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As part of the Trump administration’s escalating stand-off with China over trade, Reuters reports, the US Treasury Department is considering invoking emergency economic powers that would give President Trump the authority to restrict Chinese investment in sensitive sectors on national-security grounds, as well as give the government greater power to review China-related corporate acquisitions. The aim of the investment restriction is to get China get rid of its requirement that foreign companies enter into joint ventures to operate in the country, which also requires what the US says is an unfair technology transfer of American companies. The move by the Trump administration comes as the Washington Post reports a new study found the US government is “dangerously vulnerable to Chinese espionage or cyberattack because of its dependence on electronics and software made in China.”
Regulators are on the verge of imposing a $1 billion fine on Wells Fargo for the bank’s unscrupulous business practices of forcing customers to purchase unnecessary car insurance, as well as charging mortgage borrowers late fees for delays caused by the bank itself, CNN Money reports. The fine levied by two regulatory bodies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, could be announced as early as Friday and would amount to the Trump administration’s most severe enforcement action against a Wall Street bank. Wells Fargo apologized last year for charging as many as 570,000 clients for unnecessary car insurance that could have impacted some 20,000 customers who defaulted on their car loans and had their vehicle repossessed. The bank warned last week the looming fine might mean revised first quarter earnings results.
President Trump and his administration have been vocal about boosting US trade, but have crippled a historical tool used by American business to compete overseas: the Export-Import Bank. Under Trump, the bank, which issues cheap government-backed loans to companies looking to boost exports and compete abroad, has been sidelined. The bank has been without a chairman since the beginning of the Trump administration and without a board since March, when the final board member resigned, leaving five open seats. This continues the 84-year-old bank’s decline in recent years, as it has not been able to finance deals over $10 million since 2015 because it lacked a quorum of three board members needed to finance deals of that size. “The effective shuttering of the bank has put American manufacturers like Boeing and General Electric at a global disadvantage, prompting a frenzied lobbying campaign by business groups worried that the White House is undermining its own trade goals,” the New York Times reports.