Fitch Ratings changed its outlook on Mexico’s long-term foreign-currency debt issues Wednesday from “stable” to “negative,” citing the potential policies of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The leftist Lopez Obrador has tried to smooth anxieties in the business community, but upset many on Monday by cancelling a partly built, $13 billion new airport on the outskirts of Mexico City.
The private sector had strongly backed the airport project, but Lopez Obrador called it wasteful. Instead he plans to upgrade existing commercial and military airports. He made the decision based on a public referendum that was poorly organized and drew only about 1 percent of the country’s voters.
Alfredo Coutino, Latin America director at Moody’s Analytics, said the decision to cancel the airport project “added not only volatility but also uncertainty to the economy’s future, because it signals that policymaking in the new administration can be based more on such kind of subjective consultation and less on technical or fundamentals consistent with the country’s needs.”
“The cancellation has certainly introduced an element of uncertainty in markets and investors,” Coutino wrote, “which could start affecting confidence and credibility.”
Fitch confirmed its BBB+ investment-grade rating for Mexican government debt, but said Wednesday “there are risks that the follow-through on previously approved reforms, for example in the energy sector, could stall.”
Lopez Obrador has said he will review private concessionary oil exploration contracts granted under current President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy reform, but won’t cancel them if they were fairly granted. The fear is that future exploration contracts may be delayed or cancelled.
Lopez Obrador won’t take office until December1, but has already announced major policy decisions.
Some of his policy announcements – like fiscal restraint, respect for the independence of the central banks and a pledge to avoid new debt – earned praise from investors.
But Fitch noted the decision to cancel the airport “sends a negative signal to investors.”
Lopez Obrador has also pledged to have the state-owned oil company, Pemex, build more refineries to lower imports of gasoline.
Fitch wrote that this type of proposal will “would entail higher borrowing and larger contingent liabilities to the government.”
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Мінімальну зарплату офіційно отримує понад 4,5 мільйони людей в Україні, повідомив президент України Петро Порошенко під час зустрічі з представниками бізнесу.
«Зараз в Україні понад 4,5 мільйони людей працює за мінімальну заробітну плату. Це неправильно і це означає, що нам є куди рухатися», – сказав Порошенко.
Він зазначив, що «є два шляхи»: підвищувати мінімальну заробітну плану або проводити детінізацію зарплат.
З 1 січня 2018 року мінімальна зарплата була встановлена на рівні 3 723 гривень. Уряд обіцяє, що у 2019 році «мінімалка» зросте до 4 170 гривень.
Bitcoin was heading towards a year-on-year loss on Wednesday, its 10th birthday, the first loss since last year’s bull market, when the original and biggest digital coin muscled its way to worldwide attention with months of frenzied buying.
By 1300 GMT, bitcoin was trading at $6,263 on the BitStamp exchange, leaving investors who had bought it on Halloween 2017 facing yearly losses of nearly 3 percent.
A year ago, bitcoin closed at $6,443.22 as it tore towards a record high of near $20,000, hit in December.
That run, fueled by frenzied buying by retail investors from South Korea to the United States, pushed bitcoin to calendar-year gains of over 1,300 percent.
Ten years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s still-unidentified founder, released a white paper detailing the need for an online currency that could be used for payments without the involvement of a third party, such as a bank.
Traders and market participants said the Halloween milestone was inevitable, given losses of around 70 percent from bitcoin’s peak and the continuing but incomplete shift towards investment by mainstream financial firms.
“The value mechanisms of crypto and bitcoin today are based more on underlying tech than hype and FOMO (fear of missing out),” said Josh Bramley, head trader at crypto wealth management firm Blockstars.
Growing use of blockchain – the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin – is now powering valuations of the digital currency, he said, cautioning that some expectations for widespread use have not yet materialized.
Others said improvements to infrastructure such as custody services may allow mainstream investors who are wary of buying bitcoin to take positions.
“We see behind closed doors financial and non-financial institutions beavering away to create the infrastructure,” said Ben Sebley, head of brokerage at NKB Group, a blockchain advisory and investment firm.
Bitcoin has endured year-on-year losses before, according to data from CryptoCompare, most recently in 2015.
Retail investors still account for a strong proportion of trading, market players said.
Investors who bet early on bitcoin and have stuck with it have faced a roller-coaster ride in its first decade. Many told Reuters they are optimistic that they are still onto a winner.your ad here
Кабінет міністрів змінив тип акціонерного товариства «Українська залізниця» з публічного на приватний – таке рішення уряд ухвалив 31 жовтня
The population of Italy’s Renaissance canal city of Venice has been on a steady decline for years. At the same time, the number of tourists keeps rising and many Venetians complain their city should not be turned into what some critics describe as a “Disneyland on water.” Their biggest complaint is about the arrival of gigantic cruise ships that dock right at Saint Mark’s Square. Big ships present a dilemma for the city and its economy.
