Маск йде з посади голови правління Tesla через позов Комісії з цінних паперів і бірж

Голова правління компанії з виробництва електромобілів Tesla Ілон Маск погодився піти зі своєї посади та заплатити 20 мільйонів доларів штрафу. Такі умови угоди, яку він уклав 29 вересня із Комісією з цінних паперів і бірж Сполучених Штатів, повідомляють західні ЗМІ.

Маск зберігає за собою місце в правлінні заснованої ним компанії, проте зобов’язався не претендувати на посаду голови правління та не приймати таких пропозицій протягом трьох років. Він також залишається генеральним директором – відповідатиме за стратегічні рішення, однак буде підзвітним правлінню.

Такими виявились для Маска наслідки позову Комісії через його дописи в соцмережі Twitter, в яких він допустив перетворення компанії з публічної в приватну при вартості її акцій в 420 доларів за штуку.

Регулятор побачив у цій заяві ознаки шахрайства. Співголова виконавчого відділу комісії Стефані Авакан заявила, що слова Маска ввели в оману інвесторів.

Окрім штрафу в 20 мільйонів доларів від самого Маска, таку ж суму має сплатити і компанія Tesla.

Сам Маск назвав позов «необґрунтованим». За умовами угоди, він не повинен погоджуватись із обвинуваченнями комісії або оскаржувати їх.

З іншого боку, хоча Маск і лишиться директором компанії, Tesla погодилася призначити двох незалежних членів правління, запровадити новий незалежний комітет директорів та встановити додатковий контроль над комунікаціями Маска, заявляють в Комісії з цінних паперів.

Це може означати, що Маск більше не зможе без погодження з правлінням робити гучні заяви щодо своєї компанії.

Наразі невідомо, хто стане головою правління Tesla. Маск має залишити цю посаду протягом 45 днів, починаючи з 29 вересня.

Tesla, Musk Settle Fraud Suit for $40M

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and the electric car company have agreed to pay a total of $40 million and make a series of concessions to settle a government lawsuit alleging Musk duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Saturday, two days after filing a case seeking to oust Musk as CEO.

The settlement will require Musk to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years, but he will able to remain as CEO.

Canada FM Postpones UN Speech as Trade Talks Intensify

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland postponed her U.N. speech Saturday as free-trade talks between the U.S. and Canada intensified.

Freeland had been scheduled to deliver Canada’s address to the General Assembly in New York, but Canada exchanged the slot with another country. Freeland may or may not give the speech on Monday.

A senior Canadian government official said they were making progress in the talks but that it wasn’t certain that they would reach a deal soon. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Canada would sign only a good deal.

Canada, the United States’ No. 2 trading partner, was left out when the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. and Canada are under pressure to reach a deal by the end of the day Sunday, when the U.S. must make public the full text of the agreement with Mexico.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he wants to go ahead with a revamped NAFTA, with or without Canada. It is unclear, however, whether Trump has authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico, and some lawmakers say they won’t go along with a deal that leaves out Canada. 

Dairy tariffs

Among other things, the negotiators are battling over Canada’s high dairy tariffs. Canada also wants to keep a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that the U.S. wants to jettison.

U.S.-Canada talks bogged down earlier this month, and most trade analysts expected the Sept. 30 deadline to come and go without Canada’s reinstatement. They suspected that Canada, which had said it wasn’t bound by U.S. deadlines, was delaying the talks until after provincial elections Monday in Quebec, where support for Canadian dairy tariffs runs high.

But trade attorney Daniel Ujczo of the Dickinson Wright law firm, who follows the NAFTA talks closely, said the United States put pressure on Canada, contending there would “consequences” if it didn’t reach an agreement by the end of the day Sunday. Trump has repeatedly threatened to start taxing Canadian auto imports. Ujczo put the odds of a deal this weekend at 75 percent. 

Relations between the two neighbors have been strained since Trump assailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Group of Seven meeting in June, calling him “weak” and “dishonest.” Canadian leaders have objected to Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel, citing national security.

A Pakistani American Startup Fighting Media Censorship

According to the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists in Pakistan, fatal violence against journalists has declined, but fear and self-censorship have grown. In this era, five Pakistani American students at Harvard University have created a startup that challenges censorship using the latest block-chain technology. Their mission is “making journalism truly free.” Saqib Ul Islam visited Harvard’s innovation lab to bring us the story of a new company called “Inkrypt.”

US Consumers Spend More; Inflation Flattens

U.S. consumer spending increased steadily in August, supporting expectations of solid economic growth in the third quarter, while a measure of underlying inflation remained at the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target for a fourth straight month.

Economists said Friday’s report from the Commerce Department should allay fears of the economy overheating and likely keeps the U.S. central bank on a gradual path of interest rate increases. The Fed raised rates Wednesday for the third time this year and removed the reference to monetary policy remaining “accommodative.”

“Growth is solid and inflation pressures modest,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “This is exactly the environment the Fed needs to move interest rates up at a gradual pace as further rate hikes start to look like tightening.”

Consumer spending

The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose 0.3 percent last month after an unrevised 0.4 percent gain in July. Spending last month was driven by outlays on health care, which offset a drop in motor vehicle purchases.

August’s increase in consumer spending was in line with economists’ expectations. When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending rose 0.2 percent after climbing 0.3 percent in July.

The report came on the heels of data Thursday showing a decline in orders for key capital goods in August and a further widening of the goods trade deficit, which prompted economists to downgrade their gross domestic product growth estimates for the third quarter to as low as a 2.8 percent annualized rate.

Third-quarter GDP growth forecasts were previously as high as a 4.4 percent pace.

Economic growth

The economy grew at a 4.2 percent rate in the second quarter, powered by robust consumer spending. Economists said data in hand suggested that consumer spending was on track to grow around 3.6 percent in the third quarter, close to the 3.8 percent pace set in the April-June period.

Consumer spending is being driven by a tightening labor market, which is starting to boost wage growth, as well as higher savings. It is also being supported by robust consumer confidence.

A separate report Friday showed the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index at a six-month high in September. A survey earlier this week from the Conference Board showed consumer confidence hitting an 18-year high in September.

The Conference Board places more weight on the labor market.

The dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, while U.S. Treasury yields fell. Stocks on Wall Street were little changed in late afternoon trade.

Eyes on tariffs

In August, spending on goods increased 0.3 percent, likely lifted by higher gasoline prices. Spending on goods rose 0.5 percent in July. Outlays on services advanced 0.4 percent, with spending on health care accounting for much of the increase.

There was a moderation in monthly price gains in August. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding the volatile food and energy components was unchanged. That was the weakest reading since March 2017 and followed a 0.2 percent gain in July.

August’s flat reading left the year-on-year increase in the so-called core PCE price index at 2.0 percent. The core PCE index is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure. It hit the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent inflation target in March for the first time since April 2012.

Economists say inflation could slightly overshoot its target amid concerns an escalating trade war between the United States and China could lead to price increase for a range of consumer goods.

Washington on Monday slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. The United States and China had already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other’s goods.

Walmart Inc, the largest U.S. retailer, said last week it might hike prices because of the duties on Chinese imports.

“With this $200 billion increase, you are effectively tripling the amount of goods subject to a tariff and that has potential to influence prices,” said Tim Quinlan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

JPMorgan estimates that the tariffs could add 0.2 to 0.3 percentage point to core inflation.

In August, personal income rose 0.3 percent after increasing by the same margin in July. Wages jumped 0.5 percent, the biggest gain in seven months, after rising 0.3 percent in July.

The saving rate was unchanged at 6.6 percent last month.

Google CEO to Testify Before US House on Bias Accusations

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee later this year over Republican concerns that the company is biased against conservatives, a senior Republican said Friday.

Republicans want to question Google, the search engine of Alphabet Inc, about whether its search algorithms are influenced by human bias. They also want to probe it on issues such as privacy, classification of news and opinion, and dealing with countries with human rights violations.

