Archive Month: July 2017

The U.S. said Monday that for the first time it will sell coal to Ukraine, easing its reliance on Russia and Moscow-back separatists in eastern Ukraine to meet its energy needs.

The accord calls for Xcoal Energy & Resources in the eastern state of Pennsylvania to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal by the end of the year to Ukraine’s state-owned energy firm Centrenergo to help it heat homes and businesses in the coming winter months. The first shipment, at a cost of $113 a metric ton, is expected to leave the U.S. port of Baltimore in August.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the transaction was “crucial to the path forward to achieve energy dominance” for the United States. President Donald Trump has vowed to bring back the country’s coal industry, which has lost thousands of jobs as the U.S. has turned sharply toward use of cleaner and cheaper forms of energy, chiefly natural gas, even as demand for coal has risen in Europe and Asia.

Ukraine has struggled to meet its energy needs since March, when it cut off coal deliveries from the eastern part of its country controlled by Russian-backed separatists fighting the Kyiv government for control of the industrialized sector. Ukraine has called for a complete ban on coal imports from Russia, which Kyiv and Western countries have accused of supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine that has claimed 10,000 lives in the last three years.

Speaking at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Xcoal president Ernie Thrasher called the deal “historic” and said the company was “committed to serving Ukraine’s needs.”

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Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps at Uber.


The company says ridership through June surpassed the 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016. A spokeswoman wouldn’t give an exact number.


Lyft has made its gains as some shun much larger rival, Uber. Riders boycotted Uber after allegations that it took advantage of a New York taxi boycott in protest of President Donald Trump’s first order on immigration. There also were reports of widespread sexual harassment.


Lyft wouldn’t comment on Uber but says it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.


Uber says it’s given more than 5 billion rides since 2010.



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South Africa entered an economic recession in June, and the country’s unemployment rate is fast approaching 30 percent, according to the government statistics agency. But for the sellers of secondhand books, business has never been better.

Eric Nofal, who has been selling used books for almost 30 years, shows a customer around his store in Johannesburg.

He says he recently faced “intense” competition before launching his fifth bookshop in the city.

“My ex-wife also wanted to open up a shop in this area, but I beat her to the punch, so she is a bit [angry] with me, actually!,” he admitted.

Nofal adds  “I am making money and it is going into my third month and that is pretty good for a new business to make money so quickly. Books have come back.”

It is a big contrast to five years ago when Nofal’s sales dropped dramatically. Book lovers were embracing electronic reading devices like Kindles. He had to close six stores.

But now, Nofal says, the “kindle craze” may be over and many South Africans want to turn “real pages.”

Yet many of his clients give another reason for no longer buying new books.

“They have gone up a hell of a lot. Obviously it depends on your import or your [South African] rand level,” he said.

The rand has dropped steadily against the dollar since the end of 2011, when one dollar was valued at about eight rand. Presently, a dollar is valued at 13 rand.

“A new book should cost you about the price of a meal. In the UK [Britain] that is about right, a meal costs about seven pounds and a [new] book costs about seven pounds. Here on the other hand a reasonable meal for one person will cost you about 70 rand, 80 rand and a [new] book costs 350 [rand]. People just can not afford [new] books,” he said.

Dealers across Johannesburg put the number of second hand book stores at about 50, up from about 25 just a few years ago.

But used books are not always cheaper.

Unpacking hand-me-down books inside his shop, Doron Locketz says that despite the poor economy, some South Africans spend “big money” on rare second hand titles.

“We sold a first edition of Long Walk to Freedom, and the big thing about it was that it was signed, pre the release date, by Mandela. It went to one of our collectors,” he said.

Locketz sold the autographed copy of Nelson Mandela’s bestseller for almost 80,000 rand … more than $6,000 US.

But he says the collectible book market is very small, and he mostly sells used books to a general audience.

“I am delighted to increasingly see more black customers, younger ones, who really have, many of them, a passion for books,” he said.

Economists are predicting a bleak outlook for South Africa for the next few years. So second hand book dealers like Locketz expect sales to rise even further in the near future.


