Category Archives: Економика

экономические новости

Stores Hoping People Keep Shopping Offer Cyber Monday Deals

After offering online deals for days, retailers are rolling out even more promotions for Cyber Monday, hoping to keep people buying stuff on their smartphones or computers.

Shoppers are expected to spend $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, up more than 16 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, the research arm of software maker Adobe. And more people will be picking up their phones to shop: Web traffic from smartphones and tablets is expected to top desktop computers for the first time this year, Adobe said.

At the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday, Kathy Lewis was there not to shop but to get her nails done. Her plan is to make her big purchases on Cyber Monday, including the newest model Nerf gun for her boyfriend’s nephew. Lewis said she gave up years ago on waiting in line at Toys “R” Us.

“It’s so hard to get in and out of there to me,” said Lewis, adding, “If you look online, you get the same price you get on Black Friday.”

Lewis did brave a very crowded Best Buy on Friday in search of a 32-inch television for another of her boyfriend’s relatives. But after checking the price, she’s holding off for Monday. Her plan is to scan the websites of Toys `R’ Us and Best Buy and then Amazon before making her final decision.

As part of their Cyber Monday deals, Target and Toys “R” Us are offering 15 percent off most items on their sites. Walmart.com has tripled the amount of items available for sale from last year. And Amazon – which Bain & Co. says is expected to capture 50 percent of all online sales growth – will offer similar deals on its gadgets as it did on Black Friday, but offer new deals on Lego sets and Hasbro games.

The shift to online shopping has been noticeable at some stores since the holiday shopping season kicked off. At a Toys “R” Us in Toledo, Ohio, on Friday morning, the parking lot was about half full. Melissa Wetzel, who said she would also do some shopping online, said her Black Friday in-store shopping runs had been relaxing since she didn’t have to fight the crowds.

“It’s been pretty easy,” she said. “I guess most are shopping online.”

Advocates say Texas Exploiting Day Laborers After Harvey

Guillermo Miranda Vazquez starts his day in a parking lot near the Home Depot where he easily finds work alongside other day laborers who are cleaning up Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

Some days, he clears rotted drywall and hauls out furniture and carpet destroyed by Harvey’s floodwaters. Other days, he chops fallen trees or helps to lay the foundations for new homes. He ventures daily into homes wearing a T-shirt, work pants and tennis shoes, often while surrounded by the pungent stench and raw sewage that flowed into homes during the flooding.

 

“I always wash and scrub myself, and I use alcohol or something similar so that I don’t get infected,” said Miranda, a native of Guatemala. “I haven’t gotten sick yet.”

 

Hundreds of day laborers like Miranda have quietly become an integral part of the recovery from Harvey, toiling in dangerous conditions amid the fear of being picked up by immigration authorities.

 

Harvey damaged or destroyed 200,000 homes and flooded much of Houston and smaller coastal communities with record amounts of rain and high winds. In a construction industry that already had labor shortages before the storm, it created a massive demand for the kind of work that day laborers have long performed after hurricanes and tropical storms.

Day laborers interviewed by The Associated Press said they’ve been hired by a mix of individual homeowners, work crews from out of state, and subcontractors working on residential and commercial buildings. Mostly immigrants, they operate in plain sight, gathering early in the morning in parking lots near construction stores and gas stations, and waiting to be offered work.

 

Advocates from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network recently fanned out to these sites with pens and clipboards to survey the workers about the conditions they’re experiencing. Interviews suggested most are routinely exposed to mold and contamination, and aren’t aware of legal protections they have even if they’re not in the country legally. Advocates have been passing out flyers with information and holding worker trainings.

About a quarter of the more than 350 workers surveyed said they had been denied wages promised for cleanup work after Harvey, sometimes by employers who abandoned them at work sites after they had completed a job, according to a report on the survey by Nik Theodore, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Around 85 percent had not received safety training.

 

More than 70 percent of the day laborers are in the U.S. illegally, some of them having previously been deported, the survey found. Their wages have stayed at around $100 a day, according to the survey, though some individual laborers said they were being paid more after the hurricane.

The problems they face have cropped up after every major recent storm. Day laborers were an integral part of Houston’s rebuilding after Hurricane Ike in 2008 and more recent storms that flooded neighborhoods in 2015 and 2016. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one survey found that workers without legal authorization were being paid less and were less likely to have protective equipment than those who were in the country legally.

