Category Archives: Business

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Is Musk turning Tesla into a cryptocurrency hedge fund? RT’s Boom Bust explores

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

US electric automaker Tesla reported a net profit of $ 438 million for the first quarter of this year, saying that the company’s sales of bitcoin made a positive impact of $ 101 million.

RT’s Boom Bust talks to Octavio Marenzi of Opimas LLC about the company’s report and the role of bitcoin there.

Tesla’s quarterly results are “pretty encouraging,” according to the analyst. “What is kind of weird, is this whole thing with bitcoin and a hundred million dollars of bitcoin gains added to the balance sheet and the income segment.”

Marenzi goes on: “That’s a bit strange overall, not very sure what Elon Musk is doing there. It seemed for a while like he’s going to turn Tesla into a cryptocurrency hedge fund… And maybe that will still come, who knows? But it looks a bit strange, a bit confusing to markets…”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Saudi Arabia may sell 1% of Aramco to a ‘leading global energy company’ – crown prince

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Saudi authorities are currently negotiating a sale of 1% of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco to an unnamed energy major, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“I don’t want to give any promises, but there’s a discussion for the acquisition of a 1% stake by a leading global energy company,” bin Salman said in an interview on Saudi television.

He added that the world’s biggest oil company could sell shares to international investors within the next year or two. The prince did not name the company but said it is from a “huge” country.

Also on rt.com Saudi Aramco profits nearly cut in HALF as pandemic woes cripple oil markets

According to bin Salman, some Aramco shares earmarked for sale to a foreign investor could be transferred to the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, while some may be listed on the Saudi stock market. Over 98% of Saudi Aramco’s shares are owned by the Saudi government.

Aramco went public in late 2019 after several years of delays, becoming the biggest IPO on record. The initial public listing of 1.5% of its shares on Saudi local bourse, the Tadawul, helped the oil giant to raise $ 25.6 billion. Later, the company issued more shares raising the historical IPO to a record-breaking $ 29.4 billion.

Also on rt.com Saudi Arabia ‘financed itself into oblivion’ & now entire country is at risk of going under – Max Keiser

The IPO came as part of a state campaign aimed at attracting foreign investments, and became one of the pillars for Saudi Vision 2030, a multibillion-dollar plan developed to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Help! Should I Be More Ambitious?

I like my job, mostly. The people are nice, the work is interesting, the pay is good, and I have a lot of flexibility. I’ve been here a long time, though, and sometimes I wonder: Am I an unambitious weirdo if I don’t try to level up?

–California

One thing you realize after a couple of stints as a workplace advice columnist is that nobody—or at least nobody in the type of “creative class” careers that often lead people to confuse a job with a religious calling—feels confident about where they are in their career. Middle managers wonder if they should be senior managers, while senior managers fret over when they’ll be sent back down. Junior employees worry about whether they’re progressing fast enough or if they’re progressing too fast and will be forced to manage. People who have changed roles many times (hi!) are anxious about people seeing them as flighty job hoppers; those who have stayed in one place for a long time are anxious about people treating them as a piece of furniture bolted to the floor.

The pandemic, of course, has exacerbated all of the above. Being trapped at home all day—simultaneously isolated from most loved ones and with no separation at all from a select few loves ones—can really do a number on a person’s relationship to sanity and reality. And if you’re the kind of person who defines yourself by your job to a wildly unhealthy degree (hi again!), some amount of panic about your professional station is all but inevitable. (It’s not just office workers. Anne Helen Petersen’s recent essay about what she calls “the ‘capitalism is broken’ economy” elegantly knits together the fates of “creative class” employees and service workers, arguing that the real problem is bad business models that demoralize and burn out workers in basically every sector of the American economy.)

So the easy answer, California, is that you are not an unambitious weirdo for sticking around in a role that you like and that treats you well. When everything around all of us feels unstable, there’s not only no shame in holding onto a job like that, there’s a whole lot to aspire to.

And yet! Something in your brain or heart or soul is telling you that a pretty good job with interesting work and good pay and kind coworkers is not in fact enough, and that’s worth taking seriously. Perhaps it’s the larger world’s fetishization of constant advancement, in which case please do your best to tune it out. But perhaps it’s something more, some stirring inside of you telling you that while on paper you have it made, you’re just not feeling it at the moment.

