This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title

Steve Madden Shoes for Men

Steve Madden is practically synonymous with high-heel shoes and thigh-high boots. He has more than 250 namesake stores all over the world, and his shoes for women are carried in major department stores.

Now he is moving in on the men’s market.

Mr. Madden, perhaps the most famous fashion entrepreneur to be convicted and jailed, served two and a half years in a Florida prison for securities fraud and stock manipulation in the early 2000s after having illegally traded shares from the initial public offering of Stratton Oakmont, the investment firm run by Jordan Belfort. The case was fodder for the 2013 Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Mr. Belfort and Jake Hoffman playing Mr. Madden. Since his release from prison, Mr. Madden has devoted himself to the business he loves.

He opened a big new store in Times Square on Aug. 1, with nearly a third of its 2,000-square-foot floor space dedicated to his new focus: men’s shoes. “I felt that men were getting shortchanged,” he said. “We were putting all the excitement into women’s.”

I would like to go into the sneaker business. I think everybody is wearing sneakers all the time. That’s something you’ll see in the future: more sneakers. I went out to a restaurant in Sag Harbor and it was all mostly 20- or 30-somethings. Why I was there, I don’t know. They were all wearing sneakers. They looked great! But it

More sneakers and booties. They call short boots “booties.” One of the newest features on the boot is the side zipper. In the old days, you had to sit down, lace ’em all up and now you just reach your foot in and zip ’em up and boom! It’s taking a little utility influence and putting it into fashion. Our men’s business is great. We’re bringing the excitement we’ve brought to women’s, but we’re doing it slowly.

Toshiba Edges Closer Chip Unit

A goal, Toshiba says, is to sign a contract this month, but other bidders are still not excluded from talks (Toshiba had also been in discussions with bidders led by the American company Western Digital and Foxconn of Taiwan).

The company has been trying to unload its chip business as part of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet after huge losses at Westinghouse, its American nuclear unit, which filed for bankruptcy in March.

Senate Democrats have said they would try to block any rewrite of the tax code that included these measures, arguing that they would make a mockery of Republican promises to provide relief for the middle class. And Republicans have to overcome their own disagreements before they can introduce their framework.

President Trump has been dining with senators from both parties, reaching across the aisle out of concern that it will be impossible to pass a tax bill with only Republican votes.

DowDuPont Revises Breakup Plan

The activists spoke and the chemicals giant (eventually) responded.

DowDuPont will still break itself into three businesses — an agricultural company, a materials science specialist and a specialty products business — but the allocation will be different.

It won’t be the six businesses that the hedge fund Third Point had pushed for in May, but it will take into account its warnings about units being “stranded” in the new materials science company. DowDuPont had faced a barrage of challenges from activists that also included Jana Partners, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Shares rose and three activist investors that pushed for changes — Third Point, Glenview Capital Management and Trian Partners — hailed the move.

The company also promised details of plans for share buybacks and dividend payments, The Financial Times reported.

Mike Cagney, the Social Finance chief executive who announced on Monday that he would step down, had always had the support of SoFi’s board, even as his behavior raised questions.

That backing allowed him to build the fast-growing start-up, now valued at more than $4 billion.

But there were costs. Among them were the complaints we detailed on Tuesday, and employees who spoke to The Times said that Mr. Cagney would brag about his genitalia and his sexual conquests at late-night, wine-soaked gatherings.

Other executives around him behaved in a similar manner:

• Nino Fanlo, the chief financial officer and a former executive at Goldman Sachs and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is said to have talked openly about women’s breasts and once offered female employees bonuses for losing weight. He also said that women would be happier as homemakers. (Mr. Fanlo said it was “patently false” that he did not respect women and said that his team included women who had received promotions and professional accolades.)

• Employees said they caught colleagues having sex with supervisors at SoFi’s office in Healdsburg, Calif. Yulia Zamora, who worked as an underwriter at SoFi from 2015 to 2016, described the company as a frat house: “You would find people having sex in their cars and in the parking lot. It was a free-for-all.”

Mr. Cagney has also been accused by colleagues of being too aggressive with the business.

He once decided to put customer service representatives in charge of lending determinations, despite their lack of experience in the area. SoFi also did not have enough money to fund all the loans it was making and employees who dealt with customers were told to lie and say that people would get the money within 72 hours.


Facebook Running on Objectionable Videos

In response to those concerns, Facebook released a new set of rules on Wednesday that outline the types of videos and articles that it will bar from running ads. It also said it would begin disclosing new information to advertisers about where their messages appear on the platform and on external apps and sites it is partners with.

The rules, which will be enforced by a mix of automation and human review, restrict ads from content that depicts, among other topics, real-world tragedies, “debatable social issues,” misappropriation of children’s show characters, violence, nudity, gore, drug use and derogatory language. Facebook is extending the guidelines immediately to videos — which the company hopes will become an increasingly lucrative part of its business — and, in the coming months, to articles.

Facebook said users who repeatedly violate its content guidelines, share sensational clickbait or post fake news may lose the ability to run ads.

“There have been concerns that marketers have had that are wide-ranging around digital, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that we are providing the safest environment for publishers, advertisers and for people that utilize the platform,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions.

Facebook and Google were criticized during and after the presidential election for allowing misinformation to spread on their platforms. This year, YouTube had to address advertisers’ concerns after messages from major brands like AT&T were discovered on videos that promoted terrorism and hate speech. The Wall Street Journal found at least 50 acts of violence on Facebook Live broadcasts.

(On the other side of the advertising equation, Facebook disclosed last week that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of ads on divisive issues that ran from June 2015 to May 2017 and had been bought by fake accounts based in Russia.)

The companies are moving quickly to address such issues, particularly as they seek to attract a greater portion of the money earmarked for television advertising to the video content on their sites.

Facebook has enabled hundreds of publishers and individuals to run ads during live video broadcasts in the past year, and the company recently introduced a slate of new shows on a part of its site called “Watch.” If the new guidelines encourage people to post more G-rated video content, they are likely to bolster Facebook’s pitch to advertisers

That should be an advantage in policing content, Mr. Montgomery said, especially with the limits that Facebook is placing on who can make money from certain features. For example, the company required pages and profiles that wanted to run ads on live videos this year to have more than 2,000 followers. They could only show ads if they had at least 300 concurrent viewers after four minutes.

Facebook also said it would begin showing advertisers a preview of where their messages may appear before campaigns start, giving advertisers a chance to block undesirable destinations. The company will also report on where the ads actually run.

When brands use Facebook to target specific people with ads, they are able to select from a cornucopia of traits, including age, gender and how many lines of credit a person has. Many ads then show up in the main Facebook and Instagram feeds that people flick through, but they can also appear in articles and videos within Facebook and on outside apps and mobile websites that are part of Facebook’s “audience network.”

Brands have not been able to see beforehand what kind of content that might include, and some have had to contend with objections from consumers after being placed on sites like Breitbart News. Facebook said there were tens of thousands of apps and sites in its audience network and that more than 10,000 publishers displayed articles within its platform through a tool called Instant Articles.

As YouTube has moved to limit ads from running alongside unsavory content, many creators on the platform have complained that their videos have been unfairly penalized by automated systems. Facebook will probably have to grapple with similar complaints as it expands the number of people who can make money from video ads on the site.

”Facebook previously let advertisers opt out of a more limited list of topics, including sites and apps related to dating, gambling and “debated social issues” like religion and politics, Ms. Everson said. She added that the new rules would allow publishers to “understand where we’re placing ads” and make it easier for advertisers to avoid offensive content.

London’s East End Menaced

What has been named the Whitechapel fatberg is a rock-solid agglomeration of fat, disposable wipes, diapers, condoms and tampons. It was discovered to the east of the city’s financial district, occupying a sixth of a mile of sewer under Whitechapel Road, between one of London’s largest mosques and a pub called the Blind Beggar, where walking tours are taken to reminisce about a notorious gangland murder.

