Business

As Utility Bills Rise, Low-Income Americans Struggle for Access to Clean Energy
Business

As Utility Bills Rise, Low-Income Americans Struggle for Access to Clean Energy

Cindy Camp is one of many Americans facing rising utility costs. Ms. Camp, who lives in Baltimore with three family members, said her gas and electric bills kept “going up and up” — reaching as high as $900 a month. Her family has tried to use less hot water by doing fewer loads of laundry, and she now eats more fast food to save on grocery bills.Ms. Camp would like to save money on energy bills by transitioning to more energy-efficient appliances like a heat pump and solar panels. But she simply cannot afford it.“It’s a struggle for me to even maintain food,” Ms. Camp said.Power bills have been rising nationwide, and in Baltimore, electricity rates have increased almost 30 percent over the last decade, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While clean energy systems and m...
S.E.C. Social Media Hack That Sent Bitcoin Soaring Prompts Investigation
Business

S.E.C. Social Media Hack That Sent Bitcoin Soaring Prompts Investigation

The hack of a social media account used by the Securities and Exchange Commission is prompting both internal and external investigations into how the security breach occurred and whether anyone tried to profit from it, said the commission and several legal experts.The S.E.C. said in a statement on Wednesday that it was coordinating an investigation into the hack that occurred the prior day “with appropriate law enforcement entities, including the S.E.C.’s Office of the Inspector General and the F.B.I.”John Reed Stark, a former S.E.C. enforcement lawyer and regulatory consultant on cybersecurity, said the commission’s inspector general would need to investigate how a hacker was able to access the S.E.C.’s official account on X — formerly Twitter — to post a false message that the commission...
U.S. Steel Acquisition Proposal Tests Biden’s Industrial Policy
Business

U.S. Steel Acquisition Proposal Tests Biden’s Industrial Policy

U.S. Steel is an iconic example of the lost manufacturing muscle that President Biden says his economic policies will bring back to the United States.But last month, the storied-but-diminished company announced plans to be acquired by a Japanese competitor. That development has put Mr. Biden in an awkward bind as he tries to balance attempts to revitalize the nation’s industrial sector with his efforts to rebuild international alliances.Mr. Biden’s administration has expressed some discomfort with the deal and is reviewing the proposed $14.1 billion takeover bid by Japan’s Nippon Steel. The company is offering a hefty premium for U.S. Steel, which has struggled to compete against a flood of cheap foreign metal and has been weighing takeover offers for several months.The proposal has quickl...
Boeing Again Under Scrutiny After Latest 737 Max Problem
Business

Boeing Again Under Scrutiny After Latest 737 Max Problem

A harrowing flight over the weekend is again forcing Boeing to confront concerns over its planes, particularly the 737 Max, already one of the most scrutinized jets in history.No one was seriously injured in the episode on an Alaska Airlines flight Friday night in which a portion of a 737 Max 9 fuselage blew out in midair, exposing passengers to howling wind. The plane landed safely, but the event, on a flight from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., has spooked travelers and prompted immediate safety inspections on similar planes.Federal authorities focused attention on a mid-cabin door plug, which is used to fill the space where an emergency exit would be placed if the plane were configured with more seats.The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the inspection of 171 Max 9 planes ope...
U.S. Awards Chip Supplier $162 Million to Bolster Critical Industries
Business

U.S. Awards Chip Supplier $162 Million to Bolster Critical Industries

The Biden administration on Thursday announced plans to provide $162 million in federal grants to Microchip Technology, an Arizona-based semiconductor company that supplies the automotive, defense and other industries.The agreement is the second award announced under a new program intended to help ensure that American companies that rely on semiconductors have a stable supply. Last month, the Biden administration announced a $35 million grant for BAE Systems, a defense contractor.The investment will enable Microchip to increase its production of semiconductors that are used in cars, airplanes, appliances, medical devices and military products. The administration said it expected the award to create more than 700 jobs in construction and manufacturing.“Today’s announcement with Microchip is...
Xerox to Cut 15% of Its Work Force in the First Quarter of 2024
Business

Xerox to Cut 15% of Its Work Force in the First Quarter of 2024

Xerox said on Wednesday that it was cutting 15 percent of its work force as part of a restructuring, the company’s latest effort to shift focus to its business-services offerings and away from its iconic photocopiers.In a news release, the company said it would reduce its global staff, which included roughly 23,000 employees in 2022, and name a new leadership team. The layoffs are expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024.The company’s shares fell more than 12 percent after the layoff news was announced. Its share price had been steadily rising over the past year, in part because Xerox had saved billions of dollars after starting a cost-cutting program in 2018. It reported a roughly 6 percent drop in revenue in the third quarter of 2023 compared with the previous year.Xerox was f...
Companies Like Afterpay and Affirm May Put Americans At Risk For ‘Phantom Debt’
Business

Companies Like Afterpay and Affirm May Put Americans At Risk For ‘Phantom Debt’

“Buy now, pay later” loans are helping to fuel a record-setting holiday shopping season. Economists worry they could also be masking and exacerbating cracks in Americans’ financial well-being.The loans, which allow consumers to pay for purchases in installments, often interest-free, have soared in popularity because of high prices and interest rates. Retailers have used them to attract customers and to get people to spend more.But such loans may be encouraging younger and lower-income Americans to take on too much debt, according to consumer groups and some lawmakers. And because such loans aren’t routinely reported to credit bureaus or captured in public data, they could also represent a hidden source of risk to the financial system.“The more I dig into it, the more concerned I am,” said ...
From A.I. to inflation, 11 business charts that explain 2023
Business

From A.I. to inflation, 11 business charts that explain 2023

It has been a confusing year for the economy and markets. At the start of 2023, economists largely predicted a global recession, and Wall Street was bearish on stocks, with many analysts expecting the S&P 500 to finish the year just a touch higher than where it started. Fast-forward 12 months: No recession (yet) and the S&P 500 is tantalizingly close to a record high.Here are 11 charts that help explain how we got here.Inflation and its ripple effectsCentral bankers around the world continued an aggressive campaign of interest rate increases in 2023, raising policy rates in an effort to tame the highest inflation in generations.Inflation has cooled considerably in many places, though it remains above the Federal Reserve’s target (around 2 percent), and rate increases have paused. T...
U.S. and Europe Eye Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine as Funding Dries Up
Business

U.S. and Europe Eye Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine as Funding Dries Up

The Biden administration is quietly signaling new support for seizing more than $300 billion in Russian central bank assets stashed in Western nations, and has begun urgent discussions with allies about using the funds to aid Ukraine’s war effort at a moment when financial support is waning, according to senior American and European officials.Until recently, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen had argued that without action by Congress, seizing the funds was “not something that is legally permissible in the United States.” There has also been concern among some top American officials that nations around the world would hesitate to keep their funds at the New York Federal Reserve, or in dollars, if the United States established a precedent for seizing the money.But the administration, in coo...
Tencent and Netease Rally on Signs China May Ease Gaming Proposal
Business

Tencent and Netease Rally on Signs China May Ease Gaming Proposal

The stock prices of Chinese video game companies rebounded Wednesday after investors seized on signals that the government was having second thoughts about proposed regulations on gaming.Since the weekend, regulators have tried to calm the market after shares of the two largest video game companies, Tencent and Netease, plunged on Friday.When trading resumed after the four-day holiday weekend in Hong Kong, Tencent rose about 4 percent and Netease jumped 12 percent, recovering some of their losses. The companies’ shares rose again on Thursday, although more modestly.The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged that they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtu...