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Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

Re: White House aides repeatedly used PowerPoint to teach Trump how Amazon works — but he just ignores them

Postby samurai » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:00 pm



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Slammed by Trump, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Chooses Silence

Postby smix » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:26 pm

Slammed by Trump, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Chooses Silence
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/slammed-by ... 1523282400
Category: Politics
Published: April 9, 2018

Description: Amazon’s chief executive has refrained from public criticism of the president since the election
For years, Amazon.com Inc.Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has meticulously crafted his public image, largely shunning the spotlight while carefully making donations that only hint at his political agenda. But over the past week, the billionaire has been cast into the limelight thanks to a string of attacks by President Donald Trump. Mr. Bezos’s response? The silent treatment. In six tweets over a week, Mr. Trump lashed out at Amazon repeatedly over taxes, its use of the U.S. Postal Service and its effect on other retailers. He also called the Washington Post, which Mr. Bezos owns personally, a lobbying arm. He criticized Amazon at a press conference on Tuesday, too, and aboard Air Force One on Thursday. The tweets and remarks stem largely from Mr. Trump’s growing unhappiness with coverage of his administration by the Washington Post as well as with its owner, say the president’s advisers and people close to the White House. Mr. Bezos, the world’s richest man, has ignored the president’s attacks. He has stayed out of the public eye since Mr. Trump’s tweets started last week, only tweeting once to send condolences regarding the recent shooting at YouTube’s headquarters. Mr. Bezos made comments critical of Mr. Trump before the election, but he has refrained from public criticism since Mr. Trump was elected. That strategy, people familiar with this thinking say, fits in with his deeply held conviction in playing the long game. “I don’t think there’s any benefit to actually engaging with President Trump” as a CEO, says Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. “He clearly doesn’t like them,” he said of Mr. Trump’s view of Amazon. “There’s no sense in fighting back.” An Amazon spokesman declined to comment. The White House also declined to comment. Some CEOs have spoken up after Mr. Trump has criticized them or their companies. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in a September post refuted Mr. Trump’s tweet that “Facebook was always anti-Trump.” AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson hinted at the president’s criticism of the company’s merger plans at a November conference, saying the company wouldn’t back down in its bid for Time Warner Inc. Other CEOs, such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Lloyd Blankfein, have publicly criticized the president in response to positions such as his ban on travelers from certain countries. Mr. Bezos has long tread carefully when it comes to politics. The chief executive has made calculated public donations, like one for so-called Dreamer scholarships in January. He tweets rarely and chooses to speak publicly only on occasion. His last major public interview was granted to his brother on stage at a conference in November. Still, as concerns about Amazon’s growing power have ballooned in recent months, Mr. Bezos has been seen more publicly. He starred in the company’s Super Bowl commercial this year and has been making the rounds at Hollywood award shows and parties. Last month, he tweeted a photo of himself with a robotic dog at his exclusive Mars conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Mr. Bezos was critical of Mr. Trump in the months before the election. In 2015, Mr. Bezos responded to a critical tweet from Mr. Trump by suggesting he could offer the then-candidate a ride on a spaceship. “#sendDonaldtospace,” he added. At a conference in 2016, shortly before Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Bezos said the candidate “erodes democracy around the edges.” Amazon became one of the first companies to sign on to a legal challenge to Mr. Trump’s travel ban last year, too, as Mr. Bezos sent an email to staff explaining his move. Executives inside Amazon say they are well aware of the perception of the company’s growing dominance as it expands into new business areas globally and weaves its ways into consumers’ lives—from its Whole Foods grocery stores and Hollywood studios to its recent experimentation with health care and financial services. The company has recently worked to improve its public image and its lobbying efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter. And it has made big splashes by announcing it was creating tens of thousands of jobs, including at a new second headquarters. Policy experts and analysts say that there is little Mr. Trump could do right now to more heavily regulate Amazon. While the company’s share price dipped as much as 8% on fears of Mr. Trump last week, it has started to recover and some analysts and investors say they expect the stock to rebound once the president moves on. It is largely business as usual inside Amazon, people familiar with the matter say. Mr. Trump’s tweets are a topic of conversation but they haven’t raised too much concern, these people say. While the dip in the stock price has resulted in some annoyance among the rank and file, most are ignoring the flood of tweets with the expectation it will end soon, one of the people said. Senior executives have remained calm, in large part due to the company’s years of experience with wildly fluctuating stock prices, one of the people said. Part of that calm stems from Mr. Bezos’s focus on the company’s long-term value, a theme he hits on frequently at meetings and in his annual letter to shareholders. At all-hands meetings with employees, Mr. Bezos has quoted Benjamin Graham : “In the short run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.” Many of Mr. Trump’s tweets seem to come in response to Washington Post articles he disliked, the people close to the White House said. Washington Post Chief Executive and Publisher Fred Ryan said this week that the newspaper operates completely independent of Mr. Bezos on news and editorial decisions. On Thursday, Mr. Trump criticized a headline in the “Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist.’” “Typically bad reporting!” he added in the tweet.



At Post Office, Amazon Isn’t the Only Big Shipper Getting Discounts
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-post-of ... 1523637162
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: FedEx and UPS also use parcel service that Donald Trump has criticized
President Donald Trump’s ordered review of the U.S. Postal Service’s finances will likely show that Amazon.com Inc. isn’t the only one getting a good deal on package deliveries. Aside from Amazon, two of the largest users of the agency’s parcel-delivery business are FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. All three receive comparable rates on a service that lets them drop truckloads of packages at a local post office for the last leg of delivery. Amazon, FedEx and UPS get about 5% to 10% off published rates for the service, known as Parcel Select, according to a person familiar with the matter. “There’s no competitive advantage that Amazon has over UPS or FedEx using the exact same service,” this person said. Mr. Trump late Thursday ordered a task force to review the quasigovernmental agency’s operations, including how it competes on package deliveries. While UPS and FedEx benefit from similar rates, the companies have long argued that the Postal Service should charge more, in part because it would drive more volume to their own networks. It would also allow UPS and FedEx to raise their own rates, given that the Postal Service’s rates are considered a floor in the parcel-delivery market. UPS declined to comment and FedEx had no immediate comment. The Postal Service said Friday: “As we have repeatedly stressed, these business model problems are serious, but solvable.” The agency has been lobbying Congress to overhaul its pension obligations and has also called on its regulator to allow it more freedom to raise prices. The Postal Service’s regulator audits all service contracts to ensure they are profitable. Amazon is the biggest user of the Post Office’s so-called last-mile parcel service, putting a greater strain on a system that was designed to carry envelopes, not boxes. Amazon also gets volume-based discounts, analysts say. The Postal Service delivers about half of Amazon’s packages every day, according to analyst estimates. Last year, Amazon shipped an estimated 1.22 billion packages in the U.S., according to MWPVL International, a supply-chain consultancy. The executive order comes after weeks of tweets and other broadsides from Mr. Trump attacking Amazon.com and its relationship with the Postal Service, where he argued the online giant should be paying more for deliveries and that the arrangement is costing the agency billions of dollars. Mr. Trump’s hostility toward Amazon stems largely from his dislike of coverage of his administration by the Washington Post, which Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos owns separately. Claims that Amazon is hurting the Postal Service have been refuted by reviews from the agency’s regulator and others. Former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe, who ran the agency from late 2010 until early 2015, told UBS analysts last week that the Amazon contract was profitable for the agency. Spokespeople for the Postal Service and Amazon declined to comment on their relationship. The Postal Service has relied on a growing parcel-delivery business to offset the secular decline of first-class mail volume, down more than 43% from its peak in 2001. But the agency is losing money and weighed down by pension costs. It reported a $2.7 billion net loss on revenue of $69.6 billion in the year ended Sept. 30. Amazon, meanwhile, has used the vast reach of the postal network to help create one of the world’s most valuable corporations. Last year, the company’s North American revenue jumped 33% to $106.1 billion, excluding its web-services business. Amazon primarily uses Parcel Select, which requires a shipper to sort its packages by ZIP Code and postal route, and drop off the parcels at the closest post office for delivery. Letter carriers bring the boxes to recipients’ doors. Parcel Select brought in $1.83 billion in revenue for the Postal Service in the fourth quarter, or an average of $2.09 per package. That compares with an average ground price per package of $8.19 at UPS and $8.64 at FedEx, where the carriers typically take the package the full distance. At the heart of the question over the rates is how the Postal Service allocates costs. Because a letter carrier is already driving to every address on the route, it’s unclear exactly how much cost the agency should be attributing to each parcel, analysts say. “Pricing is an art and a science,” said Ivan Hofmann, an industry consultant and former FedEx executive. “The science is the numbers. The art is, you have to understand how it impacts your network, and you have to make value judgments as far as how much it’s costing you.” The Postal Service’s regulator requires that the contracts cover direct expenses and an appropriate share of “institutional costs,” or expenses that can’t be linked to a specific product. Annual tests have found Parcel Select more than meets that threshold. UPS argues far more of the Postal Service’s overall costs should be borne by the parcel side of its business, a change that could force higher rates.



Packages Weigh on U.S. Postal Service as Losses Grow
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/packages-w ... 1526056199
Category: Business
Published: May 11, 2018

Description: The parcel business, which President Trump has criticized, fueled revenue gains but added $364 million in extra expenses
The U.S. Postal Service delivered higher revenue but a wider loss from its package delivery business, a segment that President Donald Trump has criticized as hurting the agency through contracts with shippers like Amazon.com. ​Higher costs tied to processing packages weighed on the Postal Service in its latest quarter, even as it relied on that same business to increase revenue amid a continuing decline in first-class mail. The quasigovernmental agency logged a 1.4% increase in revenue during its fiscal second quarter to $17.5 billion, as a 9.5% revenue increase in its parcel business offset declines in its first-class and marketing mail revenue. The growth came at a cost. Packages are more expensive to process and deliver for an operation designed to efficiently handle millions of envelopes, and the agency incurred $364 million in extra expenses tied to additional hours needed to back its business. The agency said it had to raise wages, too, as part of a contract. All in, the Postal Service lost $1.3 billion in the three months ended March 31, compared with a $562 million loss during the same period last year. Excluding noncontrollable items like estimates for future pension obligations, the agency reported a loss of $656 million, compared with a slight profit last year. The agency’s finances have faced unprecedented scrutiny in recent months as Mr. Trump criticized the Postal Service’s shipping contracts with Amazon.com Inc., one of its largest customers. Mr. Trump last month convened a task force to review the Postal Service’s finances and recommend changes. In a conference call Friday, Postmaster General Megan Brennan said the Postal Service welcomed the task force, whose report is due out later this summer, but that the agency needs more immediate action from Congress and from regulators to fix the business model. Legislative proposals have been introduced but stalled in Congress in recent years. Three nominees to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors have also been submitted to the Senate but they haven’t been confirmed. “We have repeatedly stressed that the Postal Service has a serious business model challenge that is solvable,” Ms. Brennan said. “We need the financial stability with immediate regulatory and legislative reform.” The Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch but doesn’t receive tax dollars for operating expenses, instead funding its operations through sales of postage and shipping services. A lack of reform will force the Postal Service to make tough choices in how it spends money to build out its network for the future. The agency is forecasting $9.4 billion in capital spending through 2022. “Absent some fundamental reform, the capex will be restrained and like any business, we’ll prioritize that spend,” Ms. Brennan said. Ms. Brennan also continued to call for more freedom to raise prices on its first-class mail to help prop up a business that is more profitable to operate but continues to decline. Postal regulators have objected to the agency’s desire for more pricing freedom, but did allow the agency to raise prices slightly above the rate of inflation over the next five years. On the package business, the Postal Service can raise prices in line with competition. Ms. Brennan said on Friday the Postal Service works closely with consultants and researchers to develop its pricing strategy and needs the revenue from that business to help fund operations. “It’s a hypercompetitive environment,” she said.



Postal Service Review Proposes Sweeping Changes Likely to Hit Amazon
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/postal-ser ... 1543953783
Category: Politics
Published: December 4, 2018

Description: The report calls for raising prices for many types of commercial package deliveries
WASHINGTON—A Treasury-led task force is proposing that the U.S. Postal Service charge more for certain package deliveries, going after Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers that President Trump has said benefit at the post office’s expense. The Postal Service hasn’t priced package deliveries with profitability in mind, according to the task force’s report released Tuesday. It said the agency should be able to charge market-based prices for mail and package items that aren’t deemed essential services. The report, requested by Mr. Trump in April, recommended raising prices for many types of commercial package deliveries, a growing business for the Postal Service. Mr. Trump has often claimed on Twitter that the Postal Service has given a sweetheart arrangement to Amazon, which he blames for unfairly hurting bricks-and-mortar retailing. Mr. Trump also has clashed with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose Washington Post has been critical of Mr. Trump. “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” Mr. Trump tweeted in April before signing the executive order calling for the report. Amazon declined to comment on Tuesday. Since Mr. Trump’s election, Amazon and Mr. Bezos have largely avoided responding directly to Mr. Trump’s tweets about them. Higher rates on package services would hit Amazon, which Morgan Stanley estimates relies on the Postal Service to deliver up to 45% of its packages. Analysts have estimated it’s cheaper for Amazon to use the Postal Service than traditional carriers such as FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., because the online retailer primarily injects sorted packages into the Postal Service network, paying for only the last leg of delivery. FedEx and UPS would also be subject to the higher rates, as they often use the Postal Service for last-mile delivery. The two carriers would likely offset higher costs by passing them on to large shippers, including retailers such as Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. The Postal Service’s parcel rates have long been viewed as a floor for shipping rates. Analysts view higher rates ultimately as beneficial to the carriers. The Package Coalition, a group that includes Amazon, the National Retail Federation and several big direct-mail firms, said in a statement it was concerned that the task force’s recommendations would harm consumers, large and small businesses, and rural communities “by raising prices and depriving Americans of affordable delivery services.” The report concludes that the Postal Service isn’t correctly assessing the costs it incurs in delivering packages for companies like Amazon because it hasn’t sufficiently updated its formula to reflect the rapid rise in package volumes and the decline in mail volumes. The Postal Service has said it doesn’t lose money on its shipping contracts, pointing to annual regulatory reviews that show the agency more than covers its costs, as required by regulations. However, some shippers, like UPS, have argued that the methodology for determining the costs needs revision. Also, the Postal Service is already planning to hit Amazon, FedEx and UPS with significant price increases. The agency has received approval to raise prices on its Parcel Select service between 9.3% and 12.3%, starting early next year. Under that service, large shippers sort packages themselves and deposit them directly into the Postal Service for home delivery. Tuesday’s report didn’t provide details on how much more USPS should be charging customers. It recommends rethinking the definition of what qualifies for the Postal Service’s so-called universal-service obligation, a legal requirement that it deliver everywhere in the U.S. Senior administration officials on Tuesday made clear that strictly commercial packages—as well as commercial mail such as catalogs—shouldn’t be covered by universal service. That would mean those services wouldn’t be covered by government protections such as price caps. But administration officials insisted that any solutions shouldn’t disadvantage rural areas by treating them differently from urban areas. Many of the report’s recommendations could be implemented by the Postal Service’s existing leadership, senior administration officials said. Those changes “would affect the entire e-commerce market,” one administration official said. The USPS was reviewing the recommendations and will take “all appropriate actions within our control” to fulfil its mission of providing fast and reliable service to all American businesses and consumers, Postmaster General Megan Brennan said in a statement. The American Postal Workers Union sharply criticized the report. APWU President Mark Dimondstein said the recommendations would slash universal service, reduce delivery days and “hurt business and individuals alike.” USPS leaders have long advocated for greater leeway in setting some rates, including on so-called market-dominant products like first-class mail where it has a virtual monopoly. The agency and some big businesses have also called for a legislative overhaul that would change how it accounts for USPS retirees’ future health benefits, a calculation that makes up the bulk of annual losses. The report rejects the idea of scaling back the Postal Service’s obligation to pre-fund its huge retiree health liabilities. “The Task Force does not believe that this general policy should change or that the liability for USPS retiree health benefits should be shifted to the taxpayers,” the report says. Art Sackler, manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, which represents companies and other groups that rely on the postal system, said any proposal must address overhauling the pre-funding of retiree health benefits. “The existing mail and packaging price caps remain fully functional if retiree health pre-funding is adequately addressed through bipartisan legislation the enjoys broad stakeholder support,” he said. The Treasury-led study also generally steers clear of privatization, and plays down the idea of allowing the Postal Service to get into banking-type services, given its “narrow expertise and capital limitations.” The Postal Service faces significant financial challenges. It has been losing money for more than a decade and is on an unsustainable path, the report says. The USPS is forecast to lose tens of billions of dollars over the next decade and currently has $89 billion in liabilities versus $27 billion in assets, for a net deficit of $62 billion. Revenue has been declining in the shift toward digital correspondence. Many officials worry that a taxpayer-funded bailout will be required without action.
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Sheila Bair: Trump is going after the Bill of Rights

