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Tech Bosses to Capitol Hill Today

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Another light day of economic data ahead of the bell this morning, as the normal first-Wednesday-of-the-month ADP (ADP - Free Report) private sector jobs report has been pushed to Thursday due to the Labor Day holiday to start the week. This, of course, comes out ahead of the routinely anticipated monthly non-farm payroll reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Unemployment Rate, which hit the tape Friday morning.

One piece of useful data early today was the latest read on the U.S. trade balance (deficit) for August. Results were pretty much in-line with expectations at -$50.1 billion — the deepest deficit we’ve seen since February this year — on an improved revision for July to -$45.7 billion. As a percentage of the economy, our trade deficit has remained flat for the past four years or so. But as we see strong U.S. growth relative to our global trading partners, we might expect our trade deficit to get worse in the coming months, not better.

Facebook, Twitter to Attend House, Senate Hearings

Both Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) , and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook (FB - Free Report) , will appear before both houses of Congress today to discuss what lawmakers see as risks to the American citizenry in terms of privacy and Internet usage manipulation. With the basic contract between search and social media firms and general users (read: almost everybody) being “free services in exchange for personal information,” committee members will attempt to drill down into what the heads of the most powerful on-line organizations have in mind to keep this contract sound and free of corrupt elements.

Then again, elected officials are historically non-expert in areas such as high technology, so whether the questions asked will be poignant enough to be useful or merely an exercise that attempts to show Congress engaged in important matters without affecting any real change are worth considering. In fact, what’s reported to be a new wrinkle in these inquiries is whether these firms are participating in “anti-conservative bias,” which is something President Trump has openly mused about in recent days.

Google Not Participating?

It does not appear Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) will be supplying a front-office executive to either hearing today. The Senate committee had invited CEO Larry Page to attend, but the search engine giant countered with an offer of sending Senior VP Kent Walker instead. This was rejected by the committee, and Congress may be looking at an empty seat instead of a top Google representative.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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