Month: December 2023

High inflation is finally letting up, but it’s weighed heavily on many Americans


Eagan, Minnesota
CNN
 — 

The winter holidays typically make for busier times at The Open Door Pantry food shelf here in this Twin Cities suburb.

And sure enough, on the Monday before Christmas, the day’s food appointments were chock-full. In the back warehouse, nearly 100 volunteers quickly and methodically sifted through thousands of pounds of freshly donated food.

But the activity isn’t simply a seasonal surge: The daily appointments are booked solid through the end of January, and demand has been overwhelming for The Open Door’s other community-based food distribution events.

While 2023 was the year that meaningful progress was made on slowing down painfully high inflation, 33 months’ worth of fast-rising prices took their toll on many Americans, especially those with lower incomes.

To that point, this year also marks a record year for food pantry visits in Minnesota and beyond — in many cases, by a country mile.

“The years of inflation, they stacked on top of each other,” said Jason Viana, The Open Door’s executive director. “We were seeing the impact of [rising wages], but inflation wiped all that out.”

In 2022, the US saw inflation spike to levels not seen in four decades, and the Federal Reserve was in the throes of a historic rate-hiking campaign to cool it back down.

At the start of this year, inflation had moderated some — the Consumer Price Index had cooled to 6.5% in January 2023 from its 9.1% peak in June 2022. However, the US economic outlook was clouded by ongoing fears that the aggressive Fed campaign would lead to a downturn.

Those dire predictions did not materialize.

It currently appears that the Fed has turned the corner on its lengthy battle to bring down inflation without the economy careening into a recession.

The labor market remains strong,

Breaking Down the Business of Boutique Fitness

Boutique fitness gyms are uniquely positioned to educate clients, but with that comes a responsibility to ensure proper coaching and standards

At OPEX and CoachRx, it is vital that we keep an eye on the fitness industry as a whole and more specifically, the micro-gym and boutique models that we see around the world; these are usually the landing spots for our coaches that we educate through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program and one of the models coaches using CoachRx are working within.

My perspective on the business of boutique fitness is influenced by trends, both within our industry and in broader societal behaviors. The overarching problem that I see in the industry as a whole, as well as in boutique gyms, is that a lot of models and methodologies are reactive, instead of proactive in nature (more on this later).

Leveraging data from recent reports and industry insights, let’s explore these trends and their implications for fitness coaches, trainers and gym owners. Then, I want to give my take on what I think every model should have as a focus embedded within – teaching physical literacy, equipping autonomy and encouraging personal responsibility to the general population.

Post-Pandemic Shifts

We are now almost four years removed from the pandemic, but it is still insightful to see the impact it had on the fitness industry with around 25% of health and fitness facilities closing down, according to data cited by Athletech News. However, the industry has adapted by offering online and home-based fitness solutions. Now, gym attendance is rebounding, with people seeking in-person training sessions, as noted by a 13% increase in new memberships over pre-COVID numbers​​.

What does this mean? 

We spoke about this extensively over the pandemic that people will once again crave the in-person

A Look Back at the Top Business Stories of 2023

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried, the reassertion of union power and the turmoil at OpenAI were just some of the big business stories in a year that was full of them.

DealBook has chosen photographs of some of the biggest newsmakers, stories and trends from 2023.

Artificial intelligence had a good year. Investment poured into A.I. start-ups; big tech firms deployed their scale and cloud computing operations to build ties with the field’s new leaders; and Nvidia became the first chipmaker to hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion thanks to demand for its A.I. semiconductors.

The investor enthusiasm was matched by worry among lawmakers, who often struggled to keep pace with the companies developing the technology. But the first steps toward developing regulations for A.I. have been taken. President Biden issued an executive order in October focused on the technology’s implications for national security; China imposed restrictions on certain types of A.I.; and E.U. lawmakers passed one of the world’s first regimes to regulate the technology.

But amid the disparate efforts, there was also an attempt to achieve some measure of international collaboration. Last month, more than two dozen countries, including the rivals U.S. and China, tech executives and researchers attended Britain’s A.I. Safety Summit. The event didn’t end with an agreement for a new set of rules, but the governments warned of the dangers posed by the most advanced A.I. systems and agreed to keep talking.

On June 6, the PGA Tour, the world’s pre-eminent men’s professional golf circuit, and LIV Golf, a Saudi-funded rival that was poaching top players and posed a serious threat, tentatively agreed to join forces. The decision was a stunning

Varcoe: Alberta’s top 10 business stories of 2023

With a new year set to begin in a few days, here’s a look back at the 10 biggest business stories in Alberta in 2023, from blockbuster corporate deals and a surprising pause on the province approving new renewable projects, to the escalating energy confrontations between Alberta and Ottawa

Get the latest from Chris Varcoe, Calgary Herald straight to your inbox

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Throughout 2023, Alberta became a magnet of sorts, attracting thousands of people from Ontario and British Columbia — and internationally — to the province.

