Member Briefing March 28, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing ,

Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


February Durable Goods Orders Fell 2.2%, Well Below Consensus

New orders for U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in February, while shipments slowed, but demand for goods remains strong, which should keep manufacturing expanding. Orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, fell 2.2% after increasing 1.6% in January. They were pulled down by a 5.6% decline in orders for transportation equipment, which followed a 3.2% increased in January.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, slipped 0.3% last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. These so-called core capital goods orders jumped 1.3% in January. Demand for goods remains strong even as spending is shifting back to services, keeping manufacturing growing. But the sector, which accounts for 11.9% of the economy, continues to battle supply bottlenecks.

Read more at Reuters


FERC Walks Back New Pipeline Rules

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rolled back sweeping new policies for large natural gas projects, including a framework for assessing how pipelines and other facilities contribute to climate change, weeks after prominent lawmakers panned the changes. In a decision issued unanimously at the commission’s monthly meeting yesterday, FERC will revert back to its long-standing method for reviewing natural gas pipeline applications — while opening changes announced in February to feedback rather than applying them immediately.

Last month, in addition to scrutinizing applications for new interstate natural gas pipelines, FERC also established a 100,000 tons-a-year greenhouse gas emissions threshold for pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals to determine whether it will automatically initiate a more stringent environmental impact statement. Those policies took immediate effect on pending applications, the commission said at the time. Republicans and Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin have blasted the policy shift as agency overreach, and committee Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday to stop the move from taking effect.” FERC Chair Richard Glick said. ‘‘We are re-engaging in inviting stakeholders to comment. 

Read more at E&E News


Hochul Wants to Take Temperature Down, Considers Gas Tax Relief in NYS Budget Talks

Since she was elevated to the governor’s office in August, Hochul has pledged to boost transparency in state government and the posturing has been consciously less bombastic. Her first budget, nevertheless, still can be consequential. She wants to alter New York’s 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges by adding some gun crimes as well as for repeat offenses. 

The budget is being negotiated amid deepening concerns for New Yorkers about the state of the economy and their personal finances. New York is projected to collect $2 billion in gas tax revenue this fiscal year. The money is used for road and bridge maintenance as well as mass transit. New Yorkers pay about  48 cents per gallon of gas in total taxes. “We are very sensitive to this especially since the vast majority of our state does not have public transportation options available to them,” Hochul said. “It’s something we’re very sensitive to and we’ll continue talking about in the budget context.” 

Read more at Spectrum News


US COVID – Vaccination Stalls

The US CDC is currently reporting 79.65 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 971,212 deaths. The decline in daily incidence is tapering off, with the current average at 27,545 new cases per day. Daily mortality continues to decline, down to 787 deaths per day on March 22.* Notably, the average daily mortality is at its lowest level since late-November 2021, prior to the start of the Omicron surge.

The US has administered 559 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations have stalled, down from the most recent peak of 1.79 million doses per day on December 6 to approximately 169,000 on March 17. Data are relatively unchanged since last week. A total of 255 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 76.8% of the entire US population. A total of 217.2 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 65.4% of the total population. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of March 27:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.5% of all New Yorkers – 16,468,281 (plus 2,169 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,712,982 (plus 340).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.1% of all New Yorkers – 14,749,752 (plus -7,659 adjusted down for incorrect data).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,503,667 (plus 208). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,309,800
  • In the Hudson Valley – 869,530

The Governor updated COVID data through March 27.  There were 7 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,107 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 823.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 135

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.29%    –   13.99 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.22%   –   11.23 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Why Don’t Kids Get COVID Badly? Scientists Work on Solving One of the Pandemic’s Biggest Mysteries

Scientists are still somewhat baffled as to why children are not badly affected by Covid, although studies are slowly shedding light on how, and why, children’s responses to Covid differ from those among adults.

“A number of theories have been suggested, including a more effective innate immune response, less risk of immune over-reaction as occurs in severe Covid, fewer underlying co-morbidities and possibly fewer ACE-2 receptors in the upper respiratory epithelium — the receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 [Covid] binds,” Dr. Andrew Freedman, an academic in infectious diseases at the U.K.’s Cardiff University Medical School, told CNBC in emailed comments, adding that nonetheless the phenomenon was not “fully understood.

Read more at CNBC


If No One Else is Wearing a Mask, Should You?

No state in the US is now requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet in many supermarkets, office buildings, movie theaters, and other indoor locations, some people are still masking up. But if only half, or a few, or nobody else is doing so, does the mask offer the wearer sufficient protection? The question is becoming more urgent because even though rates of COVID-19 in most of the U.S. are currently low, they are rising in Europe—due to the fast-spreading variant Omicron BA.2—which has often presaged a spike here.

Jaimie Meyer, an infectious disease physician at Yale Medicine emphasizes that even when an infected person is maskless, anyone around them who has their own mask reduces the chance that droplets will find their way to their respiratory system and sicken them. Here’s what Meyer and other experts say about masking and how to gauge when it’s safe to ditch the mask, and when it’s not.

Read more at Nat Geo


Mayor Adams Lifts Vaccine Mandate for Performers and Athletes Ahead of MLB’s Opening Day

Kyrie Irving and other unvaccinated athletes will be allowed to play professional sports in New York City under a major policy change Mayor Eric Adams announceD Thursday. Adams has been relaxing Covid-19 policies instituted by former Mayor Bill de Blasio since taking office Jan. 1, as he seeks to resume a sense of normalcy in the pandemic-ravaged city.

