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This Week in Business: The Economics of Impeachment


It’s tough to say who had a worse week — President Trump, WeWork or the vaping industry. (O.K., it’s pretty obvious — here’s a handy guide to the impeachment process, should you be curious.) Vegans, on the other hand, should be delighted. To find out why, read on.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

What could impeachment mean for your portfolio? In a flurry of indignant tweets, Mr. Trump threatened that “the markets would crash” if the process continued. Markets dipped on Tuesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal inquiry, and the S&P 500 Index closed the week down about 1 percent. There’s not much historical precedent to go on here: the S&P fell 25 percent during the Watergate scandal, but it rose during President Bill Clinton’s troubles. Some critics of the president believe his impeachment could actually be good for the economy.

Any other week, this would be the top business story: WeWork’s chief executive, Adam Neumann, stepped down after his disastrous attempt to take the company public erased some $30 billion of its estimated value. Known for his lavish homes, zealous leadership style and veganism (he once arbitrarily banned meat at the company), Mr. Neumann finally admitted he was the wrong person to lead the money-losing company. “Since the announcement of our I.P.O., too much of the focus has been placed on me,” he wrote to employees. To be fair, the focus has also been placed on his hoarding of voting shares and questionable ways he profited — like trademarking the word “we” and charging the company $5.9 million to use it.

Kevin Burns, the chief executive of Juul Labs, abruptly left the vaping company. He was replaced by a top official at Altria, the tobacco industry giant that paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent share in Juul last December — and may be regretting it now. Juul said it wouldn’t fight a proposed ban on most e-cigarettes in the United States and would suspend advertising of its products in the country. The number of lung illnesses linked to vaping, which is particularly popular with teens, climbed to 805.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

Almost 50,000 union workers at General Motors will start their third week of strikes this Monday, throwing a wrench in the company’s production in the United States. The union wants G.M. to provide better wages, reopen idled plants and pay new hires the same as veteran ones. But that doesn’t exactly square with G.M.’s big shift toward electric vehicles, which may require new facilities and skill sets. Still, an end to the dispute could be in sight, according to negotiators.

In case you needed another reason to invest in Beyond Meat: Disney announced that vegan meals would be available at all of its restaurants at Walt Disney World in Florida starting this week, and at Disneyland Resort in California next spring. Even if you’re not excited about vegetables, you should still be impressed by the themed meal names, like “Tatooine Two Suns Hummus” — an actual Star Wars-inspired dish at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has started testing consumer appetites for the “P.L.T.” — plant-based burger, lettuce and tomato — at a couple dozen of its Canadian locations.

Compared with the current drama in American politics, the Brexit imbroglio looks almost tame for once. But it’s still a complete mess. The British Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament until after the Brexit deadline was unlawful, and that Mr. Johnson had overstepped his powers. Once Parliament roared back into session, lawmakers demanded Mr. Johnson’s ouster and yet another delay in the Oct. 31 deadline. As usual, there’s no clear path forward, and uncertainty continues to plague the country’s economy. The value of the pound fell (even more) on Thursday when the Bank of England hinted at cutting interest rates.

The average annual cost of a family health care plan has reached a record high of $20,000, according to a new analysis. Also, if you felt that Earth’s largest corporations didn’t have enough recording devices in your home, Amazon announced a fleet of new Alexa-adjacent gadgets that will bring her chirpy presence into earbuds, glasses, a ring and even a new collar that tracks your dog.


NYT > Business > Economy

Author: Charlotte Cowles