TIME Companies

Total CEO Dead in Runway Crash; Plow Driver Drunk

(MOSCOW) — Christophe de Margerie, the charismatic CEO of Total SA who dedicated his career to the multinational oil company, was killed at a Moscow airport when his private jet collided with a snowplow whose driver was drunk, Russian investigators said Tuesday.

Three French crew members also died when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after it hit the snowplow during takeoff from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 11:57 p.m. Monday local time.

Tatyana Morozova, an official with the Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency, said investigators are questioning the snowplow driver, who was not hurt, as well as air traffic controllers and witnesses.

“At the current time, it has been established that the driver of the snowplow was in a state of alcoholic intoxication,” Morozova said.

De Margerie, 63, was a regular fixture at international economic gatherings and one of the French business community’s most outspoken and recognizable figures. His trademark silver handlebar earned him the nickname “Big Mustache.”

A critic of sanctions against Russia, he argued that isolating Russia was bad for the global economy. He traveled regularly to Russia and recently dined in Paris with a Putin ally who is facing EU sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.

According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to his French counterpart Francois Hollande, lauding de Margerie for being at the “origins of the many major joint projects that have laid the basis for the fruitful cooperation between Russia and France in the energy sphere for many years.”

Hollande expressed his “stupor and sadness” at the news. In a statement, he praised de Margerie for defending French industry on the global stage, and for his “independent character and original personality.”

De Margerie started working for Total in 1974 after receiving his degree because it was close to home. It was a difficult time to join the firm as the oil embargo, which led to a fourfold increase in prices, was coming to an end.

“I was told ‘You have made the absolute worst choice. Total will disappear in a few months,'” he said in a 2007 interview with Le Monde newspaper.

De Margerie rose through the ranks, serving in several positions in the finance department and the exploration and production division before becoming president of Total’s Middle East operations in 1995. He became a member of Total’s policy-making executive committee in 1999, CEO in 2007, before adding the post of chairman in 2010.

He was a central figure in Total’s role in the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq in the 1990s. Total paid a fine in the U.S., though de Margerie was acquitted in France of corruption charges.

Under his leadership, Paris-based Total claims it became the fifth-largest publicly traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world, with exploration and production operations in more than 50 countries.

On Monday, de Margerie took part in a meeting of Russia’s Foreign Investment Advisory Council with members of Russia’s government and other international business executives.

Jean-Jacques Guilbaud, Total’s secretary general, said the group would continue on its current path and that the board would meet in coming days to discuss who will succeed de Margerie. Total planned a minute of silence in its offices worldwide at 2 p.m. Paris time.

After dipping slightly early Tuesday, Total’s share price was trading 2 percent higher, in line with the broader rally in French stocks.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Search Tricks That Will Change Everything You’ve Been Doing

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Gregory Kramer—Getty Images

Invaluable advice from the pros

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Finding the right job opportunities—and standing out in a competitive market—is tough. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and hacks out there that are built to help you find your dream job, more quickly and easily than ever.

From an app that helps you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems to a site that’ll keep all your applications in order, here are 10 tools and tips you’ve probably never heard about that can give your job search a serious boost.

1. Create a Twitter Job Search List to Track Job Listings From Thousands of Sources

Every day, recruiters are tweeting jobs they need to interview candidates for—making Twitter a seriously untapped resource for job seekers. To make sure you’re in the know about these leads, create a Twitter job search list that includes recruiters, hiring managers, company hiring handles, and job search websites. Then, review their tweets daily for potential opportunities.

2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search

It’s easy to get disorganized during a job hunt. So, use a free tool such asJibberJobber to keep tabs on everything that’s going on. You can track the companies that you apply to, note each specific job that you apply for, and log the status of each application (date of first interview, date thank you letter sent, and so on).

3. Use LinkedIn Resume Builder to Create an Updated Resume Fast

If you’re like me, your LinkedIn profile is much more up to date than your actual resume. But if you need to update your resume fast for an available opportunity, don’t spend hours on your computer. Instead, export your LinkedIn profile into a classy looking resume using LinkedIn’s Resume Builder.

