Users turn to Twitter after Facebook outage. Jokes and venting be later to.

Daily Business Briefing

Oct. 5, 2021, 12:19 a.m. ET

Oct. 5, 2021, 12:19 a.m. ET

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Credit…Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With Facebook and Instagram down for much of the day on Monday, many social media users used Twitter to proportion their woes, thoughts and jokes.

Twitter appeared to embrace its moment in the spotlight. The company’s main account tweeted “hello literally everyone,” garnering 2.4 million “likes” in just four hours.

Other major brands seemed to recognize the social media company’s marketing coup. “hi what can I get u” the official McDonald’s account replied. “59.6 million nuggets for my friends,” the Twitter account responded.

Some companies used the opportunity to market their products. Netflix tweeted an image from its new hit show “Squid Game” showing a contestant in the series labeled as “Twitter” holding up and saving the life of a contestant labeled “Everyone.”

already Zion National Park got in on the fun.

“Facebook & Instagram are nevertheless down, so we’ll just keep on tweeting,” the park’s account said on Twitter, with a video of bird chirping.

Some users, like Jhonen Vasquez, a cartoonist, took the jokes a bit further.

“All the Facebook networks are down for now. I can’t help but be excited to see what new happiness-degrading, life-ruining horrors manifest to take their place,” he posted.

Some, lacking their favored social media apps to use as a distraction, joked that their productivity was up on Monday.

“Instagram and Facebook should go down everyday,” said BenDeLaCreme, a performer. “I haven’t been this productive since 2006.”

For some whose work involves using Facebook, the network issues meant a day interrupted.

“Social media managers at work today,” Motorola posted on Twitter, with a popular GIF of a lost John Travolta.

The radio network iHeartRadio checked in on those who work in social media, with a Twitter post that said, “Dear fellow social media managers… y’all doing ok?”

People piled on in their criticism of Facebook. Jokes about the shutdown converged with comments from politicians like Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, about Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who shared with The Wall Street Journal and lawmakers thousands of documents that revealed Facebook knew of many harms its sets were causing.

“Facebook is down right now,” Senator Markey said in a tweet, “so it’s a great time to listen to whistleblower Frances Haugen.”

While many shared jokes on Twitter, others acknowledged the seriousness of the matter, as Facebook’s apps are relied on for communication by many of its three billion users.

“Okay, it was all jokes and gifs when Instagram and Facebook went down, but if Gmail and Twitter go down, too, the freaking out will commence,” Aisha Sultan, a columnist at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said on Twitter. “I’m already starting to miss my family’s incessant WhatsApp messages. Oh God, I’m getting lonely, and it’s only been 4 hours.”

Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

A jury ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to Owen Diaz, a Black former employee who accused the carmaker of ignoring racial abuse he faced while working there, his lawyer, Lawrence Organ, said late on Monday.

“It’s a great thing when one of the richest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the abhorrent conditions at its factory for Black people,” Mr. Organ, of the California Civil Rights Law Group, said in an interview.

The decision by the jury, in federal court in San Francisco, was reported earlier by Bloomberg News. Tesla’s lawyers did not closest provide comment.

In an interview, Mr. Diaz said he was relieved by the jury’s decision.

“It took four long years to get to this point,” he said on Monday evening. “It’s like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders.”

Mr. Diaz said he worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif., for about a year in 2015 and 2016. There, he said, a supervisor and other colleagues repeatedly referred to him using racial slurs. He also said employees had drawn swastikas and scratched a racial epithet in a bathroom stall and left drawings of derogatory caricatures of Black children around the factory. Despite repeated complaints, the company did little to address the behavior, he said.

“It’s not like they were removing the offensive behavior, they would just let people keep adding and adding,” he said.

After deliberating for about four hours, the jury agreed with Mr. Diaz’s assertion that Tesla had produced a hostile work ecosystem by failing to address the racism he faced, Mr. Organ said. The great majority of the award — $130 million — was punitive damages for the company. The rest was for emotional distress Mr. Diaz suffered, Mr. Organ said.

