Instant Karma Newsletter 7.27.20
  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai will all testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee and its Antitrust Subcommittee as questions about their business practices take center stage. 

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CEOs from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will face accusations of anti-competitive business practices this week, whether their testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee and its Antitrust Subcommittee happens or not.

After months of delays, pandemic-related and otherwise, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai were set to testify before Congress on Monday. However, the hearing is now expected to be postponed a few days or into next week because it conflicts with the memorials planned for the late civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

But even with a last-minute scheduling change, charges of unethical business practices confronting these tech heavyweights won’t go away.

Amazon faces accusations — which it denies — that it used information from companies it considered investing in to launch its own competing products, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple faces questions about its App Store taking a 30% commission on paid apps, in-app purchases and the first year of subscriptions, but the company points to a study that says that commission rate is an industry standard. Facebook is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission among others and boycotted by major advertisers and civil rights groups. Google is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether it uses its Internet search dominance to hurt competitors.

With so many ESG funds fueled by the stocks of these tech giants, who also happen to be driving Wall Street’s recovery, the Congressional hearing will be closely watched by impact investors wondering about the ethics of the companies in their portfolios.

Here’s what else we’re watching this week:

FED MEETING (Tuesday-Wednesday): At their June meeting, Federal Reserve officials agreed they needed to be clearer about what data would confirm a recovery and encourage them to raise the federal funds rate from near zero, where it has been since the pandemic reached crisis proportions in the U.S. Whatever those signs will be, they will likely not arrive before this meeting. “This is not the time to think about liftoff or normalization,” New York Fed President John Williams told Yahoo! Finance earlier this month.

NBA RESTART (Thursday): Pro basketball returns for the first time since March 11 with 22 teams playing in a Disney World “bubble” in Orlando. They will all play eight games to finalize this crazy regular season before the four-round playoffs begin. The Milwaukee Bucks currently lead the Eastern Conference and the LeBron-led L.A. Lakers lead the Western Conference. Apparently, LBJ is ready.

2Q GDP ANNOUNCEMENT (Thursday): How low will it go? The Bureau of Economic Analysis will announce how the U.S. Gross Domestic Product fared in 2Q of this year — the first full quarter of results from the COVID-19 pandemic — and it’s expected to be bad. The International Monetary Fund expects a drop of 37% for the quarter. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow tracker estimates the damage at 34.7% for the year so far. The good news? Nearly 64% of the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal say the GDP rebound will begin this quarter.

In case you missed it

The World Economic Forum sees the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for “The Great Reset,” a nature-based recovery that would create $10 trillion in new business and 395 million new jobs by 2030. The pandemic is also spurring investor interest in both lab-made food like Perfect Day’s dairy products and vegetables from vertical farms

Levity break

Before you let the Disney+ subscription you got to watch “Hamilton” lapse, you’ll probably want to catch Beyonce’s “Black Is King” video album on Friday.