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Economists had a tough time figuring out the cost of Brexit and were roundly criticized for being too pessimistic on the immediate impact of the vote. Now a new consensus is emerging on the longer-term effect. Brexit won’t be an apocalypse, they say, but it will reduce economic output, jobs, and wealth in the coming years. U.K. firms already say it's hard to find good workers. One bit of good news: The economy ended 2016 on an bright note, lifted by consumer spending and an unexpected jump in trade. — Andy Reinhardt
Unilever is dusting itself off after rejecting Kraft Heinz. The consumer-products giant wants to show the world — and shareholders — that it’s worth more than Kraft’s $143 billion offer. Unilever, which owns brands like Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, is reviewing its operations and today lifted its profitability forecast. Translation: CEO Paul Polman wants to be able to fend off other unwanted suitors.
Airbus booked new charges against the delayed A400M military-transport plane and warned that cost overruns will extend at least into 2018, overshadowing company forecasts for increased earnings from commercial jets this year. Europe’s largest planemaker has already taken more than €7 billion ($7.4 billion) in charges for the troubled A400M, which was ordered in 2003 by government buyers and first delivered in 2013.
A property developer has written down the value of its land holdings in west London by 20 percent, as political uncertainty and the prospect of higher taxes weaken sentiment in the U.K. capital’s housing market. Capital & Counties Properties, known as CapCo, is building 10,000 homes at Earl’s Court. Meanwhile, the government has delayed promised reform of commercial property taxes set to go into effect this year.
Marine Le Pen is playing up her gender to lure female voters who feel left behind in a changing France. The strategy appears to be paying off. The anti-euro, anti-immigrant candidate is getting higher support among women. But not all is smooth for the fiery populist: Two of her aides were taken in custody for questioning just days after French investigators raided her party headquarters amid a probe over misuse of money.
Range Rover is expanding its sport-utility vehicle lineup to four models, adding the Velar between its entry-level Evoque and the pricier Range Rover Sport. This is the first new model since 2010 for the original maker of rugged, all-terrain vehicles, as competition heats up in high-end SUVs and crossovers from the likes of Volkswagen and even Maserati.
Saudi Arabia’s rulers are intent on revolutionizing the country’s economy, and tourism is high on their list. They aim to create jobs for a youthful population, earn revenue to reduce their dependence on oil, and help open the kingdom to the world. Which it might — if anyone can be persuaded to come.