Pichai met with senior Republicans on Friday to discuss their concerns, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

McCarthy told reporters after the meeting that it was “very productive” and “frank.”

“I think we’ve really shown that there is bias, which is human nature, but you have to have transparency and fairness,” McCarthy said. “As big tech’s business grows, we have not had enough transparency and that has led to an erosion of trust and, perhaps worse, harm to consumers.”

Alphabet Inc’s Google unit has repeatedly denied accusations of bias against conservatives. Pichai left the meeting without comment.

Pichai wrote in an internal email last week that suggestions that Google would interfere in search results for political reasons were “absolutely false. We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda.”

The CEO had been scheduled to be in Asia this week but canceled the trip to be in Washington.

The hearing will take place after the midterm congressional elections in November, McCarthy said.

Google came under fire from members of both parties earlier this month for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that included Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc executives.

Republicans have also raised concerns about Google’s dominance. Earlier this week, the Justice Department met with state attorneys general to focus on the need to protect consumer privacy when big technology companies amass vast troves of data, but came to no immediate conclusions.

Asked if Republicans will push to break up Google, McCarthy said: “I don’t see that.” He said the hearing will look at privacy, bias issues, China and other matters.

Pichai is also meeting with Democratic lawmakers and is due to meet with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Friday, a White House official said Thursday.

Ousting Musk at Tesla Viewed as Difficult, Possibly Damaging

Tesla without Elon Musk at the wheel? To many of the electric car maker’s customers and investors, that would be unthinkable. But that’s what government securities regulators now want to see.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked a federal court to oust Musk as Tesla’s chairman and chief executive officer, alleging he committed securities fraud with false statements about plans to take the company private.

The agency says in a complaint filed Thursday that Musk falsely claimed in an Aug. 7 statement on Twitter that funding had been secured for Tesla Inc. to go private at $420 per share, a substantial premium over the stock price at the time.

The SEC is asking the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to bar Musk from serving as an officer or director of a public company. It also is asking for an order enjoining Musk from making false and misleading statements along with repayment of any gains as well as civil penalties.

Ousting Musk, who has a huge celebrity status with more than 22 million Twitter followers, would be difficult and could damage the company. He’s viewed by many shareholders as the leader and brains behind Tesla’s electric car and solar panel operations.

The stock market shuddered at the prospect. Shares slid more than 12 percent to $269.52 in Friday morning trading after a number of analysts either downgraded the stock or issued negative notes.

Citi analyst Itay Michaeli downgraded Tesla Inc. shares to Sell/High Risk from Neutral/High Risk, telling investors in a note that the SEC case raises the risk of Musk’s ouster.

“There’s little question that Mr. Musk’s departure would likely cause harm to Tesla’s brand, stakeholder confidence and fundraising — thereby increasing the risk of triggering a downward confidence spiral given the state of Tesla’s balance sheet,” Michaeli wrote.

​’Reputational harm’

He also told investors that Musk could stay on, but “the reputational harm from this might still prevent the stock from immediately returning to ‘normal.’ ” Michaeli set a $225 one-year price target for the stock.

Tesla shares have a $130 “Musk premium” due to future business driven by Musk as a disrupter of multiple industries, but that could go away if Musk is ousted, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note.

“Should the SEC be successful in barring Mr. Musk from serving as an officer or director, investors would focus back on the value of Tesla as a niche automaker,” wrote Johnson, who reiterated an “Underweight” rating and set a price target of $210.

CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson downgraded the stock from “hold” to “sell” and reduced his price target to $225. “Despite Musk’s recent erratic behavior, we think most investors want him to remain with the company and they value shares at what we view as extremely lofty multiples given the potential for Musk’s vision to drive future growth,” he wrote. “Given uncertainty about Musk’s role going forward, we think a lower valuation is justified.”

Musk, in a statement issued by Tesla, disputed the SEC’s claims. “I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way,” the statement said.

According to a person knowledgeable about talks between Tesla and federal securities regulators, Musk rejected a settlement that would have allowed him to pay a small fine and stay on as CEO of the electric car company if he agreed to certain conditions, including restrictions on when he could release information publicly.

The person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations were private, said Friday that Musk rejected the offer because he didn’t want a blemish on his record.

The SEC complaint alleges that Musk’s tweet harmed investors who bought Tesla stock after the tweet but before accurate information about the funding was made public.

No license in ‘celebrity status’

“Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders,” Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”

Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and a former SEC lawyer, said it’s the first fraud case involving use of social media by the CEO of a public company. Musk and Tesla didn’t fully disclose details of the plan in the Aug. 7 tweet or in later communications that day as required, he noted.

“You can’t make full disclosure in 280 characters,” he said, referring to the length limit of a tweet.

Joseph Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School and former SEC commissioner, said Musk will likely want to settle before trial so that he could conceivably stay on as CEO, with some constraints such as prohibiting him from making public statements without supervision. But Musk also could agree to step down as CEO and instead take another title, such as chief production officer.

Grundfest also said that the challenge for the SEC is to “appropriately discipline Musk while not harming Tesla’s shareholders.”

According to the complaint, Musk met with representatives of a sovereign investment fund for 30 to 45 minutes on July 31 at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory. Tesla has identified the fund as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which owns almost 5 percent of the company.

Fund representatives expressed interest in taking Tesla private and asked about building a factory in the Middle East, Musk told the SEC. But at the meeting, there was no discussion of a dollar amount or ownership stake for the fund, nor was there discussion of a premium to be paid to Tesla shareholders, the complaint said. Musk told the SEC that the lead representative of the fund told him he would be fine with reasonable terms for a go-private deal.

No specific terms

“Musk acknowledged that no specific deal terms had been established at the meeting and there was no discussion of what would or would not be considered reasonable. Nothing was exchanged in writing,” the complaint stated.

The SEC alleged in the 23-page complaint that Musk made the statements using his mobile phone in the middle of a trading day. That day, Tesla shares closed up 11 percent from the previous day.

The statements, the complaint said, “were premised on a long series of baseless assumptions and were contrary to facts that Musk knew.” Later in the month, Tesla announced that the go-private plan had been scrapped.

In its complaint, the SEC said that Musk’s statements hurt short sellers, who are investors who borrow a company’s stock betting that it will fall. Then they buy the shares back at a lower price and return them to the lenders, pocketing the profit.

In August, more than $13 billion worth of Tesla shares were being “shorted” by investors, the complaint said, as the stock was under pressure due to questions about Tesla’s finances and Musk’s erratic behavior.

Mark Spiegel, a short-seller and constant Musk critic, applauded the SEC for pursuing what he predicted would be easy for the government to prove.

Tesla’s board said in a statement Thursday night that it is “fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company.” 

Суд дозволив Насірову зняти електронний браслет – САП

Шевченківський районний суд Києва 28 вересня звільнив колишнього голову Державної фіскальної служби Романа Насірова від обов’язку носити електронний браслет, повідомляє у Facebook Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура.

«Питання, яким чином відсутність електронного засобу контролю забезпечуватиме реалізацію політичних, громадських та інших особистих прав та інтересів Насірова Р.М., на яких наголошувала сторона захисту, просячи відмовити у задоволенні клопотання, залишається для сторони обвинувачення відкритим», – зазначили у відомстві.

Натомість суд задовольнив аналогічне клопотання прокурорів САП керівника Департаменту погашення боргу ДФС і продовжив термін носіння браслета Володимирові Новікову (той був підлеглим Насірова).

За даними прокуратури, наступне засідання заплановане на 23 жовтня.

31 січня Кабінет міністрів України звільнив Романа Насірова з посади голови ДФС. До цього, 17 січня, міністр фінансів Олександр Данилюк заявив, що направить подання «з підтвердженням подвійного громадянства (Насірова – ред.), що є порушенням закону про державну службу». За його словами, Велика Британія заявила про наявність у посадовця британського паспорта. Сам Насіров назвав своє звільнення «незаконним і нечесним».

На початку березня 2017 року суд арештував Насірова з можливістю застави в 100 мільйонів гривень, яку внесли його дружина і тесть. Після цього відсторонений голова ДФС вийшов із СІЗО. 15 лютого Насіров попросив Окружний адміністративний суд Києва поновити його на посаді голови Державної фіскальної служби.

За даними слідства, Насіров причетний до так званої «газової схеми Онищенка» і впродовж 2015 року ухвалив низку «безпідставних і незаконних рішень» про розстрочення сум платежів з рентної плати за користування надрами для задіяних у схемі компаній на загальну суму понад мільярд гривень. Слідство вважає, що такими рішеннями державі завдано збитків на суму майже 2 мільярди гривень. Захист Насірова і він сам ці звинувачення заперечують.

Facebook Tightens Security After Announcing Breach

The security breach Facebook announced Friday that affected 50 million users was a setback for the social media giant, which has been working for months to regain customers’ trust over how it handles their data.

In addition to the 50 million users whose log-on information could have been accessed by hackers, the company required as a precaution another 40 million to log on to be able to get on their accounts. Facebook said it reported the breach of the company’s code, which the firm said it fixed, to law enforcement.

The social media company was not sure Friday whether any personal information had been gathered or misused, but it scrambled to address the issue, which was discovered earlier in the week. Facebook users may find they have to relink their Facebook accounts to their Instagram accounts, and possibly to third-party apps, which users often log on to with their Facebook accounts.

In a call Friday with reporters, Guy Rosen, Facebook vice president of product management, said that the breach appeared to be very broad with no specific country targeted. “We’ll update with what we learn,” he said. 

Focus on elections

The breach came just weeks before the U.S. midterm elections, something the company has been keenly focused on.

More than 300 Facebook workers are scouring the platform, looking for false news, fake accounts and disinformation campaigns by foreign state-sponsored operatives that may be trying to sway voters. Facebook executives have said that they did not do enough to address these issues in the run-up to other elections such as the 2016 U.S. presidential race and that they are working to fix them.

In addition, Facebook’s relationship with its 2 billion users took a hit last spring when it was disclosed that an outside researcher who was given access to Facebook data used the information for political campaigns. As a result, the company contacted users whose information might have been seen or used by the outside firm Cambridge Analytica.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement posted to his Facebook page in March.

‘View As’ tool

The company said hackers exploited the privacy feature known as “View As,” which lets users see how their own profiles would look to other people. Facebook said hackers were then able to use the security flaw to steal log-in keys, called access tokens, that could allow them to access people’s accounts.

“We’re a big fan of ‘View As’ here at EFF,” said Gennie Gebhart, associate director of research at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital civil liberties group. “It’s one good way to make sure that your privacy settings are the way you want them to be. I can see what my friends see or friends of friends see.”

But by checking what a friend can see, the “View As” tool actually made one’s friend vulnerable to this hack.

A relatively new feature that allowed users to upload “Happy Birthday” videos was part of a combination of three bugs that contributed to the vulnerability, the social media firm said.

“It’s one of those weird things that daisy-chained together,” Gebhart added.

Facebook said it was shutting down “View As” until further notice.

The hackers “used the access tokens to query data, but there are no public reports of abusing the access to post updates to timelines or spread disinformation,” said Travis Smith, principal security researcher at Tripwire, a security firm. “This could be because they were only after data or it could be that their attack was cut off midstream by Facebook before they could reach their ultimate goal.”

Security advice

Affected Facebook users should take some additional steps, said Gary Davis, the chief consumer security evangelist at security firm McAfee, who wrote about the Facebook hack in a blog post.

Among them, users should change their log-in information. “Since this flaw logged users out, it’s vital you change up your log-in information,” he wrote. 

He also stressed users should update their Facebook apps as soon as possible.

“Facebook has already issued a fix to this vulnerability, so make sure you update immediately,” he wrote.

У «Воді Донбасу» озвучили версії, що відбувається з водою у Макіївці

Підприємство-водопостачальник «Вода Донбасу» повідомило про взяття одночасно з міською санітарно-епідеміологічною службою проб питної води, яку отримують споживачі Макіївки на Донеччині.

Результати експертизи санепідемслужби мають бути готові у понеділок, інформують на підприємстві, тож остаточні висновки про причини отруєння кількох десятків людей можна буде зробити після їхнього аналізу. А до того часу постачальник радить споживачам кип’ятити воду перед вживанням.

Читайте також: Від десятків до сотень: дані про отруєних водою у Макіївці постійно змінюються 

За даними «Води Донбасу», якість води останнім часом погіршилася через зношеність систем водопостачання. Окрім того, раніше споживачі скаржились на поганий запах води, але це явище на підприємстві називають тимчасовим і нешкідливим.

«Нехарактерний запах у питній воді розподільної мережі міста, що зберігається протягом вересня, пов’язаний із сезонним масовим розвитком водоростей у каналі Сіверський Донець–Донбас. Це природний процес, (він – ред.) спостерігається щороку, як правило навесні і восени, який пов’язаний зі зміною температурного режиму в водоймі. З огляду на аномально спекотне літо цього року, розвиток водоростей проходить з посиленою інтенсивністю. У цей період вода підлягає додатковій обробці, передбаченій технологією підготовки питної води», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Раніше представник уповноваженого Верховної Ради з прав людини в Луганській і Донецькій областях Павло Лисянський заявив, що ймовірною причиною отруєння є використання марганцю замість хлору для дезінфекції води.

Тим часом, «Вода Донбасу» запевняє, що всіх реагентів на очисних підприємствах достатньо.

«У періоди інтенсивного «цвітіння» водоростей в джерелах для усунення сторонніх запахів і присмаків додатково застосовуються перманганат калію і активоване вугілля. На фільтрувальних станціях є запас необхідних реагентів для нормального режиму очищення води. Однак хотілося б підвищити запаси перманганату калію, активованого вугілля і хлору на випадок тривалого періоду погіршення якості води», – написали представники підприємства.

Представники угруповання «ДНР», під контролем якого перебуває Макіївка, на своїх ресурсах пишуть, що причиною отруєння людей стала недостатня дезінфекція води. В.о. керівника угруповання Денис Пушилін заявив, що в справі призначене розслідування. За його словами, на даний момент вода відповідає нормам.


Italian Stocks Fall on Populist Government’s Spending Plans

Italy’s stock market fell sharply Friday after the new populist, euroskeptic government announced a sharp public spending increase that will push the budget deficit to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product next year, risking a collision with the European Union.

The benchmark FTSE MIB dropped 2.2 percent early Friday, hours after the government announced its first financial targets since taking office three months ago. 

Italy’s government partners, the 5-Star movement and the League, pressed for money to fulfill campaign pledges, namely a basic citizen’s income for job seekers and a flat tax. Finance Minister Giovanni Tria, who is politically unaligned, had wanted to keep the budget deficit capped at no more than 2 percent.

The leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, called the document approved early Friday by the Cabinet “a maneuver of the people.”

“The historic measures are a victory,” Di Maio said. “It is not the government that wins, but citizens. It is a maneuver that allows us to relaunch investments and growth.”

The 2019 deficit target is a significant jump from the 2018 target of 1.6 percent, set by the former center-left government, but still remains within the 3-percent ceiling set by the EU. The European Union has been pressing Italy to address its deficit in a bid to reduce the country’s debt, the second largest in the EU after Greece. 

The spending targets contained in the document calls for spending of 27 billion euros, including blocking an increase in value-added tax, launching the 5-Star Movement’s basic income scheme, undoing pension reforms and introducing a flat tax.


To pay for the new spending, the government has pledged a tax amnesty, a spending review and possible changes to tax breaks.


The government must submit a draft budget to the EU by Oct. 15.

Puerto Rico Struggling, Still Open for Tourists, Governor Says

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello flew to New York this week on a mission: convince potential tourists that the hurricane-ravaged island was ready for their return.

But Puerto Rico’s recovery from last year’s Hurricane Maria has been a “mixed bag,” Rossello told Reuters on Thursday, acknowledging that the bankrupt U.S. territory, while improving, was far from out of the woods.

Puerto Rico has received only a small fraction of the federal funding it needs to get back on its feet, Rossello said in a 75-minute interview, and getting access to the rest could take more than a decade.

$4 billion or less

His administration estimates that fixing Puerto Rico fully will require $139 billion, but the federal government has earmarked only about $60 billion to $65 billion for the recovery, he said. Of that, only about $3 billion to $4 billion has actually flowed into the island’s coffers. 

Obtaining the remainder could take 10 to 11 years, he said, adding that his team was lobbying Congress for more money.

Compounding the problem is Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy in U.S. federal court, where it is trying to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations. There are also ongoing spending disputes between the government and a federally appointed fiscal oversight board.

In the year since Hurricane Maria, Rossello has at times been diplomatic regarding the federal government’s response, while at other times — especially lately — he’s been more critical. He has also been criticized for sticking with an estimated death toll of 64 early on, when  strong evidence suggested it could be higher. A government-commissioned study by researchers at George Washington University eventually pegged the toll at around 3,000.

When asked whether his administration’s messaging strategies have been tied to an effort to maintain good relations with President Donald Trump, Rossello said a “critical part” of the island’s recovery “is making sure the federal  government responds to our petitions.”

“So ,yes, I have opted for a path that involves dialog, that involves collaboration,” Rossello said, adding that he has not been afraid to be critical.

If Trump does not sign the island’s request to extend the federal  government’s 100 percent coverage of repair costs, “I’ll be the first one to fight it,” Rossello said, “and I’ll be the first to point out that action, or lack of action, is one of the main obstacles to our recovery.”

Rossello said Puerto Rico still has as many as 60,000 homes with temporary tarp roofs. It also has hundreds of thousands of informally constructed homes with many owners lacking title to their property.

Rebuilding will require that the current ranks of about 45,000 construction workers to grow to 130,000, according to Rossello, who recently signed an executive order increasing the minimum hourly construction wage to $15 despite opposition from the oversight board and the private sector.

Power shift

The island’s government is still considering initiatives that could make the its troubled electricity grid more resilient, Rossello said. Ultimately, the island hopes to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewables and steer away from fossil fuels. The shift would require a new regulatory policy, approval by the bondholders, and, potentially, investment from outside companies or organizations.

“We have received 10 to 12 unsolicited proposals for generation,” he said, while acknowledging the government has yet to find a private operator for the power utility’s transmission and distribution operations.

But changes at the electric agency known as PREPA, which Rossello called one of the most troubled organizations in modern history, will be gradual. The governor said he was working with a search firm to identify outside board members for the utility, after nearly the entire board quit in an uproar over appointment of a new chief executive.

Limited electricity was a major problem for the island’s small-business sector, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report on Thursday. A survey of more than 400 businesses with fewer than 500 employees found 77 percent suffered losses as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Broader effort

Meanwhile, Rossello is trying not only to restore tourism, but to expand it in such a way that it incorporates hundreds of square miles of seaside and mountain communities that are largely unvisited. Puerto Rico’s tourism is small compared with that of other Caribbean locales and tends to be centered in San Juan.

The island’s visitor lodgings hit a 2017 high of 204,025 in July, but fell to just under 30,000 in October following the hurricanes, according to Puerto Rico Tourism Company data.

Persuading tourists to leave the capital, though, will require easier travel. “Puerto Rico should be a multiport destination,” he said, discussing plans to beef up airport capacity in the south and west of the island.

He emphasized the possibility of capitalizing on Puerto Rico’s near-constant spate of community festivals. “We have flower festivals, orange festivals, plantain festivals, coffee festivals, music festivals,” he said.

Rossello pointed to so-called chinchorreos as a possible draw, events in which Puerto Rican foodies move from one inexpensive eatery to the next.

“A bar crawl for food — that’s the best way to put it,” the governor said, “and the island is small, so you start in one place and you’re on a beachfront, and 15 minutes later you’re in the mountains.”

US Regulators Sue Tesla’s Musk for Fraud, Seek to Bar Him as Officer

U.S. securities regulators on Thursday accused Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk of fraud and sought to ban him as an officer of a public company, saying he made a series of “false and misleading” tweets about potentially taking the electric car company private last month.

Musk, 47, is one of the highest-profile tech executives to be accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Losing its public face and guiding force would be a big blow for money-losing Tesla, which has a market value of more than $50 billion, chiefly because of investors’ belief in Musk’s leadership.

Tesla shares tumbled 12 percent in after-hours trading. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

The SEC’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, came less than two months after Musk told his more than 22 million Twitter followers on Aug. 7 that he might take Tesla private at $420 per share, and that there was “funding secured.”

“Neither celebrity status nor reputation as a technological innovator provides an exemption from federal securities laws,” Stephanie Avakian, co-director of enforcement at the SEC, told a news conference announcing its charges against Musk.

Musk has long used Twitter to criticize short-sellers betting against his company, and already faced several investor lawsuits over the Aug. 7 tweets, which caused Tesla’s share price to gyrate.

According to the SEC, Musk “knew or was reckless in not knowing” that his tweets about taking Tesla private at $420 a share were false and misleading, given that he had never discussed such a transaction with any funding source.

The SEC said he also knew he had not satisfied other contingencies when he declared unequivocally that only a shareholder vote would be needed.

Thursday’s complaint also seeks to impose a civil fine and other remedies. The SEC does not have criminal enforcement power.

On Aug. 24, after news of the SEC probe had become known, Musk blogged that Tesla would remain public, citing investor resistance.

Завод «Кузня на Рибальському» купує група Сергія Тігіпка – прес-служба

Група «ТАС» Сергія Тігіпка досягла попередньої домовленості про придбання приватного акціонерного товариства «Завод «Кузня на Рибальському», повідомило 27 вересня агентство «Інтерфакс-Україна» з посиланням на прес-службу групи. 


«До Антимонопольного комітету України подано заяву щодо можливості придбання акцій ПрАТ «Завод «Кузня на Рибальському». Після отримання дозволу від регулятора сторони мають намір продовжити роботу зі здійснення угоди», – вказали в групі «ТАС». 


«Вартість і терміни завершення угоди не розголошуються. Про плани групи «ТАС» щодо подальшого розвитку підприємства буде повідомлено після отримання рішення від Антимонопольного комітету України», – зазначили у прес-службі.

Також на цю тему: Президент продає суднобудівний завод: чому саме зараз?

Президент України Петро Порошенко продає свій суднобудівний завод «Кузня на Рибальському», повідомив 25 вересня речник голови держави Святослав Цеголко. Про те, хто є покупцем, він не інформував.

ПрАТ «Завод «Кузня на Рибальському» (раніше – ПАТ «Ленінська кузня») – одне з відомих на ринку підприємств суднобудівної промисловості України. Нині підприємство освоює виробництво нової продукції оборонного призначення. 


У 2016 році уряд надав ПАТ «Ленкузня» право на експорт товарів військового призначення власного виробництва та імпорт товарів військового призначення в інтересах власного виробництва терміном до 1 червня 2018 року. У 2017 році, з урахуванням перейменування підприємства на ПрАТ «Завод «Кузня на Рибальському», його повноваження спецекспортера були продовжені терміном до 1 січня 2021 року.

США не відкриють стратегічні резерви, щоб компенсувати втрату ринком іранської нафти – міністр

Уряд США не розглядає постачання нафти зі стратегічних резервів, щоб запобігти зростанню цін у листопаді, коли наберуть чинності санкції проти нафтового сектору Ірану, заявив у Вашингтоні 26 вересня міністр енергетики Рік Перрі. На думку урядовця, цей крок мав би лише «незначний та короткостроковий вплив» на ціни.

Аналітики припускали, що адміністрація президента Дональда Трампа могла б використати резерви, щоб приборкати зростання цін на сировину перед призначеними на 6 листопада виборами до Конгресу, під час яких владна партія намагатиметься утримати контроль над обома палатами американського парламенту.

Ціни на нафту зростають після того, як Трамп у травні оголосив про вихід США з ядерної угоди з Іраном та відновлення масштабних санкцій проти Тегерана. Ці санкції передбачають і жорсткі обмеження на постачання іранської нафти, що скоротить пропозицію сировини на світовому ринку.

Ціни на еталонний сорт Brent цими днями зросли до найвищого з листопада 2014 року рівня і станом на 13:39 за Києвом становлять 81 долар 85 центів за барель.

US, Japan Working Toward Free-trade Agreement

The United States and Japan have agreed to begin negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement, reducing the prospect that Washington might impose tariffs against another trading partner.

“We’ve agreed today to start trade negotiations between the United States and Japan,” U.S. President Donald Trump said at a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“This was something that for various reasons over the years Japan was unwilling to do and now they are willing to do. So we’re very happy about that, and I’m sure that we will come to a satisfactory conclusion, and if we don’t, ohhhhhh,” Trump added.

Fast-track authority

The White House released a statement after the meeting, stating the two countries would enter into talks after completing necessary domestic procedures for a bilateral trade agreement on goods and other key areas, including services.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called it a “very important step” in expanding U.S.-Japan relations. He told reporters that the U.S. and Japan were aiming to approve a full free-trade agreement soon. Lighthizer said he would talk to Congress on Thursday about seeking authority for the president to negotiate the agreement, under the “fast track” trade authority law.

Lighthizer said he expected the negotiations to include the goal of reaching an “early harvest” on reducing tariffs and other trade barriers.

Tokyo’s reticence

Tokyo had been reluctant to commit to a bilateral free-trade pact and had hoped that Washington would consider returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a broader regional trade agreement championed by the Obama administration that Trump pulled out of in January 2017.

Trump has complained about Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the U.S. and has been pressuring Abe to agree to a two-way agreement to address it, including during Abe’s visit to Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, in April.

Japanese officials have expressed concern Trump might pressure Tokyo to open up its politically sensitive farm market. They also are wary Trump might demand a reduction in Japanese auto imports or impose high tariffs on autos and auto parts, which would be detrimental to Japan’s export-reliant economy.

Trump is expressing confidence the two sides will reach an agreement.

“We’re going to have a really great relationship, better than ever before on trade,” he said. “It can only be better for the United States because it couldn’t get any worse because of what’s happened over the years.”

Uber to Pay $148M for Hiding Data Breach

The ride-hailing service Uber has agreed to pay $148 million to settle claims that it concealed a massive data breach that exposed personal information of drivers and customers. 

In November 2016, Uber learned that hackers had accessed personal data of about 600,000 Uber drivers, including their driver’s license numbers. Hackers also had stolen email addresses and cellphone numbers of 57 million riders worldwide. 

The claims, filed in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia, said rather than inform the drivers involved, Uber hid the breach for more than a year and paid ransom to ensure the data wouldn’t be misused.

“This is one of the most egregious cases we’ve ever seen in terms of notification; a yearlong delay is just inexcusable,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told The Associated Press. 

Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said the decision to come clean about the hack was made after major management changes at the company. 

“It embodies the principles by which we are running our business today: transparency, integrity and accountability,” West said. 

Each state will receive a part of the settlement based on how many drivers they have. Most states estimate each affected Uber driver will receive about $100. 

US Lawmakers Urged to Enact Personal Data Protections, But With Care

U.S. communications and social media titans are urging lawmakers to craft strong, uniform protections for Americans’ personal data without squashing innovation.

The Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony Wednesday from Apple, Amazon.com, Google, Twitter, and AT&T executives at a time when data breaches are commonplace, many Americans are mystified or unaware of how their personal data may be used or shared, and jurisdictions from the European Union to the state of California have taken action to safeguard consumers.

“Privacy means much more than having the right to not share your personal information. Privacy is about putting the user in control when it comes to that information. We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right, which should be supported by both social norms and the law,” said Apple’s vice president for software technology, Bud Tribble.

“In today’s data-driven world, it is more important than ever to maintain consumers’ trust and give them control over their personal information,” said AT&T’s senior vice president for global public policy, Leonard Cali.

The executives urged lawmakers to implement national standards that would preempt individual states from taking action on their own, as California has done.

“California is a single state, and if other states follow suit, we’ll be facing a patchwork of rules and fragmentation that will be just unworkable for consumers, as well as mobile companies and internet companies,” Cali said.

At the same time, senators were urged to craft legislation with care. Several witnesses described the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, implemented earlier this year, as overly burdensome.

“Meeting its [the GDPR’s] specific requirements for the handling, retention, and deletion of personal data required us to divert significant resources to administrative tasks and away from invention on behalf of customers,” Amazon.com Vice President Andrew DeVore said.

DeVore added, “We encourage Congress to ensure that additional overhead and administrative demands any legislation might require, actually produce commensurate consumer privacy benefits.”

Current proposal

Congress already has legislation to consider. Earlier this year, Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy introduced a bill that would require companies to write terms of service agreements in plain language and allow consumers to review data collected about them and find out if and how it has been shared. Other proposals are likely to be forthcoming.

“The question is no longer whether we need a federal law to protect consumers’ privacy,” said the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. “The question is what shape that law should take.”

Privacy questions

Several senators readily acknowledged that they did not grow up in the digital age.

“This thing sometimes mystifies me,” Montana Democrat Jon Tester said, holding up his smartphone.  Tester added that he was perplexed to see that, after searching for new tires for his truck, online advertisements for tires appeared on Web pages he subsequently visited.

“How the hell did they get that information?” he asked.

Google Chief Privacy Officer Keith Enright responded the search engine allows Web pages to earn revenue “by placing advertisements that may be targeted to a user’s interests.” But, he stressed, “No personal information is passing from Google to that third party — we neither sell it nor share it.”

Report: Ford CEO Warns Tariffs Cut $1 Billion in Profit

Ford chief Jim Hackett on Wednesday ramped up his warnings about the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, saying his company was seeing profits slashed by $1 billion.

Hackett said the global automaker could face more damage if the trade confrontations were not resolved quickly.

“The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us,” Hackett said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”

Trump in June imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum and has hit $250 billion in Chinese products with tariffs, prompting retaliation from US trading partners and raising costs for many industries.

The company earlier this year estimated materials costs would be $1.5 billion over 2017, which had already seen a jump. 

And in the July earnings report Ford said it lost $500 million in China in the latest quarter due in part to the tariffs.

General Motors likewise warned the current trade wars should cost it $1 billion this year, mainly due to rising input costs.

Ford recently announced it was scrapping plans to import the compact Focus model from Chinese plants into the US market due to the tariffs.

Joseph Hinrichs, Ford’s executive vice president for global operations, said this week the company was speeding up plans to build some models in China since it was becoming less attractive to export amid the trade tensions.

He also said he did not see any easy resolution to the trade dispute between the United States and China. 

Somalia to Get First Direct World Bank Grants in Decades

Somalia’s finance minister says World Bank grants to the government are a sign the country has “trustable leadership” again after decades of chaos and corruption.

The World Bank said Tuesday it will provide $80 million in grants to Somalia’s federal government, the bank’s first direct grants to a Somali central authority in 27 years.

In an interview with VOA’s Somali service, Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh said the grants are “proof of Somalia’s merit.”

Beileh said $60 million will be used to increase the capacity of Somalia’s financial institutions, and $20 million will go toward education and energy projects to build the country’s resilience.

He said the grants show that international financial agencies have faith the government is capable of fighting against corruption.

“The work we have done and the trustworthiness we have earned brought us here,” he said. 

The World Bank cut ties with Somalia in 1991, following the collapse of the Mohamed Siad Barre government and the start of a long civil war.

Beileh said that in recent years, Somalia’s government has made tangible improvement in management of the economy and its institutions.

However, the latest global index of Transparency International put Somalia as the world’s most corrupt country.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohammed, also known as Farmajo, took power last year in an election by parliament that observers said was characterized by bribes and vote-buying.

Beileh acknowledged the government’s fight against corruption is “far from over.”

“There is a perception that Somalia cannot be trusted because of its corruption history. Most of that is not perception,” he said.

He added: “We are proud that we made progress to at least a transparent level that both the World Bank and the IMF can notice.”

Senate Panel Opens Hearing on Crafting US Privacy Law

The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.”

But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit.

Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are scheduled to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians.

Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, opened Wednesday’s hearing by saying there’s a strong desire by both Republicans and Democrats for a new data privacy law.

But the approach being pondered by policymakers and pushed by the internet industry leans toward a relatively light government touch. That’s in contrast to stricter EU rules that took effect in May.

An early move in President Donald Trump’s tenure set the tone on data privacy. He signed a bill into law in April 2017 that allows internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits. The legislation scrapped Obama-era online privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over how broadband companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon share that information.

Allie Bohm, policy counsel at the consumer group Public Knowledge, says examples abound of companies not only using the data to market products but also to profile consumers and restrict who sees their offerings: African Americans not getting access to ads for housing, minorities and older people excluded from seeing job postings.

The companies “aren’t going to tell that story” to the Senate panel, she said. “These companies make their money off consumer data.”

What is needed, privacy advocates maintain, is legislation to govern the entire “life cycle” of consumers’ data: how it’s collected, used, kept, shared and sold.

Meanwhile, regulators elsewhere have started to act.

The 28-nation European Union put in strict new rules this spring that require companies to justify why they’re collecting and using personal data gleaned from phones, apps and visited websites. Companies also must give EU users the ability to access and delete data, and to object to data use under one of the claimed reasons.

A similar law in California will compel companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they’ve collected, why it was collected and what types of third parties have received it. Companies will be able to offer discounts to customers who allow their data to be sold and to charge those who opt out a reasonable amount, based on how much the company makes selling the information.

Andrew DeVore, Amazon’s vice president and associate general counsel, told the Senate panel Wednesday that it should consider the “possible unintended consequences” of California’s approach. For instance, he says the state law defines personal information too broadly such that it could include all data.

The California law doesn’t take effect until 2020 and applies only to California consumers, but it could have fallout effects on other states. And it’s strong enough to have rattled Big Tech, which is seeking a federal data-privacy law that would be more lenient toward the industry.

“A national privacy framework should be consistent throughout all states, pre-empting state consumer-privacy and data security laws,” the Internet Association said in a recent statement . The group represents about 40 big internet and tech companies, spanning Airbnb and Amazon to Zillow. “A strong national baseline creates clear rules for companies.”

The Trump White House said this summer that the administration is working on it, meeting with companies and other interested parties. Thune’s pronouncement and one from a White House official stress that a balance should be struck in any new legislation — between government supervision and technological advancement.

The goal is a policy “that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said. “We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution.”


Антимонопольний комітет цікавить, як мобільні оператори винайшли «13-й місяць» для оплати

Антимонопольний комітет України (АМКУ) повідомив 26 вересня, що розпочав дослідження питання підняття плати за послуги мобільного зв’язку шляхом встановлення розрахункового періоду оплати – 4 тижні.

АМКУ вказує на приклади тарифних планів усіх трьох провідних операторів мобільного зв’язку – «Київстар», Vodafone та «Лайфселл».

«У зв’язку з вищенаведеним, трьом операторам направлені вимоги Антимонопольного комітету України для з’ясування правомірності таких нововведень мобільних операторів та донесення їх змісту до абонентів», – ідеться в повідомленні.

Мобільні оператори все ще мають чинні тарифні плани, які передбачають оплату один раз на місяць і, відповідно, 12 разів на рік. Водночас перехід на нові тарифні плани, як правило, передбачає плату за 28 днів або 13 разів на один календарний рік.

«Нафтогаз» створив три дочірні компанії для постачання газу різним групам покупців

Національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз» повідомляє про створення трьох дочірніх підприємств для продажу газу. Як зазначають у прес-службі компанії, «дочки» мають зробити прозорими сегменти постачання газу.

«Нафтогаз» планує продавати імпортований газ за ринковою ціною власному торговому підрозділу «Нафтогаз Трейдинг». Він же купуватиме блакитне паливо в «Укргазвидобування».

Після цього «Нафтогаз Трейндинг» має продавати газ комерційним клієнтам, а також двом іншим дочірнім компаніям

«Нафтогаз Тепло» – для перепродажу тепловим електростанціям
Газопостачальній компанії «Нафтогаз» – для перепродажу населенню

На відміну від «Нафтогаз Трейдинг», яка продаватиме газ за ринковою ціною, «Нафтогаз Тепло» і ГК «Нафтогаз» мають статус постачальників зі спеціальними обов’язками.

«Навіщо потрібна ця нова система? В першу чергу – для прозорості кожного сегменту бізнесу. Кожна компанія матиме окрему звітність, її доходи і її витрати можна буде побачити і проаналізувати. Ніяких премій «за Стокгольм», зарплат правління там не буде, лише витрати і доходи, пов’язані з конкретним сегментом бізнесу», – заявляють у «Нафтогазі».

Напередодні суд зобов’язав голову правління НАК «Нафтогаз» Андрія Коболєва сплатити адміністративний штраф за те, що той не надав на вимогу народного депутата перелік членів правління компанії, премійованих за перемогу «Нафтогазу» в Стокгольмському арбітражі.

Brazil’s Jobs Crisis Lingers, Posing Challenge for Next President

After losing his job with a foreign food company in March, Alexander Costa surveyed Brazil’s anemic labor market and decided to start selling cheap lunches by the beach in Rio de Janeiro to try and provide for his young family.

“I could have stayed home, looking for work, sending out resumes, with few jobs and things very hard,” Costa said. “But I didn’t stand still. I decided to create something different … to reinvent myself.”

Many other Brazilians have also had to reinvent themselves in recent years, as Latin America’s largest economy struggles to overcome a jobs crisis more than a year after officially exiting recession.

Nearly 13 million people – or more than the entire population of Greece – are out of a job, with the unemployment rate hovering between 12 percent to 14 percent since 2016. As a result, unemployment is among voters’ top concerns ahead of next month’s election.

The desperate search for work amid a string of political graft scandals and rising violence has soured the mood, polarizing debate and distracting from the country’s underlying fiscal challenges.

But only by lowering the unemployment rate will Brazil achieve the rise in household spending it needs to maintain sustained growth, said Marcos Casarin, the head of Latin America macro research at Oxford Economics.

“The only way to have a prolonged recovery in economic activity is if unemployment starts to fall in a substantial way,” he said.

However, it could take several years to get the rate below 10 percent, he said, adding: “I’m not very optimistic.”

Divisive Figures

With no presidential candidate likely to win a majority in the first-round vote on Oct. 7, it looks increasingly likely voters will face a choice between two candidates in the Oct. 28 run-off: far-right Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party.

Both are divisive figures — rejected by nearly half the electorate — making it likely that either one will face an uphill battle to pass ambitious economic reforms that foreign investors have long called for.

Bolsonaro has vowed to erase Brazil’s primary budget deficit by 2020 through controversial privatizations and spending cuts.

