Member Briefing March 8, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Invasion of Ukraine Headlines

How War in Ukraine Drives Up Inflation at U.S. Farms, Supermarkets, Retailers

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set the stage for faster-rising consumer prices, with the mayhem of war driving up manufacturing costs for food, consumer goods and machinery in places far from the battlefield. The short-term consequences have been serious. Grain markets recently hit a 14-year high in anticipation of a diminished harvest in Ukraine, which would raise costs to feed the world’s cattle and poultry. Aluminum prices rose in anticipation of sanctions on Russia. Crude oil prices rose 25% last week, to more than $118 a barrel. Gas prices have gone up an average of 43.7 cents a gallon in the U.S.

Some analysts and company officials caution that it is too early to know exactly what the long-term effects of the war will have on the global economy, and not all think the conflict in Ukraine will have a major impact on supply chains. But the invasion of Ukraine has already slowed the journey of goods traveling by various means. Many Western shipping companies are steering clear of Russian ports and many air cargo flights are either banned from or are avoiding Russian airspace, a key route for goods moving between Europe and Asia. Shipping and airfreight rates have moved higher.

Read more at the WSJ

Congress Races Shutdown Clock Amid Ukraine Crisis

Democratic leaders have announced plans to attach supplemental funding for humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine to a larger spending omnibus package to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, calling it the quickest vehicle to greenlight the billions in spending. Congress has to pass a sweeping bill, which would fund the government through the end of September, and President Biden has to sign it before the end of Friday in order to prevent a government shutdown. 

The push, lawmakers say, tacks even more pressure on Congress to wrap up work on government funding legislation in time for a March 11 deadline, after the cutoff date was previously pushed back several times to buy negotiators more time for spending talks.

Read more at The Hill

Today is International Women’s Day

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. 

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

US COVID – Leading Causes of Death (Daily Average) in the U.S. March 2020-January 2022

This statistic from Statista shows the average number of daily deaths in the United States among the leading causes of death from March 2020 to December 2021 and to January 2022 for COVID-19 deaths.

During the months December 2020, January 2021, and February 2021, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in the United States based on the average number of daily deaths. Heart disease and cancer are usually the number one and number two leading causes of death, respectively. As of December 2021, same as in the two months prior, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In January 2022, COVID-19 deaths increased and appeared to be the second leading cause of death in the U.S. 

See the chart at Statista

Public Health Experts Sketch a Roadmap to Get from the Covid Pandemic to the ‘Next Normal’

A new report released Monday charts a path for the transition out of the Covid-19 pandemic, one that outlines both how the country can deal with the challenge of endemic Covid disease and how to prepare for future biosecurity threats. The report plots a course to what its authors call the “next normal” — living with the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a continuing threat that needs to be managed.

Doing so will require improvements on a number of fronts, from better surveillance for COVID and other pathogens to keeping tabs on how taxed hospitals are; and from efforts to address the air quality in buildings to continued investment in antiviral drugs and better vaccines. The authors also call for offering people sick with respiratory symptoms easy access to testing and, if they are positive for Covid or influenza, a quick prescription for the relevant antiviral drug.

Read more at The Hill

Businesses Respond to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine – A Summary

Some of their actions have been in compliance with, or anticipation of, government sanctions. But others go well beyond what’s required. Here’s a partial list:

  • Major oil companies, including Exxon, BP, and Shell, have ended multiple joint investment projects with Russian oil companies.
  •  Major retailers, including H&M, Nike, IKEA and TJX, have shut down Russian sales and closed stores.
  • Visa, Mastercard and American Express shut down global services in Russia.
  • Accenture closed its Russian offices and EY, KPMG and PwC are also cutting ties with their Russian member firms.
  • Boeing cut off support for Russian airlines, and closed its offices in Moscow, while Delta ended its Russian code-sharing arrangement.
  • Airbnb is freeing up housing for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
  • FedEx and UPS shut services to Russia.
  • Apple, Alphabet, Meta and Microsoft all have taken significant action to combat Russian aggression and disinformation.

Read more at Just Capital

Does the War in Ukraine Increase the Risk of Russian Cyberattacks?

In January, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a CISA alert, co-written with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency, reiterating the ongoing threat of Russian state-sponsored cybercrime on American infrastructure. Analysts cited the tension on the Russian/Ukrainian border as motivation for increased awareness. When tensions on the border erupted into all-out war, did cybersecurity experts see a commensurate increase in Russian cyberattacks?

“Attribution is the hardest part of cybersecurity. While we can take very secure guesses about who is carrying out an attack based on their sophistication and specific characteristics about the attack, it is usually very hard to provide definitive evidence to tie an attack to a specific country,” Cloutier says. “Russia, like China and North Korea, has a sophisticated cyber intelligence community and can carry out attacks that are much more complex than other nations, and given the nature of the sanctions being doled out by Western countries, we expect to see attacks from Russia propagate.”

Read more at IndustryWeek

Biden Appointees Split on Key Cyber Bill

President Joe Biden’s top national security officials are publicly split over legislation that would require critical infrastructure companies to report hacks to the government, in a remarkable display of disharmony over a bill with bipartisan support and industry backing. President Joe Biden’s top national security officials are publicly split over legislation that would require critical infrastructure companies to report hacks to the government, in a remarkable display of disharmony over a bill with bipartisan support and industry backing.

CISA Director Jen Easterly has praised the reporting mandate as a critical tool for enhancing the nation’s cyber defenses. But on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the legislation would make the country “less safe” and FBI Director Christopher Wray said it had “serious flaws.”

Read more at Politico

Some Colleges Are Winding Down Surveillance Testing, Once a Key COVID-Mitigation Strategy

Last spring semester, Duke University regularly ran more than 20,000 — once more than 30,000 — coronavirus tests a week on its students, staff, and faculty. By last week, that number was roughly halved, to a little more than 12,000 tests. At its peak testing pace, Cornell University was running about 40,000 tests weekly for the on-campus community, said Gary A. Koretzky, an immunologist who is vice provost for academic integration. Now administrators are running about 6,000 a week.

Both colleges are planning to do even fewer tests in the future. Starting March 21, Duke will no longer require students who are compliant with its vaccine and booster mandate, and who have no Covid symptoms, to be tested. Cornell stopped mandating surveillance tests for the vaccinated and boosted last month.

Read more at the Chronicle of Higher Ed

Death Toll Surpasses 6 Million for the Pandemic Now in its 3rd Year

The official global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 6 million on Monday — underscoring that the pandemic, now entering its third year, is far from over.  The milestone, recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe.

It took the world seven months to record its first million deaths from the virus after the pandemic began in early 2020. Four months later another million people had died, and 1 million have died every three months since, until the death toll hit 5 million at the end of October. Now it has reached 6 million — more than the populations of Berlin and Brussels combined, or the entire state of Maryland.

Read more at NPR


Jobless Aid for Excluded Workers Gets Boost from New York Labor Union

The backing of the “Excluded No More” proposal from Laborers’ Local 79 comes as state lawmakers are calling for billions of dollars in aid for excluded workers in the state budget, which is expected to pass later this month.

Last year, state lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to a $2 billion pot of money for workers who did not qualify for federal pandemic assistance. Many of those workers are undocumented residents, and over the last several months officials have called for a permanent version of the excluded workers fund.

Read more at State of Politics

Tesla Gets Green Light to Start Production in Germany

After getting snarled up in German red tape, U.S. electric car pioneer Tesla at last got the final go-ahead from authorities Friday, paving the way for production to begin shortly at its “gigafactory” outside Berlin.  Officials in the eastern state of Brandenburg, where the factory sits, issued the final approval for the company’s first production site in Europe.

Brandenburg, formerly part of communist east Germany, is hoping for a job boost from the new factory and has positioned itself as a hub for the production of electric vehicles. Also on Friday, German car giant Volkswagen announced a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) investment in a purpose-built electric plant of its own, set to break ground at its main Wolfsburg site as soon as early 2023.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Automakers Lack Supply Chain Muscle to Meet Raging Truck Demand

Truck manufacturers continued to accept orders for new vehicles in February only at a muted rate, showing that automakers lack confidence that that their supply chains will improve in the short term despite the industry’s roaring demand to get more tractor-trailers on the road, two reports have found. In spite of the climbing numbers of orders for class 8 trucks, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are booking fleet requirements just a portion at a time in order to not overbook their production schedules and to keep backlogs at a manageable level, according to a report from transportation analyst firm FT

A lingering shortage of drivers, vehicles, and parts—especially semiconductors—have constrained freight haulers from adding the additional capacity needed to move surging inventory levels in recent months, even as retailers and brands flood seaports with newly imported goods.

Read more at Supply Chain Quarterly