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A severe winter storm hit much of the United States Monday, with heavy snowfall in the Midwest and cold weather in the Midwest….Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Auto manufacturers have been forced to close plants or suspend shifts due to the winter storm that disrupted the power grid in much of the country this week.

Ford Motor closed a plant near Kansas City, Mo. this week due to severe cold weather and a shortage of natural gas in the Midwest. The plant produces the F-150, Ford’s popular pickup truck that is one of the best-selling vehicles in the industry.

Nissan closed its four U.S. plants Monday and canceled morning and afternoon shifts Tuesday, a spokeswoman said. Two plants at Canton, Miss. and Smyrna, Tenn. make automobiles; two others, both at Decherd, Tenn. make engines. The company is monitoring the situation to see if it can resume production Tuesday night.

General Motors said Tuesday that it was not affected by the natural gas shortage, but still suspended initial crews at four plants in Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas due to severe winter weather conditions.

And Toyota Motor canceled the first of two shifts at its San Antonio, Texas, pickup truck plant due to the winter storm and resulting power outages.

Power grid officials in Texas and elsewhere were forced to call off power outages after many plants shut down because they could no longer get natural gas. Some wind turbines have also been shut down. At the same time, demand for electricity and natural gas increased due to the cold weather. In addition, the cold makes travel difficult.

In order to minimize the consumption of natural gas, which is essential for households, we have decided to shut down operations for one week starting Saturday the 13th. February, a Ford spokeswoman said Monday.

The company does not expect to resume normal operations at the closed plant in Claycomo, Mo until Monday the 22nd. February, to resume. The factory employs approximately 7,300 people. Union members receive 75% of their gross pay for the week.

These closures are taking place as Ford, G.M. and other automakers are forced to close individual plants due to a global shortage of semiconductors. The chip shortage is expected to cut into automakers’ profits by billions of dollars this year.

A winter storm that hit the Midwest left businesses struggling to get out from under piles of snow on Tuesday. related to Joshua A credit. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press.

The winter storm that hit Texas and other states this weekend has caused serious disruptions to business operations across much of the country, including those that Americans rely on to meet their basic needs, such as B. retail stores and package delivery services.

Walmart has closed 500 stores in the Midwest, according to a map updated in real time on the company’s website. The safety of our partners and customers is our highest priority, the company said in a press release.

The storm caused delays in the extensive parcel delivery networks many people rely on to shop online.

FedEx said winter weather conditions have caused major disruptions at its Memphis center, which at 800 acres is the company’s largest and can normally sort nearly half a million documents and packages per hour. FedEx added that there may be some delays in deliveries in the U.S. on Tuesday.

According to UPS, the weather conditions can cause delays in areas not directly affected by the storms. Moving packages from one place to another can take longer, and many delivery services have large sorting centers in the middle of the country, serving both the east coast and west coast. For example, UPS’s two main air hubs are in Louisville, Ky. and Dallas.

A winter storm forced the U.S. Post Office to close post offices, processing centers and other facilities in Texas and Mississippi, according to its website. Power outages interrupted operations at the main post office in Dallas and the processing center in Beaumont, which is east of Houston, close to the state border with Louisiana.

Amazon, which has its own delivery network of planes, rigs and trucks, was also affected by the storm. According to a local television station, the company’s delivery locations in San Antonio, Texas, were closed due to inclement weather.

Arne Sorenson, executive director of Marriott International, in 2019. linked to the Bill Clark/Que Roll Appeal Credit, via The Associated Press.

Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International, died Monday at the age of 62. He was being treated for pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Sorenson became the Marriott’s third CEO in 2012, and the first without the Marriott’s last name. Mr. Sorenson led the company’s global expansion, including the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for $13 billion in 2015.

Arne was an extraordinary leader – but more than that, he was an extraordinary human being, said Executive Chairman J.W. Marriott Jr. Arne loved all aspects of the job and enjoyed spending time in our hotels and meeting colleagues from around the world.

The hotel chain announced in May 2019 that Sorenson had been diagnosed with cancer, and said earlier this month that he was cutting his schedule because of complicated treatments.

