Business News for Jan. 26, 2022

Date: 2022-01-26T10:01:17.000Z


Federal Reserve officials signaled on Wednesday that they were on track to raise interest rates in March, given that inflation has been running far above policymakers’ target and that labor market data suggests employees are in short supply.

Central bankers left rates unchanged at near-zero — where they have been set since March 2020 — but the statement after their two-day policy meeting laid the groundwork for higher borrowing costs “soon.” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said officials no longer thought America’s rapidly healing economy needed so much support, and he confirmed that a rate increase was likely at the central bank’s next meeting.

“I would say that the committee is of a mind to raise the federal funds rate at the March meeting, assuming that the conditions are appropriate for doing so,” Mr. Powell said.

While he declined to say how many rate increases officials expected to make this year, he noted that this economic expansion was very different from past ones, with “higher inflation, higher growth, a much stronger economy — and I think those differences are likely to be reflected in the policy that we implement.”

The Fed was already slowing a bond-buying program it had been using to bolster the economy, and that program remains on track to end in March. The Fed’s post-meeting statements and Mr. Powell’s remarks signaled that central bankers could begin to shrink their balance sheet holdings of government-backed debt soon after they begin to raise interest rates, a move that would further remove support from markets and the economy.

Investors have been nervously eyeing the Fed’s next steps, worried that its policy changes will hurt stock and other asset prices and rapidly slow down the economy. Stocks on Wall Street gave up their gains and yields on government bonds rose as Mr. Powell spoke. The S&P 500 ended with a loss of 0.2 percent after earlier rising as much as 2.2 percent. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes, a proxy for investor expectations for interest rates, jumped as high as 1.87 percent.

The Fed has pivoted sharply from boosting growth to preparing to cool it down as businesses report widespread labor shortages and as prices across the economy — for rent, cars and couches — soar. Consumer prices are rising at the fastest pace since 1982, eating away at paychecks and creating a political liability for President Biden and Democrats. It is the Fed’s job to keep inflation under control and to set the stage for a strong job market.

“The Fed has completed its pivot from being patient to panicked on inflation,” Diane Swonk, the chief economist at Grant Thornton, wrote in a research note to clients after the meeting. “Its next move will be to raise rates.”

The Fed’s withdrawal of policy support could temper consumer and corporate demand as borrowing money to buy a car, a boat, a house or a business becomes more expensive. Slower demand could give supply chains, which have fallen behind during the pandemic, room to catch up. By slowing down hiring, the Fed’s moves could also limit wage growth, which might otherwise feed into inflation if employers raised prices to cover higher labor costs.

Investors nudged up their expectations for rate increases following the meeting and now project the Fed to raise rates five times this year, based on market pricing, and for the Fed’s policy rate to end the year between 1.25 and 1.5 percent. And economists increasingly warn that it is possible central bankers could move quickly — perhaps lifting borrowing costs at each consecutive meeting instead of leaving gaps, or in half-percentage point increases instead of the quarter-point moves that are more typical.

But Mr. Powell demurred when asked about the pace of rate increases, saying that it was important to be “humble and nimble” and that “we’re going to be led by the incoming data and the evolving outlook.”

“He went out of his way not to commit to a preset course,” said Subadra Rajappa, the head of U.S. rates strategy at Société Générale. The lack of clarity over what happens next “is a setup for a volatile market.”

While interest rates are expected to rise over the coming years, most economists and investors do not expect them to return to anything like the double-digit levels that prevailed in the early 1980s. The Fed anticipates that its longer-run interest rate might hover around 2.5 percent.

Investors also have been eagerly watching to see how quickly the Fed will shrink its balance sheet of asset holdings. The Fed’s policy committee released a statement of principles for that process on Wednesday, setting out plans to “significantly” reduce its holdings “in a predictable manner” and “primarily” by adjusting how much it reinvests as assets expire.

“They are trying, I think, to reduce market uncertainty around the balance sheet — but they’re telling us it’s happening,” said Priya Misra, the global head of rates strategy at TD Securities, adding that the release suggested that the process would begin within a few months.

Mr. Powell noted during his news conference that both of the areas the Fed is responsible for — fostering price stability and maximum employment — had prodded the central bank to “move steadily away” from helping the economy so much.

“There are many millions more job openings than there are unemployed people,” Mr. Powell said. “I think there’s quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market.”

The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent, down from its peak of 14.7 percent at the worst economic point in the pandemic and near its February 2020 level of 3.5 percent. Wages are growing at the fastest pace in decades.

At the same time, Mr. Powell said, the problems pushing inflation up have been “larger and longer lasting” than officials expected, and he noted that the Fed was “attentive to the risk” that rapid wage growth could further fuel price gains.