The Venetians have long called them “monsters” because, many say, the massive cruise ships in their lagoon are not only eyesores that block the view, but also displace water due to their size and have been hurting the foundations of the city’s gorgeous Renaissance-era buildings.
Nearly 99-percent of the 18,000 Venetians who voted in an unofficial referendum organized by the No Big Ships campaign group in June last year said they wanted the vessels to stay out of the lagoon.
Fewer than six months later and under intense public pressure, the Italian government announced ships weighing more than 96,000 tons will be banned from entering St. Mark’s basin and have to dock elsewhere.
Now, questions are emerging — mainly by the cruise industry — on what the restrictions mean for the economy of Venice, and Italy in general.
Cruise lines say they have an interest in protecting the sites they seek to showcase, and are defending their presence by pointing to the economic benefits their ships bring to port cities. Cruise Lines International Association President Roberto Martinoli spoke to reporters in Rome.
He said the cruise industry represents nearly three percent of Venice’s GDP and this, he said, cannot be ignored.
Martinoli contends the ships should not be blamed for Venice’s problems and notes they represent less than 10 percent of traffic in the lagoon.
He said cruise ships are not the “giants of evil” that some say are responsible for the city’s overcrowding. Cruise passengers represent, he added, only five percent of Venice’s tourist numbers and have diminished by a quarter from their peak five years ago.
He also said the cruise industry has spent billions on environmental research and innovation projects.
It will not be easy to convince Venice residents who say the damage done by cruise ships — especially to the environment — outweighs any economic benefit from tourists who patronize the city’s cheap souvenir shops, restaurants, and museums.
At a demonstration earlier this year, Stefano Micheletti of the No Big Ships committee expressed sentiments common to many Venetians.
Micheletti said large ships must stay out of the lagoon because it is not only about the visual impact next to St. Mark’s Square or the possibility of an accident, but about the lagoon’s eco-system. Big ships must stay out, he added, because they are a cause for pollution that critics say is ruining the historic city.your ad here
Україна розташувалась між Киргизстаном (70-е) та Грецією (72-е місце)
The future economy minister tapped by Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro insisted on Tuesday that he wanted to fast-track an unpopular pension reform to help balance government finances despite mounting resistance to getting it done this year.
Paulo Guedes, whom Bolsonaro selected as a “super minister” with a portfolio combining the current ministries of finance, planning and development, has urged Congress to pass an initial version of pension reform before the Jan. 1 inauguration.
“Our pension funds are an airplane with five bombs on board that will explode at any moment,” Guedes said on Tuesday. “We’re already late on pension reform, so the sooner the better.”
He called the reform essential to controlling surging public debt in Latin America’s largest economy and making space for public investments to jump-start a sluggish economy. Markets surged in the weeks ahead of Bolsonaro’s Sunday victory on the expectation that he could pull off the tough fiscal agenda.
Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 3.7 percent on Tuesday, boosted by strong corporate earnings and the resolve shown by Guedes on pension reform.
Yet the University of Chicago-trained economist, who is getting his first taste of public service, met with skepticism from more seasoned politicians.
Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, said on Tuesday that reform is urgent, but cautioned that the conditions to pass it were still far off.
Major Olimpio, a lawmaker from Bolsonaro’s own party who helped run his campaign, agreed the political climate was not ready for reform.
Even Bolsonaro’s future chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said in a Monday radio interview that he only expects to introduce a reform plan next year.
After a meeting with Lorenzoni, Guedes said the decision on timing was ultimately a political one that the chief of staff would weigh.
“We can’t go from a victory at the ballot box to chaos in Congress,” Guedes told journalists.
On other issues, Guedes made clear he was the final word on economic matters, laying out plans to give the central bank more institutional independence and clarifying comments made by Lorenzoni about exchange-rate policy.
“You are all scared because he is a politician talking about the economy. That’s like me talking about politics. It’s not going to work,” Guedes said.
Hot Button Issues
While advisers work out the details of his economic program, Bolsonaro revisited some of his most contentious campaign promises on Monday night: looser gun laws, a ban on government advertising for media that “lie,” and urging a high-profile
judge to join his government.
In interviews with TV stations and on social media, Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former Army captain who won 55 percent of Sunday’s vote after running on a law-and-order platform, made clear he would push through his conservative agenda.
Bolsonaro said he wants Sergio Moro, the judge who has overseen the sprawling “Car Wash” corruption trials and convicted former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of graft, to serve as his justice minister.
Barring that, he said he would nominate Moro to the Supreme Court. The next vacancy on the court is expected in 2020.
Bolsonaro had not formally invited Moro as of Tuesday afternoon, and the judge remained noncommittal on the proposal.
“In case I’m indeed offered a post, it will be subject to a balanced discussion and reflection,” Moro said in a statement.
Late on Monday, Bolsonaro said in an interview with Globo TV that he would cut government advertising funds that flow to any “lying” media outlets.