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У Кабінеті міністрів України повідомили, що номінальна заробітна плата українців у червні 2017 року зросла у порівнянні з відповідним періодом 2016 року на 37,9 відсотка, і становила 7360 гривень. Про це інформує урядовий портал з посиланням на дані статистики.

Згідно з повідомленням, найбільше зростання заробітної плати у червні було в сфері виробництва комп’ютерів, електронної та оптичної продукції (12136 гривні), електронного устаткування (7038), автопрому (7798) та на виробництві коксу і продуктів нафтопереробки (8802 грн).

«У червні 2017 року у порівнянні з відповідним періодом 2016 року номінальна заробітна плата працівників освіти зросла на 51,9% (7151 гривні), діяльності у сфері творчості, мистецтва та розваг – на 48,4% (6159 гривні)», – повідомили в уряді.

Економісти в ефірі Радіо Свобода нещодавно заявили, що номінальне підвищення рівня зарплати на сьогодні не є відчутним для громадян, оскільки реальні доходи українців є значно меншими. Тенденція до зростання зарплат є, однак в Україні вони досі лишаються значно меншими за сусідні європейські країни.

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Запаси природного газу в українських підземних сховищах газу (ПСГ) у період з 22 до 29 липня зросли на 3,1%, до більш як 13 мільярдів кубометрів. Про це свідчать дані оператора газотранспортної системи України держкомпанії «Укртрансгаз».

Раніше міністр енергетики і вугільної промисловості Ігор Насалик заявив про плани нагромадження на 1 жовтня 2017 року 17 мільярдів кубометрів для проходження опалювального сезону 2017–2018 років.

При підготовці до минулого опалювального періоду профільне міністерство також наполягало на необхідності нагромадити 17 мільярдів кубометрів газу, але керівництво «Нафтогазу України» запевняло, що 14,5 мільярда кубометрів буде цілком достатньо. У результаті, в опалювальний сезон 2016–2017 років Україна ввійшла із запасами «блакитного» палива на рівні 14,7 і завершила сезон на рівні 8,4 мільярда кубометрів.

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The crocodile industry in Australia’s Northern Territory, a new report says, is worth more than four times the previous estimate of US $80 million. Officials hope the findings will give poorer aboriginal communities the chance to develop crocodile farming industries.

The saltwater creature is the world’s largest reptile. In Australia, they were once hunted to the brink of extinction, mainly for their skins, which were used to make durable leather goods and clothes.

They have been a protected species since the early 1970s, and their numbers in Australia’s tropical north have soared.

Economic opportunities

The Northern Territory regional government now sees economic opportunities for indigenous communities, where officials want to see an expansion of crocodile egg collection programs.

The eggs would help to stock crocodile farms owned by aboriginal groups, or traditional owners of land, which would supply reptile skins to big fashion houses including Louis Vuitton and Gucci, as well as supplying crocodile meat.

“We are looking at direct investments into rangers to make sure that we see on country a growth in the crocodile industry, so the harvesting of eggs, the growing of the crocodile locally and remotely, which is a very important and valuable use of traditional country done by traditional owners,” said Michael Gunner, the Northern Territory’s chief minister.

Hunting for sport?

An independent Australian MP, Bob Katter, has said that as crocodile numbers increase, so does the threat to people. He believes big game trophy hunters should be allowed to shoot them for sport. Katter has argued that crocodile safaris would boost the incomes of indigenous communities.

While the Northern Territory government supports crocodile safaris, the final decision rests with Australia’s federal government, which has refused to allow them. Conservationists have insisted that the shooting of iconic animals for profit in Australia is abhorrent and should never be allowed.

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Україна збільшила запаси газу у підземних газосховищах до 13 мільярдів кубів, повідомив радник Міністерства енергетики та вугільної промисловості Максим Білявський.

За його словами, даний об’єм накопичень на п’яту частину перевищує минулорічний, що свідчить про кращу готовність до наступного опалювального сезону.