It sparked a population boom and the biggest growth rate in Alberta since 1980, as a procession of moving vans headed to the province.

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Alberta added 195,000 people during the 12 months ending in September. Its population now tops 4.7 million.

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Intel will build $25 billion chip factory in Israel’s ‘largest investment ever’



CNN
 — 

The Israeli government and Intel confirmed plans to build a $25 billion chipmaking factory in the south of the country, an investment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as the biggest in Israel’s history.

The American tech giant already employs 11,700 people in Israel and has invested more than $50 billion in the country over the last 50 years.

Intel now wants to expand its existing chipmaking factory at Kiryat Gat — about 16 miles northeast of Gaza — undeterred by the October 7 attacks and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Reuters earlier reported the news.

“Intel has chosen to approve an unprecedented investment of $25 billion and to establish its new factory right here in Israel,” Israel’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote in a post on X on Tuesday.

“This investment promises to foster high-quality employment opportunities with elevated productivity in remote areas and will significantly contribute to the growth of the Israeli economy,” he added.

Netanyahu initially announced the new factory in June, describing it as “the largest investment ever by an international company in Israel.”

Intel (INTC) did not confirm the new investment at the time, saying only that its Israel operations were crucial to the company’s success and that plans to expand them were driven by a commitment to meet future manufacturing needs.

The company confirmed the investment plans on Tuesday.

“The growth of our Kiryat Gat manufacturing facilities is a tremendous source of pride for our employees in Israel, and a reflection of their unwavering commitment to excellence,” said Daniel Benatar, co-general manager of Intel Israel, in a statement. “Support from the Israeli government will enable us to continue building on that excellence to ensure that Israel remains a global center of semiconductor technology and talent.”

Intel said

American Business and Tech Executives Take a Tech-Focused Solidarity Mission

Rep. Josh Gottheimer recently returned from a congressional mission to Israel at which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as hostage families.

From December 17-21, a mission of 65 American business and tech executives visited Israel to extend their support to the business and tech sector of the economy, which is suffering from the war. They wanted to help the Israeli business leaders find ways to counter the war’s major economic disruption and come up with ideas to rebuild and support Israel’s tech industry.

David Siegel, the CEO of the global community platform Meetup, was a main initiator and coordinator of the mission. He worked with several others in America, including Ron Miasnik of Bain Capital Ventures, Elisha Tropper, founder and CEO of Jag Capital, and Joseph Katz, director of marketing and communications for JLIC, to put it together. Michael Eisenberg, of Aleph VC Fund in Jerusalem, was the coordinator from Israel.

“My son, who is in Israel, was barraged by friends calling from the U.S., asking what they could do to help Israel after October 7,” said Siegel. “He told me that he suggested that they understand who is in their direct sphere of impact, and focus on influencing those around them. He then told me that I should do the same. As a tech CEO, I know many tech and business leaders in the U.S., and decided that the most important thing I could do was to influence other influencers and leaders to ‘show up’ to Israel and ensure that Israelis understand that tech and business leaders will be there for them. We were able to get 65 tech, venture capital and business leaders to then drop everything and spend four to five days in Israel.”

Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz spoke candidly to the Israeli

Israel grants Intel $3.2bn for new $25bn chip plant | Business and Economy News

Deal with US chipmaker is ‘largest investment ever’ in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.

Israel’s government has agreed to give Intel Corp a $3.2bn grant for a new $25bn chip plant it plans to build in southern Israel, both sides have said.

The news on Tuesday comes as Israel remains locked in an intense war on the Gaza Strip, which has killed close to 21,000 Palestinians since October 7, and ushered global calls to boycott Israel and companies that benefit from its occupation of Palestinian lands.

Israel’s deal with Intel is a big show of support by a major US company and a generous offer by the Israeli government at a time when Washington – which is Israel’s biggest supporter – has increased pressure on Tel Aviv to take further steps to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza.

In addition to the grant that amounts to 12.8 percent of the total investment, the chipmaker also committed to buying 60 billion shekels ($16.6bn) worth of goods and services from Israeli suppliers over the next decade, while the new facility is expected to create several thousand jobs.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicised news of the deal – which remained unconfirmed by Intel until now – heralding the decision to build a new chip plant as “unprecedented”, adding that “this is the largest investment ever in the State of Israel”.

Intel operates four development and production sites in Israel, including a manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat, 42km (26 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

An expansion plan for the Kiryat Gat site is an “important part of Intel’s efforts to foster a more resilient global supply chain, alongside the company’s ongoing and planned manufacturing investments in Europe and the United States”, Intel said in a statement.

The plant produces Intel 7

Lionsgate Will Spin Off From Starz In Deal Valuing Business At $4.6 Billion

Topline

Lionsgate—the movie studio behind “The Hunger Games,” “John Wick” and other franchise hits—announced Friday it will merge with a special-purpose acquisition company in a long-anticipated deal that separates it from Starz TV and values the studio at $4.6 billion.

Key Facts

Lionsgate on Friday announced its studio business, content library and talent management and production company will be combined with SPAC Screaming Eagle Acquisition Corp. to create Lionsgate Studios, which will not include the STARZ platform and will establish Lionsgate Studios as a separate publicly traded entity.

The existing Lionsgate company will hold on to Starz and still hold 87.3% of Lionsgate Studios shares, with 12.7% owned by founders, shareholders and investors of Screaming Eagle, chaired by former Hollywood executive Harry Sloan.

The transaction is expected to raise approximately $350 million for Lionsgate, including $175 million in alread-pcommitted PIPE (private investment in public equity) financing.

The deal is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval and is expected to close in the spring of 2024.

A deal to separate Starz and the studio was long-expected: Lionsgate confirmed in February it would move forward with the spin-off of its studio business and has been exploring alternatives for Starz, which it acquired for $4.4 billion in 2016, since as far back as 2019.

Executives have worried the combined company is undervalued and Starz—a premium cable channel and streaming service—was hurting the company’s market value, Bloomberg and Axios reported, and the move comes a month after Starz announced it would lay off 10% of its employees.

Lionsgate has also struggled with debt this year—credit rating agency Fitch cut the company’s debt rating to “negative,” from “stable” in January, citing concerns over its use of production loans to create content that then wasn’t released

Why did the CRA fire 185 employees? Take our business quiz

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s business and investing news quiz. Join us each week to test your knowledge of the stories making the headlines. Our business reporters come up with the questions, and you can show us what you know.

This week in business and investing: Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave final approval for Royal Bank of Canada’s $13.5-billion takeover of HSBC Holdings PLC’s Canadian subsidiary. To move forward with the deal, RBC had to agree to create a new global banking hub in Vancouver, among other terms. Meanwhile, Matthew Boswell was reappointed as head of the federal Competition Bureau for two years and the Canadian dollar climbed to a five-year high.

Meanwhile: Investors got angry over a CEO’s ouster, supply chains got tangled and Tim Hortons customers got a double-double dose of good cheer.

Do you remember these stories? Take our quiz below to test your recall for the week ending Dec. 15


1It’s a holiday miracle! Tim Hortons gladdened the hearts of doughnut lovers this week by announcing:

a. That its double-double coffee will now be available in canned form

b. That it will be offering a plant-based version of its Boston Cream doughnut

c. That it will be bringing back the dutchie, a retro treat

d. That it will be selling rum-spiked eggnog over the holiday season at a small number of licensed locations

c. That it will be bringing back the dutchie. The dutchie – a sweet square speckled with raisins – will make its reappearance Jan. 10 for a limited time.

2It’s a holiday mess! Which Canadian company is facing a backlash from investors after ousting its chief executive earlier this month?

a. Gildan Activewear

b. First Quantum Minerals

c. Loblaw

d. Nutrien

a. Gildan Activewear. Gildan shocked investors on Dec.

Europe and US extend trade truce over Trump tariffs

By Jonathan JosephsBusiness reporter, BBC News

Getty Images A worker takes a sample of molten iron flowing from steelworks in Duisburg, Germany.Getty Images
The US says steel and aluminium production is vital to national security

The European Union and the US have agreed to pause their trade war until after the presidential election.

US tariffs on steel and aluminium and the EU’s retaliation on goods including motorcycles and whisky will be suspended until the end of March 2025.

They were originally imposed when Donald Trump was president on national security grounds.

But they were paused under Joe Biden’s administration.

The deferment will allow President Biden to keep his EU allies onside.

But because they have been paused and not abolished, he will appear to be tough on trade for a domestic audience.

The US metal industry provides jobs in places such as Pennsylvania and Ohio – states which could be crucial to President Biden in the election in November 2024.

In the absence of a full solution to their differences “this has always been the obvious deal”, according to Brad Setser, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington, who has also worked on trade policy for the Biden administration.

“Returning to open conflict isn’t in the interest of the US or the EU”, he said, especially now that Ukrainian and Russian production has largely been removed from global markets.

Mr Trump imposed 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium coming from the EU into the US in 2018. He cited national security grounds for the decision, using a law known as Section 232.

At the time, he said: “If you don’t have steel, you don’t have a country”.

In retaliation, the EU put tariffs on US-made goods such as Harley Davidson motorcycles, jeans and bourbon whiskey.

President Biden has backed the tariffs but in 2021 said his