During his campaign, the right-winger imitated U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy of aggressively confronting the media, taking aim at Globo TV and Brazil’s biggest newspaper, the Folha de S.Paulo.
“I am totally in favor of freedom of the press,” Bolsonaro told Globo TV. “But if it’s up to me, press that shamelessly lies will not have any government support.”
Bolsonaro was referring to the hundreds of millions of reais the Brazilian government spends in advertising each year in local media outlets, mainly for promotions of state-run firms.
The UOL news portal, owned by the Grupo Folha, which also controls the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, used Brazil’s freedom of information act as the basis for a 2015 article that showed Globo received 565 million reais in federal government spending in 2014. Folha got 14.6 million reais that year.
Globo said on Tuesday that federal government advertising represented less than 4 percent of the revenue for its flagship channel, TV Globo, without providing more detailed figures.
Grupo Folha did not reply to requests for comment.
This is part of “Ocean Shock,” a Reuters series exploring climate change’s impact on sea creatures and the people who depend on them.
A lobster tattoo covers Drew Eaton’s left forearm, its pincers snapping at dock lines connecting it to the American flag on his upper arm. The tattoo is about three-quarters done, but the 27-year-old is too busy with his new boat to finish it.
Eaton knows what people here in Stonington have been saying about how much the boat cost him.
“I’ve heard rumors all over town. Small town, everyone talks,” he says. “I’ve heard a million, two million.”
By the time he was in the third grade, Eaton was already lobstering here on Deer Isle in Downeast Maine. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he’d bought his first boat, a 20-footer, from a family friend. The latest one, a 46-footer built over the winter at a nearby boatyard, is his fourth.
Standing on the seawall after hauling lobster traps for about 12 hours on a foggy day this August, he says he’s making plenty of money to cover the boat loan. He’s unloaded 17 crates, each carrying 90 pounds of lobster, for a total haul of nearly $5,500. It’s a pretty typical day for him.
Eaton belongs to a new generation of Maine lobstermen that’s riding high, for now, on a sweet spot of climate change. Two generations ago, the entire New England coast had a thriving lobster industry. Today, lobster catches have collapsed in southern New England, and the only state with a significant harvest is north in Maine, where the seafood practically synonymous with the state has exploded.
The thriving crustaceans have created a kind of nautical gold rush, with some young lobstermen making well into six figures a year. But it’s a boom with a bust already written in its wake, and the lobstermen of the younger generation may well pay the highest price. Not only have they heavily mortgaged themselves with pricey custom boats in the rush for quick profits, they’ll also bear the brunt of climate change — not to mention the possible collapse of the lobstering industry in Maine as the creatures flourish ever northward.
Shifts by 85 percent of species
In the U.S. North Atlantic, fisheries data show that at least 85 percent of the nearly 70 federally tracked species have shifted north or deeper, or both, in recent years when compared with the norm over the past half-century. And the most dramatic of species shifts have occurred in the last 10 or 15 years.
Just in the last decade, for example, black sea bass have migrated up the East Coast into southern New England and are caught in the same traps that once caught lobsters. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, only 50 percent of lobster caught in the United States came from Maine. That started to shift in the 2000s, and this decade, nearly 85 percent of all lobster landings are in Maine.
Pushed out of their traditional habitats by dramatically rising ocean temperatures and other fallout from climate change, the lobsters are part of a global dislocation of marine species that threatens livelihoods and cultures in the lands where they once thrived.
On this island where two-lane roads twist around cedar-shingled houses and the rocky shore, lobstermen set the rhythm, often rising hours before dawn and resting not long after sunset.
Although young guns like Eaton are flush with cash now, old-timers know that lobsters no longer thrive in warming waters to the south, and they’ve heard the talk about how fast the Gulf of Maine is warming. They fret that lobsters will start failing here, too, and Stonington will lose its mantle as lobster capital of the world to somewhere in Canada. And these days, there’s not much to fall back on if it does.
They remember back when fishermen could catch plenty of cod, pollock and halibut if lobsters weren’t filling their traps.
Until recently, shrimp was a reasonably reliable catch for local fishermen. But in 2014, regulators closed the shrimp fishery entirely.
“Here you’ve got these coastal fishing communities that are totally based on what comes out of the water,” says Ted Ames, a commercial fisherman who became a scientist and co-founded the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries.
He sits in the research center’s main conference room overlooking Stonington harbor, where hundreds of lobster boats bob on their mooring balls and the docks bustle with fishermen and their traps.
In coastal Maine, he says, there’s little to sustain a community other than lobster and tourism.
“You eliminate lobsters, and you have an instant Appalachia, right here.”
Lobstering over time
Unlike kids in most fishing communities around the world, youngsters here in Stonington clamor to get on the water. The gold-rush fever has gotten so bad, the local high school even has a program that encourages students to graduate before heading off to make a living from fishing.