«Перезимуємо. Сьогодні ранком запаси газу в сховищах перетнули позначку – 13 мільярдів, це на 20% більше ніж торік», – написав Білявський у Facebook.

Затверджений Кабінетом Міністрів план заходів з підготовки паливно-енергетичного комплексу до осінньо-зимового періоду 2017/2018 років передбачає, що Україна до 1 листопада 2017 року має накопичити у підземних газосховищах 17 мільярдів кубічних метрів газу.

Як повідомлялось раніше, загалом цього року «Укртрансгаз» спрямував до підземних газосховищ понад 4 мільярди 100 мільйонів кубометрів газу, що в 2,7 рази більше, ніж за аналогічний період 2016 року, повідомили в компанії, що на 100 відсотків належить «Нафтогазові України».

17 липня «Нафтогаз України» повідомив про початок спільного з ЄС проекту комплексного вивчення українських підземних сховищ газу, що допоможе визначити найбільш ефективну модель використання газових сховищ.

«Нафтогаз України» володіє 100% акцій «Укртрансгазу», який, у свою чергу, управляє найбільшими ПСГ у Європі загальною потужністю 31 мільярд кубометрів.

За даними «Нафтогазу», протягом останніх років використовувалося близько 50% цієї потужності.

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For Tesla, everything is riding on the Model 3.

The electric car company’s newest vehicle was delivered to its first 30 customers, all Tesla employees, Friday evening. Its $35,000 starting price, half the cost of Tesla’s previous models, and range of up to 310 miles (498 km) could bring hundreds of thousands of customers into the automaker’s fold, taking it from a niche luxury brand to the mainstream. Around 500,000 people worldwide have reserved a Model 3.

Those higher sales could finally make Tesla profitable and accelerate its plans for future products like SUVs and pickups.

Or the Model 3 could dash Tesla’s dreams.

Much could go wrong

Potential customers could lose faith if Tesla doesn’t meet its aggressive production schedule, or if the cars have quality problems that strain Tesla’s small service network. 

The compact Model 3 may not entice a global market that’s increasingly shifting to SUVs, including all-electric SUVs from Audi and others going on sale soon. And a fully loaded Model 3 with 310 miles of range costs a hefty $59,500; the base model goes 220 miles (322 km) on a charge.

Limits on the $7,500 U.S. tax credit for electric cars could also hurt demand. Once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars in the U.S., the credit phases out. Tesla has sold more than 126,000 vehicles since 2008, according to estimates by WardsAuto, so not everyone who buys a Model 3 will be eligible.

“There are more reasons to think that it won’t be successful than it will,” says Karl Brauer, the executive publisher for Cox Automotive, which owns Autotrader and other car buying sites.

Always part of Tesla plans

The Model 3 has long been part of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla’s plans. In 2006, three years after the company was founded, CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would eventually build “affordably priced family cars” after establishing itself with high-end vehicles like the Model S, which starts at $69,500. This will be the first time many Tesla workers will be able to afford a Tesla.

“It was never our goal to make expensive cars. We wanted to make a car everyone could buy,” Musk said Friday. “If you’re trying to make a difference in the world, you also need to make cars people can afford.”

Tesla started taking reservations for the Model 3 in March 2016. Musk said more than 500,000 people have put down a $1,000 deposit for the car. People ordering a car now likely won’t get it until late 2018. Cars will go first to employees and customers on the West Coast; overseas deliveries start late next year, and right-hand drive versions come in 2019.

Challenges to deliver

But carmaking has proved a challenge to Musk. Both the Model S and the Model X SUV were delayed and then plagued with pesky problems, like doors that don’t work and blank screens in their high-tech dashboards.

Tesla’s luxury car owners might overlook those problems because they liked the thrill of being early adopters. But mainstream buyers will be less forgiving.

“This will be their primary vehicle, so they will have high expectations of quality and durability and expect everything to work every time,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior researcher with Navigant Research.

