Europe’s antitrust chief is still determined to claw that $15 billion back-tax bill out of Apple

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One of Europe’s highest courts may have cancelled the $15 billion back-tax bill she forced on Apple, but Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is not giving up.

There’s too much at stake, not just in this specific case, but also in the European Commission’s wider quest to stop multinationals from enjoying specially advantageous tax deals—such as the one it claims was struck between Apple and Ireland, the base for Apple’s international operations outside of the Americas.

So, on Friday, Vestager announced her antitrust department’s appeal against the July ruling by the EU’s General Court, which said the Commission had failed to sufficiently demonstrate Ireland had given Apple special treatment—an action that would have meant Ireland had effectively granted Apple illegal state aid.

“The General Court judgment raises important legal issues that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of state aid rules to tax planning cases,” Vestager said in a statement. “The Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law. For this reason, the Commission is bringing this matter before the European Court of Justice.”

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the EU’s highest judicial authority, and has the last word on the interpretation of EU law.

The General Court, which together with the ECJ forms the Court of Justice of the EU—yes, the naming is confusing—is largely there to hear actions taken against EU institutions such as the Commission; in this case, it was Apple’s appeal against the Commission’s Irish tax decision.

Appeals against General Court rulings can only be taken up to the ECJ on points of law, rather than in an argument over the facts of the case.

The Commission’s problem here is that the General Court’s July ruling was mostly about the facts of the Apple-Ireland case.

Rather than saying the Commission made a wrong call in interpreting the law, it said the Commission had messed up because it couldn’t back up its claim that that the revenues of Apple’s Irish subsidiaries—which handle the manufacture and distribution of Apple products around the world—were largely down to the activities of those subsidiaries themselves, rather than being derived from U.S. i

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Gold bugs are on the back foot as COVID concerns climb and stimulus-check hopes fade

Happy Friday, everyone. The S&P 500 dipped into negative territory for the year at one point yesterday, triggering a buy-on-the-dip late-day rally. Still, the benchmark index is poised to finish down for a fourth consecutive week. That is unless progress on a stimulus spending plan gains traction.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update Asia The major indexes are clinging to gains with Tokyo’s Nikkei leading the way, up 0.5%.China stunned the world earlier this week when it pronounced it would go carbon neutral within the next 40 years. That’s no small feat, given its voracious appetite for coal. And it’s still building coal plants.Investors dumped bonds in the world’s most indebted property developer China Evergrande Group on Thursday. With a debt pile of $120 billion, Evergrande’s troubles are being watched closely for fallout that could hit others parts of the economy. Europe The European bourses were mixed at the start with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.2%, before falling.Britain is looking at a possible huge spike in unemployment next month as the government swaps out an expiring furlough scheme expires for a Germany-like wage-subsidy program. Refusing to sugar-coat what comes next, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, warned, “I cannot save every business, I cannot save every job.”The number of registered global COVID deaths could top 1 million as soon as this weekend. But health officials say even that grim figure is almost certainly an undercount. This comes as France reported a record number of new cases yesterday and the numbers are rising precipitously in Great Britain. U.S. U.S. futures have been trading sideways all morning as investors remain divided on whether House Democrats and the White House can reach some kind of last-minute deal on a stimulus spending plan. They’re still a good $900 billion apart.Data mining specialist Palantir Technologies is eying a lofty valuation as it prepares to go public next week. According to the Wall Street Journal, Palantir’s bankers are looking to

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COVID showed why we need to make financial literacy a national priority

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our lives, Americans are facing issues they couldn’t have imagined even months ago. What started as a health threat quickly morphed into something much bigger, not just impacting our physical well-being but also wreaking havoc on our financial health as well.

Tragically, those who were most vulnerable to begin with have been hit the hardest. Many in marginalized communities who were struggling before the pandemic are now bearing the brunt of the pain. And as our nation reckons with questions of social injustice, it’s clear that too many Americans have been left out and let down.

Our country’s lack of financial literacy has contributed to this crisis—and now, as so many Americans face unprecedented financial stress, we must make financial literacy a national priority. 

Increasingly, Americans agree. In fact, two-thirds of Americans believe that financial education should be a high school graduation requirement. When our survey respondents reflect on their own lives, the majority wish that they had been better about saving, goal setting, and investing.

Looking beyond themselves, they overwhelmingly (89%) believe that a lack of financial education contributes to bigger social issues in America, including poverty, lack of job opportunities, and wealth inequality. When asked what they would teach future generations, the majority would still prioritize teaching personal finance basics, ranking responsible money management as the most important life skill for kids today to learn.

At the same time, there’s a common misconception that financial literacy is only for kids. And while it’s ideal to start educating our youth about money at an early age, the truth is that the learning can’t stop there. All of us, regardless of our age, race, ethnic background, gender, or educational level, need to know how to effectively manage our money. It’s part of being an independent and secure adult—whether you’re 21 and just starting out on your own, 30 and starting a family, or 65 and looking forward to retirement.

The need is especially great for women and minorities, who continue to face unique challenges at home and in the workplace. For the most vulnerable segments of our society, financial literacy can be a life-changer—impacting everything from getting a college education, to supporting a family, to following a chosen career, to starting a business. At the macro level,

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Amazon debuted a long list of products today. Here are 3 standouts

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Amazon introduced several new products on Thursday, ranging from upgraded versions of its flagship Echo Internet-connected speakers to an indoor surveillance drone.

The online retail giant’s unveilings on Thursday underscores Amazon’s self-described “ambient home” strategy. It’s another way of describing the “smart home,” in which household appliances and home entertainment equipment are wirelessly tethered together via the Internet.

For technology giants like Amazon and Google, it’s a potentially lucrative market. In addition to selling the devices themselves, the companies collect data about how people use the devices and what they do in their homes. That information is a marketer’s gold mine that could help the companies better target customers with ads or suggest products they’re likelier to buy. It can also help the companies decide which new services to offer, like music or game streaming.

“The home has always been important, but perhaps it’s never been as important until this COVID crisis,” Amazon senior vice president of Alexa Tom Taylor told Fortune.

At the center of Amazon’s smart home strategy are voice technologies, exemplified by the Alexa voice assistant. Amazon wants customers to control their homes merely by using their voices, including by using  voice-technologies from competitors like Spotify, Facebook, and Garmin.

Increasingly, Amazon is introducing features other than voice-technologies to make more compelling smart-home gear. For instance, Taylor highlighted a new Echo Show video conferencing device that can move around a table to follow people while they talk. Amazon says it makes for more natural online conversations because people don’t have to sit still.

Here are some other products Amazon debuted.

Amazon’s new surveillance drone

Amazon’s new Ring Always Home Cam is a camera-equipped drone that flies inside homes, like a security camera with propellers. 

The company pitched the drone, which costs $250 and will ship sometime next year, as a way for people to see what’s happening everywhere in their homes without having to buy and install several surveillance cameras.

In effort to reduce privacy concerns, Amazon said the drone’s cameras will only record when flying. Additionall

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