Розділ: Фінанси

October 17th, 2021 by Vbiz

Like other ranchers across the country, Rusty Kemp for years grumbled about rock-bottom prices paid for the cattle he raised in central Nebraska, even as the cost of beef at grocery stores kept climbing.

He and his neighbors blamed it on consolidation in the beef industry stretching back to the 1970s that resulted in four companies slaughtering more than 80% of the nation’s cattle, giving the processors more power to set prices while ranchers struggled to make a living. Federal data show that for every dollar spent on food, the share that went to ranchers and farmers dropped from 35 cents in the 1970s to 14 cents recently.

It led Kemp to launch an audacious plan: Raise more than $300 million from ranchers to build a plant themselves, putting their future in their own hands.

“We’ve been complaining about it for 30 years,” Kemp said. “It’s probably time somebody does something about it.”

Crews will start work this fall building the Sustainable Beef plant on nearly 400 acres near North Platte, Nebraska, and other groups are making similar surprising moves in Iowa, Idaho and Wisconsin. The enterprises will test whether it’s really possible to compete financially against an industry trend that has swept through American agriculture and that played a role in meat shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is well timed, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now taking a number of steps to encourage a more diverse supply in the beef industry.

Still, it’s hard to overstate the challenge, going up against huge, well-financed competitors that run highly efficient plants and can sell beef at prices that smaller operators will struggle to match.

‘They’re ready to take a risk’

The question is whether smaller plants can pay ranchers more and still make a profit themselves. An average 620-kilogram steer is worth about $1,630, but that value must be divided between the slaughterhouse, feed lot and the rancher, who typically bears the largest expense of raising the animal for more than a year.

David Briggs, the CEO of Sustainable Beef, acknowledged the difficulty but said his company’s investors remain confident.

“Cattle people are risk takers and they’re ready to take a risk,” Briggs said.

Consolidation of meatpacking started in the mid-1970s, with buyouts of smaller companies, mergers and a shift to much larger plants. Census data cited by the USDA shows that the number of livestock slaughter plants declined from 2,590 in 1977 to 1,387 in 1992. And big processors gradually dominated, going from handling only 12% of cattle in 1977 to 65% by 1997.

Currently four companies — Cargill, JBS, Tyson Foods and National Beef Packing — control more than 80% of the U.S. beef market thanks to cattle slaughtered at 24 plants. That concentration became problematic when the coronavirus infected workers, slowing and even closing some of the massive plants, and a cyberattack last summer briefly forced a shutdown of JBS plants until the company paid an $11 million ransom.

The Biden administration has largely blamed declining competition for a 14% increase in beef prices from December 2020 to August. Since 2016, the wholesale value of beef and profits to the largest processors has steadily increased while prices paid to ranchers have barely budged.

Trying to retain workers with higher pay

The backers of the planned new plants have no intention of replacing the giant slaughterhouses, such as a JBS plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, that processes about 6,000 cattle daily — four times what the proposed North Platte plant would handle.

However, they say they will have important advantages, including more modern equipment and, they hope, less employee turnover thanks to slightly higher pay of more than $50,000 annually plus benefits along with more favorable work schedules. The new Midwest plants are also counting on closer relationships with ranchers, encouraging them to invest in the plants, to share in the profits.

The companies would market their beef both domestically and internationally as being of higher quality than meat processed at larger plants.

Chad Tentinger, who is leading efforts to build a Cattlemen’s Heritage plant near Council Bluffs, Iowa, said he thinks smaller plants were profitable even back to the 1970s but that owners shifted to bigger plants in hopes of increasing profits.

Now, he said, “We want to revolutionize the plant and make it an attractive place to work.”

‘They’re extremely efficient’

Besides paying ranchers more and providing dividends to those who own shares, the hope is that their success will spur more plants to open, and the new competitors will add openness to cattle markets.

Derrell Peel, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, said he hopes they’re right, but noted that research shows even a 30% reduction in a plant’s size will make it far less efficient, meaning higher costs to slaughter each animal.

Unless smaller plants can keep expenses down, they will need to find customers who will pay more for their beef, or manage with a lower profit margin than the big companies.

“We have these very large plants because they’re extremely efficient,” Peel said.

According to the North American Meat Institute, a trade group that includes large and mid-size plants, the biggest challenge will be the shortage of workers in the industry.

It’s unfair to blame the big companies and consolidation for the industry’s problems, said Tyson Fresh Meats group President Shane Miller.

“Many processors, including Tyson, are not able to run their facilities at capacity in spite of ample cattle supply,” Miller told a U.S. Senate committee in July. “This is not by choice: Despite our average wage and benefits of $22 per hour, there are simply not enough workers to fill our plants.”

The proposed new plants come as the USDA is trying to increase the supply chain. The agency has dedicated $650 million toward funding mid-size and small meat and poultry plants and $100 million in loan guarantees for such plants. Also planned are new rules to label meat as a U.S. product to differentiate it from meat raised in other countries.

“We’re trying to support new investment and policies that are going to diversify and address that underlying problem of concentration,” said Andy Green, a USDA senior adviser for fair and competitive markets. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 16th, 2021 by Vbiz

At an emergency conference this week, the European Union pledged more than 1 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and neighboring countries, as the United Nations warns millions of Afghans are facing famine. But the United States has been cautious, saying it is sending humanitarian aid, but cannot provide funds directly to the Taliban-led government until they start respecting human rights and women’s rights. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 15th, 2021 by Vbiz

The United States announced Friday an additional 9.6 million doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are being shipped to Pakistan through the global vaccine-sharing COVAX initiative.

The shipment brings to more than 25 million the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by Washington to the Pakistani people, said the American Embassy in Islamabad.

“The United States is proud to partner with Pakistan to get effective, life-saving Pfizer vaccinations into the arms of Pakistanis, and Pakistan has done a great job of distributing our donated vaccines,” U.S. Chargé d’affaires Angela Aggeler was quoted as saying. “This donation comes just in time for young Pakistanis over age 12 to get their first jabs.” 

COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Pakistan, with fewer than 1,000 new daily cases reported on average. The government last week eased restrictions on almost all public movement, education activities and businesses across the country of roughly 220 million people.

The latest government data show there have been 1,262,771 confirmed cases of infections, 39,953 of them active, and 28,228 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic hit Pakistan. 

Officials reported Friday that more than 95 million doses have been administered to Pakistanis, including roughly 1 million in last 24 hours alone, since the national vaccination drive was rolled out in February.

The vaccination campaign has largely relied on Chinese vaccine, but the U.S. donations are helping officials overcome critical shortages of Western-developed anti-coronavirus shots. 

“These Pfizer vaccines are part of the 500 million Pfizer doses the United States purchased this summer to deliver to 92 countries worldwide, including Pakistan, to fulfill President [Joe] Biden’s commitment to provide safe and effective vaccines around the world and supercharge the global fight against the pandemic,” the U.S. Embassy noted in its statement. 

Washington has also delivered $63 million in COVID-19 assistance to Islamabad. 

The COVAX program is co-led by Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the WHO (World Health Organization) and CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness). The United States is the single largest contributor supporting the initiative toward global COVID-19 vaccine access.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 15th, 2021 by Vbiz

Kenyan authorities say the economic losses caused by COVID are driving more people to fish illegally. Poaching has tripled since last year and caused the daily catch to drop from an estimated 600 tons to 200 tons, according to Kenya’s Maritime Fisheries Research Institute. As a result, the Coast Guard has been deployed to protect lakes from poachers. Victoria Amunga reports from Naivasha.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 15th, 2021 by Vbiz

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 14th, 2021 by Vbiz

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Thursday suspended flights to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, over what the state-run carrier alleged was “heavy-handed” interference by the neighboring country’s ruling Taliban.

The suspension came on the same day a Taliban Transport Ministry statement warned it will stop PIA flight operations between Islamabad and the Afghan capital unless the airline reduces ticket prices to the levels that existed before mid-August, when the Islamist group took control of the country.

The statement also ordered Afghan airlines Kam Air to reduce fares on the Kabul-Islamabad route to previous levels or face a halt to their flight operations.

“We have suspended our flights (between Islamabad and Kabul) indefinitely,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told VOA on Thursday.

“The decision has been taken due to an inappropriate behavior by the local (Taliban) administration and inadequate conditions for flight operations,” Khan said.

He explained that PIA was flying charter flights out of Kabul on “purely humanitarian grounds,” and it was the only international airline linking the Afghan capital through Pakistan to the rest of the world.

“Information has been conveyed to PIA and Kam Air private company to reduce the fare on the Kabul-Islamabad route to the level prior to the victory of the Islamic Emirate. If the airlines do not agree to this proposal, their operations on the route will be stopped,” the Taliban said in the statement.

Both PIA and Kam Air operate chartered flights with high fares, citing high insurance costs as the reason for not resuming commercial operations.

PIA had been flying regular commercial flights between Islamabad and Kabul until the Taliban takeover of the country in August, and passengers were being charged up to $200 for a return ticket.

With most international airlines no longer flying to Afghanistan, PIA-chartered flights out of Kabul are charging $1,500 for a one-way ticket to Islamabad.

“The insurance cost of these flights is very high and the charter price cannot be reduced as per the insistence of (Taliban) authorities,” PIA’s Khan said.

PIA officials have complained that their staff in Kabul have faced last-minute changes in regulations and flight permissions and “highly

intimidating behavior” from Taliban commanders. They alleged the airline’s country representative had been held at gunpoint for hours at one point and was freed only after the Pakistan Embassy intervened.

Taliban officials have not yet commented on the allegations leveled by PIA officials.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 14th, 2021 by Vbiz

France has threatened to retaliate against Britain in yet another post-Brexit dispute, this time over fishing rights in what the British call the English Channel and the French refer to as La Manche, the narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean separating England’s southern coast from the northern shores of France.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday retaliation could begin by the end of next week.

France is fuming at the British government’s refusal to allow more French boats to fish in its territorial waters near Britain’s Channel Isles. Britain has issued 325 fishing licenses but declined 125 applications from French fishermen who say they also have been trawling those waters in recent years. Under the terms of the trade deal struck last year by Britain with the European Union as it exited the bloc, they should be granted access too, the fishermen say.

An exasperated French government has threatened a dramatic escalation in the dispute and warned it is considering cutting or reducing electricity supplies to the Channel Islands and the British mainland, which gets 7% of its power from France.

The dispute over French trawlers accessing waters off Britain’s Channel Islands prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year to dispatch Royal Navy vessels to patrol the area with France responding by sending patrol ships to protect French trawlers.

 

On Tuesday French Prime Minister Jean Castex said his government was ready to review all bilateral cooperation with Britain, and French President Emmanuel Macron has been pressing the EU to consider wider reprisals.

Speaking in France’s National Assembly Castex called on the EU to get tougher with Britain and said Brussels should “do more.” He added, “We will refer the matter to the arbitration panel of the agreement to lead the British to respect their word [and] we will question all the conditions for the more global implementation of the agreements concluded under the aegis of the European Union, but also, if necessary, the bilateral cooperation that we have with the United Kingdom,” he said.

But Brussels appears reluctant to get deeply involved in the fishing dispute, although officially it is backing Paris and has berated the British.

Dueling  

France’s Europe Minister Clément Beaune has outlined some possible reprisals, including slapping tariffs on British fish exports. “Britons need us to sell their products, including from fishing, they need us for their energy, for their financial services and for their research centres,” Beaune said last week. “All of this gives us pressure points. We have the means to modulate the degree of our cooperation, to reduce it, if Britain does not implement the agreement,” he added.

In the grander scheme of things, a dispute over 125 fishing licenses would seem a minor matter that should not derail relations between European neighbors, but the two governments have been dueling angrily for months and the clash over post-Brexit fishing is adding venom to an already poisonous relationship.

 

Diplomats on both sides describe Anglo-French relations as “dreadful” and acknowledge they have never been as bad in their professional lifetimes. They say for a comparison you would have to go back to the 1960s. That was when French President Gen. Charles de Gaulle kept slamming the door on British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s efforts to get France’s backing for Britain to join the then-European Community. Macmillan was reduced to tears of frustration after one meeting with De Gaulle.

But at least the two statesmen met face-to-face. The British say they have been trying to arrange sit-down talks for months between Johnson and Macron. Their French counterparts say they doubt a sit-down between the two leaders would accomplish anything.

Other historians cite as a comparison the 1890s when Britain and France were locked in rivalry in a scramble for African colonies. That competition eventually ended when the two signed in 1904 the Entente Cordiale, a set of agreements that marked a significant improvement in Anglo-French relations.

But there are few prospects of a new Entente Cordiale. Some former British diplomats agree there is little point in a Johnson-Macron face-to-face. “The bilateral rows are more numerous and more public than at any time since the major rift over Iraq in 2003. Some level of trust has to be rebuilt before a summit would be worthwhile,” tweeted Peter Rickets, a retired senior diplomat and former chairman of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Post-Brexit friction

Since formally departing the EU more than year ago — and in the years of ill-tempered negotiations between Brussels and London leading up to Brexit — hardly a week has gone by without the British and French sniping at each other, a squabbling that has been amplified by Britain’s notoriously Francophobe tabloid press and France’s equally patriotic media.

In his New Year address in January, Macron assured Britain that France would remain a “friend and ally” despite Brexit, but he slammed the British decision to leave the bloc as one born from “lies and false promises.”

This year alone the two countries have clashed cross-Channel migration with London accusing French authorities of not doing enough to stop migrants and asylum-seekers — more than 10,000 this year so far — crossing La Manche in dinghies and small boats. The French have accused Britain of not having paid money it promised to help French authorities police their coastline to prevent migrants from trying to cross the Channel.

The countries have clashed also over supplies of the COVID vaccine made by AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, with the French left fuming at the Johnson government’s frequent readiness to compare the speed of the vaccine rollout earlier in the year in Britain with the much slower inoculation programs in France and the rest of Europe.

 

British ministers this week accused France of having stolen – earlier this year – five million coronavirus vaccine doses manufactured in Holland but destined for Britain. They say Macron worked with EU chiefs to divert the large batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs to France. British government officials told Britain’s The Sun newspaper that the diversion was “outrageous” and could have cost lives, if Britain had not managed to secure Pfizer vaccines.

And the two governments have bickered over Australia’s decision last month to abandon a $66 billion deal to buy 12 French diesel-electric submarines and to purchase instead at least eight much more sophisticated nuclear-powered attack boats from Britain and America.

France’s defense minister cancelled scheduled talks with her British counterpart as the submarine row reverberated and amid accusations from Paris that Britain had been “opportunistic” and underhanded. Johnson responded blithely by saying in Franglais, “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip [get a grip] about all this and donnez-moi un break [give me a break].”

With next year’s French presidential election looming and the British prime minister under mounting economic pressure, both Macron and Johnson have domestic political reasons to prolong the duel, fear some political commentators. “French President Emmanuel Macron faces a tough and unpredictable election in six months’ time, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking for distractions and scapegoats as reality starts to contradict his cheerful bluster about a plucky, triumphant, stand-alone Brexit Britain,” John Lichfield, a former foreign editor of Britain’s Independent newspaper, noted in a commentary for the Politico.eu news site.

“Both countries are obsessed with each other, for different reasons, and often with silly outcomes,” tweeted Jonathan Eyal, an associate director of the Royal United Services Institute, a London defense think tank.

Ten EU member states including Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium have joined the French in signing a joint statement that calls on Britain to abide by the terms of the Brexit trade agreement and to ensure “continuity” for French fishing fleets. But the joint statement also called for a negotiated solution and avoided any mention of retaliation.

Privately, EU officials say they are determined to ensure the Anglo-French fishing dispute does not escalate and are playing down the prospect of the bloc as a whole agreeing to retaliatory action. Their priority is on resolving a bigger dispute between the EU and Britain over Northern Ireland.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 14th, 2021 by Vbiz

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment compensation dropped last week to their lowest point since the coronavirus pandemic swept into the United States more than a year and a half ago, the Labor Department reported Thursday. 

A total of 293,000 jobless workers filed for assistance, down 36,000 from the revised figure of the week before. It was the lowest claims figure since the 256,000 total in mid-March last year, the government said.

The new figure was an indication the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, remains on a general recovery from the worst economic effects of the 19-month coronavirus pandemic, even as President Joe Biden and Washington policy makers voice concerns about other economic warning signs.

Filings for unemployment compensation often have been seen as a current reading of the country’s economic health, but economists are wary of sharply rising consumer prices, consumer goods supply chain issues that have severely slowed the unloading of dozens of container ships off the U.S. Pacific coast, and meager job growth.

Even as the U.S. said last month that its world-leading economy grew by an annualized rate of 6.7% in the April-to-June period, in September it added only a disappointing 194,000 new jobs, down further from the August figure of 235,000. The jobless rate fell to 4.8%, but that was because thousands of workers dropped out of the labor force.

 

The two-month total of more jobs was down sharply from the more than 2 million combined figure added in June and July.

 

About 8.4 million workers remain unemployed in the United States. There are 10.4 million available jobs in the country, but the skills of the available workers often do not match what employers want, or the job openings are not where the unemployed live.

Even with the limited job growth, the size of the U.S. economy — nearly $23 trillion — now exceeds its pre-pandemic level as it recovers faster than many economists had predicted during the worst of the business closings more than a year ago.

Policy makers at the Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, have signaled that in November they could start reversing the bank’s pandemic stimulus programs and next year could begin to increase its benchmark interest rate.

How fast the U.S. economic growth continues is unclear. The delta variant of the coronavirus is posing a threat to the recovery even as the number of new cases has been declining in recent weeks, now down to under 100,000 a day from the 150,000 or so that were being recorded. The number of deaths each day also has been dropping somewhat below the 2,000 total of a few weeks ago.

But more than 65 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated — and many are refusing to get inoculated. Thousands of workers have gotten shots in the last three weeks, some under the threat from their employers that they would be fired from their jobs if they did not.

Biden has ordered workers at companies with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or be tested weekly for the coronavirus. In addition, he is requiring 2.5 million national government workers and contractors who work for the government to get vaccinated if they haven’t already been inoculated, but it will be weeks before the mandates take full effect.

Some anti-vaccination advocates are filing suit to block Biden’s orders while a handful of conservative Republican state governors, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, remain adamantly opposed to vaccination mandates in their states. But some local school districts and businesses are ignoring their directives and imposing the mandates anyway. 

More than two-thirds of U.S. adults have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and overall, 56.6% of the U.S. population of 332 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 14th, 2021 by Vbiz

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a plan to clear the backlog of container ships off the coast of Southern California by launching 24-hour operations at the port of Los Angeles. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Camera: Roy Kim

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 14th, 2021 by Vbiz

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 economies Wednesday pledged to keep economic stimulus policies in place to ensure a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid ongoing risks, “We will continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures,” according to the official communique released after the G-20 meeting.

While the global recovery has been solid, the statement notes that it has been “highly divergent” among countries.

“We reaffirm our resolve to use all available tools for as long as required to address the adverse consequences of COVID-19, in particular on those most impacted,” the statement continued.

At the same time, officials are closely watching rising prices, the statement said.

The meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors is being held at a time when suppliers are struggling to meet renewed demand and bottlenecks are causing shortages of key materials and pushing prices higher.

Oil prices, notably, have spiked above $80 a barrel for the first time in years.

The World Bank estimates 8.5% of global container shipping is stalled in or around ports, twice as much as in January.

Italy’s central bank chief Ignazio Visco agreed with the International Monetary Fund and others who have said the inflation pressures are mostly the result of transitory factors like the surge in demand.

But he acknowledged that “these may take months before fading away.”

G-20 central bankers are studying the issue to see if there are “more structural factors at work” in the bigger-than-expected inflation spike, and “whether there is some component which starts being transitory but that could become permanent,” Visco told reporters.

Central bankers are walking a fine line between supporting the recovery with easy financial conditions while warding off a permanent increase in inflation.

“Supply chain issues are being felt globally — and finance leaders from around the globe must collaborate to address our shared challenges,” said U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who chaired the meeting of the world’s richest nations.

The G-20 communique said central banks “will act as needed” to address price stability “while looking through inflation pressures where they are transitory.”

But World Bank President David Malpass warned that some of the price spikes “will not be transitory.”

“It will take time and cooperation of policymakers across the world to sort them out.”

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said the lag in vaccination rates to contain the pandemic in developing nations is contributing to the supply constraints, and “as long as it widens, this risk of interruptions in global supply chains is going to be higher.” 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

From the United States to Germany, developed countries are scrambling to source energy supplies and satisfy a booming consumer demand for goods. 

Supply chains disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic are straining to cope and factories are unable to meet the surge in demand from consumers, who are spending far more than normal, a consequence of governments pumping $10 trillion collectively into their economies, say business analysts.

Shortages in Britain have made headlines with shoppers facing empty food shelves, with fruits and vegetables especially in short supply. Supermarket bosses warned Wednesday they might have to ration meat to prevent panic buying, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. 

 

Britain’s supply challenges have been intensified by its departure from the European Union, its main trading partner. But European neighbors, as well as the United States, are also reporting shortages of clothing and electronic goods. Manufacturers say they are finding it hard to source microchips due to factory shutdowns in Asia. 

Politicians have sought to reassure voters that things will return to normal soon and that shortages are transitory.

But are they? 

 

Some economists and trade analysts fear the developed world may be entering a new era of scarcity partly because of climate action, which will be costly and slow economic growth, and because of a growing trend toward economic protectionism. 

 

While few doubt that carbon reduction in economies is essential, if an existential climate disaster is to be averted, a rise in the imposition of tariffs and quotas and government regulations, aimed at restricting imports, has free market advocates and economists worried. 

Shortage economy 

 

They say turning away from globalization and free trade will slow economic growth, lead to scarcity, reduce productivity, and make the world poorer. Britain’s influential Economist magazine this week warned, “Around the world, economic nationalism is contributing to the shortage economy.” 

 

The magazine’s editors say, “Trade policy is no longer being written with economic efficiency in mind.” They pointed to the recent decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to keep in place tariffs from the prior administration of President Donald Trump, which average around 19%, on Chinese goods. 

 

Free trade opponents welcome the trend, arguing globalization results in job losses in developing countries, leads to increasing and unfair economic disparities and income inequalities, results in the exploitation and underpayment of workers and roils local communities. 

 

Debate aside on the benefits or drawbacks of globalization, economic protectionism has been increasing in recent years. Data compiled by the London-based Center for Economic Policy Research suggests that more than 50% of exports from G-20 countries are subject to trade measures, up from 20% in 2009. 

 

Global cross-border investment has declined dramatically during the past two pandemic years, but even before the emergence of the coronavirus, it was falling according to figures published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based intergovernmental body with 38 member states. 

 

Since 2015 foreign direct investment by companies has fallen by half relative to world GDP, according to the OECD. 

 

Governments are increasingly showing a reluctance to sign new free trade deals and instead have been talking up the need to boost manufacturing capacity and the economic security of their countries. 

 

Analysts and business leaders also say geopolitical rivalry, where nations see trade as a zero-sum game, meaning there have to be winners and losers, is also playing an increasing role in the policy-making and economic thinking of governments. 

 

Last week, a group of CEOs from some of the world’s biggest companies, brought together by the World Economic Forum, WEF, an independent international organization, called for greater global trade cooperation. In a joint statement, the business leaders drawn from 17 countries highlighted the potential of trade and investment to speed the global economic recovery from the pandemic. 

 

“We believe trade and investment support human development and that global recovery can be built upon a trade recovery. Governments must creatively re-engage on trade reform and refrain from protectionism,” they said. 

And the CEOs added, “Through jointly upholding environmental and social standards, trade cooperation should prevent a race to the bottom and avoid harmful distortions to markets for goods and services. Trade cooperation can improve outcomes for underrepresented members of society, including women and minorities.” 

