Member Briefing November 8, 2022
Here’s What to Watch for in Today’s Game-Changing 2022 Midterms
Republicans are predicting a massive red wave as anxious Democrats defend their narrow majorities in Congress while struggling to overcome pervasive concerns about the economy, crime and President Joe Biden’s leadership. Democrats are hoping that a backlash against the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade will save them. The political environment has led to an unusually large playing field as emboldened Republicans press into Democratic strongholds like New York, California, New Mexico and Washington state. Still, the marquee races are taking place in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which could help determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential contest.
Because of close contests and extended vote counting, it could take days or weeks before the final outcome is known in several key races.
War in Ukraine Headlines
- Ukraine and Russia: The Latest News – The Guardian
- Kyiv Prepares for a Winter With no Heat, Water or Power - Politico
- Russia Presses Evacuation of Kherson as Ukrainian Offensive Looms - WSJ
- Ukraine's Zelenskiy: Heavy Russian Losses in the East - Reuters
- Russia Losing Aircraft Faster Than They Can be Replaced: Live Updates – USA Today
- Western Air-Defense Systems Help Ukraine Shoot Down More Missiles – The Economist
- The Russian Gas Habit Europe Can’t Quit: LNG - Politico
- Vast Majority of Ukrainians Expect Prosperous Future in EU – Poll - Reuters
- Map – Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Live Universal Awareness Map
Covid’s Drag on the Workforce Proves Persistent
Two-and-a-half years after Covid-19 emerged, reported infections are way down, pandemic restrictions are practically gone and life in many respects is approaching normal. The labor force, however, is not. Researchers say the virus is having a persistent effect, keeping millions out of work and reducing the productivity and hours of millions more, disrupting business operations and raising costs.
In the average month this year, nearly 630,000 more workers missed at least a week of work because of illness than in the years before the pandemic, according to Labor Department data. That is a reduction in workers equal to about 0.4 percent of the labor force, a significant amount in a tight labor market. That share is up about 0.1 percentage point from the same period last year, the data show.
October CPI May Solidify Fed Case for a Terminal Rate Above 5%
Thursday morning will bring the closely-watched Consumer Price Index (CPI) for October. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg see headline CPI at an annual 7.9% for the month, a moderation from September’s year-over-year increase of 8.2%. Core CPI, which strips out the volatile food and energy components of the measure, is projected to come in at 6.5%, little changed from 6.6% last month.
A wave of Wall Street strategists have lifted their expectations for how high the Federal Reserve will raise its key interest rate after Wednesday’s “slower but higher” messaging from Powell — and October’s CPI this week may affirm the revised forecasts, while offering investors clues about the size of December’s increase.
U.S. COVID – The U.S. is Officially in a Flu Epidemic, Federal Health Officials Say
The U.S. has “crossed the epidemic threshold” when it comes to flu, federal health officials said Friday, as they outlined plans to deploy troops and FEMA personnel, and supplies like ventilators, if needed, in response to a nationwide surge of respiratory illnesses that also includes RSV and COVID. U.S. flu hospitalizations are higher now than they’ve been at this point in every other flu season since 2010-2011, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on a press call.
The country is seeing a resurgence of non-COVID respiratory illnesses like flu, RSV, rhinovirus, and enterovirus, with background levels of COVID, according to Dr. José Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In the Southeast U.S., nearly 20% of flu tests sent to a lab are returning positive—most of them for influenza A, which appears to be more severe in children and the elderly. In the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, an early flu season is also causing severe illness in those age groups, according to Romero
Election Day Numbers to Know
Happy Election Day. Politico offers some final numbers for some context and what to look for as the polls close tonight. Among the items :
— $16.7 billion: The new projected total spending on state and federal elections blows away the 2018 record. Federal candidates and political committees are expected to spend $8.9 billion, while state candidates, party committees and ballot measure committees are on track to hit more than $7.8 billion, per OpenSecrets.
Where do Hochul and Zeldin Stand on Policy Issues Affecting New York?
It’s been a hectic midterm election for New York’s gubernatorial candidates Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin, complete with controversial polls, energetic rallies, and a contentious debate. With just a few days until Election Day, voters may be finding it difficult to remember where each candidate stands on some of the most pressing issues affecting the state – from abortion rights to crime and public safety.
Here’s a guide From City & State to navigating Hochul and Zeldin’s perspective on these important issues.
Paxlovid Effective in Reducing Risk of Long COVID Symptoms: Study
A recent preprint study found that Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid may be effective in reducing the risk of developing long COVID in patients recovering from coronavirus infections. The study, funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), looked through the VA’s health care databases and identified individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 between March and June 2022.
Overall, 56,340 participants were included in the study, among whom 9,217 were given Paxlovid within five days of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, while the remaining 47,123 did not receive any form of COVID-19 antiviral or antibody treatment in the 30 days after their diagnosis.
China Weighs Gradual Zero-Covid Exit but Proceeds With Caution, Without Timeline
Chinese leaders are considering steps toward reopening after nearly three years of tough pandemic restrictions but are proceeding slowly and have set no timeline, according to people familiar with the discussions. China’s Communist Party congress last month, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping claimed a third term, had once been viewed as a potential turning point in its battle against Covid-19, but little has changed in the country’s approach to containing the virus.
Chinese officials have grown concerned about the costs of their zero-tolerance approach to smothering Covid-19 outbreaks, which has resulted in lockdowns of cities and whole provinces, crushing business activity and confining hundreds of millions of people at home for weeks and sometimes months on end. But they are weighing those against the potential costs of reopening for public health and support for the Communist Party. As a result, they are proceeding cautiously despite the deepening impact of the Covid-19 policies, the people said, pointing to a long path to anything approaching prepandemic levels of activity, with the timeline stretching to sometime near the end of next year.
Apple Warns Covid Restrictions in China Are Hurting iPhone Production
Apple said in a statement on Sunday that it has temporarily reduced iPhone 14 production because of Covid-19 restrictions at its primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly plant in Zhengzhou, China. The factory, operated by Foxconn, is operating at “significantly reduced capacity,” Apple said. It warned that it would ship fewer units and that customers would experience longer wait times when ordering devices.
Apple’s warning brings up the possibility that it may sell fewer iPhones in the December quarter because it is having trouble making enough to meet demand. It previously signaled slowing growth in the December quarter last month. It said that it continues to see strong demand for the affected models.
Tech Layoffs: Amazon, Apple, Meta, Twitter The Growing List of Tech Giants Cutting Jobs and Freezing Hiring
One of the big news stories right now is Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and mass layoffs at the social platform. However, Twitter isn’t the only tech company making drastic changes to its staffing right now. In fact, there’s an ongoing trend across tech companies which is seeing mass layoffs and hiring freezes.
- Amazon: The e-commerce giant has halted “new incremental” hiring across its workforce.
- Apple: Apple has “paused almost all hiring”, a decision which could last until late 2023.
- Lyft: Lyft announced at the start of November it would be cutting 700 jobs.
- Meta: For the first time in history, social media giant Meta is looking at a hiring freeze and potential job cuts.
- Microsoft: Last month, Microsoft cut about 1,000 jobs.
- Twitter: Elon Musk began staff layoffs on Friday (November 4) as part of his new, self-appointed role of “Chief Twit”- or rather “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” according to his Twitter bio.
Boeing’s New 737 MAX Jets Delayed Again
Boeing Co. will not seek airworthiness certifications on the next two models of its 737 MAX series jets until long after the December 31 federal deadline for adopting an Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS.) The Federal Aviation Administration will require such a system as a result of new regulations imposed by the U.S. in a December 2020 act implemented to strengthen FAA oversight of aircraft manufacturers after revelations that Boeing pressured inspectors to expedite their approval process, in order to speed the original certification of the 737 MAX, in 2017.
In comments to investors last week, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the 737 MAX 7 would achieve FAA certification early next year, but he estimated the 737 MAX 10 would not be certified until late 2023 or early 2024. Previously, Deal said the MAX 7 would be certified by the end of 2022, and the MAX 10 during 2023. Redesigning the 737 MAX flight controls could delay progress on two aircraft models that are already under construction, and further complicate Boeing’s cash-flow difficulties. The problems for the 737 MAX are ongoing, as Boeing has been blocked from delivering new aircraft to fulfill orders from China.
Survey: High Cost of Health Care is Top Concern as Employers Compete for Workers
The soaring cost of health care is harming the ability of many employers to recruit and retain workers. “The consensus among many of the responding employers is that attracting and retaining employees has become a street fight,” says Michael Thompson, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. “Concerns about a recession and runaway inflation make it even more critical that employers are able to hire and keep top talent, and getting unreasonable health care costs under control can have a far-reaching impact on wages and ability to compete.”
In the coalition’s latest survey of more than 150 employers, 8 in 10 say health care costs affect their ability to remain competitive, while nearly three-fourths say these expenses crowd out wage increases.
Home Depot Workers Reject Union
Home Depot workers in Philadelphia rejected the first store-wide labor union at the world’s largest home improvement retailer Saturday night, a loss for a fledgling movement to organize at major U.S. companies. The defeat for the organizers could discourage activist workers who have successfully formed the first unions at big chains, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Apple, but have since suffered setbacks in getting collective bargaining off the ground or organizing more unions.
Workers voted 165 to 51 against forming Home Depot Workers United, which would have represented 274 employees at the store, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the voting. The company and union organizations have five days to file objections.
WTO Urges Countries To Lift Green Trade Barriers
In its annual World Trade Report, the WTO says international commerce should not be pitted against combating the climate crisis. The report comes as global leaders gather in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for COP27. The WTO said it was misleading to think that trade was nothing but a source of greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that trade could also enable the spread of green innovations and technology.
"Trade is a force for good for climate, and part of the solution for achieving a low-carbon, resilient and just transition," WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in the report's foreword. "The WTO estimates that reducing tariffs and non-tariff measures on energy-related environmental goods could increase total exports of these products by five percent by 2030 and, at the same time, lead to a net reduction in carbon emissions," the former Nigerian finance and foreign minister said.
Greta Thunberg to Skip ‘Greenwashing’ Cop27 Climate Summit in Egypt
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has said she will skip next month’s Cop27 talks in Egypt, criticising the global summit as a forum for “greenwashing”. “The Cops are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing,” she said.
“I’m not going to Cop27 for many reasons, but the space for civil society this year is extremely limited,” she said during a question and answer at the launch of her latest book at London’s Southbank Centre. The 19-year-old activist had previously tweeted to express solidarity with “prisoners of conscience” being held in Egypt. The UN’s 27th conference on climate opens in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on 6 November.