 

But while the federal government temporarily suspended some work-authorization laws after Katrina, the Trump administration ramped up immigration-related arrests this year and resumed field operations after Harvey. And Texas this year passed a law that prohibits police departments from stopping their officers from asking people about their legal status or cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Much of the law took effect a month after Harvey hit, when an appeals court overruled a federal judge’s ruling against it.

 

Martin Mares, a native of Mexico who settled in Houston in 1995, said he’s not worried about police stopping him or turning him over to immigration authorities while in the city, which joined several others in fighting the new law in court. But he said he’s concerned about working in the suburbs or outlying areas, where law enforcement was more supportive of it.

The demand for labor has also drawn in people who are unaccustomed to the work and untrained in basic safety measures, Mares said. He recently saw a pregnant woman cleaning an apartment building that had flooded without wearing gloves.

 

“People don’t analyze it. They don’t see the consequences,” Mares said. “They go to work without knowing whether the business will even pay them.”

 

In Houston, which has an estimated 600,000 residents who are in the country illegally, community leaders worry about the impact of immigration policies on worker safety. Even day laborers without legal residency are entitled to federal protections against wage theft and safety hazards.

 

“These people are scared,” said Stan Marek, who owns a Houston-based construction company and has long pushed for a program to legalize workers. “They’re not going to go to the police if they get robbed. It’s a formula for disaster in our community.”

 

Sitting on the curb outside the Home Depot recently, Miranda said he has often dealt with employers — or “patrones” — who didn’t pay what they promised, but that he hadn’t reported anyone to the police.

 

“This is a country where I’m here as an immigrant. I don’t have anything,” Miranda said. “The day they catch me, they’ll deport me.”

 

 

 

Dry Weekend Draws US Shoppers Even as Online Sales Boom

The driest Thanksgiving weekend in five years may have helped holiday shopping, despite an overall decline in foot traffic. But some shoppers just took notes in the hopes of finding an even better deal online.

 

That’s a consequence of Amazon continuing to squeeze prices, exacerbating the “showrooming” practice of people getting ideas at brick-and-mortar stores, then buying online.

 

Heather Just and husband Dominic of Rockford, Illinois, brought their twin 11-year-old boys and 13-year-old son to the giant Water Tower Place on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on Saturday to see “what their eyes get big about.”

 

The excursion was more recon mission than shopping spree. “We’re watching, we’re watching,” she told her sons, who focused their attention on a Nintendo Switch portable game console.

 

Amaz-ing prices

 

Amazon continues to beat prices at other retailers in many cases, according to marketing technology company Boomerang Commerce.

 

For example, it pointed out that Amazon cut prices on Beats Solo 3 wireless headphones. The Associated Press found them on Amazon selling for $200, $10 below BestBuy.com, and $40 below the Black Friday deal at Target.

 

But Walmart isn’t far behind in high-tech price matching. Following its purchase of Jet.com last year for $3.3 billion, the company can now quickly ratchet prices down on popular items using machine-learning algorithms, while maintaining profit margins on lesser-trafficked items.

 

The technology has set up Walmart and Amazon for a “clash of the titans” in online sales where consumer perceptions of prices are formed, according to Boomerang’s vice president of marketing, Gary Liu.

 

“You can’t compete in the same way you did before,” Liu said.

 

Online supplements offline

 

Steve Hagan, a general contractor from Richmond, Kentucky, said his 9-year-old son, Luke, and 8-year-old daughter, Lauren, used their own money and gift cards to buy toys on a Chicago shopping trip from the Star Wars and Bitty Baby brands. But he was keeping track of where Santa could digitally fill in the blanks.

 

“That baby doll may need some accessories and I had to ask Luke which Star Wars character he was getting and which one he already has,” said Hagan, adding that he’ll shop online later. “I’m taking notes.”

 

Lisa Stripling, of South Bend, Indiana, said her goal was to see what her 3 1/2-year-old grandson Max liked and buy it online.

 

“I used to do most of my shopping in stores and now it’s 75 percent online and 25 percent in the stores,” she said.

 

Weather cooperating

 

Rainfall from Thanksgiving through the weekend was the lowest since 2013, and snowfall was the lowest in over 20 years, boosting foot traffic to malls and restaurants, according to weather analytics firm Planalytics.

