The U.S. will investigate Tesla’s Autopilot system after a series of crashes.

Credit…David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The federal government’s top auto-safety agency has opened a formal investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system on rising concerns it sometimes fails to see parked emergency vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was aware of 11 crashes since 2018 when Tesla vehicles operating under Autopilot control have hit fire trucks, police cars, and other vehicles with flashing lights that were stopped along roadways.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission.
Credit…Pool photo by Graeme Jennings

Antitrust activity is heating up this summer. New bipartisan legislation aimed at Big Tech was just introduced in the Senate and federal agencies have adopted a skeptical stance on deal-making. “I believe the antitrust agencies should more frequently consider opposing problematic deals outright,” Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, wrote in a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, released last week.

The tough talk advances the Biden administration’s position, expressed in a sweeping executive order last month, that cracking down on consolidation protects consumers, markets and workers. But some antitrust lawyers, including former regulators, told the DealBook newsletter that they fear this stance could chill legitimate deals and give enforcers the impression that approving any merger is politically fraught.

Monthly merger notifications to the Federal Trade Commission

Mergers are surging in “astounding” numbers, the F.T.C. said recently. A “tidal wave” of filings has strained resources, and the agency is adjusting its premerger review process, telling companies that they close at their own risk after the usual 30-day review deadline, as deals may later be deemed illegal. The agency already can retroactively challenge done deals, but the initial review framework is meant to minimize this insecurity, Christine Wilson, one of two Republican F.T.C. commissioners, wrote in a statement. She said that the F.T.C.’s altered process might be driven as much by politics as by the rise in merger activity.

“The F.T.C. is a law enforcement agency, not a rubber stamp,” Lindsay Kryzak, the commission’s public affairs director, told DealBook via email. “Market participants should know that there are consequences to proposing potentially illegal deals.”

“My concern is that this is the government making threats,” said Noah Joshua Phillips, the other Republican commissioner. He has doubts that antitrust policy can deliver the kind of social change that the Biden administration is seeking. He suggested that forces like globalization and international trade drive the economy and labor market, rather than corporate consolidation.

Jonathan Kanter, the nominee to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, is awaiting Senate confirmation. Once the division has a chief, the Justice Department and the F.T.C. are expected to coordinate on new merger review guidelines. That, Mr. Phillips said, would be “a big deal.”

The cost of coffee beans is up nearly 44 percent in 2021, pushed by extreme weather in Brazil, pandemic-related shipping bottlenecks and political protests that stalled exports from Colombia.

It’s not yet a problem for Starbucks or Nestlé, coffee giants that buy their supplies far in advance and won’t have to deal with the price gains for a year or more. But some smaller roasters have already had to raise prices, and others expect to, Coral Murphy Marcos reports for The New York Times.

Quincy Henry, a co-owner of Campfire Coffee in Tacoma, Wash., remembers when Brazilian arabica beans were some of the least expensive he could buy, locking them in for $1.90 per pound. His latest order, in late July from the same importer, cost him $2.49 per pound.

Behind that increase is a run-up in the price of beans that will be delivered to roasters months from now. These “coffee futures” serve as a baseline for buyers around the world. A pound of arabica beans in the futures market, usually $1.20 to $1.40, rose above $2 at the end of July, the highest since 2014. On Wednesday, the price of coffee futures was $1.84 a pound.

As weeks of political protests rocked Colombia, it exported 345,000 60-kilogram bags of coffee in May, only one-third its usual monthly shipment, according to data from the nonprofit National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.

Colombia’s exports have since rebounded, but those from other large producers, like Vietnam, have been slowed by shipping bottlenecks as the global economy struggles to reopen after a year of lockdowns. A shortage of shipping containers has restricted exports, analysts say, and led to a sharp rise in the cost of shipping, too.

Brazil has been hit with a series of climate shocks, including a drought. Temperatures last month fell below 27 degrees Fahrenheit, about half what’s normal. READ THE FULL ARTICLE →

Currently in-person at workplace or office

Currently in-person at workplace or office

Currently in-person at workplace or office

Currently in-person

at workplace or office

Even as many tech companies announce delays to their return-to-office dates in the face of the Delta variant, it appears that most companies’ plans have not yet changed. Surveys by Morning Consult found that most workers were already in the workplace, and 19 percent said that they would be back by September. READ THE ARTICLE →

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