China, the largest producer and consumer of pork in the world, is in hog heaven.
Shaungui International, a leading pork-producer in China, announced Wednesday that it will buy Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based pork producer for $4.7 billion. If federal regulators approve the purchase, it will be the largest ever Chinese takeover of an American consumer brand.
The deal is subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is expected to examine previous practices by the Shaungui International group that prompted food safety concerns. Nonetheless, experts anticipate that the deal will go through.
Chinese firms have acquired some well-known U.S. brands, including the AMC theater chain and IBM’s personal computer business, now called Lenovo. The Smithfield acquisition would be China’s first and largest foray into the U.S., food industry. Thilo Hanemann, an analyst who tracks Chinese investment in the United States, told the Washington Post, that the deal “represents an emerging strategy of Chinese companies to buy up market-leading expertise,” adding that “in many cases…Chinese companies are buying assets in the U.S. not to expand in the U.S., but to gain a competitive edge at home.” - Read more at The Washington Post
OBAMA TO NOMINATE COMEY TO LEAD FBI President Obama is expected today to nominate former Justice Department official James Comey to replace Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Robert Mueller, whose term expires this fall. Comey served as deputy U.S. attorney general for President George W. Bush, and was previously the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. He gained notoriety for refusing to certify the legal aspects of National Security Agency domestic surveillance in 2004 during a brief stint as acting attorney general while then-attorney general, John Ashcroft, was hospitalized with pancreatitis. After leaving DOJ in 2005, Comey joined aerospace giant Lockheed Martin as general counsel. He left in 2010. - Read more at CNBC
CRITICS SLAM OBAMA FOR LUXURY TRAVEL Republicans have a new gripe with President Obama – that he is spending way too much time traveling around the country to attend luxurious fundraisers while hundreds of thousands of federal workers are being forced to take unpaid leave under the sequester.
On Wednesday, the president jetted off in Air Force One, which costs taxpayers $180,000 per hour, to attend two fundraisers in Chicago to help Democrats try to retake the House in the 2014 mid-term election. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Massachusetts for a ritzy fundraising lunch at the Taj Boston Hotel, where wealthy donors paid up to $37,600 per ticket.
“The president is asking the people to sacrifice but never himself,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, (R-UT). Stewart introduced a resolution this year asking the president to forgo vacations to pay for resuming White House tours that were cut because of the sequestration. “We don’t have a problem with him taking vacations, but it seems petty to close the White House to tours when forgoing one or two out-of-town vacations would easily pay for the cost of keeping it open.” - Read more at The New York Times
GALLUP POLL: OBAMA HOLDS STRONG DESPITE SCANDALS A new Gallup Poll released Wednesday shows the president’s approval ratings have increased from 47 percent to 50 percent since three administration scandals erupted. The controversies over Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department’s seizing of reporters’ phone records and the administration’s characterization of last year’s terrorists’ attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya have dominated media coverage for the past two weeks. Yet scandal mania seems to have lost traction with the public amid a slew of positive economic news. Consumer confidence hit a five-year high in May, the unemployment has fallen to a new low, the stock market is rising, and the housing market is on the upswing. - Read more at The Hill
CRITICS CALL CONSUMER AGENCY “OVERARCHING MONSTER "To its critics, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “represents the worst of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, an unnecessary bureau intruding on consumer choice,” The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes. “Their very entrenched philosophy is that they know better than the consumer,” said Alan Kaplinsky, an attorney at Ballard Spahr who represents companies before the CFPB. Many Republicans and business lobbying groups are highly critical of the agency’s leadership structure and say its director, Richard Cordray, is far too powerful. They favor restructuring the agency to place it under a commission. President Obama installed Cordray as a recess appointment to skirt GOP opposition, but Cordray’s term is up and he must win Senate approval to continue in his post. - Read more at The Fiscal Times