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This is Business Live
from BBC News with
Victoria Fritz and Ben Thompson.
President Trump gets the Christmas
present he's been waiting
for as the US Congress finally
passes sweeping tax reforms.
Live from London, that's our top
story on Wednesday, 20th December.
The US Senate approved
the changes after midnight,
but will the reforms to the world's
biggest economy help
the rest of us too?
Also in the programme -
Uber prepares for a hugely important
court ruling that could change
the way it works across Europe.
We have the latest from the markets.
Asian shares bobbed lower
in a choppy session on Wednesday.
European markets have opened higher.
And bringing electricity
to 20 million people.
We'll get the inside track on one
firm's plans to use solar energy
to power millions of homes in Africa
- without installing expensive
networks and cables.
And as the work week eases
into Christmas, we want to know -
what is suitable office attire?
Is it your Christmas jumper?
Or your glittery shoes?
Let us know - with pictures -
what you're wearing
to work this week.
Just use the hashtag BBC Biz Live.
Hello and welcome to Business Live.
Let's start in the United States
because the world's biggest economy
is on the brink of its most sweeping
tax changes in a generation.
The Senate passed the reforms just
before 1am Washington time.
Congress just needs to hold one more
procedural vote before
President Trump can claim his first,
big, legislative win.
This entire package is likely
to cost $1.4 trillion
over the next ten years.
Most of that will be added
to the national debt
which is already over $20 trillion.
The biggest tax cut in the final
version drops the corporation
tax from 35% to 21%.
Something President Trump says
will help economic growth.
On an individual level,
the top tax rate will fall,
for the highest and lowest earners,
with a top rate of 37%.
David Wills in Washington
and has the details.
The ayes are 51.
They voted along
party lines in the Senate to approve
the most sweeping overhaul of the
American tax system in 30 years.
tax cuts and jobs Act is passed.
Bill barely six weeks old and still
clearly a little rough around the
The motion to reconsider is
laid upon the table.
Speaker's jubilation proving
premature after it emerged certain
provisions didn't confirm with the
rules of the Senate. The House will
vote on a tweaked version of the
Bill later today, but that doesn't
change the essence of the
legislation or the opposition to it.
The worst Bill in history because
the number of people that it
affects, the amount of money it
sucks up to the higher income and
the impact on our future deficits.
Today we are giving the people of
this country their money back. This
is their money after all.
Opponents point out
the Bill will add $1 trillion to the
They're putting it on
the credit card.
argue it will strengthen the economy
and boost jobs.
This is a good day for America. This
is a good day for workers. This is a
great day for growth and we're very
excited about this moment.
The Bill includes permanent tax cuts
for American corporations which the
Trump administration says will make
those corporations more competitive
and temporary tax cuts for around
80% of the American population. The
amount varying according to their
level of income. Before it emerged
that there was to be another vote in
the House, President Trump tweeted
his congratulations to the great
House Republicans who enforced the
Bill, but the president's claim that
the tax plan will cost him and his
family a fortune is being questioned
in the light of his continued
reluctance to release his tax
In some ways particularly
on the personal side, the president
will likely take a big hit, but on
the business side he could benefit.
President Trump could sign the tax
Bill into law as early as today.
It's the first major legislative
victory since he took office in
Joining us is Trevor Greetham,
Head of multi asset,
Royal London Asset Management.
Nice to see you, Trevor. Look, it's
interesting. We have said it is a
Christmas present for Donald Trump.
He has been pushing this for quite a
while. Seen a big achievement of his
administration. Is it quite a done
I think it is. There is a
procedural difficulty which means it
has to go back to the House for a
vote, but everyone is lining up
their press conferences and it is
pretty clear that it's going to go
The market seems to like
this. We have seen a rally, but do
the economics behind this work? Is
it a tax cut for all or just the
high earners, the millionaires and
the billionaires as the Democrats
In terms of the tax cut,
most of it, the lasting tax cut will
be for the top 1% or 0.1% of earners
who don't necessarily spend this
extra money, they just keep it. The
corporate tax cut is substantial as
you said, 21% makes the US quite
competitive. There are incentives to
do more capital spending and there
are tax breaks and to take money
back to America that's parked
overseas. So it should boost the US
economy, but people have been
talking about this tax cut for a
long time. We've had strong stock
markets in December as the news
came, that it was actually going to
happen and sometimes it is better to
travel than arrive. I think next
year the markets will be thinking
about other things like China, is
China slowing down in
like this because they have been
factoring this in already, the
question is whether it filters back
through? We have seen record highs
for the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones?
The US economy is growing rapidly,
about 4% growth. We are seeing the
same in Europe so we've got strong
growth with low interest rates and
stock markets like that. The
question next year will be is there
a new theme? Is it China slowing? Is
it interest rates going up? We are
late in the business psyche toll do
a big stimulus like this. If you
boost growth and unemployment is
low, people will be watching wage
inflation. It maybe what you gain
from a tax cut you lose from
interest rate rises.
I suspect we
may talk about this again, it will
run and run! Trevor, thank you.
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
Supermarket giant Tesco can take
over food wholesaler Booker
in a deal worth £3.7 billion,
that's nearly $5 billion.
The deal was under scrutiny
from Britain's competition regulator
over fears it could stifle
competition in the grocery market.
Critics had expected the regulator
to insist that Tesco
sell off some stores,
but the deal has been
given the green light.
YouTube has signed a second global
deal with a major music label, as it
expands its subscription businesses.
After signing a deal
with Warner Music in May,
the online platform has now added
Universal Music Group
which represents artists including
Taylor Swift and Jay Z
in a deal it says would
provide artists with more
flexibility and pay.
The auto-maker, Subaru, is
investigating whether its inspectors
may have faked data on vehicle
mileage readings during inspections
conducted on cars sold in Japan.
The Japanese firm says uncertified
staff were carrying out tests
on new cars sold on the domestic
market for decades.
The news prompted shares
in the firm to fall 8.5%,
making them the most heavily traded
stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Is Uber a taxi firm or not?
The European Court of
Justice is due to give
us its opinion any minute now.
It has decided it is a transport
company. There was a question about
whether it is a transport company or
indeed whether it would be a ride
Anna McCaffrey is an Employment
lawyer at Taylor Wessing.
The right decision, do you think?
is consistent with the line of case
law and litigation in various
countries that Uber have been up
against. And I suppose it's what we
expected given that the original
advisor to the court, the advocate
general had come to the same
decision as well.
Talk us through
the two different options the court
had here. It was about how you
define what Uber does and the legal
At its most basic
level the court was asked to decide
if Uber was a digital company and if
it was a digital company there are
certain EU rules about not imposing
undue restrictions on online
companies. If it is a transport
company, EU law has less influence
and it is up to each country to
decide how they regulate transport
services. So that nens there is more
scope for each country to decide how
to regulate and so therefore, things
like taxi licensing rules, and
regulation of taxis in each country
mean that they come into play which
means Uber that is a lot more rules
it has to comply with than if it was
a digital company.
This has gone to
expose the vast casmed in regulation
when it comes to what is happening
in the real economy and businesses
that are developing now and the
companies that exist on paper that
they have rules for. They always
seem, at least a few steps behind?
Yes. I think it is a challenge for a
MP like Uber that operates in so
many countries if they have to
comply with different sets of
regulation, which are not the same
country to country, it has a
potential impact on their business
model. And you know, we do come back
up against this question of is, are
the legal rules fit for developing a
new type of company in the gig
What difference would this
make for people that are using the
service? Will it really change
It shouldn't do. It is
fair to point out that in many cases
Uber already have to comply with
transport regulation for example in
the UK and France and Germany. Uber
has said that they don't think there
are ruling a transport company will
make a difference to where they are
The legal repercussions
run and run. Anna McCaffrey there.
Uber is indeed a transport company
and not a digital so it has to abide
by the rules relating to transport.
When it comes to Brexit the status
of London as a global financial
centre is one of the most pressing
concerns for the UK Government.
And the BBC has learnt that EU banks
are to be allowed to continue
operating in the United Kingdom
after Brexit without
Our Business Editor Simon
Jack has the story.
Simon explain this for us.
look at some of the big EU banks
which have very significant
presences in the UK and particularly
in London, take Deutsche Bank. It
does billions in business. In a post
Brexit scenario the Bank of England
has been trying to make up its mind
do we allow that to continue to be a
branch which it is at the moment, it
is offshoot of its Frankfurt
headquarters, but all the decisions
happen in Frankfurt, or do we say we
would feel more comfortable if you
would become a subsidiary and become
a UK entity. That's what they could
have done. I understand that the
Bank of England today will say we're
comfortable with the current
situation. Those branches which can
remain branches without having to
sub sidrise. So it will be seen as
an act of goodwill to those European
operators there. Also in London's
interest, you don't want to boot out
a bank that has 9,000 people all
paying a lot of tax. Self interest,
but hopefully some positive mood
music towards what is sometimes a
fractious conversation about the
future of banking in the eurozone.
Thank you very much. That was Simon
Jack our business editor. It will be
fascinating to see what happens to
the bank stocks in Europe as a
Asian stocks have had a mixed
session - waiting on US
legislators to rubber stamp
the tax-cut package.
The idea is that the money released
into the real economy would
help to accelerate economic growth.
Whether that'll happen
or not remains to be seen.
But regardless, we've seen
global equity gauges
move to historic highs.
Over in Europe, markets have opened.
The food retailers are in focus
after Britain's competition
regulator gave final clearance
to Tesco to buy the wholesaler
Booker for just shy of $5 billion.
It's a big day in Washington today.
Yogita Limaye has the latest on how
this will move Wall Street.
Investors in the US will still be
watching the painfully drawn out
process of the Republicans'
attempts to pass tax reform.
But they will also have a few
items of economic and
corporate news to watch out for.
The National Association
of Realtors will
be releasing the latest figures
for existing home sales in the US.
It is assumed that
over all the American
housing market is
still ticking over.
Forecasts are for over 5.5 million
home sales having taken
place in the month of November,
nearly 1% more than in the
On the corporate front, food giant
General Mills releases second
They're expected to
show increased sales.
And Blackberry, long
ago the giant of
the smart phone market, now much
reduced, and expected to post
another quarter of falling revenue.
Still to come:
How do you get power
to remote parts of Africa?
Solar energy is an obvious choice
and now one firm says it can do it
more cheaply and more easily
than ever before.
We'll meet the boss later.
You're with Business
Live from BBC News.
Let's talk about house prices.
We've had the latest forecast and it
doesn't make for great
reading if you're thinking
about selling your home next year.
In short, things just aren't moving.
Let's speak to Simon Rubinsohn,
chief economist at the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors -
the group that carried
out the study.
Morning, if you're trying to sell or
buy, is not looking great.
about transaction volume, the amount
of activity is a big issue and one
that has been building. There is not
really the momentum in the market at
the moment that you know one would
perhaps expect given the state of
the economy and a lot of people are
in jobs and employment is rising. It
is not creating a dynamic market.
But I would add that while that is
true at a headline level the
regional picture is quite divergent
and London and the south-east in
particular seems to be where the
lack of momentum is greatest. If
you're looking to buy or sell in the
Midlands, in north, Scotland,
Northern Ireland, Wales, the picture
is different and many of your
viewers will be living in those
Does the level of transaction
volume tally with what is happening
with prices and we may see a fall in
the south-east and rising in other
places? Is that the right sort of
take from this?
I think it is. Both
prices and activity will be more
upbeat and more positive the further
you are away from London.
we have a few great stories on the
This is related to the
access to superfast broadband and
the Government rejected an offer
from BT to connect homes. The
regulator wants it enshrined in
legal rights and says everyone
should have access to it by 2020, a
legal right to at least 10 megabits.