4. Put a Short and Unique LinkedIn URL on Your Resume to Stand Out to Recruiters

Instead of using the URL that LinkedIn assigns you with letters and numbers, customize it so it contains your name and the career field or job title you want to go into. (You can do this by clicking “edit profile” and clicking “edit” next to your LinkedIn URL.) This extra keyword will help when recruiters are searching for you, and sticking the URL on your resume will encourage recruiters to head to LinkedIn to learn more about you.

5. Use Resunate to See How Your Resume Scores on an Applicant Tracking System

Sick of not knowing if a human being is even reviewing the resume you worked so hard on? Resunate is web-based software that shows you how your resume would score on the applicant tracking system—and helps you improve it for every job you apply for.

6. Use SocialMention to Manage Your Online Reputation

While job searching, it’s important to keep your reputation crystal clear. To monitor what’s being said about you online, check out Social Mention, a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.

7. Use LinkedIn Groups to Contact Someone You Don’t Have an Email For

If you want to contact someone at your dream company but can’t find the right contact information anywhere, check out the person’s public LinkedIn profile and see what groups he or she is part of. Then, join the group where you share a mutual interest. Once you are in the same group, you can send a message through LinkedIn. Just make sure you include something about your common interest in your message—it’ll make you seem like a networker, not a stalker.

8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect

Insightly is a free CRM system that helps you manage your key contacts and relationships—and it’s a great tool for your job search. After you meet someone, put his or her contact information in this system, and write down important information you learned from your conversation. Then, create a reminder in the system to follow up on a certain date in the future.

9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System

A big job search mistake is to only focus on meeting new people and forgetting about the people you already know. In fact, it’s extremely important to keep up with your current relationships! Contactually helps you consistently reengage with the most important people in your network by sending you automatic reminders to email people you haven’t talked to in a while.

10. Update Your LinkedIn Status Daily to Stay Top of Mind

This will make sure that you’ll stay on the radar of everyone you know—read: that they’ll remember you when an available opportunity opens up. How to do this without being annoying? Share an article, a quote, or a project you’re working on. Other ways of showing up in the LinkedIn news feed are by getting recommended, by adding a new connection, by joining a group, or by changing your photo.
Put these simple “hacks” into practice, and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your job search results. Meaning: You’ll land that dream job oh-so-much faster.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Things the Smartest Leaders Do

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Image Source—Getty Images

These simple strategies create organizations that are flexible, resilient, and attractive to top talent

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In previous posts, I’ve described what smart bosses believe, what smart bosses know about people, and the words that smart bosses never say. This piece describes the specific strategies I’ve observed CEOs apply inside the most consistently successful companies:

1. They encourage diversity of thought.

Smart CEOs build organizations in which a diversity of opinion and background produce alternative approaches to solving problems and building opportunity.

Average CEOs build organizations in which everyone looks and thinks the same way. This reduces conflict but results in a brittle organization that can’t adapt.

2. They sacrifice their cash cows.

Smart CEOs realize that a successful product becomes obsolete even while it’s still selling well. As a result, they kill off and replace their most profitable products.

Average CEOs keep their cash cows alive even if it means that competitors will capture the next product generation.

3. They build symbiotic relationships.

Smart CEOs seek out situations in which customers and partners mutually benefit because everyone’s growth depends upon how well that she or he can cooperate.

Average CEOs think of business as a zero-sum game, where being a winner means that somebody else must be a loser, even if it’s a customer or partner.

4. They physically connect with employees.

Smart CEOs walk the halls, shake hands, and speak one-on-one with line employees, sincerely thanking them for their contributions.

Average CEOs send out pep-talk emails filled with biz-blab like “employees are our greatest resource.”

5. They encourage social interaction.

Smart CEOs encourage social activities with intergroup mingling. They want employees from sales, engineering, and finance (for instance) to know and like one another.

Average CEOs have management retreats in fancy resort hotels and give regular employees free passes to the local Six Flags park.

6. They foster hands-on community involvement.

Smart CEOs want employees to become involved in personally helping the local community deal with whatever problems exist.

Average CEOs run contests to see which manager can arm-twist the most employees into donating money to United Way.

7. They increase flexibility by dispersing power.

Smart CEOs push authority as far down the organizational chain as possible, so that those closest to a situation have the power to make the best decisions.

Average CEOs obsess about checks and balances so that nobody takes a risk without first getting approval from higher-ups.

8. They encourage informality.

Smart CEOs create collegelike work environments in which employees feel relaxed, as if they’re among friends and mentors.

Average CEOs create factorylike environments in which everyone feels like a cog in the corporate machine.

9. They keep job descriptions fluid.

Smart CEOs let individuals, teams, and organizations define their roles as necessary to accomplish the job at hand.

Average CEOs expend vast effort writing detailed job descriptions and defining how the “system” is supposed to work.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Hardest Job Interview Question—And How to Answer It

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Hill Street Studios—Getty Images/Blend Images RM

Here's how to start dealing with the dreaded query

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.
String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

TIME China

Anyone Expecting a Rebound in Chinese Growth Won’t Like the New GDP Figures

Construction sites and vacant streets in Xiangluo Bay.
Construction sites and vacant streets in Tianjin, China. The new central business district, under construction in Tianjin, was touted as another Manhattan, but is now a ghost city. The nation's slowing economy is putting the project into jeopardy Zhang Peng—LightRocket/Getty Images

Say hello to China’s new normal

Those who remain hopeful about the future of the Chinese economy got some extra evidence to bolster their case today. On Tuesday, the government announced that GDP in the third quarter rose by a slightly better-than-expected 7.3%.

But don’t get too excited. That 7.3% is the slowest quarterly pace in five years — since the depths of the recession after the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis. And it was pushed higher likely by exports. In other words, external demand, not investment or consumption in the domestic economy.

There is really nothing surprising about these figures. This is China’s new normal. The double-digit pace the global business community has come to expect is very likely a thing of the past. More and more economists are predicting that China’s growth rates will continue to slow over time. The International Monetary Fund, for instance, sees growth dropping from 7.4% this year to 6.8% in 2016 and 6.3% in 2019.

There are too many factors at work slowing down the Chinese growth machine. First of all, no economy can grow 10% a year forever, not even China’s. The country is no longer the impoverished backwater it was in the early 1980s, when Beijing’s market reforms first sparked its growth miracle. It is now the second largest economy in the world, and the bigger China gets, the harder it becomes to post such large annual GDP increases. There are also structural forces at work. China’s population of more than 1.3 billion is aging rapidly, thanks in part to Beijing’s restrictive one-child policy, and that will act as a long-term drag on growth. The workforce is already shrinking.

The only question is: How slow will China go? The answer depends on how optimistic you are that China’s current leaders can fix the very serious problems plaguing the economy.

Aspects of the growth model that have driven China’s exceptional performance — state-directed investment, easy credit — have now come to spawn all sorts of new risks. Debt levels at Chinese companies have risen precipitously, money has been wasted on excess capacity and unnecessary construction, and bad loans at Chinese banks have been rising as a result. The economy is paying the price.

A big reason behind the country’s slowdown today is the deteriorating property market, brought low by irrational exuberance and excessive building. Official data shows that the amount of unsold real estate has doubled over the past two years, and that has caused prices to fall and investment in new developments to dry up. The central bank recently loosened restrictions on mortgage lending to boost sluggish demand, but most economists don’t expect such moves will stimulate a rebound anytime soon. There are even concerns that China is following a pattern similar to Japan’s when the latter Asian giant had its financial crisis in the early 1990s.

The long-term solution to these problems requires nothing less than overhauling the way in which the economy works. The country’s leaders realize this, too, and have pledged to undertake a thorough reshaping of the economy to give the private sector more influence. Policymakers intend to make the economy more market-oriented by liberalizing finance and capital flows and withdrawing the control of the state. Such steps would probably lead to enhanced productivity, better allocation of finance and stronger innovation — all things China needs badly as its costs rise with its wealth.

So far, though, there has been little progress. A free-trade zone in Shanghai, launched a year ago to experiment with freer capital flows in and out of the country, has never got off the ground. A series of investigations into the business practices of multinationals operating in China has raised questions about Beijing’s willingness to open up the economy further to foreign competition.

Of course, the liberalization Beijing has promised will take a long time to implement. But if the effort doesn’t progress, growth will likely suffer. The Conference Board in a recent report predicted that growth would slow to 4% a year after 2020, in part because its economists believe China’s leaders won’t go far enough in reforming the economy.

What this all means for businessmen and investors around the world is that China may not play the same role in upholding global growth in coming years as it has in the past. The new normal may not lift the gloomy spirits dominating global markets these days, either. But we’ll all have to get used to it.

TIME Autos

Toyota Announces a U.S. Recall Over Faulty Passenger-Side Airbags

The steering wheel of a Toyota car which contains an airbag is pictured in Vienna
The steering wheel of a Toyota car which contains an airbag is pictured in Vienna April 11, 2013. Heinz-Peter Bader—Reuters

Affected models include the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Sequoia and the Lexus SC produced from 2001 to 2004.

Toyota is telling hundreds of thousands of Americans who use its cars not to let anyone sit in the passenger seat until faulty airbags are repaired.

On Monday, the automaker announced a fresh recall of about 247,000 vehicles; affected models include the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Sequoia and the Lexus SC that were produced from 2001 to 2004.

Toyota is one of several companies that use airbags manufactured by a company called Takata, which reportedly malfunction when exposed to excessive humidity. It said that the new recall will target vehicles in south Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and other areas that experience sustained levels of high humidity.

Toyota said owners of the affected models in these areas will be directed to get their airbags replaced by the nearest dealer, unless the dealer does not have a replacement, in which case the front-passenger airbag would be temporarily disabled.

The company issued a similar warning in June to customers in Japan along with other automobile manufacturers like Honda, Nissan and Mazda, according to Bloomberg.

The airbag issue has apparently affected about 2.27 million Toyota vehicles worldwide.

TIME russia

Total Oil Company CEO Dies in Moscow Plane Crash

Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil and gas company Total SA, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Paris
Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil and gas company Total SA, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Paris on July 7, 2014 Benoit Tessier—Reuters

Christophe de Margerie was headed for France in his Dassault Falcon 50 business jet when it collided with a snow-removal machine during takeoff

(MOSCOW) — The CEO of French oil giant Total SA was killed when his corporate jet collided with a snow removal machine Monday night at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, the company said.

Total “confirms with deep regret and sadness” that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died in a private plane crash at the Moscow airport, the company said in a press release dated Tuesday and posted on its website.

Airport officials told Russia’s Tass news agency that the collision occurred at 11:57 p.m. Monday, killing de Margerie and three crew members, all of them French citizens.

“The thoughts of the management and employees of the Group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the three other victims,” the company news release said.

A representative of the transport investigative department told Tass that the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 business jet, headed for France, collided with the snow removal machine during takeoff. Airport officials said the driver of the snow removal machine was not hurt.

Visibility at the time of the crash was 350 meters (1,150 feet), airport officials told Tass.

De Margerie, 63, known as “Mr. Moustache” for his bushy facial hair, rose through the ranks at Total to become CEO in 2007, and added the post of chairman in 2010.

De Margerie joined Total after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in 1974, according to the company’s website. He served in several positions in the Finance Department and Exploration & Production division before becoming president of Total Middle East in 1995. He became a member ofTotal’s policy-making Executive Committee in 1999.

Paris-based Total is the fifth-largest publicly-traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world, with exploration and production operations in more than 50 countries, according to a profile on thecompany’s website.

TIME Companies

Amazon and Simon & Schuster Reach Deal Over E-Book Prices

The deal follows an impasse between Amazon and Hachette

Amazon and Simon & Schuster have reached a multi-year agreement over the sale and pricing of print and digital books following the online retail giant’s falling out with the Hachette Book Group.

