Business

Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy
Business

Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy

The attacks on crucial shipping traffic in the Red Sea straits by a determined band of militants in Yemen — a spillover from the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza — are injecting a new dose of instability into a world economy already struggling with mounting geopolitical tensions.The risk of escalating conflict in the Middle East is the latest in a string of unpredictable crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that have landed like swipes of a bear claw on the global economy, smacking it off course and leaving scars.As if that weren’t enough, more volatility lies ahead in the form of a wave of national elections whose repercussions could be deep and long. More than two billion people in roughly 50 countries, including India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, the United Stat...
Wall Street strategists’ bull and bear scenarios for 2024.
Business

Wall Street strategists’ bull and bear scenarios for 2024.

Last November and December, veteran stock market watchers forecast that 2023 would be a year to forget. They saw high inflation, a looming global recession and rising interest rates as sapping households’ buying power and denting corporate profits. For investors, they penciled in paltry gains and one of the worst performances for the S&P 500 in the past 15 years.But the market pros got the story only partly right. While interest rates did climb to a near two-decade peak, the S&P 500 has surprisingly soared to a near record high. Fueled partly by a rally in the so-called Magnificent Seven megacap tech stocks, it’s risen nearly 25 percent this year, as of Thursday’s close, shaking off a banking crisis, wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, and slowing growth in China’s economy.Crypto ...
Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline
Business

Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline

Despite lingering inflation, Americans increased their spending this holiday season, early data shows. That comes as a big relief for retailers that had spent much of the year fearing the economy would soon weaken and consumer spending would fall.Retail sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 increased 3.1 percent from a year earlier, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. The numbers, released Tuesday, are not adjusted for inflation.Spending increased across many categories, with restaurants experiencing one of the largest jumps, 7.8 percent. Apparel increased 2.4 percent, and groceries also had gains.The holiday sales figures, driven by a healthy labor market and wage gains, suggest that the economy remains stron...
In 2023, Movie Audiences Wanted Comfort, Not Superhero Spectacle
Business

In 2023, Movie Audiences Wanted Comfort, Not Superhero Spectacle

Hollywood’s movie factories run on conventional wisdom — entrenched notions, based on experience, about what types of films are likely to pop at the global box office.This year, audiences turned many of those so-called rules on their heads.Superheroes have long been seen as the most reliable way to fill seats. But characters like Captain Marvel, the Flash, Ant-Man, Shazam and Blue Beetle failed to excite moviegoers. Over the weekend, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which cost more than $200 million to make and tens of millions more to market, arrived to a disastrous $28 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada. Overseas moviegoers chipped in another $80 million.In the meantime, the biggest movie of the year at the box office, “Barbie,” with $1.44 billion in worldwide ticket ...
Under Argentina’s New President, Fuel Is Up 60%, and Diaper Prices Have Doubled
Business

Under Argentina’s New President, Fuel Is Up 60%, and Diaper Prices Have Doubled

Over the past two weeks, the owner of a hip wine bar in Buenos Aires saw the price of beef soar 73 percent, while the zucchini he puts in salads rose 140 percent. An Uber driver paid 60 percent more to fill her tank. And a father said he spent twice as much on diapers for his toddler than he did last month.In Argentina, a country synonymous with galloping inflation, people are used to paying more for just about everything. But under the country’s new president, life is quickly becoming even more painful.When Javier Milei was elected president on Nov. 19, the country was already suffering under the world’s third-highest rate of inflation, with prices up 160 percent from a year before.But since Mr. Milei took office on Dec. 10 and quickly devalued the Argentine currency, prices have soared a...
When You Can’t Give Your Boss a Timeout
Business

When You Can’t Give Your Boss a Timeout

Saying ‘Mind Your Own Business,’ TactfullyI love my job. I work with a great team, I genuinely enjoy what I do, I am valued and contributing to something that genuinely helps people. But. I am currently in the midst of a lot of personal issues with my family. Without getting into too much detail, some very unsavory things have been said and done. I’ve pulled back from my family so I can fully parse my thoughts and feelings around these events so I can decide what boundaries are needed moving forward.So how does this connect to work? My manager asks about the time I spend with my family, a lot. I try to offer surface-level comments about how it was good and they’re doing well, but my true feelings on the subject are always simmering beneath the surface. My manager means well, and I don’t be...
Americans May Be Taking On Too Much Pay-Later ‘Phantom Debt’
Business

Americans May Be Taking On Too Much Pay-Later ‘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 ...
Prices for Some Goods Are Actually Falling This Holiday Season
Business

Prices for Some Goods Are Actually Falling This Holiday Season

American shoppers, burned by more than two years of rapid inflation, are getting some welcome relief this holiday season: Prices on many products are falling.Toys are almost 3 percent cheaper this Christmas than last, government data shows. Sports equipment is down nearly 2 percent. Bigger-ticket items are also showing price declines: Washing machines cost 12 percent less than a year ago, for example. And eggs, whose meteoric rise in prices last winter became a prime example of the country’s inflation problem, are down 22 percent over the past year.Consumer prices, in the aggregate, are still rising, though not nearly as quickly as a year ago. Most groceries still cost more than they did a year ago. So do most services, such as restaurant meals, haircuts and trips to the dentist. And housi...
The Debt Problem Is Enormous. Experts Say the System for Fixing It Is Broken
Business

The Debt Problem Is Enormous. Experts Say the System for Fixing It Is Broken

Martin Guzman was a college freshman at La Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina, in 2001 when a debt crisis prompted default, riots and a devastating depression. A dazed middle class suffered ruin, as the International Monetary Fund insisted that the government make misery-inducing budget cuts in exchange for a bailout.Watching Argentina unravel inspired Mr. Guzman to switch majors and study economics. Nearly two decades later, when the government was again bankrupt, it was Mr. Guzman as finance minister who negotiated with I.M.F. officials to restructure a $44 billion debt, the result of an earlier ill-conceived bailout.Today he is one of a number of prominent economists and world leaders who argue that the ambitious framework created at the end of World War II to safeguard economi...
Studios Are Loosening Their Reluctance to Send Old Shows Back to Netflix
Business

Studios Are Loosening Their Reluctance to Send Old Shows Back to Netflix

For years, entertainment company executives happily licensed classic movies and television shows to Netflix. Both sides enjoyed the spoils: Netflix received popular content like “Friends” and Disney’s “Moana,” which satisfied its ever-growing subscriber base, and it sent bags of cash back to the companies.But around five years ago, executives realized they were “selling nuclear weapons technology” to a powerful rival, as Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, put it. Studios needed those same beloved movies and shows for the streaming services they were building from scratch, and fueling Netflix’s rise was only hurting them. The content spigots were, in large part, turned off.Then the harsh realities of streaming began to emerge.Confronting sizable debt burdens and the fact that most st...