Boeing Plans to Cut About 2,000 Finance, HR Jobs in 2023

Boeing plans to make staffing cuts in the aerospace company’s finance and human resources departments in 2023, with a loss of around 2,000 jobs, the company said.


“We expect about 2,000 reductions primarily in Finance and HR through a combination of attrition and layoffs,” Boeing said in a statement Monday. “While no one has been notified of job loss, we will continue to share information transparently to allow people to plan.”


The company, which recently relocated its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia, said it expects to “significantly grow” the overall workforce during the year. “We grew Boeing’s workforce by 15,000 last year and plan to hire another 10,000 employees this year with a focus on engineering and manufacturing,” the statement said.


Boeing’s total workforce was 156,000 employees as of Dec. 31, 2022, the company said.


The Seattle Times reported Boeing, which has been one of the largest private employers in Washington state, plans to outsource about a third of the eliminated positions to Tata Consulting Services in Bengaluru, India.


Mike Friedman, a senior director of communications, told the Times the other positions will be eliminated as the company makes reductions in finance and human resources support services.


“Over time, some of our corporate functions have grown quite large. And with that growth tends to come bureaucracy or disparate systems that are inefficient,” Friedman said. “So we’re streamlining.”


The Times reported about 1,500 of the company’s approximately 5,800 finance positions will be cut, with up to 400 more job cuts in human resources, which is about 15% of the department’s total staff.



Source: Voice of America

Chinese Lending at 13-Year Low; US Pledges Africa Investment

Recent visits to Africa by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen came as a new study found China’s overseas investments in the COVID-19 era are at a 13-year low. China has invested heavily in Africa through its Belt and Road Initiative and the U.S. has also recently pledged investments, with analysts saying Washington is trying to compete with China for influence on the continent.


The report by Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center found loan commitments from China’s two policy banks (China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China) totaled $3.7 billion in 2021. In contrast, from 2008 to 2021 that amount was $498 billion, an average of $35.6 billion a year.

China has struggled to recoup its money from several African countries and now has to participate in complicated debt restructuring negotiations. Currently, debt talks are happening in Zambia.


Asked if Beijing had been chastened by these experiences, causing the drop in loan commitments, senior academic researcher Rebecca Ray, who co-authored the paper, said that while China has stopped offering new loans to some countries that have been unable to pay existing debt, like Venezuela, it has also been finalizing negotiations on large future loans to another indebted nation, Pakistan.


“While China may be hesitating to ‘send good money after bad,’ in some cases of borrowers who are simply unable to repay, high existing debt levels don’t seem to be a complete deterrence for them,” she noted.


US critiques and pledges


In Africa, Thomas-Greenfield blamed China for indebting African countries. She also noted that while Qin Gang, China’s new foreign minister, was also on the continent recently, “what I heard from … people and leaders when I was there very clearly was that America is in their hearts, and they are extraordinarily appreciative of the African Leaders Summit that we just hosted and the efforts that we are making to engage more proactively on the continent of Africa.”

Washington pledged to invest $55 billion in Africa at the U.S.-Africa Summit in December.


Yellen also noted in her January 17-28 visit to Africa that Washington has many programs “that are oriented to help efforts to build infrastructure, and when we do that, we want to make sure that we don’t create the same problems that Chinese investment has sometimes created here.” She said Beijing was “a barrier” to global efforts to restructure Zambia’s massive debt.


Yellen’s comments drew a swift and cutting rebuke from China’s embassy in Zambia, which pointed to America’s own debt problems, and an opinion article in state media Xinhua that read, “The airports where the U.S. officials landed and the roads and bridges their convoys passed during their Africa visits were likely built in cooperation with Chinese companies.” The article ended by saying, “Africa should not become an arena for a great power rivalry.”

The conclusion stated by the Xinhua article echoed comments by China’s foreign minister who, during his January visit to Ethiopia, said: “The China-United States relationship should not be about a competitive one or a zero-sum game that enlarges one’s own gain at the expense of the other.


“Otherwise, it will only hurt both sides and even the world,” Qin said.


Transforming money spent


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s landmark Belt and Road initiative to bring infrastructure to developing countries is not gone altogether, the authors of the Boston University study said; it’s just transforming the way money is spent.


“This trend is emblematic of the ‘small is beautiful’ approach to Chinese economic engagement in recent years, which prioritizes smaller and more targeted projects,” the study said.


And that’s not necessarily bad news, said Ray, pointing out that “China’s recent ‘small is beautiful’ approach to overseas development finance emphasizes projects with smaller geographic footprints and lower risks to sensitive ecosystems and Indigenous communities.”

China has moved away from concentrating its lending on the extractions and pipelines sector, said the study, which found that since 2018 more money has gone to the transportation sector.

Still, the fact that “conditions in China and in host countries are less conducive to large amounts of development finance than they were a decade ago … is concerning, as the need for development finance is at an all-time high due to the polycrisis of financial instability, climate change and pandemic,” noted co-author Kevin P. Gallagher.

However, Harry Verhoeven, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy of Columbia University, who also has written on Chinese loans and debt, said, “I think it’s too early to tell whether China is really ready to switch full-scale to a ‘small is beautiful’ approach. … Especially in the African context this would require some major changes in the patterns of engagement that Beijing has prioritized since the late 1990s.”

He noted that “there is no question that the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s domestic financial woes and disillusionment with growing difficulties of African sovereigns to service their debts to Chinese lenders has led to a downscaling of new Chinese loans. … But questions can be raised regarding the administrative capacity and willingness of Chinese policy banks and other government institutions to manage a much broader (and more detailed) portfolio of smaller loans.”

Signs of Chinese economic rebound

There are signs that large-scale development lending could rebound. Since China reversed its zero-COVID-19 policy and reopened this year, its manufacturing, services and construction sectors expanded for the first time in four months.

While economists had expected slow growth in China this year, investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have since upgraded their forecasts. The International Monetary Fund also raised its economic growth outlook for China this week, saying it expects the economy to grow by 5.2% in 2023.

But Ray told VOA she didn’t foresee that making much difference.

“We have already seen the availability of capital for China rebounding, so I doubt that the increased economic growth will change much. The Chinese government still has significant incentives to be supporting the liquidity of its domestic financial system,” she said.

China’s economy is trying to recover after the lengthy lockdowns during the zero-COVID-19 policy and wave of infections following the policy’s reversal.

As for influence overseas and in Africa, Ray said, “It is noteworthy that Yellen did not sign any major new agreements or announce any major new projects while in Africa. If the U.S. does step into the infrastructure finance gap left by China’s declining development finance, it may be more likely to emerge through multilateral fora.”



Source: Voice of America

Global Unemployment Grows Amid Economic Slowdown

The outlook for the year ahead and beyond is not very promising. The International Labor Organization warns that the current global economic slowdown will force millions of workers to accept lower quality, poorly paid jobs.


In its “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023” report, the ILO predicts global unemployment will rise by 3 million for a total of 208 million this year with similar projections for 2024.


ILO director of work quality, Manuela Tomei, said both the quantity and quality of jobs will deteriorate, and that working conditions are expected to worsen while wages go down.


“Workers in low- and middle-income countries are expected to be hardest hit,” Tomei explained. “And with the pandemic and the economic slowdown across the globe, the prospects of seeing a reduction in informality and poverty have and will deteriorate further.”

The report warns the cost-of-living crisis will push more people into poverty, widening the gap between rich and poor. It also notes that about 2 billion people, mainly in developing countries, work in the informal economy.


According to the report, the slowing global economy is likely to reverse the progress which has been made since 2004 in moving people out of the informal sector.


In addition to the millions of reported unemployed, the ILO says 473 million people last year stopped actively searching for work. It explains they either were discouraged about prospects of finding a job or had other obligations such as care responsibilities.


For the first time since the 1970s, Tomei said stagflation conditions— that is high inflation and low growth combined — are threatening productivity and labor market recovery.


She added that, “The Ukrainian war, geopolitical tensions, disruption in supply chains, high inflation, the tightening of monetary policies, and great uncertainty overall are all contributing to depressing the prospects for labor markets.”

The ILO reports young people aged 15 to 24 are facing severe difficulties in finding employment, and that they are three times more likely to be out of a job than adults. It adds young women are faring much worse than young men, and that only 47.4 percent of women participated in the global labor force last year compared with 72.3 percent for men.



Source: Voice of America

US, Turkey Target Financial Network Linked to Islamic State, US Treasury Says

The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that it was taking joint action with Turkey against a network it said played a key role in money management, transfer and distribution for the Islamic State militant group operating in Iraq and Syria.


Turkey’s foreign affairs ministry said on Twitter that the assets of seven individuals or legal persons involved in financing for the group had been frozen.


The U.S. Treasury Department said four individuals and two entities in Turkey had been designated under U.S. sanctions.


They included an Iraqi national living illegally in Turkey, Brukan al-Khatuni, his two sons and an associate, and two businesses they used to transfer money on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, between Turkey, Iraq and Syria, the Treasury Department said in a statement.


The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets they hold and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.


Islamic State killed and executed thousands of people in the name of its extreme interpretation of Islam before it was territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019.


The group last month named a new leader, Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Quraishi, after its previous head blew himself up in October while being besieged by former anti-government rebels in southern Syria.


The United States in November blacklisted four individuals and eight companies in South Africa aiding the group and in May imposed sanctions on a network of five Islamic State financial facilitators working across Indonesia, Syria and Turkey.


The head of the network targeted on Thursday, Brukan al-Khatuni, helped with foreign financing for the group in Iraq before moving to Turkey in 2016, where he helped transfer funds from Gulf-based donors and handled millions of dollars for the group, according to the Treasury Department.


Source: Voice of America

Cotton Exporter Benin Tries Local Processing to Reduce Climate Emissions

As world leaders meet in Egypt to discuss ways to combat climate change, one possible solution is brewing across the continent in Benin. Benin has built an industrial park to move the country away from exporting raw materials to making finished products. If implemented on a larger scale, activists say, the trend would cut down on emissions from shipping that contribute to global warming.

Although still under construction, Arise IIP’s Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone is already processing cashew nuts and making clothes for Western markets.

Making finished products is new to Benin, Africa’s largest raw cotton exporter, and is providing jobs to locals like Marlene Keziklounon.

She said she enjoys working at the industrial park, which was unexpected because making garments is usually a cottage industry in Benin.

“I was always interested in tailoring, so it was a goal of mine to get involved when the park opened,” she said in French.
Economists said industrial parks will shape Africa’s future as it pivots from the export of raw materials and import of finished products to local production.

If the continent can develop its own manufacturing, that means more money for African economies and lower prices for end consumers.

Processing raw materials at home is also good for the planet, said Letondji Beheton, the industrial park’s chief executive officer.

“The raw cashew is processed here and instead of going to Vietnam and then back to the European market and the American market to be sold to the consumers,” Beheton said. “That alone is allowing us to reduce the carbon footprint. Then, you take cotton. Same thing.”

The World Bank said international shipping accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change.
Activists agree that cutting shipments of African raw materials for overseas processing would help reduce the damage.

Faig Abbasov is with Transport and Environment, a campaign group working to shape the European Union’s green policy.

“We tend to produce raw material in one country, transport it to another to process and then ship them to a third country to sell the final product,” Abbasov said. “If we can get to an economy where raw materials are processed closer to the extraction point, we can cut down quite a lot of unnecessary emissions.”

While the overall impact of reduced shipping is a fraction of global emissions, supporters say African manufacturing still has a role to play in the fight against climate change.

Source: Voice of America

EXPLAINER: What’s Happening at Bankrupt Crypto Exchange FTX?

The imploding cryptocurrency trading firm FTX is now short billions of dollars after experiencing the crypto equivalent of a bank run.

The exchange, formerly one of the world’s largest, sought bankruptcy protection last week, and its CEO and founder resigned. Hours later, the trading firm said there had been “unauthorized access” and that funds had disappeared. Analysts say hundreds of millions of dollars may have vanished.

The unraveling of the once-giant exchange is sending shockwaves through the industry. Here’s a look at the company’s collapse so far:

Why did FTX go bankrupt?

Customers fled the exchange over fears about whether FTX had sufficient capital, and it agreed to sell itself to rival crypto exchange Binance. But the deal fell through pending Binance’s due diligence on FTX’s balance sheet.

FTX had valued its assets between $10 billion to $50 billion and listed more than 130 affiliated companies around the world, according to its bankruptcy filing.

FTX and dozens of affiliated companies — including CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund, Alameda Research — filed the bankruptcy petition in Delaware on Friday.

This week’s developments marked a shocking turn of events for Bankman-Fried, who was hailed as somewhat of a savior earlier this year when he helped shore up a number of cryptocurrency companies that ran into financial trouble. He was recently estimated to be worth $23 billion and has been a prominent political donor to Democrats.

Was it hacked, too?

FTX confirmed Saturday there had been unauthorized access to its accounts, hours after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A debate formed on social media about whether the exchange was hacked or a company insider had stolen funds — a possibility that cryptocurrency analysts couldn’t rule out.

Exactly how much money is involved is unclear, but analytics firm Elliptic estimated Saturday that $477 million was missing from the exchange. FTX’s new CEO John Ray III said it was switching off the ability to trade or withdraw funds and taking steps to secure customers’ assets.

Is FTX under investigation?

The Royal Bahamas Police Force said Sunday it is investigating FTX, adding to the company’s woes. The police force said in a statement Sunday it was working with Bahamas securities regulators to “investigate if any criminal misconduct occurred” involving the exchange, which had moved its headquarters to the Caribbean country last year.

Is anyone else investigating?

Even before the bankruptcy filing and missing funds, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission began examining FTX to determine whether any criminal activity or securities offenses were committed, according to a person familiar with matter who spoke to The Associated Press last week on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details of the investigations publicly.

What are the repercussions?

Companies that backed FTX are writing down investments, and the prices of bitcoin and other digital currencies have been falling. Politicians and regulators are calling for stricter oversight of the unwieldy industry. FTX said Saturday that it was moving as many digital assets as can be identified to a new “cold wallet custodian,” which is essentially a way of storing assets offline without allowing remote control.

FTX had also entered into a number of sports-related deals, some of which are crumbling. The NBA’s Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County decided Friday to terminate their relationship with FTX and will rename the team’s arena. Earlier Friday, Mercedes said it would immediately remove FTX logos from its Formula One cars.

Source: Voice of America