The Model 3 was designed to be much simpler and cheaper to make than Tesla’s previous vehicles. It has one dashboard screen, not two, and no fancy door handles. It’s made primarily of steel, not aluminum. It has no instrument panel; the speed limit and other information normally there can be found on the center screen. It doesn’t even have a key fob; drivers can open and lock the car with a smartphone or a credit cardlike key.

‘Manufacturing hell’

Still, Musk said he’s expecting “at least six months of manufacturing hell” as the Model 3 ramps up to full production. Musk wants to be making 20,000 Model 3s per month by December at the carmaker’s Fremont factory.

Musk aims to make 500,000 vehicles next year, a number that could help Tesla finally make money. The company has only had two profitable quarters since it went public in 2010. But even at that pace, Tesla will remain a small player. Toyota Motor Corp. made more than 10 million vehicles last year.

Abuelsamid said even if it doesn’t meet its ambitious targets, Tesla has done more than anyone to promote electric vehicles.

“A decade ago they were a little more than golf carts. Now all of a sudden, EVs are real, practical vehicles that can be used for anything,” he said.

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At dawn in Xochimilco, home to Mexico City’s famed floating gardens, farmers in muddied rain boots squat among rows of beets as a group of chefs arrive to sample sweet fennel and the pungent herb known as epazote.


By dinnertime some of those greens will be on plates at an elegant bistro 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the north, stewed with black beans in a $60 prix-fixe menu for well-heeled diners.


Call it floating-farm-to-table: A growing number of the capital’s most in-demand restaurants are incorporating produce grown at the gardens, or chinampas, using ancient cultivation techniques pioneered hundreds of years ago in the pre-Columbian era.


While sourcing local ingredients has become fashionable for many top chefs around the globe, it takes on additional significance in Xochimilco, where a project linking chinampa farmers with high-end eateries aims to breathe life and a bit of modernity into a fading and threatened tradition.


“People sometimes think [farm-to-table] is a trend,” said Eduardo Garcia, owner and head chef of Maximo Bistrot in the stylish Roma Norte district. “It’s not a trend. It’s something that we humans have always done and we need to keep doing it, we need to return to it.”

Xochimilco, on the far southern edge of Mexico City, is best-known as the “Mexican Venice” for its canals and brightly colored boats where locals and tourists can while away a weekend day listening to mariachi music and sipping cold beers.


It has also been a breadbasket for the Valley of Mexico since before the Aztec Empire, when farmers first created the “floating” islands bound to the shallow canal beds through layers of sediment and willow roots.


There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world, and Xochimilco is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.


But that World Heritage status and Xochimilco itself are threatened by the pollution and encroaching urbanization that plague the rest of the sprawling metropolis.


Enter Yolcan, a business that specializes in placing traditionally farmed Xochimilco produce in Mexico City’s most acclaimed restaurants Those include places like Gabriela Camara’s seafood joint Contramar and Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, which is perhaps the country’s most famous restaurant and regularly makes lists of the world’s best.


Yolcan has been around since 2011, but it’s only in the last year that business has really taken off with the number of restaurant partners increasing by a third during that period to 22. Last month five of them teamed up with Yolcan for dinner to benefit chinampa preservation.

The company directly manages its own farmland and also partners with local families to help distribute their goods, lending a much-needed hand as an intermediary.


“The thing about the chinampa farmer is that he does not have the time to track down a market or a person to promote his product,” said David Jimenez, who works a plot in the San Gregorio area of Xochimilco. “Working the chinampas is very demanding.”


All told Yolcan’s operation covers about 15 acres (6 hectares) and churns out some 2.5 tons of produce per month. Due to the high salinity of the soil drawn from canal beds, the straw-covered chinampa plots are particularly fertile ground for root vegetables and hearty greens like kale and chard.

Diners reserve weeks in advance for a coveted table at Maximo Bistrot, one of three restaurants Garcia runs. Meticulously prepared plates of chinampa-grown roasted yellow carrots with asparagus puree arrive at the table, accompanied by sea bass with green mole sauce and wine pairings in tall glasses.

Garcia estimated he gets about two-thirds of his ingredients from Yolcan or other organic farms nearby. He was born in a rural part of Guanajuato state where his family raised corn and largely ate what they grew, so sourcing local is second-nature.


“I think all of the world’s restaurants should make it a goal to use these alternative ingredients,” Garcia said, stirring a pot of beans flavored with the aromatic epazote herb. “Even though it’s a little more expensive, a little more difficult to find.”


Chinampa produce generally sells for 15 to 100 percent more than comparable goods at the enormous Central de Abasto, the go-to wholesale market for nearly all of Mexico City’s chefs that is so monolithic its competition sets prices across the country.


But chefs who buy from Yolcan are happy to pay a premium knowing they’re getting vegetables free of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and also supporting a centuries-old tradition.


Diners at Maximo Bistrot also said they enjoyed their meal, especially the burrata with chinampa-grown heirloom tomatoes. One couple said they are willing to pay the prices of these high-end eateries in order to have the best produce.


“We’ve eaten in 26 countries around the world, and for the price and quality, this was awesome,” said Kristin Kearin, a 35-year-old masseuse from United States. “I honestly think that using small producers is going to come back.”

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday said he would extend for two more months one of the extraordinary cash management measures that the Treasury is using to stave off a debt-limit default.

Mnuchin said in a letter to House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan that he would continue to withhold investments from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, until Sept. 29.

The Treasury’s previous “debt issuance suspension period” for the federal employee pension fund was due to expire on Friday.

Mnuchin had to take the step because Congress has not passed an extension or increase in the federal debt limit, and the Treasury needs to withhold funds from the pension fund in order to preserve its borrowing capacity. It has taken several similar measures since the last extension of the debt limit expired in March at just under $20 trillion.

Mnuchin urged lawmakers this week to act on the borrowing limit before their August recess, but his request fell on deaf ears. The House of Representatives is on recess until Sept. 5.

Mnuchin and fiscal watchdog groups have estimated that the Treasury will fully exhaust its remaining borrowing capacity in October, raising the risk that the United States cannot meet all of its payment obligations with incoming tax revenue.

The Treasury is required by law to make the pension fund whole, including interest, when the debt limit is increased.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, Mnuchin said that Congress’ budgeting process, including the role the debt limit plays, “needs to be looked at.”

“I’m all for [that] there should be very strong controls of spending money. But once we’ve agreed to spend the money, we should make sure that the government can pay for it,” Mnuchin said.

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The International Monetary Fund on Friday said that the U.S. dollar was overvalued by 10 percent to 20 percent, based on U.S. near-term economic fundamentals, while it viewed valuations of the euro, Japan’s yen and China’s yuan as broadly in line with fundamentals.

The IMF’s External Sector Report, an annual assessment of currencies and external surpluses and deficits of major economies, showed that external current account deficits were becoming more concentrated in certain advanced economies such as the United States and Britain, while surpluses remained persistent in China and Germany.

While the report assessed the euro’s valuation as appropriate for the eurozone as a whole, it said the euro’s real effective exchange rate was 10 percent to 20 percent too low for Germany’s fundamentals, given its high current account surplus.

Britain’s pound, meanwhile, was assessed as up to 15 percent overvalued compared with fundamentals, which include a high level of uncertainty over Britain’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union.

The fund said the dollar’s appreciation in recent years was based on its relatively stronger growth outlook, interest rate hikes versus looser monetary policy in the eurozone and Japan, as well as expectations for fiscal stimulus from President Donald Trump’s administration.

But so far this year, the dollar index, the broad measure of its value against other major currencies, is down more than 8 percent and is off to the worst start to a year since 2002.

The IMF recommended that U.S. authorities take steps to shrink a current account deficit that remains too large, by reducing its federal budget deficit and passing structural reforms to increase the savings rate and improve the economy’s productivity.

“It’s important to address imbalances, because if they’re not dealt with appropriately and through the right policies, we could have a backlash in the form of protectionism,” IMF Research Division Chief Luis Cubeddu told a news conference.

