National / International News
The controversial Export-Import Bank’s authorization will expire at the stroke of midnight Wednesday, meaning the government institution that finances exports made by American companies, among other things, can follow through on its existing loans and guarantees, but can’t fund new ones.
The bank has long been targeted by some Republicans who don’t believe the government should be involved in this market and that the bank only benefits large corporations.
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, says the bank amounts to corporate welfare and sees opportunity in Wednesday’s expiration.
“It’s one thing to reauthorize it,” he says, noting the bank has been reauthorized numerous times during its eight-decade existence. “It’s another thing to restart it once it’s already expired.”
Supporters of the Ex-Im Bank, meanwhile, argue it fills a gap in the private lending market for companies of all sizes and that the uncertainty leading up to Wednesday’s expiration has already hurt American businesses.
"Symbolically, [the expiration] is hugely important," says Edward Alden, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. "I do think contracts will be lost, though it's hard to put a clear number on it."
“The winner here is China and other countries that are going full steam ahead with their own export credit agencies and taking advantage of the opportunity to see Ex-Im lapse,” says Miriam Sapiro, principal at the consulting firm Summit Strategies and a former deputy U.S. trade representative.
Sapiro’s hoping Congress will reauthorize the bank when it’s back in session in July.
Banks are rationing cash, European creditors are closing in — Sounds like the current situation in Greece. But that was Cyprus, two years ago.
Even though their economies are different, Greece could learn some lessons from Cyprus.
Lesson one? Staying with the euro doesn’t mean a trip down easy street. Cyprus still struggles with high unemployment.
Lesson two? Listen to creditors, like the IMF.
“Cooperating with the IMF paid off for Cyprus because, after two years they’re on the road to recovery,” says Charles Movit, an economist at IHS covering Cyprus.
“I don’t think so at all,” says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He says Cyprus is still in bad shape.
“A lot of people have suffered," he says. "They’re still unemployed. A lot of businesses went bankrupt.”
But Weisbrot and Movit agree on lesson three: limits on how much money can be sent abroad or taken out of a bank can help keep cash where it’s needed.
The upscale Nairobi mall attacked by terrorists in 2013 plans a partial reopening on Wednesday. At least 67 people died when Al Shabaab, an African offshoot of Al Qaeda, attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall.
The siege was a blow to the heart of Nairobi’s prosperity, where malls serve espresso and hummus. New roads, and ever present construction cranes show Kenya’s continued rise. It’s become an economic hub of East Africa, but fears of terrorism have hurt business and scared away some foreign tourists.
The reopening of Westgate, many say, is a conscious decision to defy the terrorists. Others see it as callous.
“The fact that they want to reopen Westgate mall is a bit demeaning. It really is,” says Sadia Ahmed, who, until recently, was a radio host on East FM, a Kenyan radio station popular with the region’s Asian population.
On September 21, 2013, she was recording a cooking segment on Westgate’s roof.
“Two explosions went off, and that’s when we saw people run out of the mall and onto the rooftop,” Ahmed remembers. She spent hours running and crouching amid grenades and gunshots. She'd rather the mall become a memorial park. That's what became of the American Embassy attacked in Nairobi in 1998.
Just weeks ago, you could still see bullet holes in Westgate's windows. Outside, there were ghostly outlines on the walls where there had once been shop signs. Then, almost overnight, the building received a fresh coat of paint. Contractors hammered as new signs went up. Westgate has the same name and logo as before the attack.
There will be a different color scheme inside the mall when it reopens, and some shops won’t return, but it will mostly look the same.
“It’s a sort of reaffirmation to citizens that look, we are resilient,” says Peter Alingo, who directs the Institute for Security Studies in Kenya. He welcomes the mall’s return, but worries poor levels of security across Nairobi are unchanged.
When mall security guards check people out with metal detectors, it’s more a matter of performance than prevention. When Alingo goes to park his car, he’s taken to asking the guards what they’re looking for in his trunk.
“They say to me they’re looking for anything that looks weird, that has some wires on it,” he says. “And, I said ‘what the heck is this? And, how are you going to deal with it once you see it?’ They have no idea.”
One guard told him, if he sees a bomb, he’ll just run for his life.
People living in the upscale neighborhood near Westgate are cautiously awaiting the mall’s return. Some say it’ll be strange at first. Resident Jyoti Dadhley says she’ll certainly shop there again, “but it will be just for what I need to and get the hell out.”
But Sadia Ahmed just wants to see the inside of the mall to remember.
“I will go back. Once. Just for closure. But I will never step into mall to have a good time. Ever,” she says.
That's how much time will be added to the world clock on Tuesday. What may seem like an insignificant amount of time actually has big implications for trading around the world. Take a look at our explainer on how the 'leap second' will be applied to the global market.26 million
At least that many Facebook users have put their profile picture through a rainbow filter in celebration of Pride month and last week's Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The company its not running a study related to the photo tool, but the Atlantic points out Facebook has previously examined the way users can influence each other with the 'I Voted" button, profile picture changes and other instances of what's sometimes called "slacktivism."$50,440 a year
That's the amount proposed by President Barack Obama as the new earning threshold for workers qualifying for overtime pay. The current ceiling is $23,660 a year. The White House says as many as 5 million workers will benefit from the rule change in the short term. But as the New York Times reports, some economists worry that the change will result in employers shortening hours, rather than paying time-and-a-half.66,320
That's how many people used Airbnb to stay in the Marais neighborhood in Paris last summer, more than actually live there. The Wall Street Journal examined how the explosion of bookings on Airbnb have changed Paris, and what kinds of people are staying where. Looking for more Airbnb data? This site gets granular -- down to individual listings -- with several major cities.$30 million
That's how much United Airlines says it will invest in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that effectively turns trash into fuel. As reported by the New York Times, the airlines plans a flight for this summer that will be primarily run on the garbage-sourced fuel. A large part of the motivation to invest in alternative fuels is the pressure on major airlines to reduce carbon emissions.
A government agency is about to close. The Export-Import Bank has helped U.S. companies sell goods abroad for decades, but it will likely wind down operations after July 1 if Congress doesn't act.