Category: American Business News

Small businesses raise the alarm about rising prices | Breaking News

(The Center Square) – A new survey found that small business owners are feeling less optimistic about the economy and are concerned about rising inflation.

The recently released National Federation of Independent Business report showed that small business owners’ economic optimism has declined and that more small business owners cite inflation as their top concern more than any other issue.

The NFIB’s economic optimism index fell to 91.3, “the 20th consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98.” The survey also found that nearly a quarter of small business owners cite inflation as their top concern, beating out labor shortages, the supply chain, and other issues.

“Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months deteriorated seven points from July to a net negative 37%, however, 24 percentage points better than last June’s reading of a net negative 61% but still at recession levels,” NFIB said.

This survey comes as the latest federal inflation data shows inflation spiked more than expected in the month of August. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released both its Consumer Price Index and its Producer Price Index, key markers of inflation, which showed increases of 0.6% and 0.7% in August alone.

“Over 60% of the August rise in the index for final demand goods can be traced to prices for gasoline, which jumped 20%,” BLS said. “The indexes for diesel fuel, jet fuel, home heating oil, beverages and beverage materials, and iron and steel scrap also moved higher. Conversely, prices for fresh and dry vegetables fell 11.5%. The indexes for residential electric power and for industrial chemicals also decreased.”

Those increases are major spikes, ending an encouraging trend of lower inflation so far this year.

A rise in gas prices was a major source of the price increases in August.


U.S. business optimism about China outlook falls to record low – survey

Illustration shows U.S. and Chinese flags

U.S. and Chinese flags are seen in this illustration taken Jan. 30, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

SHANGHAI, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Political tensions and a slowing economy are sapping the confidence of U.S. businesses operating in China, with the number of companies optimistic about their five-year outlook falling to a record low, a survey published on Tuesday showed.

Even after the ending of COVID curbs, which weighed heavily on revenues and sentiment in 2022, the percentage of surveyed U.S. firms optimistic about the five-year China business outlook fell to 52%, according to the annual survey published by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai.

This was the lowest level of optimism reported since the AmCham Shanghai Annual China Business Report was first introduced in 1999.

“Frankly, if there was one thing that surprised me about the survey this year it was that number,” said AmCham Shanghai Chairman, Sean Stein. “By the time we did this year’s survey a lot of the illusions had fallen away that we would see a sustained rebound in economic growth (post-COVID).”

Tensions between major world powers remained a concern for many companies, with U.S.-China tensions cited as a top business challenge by 60% of the survey’s 325 respondents, equal to the number who pointed to China’s economic slowdown as a significant challenge.

Unease about the transparency of China’s regulatory environment also rose, with one third reporting that policies and regulations towards foreign companies had worsened in the past year, although many respondents pointed to U.S. government policy rather than China’s when asked about pressure to decouple.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce’s European Business in China position paper, released later on Tuesday, outlined how European companies are already struggling with competing requests from Chinese and Western customers to produce goods containing

Female business owner named top Alabama retailer

Some WVTM 13 viewers may remember Aisha Taylor – she was one of the women business owners we featured in the middle of the pandemic, back in 2021 just as she opened the doors to her brand-new menswear store in downtown Birmingham. This morning she had another emotional day as she was officially recognized as the 2023 Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association.“To be honest I cried,” Taylor said. “It was almost so unbelievable, but I’m so excited.”The association is honoring a dozen businesses in 13 Alabama cities, including Taylor and her boutique Bridge + Root. It’s an unexpected honor for a woman whose career in retail began as a teenager. She would later branch out to fashion merchandising, buying and men’s wear styling. Her entrepreneurial journey is coming decades later.“So, one thing about me; I don’t let fear stop me,” Taylor said. Taylor, a University of Alabama graduate, started her business during one ofthe scariest times in human history.“It was during COVID when I signed my lease. I just took a leap of faith and said it’s time,” Taylor said. “I transitioned from retail management to my own because I wanted to spend more time with my children, to have a bit more time to spend time with family.”With newfound freedom to work on her own terms, she flourished. Even as she realized being your own boss requires a lot of role-playing.“ You are marketing. You are packaging. You are the consultant. You’re answering the phone. You’re everything,” she said.And it takes a lot of money to stay afloat. Like many Black women business owners, she has had trouble securing capital.“When you step out on your own you realize you may have enough money to start, but you have to have enough money to …

U.S. firms in China say vague rules, tensions with Washington, hurting business, survey shows

American companies operating in China view tensions with Washington over technology, trade and other issues as a major hindrance for their businesses there, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

The survey released Tuesday showed a continued downgrading of China’s importance as an overseas destination for investment, even though two-thirds of the 325 companies responding said they had no immediate plans to change their China strategy.

Just over one in five of the companies surveyed said they were decreasing their investment in China this year, with the top reason being uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade relationship, followed by expectations of slower growth in China, it said.

Overall, the survey showed sentiment worsened from last year, when companies were embroiled in disruptions from “zero-COVID” policies that caused parts of entire cities, transport networks and travel to be shut down, sometimes for weeks at a time.

Such disruptions were a major “push factor” that companies cited in expanding their operations outside China, the survey showed.

While 52% of those surveyed said they were optimistic about their five-year business outlook in China, that was the lowest figure since the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai began the annual survey in 1999.

Nearly nine in 10 companies said rising costs were a big challenge.

Companies named geopolitical tensions as a major concern, followed by an economic slowdown that has foiled hopes for a strong, post-pandemic boom.

Intensifying competition has also been worsened by policies that favor local companies over foreign ones and courts that tend to favor Chinese companies in decisions on protection of intellectual property such as patents and trademarks.

Companies face a growing threat from “nimble, innovative local businesses and state-owned enterprises, which have enjoyed stronger support in recent years and whose consolidation has made them increasingly

NY man pleads guilty to targeting homes of Asian American business owners in multi-state burglaries


A man from New York has pleaded guilty to targeting the homes of Asian American business owners in an interstate burglary spree.

Guilty plea: U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced that James Hurt, 47, entered the guilty plea on Wednesday in Newark federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. The charge reportedly carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the amount of money stolen in the offense.

Hurt’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2024.

About the burglary spree: Along with seven other individuals, Hurt conspired to burglarize the homes of Asian American small business owners living in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware from December 2016 to March 2019, according to court documents.

More from NextShark: Teen Asian students choked, beaten in Philadelphia subway attacks

The group stole substantial amounts of money, jewelry and other valuable items before transporting them between states. In one incident, approximately $350,000 in property was reportedly stolen from a residence in Monroe County in Pennsylvania.

Getting caught: Law enforcement officers were able to trace the burglars upon the discovery of a dropped cell phone, which helped lead them to the perpetrators. In May 2021, the members of the burglary crew were charged with “conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property” by New Jersey federal authorities.

According to a criminal complaint, one of the burglars told detectives that they were targeting Asian business owners “because it was believed that the victims kept large sums of currency and jewelry in their residences.”

More from NextShark: Man arrested, then freed, for allegedly threatening to kill Seattle journalist with baseball bat

The seven others who were charged in the case include: Randi Barr of Vauxhall, New Jersey; Kevin

UPDATED: Alberta business owners file lawsuit over COVID restrictions | Business

Americans have never been wealthier

New York

Fueled by a resurgent stock market and rising home values, US household wealth hit a record $154.3 trillion during the second quarter of this year, according to federal data.

Consumer wealth has now completely recovered from the recent inflation-driven drop in stock prices and real estate holdings.

Household and nonprofit net wealth increased by $5.5 trillion, or 4%, between the end of March and the end of June, Federal Reserve data released on Friday showed. This follows an increase of $3 trillion during the first three months of the year. The data is not adjusted for inflation.

This bump in wealth was driven mostly by a surge in the value of Americans’ stock market investments, which grew by $2.6 trillion during the quarter. Real estate holdings, including the value of homes, increased by $2.5 trillion.

Household wealth now stands about $2 trillion above the prior record of $152 trillion set in early 2022 — which should give consumers a cushion to weather future economic storms and a potential uptick in unemployment.

Surging inflation prompted the Fed to spike interest rates beginning in March 2022 at the fastest pace in four decades. Those rate hikes rocked financial markets, crushing the value of stock holdings, cooling the housing market and raising the specter of a recession.

“Even with the recent gain, wealth is little changed over the past year, limiting its contribution to spending,” economists at Moody’s Analytics wrote in a report on Friday. “Further, volatility in wealth since the onset of the pandemic will remind households of the fragility of any gains.”

The stock market has rebounded in tandem with the US economy. Goldman Sachs recently cut its view on the probability of a US recession over the next 12 months to just 15%, down from 35%

Sinkhole repairs and clean-up of water main break impact SF Cow Hollow businesses

SAN FRANCISCO — Businesses in the area of a massive water main break and sinkhole in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood are feeling the effects of what looks to be a lengthy repair to the streets and sidewalks.

