Member Briefing November 1, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Eurozone Inflation Rate Rises to 10.7% as Recession Looms

The annual rate of consumer-price inflation in the eurozone increased to double digits in October, reaching a record and highlighting the challenges facing the European Central Bank after it signaled a coming slowdown in the pace of its rate increases. The European Union’s statistics agency Monday said consumer prices were 10.7% higher in October than a year earlier, the fastest rate of increase since records began in 1997, two years before the euro was launched. However, national records go back further, and Germany’s measure of inflation was the highest since December 1951.

As measured by the Eurostat method, Italy’s annual rate of inflation jumped to 12.8% in October from 9.4% in September, while Germany’s inflation rate rose to 11.6% from 10.9%. By contrast, Spain’s inflation rate fell to 7.3% from 9%.

Read more at the WSJ

War in Ukraine Headlines

3 Million Americans are Still Avoiding the Workforce. They Might be ‘Long Social Distancing’

Amid all the talk about the cost of desk lunches, the hours of lost sleep, and the slog of commuting, many have forgotten the original reason to avoid returning to the office: fear of catching COVID. Between February and July 2022, 55% of respondents to the researchers’ Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA) said they wouldn’t be returning to pre-COVID activities such as dining indoors or taking a crowded bus or train—and therefore would be staying out of the workforce. The researchers characterize that behavior as “long social distancing,” an extension of early-pandemic habits.

Older, lower-earning women with minimal formal education are the most likely group to partake in long social distancing, they found, especially those in areas with fewer remote work opportunities.

Read more at Fortune

Goldman Sachs Sees Fed Rates Peaking at 5% in March

Goldman Sachs Group Inc's economists said the U.S. Federal Reserve could bump up interest rates to as high as 5% by March 2023, 25 basis points above its earlier predictions, Bloomberg News reported. Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon last week said the U.S. Federal Reserve could hike rates beyond 4.5-4.75% if it does not see "real changes in behaviour."

Federal Reserve's next meeting Wednesday could shed light on how long it will stick to the aggressive monetary policies. The report said Goldman cited three reasons for expecting the Fed to hike beyond February -an "uncomfortably high" inflation, the need to cool the economy as fiscal tightening ends and price-adjusted incomes climb, and avoiding a premature easing of financial conditions.

Read more at Reuters

US COVID - COVID Hospitalizations are Climbing as the US Braces for a ‘Tripledemic.’

As experts warn of a potential "tripledemic" this winter—the convergence of COVID, flu, and RSV (also known as respiratory syncytial virus), COVID hospitalizations rates are climbing for the first time since July. But it’s not the only virus on the rise.  The recent surge in RSV is causing concerns for doctors. Each year, approximately 58,000 children under 5 are hospitalized due to RSV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 10% of Maine’s inpatient beds are being used for people who have confirmed or suspected cases of the virus. North Carolina and Delaware follow, with 8% and 7% of hospital beds being used for COVID patients, respectively. While getting vaccinated and boosted against COVID reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalization or death, it does not prevent you from getting the virus altogether.

Read more at Yahoo

FiveThirtyEight: It’s a Dead Heat for the Senate

The Senate is currently a toss-up, with Democrats ever so slightly ahead. The party that wins two of the three closest states will likely win the Senate majority. Republicans’ two best pick-up opportunities are Nevada and Georgia. However, Herschel Walker’s scandals may hurt his chances against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat in Pennsylvania, but that race has gotten a lot tighter recently.

Other Senate races are competitive but have identifiable favorites. For instance, strong Democratic incumbents currently have an edge in Arizona and New Hampshire. And the Senate races in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin are also close but will likely result in Republican winners.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight

261,735 New Yorkers Voted the First Weekend of Early Voting

There were 261,735 votes cast statewide during the first two days of early voting in New York, according to numbers released Monday by the state Board of Elections. Of those votes, 97,155 were cast in New York City and 164,580 were cast outside of the five boroughs.

Among the large counties outside of New York City: 14,808 votes were cast in Erie, 11,743 votes were cast in Monroe, 28,240 votes were cast in Nassau, 20,549 were cast in Suffolk and 16,236 were cast in Westchester. Early voting has been in effect in New York since 2019. During the high-turnout presidential election of 2020, there were 422,166 votes cast over the first two days of early voting.

Read more at State of Politics

Fearing COVID, Workers Flee From Foxconn's Vast Chinese iPhone Plant

Since mid-October, Foxconn has been wrestling with a COVID-19 outbreak at its facility in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province in central China. Workers were locked in to stop the spread of the coronavirus to the outside word. Foxconn has repeatedly refrained from disclosing the case load. Around 20,000 workers had been put in quarantine on-site.