The details are on the web-site.
Our top story, President Trump is
expected to sign sweeping tax
reforms into law after they were
approved by a vote in the Senate at
1am Washington time.
Uber has suffered a set back in the
European court of justice, it has
been decided they will be treated as
a transport company, rather than a
digital service. Uber tried to
suggest all it does is connect
passengers with drivers. But they
are now a transport company.
Access to affordable energy is seen
as a crucial step in helping
to boost economic prosperity
in developing countries.
While the situation has
the International Energy Agency says
about 1.1 billion people worldwide
are still without electricity.
Well one UK company called Bboxx
is connecting hundreds of thousands
of households using solar
panels and batteries -
which can power lighting,
charge smartphones and even run TVs.
It's aiming to deliver solar energy
to 20 million people
in just the next two years.
Mansoor Hamayun is the co-founder
and CEO of BBOXX.
Nice to see you. Explain how it
works. I said that this is about not
really having that big
infrastructure and not relying on
big networks of cables, how does it
Sure, you described over a
billion people have no access to
electricity and the sad fact is
they're spending between five and 20
dollars a month on kerosene and
other things. We can put solar
panels in a range of appliances and
get a price point lower than the
existing expenditure. The way our
customers pay is using mobile money.
One of the big revolutions that is
happening is the spread of mobile
phones, that allows us to create the
next generation utility that is
connected through data rather than
wires. That allows massive amounts
of affordability and that is what we
are seeing that can add 100 to 500
new homes a day. We have reached
150,000 households so far. This is
the leapfrog we think will happen in
23 same that happened with the
technology is about scale, how do
you manage that, that will be the
big challenge for your business?
Yes, cloud-based solutions is an
important part of this. The fact we
can generate data per household and
predict problems before it happens.
So that means we can run a proactive
business model. The other parties
human capital, to electricity the
developing word, we need to create a
massive energy service company and
that means training people. Today we
employ over 500 people directly with
over a thousand agents. This is not
just about technology, but investing
in the human capital to service the
utility of the future.
it on being cheaper than gas and
kerosene, how do you make money out
We finance customers and we
make money on the financing and we
make money by producing the
equipment. We are producing the
battery boxes and appliances and so
we have an integrated business model
so make money on the hard ware and
the finance. The exciting point is
that we have a business model that
allows us to reach the most rural
poor and yet be able to create an
economically viable money that has
attracted venture capital money from
big firms. That is why I I believe
there is a possibility to see the
world getting electrified within my
Good to talk to you.
Thank you. A South Korean start up
has revealed a new robot.
It is from
The Institute of Science lab. Take a
The robot can be used for carrying
person from a point to B without his
or her physical effort. That means
he can help for the disabled person
and also his arm is very powerful
and can be used for carrying heavier
chairs. We are thinking of these
personal applications in the future.
Oh, just having my coffee! We were
asking about wearing Christmas
jumpers. Can I show you Victoria's
shoes? She is wearing these to get
her in the festive mood. They're a
bit glittery. That is my Christmas
tie, with Rudolf. You can't see it
from afar. Thank you for all your
messages. James who works here
sending us a picture of his
Christmas ear rings. Neil sent us
his Christmas tie.
There we go.
Thank you. Glittery snow flakes as
well. Trevor, are you wearing
You missed the memo?
quite behind as well.
I don't know
when it officially starts. Now the
papers. Where do you want to start?
Bit coin billionaires.
These are the
twins. And they have become bit coin
They started at $10.
Now it is 20,000. It is a 200,000%
increase. We talk about stock
markets up 20%.
It is a paper
profit. Unless you sell.
web-site seems to work better when
you're trying to buy. It doesn't
stack up to me. Because as a medium
of exchange you want something to be
stable. And if it goes up 2,000
times it could be going down 2,000
times. People are buying, because
other people are buying. It feels
like it will go badly long. So we
will watch their fortunes rising and
Thank you. Good to see you.
We will see you very soon. Thanks
for your company today. Goodbye.