Haddad has proposed broadening the central bank’s mandate to include unemployment, while boosting government-led investments, revoking a spending ceiling and scuttling privatizations.

Both Bolsonaro and Haddad are pitching their proposals as ways to tackle the unemployment crisis, which has pushed many into the informal sector, sapping tax income and leaving workers without paid holidays, salary raises and other benefits.

Outgoing President Michel Temer last year passed an overhaul of the country’s labor laws, which was intended to make the job market more flexible and which the government said would help create new jobs, an effect that as yet has failed to materialize.

Bolsonaro supports Temer’s labor reform and wants to further cut work regulations to boost jobs. Haddad has suggested putting the labor reform, which was opposed by unions, to a referendum, while also advocating a short-term stimulus program.

Costa, however, was unwilling to wait and see what Brazil’s next president comes up with.

His meals-on-wheels business started slowly, selling 13-reais ($3) lunches from the back of his car in Rio’s wealthy Barra da Tijuca neighborhood. But business took off when he joined forces with his friend, Stefan Weiss, whose white BMW provides a ritzier shop window from which they now sell roughly 200 hot meals each day.

“At the moment, Brazil faces a big problem in relation to the economy and the lack of jobs,” said Weiss, who works on an offshore oil platform but sells meals on days off to earn extra cash. “The people who lost their jobs are trying to find new ways to establish themselves in the market.”

Into the Fold? What’s Next for Instagram as Founders Leave

When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook in 2012, the photo-sharing startup’s fiercely loyal fans worried about what would happen to their beloved app under the social media giant’s wings. 

None of their worst fears materialized. But now that its founders have announced they are leaving in a swirl of well wishes and vague explanations, some of the same worries are bubbling up again — and then some. Will Instagram disappear? Get cluttered with ads and status updates? Suck up personal data for advertising the way its parent does? Lose its cool? 

Worst of all: Will it just become another Facebook?

“It”s probably a bigger challenge (for Facebook) than most people realize,” said Omar Akhtar, an analyst at the technology research firm Altimeter. “Instagram is the only platform that is growing. And a lot of people didn’t necessarily make the connection between Instagram and Facebook.”

Instagram had just 31 million users when Facebook snapped it up for $1 billion; now it has a billion. It had no ads back then; it now features both display and video ads, although they’re still restrained compared to Facebook. But that could quickly change. Facebook’s growth has started to slow, and Wall Street has been pushing the company to find new ways to increase revenue.

Instagram has been a primary focus of those efforts.

Facebook has been elevating Instagram’s profile in its financial discussions. In July, it unveiled a new metric for analysts, touting that 2.5 billion people use at least one of its apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger — each month. While not particularly revealing, the measurement underscores the growing importance Facebook places on those secondary apps. 

Facebook doesn’t disclose how much money Instagram pulls in, though Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter estimates it’ll be around $6 billion this year, or just over 10 percent of Facebook’s expected overall revenue of about $55.7 billion. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long seen Instagram’s promise. At the time, it was by far Facebook’s largest acquisition (although it was dwarfed by the $19 billion Zuckerberg paid for WhatsApp two years later). And it was the first startup allowed to operate mostly independently. 

That has paid off big time. Not only did Instagram reach 1 billion users faster than its parent company, it also succeeded in cloning a popular Snapchat feature, dealing a serious blow to that social network upstart and succeeding where Facebook’s own attempts had repeatedly failed. Instagram also pioneered a long-form video feature to challenge YouTube, another big Facebook rival.

Recently, Instagram has been on a roll. In June, Systrom traveled to New York to mark the opening of its new office there, complete with a gelato bar and plans to hire hundreds of engineers. Only a month earlier, Instagram had moved into sparkly new offices in San Francisco. In a July earnings call, Zuckerberg touted Instagram’s success as a function of its integration with Facebook, claiming that it used parent-company infrastructure to grow “more than twice as quickly as it would have on its own.”

But Instagram has also been a case study in how to run a subsidiary independently — especially when its parent is mired in user-privacy problems and concerns about election interference, fake news and misinformation. And especially when its parent has long stopped being cool, what with everyone and their grandma now on it.

Instagram’s simple design — just a collection of photos and videos of sunsets, faraway vacations, intimate breakfasts and baby close-ups — has allowed it to remain a favorite long after it became part of Facebook. If people go to Twitter to bicker over current events and to Facebook to see what old classmates are up to, Instagram is where they go to relax, scroll and feast their eyes.

So, will that change?

“I don’t think Zuckerberg is dumb,” Akhtar said. “He knows that a large part of Instagram’s popularity is that it’s separate from Facebook.”

As such, he thinks Facebook would be wise to reassure users that what they love about Instagram isn’t going to change — that they are not going to be forced to integrate with Facebook. “That’ll go a long way,” he said. 

Internally, the challenge is a bit more complicated. While Systrom and Krieger didn’t say why they’re leaving, their decision echoes the recent departure of WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO Jan Koum, who resigned in April. Koum had signaled years earlier that he would take a stand if Facebook’s push to increase profits risked compromising core elements of the WhatsApp messaging service, such as its dedication to user privacy. When Facebook started pushing harder for more revenue and more integration with WhatsApp, Koum pulled the ripcord.

One sign that additional integration may be in Instagram’s future: Zuckerberg in May sent longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri to run Instagram’s product operation. Mosseri replaced longtime Instagrammer Kevin Weil, who was shuffled back to the Facebook mothership. 

That likely didn’t sit well with Instagram’s founders, Akhtar and other analysts said. Now that they’re gone as well, Mosseri is the most obvious candidate to head Instagram. 

“Kevin Systrom loyalists are probably going to leave,” Akhtar said. 

Which means Facebook may soon have a new challenge on its hands: Figuring out how to keep Instagram growing if it loses the coolness factor that has bolstered it for so long.

Automakers Seek Flexibility at Hearing on Mileage Standards

Automakers sought flexibility while environmental groups blasted the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back fuel economy standards at a public hearing on the plan in the industry’s backyard.

At the hearing Tuesday in Dearborn, Michigan, home to Ford Motor Co. and just miles from the General Motors and Fiat Chrysler home offices, industry officials repeated two themes: They’ll keep working to make cars and trucks more efficient, but they may not be able to meet existing standards because people are buying more trucks and SUVs.

Environmental groups, though, urged the government to scrap its plan to roll back the standards and instead keep in place the ones that were reaffirmed in the waning days of the Obama administration. They said the technology to meet the standards at low costs is available, and they accused President Donald Trump’s Department of Transportation of twisting numbers to justify the rollback.

Nearly 150 people were scheduled to testify at the hearing, the second on the preferred option of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency to freeze the standards at 2020 levels.

In 2016, for the first time since the latest standards started, the auto industry couldn’t meet them without using emissions credits earned in prior years, said Steve Bartoli, vice president of fuel economy compliance for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The reason is because with relatively low gas prices, people are buying more trucks and SUVs rather than fuel-efficient cars, he said.

Last year, cars made up only 36 percent of the U.S. new-vehicle fleet, something that wasn’t expected when the current requirements were put in place six years ago, he said. “The forecasts referenced by the agencies at that time showed cars increasing from 50 percent to 57 percent of annual vehicle sales by 2025,” Bartoli said.

The Obama EPA proposed raising the standard to 36 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by 2025, about 10 miles per gallon (4 kilometers per liter) higher than the current requirement. The goal was to reduce car emissions and save money at the pump.

Trump administration officials say waiving the tougher fuel efficiency requirements would make vehicles more affordable, which would get safer cars into consumers’ hands more quickly.

Industry response

Bartoli and other industry representatives said they’ll keep making vehicles more efficient, but need the more flexible standards because of the market shift. Industry officials said they don’t support a full freeze on the standards.

“FCA is willing to work with all parties on a data-driven final rule that results in market-facing fuel economy improvements that also support greater penetration of alternative powertrains” such as electric vehicles, Bartoli said.

Rhett Ricart, a Columbus, Ohio, car dealer who is regulatory chairman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said trying to force people into efficient cars is like trying to make a 3-year-old eat vegetables. “If he doesn’t like vegetables, you can’t stuff his mouth full of them,” Ricart said.

Environmental response

But environmental groups said the Obama standards should remain in place, arguing that the technology is advancing so fast that automakers can meet the standards without adding huge costs for consumers. They said by the EPA’s own calculations, 60,000 jobs will be lost by 2030 developing and building fuel efficient technologies. They urged NHTSA and the EPA, which are holding the hearings, to scrap their preferred option of a freeze.

John German, senior fellow with the International Council on Clean Transportation, a group that pushes for stronger standards, said outside the hearing that the Trump administration’s cost estimates per car for the Obama standards are inflated to justify the freeze. Consumer savings at the pump are roughly three times the cost, which the ICCT calculates to be $551 per vehicle.

He also said the industry has developed lower-cost improvements to internal combustion powertrains faster than expected, so auto companies can meet standards without selling a lot of electric vehicles.

Environmental groups also said the Obama standards vary with vehicle size and give the industry flexibility to meet them. “The standards are working as designed,” German said.

California response

At Monday’s hearing in Fresno, California, state officials said the proposed rollback would damage people’s health and exacerbate climate change, and they demanded the Trump administration back off.

Looming over the administration’s proposal is the possibility that California, which has become a key leader on climate change as Trump has moved to dismantle Obama-era environmental rules, could set its own fuel standard that could roil the auto industry. That’s a change the federal government is trying to block.

“California will take whatever actions are needed to protect our people and follow the law,” Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, testified at the hearing.

Automakers want one standard for the whole country, so they don’t have to design different vehicles for California and the states that follow its requirements.

Another hearing is planned Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Taiwanese Footwear Giant Balks Compensation Ruling Despite Massive Profits

A Taiwanese owned company whose parent firm posted a more than half billion dollar profit last year has been refusing to pay compensation in line with an arbitration ruling to hundreds of Cambodian workers it made redundant.

Pou Yuen (Cambodia) Enterprise Ltd, which supplies Finnish sporting goods giant Amer Sports, gave workers zero notice when it closed its Phnom Penh factory in December last year.

It’s parent company, Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Limited, is the biggest footwear manufacturer in the world, supplying the likes of Nike, Adidas, Reebok, ASICS, New Balance and Puma.

Yue Yuen posted a $519 million profit for 2017, its own annual report shows, while its parent company, Pou Chen Group, posted a more than $400 million in profits.

Yet its Cambodian subsidiary has refused to give compensation to 478 workers in line with an Arbitration Council ruling that would see them receive about $2,000 each on average – according to the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL).

“The factory always told the workers that they were losing profit and the reason that they shut the factory down they said was because they were bankrupt, that they didn’t make any profit and they pushed workers very hard to reach the targets,” said 38-year-old former employee Yan Bunthan. “And at the end they’re still not taking care of the workers and just run away irresponsibly without providing us with fare compensation.”

Cambodia’s Arbitration Council ruled in late February that Yan and 477 others who had worked at the company for more than two years should have been compensated as permanent employees.

That would have entitled then to compensation for lack of prior notice, indemnity for dismissal, unused annual leave, damages and final wages.

Instead, Pou Yuen treated them as fixed duration employees and gave them 5 percent of their salary only.

Wage calculations shown to VOA by CENTRAL suggests this would result in compensation payouts ranging from between $91 to $243 for workers who had stayed with the factory in some cases for more than seven and a half years.

But though the Arbitration Council effectively ruled this compensation was illegal, its decision is non-binding because Pou Yuen chose to contest it.

In an emailed response, Amer Sports highlighted the non-binding nature of the ruling and the fact that Pou Yuen had paid the 5 percent severance to some 1,900 workers.

“Pou Yuen Cambodia owns the direct relationship with their employees,” Vice President of Amer Sports Sourcing, Pascal Covatta wrote. “We are working with Pou Yuen Cambodia but also with the parent organization Pou Chen Group to find the best solution for the employees in due course.”

Calls to Pou Yuen have gone unanswered while a former assistant to the general manager told VOA she was unaware of any update in the case.

In an emailed response, Chihchien Lin of Pou Chen Group’s legal department, stood by their decision to class the workers as non-permanent employees on fixed duration contracts, noting that all but 50 workers – some 1,900 people – had taken the payments they offered.

“PYC sincerely regrets that there are still existing complaints about the termination at factory disclosure due to different interpretation on the laws regarding FDC [fixed duration contracts] and UDC [unspecified duration contracts],” Lin wrote.

“PYC will immediately reach out to the complaining employees to initiate good faith discussion, and target to reach mutual agreement on this dispute with amicability in [the] future couple of weeks based on the direction of UDC [unspecified duration contracts] as indicated in the arbitration decision.”

Lin stressed that workers had received termination payments at the expiration of each fixed duration contract since the operation began in 2010.

Moeun Tola, executive director of CENTRAL, said it was not surprising to him that a hugely profitable company would refuse to implement an Arbitration Council ruling.

“If no pressure, those companies would continue exploiting their laborers peacefully although they have [a] clear Code of Conduct to respect workers’ rights,” he said in a written response.

While Pou Yuen were entitled to choose a non-binding arbitration, defiance of the ruling still violated the ethical sourcing policies brands like Amer Sports purported to adhere to, Moeun said.

“I think Amer Spot [sic] should look at the history of AC awards so far, how people take serious about AC decision in such corrupted system in the country and should be responsible for their consumers by stop exploiting their laborers and apply their CSR [corporate social responsibility],” said Moeun Tola.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the government would step in to pay workers their final salary, annual leave and severance pay, but not damages or termination compensation.

“As the government we provide the compensation to workers, as we don’t want them to worry or be frustrated about their payment,” he said.

The government, he said, would pursue the foreign investors responsible for the closure or others holding liability to recuperate the sums owed, vowing that “when they come here we’ll take action”.

He shouldn’t have to look far, as Pou Yuen is still in Cambodia, according to Amer Sport’s Covatta, who said the firm is building a new, 2,800 worker capacity facility – reflecting his company’s “commitment to provide jobs in Cambodia”.

That’s cold comfort for Sor Chanthorn, the 46-year-old president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions local branch. 

She said the closure had left her in financial dire straits since other factories refused to take workers of her age.

“It’s nearly one year that we have not got compensation. I went to work in the construction sector, it’s already hard because my husband got sick, he had a stroke, then he cannot move,” she said. “I cannot go to work because I have to take care of my husband and my daily life condition is very bad because I don’t have any income and I’m also waiting to get compensation from the factory.”

China Rules Out New Talks with US to Resolve Trade Dispute

China says it is impossible to hold trade talks with the United States with a new round of tariffs in place.

U.S. imposed duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and a retaliatory set of tariffs imposed by Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, took effect on Monday. 

Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen asked reporters in Beijing Tuesday how can any talks proceed now that the Trump administration has adopted such “large-scale restrictions,” which he said is like “holding a knife to someone’s throat.” Wang led a Chinese delegation to Washington for the last round of talks between the two sides in August. 

The new U.S. duties covers thousands of Chinese-made products, including including electronics, food, tools and housewares. The new tariffs begin at 10 percent, then will rise to 25 percent on January 1, 2019. Among the items included in the new Chinese tariffs on U.S. products are liquefied natural gas.

The Trump administration has argued tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cyber theft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

The U.S. has already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount on U.S. goods. And President Donald Trump has threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

Economic forecasters say the trade spat between the world’s two biggest economies could slow the global economy through 2020.

dmnsa • правдаua • купуй! • sellines • meneedit