Thames Water, the capital’s utility, said the fatberg weighed as much as 11 of the city’s double-decker buses: more than 140 tons. That is 10 times the size of a similar mass that the company found beneath Kingston, in South London, in 2013, and declared the biggest example in British history.

To prevent the contents of the sewer from flooding streets and homes nearby, the utility is sending an eight-member team to break up the fatberg with high-powered jet hoses and hand tools. The task is expected to take them three weeks, working seven days a week.

“It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove,” said Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer. “It’s basically like trying to break up concrete.”

Such blockages are not unique to London. New York City has spent millions of dollars on problems created by disposable wipes. Even the ones branded as flushable were combining with materials like congealed grease to upend plumbing. Hawaii, Alaska, Wisconsin and California have struggled with similar problems

 This city’s sewage system, however, presents special challenges. The backbone of the network was built in the 19th century, after a series of cholera outbreaks and the “Great Stink” of 1858, when lawmakers abandoned the Houses of Parliament because of the stench of raw sewage from the nearby River Thames.

That 1,100-mile system, originally designed to serve four million people, has been struggling to cope with the waste of about twice that number. Work is underway on a new super sewer.

Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the Victorian network, probably did not account for the disposable diapers and wipes that, in a matter of days, can mate with oil and grease to create fatbergs big enough to block tunnels that are six feet tall.

The sewer under Whitechapel Road is about four feet high and less than three feet wide, and Thames Water engineers found the fatberg there during a routine check. They regularly walk through the system to look for problems. Lee Irving, a spokesman for Thames Water, described the experience of encountering a fatberg as overwhelming, with a smell that mixes rotting meat and smelly toilet.

The utility is trying to prevent fatbergs with publicity campaigns urging residents to dispose of wipes and fat in the garbage can, rather than down the drain. It has said that it clears three blockages from fat, and four or more caused by items like wipes, every hour.

Thames Water has tried to put all that congealed fat to use. Some is converted into biodiesel for power generators.

The utility said it was also working with a renewables company, Argent Energy, on turning its waste fat into environmentally friendly fuel. (Maybe someday, fatbergs could power those double-decker buses.)

Top of Technology When You Write

The one technology constant in my career as a journalist seems to be Microsoft Word. I take notes for all of my stories in it on a MacBook Pro. I’ve tried Google Docs and OneNote, but can’t stick with them for reasons I can’t explain. I have a feeling I might be cremated with a copy of Microsoft Word.

Like most people, I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, and I’ve tried most of their gadgets. I used an Echo for a while. My family mainly used it to turn on a lamp through a WeMo light switch with our voices. My kids enjoyed asking Alexa to play scatological sound effects. I enjoyed that too, if I’m being honest.

What do or don’t you like about their tech products that you use?

I find some of the things you can do on the Echo pretty silly and much easier on a smartphone app. I’ll give you an example. A while back I was installing a sprinkler system in my garden that was connected to a wireless control unit. I found out I could use the control unit with Alexa to turn on the sprinklers with my voice.

When I told Alexa to turn the sprinklers on, a geyser of water shot up six feet in the air from a pipe I hadn’t properly secured. I yelled every Alexa command I could think of to turn it off, but apparently she didn’t like my syntax, and the water kept gushing. I finally just opened the app for the sprinkler unit and turned it off. Also, most people have their sprinklers on timers so they don’t need voice control.

What are your favorite websites, apps or other tech tools for keeping on top of technology news?

I get so much of my news diet, technology or otherwise, through Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. I have configured my phone to send me a text message every time Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, tweets because he’ll occasionally make news that way.

Another reason I’m not the most avid Echo user is that I like the sound from my Sonos speaker system better. Roughly 70 percent of the time I’m using Sonos to stream KCRW’s Eclectic24 music mix. The rest of the time, it’s Spotify and KUOW, my local NPR station. I pay for a Spotify family plan, which keeps my daughter’s playlists from contaminating my own and vice versa.

I am a contrarian on the Apple Watch, which I believe has been unfairly maligned by tech pundits. I love mine, and I get pretty frustrated by a lot of Apple products. I’m a runner and cyclist and track all of my workouts with it. I use Siri on the watch to respond to text messages.