Despite the abuse he himself faced, Mr. Diaz said he reached a breaking point when he witnessed similar racist epithets directed at his son, Demetric, who secured a job — his first — at the company with Mr. Diaz’s help.

“My son watched his father being broken in front of him,” Mr. Diaz said.

In an internal email to Tesla staff obtained by Mr. Organ and shared with The Times, Valerie Capers Workman, a human resources executive, downplayed the allegations in the lawsuit.

“In addition to Mr. Diaz, three other witnesses (all non-Tesla contract employees) testified at trial that they regularly heard racial slurs (including the N-information) on the Fremont factory floor,” she wrote. “While they all agreed that the use of the N-information was not appropriate in the workplace, they also agreed that most of the time they thought the language was used in a ‘friendly’ manner and usually by African-American colleagues.”

The company, she wrote in the email, was responsive to Mr. Diaz’s complaints, firing two contractors and suspending another. Tesla does not believe the facts justify the verdict, she wrote, but acknowledges that the company was “not perfect” in 2015 and 2016. “We’re nevertheless not perfect,” she additional. “But we have come a long way.”

Mr. Diaz sued Tesla alongside his son and another Black former employee, but only the elder Mr. Diaz’s claims made it to trial. It was not closest clear whether Tesla planned to popularity the decision.

Facebook and its family of apps — including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus — began flickering back online late Monday, after being down for more than five hours and disrupting the digital lives of billions of its users.

A Facebook spokesman confirmed that the sets were slowly coming back online, but warned that it would take some time for them to stabilize. “We’re sorry,” the company said on Twitter.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other apps owned by the social network went down on Monday at around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time.

It was highly uncommon to have so many apps go dark from the world’s largest social media company at the same time. More than 3.5 billion people use Facebook and its apps to communicate with one another and conduct business.

Facebook employees also were cut off from email, internal communication tools, and physical access to building sites because of the outage.

The company did not disclose the cause of the outage. Security experts said the problem most likely stemmed instead from a misconfiguration of Facebook’s server computers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s revised antitrust lawsuit against the company, saying the agency’s complaint nevertheless lacked evidence that the company had violated antitrust laws.

In a filing to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Facebook said the agency failed to provide adequate evidence and examination that the company had a monopoly and harmed rivals by its principal position. The estimate overseeing the case, James E. Boasberg, said in June that the agency had not established Facebook as a monopoly in its original lawsuit but gave the agency a chance to amend its complaint with a stronger examination.

“This court gave the agency a second chance to make a valid claim,” the company said in its filing. “But the same deficiency that was fatal to the F.T.C.’s initial complaint remains: the amended complaint nevertheless pleads no facts plausibly establishing that Facebook has, and at all applicable times had, monopoly strength.”

Facebook’s motion to dismiss the case was widely expected. The company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has promised to fight any government attempt to hobble the company by antitrust action.

The F.T.C., under the new leadership of Lina Khan, refiled the case in August with the same general arguments and with some more examination on market proportion and how Facebook used mergers with Instagram and WhatsApp to “buy or bury” competition. The agency also alleged that Facebook confined competitor apps from plugging into the Facebook platform, starving competition from accessing Facebook’s great user base. The agency said in its suit that Facebook should be broken up.

The estimate has until mid-November to respond to the company’s motion to dismiss the case.

Credit…Robert Fortunato/CBS, via Associated Press

Frances Haugen on Sunday revealed that she was the person who has loudly blown the whistle on Facebook. Until she left in May, she was a product manager on the social network’s civic misinformation team.

She amassed a trove of documents and used them to expose how much the company knew about the harms that it was causing and provided the evidence to lawmakers, regulators and the news media.

The spotlight on Ms. Haugen is set to grow brighter. On Tuesday, she is scheduled to testify in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that was broadcast on Sunday night, Ms. Haugen, 37, said, “I’ve seen a bunch of social networks and it was significantly worse at Facebook than what I had seen before.” She additional, “Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety.”

Ms. Haugen gave many of the Facebook documents to The Wall Street Journal, which last month began publishing the findings. The revelations — including that Facebook knew Instagram was worsening body image issues among teenagers and that it had a two-tier justice system — have spurred criticism from lawmakers, regulators and the public.

She has also filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing Facebook of misleading investors on various issues with public statements that did not match the company’s internal actions.

Credit…Roger Kisby for The New York Times

The federal government’s top auto-safety regulator has declined to open a formal investigation into the fire risk in Tesla vehicles with fully charged batteries after finding no applicable incidents in the United States in the last two years.

The regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, received a appeal in 2019 requesting an investigation following reports of fires in China that started after certain Tesla vehicles had been charged at one of the company’s fast-charging stations.

In documents posted in the Federal Register, the agency said it had found no such incidents in the United States since receiving the appeal.

“The obtainable data indicate that noncrash battery fires in Tesla vehicles are scarce events,” the agency wrote.

Electric vehicles made by Tesla and other manufacturers have been found to sometimes catch fire if their battery packs have been damaged in accidents. These high-voltage fires generate intense heat and can be difficult to put out.

Safety issues have also arisen where accidents are not involved. General Motors recently recalled all 141,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric cars produced since 2017 because the batteries were at risk of overheating and catching fire as a consequence of manufacturing defects.

The appeal requesting an investigation into Teslas was filed by a California lawyer on behalf of a group of Tesla owners. It came after reports surfaced of three fires in China and sought an investigation covering 255,000 form S and form X vehicles produced from 2012 to 2019.

Tesla faces other safety concerns. The agency has opened an investigation of Tesla’s driver-assistance system, Autopilot, to determine whether it has a defect causing it to overlook emergency vehicles on highways. The agency is examining 12 incidents where Teslas using Autopilot have hit police cars, fire trucks or other first-responder vehicles.

Last month, five police officers in Texas filed a lawsuit against Tesla stemming from an incident this year in which a means in Autopilot mode crashed into two police cruisers at a traffic stop.

Credit…Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Ford Motor said Monday that its sales of new vehicles in the United States fell about 27 percent in the three months that ended in September from the same period a year earlier. The drop was in line with the rest of the auto industry, which has been hampered by a global shortage of computer chips.

Ford was forced to idle many of its plants for parts of August and September because it did not have enough electronic parts that use computer chips to control elements such as engines, transmissions and displays. The disruptions left dealers with few cars and trucks to sell.

In the quarter, Ford sold about 400,000 light trucks and cars, down from about 550,000 a year ago. General Motors on Friday reported that its third quarter U.S. sales fell 33 percent. Honda’s sales fell 11 percent and Chrysler’s 19 percent. Toyota reported its sales rose slightly during the quarter, but its total for September declined 22 percent.

But Ford said the supply of parts was improving, as was its inventory of new cars and trucks. It reported having 235,700 cars at the end of September, up from 162,100 at the end of June.

Ford’s lowered sales total resulted in a scarce setback. It ranked fourth in U.S. sales in the quarter, trailing Toyota, G.M., and Stellantis, the company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot SA.

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U.S. Trade Representative Calls Out China for unhealthy Policies

Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, accused Beijing of failing to live up to its commitments under a trade deal signed during the Trump administration, and said that China’s policies were damaging to the U.S. and other “market-based, democratic economies.”

China’s government continues to pour billions of dollars into targeted industries and continues to shape its economy to the will of the state, hurting the interests of workers here in the U.S. and around the world. These policies have strengthened a zero-sum dynamic in the world economy, where China’s growth and wealth come at the expense of workers and economic opportunity, here in the U.S. and other market-based democratic economies. Our strategy must address these concerns, while also being flexible and nimble to confront future challenges from China that may arise. Our objective is not to inflame trade tensions with China. lasting coexistence requires accountability and respect for the enormous consequences of our actions. But above all else, we must defend to the hilt our economic interests.

Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, accused Beijing of failing to live up to its commitments under a trade deal signed during the Trump administration, and said that China’s policies were damaging to the U.S. and other “market-based, democratic economies.”CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The United States will begin talks with China in the coming days as it tries to get Beijing to fulfill commitments it made in a trade deal signed during the Trump administration, Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, said in a speech in Washington on Monday.

Ms. Tai said the United States would also use those talks to raise broader concerns about China’s nonmarket trade practices, including subsidies it provides to Chinese industries. And she made clear that the administration had no plans to closest roll back the tariffs that President Donald J. Trump placed on Chinese goods, though she said the United States would establish a course of action for companies to qualify for special exclusions from the tariffs.

In remarks that laid out the first details on the administration’s approach to trade with China, Ms. Tai said she would use “the complete range of tools we have” to defend American workers from China’s unhealthy policies. She also promised to work with allies and invest heavily in American capacity, including in job training and infrastructure, to better compete with China.

But she gave few policy specifics on what the United States would do beyond seeking to enforce the Phase 1 trade deal signed under Mr. Trump.

China is on speed to fall short of its 2021 purchasing commitments by more than 30 percent, after falling short by more than 40 percent last year, according to Chad P. Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, who tracks the purchases.

Ms. Tai gave a mixed review of Mr. Trump’s trade deal, saying it had focused on “longstanding and serious problems” like intellectual character violations and benefited some industries like U.S. agriculture. But she said it “did not meaningfully address the basic concerns that we have with China’s trade practices and their unhealthy impacts on the U.S. economy.”

She highlighted industries like steel, solar panels and semiconductors, where China has used generous government financing and state-directed purchases to corner global markets and squeeze American competitors.

“Those policies have strengthened a zero-sum dynamic in the world economy where China’s growth and wealth come at the expense of workers and economic opportunity here in the U.S. and other market-based, democratic economies,” Ms. Tai said. “That is why we need to take a new, holistic and pragmatic approach in our relationship with China that can truly further our strategic and economic objectives — for the near-term and the long-term.”

Ms. Tai’s remarks appear to hint at the possibility of a future trade investigation into Chinese subsidies. The U.S. trade representative has been considering starting an investigation under a legal statute known as Section 301, according to people familiar with the deliberations, which could ultimately allow the United States to impose more tariffs or take other punitive actions.

When asked in a question-and-answer session if the United States would pursue a Section 301 investigation, Ms. Tai declined to say but said she would “look at all obtainable tools.”

Stocks on Wall Street dipped on Monday, with the S&P 500, the benchmark U.S. index, losing 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq composite dropping 2.1 percent.

Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft all closed more than 2 percent lower, while Facebook was off 4.9 percent. The biggest tech companies have enormous sway on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 has fallen 5.2 percent since its Sept. 2 record, as investors have weighed concerns about continuing disruptions to the economy and supply chains by the Delta variant and the effects of political brinkmanship on the economy. They have also been eyeing plans by the Federal save to start cutting back — or tapering — the $120 billion in bonds it has been buying each month during the pandemic.

“The rally we’ve had in the stock market has been in the back of supportive policy from the government and central edges,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at Forex.com. “When you move toward tapering, you’re moving toward higher interest rates, and that’s not as advantageous for businesses as that easy money we’ve had in the past year and a half.”

Oil prices rose on Monday, with West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, up 2.3 percent to $77.62 a barrel. The benchmark rose above $78 earlier on Monday, hitting its highest price since 2014. Officials from OPEC, Russia and other oil producers met Monday and decided to stick with their past agreement to only little by little add oil to the market despite rising need for energy. Shares of Devon Energy Corporation attained 5.3 percent, while Diamondback Energy rose 4.6 percent.