The skippers program, as it is known, offers the allotment of traps as a reward for staying in school. And when the students graduate, it streamlines the process of getting a full Maine skipper license, gradually increasing the number of traps to the maximum of 800.
Deer Isle-Stonington High life sciences teacher Seth Laplant sympathizes with the students who chafe at being in school.
“We have students that, you know, run their own business during the summer and do very well, and then they come back here and they have to ask to go to the bathroom,” he says. “It’s like a completely different world for them, and some of them do struggle with that. They’re used to being their own boss, and they’re respected in the community and in their families as adults.”
But like many teens, they still play the one-upmanship game. Only with these students, it revolves around the size of their boats or the number of traps they own.
Colby Schneider tells the class he’s the part-owner of a 30-foot fishing boat.
Alex Boyce can’t believe it. “Are you serious, you have a 30-foot Novi?”
“Yes,” Colby shoots back. “Me, my brother and my mom went thirds on it.”
Alex rolls his eyes. He’s still accumulating traps and owns about a third of the 150 traps that students in the program are permitted to use. And his boat is only 19 feet long.
Later in the day, Alex gathers with his father and grandfather in his grandparents’ kitchen.
“Every year he asks: ‘Do I have to go back to school? Can I go fishing?'” says his father, offshore lobsterman Theodore Boyce II. “He went one weekend and made $700 in two days. That’s a tough thing to say no to as a parent. … But if he doesn’t finish school, he doesn’t go fishing.”
Alex interrupts his father: “I was going to say, you seem to have a pretty easy job saying no.” Theodore’s eyes dart toward his son, and Alex backs down.
Alex’s grandfather, Theodore “Ted” Boyce, is a fisherman and retired teacher. The 69-year-old, who still fishes part time, hopes his grandson can make a decent living on the water, but he isn’t sure.
In the summer of 2017, chatter on the Stonington docks was that lobstering wasn’t going to be as lucrative as it had been in recent years. Lobstermen were pulling fewer lobsters, and the traps often came up coated with layers of slimy sea squirts — an invasive jellyfish-type creature.
The arrival of the squirts may or may not be related to climate change or the size of the catch, but it seemed to be a harbinger. As autumn moved toward winter, many of the traps piled high near the docks were encrusted with squirt carcasses.
And when the Maine fisheries released their 2017 landings numbers, the chatter on the docks turned out to be true: Maine lobstermen landed 15 percent less than the record haul in 2016, the lowest catch since the beginning of the decade.
The waters between the islands of Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Vinalhaven tell the story of the lobster rush.
Thousands upon thousands of colorfully painted buoys decorate the surface, marking the point where traps are strung below. Each fisherman has a color pattern: reds and whites, blacks and pinks, and yellows, oranges and greens. Most are striped horizontally, making them easier to identify when floating on their sides.
Despite Maine’s reputation as a largely undeveloped state, it’s a thoroughly urban world under the water here. At the height of the summer, there are probably traps every 10 to 20 feet in the near-shore waters.
To describe a lobster pot as a trap, though, is a bit insulting to most other traps. As a practical matter, this is free-range aquaculture. The traps are designed to allow smaller, younger lobsters to come and go as they please, feasting on rotten fish. Even larger lobsters come and go, although with a little more effort.
The unlucky ones are snacking when the trap’s owner decides to check it.
Lobster buoys like the ones off Stonington once punctuated waters along the entire New England coast. Between 1960 and 2000, Connecticut and Rhode Island in southern New England accounted for about 15 percent of the lobster harvest. Since 2010, however, lobster catches have collapsed in both states, with a combined haul of less than 2 percent.
Even Massachusetts Bay, which sits on the southwestern edge of the Gulf of Maine, has seen the catch dip dramatically. In the 1980s and 1990s, when lobster’s popularity with U.S. diners exploded, Massachusetts boats accounted for 20 to 30 percent of the harvest. Today, their share hovers around 10 percent.
Southern New England lobsters once were protected from the warm water temperatures in Long Island Sound by upwelling from the Labrador current that tucked in along the coast of eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.
As the waters in the sound became warmer and warmer during the summer months, the cooling current couldn’t keep up, and cold-water species such as lobsters no longer thrived in southern New England. And what remained of the lobster stock was vulnerable to an unsightly shell disease that made them worthless at the market.
But even as the lobster business boomed in Maine, the waters here were warming faster than almost any other body of water in the world.
Since 1980, the waters in the Gulf of Maine have steadily heated up, but that warming accelerated in the last decade. In fact, the average sea-surface temperature has been between 1 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm for most of the 2010s.
The warming is driven by direct and indirect effects of climate change, says Andrew Pershing, chief science officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
He says oceans the world over are absorbing heat from the warming atmosphere. The gulf’s warming, however, is compounded by its position in the North Atlantic, which is close to the weakening Labrador current flowing from the north and a strengthening warm Gulf Stream current flowing from the south.
“You know,” says Ames, the lobsterman turned scientist, “lobster is the best example of global warming we have.”
Perley Frazier has been working these waters for more than 50 years. And at 70 he still hauls the maximum permitted 800 traps.
His buoys, black on top, white in the middle and red on the bottom, are usually found a mile or so from town, near islands that once were quarried for granite by Italian immigrants. The stone was used in the construction of the George Washington Bridge in New York and the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
No one works in the quarries anymore, he says as he slows his boat, Jericho’s Way.
The rising sun winks off the peaks of swells and the thousands of buoys ahead of him. Without checking his chart plotter, he picks out a string of his buoys from about 100 yards away.
Behind Frazier, his daughter, Lindsay Frazier Copeland, and son-in-law, Brad Copeland, prepare to hook a buoy and haul up traps. After a haul of three keepers, Lindsay and Brad shove the traps back into the water. Frazier throttles up and spins the boat a few feet to the next buoy. It’s a well-practiced routine, and not much said is among the crew, called sternmen.
“It’s hard work, this,” Frazier says during one of their smoke breaks. “It’s hard to find a good sternman who wants to work this hard.” Since this trip, in fact, Brad and Lindsay have moved to Florida, and Frazier has put his boat up for sale.
On the way to the docks to unload his harvest, Frazier points to a trawler heading into port. It’s one of the few non-lobster boats in the town — a herring trawler that goes offshore to catch the small fish, which are used almost exclusively for bait.
And they can’t land enough herring to satisfy the local need for lobster bait; it’s trucked in from New Jersey, among other places. There are even stories of frozen fish heads from Asia finding their way into Maine lobster traps.
These days, Frazier is using cowhide and discarded fish carcasses as bait. Others are using menhaden, or pogies, which migrated north into these waters even as the herring population has dropped off.
Not much else to catch
The truth is, apart from lobster, there’s not much to catch here. And certainly not in the numbers that fishermen could make a living on.
Until this century, only about 50 percent of all fishing revenue in Maine came from lobstering, according to U.S. fisheries data. In the 2000s, that started to steadily rise until, in 2016, it topped 82 percent.
Later, Frazier sits in his armchair at home, after saving the largest five lobsters he caught for dinner. He sips a Canadian whiskey and recalls the days when there were other ways to make a living on the water besides lobster.
Take shrimp, for instance. “They always said shrimp needs cold water. Well, we haven’t had any cold water,” Frazier says.
“That’s the biggest thing — my biggest worry is about global warming. I mean, I’ve seen different fish that’s supposed to be down south that’s up here already, right now.
“We got like triggerfish and we’re gettin’ butterfish, and fella told me the other day … that he had a seahorse.”
He looks at all the new boats being added to the local fishing fleet and isn’t sure lobster can sustain them.
“These guys, they got three-quarters of a million just in the boat,” he says. “And the gear, another quarter-million dollars. They are a million.”
Maine’s fishing fleet is the newest in the nation among states with more than 200 U.S. Coast Guard-documented commercial fishing vessels. And it’s not close. Maine’s boats are an average 24 years old. The average age of the next two states, Massachusetts and Louisiana, is 31. Alaskan boats’ average age is 37, Oregon, 45.
Still, Frazier doesn’t begrudge the money that younger skippers on newer boats are making.
“I mean, these guys work hard and they go hard and put a lot of time in,” Frazier says. “Young guys, go-getters. And they did it right at the exact right time.”
Back when Drew Eaton was in grade school, it took him two years to buy that first boat, which a family friend’s daughter no longer used.
“I could buy half the boat and the motor the same year,” he says. He worked for the lobsterman the next summer to pay off the balance.
Eaton left Stonington after graduating from high school and went to Pennsylvania for a year to study automotive collision repair. He didn’t stay in that field for long. “I worked in a body shop for a year, and I was getting $12 an hour,” he says.
So he returned to what he knew.
The young lobsterman’s boat now easily produces a six-figure income before expenses. He doesn’t linger on doubts about the future of lobstering in Maine. He leaves that for others.
When he bought his last boat, he says, his parents were skeptical. “They thought I was going too quick.”
Eaton was 22 and it was the same type of boat his father had just bought.
“And then I started catching more than Dad. And then I wasn’t moving so quick.”
And besides, he says, “I am young enough that if I fail, I can start over again in something totally different.”
A landmark 11-member trade deal aimed at slashing barriers in some of Asia Pacific’s fastest growing economies will come into force at the end of December, the New Zealand government said on Wednesday.
The deal would move forward after Australia informed New Zealand that it had become the sixth nation to formally ratify the deal, alongside Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.
“This triggers the 60 day countdown to entry into force of the Agreement and the first round of tariff cuts,” said New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker. His country is responsible for official tasks such as receiving and circulating notifications made by members of the pact.
The original 12-member deal was thrown into limbo early last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritize protecting U.S. jobs.
The 11 remaining nations, led by Japan, finalized a revised trade pact in January, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The success of the deal has been touted by officials in Japan and other member countries as an antidote to counter growing U.S. protectionism, and with the hope that Washington would eventually sign back up.
Australia said the agreement will boost agricultural exports, set to be worth more than A$52 billion ($36.91 billion) this year despite a crippling drought across much of the country’s east coast.
“It will give Australian grain farmers a good reason to smile, at a time when drought conditions have played havoc for many, by ensuring improved market access and better grain prices once more favorable seasonal conditions return,” said Luke Mathews, trading and economics manager at industry body, GrainGrowers Australia.
The deal will reduce tariffs in economies that together amount to more than 13 percent of global GDP — a total of $10 trillion. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.
The five member countries still to ratify the deal are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.
Facebook is reporting a slight revenue miss but stronger than expected profit in its third-quarter earnings report.
Coming three months after the company’s stock suffered its worst one-day drop in history, wiping out $119 billion of its market value, the mixed results were perhaps not the redemption Facebook hoped for.
But shares inched a bit higher after-hours, suggesting, at least, that the social media giant didn’t further spook investors. With the myriad problems Facebook has been grappling with lately, this is likely good news for the company.
Facebook had 2.27 billion monthly users at the end of the quarter, below the 2.29 billion analysts were expecting. Facebook says it changed the way it calculates users, which reduced the total slightly. The company’s user base was still up 10 percent from 2.07 billion monthly users a year ago.
Earnings were $1.76 a share and revenue was $13.73 billion, an increase of 33 percent, for the July-September period.
Analysts had expected earnings of $1.46 per share on revenue of $13.77 billion, according to FactSet.
The company warned last quarter that its revenue growth will slow down significantly for at least the rest of this year and that expenses will continue to balloon. The following day the stock plunged 19 percent. It was the biggest one-day plunge in history, and the shares not only haven’t recovered, they’ve since fallen further amid a broader decline in tech stocks .
Facebook’s investors, users, employees and executives have been grappling not just with questions over how much money the company makes and how many people use it, but its effects on users’ mental health and worries over what it’s doing to political discourse and elections around the world. Is Facebook killing us? Is it killing democracy?
The problems have been relentless for the past two years. Facebook can hardly crawl its way out of one before another comes up. It began with “fake news” and its effects on the 2016 presidential election (a notion CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially dismissed) and continued with claims of bias among conservatives that still haven’t relented.
Then there’s hate speech, hacks and a massive privacy scandal in which Facebook exposed user data to a data mining firm, along with resulting moves toward government regulation of social media.
Amid all this, there have been sophisticated attempts from Russia and Iran to interfere with elections and stir up political discord in the U.S.
Facebook’s stock climbed $2.68, or 1.8 percent, to $148.90 in after-hours trading.
A yellow excavator, forklift and other heavy equipment made by U.S. firm Caterpillar gleam outside Cuba’s annual trade fair, reflecting once-bright hopes for increased U.S.-Cuban commerce fanned by the 2014 detente between the old Cold War foes.
But inside the pavilion where U.S. firms present their wares, only eight have stands this year, according to a Reuters count. That is down from 13 last year and several dozen in 2015-16, underscoring the decline in U.S. business interest since Donald Trump became president.
Last year, the Trump administration tightened the decades-old trade embargo on the Communist-run island once more and sharply reduced staffing at the U.S. embassy in Havana due to a series of health incidents among U.S. diplomats.
“Trump has scared everyone off,” said Eduardo Aparicio, general manager of U.S. logistics company Apacargoexpress, operating under an exemption to the embargo allowing U.S. companies to sell food and medical supplies here.
Aparicio says he is struggling to find U.S. firms keen on doing business with Cuba given fears of reprisals from the Trump administration.
“Not that many things have changed with the Trump administration, but the outlook has. It no longer feels like we are advancing,” said Jay Brickman, vice president of Florida-based shipping company Crowley Maritime Corporation, which has been shipping to Cuba for 17 years.
“If you are a corporate executive who feels like nothing is happening, then eventually you look elsewhere.”
Brickman, Aparicio and others at Cuba’s premier business event said the country’s dire financial situation was another factor in declining U.S. business interest. Cuba is battling a cash crunch amid lower aid from ally Venezuela and weaker exports.
Brickman said Cuban orders via his firm were down 10 percent this year.
U.S. companies had embraced Cuba in the wake of the detente reached by former U.S. and Cuban Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, jostling for a foothold in an opening market of 11 million consumers.
Lawyers working with U.S. firms interested in doing business with Cuba say the larger ones are taking a long-term view and remain keen.
Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, for example, had lobbied to sell in Cuba for years before one of its dealers, privately held Puerto Rican company Rimco, said last year it was opening a distribution center here.
“This is the beginning of a lot of things to come,” Rimco Vice President Caroline McConnie said of the machinery displayed outside the pavilion.
McConnie said Rimco would look to rent as well as sell machines in Cuba given its cash crunch, and expected to announce its first two deals soon: one to rent equipment for quarries and another to sell marine motors for tugboats.
“We will benefit from the first movers’ advantage,” she said.
When massive gold deposits were discovered about a decade ago in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, the rural district became famous for attracting hundreds of artisanal miners from across the country every year.
Wealthy small-scale prospectors regularly offer residents generous deals for their land, locals say. To many widows selling their unused land, that kind of money can be life-changing and a source of greater autonomy.
But in recent years, widows in Chimanimani have found that taking a deal can have consequences. Many say they have been taken to tribal courts by their husbands’ families for selling portions of their land.
“I feel bruised,” said Mavis, a 63-year-old widow from Haroni village who did not want to disclose her surname.
“I lived in peace as a widow in my home until last year, when I sold an unwanted acre of my late husband’s land to korokoza,” she said, using a colloquial term for an artisanal gold miner.
He paid her $2,000 in cash. “All hell broke loose,” Mavis explained.
When her male relatives found out about the sale, they reported her to the tribal court.
“The accusations were insane. They said I bewitched my husband, even though he died way back in 1979, in the colonial war,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The cultural norms of the Ndau people, who make up the majority of the population in Chimanimani, forbid widows from owning land their husbands leave behind or selling that land unless a male family member controls the transaction.
As her uncles laid claim to her late husband’s property, Mavis joined a growing number of widows whose male family members have denied them the right to sell land they are supposed to legally inherit.
“In our village, I am the fourth widow since 2017 to be brought to (tribal court) for selling land without male approval,” she said.
Her case is still ongoing.
According to Zimbabwe’s latest census, which was conducted in 2012, there are more than half a million widows in the country.
Throughout rural areas, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind, rights activists say.
O’bren Nhachi, an activist and researcher focusing on natural resources and governance, said the problem has gotten worse in Chimanimani over the past few years, as the gold rush has pushed up the value of land.
“Chimanimani was a poor backwater district until gold was discovered. Suddenly, local land prices shot up because artisanal gold diggers are paying huge sums to snap up plots,” he said. “This has brought conflict, with male family members using patriarchy as a tool to dispossess widows of potential land sales income.”
Although Zimbabwe’s constitution gives women and men equal rights to property and land, in many rural communities tradition overrides national legislation, experts say.
Tribal custom dictates that chiefs are the custodians of communal land, and responsible for allocating land to villagers.
“A woman cannot sell land unless she has obtained permission from my Committee of Seven,” said Mutape Moyo, a tribal headman in Chimanimani, referring to the group of elders — all men — who hear cases in the local customary court.
But this makes it unclear who has legal ownership of land, Nhachi said.
“The laws of the country say the state is the owner of all land. Tribal chiefs are merely ‘custodians’. Does custodian mean they are owners?”
In a country where women carry out 70 percent of the agricultural work – according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization – Nhachi said more women need to be made aware of how to legally hold onto their land if their husbands die.
He said he would like to see the government implement legal awareness programs and properly define who owns and distributes land in rural Zimbabwe.
Provincial administrator Edward Seenza, the head civil servant of Manicaland province, where Chimanimani is located, said that if widows lose their land in tribal courts, there are ways for them to appeal and reverse the ruling.
“If anyone is unhappy with a village head’s decision, they can speak to a chief,’ he said. “Where this does not produce the desired result, they can take their complaint to the district administrator and further up to my office.”
But activists say few rural women know they have that option. And those who do are often too poor or too scared to travel to a government office.
Seenza said that so far, not one woman has come to him to appeal a tribal court ruling.
And without legal help, widows denied the right to sell their land can be left devastated.
Rejoice, a 38-year-old widow from Chipinge district, sold her late husband’s mango orchard two years ago to a wealthy gold digger for $4,000. She needed the money to pay for medication to treat a kidney tumor.
Her father-in-law took her to tribal court.
“I was ordered to refund the buyer, in cash, with punitive interest; pay court fines for ‘disrespect’; and surrender the rest of the land to male family custodians,” said Rejoice, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.
She paid back the buyer as much as she could, but still owes him some money. And her husband’s family is still fighting for ownership of the land, she added.
The court told her that if she does not honor the ruling, she could be thrown out of her home.
“I will end up a destitute, living on the roadside,” she said. “The thought of this gives me sleepless nights.”
Far more men than women think their companies offer equal pay and promote the sexes equally, yet younger generations are wising up, a U.S. entertainment industry survey found on Monday.
Only a quarter of women think their employers pay them the same as men, while twice as many men believe their company has no gender pay gap, according to the survey by CNBC, a business news channel, and job-oriented social networking site LinkedIn.