When Mr. Sorenson left full-time management, the company appointed two Marriott executives, Stephanie Linnartz and Tony Capuano, as interim executives. The company plans to name a new CEO within the next two weeks.

A pickup truck and gas tanks refuel in Tomball, Texas, on Monday. A winter storm has disrupted electricity supplies and caused numerous power outages. Credit…Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

Energy prices in the U.S. rose Tuesday after a severe winter storm hit the southern and central United States, alerting 150 million people. Millions of people were left without electricity because of the freezing temperatures.

Natural gas futures for March rose 6.3%, the biggest jump since the March 1 storm. February in the Northeast. Demand for natural gas rose, but gas production fell sharply after the storm.

The Texas Energy Regulatory Commission said Saturday that it knew from its response to the storm that LDCs would have to pay extremely high market prices for natural gas and could face other extraordinary costs as well.

On the oil side, futures rose more than 5% over the weekend as the coldest weather in three decades disrupted road traffic and forced the closure of some wells. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.6 percent Tuesday to $59.81 a barrel, the highest level in 13 months. Futures contracts for Brent, the European benchmark, fell by 0.5%. The country’s largest refineries, including one in Port Arthur, Texas, remained closed Monday as weather caused power outages across the state.

Some producers, particularly in the Permian Basin and the Panhandle region, are experiencing unprecedented frost conditions that are jeopardizing worker safety and affecting production, the Texas Energy Regulatory Commission said Monday.

U.S. markets were closed Monday due to the President’s holiday.

U.S. Markets

  • U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, building on recent gains, as investors expressed optimism about the launch of vaccines that will accelerate the economic recovery. The S&P 500, which hit a record high last week, and the highly technological Nasdaq remained virtually unchanged until noon.
  • The Biden administration on Tuesday announced extra help for U.S. homeowners struggling to pay their repayments, saying the pandemic has caused a crisis in housing affordability.

Europe

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell by 0.1%. In Germany, the ZEW Investor Sentiment Survey showed a sharp rise in future economic expectations, but opinions on the current situation deteriorated.
  • In Britain, the government met its target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people by mid-February, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now under increasing pressure to come up with a clear plan to end the prolonged blockade. The central bank predicted a relatively strong economic recovery later in the year, but business leaders warned that companies must prepare for a reopening and that the recovery could be difficult if they don’t get enough support. The pound exceeded $1.39 this week, its highest level against the US dollar since the start of 2018.

Asia

  • In Asia, indices rose – Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.3% and broke the 30,000 mark on Monday for the first time since 1990. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 1.9% higher.
  • Softbank shares closed at a record high. Last week, the Japanese company posted huge gains in its technology investment fund, amid a series of IPOs by the companies it supports.

One in five renters is in rent arrears and more than 10 million homeowners are in mortgage debt, according to a White House press release. Credit… Ruth Fremson/The New York Times.

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced extra help for U.S. homeowners struggling to pay their repayments, saying the pandemic has caused a crisis in housing affordability.

Actions include :

  • Extend the moratorium on executions to 30 years. June;
  • Extend registration deadline for mortgage loan deferral requests to 30. June; and
  • Up to six extra months of payments for borrowers who got a loan before the 30th. June.

On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order extending a federal moratorium on certain types of seizures and evictions until the end of March. But the expiration of these protections puts many at risk of falling even deeper into debt and losing their homes, White House officials said in a statement.

One in five renters is in rent arrears and more than 10 million homeowners are in mortgage debt, the White House said in a statement. People of color who face greater challenges during a pandemic are at greater risk of expulsion and exclusion.

Homeowners can find out who owns their mortgage by entering their address on various government websites.

The assistance programs are part of a coordinated effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced last week that he had invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin.Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, which has been booming lately, reached a new high of $50,000 Tuesday morning, before dropping to around $49,500.

The digital currency is producing new millionaires as the general public becomes increasingly excited about Bitcoin’s prospects. Tesla announced last week it had invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, followed by news that institutional investors like BNY Mellon, the oldest bank in the United States, are getting into Bitcoin.

Today, companies can no longer avoid the question of whether they will also invest. Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, calls on companies to follow MicroStrategy’s lead and invest in Bitcoin to protect themselves from the deflation of the dollar. But not everyone shares his confidence: Uber can accept encrypted payments, but doesn’t want to invest its money in Bitcoins, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said.

