Why Jack Ma Is an E-Commerce Giant

Morning Money Memo…

Alibaba founder Jack Ma gestures during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Taobao Marketplace, China's largest consumer-focused e-commerce website, in Hangzhou, May 10, 2013. China Daily/Reuters

Move over Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Jack Ma has been named by The Financial Times as its person of the year. Jack who? Ma is the flamboyant billionaire Chinese entrepreneur and business showman who founded Alibaba. The 10-year-old internet company is the world's largest e-commerce firm with sales that outpace those of eBay and Amazon. Alibaba's revenue is said to account for as much as 2 percent of China's gross domestic product.

The newspaper, famous for its pink pages, says "Mr. Ma, godfather of China's scrappy entrepreneurial spirit, is the FT's 2013 Person of the Year because he personifies the Chinese internet - with all its potential and its contradictions." Alibaba is getting ready to sell shares to the public in a global IPO is that is likely to be valued at more than $100 billion.

Amazon continues to nip at the heels of other American retailers. USA Today reports the firm is working on a new enterprise called Pantry, which is likely to be launched next year. The service would put Amazon in more direct competition with warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam's Club. "It will launch with about 2,000 products typically found in the center of grocery stores, such as cleaning supplies, kitchen paper rolls, canned goods like pet food, dry grocery items like cereal and some beverages," says the newspaper.

The end may be close for the Federal Reserve's $85 billion a month bond buying program that's aimed at holding down long-term interest rates. That likely change is a concern for investors. Stocks have been down three days in a row, although futures did rise this morning. The Dow Jones Index dropped 104 points Thursday. "The unwinding of unconventional monetary policy is a good thing long term. However, it will cause short-term vibrations," said Evan Lucas, a strategist for Australia's IG Markets, in a report.

Low inflation plus stronger reports on jobs, retail sales and likely approval in Congress for a two-year budget deal have reinforced expectations that the Fed may decide to taper at its meeting next week.

Tens of thousands of Boeing workers' jobs in Washington state could be up in the air. The plane manufacturer says the machinists union in Seattle has rejected its "best and final" offer to make sure that the 777X airliner would built in the state. But a national negotiator for the machinist union says its members should get a chance to vote on the contract. The Boeing announcement came after three days of talks with union negotiators. The company has invited other states to make proposals to build the new plane. Boeing could move forward without the machinists union.

Fresh out of bankruptcy American Airlines says it's buying 90 new regional jets from Brazil's plane maker Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. will be used to replace smaller, less fuel-efficient planes. American and US Airways are merging their operations.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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