Economic Trends

Daily Briefing – 510

Empire Manufacturing Survey: Activity Declined Across the Board

After growing significantly last month, manufacturing activity declined in New York State,  and firms expressed less optimism about the six-month outlook than they did earlier this year, according to the May Empire Manufacturing Survey. Here are some of the key numbers:

  • The general business conditions index retreated thirty-six points to -11.6, its second negative reading in the past three months. 
  • The new orders index fell thirty-four points to -8.8, and the shipments index plunged fifty points to -15.4, marking a sharp reversal for the two measures, both of which increased last month.
  • The unfilled orders index fell to 2.6. The delivery times index held steady at 20.2, pointing to continued lengthening in delivery times, and inventories increased.
  • The index for number of employees increased seven points to 14.0, and the average workweek index held steady at 11.9, indicating a modest increase in employment levels and the average workweek.
  • The prices paid index fell thirteen points to a still elevated 73.7, and the prices received index edged down to 45.6, signaling ongoing substantial increases in both input prices and selling prices, though at a slower pace than last month.
  • The index for future business conditions was little changed at 18.0. Increases in prices and employment are expected to continue in the months ahead. The capital expenditures index fell to its lowest level in several months.

Read more at the NY Fed


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


China’s Economic Activity Plummets as COVID Lockdowns Hit Growth

China’s economic activity contracted sharply in April as a wave of lockdowns across the country posed the most significant challenge to its growth prospects since Covid-19 emerged more than two years ago. Retail sales, the country’s main gauge of consumer activity, slumped 11.1 per cent year on year, compared with forecasts of a 6.6 per cent fall by economists polled by Bloomberg. Retail sales dropped in March, down 3.5 per cent year on year.

Industrial production, which underpinned China’s rapid economic recovery from the initial COVID shock in early 2020 and was expected to rise slightly despite the recent restrictions, dropped 2.9 per cent.

Read more at the Financial Times


Global Wheat Prices Jump After India Export Ban

The price of wheat has jumped on international markets after India banned the export of the staple cereal. The benchmark wheat index rose as much as 5.9% in Chicago, the highest it has been in two months. The export ban comes after a heatwave hit India’s wheat crops, taking domestic prices to a record high.

The cost of everything from bread and cakes to noodles and pasta has risen in recent months as wheat prices soared on world commodity markets. Government officials also said the ban was not permanent and could be revised. The decision has been criticized by agriculture ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations meeting in Germany. “If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis,” German food and agriculture minister Cem Ozdemir said.

Read more at the BBC


US COVID – US Hits 1 Million Deaths from COVID-19

The United States has reached 1 million reported deaths from COVID-19, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a number that shows the shocking toll the virus has taken on the nation.   The U.S. has had more deaths per capita than Western Europe or Canada, and while new deaths have fallen, they are still rising.  

There are still more than 300 people dying every day from the virus in the U.S. on average, according to a New York Times tracker, though that is one of the lowest levels since the pandemic began. In addition to vaccinations, new treatment pills from Pfizer known as Paxlovid have helped to take some of the teeth out of the virus.  

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 13:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.3% of all New Yorkers – 16,593,794
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,729,212

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.1% of all New Yorkers – 14,871,669
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,518,700

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,275,376
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,000,229

The Governor updated COVID data through May 13.  There were 25 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 71,111

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,340
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 248

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 7.09%    –   49.26 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.87%   –   51.22 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Draft NYS House Maps Released by Special Master – Changes in the Hudson Valley

The court appointed, neutral special master tasked with redrawing New York’s Congressional and state Senate district maps released a draft version of the map for House districts Monday morning. An interactive version of the map was posted online by Jonathan Cervas, a scholar on apportionment who was tasked with the job. The map is just a draft, with the final Congressional and state Senate maps due Friday, May 20. The public has through Wednesday to submit testimony regarding the maps to Steuben County Acting Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister,

The map seems to spell bad news for New York Democrats, who could have more competitive general elections than ever. Cervas seemed to prioritize that, drawing at least eight of the state’s 26 House districts in a way that either party could be competitive in November. The lines have national implications as well. Democrats have a narrow majority in the House of Representatives currently, and are expecting difficult conditions in this 2022 midterm election.


Congressional Bids Fly After Release of Draft New York House Maps

New York officials started a cascade of announcements for congressional office on Monday after the state’s new boundaries for its 26 U.S. House of Representative seats were released just before noon.

  • Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan will run for Congress in New York’s new 18th District..
  • The new 18th District no longer incudes Dutchess County, but Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican, announced he will continue to run in the 19th District he’s campaigned for since last September. 
  • Most recently representing the 18th District has been Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who said on Monday if these new boundaries are finalized, he will run in the 17th District, which includes Putnam and Rockland counties, and parts of Dutchess and Westchester counties.
  • Assemblymember Colin Schmitt, a Republican from New Windsor, will continue to campaign as the 18th District’s Republican and Conservative candidate.
  • Hudson Valley state Sen. James Skoufis, a Democrat from Woodbury, to announce he is weighing throwing his hat into the race for the new 18th Congressional District.

Read more at NY State of Politics


Study: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Estimated to Have Averted 9 million Cases. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2) contributed to generate substantial public health impact and vaccine-preventable cost savings in the first year of its rollout in the US.

It was estimated that, in 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2) contributed to averting almost 9 million symptomatic cases, close to 700,000 hospitalizations, and over 110,000 deaths, resulting in an estimated $30.4 billion direct healthcare cost savings, $43.7 billion indirect cost savings related to productivity loss, as well as discounted gains of 1.1 million QALYs. As only direct impacts of vaccination were considered, these estimates may be conservative. 

Read more at Public & Global Health


Euro Plummets Toward Parity With U.S. Dollar

If Americans can afford the airfare (that’s a big if), Europe might be a relatively affordable vacation spot this year. The euro is dropping fast against the dollar, an indication that markets see growing risks that Russia could curtail natural gas flows to the continent, hammering economic growth.

Currency movements are driven, to a large extent, by what central banks are expected to do with interest rates. Hikes tend to strengthen a currency, while cuts weaken it.  The euro’s drop against the greenback suggests investors think the Fed will follow through on its plans for aggressive rate hikes this year, because the U.S. economy will remain strong, and inflation high.  And despite statements from European Central Bank officials that the hiking cycle will start in July, the markets don’t think Europe’s economy will be strong enough for rates to rise much — perhaps because Russia will cut off energy supplies.

Read more at Axios


US, EU to Ramp Up Chip Making

The United States and the European Union announced on Monday a joint effort to boost microchip manufacturing and tackle Russian disinformation around the war in Ukraine.  The two sides met outside Paris as part of the Trade and Technology Council. In its final statement, the council accused Russia of an “all-out assault on the truth” in Ukraine and promised an “early response framework” to tackle disinformation in future crises.  And it promised action over Russian disinformation elsewhere in the world, accusing Moscow of seeking to deflect blame over food supply shortages caused by its war in Ukraine.

The forum pledged to give the chip industry the maximum possible subsidies.  “We hope to agree on high levels of subsidies — that they will not be more than what is necessary and proportionate and appropriate,” Vestager told reporters on Sunday.  The forum also announced an “early warning system” for disruptions in the supply of semiconductors, substances used to make chips, hoping to avoid excessive competition between Western powers.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Surging Natural Gas Prices Squeeze U.S. Industrial Sector

Skyrocketing natural gas prices have raised manufacturing and transportation costs across many U.S. industries, and the situation should persist as the United States exports more gas to Europe to make up for Russian supplies lost to sanctions.  U.S. natural gas futures have doubled this year, far more than the increases in retail gasoline and diesel. U.S. natural gas futures have surged to $7.854 per mmBtu on Friday from $3.730 at the start of 2022 but remain far lower than Europe’s benchmark of $31 and Asia’s of $24 per mmBtu.  Surging demand from Europe, which is trying to wean itself off Russian imports, has analysts expecting prices will remain elevated.

“The manufacturing sector cannot invest and create jobs without assurances that our natural gas and electricity prices will not be imperiled by excessive LNG exports,” Paul Cicio, president of he Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), a trade group whose members include smelters, plastics and paper-goods makers, said last month in a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. 

Read more at Reuters


White House Releases Plan to Boost Housing Supply

The White House on Monday outlined a plan to boost housing availability and lower costs for renters and homeowners Among the measures detailed as part of the plan are using new financing mechanisms to build and preserve more housing where there are currently financing gaps and expanding federal financing by making certain loans more widely available for multifamily developments.

The plan also includes steps to ensure government-owned housing goes to owners who will live in the dwellings, or nonprofits who will rehab the buildings, rather than large investment firms that may neglect the properties.

Read more at The Hill


EU Sees Economic Contraction if Russian Gas Supplies Are Halted

In the latest of four reports on the economic outlook published each year, the EU said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would slow economic growth this year as higher energy prices drain household spending power and eat into company profits. European governments want to wean the region off Russian oil and gas to deprive Moscow of funds to finance its war effort and to reduce the economic leverage the Kremlin currently has on European governments.

European nations have been scrambling to sever their energy relationship with Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine. While some have made significant progress, Monday’s warning underlines the extent of the work that remains to be done to end the continent’s reliance on Russian supplies.

Read more at the WSJ


Biden Administration Launches $6 Billion Nuclear Power Credit Program

It may not be popular, but Democrats are increasingly reconciling themselves to the necessity of nuclear energy to tackle climate change. The Biden administration has given states until this week to apply for a $6bn fund to rescue nuclear power stations facing closure. Among the applicants is energy-hungry California, where Diablo Canyon, the state’s only nuclear plant, is slated to close in 2025. The governor, Gavin Newsom, has announced he would seek support for the facility, which supplied 6% of the state’s electricity last year.

Red tape, competition from natural gas and political unpopularity have conspired to put nuclear power in America on life support. Nuclear energy accounts for 8% of the country’s electricity generation, but capacity is lower today than it was in 1989 as ageing plants have closed. Just one new reactor has been built since 1996. Even if the lights stay on at Diablo Canyon for a while longer, the future of America’s nuclear industry still looks dim.

Read more at Reuters


Kim Blasts Pandemic Response as North Korean Outbreak Surges

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un criticized officials over slow medicine deliveries and mobilized the military to respond to a surge in suspected COVID-19 infections, as his nation struggled to contain a fever that has reportedly killed dozens and sickened nearly a million others in a span of three days.

North Korean health authorities said Monday that eight more people died and an additional 392,920 were newly found to have feverish symptoms. That brings the death toll to 50 and illnesses to more than 1.2 million, respectively. Kim has acknowledged that the fast-spreading fever, highly likely driven by COVID-19, is causing “great upheaval” in the country, and outside experts say the true scale of the outbreak is likely much bigger than what’s described in the state-controlled media.

Read more at the AP


China Competitiveness Bill Faces Hurdles as Time Runs Short

Disagreements over legislation designed to boost U.S. competitiveness against China are clouding its prospects in Congress, as lawmakers enter a period of make-or-break negotiations.  Many lawmakers say the sprawling, complex package—which even includes a section on kitchen sinks—remains likely to pass this year. But squabbles are emerging over proposed national-security reviews of outbound U.S. foreign investments; waivers of tariffs on Chinese imports; and curbs on the sale of counterfeit goods online, among other provisions.

The flashpoints are worrying those who support the bill’s central goal of boosting U.S. high-tech research and manufacturing to counter advancements by China and other commercial rivals. The legislation would expand federal investment in technologies such as quantum computing and dedicate $52 billion in new subsidies to rebuild semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., which has been eclipsed by Taiwan and other overseas competitors.

Read more at the WSJ


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 509

Rise in COVID Cases Puts Most of New York State Counties on CDC “High” Alert List

New coronavirus cases surged in most counties in New York State this week, putting them on “high” alert under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and triggering recommendations for indoor masking, including inside schools.   The state refrained from imposing an indoor mask mandate, but health officials on Friday afternoon did urge residents living in counties that have been placed on “high” alert to wear masks in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

As of Thursday, the average of new cases stood at more than 10,000 a day, according to a New York Times database. New cases have increased 47 percent over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have increased 28 percent over that time period, to an average of more than 2,600 a day. (New York State and Hudson Valley COVID Data including high risk counties are reported below).

