The Week in Business: The Truth About Drug Costs, and Uber’s Disappointing I.P.O.

The Week in Business: The Truth About Drug Costs, and Uber’s Disappointing I.P.O.

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Hello and happy Mother’s Day! Whether you’re celebrating, being celebrated or just having a normal Sunday, make mom proud and stay on top of the news. Here’s a quick catch-up on what happened in the tech and business worlds this week, and what to look for in the days ahead.

May 5-11

What’s Up? Fasten Your Seatbelts

Finally, you can invest in Uber — if you want to, that is. On Friday, the ride-hailing company that has reshaped urban transportation pulled off the year’s most anticipated initial public offering, one of the biggest in United States history. But what was supposed to be a hot stock turned lukewarm when Uber priced its shares near the bottom of the expected range. Why so conservative? The company wanted to avoid the mistakes of its smaller rival Lyft, whose value has fizzled by nearly 30 percent since its splashy market debut at the end of March. And so far, Uber did fare better, but its first day of trading didn’t “pop” like many investors had hoped. In fact, it ended the day down more than 7 percent. Also not celebrating this weekend: drivers for both Uber and Lyft, who held protests this past week to demand better wages.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

After months of back-patting over “progress” in the trade talks between the United States and China, President Trump abruptly raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent, effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday. How did we get here? Mr. Trump accused China (via Twitter, naturally) of trying to revisit crucial points of the agreement as it was nearing completion, although China disputes this. Beijing’s initial response was muted, although it vowed to retaliate with its own tariffs and possible boycotts of American products. The talks ended on Friday without any deal. Any escalation in the trade war is a lose-lose for consumers as well as farmers and manufacturers around the globe.

Truth in Advertising

You know those times when you get to the pharmacy, find out how much your medication costs and decide you don’t need it that badly? Hopefully you’ll get fewer nasty surprises now that pharmaceutical companies will be required to disclose their drug prices in television commercials. As you may have noticed, those prices have been on the rise, and there's bipartisan support to keep them in check. The new rule is set to take effect as soon as this summer, and it’s one of the biggest steps the Trump administration has taken toward a major campaign promise to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

MAY 12-18

What’s Next? Put a Lid On It

How to stop the spread of extremism online? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and President Emmanuel Macron of France will gather with tech executives and other world leaders this Wednesday in Paris to take the “Christchurch Call”: a pledge to curb the dissemination of violent ideologies on the internet. The pact is partly a response to the gunman who posted a live video of himself as he massacred 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. How the agreement will be enforced is anyone’s guess, but tech companies are getting stricter about self-regulation. Facebook recently banned seven figures known for their extremist rhetoric.

A Jolt to the Art Market

It’s a huge week for art sales. A silk screen of John F. Kennedy by Robert Rauschenberg is expected to bring in $50 million at auction at Christie’s, more than triple the previous record for the artist. It’s part of a large and valuable estate that belonged to Beatrice Mayer, the heiress to the Sara Lee baked goods fortune and a founder of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The collection also includes Andy Warhol‘s “Liz,” one of his depictions of Elizabeth Taylor, which is estimated to fetch around $20 million, and Roy Lichtenstein‘s “Kiss III,” valued at about $30 million.

Oh Lord, This Again

After giving us a short, blessed break from Brexit news, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain — nothing if not dogged — is back at it. In the next two weeks, she’s planning a fourth vote on her latest deal for her nation’s withdrawal from the European Union. (As you may recall, the first three didn’t go so well.) Her new deadline for corralling Parliament into an agreement is in October. But by some measures, that’s already too late. The mess that is Brexit, which has now been delayed twice, has prompted many companies to move their operations to other countries — a preferable option to trying to prepare for the unpredictable fallout of a no-deal Brexit, which is still a possibility.

What Else?

In other news from across the pond, Britain went its first week of not burning coal since 1882, part of its push to stop using the fuel by 2025. And speaking of unhealthy smoke, Walmart is raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21, starting July 1. Meanwhile, Australia’s central bank printed 46 million $50 bills with a typo — the word “responsibility” was misspelled. The bills entered circulation in October, and no one noticed until now.

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