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23 Weird Things We’ve Learned About Jeff Bezos
The Amazon founder has come a long way.

Nina Zipkin
– Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

In 1994, the then 30-year-old Jeff Bezos left behind a six-figure gig on Wall Street as the youngest ever senior vice president at investment banking firm D.E. Shaw & Co. to start Amazon in Seattle. Now, he’s perennially in competition to be the richest man in the world and briefly outpaced Bill Gates to hold the top spot of that list at the end of the July 2017, thanks to a boost in Amazon stock.

The Amazon co-founder and CEO is also a fan of outer space and started Blue Origin to explore it. Bezos isn’t afraid to try new things, like when he bought The Washington Post back in 2013.

To get more insights into the man, read on for 23 weird facts about Jeff Bezos.

To boldly go where no man has gone before

He is a huge Star Trek fan. He has said that Alexa was inspired by the pop culture icon and he even had a cameo as an alien in 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. Amazon was almost named MakeItSo.com after the catchphrase of Next Generation’s Captain Picard.

Larger than life

He made an appearance on The Simpsons in a 2008 episode where he and Mark Cuban (also playing himself) hang out with fellow billionaire Mr. Burns at Billionaire Camp.

One small step for man…

Bezos is fascinated by the Mercury and Apollo era of NASA, so much so that he funded and went on an undersea expedition to retrieve remnants of Apollo rockets.

Living the dream
He is living his childhood dream. He founded his space tourism company Blue Origin in 2000, decades after he told his friends and teacher that he wanted to be a “space entrepreneur” when he grew up. But he’s alre

Get some shut eye

He doesn’t use an alarm clock and tends to get eight hours of sleep. No burning the midnight oil for this CEO.

Look to the future

Apparently, Bezos has always had an eye on the future. According to The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Brad Stone’s biography of the CEO, when he was a toddler, Bezos dismantled his crib with a screwdriver because he wanted to sleep in a bed.

Behind enemy lines

It’s probably cold comfort to Barnes & Noble that while Bezos was launching Amazon and wanted a break from his garage, he would frequent the local location in Bellevue, Wash.

A family man

Adoption is a big part of his family story. When he was very young, he was adopted by his stepfather Miguel Bezos. Bezos has four children with his wife Mackenzie, three sons and one daughter, who was adopted from China.

Working on the farm

Bezos spent summers when he was growing up on his maternal grandfather’s cattle ranch in Texas where he did odd jobs such as fixing windmills. His grandfather had worked for Darpa in the 1950s on space technology and was the manager of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Albuquerque, N.M., office.

He’s come a long way

When he was a teenager, he had a job as a McDonald’s fry cook and started a small summer camp for elementary schoolers called the DREAM Institute.

Taking in the sights

On the drive to Seattle to launch Amazon, Bezos made sure to stop at the Grand Canyon along the way.

Love connection

According to a Wired profile from the late 1990s, Bezos had high standards for women that he was going to date. “The number-one criterion was that I wanted a woman who could get me out of a Third World prison,” he said.

Giving back

The Albuquerque native attended Princeton, where he studied electrical engineering and computer science. In 2011, he donated $15 million to the school to build a center that would study neurological disorders.

Well read

Unsurprisingly, Bezos is a voracious reader. His favorite novel is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Putting customers first

Have a question or complaint for the man at the top? Just drop a line to jeff@amazon.com. When the email gets to his inbox, Bezos forwards the note to the employee who is best equipped to handle the request with “?” in the subject line. Then once the the issue is dealt with, the team member sends a rundown of what happened to Bezos so he can know that the problem was solved.

Intriguing investments
Bezos has talked a great deal about his experience working on his grandfather’s ranch when he was a kid, and it seems that his agricultural background has influenced where he puts his money. Bezos has invested in a vertical farming startup called Plenty. The company grows its crops on 20 foot towers that are equipped with LED lights and don’t need soil or sunlight. Thanks in part to the Amazon founder’s investment, Plenty is on track to set up 300 vertical farms in China.

