The daily business briefing: September 13, 2018

Harold Maass
A woman smokes an e-cigarette
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Trump administration plans proposal for new China trade talks

The Trump administration has proposed a new round of trade talks with China aiming to prevent further escalation of President Trump's trade war against the world's second largest economy, Larry Kudlow, director of Trump's National Economic Council, confirmed on Wednesday. Kudlow called the move "positive," adding: "We are in communication right now and you could say that communication has picked up a notch." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top officials recently extended the invitation to their counterparts in China, Bloomberg reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. One of the people, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks probably would be held in Washington, D.C. [Bloomberg]


FDA calls youth vaping an epidemic, threatens to stop e-cigarette sales

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb declared vaping an "epidemic" among America's youth. He said the FDA would stop sales of flavored electronic cigarettes if the manufacturers of Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu, and Logic can't prove they are trying to keep the products away from children and teens. The companies have 60 days to submit "robust" plans to keep kids from vaping, and if the FDA isn't satisfied with their proposals, it will order their products off the market, Gottlieb, a physician, said. Nearly 12 percent of high school students use the battery-powered devices, which heat liquid-based nicotine into an inhalable vapor. "We're going to have to take action," Gottlieb said. Some parents want the FDA to crack down harder. [USA Today]


Apple unveils new Series 4 watches, new iPhones

Apple unveiled its Series 4 watches and three new iPhones at an event in Cupertino, California, on Wednesday. The new watches feature enhanced health capabilities, including more precise fitness tracking, electrocardiogram capabilities, and a gyroscope that knows if wearers fall, all with FDA approval. It starts at $399 with GPS. Meanwhile, the stainless iPhone XS has a 5.5-inch edge-to-edge screen — a bigger display than a Plus model, but on a smaller device — and the iPhone XS Max features a 6.5-inch display, iPhone's biggest yet. Both phones have enhanced FaceID and improved processing systems. There's also a lower-grade iPhone XR made of brightly-colored aluminum. The XS starts at $999, the XS Max at $1,099, and XR at $749. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Median household income rises for 3rd straight year

The median household income for Americans rose in 2017 for the third straight year, reaching $61,372, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. The income number marked a 1.8 percent increase since 2016, a smaller rise than in the previous two years. The new data also showed that nearly a million more Americans have health insurance, most of them thanks to the Affordable Care Act. About 9.1 percent of the population was uninsured in 2015, compared to just 8.8 percent in 2016 with the rate little changed in 2017. In 2010, before ObamaCare took effect, about 16.3 percent of Americans went without health insurance. [The Associated Press]


Breitbart posts video showing Google executives lamenting Trump win

The right-wing media site Breitbart posted a video on Wednesday showing Google executives in a 2016 meeting lamenting President Trump's election victory. The leaked video marked the latest escalation of a campaign by conservatives to show that Google and social media firms such as Facebook and Twitter are biased against President Trump and other Republicans. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week that he would meet with Republican state attorneys general this month to discuss whether social media companies were censoring conservatives. Lawmakers from both parties expressed disappointment with Google last week when it declined an invitation to send a top executive to testify alongside leaders of Facebook and Twitter at a Senate committee hearing on foreign meddling in U.S. elections. [The New York Times, Breitbart]