Business

A City Built on Steel Tries to Reverse Its Decline
Business

A City Built on Steel Tries to Reverse Its Decline

Gary, Ind., was once a symbol of American innovation. The home of U.S. Steel’s largest mill, Gary churned out the product that built America’s bridges, tunnels and skyscrapers. The city reaped the rewards, with a prosperous downtown and vibrant neighborhoods.Gary’s smokestacks are still prominent along Lake Michigan’s sandy shore, starkly juxtaposed between the eroding dunes and Chicago’s towering silhouette to the northwest. But now they represent a city looking for a fresh start.More than 10,000 buildings sit abandoned, and the population of 180,000 in the 1960s has dropped by more than half. Poverty, crime and an ignoble moniker — “Scary Gary” — deter private investors and prospective homeowners.As U.S. Steel stands at a crossroads — a planned acquisition would put it under foreign cont...
January Jobs Report Live Updates: U.S. Economy Adds 353,000 Jobs
Business

January Jobs Report Live Updates: U.S. Economy Adds 353,000 Jobs

The United States delivered a much-bigger-than-expected batch of jobs last month, adding further evidence that the economy still has plenty of steam.Employers added 353,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent.After the loss of 14 percent of the nation’s jobs early in the Covid-19 pandemic, the labor market’s endurance for more than three years has surprised economists, who expected factors including the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases to slow hiring more sharply. The strong data on Friday is likely to reinforce the Fed’s patience in beginning to cut rates.“There’s layoffs happening, but workers are able to find new positions,” said Sara Rutledge, an independent economics consultant. “It’s almost like a ‘pinch...
Walmart to Add 150 U.S. Stores in Five-Year Expansion Drive
Business

Walmart to Add 150 U.S. Stores in Five-Year Expansion Drive

Walmart will add 150 stores in the United States over the next five years, a major expansion drive for the retail giant.The company said the move, which it announced in a statement on Wednesday, would involve millions of dollars in investment. Walmart employs roughly 1.6 million people in the United States, and said it hires hundreds of people each time it opens a new store.Walmart had just over 4,600 stores nationwide at the end of October, down from more than 4,700 a year earlier. The company has not opened a new U.S. store since late 2021.Most of the stores that Walmart plans to open will be newly built, while others will be conversions of existing locations to new formats. The first two new stores will open in the spring, in Florida and Georgia, and the company is completing constructi...
After China Evergrande, Real Estate Crisis ‘Has Not Touched Bottom’
Business

After China Evergrande, Real Estate Crisis ‘Has Not Touched Bottom’

The unwavering belief of Chinese home buyers that real estate was a can’t-lose investment propelled the country’s property sector to become the backbone of its economy.But over the last two years, as firms crumbled under the weight of massive debts and sales of new homes plunged, Chinese consumers have demonstrated an equally unshakable belief: Real estate has become a losing investment.This sharp loss of faith in property, the main store of wealth for many Chinese families, is a growing problem for Chinese policymakers who are pulling out all the stops to revive the ailing industry — to very little effect. The troubles of the country’s real estate sector were laid bare on Monday when a Hong Kong court ordered China Evergrande to wind up operations and liquidate the company, which is saddl...
Private Equity Is Starting to Share With Workers, Without Taking a Financial Hit
Business

Private Equity Is Starting to Share With Workers, Without Taking a Financial Hit

In 2018, Anna-Lisa Miller was working with agricultural cooperatives in Hawaii, helping them reinvest in their communities through shared ownership.Ms. Miller, who had gone to law school and had planned to do civil rights litigation, loved the principle of workers partaking in the financial success of their employers, and the next year joined Project Equity, a nonprofit that helps small businesses transition to worker ownership. But it was slow going, with each transaction requiring customized assistance.Then she came across an investor presentation from a different universe: KKR, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. In it, a KKR executive, Pete Stavros, discussed a model he had been developing to provide employees with an equity stake in companies it purchased, so the workers ...
Buried in Wegovy Costs, North Carolina Will Stop Paying for Obesity Drugs
Business

Buried in Wegovy Costs, North Carolina Will Stop Paying for Obesity Drugs

In June 2021, the insurance plan for North Carolina state employees was paying for 2,800 people to take weight-loss drugs.Last year, it paid for nearly 25,000. Medications like Wegovy cost the North Carolina State Health Plan $100 million last year, rising seemingly out of nowhere to represent 10 percent of its spending on prescription drugs.“This is something we never anticipated,” said Dale Folwell, the state treasurer whose office runs the health plan.Alarmed by the ballooning costs, the health plan’s governing board voted on Thursday to end all coverage of medications for weight loss, including Wegovy, which accounts for the vast majority of its spending on obesity drugs. The plan will continue covering versions of the drugs for people with diabetes.In the past few years, appetite-supp...
In a New Cannabis Landscape, a Navy Veteran Battles for Racial Equity
Business

In a New Cannabis Landscape, a Navy Veteran Battles for Racial Equity

“Transforming Spaces” is a series about women driving change in sometimes unexpected places.Jam the towel under the door. Open the window. And hide the bong.For decades, college students have found ways to mask the pungent aroma of marijuana smoke on campuses. Wanda James, however, did not always feel a need to hide. A 1986 graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Ms. James would sit on the steps outside her dorm and roll joints with her friends.It would be decades before Colorado became one of the first two states in the country to legalize recreational cannabis, but on campus, James never worried.“The worst that would happen is they would tell us to put it away, or they might take it from us, and that was the end of it,” Ms. James recalled of the campus police.Fast forward 40 year...
Rising Markets Lift Hedge Funds to Huge Gains
Business

Rising Markets Lift Hedge Funds to Huge Gains

As stock markets soared in 2023, so did the fortunes of many of the world’s biggest hedge funds.The 20 best-performing hedge funds made $67 billion in gains last year, triple what they reported in 2022, according to data released by LCH Investments, a so-called fund of funds that ranks the top 20 firms based on lifetime gains, after fees.The strong performance by elite financiers follows the rally that stock markets have enjoyed over the past year. The S&P 500, Wall Street’s most widely followed benchmark, hit a record last week. That has benefited hedge funds, especially those that make focused bets on individual stocks. Many in the industry have invested heavily in the “magnificent seven” tech stocks — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla — though some on Wall S...
War Has Already Hurt the Economies of Israel’s Nearest Neighbors
Business

War Has Already Hurt the Economies of Israel’s Nearest Neighbors

In the Red Sea, attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants on commercial ships continue to disrupt a crucial trade route and raise shipping costs. The threat of escalation there and around flash points in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and now Iran and Pakistan ratchets up every day.Despite the staggering death toll and wrenching misery of the violence in the Middle East, the broader economic impact so far has been mostly contained. Oil production and prices, a critical driver of worldwide economic activity and inflation, have returned to pre-crisis levels. International tourists are still flying into other countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.Yet for Israel’s next-door neighbors — Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan — the economic damage is already severe....
Stocks Are in a Bull Market. What Does That Mean?
Business

Stocks Are in a Bull Market. What Does That Mean?

The S&P 500 index closed at a record on Friday, crossing above its old high-water mark, set in early 2022. The gains show that investors have overcome fears of rising interest rates and panic about a recession that had governed stock trading for much of the past two years.Instead, they’re now betting that a drop in rates will help expand corporate profits, while the economy stays on a relatively solid footing.Even though the S&P 500 had struggled to push into the record — having bumped up against it for weeks before finally crossing above with jump on Friday — the record high should also put an end to a debate on Wall Street about whether the recent run-up in shares reflected a lasting shift in sentiment, or if it was just a rebound that would fade as fear over the outlook for the ...