Apple’s China warning is another example of Trump impact on tech

on Jan4
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Apple CEO Tim Cook with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting of the American Technology Council on June 19, 2017.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook with U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting of the American Technology Council on June 19, 2017.

Apple’s lowered revenue outlook is more than just the latest bad headline out of Silicon Valley — it’s another example of President Donald Trump’s impact on the tech world.

Trump, who campaigned as a champion of America’s “forgotten” blue-collar workers and manufacturers, is nevertheless linked tightly to the elite tech industry through his policies, rhetoric and political fortunes.

CEO Tim Cook’s announcement Wednesday that Apple had lowered fiscal first-quarter sales expectations cited China’s faltering economy amid Trump’s escalating trade war with that nation as a primary culprit.

“We believe the economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the United States,” Cook told CNBC on Wednesday. He also mentioned inflation and a market trend toward replacing iPhone batteries that the company suggests is cutting into new hardware sales.

Apple’s shares plunged on the news Thursday, adding to steep losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Trump’s tech impact extends well into Silicon Valley. As part of his attacks on Jeff Bezos, the president has accused Amazon of taking advantage of favorable postal rates and paying less than its fair share of taxes. Facebook and Twitter have seen their reputations damaged in the fallout from revelations that Russia used those platforms to deploy a disinformation campaign meant to aid Trump in the 2016 U.S. election. And Trump has accused Google of political bias and “suppressing voices of Conservatives.”

The collateral damage cuts both ways. The tech sector led the stock market’s precipitous decline, a rout that has also hurt the president, who points to stock market gains as a symbol of his success overseeing the economy.

Indeed, Silicon Valley was an early beneficiary of the Trump presidency. The anticipation and subsequent realization of a generous corporate tax cut helped the rocket-propelled rise of the so-called FAANG tech stocks along with the broader market and fueled a giddy optimism in the economy.

But as Trump’s trade war with China intensified — and the effects of the stimulus wore off — steep declines in each company’s market value followed. Coupled with threats of increased regulation over the industry and a general public unease over privacy, it’s unclear whether that unbridled growth and optimism will return.



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