July 22, 2017

New York Times Web Site Returns After Hours Offline

“The outage occurred within seconds of a scheduled maintenance update being pushed out and we believe that was the cause,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company.

The site went down about 11:10 a.m., and sporadically returned around 1:15 p.m., with new articles being published again by about 3 p.m. The failure took place during the peak hours for traffic to the site, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Ms. Murphy said, adding that the site had more than 7.1 million visits on Monday.

In January, The Times reported that Chinese hackers had repeatedly attacked NYTimes.com and had obtained passwords for some reporters and other employees before being repelled by computer experts working for the company. Ms. Murphy said that based on what experts examining the failure had seen there was “no reason to believe this was the result of a cyberattack.”

It was a consequential day for international news, with reports that the Egyptian military had fired on protesters supporting the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, leaving scores of people dead. The Times used Facebook Notes to publish a handful of articles, including two concerning the violent crackdown in Egypt.

With a let’s-put-out-a-newspaper attitude — for example, the Opinion section of the Times posted to Twitter: “Readers, don’t fret. If nytimes.com remains down, we are ready to tweet op-eds and editorials in 140-character increments” — the failure was reminiscent of power blackout. As it happens, Wednesday was the 10th anniversary of the East Coast blackout.

Others were there to fill the void – with some promoting their podcasts or articles. Coincidentally, Dow Jones sent a message via Twitter about its newspaper The Wall Street Journal: “Bonus lunchtime reading: WSJ.com is free to everyone for the next 2 hours.” The company said the offer was for its breaking-news coverage of Egypt, a practice it has done in the past.

For readers, the single biggest opportunity seemed to be the reaction on Twitter. Ezra Klein of The Washington Post posted: “What, you thought Jeff Bezos was going to buy the Post and play defense?”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/15/business/media/new-york-times-web-site-returns-after-hours-offline.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Consumer Concerns Weigh Down French Economy

PARIS — On a recent Sunday at the sprawling Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen, France’s largest and most famous flea market, crystal chandeliers glinted in a rare patch of Parisian sun.

An ornate Napoleon III-era clock perched on a marble mantelpiece, and sales signs peeked from vintage clothing, vinyl LPs and other curios that have long drawn throngs of shoppers here, jostling for a bargain.

But something seemed amiss on this afternoon, as it has almost every weekend for more than a year. As with so much else now bedeviling France, the economy is to blame. French consumers simply are not spending the way they used to, and that is an impediment not only for the merchants of the Marché aux Puces, but also for the country’s ability to emerge from recession.

“It used to be elbow to elbow here,” said Hamidou Debo, a shoe vendor who sat quietly in his outdoor stall as a handful of people browsed through silver-hued sandals and black leather high-tops before shuffling away without buying. “Now the crowds are around half what they used to be.”

For Mr. Debo and 2,500 other merchants in the 17-acre market on the northern edge of Paris, an economic slowdown has gripped business, and there is no telling when things might turn around. Last year, he said, he regularly made 300 to 400 euros, or $390 to $520, in sales by lunchtime. Now he barely makes 100 euros.

“It’s the crisis,” Mr. Debo said. “People are no longer spending. They are worried about what the future will bring.”

Europe’s long-running economic troubles have been, for the most part, confined to the feeble countries of Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. But more and more they are coming home to roost in France, raising questions about whether one of the Continent’s biggest economies may become the next sick man of Europe.

By many measures, France is already moored in malaise. Unemployment is at its highest point since the current record-keeping system began in 1996 — 10.8 percent — and job creation has been on a downward trajectory for more than a year.

Coupled with tax increases and government spending cuts intended to keep France’s deficit and rising debt under control, the country is now struggling to exit a shallow recession, its second in four years. Even if the recession does end this quarter, the economy is expected to remain stagnant at best, contracting by 0.1 percent this year, according to the French statistics agency Insee.

No wonder French households have tightened their purse strings. But that has become part of the problem, given that consumer spending represents 56 percent of the country’s economic activity.

“The consumer has always been the motor of the French economy,” said Jean-Paul Fitoussi, a professor of economics at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. “If that economic engine does not work, then where is the growth going to come from?”

President François Hollande, who recently acknowledged the economic situation was serious, is offering a grab bag of measures meant to stimulate growth, including a program to create thousands of subsidized jobs for the rising ranks of unemployed youths. This week he announced a plan to invest 12 billion euros in the energy, digital, aerospace and health industries.

Mr. Hollande is also urging the French to be optimistic by citing forecasts that France and the euro zone will begin to emerge from their slump by next year, if all goes well.

But convincing the French may be no easy task.

On Wednesday, the French employers union Medef warned that Mr. Hollande’s policies were destroying 8,000 jobs a day. The chief executives of Peugeot and other French corporations called for “urgent measures” to stem unemployment.

In June, consumer confidence hit its lowest level in France since records started being kept in 1972. With unemployment still rising, households were more pessimistic than ever about the prospects for future living standards, according to Insee. Consumer spending, which contracted last year by 0.4 percent, is expected to remain stagnant for the foreseeable future, despite a slight pickup last month, the agency said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/business/global/consumer-concerns-weigh-down-french-economy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Chinese Economy Expanded at End of 2012, Data Shows

HONG KONG — The giant Chinese economy picked up steam during the last few months of 2012, closely watched data from Beijing on Friday confirmed. But at the same time the figures underlined the view that the pace of future growth is likely to remain well below that seen in recent years.