 

Last month, Biden played down the prospects of a post-Brexit free trade deal between the United States and Britain during bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House.

Biden said he would discuss the issue “a little bit” with Johnson, who has been eager to strike an agreement with the U.S. in the wake of Britain’s exit from the EU. 

Later, Johnson told British reporters that a U.S.-UK trade deal was “just not a priority” for the Biden administration. 

 

The U.S. is not alone in running shy of new free trade deals and focusing on national self-reliance and boosting manufacturing capacity. When first elected in 2014, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, raised the prospect of implementing wide-ranging economic reforms and opening his country much more to free trade. 

Some incremental reforms were introduced, but soon after entering office Modi put a pause on trade deals and adopted policies focused on India supplying the goods and services it needs from within the country, rather than getting them from abroad. 

 

There has been some tempering of Modi’s self-reliance policy since, but his government has been highly cautious in discussing regional trade deals, say analysts.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

A report marking the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction finds many deaths and economic losses from natural disasters could be averted by investing in preventive risk reduction measures. 

Climate-related disasters have nearly doubled over the past 20 years, with developing countries bearing the brunt of the damage. Though extreme weather events and other emergencies are growing, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction says little money is being allocated to help countries prevent or reduce risks. 

The report finds $133 billion of official development assistance was allocated for disaster-related aid between 2010 and 2019, but only $5.5 billion was invested in measures to reduce the risks and lessen the impact of disasters. 

For every $100 spent on disaster-related development aid, only 50 cents goes toward protecting development from the impact of disasters, according to the report. 

Ricardo Mena, director of the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said even that low-level funding should be better targeted to address the needs of poorer, more vulnerable countries. 

“One would think that countries that are more prone to disasters and that experience higher mortality rates would be the ones where DRR, disaster risk reduction, financing would be allocated the most. But that is unfortunately not the case,” he said. “Insufficient investment is being provided to prevent future disasters in areas where high mortality is likely.” 

Mena said failure to invest in DRR is like buying a nice car that has no brakes.

“Investing in DRR, we know it makes sense and, in terms of cost-benefit, it is tremendously positive,” he said. “So, yes, we are saying it is better to attack the underlying factors of risk, then having to spend more money at a time when disasters actually happen.” 

Academic studies find every dollar invested in disaster risk reduction prevention can result in savings of $3 to $15 in disaster losses. 

Mena is calling for an increase in funding to help poor countries adapt to climate change and implement national strategies for disaster risk reduction. 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank, is holding a series of meetings with senior U.S. government officials and business leaders in Washington to encourage increased investments in Africa.  

VOA’s Peter Clottey spoke with Adesina, a Nigerian economist, to discuss why he thinks the continent is ripe for foreign investment – especially from the United States.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: How do you plan to encourage foreign investment in Africa?

Adesina: I think first and foremost … remember that Africa — even before the pandemic – has six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. You look even with the African Continental Free Trade Area that is going to be a free trade area with 1.3 billion people and a collective GDP of $3.3 trillion…And so when you look at what that means, you have big consumer and business expenditures on the continent going to rise to $6.7 trillion by 2030. So that tells you that the fundamentals of Africa are strong as they were. And so basically my mission into the U.S. is to encourage the U.S. private sector to invest massively in Africa — in particular in infrastructure and energy in terms of renewable energy and digital infrastructure. 

So basically, our role as the African Development Bank is to tell the investment story of Africa. Second is to actually give the investors the confidence that they can invest because we can help to source the deals, we can design bankable projects, we can do risk projects and we can ensure that governments actually do the right thing in terms of the business investment and regulatory environment.

VOA: Speaking about the pandemic, you have been very vocal around the issue of vaccine inequity. Why this stance?

Adesina: I’ve been quite vocal about access to vaccines. Take a look at it today in Africa. Only 24 million Africans have been vaccinated. And so, you have a continent that is not being treated fairly in terms of access in terms of the equity with regard to vaccinations. And that’s because you have a situation wherein the developed countries bought up all the vaccines, advanced purchase agreements, locked it all up. 

And so the key really is making sure that Africa doesn’t go through this again. So, we want to make sure that we’re dealing with this in three ways. One is to encourage global manufacturing companies of vaccines to relocate to Africa, and I think we’re making some good headway there. You need to build your own indigenous research and development capacity. And at the African Development Bank, we are working right now to support Africa in this. We need to have an African health care defense system. 

Look at this as a defense system that requires greater investment in pharmaceuticals, greater investment in vaccine manufacturing on the continent, but also joining that with greater investment in quality health care infrastructure — primary health care, secondary, tertiary health care infrastructure and diagnostic facilities. So those three things have to work in tandem to secure the health of Africa.

VOA: One of the African Development Bank’s annual flagship events, which has drawn significant investor interest from around the world in the last three years, is the bank’s Market Days to be held in December. Tell me a little bit more about it and your expectations for this year. 

Adesina: The Africa Investment Forum has become Africa’s premier investment marketplace. And what makes it very unique is that there are actually no speeches in these meetings. You know, it’s all transactions, deals and deals and deals. 

What investors will tell you is, ‘Why will I want to invest in Africa because I actually don’t know whether they are bankable projects.’ Well, we’ve shown that there are really bankable projects. In 2018, when we had the Africa Investment Forum’s first premiere edition, we were able to mobilize $38.7 billion dollars of investment interest in Africa on bankable projects in less than 72 hours. Just think of that. And we did it again in 2019 and were able to secure investment interests of $40.1 billion U.S. dollars. And so that means that the investment opportunities are actually there. 

Of course, things got really affected by the COVID-19 situation; however, going back now to the Africa Investment Forum Market Days for 2021, the event will be held December 1-3 in Abuja under a hybrid model. We will have some people in Abidjan that will link to others globally. We will run the investment boardroom sessions where we bring in the investors, the project developers, the insurance companies, the legal facilities and the banks that can help to co-finance or syndicate or do risk projects that are all going to be there with heads of state. Everybody is eager to have investment rebound now in Africa.

VOA: You have been outspoken about the importance of renewable energy, climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation as well as emerging technology. How do you see Africa embracing these issues? 

Adesina: Well, quite honestly, we have to. We have no choice. Africa only contributes no more than 3% or 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. But now we have to actually deal with the negative consequences of it. For example, the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that just came out was scary. It basically says that Africa will get drier, much hotter. It will make some parts of Africa probably almost unlivable. I think we have to very quickly respond to that. 

Part of responding to that is the African Development Bank and the Global Center for Adaptation, which is chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. We set up what’s called the African Adaptation Acceleration Program. This is to mobilize an additional $25 billion dollars towards adaptation in Africa. We want to reach 30 million farmers and pastoralists in Africa with digital climate advisory services that will allow them to be able to have good information and therefore be able to adapt to climate change. From other parts of the bank’s work, which is on agriculture, we are providing today access to farmers with drought tolerant maize varieties all across eastern Africa and southern Africa.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

A global deal to ensure large multinational companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15% and make it harder for them to avoid taxation has been recently agreed upon by 136 countries. But as White House bureau chief Patsy Widakuswara reports, the world has a long way to go before the deal is implemented.

Produced by: Mary Cieslak           

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to extend the government’s borrowing authority into early December, averting a first-ever default next week when the United States says it will run out of money to pay its bills.

The House vote increased the existing $28.4 trillion debt total by $480 billion through December 3, following approval last week by the Senate, would send the legislation to President Joe Biden for his expected signature.

While the congressional votes and Biden’s approval resolve the immediate financial crisis for the government, the Democratic-controlled Congress and the White House have yet to agree on how to approve a long-term expansion of the borrowing authority, perhaps through almost all of 2022.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell secured enough votes of his fellow Republican senators last week to help Democrats pass the expanded borrowing authority in the short term but said he would not do so again as the December deadline approaches.

McConnell has called on Democrats to approve the debt ceiling on their own through a legislative process known as reconciliation, for which they would not need any Republican support. But Democrats say the process is cumbersome and time-consuming, leaving it uncertain how they will try to hike the borrowing authority come December.

The U.S., almost alone among world governments, has a debt ceiling, one it has adjusted about 70 times since 1965, either by increasing it to a specific figure or by suspending it for a year or two. The U.S. needs to borrow money, much as individual consumers might, because it chronically spends more than it collects in corporate and individual taxes.

U.S. Treasury chief Janet Yellen warned Sunday that it was “absolutely imperative” that Congress increase the country’s borrowing authority, even as the threat of an immediate default receded.

“It would be a catastrophe” if the United States does not increase the debt ceiling, Yellen told ABC’s “This Week” show.

Yellen had said the U.S. would run out of money to pay its bills next Monday. McConnell and 10 other Republicans voted to clear the path for Democratic senators to increase the government’s borrowing authority on a 50-48 party-line vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans should join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling because the country’s long-term debt has increased under both Republican and Democratic control of the White House and Congress.

The borrowing authority provides money to pay bills for debt already incurred, not future spending. But Republicans have balked at helping Democrats raise the debt ceiling this time as a protest against Biden’s proposal to spend $2 trillion or more on the biggest expansion of the country’s social safety net programs in five decades.

Yellen has called for doing away with the debt ceiling, but that is unlikely since both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, thinking it is a winning political tactic, repeatedly blame each other for what they contend is wasteful and unneeded spending by their opponents.

“It should be a shared responsibility [to increase the debt ceiling], not any one party,” Yellen said. “It is Congress’ responsibility.”

“We have to reassure the world that the United States is fiscally responsible,” she said, adding that if the borrowing authority is not increased before December 3, it would amount to “a self-inflicted crisis.”

Yellen said if the debt ceiling is not increased, 50 million older Americans might not receive government pension benefits and that “our troops won’t know when or if they would be paid. The 30 million families that receive a child tax credit, those payments would be in jeopardy,” she said. 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 13th, 2021 by Vbiz

At a time when the Chinese economy is facing multiple challenges, including an energy shortage and supply chain problems that have disrupted multiple industries, an expanding crisis in the real estate sector threatens even further damage. 

For months, the slow-moving default crisis at China Evergrande Group, one of the country’s largest property developers, has put a spotlight on the real estate sector, which makes up a much larger share of gross domestic product in China – nearly 30% – than it does in most developed countries. 

The crisis has accelerated in recent days, with more real estate companies defaulting on their bond payments, or asking for forbearance from creditors in order to avoid default.

Experts warn that the deterioration of the Chinese real estate sector could lead to reluctance of foreign investors to place bets on Chinese companies in general – bad news at a time when the government in Beijing is struggling to manage multiple problems. 

Energy shortage 

The crisis in the property sector comes at a particularly bad time for China, which is currently facing widespread shortages of coal, which it uses to generate around 70% of its electricity. 

The coal shortage is driven by a number of factors, including a boycott by China of Australian coal put in place last year after officials in Canberra demanded an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which first appeared in China.

But China has also placed a series of new regulations on coal mines while simultaneously requiring that energy prices be kept artificially low. This led to disinvestment in the coal sector, and lower production. 

This week, Beijing announced that it will allow energy firms to set prices on the open market without a ceiling, which will make electricity significantly more expensive, but will also incentivize more production.

The moves to improve the supply of energy are not expected to achieve real results until sometime next year. Meanwhile, the energy shortage has cascaded through the Chinese economy. The country has faced intermittent blackouts that have impacted everything from heavy industries like steel, aluminum and cement, to the manufacture of electronics and other consumer goods. 

Broader problems in real estate 

At a time when foreign investment could help drive improvement in the country’s energy sector, the struggles of the property development market are making those investments look more and more risky. 

Evergrande’s failure to make payments on a pair of dollar-denominated bonds last month – and the Chinese government’s apparent lack of interest in bailing out the company – has raised questions about the future of the conglomerate, which has more than $300 billion in debt still outstanding.

On Tuesday, investors in Evergrande bonds reported that the company had missed another payment of $148 million. 

Now, the crisis at Evergrande seems to be infecting other firms in the property sector. Last week, Fantasia Holdings Group, a Shenzhen-based property developer, shocked the markets by defaulting on a $206 million payment. Days before, the bonds had been trading at 99 cents on the dollar, suggesting that investors thought it highly likely that the company could service its debt. 

On Tuesday, another firm, Sinic Holdings, announced that it does not expect to be able to make a payment on a $250 million bond coming due next week, and that the failure will cause it to “cross-default” on two other outstanding bonds.

Funding crisis 

Still more firms are showing signs of imminent distress. Modern Land Co., based in Beijing, has asked creditors for a three-month extension on a pending payment, and Xinyuan Real Estate has asked its creditors to trade bonds coming due on Friday for new bonds that won’t mature until 2023, a move rating agencies see as tantamount to default. 

The series of defaults in the property sector has given international investors reason to be extremely leery of the Chinese property market. Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings have all slashed credit ratings on a host of Chinese developers.

Bondholders who were willing to accept a 10% interest rate on Chinese junk bonds – securities considered to be below “investment grade” by ratings firms – are now demanding rates above 20%, in some cases. Holders of existing bonds are expecting to take significant “haircuts” on their holdings, meaning that they will be forced to accept less than they are owed. 

A drag on economic growth 

High borrowing costs are likely to be a persistent problem for Chinese companies, Doug Barry, a spokesman for the U.S.-China Business Council, told VOA. 

“A problem for the Chinese economy is that it will cost higher rates of return to sell Chinese debt in world equity markets,” he said.

Barry said that the likely result is that China will receive less investment capital from overseas in the future, which will hamper economic growth.

“The immediate effects could be lower levels of investment and lower levels of growth,” he said. “This, paired with energy shortages, represents a one-two punch. Foreign companies with substantial investments in China are watching closely with an eye toward keeping supply chains intact and costs stable.” 

“The world economy is intertwined with China’s, ‘like lips and teeth,’ to use a Chinese expression,” he added. The hope is that officials will get a grip on the immediate problems and do the work necessary to stabilize for the longer term financial, property and energy markets.” 

Public concern limited 

Tianlei Huang, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in an email exchange with VOA that inside China, there doesn’t appear to be broad public concern about the crisis in the real estate sector seeping into other parts of the economy. 

However, he added, “There is no denying that Evergrande’s debt is worrying. Though the overall debt held by financial institutions is limited, certain banks with high exposure to Evergrande and other weak property developers could suffer a heavy blow and see a sharp deterioration in asset quality should there be a cross default.” 

The lack of widespread public concern may be due, in part, to how difficult it is to get a full picture of the indebtedness of large Chinese companies. 

Hidden debt 

“What is equally worrying is that Evergrande also has lots of off-balance-sheet debt and it is unclear how much,” Huang said.

Many Chinese firms supplement bank loans and bond issuances with other sources of funding, including investment capital routed through wealth management firms seeking high returns for their clients. 

“You may have seen videos of gatherings of investors in front of Evergrande’s office buildings asking for repayments,” he said. “Local governments are now on high alert for any large-scale gatherings related to Evergrande.” 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

One reason America’s employers are having trouble filling jobs was starkly illustrated in a report Tuesday: Americans are quitting in droves.

The Labor Department said that quits jumped to 4.3 million in August, the highest on records dating back to December 2000, and up from 4 million in July. That’s equivalent to nearly 3% of the workforce. Hiring also slowed in August, the report showed, and the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month.

The data helps fill in a puzzle that is looming over the job market: Hiring slowed sharply in August and September, even as the number of posted jobs was near record levels. In the past year, open jobs have increased 62%. Yet overall hiring, as measured by Tuesday’s report, has actually declined slightly during that time.

The jump in quits strongly suggests that fear of the delta variant is partly responsible for the shortfall in workers. In addition to driving quits, fear of the disease probably caused plenty of those out of work to not look for, or take, jobs.

As COVID-19 cases surged in August, quits soared in restaurants and hotels from the previous month and rose in other public-facing jobs, such as retail and education. Nearly 900,000 people left jobs at restaurants, bars, and hotels in August, up 21% from July. Quits by retail workers rose 6%.

Yet in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing, quits barely increased. In professional and business services, which includes fields such as law, engineering, and architecture, where most employees can work from home, quitting was largely flat. 

Other factors also likely contributed to the jump in quits. With many employers desperate for workers and wages rising at a healthy pace, workers have a much greater ability to demand higher pay or go elsewhere to find it. 

The data from August is probably too early to reflect the impact of vaccine mandates. President Joe Biden’s mandate was not announced until Sept. 9. United Airlines announced its mandate in early August, but it was one of the first companies to do so. And layoffs were unchanged in August, the report found.

The government said Friday that job gains were weak for a second straight month in September, with only 194,000 jobs added, though the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% from 5.2%. Friday’s hiring figure is a net total, after quits, retirements, and layoffs are taken into account. Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, includes raw figures, and showed that total hiring in August fell sharply, to 6.3 million from 6.8 million in July.

The data is “highlighting the immense problems businesses are dealing with,” said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, in an email. “Not enough people. Not enough equipment and/or parts. Meantime, customers are waiting for their orders, or waiting to place their orders. What a strange world this is.”

Quits also rose the most in the South and Midwest, the government said, the two regions with the worst COVID outbreaks in August.

When workers quit, it is typically seen as a good sign for the job market, because people usually leave jobs when they already have other positions or are confident they can find one. The large increase in August probably does reflect some of that confidence among workers.

But the fact that the increase in quits was heavily concentrated in sectors that involve close contact with the public is a sign that fear of COVID also played a large role. Many people may have quit even without other jobs to take.

The sharp increase in job openings also has an international dimension: Job vacancies have reached a record level in the United Kingdom, though that is partly because many European workers left the U.K. after Brexit.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

It was late last Christmas Eve when the European Union and Britain finally clinched a Brexit trade deal after years of wrangling, threats and missed deadlines to seal their divorce.

There was hope that now-separated Britain and the 27-nation bloc would sail their relationship toward calmer waters.

With Christmas closing in again one thing is clear — it wasn’t to be.

Britain’s Brexit minister on Tuesday accused the EU of wishing failure on its former member and of badmouthing the U.K. as a country that can’t be trusted. David Frost said during a speech in Lisbon that the EU “doesn’t always look like it wants us to succeed” or “get back to constructive working together.”

He said a fundamental rewrite of the mutually agreed divorce deal was the only way to fix the exes’ “fractious relationship.” And he warned that Britain could push an emergency override button on the deal if it didn’t get its way.

“We constantly face generalized accusations that we can’t be trusted and that we aren’t a reasonable international actor,” Frost added — a response to EU claims that the U.K. is seeking to renege on the legally binding treaty that it negotiated and signed.

Post-Brexit tensions have crystalized into a worsening fight over Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. to share a land border with an EU country, which is Ireland. Under the most delicate and contentious part of the Brexit deal, Northern Ireland remains inside the EU’s single market for trade in goods, in order to avoid a hard border with EU member Ireland.

That means customs and border checks must be conducted on some goods going to Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K., despite the fact they are part of the same country. The regulations are intended to prevent goods from Britain entering the EU’s tariff-free single market while keeping an open border on the island of Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

The U.K. government soon complained the arrangements weren’t working, saying the rules impose burdensome red tape on businesses. Never short of a belligerent metaphor, 2021 has already brought a “sausage war,” with Britain asking the EU to drop a ban on processed British meat products such as sausages entering Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s British Unionist community, meanwhile, says the Brexit deal undermines the 1998 Good Friday peace accord — which sought to protect the rights of both Unionist and Irish Nationalist communities — by weakening Northern Ireland’s ties with the rest of the U.K.

The bloc has agreed to look at changes to the Protocol, and is due to present proposals on Wednesday. Before that move, Britain raised the stakes again, with Frost demanding sweeping changes to the way the agreement is governed.

In his speech in the Portuguese capital, Frost said the Protocol “is not working.”

“It has completely lost consent in one community in Northern Ireland,” he said. “It is not doing the thing it was set up to do – protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. In fact it is doing the opposite. It has to change.”

Most contentiously, he said the EU must also remove the European Court of Justice as the ultimate arbiter of disputes concerning trade in Northern Ireland and instead agree to international arbitration. He said the role of the EU court “means the EU can make laws which apply in Northern Ireland without any kind of democratic scrutiny or discussion.”

The EU is highly unlikely to agree to the change. The bloc’s highest court is seen as the pinnacle of the free trade single market, and Brussels has vowed not to undermine its own order.

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, said Britain’s demand was “very hard to accept.”

“I don’t think we could ever have a situation where we had another court deciding what the rules of the single market are,” he said.

Some EU observers say Britain’s demand to remove the court’s oversight shows it isn’t serious about making the Brexit deal work.

Frost repeated the U.K.’s threat to invoke Article 16, a clause allowing either side to suspend the agreement in exceptional circumstances. That would send already testy relations into a deep chill and could lead to a trade war between Britain and the bloc — one that would hurt the U.K. economy more than its much larger neighbor.

The economically tiny but symbolically charged subject of fish, which held up a trade deal to the final minute last year, is also stoking divisions now.

France wants its EU partners to act as one if London wouldn’t grant more licenses for small French fishing boats to roam close to the U.K. crown dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey, just off France’s Normandy coast.

In France’s parliament last week, Prime Minister Jean Castex accused Britain of reneging on its promise over fishing.

“We see in the clearest way possible that Great Britain does not respect its own signature,” he said.

In a relationship where both sides often fall back on cliches about the other, Castex was harking back to the centuries-old French insult of “Perfidious Albion,” a nation that can never be trusted.

Across the English Channel, U.K. Brexit supporters often depict a conniving EU, hurt by Britain’s departure, doing its utmost to make Brexit less than a success by throwing up bureaucratic impediments.

“The EU and we have got into a low equilibrium, (a) somewhat fractious relationship,” Frost conceded. “(It) need not always be like that, but … it takes two to fix it.”

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

The International Monetary Fund is slightly downgrading its outlook for the global recovery from the pandemic recession, reflecting the persistence of supply chain disruptions in industrialized countries and deadly disparities in vaccination rates between rich and poor nations. 

In its latest World Economic Outlook being released Tuesday, the IMF foresees global growth this year of 5.9%, compared with its projection in July of 6%. 

For the United States, the world’s largest economy, the IMF predicts growth of 6% for 2021, below its July forecast of 7%. The downward revision reflects a slowdown in economic activity resulting from a rise in COVID-19 cases and delayed production caused by supply shortages and a resulting acceleration of inflation. 

The IMF predicts that for the world’s advanced economies as a whole, growth will amount to 5.2% this year, compared with a meager predicted gain of 3% for low-income developing countries. 

“The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries,” the IMF said, “remains a major concern.” 

The monetary fund expects the total output from advanced economies to recoup the losses they suffered during the pandemic by 2022 and to exceed their pre-pandemic growth path by 2024. 

But in emerging and developing countries outside of China, the IMF warns, output will remain an estimated 5.5% below the output growth path that the IMF had been forecasting before the pandemic struck in March of last year. That downgrade poses a serious threat to living standards in those countries, the monetary fund said. 

The IMF attributed that economic divergence to the sizable disparities in vaccine access between wealthy and low income countries. It said the outlook for poorer countries had “darkened considerably,” reflecting the surge in cases of the delta variant that has elevated the COVID death toll worldwide to nearly 5 million. 

While nearly 60 percent of the population in advanced economies are fully vaccinated, only about 4% of the population in the poorer countries are. 

Along with lagging vaccination levels, poorer nations face headwinds from a spike in inflation, with food prices rising the most in low-income countries, the IMF said. 

The 5.9% rise in global output being forecast in the IMF outlook would represent a sizable gain after a 3.1% decline in output because of the pandemic last year. For 2022, the IMF foresees an expansion of 4.9%, unchanged from its July forecast. 

The 6% gain in U.S. growth this year follows a deep 3.4% contraction in 2020. The IMF expects solid U.S. growth of 5.2% in 2022. For the 19 nations that use the euro currency, the IMF predicts a 5% expansion this year and 4.3% in 2022. 