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge is expected to show that prices picked up by 5.8 percent in the year through December when the latest report is released on Friday, more than double the 2 percent pace the Fed aims for annually and on average.

Prices are high partly because global supply chains are struggling to produce and transport enough lumber, computer chips and clothing to keep pace with booming demand for goods. The pandemic changed consumption patterns, and households have money in their pockets thanks to long months at home and repeated government relief.

If the virus fades, that will help things get back to normal by allowing factories to operate at full speed without rolling shutdowns and by enabling consumers to spend their money on trips to the nail salon or Disney World instead of on new kitchen tables and bathroom renovations.

Fed officials — and many economists — spent much of 2021 forecasting that conditions would stabilize and that inflation would go away on its own. That didn’t happen.

Central bankers have continued to estimate that the price pickup will fade substantially by late this year, but they have also guided policy into a position from which it can fight against any lasting inflation pressures. By making it more expensive to buy a lawn mower on credit or a car with an auto loan, Fed rate increases might help to cool off America’s spending spree.

At their meeting in December, policymakers projected that they would raise interest rates three times this year. They did not release a fresh set of economic projections with this policy statement. The next quarterly estimates will come in March.

“Since the December meeting, I would say that the inflation situation is about the same but probably slightly worse,” Mr. Powell said when asked about the Fed’s previous expectations.

While presidential administrations typically do not like rate increases — they slow the economy — inflation has become a major concern for voters and a thorny political barrier for Mr. Biden as he tries to pass his legislative agenda. The White House has no say on Fed policy, but it has signaled acceptance of the central bank’s recent decisions to pull back on economic help.

“Obviously the Fed is independent,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday after the Fed’s release and news conference. “Chairman Powell has indicated his plans to recalibrate in the past, and the president spoke last week to his support for that.”

Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took questions from reporters after the central bank’s latest policy statement.

  • 3:25 p.m.: Mr. Powell finishes speaking, and stocks regain some of the ground they lost earlier. The S&P 500 is down 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq is up 0.1 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remains at 1.85 percent, a high for the day.

Chair Powell takeaways:
- The economy is different this time (he said this many times)
- Inflation is too high, and it's gotten worse
- The job market is v strong
- The Fed is set to hike rates in March + after that, but not ready to say how much
- "nimble" + "humble"

— Jeanna Smialek (@jeannasmialek) January 26, 2022
  • 3:20 p.m.: The S&P 500 falls 1 percent, taking the index into a correction, a market term for a 10 percent decline from a recent peak, set on Jan. 3.

"High inflation is taking away some of the benefits of these large wage increases we're seeing now," Chair Powell says.

— Jeanna Smialek (@jeannasmialek) January 26, 2022
  • 3:15 p.m.: “I would not say that I would expect the supply chain issues to be completely worked out by the end of this year,” Mr. Powell says.

  • 3:10 p.m.: Stocks have turned negative, with the S&P 500 now down 0.8 percent. Bond yields continue to rise, with the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.85 percent.

  • 3:04 p.m.: Inflation “hasn’t gotten better, it’s probably gotten just a bit worse,” since December, Mr. Powell says, “and that’s been the pattern.”

  • 3 p.m.: The S&P 500 is up 0.2 percent, giving up more ground, and the 10-year Treasury yield is up to 1.84 percent.

  • 2:50 p.m.: “We haven’t made a decision yet, and we will make that decision at the March meeting,” Mr. Powell says of raising rates. “I would say that the committee is of a mind to raise the federal funds rate at the March meeting, assuming that the conditions are appropriate for doing so.”

  • 2:45 p.m.: The S&P 500 pares its gains to less than 1 percent as Mr. Powell speaks. Bond yields rise to highs for the session.

"There are many millions more job openings than there are unemployed people," Chair Powell says. "I think there's quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market."

— Jeanna Smialek (@jeannasmialek) January 26, 2022
  • 2:40 p.m.: Asked about a timeline for raising rates, Mr. Powell says that it is tough to guess what pace of rate increases will be appropriate, that it’s important to be “humble and nimble” and that “we’re going to be led by the incoming data and the evolving outlook.”

  • 2:30 p.m.: As Mr. Powell prepares to speak, the S&P 500 is up 1.7 percent, down slightly from its spike following the statement. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has climbed to 1.81 percent.

  • 2:10 p.m.: An index tracking the financial services industry is up 1.8 percent. Shares of these companies, which are particularly sensitive to changes in interest rates, were 1.2 percent higher before the statement.

  • 2:02 p.m.: The S&P 500, which had been up about 1.6 percent before the Fed’s statement was released, increases its gains to more than 2 percent. The Nasdaq composite jumps as well, to a 3 percent gain, up from a 2.4 percent increase. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rises to 1.80 percent, climbing from 1.78 percent before the statement.