 

Cold, dry conditions in the populous northeast bolstered the holiday shopping spirit, because it “drives more people to apparel” as they bundle up, according to Planalytics president Scott Bernhardt.

 

Nationally, it was the warmest Black Friday weekend since 2001.

 

Despite the favorable conditions, foot traffic to stores nationwide for the Thanksgiving Day through Saturday fell 3.1 percent from a year ago, according to store visitation tracker RetailNext Inc. It partly blamed the creep of sales events into the first week of November for the decline, though foot traffic has fallen four years in a row.

 

Strong results

 

Daniel Ives, head of technology research for GBH Insights, said Amazon was posting stronger-than-expected sales, and at this pace, it could beat fourth-quarter sales estimates by 5 percent.

 

Jon Abt, co-president of Glenview, Illinois-based Abt Electronics, said sales from Friday through Sunday were up about 14 percent from a year ago, driven by higher-priced TVs from LG and Sony, video game consoles such as Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One S and smart speakers from Amazon, Google and Sonos.

 

A few management decisions have kept the 81-year-old single-location retailer thriving: Abt shuns doorbuster specials with limited-supply items that can run out and disappoint shoppers. It also has resisted the creep of sales starting earlier and earlier (the store is closed Thanksgiving Day).

 

And Abt says the store has more than 100 terminals to let people price-shop as much as they like, which the store will match.

 

“We invite people to use the internet if they want to,” Abt said. “If they’re not going to do it in here, they’re doing it at home.”

 

After the Wildfires, California Winemakers Open for Business

Wildfires that swept through Northern California in early October killed 42 people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage to the region. The fires have also frozen an income stream the region relies on: tourism. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

US Black Friday, Thanksgiving Online Sales Hit Record

Black Friday and Thanksgiving online sales in the United States surged to record highs as shoppers bagged deep discounts and bought more on their mobile devices, heralding a promising start to the key holiday season, according to retail analytics firms.

U.S. retailers raked in a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving, up 17.9 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions at the largest 100 U.S. web retailers, Saturday.

Adobe said Cyber Monday is expected to drive $6.6 billion in internet sales, which would make it the largest U.S. online shopping day in history.

Traditional retailers prepared

In the run-up to the holiday weekend, traditional retailers invested heavily in improving their websites and bulking up delivery options, pre-empting a decline in visits to brick-and-mortar stores. Several chains tightened store inventories as well, to ward off any post-holiday liquidation that would weigh on profits.

TVs, laptops, toys and gaming consoles — particularly the PlayStation 4 — were among the most heavily discounted and the biggest sellers, according to retail analysts and consultants.

Commerce marketing firm Criteo said 40 percent of Black Friday online purchases were made on mobile phones, up from 29 percent last year.

No brick-and-mortar data yet

No brick-and-mortar sales data for Thanksgiving or Black Friday was immediately available, but Reuters reporters and industry analysts noted anecdotal signs of muted activity — fewer cars in mall parking lots, shoppers leaving stores without purchases in hand.

Stores offered heavy discounts, creative gimmicks and free gifts to draw bargain hunters out of their homes, but some shoppers said they were just browsing the merchandise, reserving their cash for internet purchases. There was little evidence of the delirious shopper frenzy customary of Black Fridays from past years.

Store traffic bucks predictions

However, retail research firm ShopperTrak said store traffic fell less than 1 percent on Black Friday, bucking industry predictions of a sharper decline.

“There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail,” Brian Field, ShopperTrak’s senior director of advisory services, said.

“The fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and when done right, it is profitable.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF), which had predicted strong holiday sales helped by rising consumer confidence, said Friday that fair weather across much of the nation had also helped draw shoppers into stores.

The NRF, whose overall industry sales data is closely watched each year, is scheduled to release Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales numbers Tuesday.

U.S. consumer confidence has been strengthening over this past year, thanks to a labor market that is churning out jobs, rising home prices and stock markets that are hovering at record highs.

On Monday, Who’s the Boss at Consumer Rights Agency?

Who’s the boss? That’s the awkward question after the departing head of a government agency charged with looking after consumer rights appointed a deputy to temporarily fill his spot. The White House then named its own interim leader.