Unexpected design

Though Amazon is a behemoth today, it started small and Bezos had to be frugal and strategic when starting up, right down to office furniture. In order to get inexpensive desks for himself and some of the earliest employees, he constructed them himself, using wooden doors and four-by-four planks for the legs. Those desks became something of a tradition, and Bezos and many employees are using a variation on those original desks more than 20 years later. According to a recent blog post, Amazon even created the Door Desk Award to honor “well-built ideas that help deliver low prices to customers.”

Keep it simple

With frugality being one of Amazon’s central tenets, it’s unsurprising that while Jeff Bezos has logged time as the world’s wealthiest man, even after he became a billionaire, his personal transportation choices remained somewhat down to earth. When the company went public in 1997, he didn’t drop a ton of cash on a fancy new car. Instead, he traded in his 1987 Chevy Blazer — which he used in the early days of the business to make post office delivery runs himself — for a Honda Accord.

Going down

Bezos actually had a near-death experience in 2003 when he was looking for the right plot of land to test out Blue Origin’s rockets. On a scouting tour in Texas, his helicopter crashed and he sustained minor injuries. He recovered, but don’t expect to see him travel via helicopter again any time soon. “Nothing extremely profound flashed through my head in those few seconds. My main thought was, This is such a silly way to die,” Bezos told Fast Company in 2004. “It wasn’t life-changing in any major way. I’ve learned a fairly tactical lesson from it, I’m afraid. The biggest takeaway is: Avoid helicopters whenever possible! They’re not as reliable as fixed-wing aircraft.”

Early to the Google party
Less than five years after founding Amazon, Bezos made an early investment that was a sign of his ability to identify the next big thing. He staked a reported $1 million in Google in the late 1990s. Even if Amazon hadn’t taken off in the way that it did, that bet would have more than paid off in the long run.

Did we just become best friends?

Over the April opening weekend of Dwayne Johnson’s latest action movie extravaganza, Bezos revealed himself to be one of The Rock’s biggest fans.

Thanks to a social media exchange between the two that ended in an invite from Johnson to Bezos to meetup for dinner, we learned that the CEO edited this year’s Amazon shareholders letter from his couch, accompanied by a giant stuffed panda. And he takes nerdy selfies in front of movie posters just like the rest of us.

It seems that it was only a matter of time before Bezos and Johnson became friends, both being bald family men who have made a not-so-slight impact on the culture at large. Clearly, they have a lot in common.

He was always about the numbers.

Even when he was in middle school, it seems that Bezos was continually thinking of ways that everyday processes could be improved — right down to the performance of his teachers. According to The Everything Store by Brad Stone, as part of a project for math class, an 11-year-old Bezos created a ranking for all the teachers who taught sixth grade at his school. It wasn’t to rate how well-liked they were, but how effective they were at teaching. He distributed the survey to his classmates and then he graphed the results to find the best educator.

To the stars, out of pocket
In order to keep Blue Origin up and running, Jeff Bezos annually allocates $1 billion worth of Amazon stock to the aerospace company. A drop in the bucket for someone with a net worth of $127 billion, but in a recent interview, Bezos shared that the opportunity to explore worlds beyond our own was his top priority. He said that Blue Origin was “the most important work I’m doing … I don’t want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in a civilization of stasis.”

30 Percent of Employees Feel Indispensable. That’s a Bad Thing.

30 Percent of Employees Feel Indispensable. That’s a Bad Thing.
When you bring in automation, tell employees that just because they’re no longer indispensable doesn’t mean they’re not still valued.

Heather R. Huhman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Working vacation is an oxymoron that has become so popular, it’s now the norm. An April 2017 Glassdoor survey of 2,224 Americans found that 66 percent of them worked while on vacation. Of those, 30 percent said the reason was that there was no one else at their company who could take over their responsibilities.

On the surface, the fact that employees like those surveyed felt indispensable seems like a good thing. But, in reality, being the only one who can shoulder a burden creates a lot of stress. And when these employees burn out and leave for good, the company suffers.

Instead of letting your employees feel indispensable, focus on keeping everyone happy. Show them it’s all right to take time to recharge. Here’s how:

Respect business hours.

Disconnecting from work outside of the office needs to be a habit — not just something leaders allow employees to do when they go on vacation. It’s better to set a daily precedent where work is done only during work hours.