  • 2 p.m.: The Fed says that officials left interest rates unchanged at their January meeting but said it would “soon be appropriate” to raise rates. The Fed’s bond-buying program remains on track to end in March.

Stocks fell for a second straight day on Wednesday, giving up a sizable gain, after Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, suggested that the central bank could move quickly to raise interest rates as it aimed to cool down inflation.

The Fed is embarking on a plan to raise interest rates, and a policy statement from the central bank on Wednesday crystallized expectations that it could start to do so as soon as March. But investors are worried that it might raise rates too quickly, potentially slowing the economy by making borrowing more expensive.

Speaking during a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Powell seemed to feed those fears.

“I think there’s quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market,” he said. He also said it would be difficult to say what the right pace of increases would be, noting that the Fed will be “led by the incoming data and the evolving outlook.”

The comments were enough to push stocks lower. The S&P 500, which had climbed as high as 2.2 percent before the news conference, faded as Mr. Powell spoke and ended the day down 0.2 percent.

“The market is facing the fact that the Fed is ready to be more aggressive than what they had earlier thought,” said Beth Ann Bovino, the chief U.S. economist at S&P Global. “Markets were already expecting an aggressive policy, but they got spooked by the statement and Chair Powell.”

The reaction wasn’t just in the stock market. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, a benchmark for borrowing costs across the economy, jumped as high as 1.87 percent, from about 1.78 percent before Mr. Powell’s comments.

In Asia, investors continued to send stocks down in major markets across the region during the morning session. Oil slipped and gold rose. Wall Street looked poised to follow suit, as futures trading indicated another day of selling when the markets open on Thursday.

In Tokyo, shares were down 2 percent. China’s stock market was hovering near a bear market, defined as a plunge of 20 percent from a high, as investors placed bets ahead of a weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. In Shanghai, the benchmark index was trading down 1 percent, while in Shenzhen, technology stocks led a drop of more than 1.5 percent. In Hong Kong, stocks fell nearly 1 percent, and in Seoul shares plunged more than 3 percent.

Wednesday’s trading added to a remarkably volatile stretch for stocks, with major indexes swinging between gains and losses each day this week as investors awaited word from the Fed about its plans. The central bank had already said in December that it would speed up plans to wind down monetary policy stimulus as it aimed to ease inflation, but uncertainty over whether the Fed might surprise investors with a more aggressive timeline has contributed to a meltdown in stocks this month.

The Fed’s efforts to protect the economy from the fast-spreading coronavirus in March 2020 — it slashed interest rates to near zero and began to buy government bonds to pump capital through the financial system — also helped inflate stock valuations. So the prospect that those measures are going to end has left the S&P 500 down 8.7 percent in January, on track for its worst month since the start of the pandemic.

The index now sits just above the threshold of a correction, a Wall Street term for a drop of 10 percent from a recent peak. Corrections serve as a signal that investors have turned more pessimistic about the market, and though the S&P 500 hasn’t closed a day in correction territory yet, it has fallen into it twice this week — on Monday and Wednesday — before recovering. The index is now 9.3 percent below its Jan. 3 high.

The Nasdaq composite, which edged slightly higher on Wednesday, is nearly 16 percent off its peak and has been flirting with an even more serious designation: a bear market, or a drop of 20 percent.

Sentiment on Wall Street had been lifted earlier in the day by strong earnings reports from a pair of technology companies. Microsoft reported on Tuesday that its profit in the last three months of 2021 rose 21 percent from a year earlier, to $18.8 billion. Though it ended trading well off its highest point, Microsoft did gain 2.9 percent on Wednesday, even as other big tech stocks, like Apple and Amazon, fell.

Texas Instruments, the semiconductor maker, rose 2.5 percent after it issued a better-than-expected forecast for the year.

Gains by large banks also helped limit the downdraft on Wednesday. Lenders stand to reap higher profits as interest rates on loans increase, and Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were all higher.

And a continuing rally in oil prices helped lift shares of energy companies like Occidental Petroleum and Devon Energy.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose to its highest level since October 2014, up more than 2 percent to $87.35 a barrel. The gains have come along with rising concerns over a Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine, and what it might mean for Russia’s supply of natural gas and oil to Europe.

But the two dominant themes on Wall Street right now are the prospects for interest rates and what companies say about how their businesses are faring. As more companies report their results for the end of 2021, investors will watch for signs of how supply chain disruptions, the tight labor market and rising commodity prices will affect them in the year ahead.

Tesla said on Wednesday afternoon that its profit jumped to $5.5 billion in 2021, the highest total in its 19-year history, but cautioned that supply chain troubles could put a constraint on the production of its electric vehicles through the coming year. Its shares rose in after-hours trading.

Apple will report its quarterly earnings report on Thursday, with other big tech companies to follow next week.

“The most important thing would be to pay attention to what companies are saying about 2022,” said Anu Gaggar, a strategist for Commonwealth Financial Network. “2021 appears to still be a strong earnings quarter, but 2022 brings higher labor costs and higher inflation, so we’re expecting economic and growth earnings growth to slow.”

Jeanna Smialek, William P. Davis and Alexandra Stevenson contributed reporting.

YouTube said on Wednesday that it had terminated accounts associated with Dan Bongino, a popular right-wing radio and Fox News host, nearly two weeks after it first suspended his channel for violating its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

A former New York City police officer and Secret Service agent turned pundit, Mr. Bongino is a vocal critic of vaccine mandates. His posts are consistently among the most read on Facebook. On YouTube, his main Dan Bongino channel had 882,000 subscribers, according to Social Blade, a social media analytics firm.

In a statement on Wednesday, YouTube said one of Mr. Bongino’s accounts had been issued a weeklong suspension on Jan. 14 after he posted a video saying cloth and surgical masks were useless in stopping the spread of Covid — a false claim that violated the company’s misinformation policy.

Last Thursday, before the seven-day suspension had elapsed, a second account associated with Mr. Bongino posted another video that repeated his claim about the efficacy of masks. This again violated the misinformation policy and broke Google’s terms of service for trying to circumvent the original suspension by posting content on a separate channel.

After Mr. Bongino posted another video on Tuesday — while his second suspension was still active — YouTube decided to remove both of his channels permanently for trying to skirt the company’s rules.

“We terminated Dan Bongino’s channels for circumventing our terms of service by posting a video while there was an active strike and suspension associated with the account,” YouTube, a unit of Google, said in a statement. The company clarified that Mr. Bongino was not allowed to use, own or create any other YouTube channels.

Mr. Bongino did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Last week, Mr. Bongino posted a podcast episode titled “I’m Daring YouTube to Do This.” On the show, he pledged to keep posting videos with his claims about masks, and he dared the company to take action.

In a video on Rumble, a YouTube competitor popular among right-wing audiences, Mr. Bongino showed an email that he claimed was sent to a YouTube official. In the email, he wrote that he knew it was only a “matter of time” until YouTube tried to “silence” him.

“I anxiously waited for this moment,” he wrote. Mr. Bongino also said that he was an investor in Rumble and that he had twice as many followers there as on YouTube. “I dare you to do something about it.”

In September, YouTube banned the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine activists, including those of Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as part of an effort to tamp down Covid misinformation spreading on its platform.

Stuart A. Thompson contributed reporting.

Tesla said Wednesday that its profit leapt more than sixfold last year to $5.5 billion, the highest total in its 19-year history, as sales soared further, especially in Europe and China.

But the automaker warned that supply chain troubles stemming from the pandemic would again constrain production through this year.

“Our own factories have been running below capacity for several quarters as supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through 2022,” the company said.

Tesla’s revenue rose to $53.8 billion in 2021, from $31.5 billion a year earlier. Deliveries increased 87 percent, to 936,000 cars. It closed the year with a strong fourth quarter in which revenue climbed 65 percent, to $17.7 billion, and net income rose to $2.3 billion, from $270 million in the comparable period in 2020.

The company generated $4.6 billion in cash in the fourth quarter and ended the year with $17.5 billion in cash on hand.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said the company would not announce any expansion of its product lineup this year so it could focus on increasing production.

Adding models while demand is outstripping supply “wouldn’t make sense,” he said in a conference call with analysts. “If we introduced new vehicles, our total output would decrease.”

Tesla said it was working on its Cybertruck pickup, which was supposed to go into production in 2021.

The company repeated a previous forecast that it expected sales to grow about 50 percent a year on average for the next few years. Mr. Musk said Tesla would grow “comfortably above” that figure in 2022.

Tesla grew last year despite a shortage of computer chips that affected the entire industry. The company was able to mitigate the impact of the shortage by switching to types of chips that were more readily available. Tesla can make such a change because its software allows its cars to work with a greater variety of chips than other automakers’ vehicles do.

“The chip shortage is still an issue,” Mr. Musk said Wednesday. “We expect to be chip-limited this year. It should alleviate next year.”

In addition to its established factories in Fremont, Calif., and Shanghai, Tesla needs output from plants it is building in Texas and Germany to maintain its rapid growth.

“We aim to increase our production as quickly as we can, not only through ramping production at new factories in Austin and Berlin, but also by maximizing output from our established factories in Fremont and Shanghai,” the company said Wednesday. “We believe competitiveness in the E.V. market will be determined by the ability to add capacity across the supply chain and ramp production.”

Mr. Musk said Tesla would probably start scouting locations for a new vehicle plant by the end of the year.