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is expected to register growth of 8% this year, down slightly from the IMF’s forecast of 8.1% in July, with growth of 5.6% in 2022. 

The new World Economic Outlook was prepared for this week’s fall meetings of the 190-nation IMF and its sister lending organization, the World Bank, as well as of finance ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of 20 major industrial countries. It was released hours after the IMF expressed confidence in its managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, in response to allegations that while serving as a senior World Bank official, she and others pressured staffers to change business rankings in an effort to placate China. 

The IMF’s 24-member executive board said in a statement that a review it conducted “did not conclusively demonstrate” that Georgieva played an improper role in the situation. 

“Having looked at all the evidence presented, the executive board reaffirms its full confidence in the managing director’s leadership and ability to continue to effectively carry out her duties,” it said. 

Among the agenda items for the meetings this week will be efforts to persuade rich nations to fulfill their pledges to boost the level of vaccines going to poor countries as well as a discussion among the G-20 countries over a just-announced global agreement for a 15% minimum tax on corporate profits. Once the agreement is reviewed by G-20 finance officials, it is expected to be endorsed at a leaders’ summit of G-20 countries in Rome. 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

The World Bank on Monday warned of a significant 12% rise in the debt burden of the world’s low-income countries to a record $860 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and called for urgent efforts to reduce debt levels. 

World Bank President David Malpass told reporters the bank’s International Debt Statistics 2022 report showed a dramatic increase in the debt vulnerabilities facing low- and middle-income countries; he also urged for comprehensive efforts to help countries reach more sustainable debt levels. 

“We need a comprehensive approach to the debt problem, including debt reduction, swifter restructuring and improved transparency,” Malpass said in a statement accompanying the new report. 

He said half of the world’s poorest countries were in external debt distress or at high risk of it. 

Malpass said sustainable debt levels were needed to help countries achieve economic recovery and reduce poverty. 

The report said the external debt stocks of low- and middle-income countries combined rose 5.3% in 2020 to $8.7 trillion, affecting countries in all regions. 

It said the rise in external debt outpaced gross national income (GNI) and export growth, with the external debt-to-GNI ratio, excluding China, rising five percentage points to 42% in 2020, while their debt-to-export ratio surged to 154% in 2020 from 126% in 2019. 

Malpass said debt restructuring efforts were urgently needed given the expiration at the end of this year of the Group of 20 major economies’ Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which has offered temporary deferral of debt payments. 

The G20 and Paris Club of official creditors launched a Common Framework for Debt Treatments last year to restructure unsustainable debt situations and protracted financing gaps in DSSI-eligible countries, but only three countries — Ethiopia, Chad and Zambia — have applied thus far. 

Malpass said further debt payment freezes could be included as part of Common Framework debt restructurings, but more work was also needed to increase the participation of private sector creditors, who have thus far been reluctant to get involved. 

The report showed that net inflows from multilateral creditors to low- and middle-income countries rose to $117 billion in 2020, the highest level in a decade. 

Net lending to low-income countries rose 25% to $71 billion, also the highest level in a decade, with the International Monetary Fund, or the IMF, and other multilateral creditors providing $42 billion and bilateral creditors $10 billion, it said. 

Carmen Reinhart, the World Bank’s chief economist, said the challenges facing highly indebted countries could get worse as interest rates rose. 

The World Bank said it expanded the 2022 report to boost transparency about global debt levels by providing more detailed and disaggregated data on external debt. 

The data now include a breakdown of a borrowing country’s external debt stock to show the amount owed to each official and private creditor, the currency composition of this debt, and the terms on which loans were extended. 

For DSSI-eligible countries the data also show the debt service deferred in 2020 by each bilateral creditor and the projected month-by-month debt-service payments owed to them through 2021.  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Monday following thousands of flight cancellations over the weekend but said it expects to resume normal service this week.

For the third straight day, passengers were left stranded amid confusion about what caused the cancellations.

Southwest blamed the weekend cancellations on bad weather and air traffic control issues in Florida. The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged some control issues on Friday; however, it noted that no other airlines suffered large-scale cancellations throughout the weekend. 

The union for Southwest’s pilots has denied holding a sickout in response to the airline’s decision to mandate vaccinations. 

The union asked a federal court on Friday to block the airline’s requirement that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. It says it does not oppose vaccinations but has argued that Southwest must negotiate with the union over any vaccine mandates before implementing them. 

Southwest said that the initial wave of flight cancellations left aircraft and crew out of place, which in turn made it difficult for the airline to recover its normal schedules and led to more canceled flights. 

In a video message to employees seen by CNBC, Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said that staffing shortages have also played a role in the service disruption.

The airline “is still not where we need to be on staffing and, in particular, with flight crews,” he said. 

Southwest is one of several airlines that have been struggling with staffing issues for months, leading to flight cancellations and delays throughout the summer.

Southwest said in a tweet Monday, “While we work to stabilize our operations, we anticipate to resume normal service this week.” 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

More than 130 countries have agreed on sweeping changes to how big global companies are taxed, including a 15% minimum corporate rate designed to deter multinationals from stashing profits in low-tax countries. 

The deal announced Friday is an attempt to address the ways globalization and digitalization have changed the world economy. It would allow countries to tax some of the earnings of companies located elsewhere that make money through online retailing, web advertising and other activities. 

U.S. President Joe Biden has been one of the driving forces behind the agreement as governments around the world seek to boost revenue following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The agreement among 136 countries representing 90% of the global economy was announced by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which hosted the talks that led to it. The OECD said that the minimum tax would reap some $150 billion for governments.

“Today’s agreement represents a once-in-a-generation accomplishment for economic diplomacy,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. She said it would end a “race to the bottom” in which countries outbid each other with lower tax rates. 

“Rather than competing on our ability to offer low corporate rates,” she said, “America will now compete on the skills of our workers and our capacity to innovate, which is a race we can win.” 

The deal faces several hurdles before it can take effect. U.S. approval of related tax legislation proposed by Biden will be key, especially since the U.S. is home to many of the biggest multinational companies. A rejection by Congress would cast uncertainty over the entire project. 

Big U.S. tech companies such as Google and Amazon have supported the OECD negotiations. One reason is that countries would agree to withdraw individual digital services taxes they have imposed on the companies in return for the right to tax part of their earnings under the global scheme.

That means the companies would deal with just the one international tax regime, not a multitude of different ones depending on the country.

“This accord opens the way to a true tax revolution for the 21st century,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. “Finally, the digital giants will pay their just share in taxes in the countries — including France — where they produce.” 

On Thursday, Ireland announced that it would join the agreement, ditching a low-tax policy that has led companies such as Google and Facebook to base their European operations there. 

Although the Irish agreement was a step forward for the deal, developing countries have raised objections, and Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have indicated they will not sign up.

Anti-poverty and tax fairness advocates have said the bulk of new revenue would go to wealthier countries and offer less to developing countries that are more dependent on corporate taxes. The Group of 24 developing countries said that without a bigger share of revenue from reallocated profits, the deal would be “suboptimal” and “not sustainable even in the short run.” 

The deal will be taken up by the Group of 20 finance ministers next week and then by G-20 leaders for final approval at a summit in Rome at the end of October.

Countries would sign on to a diplomatic agreement to implement the tax on companies that have no physical presence in a country but earn profits there, such as through digital services. That provision would affect around 100 global firms.

The second part of the deal, the global minimum of at least 15%, would apply to companies with more than 750 million euros ($864 million) in revenue and be passed into domestic law by countries according to model rules developed at the OECD. A top-up provision would mean tax avoided overseas would have to be paid at home. So long as at least the major headquarters countries implement the minimum tax, the deal would have most of its desired effect. 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 12th, 2021 by Vbiz

The Italian glassblowers of Murano have survived plagues and pandemics. They transitioned to highly prized artistic creations to outrun low-priced competition from Asia. But surging energy prices are shattering their economic model. 

The dozens of furnaces that remain on the lagoon island where Venetian rulers transferred glassblowing 700 years ago must burn around the clock, otherwise the costly crucible inside the ovens will break. But the price for the methane that powers the ovens has skyrocketed fivefold on the global market since October 1, meaning the glassblowers face certain losses on orders they are working to fill, at least for the foreseeable future.

“People are desperate,” said Gianni De Checchi, president of Venice’s association of artisans Confartigianato. “If it continues like this, and we don’t find solutions to the sudden and abnormal gas prices, the entire Murano glass sector will be in serious danger.” 

A medium-size glassblowing business like that of Simone Cenedese consumes 12,000 cubic meters (420,000 cubic feet) of methane a month to keep his seven furnaces hissing at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) 24 hours a day. They shut down just once a year for annual maintenance in August.

His monthly bills normally range from 11,000 to 13,000 euros ($12,700 to $15,000), on a fixed-price consortium contract that expired September 30. Now exposed to market volatility, Cenedese is projecting an increase in methane costs to 60,000 euros ($70,000) in October, as the natural gas market is buffeted by increased Chinese demand, uncertain Russian supply and worryingly low European stockpiles.

Artisans like Cenedese now must factor in an insurmountable increase in energy costs as they fill orders that had promised to lift them out of the pandemic crisis that stilled the sector in 2020.

“We cannot increase prices that have already been set. … That means for at least two months we are forced to work at a loss,” said Cenedese, a third-generation glassblower who took over the business his father started. “We sell decorations for the house, not necessities, meaning that if the prices are not accessible, it is obvious that there will be no more orders.” 

Cenedese, like others on the island, is considering shutting down one of his furnaces to confront the crisis. That will cost 2,000 euros ($2,300) for the broken crucible. It also will slow production and imperil pending orders.

His five glassblowers move with unspoken choreographed precision to fill an order of 1,800 Christmas ornaments speckled with golden flakes bound for Switzerland.

One starts the process with a red-hot molten blob on the end of a wand that he rolls over gold leaf, applying it evenly before handing the form to the maestro, who then re-heats it in one oven before gently blowing into the wand to create a perfect orb. It is still glowing red when he cuts it from the wand, and another glassblower grabs it with prongs to add the final flourish, a pointy end created from a dab of molten glass applied by an apprentice.

As that dance progresses, another starts, weaving and bobbing into the empty spaces. Together, they can make 300 ornaments a day, working from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

“No machine can do what we do,” said maestro Davide Cimarosti, 56, who has been working as a glassblower for 42 years.

Murano glassblowers decades ago transitioned from wood ovens, which created uneven results, to methane, which burns at temperatures high enough to create the delicate crystal clarity that makes their creations so highly prized. And it is the only gas that the glassblowers are permitted to use, by law. They are caught in a global commodities Catch-22.

For now, artisans are hoping the international market calms by the end of the year, although some analysts believe volatility could persist into the spring. If so, damage to the island’s economy and the individual companies could run deep. 

The Rome government has offered relief to Italian families confronting high energy prices but so far nothing substantial to the Murano glassblowers, whose small scale and energy intensity make them particularly vulnerable. The artisans’ lobby is meeting with members of parliament this week in a bid to seek direct government aid, which De Checchi said is possible under new EU rules put in place after the pandemic.

Beyond economic losses, the islanders fear losing a tradition that has made their island synonymous with artistic excellence. 

Already, the sector has scaled back from an industry with thousands of workers in the 1960s and 1970s to a network of mostly small and medium-sized artisanal enterprises employing some 300 glassblowers. Venice’s glassblowing tradition dates back 1,200 years, and on Murano it has been passed down from father to son for generations. But even at its reduced size and despite its creative rewards, it struggles to attract young people to toil in workshops where summertime temperatures can reach 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

“The value of this tradition, this history and this culture is priceless. It goes beyond the financial value of the glass industry in Murano,” said Luciano Gambaro, co-owner of Gambaro & Tagliapietra. “Over 1,000 years of culture can’t stop with a gas issue.” 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 11th, 2021 by Vbiz

Three U.S-based economists won the 2021 Nobel prize for economics on Monday for pioneering research on the labor market impacts of minimum wage, immigration and education, and for creating the scientific framework to allow conclusions to be drawn from such studies that can’t use traditional methodology.

Canadian-born David Card of the University of California at Berkeley was awarded one half of the prize, while the other half was shared by Joshua Angrist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dutch-born Guido Imbens, 58, from Stanford University.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three have “completely reshaped empirical work in the economic sciences.”

“Card’s studies of core questions for society and Angrist and Imbens’ methodological contributions have shown that natural experiments are a rich source of knowledge,” said Peter Fredriksson, chair of the Economic Sciences Committee. “Their research has substantially improved our ability to answer key causal questions, which has been of great benefit for society.” 

Card worked on research that used restaurants in New Jersey and in eastern Pennsylvania to measure the effects of increasing the minimum wage. He and his late research partner Alan Krueger found that an increase in the hourly minimum wage did not affect employment, challenging conventional wisdom which held that an increase in minimum wage will lead to less hiring.

Card’s work also challenged another commonly held idea, that immigrants depress wages for native-born workers. He found that incomes of the native-born can benefit from new immigration, while it is earlier immigrants who are at risk of being negatively affected.

Angrist and Imbens won their half of the award for working out the methodological issues that enable economists to draw solid conclusions about cause and effect even where they cannot carry out studies according to strict scientific methods.

Speaking by phone from his home in Massachusetts, Imbens told reporters gathered for the announcement that he had been asleep when the call came.

“The whole house was asleep, we had a busy weekend.” said Imbens. “I was absolutely thrilled to hear the news.”

He said he was especially thrilled for Angrist, who was best man at his wedding. 

Unlike the other Nobel prizes, the economics award wasn’t established in the will of Alfred Nobel but by the Swedish central bank in his memory in 1968, with the first winner selected a year later. It is the last prize announced each year. 

Last week, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder. 

Ressa was the only woman honored this year in any category. 

The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to U.K.-based Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, who was recognized for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee.”

 The prize for physiology or medicine went to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch. 

Three scientists won the physics prize for work that found order in seeming disorder, helping to explain and predict complex forces of nature, including expanding our understanding of climate change. 

Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan won the chemistry prize for finding an easier and environmentally cleaner way to build molecules that can be used to make compounds, including medicines and pesticides. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 11th, 2021 by Vbiz

A thaw in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, as hinted in Washington this past week, would help restore global supply chains but thin the outflow of investment capital from China to Southeast Asian countries that are eager to receive it, experts say. 

Reductions in punitive import tariffs between the two powers, which have been locked in a trade dispute since early 2018, should revitalize the business of global parts providers, assemblers and sellers of high-value items such as consumer electronics, the analysts say. 

However, they say that Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, along with smaller Southeast Asian countries, should expect less investment by multinationals trying to sustain U.S.-bound exports without shipping from China. Southeast Asian countries look to that investment to build economies and lift people out of poverty. 

 

In addition, Taiwan gained from the trade dispute as investors moved production and capital back home from China.

“I think the nature of value chains and supply chains is interdependent, so you might get a bit more in your country as a result of people moving out of another, but at the end of the day you want a system that supports the whole chain and supports it well,” said Jayant Menon, a visiting senior fellow with the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute’s Regional Economic Studies Program in Singapore. “You don’t want this trade war interfering with it.” 

US to consider tariff exclusions 

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said October 5 that the United States would start a “targeted tariff exclusion process” for China.

Her announcement doesn’t end the trade dispute that flared under former President Donald Trump, who said China had committed years of “unfair trade practices,” but it may signal an eventual change under President Joe Biden. 

“The exclusions process is a key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s deliberative, long-term vision for realigning the U.S.-China trade relationship around our priorities and making trade work for American workers and businesses,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in the October 5 statement. 

China welcomed the move, the official Xinhua news agency said the same day. Xinhua quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying as saying, “We hope the United States will … work with China to strive for healthy and steady development of China-U.S. trade and economic relations.” 

The dispute has hit $550 billion worth of goods, including $350 billion originating in China. 

Tai said the United States had yet to review its January 2020 “phase one agreement” with China over the trade dispute. The United States had agreed to reduce tariffs, while China said it would buy more U.S. agricultural products. 

‘A rising tide raises all boats’

A reduction in Sino-U.S. tariffs would jumpstart the manufacturing of electronics, machinery and transportation equipment, Menon said. 

China’s factories generated $3.7 trillion in “real manufacturing value added” in 2017, before the trade dispute, the Boston Consulting Group reported.  Goods such as machinery and electronics – compared to lower-value items including garments and shoes – represent “most of the action” in global trade, Menon said.  

China does a bit of everything, and the consultancy says its value-added factory output had surpassed every other country in 2017.

Specific value-added imports from China include televisions, smart speakers and consumer drones. Apple, to name just one known brand, has grappled with rising costs during the trade dispute as it contracts final assembly to two Taiwanese firms with factories in China. Apple sources parts to a list of companies in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. 

 

“Of course, it would be better if things were better between these two countries,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in the Philippines. “A rising tide raises all boats, so if the U.S. and China are doing well, everybody benefits.”  

Limited impact on Southeast Asia, Taiwan 

Manufacturers that have steered investment out of China into Southeast Asia since 2018 are concentrated in footwear, garments and ordinary consumer goods, experts say. Those exporters have “fixed costs” and “divisible technology,” Menon said. Southeast Asian factory-heavy countries offer supportive government policies and infrastructure, as well. 

“If there’s going to be some difficulty in (Sino-U.S.) trade, then definitely peripheral countries like the Philippines would benefit,” Ravelas said. 

American companies favor Vietnam for its cheap labor especially if they lack automation, said Frederick Burke, Ho Chi Minh City-based partner with the law firm Baker McKenzie.

“We still have clients looking at Vietnam, they’re saying this is a long-term plan, the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be over before too long and they want to get in while they can,” Burke said. “Vietnam probably is still going to have some sort of a positive growth rate this year.” 

The country’s top retail, property and manufacturing conglomerate, Vingroup, declined to comment on shifts in Sino-U.S. trade, with a spokesperson saying it would “decide target markets later.”  

Manufacturers were exploring outside of China before the trade dispute as Chinese wages rose and environmental laws tightened, Menon noted. The offshoring trend will probably hold after the trade dispute, though with some tapering, he said. 

Taiwan would feel little pinch as a glut in demand for its most prized export, semiconductors, keeps growing, said Liang Kuo-yuan, president of the Taipei-based Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute.

“The demand for chips is still there and moreover there’s a natural growth following changes in the industry,” Liang said. “Perhaps in the end competitiveness will be impacted, but the issue is, it’s still early, so if you ask about next year, I’d say pretty sure Taiwan will still be very strong in semiconductors.”

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 11th, 2021 by Vbiz

Beekeepers Mustafa Alti and his son Fehmi were kept busy tending to their hives before wildfires tore through a bucolic region of Turkey that makes most of the world’s prized pine honey.

Now the Altis and generations of other honey farmers in Turkey’s Aegean province of Mugla are scrambling to find additional work and wondering how many decades it might take to get their old lives back on track.

“Our means of existence is from beekeeping, but when the forests burned, our source of income fell,” said Fehmi, 47, next to his mountainside beehives in the fire-ravaged village of Cokek. “I do side jobs, I do some tree felling, that way we manage to make do.”

Nearly 200,000 hectares of forests — more than five times the annual average — were scorched by fires across Turkey this year, turning luscious green coasts popular with tourists into ash.

The summer disaster and an accompanying series of deadly floods made the climate — already weighing heavily on the minds of younger voters — a major issue two years before the next scheduled election.

Signaling a political shift, Turkey’s parliament this week ended a five-year wait and ratified the Paris Agreement on cutting the greenhouse emissions that are blamed for global warming and abnormal weather events.

But the damage has already been done in Mugla, where 80 percent of Turkey’s pine honey is produced.

Turkey as a whole makes 92 percent of the world’s pine honey, meaning supplies of the thick, dark amber may be running low worldwide very soon.

Turkey’s pine honey harvests were already suffering from drought when the wildfires hit, destroying the delicate balance among bees, trees, and the little insects at the heart of the production process.

The honey is made by bees after they collect the sugary secretions of the tiny Basra beetle (Marchalina hellenica), which lives on the sap of pine trees. 

Fehmi hopes the beetles will adapt to younger trees after the fires. But he also accepts that “it will take at least five or 10 years to get our previous income back.”

His father Mustafa agrees, urging President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to expand forested areas and plant young trees.

“There’s no fixing a burned house. Can you fix the dead? No. But new trees might come, a new generation,” Mustafa said.

For now, though, the beekeepers are counting their losses and figuring out what comes next.

The president of the Mugla Beekeepers’ Association, Veli Turk, expects his region’s honey production to plunge by up to 95 percent this year.

“There is pretty much no Marmaris honey left,” he said.

“This honey won’t come for another 60 years,” he predicted. “It’s not just Turkey. This honey would go everywhere in the world. It was a blessing. This is really a huge loss.”

Beekeeper Yasar Karayigit, 45, is thinking of switching to a different type of honey to keep his passion — and sole source of income — alive.

“I love beekeeping, but to continue, I’ll have to pursue alternatives,” Karayigit said, mentioning royal jelly (or “bee milk”) and sunflower honey, which involves additional costs.

“But if we love the bees, we have to do this,” the father of three said.

Ismail Atici, head of the Milas district Chamber of Agriculture in Mugla, said the price of pine honey has doubled from last year, threatening to make the popular breakfast food unaffordable for many Turks.

He expects price rises to continue and supplies to become ever scarcer.

“We will get to a point where even if you have money, you won’t be able to find those medicinal plants and medicinal honey,” Atici said.

“It’s going to be very hard to find 100 percent pine honey,” beekeeper Karayigit agreed. “We have had so much loss.”

Looking ahead, the president of the Turkey Beekeepers’ Association, Ziya Sahin, suggests selectively introducing the Basra beetle to new areas of Mugla, expanding coverage from the current 7% to 25% of local pine forests.

“If we conduct transplantation of the beetle from one area to another and continue this for two successive years, we can protect the region’s dominance in the sector,” Sahin said.

“There will be a serious drop in honey production if we don’t do this,” he added, calling this year the “worst” of his 50-year career.

Yet despite the pain and the troubled road ahead, the younger Alti has no plans to quit.

“This is my father’s trade. Because this is passed down from the family, we must continue it,” Fehmi said.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 11th, 2021 by Vbiz

After water levels at a California dam fell to historic lows this summer, the main hydropower plant it feeds was shut down. At the Hoover Dam in Nevada — one of the country’s biggest hydropower generators — production is down by 25%. If extreme drought persists, federal officials say a dam in Arizona could stop producing electricity in coming years. 

Severe drought across the West drained reservoirs this year, slashing hydropower production and further stressing the region’s power grids. And as extreme weather becomes more common with climate change, grid operators are adapting to swings in hydropower generation.

“The challenge is finding the right resource, or mix of resources, that can provide the same energy and power outputs as hydro,” said Lindsay Buckley, a spokesperson for the California Energy Commission. 

U.S. hydropower generation is expected to decline 14% this year compared with 2020, according to a recent federal forecast. The projected drops are concentrated in western states that rely more heavily on hydropower, with California’s production expected to fall by nearly half.

The reductions complicate grid operations since hydropower is a relatively flexible renewable energy source that can be easily turned up or down, experts say, such as in the evenings when the sun goes down and solar energy generation drops.

“Hydro is a big part of the plan for making the whole system work together,” said Severin Borenstein, a renewable energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley and board member of the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electric grid. 

Borenstein noted that hydropower is important as the state works to build out its electricity storage options, including by installing batteries that can dispatch energy when it is needed.

Ben Kujala of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which handles power planning for the Columbia River Basin, also noted that grid operators have adapted how they deploy hydropower in recent years to ensure that it complements solar and wind energy. 

Power grids linking western regions also offer some relief. While California can face multi-year stretches of dry weather, the Pacific Northwest usually gets enough precipitation in the winter to recover and produce hydropower to export.

But this year, the Northwest was also hit by extreme heat and less precipitation, according to Crystal Raymond, a climate change researcher at the University of Washington. While energy planners account for drought years, Raymond said climate change over the long term may further reduce the amounts of melting snow in mountains that fill reservoirs in the spring.

