February 7, 2023


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Amazon gives $2.25 million to Tennessee housing fund and more business news

Amazon donates to housing fund

One of Tennessee’s fastest-growing employers is donating $2.25 million to help financially struggling homeowners in facing housing insecurity challenges this year from tornado recovery, job losses, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon, the online shipping giant that has invested nearly $7 billion in Tennessee and created more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs across Tennessee, announced Monday it is helping launch the Housing Resiliency Fund that will make financial grants available to help ensure that low- and moderate-income families can keep their homes and maintain critical, long-term financial stability.

The grant comes as Amazon has hired more than 1,000 employees in Nashville toward its goal of bringing more than 5,000 corporate and technology jobs to Tennessee’s capital city to support Amazon’s operations business. Amazon built its first fulfillment centers in Tennessee in Chattanooga and Charleston, Tennessee in 2010.

“Amazon’s donation will help us keep more families in their homes, which is always our ultimate goal, because home ownership is the key to long-term wealth building,” said Marshall Crawford, CEO of The Housing Fund in Nashville. “Across Middle Tennessee, there is a growing divide between wages and housing costs, forcing moderate-income families to make decisions about the future of their living conditions. For these families, these grants will be game-changing.”


China trade surplus soars in November

China’s politically sensitive trade surplus soared to a record $75.4 billion in November as exports surged 21.1{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} over a year earlier, propelled by American consumer demand.

Exports to the United States rose 46{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} despite lingering tariff hikes in a trade war with Washington, customs data showed Monday.

Total exports rose to $268 billion, accelerating from October’s 11.4{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} growth. Imports gained 5{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} to $192.6 billion, up from the previous month’s 4.7{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb}.

Chinese exporters have benefited from the economy’s relatively early reopening after the Communist Party declared the coronavirus pandemic under control in March while foreign competitors still are hampered by anti-disease controls.

“Exports were much stronger than expected in November,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Forecasters say that surge is unlikely to last into 2021 once coronavirus vaccines are rolled out.


Consumer borrowing rises 2.1{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} in October

U.S. consumers took out more auto and student loans in October, but cut back on credit card borrowing, a sign that they remain cautious about spending amid a spike in virus cases.

The Federal Reserve said Monday that consumer borrowing rose 2.1{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} in October to $4.16 trillion, pushed higher by a 4.8{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} jump in a category mostly made up of student and auto loans. Credit card borrowing fell 6.7{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb}.

The figures suggest that consumers haven’t fully recovered from the pandemic recession. Overall borrowing is still 1{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} below its pre-pandemic level. Outstanding balances on credit cards are still down nearly 11{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} compared with their level in February, before the pandemic intensified.

The economy rebounded quickly in the July-September quarter from the spring business shutdowns, but growth has slowed in the fall. Consumer spending rose in October, according to the Commerce Department, but that increase was the smallest since April, which was the peak of business closures.


Uber sells development unit for autonomous cars

Uber is selling off its autonomous vehicles development arm to Aurora as the ride-hailing company slims down after its revenues were pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Aurora will acquire the employees and technology behind Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in an equity transaction, the companies said Monday.

Uber will invest $400 million into Aurora, and Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Aurora’s board of directors, the companies said.

After the transaction, Aurora will be worth $10 billion and Uber will hold 26{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} stake in the company, said Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora, in an interview.

“Our first product will be in trucking and freight, but we look forward to taking this great team that we have and accelerating that while continuing working on light vehicles and ride-haling, and we’ll ultimately see our vehicles deploying on the Uber network,” Urmson said.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner