Business / Financial News:
House GOP kicks off majority with vote to slash IRS funding
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans have began their tenure in the majority by passing a bill that would rescind nearly $71 billion that Congress had provided the IRS. Monday’s action fulfills a campaign promise, though the legislation is unlikely to advance any further. That funding was on top of what Congress provides the IRS annually through the appropriations process. Shortly before the vote, the Congressional Budget Office projected that rescinding the IRS funding would increase deficits over the coming decade by more than $114 billion. Republicans argued that revenue collected through increased enforcement would help finance what they called reckless spending.
China economy recovering but hampered by virus outbreaks
BEIJING (AP) — The most optimistic forecasts say China’s business and consumer activity might revive as early as the first quarter of this year. But before that happens, entrepreneurs and families face a painful squeeze from a surge in cases that has left employers without enough healthy workers. It’s also kept wary customers away from shopping malls, restaurants, hair salons and gyms. Forecasters say the abrupt decision by President Xi Jinping’s government to end controls that shut down factories and kept millions of people at home will move up the timeline for economic recovery, but might disrupt activity this year as businesses scramble to adapt.
UK space industry mulls setback after satellite launch fails
LONDON (AP) — British officials and space scientists say they are disappointed but not deterred after the first attempt to launch satellites into orbit from the U.K. ended in failure. U.S.-based Virgin Orbit attempted its first international launch late Monday, using a modified jumbo jet to carry a rocket from Cornwall in southwestern England over the Atlantic Ocean. After takeoff, the company said an “anomaly” had prevented the rocket carrying nine satellites from reaching orbit. The head of Spaceport Cornwall said the team was “feeling awful” but would get up and “go again.” The U.K.’s business secretary said the launch was “a big moment” despite its failure. The cause of the malfunction is being investigated.
Best of CES 2023: Nutrition tracking and a very smart mixer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — From an AI oven that promises to warn you when your food is about to burn to a mixing bowl designed to take the hassle out of tracking calories, food tech has been a key theme at this year’s CES tech show in Las Vegas. Analyst Brad Jashinsky says big companies often use CES to make attention-seeking announcements about products that are currently out of reach for most consumers, but may become more widespread and affordable in the coming years. Samsung’s bespoke AI oven comes with a camera inside that it says can warn you when your food is about to burn.
French PM to unveil pension changes that upset many workers
PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is unveiling a highly sensitive pension overhaul aimed at pushing up the retirement age. It has already prompted vigorous criticism and calls for protests from leftist opponents and worker unions. The minimum retirement age to be entitled to a full pension is expected to be gradually increased from 62 to 64 or 65, in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge. Details are to be released by Borne in a news conference Tuesday. The government argues that French people live longer than they used to and therefore need to work longer to make the pension system financially sustainable.
Global stock markets mixed ahead of US inflation update
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks are mixed and European markets opened lower ahead of a U.S. inflation update that traders hope will encourage the Federal Reserve to ease off plans for more interest rate hikes. London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong fell. Shanghai and Tokyo rose. Oil prices declined. Traders worry the Fed and other central banks that have hiked rates aggressively to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs might be willing to tip the global economy into recession. They hope Thursday’s report on U.S. consumer prices will show inflation abating, reducing the need to slow economic activity further. Warnings are also coming for what look to be lackluster corporate profits when reporting season begins Friday.
Feds propose ‘student loan safety net’ alongside forgiveness
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is moving forward with a proposal that would lower student debt payments for millions of Americans now and in the future. It’s offering a new route to repay federal loans under far more generous terms. President Joe Biden announced the plan in August, but it was overshadowed by his sweeping plan to slash or eliminate student debt for 40 million Americans. Education Department officials on Tuesday called the new plan a “student loan safety net” that’ll prevent borrowers from getting overloaded with debt. The Democratic president is moving forward with the repayment plan even as his one-time debt cancellation faces an uncertain fate before the Supreme Court.
Biden, López Obrador, Trudeau meet in Mexico City for summit
MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Joe Biden, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are set to meet for a series of talks on migration, trade and climate change. The three leaders are trying to mend tensions that have divided the continent. Tuesday’s gathering of North American countries is held most years, and it’s often called the “three amigos summit.” However, there have been strains in the relationship, and those were on display when Biden and López Obrador met Monday. During their conversation, López Obrador challenged the U.S. to end its “abandonment” and “disdain” for Latin America, and Biden defended his country’s foreign aid programs.
Sri Lanka’s government cuts expenses as economy tanks
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s government says it’s cutting down expenses in the latest austerity drive to help it recover from its worst economic crisis. Government spokesman and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardena said each ministry’s annual budget will be cut 5%. He said that the government is “trying its best to curtail other expenses too.” Sri Lanka’s Parliament last month approved a $15 billion budget, which provides for the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, reduces subsidies for electricity, and increases taxes based on proposals by the International Monetary Fund under a preliminary $2.9 billion bailout plan. Unsustainable government debt, a balance of payments crisis and the impact of the pandemic led to severe shortages of essentials and triggered a political upheaval.