The company said it hoped to begin shipping Model Y compacts made in Austin. Production at the plant near Berlin, which had been expected to start by the end of 2021, has been delayed because of disputes with German authorities over permits.

Tesla dominates the market for electric vehicles in the United States, but it is likely to finally face some serious competition this year. Ford Motor, General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai have all outlined ambitious plans to introduce new electric cars in the United States. Two fledgling electric vehicle producers, Rivian and Lucid Motors, also have just started shipping vehicles intended to compete with Tesla.

Tesla’s bottom-line figure for 2021 included nearly $1.5 billion that it earned from selling regulatory credits to other automakers, slightly less than in the previous year.

Amazon settled a price-fixing investigation by the Washington State attorney general’s office on Wednesday, agreeing to pay $2.25 million and end a program that gave it control over the prices of products supplied by third-party sellers on its marketplace.

The suit focused on a program that the Seattle-based company started in 2018 to let sellers use its pricing algorithm. Called Sold by Amazon, the program guaranteed sellers a minimum price while offering a potential upside if the algorithm determined that customers were willing to pay more.

The attorney general’s complaint said the algorithm had harmed consumers in part because it set the minimum price as a “floor” of what Amazon offered customers, “meaning that participating sellers had limited, if any, ability to lower the price of their products without withdrawing the product” from the program.

Glenn Kuper, an Amazon spokesman, said in a statement that the effort had been “small” and meant to “provide another tool to help sellers offer lower prices.” While Amazon is “glad to have this matter resolved,” he said, the company believes the program was legal. Amazon stopped offering Sold by Amazon in 2020 and under the agreement pledged to not offer it again.

Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, said in a statement announcing the settlement that it “promotes product innovation and consumer choice, and makes the market more competitive for sellers in Washington State and across the country.”

Amazon is facing intense pressure in the United States and abroad over its business practices. The Federal Trade Commission has pursued an inquiry into the company and is considering whether to approve its purchase of the MGM movie studio. European regulators brought their own antitrust charges against Amazon in 2020, saying it took advantage of the small merchants that used its marketplace.

Last week, a Senate committee advanced legislation that could stop Amazon from favoring its own products over those of the other sellers on its site. The company has fought the bill aggressively, sending sellers to talk to lawmakers and claiming the legislation could force it to stop outside merchants from reaching its customers.

In a defeat for the European Union’s tech antitrust efforts, a top court on Wednesday threw out a $1.2 billion fine issued against Intel more than a decade ago over practices to undercut a rival in the semiconductor industry.

The court said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s main antitrust regulator, made key mistakes about the competitive impact of Intel’s behavior when determining the chip maker had violated antitrust laws in 2009. Intel had been charged with paying illegal rebates to companies that used its semiconductors over rival Advanced Micro Devices.

The decision by the E.U. General Court in Luxembourg can be appealed, though the commission said it needed time to review the judgment.

The ruling shows how efforts by European regulators to crack down on the world’s largest tech companies can be undercut by the courts. In 2020, Apple won an appeal of an order to repay 13 billion euros in taxes to Ireland, worth about $14.7 billion today. A higher court will hear another appeal of that case.

The courts will also decide the fate of more than $9 billion in fines against Google related to unfair business practices in the company’s shopping, mobile phone and advertising businesses. Antitrust investigations are also underway against Amazon, Apple and Meta, the new company name for Facebook. And the European Union is drafting new antitrust laws that would expand the commission’s power to go after the tech giants.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is preparing to crack down on what it calls junk fees — late payment charges, hotel resort fees and other tacked-on expenses that collectively add billions to what Americans pay for goods and services.

“Junk fees make it harder for us to choose the best product or service because the true cost is hidden,” Rohit Chopra, the bureau’s director, said at a news conference on Wednesday as the bureau initiated a request for public comment on the use of such fees. Such a request is the formal first step in the lengthy process of creating new rules for financial services providers.

Mr. Chopra said his agency was particularly interested in areas in which providers seem to operate in lock step — for example, the $25 to $35 fees that many credit card companies charge for overdue payments, which reap them an estimated $14 billion annually. Balance transfer fees are another focus: Consumers transferred $35 billion in 2020, incurring fees that averaged around 3 percent.

Bureau officials also cited the service fees levied by concert ticket providers and the resort fees imposed by hotels as areas of concern.

The junk-fees request is the latest move by the consumer bureau to focus on charges levied on users. In December, the agency issued a report on the $15 billion a year that banks collect in overdraft and insufficient funds fees. Under regulatory pressure, banks are paring them back: Bank of America recently said it would trim its fee to $10 from $35, and Capital One and Ally Financial eliminated theirs entirely.

Mr. Chopra said on Wednesday that those changes were “progress, but it is not enough.”

The agency set a March 31 deadline for comments on so-called junk fees. Bureau officials said they intended to proceed quickly to rule-making, but they also indicated that this issue was likely to remain a focus throughout Mr. Chopra’s five-year term, which is scheduled to run through 2026.


Jan. 26, 2022

An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of money brought in by balance transfer fees last year. It was an average of about 3 percent on $35 billion in transfers, not $35 billion.

Barbie and Elsa are buddies again.

On Wednesday, Mattel announced that it had won back the license to produce dolls and toys based on the Walt Disney Company’s popular ice princesses Elsa and Anna from the “Frozen” movie franchise. The deal also brings other Disney characters who cause young children to squeal in delight — like Cinderella, Ariel and Moana — back into the house that Barbie built.

After years of making the Disney dolls that brought in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, Mattel lost the license in 2016 to its chief rival, Hasbro. That loss badly hobbled Mattel, creating a giant hole in its business and leading to a merry-go-round of top executives over a four-year period.

Mattel’s stock jumped 9 percent on the news to $21.44, while Hasbro’s stock slipped 1.5 percent to $94.10.

“We are incredibly proud to welcome back the Disney Princess and ‘Frozen’ lines to Mattel,” Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel, said in a statement. Financial terms of the deal were not announced, and the company said the new dolls and figures would hit retailers’ shelves at the beginning of 2023.

Since being named Mattel’s chief executive in 2018, Ynon Kreiz, a former entertainment and media-distribution head, has worked feverishly to shore up Mattel’s finances by slashing expenses, laying off employees and closing or selling factories. He has also aimed to raise interest among children by rolling out a number of films featuring its toys, games and figures.

Among the prominent film projects in the works are “Barbie,” a live-action adventure starring Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and directed by the Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”); a live-action movie featuring Hot Wheels cars; and a Thomas the Tank Engine movie that will combine animation and live action.

Mr. Kreiz’s ambition has been to use Mattel’s vast catalog of intellectual property to become more like Marvel Entertainment, a comic book company that morphed into a Hollywood giant.

“In the mid- to long-term, we must become a player in film, television, digital gaming, live events, consumer products, music and digital media,” Mr. Kreiz told The New York Times in July.

General Motors plans to hire more than 8,000 engineers and other highly specialized workers this year as part of a push to transform the company from an old-line manufacturer into a software and high-tech innovator.

The company said Wednesday that it had started the hiring and was looking for engineers with expertise in fuel cells, battery technology, vision systems, robotics and materials science. It is also looking for software developers and computer scientists as well as electrical, mechanical and manufacturing engineers.

“Our commitment to hiring 8,000 tech employees in 2022 is an exciting sign of G.M.’s momentum, our quest to innovate technology with impact and our focus on helping people find their purpose in the workplace,” Jessika Lora, G.M.’s director of global innovation, said in a statement.

G.M. will need legions of technical workers to develop the electric and self-driving vehicles — along with new software and services — that it sees as the foundation for a rapid expansion over the next decade. In October, G.M. said it aimed to roughly double its annual revenue by 2030, to about $280 billion, with much of the growth coming from electric vehicles, driverless ride-hailing services, new insurance products and an expansion of its military contracting.

Other traditional automakers are on similar hiring sprees. Ford Motor, Volkswagen, Toyota and others have each hired thousands of software developers and other computer specialists over the last several years.

These efforts are partly aimed at catching up with Tesla, which developed a central software architecture for its electric cars. This approach has given Tesla several competitive advantages, like the ability to add features and modify its cars through the kind of over-the-air updates consumers typically get for their smartphones.

Traditional automakers also have to compete with start-ups and other tech companies to attract younger workers.

G.M. said it hired 10,000 salaried employees in 2021, a third of them in software development. A portion of those new hires replaced workers who had retired. A third of the people G.M. hired last year were women, and 42 percent belonged to minority groups. The company said it intended to increase those percentages in its 2022 hiring.

“We strive to make General Motors the world’s most inclusive company, and a destination for top talent in all functions and areas of our business,” said Mary T. Barra, G.M.’s chief executive.

Boeing reported a $3.5 billion charge in the final three months of last year from prolonged delays in making and delivering its 787 Dreamliner jet, driving the company to a bruising $4.2 billion loss for the quarter.

The Dreamliner costs were caused in part by a realization that the fixes Boeing needed to make to win Federal Aviation Administration approval for the twin-aisle plane would take longer than expected, the company said Wednesday. Boeing did not provide an update on when it would restart deliveries of the plane and said it now expected that the delay of more than a year would generate a total of $2 billion in “abnormal costs” over the next two years, bringing the total price of the delays to $5.5 billion.

“On the 787 program, we’re progressing through a comprehensive effort to ensure every airplane in our production system conforms to our exacting specifications,” David Calhoun, Boeing’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the financial results, including a $4.3 billion loss for the year, the third annual loss in a row.