On Sunday, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday, appeared on “60 Minutes” to discuss the social media giant’s business practices. “Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety,” Ms. Haugen said on the program. The social media giant’s shares started the day down nearly 4 percent.

Then, Facebook’s apps, which also include Instagram and WhatsApp, went down for an extended period on Monday for many users, dragging its shares already lower. While it is shared for websites to go down briefly, an outage the size and scope of Monday’s is scarce.

A Senate vote on a stand-alone bill that would lift the statutory limit on federal borrowing until December 2022 is expected to fail amid a Republican filibuster. Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has told Congress that if the limit is not raised by Oct. 18 the federal government will default on its debt. President Biden called Republicans “reckless” and “disgraceful” on Monday for obstructing the vote and warned that Americans could see the effects as early as this week if Senate Democrats were not able to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

current supply chain disruptions are also in the back of investors’ minds. Overseas, complete or uncompletely factory shutdowns due to outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, in addition as strength outages, have led to shipping delays and rising costs.

“Where we see November and December going will depend a lot on how companies see their outlook,” said Ms. Cincotta. “We could see some struggles given the headwinds the economy faces as far as the energy crisis and supply chain disruptions are concerned, which won’t be resolved quickly.”

Shares of China Evergrande were suspended on Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Monday after reports of a “major transaction.” The real estate developer has been under close watch by foreign investors after it missed two important interest payments on U.S. dollar bonds.

Yields on government bonds rose as investors sold some of their safer assets. The provide on 10-year Treasury notes rose one basis point, or 0.01 percentage points, to 1.49 percent.

European stock indexes were lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.5 percent.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated the drop in Facebook’s proportion price on Monday. It was 4.9 percent, not 54.9 percent.

Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

Oil prices hit their highest levels since 2014 as officials from OPEC, Russia and other oil producers decided on Monday to stick with their past agreement to only little by little add oil to the market. The announcement came despite rising need for energy as businesses around the world resumed operations.

The 23-member group, known as OPEC Plus, said in a terse news release that it would raise production by a modest 400,000 barrels a day in November, less than 0.5 percent of world need, under a deal reached in July.

In effect, the group shrugged off political and commercial pressure to ramp up oil production to ease a tightening market.

“It’s going to take oil prices sustaining above $80 a barrel for a period of time or pushing severely higher” for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to consider changing its plan, said Richard Bronze, head of geopolitics at Energy Aspects, a research firm.

Oil prices climbed on the news. West Texas Intermediate, the American standard, leapt to about $78 a barrel, its highest level since late 2014, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up nearly 3 percent to $81.56 a barrel. Oil prices have more than doubled in a year.

So far, analysts say, recent increases in the price of oil have not been sufficient to knock OPEC Plus off the course it worked out in July. In addition, prices at these levels are probably a pleasant surprise for the oil producers.

“There are squalls around, but they don’t want to rock the boat,” said Bhushan Bahree, a senior director at IHS Markit, a research firm.

OPEC Plus did little to explain its reasoning. The group said it was “acting in view of current oil market fundamentals.”

Analysts say the group is more careful in its outlook than some industry observers who see need for oil far outstripping supply in the months ahead. Consumption of oil has recovered strongly after crashing 9 percent last year, but the pandemic remains a concern in meaningful oil consuming nations, including the United States.

With oil prices recovering, OPEC and its allies most likely saw little reason to reopen the agreement reached by long and difficult negotiations in July. That deal calls for gradual monthly output increases of 400,000 barrels per day well into next year.

OPEC Plus plans to meet each month to review the plan in case it needs adjusting.

A change of course might have encountered opposition, and it might have provided an opening for new negotiations on quotas from producers that would like higher ceilings — something that Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister, who leads these meetings, most likely wanted to avoid.

however, pressures to open the taps are growing. Signs of distress are emerging in the energy markets.

Already a global crunch in natural gas — a meaningful fuel for generating electric strength — threatens to affect oil prices. British consumers have faced several days of disruption because of a shortage of gasoline that is being blamed on a without of fuel truck drivers.

