Member Briefing June 21, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

China Studying ‘Extraordinary’ Support for Manufacturers: Report

China is planning “extraordinary new policies to help downstream industrial firms that have seen their profits hit by the high cost of raw materials,” according to Shanghai Securities News. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is studying measures to enhance the structure of supply-side policies, boost consumer demand and incentivize investments in technology, the newspaper said in a report Monday. The paper, which is managed by the official Xinhua News Agency, did not cite a source.

Contractions in mid- and downstream sectors would lead to significantly weaker manufacturing investment in the second half of the year, which would deal a blow to the economy. “Authorities should also help stabilize investment by boosting consumer spending on new energy cars, environmentally friendly construction materials and home appliances,” said Li Hongtu, chief economist of financial information provider Bolan Finance, according to the report. 

Read more at Bloomberg

War in Ukraine Headlines

“Not Inevitable.” Yellen Comments on Recession Prospects

The recession that many Americans fear is coming is not “at all imminent,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday.  Talk of a recession has accelerated this year as inflation remains high and the Federal Reserve takes aggressive steps to counter it. On Wednesday, the Fed announced a 75 basis point interest rate hike, its largest since 1994. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also indicated the Federal Open Market Committee’s intent to continue its aggressive path of monetary policy tightening in order to rein in inflation.

“I expect the economy to slow,” Yellen said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s been growing at a very rapid rate, as the economy, as the labor market, has recovered and we have reached full employment. It’s natural now that we expect a transition to steady and stable growth, but I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable.”

Read more at CNBC

Biden Expects Decision on Federal Gas tax Holiday by End of Week

President Biden on Monday told reporters he hoped to make a final decision about whether to support a federal gas tax holiday by the end of the week as high fuel prices continue to pose a problem. Suspending the federal gas tax would require an act of Congress, but a public push by Biden in favor of the policy could help spur action on Capitol Hill. 

Biden did not rule out sending gas rebate cards to Americans, though administration officials have in recent days sounded cool to the idea. An estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model released earlier this year found that suspending the federal gas tax from March to December of this year would reduce average per-capita gasoline spending by between $16 and $47 for that period.

Read more at The Hill

US COVID – COVID Disrupts Summer Plans as Variants Keep Case Numbers High

Covid-19 isn’t causing acute illness and death on the scale it once did, thanks in part to protection built up by vaccines and prior infections. But Covid-19 is far from under control, epidemiologists say, and the virus is sickening and sidelining people from work or social events as it continues to spread. “People can’t come to work. People are short-staffed,” said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health. “Covid-19 is still inflicting enough damage.”

The U.S. is logging some 100,000 known cases a day, and many more are being detected via at-home tests health departments don’t track. This is a stark difference from a year ago, when U.S. cases sank below 12,000 a day, the lowest level since the first surge, as vaccinations rose and many hoped the virus was in retreat.

Read more at the WSJ

Pfizer vs Moderna for Vaccinating Kids Under 5: Which is Better for Your Toddler?

The Food and Drug Administration gave its vote of confidence for shots from Moderna and Pfizer to start going into little arms on Friday. Because there are two different brands being offered, with different formulations, dose schedules, and side effects, parents are already weighing which shot is best for them and their children.

“Both are great options,” ER doctor Jeremy Faust wrote in his Inside Medicine newsletter, expressing confidence in both Pfizer and Moderna. However, Faust, along with public health expert Katelyn Jetelina and prominent parenting author Emily Oster have all decided that Moderna is the top pick for their own young kids. Their reasoning boils down to the fact that, according to early data, Moderna’s shot appears to pack a bigger immune punch, and it does the job faster. While short-term side effects are slightly worse with Moderna than with Pfizer, Moderna kids appear to gain protection against COVID in a matter of weeks, not months.

Read more at Business Insider

Companies Under 50 Employees Fall Behind on Hiring as Inflation Takes a Toll

Head counts at companies with fewer than 50 employees declined in three of the past four months, according to ADP payroll data, even as employment at larger firms continued to grow. Owners of many small companies say inflation has added to the pressures of an already tight job market, making it increasingly difficult to keep pace with the wages and benefits offered by large employers. 

Sixty-three percent of small-business owners say that hiring challenges are affecting their ability to operate at full capacity, according to a June survey of more than 825 small businesses for The Wall Street Journal by Vistage Worldwide Inc., a business coaching and peer advisory firm. “Small firms are still playing catch up,” ADP chief economist Nela Richardson said. If the economy weakens, small firms are also likely to change their hiring plans, she added.

Read more at the WSJ

“Heat Dome” Extra-Hot Weather Expected This Week Across the Nation 

Meteorologists are warning a heat dome will park itself over parts of the country, pushing temperatures into the 90s and 100s for many cities. More than 100 high temperature records could be broken this week in cities around the U.S..  New York has a 40 -50% chance of experiencing  above normal temperatures.

The National Weather Service posted a forecast map to Twitter Sunday that shows nearly every corner of the country covered in shades of orange and red, indicating high probabilities of above-normal temperatures. “Colors we have not seen for awhile,” the agency said.

DiNapoli: Local Sales Tax Collections Grew by Nearly 17% in May

Local sales tax collections in New York state increased by 16.7% in May compared to the same month in 2021, according to an analysis released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Overall, local collections totaled $1.7 billion, up $242 million from May of last year.