Postby smix » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:55 pm

Sheila Bair: Trump is going after the Bill of Rights
Yahoo Finance

URL: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sheila-b ... 53338.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 9, 2018

Description: On Friday, the Trump slump turned into a Trump dump as rampant selling took the stock market into a second correction. To be sure, most of the decline was driven by a weak jobs report and fears of a trade war. But Amazon, third largest weighted stock in the widely-held S&P 500, had a different problem. Amazon has been the victim of a series of drive-by tweets from the president of the United States, aka POTUS, taking its stock down by 3.0% since the presidential barrage started on March 29. (This compares to the more modest 1.4% decline in the S&P 500 during the same period.) In the process, Trump has wiped out $21 billion of shareholder value for the millions of Americans (including me) who own Amazon, either directly or indirectly through index investing. This would not be the first time a U.S. president trained his ire on a particular company for political purposes. What makes this situation so pernicious are numerous reports, which Trump’s hot-blooded haikus seem to confirm, that the attacks are motivated by his anger over negative coverage by the Washington Post. The Post is owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, not the company, but that fact doesn’t seem to get in the way of Trump’s apparent determination to take value from Amazon shareholders in retribution for the Post’s reporting. Democrats— and much of the “liberal” media Trump frequently attacks— continue to obsess over clumsy Russian efforts to interfere with our elections as the challenge of our times to American democracy. But they could pay more attention to this ongoing assault on two of our most precious rights, enshrined in the Constitution and fundamental to the functioning of any free Republic: the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression and the Fifth Amendment’s protections against government taking of private property without due process of law. John Locke, the 17th-century English philosopher whose writings informed the foundation of modern democracies, believed property ownership to be one of the three natural human rights. Benjamin Franklin called freedom of speech a principal pillar of free government. But you do not have to be a philosopher or historian to understand why free speech and property rights are fundamental to a functioning democracy. Deprivations of private property have been the weapon of choice for suppressing freedom by many a dictator: witness the Fascist’s wholesale appropriation of property owned by Jews and other disfavored groups in the lead-up to World War II. Dictators also suppress freedom of speech as a way of controlling the population, so, as George Washington put it, “Dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Is Trump a modern-day Mussolini, as Larry Summer’s recently suggested? No, I don’t think this is an intentional attempt to pare back the Bill of Rights. More likely, it is a poorly-reasoned, emotional outburst against a newspaper which is hurting his feelings. Ironically, since we are still (at least for now) a nation of laws, those outbursts are counterproductive to Trump’s stated goals of changing policies which he says unfairly benefit companies like Amazon. He has complained about our taxation system as it applies to e-commerce and postal rates applicable to bulk shippers. Though his arguments have been challenged, they are legitimate for discussion. But now, should Trump’s administration move on these, or any other area adversely impacting Amazon, it may well be challenged for political motivations and compromise of free speech. Indeed, the Justice Department had to defend against such arguments in its litigation to block AT&T’s attempted acquisition of Time Warner. AT&T’s attorneys initially argued that Trump’s tweet tantrums against CNN (owned by Time Warner) were a motivation behind DOJ’s suit, even though this case has been long in the making and is reportedly driven by career DOJ antitrust attorneys, not the White House. Former Kansas senator and GOP presidential nominee, Bob Dole, a consistent and faithful Trump supporter, once publicly advised Trump to talk about policies, not people. The same advice could be given for corporations. Instead of ad hominem, or in this case ad corporis, attacks on specific companies, Trump would be better served by challenging policies he believes are unfair. His attack on Amazon provides yet another example where he may have valid policy arguments, but undercuts them by turning what should be a reasoned debate into a schoolyard brawl. Similarly, Trump may have a point on the liberal bias of some media, but he suppresses the effectiveness of his own speech by using the power of his office to cause financial harm to media companies, instead of documenting and calling out instances of anti-conservative slant. He should heed the words of another famous Kansan, celebrated columnist William Allen White, who once acknowledged there could be folly in free expression, but, “If there is freedom, folly will die of its own poison, and the wisdom will survive.”