Damage caused by Hurricane Ida in August to oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico has negated some of the impact of recent production increases by OPEC Plus.

A price jump to $90 a barrel or more might throw cold water on need for oil and prompt a political backlash, including from the United States, some analysts say.

OPEC Plus could confront louder calls for bigger increases at the group’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 4.

States and cities that have been slow to spread emergency rental assistance funds will have to submit improvement plans or confront the prospect of having the money redistributed to other places next month, the Treasury Department said Monday.

The Biden administration has been trying to get the $46.5 billion of relief funds flowing faster amid the recent expiration of a federal moratorium on evictions. by August, just $7.7 billion has been distributed, and the Treasury Department is now essentially telling local governments to use it or lose it.

In a letter to officials across the country, Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, said that some grant recipients had not done enough to spread the money and that, in some situations, states and cities had gotten more money than they needed.

Treasury is giving local officials a chance to develop improvement plans and adopt the department’s recommendations for doling out the funds more quickly. States and cities that are responsible for disbursing the funds must show that they have obligated at the minimum 65 percent of the money that they received or that they have already distributed 30 percent of the money to eligible households.

The Treasury Department will begin clawing back funds and reallocating the money on Nov. 15.

A Treasury official said the prospect of losing the funds had led states and cities to pick up the speed of getting the money out the door. The department will aim to reallocate to jurisdictions within states that have been using it most effectively and that are most in need, the official said.

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Global Trade Recovery Is ‘Strong but Unequal,’ W.T.O. Says

The World Trade Organization’s director general said global trade recovered faster than expected in the first half of 2021, but that rough vaccine access was exacerbating an economic divergence across regions.

With two quarters of trade and G.D.P. data for 2021 already in hand, it has become clear that the speed of trade recovery is closer to our optimistic scenario from March. This has led the W.T.O. to upgrade its projections for merchandise trade in 2021 and 2022. Our economists now calculate that the quantity of world merchandise trade will increase by 10.8 percent in 2021, and then by 4.7 percent in 2022. These upward revisions to our merchandise trade numbers are good news, but not cause for complacency about the global economy or the multilateral trading system. The trade recovery is strong but unequal, mirroring the K-shaped recovery in global economic output. Some regions, those with access to vaccines and sufficient fiscal space are recovering strongly, while poorer regions with mostly unvaccinated populations are lagging behind. additionally, the risks to the outlook are firmly on the downside. The pandemic itself is far from over, and new outbreaks and variants of Covid-19 could weigh on trade and output by 2022.

The World Trade Organization’s director general said global trade recovered faster than expected in the first half of 2021, but that rough vaccine access was exacerbating an economic divergence across regions.CreditCredit…Alan Devall/Reuters

Global trade recovered from its pandemic lows faster than expected in the first half of 2021 and is set to grow more quickly than expected next year, lifting global growth forecasts, the World Trade Organization said Monday.

The W.T.O. now forecasts global merchandise trade to grow 10.8 percent in 2021, up from the 8 percent it forecast in March, as the flow of goods recovers from last year’s slump. Global trade is expected to rise 4.7 percent in 2022 as the growth rate approaches its prepandemic trend, the W.T.O. said.

That trade growth has not been equal as a consequence of the pandemic, the group said, with developing regions in particular lagging behind because of lower vaccination rates, and supply chain disruptions continuing to weigh on trade in some areas.

In remarks on Monday, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the W.T.O. director general, said rough access to vaccines was exacerbating an economic divergence across regions. She urged the group’s members to come together to agree on a foundation for more rapid vaccine production and equitable dispensing.

“This is necessary to sustain the global economic recovery,” she said. “Vaccine policy is economic policy — and trade policy.”

More than six billion doses of the vaccine have been produced and administered worldwide, the W.T.O. said, but only 2.2 percent of people in low-income countries have received at the minimum one measure.