Apple somehow managed to create a wearable device versatile enough that you can wear it on a run and with a suit. That’s impressive.

Are there technologies that you’re not crazy about?

I’ve never cared for reading books on screens, even though I almost exclusively read newspapers and magazines on my phone and computer.

I’m also skeptical of most kitchen gadgetry. I bought an Anova sous vide wand, which cooks meat and other proteins at precise, low temperatures in water baths. In most cases, I feel the results aren’t worth the effort. A cast iron pan is much cheaper

Consumers, but Not Executives

Equifax investors are also shouldering the burden associated with the company’s apparently lax security practices. Since disclosing the breach, Equifax’s stock has fallen more than 20 percent, losing its shareholders nearly $4 billion in market capitalization.

It remains unclear, though, whether the company’s executives will take a financial hit for the failures that allowed thieves to steal Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and other sensitive data. Indeed, Equifax’s top managers may not feel any financial ill effects, given the company’s past compensation practices.

Over the last three years, when Equifax determined its top executives’ incentive compensation, it has used a performance measure that excluded the costs of legal settlements made by the company. If it follows this practice after dealing with the costs of settling legal claims arising from the security breach, Equifax’s top managers will essentially escape financial accountability for the blunder.

This troubles Charles M. Elson, a professor of finance at the University of Delaware and the director of its John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. “To the investors in the company, the legal settlement does impact earnings and stock price,” Mr. Elson said in an interview. “If the shareholders suffer because of this breach, why should management be excluded? These folks take home all of the upside and want none of the down.”

I asked Equifax whether its board would stop excluding legal settlement costs from executive compensation calculations so that management would be required to absorb some of the pain.

An Equifax spokeswoman supplied this statement: The board is actively engaged in a comprehensive review of every aspect of this cybersecurity incident.”

Equifax is not alone in excluding certain costs of doing business from the financial factors it uses to determine executive pay. Such practices have become prevalent among large United States companies.

Equifax uses two main performance measures to decide incentive pay. One, called corporate adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations, is not calculated using generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. It is figured by excluding certain costs — such as those related to acquisitions — that normally flow through a company’s profit-and-loss statement. This has the effect of making Equifax’s earnings per share look better in this measure than they actually do under accounting rules.

Equifax says in regulatory filings that it uses the adjusted earnings figure because it best represents the company’s profit growth. Top managers at the company get a larger or smaller annual incentive award based on increases in this measure over the course of a year


Hackers broke into Equifax, accessing data for 143 million Americans. Here’s what happened, how it’s being handled and what you can do to protect your information:

  1. Equifax disclosed the breach nearly six weeks after discovering it.
  2. The breach was met with outrage,prompting multiple inquiries from lawmakers and regulators.
  3. It turns out that oversight for credit monitoring agencies is extremely lax.
  4. But experts said that consumers “don’t control the rules of engagement.” These people shared their stories of being hacking victims.
  5. Freezing your credit files might be a better bet. And be sure tostrengthen your PIN.

Acquisition expenses make up the bulk of the costs Equifax has excluded from its profit calculation in recent years. But Equifax has also excluded costs associated with impaired investments and legal settlements from the figure.

In regulatory filings, Equifax said its exclusion of legal charges from certain financial results “provides meaningful supplemental information regarding our financial results” and is consistent with the way management reviews and assesses the company’s historical performance.

When settlements are small, of course, excluding the legal costs associated with them is a nonevent. And in recent years that has been the case at Equifax, with settlements equaling around 1 percent of net income.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, for example, Equifax recorded a $6.5 million charge for a settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under that settlement, which involved deceptive marketing of credit scores to consumers according to the bureau, Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

But the scope of Equifax’s recent security breach is so far-reaching that legal settlements arising from it will most likely be enormous. And this brings up another question: whether Equifax executives should return past pay because of the security failure. Certainly, last year’s proxy filings indicate that the pay received by the company’s top three executives was based in part on their accomplishments in keeping consumers’ data secure.

Consider Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board, who received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015. One rationale for his pay package, the proxy said, was Mr. Smith’s “distinguished” work in meeting his individual management objectives for 2016. Among those objectives was “employing advanced analytics and technology to help drive client growth, security, efficiency and profitability.”

Or take John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer. He also received a rating of “distinguished” on his individual objectives, the proxy said, because he continued “to advance and execute global enterprise risk management processes, including directing increased investment in data security, disaster recovery and regulatory compliance capabilities.” Mr. Gamble received $3.1 million in 2016.

Drops Credit-Freeze Fees

It’s a logical reaction: You did not ask Equifax to vacuum up data about you, and then resell it to marketers and loan sellers. And it is not your fault that the company could not keep that data safe. So why should you pay for a freeze, which keeps new creditors from seeing your credit file and thus can keep thieves from applying for credit in your name?

Somehow, that question did not occur to Equifax on Thursday, when it first announced the breach. It apparently thought a year of free credit monitoring would be enough to placate consumers. When I asked Equifax on Sunday why it was not making freezes free, Wyatt Jefferies, a spokesman, did not respond to that particular question.

Here are just some of the other questions I’ve asked Equifax. I’m still waiting for replies.

1. Will temporarily lifting a freeze also be free until Nov. 21, or just placing a freeze?

2. Why not make freezes and the lifting of those freezes free permanently for everyone?

3. Failing that, why not make freezes and thaws free permanently for everyone whose data was stolen in this instance or, for that matter, anytime in the future?

4. Why not pay Experian and TransUnion, the two other large consumer-credit reporting agencies, to freeze the credit files connected to every victim of the most recent Equifax breach? After all, that breach makes people vulnerable to thieves who apply for credit in victims’ names with lenders who check applicants’ credit histories only with Experian or TransUnion.

Equifax would not address that last one with me, but a reader named Kimberly Casey forwarded me an email exchange between her and DannAdams, the president of Equifax’s global consumer solutions unit, where he apologized and said that a service to “lock” Equifax, Experian and TransUnion files simultaneously would be coming soon.


Hackers broke into Equifax, accessing data for 143 million Americans. Here’s what happened, how it’s being handled and what you can do to protect your information:

  1. Equifax disclosed the breach nearly six weeks after discovering it.
  2. The breach was met with outrage,prompting multiple inquiries from lawmakers and regulators.
  3. It turns out that oversight for credit monitoring agencies is extremely lax.
  4. But experts said that consumers “don’t control the rules of engagement.” These people shared their stories of being hacking victims.
  5. Freezing your credit files might be a better bet. And be sure tostrengthen your PIN.

That might be helpful, given the trouble that so many of you have had getting any of the company’s websites or phone systems to work in recent days. (Please, keep trying. It’s worth the protection.) But let’s hope they give this new service away for free, for life, to all individuals who had their data stolen in this instance and that the lock will work identically to a freeze and not involve giving up the right to sue the companies.

I’ve asked Equifax repeatedly in recent days what phone number people should call to request a new PIN for thawing their freezes. On Sunday, Mr. Jefferies told me the company would stop issuing PINs based on the date the freeze was initiated and would instead issue new PINs to anyone who wanted to replace the old ones.

It is not clear, however, exactly how consumers can do this. Another reader today told me that a phone representative for the company said that people were going to have to cancel old freezes, request new ones, go unprotected for days and wait for new PINs to show up in the mail. It should not be that complicated.

Several of you have asked via email (, please keep the questions coming) and Twitter (@ronlieber) about TransUnion’s free TrueIdentity product, which the company is pushing on consumers who are considering a freeze. The company sure seems to want people to sign up for that product instead of freezing their files.

It’s not clear whether the mechanism TransUnion says it uses to “lock” files with that product provides the same protection as a freeze, or whether it is a lesser form of protection meant to shield TransUnion from some regulatory or legal perspective. A giant hat tip, however, to the person on Twitter who pointed out the company’s draconian terms and conditions

It is also unclear whether consumers’ use of the TrueIdentity product would make it easier for TransUnion to continue selling those consumers’ data (in the same way that Equifax and Experian do) than if they froze their files outright. I have repeatedly asked a TransUnion spokesman, David Blumberg, for clarification, but I have not received it yet.

