Business

Why One Shaky Bank Is Stirring Fears of a Wider Financial Mess
Business

Why One Shaky Bank Is Stirring Fears of a Wider Financial Mess

As the one-year anniversary of a crisis that brought down several midsize banks approaches, trouble at another lender is putting unwelcome attention on the industry again.Concerns now center on New York Community Bancorp, which operates roughly 400 branches nationwide under brands such as Flagstar Bank and Ohio Savings Bank. The bank ballooned in size over the past year, to more than $100 billion in assets, after taking over the fallen Signature Bank last spring in an auction organized by federal regulators.New York Community Bancorp’s stock nose-dived after it released an ugly earnings report that included unexpected losses on real estate loans tied to both office and apartment buildings. Its shares have lost about half their value over the past week.Shares of other lenders with portfolio...
A City Built on Steel Tries to Reverse Its Decline
Business

A City Built on Steel Tries to Reverse Its Decline

Gary, Ind., was once a symbol of American innovation. The home of U.S. Steel’s largest mill, Gary churned out the product that built America’s bridges, tunnels and skyscrapers. The city reaped the rewards, with a prosperous downtown and vibrant neighborhoods.Gary’s smokestacks are still prominent along Lake Michigan’s sandy shore, starkly juxtaposed between the eroding dunes and Chicago’s towering silhouette to the northwest. But now they represent a city looking for a fresh start.More than 10,000 buildings sit abandoned, and the population of 180,000 in the 1960s has dropped by more than half. Poverty, crime and an ignoble moniker — “Scary Gary” — deter private investors and prospective homeowners.As U.S. Steel stands at a crossroads — a planned acquisition would put it under foreign cont...
Sean Wang Lives His ‘Fairy Tale’ at Sundance
Business

Sean Wang Lives His ‘Fairy Tale’ at Sundance

“I feel like I’m in a fairy tale,” Sean Wang said to the sold-out crowd gathered at the Ray Theater in Park City, Utah, last month for his Sundance Film Festival debut.Mr. Wang, a 29-year-old filmmaker, was dressed in a black suit and white Vans (a nod to his skateboarding roots). He grabbed his chest in a show of how fast his heart was beating as he introduced his film, “Dìdi.” It is a coming-of-age story about an angsty, insecure 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy trying to find his place in the world.“I’m just going to take a few seconds to take this all in,” he said before snapping a photograph of the audience. The warm crowd included Mr. Wang’s family and friends, the film’s cast and crew, and a handful of potential buyers who have the power to transform his station in life from aspir...
Walmart to Add 150 U.S. Stores in Five-Year Expansion Drive
Business

Walmart to Add 150 U.S. Stores in Five-Year Expansion Drive

Walmart will add 150 stores in the United States over the next five years, a major expansion drive for the retail giant.The company said the move, which it announced in a statement on Wednesday, would involve millions of dollars in investment. Walmart employs roughly 1.6 million people in the United States, and said it hires hundreds of people each time it opens a new store.Walmart had just over 4,600 stores nationwide at the end of October, down from more than 4,700 a year earlier. The company has not opened a new U.S. store since late 2021.Most of the stores that Walmart plans to open will be newly built, while others will be conversions of existing locations to new formats. The first two new stores will open in the spring, in Florida and Georgia, and the company is completing constructi...
Minute-Long Soap Operas Are Here. Is America Ready?
Business

Minute-Long Soap Operas Are Here. Is America Ready?