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Shares of China Evergrande were halted on Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Monday pending a deal, as doubts swirled over whether the struggling character giant would be able to meet its immense financial obligations.

Evergrande said in a filing that its shares were halted ahead of an announcement about a “major transaction.” It gave no additional details.

The real estate developer — once China’s most prolific — has been under close watch by foreign investors and local regulators after it missed two important interest payments on U.S. dollar bonds. The missed payments may not necessarily cause a default because they each have a 30-day grace period before the missing payment would be considered a default.

Evergrande is under pressure from contractors and employees who are owed more than $300 billion in unpaid bills, in addition as home buyers who are waiting on as many as 1.6 million unfinished apartments. In recent days, Wall Street edges and financial sleuths have been uncovering other limitations that Evergrande may have in the form of guarantees that may add to its towering debt pile.

The company has not addressed its missed bond payments but said last week that it had sold a stake in a Chinese bank for $1.5 billion, which would go to pay some of its debts. Investors who are owed payments said they had not heard anything from the company, either.

Many of them have become increasingly pessimistic of a scenario where Beijing would step in to save Evergrande. It has hired restructuring experts to “analyze all possible options” for its future.

“I don’t expect payments will be made because the group has to be restructured,” said Michel Löwy, chief executive of SC Lowy, an investment firm that has a position in Evergrande bonds.

“I think it’s going to be a major hit for bondholders,” said Mr. Löwy, who said he was much more negative about the situation as more information has emerged about the quality of the land that Evergrande owns but has in addition to develop. A restructuring of the complete sprawling real estate empire “would be very difficult to monetize,” he said.

Credit…Steve Fecht/General Motors/Via Reuters

Engine No. 1, the activist investment firm that made its name by successfully taking on Exxon Mobil, announced on Monday that it has taken a stake in General Motors. Unlike its bruising battle with Exxon, the buy was pitched as a show of sustain for the automaker’s change to electric vehicles.

G.M.’s stock rose by about 3 percent in early trading.

Activist investors more often take a stake in a company to lobby for management to make changes, not to endorse its strategy. Engine No. 1’s move also provides investors new information about how the upstart firm, which contributes its green credentials, values companies, at a time when corporate America is incorporating social and environmental factors into traditional financial measures.

In a white paper released ahead of the automaker’s investor day on Wednesday, Engine No. 1 argued that G.M. merited a higher valuation because of its extent and the commitments it had made to shifting to electric cars.

G.M.’s market capitalization is $77 billion, or about a tenth the value of Tesla’s.

“With General Motors, you have a management team and a board who has decided to really go all in on E.V.s — and to truly be a disrupter within their own industry,” Engine No. 1’s founder, Chris James, told the DealBook newsletter.

In January, G.M. became the first traditional auto company to commit to selling only zero-emission vehicles by 2035, an announcement that piqued Engine No. 1’s interest. The carmaker plans to use $35 billion on electric and independent vehicles and build four battery plants in the United States by 2025.

Engine No. 1 first took a stake in G.M. in the first quarter. It declined to disclose the size of its position, but said it is among the three largest in its private fund. (The firm’s locaiongs have been comparatively small so far, including the stake it used to win board seats at Exxon.)

The firm has met informally with the carmaker’s management, including its chief executive, Mary Barra, and has no plans to start a proxy fight as it did at Exxon, Mr. James said.

“There is a very strong contrast here between the two companies,” Mr. James said, referring to Exxon and G.M. “A lot of it has to do with Mary, who is just a great leader, and having a board that is forward looking and willing to accept change and risk.”

Funding G.M.’s electric-means initiatives has become trickier lately, as G.M.’s finances are dented by the semiconductor shortage. Electric vehicles also keep a small sliver of total U.S. auto sales, held back in part by a without of charging stations, one of the many pieces of infrastructure in limbo amid congressional infighting.

“There are nevertheless challenges, unquestionably, and a supportive policy will move this faster,” Mr. James said. “But it’s now unavoidable.”

Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times
  • OPEC meeting: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are expected to review their oil output policy as energy prices soar. The cartel could revise its agreement to increase production each month by 400,000 barrels a day. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, recently hit their highest level in almost three years.

  • Hollywood strike: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union representing more than 150,000 TV and film production workers, could vote to authorize a strike. The union, which has been working without a contract since mid-September, is negotiating on issues including excessive hours and reduced pay on streaming projects.

  • Facebook hearing: A Facebook whistle-blower will testify at a Senate hearing about the company’s effect on young users. The hearing comes after The Wall Street Journal reported on internal company documents detailing Facebook’s research on the negative impact of its Instagram app on teenage girls and others.

  • Elizabeth Holmes trial: The fraud trial of the Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will head into its fifth week. So far, jurors have heard detailed technical accounts from former employees of the problems with Theranos’s blood tests, including that machines that failed quality control tests and delivered inaccurate results.

  • Levi Strauss earnings: The clothing retailer is set to report its financial performance for the quarter ending August. Investors are looking out for any signs of supply chain disruptions, which have plagued other retailers as factories in Vietnam and China have slightly or completely shut down following coronavirus outbreaks and strength outages.

  • Justice Department Nominee: Jonathan Kanter, President Biden’s appointee to rule the Justice Department’s antitrust division, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing. Mr. Kanter’s critics are likely to question whether his past work as a corporate lawyer against American tech giants is a conflict of interest that should keep him out of investigations into these companies.

  • Jobs report: The Labor Department is expected to release its monthly jobs report for September. The report for August showed a hiring slowdown. Economists are forecasting that the U.S. economy additional 450,000 jobs during the month, a sharp gain from the 235,000 additional in August but nevertheless below the growth rates seen earlier in the spring and summer.

Credit…Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The cryptocurrency industry has been up in arms over a tax-reporting provision in the infrastructure bill working its way by Congress.

The hypothesizedv bill defines a “broker” in a way that would apply to everyone involved in a crypto transaction, including software developers of decentralized finance platforms and Bitcoin miners. It is damaging and impractical to require these players to report tax data on users that they do not know, crypto advocates have argued.

A bug in a popular protocol’s code, discovered during a recent upgrade, has undermined the industry’s claims, the DealBook newsletter reports.

Last week, a flaw in the code of the automated money market protocol Compound, which has $15 billion in assets, led to tens of millions of dollars worth of its crypto token erroneously going to some users. Compound’s chief, Robert Leshner, tweeted that anyone who didn’t voluntarily return the money would be reported to the I.R.S., seemingly undermining claims that identifying users of decentralized crypto platforms like Compound is impossible.

“This episode shows that the current without of tax reporting by major cryptocurrency platforms aren’t technological limitations,” said Alexis Goldstein of the Open Markets Institute. “They’re design decisions.”

Mr. Leshner said that his tweet was “misconstrued,” adding that anyone could clarify the public Ethereum addresses that interact with the Compound protocol, and whether they engaged with popular exchanges like Coinbase that collect information about users. Mr. Leshner said he “intended to suggest” that given the likelihood of interaction with a centralized exchange, “anyone could point to which addresses received an unexpected windfall.”

The episode exposed the vulnerabilities of automated crypto financial systems, just as regulators, alarmed by the different ecosystems being built on the blockchain, plan to issue a series of reports this fall outlining new rules for the future of finance.

Do crypto’s benefits offset its important energy demands? The Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and the DealBook team estimate the industry’s impact and look at innovations for a cleaner future.

already as global warming melts the ice that covers 80 percent of Greenland, the world wants its potentially abundant reserves of hard-to-find minerals — so-called scarce earths, used in wind turbines, electric motors and many other electronic devices, that are basic raw materials as the world tries to break its addiction to fossil fuels.

But mining projects have side effects, and proposals that threaten the ecosystem or livelihoods may run into trouble from local people who are quite capable of standing up to powerful interests. READ THE ARTICLE →



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