The daily business briefing: September 14, 2018

Harold Maass
Vintage Beetles in a parking lot
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VW retiring iconic Beetle

Volkswagen announced Thursday that it is retiring the Beetle in 2019. The iconic small car, with its rounded lines, was first sold in Germany in 1938, but only went into mass production after World War II. It made its U.S. debut in 1949. VW introduced new generations of the Beetle in 1998 and 2012, halting production of the original version in 2003. "The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans," Hinrich Woebcken, Volkswagen's president, said in a statement. The decision to end the last production in Mexico next year comes as consumers are showing more interest in SUVs and other large vehicles, although Woebcken said VW could bring back the Beetle some day. [CNN]


China confirms U.S. has asked for new trade talks

China's foreign ministry confirmed Thursday that the Trump administration had invited Chinese officials to participate in a new round of talks on resolving an escalating trade war between the two countries, which have the world's two largest economies. "We have indeed received an invitation from the U.S. side. We welcome it," said a ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. "Now the two sides are in communication on relevant details." President Trump is due to make a decision any time about whether to go through with a proposal to raise duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The news followed reports by U.S. and European business groups that the rising tariffs had hurt foreign companies. [The Associated Press]


Study: GOP tax-cut plan would add $3.2 trillion to debt

Tax cuts proposed by the Republican Party would add more than $3.2 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center concluded in a report Thursday. The GOP has suggested a second round of tax cuts to cement some of the provisions from the tax reform bill passed last December, and a House committee began considering the measure ahead of a vote later this month. "The bill would reduce federal revenues by $631 billion" between 2019-2028, the report found, and by $3.2 trillion between 2029-2038. "Taxes would decline on average across all income groups, but higher-income households would generally receive larger average tax cuts," the study concluded. Republicans say the cuts would save Americans money and boost the economy. [The Washington Post, Tax Policy Center]


Global stocks and U.S. futures rise

Global stocks mostly rose on Friday following Wall Street's Thursday gains. News of a push for new trade talks between the U.S. and China lifted hopes of relief from a damaging trade war between the world's two biggest economies. Expectations that President Trump will soon impose tariffs on more Chinese goods have been weighing on global markets. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.6 percent, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. Futures for the three main U.S. gauges inched higher early Friday. The S&P 500 was up by 0.1 percent, putting it within reach of a record. [The Associated Press, MarketWatch]


North Korea calls U.S. hacking allegation a smear campaign

North Korea on Friday strongly denied U.S. allegations that a computer programmer working for the North Korean government was behind the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the spread of the WannaCry ransomware virus. A North Korean Foreign Ministry official called the allegations a smear campaign, saying the cybercrimes had "nothing to do" with Pyongyang. "The U.S. should seriously ponder over the negative consequences of circulating falsehoods and inciting antagonism against the DPRK that may affect the implementation of the joint statement adopted at the [North Korea]-U.S. summit," Han Yong Song, a researcher at the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Institute for American Studies, said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency. [The Associated Press]