In August, California officials shut down the Edward Hyatt hydropower plant for the first time in its 60-year history after water levels at Lake Oroville sank to historic lows. The plant can produce enough power for up to 750,000 homes, but typically operates at lower levels. 

At Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, federal officials recently said there is a 34% chance that the Glen Canyon Dam won’t be able to produce power at some point in 2023, up from a 3% chance for next year, if extreme drought persists.  

Declines in hydropower production in California this summer coincided with heat waves, forcing the state to buy extra power. To prevent outages in late September, state officials said they were deploying temporary emergency generators.

“The drought did compound the difficulty of meeting demand,” said Jordan Kern, an energy and water systems expert at North Carolina State University.

In some northwestern states, hydropower production has reverted closer to normal levels after dipping just below their 10-year ranges earlier this year. California’s hydropower levels remained at the bottom of the state’s 10-year range through June. Federal forecasts say much of the West is likely to continue to see drought conditions through the end of the year.

Declines in hydropower production mean production bumps for other energy sources. Natural gas power is expected to rise 7% in California and 6% in the Northwest this year over last, according to federal forecasts. Coal generation is forecast to rise 12% in the Northwest.

The California Air Resources Board says the state has been able to continue reducing the electricity sector’s greenhouse gas emissions despite swings in hydropower generation in recent years.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 10th, 2021 by Vbiz

Low rainfall plagues one of the world’s major agricultural producers. Brazil now faces a crisis of drying dams, forcing farmers to look to more expensive and less-eco-friendly sources of power. As VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports, the climate change-driven issue threatens to make worse the effects of climate change

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 10th, 2021 by Vbiz

U.S. Treasury chief Janet Yellen warned Sunday that it was “absolutely imperative” that Congress increase the country’s borrowing authority even as the immediate threat of a first-ever default on paying the government’s bills has been alleviated through early December.

“It would be a catastrophe” if the United States does not increase the ceiling on its current national debt of nearly $29 trillion, Yellen told ABC’s “This Week” show.

Yellen had said that the U.S. would run out of money to pay its bills on October 18, but Senate Republican and Democratic leaders agreed last week on an emergency $480 billion increase in the debt ceiling to pay the government’s bills through December 3, at which time the contentious political debate in Washington over an extension of the government’s borrowing authority could play out again.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and 10 other Republicans voted to clear the path for Democratic senators to increase the government’s borrowing authority on a 50-48 party-line vote last week, with the House of Representatives expected this week to assent to the temporary increase.

McConnell also said he would not cooperate with opposition Democrats in a further debt ceiling increase in December. He called on Democrats to raise it on their own through a legislative procedure known as reconciliation, in which Democrats could vote for a debt ceiling increase without the threat of Republicans blocking it with a filibuster.

Democrats so far have been reluctant to use the reconciliation process because they say it is cumbersome and time-consuming. They also say Republicans should join them in raising the debt ceiling because the country’s long-term debt has occurred under both Republican and Democratic control of the White House and Congress.

The U.S., virtually alone among the world’s countries, imposes a lid on its government spending. Yellen, however, said the figure has been increased about 70 times since 1965, either to a specific amount or suspended altogether for a year or two, since the U.S. government chronically spends more than it collects in taxes.

She has called for doing away with the debt ceiling, but that is unlikely since both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, thinking it is a winning political tactic in the U.S., repeatedly blame each other for what they contend is wasteful and unneeded spending by their opponents.

“It should be a shared responsibility (to increase the debt ceiling), not any one party,” Yellen said. “It is Congress’ responsibility.”

“We have to reassure the world that the United States is fiscally responsible,” she said, adding that if the borrowing authority is not increased before December 3, it would amount to “a self-inflicted crisis.” 

She said that if the debt ceiling is not increased, 50 million older Americans might not receive government pension benefits and that “our troops won’t know when or if they would be paid. The 30 million families that receive a child tax credit, those payments would be in jeopardy.”

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 10th, 2021 by Vbiz

Australia’s Reserve Bank, the country’s central bank, has warned that the collapse of Chinese property giant Evergrande Group could cause chaos in China’s financial system.

In its semiannual “Financial Stability Review,” the Reserve Bank of Australia acknowledged that Evergrande Group, the heavily indebted Chinese real estate developer, faced a liquidity crisis, or a lack of cash or assets that can be converted easily to cash.

The reserve bank warned that if Evergrande, China’s second-biggest property developer, collapses, it could trigger broader problems in China’s financial and real estate sectors.

Evergrande is facing one of China’s largest-ever defaults, with billions of dollars in debt. Its businesses interests are vast, from wealth management and the manufacture of electric cars to the ownership of one of the country’s biggest soccer teams — Guangzhou FC.

Chinese authorities last year started to restrict the debts of big real estate companies.

Yun Jiang is the managing editor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. 

“The Chinese government does realize that [the] real estate sector is important to the economy, and, on top of that, it is important for the social stability of China because in China a lot of people’s savings, assets are tied up in real estate, more so than in many other countries,” she said.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and experts warn of serious implications for Australia should Evergrande default on its massive loans. 

The crisis has already hit the price of Australia’s main export, iron ore, a key ingredient in steelmaking. Analysts warn that China could cut steel production, which would further depress iron ore prices. Commodities have underpinned Australia’s recent prosperity. 

Analysts have also warned that Australia’s stock market, and skittish investors, would easily be unsettled if Evergrande went bust.

However, financial observers hope the Chinese government, which governs the world’s second-largest economy, will try to restructure Evergrande’s debt to prevent its collapse. They have stressed that China’s ability to contain a financial meltdown is about to be severely tested, and its success — or failure — would have global implications.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 10th, 2021 by Vbiz

Congress appears poised to pass a bipartisan, $1 trillion plan that would be the largest federal investment in infrastructure in more than a decade. History shows that investing in infrastructure can transform the United States, changing how Americans move, bolstering economic prosperity, and significantly improving the health and quality of life for many. 

 

“When the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, we changed the way we moved forever, opening up the entire country and from the way humans had moved previously for thousands of years by animal to machine,” Greg DiLoreto, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), told VOA via email. “[And] I think we all would agree that construction of the interstate highway system changed America in ways that greatly contributed to our economic prosperity.” 

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which authorized the building of 65,000 kilometers (41,000 miles) of interstate highways — the largest American public works program in history at the time. Another earlier transformation occurred in 1936, when Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act, extending electricity into rural areas for the first time.

And the wave of projects that created modern sewage and water systems in urban areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries left a lasting mark, providing reliable, clean water in cities and extracting pollution from sewage.

“American cities in the late 19th, early 20th century were incredibly unhealthy places,” says Richard White, professor emeritus of American history at Stanford University in California. “High child death rates, repeated epidemics, and much of that was waterborne disease that came from both ineffective sewage and impure water. And infrastructure projects changed that dramatically. Probably it’s been the most effective public health effort ever in the history of the United States.”

Dark consequences 

DiLoreto also names the construction of dams across the western United States, which increased America’s ability to farm and feed the world, as infrastructure successes. But he points out that the projects created problems for migrating fish. In fact, many of the so-called successful infrastructure projects, like interstate highways, had dark consequences. 

“They increased racial stratification in the cities. They were built in such a way that they went through poorer neighborhoods, very often minority neighborhoods, walling them off from the city as a whole,” White says. “They set them apart and set in motion a set of social changes which we suffer from still. So, they hurt poorer areas, minority areas, even if they helped middle-class areas.” 

White, who wrote the book “Railroaded,” about the building of the transcontinental railroads, contends the federal government funded too many railroads into areas without the traffic to sustain them. 

“The railroads took government money and then went bankrupt,” White says. “They were very often utterly corrupt. The money was taken off into the private pockets behind some of the great fortunes in American history, and they never really delivered the economic and social benefits that they promised.” 

And Native Americans ended up paying the price, White adds. 

“Many of these railroads ended up costing Indian peoples huge amounts of land for no particular benefit,” he says. “It’s not like white settlement was particularly successful in the land the Indians lost. So, even though it was intended to raise the standard of living for everybody in the West, it didn’t necessarily do so, and the great cost was paid very often by Indian people.” 

Bold enough?

The stripped-down bipartisan version of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) pours money into transportation, utilities — including high-speed internet for rural communities — and pollution cleanup. What the bill does not appear to contain is a single transformative project. 

“From the information I have, funds will be used to help us repair, replace and make our infrastructure more robust to withstand climate change and seismic risks,” DiLoreto says. “One might consider that transformative in the sense that our quality of life and economic prosperity depend on a functioning infrastructure.” 

White views the bill as backward-looking rather than forward-thinking at a time when the United States needs to transform itself to adjust to a changing world, doing things differently in the future than it has in the past. 

“We have our first great infrastructure bill, which is mostly intended to protect things we built in the past, which, I think, in the long run, that’s going to be seen as a failing,” White says. “And again, I’m not saying that you should allow bridges to fall into rivers, or that the roads don’t need repair. But it’s not transformative.” 

There is one potentially sweeping project that could help revolutionize life in the United States. 

“Broadband has had a tremendous impact on our lives,” DiLoreto says. “Without a broadband system, our ability to economically survive COVID would have been difficult.” 

The current bipartisan plan provides $65 billion for broadband infrastructure. 

“If broadband in this bill works as they intend it … and they bring it into poor areas which now lack broadband, that would be a good thing, that could be transformative,” White says. “That could have the same kind of consequences that rural electrification had in terms of education and lightening people’s workload and allowing them to do the kinds of work they otherwise couldn’t do. … But if they simply make it more effective for those who have it already, it’s not going to be transformative.”

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October 10th, 2021 by Vbiz

A global deal to ensure big companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15% and make it harder for them to avoid taxation has been agreed upon by 136 countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday.

The OECD said four countries — Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — had not yet joined the agreement, but that the countries behind the accord together accounted for over 90% of the global economy.

Here are the main points of the accord:

Why a global minimum tax?

With budgets strained after the COVID-19 crisis, many governments want more than ever to discourage multinationals from shifting profits — and tax revenues — to low-tax countries regardless of where their sales are made.

Increasingly, income from intangible sources such as drug patents, software and royalties on intellectual property has migrated to these jurisdictions, allowing companies to avoid paying higher taxes in their traditional home countries.

The minimum tax and other provisions aim to end decades of tax competition between governments to attract foreign investment.

How would a deal work?

The global minimum tax rate would apply to overseas profits of multinational firms with 750 million euros ($868 million) in sales globally.

Governments could still set whatever local corporate tax rate they want, but if companies pay lower rates in a particular country, their home governments could “top up” their taxes to the 15% minimum, eliminating the advantage of shifting profits.

A second track of the overhaul would allow countries where revenues are earned to tax 25% of the largest multinationals’ so-called excess profit — defined as profit in excess of 10% of revenue.

What happens next?

Following Friday’s agreement on the technical details, the next step is for finance ministers from the Group of 20 economic powers to formally endorse the deal, paving the way for adoption by G-20 leaders at a summit at the end of this month.

Nonetheless, questions remain about the U.S. position, which hangs in part on a domestic tax reform the Biden administration wants to push through the U.S. Congress.

The agreement calls for countries to bring it into law in 2022 so that it can take effect by 2023, an extremely tight timeframe given that previous international tax deals took years to implement.

Countries that have in recent years created national digital services taxes will have to repeal them.

What will be the economic impact?

The OECD, which has steered the negotiations, estimates the minimum tax will generate $150 billion in additional global tax revenues annually.

Taxing rights on more than $125 billion of profit will be additionally shifted to the countries were they are earned from the low tax countries where they are currently booked.

Economists expect that the deal will encourage multinationals to repatriate capital to their country of headquarters, giving a boost to those economies.

However, various deductions and exceptions baked into the deal are at the same time designed to limit the impact on low tax countries like Ireland, where many U.S. groups base their European operations.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 9th, 2021 by Vbiz

China said on Saturday that it had pressed the United States to eliminate tariffs in talks between the countries’ top trade officials that Washington saw as a test of bilateral engagement between the world’s biggest economies.

