Thursday, September 24, 2015

Caterpillar could cut 10,000 jobs in three years; Fed chair hints of rate rise this year; Migration as a defining issue of this century

1 Caterpillar could cut 10,000 jobs in three years (BBC)  Caterpillar, the US maker of construction and mining equipment, has said it could cut its workforce by more than 10,000 by 2018. The company - which employs more than 126,000 worldwide - said it would cut up to 5,000 jobs by the end of 2016. It is looking to reduce annual costs by $1.5bn by the end of 2016.

Caterpillar has been hit by the collapse of commodity prices which have affected its key customers in the mining and energy sectors. The firm has reduced its revenue forecast for this year by 2% to $48bn and says earnings next year will fall 5%. It will be first time in the company's 90 year history that sales revenues have fallen for four years in a row.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar chairman and chief executive, said: "We are facing a convergence of challenging marketplace conditions in key regions and industry sectors - namely in mining and energy." The company has reduced its total workforce by more than 31,000 since mid-2012.

Caterpillar warned there could be a "total possible workforce reduction of more than 10,000 people" and said it expected to close some 20 manufacturing facilities over the next three years. Mr Oberhelman said: "While we've already made substantial adjustments as these market conditions have emerged, we are taking even more decisive actions now.

2 Asian shares up as Fed chair hints of rate rise this year (Straits Times) Asian stocks rose after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said the US central bank is on track to raise interest rates this year.

“Most FOMC participants including myself currently anticipate that achieving these conditions will likely entail an initial increase in the federal funds rate later this year, followed by a gradual pace of tightening thereafter”, Ms Yellen said. “But if the economy surprises us, our judgments about appropriate monetary policy will change”.

2 Migration as a defining issue of this century (Alexander Betts in The Guardian) This is the first time in its history that the European Union has faced a mass influx of refugees from outside the region. Each year, as UNHCR announced record numbers of displaced people, the general assumption – until recently – was that this is a problem for other parts of the world. However, rising displacement that had mainly affected the Middle East and Africa has finally reached Europe’s shores in significant numbers.

Asylum numbers do fluctuate over time depending on the state of the world, and Europe has witnessed significant spikes in numbers before. In 1992, the EU received 672,000 asylum seekers, and numbers remained high during the Bosnia conflict.

In 2001, numbers again peaked at 424,000 following the Kosovo crisis and with many arriving from Somalia and Afghanistan. This year, numbers are likely to exceed those figures but not dramatically, especially when one considers that in 1992 there were 15 EU member states and today there are 28.

In general terms, the number of refugees in the world is broadly a function of the number of wars and human-rights-abusing dictatorships at any given time. Today, there are a series of internal and regional armed conflicts around the world. Most of these are in two regions, the Middle East and Africa.

There are also grounds to believe that refugees and displacement are likely to become a defining issue of the 21st century. Two global trends in particular suggest this: fragility and mobility. In both cases, the international community is struggling to come up with viable collective responses.

First, a growing number of states are characterised by chronic fragility, with weak governance leading to an inability or unwillingness to ensure the most fundamental human rights of citizens. The Fragile States Index places countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Syria and Afghanistan towards the top of this list.

Second, there is greater human mobility than ever before. In 1970, there were 70 million international migrants; today there are well over 200 million. With globalisation, the opportunity and inclination to move is greater than ever. States continue to pursue the politically expedient fiction that they can unilaterally assert sovereign control over immigration but the reality is more complex.

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