A roundup of the most relevant and important news in the business world in the past week.
Pathetic state of U.S. infrastructure hurting businesses
U.S. Infrastructure: One in nine of the 607,380 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient and 42% of its urban highways congested. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, this will cost companies (such as truckers and manufacturers) an extra $430B in operating expenses by 2020 and cause $1.7T in lost sales opportunities
Mark your calendars for the end of the world on February 7
Debt Ceiling: The agreement in Washington to end the the government shut down and raise the debt ceiling is finalized, albeit extremely temporary. The deal funds federal operations until January 15 and lifts the debt ceiling through February 7. It also calls for the creation of a committee to deal with the U.S. budget issues, although we've all seen the success of such committees in the past (remember the 2011 supercommittee?).
Consumers are frustrated at government shutdown
Consumer Confidence: The government shutdown and general economic uncertainty has had a significant effect on consumers. The monthly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, a thermometer for consumer confidence, plunged to minus 31, the lowest level since November 2011. A negative value shows the majority of consumer opinions on the economy are negative. 47 percent of respondents to the survey on which the index is based believed that the economy was going to get worse, up 13 points from September, an increase which constitutes the biggest surge since Lehman Brothers went under.
United States is now the world's largest oil producer
U.S. World's Largest OIl Producer: Take that, Saudi Arabia, Russia and our environment. According to PIRA Energy Group, an energy markets consulting firm, U.S. total oil supply for 2013 is expected to average 12.1 million barrels a day, overtaking Saudi Arabia, which is expected to average 11.8 million barrels a day, as the largest oil producer in the world. This huge growth in U.S. oil production is due to shale oil. The U.S. shale liquids growth over the last four years has been nearly unparalleled in the history of world oil; only Saudi Arabia in 1970-74 raised its production faster. Overall, the U.S. oil supply growth rate is greater than the sum of the growth of the next nine fastest growing countries combined. This growth is expected to help the U.S. retain the title of world's largest oil producer at least through 2030.
Zynga Co-Founder Leaves Zynga
Zynga Co-Founder: Justin Waldron, a co-founder of Zynga, has announced via a Facebook post that he will be leaving the company after more than six years. This is the latest in a string of departures from the company, including Zynga's chief operating officer, chief marketing officer, the creators of Words With Friends, and the creator of OMGPop.