Read more at the NYT


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Consumer Sentiment Hits Ten-Year Low Amid High Prices, University of Michigan Survey Finds

Stocks down + gasoline up = people not happy.  The University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment fell to 59.1 in May from a final April reading of 65.2, its lowest level in more than 10 years. Americans’ expectations for overall inflation over the next year fell held steady at 5.4% in April, while expectations for inflation over the next 5 years remained at 3%. A gauge of consumer’s views of current conditions fell to 63.6 in May from 69.4 in April, while an indicator of expectations for the next six months declined to 56.3 from 62.5 in the previous month.

The decline in consumer attitudes from April “were broad based” and “visible across income, age, education geography and political affiliation” according to Joanne Hsu, director of the survey.  “Consumers’ assessment of their current financial situation relative to a year ago is at its lowest reading since 2013, with 36% of consumers attributing their negative assessment to inflation,” Hsu added. “Buying conditions for durables reached its lowest reading since the question began appearing on the monthly surveys in 1978, again primarily due to high prices.”

Read more at MarketWatch


11.0% – Producer Price Gains Slowed in April but Remain Elevated

The Labor Department on Thursday said the producer-price index, which generally reflects supply conditions in the economy, increased 11% on a 12-month basis in April. That marked its fifth consecutive double-digit gain and a decline from an upwardly revised 11.5% increase the prior month. The March gain was the highest since records began in 2010, pushed up by surging energy prices after Russia invaded Ukraine.

On a one-month basis, producer prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in April from the prior month. That marks a deceleration from the upwardly revised 1.6% gain in March. April’s rate of increase was the lowest since September 2021, but was higher than the average monthly gain of 0.2% in the two years before the pandemic. The so-called core price index—which excludes the often-volatile categories of food, energy and supplier margins—slipped slightly, climbing 0.6% in April from a month earlier, after jumping 0.9% in March.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – Cases Up – Mortality Stable

The US CDC is reporting 81.9 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 995,747 deaths. The average daily incidence has more than tripled over the past 2 weeks, up from 25,292 new cases per day on March 28 to 78,236 on May 10. The daily mortality is remaining fairly stable, at an average of 326 deaths per day on May 10. If daily mortality continues at this pace, the cumulative mortality will reach 1 million deaths within the next 12-13 days. 

The US has administered 580 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.  A total of 258 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.8% of the entire US population.  A total of 220.3 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 66.3% of the total population.  Only 49.4% of individuals eligible for a first booster dose have received one.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 13:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.3% of all New Yorkers – 16,593,794
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,729,212

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.1% of all New Yorkers – 14,871,669
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,518,700

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,275,376
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,000,229

The Governor updated COVID data through May 13.  There were 25 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 71,111

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,340
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 248

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 7.09%    –   49.26 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.87%   –   51.22 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Breakthrough Cases 

Breakthrough Cases of COVID-19 are beginning to rise again in the United States, and hospitalizations also are on the rise. Previous surges have been characterized by much higher rates of hospitalization and death among unvaccinated populations when compared to the vaccinated. However, the gap between these 2 groups is narrowing. Breakthrough infections among the vaccinated have become increasingly common, and elderly populations seem to be bearing the brunt of this trend. Many US residents aged 65 and older received their first 2 primary series vaccine doses approximately 1 year ago in the summer of 2021, and nearly one-third have yet to receive their first booster dose. As a result this year’s Omicron surge was marked by a shift back toward elderly populations once again being at a higher risk. 

However, elderly populations will not be the only group at risk for breakthrough infections if a new surge occurs later this year. Vaccine uptake has slowed in the US, and less than half of all eligible US residents have received their first booster dose. Waning immunity, slow vaccine and booster uptake, increasingly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, and a lack of pandemic funding in the US could put nearly 100 million individuals at risk of COVID-19 later this year. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security


 

CBO Revises Federal Tax Revenues Upward following April’s Report

The federal budget deficit was $360 billion in the first seven months of fiscal year 2022 (that is, from October 2021 through April 2022), the Congressional Budget Office estimates. That amount is about one-fifth of the $1.9 trillion shortfall recorded during the same period in 2021. Revenues were $843 billion (or 39 percent) higher and outlays were $729 billion (or 18 percent) lower than during the same period a year ago.

Receipts collected through April 2022 were significantly greater than CBO estimated when it last published baseline projections in July 2021 and revenues in 2022 are likely to total between $400 billion and $500 billion more than CBO anticipated last summer. That increase stems mainly from larger-than-anticipated payments of individual income taxes, payroll taxes, and corporate income taxes for calendar year 2021. 

Read the CBO Report


China’s Latest Lockdowns Bring Shipping Headaches…

The Chinese government’s zero-COVID policy continues to wreak havoc on its citizens and on the global supply chain. The largest impacts today are in Shanghai and Beijing. Shanghai, a city of 25 million, has been in lockdown since early April. For companies selling in the Chinese market, these restrictions mean lost sales because Chinese consumers can’t shop.

For importers of items produced in the Shanghai or Beijing areas, the quarantine restrictions severely impact product availability. Even if a supplier’s plant is open and operating, trucking restrictions are in effect. Driver restrictions impact cross-border deliveries of components. According to Maersk Lines, there has been a “significant reduction of cross-province trucks.” Less cargo arriving at the port means less cargo is available to be shipped. The ocean carriers have responded to the drop-off in volume by cancelling upcoming vessel sailings. Over the next four weeks, 6% of transpacific sailings to Los Angeles/Long Beach are cancelled. This will keep ocean freight rates high, while giving the ocean carriers time to get their fleets back on schedule.

Read more at IndustryWeek


… And a Silver Lining

There is one silver lining to this drop in shipping volume: U.S. port and inland freight delays have eased. Vessel delays into L.A./Long Beach, while still high, are half of what they were late last year. The chassis shortage is easing, and rail moves are fluid again. Unfortunately, this is likely to be a short-lived improvement. There is a large volume of backlogged cargo. Once restrictions in China are lifted, importers should anticipate a return to port congestion and delivery delays on all imported merchandise.

To combat these disruptions, companies importing from Asia should prioritize their critical shipments and customers, use alternate ports and routes whenever possible, and work closely with supply-chain partners to collaborate and reset expectations.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Natural-Gas Prices Soar in Europe After Russia Sanctions Energy Companies

Natural-gas prices in Europe shot higher Thursday, a day after Russia unveiled a set of sanctions on energy companies operating on the Continent that could further threaten supply.  Among the companies sanctioned by Moscow were former subsidiaries of Russian state gas giant Gazprom PJSC in the European Union and the Polish owner of a key stretch of pipeline. The restrictions could reduce Europe’s flexibility to import Russian gas through routes beyond Ukraine, though the full implications on gas supplies weren’t yet clear, analysts said.

The Russian move cuts gas deliveries to Germany by 10 million cubic meters a day, or around 3% of annual Russian gas deliveries to the country, Mr. Habeck said. These volumes can be sourced from alternative suppliers on the gas market, he said.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Chamber Calls for Focus on Workforce, Tariffs, and Energy Production to Combat Historic Inflation

Following the release of April’s CPI data, Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released the below statement:  “Inflation is happening because too much money is chasing too few goods – it’s economics 101. While the Federal Reserve focuses on the demand side through raising rates to cool the economy, only the administration and Congress can address the policy sides affecting inflation – workforce, energy, and tariffs are three key places to start. 

“The U.S. economy has 11.5 million open jobs, but three million fewer workers than if labor force participation was equal to the pre-pandemic level. Getting people back to work and expanding legal immigration are key to taming inflation…. We need additional U.S. energy production, but that requires investment that is possible only if the administration sends clear signals that they will support domestic production not just in the near-term, but over the medium term. 

Read more at the US Chamber


U.S. Labor Market Still Tightening

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, touching the highest level in three months, but there is no material shift in labor market conditions amid strong demand for workers. The report from the Labor Department on Thursday also showed that the number of people on state unemployment rolls was the smallest in more than 52 years at the end of April. Companies, scrambling to fill record job openings, are boosting wages, contributing to keeping inflation elevated.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 for the week ended May 7, the highest level since mid-February. The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 44,000 to 1.343 million during the week ending April 30. That was the lowest level for the so-called continuing claims since January 1970.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Senate Confirms Jerome Powell to Second Term Leading Federal Reserve

The Senate confirmed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to a second four-year term that is shaping up to be every bit as trying as his first term as the central bank faces the highest inflation in 40 years. Mr. Powell’s nomination, approved Thursday on an 80-19 vote, has been on track for months to win bipartisan approval despite unease over inflation and aggressive interest-rate increases that the Fed has urgently commenced to cool price pressures.

Separately, Mr. Powell said Thursday the Fed was prepared to act aggressively to bring down inflation to its 2% goal even if it created a short-term hit to the economy, his most explicit acknowledgment of the risks posed by a sequence of rapid rate rises.

Read more at the WSJ


 

Lordstown Motors, Foxconn Seal 18 Month Contract

Executives of Lordstown Motors Corp. and Hon Hai Technology Group, the parent company of Foxconn, on May 11 signed agreements to have Foxconn buy Lordstown’s large Ohio manufacturing complex and take over the manufacturing of the Endurance electric pickup truck. The companies also have sealed a joint venture deal to design, develop and build other commercial EVs based on Foxconn platform technology.

Per the companies’ agreements, Foxconn now owns the Lordstown factory—which was in the past owned by General Motors Corp. and which spans 6.2 million square feet—and has taken on 400 Lordstown workers as part of a contract manufacturing commitment of at least 18 months. The company has paid Lordstown the $30 million it still owed per the companies November preliminary agreement as well as roughly $27.5 million in estimated cost reimbursements.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 508

8.3% –  Inflation Slipped in April, But Upward Pressures Remain

The Labor Department’s consumer-price index reading last month marked the first drop for inflation in eight months, down from an 8.5% annual rate in March. But the decline came primarily from a slight easing in April gasoline prices, which reached a new high on Tuesday. Broadly, the report offered little evidence that inflation was cooling. The CPI measures what consumers pay for goods and services. 

On a monthly basis, the CPI rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% last month after a 1.2% increase in March. However, the so-called core-price index—which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy—increased 0.6% on the month, a sharp pickup from March’s 0.3% gain, providing a sign of broad-based inflationary pressure.

Read more at the WSJ


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Inflation Slows But Prices for Many Goods Rising

U.S. inflation slowed in April, according to new data Wednesday, but Americans continue to see their wallets empty faster when they buy groceries and pay the rent. The dip was helped by easing energy costs, as gasoline fell 6.1% in April compared to March after the 18.3% surge in the previous month. But gasoline prices at the pump hit a new record on Tuesday, so the news from April may be of little comfort to drivers.

CPI rose just 0.3% compared to March, after the 1.2% surge in the prior month, but excluding volatile food and energy goods, the “core” index last month increased at double the March rate, the report said. A large driver was food at home, which jumped 10.8% over the last 12 months — the largest annual increase since November 1980, according to the report.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Judge Upholds Assembly Lines in Redistricting Challenge, June Primary to Proceed

The state Assembly maps will stay intact, Steuben County Judge Patrick McAllister ruled Wednesday in response to legal filings from two men who were seeking a redrawing of the lines.

Citing the tight timeline between now and the scheduled June primaries, McAllister wrote that “since the court has received no potential maps with regard to new Assembly lines it would almost assuredly mean that the new maps could not be in place by May 20th.” That is the deadline McAllister set for both the state Senate and congressional maps – which were deemed unconstitutional and the latter gerrymandered by the State Court of Appeals last month – to be redrawn by a special master. 

Read more at City & State


US COVID – By the Numbers

  •  Cases to date: 81.8 million 
  • Death toll: 995,371 
  • Current hospitalizations: 13,457 
    Shots administered: 579 million
  • Fully vaccinated: 66.3 percent

Data from the CDC is here 


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 6:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.2% of all New Yorkers – 16,576,880
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,727,066

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,855,926
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,516,867

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,160,205
  • In the Hudson Valley – 984,616

The Governor updated COVID data through May 6.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,946

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,187
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 198

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.85%    –   43.73 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.35%   –   39.98 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


COVID Booster Rollout Needs a Reboot to Save Older Americans, Experts Say

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans 65 and older who completed their initial vaccination round still have not received a first booster shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers have dismayed researchers, who note this age group continues to be at the highest risk for serious illness and death from Covid-19.

People 65 and older account for about 75 percent of U.S. Covid deaths.  Among older people who died of Covid in January, 31 percent had completed a first vaccination round but had not been boosted, according to a KFF analysis of CDC data.  The failure to boost more of this group has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives, said Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “The booster program has been botched from Day One,” Topol said. “This is one of the most important issues for the American pandemic, and it has been mismanaged.”

Read more at CNBC


Federal Judge Dashes Democrats’ Hopes for N.Y. District Maps

A federal judge in Albany on Tuesday authorized New York to push back its congressional primary until August, a delay that will give more time for a neutral expert to draw new congressional maps for this year’s midterm contest. The scheduling change all but kills a last-ditch effort by national Democrats to preserve district lines that would have helped them maintain control of the House but were declared unconstitutional in a series of court decisions.

The order was the latest — and possibly the final — twist in a high-stakes legal dispute over New York’s congressional maps that has raged for two months in state and federal court, leaving the campaign season in chaos.

Read more at the NY Times


McMahon: Recent Stock Market Trends Could Punch a Hole in New York’s State Budget.

Governor Hochul’s FY 2023 Executive Budget, when released in January, projected that the net capital gains of New York tax filers would reach nearly 18 percent of total adjusted gross income in the state’s personal income tax base for 2022. That would amount to an all-time high, eclipsing the 16 percent capital gains share of the tax base in 2007—just before the financial crisis and Great Recession.

Capital gains income is strongly correlated with stock prices, and the Executive Budget forecast the S&P 500 would rise by 7.4 percent this year, on the heels of a nearly 30 percent increase in bullish 2021. Instead, with some ups and downs, the major stock indexes have all declined in 2022; as of the market’s close today, the S&P 500 had sunk by a net 17 percent since the start of the year. Fulfilling the budget forecast would require the S&P to surge by 28 percent between now and the end of the year. Anything is possible, but this would be highly unlikely.

Read more at the Empire Center


A Canary in the Supply Chain Coalmine: Late Payments Up, Orders Down

The end of 2021 offered signs of hope. According to Tradeshift’s Q4 Index of Global Trade Health, which analyzes anonymized data flowing across our platform, order volumes were up and there appeared to be a gradual easing of the bottlenecks that had left supply chains snarled. But the world had other plans. The same report for the first quarter of 2022 shows another steep fall in activity across the world’s supply chains.

Manufacturers, particularly those in the industrial heartlands of Western Europe, have been the hardest hit by recent turmoil. Total transaction volumes across the Eurozone fell 14 points in Q1, the steepest loss of momentum since the beginning of the pandemic. Globally, the data suggests supply chain activity related to the manufacturing sector is 25% lower than expected.

Read more at IndustryWeek


ADP – Recently Retired Baby Boomers Return to Work

Employers and Baby Boomers may soon find themselves in a mutually beneficial relationship. Businesses need to fill job openings resulting from the Great Resignation, while many older adults who retired during the pandemic now lack financial security amidst rising inflation.

Yet, solving labor shortages may not be as simple as having Baby Boomers at work once more. Many of them have different expectations about work than they did prior to the pandemic and may need training if their roles or responsibilities are changing. Employers will also have to overcome unconscious ageism biases and rethink some of their talent management strategies.

Read more at ADP


State Assembly Committee Advances Single Payer New York Health Act

Assembly Democrats in the Codes Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to advance the New York Health Act to establish a statewide single-payer health care system.  Democrats in the 21-member committee, excluding Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, of Brighton Beach, voted to send the measure to the Ways and Means Committee scheduled to meet noon Wednesday. Republican assembly members unanimously voted against the bill, citing concerns of increasing costs on taxpayers.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Rick Gottfried and Sen. Gustavo Rivera in the upper house, outlines the administrative structure, payment methodologies, care coordination and health care provider negotiations for a single-payer health system for all state residents. The measure would also create the New York Health Trust Fund from a variety of state and federal sources to finance the plan.


April Inflation Report Cinches Fed’s Half-Point Rate Rise Path

The rapid pace of U.S. inflation stayed strong last month, offering little reassurance to the Fed even though the year-over-year rate of growth slowed. On a monthly basis, the consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in April, according to a Labor Department report on Wednesday. Inflation rose 8.3% from a year earlier, down from the annual increase of 8.5% in March.

Wednesday’s report offers few signs that would give Fed officials comfort to dial back a more aggressive pace of rate increases this summer. Because a decline in 12-month inflation readings have been largely anticipated, the question now shifts to where inflation might settle and whether that level will be unacceptably high for the central bank.

Read more at the WSJ


Business Workforce Survey 2022 – Deadline to Complete is Friday 5/13

New York State – in partnership with the Business Council of New York State – has developed a comprehensive online survey to solicit vital feedback from businesses on the skills required for workers to be successful in today’s complex economy, and how New York can prepare and position its labor force to better serve companies’ needs.
 
Collective results from this survey will be used by the State and the Regional Economic Development Councils to develop an inventory of and strategy to address regional needs. Individual responses will be kept confidential.
 
The survey can be found here


Biden’s Recovery Plan: Pump up Unions, Squeeze Big Business

Biden is leaning into his association with organized labor more aggressively than any president in modern times. Over the last few weeks alone, he’s warned major businesses that their workforces will seek to unionize, with his support. He has backed a push on Capitol Hill that is paving the way for congressional staffers to unionize. He recently met with a new generation of union organizers at the White House and put out a video of the meeting on Wednesday in which he jokingly told one of the organizers he was “[good] trouble.”

Biden’s moves to polish his union credentials amount to a bold bet that appeals to working Americans on economic grounds can help offset some of the damage Democrats are dealing with among the cohort when it comes to rising prices and blazing culture wars. 

Read more at Politico


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Daily Briefing – 507

NFIB: Small Business Expectations for Better Business Conditions at 48-year Low

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was unchanged in April, remaining at 93.2 and the fourth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased one point to a net negative 50%, the lowest level recorded in the 48-year-old survey.

  • Thirty -two percent of small business owners report that inflation is their single most important problem in operating their business, the highest reading since the fourth quarter of 1980.
  • Forty-seven percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, unchanged from March.
  • The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased two points to a net 70% (seasonally adjusted), two points below last month’s highest reading.
  • Thirty-six percent of owners reported that supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on their business.
  • A net 46% reported raising compensation, down three points from March. A net 27% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months. 

Read more at NFIB


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Step One… Biden Calls Inflation His top Domestic Priority

President Joe Biden sought Tuesday to ease fears over inflation, promising that tackling rising prices is his top domestic priority. He called inflation the nation’s top economic challenge, blaming the twin challenges of a “once-in-a-century pandemic” and the war in Ukraine. Americans are grappling with the worst inflation in 40 years, fueled by surges in gas, food and rent costs.

Republicans charge high spending by Democrats is behind rising prices. Every congressional Republican voted against last year’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that some said added too much kindling to a hot economy.  Biden rejected that argument, saying his policies helped, not hurt, the economy. “It’s not because of spending,” Biden said. “We’ve brought down the deficit.” The deficit has dropped largely because of expiring stimulus programs and higher inflation, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Read more at USA Today


Two Classes of Jobs Have Manufacturing Wages Lagging US Average in “Amazon Era”

Professor Michael Hicks, a professor of economics at Indiana’s Ball State University, notes that part of the situation is an increasing split in manufacturing jobs: not in durable goods and nondurable goods, as the Department of Labor has it, but high-wage jobs compatible with increasing automation and low-wage jobs too cheap to automate. The sluggish growth of the average manufacturing wage? It isn’t stagnant wage growth across the board. It’s employment growth in the second, lower-paying category.

Over the past half-decade or so, Hicks says, manufacturing jobs have bifurcated into two categories, often clumsily described in terms of low- or high-skilled, as a result of how increased automation during the Great Recession carved out the middle earners in manufacturing.

Read more at IndustryWeek


US COVID – The ‘Five Pandemics’ Driving 1 Million U.S. COVID Deaths

One way to start understanding how a country as advanced as the U.S. lost so many people is to look at the ocean of public health data that was gathered as 1 million individual tragedies rippled through civic life. Analysis of the data will continue for years, but it is clear that, when it comes to deadliness, there were five different pandemics — depending on when and where you lived, and who you were. The Five are: 

  • Earlier vs. later
  • Older vs. younger (but there’s fine print)
  • Unvaccinated vs. vaccinated
  • Rural vs. urban
  • Poorer vs. wealthier

Read more at STAT News


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 6:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.2% of all New Yorkers – 16,576,880
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,727,066

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,855,926
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,516,867

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,160,205
  • In the Hudson Valley – 984,616

The Governor updated COVID data through May 6.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,946

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,187
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 198

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.85%    –   43.73 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.35%   –   39.98 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Are COVID Surges Becoming More Predictable? New Omicron Variants Offer a Hint

Nearly six months after researchers in South Africa identified the Omicron coronavirus variant, two offshoots of the game-changing lineage are once again driving a surge in COVID-19 cases there. Several studies released in the past week show that the variants — known as BA.4 and BA.5 — are slightly more transmissible than earlier forms of Omicron1, and can dodge some of the immune protection conferred by previous infection and vaccination2,3.

However, scientists say it is not yet clear whether BA.4 and BA.5 will cause much of a spike in hospitalizations in South Africa or elsewhere. High levels of population immunity — provided by previous waves of Omicron infection and by vaccination — might blunt much of the damage previously associated with new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Moreover, the rise of BA.4 and BA.5 — as well as that of another Omicron offshoot in North America — could mean that SARS-CoV-2 waves are beginning to settle into predictable patterns, with new waves periodically emerging from circulating strains. “These are the first signs that the virus is evolving differently” compared with the first two years of the pandemic, when variants seemed to appear out of nowhere, says Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, who led one of the studies.

Read more at Nature


Gubernatorial Race: Lawsuit Could Open Door for Cuomo to Challenge Gov. Hochul in Dem Primary, Suozzi Claims Momentum

Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo could get another crack at getting on the ballot to take on his former No. 2 and successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary, The Post has learned.  A plaintiff seeking to intervene in the Albany redistricting case is asking the judge to reopen the petitioning period for statewide primary elections — opening the door for a potential Cuomo reemergence.

Meanwhile a poll conducted by the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Tom Suozzi shows him building momentum in the final weeks of the primary and has the potential to surpass Gov. Kathy Hochul with voters by June when voting begins. The poll  comes as the Long Island congressman has criticized Hochul’s administration on issues like crime and public safety over the last several months. It also coincides with a rough stretch of news for the governor, including the resignation of her lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, following an indictment on fraud and bribery charges.

Read more at the NY Post and State of Politics


Fed Flags ‘Risk of Sudden Significant Deterioration’ in New Report

The Federal Reserve painted a somewhat concerning picture of the global financial system in its latest semi-annual Financial Stability Report, citing particular examples that may warrant further attention. Surging inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine have supplanted the coronavirus pandemic, while a quick monetary policy tightening cycle may result in lower economic output and raise borrowing costs. In turn, that could lead to job losses, unsustainable debt levels for businesses and impact the housing market via higher mortgage rates.

Besides broad economic issues, the Financial Stability Report also looks at trends in trading and investing. “A sharp rise in interest rates could lead to higher volatility, stresses to market liquidity, and a large correction in prices of risky assets, potentially causing losses at a range of financial intermediaries. Declining depth at times of rising uncertainty and volatility could result in a negative feedback loop, as lower liquidity in turn may cause prices to be more volatile.”

Read more a Seeking Alpha


Fed’s Williams Says Lowering Inflation Is Central Bank’s Main Mission

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said that lowering inflation is the U.S. central bank’s main mission now and he doesn’t think that making monetary policy more restrictive would necessarily cause a recession. “The challenge for monetary policy today is clear: to bring inflation down while maintaining a strong economy,” Mr. Williams said in a speech Tuesday in Germany. “I am confident we have the right tools to achieve our goals.”

Mr. Williams pointed to durable-goods purchases and home buying as sources of imbalances, adding that Fed actions will bring these imbalances back into line and “will also turn down the heat in the labor market, reducing the imbalance between job openings and available labor supply.”

Read more at the WSJ


Housing Supply is Finally Improving, as High Prices and Rising Rates Weigh on Sales

The supply of homes for sale could increase in the next few weeks, according to new data from Realtor.com. In April, inventory was 12% lower than in the same month last year, the smallest year-over-year decline since the end of 2019. Another reading for just the last week in April shows inventory down only about 3% from a year ago.

The shift in supply is likely due to a slower sales pace stemming from the recent rapid increase in mortgage rates, which has made expensive homes even pricier. The average rate on the 30-year fixed has jumped more than 2.5 percentage points since the start of the year.

Read more at CNBC


Supply Chain: – Why Is There a Baby Formula Shortage? What to Know and Why It’s Getting Worse

Nationwide, 40% of the most popular baby formula brands were out of stock in the week starting April 24, up from 31% two weeks earlier. A normal rate is less than 10%.  The shortage, caused by a mix of supply chain issues and a recall, has led to empty shelves at some stores, product restrictions and panic among parents and caregivers searching for formula to feed their babies.  

There are two reasons for the shortage. Supply chain issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have made baby formula harder to find for months. The shortage worsened after Abbott Laboratories, a major formula manufacturer, voluntarily recalled some products and closed a plant where the products were made in Sturgis, Mich. Abbott said it is working to increase Similac production at other FDA-registered facilities and shipping formula from Europe by air. 

Read more at the WSJ


Macron Floats European ‘Community’ Open to Ukraine and UK

French President Emmanuel Macron used a speech on Europe Day to put forward a sweeping, avant-garde but detail-light proposal to redraw the political map of the Continent with a new organization that would give Ukraine a closer relationship with the EU short of membership — and could even include the U.K.

Macron, who was inaugurated for his second term on Saturday, offered virtually no specifics about the proposal. And the Elysée Palace did not provide any fact sheets or other policy briefs as it has on previous occasions when Macron has laid out bold prescriptions for Europe.  The French leader appeared to be animated by a desire to find a solution for war-torn Ukraine, which has pleaded desperately for fast-track membership of the EU in the months since Russia’s brutal invasion.

Read more at Politico


IBM Study: Sustainability Ranks Among Highest Priorities on CEO Agendas, Yet Lack of Data Insights Hinders Progress

A new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study revealed that sustainability is rising higher on corporate agendas, and CEOs recognize sustainability as a business imperative and growth driver. Yet as CEOs face growing pressures from boards and investors, a lack of reliable data insights is hindering their ability to take action.

IBM’s annual CEO study, Own your impact: Practical pathways to transformational sustainability, which surveyed more than 3,000 CEOs worldwide, found that nearly half of respondents rank sustainability as a top priority for their organizations— an increase of 37% from 2021. However, more than half (51%) also cite sustainability as among their greatest challenges in the next two to three years, with lack of data insights, unclear ROI, and technology barriers, as hurdles. 

Read more at IBM


Amazon Fires Two Employees Tied to Staten Island Union Effort

Amazon has fired two employees tied to an organizing campaign that resulted in the company’s first unionized warehouse in the U.S. Mat Cusick and Tristan Dutchin told CNBC they were fired by Amazon in recent days. Both Cusick and Dutchin have been working with the Amazon Labor Union, an upstart group led by current and former company employees, to organize workers at the e-commerce giant’s warehouses on New York’s Staten Island.

Cusick, who serves as ALU’s communications director, said he was fired last week after going on “Covid care leave,” which allows employees to care for family members sick with Covid-19. Dutchin said he was fired on Saturday after he wrapped up his shift. Amazon told him he had failed to meet the company’s productivity goals. 

Read more at CNBC


WHO Chief Says China’s Zero-COVID Policy Not ‘Sustainable’

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable given what is now known of the virus, in rare public comments by the U.N. agency on a government’s handling of the pandemic.  “We don’t think that it is sustainable considering the behaviour of the virus and what we now anticipate in the future,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

China’s zero-COVID policy has drawn criticism ranging from scientists to its own citizens, leading to a cycle of lockdowns of many millions of people, anguish and anger. Most other nations that shared its approach initially have now at least begun a transition to strategies to live with the virus.

Read more at Reuters

 


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 506

Recession Fears Send Stocks to Lowest in 2022 as Rout Continues

Major indexes fell to their lowest levels of the year to date, with the S&P 500 declining 3.2%, adding to losses after closing out its longest streak of weekly declines since 2011. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 4.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 2%.

Markets have been shaken this year by a flurry of investor worries. Inflation is running at its fastest pace in decades. That has forced the Federal Reserve to kick off what economists anticipate will be its most aggressive monetary policy tightening campaign since the 1980s. Investors are questioning whether the Fed will be able to pull off its planned course of interest-rate increases and cuts to its balance sheet without tipping the economy into recession. Many money managers are also worried about the global economic outlook. China’s implementation of lockdowns to contain the spread of Covid-19 and Russia’s war against Ukraine have bolstered concerns of supply-chain disruptions and reduced consumer spending. 

Read more at Fortune


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Cutting Tool Consumption Up 11% YTD

Machine shops and other domestic manufacturers consumed $196.4 million worth of cutting tools during March, up 17.2% from the February total, and up 10.6% from the March 2021 figure. Through three months of 2022, U.S. cutting tool consumption totals $523.9 million, ab increase of 11.0% compared to January-March 2021.

The data is drawn from the monthly Cutting Tool Market Report, which presents cutting-tool consumption data reported by participating manufacturers who represent the majority of U.S. suppliers of those goods. CTMR results offer an index to overall manufacturing activity, because cutting tools are widely used in the production of parts and components supplied to a very wide range of industrial sectors.

Read more at American Machinist


N.Y. Redistricting Master Holds Key to Congressional Power 

For the next two weeks, one of the most powerful people in politics is a professor whose professional life has been devoted to studying demographics, political behavior, and mapping.  Jonathan Cervas has until May 20 to redraw New York’s congressional and state Senate district lines, translating complex data into maps that will pass constitutional muster and stand for a decade. 

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Cervas is a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Politics and Strategy, where this fall he’ll teach a graduate seminar on American political institutions and behavior. He has done research on the Electoral College, given talks on gerrymandering, and has been an assistant to redistricting guru Bernard Grofman at the University of California, Irvine.

Read more at Bloomberg Government


US COVID – Cases of COVID Could More Than Double Late This Year

The U.S. could see 100 million COVID infections this fall and winter—and potentially a sizable wave of deaths, the White House warned this past week. The projection is “broadly consistent with our modeling,” said Dr. Arijit Chakravarty, a COVID researcher and CEO of Fractal Therapeutics, referring to his research team.

The news, first reported by the Washington Post, was shared Friday by a senior administration official during a background briefing. The country has so far seen nearly 82 million cases of COVID since the pandemic’s beginning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control—though the actual case count is undoubtedly much higher, experts say. Regardless, a wave of 100 million would more than double the country’s all-time reported total.

Read more at Fortune


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 6:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.2% of all New Yorkers – 16,576,880
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,727,066

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,855,926
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,516,867

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,160,205
  • In the Hudson Valley – 984,616

The Governor updated COVID data through May 6.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,946

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,187
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 198

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.85%    –   43.73 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.35%   –   39.98 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


New York Governor Hochul Tests Positive for COVID

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has tested positive for Covid, she announced via a tweet on Sunday afternoon. “Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and boosted, and I’m asymptomatic. “I’ll be isolating and working remotely this week. A reminder to all New Yorkers: get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and stay home if you don’t feel well,” She said.

Several top officials in the state, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have tested positive recently as case loads have increased. Some 13,902 positive results were reported throughout the state on Thursday, compared to 8,452 a week before and 5,904 four weeks prior.

Read more at Politico


Long COVID

Long COVID is likely an umbrella term for a combination of issues and conditions: People who have long-term COVID infections who are able to continue to spread the disease, people whose COVID after-effects clear up after a few weeks, and people with Long COVID itself, in which people aren’t infectious, but experience all kinds of symptoms for much longer. 

What’s more, COVID patients whose disease was severe enough to require ICU admission may suffer post-ICU complications like muscle weakness, shortness of breath, cognitive issues, anxiety, and depression—symptoms that look a lot like Long COVID, but are not, further muddying the waters, Galiasatos says. Those issues might occur due to extended periods of immobility and ventilator use, and other traumatic medical events.

Read more at Fortune


Bill Gates Explains “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic”

Bill Gates’s career-switch from entrepreneur and philanthropist to crusading author is developing nicely. It is just over a year since he published “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”. Now he sets out to explain “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic”. As Larry Brilliant, one of the epidemiologists who helped to eradicate smallpox, observes, “Outbreaks are inevitable [the nature part of the equation] but pandemics are optional [the human part].” And that provides an opening for the sort of techno-optimistic approach that Mr Gates loves.

While covid-19 remains fresh in people’s minds, Mr Gates suggests creating a global “fire brigade” of 3,000 experts scattered around the world, recruited for skills ranging from epidemiology and genetics, through drug and vaccine development and computer modelling, to diplomacy. This outfit, which would probably work under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, would remain on permanent standby, ready to respond to any detected outbreak. It would cost roughly $1 Billion per year. 

Read more at The Economist (Subscripton) 


Saudi Energy Minister: Insufficient Investment To Blame For High Fuel Prices

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Monday the gap between crude prices and prices for jet fuel, diesel and gasoline was around 60% in some cases due to lack of investment in refining capacity. The prince, speaking at an aviation summit in Riyadh, said the world needed to look at energy security, sustainability and affordability as a whole.

Asked whether geopolitical events in Europe would speed up the transition to cleaner energy or hinder it in the medium-term, the minister said: “I think it provided us with a reality check to how aspirations … can be compromised by the realities of the day.” Even before the Ukraine crisis, he added, the “la la land scenario about net-zero had been smacked with so many realities”, including cost.

Read more at Nasdaq


Mortgage Rates Go up Again, But One Economist Says They’ll Likely Plateau Soon

The interest rate on America’s most popular home loan moved back up this week, reaching its highest level in nearly 13 years, a widely followed survey shows. The historic surge in the 30-year mortgage rate — now two full percentage points higher than at the start of the year — is beginning to have a slight cooling effect on the market.

Aspiring buyers are being priced out and competition is softening ever so slightly as the cost of borrowing for a home has spiked 55%, according to some estimates. Though some markets remain hotter and more competitive than others. But the near constant rate hikes could moderate, according to Mortgage Bankers Association economist Mike Fratantoni, who said this week that they are likely to “plateau near current levels.”

Read more at YahooFinance


With Higher Pay and Better Hours, Teens Jump Into the Job Market

Teens are now working in greater numbers than they have since before the 2008-09 financial crisis, when summer and part-time jobs were a more common rite of passage into adulthood, government statistics show. They have become particularly essential in the retail, tourism and hospitality industries, which many adults left behind during the pandemic. 

