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Business Week: Upheaval in China


China appeared to ease some of its Covid protocol on Thursday as residents frustrated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid approach began protesting on a scale that is rare for the country. Chinese people took to the streets and videos of marches and rallies appeared on social media platforms, apparently defeating censors who would have otherwise been quick to crack down on them. The demonstrations erupted amid a new Covid outbreak that prompted the Chinese government to use some of its strictest measures, which include mandatory lockdowns and quarantines. These policies have affected people’s livelihoods and life prospects, many small businesses have struggled to survive and youth unemployment has reached a record 20 percent. It is not yet clear to what extent the Chinese government will withdraw its mandates, especially as Mr Xi has trumpeted China’s strict handling of Covid.

Employers in the United States added 263,000 jobs in November, showing that labor markets remain resilient in the face of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow the economy through aggressive interest rate hikes. Although November’s figures are lower than the revised figure for October of 284,000, the decline is only slight and still far from the central bank’s target of fewer than 100,000 jobs added each month. The labor market has been more resistant to the Fed’s rate hike in part because many employers are still trying to catch up with demand. While businesses are cautious about the economic outlook and layoffs have rocked some sectors, such as technology, many are still hiring.

President Biden, worried about a possible railroad shutdown that he says would destroy the economy, signed legislation passed by Congress last week to impose a labor agreement on railroad workers and their employers. The two sides have been at a standoff for months over what workers say are grueling and unpredictable hours that make it difficult to take time off for doctor’s appointments or important family events. A tentative deal reached in September, also brokered by the Biden administration to avoid a strike, would have allowed workers to strike up to three times a year, which many of the nation’s largest railroad unions found insufficient. and voted against it in recent weeks. Mr. Biden faces a possible backlash for overriding the will of railroad unions after vowing to be the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.

A near-total embargo on Russian oil is poised to take effect Monday in the European Union, with potentially huge consequences not just for Russia but for the world, as EU tankers and carriers account for half of the global fleet. Under the embargo, they would no longer be allowed to help transport Russian oil. To avoid some of the worst side effects of the ban, European Union diplomats have agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil sales that would allow European oil tankers and insurers to continue handling Russian oil exports. as long as the oil does not exceed that specified. price $60 per barrel. Negotiations around that number had been contentious, in part because some countries in the European Union had sought the lowest price possible — a lower limit would mean less revenue for Russia and less money to finance the war in Ukraine. . The $60 limit is unlikely to significantly reduce Russia’s oil revenues.

President Biden will visit a semiconductor plant this week under construction in Arizona, an initiative that speaks to Mr. Biden’s interest in developing the semiconductor industry in the United States. This year, he signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated about $28 billion to build the domestic semiconductor industry as a way to become less dependent on China and shore up supplies amid a global shortage that affects the production of cars, electronics and electricity. networks. The Arizona plant slated to open in 2024 is owned by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC, a Taiwanese company whose high-performance chips power video game graphics and give smartphones their smarts, but which also guide missiles and analyze military data. This has turned TSMC into a vital strategic asset for Washington and Beijing.

Meta will be the party under scrutiny at a hearing Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission, but the FTC also faces a crucial test: whether the agenda of its chairman, Lina Khan, can stand. At issue is Meta’s attempt to acquire a virtual reality company called Within at the same time as its investment in metaverse. For Mrs. Khan, this is exactly the kind of antitrust problem she has made it her mission to eradicate. A vocal critic of Big Tech, Ms. Khan in July led her agency in filing an injunction against Meta to block the acquisition, accusing the company of trying to stifle competition through acquisitions. But as it tests the limits of antitrust law, the FTC may lose some cases along the way, and Meta may be one of them.

The Supreme Court will decide whether President Biden can carry out his executive action to forgive billions of dollars in student loan debt. Ramesh Balwani, the former chief operating officer of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, who pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud, will be sentenced on Wednesday. This week’s producer price index, an inflation gauge that measures the average change over time in the prices domestic producers receive for their products, will be one of the last economic data before the Fed’s 13- December 14.




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