Business this week
Amazon showed off its first smartphone, which will go on sale next month. Priced at the high end of the market, the device runs on a version of Google's Android system, the main difference being that it is designed around Amazon's shopping ecosystem. It also has 3D features. But although it dominates e-commerce in America and Europe, Amazon's tiny profits and big spending projects are starting to worry investors; its share price is down by almost a fifth since the start of the year.
Google's YouTube threatened to pull videos from its site by independent recording artists who have refused to sign up to the terms for its forthcoming subscription-based music service. Universal, Sony and Warner have agreed to the terms, but the smaller labels accuse YouTube of a “lack of respect and understanding” for the independent sector.
In a surprise move China's commerce ministry blocked a proposed alliance of three European shipping companies, including Maersk. The P3 alliance sought to pool 250 ships to reduce overcapacity, but it would have controlled 40% of transatlantic and Asia-Europe seaborne trade. Regulators in America and Europe had given the nod to the alliance. China's commerce ministry disagreed, saying smaller shippers would suffer and consumers would pay.
The takeover battle for various bits of Alstom intensified ahead of a deadline. Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, flew to Paris for talks with the government on securing jobs if it buys some of Alstom's assets. Complicating his plans is a rival joint bid from Siemens of Germany and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.
Mary Barra, the boss of General Motors, appeared before a congressional committee to answer questions about faulty ignition switches in GM's cars that it acknowledges led to 13 deaths. An internal report at GM blamed the carmaker's unquestioning corporate culture for the ten-year delay in recognising the problem.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, set markets abuzz when he said that interest rates could rise sooner than expected. The betting had been that the base rate, set at 0.5%, would start to rise in the first quarter of 2015, but markets are now anticipating an increase towards the end of the year. The bank is adapting to the strengthening British economy. The housing market in particular has been supported by ultra-low rates and house prices are surging; they were up by an average of 9.9% in April compared with the same month last year.
Officials at the Federal Reserve's latest meeting slightly raised the forecast of its benchmark interest rate for the end of 2015, to 1.2%. America's overall consumer-price index rose by 2.1% in the year to May.
Japan's government proposed gradually lowering the country's corporate-tax rate, one of the highest in the world, from 35% to below 30%. This will form part of the “third arrow” of reforms that Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, hopes will boost growth.
Medtronic agreed to buy Covidien in a $43 billion deal that shakes up the medical-device industry. It is another example of a “tax inversion” acquisition that takes advantage of lower corporate-tax rates outside America. Medtronic is based in Minneapolis; Covidien's base is near Boston, but it is domiciled in Ireland, which has a corporate-tax rate of only 12.5%.
The World Gold Council called a meeting of the gold industry for July 7th to discuss alternatives to the London “gold fix”, a 95-year-old mechanism for setting the price at which gold products and derivatives are traded. The price is “fixed” by four banks, but, as with other financial benchmarks in the wake of the LIBOR scandal, it has been criticised for a lack of transparency.
American Apparel suspended its founder and chief executive, Dov Charney, with an intention to sack him because of alleged misconduct. Mr Charney is a colourful character in the clothing business and a strong supporter of immigration reform. He kept his company's manufacturing base in Los Angeles rather than moving its operations abroad. But he has faced accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the past, and once said he felt comfortable working at his factory in his underwear.
America's office of trademarks cancelled the Washington Redskins trademark, because it reckons the team's name is “disparaging to native Americans”. The team successfully challenged a similar ruling in 1999. This week's decision does not mean it will have to change its name or stop selling merchandise, but it does weaken its ownership of the trademark under law.
1.start to 开始
Where's this argument start to break down?
Before long, incumbents in both parties will start to panic about next year's election.
2.threaten to 威胁
Now two other measures threaten to reignite tensions.
Recent profit reports threaten to exacerbate the issue.
3.sign up 跟…签订合同；报名
How to simplify the landing page and sign up flow.
Anyone can sign up; all that is asked is excellent attendance.
4.seek to 设法；企图，试图
Seek to attract serious, long-term investors who have done their homework and understand your business.
Yet some expect him to seek to remove term limits.