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Charlotte is off this week, and I’m here to give you some light reading so you can chat knowledgeably about business at that fancy Oscars party you’re surely attending. Here are your talking points!
Go East, Young Man
As Western nations and companies continue to pull back from interactions with Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi last year, the country’s crown prince is trying to shore up relations with neighbors to the east. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spent much of last week touring Pakistan, India and China, hoping to build warmer relations and closer trading partnerships. Leaders from all three countries welcomed the Saudi ruler with open arms (and, in one case, golden arms).
Gone, but Never Out of Style
Karl Lagerfeld, who was an influential force in the fashion world for years and made fusty legacy brands Chanel and Fendi trendy again, died on Tuesday. His precise age is up for debate, but that seems immaterial for a person who essentially described himself as an alien. He was famous for his enigmatic persona and acerbic wit, and for building a broader audience for Chanel’s distinctive products — like its No. 5 perfume, black bouclé jackets, two-tone ballet pumps and quilted handbags.
A Sneaker’s 15 Minutes of Fame
Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. Zion Williamson, a star basketball player at Duke University, was only seconds into a game Wednesday when one of his Nike sneakers tore apart. He sat out the rest of the game with a knee injury, and may not play again this season. The incident set off a broader debate about safety and the influence that shoe companies hold over big-time college basketball. Even the shoe chimed in on Twitter.
Feb. 24-March 2
The Future of Tech, and Huawei
Techies love a good gathering. MWC Barcelona, formerly the Mobile World Congress, runs Monday through Thursday, and tech leaders will be presenting their visions for the future of the industry. Sure to be a topic of discussion is the role of the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei in the construction of the next generation of the world’s wireless networks. The company just announced that it was expanding in Canada, and Britain indicated last week that it will probably use the company’s equipment as it builds its new networks, even as the United States warns that the Chinese government is using the company for spying.
About Those Trade Talks
American and Chinese trade negotiators seemed to be making some progress on a deal and have extended their talks into the weekend. But President Trump suggested that a final trade agreement wouldn’t be reached until he met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, next month. The White House had previously said it would raise tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods after Friday if a deal was not reached, and the two sides have been racing toward that deadline. That said, the trade war has been unpredictable from the start, so who knows?
The Best! Summit! Ever! (Again!)
Ready for Round 2? Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, are set to meet again on Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, as the United States continues its efforts to make North Korea give up its nuclear program. One other possible topic: an official end to the nearly seven-decade Korean War. Mr. Kim will also spend time visiting Vietnamese manufacturing and tourist sites while he’s there. Both American and South Korean officials hope the North Korean leader will see communist Vietnam as a model for integration with the rest of the global economy. In the years since the United States pulled out of the country, Vietnam has developed closer relations and stronger economic ties to the West, and is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
Samsung thinks making your phone smaller on command is going to be the next big thing. Its folding smartphones — which aren’t for sale yet — mean you won’t have to strain your eyes when you’re streaming. What luxury! Speaking of that, it turns out you may want to think twice about buying a luxury car. It’s likely to be less reliable than a regular workhorse vehicle (though probably more reliable than an actual work horse). If you’re going to spend money, though, cities and states around the country want to make sure you can pay with cash, even as some retailers move to a credit- or e-payment-only model.