Business Briefs – December 21, 2017

Schmidt Resigning as Exec Chair At Google Parent Alphabet

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet in January.

The company says he will become a technical adviser and will continue to sit on the board.

Schmidt joined Google in 2001 as CEO, three years after the search giant was founded. Google launched a new structure in October 2015, making Alphabet a holding company for Google and related businesses. Some of those “other bets” include self-driving cars and internet-delivering balloons.

Schmidt said in a statement that he felt the Alphabet structure was working well, with Google and its other bets thriving. He said he plans to spend more time on science and technology issues and philanthropy.

Tax Pros Are Suddenly Very Popular, If a Little Confused

WASHINGTON (AP) – Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand how the new tax bill will affect you. Chances are, your accountant doesn’t yet either. From New York to Kentucky to Florida, accountants and tax lawyers are rapidly scanning the 1,000 page measure, fielding a swirl of questions from clients and swapping tips via email in their efforts to fully grasp the bill’s far-reaching changes.

Despite Age and Doubters, Bull Market Looks to Keep Running

NEW YORK (AP) – Much of Wall Street is forecasting another year of gains in 2018, even as warning signals rise that the end may be nearing for one of the greatest bull markets in history. The key reason is that few economists see a recession on the way, at least not in 2018. If stocks do end up climbing more in 2018, it would be the latest step forward for a market that’s been maligned and doubted ever since it climbed from the rubble of the global financial crisis in 2009.

U.S. Economy Grew at Solid 3.2 Percent Rate in Third Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate from July through September, slightly slower than previously estimated but still enough to give the country the best back-to-back quarterly growth rates in three years. The Commerce Department says the third quarter growth was revised down slightly from last month’s estimate of 3.3 percent. That change reflects slightly less spending by consumers, which was offset somewhat by increased spending by state and local governments.

AT&T $1,000 Tax Bonus Came After Exchange With Union Head

WASHINGTON (AP) – After an exchange between AT&T’s CEO and a union representing its workers, the company says it took steps to pay workers a $1,000 bonus in response to President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. The Communications Workers of America had pushed AT&T in last month to guarantee that workers would receive the $4,000 raise that White House economists said would be the result of the corporate tax cuts. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said was considering a $1,000 bonus instead.

Got a Toy That Can Spy? Here’s How to Know and What To Do

NEW YORK (AP) — The toys your kids unwrap could invite hackers into your home. That Grinch-like warning comes from the FBI, which said earlier this year that toys connected to the internet could be a target for crooks seeking information. Security experts say the only way to prevent a hack is to not keep the toy. But if you want to keep it, research for past problems, know the company’s privacy policy and use only secure Wi-Fi. Report any breaches to authorities.

Judge Tosses Out Lawsuit Against Trump Over Business Ties

NEW YORK (AP) – Restaurant workers, a hotel event booker and a watchdog group who say President Donald Trump has business conflicts that violate the Constitution cannot sue him, a New York judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels said it was too soon for the lawsuit to be considered by the courts.

The lawsuit earlier this year alleged that Mr. Trump’s “vast, complicated and secret” business interests were creating conflicts of interest. It claimed the business ties violated the Constitution’s ban against taking foreign gifts and money without Congress’ permission, including for hotel stays or office leases.

Mr. Trump had called the lawsuit “totally without merit” while his aides dismissed it as politically motivated.

Justice Department lawyers had argued that the plaintiffs did not suffer in any way and had no standing to sue, and that it is unconstitutional to sue the president in his official capacity.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington originally brought the lawsuit. It was later joined by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Inc. and two individuals in the hotel industry.