Trump, the stealth tax-raiser
Yahoo Finance

URL: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-st ... 11400.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 18, 2018

Description: Got a few bucks for the president? He needs it to settle a score. President Trump has been pressuring the postmaster general to double the shipping rates the U.S. Postal Service charges e-commerce giant Amazon, according to a nearly unbelievable account in the Washington Post. Can Trump really do that? It’s a question we’ve asked many times during the last 16 months. The answer this time is — probably not. Trump, of course, has been attacking Amazon for months, out of personal animosity toward its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which routinely publishes unflattering Trump material (like the postal scoop it just got from, well, who knows). So in the august tradition of history’s best statesmen, Trump wants to use his power as president to punish a single company for petty personal reasons. It must gall Trump that he can’t. Amazon’s rates with the USPS are set by contract, and even the president can’t abrogate a contract. That contract isn’t public, so we don’t know the rates Amazon gets or how long they’re locked in. Most analysts, however, think Amazon gets the same rates as other big shippers, with the USPS turning a tidy profit on its business with Amazon. That contract will end, however, perhaps this year or next. That’s when Trump might have leverage. Let’s say he got his way and forced the U.S. Postal Service to double delivery fees for Amazon. The company would do what companies always do. First, it would look for other, cheaper delivery sources, such as UPS and FedEx. But if the Postal Service raised delivery rates, competitors would be able do to the same thing. Rates could even go up for non-Amazon shippers, such as Walmart.
One company and millions of households
Amazon would also try to pass on as much of the added cost to its customers as it could. And Amazon can get away with that—it just raised its annual fee for Prime members by 20 bucks, to $119 per year. More than 100 million consumers have an Amazon Prime account, most of them in the United States. Trump’s shipping surtax wouldn’t be huge — a dollar or two per package, say — but it would be spread across a ton of people. All in all, it would be an extraordinary fee for a president to impose on one company and millions of households. Trump has other plans that would raise costs for consumers. He has already imposed new tariffs on some steel and aluminum imports, driving up costs for businesses that purchase those commodities as components in other products. Some of those firms say the move will hurt business and jeopardize jobs. Trump has also threatened to impose a much larger set of tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of imports from China. That would undoubtedly push up the cost of some products, which is why economists consider tariffs a hidden tax. Trump’s recent decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal could push up gasoline prices. Trump plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran meant to cut off its ability to sell oil. If it works, there will be a bit less oil flowing into global markets, pushing prices up. Anticipation of this eventuality is one reason oil prices have risen by about $12 a barrel this year, to around $72. The average price of gas will probably crest $3 per gallon soon, and could drift toward $3.50 by mid-summer. In negotiations over the North American Trade Agreement, Trump reportedly wants Mexico to raise its average wages for auto workers from around $2 per hour to $15. That’s obviously a giant, and implausible, increase. The idea is to make it more expensive to build cars in Mexico, creating an incentive for manufacturing more cars in the United States. But if it happened, it would push car prices up, as well. Trump, of course, signed a big set of tax cuts in December, which he’s been bragging about ever since. That legislation slashed the tax rate most businesses pay, with modest tax savings for middle-class workers. But with the other hand, Trump is pushing polices that are lot less friendlier to businesses and consumers. There are checks on what Trump can get away with. Amazon seems sure to sue over any government policy that seems anticompetitive or targeted at it alone. Trump faces political risks, as well. Few voters will be happy paying a Trump surcharge on package delivery or gasoline or Chinese-made products. Trump is already facing blowback for his trade policies that could cost Republicans votes in the November midterm elections. Imagine, on top of that, a line on your Amazon fee statement that says “Trump tax.” Even a dollar or two would be a dollar or two too much.
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James Comey Will Speak at Amazon on Monday

Postby smix » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:32 pm

James Comey Will Speak at Amazon on Monday
The Intercept

URL: https://theintercept.com/2018/04/19/jam ... on-monday/
Category: Politics
Published: April 20, 2018

Description: Former FBI Director James Comey plans to speak to Amazon employees on Monday at 10 a.m. in Seattle as part of his ongoing book tour, sources with knowledge of the event told The Intercept. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” has already drawn the furious attention of President Donald Trump, who has simultaneously been battling on Twitter with Amazon, its CEO Jeff Bezos, and Bezos’s newspaper, the Washington Post. Trump has repeatedly slammed Amazon for unfair competition by skirting state sales tax laws, and has accused the company of milking the U.S. Postal Service. He regularly refers to the Post as the Amazon Washington Post. Amazon does not own the Washington Post, Bezos does, but Trump does not draw that distinction. Comey is speaking at a semi-regular event at the Amazon headquarters known as a “fishbowl.” A spokesperson for Amazon wasn’t immediately available to comment. Comey’s decision to take his book tour directly to Amazon only promises to heighten the tensions.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Responds to Donald Trump's Twitter Attacks: ‘I Expect Us to Be Scrutinized’

Postby smix » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:28 pm

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Responds to Donald Trump's Twitter Attacks: ‘I Expect Us to Be Scrutinized’
Newsweek

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/amazons-jeff-be ... -be-905511
Category: Business
Published: April 30, 2018