No automatic fix

Cubeddu said that the persistence of current account surpluses in export countries such as China and the growth of deficits in debtor countries such as the United States suggested that the problem would not clear up automatically.

“That is, prices, savings and investment decisions don’t seem to be adjusting fast enough to correct imbalances. This partly reflects rigid currency arrangements, but also certain structural features, like inadequate safety nets, barriers to investment, which leads to undesirable levels of savings and investment,” he said.

The report said that while China’s yuan was broadly in line with its fundamentals, IMF models showed wide divergences with desired policies, from a 10 percent overvaluation to a 10 percent undervaluation due to uncertainties over Beijing’s policy outlook.

The U.S. Treasury in April refrained from declaring China a currency manipulator despite Trump’s campaign promises to do so, citing Beijing’s interventions last year to prop up the yuan’s value in the face of capital outflows. But it kept China, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on a monitoring list for large external surpluses.

The IMF said China’s current account surplus was growing again after declining in 2015 and 2016 and needed to be reduced.

This should be achieved by rebalancing the economy away from investment and credit growth toward more consumption, with a stronger safety net, reforms to state-owned enterprises and opening Chinese markets to foreign competition.

The report also showed that the IMF considers Mexico’s peso and South Korea’s won both to be undervalued by 5 percent to 15 percent compared with their fundamentals. The fund said it expected Mexico’s undervaluation to reverse as risks of protectionist U.S. policies dissipated, but that South Korea needed to stimulate domestic demand to reduce a large current account surplus.

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Shares of Tesla rose nearly 1 percent on Friday ahead of a handover to customers of its first Model 3 sedans, the electric cars that Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is betting will propel his company into the mass market.

Tesla is counting on the Model 3 to help turn the cash-losing company into a profitable one, and its event later on Friday at its factory in Fremont, California, comes as the car maker’s stock trades down 12 percent from a record high set in June.

Fueled by expectations that Tesla will become a carbon-free energy and transportation heavyweight, Tesla’s stock remains up 58 percent year to date, but it is also a favorite among short sellers.

Designed for easy production

Shorts sellers have about $8.5 billion bet against Tesla, equivalent to about 20 percent of the company’s float, according to Astec Analytics.

The $35,000 Model 3 is designed for easy production, with output targeted to reach 20,000 per month by December. The Silicon Valley car company aims to quickly ramp up its factory to reach a production target of 500,000 cars per year in 2018.

Tesla’s last launch was the luxury Model X SUV in 2015, which had a number of production issues.

Investors eager for update

Tesla reports its second-quarter results on Wednesday, and investors are keen for an update on how quickly its output is expanding after deliveries for the first half of 2017 came in at the low end of the company’s own forecast.

“This evening’s event will keep investors focused on the Model 3 ramp, and less on the upcoming quarter,” Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note to clients. Johnson has a an “underweight” rating on Tesla.

Skeptics believe Tesla’s growth targets are unrealistic and that it is at risk of being overtaken by General Motors, BMW and other deep-pocketed manufacturers that are ramping up their own electric-vehicle offerings.

The stock was up 0.86 percent at $337.33.

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U.S. economic growth accelerated in April, May, and June, expanding at a 2.6 percent annual rate, says a new report by the Commerce Department.

The gross domestic product data, published Friday, says consumer and business spending helped boost growth.  IHS Markit economist Sara Johnson says U.S. growth was also helped by an accelerating global economy that improved American trade.  

The GDP counts up all the goods and services produced in the nation, and is considered the broadest assessment of economic health. This report is based on preliminary data, and could be revised as more complete information becomes available. Such an adjustment was made in the GDP growth for January, February, and March, which showed growth back then was even slower than first thought.  

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to boost economic growth to 3 percent or higher by cutting regulations, taxes, and a major health care program while boosting spending on infrastructure. While he has cut some regulations, much of the rest of the Republican president’s economic agenda is stalled in Congress, even though both houses are controlled by his fellow Republicans.

A separate study by the University of Michigan says consumer sentiment declined in July, but remains at a “favorable” level.  Economists track consumer attitudes closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity. 