The virtual talks between U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and China’s Vice Premier Liu He followed Tai’s announcement on Monday that she would seek “frank” talks and hold China to its commitments under a “Phase 1” trade deal negotiated by former President Donald Trump.

“The Chinese side negotiated over the cancellation of tariffs and sanctions, and clarified its position on China’s economic development model and industrial policies,” China’s Xinhua state news agency said after the talks, held Friday Washington time.

Tai intended to use the call, the second between the two, to test whether bilateral engagement can address U.S. complaints about Beijing’s trade and subsidy practices, a USTR official said.

Resolution through consultation

“Ambassador Tai and Vice Premier Liu reviewed implementation of the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Agreement and agreed that the two sides would consult on certain outstanding issues,” USTR said in a statement.

Xinhua said the two sides “expressed their core concerns and agreed to resolve each other’s reasonable concerns through consultation.”

“Both sides agree to continue communicating with an equal approach and mutual respect, and to create the conditions for the healthy development of economic and trade relations between the two countries and the recovery of the world economy,” it said.

US cites China’s ‘authoritarian’ approach

In a briefing ahead of the call, a senior USTR official said Tai would give Liu an assessment of China’s performance in implementing the Phase 1 deal, including promised purchases of U.S. goods that are falling short of targets.

Asked about the shortfalls, China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, told China’s Phoenix TV in an interview on Friday that Beijing had always kept its promises in state-to-state relations, the embassy said in a summary released Saturday.

He said Beijing had sincerely and steadily implemented the agreement, despite serious challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, including what he called “tangible steps” on intellectual property protections and opening the financial sector.

He faulted Washington for acting at the same time to impose barriers and restrictions on Chinese firms in the United States.

Limits on ‘harmful practices’

Tai would raise concerns about China’s “non-market” economic practices, the U.S. official said.

“We recognize that Beijing is increasingly explicit that it is doubling down on its authoritarian state-centric approach and is resistant to addressing our structural concerns,” the official said, adding that, consequently, Washington would focus on improving U.S. competitiveness, diversifying markets and “limiting the impact of Beijing’s harmful practices.”

The Phase 1 deal in January eased a long-running tariff war between the world’s two largest economies. It focused largely on China’s promise to boost purchases of U.S. farm and manufactured goods, energy and services by $200 billion over two years, along with increased protections for copyright, trademarks and other forms of intellectual property.

The Trump administration envisioned a Phase 2 negotiation to tackle more difficult issues such as subsidies to state enterprises and China’s strategic industrial policies.

The official said Tai’s future engagement with China would depend on “how China responds to tonight’s call” and declined to discuss possible next steps, but added that Tai would not seek Phase 2 negotiations.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 9th, 2021 by Vbiz

Running out of time to get its products on store shelves ahead of the holidays, the Basic Fun toy company made an unprecedented decision: It’s leaving one-third of its iconic Tonka Mighty Dump Trucks destined for the U.S. in China.

Why? Given surging prices for shipping containers and clogs in the supply network, transportation costs to get the bulky yellow toy to U.S. soil is now 40% of the retail price, which is roughly $26. That’s dramatically up from 7% a year ago. And it doesn’t even include the cost of getting the product from U.S. ports to retailers.

“We’ve never left product behind in this way,” says Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun. “We really had no choice.”

Toy companies are racing to get their products to retailers as they grapple with a severe supply-network crunch that could mean sparse shelves for the holidays. They’re trying to find containers to ship their goods while searching for alternative ports. Some are flying in some of the toys instead of shipping by boat to ensure delivery before Dec. 25. And in cases like Basic Fun, they are leaving toys behind in China and waiting for costs to come down.

Like all manufacturers, toy companies have been facing supply chain woes since the pandemic started and temporarily closed factories in China in early 2020. Then, U.S. stores temporarily cut back or halted production amid lockdowns. The situation has only worsened since the spring, with companies having a hard time meeting surging demand for all sorts of goods from shoppers re-entering the world.

Manufacturers are wrestling with bottlenecks at factories and key ports like Long Beach, California — and all points in between. Furthermore, labor shortages in the U.S. have made it difficult to get stuff unloaded from ships and onto trucks.

But for toymakers that heavily rely on holiday sales, there’s a lot at stake for the nearly $33 billion U.S. industry. The fourth quarter accounts for 70% of its annual sales. On average, holiday sales account for 20% of the overall retail industry. And 85% of the toys are made in China, estimates Steve Pasierb, CEO of The Toy Association.

The snarls are so severe that some retailers are telling companies they don’t want products if they’re shipped after mid-October. That’s because products that typically took four to six weeks from when they left a factory in China to landing at a U.S. distribution center now take 12 to 16 weeks, says Marc Rosenberg, a toy consultant.

The struggles are happening as the U.S. toy industry enjoyed a nearly 17% increase in sales last year and a 40% increase in the first half of this year as parents looked to entertain their kids at home, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.

But while analysts expect strong growth in 2021, many toy companies said they’ll see their sales reduced because they won’t be able to fulfill orders on hot items, particularly surprise hits. They are also incurring big costs that will force some toy companies to shutter.

Toy executives say they can’t raise prices any more than 10% — even though it won’t completely cover the higher costs — because they’re worried about shopper reaction. Mattel Inc., the nation’s largest toy company, warned this summer it’s raising prices in time for the holiday season to offset higher shipping costs, though it didn’t say by how much.

Costs of containers on ships have increased more than six-fold from last year with some brand executives saying they’ve gone up to $20,000 from roughly $3,000 a year ago. That has forced big retailers like Walmart and Target among others to charter their own ships.

Foreman calculates 1,800 Tonka trucks fit on each 40-foot container. So at $20,000 per container, that’s costing him $11 each. That’s up from an average of $1.75 each in a typical year. He says he’s focusing on shipping smaller items like Mash’ems — soft, squishy, water-filled collectibles — onto containers as he looks to maximize the total dollar value of the container and profit margins. He estimates he can fit $150,000 worth of Mash-ems in a container versus $40,000 worth of Tonka trucks.

Some like MGA Entertainment, the maker of L.O.L dolls, are expediting the flying of its toys because it now costs roughly the same shipping.

Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of TTPM, a toy review site, says big discounters like Target and Walmart should have a healthier supply of toys compared with smaller ones because of their clout. Target says it has been teaming up closely with its vendors and transportation partners to keep stores well-stocked and ready for its customers.

But Melissa McCollum, owner of Learning Express Toys in Birmingham, Alabama, says she’s received only 25% of the holiday toys as of mid-September; typically, that figure is 50%. And The Toy Book, the leading trade magazine serving the toy industry, is promoting a curated list of in-stock products that retailers can get fast from U.S. warehouses.

Many toy companies like Basic Fun and PlayMonster have reduced advertising.

“We would be advertising to empty shelves,” said Tim Kilpin, president of PlayMonster, who says 15% to 20% of its holiday goods are snarled in the supply chain. Koosh, a toy ball made of rubber filaments, was completely sold out in August, and he didn’t think there would be a chance of it being replenished by Christmas, he says. But on Wednesday, Kilpin said he received word that some of the containers including shipments of Koosh are flowing from the West Coast.

The bottlenecks are expected to have lingering consequences. Toymakers are facing pressure from retailers to ship the first flow of holiday 2022 goods in early March instead of late April and the second cycle in June instead of by late July, says Andrew Yanofsky, head of marketing and operations at WowWee.

That will force companies to make decisions about how much to make and reorder without having a full picture of the sales data, he says.

Yanofsky said he placed a big bet initially on Got2Glow Fairy Finder, a light show in a jar that allows children to find virtual fairies, because he knew he wouldn’t be able to replenish the production given the snarls.

“We took a risk on excess material beyond the scope of what we thought we could sell, ” he said.

Even the few toy companies that make goods in the U.S. have struggled because of labor shortages.

John Gessert is CEO and president of American Plastic Toys, based in Walled Lake, Michigan, with another plant in Mississippi. He says the company is missing 35% to 40% of its front-line workers. Now, it’s shifting away its focus on play kitchens that require six workers toward less labor-intensive toys like basketball sets, which require just three workers to put together.

“I have never had such a complicated puzzle to fix,” he said.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 8th, 2021 by Vbiz

President Joe Biden struck a positive tone on lackluster U.S. job creation numbers Friday, saying a drop in unemployment represented a “significant improvement” from when he took office. 

“Jobs up, wages up, unemployment down. That’s progress,” Biden said, noting that the American economy continues to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But the number of new jobs reported was far lower than expected. 

The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added just 194,000 jobs in September. Forecasters had predicted 500,000 new jobs would be added. 

It was the second month of tepid job numbers, and some economists attributed the trend to the effects of the COVID-19 virus delta variant.

Unemployment fell from 5.2% in August to 4.8% in September, but those figures only measure people who are actively looking for work.

The September jobs report found that those in the labor force — defined as individuals over age 16 who have a job or are actively looking for one — fell from 61.7% to 61.6%. Before the pandemic, the labor participation rate was 63.3%.

Job gains in August were revised upward from 235,000 to 366,000.

Some sectors, including hospitality, professional business services, retail, and transportation and warehousing saw job gains last month.

Forecasters had predicted a more robust jobs number in nonfarm sectors because of schools reopening, many federal unemployment benefits ending, and an uptick in the number of Americans getting vaccines.

“This is quite a deflating report,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director at job placement site Indeed in an interview with CNBC. “This year has been one of false dawns for the labor market. Demand for workers is strong, and millions of people want to return to work, but employment growth has yet to find its footing.”

 

While Biden stressed the positive, congressional Republicans blasted the administration’s economic performance. 

 

“Over 300,000 FEWER jobs created than expected in September — further proof Biden’s economic policies are hurting our country,” tweeted Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 55% of the Americans surveyed disapproved of Biden’s handling of the economy. 

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

October 8th, 2021 by Vbiz

India’s coal-burning power plants, which supply much of the country’s electricity, are running perilously low on stocks, raising fears of power shortages just as the country’s pandemic-hit economy is on a recovery path.   

The coal shortage is being attributed to surging demand as industries rev up production lines and consumers begin shopping ahead of the main festival season.

India is the second Asian country, after China, facing a crunch in coal supplies.   

The average stock of coal in thermal power plants was about four days on October 3, the Power Ministry said earlier this month.  

“If the coal stocks are not ramped up to the level to which plants need to run, there could be challenges going ahead,” Vivek Jain, director at India Ratings Research, said, “But the problem is, you cannot ramp up output at will.”

Despite efforts to increase use of cleaner energy sources such as solar, wind and water, India’s 135 coal-burning plants remain the backbone of the country’s power sector, supplying nearly two-thirds of its electricity.

Power demand rose by almost 18% in the last two months compared to the same period last year.

However, India had cut back on coal imports in recent months due to slowing demand.  Now a massive surge in international coal prices poses a challenge to stepping up imports while domestic production struggles to keep pace with the country’s needs.

 

Heavy monsoon rains in September in the country’s coal-mining areas hit both production and delivery of coal, according to the Power Ministry.

The dwindling coal supplies are a dampener in Asia’s third-largest economy where COVID-19 cases have come down dramatically and most curbs have been lifted, allowing most sectors of the economy to reopen. Public transport is operating in cities, markets are buzzing and holiday destinations have seen domestic tourists return in droves.

That had raised hopes of an economic recovery. The World Bank has said that India’s economy will grow by 8.3% in the current financial year after plummeting by more than 7% last year.

Experts say if demand for power continues to rise, India will have to consider ramping up alternative power sources or increasing imports, say experts.

“India could be looking at a huge rise in its import bill unless it turns to increasing power output in its nuclear power plants or increasing production of natural gas. But if these are not ramped up in time, we could face disruptions,” according to Jain.

Power Minister R.K. Singh told The Indian Express newspaper this week that the impact could be felt for months. “I don’t know whether I will be comfortable in the next five-six, four-five months,” he said, “But it’s going to be touch and go.” 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси