April 19, 2018

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed in March

The deficit with China hit a three-year low.

The overall trade deficit decreased to $38.83 billion, an 11 percent drop from $43.6 billion in February, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Exports fell 0.9 percent, to $184.3 billion as sales of machinery, autos and farm products all declined.

Imports fell 2.8 percent, to $223.1 billion, led by a 4.4 percent drop in foreign petroleum. Crude oil imports averaged just seven million barrels a day, the lowest since March 1996.

A smaller trade gap can increase overall economic growth as American companies earn more from overseas sales while American consumers and businesses spend less on foreign products.

For the first three months of this year, the trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $507.7 billion, 5.9 percent below last year’s deficit of $539.5 billion. Economists are looking for the deficit to narrow slightly this year, in part because they expect continued gains in American exports.

Analysts said the lower-than-expected deficit in March will most likely give a slight boost to overall economic growth for the January-March quarter. The government’s first estimate put economic growth at 2.5 percent in the first quarter but some analysts said that could be revised up to perhaps 2.7 percent because of the lower trade deficit in March.

The politically vulnerable deficit with China shrank 23.6 percent in March, to $17.9 billion, still far above the imbalance with any other country.

Separately, the Labor Department reported Thursday that the productivity of American workers barely grew from January through March after shrinking in the final three months of 2012. Weak productivity growth could prompt employers to hire more if consumers and businesses continue to increase spending.

Worker productivity rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter, after shrinking 1.7 percent in the previous quarter.

Labor costs increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.5 percent, below the fourth quarter’s 4.4 percent gain.

Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. It increased because output rose at a faster pace than hours worked.

The trend in productivity has been fairly weak in recent years. For all of 2012, productivity rose just 0.7 percent, after an even smaller 0.6 percent rise in 2011.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/business/economy/us-trade-deficit-narrowed-in-march.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Declines to Say China Manipulates Its Currency

Opinion »

Room for Debate: Charity in Tight Times

Can philanthropy make up for government cuts?

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/business/global/us-declines-to-say-china-manipulates-its-currency.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Consumer Price Inflation Slowed Last Month in China

Opinion »

Editorial: A Test on the Right to Vote

The Supreme Court will reckon with Congress’s power to address persistent discrimination.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/business/global/consumer-price-inflation-slowed-last-month-in-china.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wal-Mart Discloses Internal Investigation

The company said that its investigation was a result of a voluntary internal review of its global anticorruption practices this year along with information “from other sources.”

“The company has begun an internal investigation into whether certain matters, including permitting, licensing and inspections, were in compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” the filing read.

The act forbids bribing foreign officials, among other items.

The company did not disclose which foreign country or countries its investigation pertained to. International business made up about 30 percent of Wal-Mart’s sales in the most recent quarter, and was the fastest-growing part of the company, with sales increasing 20 percent from the same quarter a year earlier. The biggest jumps in sales came in China, Mexico and Argentina.

As part of the review, “we are taking a deep look at our policies and procedures in every country in which we operate,” a Wal-Mart spokesman, David Tovar, said in an e-mail.

“Our investigation is currently focused on discrete incidents in specific areas. We intend to keep federal authorities apprised of what we learn,” Mr. Tovar said. “Although, based on the facts currently known, we do not believe these matters will have a material impact on our business, we decided it was appropriate to disclose the internal investigation to our shareholders.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a312e9768e1283b90fd28804074f7488

Deere’s Profit Rises 46%

The quarterly results beat analysts’ expectations, and Deere shares rose nearly 4 percent on a down day on Wall Street.

The company said Wednesday that equipment sales were up 20 percent in the quarter. That included 14 percent sales growth in the United States and Canada, and 31 percent growth in the rest of the world outside those two countries.

The sales growth helped Deere generate net income of $670 million, or $1.62 a share, for the three months ended Oct. 31, up from $457 million, or $1.07 a share, a year ago.

Revenue grew 20 percent to $8.6 billion, from $7.2 billion a year ago. Both sales volume and equipment prices increased.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of $1.43 a share on revenue of $7.91 billion.

Deere said equipment sales would increase about 15 percent in the 2012 fiscal year and profit would grow to $3.2 billion, from $2.8 billion in the 2011 fiscal year.

The earnings statement from Deere, the world’s largest maker of agricultural equipment, offers an indication of how well farmers worldwide are doing. Deere said it expected farmers to have another good year in 2012 because the demand for agricultural commodities remained strong.

Deere said it projected that net American farm income would decline slightly to roughly $109.2 billion in 2012, from the estimated $115.7 billion in 2011.

To help meet the growing demand, Deere announced plans in 2011 to build new manufacturing plants in Brazil, China and India.