You don’t mention anything about whether you feel fulfilled or satisfied by the work, which makes me wonder whether you do. There is nothing wrong with doing a job for a paycheck without expecting some psychic reward—drawing boundaries between your job and your life is healthy, or so I’ve heard—but your question seems to suggest that that’s not your style. And I wonder how much work that “mostly” in “I like my job, mostly” is doing. Some questions to chew on: Are you having fun? Are you more often excited or filled with dread at the start of your workday? Do you feel challenged? Are you able to try new things? Do you work for and with people you want to learn from?

Some of these questions will feel irrelevant to you, while others will resonate. That last one is particularly important to me personally; the times I’ve truly loved my work have been when I’m surrounded by people who are both smarter than me and supportive enough to teach me things. The common link between all my questions, though, is that they go beyond surface attributes like pay and general pleasantness, and strike at how your job is actually affecting your well-being.

Author: Megan Greenwell
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

All of liquified natural gas from Russia’s Arctic for next 20 years sold in advance – Novatek

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Russia’s energy giant Novatek said on Wednesday it has inked 20-year agreements with the shareholders of its Arctic LNG 2 project on the sale and purchase of the entire volume of liquified natural gas.

The LNG sales from the plant’s first liquefaction train are planned to commence in 2023, according to the company.

The agreements “provide for LNG supplies from Arctic LNG 2 on FOB Murmansk and FOB Kamchatka basis with pricing formulas linked to international oil and gas benchmarks. The LNG offtake volumes are set in proportion to the respective participants’ ownership stakes in the project,” Novatek said.

Also on rt.com Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 project almost 40% complete, on track for launch in 2023

The company’s chairman of the management board, Leonid Mikhelson, said that “The long-term offtake agreements between Arctic LNG 2 and its participants ensure the future revenue stream from LNG sales and de-risks the project. This represents one of the most important milestones in attracting the project’s external financing that will be completed in 2021.” 

Mikhelson said earlier that the Arctic LNG 2 plant is 39% complete and will be launched as planned.

Arctic LNG 2 envisages constructing three LNG liquefaction trains of 6.6 million tons per annum each, as well as cumulative gas condensate production capacity of 1.6 million tons per annum. The total LNG capacity of the three liquefaction trains will be 19.8 million tons. The first train of Arctic LNG 2 is 53% ready and is scheduled to start operations in two years.

Also on rt.com Russia says LNG production capacity could jump THREEFOLD by 2035

Novatek owns the majority stake (60%) in the project, with minority stakes held by foreign companies. The list of foreign investors includes French oil and gas company Total (10%), Chinese firms CNPC (10%) and CNOOC (10%), and the Japanese consortium of Mitsui and JOGMEC (10%).

The project utilizes an innovative construction concept using gravity-based structure platforms to reduce overall capital cost and minimize the project’s environmental footprint in the Arctic zone of Russia, according to Novatek.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Chinese industrial giants’ profits soar more than 90% in March – report

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday that the profits of industrial firms had risen sharply in March from a year ago, as the demand for raw materials surged along with the nation’s economic recovery.

Data showed profits rising to 711.18 billion yuan ($ 109.6 billion) in March, up 92.3% from a year ago, when the economy was hit hard by the Covid crisis. The pace of growth slowed from the first two months of the year, however. Profits soared 179% in January-February, compared with the same period in 2020.

According to Zhu Hong, an official at the NBS, strong profits in the raw materials manufacturing and processing industries – particularly chemicals, metals, and petroleum – helped drive overall industrial profit growth as demand picked up.

For the January-March period, industrial firms’ profits soared 137% from the same period a year earlier to 1.825 trillion yuan ($ 281 billion).

Also on rt.com China’s Wuhan rises from Covid-19 fallout, boosting GDP by nearly 60%

China’s gross domestic product also posted a record growth of 18.3% in the first quarter, driven by stronger demand at home and abroad. The country’s exports rose sharply in March, and imports posted their highest surge in four years last month, with factory activity and factory gate prices rising at faster-than-expected rates.