For teens, the current conditions are shaping up to create one of the best summer job markets in years, complete with more options and, in many cases, better pay. Unemployment among 16- to 19-year-old workers was at 10.2% in April, shy of the 68-year low of 9.6% it touched in May last year, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Overall, about a third of U.S. teens in that age group are now working, the federal data show. 

Read more at the WSJ


Dollar Strengthens as Other Major Currencies Fall as Dollar Climbs Amid Economic Weakness World-Wide

Years ago, high U.S. inflation meant a weak dollar. So far, it is different this time, and many on Wall Street are betting it will stay that way. A strong dollar allows Americans to buy goods from other countries at lower prices. But it can also hurt U.S. manufacturers by making products more expensive for foreigners, and it means U.S. businesses receive fewer dollars for their exports.

The dollar is reaching multidecade highs against its trading partners, even with U.S. inflation at its highest level in nearly 40 years. The U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the currency against a basket of others, is reaching highs unseen since 2002. The greenback’s climb has sent the euro, British pound and Japanese yen tumbling.  Currency derivatives markets indicate investors expect the dollar to continue to outperform. Traders at banks said clients are buying options that pay off if the dollar continues to rise.

Read more at the WSJ


Airbus to Expand in US

Airbus SE will build a new aircraft assembly line at its complex in Mobile, Ala., as it moves toward a higher rate of production during the next two years. The OEM announced it will increase the production rate of its A320 series aircraft by 50% by 2025, up to 75 jets per month from the current rate of 50 jets per month.

The production-rate increase had been signaled recently when Airbus settled new supply deals with Safran and MTU Aero Engines, the two suppliers of turbofan engines for the A320 series. The A320 is twin-engine, narrow-body series that currently consists of three models – the A319neo, A320neo, and A321neo – with the A321XLR extended-range version now in a prototype stage and expected to debut in 2024.

Read more at American Machinist


Boeing HQ departing Chicago for Virginia

Airplane manufacturer Boeing is moving its headquarters out of Chicago, 21 years after it landed here in what was hailed as a coup for the local economy. Boeing said Thursday it plans to move its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia, close to the nation’s capital. It said the new location also will serve as a research hub.

“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia. The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said. The Wall Street Journal first reported the move. Calhoun offered thanks to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., for their support. Details about local incentives were not immediately known.

Read more at the Chicago Sun Times


Agricultural Machinery Manufacturer Hit with Ransomware Attack

US agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO today confirmed it was hit with a ransomware attack and anticipates adverse effects on business operations for at least several days. The attack was first reported by French daily LeParisien as taking place against Massey-Ferguson corporate websites in France, Germany and China. 

The AGCO Agriculture Foundation last week donated $50,000 to the BORSCH initiative that assists Ukrainian farming communities affected by the war with Russia. President Joe Biden on March 21, 2022 warned of intelligence pointing to increased Russian cyberthreats toward US businesses and the need to prepare defenses against attacks. For companies interested in covering their bases in light of the AGCO attack, cybersecurity experts recently shared with IndustryWeek a set of 


RIP Globalization – Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Accelerates the Administration’s Efforts 

History is giving Biden an opening to change the paradigm on free trade. Trump’s election in 2016 transformed a pro-globalization GOP and shocked Democrats into refocusing on working class voters hurt by trade deals. Then, shortages of masks and medical gear early in the Covid pandemic revealed the danger of America’s reliance on China. The supply chain crunches and inflation of the late pandemic disproved the thesis that free trade always lowers consumer prices. And then Russia destroyed the postwar European peace that all the free trade was supposed to support — ushering in a new era of world politics.

Congress is rushing to pass tax credits for American-made computer chips, considering new investment rules for companies in China and, potentially, making a push for broader manufacturing incentives soon. Biden’s proposed Asian economic pact has new momentum, with key ally South Korea signing on, and European allies are taking a harder line on Beijing. 

Read more at Politico


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 505

Manufacturing Adds 55,000 Jobs, Wage Increases Slowing

Despite persistent reports of a tight hiring market, U.S. manufacturing firms hired a healthy 55,000 more workers in April, up from 43,000 hired in March. The transportation equipment sector added an estimated total of 13,700 jobs, about half of which—6,100—were in motor vehicles and parts production. Machinery production added 7,400 jobs, and wood products, fabricated metal products and computer and electronic products also each added at least 3,000 new jobs. Food manufacturing, the largest segment in nondurable manufacturing, took in 7,900 more workers, while the plastics and rubber manufacturers added 5,700 more workers.

The latest figures show manufacturers pumping the breaks on wage increases. After increasing by 15 cents an hour between February and March, the average hourly wage in manufacturing rose only half that—7 cents—between March and April. It is now $24.78 an hour.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


U.S. Economy Added 428,000 Jobs in April, Participation Rate Falls

The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%, marking the 12th straight month of job growth above 400,000.  The stretch of employment gains is the result of a tight labor market that has held up despite rising interest rates, jittery stock markets and growing fears of a slowdown.

In one sign that the labor market remains exceptionally tight, the civilian labor force shrunk by 363,000 workers last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage point to 62.2%. The decline in the labor force level followed a gain of more than 400,000 in March.

Read more at the WSJ


DiNapoli Releases Analysis of 2022-23 Enacted State Budget

Historic federal aid and better-than-expected revenues allowed for a steep increase in spending in the $220.5 billion enacted state budget for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2022-23, according to an analysis released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. All Funds spending in SFY 2022-23 is projected to be 5.3% higher than actual results from SFY 2021-22 and nearly 27.5% higher than SFY 2019-20, the last full fiscal year before the onset of the pandemic, an increase of $47.5 billion over the period.

While some of the new spending will be temporary, much of the year-over-year growth will be for new initiatives and more funding for existing programs. DiNapoli expressed concerns about the growth in capital spending and debt. He also cautioned that many provisions weaken essential oversight and protections, leaving public resources more vulnerable to misuse.

Read more at the Comptroller’s Website


US COVID – Cases, Hospitalizations Increase

The US CDC is reporting 81.4 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 993,341 deaths. The average daily incidence has more than doubled from the recent low of 24,843 new cases per day on March 29 to 61,712 on May 3. The daily mortality is beginning to increase, up to 325 deaths per day from a recent low of 306 deaths per day on April 29. With a now increasing trend in deaths, we expect the official number of COVID-19 deaths to surpass 1 million within the next 2 weeks. Notably, new COVID-19 hospital admissions continue to trend upwards, with an increase of 20% over the past week. New cases are being driven by the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, with an increasing proportion of cases due to BA.2.12.1 sublineage.

The US has administered 577 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. After a slight increase starting in late March, following US FDA authorization of a second booster dose, daily vaccinations are once again declining. A total of 258 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.7% of the entire US population. A total of 220 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 66.2% of the total population.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Cases, Hospitalizations Increase

Vaccine Stats as of May 6:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.2% of all New Yorkers – 16,576,880
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,727,066

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,855,926
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,516,867

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,160,205
  • In the Hudson Valley – 984,616

The Governor updated COVID data through May 6.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,946

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,187
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 198

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.85%    –   43.73 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 7.35%   –   39.98 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


FDA Puts Strict Limits on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it is limiting use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine to people 18 and older for whom other vaccines aren’t appropriate or accessible and those who opt for J&J because they wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinated. The change is being made because of the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the vaccine.

The FDA says it has determined that the benefits of the J&J vaccine outweigh the risks for certain people. Examples of people who may still get the vaccine include:

  • Those who had a severe allergic reaction to an mRNA vaccine such as those from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna.
  • Those with personal concerns about the mRNA vaccines who would remain unvaccinated without the J&J vaccine.
  • Those with limited access to mRNA Covid-19 vaccines

Read more at CNN


WHO: Nearly 15 Million Deaths Associated With COVID-19

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 15 million people were killed either by coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems during the first two years of the pandemic, more than double the current official death toll of over 6 million. Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to a WHO report issued Thursday.

WHO tasked scientists with determining the actual number of COVID-19 deaths between January 2020 and the end of last year. They estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Read more at the AP


Worker Output Fell 7.5% in the First Quarter, the Biggest Decline Since 1947

Worker productivity fell to start 2022 at its fastest pace in nearly 75 years while labor costs soared as the U.S. struggled with surging Covid cases, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. Nonfarm productivity, a measure of output against hours worked, declined 7.5% from January through March, the biggest fall since the third quarter of 1947.

At the same time, unit labor costs soared 11.6%, bringing the increase over the past four quarters to 7.2%, the biggest gain since the third quarter of 1982. The metric calculates how much employers pay workers in salary and benefits per unit of output.

Read more at CNBC


Bank of England Raises Rates by 25 Basis Points to 1%, a 13-Year High

The Bank of England sent a stark warning that Britain risks a double-whammy of a recession and inflation above 10% as it raised interest rates on Thursday to their highest since 2009, hiking by quarter of a percentage point to 1%. The pound fell by more than a cent against the U.S. dollar to hit its lowest level since mid-2020, below $1.24, as the gloominess of the BoE’s new forecasts for the world’s fifth-largest economy caught investors by surprise.

Central banks are scrambling to cope with a surge in inflation that they described as transitory when it began with the post-pandemic reopening of the global economy, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent energy prices spiraling. The BoE said it was also worried about the impact of renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China which threaten to hit supply chains again and add to inflation pressures.

Read more at Reuters


5 Employer Strategies to Help With Soaring Inflation

Employees have recently looked to their employers for help with everything from the pandemic to social justice issues to the war in Europe. Now they’re looking for help with the latest struggle: record-high inflation.  It’s not surprising: Inflation rose 8.5% year-over-year in March, the highest inflation rate since 1981.

“There’s a lot of stress from employees. It’s certainly top of mind; [inflation] is something that employees are concerned about,” says Tony Guadagni, senior principal in the Gartner HR practice.  So how can employers help? Here are some strategies for HR leaders to consider.

Read more at HR Executive


U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

The Labor Department reported Thursday that Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 200,000 for the week ended April 30, the highest since mid-February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 182,000 applications for the latest week.

  • Claims at 200,000 are viewed as consistent with strong demand for workers. They have declined from a record high of 6.137 million in early April 2020.
  • The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 19,000 to 1.384 million during the week ending April 23. That was the lowest level for the so-called continuing claims since January 1970.

The report also showed the number of Americans collecting state unemployment checks was the smallest in more than 52 years towards the end of April. Economists brushed off last week’s increase in initial claims, arguing that the data are volatile around moving holidays like Easter, Passover and school spring breaks.

Read more at YahooFinance


Chaos at Apple Supplier Shows Strains of Shanghai COVID Lockdown

Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City would seem like an ideal site to implement China’s “closed-loop” management system to prevent the spread of COVID that requires staff to live and work on-site in a secure bubble. But as COVID-19 breeched Quanta’s defenses, the system broke down into chaos last week. Videos posted online showed more than a hundred Quanta workers physically overwhelming security guards in hazmat suits and vaulting over factory gates to escape being trapped inside the factory amid rumours that workers on the floor that day tested positive for COVID.

The turmoil at Quanta underscores the struggles Shanghai faces to get its factories, many of them key links in global supply chains, back up to speed even as much of the city of 25 million remains locked down under China’s “dynamic-zero” COVID policy.

Read more at Reuters


Extended Supply Chains Are Going Away: What Comes Next?

Before the pandemic, rising costs were already making offshoring an expensive and increasingly riskier proposition. Significant increases in wages, transport costs, as well as real fears over continued intellectual property theft and poor-quality control offset many savings advantages from offshore manufacturing. 

While champions of “bringing it back home” are understandably excited about the prospects of an American manufacturing renaissance, some challenges need to be addressed. Most obvious is the return of significant long-term inflation within the economy. Now that most of the benefits of offshoring are used up, we are faced with a reckoning. Any inflation within the manufacturing/ delivery/ sales cycle will be immediately felt. It can’t be outsourced to the future. In fact, it is already being felt. What is now popularly labeled as a “supply chain issue” in most cases is simply a return to the natural order of things. Despite the challenges that long-term inflation will pose, more companies have little or no choice but to get closer to home.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Injury Claims by First-Year Employees has Increased, Mfg

Reported injuries in an employee’s first year on the job increased between 2011 and 2021, with 38% of workers’ compensation claims filed by first-year employees in 2021 versus 32% of first-year employees filing claims in 2011.