Prominent investors, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, seem to want to cultivate curiosity about classic cryptocurrencies. Mr. Musk recently added Bitcoin to his bio on Twitter. On Monday, Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego also added Bitcoin to his biography on Twitter; he’s been an enthusiast since 2013 and paid $200 for his first Bitcoin. This decision follows the exhortations of prominent crypto fans like Russell Okung of the National Football League team, the Carolina Panthers, who last month urged people on Twitter to raise the flag and show you’re ready for the future.

Business interest has led politicians to push for Bitcoin adoption. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez proposed that the city pay municipal employees in Bitcoin and accept a fee for municipal services, and the city voted in favor of the proposal. Andrew Young, candidate for mayor of New York, has promised to make the Big Apple a better place for crypto-economics. Senator Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, is proud of her high-tech legislation and hopes Mr. Musk will accept her invitation to take her company there.

Critics of Bitcoin, however, warn that investors should be cautious. Elon Musk may be buying it, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to follow, New York University economist Nouriel Roubini said last week.

Not everyone is a fan. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a mathematical statistician – an expert on chance, probability and uncertainty – is now giving up on Bitcoin. I wanted to get rid of my CTB. Why? A currency should never be more volatile than the one you buy and sell with, he wrote recently.

Nicky Kristoff speaks at a press conference on the 2019 anti-discrimination bill in Washington…Kevin Wolf/Associated Press Campaign for Human Rights

When Nicky Kristoff, a senior sales executive, received an offer to join the board of directors of a publicly traded company, she took it as a sign that she was ready to join a club long dominated by men. But what happened next revealed one of the biggest problems companies face when trying to diversify their boards, writes columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

In many companies, such as. B. Sales associates may not serve on outside boards in addition to their daily work. This is particularly true for staff below the highest grades, where women and ethnic and racial minorities tend to be better represented. When Mrs. Kristoff asked for permission, it was denied, and when she accepted the position of director, she was fired.

Mr. Sorkin described the obstacle:

With so many employees struggling to overcome barriers to promotion within their employer, a kind of systematic barrier to diversity in leadership is emerging.

And as investors and the public increasingly demand that companies diversify their boards, a new fault line is emerging in the American corporate world: Should companies allow their managers to spread their wings?

Ms. Kristoff would like to draw attention to this issue. People don’t know these policies exist, and not just at Salesforce, she says. It is not unusual for the activity of the supervisory board to be limited to senior management. That is why I think it is important to draw attention to this issue, both from the point of view of equity and from the point of view of companies.

In recent months, more than 10 lawsuits have been filed against Google, Facebook or both, as a result of government antitrust actions…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Private lawsuits contribute to the increasing legal pressure on high-tech companies.

In recent months, more than 10 lawsuits have been filed against Google, Facebook or both, in response to government antitrust actions. Many of them are based on evidence uncovered by government investigations, writes David McCabe for the New York Times.

If the lawsuits are successful, they could start costing Facebook and Google a lot of money. Companies deal with millions of advertisers and publishers every year, and Google hosts applications from dozens of developers, which means there are many potential disputes. After the United States sued Microsoft for antitrust violations several generations ago, the company paid $750 million to reach a settlement with AOL, the then-owner of the Netscape browser that was at the center of the government’s lawsuit.

There’s a lot of turmoil, and people are trying to figure out what private lawsuits can succeed and how to get them done, said Joshua Davis, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit. Julie Tarallo McAlister, a Google spokeswoman, said the company will defend itself against these complaints.

Like other lawsuits that courts have dismissed in the past, these lawsuits seek to substitute a trial for the merits of the case, she said.

Private processes follow similar government processes for a simple reason: Regulators have clear advantages in obtaining evidence. Federal and state investigators can collect internal documents and interview executives before taking legal action. As a result, their complaints are full of inside information about the companies. Individuals can only request this evidence after taking legal action.

If the government wins its case against Google or Facebook in court, experts say it will likely strengthen the case for private prosecution. Lawyers can cite these victories as evidence that the company broke the law and quickly move on to their main goal of obtaining damages.

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