About one third of women said both sexes rise up the ranks at the same rate in their workplaces, while more than half of men think the promotion rates are equal, according to responses from at least 1,000 LinkedIn members who work in entertainment.
“Men, typically we found across industries … they’re not as cognizant as their female counterparts to these issues,” said Caroline Fairchild, managing editor at LinkedIn.
Other surveys in finance and technology have revealed similar findings, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Congress outlawed pay discrimination based on gender in the federal Equal Pay Act in 1963, yet public debate over why wages still lag drastically for women has snowballed in recent years.
Last year in the United States, working women earned 82 percent of what men were paid, the Pew Research Center found.
According to the CNBC-LinkedIn survey, four in five women said the workplace holds more obstacles to advancement for women than for men, but only about half of men held the same opinion.
However the survey found that younger men were more likely than their older peers to say they were aware of the obstacles that stop women from succeeding at work, according to Fairchild.
“Perhaps the old guard of the industry is thinking a certain way, but we are seeing a perception change in what perhaps younger people in the industry are thinking,” she added.
A U.S. appeals court in San Francisco ruled in April that employers cannot use workers’ salary histories to justify gender-based pay disparities, saying that would perpetuate a wage gap that is “an embarrassing reality of our economy.”
A handful of U.S. cities and states ban employers from asking potential hires about their salary histories.
The World Economic Forum reported a global economic gap of 58 percent between the sexes for 2016 and forecast women would have to wait 217 years before they are treated equally at work.
Gender inequality in the workplace could cost the world more than $160.2 trillion in lost earnings, according to the World Bank. The figure compares the difference in lifetime income of everyone of working age and if women earned as much as men.
Demand for bitcoin could single-handedly derail efforts to limit global warming because the increasingly popular digital currency takes huge amounts of energy to produce, scientists said on Monday.
Producing bitcoin at a pace with growing demand could by 2033 defeat the aim of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to U.S. research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Almost 200 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 on the goal to keep warming to “well below” a rise of 2°C above pre-industrial times.
But mining, the process of producing bitcoins by solving mathematical equations, uses high-powered computers and alto of electricity, the researchers said.
“Currently, the emissions from transportation, housing and food are considered the main contributors to ongoing climate change,” said study co-author Katie Taladay in a statement. “This research illustrates that bitcoin should be added to this list.”
Mining is a lucrative business, with one bitcoin currently selling for about $6,300 (4,900 British pounds).
In 2017, bitcoin production and usage emitted an estimated 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the researchers said.
That year, bitcoin was involved in less than half of 1 percent of the world’s cashless transactions, they said.
As the currency becomes more common, researchers said it could use enough electricity to emit about 230 gigatons of carbon within a decade and a half. One gigaton is equal to one billion metric tons of carbon.
“No matter how you slice it, that thing is using a lot of electricity. That means bad business for the environment,” Camilo Mora, another co-author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Bitcoin mining, however, is becoming more energy efficient, said Katrina Kelly-Pitou, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh.
She said bitcoin miners are moving away from sites such as China, with coal-generated electricity, to more environmentally friendly utilities in Iceland and the United States.
Opening a new front in its trade and technology disputes with China, the Trump administration on Monday took action to cut off a Chinese state-backed semiconductor maker from U.S. exports of components, software and technology goods.
The Commerce Department said it has put Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd on a list of entities that cannot purchase such products from U.S. firms, citing a “significant risk” that the Chinese firm’s new memory chip capacity will threaten the viability of American suppliers of such chips for military systems.
It said in a statement that Fujian Jinhua “poses a significant risk of becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national interests of the United States.”
The action is similar to a Commerce Department move that nearly put Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE out of business earlier this year by cutting it off from U.S. suppliers.
ZTE, which had violated a deal to settle violations of sanctions on Iran and North Korea, was allowed to resume purchases of U.S. products after a revised settlement and payment of a $1 billion fine.
The action against Fujian Jinhua is likely to ignite new tensions between Beijing and Washington since the company is at the heart of the “Made in China 2025” program to develop new high-technology industries.
The world’s top two economies are already waging a major tariff war over their trade disputes, with U.S. duties in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and Chinese duties on $110 billion of U.S. goods.
Fujian Jinhua, which is starting up a new $5.7 billion chip factory in Fujian province, is linked to the Trump administration’s accusations that China has systematically stolen and forced the transfer of American technology.
Fujian Jinhua and Taiwanese partner United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) were accused last December by U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc of stealing Micron chip designs through poached employees, a case still under way in a California court.
UMC countersued in a Chinese court, accusing Micron of infringing its patents, leading to a temporary ban in July on sales of Micron’s main products in China.
It was not immediately clear what effect the Commerce Department action will have on Fujian Jinhua’s operations.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the Chinese firm’s new plant likely was the beneficiary of “U.S.-origin technology” and its additional production would threaten the long-term viability of U.S. chipmakers.
“When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security,” he said. “Placing Jinhua on the Entity List will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems.”