In the manufacturing and wholesale sector  42% of workers’ compensation claims were filed by first-year employees in 2021 versus 31% of claims filed by first-year employees in 2011. “To minimize risks, all employers must ensure new employees receive orientation on workplace risk management including safety hazards, emergency response plans, and safe driving expectations if company vehicles are operated,” said Scott Smith, vice president, Director of Safety Management, Selective Insurance, in a statement.

Read more at EHS Today


Snarled-Up Ports Point to Worsening Global Supply Chain Woes 

Global supply chain problems look to set to worsen, a new report published last week said, as China’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other strains cause even longer delays at ports and drive up costs.  The study by analysts at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) found that one-fifth of the global container ship fleet was currently stuck in congestion at various major ports.

In China, ships awaiting berth at the Port of Shanghai now tally 344, a 34% increase over the past month, while shipping something from a warehouse in China to one in the United States currently takes 74 days longer than usual. In Europe too, ships from China are showing up an average of four days late, causing a number of knock-on effects, including a shortage of empty containers to take European-made goods to the U.S. east coast.

Read more at Reuters


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 504

Fed Hikes Rates by Half Percentage Point, Starts Balance Sheet Reduction June 1

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest jump in 22 years, and said it would begin trimming its bond holdings next month as a further step in the battle to lower inflation.  The U.S. central bank set its target federal funds rate to a range between 0.75% and 1% in a unanimous decision, with further rises in borrowing costs of perhaps similar magnitude likely to follow.


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Manufacturing Job Openings, Quits, Hires All Up in March

The number of open manufacturing jobs increased in March, up to 860,000 from a revised 785,000 in February, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There were increased postings for both durable and nondurable goods. Over the past 12 months, manufacturing job postings have averaged nearly 865,000, including a record 943,000 in July.

Manufacturers also hired more workers in March, up to 508,000 from February’s 500,000.  Total quits in the manufacturing sector rose to 360,000 in March, a new record, up from 345,000 in February.  “That translated into 2.7% of the manufacturing workforce and continued a trend of very significant ‘churn’ in the labor market, exacerbating the workforce difficulties that companies are experiencing,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “At the same time, the March survey reported 4,536,000 quits in the nonfarm business economy, up from 4,384,000 in February and also a record pace.”

Read more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics


U.S. Trade Deficit Widens to Record $109.8 Billion as Imports Surge

The trade gap in goods and services widened by 22.3% in March from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $109.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the trade deficit had hovered for years between $40 billion and $50 billion a month.

Imports rose by 10.3% to $351.5 billion as the U.S. took in far more goods than it exported. In March, the gridlock at U.S. ports eased, alleviating supply-chain congestion that has disrupted trade during the pandemic and freeing up more goods for store shelves. Exports also rose a robust 5.6% in March on higher shipments of industrial supplies and as more travelers came to the U.S. for vacation. But imports of industrial supplies, consumer goods and vehicles rose sharply in March, likely reflecting price increases that have contributed to high U.S. inflation.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – New Omicron Subvariant Spreading in U.S. as Coronavirus Cases Increase

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are ticking up as a new, highly transmissible subvariant of omicron starts taking hold of the country. The U.S. is averaging more than 56,000 new coronavirus cases each day. That’s up from roughly 25,000 infections reported per day in early April. Another omicron subvariant is quickly increasing, and experts believe it could be even more transmissible than BA.2.

BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 29% of new coronavirus infections as of mid-April, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 19% of cases the week prior and 14% of infections the first week in April.
Some regions, like the Northeast, are seeing more cases of BA.2.12.1 than others. The New York State Department of Health first announced the emergence of the subvariant in the state mid-April. It was responsible for 41% of infections across the state as of April 23, according to the department. Importantly,  those who are vaccinated and especially those who are boosted, continue to have strong protection against severe disease, even from BA.2.12.1.

Read more at US News and World Report


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 29:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.1% of all New Yorkers – 16,560,496
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,724,897

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.8% of all New Yorkers – 14,839,950
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,514,706

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,037,101
  • In the Hudson Valley – 968,646

The Governor updated COVID data through April 29.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,763

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,868
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 196

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.74%    –   34.50 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.08%   –   30.14 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Proven mRNA Technologies Embolden Vaccine and Drug Makers

The technologies that helped bring about the first mRNA vaccines are inspiring new developments and raising expectations about additional boons. This optimistic take on the future of mRNA technologies is shared by all the experts quoted in this article. They represent a range of companies, and they cite progress in areas such as mRNA construct design and distributed manufacturing. The experts also raise concerns—some old (familiar manufacturing bottlenecks) and others new (unprecedented production challenges).

The technologies behind mRNA vaccines have a long history. “The trend was definitely established in the mid-2010s toward mRNA therapies and what was required for their development,” says G. Brett Robb, PhD, scientific director for RNA and genome editing at New England Biolabs. In recent years, the trend has only been accelerating, given the increased interest in mRNA therapeutics. Doubtless, the growing interest in mRNA therapeutics is largely due to the example set by the mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2.

Read more at Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News


Rise in U.S. Factory Orders of 2.2 Percent in March Beats Expectations 

New orders for U.S.-made goods increased more than expected in March and shipments rose solidly, but supply constraints following new COVID-19 lockdowns in China could slow manufacturing activity in the months ahead. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that factory orders rose 2.2% in March after edging up 0.1% in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders would rise 1.1%.

Manufacturing, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy, faces some headwinds in the near term from China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy, which is causing disruptions to supply chains.

Read more at Reuters


Lockheed Plant Biden Visits that Makes Javelin Missiles Is Hunting for Workers to Boost Production

President Biden on Tuesday visited the Lockheed Martin Corp. plant in Troy, Ala., where the defense company is hunting for workers in the tightest labor market in 50 years to assemble Javelin antitank missiles for Ukraine. The company currently lists 26 vacancies at the Troy plant, including missile assemblers, quality supervisors and engineers.

On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and amid a national labor shortage, Lockheed was offering to pay $16 to $20 an hour for trainee assembly workers at the plant, and a $1,500 signing bonus for college graduates with the security clearance required for many of the positions, according to a job ad posted on the Facebook page of the Alabama state workforce development agency.

Read more at the WSJ


Beijing Steps up COVID Curbs as Virus Spreads in China

Authorities in Beijing shut more than 40 subway stations and suspended 158 bus routes in a bid to contain the spread of covid-19. The Chinese capital is desperately trying to avoid a Shanghai-style lockdown, where millions of residents have been confined to their housing compounds for over a month, instead relying on mass testing and temporary curbs to control the virus.

The central city of Zhengzhou earlier also announced restrictions, joining dozens of big population centres under some form of lockdown as China seeks to eliminate a virus believed to have first emerged in Wuhan city in late 2019.

Read more at Reuters


IRS Raises 2023 HSA limits

The Internal Revenue Service announced Friday that for the calendar year 2023, the health savings account contribution limits for an individual with self-only coverage will jump to $3,850—a significant $200 increase from $3,650 for this year. Last year, the amount climbed just $50 from $3,600 for 2021. For family coverage, the HSA contribution limit jumps to $7,750 next year from $7,300 in 2022.

Meanwhile, for 2023, the health plan must have a deductible of at least $1,500 for self-only coverage, up from $1,400 in 2022, or $3,000 for family coverage, up from $2,800.  Out-of-pocket maximums also are increasing significantly. For 2023 individual coverage, those will increase to $7,500 from $7,050 and to $15,000 from $14,100 for family coverage for 2023.


Global Chip Shortage’s Latest Worry: Too Few Chips for Chip-Making

The drought in chip availability that has hit auto production, raised electronics prices and stoked supply-chain worries in capitals around the globe has a new pain point: a lack of chips needed for the machines that make chips, industry executives say. The wait time it takes to get machinery for chip-making—one of the world’s most complex and delicate kinds of manufacturing—has extended over recent months stretching to two or three years in some cases, according to chip-making and equipment executives. Deliveries of previously placed orders are also coming in late, executives say.

As a result, hopes of quickly overcoming the global chip shortage are dimming as it stretches into its third year. What began as a pandemic-era aberration of supercharged demand for laptops and other chip-hungry gadgets has spiraled into a structural problem for the industry. Now many chip executives say the problem will persist into 2023 and 2024, or even longer.

Read more at the WSJ


IoT Security Called Lacking in 5 Key Industries

Security remains a major challenge for the internet of things with particular liability across five industries largely due to the ubiquity of connected devices. VentureBeat cites health care, energy/utilities, manufacturing, smart cities and supply chain/logistics as the most vulnerable.

The motives for attacks on manufacturers range from extortion and disruption to terrorism. Targets include industrial control systems (ICS) such as distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLC), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and human machine interfaces (HMI). Attackers sometimes attempt to take direct control of PLCs that run factory equipment, rather than accounting or customer records. Attackers have seized control of PLCs that used hardcoded passwords, and then successfully destroyed the expensive machinery they controlled. 

Read more at VentureBeat


Central Hudson Takes Measures to Provide Natural Gas Supply Price Relief

The supply price for natural gas effective May 1 will fall to 64-cents per 100 cubic feet (ccf), down from 97-cents per ccf in April. Costs from natural gas spot purchases earlier this year were already being deferred over several months to help reduce winter bill impacts. These spot purchases were necessary during the periods of extreme cold this winter to meet the heating needs of residents and businesses.

With this change, the remaining costs of these spot purchases will now be deferred and spread throughout the 2023 calendar year to provide immediate relief during this period of high energy costs. Spreading the costs over a longer time period will further reduce bill impacts, utility officials said.  Central Hudson is exploring the viability of a similar approach for electricity costs if another significant spike in supply prices occurs in the future.

Read more at Mid Hudson News


Spot the Robot Shows Off New Upgrades

Boston Dynamics today announced a new set of upgrades for its dog-like robot, Spot, that increase its utility for manufacturers seeking to hire a different kind of worker, like Ford and Merck. Spot could already produce 3D scans of the space around it; now it can also “see” in full color and produce color images for operators to review. Its battery now charges to full capacity in an hour or less, making for shorter coffee breaks. It sports a new 5G modem to accept and execute orders more quickly, that may include movement commands provided via Spot’s new tablet controller.

Finally, Spot has been cleared to deploy brand new payloads for tasks like edge processing, including site inspections conducted with its onboard vision systems, and a radio kit for improved navigation in remote locations, underground, or places that offer unique types of obstructions, even if RF radio interference is present.

Read more at IndustryWeek


VW Wants to Step Up Investment in U.S. Manufacturing

VW CEO Herbert Diess told reporters during an earnings call on Wednesday that the company wants to boost electric-vehicle investment in North America in particular as the fallout from the war and the pandemic continue to weigh on growth in other regions. “We see that America will be untouched by what’s happening in Europe, so it should be geostrategically a region in which we should invest more,” Mr. Diess said.

VW’s pivot to the U.S. shows how China’s economic slowdown and the war in Ukraine could be causing a global investment reshuffle as international manufacturers—VW has 120 plants world-wide—seek safer, more predictable markets that are better insulated from the shocks that have been battering the world economy in the past three years.

Read more at the WSJ


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Daily Briefing – 503

U.S. Job Openings, Total Quits Reach March Records in Tight Labor Market

The Labor Department on Tuesday reported a seasonally adjusted 11.5 million job openings in March, an increase from 11.3 million the prior month. The number of times workers quit their jobs rose to 4.5 million in the same month, slightly higher than the previous record in November of last year. Meanwhile, hiring cooled slightly from the month before to 6.7 million in March.