The publisher will set its own prices for e-books, while Amazon will promote Simon & Schuster titles on the site and be able to set discounts in certain situations as well, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers,” Amazon said in a statement. The deal arrived two months before its contact with Simon & Schuster was set to expire.

Carolyn Reidy, the head of Simon & Schuster, wrote in a letter to authors and agents that the deal was “economically advantageous” for both the publisher and the retailer and that it “maintains the author’s share of income generated from e-book sales.”

Earlier this year, Amazon and Hachette had a much-publicized dispute over the price of e-books. Customers as a result can no longer pre-order Hachette titles on Amazon. Amazon will at some point renegotiate contracts withe other publishers Macmillan, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins.

[WSJ]

TIME isis

How to Financially Starve ISIS

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa
A fighter from the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014. Reuters

Air strikes will help but to ruin the extremist organization the U.S.-led coalition will have to cut off ISIS's sources of funding

The U.S.-led air assault in Iraq and Syria on the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria(ISIS) is just one front in the battle being waged against ISIS. The U.S. Treasury recently confirmed plans to try to bankrupt the militant group by targeting its oil businesses and imposing sanctions on those financing them. But how easy will it be to financially ruin a group now considered by analysts to be the best-funded terrorist organization in recent history?

“Like all organizations, money matters to ISIS,” says Fawaz Gerges, the Emirates chair in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies at the London School of Economics. “Napoleon once said ‘An army marches on its stomach’ and even ISIS needs to feed and arm its soldiers, to provide for their families. If you follow the trail of money and starve ISIS financially, you begin the process of degrading and ultimately paralyzing it.”

Yet following this trail of money is difficult. Experts speaking to TIME say hard figures are difficult to come by, partly because of a lack of independent researchers and journalists in the area. ISIS also deals mainly in cash and operates outside the legitimate channels that can be traced by the Treasury, says Valérie Marcel, a Middle East energy and resources expert at London-based think-tank Chatham House. As a result, estimates of ISIS’s daily revenue vary between $1 million and $3 million a day. Gerges says that ISIS has estimated funds of tens of millions of dollars, and that in the last few months the group has reportedly tried to limit its spending as much as possible to counter the coalition’s efforts to cut off its funding.

As ISIS has grown in size and taken control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, its sources of income have also shifted. Justin Dargin, a Middle East energy specialist based at the University of Oxford, says that “while funding from wealthy Gulf patrons assisted the group’s early rise, currently individual donations are not of major importance” since ISIS has developed more independent sources of income. David Butter, a Chatham House expert in the politics and economy of the Middle East, agrees, noting that ISIS benefits from being far less reliant on funds from abroad than other Islamist and Salafist jihadist groups, who made themselves overly dependent on the one-off nature of such fundraising. In fact, experts say one major difference between ISIS and other jihadist groups is ISIS’s more pragmatic outlook. Whereas al-Qaeda was more focused on setting up cells to finance anti-Western terrorist operations, ISIS has concentrated on expanding its area of control, taking hold of natural resources and commercial centers, as well as tens of thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition.

In June of this year, ISIS seized more territory in Northern Iraq, including Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. It declared itself the “Islamic State” and developed revenue streams more typically associated with a government than a jihadist group. Though it’s difficult to establish how well ISIS is running the areas under its control, Paul Rogers, a global security consultant to Oxford Research Group, says that information from social media suggests that “ISIS seem quite competent to run things in Syria” and most areas seem to be functioning reasonably well. Since ISIS has continued to provide services like water and electricity, Gerges says the group has been able to impose taxes on farmers, retail businesses and even fuel. He adds that we should not underestimate the importance of this “social income” in both Iraq and Syria, since ISIS “have been able to generate sources of income to run the provinces under their control and also to generate extra income to wage their battles.”