New York City’s collections totaled $720 million, an increase of 13.3% — or $84.6 million — when compared to May of 2021. Every county also experienced double-digit growth in collections, at least partially due to recent high inflation, including soaring gas prices. Monthly sales tax distributions made to counties and tax-imposing cities are based on estimates by the Department of Taxation and Finance. 

Read more at the Comptroller’s website

VW U.S. Chief Warns of Industry Challenges with EV Battery Shift

Volkswagen AG’s top U.S. executive said on Thursday the United States faces major challenges in ramping up battery production to facilitate a shift to electric vehicles including attracting skilled workers, mining for key metals and supply chain issues. Scott Keogh, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, told an Automotive News forum in Washington that the move to EVs is the single biggest “industrial transformation in America.”

Automakers and battery companies are committing tens of billions of dollars to building new battery plants and EV assembly plants throughout North America as they scale up electric vehicle production. This move requires the United States to overcome a series of challenges, Keogh said. These challenges include attracting enough skilled workers, dramatically boosting and facilitating U.S. mining for critical minerals to produce the lithium batteries for EVs, supply chain issues and more broadly addressing healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Read more at Reuters

France Faces 5 Years of Gridlock After Macron’s Stunning Parliamentary Defeat

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to face a potentially tumultuous five years of deadlock after his centrist alliance fell short of an absolute majority in a parliamentary runoff on Sunday, just weeks after he was reelected to the Elysée.

Voters massively came out in support of the far-right National Rally and the left-wing coalition NUPES, depriving Macron of a ruling majority. Macron’s Ensemble coalition has won 245 seats, down from 345 in the outgoing chamber, according to final results. NUPES, led by the far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon got 131 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s National Rally walks away with 89 seats.

Read more at Politico

In Colombia Left-Wing Candidate and Former Guerrilla Gustavo Petro Wins Presidential Election

Gustavo Petro will become Colombia’s first leftist leader, after winning the country’s presidential race on Sunday. The former guerrilla won by a slim margin with over 50% of the votes, against 77-year-old entrepreneur Rodolfo Hernandez. In this historic win, his running mate Francia Marquez will now become the first Afro-Colombian to hold executive powers.

Sunday’s run-off vote suggests that Petro has finally overcome the hesitation of voters who once saw him a radical left-wing outsider — no small feat for a politician looking to win over one of South America’s most conservative countries. The support Petro has garnered can be partially attributed to Colombia’s worsening socioeconomic situation, including deteriorating living conditions, made worse by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Read more at CNN

Maryland Apple Workers Face Hurdles After Vote to Unionize

Apple store employees in a Baltimore suburb voted to unionize by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Saturday, joining a growing push across U.S. retail, service and tech industries to organize for greater workplace protections. The Apple retail workers in Towson, Maryland, voted 65-33 to seek entry into the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union’s announcement said.

The National Labor Relations Board now has to certify the outcome. A spokesperson referred initial queries about the vote to the board’s regional office, which was closed late Saturday. Even after a union is certified, a company has a number of legal maneuvers at its disposal to fight it, Duff said. For instance, Apple could say it doesn’t believe that the bargaining unit certified by the NLRB is an appropriate bargaining unit. and refuse to bargain with the union.

Read more at the AP

RCC Elevates Susan Deer & Katherine Lynch While College Seeks New President

Rockland Community College is conducting a national search for the eighth president. Dr. Michael A. Baston has accepted a new position as President of Cuyahoga Community College located in Cleveland, Ohio and will be stepping down from his position as RCC president in July 2022.

While the college’s leadership transitions and undertakes a search for Baston’s replacement, RCC’s Board of Trustees will vote this week to appoint Dr. Susan Deer as Officer in Charge at the meeting on June 27, 2022. Deer will be responsible for leadership, oversight, and supervision for all areas of the college, according to RCC. The Trustees will also vote to appoint Dr. Katherine Lynch as Officer in Charge of Academic Affairs. Lynch will report to Deer and serve on the Executive Cabinet. Lynch will provide administrative leadership and direction for academic activities and faculty affairs at the college.

Read more at Rockland Business Journal

Central Hudson’s Electric and Gas Bill Relief Program Approved

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. is implementing the Electric & Gas Bill Relief Program, approved by the State Public Service Commission, to assist low-income families and individuals throughout the state who experienced hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residential utility customers who receive income-qualified government assistance for utility bills and other expenses and have past-due balances for service through May 1, 2022, will have those balances forgiven through a bill credit.  Customers who qualify for this program remain responsible for charges incurred after May 1.

Read more at Mid Hudson News

American Airlines Ending Service to Two New York Cities Due to Pilot Shortage

American Airlines will eliminate service for three cities following the Labor Day holiday weekend as a result of staffing shortages, marking the latest hiccup for the airline industry amid thousands of cancellations and cuts in recent months. An airline spokesperson said the company will drop service to Toledo, Ohio; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Islip, N.Y., on Sept. 7 in response to a “regional pilot shortage.”

Travel demand has surged.  The Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.44 million people at airports on Friday, a total greater than any other day since Nov. 28, 2021. Meanwhile, airlines have struggled to keep up with rising demand after shedding millions of jobs at the height of the pandemic, driving prices higher.

Read more at The Hill