Business News at a Glance
Posted November 11, 2018 9:16 p.m. EST
In China, the Desperate Make Medicine at Home
China’s aging population is increasingly stricken with deadly diseases, but many can’t find or afford drugs. In some cases, cancer patients and their families make the drugs themselves, finding the ingredients and the instructions online. While China has achieved near-universal health insurance, the coverage is shallow. Patients must pay about 30 percent of costs out of pocket, compared with an average of about 10 percent in the United States. In the first three quarters of last year, China’s health care expenditure per capita rose 13.2 percent, compared with a 9.1 percent increase in disposable income per capita, government data show.
To Prop Up Oil Prices, Officials Begin to Weigh Production Cuts
Major oil producers meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday signaled they were considering changing course and cutting production. But the group did not make any firm decisions. Those are more likely to come when officials gather in Vienna in December for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A statement after the meeting Sunday, however, warned that the gap between supply and demand could widen next year, which “may require new strategies to balance the market.” Brent crude has fallen almost 20 percent to just over $70 a barrel from about $86 a barrel on Oct. 4.
A Big Singles Day for Alibaba, but the Party May Not Last
After 24 hours of frenzied buying and selling, and weeks of advertising and promotions before it, the Alibaba Group announced that its sales hit another high on Singles Day, the Nov. 11 shopping festival that the Chinese e-commerce behemoth cooked up. At the stroke of midnight Monday, Alibaba said it had racked up $30.8 billion in sales the day before, as measured by its own homegrown metric, gross merchandise value. That handily topped last year’s $25.3 billion. But economic growth is slowing, and China’s hundreds of millions of middle-class shoppers seem to be holding on more tightly to their pocketbooks.
‘The Grinch’ Rakes in the Green at the Box Office
“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” based on the 1957 book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas," arrived in 4,141 theaters in North America over the weekend and took in a strong $66 million. The new film, with Benedict Cumberbatch leading the voice cast, cost Illumination Entertainment about $75 million to make and was distributed by Universal Pictures. Second place for the weekend went to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (20th Century Fox), which took in an estimated $30.9 million for a two-week domestic total of $100 million, according to Comscore, which compiles box-office data. “Overlord” (Paramount), arrived to about $10.1 million in ticket sales.
Give Gig Economy Workers Equity? The SEC Is Considering It
The gig economy has created economic opportunities for millions of people. Uber and Lyft have empowered drivers to become paid chauffeurs. But much of the wealth created by these companies is not passed along to workers through conventional wages, but to a small number of insiders who own stock. Gig economy workers are contractors, not regular employees, and federal securities law restricts private companies from issuing shares to such workers. That may soon change. Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission requested public comments on potential updates to the laws that govern who can receive stock in private companies.
Rocket Lab’s Modest Launch Is Giant Leap for Small Rocket Business
A small rocket from a little-known company lifted off Sunday from the east coast of New Zealand, carrying a clutch of tiny satellites. That modest event — the first commercial launch by an American-New Zealand company known as Rocket Lab — could mark the beginning of a new era in the space business, where countless small rockets take off from spaceports around the world. This miniaturization of rockets and spacecraft places outer space within reach of a broader swath of the economy. The rocket, called the Electron, is just 56 feet tall and can carry only 500 pounds into space.
Hotels See Panic Buttons as a #MeToo Solution for Workers
The hotel industry is betting that a simple device can help solve the complex problem of guests sexually assaulting and harassing workers. It’s known as a panic button, a small gadget that housekeepers can use to swiftly call for help. The technology takes different forms, including GPS devices that track employees as they walk through the building, buttons that emit an audible alarm and smartphone apps. Panic buttons have become increasingly widespread at hotels across the country. But the hotel industry has fiercely resisted measures that would punish the accused, saying that they would threaten guests’ due process rights.