Description: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a long history of trading barbs with the current president of the U.S., Donald Trump. But in the face of criticism, the 54-year-old chief executive claims to be taking the high road—saying in a recent interview that he fully expects his company to be scrutinized. Bezos—one of the richest men in the world and owner of The Washington Post—congratulated Trump in 2016 after he won the election. But the relationship has seemingly soured since, with the president’s Twitter feed recently spewing accusations that Amazon is harming the U.S. Postal Service. Trump alleged last year that the company was failing to pay “internet taxes,” which do not exist. Donald Trump, who has declined to publish his own tax returns, frequently lambasts so-called “fake news” coverage from The Washington Post. Until now, Bezos has remained quiet about the clash. But in an interview published by Business Insider from the Axel Springer Award 2018, he opened up about the dispute. “Whether it’s the current US administration or any other government agency around the world–Amazon is now a large corporation and I expect us to be scrutinized,” the billionaire CEO said during the event, hosted in Berlin. “We should be scrutinized,” he continued. “I think all large institutions should be scrutinized and examined. It’s reasonable. And one thing to note about is that we have gotten big in absolute terms only very recently.” He said that in the past 8 years the company had jumped from 30,000 employees to 560,000. Bezos added: “I know we should be scrutinized and I think it’s true that big government institutions should be scrutinized, big non-profit institutions should be scrutinized, big universities should be scrutinized. It just makes sense.” In the wide-ranging interview, Bezos said that he believes the debate over data privacy—in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal—is “one of the great questions of our age,” because the internet can now shape democracies. “The fact that I can look up almost anything on Wikipedia in 5 seconds is an unbelievable capability that just simply didn’t exist 20 years ago,” he said. “And so on and so on. But we’re also finding out that these powerful tools enable some very bad things, too, like letting authoritarian governments interfere in free democratic elections in the world. This is an incredibly scary thing.” Bezos added: “How do you safeguard people’s physical safety against terrorists and bad actors all over the world, and how do you balance that against privacy? These are very challenging questions. And we’re not going to answer them, even in a few years. I think it’s going to be an ongoing thing for quite a while.” Amazon maintains that it remains in full compliance with U.S. tax laws. Last week, its financial results indicated the company was thriving, with a net income of $1.6 billion in the first quarter of this year, compared to $724 million in the first quarter of 2017. Net sales increased 43% during the same period, it said.
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Amazon Is Building a New Tech Hub Inside an Old Post Office

Postby smix » Tue May 01, 2018 2:10 pm

Amazon Is Building a New Tech Hub Inside an Old Post Office
Gizmodo

URL: https://gizmodo.com/amazon-is-building- ... 1825661769
Category: Business
Published: April 30, 2018

Description: In another stunning display of its might, Amazon will be transforming an old post office building into a new Amazon office building. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced that the Seattle-based online retailer will open a new tech hub on the site of a historic Canada Post building in Vancouver. The massive expansion is expected to bring 3,000 jobs to the city. The location of Amazon’s new tech hub, set to open in 2022, isn’t quite ironic. It almost seems appropriate that a company that depends so heavily on postal service would occupy the hollowed out guts of a grand old post office. It would really be ironic if Amazon built a fulfillment center inside of the Vancouver General Post Office. Imagine: thousands of non-unionized workers stuffing boxes of goodies to be shipped out to homes by underpaid couriers. That would really be something. Instead, the new Amazon office will be full of nerds working on things like machine learning, cloud computing, and of course, e-commerce technology. That isn’t to say that Amazon’s office jobs aren’t soul-crushing. We have heard they are. Nevertheless, people doing office work in office buildings is nothing too shocking. The addition of a few thousand more jobs—raising the number of employees Amazon has in Canada by 50 percent, from 6,000 employees to 9,000 employees—provides further evidence that Amazon is taking over the world and there’s nothing anybody can do about it except pay higher prices for Amazon Prime. Despite the (quite literal) post office-crushing implications of Amazon’s new tech hub, the online everything store is historically good for letter carriers. In the United States, at least, Amazon accounted for $7 billion of the US Postal Service’s $19.5 billion in revenue. Almost 40 percent of all Amazon purchases actually went through the US Postal Postal service. Canada Post also ships many Amazon packages north of the border, though the company has been testing out its own in-house delivery service recently. So, in a word, this idea that a new Amazon tech hub will live in an old post office is simply poignant. There’s a sadness about. The only thing more poignant would be for Amazon to build a giant warehouse where America’s largest mall once stood. Oh wait, that already happened.



Old Man Still Confused About What Exactly the Post Office Does
Gizmodo

URL: https://gizmodo.com/old-man-still-confu ... 1826154249
Category: Politics
Published: May 18, 2018

Description: The Post Office is an unusual agency. For starters, it has a legal monopoly (weird!), is explicitly enshrined in the Constitution, and despite being part of the federal government, it’s operated more like a corporation. All an average person needs to know is that mail goes in a mailbox, and, with relative expedience, it shows up where it’s addressed to go. Donald Trump, being the president, is not most people. That makes his unique ignorance about how the agency works all the more embarrassing, both for us as a nation, and—as recently reported by the Washington Post—for current Postmaster General Megan Brennan:
President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations [...] Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission.

Trump’s presidency has made personal attacks on individuals and companies the norm, along with personal involvement in matters previously deemed inappropriate. We are, for worse, used to this sort of thing. But Trump’s specific beef with the Post Office, and Amazon’s supposedly vampiric relationship to it, is specifically and overwhelmingly stupid because he’s been corrected on this many times before by qualified individuals—notably the former Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Trump went so far as to sign an executive order appointing a task force to review the Post Office’s business arrangements—something which task force head Steve Mnuchkin has until later this summer to deliver his findings on. As has been mentioned, loudly and often, there are a number of practices its worth criticizing Amazon for. Some have likened portions of the business to a modern-day railroad monopoly. Its arrangements with the Post Office definitely rank low on the list of concerns, if they rank at all. The Post reports that Brennan eventually tried to explain the non-issue to the president using visual aids, out of we imagine had to be sheer exasperation:
She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

Unfortunately we have to conclude the attempt to get Trump to bow out of the world’s dumbest pissing match was ultimately a failure.
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Trump’s trying to fight Amazon and Jeff Bezos from the White House