When Albee Zhang received an offer to produce cheesy short-form features made for phones last spring, she was skeptical, and so, she declined.But the offers kept coming. Finally, Ms. Zhang, who has been a producer for 12 years, realized it could be a profitable new way of storytelling and said yes.Since last summer, she has produced two short-form features and is working on four more for several apps that are creating cookie-cutter content aimed at women.Think: Lifetime movie cut up into TikTok videos. Think: soap opera, but for the short attention span of the internet age.The biggest player in this new genre is ReelShort, an app that offers melodramatic content in minute-long, vertically shot episodes and is hoping to bring a successful formula established abroad to the United States by h...
Private Equity Is Starting to Share With Workers, Without Taking a Financial Hit
Business

Private Equity Is Starting to Share With Workers, Without Taking a Financial Hit

In 2018, Anna-Lisa Miller was working with agricultural cooperatives in Hawaii, helping them reinvest in their communities through shared ownership.Ms. Miller, who had gone to law school and had planned to do civil rights litigation, loved the principle of workers partaking in the financial success of their employers, and the next year joined Project Equity, a nonprofit that helps small businesses transition to worker ownership. But it was slow going, with each transaction requiring customized assistance.Then she came across an investor presentation from a different universe: KKR, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. In it, a KKR executive, Pete Stavros, discussed a model he had been developing to provide employees with an equity stake in companies it purchased, so the workers ...
The Key Issues for Business in a Likely Trump-Biden Rematch
Business

The Key Issues for Business in a Likely Trump-Biden Rematch

After beating Nikki Haley in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Donald Trump reaffirmed his position as the leading candidate to win the Republican nomination. That has business leaders facing the possibility of another Trump presidency, and their investors trying to figure out what it could mean for their bottom lines.The questions are, perhaps not surprisingly, coming from seemingly every corner of the economy.During Blackstone’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday, an analyst wanted to know if uncertainty over who would win a likely Biden-Trump matchup could freeze deal flow. (“I’d say transaction activity is going to be more tied to the Fed’s activities,” said Jonathan Gray, the company’s president and chief operating officer.)Elsewhere, on a call with the financial services company Bread, an ...
Taking on Trump, Biden Promotes ‘Infrastructure Decade’ in Wisconsin
Business

Taking on Trump, Biden Promotes ‘Infrastructure Decade’ in Wisconsin

Consumer confidence is up. Fears of a recession are abating. The economy is growing. And a corroded bridge in Wisconsin is receiving more funding.It is a wintry mix of positive news for President Biden, who traveled to the shores of a bay near Lake Superior on Thursday to stand at the foot of the Blatnik Bridge, a structure that his administration said would have failed by 2030 without a $1 billion infusion provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law that Mr. Biden championed.The president was there to talk infrastructure and the economy, and to contrast his performance with that of his predecessor and likely general election challenger, former President Donald J. Trump.“The economic growth is stronger than we had during the Trump administration,” Mr. Biden, dressed in a casual pullover ...
Netflix is Said to License ‘Sex and the City’ From HBO
Business

Netflix is Said to License ‘Sex and the City’ From HBO

HBO is renting out one of its most valuable series to Netflix.Every season of “Sex and the City,” the HBO comedy that aired from 1998 to 2004, will begin streaming on Netflix for the first time in early April, according to three people familiar with the deal.HBO had a longstanding policy of not licensing its shows to Netflix until last year, when it sent over titles including “Six Feet Under,” “Insecure,” “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “Ballers.” Several of these older series quickly leaped into Top 10 most-watched streaming lists after they began appearing on Netflix.Now “Sex and the City,” which had been licensed to cable networks, will be offered on Netflix as well. It was not clear how much Netflix will pay to license the series, one of the most illustrious titles in HBO’s libra...
War Has Already Hurt the Economies of Israel’s Nearest Neighbors
Business

War Has Already Hurt the Economies of Israel’s Nearest Neighbors

In the Red Sea, attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants on commercial ships continue to disrupt a crucial trade route and raise shipping costs. The threat of escalation there and around flash points in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and now Iran and Pakistan ratchets up every day.Despite the staggering death toll and wrenching misery of the violence in the Middle East, the broader economic impact so far has been mostly contained. Oil production and prices, a critical driver of worldwide economic activity and inflation, have returned to pre-crisis levels. International tourists are still flying into other countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.Yet for Israel’s next-door neighbors — Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan — the economic damage is already severe....