🇮🇱 After two elections in six months, Israelis face the prospect of a third:
Happy Thursday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,156 words ... 5 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Retailers are under pressure to raise prices on a slew of everyday products. The problem: Americans have become too cheap to let them, Axios' Courtenay Brown writes.
A few examples:
Apparel prices haven't gone up meaningfully in at least seven years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer price index. For some items, like toys and cosmetics, prices have actually been trending lower.
The bottom line: Economists estimate the trade war could increase costs by hundreds of dollars for the average U.S. household.
Corporate America's level of optimism has dramatically receded from the levels when President Trump took office, Axios' Courtenay Brown writes.
The latest: CEO confidence fell yesterday to the lowest level in three years in a closely watched Business Roundtable survey with responses from 138 CEOs — the biggest quarter-over-quarter decline since 2012.
But consumers, so far unshaken by tariffs, haven't pulled back. In fact, a blockbuster holiday shopping season is expected — even stronger than last year.
The bottom line: The Fed's rate cut yesterday, the second in three months, is great for many consumers (borrowers, not savers), but may not fend off the pain businesses are feeling from the trade war.
An interaction by President Trump with an unnamed foreign leader included a "promise" that prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint Aug. 12 with the inspector general for the intelligence community, the WashPost scoops.
What's next: Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson is scheduled to appear today at a classified session of the House Intelligence Committee.
GM CEO Mary Barra is willing to bet her company's future on massive investments in electric and self-driving vehicles — even at the expense of its traditional gasoline-powered base, writes Bloomberg Businessweek.
The catch: GM "could be blowing cash for years before there’s any payoff."
"Tensions between the United States and Iran ratcheted up ... as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil industry as an 'act of war' and President Trump ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against the government in Tehran." (WashPost)
Joining other 2020 Democrats, Beto O'Rourke today releases an "End the War on Drugs" proposal to legalize marijuana "and begin to repair the damage [the war on drugs] has done to communities of color."
Why it matters: The issue reflects how fast 2020 Democrats have moved toward their base. Legalizing marijuana, with a focus on social justice, unites the field, per the N.Y. Times.
O'Rourke's plan "includes granting clemency to those currently serving sentences for marijuana possession" and " building a model for marijuana regulation similar to how alcohol is regulated."
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), defending Joe Biden's relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann has a bunch of qualities that first helped to fuel — then crater — his company's $47 billion valuation, writes the Wall Street Journal's Eliot Brown (subscription):
The piece highlights a tequila-fueled all-hands meeting featuring a Run-DMC performance, which took place after he "somberly addressed" his staff — weeks after the company fired 7% of its workforce in 2016.
ABC News says two public events will be held in memory of Cokie Roberts:
Paris is testing Seabubbles, an eco-friendly bubble-shaped taxi that zips up and down the Seine, AP reports.
The company that makes Seabubbles hopes they'll be able to run the commercially in Paris and other cities starting next year.