One job, two people — and two very different views on how to do it.

The first pick is expected to continue the aggressive policing of banks and other lenders that have angered Republicans. The second, President Donald Trump’s choice, has called the agency a “joke,” an example of bureaucracy run amok, and is expected to dismantle much of what the agency has done.

So come Monday, who will be leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

​Both say law on their side

Senior Trump administration officials said Saturday that the law was on their side and they expect no trouble when Trump’s pick for temporary director of the CFPB shows up for work. Departing director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee long criticized by Congressional Republicans as overzealous, had cited a different rule in saying the law was on his side.

In tendering his resignation Friday, Cordray elevated Leandra English, who was the agency’s chief of staff, into the deputy director position. Citing the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, he said English, an ally of his, would become acting director upon his departure.

Corday’s move was widely seen as an attempt to stop Trump from shaping the agency in the months ahead.

The White House cites the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. Administration officials on Saturday acknowledged that some other laws appear to clash with Vacancies Act, but said that in this case the president’s authority takes precedence.

Important, though temporary, job

Who prevails in the legal wrangling is seen as important even though this involves just a temporary posting. Getting a permanent replacement approved by the Senate could take months.

The president’s pick for temporary appointee, Mick Mulvaney, had been widely anticipated. Mulvaney, currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been an outspoken critic of the agency and is expected to pull back on many of Cordray’s actions in the six years since he was appointed.

Trump announced he was picking Mulvaney within a few hours of Cordray’s announcement Friday.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick,” Trump tweeted Saturday from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending a long Thanksgiving weekend. “Financial Institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!”

The administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the White House’s thinking, called Trump’s appointment of an acting director a “routine move.” They said the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has already approved Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney and will issue a written legal opinion soon.

The clashing appointments raise the question: What happens when the two new heads show up and try to sit at the same desk and give orders?

One of the administration officials said Mulvaney was expected to start working Monday and that English was expected to also show up — but as deputy director.

Leandra English

English is a trusted lieutenant of Cordray’s who has helped investigate and punish financial companies in ways that many Republicans, Mulvaney in particular, think go too far. In his announcement Friday, Cordray highlighted English’s “in-depth” knowledge of the agency’s operations and its staff. Before joining the CFPB, English served at the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management.

“Leandra is a seasoned professional who has spent her career of public service focused on promoting smooth and efficient operations,” Cordray said in the statement.

Mick Mulvaney

Mulvaney was a South Carolina representative to the House before becoming head of the budget office. A founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, he was elected in 2010 as part of a tea party wave that brought many critics of the U.S. budget deficit to office. He has taken a hard line on federal spending matters, routinely voting against increasing the government’s borrowing cap and pressing for major cuts to benefit programs as the path to balancing the budget.

He also has been unsparing in his criticism of the CFPB. In a widely quoted comment, he once blasted the agency as “joke,” saying its lack of oversight by Congress and its far-reaching regulations had gone too far.

“The place is a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody,” he told the Credit Union Times in 2014. “It turns up being a joke in a sick, sad kind of way.”

Congress weighs in

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a longtime critic of Cordray, said Mulvaney would “fight not only to protect consumers from force, fraud, and deception but will protect them from government interference with competitive, innovative markets and help preserve their fundamental economic opportunities and liberties.”

Democrats have seized upon Mulvaney’s words in criticizing his appointment to the agency.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, issued a statement Saturday calling Mulvaney “unacceptable” to lead the CFPB because of his “noxious” views toward its mission to protect consumers.

“He was also the original co-sponsor of a bill to completely eliminate the Consumer Bureau,” she wrote, “and supported other legislation to harmfully roll back Wall Street reform.”

Head of Consumer Watchdog Names Successor, Trump Names Another

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resigned Friday and named his own successor, leading to an open conflict with President Donald Trump, who announced a different person as acting head of the agency later in the day.

That means there are now effectively two acting directors of the CFPB, when there should only be one.

Typically an acting director position would be filled according to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. But Richard Cordray, along with his resignation, elevated Leandra English, who was the agency’s chief of staff, into the deputy director position.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, English would become acting director. Cordray, an Obama appointee, specifically cited the law when he moved English, a longtime CFPB employee and ally of his, into that position.