Average hourly earnings for workers in the private sector were 5.6% higher than the year before in March, rising significantly faster than the roughly 3% rate recorded the year before the pandemic began, according to the Labor Department. Employers have had difficulty hiring from the limited pool of available workers, and millions of employees are expected to remain on the sidelines indefinitely. Many people in the labor market also are finding they have gained leverage, making it easier to switch jobs.

Read more at the WSJ


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Hochul Picks Rep. Antonio Delgado to Run as Her Lt. Governor

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she will appoint Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19) to fill out the rest of Brian Benjamin’s term as lieutenant governor. That will leave his upstate swing seat open at a time Democrats are desperate to hold onto the House, and with district lines in limbo in the state. Delgado will also be tapped to replace Benjamin on the primary ballot as he runs to win a full term as the state’s number two.

Hochul is expected to call a special election to fill Delgado’s empty upstate swing seat, where he had been expected to face a tough reelection.

Read more at City & State


4 Things to Know as the Fed Ahead of Today’s Fed Meeting

The Federal Reserve is about to deliver its biggest punch yet in the fight against surging inflation. Policymakers start a two-day meeting on Tuesday, and they are widely expected to raise interest rates by half a percentage point — the largest rate hike in more than two decades.

It’s a clear sign of the urgency with which the Fed is approaching inflation, as prices continue to climb at the fastest pace in 40 years. And the Fed won’t be done there. The central bank is likely to keep pushing borrowing costs higher in the months to come. Here’s a quick look at the Fed’s likely battle plan.

Read more at NPR


US COVID –

While daily COVID-19 incidence remains relatively low across the US, the 7-day moving average of new cases has increased by about 50% over the last month. In New York City, daily incidence jumped from about 600 daily cases in early March to nearly 2,500 new cases per day, with cases driven by the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron. While hospitalizations and deaths remain low, the city this week entered a higher risk level (medium, or yellow, for virus transmission). California also is experiencing a rise in cases, with the state recording a 30% increase in new COVID-19 cases over the last week, as well as a smaller increase in hospitalizations.

The rising case numbers coincide with relaxed public health measures and many states scaling back their frequency of COVID-19 data reporting to only once a week or every 2 weeks. These data reporting delays could produce misleading trends and hinder subsequent interventions. As the nation shifts its response from an acute emergency phase to a more long-term response, and as immunity from vaccination and natural infection wane, the country will continue to rely on these imperfect data to help inform individuals and jurisdictions about their current and future risks of contracting COVID-19.

Read more at The Jones Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 29:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.1% of all New Yorkers – 16,560,496
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,724,897

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.8% of all New Yorkers – 14,839,950
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,514,706

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,037,101
  • In the Hudson Valley – 968,646

The Governor updated COVID data through April 29.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,763

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,868
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 196

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.74%    –   34.50 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.08%   –   30.14 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Pfizer Q1 Revenues Jump 77% to $25 Billion on COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer reported another quarter of huge revenues growth because of its COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, but lowered the company’s full-year profit forecast due in part to shifts in foreign exchange.  The drugmaker reported revenues of $25.7 billion for the first quarter, up 77 percent from the year-ago period, with the COVID vaccine taking in $13.2 billion. Net income jumped 61% to $7.9 billion.

Pfizer confirmed its full-year revenues forecast, in which about just over half of total sales stem from the Covid-19 inoculation and from Paxlovid, the company’s therapeutic to treat the coronavirus. The company, which has shipped some 3.4 billion doses of vaccine to 179 countries, has won regulatory approval for its shot in most age groups, but continues to study its use in children younger than five.

Read more at IndustryWeek


What We Know About the New Omicron Subvariants From South Africa, UK

New subvariants of omicron named BA.4 and BA.5 are sublineages of earlier omicron variants.  These new strains are estimated to have emerged in mid-December 2021 and have reached 50 percent of sequences in South Africa as of the first week of April. Cases are rising rapidly again in South Africa. These subvariants have also been detected in the U.S. and elsewhere at low levels. The subvariants do not currently seem to cause more severe disease than BA.2 and other omicron variants, according to the World Health Organization. However, officials think that the data suggest they may be more transmissible than BA.2. 

A study posted on a pre-print server over the weekend suggests that these two variants may be able to evade immunity acquired from an original omicron infection. The study hasn’t gone through the peer review process yet and has not yet been published in an academic journal. 

Read more at The Hill


New York On Track to Experience Energy Deficits of Ten Percent or More

A report from the Empire Center shows that The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) places New York communities at risk of devastating blackouts due to insufficient electricity levels, according to Cold & Dark, a new Empire Center study.

By the Climate Action Council’s own admission, “there are many weeks in the year when contributions from renewables and existing clean firm resources are not sufficient to meet demand.” Under these circumstances, an ill-timed blackout caused by a severe winter storm could lead to hundreds of deaths.

Read more at the Empire Center


10 Year Treasury Briefly Topped 3%

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield has broke above 3% for the first time since December 2018 as the Federal Reserve is poised to hike interest rates and shrink its balance sheet to fight inflation. The recent climb higher has weighed on stocks, which were more attractive when rates were low under the so-called TINA trade (there is no alternative). Higher rates have also pushed up borrowing costs on mortgages and other long-term loans, raising worries about economic growth and a possible recession.

“While it’s clear that this economy doesn’t need stimulative monetary policy, what is less clear is the speed at which this stimulus should be removed, and the reasons for choosing that speed,” said Alex Roever, U.S. rates strategist at J.P. Morgan.

Read more at Seeking Alpha


USCIS Announces Temporary Increase to EAD Automatic Extension Periods

The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) has released a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, today, May 4, 2022, and which will be effective immediately upon publication. The TFR increases the automatic extension period for employment authorization and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), available to certain categories of EAD renewal applicants, from 180 days to 540 days.

The TFR will help applicants to avoid a lapse in their employment authorization. According to the TFR, USCIS simultaneously is implementing backlog reduction plans for EAD processing, and plans to reduce the EAD processing time to 90 days. Moreover, the TFR states that those applicants who already filed an EAD renewal application and whose 180-day automatic extension previously expired, may return to work if they are still within the 540-day window following expiration of their prior EAD cards.

Read more at Harris Beach


A Republican Primary is Looking More Likely in Race for New York Governor

Republican officials in New York — from state Chairman Nick Langworthy to local members of the state Assembly — believe this year is their best chance in a generation to recapture the governor’s office, ending a 20-year statewide election drought in a very blue state.  Voters are increasingly concerned about public safety and crime, and a plurality of voters in a Siena College poll this week said they would prefer a generic “someone else” instead of giving Gov. Kathy Hochul a full term.

But a primary is likely looming for Republicans. Andrew Giuliani’s petitions passed the hearing on Friday, and so did those of former Westchester County Rob Astorino. The party’s nominee for governor in 2014, Astorino is now running as an outsider after Zeldin secured the overwhelming majority of the party’s delegates at the February convention. 

Read more at State of Politics


NY Democrats Seek Federal Appeal in Redistricting Case

Democratic officials are making a last-minute appeal to the federal courts after the top state court in New York rejected the lawmaker-drawn congressional maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander. The 17-page complaint alleges there is not enough time to draw new district lines, hold a June primary and comply with a federal law that requires timely access to military and overseas ballots. 

The state Court of Appeals decision last week rejected both the U.S. House districts as well as the state Senate maps. A June 28 primary scheduled for those races could be moved to Aug. 23 as a result. But the complaint alleged New York “is in no position to meet its obligation to redraw its congressional district in time to conduct its congressional primary on June 28.” 

Read more at State of Politics


A Great HR Resignation is Coming

The narrative of the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffling is well-worn at this point and yet no less real. Voluntary attrition rates during early 2022 have remained high, and many companies are still struggling to adjust. There’s also a side of the Great Reshuffling that many are overlooking—and it involves the very people they are depending on to navigate the path forward.

HR teams have been at the center of responding to COVID, managing layoffs during the downturn (often including much of the HR team itself), and transitioning to hybrid work. Now HR is at the center of hiring and retention challenges, and it’s driving massive demand for talent—job postings for HR are up more than 130 percent compared to pre-COVID, a larger increase than even software engineers.

Read more at HR Executive


Round XII Regional Economic Development Council Initiative Launched

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of Round XII of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Round XII includes core capital grant and tax-credit funding to be combined with a wide range of programs from 10 state agencies that will provide funding for prospective projects. As with Round XI, $150 million in grant funds from Empire State Development will be available to projects on a continuous basis, in order to be responsive to the immediate needs of communities.

Manufacturing continues to be a priority for the Mid-Hudson Region. 

Read the Announcement


SUNY Board of Trustees Appoints Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler as President of SUNY New Paltz

Upon the recommendation of the State University of New York Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley, the SUNY Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler as President of SUNY New Paltz. The statement was announced by the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Stanley and is effective July 18, 2022.

Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler currently serves as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Iona College. Prior to that, he served as Dean of the School of Social Welfare and Vice President for Public Engagement at the University at Albany, Dean for the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago, and has held academic positions at Hunter College, CUNY, Columbia University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Wheeler received his Ph.D. in social work and MPH in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh, his MSW in health/mental health from Howard University, and his BA in sociology from Cornell College. He served in the United States Air Force and as an intern officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Read the Press Release


For-Hire


 

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Daily Briefing – 502

U.S. Manufacturing Sector Slows Further in April-ISM

U.S. manufacturing activity slowed for a second straight month in April, but supply bottlenecks appeared to be easing, with the pace of increase in prices for inputs and the backlog of unfinished work at factories moderating.  The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday that its index of national factory activity fell to a reading of 55.4 last month from 57.1 in March.

  • The survey’s measure of supplier deliveries rose to 67.2 from 65.4 in March.  Tight supply chains have been exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine and new coronavirus-related lockdowns in China.
  • The survey’s gauge of order backlogs dropped to a reading of 56 from 60.0 in March. It was the second straight monthly decline.
  • With supply strains starting to resolve, inflation at the factory gate could be peaking. A measure of prices paid by manufacturers dropped to a reading of 84.6 from and all time high 87.1 in March.
  • The survey’s measure of factory employment fell to a reading of 50.9 from 56.3 in March. That likely reflected difficulties finding workers.
  • There were a near record 11.3 million job openings at the end of February. 

Read more at YahooFinance


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


China’s Manufacturing Activity Pummeled by COVID Restrictions

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday that its official manufacturing purchasing managers index dropped to 47.4 in April, from 49.5 in March, falling to its lowest level since February 2020. The result fell short of the median forecast of 48.0 among economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, and well below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

The subindex of factory production plummeted to 44.4 in April from 48.8 in March, the statistics bureau said. The sharp decline came as factories reduced or halted production due to the spreading virus, said Zhao Qinghe, a senior official at the statistics bureau.

Read more at the WSJ


Americans Are Showing Inflation Fatigue, and Some Companies See a Breaking Point

Robust consumer spending has powered the U.S. economy through much of the pandemic, as households were helped by Covid-related government stimulus programs, rising wages and a rebound in the U.S. job market that has pushed the unemployment rate down near prepandemic levels. 

However, executives running some of the world’s biggest retailers, manufacturers and consumer-products makers say they are seeing signs that people are becoming less willing to absorb price increases. And a recent survey of U.S. consumers found more than 70% said they have switched to cheaper food and household staples. Nearly 40% said they were delaying purchases of big-ticket items.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – Seasonality 

It’s now predictable that the South will see surges in the summer and Northern states will see surges in the winter — especially around the holidays, former White House Coronavirus Response Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS on Sunday morning.

“This is what we have to be prepared for in this country. We should be preparing right now for a potential surge in the summer across the Southern United States because we saw it in 2020 and we saw it in 2021.”  Public health officials need to make clear to the public that protection against the infection wanes over time, and precautions should be taken with vulnerable or compromised people, said Birx.