Postby smix » Sat May 19, 2018 8:33 pm

Trump’s trying to fight Amazon and Jeff Bezos from the White House
Vox

URL: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... al-service
Category: Politics
Published: May 19, 2018

Description: According to a new report, Trump has pushed the US postmaster general to double shipping prices for Amazon and other companies.
Donald Trump’s battle with Amazon is not just a public one playing out on Twitter — he’s also taken out his anger on the e-commerce giant in private, specifically when it comes to the post office. Behind closed doors, he has reportedly pushed US Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double what the US Postal Service charges Amazon and other companies to ship packages, and he’s met with White House advisers to ask about Amazon’s shipping practices and taxes. On Friday, Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey at the Washington Post reported that Trump has pressed Brennan to up Amazon’s shipping costs, despite her multiple explanations that she can’t just do that — Amazon and the post office have a contractual agreement — and that the post office isn’t being hurt by Amazon, as the president suggests. Trump has gone as far as to sign an executive order mandating a review of the Postal Service. That Trump has a bone to pick with Amazon and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, who is also the owner of the Washington Post, is no secret. He has publicly criticized the company on multiple occasions. In December 2015, he said on Twitter that Amazon didn’t pay taxes and accused Bezos of using the Post to keep Amazon’s taxes low. (Amazon does collect state sales taxes on products it sells directly, but it doesn’t for its third-party sellers.) He’s also accused Amazon of monopolistic practices and having a “huge antitrust problem,” repeatedly criticized its shipping practices, and said Bezos is using the Post as a lobbying weapon.
Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

The merits and veracity Trump’s arguments about Amazon are dubious — there’s no evidence the Post’s journalism is some sort of secret weapon for Amazon, its tax situation depends on who’s selling, and as Vox’s Jen Kirby recently explained, the US Postal Service’s problems extend far beyond Amazon, which, as far as money goes, could actually be a bright spot for it. Amazon uses the post office for the “last mile” of its shipments, meaning to get a package from the post office to its final destination. The details of its contract with the Postal Service are not public. But beyond that, the idea that the president of the United States is privately pushing for changes directly aimed at harming an American corporation because of what, by and large, seems to be a personal gripe is disturbing. “The president is using his official office to attempt to retaliate against the second-largest US company to the tune of billions because he views its owner as a political opponent,” said Susan Hennessey, executive editor at Lawfare and Brookings Institution fellow, on Twitter. “This is insane.” The Post reports that Trump has also met with at least three groups of senior advisers to talk about Amazon’s business practice. They incloud Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg. Cohn defended Amazon and told him the Postal Service actually makes money from its business. He announced he was leaving the White House in March.
Amazon isn’t perfect. Trump’s threats to it should still make you nervous.
Thus far, Amazon appears to be resilient to Trump’s threats, and its investors have shaken off most presidential-related risks. Trump’s Twitter tantrums have briefly even driven down Amazon’s stock price this year, but it has quickly rebounded, and its stock price is still up more than 30 percent this year It’s the second-largest American publicly traded company in terms of market capitalization, behind Apple. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about Amazon and some of its business practices. It is an enormous company with a broad reach into a wide range of sectors — retail, e-books, content, groceries, cloud services, etc. — and its shareholders have for years given it a long leash to lose money in an effort to establish market dominance and, in turn, make life harder for competitors. The median salary it pays to employees is $28,446, decidedly lower than other tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google because of its use of fulfillment centers that rely on low-wage workers, and it’s upped lobbying efforts significantly in recent years. “Amazon’s dominance poses a question of how comfortable we are with more and more of our commerce going through a single company,” Lina Khan, director of legal policy with think tank the Open Markets Institute and author of a groundbreaking paper on Amazon’s potential antitrust issues. “If Jeff Bezos wants to tax all of our economy, are we okay with that?” But Amazon is also a beloved company. Amazon just topped Harris Poll’s survey of top US brands for the third straight year. In the retail arena, it helps keep prices low, and its Amazon Prime now has more than 100 million members worldwide. The Post’s Friday story isn’t the first time reports of emerged of Trump’s attempts to meddle with Amazon behind closed doors. Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair reported in April that the president was discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon. Whatever you think about Amazon, you should be worried about Trump’s campaign against it. A president attempting to use the power of his office to retaliate against a perceived political enemy is disturbing, although it’s unclear what, if anything, will come of his efforts.
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Jeff Bezos calls Donald Trump's attacks on media 'dangerous'

Postby smix » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:45 pm

Jeff Bezos calls Donald Trump's attacks on media 'dangerous'
The Straights Times

URL: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/unit ... -dangerous
Category: Politics
Published: September 14, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (AFP) - Mr Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post newspaper, warned on Thursday (Sept 13) that President Donald Trump's attacks on the media are dangerous for the country. Mr Bezos, during a question and answer session at a dinner hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, said Mr Trump's attacks risk eroding protections and social norms important for democracy. "It's dangerous to demonise the media," Mr Bezos said. "It's dangerous to call the media lowlifes. It's dangerous to say they are the enemy of the people." He added that "we live in a society where it's not just the laws of the land that protect us... it's also the social norms that protect us. It works because we believe the words on that piece of paper." Mr Bezos said Mr Trump and other public figures should expect public and media scrutiny, which he called "healthy". The comments appeared to be the first direct, public rebuke of Mr Trump by Mr Bezos, a frequent target of attacks by the President. "I do defend the Post," he said. "I don't feel the need to defend Amazon." But he paraphrased Washington Post editor Martin Baron as saying that "the adminstration may be at war with us, but we are not at war with the administration". Despite his concerns with Mr Trump, Mr Bezos said that he was not overly concerned about the future of the news media. "We are so robust in this country. The media is going to be fine," he said during the conversation with economic club president David Rubenstein. Mr Bezos, whose Amazon fortune has made him the world's richest person, added that he has had "a couple of conversations" with Mr Trump, but declined to say what was discussed.
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Donald Dossier: When Sexts Are Just the Start...

