Let's start with the good news: The December employment report showed that unemployment remained at a 50-year low and the economy appeared to be on a solid foundation. The labor market is robust but inconsistent and wage growth is still declining. Read the rest of the top business and technology stories and what you should know for the coming week.
What's going on? (January 5-11)
When taxis fly
It's 2020 – why are cars still driving on the floor? Shouldn't we be driving around with the jetpack now? Uber and Hyundai are on the case. They have teamed up to build a fleet of flying taxis – sorry, an "air-sharing network" – that are said to travel up to 2,000 feet above the ground at 180 mph for journeys of up to 60 miles. The companies presented a small model of the concept at CES, the huge technology fair in Las Vegas, last week, and Uber said it is planned to make the service commercially available by 2023 every now and then, not to mention many of its competitors for the same airspace.
Ghosn is not going anywhere
At a two-hour press conference in Beirut, Carlos Ghosn, the fugitive former chairman of Nissan and executive director of Renault, who fled from house arrest in Japan last month, claimed to be the victim of a corporate coup planned by his subordinates. He scolded executives at Nissan, saying that the financial crime allegations against him were part of a thorough effort by the company to prevent (which he hadn't intended to do) with Renault. In any case, the sales and share prices of both companies have suffered greatly since he left the company and brought with him Mr. Ghosn's fortune. His fortune has shrunk by an estimated 40 percent since his arrest.
Elon Musk, the managing director of Tesla, celebrated the company's new factory in Shanghai by dancing on stage in front of a cheering crowd. (The internet was less impressed.) Known as Gigafactory 3, the plant is Tesla's first outside the United States and will produce its Model 3 sedan and eventually the Sport Utility Model Y model. It also helps Tesla enter the Chinese market without paying tariffs caused by trade disruptions with the United States. The company's stock price reflected the enthusiasm of Mr. Musk, who for the first time exceeded the combined market values of General Motors and Ford on Thursday.
What's next? (January 12-18)
Do we have a deal?
President Trump will sign the “Phase 1” trade deal with China in Washington this week. But this time with the European Union, further trade problems are already in sight. On Tuesday, Europe's new chief of commerce will meet with American officials to improve the relationships that have been burdened by a new French tax on American technology giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon, which do a lot of digital business in France but have done it keep their physical footprint – and taxes – to a minimum. In retaliation, Mr. Trump threatened punitive tariffs of up to 100 percent on French imports such as wine, cheese and handbags. Let’s hope that they fix this for our sake.
Another blow to Boeing
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Boeing, the company reappeared with damn internal emails. Latest news included news that mocked regulators and joked about safety deficiencies in the company's 737 Max Jets – two of which crashed later, killing everyone on board, and costing the company billions of dollars in lost business and legal costs. "This aircraft was designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys," wrote one employee in 2017. The stock exchanges will certainly not help Boeing regain customers' confidence or maintain the 737 Max fleet that has been around since Year on the ground, soon in the air again.
Brexit receives the green light
British lawmaker approved the Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal by a large margin last week, paving the way for the country to part with the European Union by January 31 – finally! However, do not expect a clean break. In the second phase of Brexit, the country has to conclude a trade agreement with the European Union by the end of the year, which could be even more difficult than involving Parliament. Given the mess in the process, European officials have already offered to extend the 2022 deadline, but Mr. Johnson has none of that. Therefore, British companies are still on alert at the beginning of 2021, as this could disrupt trade and damage the country's economy.
JetBlue announced plans to be carbon neutral on all domestic flights by July 2020. This will be done in part through the use of fuel from sustainable oil crops as well as wood and waste biomass. In this sense, plant-based meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are following the white whale of the markets – China, the world's largest meat consumer – with mixed results. Back in New York, Ken Friedman, the restaurateur behind the Spotted Pig, pays $ 240,000 and part of his profit to eleven former employees who accused him of sexual harassment.