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The Week in Business: A Breakthrough Ruling on Opioids

It has been 137 years since the first Labor Day march for workers in New York City — and 125 years since Labor Day was declared a United States holiday. If you use Uber, Lyft or DoorDash this weekend, know that the companies just pledged $90 million to fight a California bill that would force them to treat workers as employees, not contractors. — Graham Starr

ImageCreditGiacomo BagnaraWhat’s Up? (Aug. 25-31)Consequences for a Crisis

In a landmark ruling, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million to the State of Oklahoma for its role in the opioid crisis. The case could serve as a template for more than 2,000 painkiller lawsuits across the country. But the cities and states going after pharmaceutical companies can take only so much encouragement: The amount was far short of the $17 billion that Oklahoma had sought. In related opioid news, a proposed settlement agreement to resolve thousands of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma would see the Sackler family give up ownership of the company and pay $3 billion.

Boris’s Suspended Parliament

Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, maneuvered to suspend Parliament ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline — giving his opponents less time to argue against a no-deal departure from the European Union. The increasing likelihood of such a rough break — which could lead to shortages of food, fuel and drugs — sent the pound plunging, as Brits protested nationwide and some elected officials resigned. On Thursday, Mr. Johnson responded to the backlash with a promise to speed up negotiations with Brussels.

Secret Files

Deutsche Bank’s disclosure that it has documents related to President Trump’s tax returns set off a frenzy of speculation. Current and former bank officials have said the lender has portions of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate returns, as well as those of his “immediate family.” Congress is seeking information from the bank, which for many years was the only major financial institution willing to do business with the future president, in hopes of learning more about his business partners, how he made his money, the details of his extensive loans and any dealings Mr. Trump or his family may have had with foreign governments.

ImageCreditGiacomo BagnaraWhat’s Next? (Sept. 1-7)The Trade War Escalates (Again)

New tariffs on Chinese goods are set to go into effect Sunday, and American farmers and business groups are sounding alarms about the pain they’re feeling from the escalating trade war. Markets are sending mixed signals about whether the economy is on the brink of recession. The chatter has helped bonds deliver (by some measures) their best year since 2002. While economists and investors say the trade war threatens growth around the globe, the White House is pushing an argument that a recession, if one occurs, will be the media’s fault.

WeWork, WeLive, WeGoPublic?

The space-sharing company WeWork and the exercise start-up Peloton each filed paperwork for their formal plans to go public, so look for further scrutiny of their — shall we say — unconventional business plans. WeWork is hoping to raise $3 billion to $4 billion, but it’s not telling investors basic information about its business, such as whether established locations are doing better than newer ones. Peloton will need to bat down suspicion that it’s just another exercise fad — and a money-losing one at that.

The N.F.L. Kicks Off

Pro football starts again Thursday — and so does another season of business, political and medical controversy. The game, to take place in Chicago between the host Bears and the Green Bay Packers, comes shortly after the premature retirement of the Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, which stunned the football world. At age 29, Mr. Luck said it was simply too painful to keep playing. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a team, and the New England Patriots never made it to the White House this off-season for the customary Super Bowl victory visit. Media analysts will be watching the season opener’s ratings. Numbers were up in 2018 after steep declines.

What Else?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was considering ultralong bonds that would pay out over a period as long as 100 years. And Anthony Levandowski, a self-driving car pioneer, was charged by federal prosecutors with stealing trade secrets from Google. Looking to get away? Consider Iceland. After a budget airline shut down there in March, tourism has fallen, which could mean there’s extra room in the Blue Lagoon.

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