Antivirus Software Government Computers

The concerns surrounding Kaspersky, whose software is sold throughout the United States, are longstanding. The F.B.I., aided by American spies, has for years been trying to determine whether Kaspersky’s senior executives are working with Russian military and intelligence, according to current and former American officials. The F.B.I. has also been investigating whether Kaspersky software, including its well-regarded antivirus programs, contain back doors that could allow Russian intelligence access into computers on which it is running. The company denies the allegations.

The officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiries are classified, would not provide details of the information they have collected on Kaspersky. But on Wednesday, Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, ordered federal agencies to develop plans to remove Kaspersky software from government systems in the next 90 days.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest instance of the apparent disconnect between the Trump White House, which has often downplayed the threat of Russian interference to the country’s infrastructure, and front-line American law enforcement and intelligence officials, who are engaged in a perpetual shadow war against Moscow-directed operatives.

Kaspersky’s business in the United States now appears to be the latest casualty in those spy wars. Best Buy, the electronics giant, announced last week that it was pulling Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity products from its shelves and website, and the Senate is voting this week on a defense-spending bill that would ban Kaspersky Lab products from being used by American government agencies, effectively codifying Wednesday’s directive into law.

Kaspersky is considered one of the foremost cybersecurity research firms in the world, and has considerable expertise in designing antivirus software and tools to uncover spyware used by Western intelligence services. The company was founded by Eugene V. Kaspersky, who attended a high school that trained Russian spies, and later wrote software for the Soviet Army before going on to found Kaspersky Lab in 1997. He has insisted that neither he nor his company have active ties to the Russian military or intelligence services.

Yet despite its prominence in the cybersecurity world, its origins in Russia have for years fueled suspicions about its possible ties to Russia’s intelligence agencies. Federal officials have warned private companies to avoid Kaspersky software, and earlier this year the firm was removed from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology.

At a Senate hearing in May, a number of senior American security officials, including the chiefs of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., were even more blunt when asked if they would be comfortable with Kaspersky software running on their agencies’ systems: “No,” they said.

Still, Kaspersky’s software is believed to be used in many federal agencies, especially its antivirus products, though there is no reliable estimate of its ubiquity — government computer systems tend be a jumbled-together collection of often-aging software and hardware, and no central authority keeps track of who uses what.

Kaspersky’s software is also widely used by state governments and ordinary Americans. The company says it has more than 400 million users around the world. It also has a robust business analyzing and investigating cyberthreats.

The German government ends and the auto industry

Daimler and Volkswagen’s top lobbyists were once close aides to Chancellor Angela Merkel. The foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, used to sit on Volkswagen’s supervisory board. Ms. Merkel herself once buttonholed the governor of California to complain about the state’s strict emissions standards.

Those close relations between public officials and car manufacturers were once considered vital economic policy for Germany’s most important export. Now, they are a political liability.

Weeks before national elections, voters increasingly see the government as complicit with carmakers in a widening diesel crisis that threatens the German economy. While Ms. Merkel is still heavily favored to win, the chancellor and her political rivals consider the automakers toxic and have begun to distance themselves from them.

The backlash has been building since 2015, when United States regulators uncovered widespread emissions cheating by Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker. The broadening case, which has also ensnared BMW and Daimler, has called attention to the harmful effects of nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles. Cities across Europe are considering diesel bans, and sales of diesel engines are plummeting.

For decades, the German government has been a crucial ally for carmakers, operating as a de facto lobbyist for the industry.

With the active support of officials, automakers used their political clout in Brussels to block stricter emissions regulations and to promote subsidies for diesel. German leaders, including Ms. Merkel and her predecessor, argued against tough emissions rules and pushed for better terms for the country’s carmakers abroad.