Meanwhile, industrial output grew more slowly than expected last month, with liabilities at industrial firms up 9.0% year-on-year at the end of March, versus 9.4% growth as of the end of February.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Most Russian exports have now kicked reliance on US dollar as payment currency

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

The share of Russian exports settled in US dollars has dropped below 50%. The decline, recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020, reflects Moscow’s policy of cutting the Russian economy’s reliance on the greenback.

A significant portion of the unprecedented drop in the use of US currency was recorded in trade with China, according to the data revealed by Russia’s central bank on Monday. More than three-quarters of the trade turnover between the countries are now transacted in the euro. The euro’s share in Russia’s total exports jumped more than 10 percentage points to 36%, the data shows.

Also on rt.com US foreign policy undermining reliability of dollar, Russia warns, as Moscow contemplates new rival to Western payment systems

In recent years, Russia and China have decreased dollar transactions in trade in favor of settlements in national currencies. In January, the Russian Embassy in China reported that Moscow and Beijing had managed to ramp up the share of settlements in national currencies to 25% over the previous nine months, compared to a modest two percent recorded in 2014.

Russia has also significantly cut its holdings of US debt in recent years and invested in gold and the euro.

Also on rt.com Russia’s answer to US sanctions is to make its economy more self-sufficient – analysts

According to data published by the US Treasury in March, Russia owns just $ 6.145 billion worth of US government securities. At the same time, the share of Russia’s international reserves held in the US have plummeted to less than 10% from about 30% in 2014, after Washington began imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Multiple rounds of economic penalties that followed along with threats of more sanctions have forced Russia to seek ways to protect its economy by decreasing the role of the greenback in its economy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Bullion banks hold mining companies hostage by manipulating metal prices – RT’s Keiser Report

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Max Keiser interviews Craig Hemke of TFMetalsReport.com about the prices of gold and silver being unable to signal anything, thanks to interventions in price discovery.

They agree that the silver mining industry is “in the pockets” of the regulators and the Federal Reserve, “and they do what they want them to do.”

The bullion banks hold the mining companies hostage because miners need cash flow for production, says Hemke. He explains that the miners sell their product to the banks which give them cash, and then the banks take the product and keep it for themselves. The firms “routinely withhold production because they know the price has been ridiculously manipulated lower.”

The expert suggests that if people want to diversify out of dollars, they could buy some physical metal. “That makes sense… And if we could all kind of make a practice of doing it, kind of roughly at the same time… then we could really make an impact on how this system is structured,” he says.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

What is a SPAC? RT’s Boom Bust digs into the hottest trend on Wall Street

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have become one of the hottest financial market trends in recent months, with billionaires, celebrities and athletes racing to create the so-called blank-check firms.

Last year saw a record number of listings using SPACs, which commonly raise money from investors and then go hunting for takeover targets.

As the trend continued into the early part of 2021, RT’s Boom Bust talked to Tobin Smith of Transformity Research to explore the nature of SPAC-mania, which has captured Wall Street in recent months.

READ MORE: Coinbase IPO ‘monumental’ for crypto industry but has fueled kind of frenzy that ‘never ends well’ – investor Mike Novogratz

The expert says SPACs previously weren’t very popular, with only about 20 companies making the move over the past 18 years.

“If you went SPAC, that meant that you couldn’t do an IPO,” Smith said. “And then DraftKings came out and completely changed the game,” he added.

He recalled how the fantasy sports company and bookmaker went public after merging with Diamond Eagle Acquisition, a SPAC with a market capitalization of roughly $ 500 million, and SBTech, a betting and gaming technology company, thus forgoing the typical IPO process.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Oil rises on expectations that OPEC+ may reconsider output policy

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Crude prices edged higher on Tuesday as investors await the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) to decide on easing of production curbs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Global benchmark Brent was up more than 1% to $ 66.31 a barrel as of 14:04 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June delivery rose almost 1.30% to $ 62.71 per barrel.

OPEC+ officials are meeting on Tuesday to decide whether to stick with a timetable that would see producers ease output cuts beginning next month.

READ MORE: OPEC+ agrees to ease oil production cuts as it bets on increased demand amid Covid pandemic recovery

The group is planning to cut production by 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May, another 350,000 bpd in June and further 400,000 bpd or so in July. Analysts mostly expect that easing of the production restrictions will proceed as planned.

Also on rt.com India’s oil demand recovery threatened by new restrictions

However, some experts say there is risk that the easing could be put on hold due to concerns over falling demand from countries such as India because of the surge in Covid-19 infections.

“It remains to be seen whether this increase may prove premature given that the situation is deteriorating just now in the leading oil importing countries such as India, Japan and Turkey,” commodity analyst at Commerzbank, Eugen Weinberg, was quoted as saying by Market Watch. Oil production in Libya, which recently dropped by as much as 300,000 barrels a day, is also likely to recover quickly, Weinberg added.

The OPEC+ technical committee had forecast an increase in global oil demand during its previous meeting in March.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

On Social Media, American-Style Free Speech Is Dead

Author: Gilad Edelman
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

For the first time in human history, we can measure a lot of this stuff with an exciting amount of precision. All of this data exists, and companies are constantly evaluating, What are the effects of our rules? Every time they make a rule they test its enforcement effects and possibilities. The problem is, of course, it’s all locked up. Nobody has any access to it, except for the people in Silicon Valley. So it’s super exciting but also super frustrating.

This ties into maybe the most interesting thing for me in your paper, which is the concept of probabilistic thinking. A lot of coverage and discussion about content moderation focuses on anecdotes, as humans are wont to do. Like, “This piece of content, Facebook said it was it wasn’t allowed, but it was viewed 20,000 times.” A point that you make in the paper is, perfect content moderation is impossible at scale unless you just ban everything, which nobody wants. You have to accept that there will be an error rate. And every choice is about which direction you want the error rate to go: Do you want more false positives or more false negatives?

The problem is that if Facebook comes out and says, “Oh, I know that that looks bad, but actually, we got rid of 90 percent of the bad stuff,” that doesn’t really satisfy anyone, and I think one reason is that we are just stuck taking these companies words for it.

Totally. We have no idea at all. We’re left at the mercy of that sort of statement in a blog post.

But there’s a grain of truth. Like, Mark Zuckerberg has this line that he’s rolling out all the time now in every Congressional testimony and interview. It’s like, the police don’t solve all crime, you can’t have a city with no crime, you can’t expect a perfect sort of enforcement. And there is a grain of truth in that. The idea that content moderation will be able to impose order on the entire messiness of human expression is a pipe dream, and there is something quite frustrating, unrealistic, and unproductive about the constant stories that we read in the press about, Here’s an example of one error, or a bucket of errors, of this rule not being perfectly enforced.

Because the only way that we would get perfect enforcement of rules would be to just ban anything that looks remotely like something like that. And then we would have onions getting taken down because they look like boobs, or whatever it is. Maybe some people aren’t so worried about free speech for onions, but there are other worse examples.

No, as someone who watches a lot of cooking videos—

That would be a high cost to pay, right?

I look at far more images of onions than breasts online, so that would really hit me hard.

Yeah, exactly, so the free-speech-for-onions caucus is strong.

I’m in it.

We have to accept errors in one way or the other. So the example that I use in my paper is in the context of the pandemic. I think this is a super useful one, because it makes it really clear. At the start of the pandemic, the platforms had to send their workers home like everyone else, and this means they had to ramp up their reliance on the machines. They didn’t have as many humans doing checking. And for the first time, they were really candid about the effects of that, which is, “Hey, we’re going to make more mistakes.” Normally, they come out and they say, “Our machines, they’re so great, they’re magical, they’re going to clean all this stuff up.” And then for the first time they were like, “By the way, we’re going to make more mistakes in the context of the pandemic.” But the pandemic made the space for them to say that, because everyone was like, “Fine, make mistakes! We need to get rid of this stuff.” And so they erred on the side of more false positives in taking down misinformation, because the social cost of not using the machines at all was far too high and they couldn’t rely on humans.

In that context, we accepted the error rate. We read stories in the press about how, like, back in the time when masks were bad, and they were banning mask ads, their machines accidentally over-enforced this and also took down a bunch of volunteer mask makers, because the machines were like, “Masks bad; take them down.” And it’s like, OK, it’s not ideal, but at the same time, what choice do you want them to make there? At scale, where there’s literally billions of decisions, all the time, there are some costs, and we were freaking out about the mask ads, and so I think that that’s a more reasonable trade off to make.