Yet while ISIS might attempt to act like a state, much of its money is brought in by criminal tactics, including extortion, theft and plundering. For instance, senior U.S. government official Brett McGurk told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July that even before ISIS took control of Mosul, he and other U.S. diplomatic and military officials who had visited the city shortly before it fell to ISIS had been concerned about Mosul “as it had become the primary financial hub” for ISIS, “generating nearly $12 million per month in revenues through extortion and smuggling rackets.” Hostage-taking has also played a part in filling ISIS coffers. According to an investigative report from The New York Times, kidnapping Europeans has earned al-Qaeda and its affiliates at least $125 million in ransom payments in the past five years alone. Although ISIS formally split from al-Qaeda in February, the group has continued the practice and both Gerges and Marcel have sources confirming that ISIS has received large sums of money from citizens of Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Syria in exchange for hostages. As well as Western hostages, the “kidnapping of locals is a big business”, says Gerges, and has generated tens of millions of dollars for ISIS and other militant groups like al-Nusra front, the branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria.

But the majority of ISIS’s revenue appears to come from the territory it controls, much of which is “very rich agriculturally”, says Rogers. For instance, the United Nations estimates that land in Iraq under ISIS control accounts for up to 40 percent of the country’s annual production of wheat. Crucially, the militant group also holds a number of oil fields in both Iraq and Syria and analysts speaking to TIME estimate that the daily revenue from ISIS oil production lies between $1 and $3 million a day. Though this is barely a fraction of the global oil trade, the income is very useful in funding ISIS’s soldiers, who number between 20,000 and 31,500 according to the CIA. As ISIS took hold of more territory in Iraq and Syria in June, it gained more opportunities to sell both crude oil and refined products through well-established smuggling networks. “There are a lot of grey market buyers of crude in the region and a large network of individuals that benefit financially. It’s harder to dismantle because – whether it’s in the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government], in Turkey or in Iran – border guards and municipal authorities have to be paid well enough and given incentives to crack down,” says Marcel.

If the U.S. and its allies continue to bomb ISIS’s oil facilities, however, the group will begin struggling to fund itself. The Paris-based International Energy Agency said in a report released Tuesday that the aerial campaign has brought ISIS oil production down to around 20,000 barrels per day, from a high of around 70,000 a couple of months ago. If oil installations continue to be hit, ISIS will not be able to use its own military vehicles that run on the diesel and gas produced by small, local refineries. Yet it is the civilian population – between 6 and 8 million people in ISIS-controlled territory – that will most acutely feel the effects of the air strikes as winter approaches. The local population relies heavily on diesel for heating, agricultural machinery, bakeries and generators. The U.K.-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has already reported that the air strikes have led to an increase in the price of diesel and petrol. Butter says that if the ISIS economy is “degraded” by the bombings, there is likely to be a nationwide fuel and electricity crisis, as well as agricultural shortages exacerbated by the lighter than normal rainfall in 2013. In addition, Marcel points out that ISIS “depends to a large extent on the willingness of the population to have them there. In the battle to win hearts and minds, you do have to provide heating fuel and petrol.”

But if the group is to lose this battle any time soon, the coalition will have to succeed in cutting all the strands of ISIS’s vast financial web. Until then, ISIS will likely remain a threat to the region and beyond.

TIME Autos

Death Toll Linked to GM Ignition Switch Defect Rises to 29

GM Hearing
Family members of people killed due to a faulty ignition switch watch a House hearing on April 1, 2014. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call / Getty Images

Two new death claims approved by compensation program

The number of deaths linked to a faulty ignition switch in General Motors vehicles rose to 29 on Monday, according to a new report, after two new death claims were approved by the program that will compensate victims and their families.

The fund has received more than 1,500 claims since its establishment on Aug. 1, including 184 submissions for death claims, Reuters reports. All 29 deaths, and another 27 injuries, have been determined to be eligible for compensation so far, finds the report released by the office of Kenneth Feinberg, who is heading the compensation effort.

GM launched the fund amid withering criticism for its failure to address the defect after several employees within the company noted the problem at least 11 years before any action was taken to resolve it.

[Reuters]

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