Most recently, Germany led a group of auto-producing countries in weakening European emissions testing procedures that were designed to prevent the kind of deception committed by Volkswagen. New cars must pass road tests. Previously, they had to pass only laboratory exams, which Volkswagen and other carmakers were able to game. But, at German insistence, cars can emit double the legal limit of nitrogen oxides and still be approved.

German political leaders and automakers have worked together to promote diesel technology since the 1990s. Ms. Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, was proud to be known as the “auto chancellor.”

Germany has taxed diesel fuel at a lower rate than gasoline since the 1980s, originally to make truck transport, which is predominantly diesel, less expensive. The goal, according to a 2011 study by Transport and Environment, an advocacy group in Brussels, was to lower costs to help German manufacturers compete internationally.

In the 1990s, the auto industry preserved the subsidies by convincing politicians that diesels were better for the environment than gasoline engines, a dubious claim given the other pollutants that diesel spews. For years, environmentalists’ calls to raise diesel taxes have met opposition from the country’s largest political parties, including Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats.Backlash against automakers has been building since 2015, when United States regulators uncovered widespread emissions cheating by Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker.CreditCarsten Koall/European Pressphoto Agency

 Those tax breaks have ensured that diesel is significantly cheaper at the pump, leading to a steady rise in the popularity of diesel-powered cars. Until recently, they outsold their gasoline-powered counterparts around Europe.

German carmakers and politicians engaged in a similar battle in Brussels, fighting for years to bat away tougher emissions rules. In 2013, Germany used its clout as the European Union’s largest economy to intervene when the bloc’s executive arm wanted to tighten limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Matthias Wissmann, head of the German Association of the Automotive Industry and a former transportation minister, wrote a letter to Ms. Merkel, warning that the new standards would hurt sales of German luxury cars. In that letter, he addressed Ms. Merkel as “du,” the informal German word for “you” normally used only between close friends.

Ms. Merkel then personally called Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, who held the rotating presidency of the European Council, and persuaded him to delay a decision. The standards were eventually watered down.

German leaders campaigned for carmakers farther afield, too. On a trip to California in 2010, Ms. Merkel complained about the state’s strict limits on nitrogen oxides during a meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“She said, ‘Your nitrogen oxide limits are too strict, and that is hurting our German diesels,’” Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board and an attendee at the meeting, said in testimony to the German Parliament in March. “She was there, it seemed, as spokeswoman for the auto industry.”

Stephan Weil, prime minister of Lower Saxony, home of Volkswagen, conceded in August that he had allowed company lobbyists to vet a 2015 speech about the emissions deception. The state of Lower Saxony owns a 20 percent stake in Volkswagen, and Mr. Weil sits on the carmaker’s supervisory board.

Mr. Weil, a member of the Social Democrats, denied making significant changes to the speech after it was shown to Volkswagen. Thomas Steg, head of government relations for the carmaker, said Volkswagen looked only for factual errors.

The case, first reported by the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, helped spur a turnaround in public perceptions of diesel, once a point of national pride.

The diesel engine, like the automobile, was a German invention, and the country’s carmakers leveraged their know-how to achieve dominance in the European luxury car market. The auto industry, including suppliers, currently employs about 2 percent of the German work force, according to Commerzbank.

Against that backdrop, deep political ties were forged.

German carmakers have often recruited government insiders to represent their interests. Mr. Steg of Volkswagen was once a spokesman for Ms. Merkel. Eckart von Klaeden, responsible for Daimler’s relations with governments worldwide, served under her as a junior minister.

All of the country’s main parties, even the environmentalist Greens, have long histories of amiable relations with the auto industry. Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister who for many years was standard-bearer for the Greens, now works as a consultant to BMW, though the carmaker says he does not do any lobbying.

While money plays a much smaller role in election campaigns in Germany than in the United States, the auto companies nevertheless make their presence known. Daimler, for example, contributed 100,000 euros, or about $120,000, each to Ms. Merkel’s party and to the Social Democrats, according to documents filed at the German Parliament. The carmakers also help to finance party events and loan cars for free to elected officials, activities that they are not required to disclose.

