Jan 19, 2017

Big in Business: Trump admin puts NAFTA on high alert

Eric Gay / AP

NAFTA renegotiations will be Ross' top priority

During confirmation hearings Wednesday, Commerce Secretary-nominee Wilbur Ross told Senators that "NAFTA [renegotiation] is logically the first thing" his department will address if he is confirmed.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Ross has already alerted Canadian officials of his intent to formally renegotiate the terms of NAFTA. Among other steps, Ross will seek to tighten rules on what products can cross borders duty-free based on how much content produced outside the trade zone those products contain.

A high-profile target of these negotiations will be auto companies with operations in Mexico, which often purchase inputs from China before selling end products to U.S. consumers.

CFPB sues student-loan giant Navient

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it's suing the nation's largest servicer of student loans for pushing its customers into more expensive repayment options in order to cut down on paperwork and boost profits. Navient says that the CFPB gave it an ultimatum to settle by inaguration or get sued. It will fight the action in court, on the hope that a GOP-dominated Washington will defang the consumer watchdog.

Even cheaper than economy class

American Airlines is the latest major carrier to announce its "basic economy" tier that will provide fliers rock-bottom fares. The catch is that passengers will not be able to choose their seats or upgrade those seats regardless of their elite status, and will be allowed only one carry on to be stowed underneath the seat.

Delta Airlines rolled out a similar program late last year, and United Continental gave details of their forthcoming program in a call with analysts on Wednesday.

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In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

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4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.