This is why New York-based business intelligence software company Sisense created its “Coming Up for Air” program. Once a quarter, the company schedules a long weekend and requires that all employees disconnect out of the office. No phone calls or emails between team members are permitted.

This time off helped at least one employee in an unexpected way, according to CEO Amir Orad. The employee had a constant need to feel productive, but on one long weekend, she disengaged and took her daughter along with her to perform a simple errand.

“It was a trip to the doctor, not to Disneyland,” Orad explained in an email. “But, surprisingly, she discovered she had some fun with her kid, which was kind of unexpected, but also the whole point of disengaging from work.”

To help employees understand the benefits of time out of the office, have them share their activities when they come back to work. After a long week or holiday, have employees write down what they did and why they enjoyed their time off. Then, hang these notes up in the office as a reminder that employees can relax without worrying about the company crumbling.
Automate when possible.

While it’s always nice to have a human touch, some aspects of work are better suited for automation. Employees might be reluctant to hand over certain tasks to the latest tech tool, but that action can take away unnecessary stress in the long run.

For instance, Bellevue, Wash.-based intelligent process automation platform Nintex formerly required the company’s receptionist to handle a lot of day-to-day tasks. She checked in visitors, validated parking and was the general information hub of the office. But all these responsibilities made her feel tethered to her desk. After some of these tasks were automated, she found she had more freedom and less stress.

“There’s a difference between being valuable and being indispensable,” Kim Albrecht, vice president of corporate marketing, said in an email, recounting this anecdote. “‘Indispensable’ leaves a person and a company vulnerable because there’s little-to-no backup or support.”

When introducing automated technology, explain to your employees that these systems are there to support, not replace, them. Explain, too, that these tools are there to relieve stress. This will help them see that just because they’re no longer indispensable doesn’t mean they’re not still valued.

Focus on succession planning.

When your startup is small, you may find it difficult to build in productivity safety nets. Because employees already have so much on their plates, it doesn’t seem practical to cross-train them for other roles. But it may mean that when a key member of the team is out of the office, no one is there to pick up the slack.

William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of the Houston-based church staffing company Vanderbloemen Search Group, told me he learned this lesson the hard way.

“When I first started this company with my wife, she had a rule that I couldn’t go skiing for the first year that we started the business,” he said via email. The reason? “If I broke my leg, I couldn’t get on a plane,” Vanderbloemen continued. “If I couldn’t get on a plane, I couldn’t meet with clients. If I couldn’t meet with clients, my family couldn’t eat.”

Once his company became larger and more stable, Vanderbloemen made succession planning a priority. For every key role in the company, he said, there is someone currently in a junior role who is learning the ropes. This way, when someone is out of the office, the junior employee can step in and gain experience at the same time.

So, do the same thing: Build succession into employee training. Meet with employees and find out how they want to move up in the company. Then, partner each of them with a senior employee and schedule a day each month to shadow that senior employee, to learn and (safely) make mistakes. That way, when it’s time for the “student” to step up, he or she is ready.

Deutsche Bank plans ‘significant’ job cuts

Deutsche Bank plans ‘significant’ job cuts

26 April 2018

 

Deutsche Bank will make “significant” job cuts as it scales back its corporate and investment banking operations, Germany’s biggest lender has said.

Its new chief executive, Christian Sewing, said the job losses were “painful but regrettably unavoidable”.

The cuts will mainly fall in US and Asia, Deutsche Bank said.

The comments came as the bank reported a sharp drop in first-quarter corporate and investment bank revenues.
New focus

The BBC understands that thousands of jobs could be at risk.

“These reductions are painful but regrettably unavoidable to ensure our bank’s competitiveness in the long run,” Mr Sewing said in a statement.

“Deutsche Bank is deeply rooted in Europe – here we want to provide our clients access to global financing and treasury solutions,” Mr Sewing said, just weeks after becoming chief executive. “This is what we will focus on more decisively.”

This strategy will be a marked reversal from Deutsche Bank’s previous one of global investment banking expansion, which it has pursued for the past 30 years.

The measures will incur higher restructuring costs, and include a scaling-back of Deutsche Bank’s business with hedge funds.

They come after a review of the investment bank, known internally as Project Colombo, which could yet lead to further cuts.

Mr Sewing, who has been with the bank for his entire career, was previously responsible for its private and commercial bank operations.

Previous chief executive John Cryan was sacked earlier this month. The search for his replacement is understood to have begun after the bank reported an annual loss of €500m at the end of February.

That followed losses of €1.4bn in 2016, and €6.8bn in 2015 after restructuring and litigation costs.
Revenues slide

Deutsche Bank has 97,000 employees overall, with about 40,000 employees in its corporate and investment banking arm.

The bank has 10,000 employees in the US, with the majority of these being employed in corporate and investment banking. In Asia-Pacific, it has 21,000 employees.

Deutsche Bank has long grappled with falling revenues.

For the first quarter of this year, it reported a drop in revenues of 5% to €7bn (£6.1bn), while its corporate and investment bank reported a 13% drop in revenues to €3.8bn.

For the bank as a whole, first quarter net income was €120m, compared with €575m in the previous year.

Lionel Messi wins fight to register himself as trademark

Lionel Messi wins fight to register himself as trademark

26 April 2018

 

A European court has ruled that Lionel Messi, the world’s top earning footballer, can trademark his own name.

The Barcelona and Argentina striker fought a seven-year fight to be able to use his name on sports goods.

His original application was challenged by the Spanish cycling brand, Massi, which argued that the names were too similar and would cause confusion.

But the EU’s General Court ruled that the footballer was too well known for confusion to arise.

The ruling comes days after France Football magazine reported Mr Messi had overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest earner in football, with an income of €126m (£108m).

Mr Ronaldo is making €94m, the magazine said.
‘Fame’

Mr Messi’s application to trademark his name was made to the European Union Office for Intellectual Property (EUIPO) in 2011.

It ruled against the footballer, saying the names were similar, because their dominant elements, “consisting of the terms ‘Massi’ and ‘Messi’, are almost identical visually and phonetically”.

EUIPO said that only some people would be aware the two were different.

But the General Court, the EU’s second highest court, disagreed.

It said on Thursday: “The football player’s fame counteracts the visual and phonetic similarities” with Massi.

“Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio,” the court said.

Widely considered one of the world’s greatest soccer players, Mr Messi, 30, scored his 600th professional goal last month and is the all-time highest scorer for both Barcelona and Argentina’s national team.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg faces formal summons from MPs

Facebook’s Zuckerberg faces formal summons from MPs

26 April 2018

 

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal

MPs have urged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to speak to them after evidence given by his chief technology officer was deemed unsatisfactory.

A parliamentary committee said Mr Schroepfer had failed to fully answer 40 points put to him as part of an inquiry into fake news.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s chairman said a formal summons to Mr Zuckerberg could follow.

Mr Schroepfer has promised to address the MPs’ unresolved queries.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s right-hand man, whom we were assured could represent his views, today failed to answer many specific and detailed questions about Facebook’s business practices,” said committee chair Damian Collins.

“We will be asking him to respond in writing to the committee on these points; however, we are mindful that it took a global reputational crisis and three months for the company to follow up on questions we put to them in Washington DC on 8 February.”

He added that if Mr Zuckerberg did not respond positively, the committee would issue a “formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK”.

“There are over 40 million Facebook users in the UK and they deserve to hear answers from Mark Zuckerberg about the company he created and whether it is able to keep its users’ data safe.”
‘Mistake made’

During testimony from chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, MPs accused Facebook of “bullying” the Guardian newspaper when it informed the company about a major data breach.

Mr Schroepfer was asked why Facebook had threatened to sue the newspaper over its story about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

He was also asked why it did not immediately inform users that their data had been used without consent.

“It was a mistake that we didn’t inform people at the time,” he said.

On the issue of bullying, he said: “I am sorry that journalists think we are preventing them getting the truth out.”

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There were a series of questions put to Mr Schroepfer to which he replied: “I don’t know.”

He admitted that the company had not known until recently that a current Facebook employee had been the business partner of Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge academic who designed the app that harvested user data on behalf of Cambridge Analytica.

He also revealed that no-one at Facebook had read the terms and conditions that Dr Kogan had put on the app he had designed, which went on to harvest information from millions of users.

At one point, MPs voiced their frustration with his replies. “You are the chief technology officer, why don’t you know?” he was asked.
User controls

Mr Schroepfer was also grilled on the wider issue of political advertising.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s chairman Damian Collins accused Facebook of having tools on its platform that “work for the advertiser more than they work for the consumer”.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Zuckerberg testified before US politicians about the data-grabbing scandal

Mr Schroepfer promised to make political advertising far more transparent in the future but admitted that there was currently no way for people to opt out of it entirely.

“You can mute an ad from a specific advertiser, and there are a set of controls of your basic interests and preferences that you can change or remove.”

“That puts a lot of work on the user,” replied Mr Collins.

His questions to Mr Schroepfer were tough from the outset.

“What is the next car you will buy, what is the square footage of your house?” asked Mr Collins in his opening question.

“I don’t know,” replied Mr Schroepfer.

“But these are things that Facebook knows about us, isn’t it?” pressed Mr Collins.

Mr Schroepfer said he thought it “unlikely” that Facebook had that level of data about his life.

“It knows I like coffee and there are certain things that I am interested in like technology, travel and cats,” he said.

Mr Collins asked whether the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-based troll farm that churned out fake news during the US presidential campaign, had used Facebook’s targeting tools.

“I don’t know specifically,” said Mr Schroepfer.

“It is a terrible idea that a nation state is using our product to interfere in a democratic election by masquerading as citizens of the US. We were slow to understand the impact of this,” he said.

MPs had wanted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them, but he declined.

Amazon’s sales surge and profits double

Amazon’s sales surge and profits double

 

Amazon has reported a 43% surge in revenues for the first quarter, fuelled by online shopping in the US.

The internet retail giant said sales rose to $51bn (£36.6bn) in the three months to March, surpassing analysts’ forecasts.

Amazon also said that its profit more than doubled, sending its share price to a new high in after-hours trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

It added that it expects profit and revenue to grow in the second quarter.

Over the three months to March, Amazon’s net profit rose to $1.6bn from $724m in the same period last year.

Amazon was founded and is led by Jeff Bezos who, according to Forbes magazine, is now the richest man in the world and owns The Washington Post newspaper.

The company has recently been targeted by US President Donald Trump, who claims Amazon does not pay enough tax.

He has also claimed it is ripping off the US Postal Service which, he alleges, loses an average $1.50 for each package it delivers for Amazon.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, according to Forbes

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters that success is “the best revenge that Bezos can get against the administration for its veiled threats about sales taxes and not paying its fair share”.

Amazon reported that sales from its North American business rose to $30.7bn compared to $20.9bn in the first quarter last year.

Its profit also leapt to $1.1bn from $596m previously.

Its also said that Amazon Web Services, which hosts a cloud computing platform that is used by a number of major companies, also performed well in the quarter.

However, at its international business, while sales rose to $14.8bn its losses expanded to $622m compared to $481m last time.

US farmers say chlorine-washed chicken should be part of a UK free trade deal

US farmers say chlorine-washed chicken should be part of a UK free trade deal
Kamal Ahmed Economics editor @bbckamal on Twitter

26 April 2018

 

Chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef should be part of a UK/US free trade deal, a farming union said.

Roger Johnson, president of America’s National Farmers Union, said US food was “perfectly safe” and there had been a lot of “fear-mongering”.

The politically-influential union represents more than 200,000 US farms.

Mr Johnson also told the BBC that a free trade deal would open up the huge US market to British products in a boost for UK farmers.

Agricultural products are likely to form a central part of any free trade deal with America that both the UK and US governments have said they want to sign when Brexit has been completed.

Any deal is likely to be controversial and the British National Farmers Union has already made it clear its reservations about allowing open access to US food products.

American food standards have been criticised in the UK and the European Union prohibits many US products.

They include chicken, which is routinely washed in chlorine to remove bacteria; beef injected with growth hormones and pork injected with the drug ractopamine, which aids the building of muscle mass in pigs.

The EU and the US also have very different approaches to genetic modification, with America allowing it in many crops that are exported.

The EU is more cautious and any opening up of the market between the US and the UK on food could affect the UK’s trade with the rest of Europe, where much of Britain’s food exports are sent.
Image caption Roger Johnson of America’s National Farmers Union says US food is ‘perfectly safe’

The United States Trade Representative, which draws up policy recommendations for the President, said that the EU bans on American food “unnecessarily restrict trade” and were not based on “scientific principles”.

