Abdi Latif Dahir in Nairobi, Emily Schmall in New Delhi, Skandha Gunasekara in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Salman Masood in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed reporting. Li You and Ana Lankes contributed research.

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South Korea, U.S. fire missiles to protest ‘reckless’ North Korean test

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS, Oct 5 (Reuters) – South Korea and the U.S. military conducted rare missile drills and an American supercarrier repositioned east of North Korea after Pyongyang flew a missile over Japan, one of the allies’ sharpest responses since 2017 to a North Korean weapon test.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that nuclear-armed North Korea risked further condemnation and isolation if it continued its “provocations.”

However, Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy told a U.N. Security Council meeting called by the United States that imposing sanctions on North Korea was a “dead end” that brought “zero result,” and China’s deputy U.N. ambassador said the council needed to play a constructive role “instead of relying solely on strong rhetoric or pressure.”

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North Korea test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) farther than ever before on Tuesday, sending it soaring over Japan for the first time in five years and prompting a warning for residents there to take cover.

Washington called the test “dangerous and reckless,” and the U.S. military and its allies have stepped up displays of force.

South Korean and American troops fired a volley of missiles into the sea in response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday, and the allies earlier staged a bombing drill with fighter jets in the Yellow Sea.

The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, a U.S. Navy ship that made its first stop in South Korea last month for the first time in years, will also return to the sea between Korea and Japan with its strike group of other warships. The South Korean military called it a “highly unusual” move designed to show the allies’ resolve to respond to any threats from North Korea.

Speaking during a visit to Chile, Blinken said the United States, South Korea and Japan were working closely together “to demonstrate and strengthen our defensive and deterrent capabilities in light of the threat from North Korea.”

He reiterated a U.S. call for Pyongyang to return to dialogue, and added: “If they continue down this road, it will only increase the condemnation, increase the isolation, increase the steps that are taken in response to their actions.”

The U.N. Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss North Korea despite China and Russia telling council counterparts they were opposed to an open meeting of the 15-member body.

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, accused China and Russia this week of emboldening North Korea by not properly enforcing sanctions.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in an address to the Security Council, said North Korea had “enjoyed blanket protection from two members of this council.”

In May, China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-led push to impose more U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches, publicly splitting the Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang with sanctions in 2006.

Kritenbrink also said a resumption of nuclear weapons testing by North Korea for the first time since 2017 was likely only awaiting a political decision.

South Korean officials said North Korea had completed preparations for a nuclear test and might use a smaller weapon meant for operational use or a big device with a higher yield than in previous tests.

SOUTH KOREAN MISSILE FAILURE

The South Korean military confirmed that one of its Hyunmoo-2C missiles failed shortly after launch and crashed during the exercise, but that no one was hurt.

Footage shared on social media by a nearby resident and verified by Reuters showed smoke and flames rising from the military base.

South Korea’s military said the fire was caused by burning rocket propellant, and although the missile carried a warhead, it did not explode. It apologised for worrying residents.

It is not rare for military hardware to fail, and North Korea has suffered several failed missile launches this year as well. However, the South Korean failure threatened to overshadow Seoul’s efforts to demonstrate military prowess in the face of North Korea’s increasing capabilities.

The Hyunmoo-2C is one of South Korea’s latest missiles and analysts say its capability as a precision “bunker buster” make it a key part of Seoul’s plans for striking the North in the event of a conflict.

In its initial announcement of the drill, South Korea’s military made no mention of the Hyunmoo-2C launch or its failure, but later media briefings were dominated by questions about the incident.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has made such displays of military force a cornerstone of his strategy for countering North Korea, had vowed that the overflight of Japan would bring a decisive response from his country, its allies and the international community.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea’s test in the “strongest terms,” and the European Union called it a “reckless and deliberately provocative action.” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the launch and said it was a violation of Security Council resolutions.

It was the first North Korean missile to follow a trajectory over Japan since 2017, and its estimated 4,600-km (2,850-mile) flight was the longest for a North Korean test, which are usually “lofted” into space to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.

Analysts and security officials said it may have been a variant of the Hwasong-12 IRBM, which North Korea unveiled in 2017 as part of what it said was a plan to strike U.S. military bases in Guam.

Neither North Korea’s government nor its state media have reported on the launch.

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Reporting by Joori Roh in Seoul, Humeyra Pamuk in Santiago, David Brunnstrom in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Chris Reese, Sandra Maler, Gerry Doyle and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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As E.U. Seeks to Curb Russia’s Revenues, Oil Supply Cut Poses Obstacle

Credit…Getty Images

What impact a European price cap on Russian oil may have remains a matter of conjecture because many of the details, including the price, remain to be determined. But some analysts say it could have unintended consequences.

Henning Gloystein, a director at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm, said that the cap might wind up just continuing the status quo, since Russia is already selling oil to China and India at a 30 percent discount. The end result of the cap may be to simply replicate that discount on Russian oil exports to those nations, which have resisted joining the West in imposing sanctions. “It is formalizing something that is already there,” he said.

Others say that the cap, which is expected to gain final approval on Thursday, will add more bureaucratic procedures to a long series of sanctions already in place against Russia. Those extra steps may impede the flow of oil around the world and raise prices, causing the sort of major disruption that Washington appears to be trying to avoid.

“It adds new complexity to the task of redirecting Russian oil to new destinations,” Richard Bronze, head of geopolitics for Energy Aspects, a political risk firm, said.

That the specifics of the cap, including the price, have not been spelled out will likely make life difficult for people buying and selling oil, who need to make decisions several weeks in advance, Mr. Bronze said.

“They would not know what they would need to do or what price they would need to agree with a Russian seller if they wanted to abide by the price cap,” he said. “This is another example of how policymakers are not in tune with what the industry and the market are saying to make this policy work.”

China has leaned in favor of Russia during the Ukraine war, repeating Russian disinformation, but so far, Western government experts say, China has refrained from providing Moscow military assistance or helping Russia to evade sanctions.

China’s foreign ministry criticized the concept of price caps soon after the idea was first unveiled by Western leaders a month ago, warning that oil was too important to the global economy to be subject to the planned price controls. “Oil is a global commodity — ensuring global energy supply security is vitally important,” Mao Ning, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Sept. 5.

Four days later, Ben Harris, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for economic policy, said at forum that price caps by other countries would allow China to demand deep discounts on the oil it purchases from Russia as well. The United States would be satisfied with that indirect effect on Russia’s prices, he said.

China’s foreign ministry is closed this week for a national holiday, and issued no immediate response to the European action on Wednesday.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in an email on Wednesday that while Russia had profited in recent months from high world energy prices, the country would pay a long-term price.

“It’s clear at this stage that Russia isn’t winning the energy battle,” Mr. Birol said. “Its short-term gain in income from the crisis is outweighed by the long-term loss of both trust and revenues that it has brought about by ruining its relationship with the European Union, its biggest customer.”

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Birol pointed out, about 75 percent of Russia’s natural gas exports and 55 percent of its oil exports went to Europe. “Finding alternative markets on this scale cannot be done quickly or easily, especially in the case of natural gas,” he said.

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SWIFT sets out blueprint for central bank digital currency network

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LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Financial messaging system SWIFT has laid out its blueprint for a global central bank digital currency (CBDC) network following an 8-month experiment on different technologies and currencies.

The trial, which for the last month has involved both France and Germany’s national central banks as well as global lenders like HSBC, Standard Chartered and UBS, looked at how CBDCs could be used internationally and even converted into fiat money if needed.

Around 90% of the world’s central banks are now using, trialling or looking into CBDCs. Most don’t want to be left behind by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but are grappling with technological complexities.

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SWIFT’s head of innovation Nick Kerigan said its trial, which will be followed by more advanced testing over the next year, resembled a bicycle wheel where 14 central and commercial banks in total connected spoke-like into its main hub.

The idea is that once scaled-up, banks may need only one main global connection, rather than thousands if they were to set up connections with each counterpart individually.

“We believe that the number of connections needed is much fewer,” Kerigan said. “Therefore, you are likely to have fewer breaks (in the chain) and you are likely to achieve greater efficiency.”

CBDCs are being seen as a step forward as they could effectively be programmed to meet both governments’ and individuals’ specific needs, although they have also raised concerns about privacy and surveillance.

SWIFT’s trial also tested different underlying CBDC technologies known as Distributed Ledger Technologies. The use of various technologies has also been raised as a potential hurdle for rapid global adoption.

There was a separate trial too carried out with Citi, clearing house Clearstream and Northern Trust on ‘tokenised’ assets – traditional assets like stocks and bonds transformed into digital tokens that can then be issued and traded in real-time.

Some countries such as the Bahamas and Nigeria already have CBDCs up and running. China is well advanced with real-life trials of an e-yuan, while central bank umbrella group, the Bank for International Settlements, has also been running cross-border trials.

Central Bank Digital Currencies around the world

SWIFT’s main advantage though is that its existing network is already usable in over 200 countries and connects more than 11,500 banks and funds.

The Belgium-based firm has gone from being virtually unknown outside banking circles to a household name this year after it cut most of Russia’s banks off from its network as part of the West’s sanctions for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kerigan said that kind of move could also happen in a new CBDC system, but doubted whether it would stop countries joining one.

“Ultimately what most central banks are looking to do is to provide us with a CBDC for the people, the businesses and the organisations in their jurisdiction.”

“So a solution that’s fast and efficient and that gains access to as many other countries as possible would seem to be an attractive one.”

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Additional reporting by Tom Wilson Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Mark Potter

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A Strong Dollar Is Wreaking Havoc on Emerging Markets. A Debt Crisis Could Be Next.

The average household in Ghana is paying two-thirds more than it did last year for diesel, flour and other necessities. In Egypt, wheat is so expensive that the government has fallen half a billion dollars short of its budget for a bread subsidy it provides to its citizens. And Sri Lanka, already struggling to control a political crisis, is running out of fuel, food and medical supplies.

A strong dollar is making the problems worse.

Compared with other currencies, the U.S. dollar is the strongest it has been in two decades. It is rising because the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates sharply to combat inflation and because America’s economic health is better than most. Together, these factors have attracted investors from all over the world. Sometimes they simply buy dollars, but even if investors buy other assets, like government bonds, they need dollars to do so — in each case pushing up the currency’s value.

That strength has become much of the world’s weakness. The dollar is the de facto currency for global trade, and its steep rise is squeezing dozens of lower-income nations, chiefly those that rely heavily on imports of food and oil and borrow in dollars to fund them.

But much of the damage is already behind us.

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  • “We are in a fragile situation,” Mr. El-Erian said. “Country after country is flashing amber, and some are already flashing red.”

    Many lower-income countries were already struggling during the pandemic.

    Roughly 22 million people in Ghana, or a third of its population, reported a decline in their income between April 2020 and May 2021, according to a survey from the World Bank and Unicef. Adults in almost half of the households with children surveyed said they were skipping a meal because they didn’t have enough money. Almost three-quarters said the prices of major food items had increased.

    Then came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war between two of the world’s largest exporters of food and energy led to a big surge in prices, especially for importers like Ghana. Consumer prices have gone up 30 percent for the year through June, according to data from the research firm Moody’s Analytics. For household essentials, annual inflation has reached 60 percent or more this year, the S&P data shows.

    To illustrate this, consider the price of a barrel of oil in dollars versus the Ghanaian cedi. At the beginning of October last year, the price of oil stood at $78.52 per barrel, rising to nearly $130 per barrel in March before falling back to $87.96 at the beginning of this month, a one-year increase of 12 percent in dollar terms. Over the same period, the Ghanaian cedi has weakened over 40 percent against the dollar, meaning that the same barrel of oil that cost roughly 475 cedi a year ago now costs over 900 cedi, almost twice as much.

    Adding to the problem are large state-funded subsidies, some taken on or increased through the pandemic, that are now weighing on government finances.

    Ghana’s president cut fuel taxes in November 2021, losing roughly $22 million in projected revenue for the government — the latest available numbers.

    In Egypt, spending on what the government refers to as “supply commodities,” almost all of which is wheat for its long-running bread subsidy, is expected to come in at around 7 percent of all government spending this year, 12 percent higher — or more than half a billion dollars — than the government budgeted.

    As costs ballooned throughout the pandemic, governments took on more debt. Ghana’s public debt grew to nearly $60 billion from roughly $40 billion at the end of 2019, or to nearly 80 percent of its gross domestic product from around 63 percent, according to Moody’s.

