Talking Points

Talking Points

Mars spaceship could make test flights next year

SpaceX is making good progress on a rocket ship and booster capable of reaching Mars, according to CEO Elon Musk.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images/File 2018
SpaceX is making good progress on a rocket ship and booster capable of reaching Mars, according to CEO Elon Musk.


SpaceX Mars ship could make short test flights in ‘19, Musk says

Entrepreneur Elon Musk said a rocket ship his company is building for trips to Mars could make short flights as early as next year. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, is “making good progress on the ship and the booster,” Musk said at the South by Southwest music, film, and media festival in Austin, Texas. “I think we will be able to do short flights, short up-and-down flights, probably in the first half of next year.” Musk, who has long dreamed of creating a colony on Mars, revealed last year that he was building a rocket ship that would be capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft would ultimately be able to make missions to the Moon or Mars, he said. Musk conceded his forecasts are sometimes a bit rosy: “People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic.” Musk said revenue from a project to launch satellites that would bring broadband Internet access to the world, dubbed Starlink, would help fund the building of interplanetary spaceships. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


China at risk of banking crisis in BIS’s early warning signal

The economies in China, Canada, and Hong Kong are among those most at risk of a banking crisis, according to early warning indicators compiled by the Bank for International Settlements. Canada, whose economy grew last year at the fastest pace since 2011, was flagged thanks to its households’ maxed-out credit cards and high debt levels in the wider economy. These same issues also afflict China and Hong Kong, according to the study. “The indicators currently point to the buildup of risks in several economies,” analysts Inaki Aldasoro, Claudio Borio, and Mathias Drehmann wrote in the BIS’s latest Quarterly Review, published Sunday. The study offered some surprises: For example, Italy wasn’t shown as being at risk, despite its struggles with a slow-growing economy and banks mired in bad debts. While China was flagged, a key warning indicator known as the credit-to-gross domestic product “gap” showed an improvement, said the BIS, which is known as the central bank for central banks. This may suggest the government is making progress in its push to reduce financial-sector risk. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Average US gas price steady at $2.59 a gallon

The average price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline remained steady over the past two weeks, at $2.59. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the prior price drop was halted by a rise in crude oil costs. Gas in San Francisco was the highest in the contiguous United States. at an average of $3.44 a gallon. The lowest was in El Paso, Texas, at $2.19. The average price for diesel was up 2 cents, to $3 per gallon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Deutsche Bank board said to seek 6,000 job cuts at retail unit


Deutsche Bank AG’s management board will seek to cut as many as 6,000 jobs in the lender’s retail unit by the end of 2022, providing the first estimate for the expected staff reductions at the newly formed division, said two people briefed on the matter. The final target will be negotiated with the bank’s labor representatives and may end up being lower, said the people, who asked not to be identified. CEO John Cryan has vowed to wring $1.11 billion of costs from the unit annually after finishing a merger of the lender’s old retail unit and Deutsche Bank’s subsidiary Postbank, which it had previously sought to sell. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Social Media

Bank Indonesia’s Twitter followers top the Fed, ECB

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Shortly after taking the job, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell highlighted the need to communicate monetary policy better. He may learn a thing or two from Indonesia. Bank Indonesia has about 625,000 Twitter followers — the most of any central bank. Among its almost 12,000 tweets are updates on exchange rates and inflation, prize giveaways, and a jaunty music video explaining how to spot fake bank notes. Bank Indonesia spokesman Agusman, who like many Indonesians uses one name, said policy makers realized social media had become a necessity, considering the country’s large millennial population. — BLOOMBERG NEWS