Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales

The outlook for the global economy darkened as a stream of data from Europe and Asia suggested growth faltered in the third quarter, hobbled by world-wide supply-chain snarls, sharply accelerating inflation and the impact of the highly contagious Delta variant.

U.S. inflation accelerated last month and remained at its highest rate in over a decade, with price increases from pandemic-related labor and materials shortages rippling through the economy from a year earlier.

The Labor Department said last month’s consumer-price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose by 5.4%

The gap between yields on shorter- and longer-term Treasury’s narrowed Wednesday after data showed inflation accelerated slightly in September, fueled by investors’ bets that the Federal Reserve may need to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected. Measures of inflation in China and the U.S. highlight this week’s economic data.

China’s exports, long a growth engine for the country’s economy, are expected to increase 21% from a year earlier in September, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. That is down from a 25.6% gain in August. Meanwhile, inbound shipments are forecast to rise 19.1% from a year earlier, retreating from the 33.1% jump in August.

The International Monetary Fund releases its World Economic Outlook report during annual meetings. The latest forecasts are likely to underscore the relatively quick economic rebound of advanced economies alongside a slower recovery in developing nations with less access to Covid-19 vaccines.

China’s factory-gate prices for September are expected to surge 10.4% from a year earlier, a pace that would surpass its previous peak in 2008, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Higher commodity costs have led to the rise in producer prices this year, but so far that hasn’t fed through to consumer inflation. Economists forecast the consumer-price index rose only 0.7% from a year earlier in September.

September’s U.S. consumer-price index is expected to show inflation remained elevated as companies passed along higher costs for materials and labor. Rising energy prices likely contributed to the headline CPI, while core prices, which exclude food and energy, might start to reflect climbing shelter costs.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its September meeting, potentially offering additional insight on plans to start reducing pandemic-related stimulus.

U.S. jobless claims are forecast to fall for the second consecutive week as employers hold on to workers in a tight labor market. The data on claims, a proxy for layoffs, will cover the week ended Oct. 9.

U.S. retail sales are expected to fall in September. U.S. consumers appear to be in decent financial shape, but Covid-related caution, rising prices and widespread supply-chain disruptions are tamping down purchases. The auto industry has been especially hard hit by a semiconductor shortage—separate data released earlier this month show U.S. vehicle sales in September fell to their lowest level since early in the pandemic.

By: WSJ staff

Source: Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales – TechiLive.in

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IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures

The IMF, a grouping made up of 190 member states, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also acts as a lender of last resort for countries in financial crisis.

In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the group’s economists say the most important policy priority is to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people in every country to prevent dangerous mutations of the virus. He stressed the importance of meeting major economies’ pledges to provide vaccines and financial support for international vaccination efforts before new versions derail. “Policy choices have become more difficult … with limited scope,” IMF economists said in the report.

The IMF in its July report cut its global growth forecast for 2021 from 6% to 5.9%, a result of a reduction in its projection for advanced economies from 5.6% to 5.2%. The shortage mostly reflects problems with the global supply chain that causes a mismatch between supply and demand.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the outlook improved. Growth in these economies is pegged at 6.4% for 2021, higher than the 6.3% estimate in July. The strong performance of some commodity-exporting countries accelerated amid rising energy prices.

The group maintained its view that the global growth rate would be 4.9% in 2022.

In key economics, the growth outlook for the US was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 6% this year, while the forecast for China was also cut by 0.1 percentage point to 8%. Several other major economies saw their outlook cut, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to grow 3.1% this year, down 0.5 percent from its July forecast. Japan’s outlook was down 0.4 per cent to 2.4%.

While the IMF believes that inflation will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022, it also warns that the negative effects of inflation could be exacerbated if the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions become more damaging and prolonged. become permanent over time. This may result in earlier tightening of monetary policy by central banks, leading to recovery back.

The IMF says that supply constraints, combined with stimulus-based consumer appetite for goods, have caused a sharp rise in consumer prices in the US, Germany and many other countries.

Food-price hikes have placed a particularly severe burden on households in poor countries. The IMF’s Food and Beverage Price Index rose 11.1% between February and August, with meat and coffee prices rising 30% and 29%, respectively.

The IMF now expects consumer-price inflation in advanced economies to reach 2.8% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022, up from 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in its July report. Inflationary pressures are even greater in emerging and developing economies, with consumer prices rising 5.5% this year and 4.9% the following year.

Gita Gopinath, economic advisor and research director at the IMF, wrote, “While monetary policy can generally see through a temporary increase in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act swiftly if the risks to rising inflation expectations are high. become more important in this unchanged recovery.” Report.

While rising commodity prices have fueled some emerging and developing economies, many of the world’s poorest countries have been left behind, as they struggle to gain access to the vaccines needed to open their economies. More than 95% of people in low-income countries have not been vaccinated, in contrast to immunization rates of about 60% in wealthy countries.

IMF economists urged major economies to provide adequate liquidity and debt relief for poor countries with limited policy resources. “The alarming divergence in economic prospects remains a major concern across the country,” said Ms. Gopinath.

By: Yuka Hayashi

Yuka Hayashi covers trade and international economy from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Previously, she wrote about financial regulation and elder protection. Before her move to Washington in 2015, she was a Journal correspondent in Japan covering regional security, economy and culture. She has also worked for Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters in New York and Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @tokyowoods

Source: IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply-Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures – WSJ

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East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns

HONG KONG—Most countries in East Asia face major setbacks in recovering from the coronavirus, the World Bank said, adding to concerns that the resurgent pandemic will widen the economic divide between the region and the Western world.

With the notable exception of China, economic activity across the region has sputtered since the second quarter amid outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and relatively slow vaccine rollouts, leading some multilateral institutions to cut growth forecasts for most economies in the region and warn about longer-term problems such as rising inequality.

Overall, the economy of East Asia and the Pacific is on track to expand by 7.5% this year, according to forecasts released Tuesday by the World Bank Group, up from its April forecast of 7.4%. But that improvement is all China, now expected to grow 8.5%, up from 8.1%. The outlook for the rest of the region worsened, with the bank now forecasting growth of just 2.5% this year, down from 4.4% in April.

“The economic recovery of developing East Asia and Pacific faces a reversal of fortune,” said Manuela Ferro, an economist at the Washington, D.C.-based institution. The U.S. economy is expected to outpace the world as a whole by expanding 6% this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast last week.

In Asia, meanwhile, the pandemic’s persistence threatens to deliver “an impoverishing double whammy of slow growth and increasing inequality,” the World Bank warned, calling it the first time the region has faced such an outlook since the turn of the century. The bank sees 24 million more people below the poverty line in Asia this year than it projected earlier.

Last week, the Manila-based Asia Development Bank cut its growth outlook for developing Asia to 7.1%, from 7.3% in April, in large part because Covid-19 outbreaks led to major lockdowns that slowed manufacturing activity in Southeast Asia, a regional export hub. The ADB now forecasts 3.1% growth this year for Southeast Asia, where countries have struggled to ramp up vaccinations, down from 4.4% previously.

Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia are among the countries that have imposed lockdowns and social-distancing rules in recent months as Covid-19 infections surged. That has exacerbated global supply-chain disruptions, delaying production of finished goods from clothes to cars as well as commodities, including coffee and palm oil.

Vaccination rates have picked up in Asia, though they still trail the West. As of the end of August, less than one-third of the region’s population had been fully vaccinated, compared with 52% in the U.S. and 58% in the European Union, according to the ADB.

The World Bank predicts that most Asian countries will push vaccination rates up to 60% by the first half of 2022, which it says will allow for a fuller resumption of economic activity—though it won’t be enough to eliminate infections.

Moreover, Asia’s advantage in the global goods trade—a bright spot for the region for much of the past year—is expected to fade.

Export demand for a range of goods, such as machinery and consumer electronics, has slipped as companies and individuals from richer Western countries shift their spending patterns. Supply capacity in those markets has also started to normalize, while higher shipping costs risk further eroding appetite for imports from Asia.

“Global goods import demand peaked in the second quarter of 2020 and regional exports face stronger competitions as other regions recover,” says the World Bank report.

MARKET TRENDS

We have revised our forecast for China’s 2021 growth from 8.4% to 8.2% to account for recent COVID outbreaks and economic underperformance.,China is experiencing a rash of COVID outbreaks driven by the Delta variant. New cases have emerged in cities across the country, such as Nanjing, Ningbo, and Wuhan.,Several indicators signaled a slowdown in July relative to June: industrial value-added growth fell from 8.8% YOY to 8.3% YOY; retail sales growth slowed from 12.1% YOY to 8.5% YOY; urban unemployment rose from 5.0% to 5.1%.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

Xi Jinping is shifting the government’s focus away from pursuing growth at any cost toward sharing the fruits of growth more evenly across society. This push is reflected in the rising use of the phrase “common prosperity,” which has started to appear frequently in communications across the government, schools, and media.,While the details behind the “common prosperity” push are not yet clear and policy implementation timelines may be extended, the implications of this shift will be wide-ranging.

In the coming years, China’s leadership will show less forbearance to wealthy individuals and large corporations; instead, it will expect them to support its goals for social equality through measures like direct transfers, donations, program development, and tax changes.,China’s regulatory landscape will also shift in favor of industries that are seen to serve lower-income segments and against those seen to serve higher-income segments. For example, companies serving rural and less developed parts of the country are likely to receive a helping hand, while companies selling luxury items and high-end real estate are likely to face increased barriers in the market.

By: Stella Yifan Xie at stella.xie@wsj.com

Source: East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns – WSJ

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What The New Outlook For Social Security Means For You

Whew! The pandemic had a smaller impact on the Social Security trust funds — that is, Social Security’s solvency — than many feared during the depths of the pandemic downturn.

According to the new 2021 annual report from the Social Security Trustees, the depletion date for the combined trust funds —retirement and disability — is 2033 without any changes to program benefits. That would be when today’s 54-year-olds reach Social Security’s Full Retirement Age. Still, that’s one year earlier than last year’s 2034 estimate.

Depletion date or insolvency doesn’t mean bankruptcy — far from it. Funding from payroll tax receipts will be enough to pay 78% of promised benefits after the combined Social Security trust funds depletion date is reached.

“The trust fund report should be seen as a strength,” says Eric Kingson, professor of social work and public administration at Syracuse University and co-author with Nancy Altman of “Social Security Works for Everyone: Protecting and Expanding the Insurance Americans Love and Count On.”

What the Social Security Trustees Said

The report, Kingson said, “provides information for Congress and the public on what needs to be done to maintain benefits.”

And Altman, president of Social Security Works, chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition and a rumored possible Biden appointee to run the Social Security Administration, said this when the Trustees report came out on Wednesday: “Today’s report shows that Social Security remains strong and continues to work well, despite a once-in-a-century pandemic. That this year’s projections are so similar to last year’s proves once again that our Social Security system is built to withstand times of crisis, providing a source of certainty in uncertain times.”

But the Social Security Trustees are strikingly cautious about their estimates involving the impact of the pandemic on the Social Security trust fund and its sister trust fund for Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people 65 and older.

Despite the dry language of actuaries, the uncertainty is apparent.

Employment, earnings, interest rates and gross domestic product (GDP) dropped substantially in the second quarter of 2020, the worst economic period of the pandemic. As a result, the decline in payroll-tax receipts which pay for Social Security benefits eroded the trust funds, though the drop in payroll taxes was offset somewhat by higher mortality rates.

“Given the unprecedented level of uncertainty, the Trustees currently assume that the pandemic will have no net effect on the individual long range ultimate assumptions,” they write.

The Pandemic and Social Security Solvency

But, they add, “At this time, there is no consensus on what the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the long-term experience might be, if any.”

The Trustees say they “will continue to monitor developments and modify the projections in later reports.”

Translation: the status quo remains and the forecast for the pandemic’s effect on Social Security’s solvency is cloudy.

Odds are the coming Social Security financing shortfall won’t get sustained attention from either the Biden administration or Congress despite the need to take action before 2034.

The Trustees aren’t too happy about that.

Their report says: “The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually and give workers and beneficiaries time to adjust to them. Implementing changes sooner rather than later would allow more generations to share in the needed revenue increases or reductions in scheduled benefits… With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations.”

The Political Outlook for Social Security Reforms

But the Biden administration and its Congressional allies are instead focused on threading the political needle for an ambitious $3.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, while also dealing with the fallout from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Leading Republican legislators have called for so-called entitlement reform (think Social Security benefit cuts), but that’s a tough sell in the current Democratically controlled Congress.

“Does the report mean the timetable argues for real concrete action on [addressing solvency issues of] Social Security? Probably not. Will it revive the rhetoric that the sky is falling? Sure,” says Robert Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition advocacy group, president of Matz Blancato and Associates and a 2016 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging.

The issue over how best to restore financial solvency to Social Security isn’t going away. That’s because the program is fundamental to the economic security of retired Americans. Social Security currently pays benefits to 49 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers (as well as survivor benefits to six million younger people and 10 million disabled people).

However, the tenor of the longer-term solvency discussion has significantly changed in recent years.

To be sure, a number of leading Republicans still want to cut Social Security retirement benefits to reduce the impending shortfall. Their latest maneuver is what’s known as The TRUST Act, sponsored by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

It calls for closed-door meetings of congressionally appointed bipartisan committees to come up with legislation to restore solvency by June 1 of the following year. The TRUST act would also limit Congress to voting yes or no on the proposals. No amendments allowed.

What’s Different About Future Social Security Changes

AARP, responding to the Trustees report news, came out vehemently against The TRUST Act’s closed-door reform plan. “All members of Congress should be held accountable for any action on Social Security and Medicare,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said.

“The concern seems to be they would look to cuts first, versus a more comprehensive approach,” says Blancato. A more comprehensive approach could include tax increases for the wealthy and technical changes to the Social Security system.

Something else that’s different is that liberals are no longer trying to simply stave off benefit cuts and preserve the program exactly as it is — the main tactic since Republican Newt Gingrich was House Majority Leader in the mid-1990s. That have bigger and bolder ideas.

Most Democratic members of Congress have co-sponsored legislation to expand Social Security or voted in support of incremental increases in benefits, such as providing more for the oldest old and a new minimum Social Security benefit equal to at least 125% of the poverty level (that translates to $16,100 for a household of one).

Addressing Social Security’s shortfall and paying for the new benefits, with the Democrats’ plans, would come from tax hikes, ranging from gradually raising the 6.2% payroll tax rate to hiking or eliminating the $142,800 limit on annual earnings subject to Social Security taxes to some combination of these.

But Social Security benefit cuts are off the negotiating table for the Democrats.

“Biden has made a commitment not to cut and to make modest improvements in benefits,” says Kingson. “He won’t back off that.”

The President has pushed for raising the Social Security payroll tax cap so people earning incomes over $400,000 would owe taxes on that money, too. He has also backed raising the minimum Social Security benefit to 125% of the poverty level.

The Good News for Social Security Beneficiaries

One more piece of Social Security news to keep in mind: Social Security recipients are likely to get a sizable cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their benefits in 2022. The exact amount will be announced in October and estimates vary widely, from 3% to as high as 6%. A 6% increase would be the highest in 40 years.

But there’s a catch: Medicare Part B premiums for physician and outpatient services — a significant portion of Medicare’s funding —will also go up due to inflation. And those premium payments usually come right out of monthly Social Security checks.

The Trustees report says the estimated standard monthly Medicare Part B premium in 2022 will be $158.50, up about 7% from $148.50 in 2021 and a 9.6% total increase since 2020. (Monthly premiums are based on income, though, and can exceed $500 for high earners.)

The Trustees report says Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund (HITF) has enough funds to pay scheduled benefits until 2026, unchanged from last year. Medicare’s finances stayed stable during the pandemic, with people over 65 largely avoiding elective care. The pandemic “is not expected to have a large effect on the financial status of the [Medicare] trust funds after 2024,” the Trustees report noted.

Like Social Security, the trust fund behind Medicare Part A (which pays for hospitals, nursing facilities, home health and hospice care) is primarily funded by payroll taxes. There will be enough tax income coming in to cover an estimated 91% of total scheduled benefits once the trust fund is insolvent.

Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is mostly funded by federal income taxes, premiums and state payments.

But the political story about Medicare is less about its projected 2026 shortfall and more about momentum toward expanding the program. The Biden administration has proposed adding hearing, visual and dental care to Medicare benefits, something also being pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) At this time, it’s unclear how those new benefits would be paid for, though they wouldn’t affect the trust fund.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

Source: What The New Outlook For Social Security Means For You

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Asian Stocks Mixed as Data Show Delta Sapped China: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday as weaker economic activity in China and the latest escalation in Beijing’s crackdown on private industries overshadowed another record close on Wall Street.

Equities slipped in China, where data signaled that an outbreak of the delta virus variant led to a service-sector contraction for the first time since February last year. Hong Kong slid as Beijing’s stepped-up curbs on video-gaming firms weighed on Chinese technology stocks.

U.S. futures edged up after the S&P 500 hit its 12th all-time high in August and the Nasdaq 100 rose. Treasuries held gains made following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s measured comments about a possible reduction in stimulus and any future interest-rate hikes. The dollar dipped.

Oil declined, with traders assessing the prospect of additional OPEC+ production. Aluminum and nickel advanced as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raise target prices. In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin fell to about $47,000.

Global stocks overall are set for a seventh monthly advance on strong company profits, expanding vaccinations to underpin economic reopening and supportive Fed policies. At the same time, the decline in Treasury yields from a March peak may partly reflect concerns of a slower recovery ahead on risks such as the impact of the delta strain.

“The bond market is getting a little nervous about the economic outlook,” Priya Misra, head of global interest rate strategy at TD Securities, said on Bloomberg Television. But she added the U.S. economy is “strong” and that “by year end, if the economy holds up, which we forecast it will, that’s when we expect rates — especially in the long end — to start to edge higher.”

In the latest U.S. data, pending home sales fell in July. Traders are awaiting key payrolls figures Friday for further guidance on the economy’s strength.

Here are some key events to watch this week:

OPEC+ meeting on output WednesdayEuro zone manufacturing PMI WednesdayU.S. jobs report Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

S&P 500 futures climbed 0.2% as of 1:42 p.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%Nasdaq 100 futures increased 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.1%Japan’s Topix index rose 0.7%Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6%South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8%Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.4%China’s Shanghai Composite index retreated 0.8%

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index shed 0.1%The euro was at $1.1818The Japanese yen was at 109.88 per dollarThe offshore yuan was at 6.4660 per dollar

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 1.28%

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude was at $68.90 a barrel, down 0.5%Gold was at $1,815.12 an ounce, up 0.3%

By:

Source: Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for Aug. 31, 2021 – Bloomberg

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China’s Internet Tycoons Suffer $13.6 Billion Wealth Drop As Regulatory Crackdown Triggers Market Sell-Off

China’s internet billionaires suffered the biggest losses on the list of the world’s richest people on Monday, as spooked investors continued to dump stocks targeted in Beijing’s widening regulatory crackdown.

Meituan founder Wang Xing, NetEase Chief Executive Williang Ding, Pinduoduo founder Colin Zheng Huang and Tencent Chairman Pony Ma racked up a combined $13.6 billion plunge in their wealth in just one day, according to the World’s Real-Time Billionaires List. The hits to their fortunes come as a sell-off in Chinese education and technology stocks continued to spread to other sectors, with investors pondering which companies could fall under Beijing’s scrutiny next.

“[The crackdown] is a continuation of previous policies of anti-monopoly and stop the disorderly expansion of capital,” says Shen Meng, director of Beijing-based boutique investment bank Chanson and Co. “China also wants to reduce discontent among different factions of the society, and alleviate overall pressure.”

For example, following reports of long working hours and dangerous conditions, regulators are now seeking to adopt safeguards to protect food delivery riders by requiring their employers to pay more in insurance and making sure the couriers earn above minimum wage. The announcement of the new guidelines sent shares of Tencent-backed food delivery giant Meituan, which is already subject to an ongoing anti-trust probe, tumbling by as much as 10% in Hong Kong on Tuesday, after plunging 14% a day earlier.

Tencent, which also backs online marketplace Pinduoduo, lost 5% in Hong Kong today, after regulators ordered the company to give up exclusive music copyrights. The company has already pledged to comply with the directive.

In the meantime, Beijing is also seeking to alleviate some of the financial burden of parents in support of its efforts to boost declining birthrates by targeting after-school tutoring. The sector once grew rapidly as students went online to study during the pandemic, but has recently been plagued by complaints of misleading pricing and false advertising.

NetEase’s New York-listed online learning unit Youdao lost more than 60% of its market value over the last three trading days. The U.S.-listed shares of Chinese education firms Gaotu Techedu, TAL Education and New Oriental Education & Technology all plunged a similar amount, after regulators unveiled a sweeping set of rules over the weekend. It requires tutoring firms seeking to teach school syllabus to register as non-profits, as well as stop offering courses over weekends and during school vacations. The companies are also banned from going public or raising capital.

“To remain listed, they may need to spin off the businesses that are in violation of government rules, ” says Tommy Wang, a Hong Kong-based analyst at China Merchants Securities. He adds that as much as 90% of the companies’ revenues could be hit as after-school tutoring for elementary and middle school students account for the bulk of their sales.

In this uncertain environment, foreign investors would be wise to take into account policy risks and re-assess the outlook for investing in Chinese companies, according to Chanson and Co.’s Shen. The crackdown on education companies, for example, has left global investors ranging from SoftBank to Temasek struggling to find a way out of their positions. They’re among investors who had placed multi-billion dollar bets on Chinese education startups like Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang and Yi Qi Zuo Ye, which are now also being subjected to heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Claudia Wang, a Shanghai-based partner at consultancy Oliver Wyman, says one option for investors is to simply wait, and exit when the startups find a market that is on par with the online education industry that was valued at 257.3 billion yuan in 2020, and transition their business. The wait-and-see attitude is already taking hold among some investors in public markets, according to Nomura securities.

“Bruised and shaken investors are now likely to ponder which other areas could potentially become the next target of expanded state control,” analysts including Chetan Seth and Yunosuke Ikeda wrote in a recent research note. “Until news flow on regulation starts abating (no signs of it yet), we think most foreign investors will likely remain on the sidelines despite some areas of the market looking attractive over medium term on valuation grounds.”

I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: ywywyuewang@gmail.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang

Source: China’s Internet Tycoons Suffer $13.6 Billion Wealth Drop As Regulatory Crackdown Triggers Market Sell-Off

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Critics:

The Chinese government’s crackdown on big technology companies will likely last for a few years, which means those stocks aren’t a buy for now, a BlackRock portfolio manager said Wednesday.

Since autumn, regulators have ramped up scrutiny on the country’s tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent. After years of relatively unrestrained rapid growth, becoming some of the biggest companies in the world, the corporations now face fines and new rules aimed at curbing monopolistic practices.

“This regulatory cycle is long-lasting compared to 2018,” Lucy Liu, portfolio manager for global emerging markets equities at BlackRock, said during a mid-year Asia investment outlook event.

In contrast with that period of increased scrutiny, which ran for about six months to a year, she said that this time, “we think it’s going to be a multi-year cycle.”

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Amazon Bitcoin Rumors Send The Cryptocurrency Surging Towards $40,000

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The crypto market seems to be finally getting out of the mid-summer doldrums. Bitcoin is 14% up from its Friday close, trading at $38,474 as of 6:48 a.m. ET, a price level not seen since mid-June. All major assets are also bouncing up. Ethereum is back above $2,000, trading at $2,354. Cardano and Dogecoin are the biggest movers in the top 10, up by 10.5% and 15% respectively. The broader market is returning 9.85% over the past 24 hours.

The surge began amid the swirling rumors that Amazon AMZN +1.2% is starting to move into crypto. On June 22, the company published a job posting for a ‘digital currency and blockchain lead’ and this weekend London-based business publication CityAM published an unconfirmed report (based on an anonymous ‘insider’), saying that Amazon could start accepting bitcoin payments “by the end of the year” and is investigating its own token for 2022. It also noted that the company was getting ready to accept payments in bitcoin, ether, cardano, and bitcoin cash.

Blockchain is no stranger to the retail and cloud computing giant – it was a member of the Forbes Blockchain 50 list in 2020 and 2019, offering services such as a toolkit on top of Amazon Web Services for clients to build permissioned blockchains, and is, in fact, the primary host for Infura, a middleware solution for nodes to access the Ethereum blockchain. However, the company has largely kept a firewall between itself and virtual currencies.

The rally gained further steam early Monday due to short squeezes among bitcoin bears. Thousands of traders liquidated $883 million in short positions overnight, according to data from Bybt, a cryptocurrency derivatives trading and information platform. Shorts on bitcoin accounted for $720 million, or 81% of those liquidations.

Bendik Norheim Schei, head of research at Norwegian crypto analytics firm Arcane Research, noted in a message to Forbes that  “this was the largest short liquidation (short squeeze) we have recorded to date.” He also speculated that Amazon rumors could have been a major catalyst behind the surge.

It remains unclear whether the rally could be sustained but analysts offer positive outlooks. “As simple as it might be to say, the bottom is in,” writes Maxwell Koopsen, senior copy editor at crypto exchange OKEx. “Now that resistance has formed at $40,000, it may either take substantiation to the claims of Amazon’s intentions or a strong show by the buyers at $34,000–$36,000.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I report on cryptocurrencies and emerging use cases of blockchain. Born and raised in Russia, I graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in economics and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where I focused on data and business reporting.

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China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning

China’s V-shaped economic rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic is slowing, sending a warning to the rest of world about how durable their own recoveries will prove to be.

The changing outlook was underscored Friday when the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of cash most banks must hold in reserve in order to boost lending. While the PBOC said the move isn’t a renewed stimulus push, the breadth of the 50 basis-point cut to most banks reserve ratio requirement came as a surprise.

Data on Thursday is expected to show growth eased in the second quarter to 8% from the record gain of 18.3% in the first quarter, according to a Bloomberg poll of economists. Key readings of retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment are all set to moderate too.

The PBOC’s swift move to lower banks’ RRR is one way of making sure the recovery plateaus from here, rather then stumbles.

The economy was always expected to descend from the heights hit during its initial rebound and as last year’s low base effect washes out. But economists say the softening has come sooner than expected, and could now ripple across the world.

“There is no doubt that the impact of a slowing China on the global economy will be bigger than it was five years ago,” said Rob Subbaraman, head of global markets research at Nomura Holdings Inc. “China’s ‘first-in, first-out’ status from Covid-19 could also influence market expectations that if China’s economy is cooling now, others will soon follow.”

Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Venice on Saturday signaled alarm over threats that could derail a fragile global recovery, saying new variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy. China’s state media also cited several analysts Monday saying domestic growth will slow in the second half because of an uncertain global recovery.

China’s slowing recovery also reinforces the view that factory inflation has likely peaked and commodity prices could moderate further.

“China’s growth slowdown should mean near-term disinflation pressures globally, particularly on demand for industrial metals and capital goods,” said Wei Yao, chief economist for the Asia Pacific at Societe Generale SA.

The changing outlook reflects the advanced stage of China’s recovery as growth stabilizes, according to Bloomberg Economics.

What Bloomberg Economics Says…

“Looking through the data distortions, the recovery is maturing, not stumbling. Activity and trade data for June will likely paint a similar picture — a slower, but still-solid expansion.”

— The Asia Economist Team

For the full report, click here.

Domestically, the big puzzle continues to be why retail sales are still soft given the virus remains under control. It’s likely that sales slowed again in June, according to Bloomberg Economics, as sentiment was weighed by controls to contain sporadic outbreaks of the virus.

Even with the PBOC’s support for small and mid-sized businesses, there’s no sign of a broad reversal in the disciplined stimulus approach authorities have taken since the crisis began.

The RRR cut was partially to “manage expectations” ahead of the second-quarter economic data this week, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong.

“It also provides more policy room going forward, as the momentum of the economic recovery has surely slowed.”

— With assistance by Enda Curran, Yujing Liu, and Bihan Chen

Source: China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The Chinese economic reform or reform and opening-up; known in the West as the Opening of China is the program of economic reforms termed “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “socialist market economy” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Led by Deng Xiaoping, often credited as the “General Architect”, the reforms were launched by reformists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on December 18, 1978 during the “Boluan Fanzheng” period.

The reforms went into stagnation after the military crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but were revived after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992. In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Before the reforms, the Chinese economy was dominated by state ownership and central planning. From 1950 to 1973, Chinese real GDP per capita grew at a rate of 2.9% per year on average,[citation needed] albeit with major fluctuations stemming from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

This placed it near the middle of the Asian nations during the same period, with neighboring capitalist countries such as Japan, South Korea and rival Chiang Kai-shek‘s Republic of China outstripping the PRC’s rate of growth. Starting in 1970, the economy entered into a period of stagnation, and after the death of CCP Chairman Mao Zedong, the Communist Party leadership turned to market-oriented reforms to salvage the failing economy.

Citation:

What Caused The Massive Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Outage On Monday? Here’s What We Know

Cloud-based Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Teams, went down across a swathe of the U.S. yesterday.

Users of Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, Exchange, Sharepoint, OneDrive and Azure also reported they were unable to login. Instead, they were presented with a “transient error” message informing them there was a problem signing them in.

These issues appear to have started at around 5 p.m. ET, with services not returning to normal for many until 10 p.m. ET.

Indicative of the times we live in, whenever such an outage impacts so many people, the question of whether it’s an ongoing cyber-attack is front and center.

However, there is no evidence this was the case last night. So what did happen to take down access to Microsoft Teams, with work from home users taking to Twitter to complain of being unable to work, not to mention Office 365 and other cloud-based service disruption? Recommended For You

As was the case in June, when mobile calls and text messaging went down for many in the U.S. and August, when global internet traffic to major sites was disrupted, the cause could be much more mundane than a coordinated cyber-attack.

The first clue came when a Microsoft 365 Status message posted to Twitter revealed that Microsoft had “identified a recent change that appears to be the cause of the issue,” and said this was being rolled back to mitigate the impact.

However, soon after, another tweet poured cold water on that as it confirmed that Microsoft was “not observing an increase in successful connections” as a result of the rollback.

Two hours later, after rerouting traffic to “alternative infrastructure,” Microsoft reported improvements in multiple services.

Wait a moment, does that mean it could have been a massive, and somewhat audacious, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack after all? Not according to a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson given to CNN Business: “we’ve seen no indication that this is the result of malicious activity.”

Another Microsoft status update message pointed to “a specific portion of our infrastructure” that was not processing authentication requests as expected.

According to some reports, this was a “code issue” that prevented the processing of those authentication requests “in a timely fashion.”

This remains a developing story as far as cause, rather than effect, is concerned. I reached out to Microsoft for a statement regarding what went wrong with the authentication process, but all a spokesperson said at this stage was: “We’ve fixed the service interruption that some customers may have experienced while performing authentication operations. At this time, we’ve seen no indication that this is the result of malicious activity.”

If things were bad at the start of the week, they got worse towards the end. On Thursday, October 1, Microsoft confirmed another outage. This time impacting Outlook users globally. MORE FROM FORBESNew Worldwide Microsoft Outage Confirmed-Here’s What We KnowBy Davey Winder

— Updated September 29 with a statement from Microsoft.

— Updated October 1 with news of another global outage Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Davey Winder

 Davey Winder

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share

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The system was down for about four hours on Monday making it impossible for remote employees, businesses and schools who use the programs for remote learning to access. #wakeupcharlotte

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