With the UK due to leave the EU and the single market and the government planning to quit the customs union, the UK will able to sign free trade deals with other countries, including America.

“I would not argue that it is a lower standard, I would argue it’s a different standard,” Mr Johnson told me about the different scientific approaches on either side of the Atlantic.

He said that America was more “risk-tolerant”: “I think it is fair to say that the standards that we follow allow for more rapid scientific advancement, that a more cautionary approach [from the EU] means that scientific advances are going to happen more slowly.

“The trade negotiations need to figure out a way to allow both of these standards to be used and in a way that is honest and truthful – and let consumers choose.”
Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Johnson said that strong cultural and political links between the US and Britain meant that agreement was possible and stronger trade would be a boost to the economies of both countries.

He also argued that clear labelling would be important so that consumers could decide what they wanted to buy.

There was also a growing market in America for British products because of the different standards, which were often a “fashionable” choice for many Americans.

“Why is it that it is governments that are saying ‘no you’re not allowed to do this’ or ‘you’re not allowed to do that’ if the processes are judged to be safe, in one or both of the countries?” he said.

“Let’s be transparent about it and let the consumers make the decision. There’s a lot of fear-mongering that happens around these kinds of things: ‘Oh my god, we don’t want to be eating chlorine, that’s a gas that kills people’.

“You know what – water is a liquid that drowns people; it doesn’t mean we don’t drink it.”

With Eurozone Economy Wavering, E.C.B. Leaves Policy Unchanged

By JACK EWING

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, is expected to provide some clarity on Thursday on the direction of the eurozone economy. Credit Yves Herman/Reuters

FRANKFURT — The eurozone economy has been a puzzle lately. Some indicators are pointing up, some down and some sideways. It’s hard to know whether growth is losing momentum or just pausing for breath.

Even the eurozone’s most influential economist, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, expressed uncertainty on Thursday about what had been going on — whether recent economic data pointed to “the beginning of a decline or simply a normalization following a period of very strong growth.”

The central bank’s Governing Council didn’t even discuss monetary policy during a meeting earlier in the day, Mr. Draghi said, preferring not to tamper with the status quo until there was more information. “‘A steady hand’ were words used” in the council’s discussion, Mr. Draghi said at a news conference.

If he had sounded worried that growth was sputtering, that could have meant that the bank would take longer than expected to wean the eurozone off monetary stimulus. But his expression of concern on Thursday was not strong enough to prompt analysts to recalculate their estimates of when the Governing Council, the bank’s policy-setting committee, will end its de facto money-printing program.

However, the euro fell against the dollar after Mr. Draghi’s remarks, a sign that they may have made traders more pessimistic about the outlook for the eurozone.
Continue reading the main story
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The central bank has promised to continue the stimulus at least until September, and most analysts expect it to begin winding down the program soon after that. Many analysts now expect the central bank to provide a clearer picture of its intentions at its next meeting, in June.

Among professional economists, there is no consensus about what is going on in the 19-nation eurozone. Every day seems to bring a new indicator that conflicts with one the day before.

On Monday, for example, a survey of eurozone purchasing managers by the research firm IHS Markit indicated that expectations for growth were stabilizing after several months of decline. That was good news.

Then, on Tuesday, bad news. The German Ifo Institute’s survey — a well-tested indicator of how managers are feeling in the eurozone’s largest economy — took a dive. Similar surveys in France and Italy also dipped, probably because business managers are worried that the region will be drawn into a trade war with the United States.

But wait: Then came a survey by the European Central Bank showing that commercial banks in the eurozone are becoming more willing to lend. That information bolstered economists who believe that recent signs of slowing growth reflect temporary factors, like an especially pernicious flu season that kept many workers home and hurt business.

Our columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and his Times colleagues help you make sense of major business and policy headlines — and the power-brokers who shape them.
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Amid so much uncertainty, Mr. Draghi’s view of growth is critical. He has a large staff of experts and access to data not available to private sector economists, not to mention a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

And unlike the view of your average economist, Mr. Draghi’s is partly self-fulfilling. If he displays confidence, banks will be more eager to lend, businesses may be more willing to invest in expansion and to hire more people and, lo, it will be so.

For financial markets, the key question in the weeks to come is whether recent economic data will alter the European Central Bank’s schedule for ending the measures it used to keep the eurozone together during an existential debt crisis. Chiefly, the bank bought hundreds of billions of euros in government and corporate bonds as a way of pumping money into the economy.

In recent months, the Governing Council has been making subtle changes in the statements it issues after monetary policy meetings as a way of preparing investors for an end to the bond buying, known as quantitative easing. On Thursday, it left monetary policy unchanged, and made no major changes to its statement.

September is expected to be the last month of the purchases, though the bank will continue to reinvest money it gets back when bonds mature. The aim is to gently bring monetary policy back to normal. Sometime late next year, or maybe not even until 2020, the European Central Bank will then probably begin raising its benchmark interest rates, currently at a historic low of zero, for the first time since 2011.

Any indication by the Governing Council that it is revising its timetable would be big news. But the council takes the long view and has shown in recent months that it won’t be thrown off course by a few unsettling economic indicators.

One thing is virtually certain: The bank is not likely to signal any acceleration of its schedule for ending the stimulus.

“It would take a bold central bank to tighten monetary conditions when the economy is contracting, or even just slowing,” Carl Weinberg, chief international economist for High Frequency Economics in New York, said in a note to clients.

Deutsche Bank Abandons Wall Street Ambitions, and Focuses on Europe

By JACK EWINGAPRIL 26, 2018

Deutsche Bank is effectively abandoning its efforts to be a Wall Street titan under its new chief executive, Christian Sewing. Credit Armando Babani/EPA, via Shutterstock

Deutsche Bank said on Thursday that it would shrink its operations in the United States and Asia and focus on Europe, effectively abandoning its ambition to be a member of Wall Street’s big leagues.

The decision, after years of losses, scandals, and management turmoil, ends a 20-year quest by Germany’s largest bank to compete eye to eye with the likes of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

But it also leaves those behemoths dominant in global investment banking, entrenching a concentration of financial power that may unsettle some political leaders at a time of rising tensions over trade.

Deutsche Bank will retain a presence in the United States, but scale back operations such as trading and providing services to hedge funds. Instead, in the first major shift by Christian Sewing, who was this month appointed the bank’s third chief executive in three years, it will concentrate on European clients.

“This is not an exit from the U.S. business,” Mr. Sewing insisted during a conference call with analysts on Thursday.

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But he said that the bank would aim to become less dependent on revenue from investment banking, which is often erratic, and instead look for growth in markets closer to home like Italy and Spain.

Mr. Sewing spoke after Deutsche Bank said Thursday morning that net profit had fallen nearly 80 percent in the first quarter of 2018 to 120 million euros, or $146 million, on revenue of €7 billion.

The meager return “underscores the need for immediate action,” said Mr. Sewing, a risk management specialist who replaced John Cryan as chief executive at the beginning of April. “Our shareholder returns are not satisfactory.”

The plan will also include job cuts, but Deutsche Bank did not give specifics.

Deutsche Bank became a major presence on Wall Street in 1998 when it acquired Bankers Trust. But the deal was troubled from the start. The $10.1 billion purchase price was widely viewed as inflated, and the risk-happy traders of Bankers Trust clashed with Deutsche Bank’s conservative German leadership.

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The hidden risks of Deutsche Bank’s investment banking operations became clear after the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. The bank had a hand in virtually all of the major scandals of the era. It paid billions of dollars in fines and settlements related to the fraudulent sale of mortgage bank securities, and over its role in a conspiracy to rig the benchmarks used to set the interest rates on trillions of dollars in loans and other financial products.

Still, Deutsche Bank was more reluctant than its European rivals to reduce its Wall Street presence. Others like Credit Suisse moved more quickly, and have since been rewarded with better profits.

Deutsche Bank’s position in investment banking has become increasingly untenable. The bank’s share price has fallen 30 percent since December, and it has not reported an annual profit since 2014. The stock market values the bank at less than half of the nominal value of its assets, an indication that investors believe there are hidden risks.

