Business Briefs – January 11, 2021

Parler Squeezed as Trump Seeks New Online Megaphone

(AP) – President Donald Trump has been kicked off of most mainstream social media platforms following his supporters’ siege on the U.S. Capitol. But it remains to be seen how fast or where — if anywhere — on the internet he will be able to reach his followers.

The far right-friendly Parler had been the leading candidate, at least until Google and Apple removed it from their app stores and Amazon decided to boot it off its web hosting service by midnight Pacific time on Sunday.

Parler’s CEO said that could knock it offline for a week, though that might prove optimistic. And even if it finds a friendlier web-hosting service, without a smartphone app, it’s hard to imagine Parler gaining mainstream success.


U.S. Loses 140,000 Jobs, First Monthly Drop Since Spring

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers shed jobs last month for the first time since April, cutting 140,000 positions, clear evidence that the economy is faltering as the viral pandemic tightens its grip on consumers and businesses.

The unemployment rate stayed at 6.7%, the first time it hasn’t fallen since April. Friday’s figures from the Labor Department suggest that employers have rehired roughly all the workers they can afford to after having laid off more than 22 million in the spring — the worst such loss on record. The economy still has 9.9 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic sent it sinking into a deep recession nearly a year ago.


More Coronavirus Relief on the Way for Small Businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of business owners are about to get additional help weathering the coronavirus outbreak. The Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department are reviving the Paycheck Protection Program five months after its first two rounds of funding ended. Businesses that received loans last year will be able to borrow up to $2 million as long as they have no more than 300 employees and suffered at least a 25% drop in quarterly revenue. First-time borrowers with no more than 500 workers will be able to borrow up to $10 million. The loans, which can be forgiven, will have five-year terms and carry an interest rate of 1%.


New Campaign, and Logo, for GM in a Bid to Electrify Image

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is changing its corporate logo and launching an electric vehicle marketing campaign to reshape its image as a clean vehicle company, rather than a builder of gas-powered pickups and SUVs. The 112-year-old Detroit automaker has promised to roll out 30 new battery-powered vehicles globally by the end of 2025 and said Friday that the new campaign will highlight its progressive vision for the future.

GM said the industry has reached a history-changing inflection point for mass adoption of electric vehicles. The company is scrapping its old square blue logo and replacing it with a lower case gm surrounded by rounded corners. The company says it’s the biggest change to its logo since 1964. The ‘m’ in the logo is underlined to look like an electrical plug.


France’s Hopes Lift as U.S. Freezes Tariffs Over Tech Tax

PARIS (AP) — France’s government breathed a sigh of relief Friday after the U.S. indefinitely delayed tariffs on French wine, cosmetics and other goods. The U.S. tariffs were meant to enter in force this week. They were designed as retaliation for a French tax on technology giants like Google and Amazon.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it suspended the tariffs because it is investigating similar tech taxes from a growing number of other countries, too. France’s finance minister called for a global agreement on taxing online giants instead. It’s among multiple trade disputes that have damaged trans-Atlantic ties in recent years.


Semiconductor Shortage Forces Automobile Production Cuts

DETROIT (AP) — A widening global shortage of semiconductors for auto parts is forcing major auto companies to halt or slow vehicle production just as they were recovering from pandemic-related factory shutdowns. Officials at Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan all say they have been hit by the shortage and forced to delay production of some models in order to keep other factories running. In many cases, automakers have stopped making slower-selling vehicles in order to divert the chips to hotter segments of the market, including pickup trucks and SUVs.

Industry officials say semiconductor companies diverted production to consumer electronics during the worst of the COVID-19 slowdown in auto sales last spring. Now there aren’t enough chips.


New Zealand Central Bank Says Data System Hacked

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s central bank said Sunday that one of its data systems has been breached by an unidentified hacker who potentially accessed commercially and personally sensitive information.

A third party file sharing service used by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to share and store sensitive information had been illegally accessed, the Wellington-based bank said in a statement.

Governor Adrian Orr said the breach has been contained. The bank’s core functions “remain sound and operational,” he announced.