China’s gross domestic product expanded 7.9 percent during the final quarter of last year, compared to a year earlier — slightly better than expectations, and significantly above the 7.4 percent pace recorded during the previous quarter.

Separate data for the month of December also came in a touch better than analysts had forecast: Retail sales expanded 15.2 percent from a year earlier, and industrial output grew 10.3 percent. Both figures were slightly better than those recorded in November.

The growth data “was the best we could have wished for,” Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist at Crédit Agricole in Hong Kong, commented in a note. The figures “should put at rest any remaining doubt about China escaping a hard landing,” he added, referring to widespread fears last year that China could slow down sharply as the global turmoil, feeble domestic demand and a weak property market weighed on growth.

Stock market investors also welcomed the data. The Shanghai composite index rose 0.6 percent by around lunchtime, and in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng climbed 0.8 percent.

China’s mild re-acceleration has been helped by a gradual recovery in overseas demand for Chinese-made goods in recent months, as well as a string of economic stimulus measures announced by the government over the course of last year. These have helped put a floor under the beleaguered property market, and ramped up infrastructure construction activity, in particular.

The batch of data released by the Chinese statistics bureau on Friday also underlined that China’s once red-hot economy has now settled into a much slower pace of expansion.

The head of the statistics authority, Ma Jiantang, acknowledged as much at a press conference in Beijing: “I think you could use these two sentences to give a relatively concise assessment of economic performance in 2012,” he said. “First, national economic performance maintained stability while slowing; second, economic and social development made advances while maintaining stability.”

Annual expansion has slowed to around 8 percent — the pace for 2012 was 7.8 percent, down from the 9.3 percent in 2011 and the 10.4 percent in 2010 — and many economists expect a similar or slightly better pace for 2013.

Xianfang Ren, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Beijing, commented that Friday’s data confirmed “that the worst is probably over for the economy and that China has avoided a hard landing,” But it was “quite a narrow escape.” The economy will likely be “wiggling within quite a narrow band of growth rates in 2013, as the upside pull only marginally outweighs the downside drag,” Ms. Ren added in an e-mailed note.

Many analysts believe that the economy’s momentum may ease again later this year if the government alters policies in a bid to prevent inflation and property prices from heating up again.

Regulators also are watching out for potential problems caused by lending activities outside the regulated banking system, which have been an important driver of economic activity.

The growth of such non-bank credit, commented Yao Wei, an economist at Société Générale in Hong Kong in a recent research report, “is likely to slow once regulators respond seriously to risks rising from the shadow banking system.” Along with tighter property policies, Ms. Yao said, this factor is likely to cause the recovering momentum to fade late in the second quarter of this year.

Longer term, analysts believe the pace is likely to slow even further over the coming decade as the authorities pursue a shift towards higher-quality growth, and grapple with the gradual aging of the country’s population.

“China’s working-age population experienced its first absolute decline for some considerable time, and we are certainly taking this issue seriously,” Mr. Ma, the statistics bureau head, said Friday.

“For quite some time to come, and at least up until 2030, China’s working-age population aged from 15 to less than 60 years old will, I think, steadily and gradually shrink,” Mr. Ma said. This, he added, meant that it was important for China to raise labor productivity.

Chris Buckley contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/business/global/chinese-economy-picks-up-steam-in-last-quarter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Commodities Rise After Dramatic Losses

HONG KONG — The prices of oil, gold, silver and other raw materials rose in Asian trade on Friday, recouping some of the big losses suffered during a massive sell-off the previous day. But with investors now worried about the strength of the global economic recovery, stock markets performed less well, with declines of more than 1.8 percent in Japan and South Korea.

Expectations of greater demand as the global economy picks up speed, and the political and security concerns stemming from the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa, had produced steep rises in commodity prices earlier this year.

With both these drivers receding, at least for now, the rally came to a screeching halt on Thursday, with some commodities seeing record one-day losses in New York trading. Oil fell more than $9, below $100 a barrel for the first time in two months. Gold, which as recently as Tuesday was worth as much as $1,573 per ounce, slumped to as low as $1,462 on Thursday. And silver fell 8 percent, taking its total decline since the end of last month to more than 25 percent.

On Friday, many raw materials clawed back some of those losses. Gold rose to about $1,489 an ounce, a gain of 1 percent; silver climbed more than 2 percent to trade at around $35.50 by late morning in Asia.

The price of a barrel of oil rose to $100.50.

Asian stocks, meanwhile, fell. In Japan, which had been closed for the past three days for a public holiday, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.8 percent by the lunchtime break in Tokyo. In South Korea, the Kospi index fell more than 2 percent by late morning.

The Taiex index in Taiwan and the Straits Times index in Singapore both slipped 0.4 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell 0.7 percent, and in mainland China, the Shanghai composite declined 0.5 percent.

Airline stocks mostly bucked the overall declines, buoyed by the fact that lower global oil prices could help reduce worryingly high fuel bills in the industry.

Qantas, the Australian carrier, rose 3.8 percent, Cathay Pacific gained 3.1 percent, Korean Air Lines rallied 2.3 percent.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/07/business/global/07markets.html?partner=rss&emc=rss