    It’s one of four countries listed by S&P, alongside Pakistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where interest payments alone account for more than half of the government’s revenues.

    “We can’t forget that this is happening on the back end of a once-in-a-century pandemic in which governments, to try and support families as best they could, did borrow more,” said Frank Gill, an analyst at S&P. “This is a shock following up on another shock.”

    In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its government debt for the first time in its history. Over the past month, the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana have all reached out to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout as they struggle to meet their debt financing needs, no longer able to turn to international investors for more money.

    “I don’t think there is a lot of appetite to lend money to some of these countries,” said Brian Weinstein, co-head of credit trading at Bank of America. “They are incredibly vulnerable at the moment.”

    That vulnerability is already reflected in the bond market.

    In 2016, Ghana borrowed $1 billion for 10 years, paying an interest rate of just over 8 percent. As the country’s financial position has worsened and investors have backed away, the yield — indicative of what it would now cost Ghana to borrow money until 2026 — has risen to above 35 percent.

    It’s an untenable cost of debt for a country in Ghana’s situation. And Ghana is not alone. For bonds that also mature in 2026, yields for Pakistan have reached almost 40 percent.

    “We have concerns where any country has yields that calls into question their ability to refinance in public markets,” said Charles Cohen, deputy division chief of monetary and capital market departments at IMF.

    The risk of a sovereign debt crisis in some emerging markets is “very, very high,” said Jesse Rogers, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. Mr. Rogers likened the current situation to the debt crises that crushed Latin America in the 1980s — the last time the Fed sought to quell soaring inflation.

    Already this year, more than $80 billion has been withdrawn from mutual funds and exchange-traded funds — two popular types of investment products — that buy emerging market bonds, according to EPFR Global, a data provider. As investors sell, the United States is often the beneficiary, further strengthening the dollar.

    “It’s by far the worst year for outflows the market has ever seen,” said Pramol Dhawan, head of emerging markets at Pimco.

    Even citizens in some of these countries are trying to exchange their money for dollars, fearful of what’s to come and of further currency depreciation — yet inadvertently also contributing to it.

    “For pockets of emerging markets, this is a really challenging backdrop and one of the most challenging backdrops we have faced for many years,” Mr. Dhawan said.

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    Fintech Executive Jerry Halbrook Joins Pennymac’s Leadership Team as Chief Mortgage Innovation Officer

    WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE: PFSI) (Pennymac) announced today the appointment of Jerry Halbrook as the organization’s Chief Mortgage Innovation Officer. With decades of Fintech experience, Mr. Halbrook will develop and launch new technology solutions, preparing the company for future innovations while enhancing Pennymac’s business model.

    “Pennymac welcomes Jerry and his extensive expertise as we continue to make significant strides towards building the future of technology in the mortgage banking industry,” said Doug Jones, President and Chief Mortgage Banking Officer at Pennymac. “Jerry is a proven leader who will accelerate Pennymac’s growth in sectors where our industry is moving – especially in today’s competitive and volatile market.”

    With over 40 years of experience, Mr. Halbrook has held senior roles working for top 10 mortgage lenders as well as boutique and large Fintech companies. Mr. Halbrook has led multiple companies in their development, adoption and implementation of new technology platforms. Most recently, Mr. Halbrook was the Chief Executive Officer of Volly, a Fintech company that offers a full suite of technology solutions related to the mortgage and real estate industry.

    “We live in a rapidly evolving digital world where customers’ needs are changing. I look forward to working with the immensely talented leadership team at Pennymac to provide technology that allows our partners, like correspondent lenders and brokers, to leverage these solutions for the benefit of their customers,” said Jerry Halbrook, Chief Mortgage Innovation Officer at Pennymac. “It is an honor to join a team that inspires industry-leading innovations focused on delivering a superior customer experience.”

    Since its founding in 2008, Pennymac has transformed how the mortgage industry thinks about homeownership and serviced more than $1 trillion in loans for over 4 million homeowners. As one of the largest lenders in the country, Pennymac originates and makes a permanent capital investment to service the loans, and is uniquely positioned to be a lifetime partner to its customers. For more information about Pennymac, please visit https://www.pennymac.com/.

    About PennyMac Financial Services, Inc.

    PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. is a specialty financial services firm focused on the production and servicing of U.S. mortgage loans and the management of investments related to the U.S. mortgage market. Founded in 2008, the company is recognized as a leader in the U.S. residential mortgage industry and employs over 4,800 people across the country. For the twelve months ended June 30, 2022, PennyMac Financial’s production of newly originated loans totaled $166 billion in unpaid principal balance, making it the fourth largest mortgage lender in the nation. As of June 30, 2022, PennyMac Financial serviced loans totaling $527 billion in unpaid principal balance, making it a top ten mortgage servicer in the nation. Additional information about PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. is available at ir.pennymacfinancial.com.

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    Russian Disarray on Display as Ukraine’s Forces Advance on Two Fronts

    Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times
    Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times
    Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

    LYMAN, Ukraine — In front of the mayor’s office in Lyman lay a heap of Russian propaganda posters, apparently freshly torn down and partially burned in a fire that went out in a thin fall drizzle on Sunday.

    Decorated in the white, blue and red colors of the Russian flag, they were soggy from the rain. One explained the significance of Russian state symbols, the Russian flag and national anthem. “The national anthem of Russia is loved in our country,” a partially burned poster read.

    A day after Ukrainian forces retook control of Lyman, a strategic railway hub in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, a picture began to emerge of the destruction left behind by fleeing Russian soldiers who had occupied the city for months. In a hasty withdrawal, they abandoned official documents, military vehicles and the bodies of their comrades.

    After weeks of fierce fighting, Russian forces retreated from Lyman on Saturday, just one day after President Vladimir V. Putin illegally declared the surrounding region to be part of Russia citing what Ukraine and its Western allies have called sham referendums in territories partly under Russian control.

    The intense battle for the city was evident on Sunday afternoon. Whole city blocks were panoramic scenes of collapsed brick and corrugated tin roofing. A local bakery, Seagul, was reduced to a heap of rubble. Its bread trucks were still parked in a lot waiting for morning distributions that wouldn’t come.

    Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

    About 5,000 of the pre-war population of 22,000 remained in Lyman, the police said.

    “Look at the destroyed houses,” said Roman Plakhaniv, a lieutenant in the Kramatorsk district police force, who arrived on Sunday to patrol the city. “This was a nice, normal town. People from another country came and destroyed it.”

    Signs of Russia’s plans to put down roots were abundant. Inside city hall were notices explaining how to apply for building permits under the occupation authority and with phone numbers to call to apply for a Russian pension. A stamped and signed document left on a table announced “the creation of the committee for reviewing controversial questions in distributing social assistance.” It was formed on Sept. 9.

    Copies of a newspaper called Donetsk Republic were scattered about on the floor. An edition dated Sept. 15 ran an article under the headline, “Defense of the Republic and Borders of Russia” — apparently intended to tamp down worry as Ukraine’s counteroffensive gained ground.

    “The President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin announced that in the course of the special operation Russia is not losing military strength and will defend its sovereignty,” the article explained.

    In one office was a poster emblazoned with a Z, a symbol of Russia’s invasion, that said, “We don’t abandon our own.”

    The only accessible road into Lyman is muddy and rutted, crossing a pontoon bridge over the roiling water of the Oskil River, which the Russian military had briefly tried to maintain as a defensive barrier last month, before falling back farther.

    Dense pine forest surrounding the town had slowed and frustrated both sides in the fighting, and now show signs of the ferocity of the artillery battles in severed branches scattered along the road. Whole villages along the route are in ruins.

    At one point, the road into town passed the remnants of what appeared to be a Ukrainian attack on Russian soldiers trying to flee the city in a civilian van. The vehicle’s doors were open and sleeping bags, pads, military coats, rations, shoes and other supplies had spilled out.

    Nearby, on the side of the road, were anti-tank mines and the bodies of half a dozen Russian soldiers. A line of Ukrainian military trucks rumbled by, as a demining team checked the bodies for boobytraps, using ropes to tug and jostle them from a distance in case they exploded.

    Asked how the Russians had died, one of the soldiers on the demining team shrugged. “They came to a foreign land,” he said.

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    Less Turnover, Smaller Raises: Hot Job Market May Be Losing Its Sizzle

    Last year, Klaussner Home Furnishings was so desperate for workers that it began renting billboards near its headquarters in Asheboro, N.C., to advertise job openings. The steep competition for labor drove wages for employees on the furniture maker’s production floor up 12 to 20 percent. The company began offering $1,000 signing bonuses to sweeten the deal.

    “Consumer demand was through the roof,” said David Cybulski, Klaussner’s president and chief executive. “We just couldn’t get enough labor fast enough.”

    But in recent months, Mr. Cybulski has noticed that frenzy die down.

    Hiring for open positions has gotten easier, he said, and fewer Klaussner workers are leaving for other jobs. The company, which has about 1,100 employees, is testing performance rewards to keep workers happy rather than racing to increase wages. The $1,000 signing bonus ended in the spring.

    “No one is really chasing employees to the dollar anymore,” he said.

    By many measures, the labor market is still extraordinarily strong even as fears of a recession loom. The unemployment rate, which stood at 3.7 percent in August, remains near a five-decade low. There are twice as many job openings as unemployed workers available to fill them. Layoffs, despite some high-profile announcements in recent weeks, are close to a record low.

    Walmart and Amazon have announced slowdowns in hiring; others, such as FedEx, have frozen hiring altogether. Americans in July quit their jobs at the lowest rate in more than a year, a sign that the period of rapid job switching, sometimes called the Great Resignation, may be nearing its end. Wage growth, which soared as companies competed for workers, has also slowed, particularly in industries like dining and travel where the job market was particularly hot last year.

    More broadly, many companies around the country say they are finding it less arduous to attract and retain employees — partly because many are paring their hiring plans, and partly because the pool of available workers has grown as more people come off the economy’s sidelines. The labor force grew by more than three-quarters of a million people in August, the biggest gain since the early months of the pandemic. Some executives expect hiring to keep getting easier as the economy slows and layoffs pick up.

    “Not that I wish ill on any people out there from a layoff perspective or whatever else, but I think there could be an opportunity for us to ramp some of that hiring over the coming months,” Eric Hart, then the chief financial officer at Expedia, told investors on the company’s earnings call in August.

    Taken together, those signals point to an economic environment in which employers may be regaining some of the leverage they ceded to workers during the pandemic months. That is bad news for workers, particularly those at the bottom of the pay ladder who have been able to take advantage of the hot labor market to demand higher pay, more flexible schedules and other benefits. With inflation still high, weaker wage growth will mean that more workers will find their standard of living slipping.

    But for employers — and for policymakers at the Federal Reserve — the calculation looks different. A modest cooling would be welcome after months in which employers struggled to find enough staff to meet strong demand, and in which rapid wage growth contributed to the fastest inflation in decades. Too pronounced a slowdown, however, could lead to a sharp rise in unemployment, which would almost certainly lead to a drop in consumer demand and create a new set of problems for employers.

    Recent research from economists at the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and St. Louis found that there had been a huge increase in poaching — companies hiring workers away from other jobs — during the recent hiring boom. If companies become less willing to recruit workers from competitors, and to pay the premium that doing so requires, or if workers become less likely to hop between jobs, that could lead wage growth to ease even if layoffs don’t pick up.

    There are hints that could be happening. A recent survey from another career site, ZipRecruiter, found that workers have become less confident in their ability to find a job and are putting more emphasis on finding a job they consider secure.

    “Workers and job seekers are feeling just a little bit less bold, a little bit more concerned about the future availability of jobs, a little bit more concerned about the stability of their own jobs,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

    Some businesses, meanwhile, are becoming a bit less frantic to hire. A survey of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Business found that while many employers still have open positions, fewer of them expect to fill those jobs in the next three months.

    More clues about the strength of the labor market could come in the upcoming months, the time of year when companies, including retailers, traditionally ramp up hiring for the holiday season. Walmart said in September that this year it would hire a fraction of the workers it did during the last holiday season.

    The signs of a cool-down extend even to leisure and hospitality, the sector where hiring challenges have been most acute. Openings in the sector have fallen sharply from the record levels of last year, and hourly earnings growth slowed to less than 9 percent in August from a rate of more than 16 percent last year.

