Jobs loss linked to deficit
The huge US trade deficit with China displaced or eliminated more than 2.7 million US jobs between 2001 and last year, the labor-friendly Economic Policy Institute said on Thursday in its latest look at the issue. The institute estimated that nearly 77 percent, or more than 2.1 million, of the lost jobs were in manufacturing. The think tank receives about 30 percent of its funding from union groups, which have pressed both the US administration and Congress for tougher steps to rein in the growing trade deficit with China, which hit a record US$295 billion last year.
Tokyo reviews Seoul ties
The Japanese government has not reached a decision on whether it will buy South Korean government debt, Finance Minister Jun Azumi said yesterday, as a diplomatic row escalates between the two countries over a territorial dispute. Azumi reiterated that the government might not extend a currency swap arrangement with South Korea after it expires in October. Purchases of South Korean government debt and the currency swap were part of efforts to strengthen economic ties, but further cooperation has been thrown into doubt due to diplomatic tensions that have been growing in Northeast Asia.
IMF cuts growth forecasts
The IMF on Thursday trimmed its growth forecast for South Africa for this year to 2.6 percent and warned that chronic joblessness was a risk. “If not addressed, the stubbornly high unemployment rate could become politically and socially unsustainable,” an IMF report said. The forecast for next year was cut from 3.6 percent to 3.4 percent. Some key domestic risks identified were the high unemployment rate, which officially hovers around 25 percent, and the ballooning cost of public sector wages.
ABN Amro profit falls 9.9%
ABN Amro, the bank owned by the Dutch state, said that second-quarter earnings fell 9.9 percent because of an increase in bad loans. Net profit was 291 million euros (US$365 million), compared with 323 million euros a year ago. ABN blamed lower interest margins, falling commissions and a near-doubling in bad loans to 367 million euros from 187 million euros. CEO Gerrit Zalm blamed a Dutch recession, pointing to rising bankruptcies and unemployment climbing to 6.5 percent.
Woolworths profit dips 15%
Australian supermarket giant Woolworths yesterday said its full-year net profit slumped 15 percent to A$1.82 billion (US$1.89 billion) due to its exit from the unprofitable Dick Smith electronics chain. Woolworths, Australia’s largest food retailer which is in a battle for dominance for the supermarket sector with rival Coles, said sales revenue in the year to June 30 was A$55.1 billion, up from A$52.6 billion. CEO Grant O’Brien said the underlying performance was pleasing, but warned the company expected the retail sector to continue experiencing challenging trading conditions.
Facebook launches new app
Facebook unveiled a new mobile app on Thursday for its users on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, saying it would speed up the performance of people accessing the world’s biggest social network. Facebook made other improvements to help make its app more user-friendly, product manager Mick Johnson said.