Traders seemed Thursday to be waiting to see if Deutsche Bank’s latest strategic plan by would be more successful than others. The bank’s stock price was little changed at €12 per share.

Deutsche Bank has also been under intense pressure from regulators. The European Central Bank, which has ultimate authority for bank regulation in the eurozone, has asked the lender to calculate the cost of winding down its derivative holdings.

Though the analysis is hypothetical, it underscores regulators’ concern about risks that may be lurking in Deutsche Bank’s balance sheet.

Mr. Cryan, who served less than three years as chief executive, had already started trimming the investment bank. But he was criticized as not moving fast enough. Mr. Sewing’s plan appears to go much further by explicitly shifting the focus from the United States to Europe.

“We will change the path of our bank now,” Mr. Sewing said. “There is no time to waste.”

Follow Jack Ewing on Twitter: @JackEwing

An Elegiac Tone as 20th Century Fox Faces a Disney Future

By BROOKS BARNESAPRIL 26, 2018

Stacey Snider, the chairwoman of 20th Century Fox. Walt Disney Studios is poised to absorb her company, and Ms. Snider is not expected to stay once the deal goes through. Credit Dan Steinberg/Invision for Twentieth Century Fox, via Associated Press Images

LAS VEGAS — Stacey Snider, chairwoman of 20th Century Fox, arrived at a film industry convention here on Thursday and did her best to promote her upcoming movies to theater owners. Let’s hear it for “Deadpool 2,” arriving on May 18!

But an unmistakable wistfulness — and a bit of defiance — also hung in the air inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace during Ms. Snider’s 90-minute presentation. With Walt Disney Studios poised to absorb 20th Century Fox as part of a $52.4 billion deal with Rupert Murdoch, it was perhaps the last time that Fox would arrive at the National Association of Theater Owners gathering as a stand-alone studio.

Ms. Snider touched on the merger in her speech, but she allowed a lengthy reel of clips from Fox hits over the years to do most of the talking. The scenes conveyed the mixed emotions that many people inside the studio have about being absorbed by Disney. “This is our legacy,” Ms. Snider said, fighting back tears, as she introduced the footage.

There was Walter Pidgeon from the Oscar-winning “How Green Was My Valley” (1941) saying in a sad voice, “Something has gone out of this valley that may never be replaced.” Grinning after sliding down a muddy jungle ravine in “Romancing the Stone” (1984), Michael Douglas shouted, “What a ride, huh?” Macaulay Culkin clapped his hands to his face and screamed in a snippet from “Home Alone” (1990), while Ellen Page, the star of “Juno” (2007), made an obscene hand gesture directly into the camera.
Photo
A clip from the 1941 film “How Green Was My Valley,” starring Walter Pidgeon, was part of a highlight reel of Fox hits from over the decades that was shown to a gathering of movie theater owners. Credit John Springer Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images

It played to the room like an “In Memoriam” segment from the Oscars.

The video — which featured footage from more than three dozen Fox films, including “All About Eve,” “Titanic,” “The Sound of Music,” “Avatar,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Alien” and “The Devil Wears Prada” — concluded by showing various versions of the towering 20th Century Fox logo over the years, accompanied by the studio’s signature trumpet fanfare.

Continuing the end-of-an-era vibe, Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of domestic distribution, then took the stage and rattled through the names of employees in some of the departments at Fox that are expected to be downsized after Disney completes its takeover. Antitrust regulators are currently scrutinizing the deal; Fox executives have said they expect approval by the middle of next year.

Disney has not yet given many details about how it plans to operate 20th Century Fox, which was founded in 1935. It is assumed in Hollywood that Fox will sit beside Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar as a label inside Walt Disney Studios. Fox Searchlight, which specializes in art films and has been an Academy Awards powerhouse, will remain a separate brand.

Ms. Snider, who is not expected to make the move to Disney, cited the recent success of Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” when briefly referring to the acquisition in her speech on Thursday.

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“We face a new transition — a potential merger that will have lasting implications for the movie business,” she said. “I have no more insight into this transaction than you do. But I am holding onto the very basics — what helped make ‘Showman’ a hit. Let’s stay dedicated to the future of cinema and passionate about the films to come. Let’s wear our hearts on our sleeves and aim to please in every frame.”