For Deere’s 2011 fiscal year, the company reported net income of $2.8 billion, or $6.63 a share. That is higher than the previous year’s $1.87 billion.

Its shares rose $2.80 to $74.72 on Wednesday.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=5d66320a3d506f8d4f904a7d2bd5540e

Economix Blog: Do Parents Put Too Much Pressure on Students?


Even Tiger Moms seem to think they’re pressuring their kids too much.

That is one possible reading of a new Pew Research Center global survey of parents’ attitudes to the pressured placed on students.

The survey, conducted March 18 to May 15 by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, found that China was the only one of 21 countries or territories where a majority believes parents put too much pressure on students to do well in school. In China, 68 percent of adults think parents pressure students too much, and just 11 percent think they don’t push them hard enough.

On the other side of the spectrum is the United States, where more than 6 in 10 Americans say parents do not put enough pressure on their children.

It’s hard to know what to make of these attitudes. The countries where people are most likely to say students are pressured too much do have reputations for being pressure-cookers for students (China, Pakistan, India). And the United States has repeatedly disappointed on international testing.

Does that mean surveyed attitudes are correct? If they are, why aren’t they affecting behavior?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b804f1348c58f5dda97a5348cdc0acde

China’s Economy Slowed a Bit in the 2nd Quarter

China’s economy, the second-largest in the world after that of the United States, expanded 9.7 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2011, and 9.8 percent in the last three months of 2010.

While the reading was strong compared with the expansion in the United States, Europe and Japan and was slightly firmer than analysts had projected, it underlined how much more moderate China’s expansion has become in recent months.

Much of the slowdown has been deliberately engineered by the authorities in Beijing, who have over the last year gradually tightened the spigot on the ample lending that has fueled growth, but also contributed to sharp rises in property prices and overall consumer prices. The central bank has also raised interest rates five times since last October, most recently last week.

The tightening has caused some concern that China’s economy could slow down more rapidly than intended, thus weakening what has become a critical pillar of growth for the entire world.

However, most economists believe that China is headed for a soft — rather than a hard — landing, and Wednesday’s robust figures appeared to support those expectations.

However, inflation remains stubbornly high, at least for now, with data from Saturday showing consumer prices rose 6.4 percent in June from the same month last year. The prices of some foodstuffs, like pork, have risen even more sharply.

Inflation has become a major concern for policy makers in Beijing, who worry that price rises could fuel discontent among the many millions of ordinary Chinese.

The government has repeatedly pledged to lower inflation, and a spokesman for the national statistics bureau repeated this mantra. “We should stick to our effort to control prices,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

The combination of slower growth and persistent inflation has put the government in a quandary, analysts say: While more aggressive tightening could mitigate inflation, it also risks stifling economic growth.

“The government’s desire to maintain growth by sustaining a healthy level of liquidity expansion is counterbalanced by the need to rein in inflation, in part caused by an abundance of liquidity,” Jing Ulrich, chairman of global markets for China at JPMorgan, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/business/global/chinas-economy-shows-signs-of-slowing-down.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

China Has Ended Some Wind Power Subsidies, U.S. Says

Opinion »

Bloggingheads: Yemen’s Future

Bernard Haykel and Charles Schmitz discuss the future of Yemen after Saleh’s departure.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0d838c9748c4cbd0cffc399a95303dbf

Once Again, U.S. Finds China Isn’t Manipulating Its Currency

Opinion »

Bloggingheads: Barack vs. Bibi

Robert Wright and Gershom Gorenberg debate the Obama-Netanyahu relationship.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/business/global/28currency.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Chevron Profit Rises as Unrest Lifts Oil Prices

Net income rose to $6.21 billion, or $3.09 a share, from $4.55 billion, or $2.27, a year earlier, Chevron said. Sales rose 25 percent, to $60.3 billion.

Global demand for petroleum-derived fuels rose 2.9 percent during the first quarter, led by growth in China, Brazil and India, according to the International Energy Agency. Oil futures traded in New York climbed 20 percent to average $94.60 a barrel, driven in part by the civil unrest in North Africa and the Middle East that has imperiled crude supplies.

Stock in Chevron, which is based in San Ramon, Calif., rose 63 cents, to $109.44 a share.

Profit from the company’s oil and natural gas business increased 27 percent to $5.98 billion as higher commodity prices offset an output decline of less than 1 percent. Chevron said it pumped the equivalent of 2.76 million barrels of crude during the period, down from 2.78 million a year earlier.

Chevron’s refineries earned $622 million, more than three times the profit of the first quarter of 2010.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/30/business/30chevron.html?partner=rss&emc=rss