

And while we’re at it, reaction to yesterday’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, including the facts that the U.S. can’t “restore” tariffs that weren’t ever in place, surprise from the affected countries, and confusion about what prompted the sudden move from the White House – NYTimes and WSJ and Bloomberg and Marketplace

All of that international trade drama meant trouble for Wall Street, and a rough manufacturing sector report sure didn’t help – WSJ and MarketWatch

New data suggests that decades of US dominance in the global services sector—from academia to tech to finance—is waning, and three years of trade warring hasn’t helped the cause – WSJ

Journal reporting reveals that wireless carrier Sprint has “for years failed to accurately measure how many of the low-income Americans it serves through the federal Lifeline program actually use their phones.” The finding relates to potential FCC action after the agency found in September that Sprint improperly collected “tens of millions of dollars” in Lifeline subsidies for customers not actually using the service – WSJ

EDNY Judge Margo Brodie has rejected a play by major banks, including Bana, Barclays, Citi, Wells Fargo, and more—to “extricate themselves from retailers’ potential class action” over excessive swipe fees “because she wasn’t convinced they had withdrawn from the alleged conspiracy as they had claimed” – Law360

Hostess Brands—the fine folks that bring us the Twinkie—are snapping up wafer & sugar-free cookie company Voortman Cookies for $320 million in an effort to round out its snack portfolio – WSJ

J Crew reported strong Q3 sales for Madewell, a nice shot in the arm for the company as it prepares to spin off the brand via public offering – Bloomberg

A federal jury in Boston found Lebanese shipbuilding exec Jean Boustani not guilty of fraud and money laundering charges “related to $2 billion of debt deals in Mozambique,” a major blow to the DOJ and its “efforts to police alleged corruption in emerging-markets finance” – WSJ and Law360

A bit of Tuesday morning nature insanity, anyone? We’ve talked parasitic insects before and their zombified prey. How about the microscopic worm that targets the brains of earwigs, perhaps going so far as to alter its “host’s neural circuitry” for its own gain – NYTimes


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