The news comes in advance of the start of baseball season. The Mets home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks is scheduled for April 15, and the Yankees are hosting the Boston Red Sox on April 7. Players who have been coy about their vaccination status on both teams have been awaiting news out of City Hall, following Nets star Kyrie Irving’s suspension from home games due to the city’s rules.

Read more at Politico NY


Jackson Lewis’ Vaccine Mandate Litigation Tracker

Attorneys at Jackson Lewis P.C. have developed a snapshot of nationwide vaccine-related labor and employment cases in the form of a Vaccine Mandate Litigation Tracker. The Tracker provides employers with the latest information on COVID-19 vaccination mandate litigation, with a focus on the lawsuits arising from vaccine requirements implemented by employers. The Tracker features:

  • A map of employer mandate lawsuits
  • A look at which industries are facing lawsuits
  • A look at the most common legal claims 
  • Additional insights from Jackson Lewis attorneys

Jackson Lewis has been helping clients address the legal challenges presented by COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and has been a tremendous help to Council of Industry members. 

Visit the Tracker


What to do if You Need to Start Paying Attention to Cybersecurity Very, Very Quickly

To companies that haven’t prioritized cybersecurity, one wonders whether frequent alerts from the White House and conversations about preparedness against the Russians may sound like the boy crying wolf. But what if the level of Russian cyberaggression does spike to such egregiously high levels as to practically demand businesses pay attention?

If the red alert alarms do go off, advice about running cybersecurity drills and deploying new security tools on PCs and encrypting data may be too little, too late. So, IndustryWeek asked their experts for a list of cybersecurity actions a business could reasonably expect to complete in only five business days.

Read more at IndustryWeek


New Jobless Claims Fall to 187,000, Setting More Than Five-Decade Low

U.S. jobless claims set a more than 50-year low last week as the red-hot labor market shows few signs of cooling in the near-term.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended March 19: 187,000 vs. 210,000 expected and a revised 215,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended March 12: 1.350 million vs. 1.400 million expected and a revised 1.417 million during prior week.

At 187,000, new jobless claims improved for a back-to-back week and reached the lowest level since September 1969. Continuing claims also fell further to reach 1.35 million — the least since January 1970.

Read more at YahooFinance


Skilled Trade Programs are Booming After College Enrollment Dropped in the Pandemic

More than a million students held off from going to college in this pandemic, but there are some bright spots happening at community colleges. Some programs in skilled trades like construction, HVAC and automotive repair are seeing an uptick in enrollment. In some places, it’s as high as 40% more.

College enrollment dropped during the pandemic. But programs in the skilled trades are booming. NPR’s Elissa Nadworny visits two community colleges where students learn to build houses and fix cars

Read/Listen at NPR


German Business Confidence Drops Sharply on War, Energy Worries

German business confidence has dropped sharply as company managers’ outlook for the coming months darkens following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a survey showed Friday.  The Ifo institute said its monthly confidence index, a closely watched indicator in Europe’s biggest economy, fell to 90.8 points in March from 95.8 in February. It said that sentiment “collapsed.”

The index’s expectations component fell by a record amount, even more sharply than it did when the coronavirus pandemic hit Germany in March 2020, Ifo said.

Read more at US News


UK Consumer Confidence Slides as Inflation and War Worries Mount 

British consumer confidence sank to levels last seen in late 2020 this month due to worries about galloping inflation, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine, a survey showed on Friday. The GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell for the fourth month in a row to -31 from -26 in February, its lowest since November 2020, deep in the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey’s gauge of personal finances for the coming year slumped to a joint record low, matched only by July 2008 when the global financial crisis was reaching a climax. “A wall of worry is confronting consumers this month and there is an unmistakable sense of crisis in our numbers,” Joe Staton, GfK’s client strategy director, said.

Read more at Reuters


ECB Announces Timeline to Gradually Phase Out Pandemic Collateral Easing

The European Central Bank (ECB) plans to end easy collateral terms that commenced at the start of COVID-19 and tighten banks’ access to liquidity, the bank announced Thursday (March 24). The pandemic collateral easing measures that were introduced nearly two years ago will be phased out in three steps between July 2022 and March 2024, the ECB said.

“Phasing out of measures will gradually restore Eurosystem’s pre-pandemic risk tolerance and avoid collateral availability cliff effects,” the central bank wrote. “This gradual phasing out allows ample time for the Eurosystem’s counterparties to adapt,” the ECB said. The ECB’s action represents one more step towards bringing an end to support measures the bank implemented to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

Read more at PYMNTS.com


Census Data Reveals How Many People Have Fled NYC During COVID Pandemic

New York County saw its population plunge by 110,958 or 6.9% between July 2020 and July 2021 — coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic. New York City accounted for four of the top US counties with population losses. Hudson County in neighboring New Jersey also landed in the top 10, which means the NY metropolitan region accounted for five of the top 10 counties with population losses.

Brooklyn’s population declined by 86,341 residents or 3.5%, the sixth worst percentage in the nation.  The Bronx sunk by 41,490 or 3.2% — the eighth highest percentage drop. Queens County followed in ninth place with a 3.1% decrease, or 64,648 population loss.  Only Staten Island, Richmond County, escaped the top ten list.

Read more at the NY Post