Union Street Coffee Roastery is facing tough times. On Wednesday afternoon, most of the tables in the cafe sat empty. Employee Rolando Moreno said business has slowed significantly due to the huge sinkhole that opened up at Fillmore and Green Streets after a 16-inch water main broke late Sunday evening, flooding some businesses.

SF sinkhole repairs
Repairs are ongoing at a sinkhole that opened up at Green and Fillmore in San Francisco early Monday morning.


Moreno pointed out the damaged area near the Union Street Coffee Roastery that is making it challenging for customers to access the business. 

“This part over here in this corner is very damaged around here and people cannot come through. It’s very hard to walk, And it’s very hard for us. Customers are very slow right now,” he said.

On Tuesday, two smaller holes appeared at Fillmore and Union streets. One is on the sidewalk next to her shop, and one is in the middle of the street.   

Union Street Coffee Roastery is one of several businesses impacted by the water main break. Work to repair the water main and the sinkhole the break closed several surrounding streets in the process. 

Moreno shared that they are still dealing with the aftermath of the water main break, which caused significant flooding inside their store. 

“We’re okay right now. But a couple of days ago, it was really hard because there was a lot of water that came inside the store. And we spent a lot of time cleaning it up, and there’s a lot of damage,” he explained.

News bosses grapple with ethical and business conundrum of AI

A News Corp spokesperson insisted each word of the several thousand weekly stories is overseen by a human, adding that ChatGPT or other similar technologies aren’t used in the creation of content.

News Corp’s hyperlocal news, brought to you by AI.

News Corp’s hyperlocal news, brought to you by AI.

Another media business dabbling in AI is American publishing group Gannett, which has rolled out an AI tool used to write match reports of high school sport matches.

CNN reported that the move attracted significant social media attention, with readers highlighting a slew of errors, a lack of key details, and complaining the stories generally read as if they had been written by a computer. A Crikey analysis of News Corp’s Data Local content had similar findings.

Other publishers have been more cautious with their approach to AI, but are still exploring the technology’s potential.

Nine, the owner of this masthead, said generative AI “cannot replace the integrity and authenticity of the journalism across its newsrooms, or the journalists who are committed to breaking, reporting and analysing the news in an impartial and accurate way”.

But this doesn’t rule out its use in other points of the news production cycle. For example, a recent company-wide hackathon at Nine focused entirely on AI innovation gave the people’s choice award to a proposal for Good Food, in which an AI program could generate recipes based on a photograph of a reader’s pantry.

Nine also uses AI technology to produce highlights and mini packages of sports matches for broadcast across its platforms.

For smaller media businesses, CEO of Private Media, Crikey’s publisher, Will Hayward says AI has a huge opportunity to improve the entire news ecosystem, “hoovering up all the unoriginal reporting and regurgitated non journalism that so many mainstream outlets provide”.

The result, he says, will reward original news and

US Business Delegation Makes Rare Visit to Taliban-Run Afghanistan

An American private sector delegation opened meetings in Afghanistan with officials and local counterparts Wednesday in the first interaction since the Taliban seized power from a U.S.-backed government two years ago.

Jeffrey Grieco, president of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce, or AACC, in the United States, is leading the delegation.

Addressing a televised meeting in Kabul of business representatives that Greico co-hosted with Taliban Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar, he said the U.S. government backs the visit.

A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department acknowledged that a delegation from the American Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan and “individuals with business interests” had traveled to Kabul.

“The United States stands with the people of Afghanistan as they work to rebuild their economy,” the spokesperson told VOA in an emailed statement.

American businessman Grieco credited de facto Afghan authorities for establishing peace in the country, saying they have also “greatly eliminated” corruption. “It’s not all gone, but it’s mostly gone.”

He said his team is seeking to elevate private sector activities and explore ways to ease hardships facing Afghans over the past two years.

“The next year is going to be equally hard as the donors are reducing funding for Afghanistan, both humanitarian food security and other funding, at a key moment when Afghanistan needs funding for humanitarian purposes,” he said.

On Tuesday, the U.N. World Food Program announced that a “massive funding shortfall” had forced it to cut rations for 10 million people in the country this year, warning that time is running out to avert catastrophe in Afghanistan.

“The private sector can be a powerful agent of change and an agent of support when a country like Afghanistan is suffering,” Grieco said at the event, where local women business leaders were also in