Business

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...
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...
New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft Over Use of Copyrighted Work
Business

New York Times Sues OpenAI and Microsoft Over Use of Copyrighted Work

The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement on Wednesday, opening a new front in the increasingly intense legal battle over the unauthorized use of published work to train artificial intelligence technologies.The Times is the first major American media organization to sue the companies, the creators of ChatGPT and other popular A.I. platforms, over copyright issues associated with its written works. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, contends that millions of articles published by The Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.The suit does not include an exact monetary demand. But it says the defendants should be held responsible for “billions of dollars in statut...
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...
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 — is 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 State...
Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target
Business

Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target

A closely watched measure of inflation cooled notably in November, good news for the Federal Reserve as officials move toward the next phase in their fight against rapid price increases and a positive for the White House as voters see relief from rising costs.The Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation measure, which the Fed cites when it says it aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time, climbed 2.6 percent in the year through November. That was down from 2.9 percent the previous month, and was less than what economists had forecast. Compared with the previous month, prices overall even fell slightly for the first time in years.That decline — a 0.1 percent drop, and the first negative reading since April 2020 — came as gas prices dropped. After volatile food and fuel prices we...
How China Is Profiting From Trade With Russia
Business

How China Is Profiting From Trade With Russia

On China’s snowy border with Russia, a dealership that sells trucks has seen its sales double in the past year thanks to Russian customers. China’s exports to its neighbor are so strong that Chinese construction workers built warehouses and 20-story office towers at the border this summer.The border town Heihe is a microcosm of China’s ever closer economic relationship with Russia. China is profiting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led Russia to switch from the West to China for purchases of everything from cars to computer chips.Russia, in turn, has sold oil and natural gas to China at deep discounts. Russian chocolates, sausages and other consumer goods have become plentiful in Chinese supermarkets. Trade between Russia and China surpassed $200 billion in the first 11 months...
West Hollywood Minimum Wage, Highest in U.S., Irks Merchants
Business

West Hollywood Minimum Wage, Highest in U.S., Irks Merchants

Josiah Citrin, the owner and chef of a Santa Monica restaurant with two Michelin stars, opened a new steakhouse a few months ago off the Sunset Strip. He is already concerned about whether the restaurant can survive.The reason, Mr. Citrin said, is singular: a West Hollywood city mandate that workers be paid at least $19.08 an hour, the highest minimum wage in the country.“It’s very challenging,” Mr. Citrin, 55, said of the new minimum wage, which took effect about two weeks before he opened his doors in July. “Really, it’s almost impossible to operate.”His sentiment is widely shared among business owners in West Hollywood, a city of 35,000 known for restaurants, boutiques and progressive politics. In recent weeks, many owners have written to lawmakers, pleading for a moratorium on further ...
Gene-Sequencing Company Illumina to Sell Cancer Test Developer
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Gene-Sequencing Company Illumina to Sell Cancer Test Developer

Illumina, the leading producer of gene-sequencing machines, announced Sunday that it would sell Grail, a cancer test developer that it purchased for $7.1 billion in 2021.The move came two days after Illumina lost its case in a federal appeals court, which largely upheld a Federal Trade Commission ruling that Illumina should unwind its deal with Grail on antitrust grounds.The case was seen by antitrust experts as a test of regulators’ efforts to stop big companies from buying fledgling innovators.The deal had also faced a roadblock in Europe. In September 2022, the European Union said it would block the acquisition. Illumina, based in San Diego, previously stated publicly that if it was unsuccessful with appeals in either jurisdiction, it would divest the start-up.“We are committed to an ex...
New Mexico’s Spaceport America Is an Economic Dream Deferred
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New Mexico’s Spaceport America Is an Economic Dream Deferred

From his tiny gem store in southern New Mexico, Robert Hanseck spends his days untangling chakra beads and answering questions about the healing properties of amethyst crystals. After four decades behind the register, he has met thousands of wellness-minded tourists eager to explore the hot springs that span the region.But he almost never sees the type of traveler he was promised would transform his small town of Truth or Consequences: space enthusiasts.“It’s been a flop,” he said of Spaceport America, a project that was conceived as the vanguard of commercial space travel — and that has been promoted by state officials for more than two decades as a launchpad for the local economy.Less than a mile up the road, Arthur Burger, who owns an art gallery, recounted the moment in 2021, not long ...