Postby smix » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:28 am

Donald Dossier: When Sexts Are Just the Start...
OZY

URL: https://www.ozy.com/opinion/donald-doss ... tart/92580
Category: Politics
Published: February 10, 2019

Description: The feud between the world’s richest man and the world’s most powerful one is getting ugly. In the middle stands the aptly named David Pecker and his tabloid: the National Enquirer, a crucial player in the entire Donald Trump story arc. Pecker and Trump are longtime pals, and the tabloid duly pumped up his presidential bid — while disparaging Hillary Clinton. The promotion went beyond what appeared in the paper. According to its own admissions in court, Enquirer parent American Media Company, Inc. paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 in order to keep her from talking publicly about her affair with Trump — in violation of campaign finance law. More recently, the Enquirer set its sights on Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and owner of the Washington Post who is worth roughly $137 billion … for now. That sum is in jeopardy thanks in part to the Enquirer. The tabloid caught Bezos in an affair and published intimate text messages between the mogul and his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sánchez. Shortly before the story dropped, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing — and MacKenzie is likely entitled to a good chunk of the aforementioned wealth. Bezos, naturally, wanted to find out how the newspaper got hold of his texts. And this is where the story gets a lot more twisted. In a remarkable 2,000-word post in Medium on Thursday, Bezos revealed how the Enquirer attempted to extort him by threatening to release a “d*ck pic,” among other embarrassing photos Bezos had sent Sánchez, unless Bezos publicly said his investigation found “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated.” This is important: The Enquirer didn’t want money. It wanted Bezos to call off his investigative dogs — led by security consultant Gavin de Becker — and throw people off the scent of politics. That’s not something you do when no politics are involved. But whose politics? Bezos raises the Saudis, who were no fans of his newspaper’s coverage of the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and are tight with Pecker as well. But Trump is the figure lording over all this, given his longstanding distaste for the Post’s coverage, which he frequently personalizes with Bezos — from saying the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon more to cheering the exposure of Bezos’ affair. Roger Stone is involved here because of course he is. De Becker is reportedly looking into Michael Sánchez, Lauren’s brother, who is a business associate of Stone, the longtime Trump ally and dirty trickster recently arrested and charged with lying to Congress. Among the possibilities that Sanchez and de Becker discussed, according to the Post: whether a government entity could have obtained the texts, be it the National Security Agency or a foreign power. The notion of Trump enlisting the NSA to spy on a political foe is far-fetched, not least because he and his intelligence agencies haven’t gotten along so well — with Trump disparaging the “deep state” and dismissing their findings on Russian election interference and North Korea’s nuclear program. But some friendly outside help? A wink and a nod from the White House? There’s no telling where the bread crumbs from Enquirer headquarters lead, whether it’s America’s version of the U.K. phone hacking scandal or a political crisis. We do know it’s far more than a tabloid scandal. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” Bezos wrote. Expect prosecutors and Congress to do the same.
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CNN commentator: Anyone who condemned Trump for attacking Washington Post should also condemn Sanders

Postby smix » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:27 am

CNN commentator: Anyone who condemned Trump for attacking Washington Post should also condemn Sanders
Washington Examiner

URL: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news ... mn-sanders
Category: Politics
Published: August 13, 2019

Description: Anyone against President Trump's criticism of the Washington Post should also condemn 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for making similar remarks, CNN's Chris Cillizza argued Tuesday. The Vermont senator suggested that his criticism of Amazon is the reason why the Washington Post doesn't "write particularly good" stories about him, which echoes similar sentiments from the president. "I talk about [Amazon's taxes] all of the time," Sanders said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. "And then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why." He went on, “We have pointed out over and over again that Amazon made $10 billion in profits last year. You know how much they paid in taxes? You got it, zero! Any wonder why the Washington Post is not one of my great supporters? I wonder why!"

bernie-meh.jpg

CNN's Poppy Harlow had Dana Bash and Cillizza on her show Tuesday to discuss Sanders' remarks. "This is a very serious claim against the Washington Post with no evidence, and it is echoing what the president says," Harlow stated. "It’s a ridiculous claim. If you condemn Donald Trump for saying 'The Amazon Washington Post,' you need to condemn Bernie Sanders for basically saying the exact same thing," Cillizza began. "A couple of facts: One, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos also owns Amazon," he continued. "Amazon does not own the Washington Post. Just as sort of a logistical matter. Secondly, yeah, I worked there for six years, seven years under Don Graham and the Graham family when they owned it and I worked there for another three or four years when Jeff Bezos bought it from the Grahams." Marty Baron, the executive editor of the Washington Post, responded to Sanders' attack in a statement Monday night. "Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” it read. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”
The Amazon Washington Post front page story yesterday was total Fake News. They said “Advisors wrote new talking points and handed him reams of opposition research on the four Congresswomen.” Now really, does that sound like me? What advisors, there were no talking points,....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019

Trump has referred to the paper at the "Amazon Washington Post" eight times on social media since the beginning of his presidency.
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