​Trump appoints CFPB critic

Within a few hours, President Donald Trump announced his own acting director of the agency, Mick Mulvaney, who is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney had widely been expected to be Trump’s temporary pick for the bureau until a permanent one could be found.

Mulvaney is a long-time critic of the CFPB, and has wanted the agency’s authority significantly curtailed. So the difference between English and Mulvaney running the agency would be significant.

Senate confirmation needed

The person nominated to be director of the CFPB requires confirmation by the Senate, and it could be many weeks or months before the person would be able to step into the role permanently. Cordray’s move was aimed at allowing his favored successor to keep running the agency for as long as possible before a Trump appointee is confirmed by the Senate.

Cordray had announced earlier this month that he would resign by the end of this month. There is wide speculation that Cordray, a Democrat, is resigning in order to run for governor in his home state of Ohio.

What CFPB does

The CFPB was created as part of the laws passed following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The agency was given a broad mandate to be a watchdog for consumers when they deal with banks and credit card, student loan and mortgage companies, as well as debt collectors and payday lenders. Nearly every American who deals with banks or a credit card company or has a mortgage has been affected by new rules the agency put in place.

Cordray used that mandate aggressively as its first director, which often made him a target for the banking industry’s Washington lobbyists and congressional Republicans who believed Cordray was overreaching in his role, calling the CFPB a “rogue agency.”

As director, he also was able to extract billions of dollars in settlements from banks, debt collectors and other financial services companies for wrongdoing. When Wells Fargo was found to have opened millions of phony accounts for its customers, the CFPB fined the bank $100 million, the agency’s largest penalty to date.

Trump Wants to End Welfare of Clinton Era

Overhauling welfare was one of the defining goals of Bill Clinton’s presidency, starting with a campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it,” continuing with a bitter policy fight and producing change that remains hotly debated 20 years later.

Now, President Donald Trump wants to put his stamp on the welfare system, apparently in favor of a more restrictive policy. He says “people are taking advantage of the system.”

Trump, who has been signaling interest in the issue for some time, said this past week that he wants to tackle the issue after the tax overhaul he is seeking by the end of the year. He said changes were “desperately needed in our country” and that his administration would soon offer plans.

​Work on new policy begins

For now, the president has not offered details. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said more specifics were likely early next year. But the groundwork has begun at the White House and Trump has made his interest known to Republican lawmakers.

Paul Winfree, director of budget policy and deputy director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, told a recent gathering at the conservative Heritage Foundation that he and another staffer had been charged with “working on a major welfare reform proposal.” He said they have drafted an executive order on the topic that would outline administration principles and direct agencies to come up with recommendations.

“The president really wants to lead on this,” Winfree said. “He has delivered that message loud and clear to us. We’ve opened conversations with leadership in Congress to let them know that that is the direction we are heading.”

Trump said in October that welfare was “becoming a very, very big subject, and people are taking advantage of the system.”

​Clinton’s campaign promise

Clinton ran in 1992 on a promise to change the system but struggled to get consensus on a bill, with Democrats divided and Republicans pushing aggressive changes. Four years later, he signed a law that replaced a federal entitlement with grants to the states, placed a time limit on how long families could get aid and required recipients to go to work eventually.

It has drawn criticism from some liberal quarters ever since. During her presidential campaign last year, Democrat Hillary Clinton faced activists who argued that the law fought for by her husband punished poor people.

No evidence of fraud

Kathryn Edin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has been studying welfare since the 1990s, said the law’s legacy has been to limit the cash assistance available to the very poor and has never become a “springboard to work.” She questioned what kinds of changes could be made, arguing that welfare benefits are minimal in many states and there is little evidence of fraud in other anti-poverty programs.

Still, Edin said that welfare has “never been popular even from its inception. It doesn’t sit well with Americans in general.”

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at Heritage, said he would like to see more work requirements for a range of anti-poverty programs and stronger marriage incentives, as well as strategies to improve results for social programs and to limit waste. He said while the administration could make some adjustments through executive order, legislation would be required for any major change.

“This is a good system,” he said. “We just need to make this system better.”

Administration officials have suggested they are eyeing anti-poverty programs. Trump’s initial 2018 budget proposal, outlined in March, sought to sharply reduce spending for Medicaid, food stamps and student loan subsidies, among other programs.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney said this year, “If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work.”