6 Most Important Things in Business Today

Douglas A. McIntyre

The president suggested that tariffs on Chinese goods be raised on another $100 billion of imports. According to Reuters:

President Donald Trump on Thursday directed U.S. trade officials to identify tariffs on $100 billion more Chinese imports, upping the ante in an already high-stakes trade confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.

The further tariffs were being considered “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” against earlier U.S. trade actions, which included a proposed $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump said in a White House statement.

A proxy advisory firm has suggested General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) dump its long-time accountants. According to The Wall Street Journal:

The two largest proxy advisory firms are recommending that General Electric Co. fire KPMG LLP as its auditor after 109 years, in light of accounting issues at the industrial giant.

Institutional Shareholder Services made the unusual move on Thursday, saying shareholders should vote against keeping KPMG because of “the apparent extent of GE’s previously-undisclosed liabilities and accounting issues.” Glass, Lewis & Co. published a similar recommendation on Tuesday.

MoviePass bought Moviefone. According to The Wall Street Journal:

The controversial, fast-growing subscription company MoviePass is joining with one of the nation’s oldest cinema services, Moviefone.

Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc., majority owner of MoviePass, has agreed to buy Moviefone from its owner, Verizon Communications Inc.’s digital division Oath, the companies said Thursday.

To buy Moviefone, Helios is paying Oath $1 million in cash and 2.55 million shares, worth $7.45 million at their Thursday midday price of $2.92, according to a regulatory filing. In addition, Helios agreed to issue warrants for the purchase of up to 2.55 million of its shares at an exercise price of $5.50 each, exercisable over five years.

The government told Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) that it must cut the cost of the F-35 program. According to Bloomberg:

Lockheed Martin Corp. must find ways to reduce the Pentagon’s current $1.1 trillion estimate to own and operate the F-35 jet, the world’s costliest weapons program, according to the Defense Department’s latest annual program overview.

According to the document obtained by Bloomberg News, Lockheed “must embrace much-needed supply chain management affordability initiatives” to cut costs on the next-generation stealth fighter.

An economist said that a trade war was a major threat to the U.S. economy. According to CNBC:

A trade war between the U.S. and China represents the greatest threat to the world economy, the chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase International said on Friday.

“I think it’s the greatest danger today to the world economy,” Jacob Frenkel told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the European House Ambrosetti Forum when asked about the rapidly mounting import tariffs being proposed by the Trump administration and Beijing.

A trade war would put hundreds of thousands of soybean industry jobs at risk. According to CNNMoney:

Chinese tariffs would hit farm states and more than 300,000 soybean jobs. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana and Nebraska were the largest soybean producers in 2016, according to the Agriculture Department.

“For those farmers that are operating on thin lines of profit and credit and are already financially unstable, it easily has the ability to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Brent Bible, who grows soybeans and corn on 5,000 acres in Lafayette, Indiana. Bible is also a member of Farmers for Free Trade, a group that opposes Trump’s tariffs.