    Until recently, staffing shortages at Biggby Coffee were so severe that many of the chain’s 300-plus stores had to close early some days, or in some cases not open at all. But while hiring remains a challenge, the pressure has begun to ease, said Mike McFall, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. One franchisee recently told him that 22 of his 25 locations were fully staffed and that only one was experiencing a severe shortage.

    “We are definitely feeling the burden is lifting in terms of getting people to take the job,” Mr. McFall said. “We’re getting more applications, we’re getting more people through training now.”

    The shift is a welcome one for business owners like Mr. McFall. He said franchisees have had to raise wages 50 percent or more to attract and retain workers — a cost increase they have offset by raising prices.

    “The expectation by the consumer is that you are raising prices, and so if you don’t take advantage of that moment, you are going to be in a pickle,” he said, referring to the pressure to increase wages. “So you manage it by raising prices.”

    So far, Mr. McFall said, higher prices haven’t deterred customers. Still, he said, the period of severe staffing shortages is not without its costs. He has seen a loss in sales, as well as a loss of efficiency and experienced workers. That will take time to rebuild, he said.

    “When we were in crisis, it was all we were focused on,” he said. “So now that it feels like the crisis is mitigating, that it’s getting a little better, we can now begin to focus on the culture in the stores and try to build that up again.”

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    Fans Fled as Police Fired Tear Gas, Causing Deadly Rush For Exits

    Video

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    The Indonesian police fired tear gas into crowds of fans that rushed onto the field after a soccer match in the city of Malang.CreditCredit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Soccer fans in Indonesia rushed the field after a professional soccer match on Saturday night, prompting the police to fire tear gas into tightly packed crowds and setting off a stampede that killed at least 125 people, local officials said.

    Fans had packed the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, Indonesia, to see the home team —Arema — take on Persebaya Surabaya. After Arema lost the game 3-2, fans rushed the field.

    The unrest prompted the police to fire tear gas which caused panic, Inspector General Nico Afinta, the East Java Police chief, said at a news conference. As of Sunday night, 125 people were dead, according to a spokesman for the national police. There were reports that an additional 300 had been injured. The death toll had risen and fallen throughout the day, and police said earlier tolls may have counted some of the dead twice.

    The toll made Saturday’s match among the deadliest episodes in the history of soccer. In 1964, at least 300 people died in Peru after an unpopular decision by a referee at a soccer game touched off a riot at the country’s national stadium.

    In a televised speech to the nation, President Joko Widodo said he had asked the national police chief to conduct a thorough investigation into what happened and ordered an evaluation of security at soccer matches.

    “I regret that this tragedy occurred,” Mr. Joko said. “And I hope this is the last football tragedy in the country.

    Credit…Yudha Prabowo/Associated Press

    Human rights organizations condemned the use of tear gas, which is prohibited by FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. Eyewitnesses said that the gas was at times fired indiscriminately into the stands, forcing the overcapacity crowd to rush for the exits.

    “The excessive use of force through the use of tear gas and inappropriate crowd control was the cause of the large number of fatalities,” Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation said in a statement.

    But the East Java police chief, Mr. Afinta, defended the use of tear gas, saying it was deployed “because there was anarchy.”

    “They were about to attack the officers and had damaged the cars,” he said.

    Overcapacity also exacerbated the situation, according to Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation. The local soccer committee had printed 42,000 tickets for a stadium with 38,000 capacity, according to Mahfud MD, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.

    He said the victims died “because of the stampede” — they were trampled on and suffocated to death.

    “There were no victims of beatings or mistreatment of the supporters,” he said.

    Credit…Yudha Prabowo/Associated Press

    The soccer league, PT Liga Indonesia Baru, suspended play for at least a week and offered its condolences in a statement.

    The national governing body for soccer, the P.S.S.I., also offered condolences and said an investigation was underway but appeared to cast blame on fans of the Arema club, saying it “regrets the action” of the fans.

    Soccer violence has long been a problem for Indonesia, where violent, often deadly rivalries between major teams are common. Flares are often thrown on the field, and riot police are a regular presence at many matches. Since the 1990s, dozens of fans have been killed in soccer-related violence.

    Sui-Lee Wee reported from Bangkok, and Muktita Suhartono from Jakarta. Dera Menra Sijabat contributed reporting from Jakarta, and Damien Cave from Sydney, Australia.

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