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The Week in Business: Jobs Are Coming Back

  • March 07, 2021

The United States has suspended a 25 percent tariff on wine, cheese and other products as well as a separate tariff on British goods, which were both put in place by the Trump administration in 2019. The tariffs were meant to be payback in a decades-long dispute over airline subsidies. But they also deprived Americans of good liquor and snacks. Scotch whisky exports to the United States have since dropped 35 percent, for example, according to the industry’s trade group. The Biden administration will lift the tariffs for four months while it tries to work out a long-term solution to the trade disagreements.

On Wednesday, Texas will allow all businesses to open at 100 percent capacity. The state has also lifted its mask mandate and all other pandemic restrictions, despite strong warnings from health officials and President Biden, who called the rollback “Neanderthal thinking.” Other states have also eased restrictions on businesses as coronavirus case numbers continue to fall, and the latest unemployment numbers show that jobs are coming back even more quickly than expected, especially in the hospitality industry — good news, over all. But with new variants of the virus floating around and less than 20 percent of the U.S. population partly vaccinated, scientists are worried that overly aggressive reopenings could backfire.

Google has announced a major shake-up in its advertising model. For years, it has used cookies — small crumbs of digital information that companies, advertisers and websites gather to track people’s online habits — to target you with ads (its primary source of revenue). But lots of people find this creepy. And some web browsers, like Safari and Firefox, have restricted the use of cookies out of concern for users’ privacy. Now Google is jumping on the bandwagon, too, and announced plans to phase out cookie use over the next year. That doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly get the same ads as everyone else, though. Instead of cookies, Google is testing a new technology that follows groups of people across the web, rather than individuals, and feeds them ads based on their collective behavior.

Since General Motors vowed in January to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035, other automakers, like Ford Motor, have made similar promises. And last week, Volvo one-upped them all, pledging to go all electric by 2030. The industry’s shift away from fossil fuels has accelerated rapidly since President Biden took office and vowed to fight climate change. It’s also following demand: China, the world’s biggest car market, recently ordered that the majority of new cars be powered by electricity by 2035, and electric cars were the fastest-growing segment of the European market last year.

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