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Japan says tariffs on U.S. imports of frozen beef will rise to 50 percent next month, from the current 38.5 percent.

“The tariff will take effect automatically as the volume of the imported U.S. frozen beef exceeded the quota set by law,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday.

Under World Trade Organization rules, Japan can impose safeguard tariffs when imports rise more than 17 percent, year-on-year in any given quarter.

Japan, known for its world-famous Kobe beef, prized by chefs around the world for its tenderness, flavor and marbled fat, uses tariffs and other measures to protect its farmers from competition.

Peter Seng, chief executive of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said in a statement the 50 percent tariff has implications for U.S. beef exports that are “significant.”

Australia, however, which exports almost as much beef to Japan as the U.S., is not facing the emergency tariffs because it has a free trade agreement with Japan as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP trade agreement shortly after taking office.

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The surge in far-flung and destructive cyber attacks is not good for national security, but for an increasing number of hackers and researchers, it is great for job security.

The new reality is on display in Las Vegas this week at the annual Black Hat and Def Con security conferences, which now have a booming side business in recruiting.

“Hosting big parties has enabled us to meet more talent in the community, helping fill key positions and also retain great people,” said Jen Ellis, a vice president with cybersecurity firm Rapid7 Inc., which filled the hip Hakkasan nightclub Wednesday at one of the week’s most popular parties.

More tech, more jobs

Twenty or even 10 years ago, career options for technology tinkerers were mostly limited to security firms, handfuls of jobs inside mainstream companies, and in government agencies.

But as tech has taken over the world, the opportunities in the security field have exploded.

Whole industries that used to have little to do with technology now need protection, including automobiles, medical devices and the ever-expanding Internet of Things, from thermostats and fish tanks to home security devices.

More insurance companies now cover breaches, with premiums reduced for strong security practices. And lawyers are making sure that cloud providers are held responsible if a customer’s data is stolen from them and otherwise pushing to hold tech companies liable for problems, meaning they need security experts too.

1.8 million skilled workers needed

The nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education last month predicted a global shortage of 1.8 million skilled security workers in 2022. The group, which credentials security professionals, said that a third of hiring managers plan to boost their security teams by at least 15 percent.

For hackers who prefer to pick things apart rather than stand guard over them, an enormous number of companies now offer “bug bounties,” or formal rewards, for warnings about vulnerabilities that leave them exposed to criminals or spies.

​New ways to make money

One of the outside firms that handle such programs, HackerOne, said it has paid out $18.8 million since 2014 to fix 50,140 bugs, with about half of that work done in the past year.

Mark Litchfield made it into the firm’s “Hacker Hall of Fame” last year by being the first to pull in more than $500,000 in bounties through the platform, well more than he earned at his last full-time security job, at consulting firm NCC Group.

In the old days, “The only payout was publicity, free press,” Litchfield said. “That was the payoff then. The payoff now is literally to be paid in dollars.”

There are other emerging ways to make money too. Justine Bone’s medical hacking firm, MedSec, took the unprecedented step last year of openly teaming with an investor who was selling shares short, betting that they would lose value.

It was acrimonious, but St Jude Medical ultimately fixed its pacemaker monitors, which could have been hacked, and Bone predicted others will try the same path.

“Us cyber security nerds have spent most of our careers trying to make the world a better place by engaging with companies, finding bugs which companies may or may not repair,” Bone said.

“If we can take our expertise out to customers, media, regulators, nonprofits and think tanks and out to the financial sector, the investors and analysts, we start to help companies understand in terms of their external environment.”

Chris Wysopal, co-founder of code auditor Veracode, bought in April by CA Technologies, said that he was initially skeptical of the MedSec approach but came around to it, in part because it worked. He appeared at Black Hat with Bone.

“Many have written that the software and hardware market is dysfunctional, a lemon market, because buyers don’t know how insecure the products they purchase are,” Wysopal said in an interview. “I’d like to see someone fixing this broken market. Profiting off of that fix seems like the best approach for a capitalism-based economy.”

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