U.S. budget deficit jumps to record $1.7 trillion and more business news – Chattanooga Times Free Press


Budget deficit jumps to record $1.7 trillion

The U.S. government’s budget deficit surged to an all-time high of $1.7 trillion for the first six months of this budget year.

That’s nearly double the previous record, as another round of economic-support checks added billions of dollars to spending last month.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit for the first half of the budget year — from October through March — was up from a deficit of $743.5 billion for the same period a year ago. The budget report showed that the deficit for just March totaled $659.6 billion, the third-highest monthly deficit.

Uber wants drivers for record demand

Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company said Monday that total monthly bookings, including food delivery and passenger service, reached an all-time high in March. In a government filing, the company said demand for ride-hailing, which plunged during coronavirus lockdowns last year, has recovered more quickly than expected as daily COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 3 million per day in the U.S.

Passenger bookings reached the highest level since last March, when spiking infection rates began to shut the country down.

Ant Group faces more regulations

Chinese regulators have ordered Alibaba Group Holding’s financial affiliate Ant Group to become a financial holding company that could be regulated more stringently.

The authorities also ordered Ant to cease alleged anti-competitive behavior in its payments business. At a meeting on Monday, the People’s Bank of China and other financial regulators told Ant to reduce the balance of its money-market fund, and to stop any illegal credit, insurance or wealth-management activities.

The guidance for Ant Group is part of a major overhaul for the company after regulators suspended a planned $34.5 billion IPO, citing regulatory changes, in November just days before its trading debut.

Self-driving Cruise taxis soon in Dubai

Dubai said Monday that U.S. self-driving car company Cruise will become the first to operate autonomous taxis and ride-hailing services in the United Arab Emirates city of more than three million people.

It is the first venture outside of the U.S. for General Motors-owned Cruise, which has been operating electric vehicles in San Francisco for years, although it just recently began testing without the safety of a backup driver in the car. Cruise plans to begin offering a fully autonomous ride-hailing service there but it has not said when that will begin.

The partnership, Dubai officials said, aims to reduce traffic accidents, cut pollution and save money while converting 25% of all trips in the city to driverless transport by 2030.

As part of the agreement, Cruise will establish a Dubai-based company that will be responsible for the fleet of roomy vehicles, which have four passenger seats and no visible driver’s seat or controls.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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