“While this continues to impact our near-term results, it is the right approach to building stability and predictability as demand returns for the long term,” he said. “Across the enterprise, we remain focused on safety and quality as we deliver for our customers and invest in our people and in our sustainable future.”

The company reported $14.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, falling short of analysts’ estimates. But there were bright spots: Boeing continued to celebrate the return of the 737 Max and reported operating cash flow of $716 million, its first positive showing since the first quarter of 2019.

The Max was grounded by aviation authorities around the world in early 2019, after a total of 346 people died in two crashes aboard the plane. The F.A.A. became the first regulator to approve the Max, with service resuming in late 2020. Since then, most of the world has followed suit, and the plane has been used for more than 300,000 flights.

Boeing tallied 356 new Max orders in 2021, helping to deliver the company’s best year for commercial airplane sales since 2018, beating its rival Airbus. Boeing said Wednesday that it was producing about 27 Max planes per month, up from 19 in October, and was on track to reach a target monthly output of 31 early this year.

But the success of the Max’s return was offset by the Dreamliner delays, which date back more than a year. In September 2020, Boeing said it expected deliveries of the jet, typically used for long-distance international trips, to be delayed as it worked with the F.A.A. to address a handful of quality concerns.

Boeing restarted deliveries in March only to pause again months later as the company and the F.A.A. disagreed over how to identify planes requiring follow-up inspections. Boeing said Wednesday that it and the agency were still discussing the work needed before deliveries could resume.

Production of the plane was slowed, and the delays could hold back a rebound for the airline industry. American Airlines said last month that a delay in receiving 13 Dreamliners this winter had caused it to trim the number of international flights it expected to offer this summer. Last week, the airline said that it still expected to receive the planes starting in April and that it was in discussions with Boeing about compensation for the delay, some of which it had already received.

United Airlines has similarly said it was forced to pare its offerings as a result of the delays in delivering Dreamliners that it had expected to receive in the first half of 2021 and now expects to receive after this summer.

Wind energy projects are being proposed around the world to help meet climate goals, but the largest maker of turbines is finding that supply chain issues and pandemic lockdowns are hampering wind farm construction and hurting financial results.

“It is troubling and challenging out there,” Henrik Andersen, chief executive of the Danish company Vestas Wind Systems, said on a call with analysts on Wednesday.

Mr. Andersen said the company had to recently navigate the disruption caused by the compulsory mass testing of 14 million residents in Tianjin, China, where Vestas has a manufacturing hub, after 20 Covid-19 cases were discovered.

“This is actually what causes some stop and go, and simply just disturbance,” he said. The company warned that profit margins could fall to as low as zero in 2022.

The situation at Vestas is emblematic of problems facing the wind industry as a whole. Costs of components are rising fast because of soaring prices for steel and other materials. At the same time, choppy delivery schedules and Covid precautions are hampering factory operations and delaying the completion of wind farms.

Utilities and other wind farm developers are hesitating to order new machines because volatile prices for electricity, especially in Europe, are making it difficult to come up with the long-range financial calculations essential for electricity supply contracts.

Mr. Andersen said developers could find themselves in a situation where they were unable to bring wind farms online on time and so, to meet contractual obligations, were forced to buy power at prices that could in Europe be 10 times what they were 18 months ago.

Such problems appear to be industrywide. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Europe’s other giant turbine maker, also recently warned that profits would be lower than expected for similar reasons.

Analysts say the long-term case for wind energy as a source of clean electric power remains strong, although various problems could kill off some of the weaker component makers and will delay projects. In the longer run, higher electric power and oil and gas prices could even spur the shift to renewables, the thinking goes.

“The mid- to long-term outlook for wind energy is unchanged,” Deepa Venkateswaran, an analyst at Bernstein, said in a note to clients after the Vestas announcement.

On the face of it, the preliminary results that Vestas announced on Wednesday in advance of the detailed report scheduled for Feb. 10 do not look so bad.

Vestas’s revenue from making and servicing the giant wind machines rose 5 percent in 2021 to 15.6 billion euros, or about $17.6 billion. Operating profit, though, fell 38 percent, to €461 million.

Over the year, Vestas, which has about 30,000 employees, managed to deliver turbines around the world with the generating capacity comparable to about five modern nuclear power stations.

The International Monetary Fund urged El Salvador on Tuesday to end its recognition of Bitcoin as legal tender. Adopting a cryptocurrency in this way “entails large risks for financial and market integrity, financial stability and consumer protection,” the fund’s executive board wrote.

The price of Bitcoin has fallen more than 50 percent from its peak in November, and the cryptocurrency market as a whole has lost more than $1 trillion in value over that time. For prominent institutions that have bought into Bitcoin, from El Salvador’s government to some multinational corporations, the downturn could prove costly — and may create regulatory headaches, the DealBook newsletter reports.

