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IMF’s Christine Lagarde on strength of global economy, trade tensions

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The global economy, while still growing, has hit a plateau and may not be strong enough to withstand rising trade tensions, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

The IMF earlier this week cut its forecast for global growth to 3.7 percent this year and next year — down 0.2 percentage points from an earlier estimate. The downward revisions mean that the global economy would grow by the same rate for three consecutive years starting 2017.

“The real question is: Is the economy strong enough? To that, my answer is ‘probably not enough’ because we clearly see growth has plateaued three years in a row — it is at 3.7 percent — and we also see that growth is unevenly allocated around the world,” Lagarde told reporters at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

“Moreover, some of the risks that we have highlighted at our spring meetings in April have now begun to materialize, especially from the rising trade barriers,” she added. “If these tensions were to escalate, the global economy would take a significant hit.”

In addition to the hit to economic growth prospects, worsening trade tensions could also trigger another global financial crisis, the IMF said earlier this week.

Lagarde said the best response to the ongoing tensions is to “de-escalate, fix the system, don’t break it.” She added that the casualties won’t just be the U.S. and China — the two largest economies in the world in the center of the current tariff fight – but also countries that are part of the global supply chain and suppliers of raw materials to manufacturers involved in the dispute.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk: extreme micromanager

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Tesla’s future as a mass-market car company hinges on efficient, automated production of the Model 3. Tesla will lose $6,000 for every $35,000 Model 3 it sells, says UBS analyst Colin Langan. It only breaks even if the car sells for over $41,000. Tesla has yet to produce the $35,000 base model of the Model 3.

Tesla did meet the goal of producing more than 5,000 Model 3 vehicles in a week during the third quarter. It made 80,142 vehicles (including 53,239 Model 3’s), beating Wall Street analysts’ expectations. But the company is nowhere near the 500,000 mark Musk promised in 2016. As of the end of Q3, Tesla has produced 167,975 cars this year. To put that in context, Ford makes that many cars approximately every 10 days.

Tesla promised investors that it will achieve positive cash flow and profitability in the second half of 2018. But some investors and analysts are deeply skeptical this will happen. Tesla’s debts are quickly coming due: The company has to pay around $230 million in November, part of a larger $1.3 billion debt bill coming due in March 2019, according to AP.

Faith in the Tesla CEO is being tested like never before. Investors are wary of his social media and legal battles, attitude toward regulators and recreational drug use.

Many employees think Musk is essential to the company’s success. They praise his creativity, sense of humor and inspiring speeches. Some credit his hands-on management style with building a great company. A former Tesla and SpaceX employee, Spencer Gore, who is now the CEO of Impossible Aerospace, explained:

“Elon Musk is in a position most will never experience — trying to deliver an industry-defining product on a limited budget. He can’t afford to make decisions slowly, or even always compassionately. When he involves himself in low-level details it’s to enhance execution speed. For some engineers, this can be frustrating, at times heartbreaking — but Elon’s unconventional style is what built the Tesla we all chose to join.”

But other employees describe how Musk’s management style has increased costs and complexity in the factories.

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Saudi Arabia says journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after a fight broke out in consulate

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A man holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest organized by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association at the entrance to Saudi Arabia's consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A man holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest organized by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association at the entrance to Saudi Arabia’s consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

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Top VC deals: Instacart hits a $7B valuation; Bill Gates raises an EU energy fund

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 A weekly recap of the most interesting venture capital deals, funds and start-ups.

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