General Motors says it will invest $65 million in two plants and create or retain 163 jobs at those sites so it can make more four-cylinder engines.
GM will add capacity at its Tonawanda, N.Y., plant to make engines for its Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers. It will invest $33 million there and create or retain 100 jobs.
GM will add capacity to build engines for its 2013 Malibu sedan at its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. It will invest $32 million and create or retain 63 jobs there.
The investments are part of $2 billion in U.S. manufacturing investments that GM announced last month. The moves are expected to create or retain 4,000 jobs at 17 facilities.
GM said last week that $20 million in improvements at its Fairfax plant would help it keep its 3,900 workers.
Medvedev says government must do less
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday challenged the legacy of his powerful predecessor, Vladimir Putin, condemning the centralization of economic and political power at the Kremlin in what was interpreted by some as an early campaign move ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Medvedev’s statements in a keynote speech to investors at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum were a strong indication that he wants to distance himself from Putin, Russia’s prime minister, in the run-up to next March’s presidential vote.
Food price warning
High food prices are likely to rise even further over the next decade, putting the poor at an increasing risk of malnutrition and hunger, a world food report warned Friday.
The joint report of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the risk of price volatility that has hurt farmers across the globe remains high. The OECD leader came out to back France’s demand for increased transparency and more regulation and public information in the farm commodities markets as a key measure to stabilize prices.
“Information is absolutely of the essence,” OECD chief Angel Gurria said. “The one market that we don’t know and where we have a lot of blind spots is precisely the agricultural market,” where such critical information like the size of stocks remains largely hidden.
The two organizations warned that harvests, currently threatened by drought in several key regions, will be critical.
The report predicts that prices will be 20 percent higher for cereals and up to 30 percent higher for meat in the coming decade compared with the past 10 years.
IMF halts Afghan money
The International Monetary Fund stopped an expected $70 million reconstruction payment to Afghanistan after the near-collapse of the nation’s largest private bank, a government adviser said Friday.
The halted payment shows the displeasure of the IMF and other international donors as Afghan officials have yet to address the continued turmoil surrounding Kabul Bank, which handles the pay for government workers, soldiers and police in Afghanistan.
If donors remain unsatisfied, that could halt the billions of dollars that flow into a country reliant on foreign aid and fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency.
Belarus tightens up
Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko says he may shut the ex-Soviet nation’s borders and tighten controls over imports to cope with the financial crisis.
Belarus has been hit by its worst financial turmoil since the 1991 Soviet collapse. The country recently devalued the national currency, causing panic buying of goods.
Lukashenko said Friday that his government would shut the nation’s borders if the country faces an “economic catastrophe” and fund only the most essential imports.
The Associated Press