Business Week: Upheaval in China

China appeared to relax some of its Covid protocols on Thursday, beginning protests on a scale rarely seen in the country after residents became frustrated with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “zero Covid” approach. The Chinese flooded the streets and videos of the marches and rallies appeared on social media platforms, apparently overwhelming censors who would otherwise have been quick to suppress them. The demonstrations broke out amid the new Covid outbreak, prompting the Chinese government to introduce some of the toughest measures, including mandatory lockdowns and quarantines. These policies have affected people’s livelihoods and life prospects – with many small businesses struggling to survive and youth unemployment at a record 20 percent. It is unclear to what extent the Chinese government will withdraw its mandate, especially as Mr. Xi Jinping preaches strict management of Covid in China.

U.S. employers added 263,000 jobs in November, suggesting the labor market remained resilient in the face of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow economic growth with aggressive rate hikes. While November’s figure was lower than October’s revised figure of 284,000, the drop was small and still far from the central bank’s target of creating fewer than 100,000 jobs per month. The labor market is more resistant to Fed rate hikes, in part because many employers are still struggling to meet demand. While companies are cautious about the economic outlook and layoffs have disrupted some sectors, such as technology, many industries are still hiring.

President Biden, concerned about possible rail closures, which he said would “destroy” the economy, last week signed legislation passed by Congress imposing labor agreements on railroad workers and their employers. The two parties have been at an impasse for months, with workers saying the hours are exhausting and unpredictable, making it difficult to take time off to go to the doctor or attend important family events. A tentative deal proposed in September — also brokered by the Biden administration to avoid strikes — would have allowed workers to take up to three vacations a year, which many of the country’s largest railroad unions deemed insufficient and voted against in recent weeks. gentlemen. Biden, facing potential backlash over his desire to overturn unionized railroad workers, has vowed to be “the most pro-union president you’ll ever meet.”

A near-total embargo on Russian oil will go into effect in the European Union on Monday, with huge potential repercussions not just for Russia but for the world, as EU tankers and insurance companies account for half of the global fleet. Under the embargo, they will no longer be allowed to assist in the shipment of Russian oil. To avoid some of the worst side effects of the ban, EU diplomats agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil sales as long as the oil does not exceed a set price of $60 a barrel. Negotiations around that figure have been contentious, in part because some countries in the EU have been pushing for the lowest possible price — a lower cap means less revenue for Russia and less money to fund the war in Ukraine. The $60 limit is unlikely to significantly curb Russia’s oil revenues.

President Biden is touring a semiconductor factory under construction in Arizona this week, an initiative to speak with Mr. Biden. Biden’s interest in growing the U.S. semiconductor industry. This year, he signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocates about $28 billion to build a domestic semiconductor industry as a way to reduce reliance on China and shore up supply grids as global shortages affect auto, electronics and electrical production . The Arizona plant, scheduled to open in 2024, is owned by TSMC, a Taiwanese company whose high-performance chips render graphics in video games and power smartphones, but also guide missiles and analyze military data . This makes TSMC an important strategic asset for Washington and Beijing.

Meta will come under scrutiny in a hearing with the FTC on Thursday, but the FTC also faces a crucial test: whether its chairman, Lina Khan’s agenda holds up. The problem was that Meta was trying to acquire a virtual reality company called Within while investing in the metaverse. form. Khan, that’s exactly the kind of antitrust problem she’s on a mission to eradicate. An outspoken critic of Big Tech, Ms. Khan led her agency in July to file an injunction against Meta to block the takeover, accusing the company of trying to suppress competition through acquisitions. But if she tests the boundaries of antitrust law, the FTC could lose some cases along the way — and Meta could be one of them.

The Supreme Court will decide whether President Biden can enforce his executive action to forgive billions of dollars in student loan debt. Ramesh Balwani, the former chief operating officer of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, was found guilty of 12 counts of fraud and will be sentenced on Wednesday. This week’s producer price index, an inflation measure that measures domestic producer prices over time, will be among the last batch of economic data to be released by the Federal Reserve on Dec. 12. 13-14 meetings.

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