BMW said in a statement that it had tightened its rules on interactions with politicians, ensuring, for example, that parties report the use of vehicles as a financial contribution. Daimler did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Steg, the Volkswagen lobbyist and former aide to Ms. Merkel, said a close relationship between carmakers and politicians was of common interest. Others argue that lobbying helps auto executives understand the workings of government, and public officials understand the car business.

Since the end of World War II, Mr. Steg said, “politicians have always had a huge interest in the well-being of the industry and the creation of jobs.”

The government’s own study last year showed that virtually all makers of diesel cars had flouted emissions limits, but Ms. Merkel’s ministers did not impose penalties. Germany now faces a lawsuit by the European Commission over failures to enforce the bloc’s clean air rules.

China-backed investor from buying an American

On Wednesday blocked a China-backed investor from buying an American semiconductor maker over national security concerns, a rare move that could signal more aggressive scrutiny of China’s deal-making ambitions.

The deal for Lattice Semiconductor has provided a test of the president’s economic and diplomatic relationship with China.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump reserved some of his harshest words for China, accusing the country of stealing jobs. In recent months, the president has turned more critical of Beijing, accusing it of failing to do more to restrain the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.

Derek M. Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who studies Chinese investment, said that the administration’s decision over Lattice was intended to send a political message. “We could let it die quietly,” he said, “but we’re going to kill it loudly.”

The White House said on Wednesday that it prevented the acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor, in part because the United States government relies on the company’s products. The integrity of the semiconductor industry, it said, was vital.

The White House also raised concerns over the buyer’s close ties to Beijing. The investment group included China Venture Capital Fund Corporation, which is owned by state-backed entities, the White House said.

The decision could foretell trouble for other Chinese deals under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multiagency group that examines takeovers of American companies by foreign buyers and makes recommendations to the president. The group, which operates largely in secrecy, is also looking at the proposed purchase of MoneyGram International by Ant Financial, an affiliate of the Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group.

Chinese deal-making in the United States has surged in recent years, as cash-rich companies look overseas to diversify and spread their wealth. Last year, Chinese investment hit $46 billion, a threefold increase from 2015 before, according to the research firm Rhodium Group.

The flow of Chinese money into the country, although it has slowed lately, has prompted concerns over the state’s influence in corporate strategy. Critics are particularly worried that China is focusing on sensitive industries, like technology. White House officials and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing for new rules that would keep closer tabs on deals by foreign buyers, by expanding the powers of the foreign investment committee, known as Cfius.

Mr. Trump has sought to take a tough line on China’s trade and investment practices, threatening on the campaign trail to enact sweeping tariffs. Although his moves in office have so far been more modest, he has stoked tensions between the two countries.

In August, the White House began an investigation into claims of Chinese violations of American intellectual property, an inquiry that could result in tariffs or another negotiated outcome. Mr. Trump also called for a report on the steel industry, where China is dominant.

By blocking the deal for Lattice Semiconductor, the president is taking direct aim at China’s industrial policy.

As China looks to expand its global reach and support its economic growth, the government wants to be a dominant force in cutting-edge industries. The country’s “Made in China 2025” program, which will provide extensive assistance and cheap loans to certain industries, lays out an ambitious plan to build homegrown giants that will compete with American stalwarts.

Semiconductors has been a major focus of the effort. As China moves to build and design chips, Chinese investors has acquired overseas chip makers and teamed up with Western technology giants.

The deal for Lattice Semiconductor played to those ambitions.

The company announced an agreement last November to sell itself to a private equity firm, Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, for $1.3 billion. The initial funding for the firm, based in Palo Alto, Calif., came from China.

Cfius raised warning flags about the deal. Although the review process takes place behind closed doors, Lattice disclosed on Sept. 1 that the committee planned to recommend that the president to block the deal.

When that happens, companies usually drop their acquisition plans. Last year, Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, called off a deal to sell a big stake in its automotive and LED components business over Cfius concerns. The buyer was a consortium with GO Scale Capital, an investment fund sponsored, in part, by GSR Ventures of China.