China typically isolates vast numbers of people considered close or even potential contacts of an infected person. The world's second-largest economy continues to wage war on COVID with disruptive lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines while many other countries have chosen to live with the disease. For companies with massive manufacturing campuses like Foxconn, that has meant keeping thousands of workers on-site in so-called "closed-loop" systems to keep their production lines running.

Read more at Reuters

China’s Factory Activity Drops, Bogged Down By More Covid Controls

China’s factory activity fell in October due to frequent Covid outbreaks, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. The official purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing fell to 49.2 this month, down from 50.1 in September, the data showed. Sub-indicators on factory employment, production, new orders and supplier delivery time all showed contraction in October compared to September.

Economists had expected a print of 50, according to analysts polled by Reuters. Readings below 50 indicate a contraction in business activity, while figures 50 above reflect expansion. The index surveys businesses on operating conditions and the index has come in below 50 for six out of 10 months of the year so far.

Read more at Euronews

DOL Gets Backlash on Its New ‘Gig Worker’ Rule, Extends Comment Period

After several business groups complained about the original timeline of the DOL’s proposed independent contractor rule, the agency is now allowing interested parties 15 additional days to comment on the rule. The U.S. Department of Labor extended the deadline from November 28 to December 13.

The proposed rule, released on October 11 (and published in the Federal Register October 13), would rescind a 2021 rule in which two core factors – control over the work and opportunity for profit or loss – carried greater weight in determining the status of independent contractors. Under the proposed rule, employers would use a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis in which all factors do not have a predetermined weight. Those factors may include: The amount of skill required for the work, The degree of permanence of the working relationship, The worker’s investment in equipment or materials required for the task, and The extent to which the service rendered is an integral part of the employer’s business.

Read more at Benefits Pro

Business Groups Warn Biden of Renewed Rail Strike Threat

More than 300 business groups on Thursday warned that the U.S. is once again nearing a nationwide rail strike and urged President Biden to intervene in contract negotiations. The message comes after workers at two railroad unions voted down tentative deals, raising the chances of a lockout. The vote has prompted fears that workers at the largest rail unions may reject an agreement partially brokered by the White House in September, setting the stage for national rail shutdown next month.

Even a short-lived rail shutdown would devastate the U.S. economy, which relies on freight railroads to carry around 30 percent of the nation’s cargo, including large quantities of food, fuel and chemicals that cannot be transported in other ways.

Read more at The Hill

New York Extends its Lead Over California as Home to Nation’s New No. 1 Port

The East Coast continues to dominate in the movement of trade, with the Port of New York and New Jersey taking the top spot as the nation’s busiest seaport for a second-consecutive month. It moved 35% more cargo in September 2022 than it did in the pre-pandemic September of 2019. The previous monthly data was the first time New York topped the West Coast and was being watched as a tipping point.

“The fact that the Port of New York and New Jersey have outpaced Los Angeles for not one, but two consecutive months is big news,” said Josh Brazil vice president of supply chain insights at Project44. “It demonstrates the degree to which we see a serious longer-term shift among shippers to diversify their supply chain routes to mitigate risk.”

Read more at CNBC

Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2022

For the 12th year in a row "fall protection - general requirement" is the most cited standard violation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement (DEP), presented preliminary data at the recent National Safety Council show in San Diego, reflecting violations occurring from October 1, 2021, to September 6, 2022. (The tally includes only federal OSHA data; data collected from state OSHA agencies is not included.)

All of the violations on this year's list also appeared on the previous year's list, although there was a good deal of shifting up or down the rankings. While fall protection kept its grip on the top spot, last year's # 2 violation (respiratory protection) dropped to # 3, while last year's # 5 violation (hazard communication) jumped to the # 2 spot. The slide show that follows indicates both this year's ranking as well as noting last year's.

Read more at EHS Today

Global Steel Output Flattens

Global raw-steel production rose to 151.7 million metric tons in September, an increase of less than 1.0% from August, but a positive sign insomuch as the new total is 3.7% higher than the September 2021 result.  Steel output has been lagging expectations for much of the current year, first due to the steady decrease in Chinese production that began in mid-2021, and more recently due to falling volumes in Japan, the U.S., and other developed nations. With the September totals, year-to-date global steel production stands at 1.4 billion metric tons, a -4.3% decline from the January-September 2021 production total.

Recently the World Steel Assn. reduced its outlook for 2022 steel consumption to 1.8 billion metric tons, citing the impact of inflation, the tightening money supply, supply shortages, war, and other factors pressuring the world economy, plus few prospects for recovery.

Read more at American Machinist