A year ago, when the meme-stock frenzy was about to morph into a crypto boom, Bitcoin was worth just over $30,000. Since then, it has twice more than doubled in price and then given up the gains. Crypto evangelists like President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, Elon Musk of Tesla and Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy seem undeterred.

El Salvador has spent about $85.5 million on Bitcoin since adopting the cryptocurrency as legal tender in September, including a $15 million purchase a few days ago, during the latest dip. The country has paid an average of about $47,500 per Bitcoin, and the current price is about $37,000, meaning that the Salvadoran investment has lost about 23 percent of its value.

“Most people go in when the price is up, but the safest and most profitable moment to buy is when the price is down,” Mr. Bukele said on Twitter, where he announces Bitcoin purchases and rebukes critics of this investment strategy. “It’s not rocket science.”

MicroStrategy is also unmoved by the downturn. The business intelligence software company has spent about $3.75 billion on Bitcoin, an investment now worth about $4.5 billion. The company’s finance chief told The Wall Street Journal that it would keep on buying.

But holding cryptocurrency is an accounting hassle. In December, the Securities and Exchange Commission told MicroStrategy to revise how it reported the value of its hefty Bitcoin holdings.

MicroStrategy argued that the crypto should be treated like other assets, with gains and losses recognized immediately. The S.E.C. treats Bitcoin like intangibles, with losses reflected by impairments but gains recognized only upon a sale. (Tesla, which bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin last year, reports quarterly results on Wednesday and may face questions on the value of its holdings.)

From an accounting perspective, then, holding on to crypto can only ever be a neutral or losing proposition.

After World War II, corporations moved to exclusive gated suburban campuses to escape traffic, crowds and big-city clamor. Now companies are designing a little city hubbub back into suburban headquarters by adding shops, restaurants, hotels, residences and public parks.

The change in the concept of the corporate campus reflects two related trends that executives say appear to be unaffected by the pandemic. The first is the public and private investment in communities across the country that is making suburbs more dense, walkable, bike-friendly and less dependent on cars. The second is the competition to attract the brightest young employees who want to live and work in lively places, Keith Schneider reports for The New York Times.

“It’s urbanization of the suburban experience,” said Alex Krieger, professor of urban design at Harvard and a principal at NBBJ, an architecture and planning firm in Boston. “Companies are bringing some of the characteristics of the city to their suburban campuses.”

One prominent example is in Tysons, Va., a Washington suburb where Capital One has expanded its 24-acre campus with a theater, a Wegmans supermarket, a 300-room hotel and a rooftop park, all for corporate and public use. Across the street, a 30-story office building under construction will include ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

Other examples are appearing across the country:

  • Walmart is building a 350-acre headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., that includes 2.4 million square feet of office space, a hotel, a food truck plaza, a walking and biking trail and retail shops open to visitors.

  • In 2018, JPMorgan Chase opened a regional headquarters in a $3 billion mixed-use development in Plano, Texas, called Legacy West, which has apartments, stores, restaurants and hotels.

  • Microsoft spent $149.5 million last year to buy 90 acres on the western edge of Atlanta to build a regional headquarters.

Such concerns are a sharp departure from the expansive, private, single-use suburban headquarters built in the 20th century that featured large parking lots and typically included cafeterias. READ THE FULL ARTICLE →

  • A judge in Santa Clara County has granted Apple a temporary restraining order against a woman accused of stalking and threatening the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook. In court documents filed last week, Apple accused the woman, a 45-year-old Virginia resident, of making increasingly alarming threats and statements toward Mr. Cook over email and Twitter since late 2020. She also claimed that she was in a romantic relationship with him and that he was the father of her twin children, according to the documents.

  • Microsoft announced record profit and sales on Tuesday despite investor fears that the pandemic-fueled tech boom may be over. The first of the largest tech companies to report earnings for the three months ending in December, Microsoft said it had $51.7 billion in sales, up 20 percent from a year earlier, and profit rose 21 percent to $18.8 billion. The company saw particularly strong growth in its cloud services while locking up long-term customer deals. READ THE ARTICLE →

The inflation rate in Britain is at its highest in 30 years, and isn’t expected to peak for several more months. Two-thirds of adults have said their cost of living has increased in the past month, according to the Office for National Statistics. Household budgets are facing a squeeze that is only likely to get worse when energy bills jump and tax increases are introduced in the spring.

The New York Times would like to speak to people in Britain facing tighter financial conditions. Have you noticed price increases already and cut back on spending, in ways big or small? Are you planning to change your spending habits in anticipation of higher energy bills and taxes in the spring?

Please answer the questions below. A Times reporter or editor may contact you to hear more.

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that creators who want to make a living online say the fees are too high.