Monday, June 24

Business

Ether Cryptocurrency ETFs Are Approved by the SEC
Business

Ether Cryptocurrency ETFs Are Approved by the SEC

Federal regulators on Thursday approved an investment product tied to the cryptocurrency Ether, the most valuable digital asset after Bitcoin, in a major boost for the crypto industry.The Securities and Exchange Commission said a group of exchanges could begin listing investment products known as exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.s, linked to the price of Ether. The products would offer an easier and simpler way for people to invest in crypto, potentially boosting prices and promoting wider adoption of digital currencies.In January, the S.E.C. approved similar products that track the price of Bitcoin, leading to a flurry of new investment that helped propel Bitcoin’s price to a record high.The impact of the Ether approval could take longer to hit the market. Before the exchanges can start of...
What Trump 2.0 Could Mean for the Federal Reserve
Business

What Trump 2.0 Could Mean for the Federal Reserve

Former President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized the Federal Reserve and Jerome H. Powell, its chair, during his time in office. As he competes with President Biden for a second presidential term, that history has many on Wall Street wondering: What would a Trump victory mean for America’s central bank?The Trump campaign does not have detailed plans for the Fed yet, several people in its orbit said, but outside advisers have been more focused on the central bank and have been making suggestions — some minor, others extreme.While some in Mr. Trump’s circles have floated the idea of trying to limit the Fed’s ability to set interest rates independent of the White House, others have pushed back hard on that idea, and people close to the campaign said they thought such a drastic effort ...
Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her
Business

Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her

Days before OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant last week, the actress Scarlett Johansson said, Sam Altman, the company’s chief executive, called her agent and asked that she consider licensing her voice for a virtual assistant.It was his second request to the actress in the past year, Ms. Johansson said in a statement on Monday, adding that the reply both times was no.Despite those refusals, Ms. Johansson said, OpenAI used a voice that sounded “eerily similar to mine.” She has hired a lawyer and asked OpenAI to stop using a voice it called “Sky.”OpenAI suspended its release of “Sky” over the weekend. The company said in a blog post on Sunday that “AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson...
U.S. and Europe Move Closer to Using Russian Assets to Help Ukraine
Business

U.S. and Europe Move Closer to Using Russian Assets to Help Ukraine

The United States and Europe are coalescing around a plan to use interest earned on frozen Russian central bank assets to provide Ukraine with a loan to be used for military and economic assistance, potentially providing the country with a multibillion-dollar lifeline as Russia’s war effort intensifies.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in an interview on Sunday that several options for using $300 billion in immobilized Russian assets remained on the table. But she said the most promising idea was for Group of 7 nations to issue a loan to Ukraine that would be backed by profits and interest income that is being earned on Russian assets held in Europe.Finance ministers from the Group of 7 will be meeting in Italy later this week in hopes of finalizing a plan that they can deliver to he...
A Loss at Mercedes-Benz Slows U.A.W.’s Southern Campaign
Business

A Loss at Mercedes-Benz Slows U.A.W.’s Southern Campaign

After suffering a setback at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama on Friday, the United Automobile Workers union’s efforts to organize other auto factories in the South is likely to slow and could struggle to make headway.About 56 percent of the Mercedes workers who voted rejected the U.A.W. in an election after the union chalked up two major wins this year. In April, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee voted to join the union, the first large nonunion auto plant in the South to do so. Weeks later, the union negotiated a new contract bringing significant pay and benefit improvements for its members at several North Carolina factories owned by Daimler Truck.“Losing at Mercedes is not death for the union,” said Arthur Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University School of I...
Walmart Earnings Boosted by ‘Upper-Income’ Shoppers
Business

Walmart Earnings Boosted by ‘Upper-Income’ Shoppers

The Numbers: Sales growth in stores and especially online.Walmart said its comparable-store sales in the United States rose 3.8 percent from the quarter a year earlier. Its U.S. e-commerce business jumped 22 percent.Walmart has performed better than retailers dependent on apparel sales, in part because it also sells essential goods like groceries. Consumers, especially those with lower incomes, are looking for places to save after a stretch of high inflation.Transactions were up 3.8 percent, while the average ticket price showed that with each visit people were spending about the same as they did this time last year. Walmart’s quarterly profit, of $5.1 billion, was triple the result a year earlier.Walmart’s stock was up more than 6 percent in morning trading, as investors reacted to the re...
Justice Dept. Says Boeing Violated 2021 Settlement Over Max Plane
Business

Justice Dept. Says Boeing Violated 2021 Settlement Over Max Plane

The Department of Justice said on Tuesday that Boeing was in violation of a 2021 settlement related to problems with the company’s 737 Max model that led to two deadly plane crashes in 2018 and 2019.In a letter to a federal judge, the department said that Boeing had failed to “design, implement and enforce” an ethics program to prevent and detect violations of U.S. fraud laws in the company’s operations. Creating that program was a condition of Boeing’s settlement, which also carried a $2.5 billion penalty.The determination by the Justice Department opens the door to a potential prosecution of a 2021 criminal charge accusing Boeing of conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration, though Boeing can contest Tuesday’s decision.In a statement, Boeing said that the company believed...
U.S. Awards $120 Million to Polar Semiconductor to Expand Chip Facility
Business

U.S. Awards $120 Million to Polar Semiconductor to Expand Chip Facility

Federal officials will provide up to $120 million in grants to Polar Semiconductor to help the company expand its chip manufacturing facility in Minnesota, the Biden administration announced on Monday, the latest in a string of awards meant to strengthen the U.S. supply of semiconductors.Commerce Department officials said the grant would help Polar upgrade technology and double production capacity at its facility in Bloomington, Minn., within two years. The company produces chips that are critical for cars, defense systems and electrical grids, federal officials said.“We are making taxpayer dollars go as far as possible while crowding in private and state investment to create jobs, secure our supply chains and bolster manufacturing in Minnesota,” said Laurie Locascio, the under secretary o...
Farewell, Chuck E. Cheese Animatronic Band
Business

Farewell, Chuck E. Cheese Animatronic Band

For decades, Munch’s Make Believe Band at Chuck E. Cheese has performed for countless birthdays, end-of-season Little League parties and other celebrations. There’s been Chuck E. Cheese and Helen Henny on vocals, Mr. Munch on keys, Jasper T. Jowls on guitar, and Pasqually on drums.The band of robot puppets has been a mainstay at the colorful pizzeria-arcade chain where children run amok and play games for prizes in between bites of pizza slices.Their final curtain call is coming soon.By the end of 2024, the animatronic performances — endearing and nostalgia-inducing, if perhaps slightly creepy to their audiences — will be phased out at all but two of the chain’s more than 400 locations in the United States: one in Los Angeles and another in Nanuet, N.Y. The departure of the band comes as C...
Why Higher Fed Rates Are Not Totally Off the Table
Business

Why Higher Fed Rates Are Not Totally Off the Table

Investors do not expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again, and officials have made it clear that they see further increases as unlikely. But one important takeaway from recent Fed commentary is that unlikely and inconceivable are not the same thing.After the central bank held rates steady at 5.3 percent last week, the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, delivered a news conference where what he didn’t say mattered.Asked whether officials might raise interest rates again, he said he thought they probably would not — but he also avoided fully ruling out the possibility. And when asked, twice, whether he thought rates were high enough to bring inflation fully under control, he twice tiptoed around the question.“We believe it is restrictive, and we believe over time it will be suffi...