In November, Amazon.com Inc.'s lengthy and much-publicized search for a second headquarters came to a conclusion. Or so it seemed until last week, when the e-commerce giant announced it would no longer set up a major hub in Long Island City, N.Y., in the face of political backlash.
Source: Associated Press
Despite the promise of massive job creation and major stimulus for adjacent industries, consternation from local lawmakers and citizens' groups has heightened since the initial announcement.
Critics highlighted the lack of transparency in the process and argued that a city like New York should not be handing out more than $1.5 billion of incentives to attract major companies, particularly one whose tax bill is already under considerable scrutiny.
When compared to other recent job creation programs by Apple and Google, which did not involve such sizeable incentives, Amazon's invitation for municipals to enter into a de facto tax-credit bidding war looks, from a public relations perspective at least, like a misjudgment.
The HQ2 affair is another unwelcome distraction for Amazon, which finds itself the subject of increasing political attention. This year alone has seen founder Jeff Bezos' public feud with the National Enquirer, which President Donald Trump has gleefully weighed in on, and a think-tank report that found the company had an effective federal tax rate of negative 1% in 2018.
That level of scrutiny is a natural consequence of being a nearly $1 trillion business run by the world's richest man. Amazon's stock price movements over recent months suggest shareholders are not overly concerned, but they would no doubt prefer that the company generates fewer headlines in the months to come.
Chart of the week: Amazon's original HQ2 plans
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Food, Beverage & Tobacco
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Consumer Edge is a weekly collection of critical developments across the automotive; retail; and food, beverage, and tobacco industries that draws on exclusive analysis and value-added content from the Consumer News team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.