Read more at CNN


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 29:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.1% of all New Yorkers – 16,560,496
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,724,897

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.8% of all New Yorkers – 14,839,950
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,514,706

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,037,101
  • In the Hudson Valley – 968,646

The Governor updated COVID data through April 29.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,763

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,868
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 196

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.74%    –   34.50 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.08%   –   30.14 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


What We Know—and Do Not Know—About Long COVID

The prevalence of long covid is hard to calculate and some early reports gave inflated estimates. The CDC believes one in ten Americans will develop long-covid symptoms more than a month after infection. Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 1.7m people, or 2.7% of the population, were experiencing self-reported long covid as of March 5th. Most experienced fatigue, a third had shortness of breath, and almost a quarter reported muscle aches. The condition was most common in women, those aged 35 to 49 and in people living in poor areas. Those employed in social care, education or health care were also more likely to report symptoms.

But there are problems with even these careful estimates. Fatigue and muscle ache could be caused by a number of other conditions. An earlier ONS study found that 5% of people infected with covid had at least one of 12 common symptoms 12 to 16 weeks after infection; 3.4% of a control group who had not been infected also reported one of these symptoms.

Read more at The Economist


South Africa’s Aspen COVID-19 Vaccine Plant Risks Closure After No Orders, Executive Says

Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccination plant, touted last year as a trailblazer for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts, risks shutting down after receiving not a single order, a company executive said on Saturday. South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare negotiated a licensing deal in November to package and sell Johnson & Johnson’s  COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it across Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called the deal a “transformative moment” in the drive towards levelling stark inequalities in access to COVID vaccines. With only a sixth of adults in Africa fully vaccinated, according to the latest WHO figures from the end of March, Aspen’s agreement to sell an Aspen-branded COVID-19 vaccine, Aspenovax, throughout Africa seemed like a sure bet.

Read more at Reuters


Amazon Labor Union Loses Election at a Smaller Staten Island Warehouse

Employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island voted against unionizing with the Amazon Labor Union, according to a vote tally completed by the National Labor Relations Board on Monday. The loss for the independent, worker-led union came weeks after it led a much larger Staten Island Amazon facility known as JFK8 to become the first in the country to vote to join a union.  The Amazon Labor Union also had a smaller presence inside the warehouse. The loss was a blow to the Amazon Labor Union, whose momentous win last month cast it as the future of labor organizing.

Still, organizers suggested that not all hope was lost. Halfway through the vote count, as Amazon’s lead in the tally grew, organizers commented on Amazon’s well-funded resistance to organizing in its facilities, which has included “captive audience” meetings and anti-union propaganda. “The count has finished,” the union tweeted after the vote. “The election has concluded without the union being recognized at LDJ5—sortation center on Staten Island. The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun.”

Read more at City & State


Legislature Considers a Bill to Get Ex-Lt. Governor Off the Ballot

State lawmakers prepared to vote on legislation that would allow Gov. Kathy Hochul to replace her indicted running mate. The question of whether the state Legislature would approve such a bill has dominated Albany the past few weeks, with opinions on the issue divided.

Bill language came late Friday night when state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Amy Paulin introduced new legislation on behalf of the governor to remove Benjamin from the ballot. It would allow any nominated or designated candidate to decline their place on the ballot if they have been indicted for or convicted of a crime.  Majority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins reportedly told Krueger to hold off introducing the legislation. A spokesperson for the state Senate Democrats had initially stated that the chamber would not take up any bill to get Benjamin off the ballot, and Stewart-Cousins herself expressed resistance to changing election rules in the middle of a cycle. 

Read more at City & State


Intel CEO Expects Chip Shortage to Last Until at Least 2024

Intel chief Pat Gelsinger has predicted that the global chip shortage will remain a challenge for the industry until at least 2024, particularly in areas such as foundry capacity and tool availability. Despite this forecast, Gelsinger outlined that Intel is in a “good position” to manage the constraints that arise as a result of the supply chain shortage. “In fact, Intel is rising to meet this challenge,” he told investors on Thursday during a first-quarter earnings call.

“Following our announcements in Arizona, New Mexico, and Ohio, we recently announced a series of investments in Europe, spanning our existing operations as well as our new investments in France and Germany — the silicon junction,” he continued. “These investments position Intel to meet the future growth, and represent a significant step toward our moonshot goal of having half the world’s semiconductor manufacturing located in the US and Europe.”

Read more at ZDNet


DiNapoli: Local Sales Tax Collections Up 21% in First Quarter of 2022

Local government sales tax collections grew by 21.1%, or $901 million, in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Collections for the three-month period totaled nearly $5.2 billion, with growth at least partially driven by inflation, which hit a 40-year-high in March.

New York City’s collections in the first quarter grew by 28.5% compared to the same period last year and exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the second straight quarter after remaining below pre-pandemic levels for most of 2020 and 2021.  Outside New York City, nearly every county had double-digit growth in the first quarter. Broome County saw the highest growth at 24.3%, followed by Yates County (22.2%), and Schuyler and Columbia counties (21%). Sullivan County had the lowest growth at 6.6%.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


Biden Eyes Long-Awaited Student Debt Relief Starting at $10,000 Per Borrower

President Biden plans to move forward with student loan debt forgiveness, with two sources telling The Hill he is considering action to expunge at least $10,000 per borrower. The debt forgiveness would be through executive action and follows the president asking the Education Department to look into his authority to act unilaterally on student loans a year ago, the results of which have not been publicly announced.

Biden has been under pressure to go farther than the moratorium and forgive debt. The White House has also consistently said the president would sign legislation canceling student debt if Congress passed a bill.

Read more at The Hill


How Can the 4-day Work Week be a True Game-Changer for Employers?

As many employees search for new, more meaningful work in the Great Resignation, they’re looking for continued innovation in their working arrangements. Some employers are delivering in the form of a shortened, often-hybrid work schedule.  Such companies as Panasonic and online platform Kickstarter recently moved to the four-day model, which has also been trialed in Microsoft offices. In a pilot from an organization called 4 Day Week Global, 35 North American companies and some two dozen countries and companies around the globe are testing four-day weeks this spring, Forbes reported. There’s even proposed federal legislation to reduce the standard work week from 40 hours to 32.

Some pilot studies have found four-day weeks can improve productivity. Microsoft’s trial in Japan, for example, found workers were happier—and 40% more productive. At the same time not all employees are disciplined or structured enough to manage the ambiguity of blurred lines in this type of schedule. And, if expectations are that the four working days will be longer, that could drive up employee stress.

Read more at HR Executive


Shanghai’s COVID Battle; Beijing Focuses on Mass Testing

Fewer than 10,000 covid-19 cases were recorded in Shanghai for the second day in a row, suggesting that the outbreak in China’s biggest city may be easing. On Sunday, officials said that six of 16 districts had reached “zero-covid” status. However, in Beijing, the capital, restrictions were tightened further. 

However, China’s commercial capital was dealt a blow on Monday as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside areas under lockdown. Still, many people also took heart from data that showed encouraging trends, with 32 new deaths on Sunday, compared with 38 a day earlier, and a total of 6,804 new local cases, down from 7,189 the previous day.

Read more at Reuters


For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index Climbs 3.8%

The American Trucking Associations announced that its advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.4% in March after rising 0.7% in February. In March, the index equaled 118.8 (2015=100) versus 116.1 in February. Compared with March 2021, the SA index increased 3.8%, which was the seventh straight year-over-year gain and the largest over that period.

In February, the index was up 3.2% from a year earlier. In 2022, year-to-date and compared with the same period in 2021, tonnage was up 2.6%. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.9 in March, 17.9% above the February level (105.1).In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Read more at Material Handling & Logistics


 

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Daily Briefing – 501

Ballooning Benefits Cause Employment Costs Index to Jump 1.4 Percent in Q1

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending in March 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Wages and salaries increased 1.2 percent and benefit costs increased 1.8 percent from December 2021. Wages and salaries increased 4.7 percent for the 12-month period ending in March 2022 and increased 2.7 percent for the 12-month period ending in March 2021. Benefit costs increased 4.1 percent over the year.

In the manufacturing sector the index rose 1.9% in Q1 and 4.9% year on year with the benefits portion being 0.4 in Q1 and 2.5 year on year. 

Read more at the BLS


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Fed Prepares Double-Barreled Tightening With Bond Runoff

This Wednesday, officials are to announce plans on how they will shrink the nearly $9 trillion  portfolio of mostly Treasury and mortgage securities it accumulated to  support financial markets and the economy during the pandemic. Officials have recently indicated they would allow $95 billion in securities to mature every month—$60 billion in Treasuries and $35 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Runoff is likely to start in June and reach the new caps in just a couple months instead of a year.

The Fed wasn’t in a rush five years ago because inflation was running just below its 2% target. This time, the Fed is in a hurry to remove stimulus because inflation was 6.6% in March using the Fed’s preferred index, near a four-decade high.

Read more at the WSJ


Fed’s Inflation Gauge Rose 6.6 Percent Annually in March

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index — the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation — rose 6.6 percent over the 12 months ending in March, up from a 6.3 percent annual inflation rate in February, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Friday. Annual inflation without food or energy prices, which are more volatile, fell slightly to 5.2 percent in March, down from 5.2 percent in February.

Prices rose 0.6 percent in March alone, largely in line with the monthly inflation rate since October, and by 0.5 percent without food or energy. Rising consumer prices also cut into disposable incomes last month despite rapid wage growth over the past year. Disposable incomes rose 0.5 percent in March, but fell 0.4 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID – Rate of Boosters Decline

The US CDC is reporting 80.9 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 989,408 deaths. The average daily incidence has nearly doubled from the recent low of 24,982 new cases per day on April 4 to 48,692 on April 26. The daily mortality continues to decline, down to 299 deaths per day—the first day below 300 since July 23, 2021.* Notably, new COVID-19 hospital admissions continue to trend upwards, with an increase of 17.6% over the past week. 

After a slight increase starting in late March, following US FDA authorization of a second booster dose, daily vaccinations are once again declining, down from 485,000 doses per day on April 12 to 394,000 on April 21 (-18.6%). A total of 257 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.5% of the entire US population. A total of 219 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 66.1% of the total population.  This corresponds to 45.7% of fully vaccinated individuals, including 68.5% of fully vaccinated adults aged 65 years or older. Only 49.5% of individuals eligible for a first booster dose have received one.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 29:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.1% of all New Yorkers – 16,560,496
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,724,897

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.8% of all New Yorkers – 14,839,950
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,514,706

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,037,101
  • In the Hudson Valley – 968,646

The Governor updated COVID data through April 29.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,763

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,868
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 196

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.74%    –   34.50 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.08%   –   30.14 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Moderna Asks FDA To Authorize First COVID Vaccine For Young Children

Moderna has requested an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine for young children. If authorized, it would be the first vaccine for children between the ages of six months and five years old. The company said that clinical trials showed a robust immune response when young children were given two 25-microgram doses of the vaccine. The company said that the amount of neutralizing antibodies was similar to that of adults, who were given two 100-microgram doses of the vaccine.

The company said that the efficacy of the vaccines was 51% for children between two and five years old, while it was 37% for children between six months and two years old. That is similar to the efficacy against the Omicron variant for adults.

Read more at iHeart 


Study: Prior COVID Infections and Today’s Vaccines Likely Won’t Help You Avoid the New Omicron Variants

New Omicron sublineages, discovered by South African scientists this month, are likely able to evade vaccines and natural immunity from prior infections, the head of gene sequencing units that produced a study on the strains said. The BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages appear to be more infectious than the earlier BA.2 lineage, which itself was more infectious than the original Omicron variant, said Tulio de Oliveira, the head of the institutes at the universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch.

With almost all South Africans either having been vaccinated against the coronavirus or having had a prior infection, the current surge in cases means that the strains are more likely to be capable of evading the body’s defenses rather than simply being more transmissible, de Oliveira said.

Read more at Fortune


Economy Shrinks 1.4% in First Quarter, GDP shows, but Mainly Due to Record Trade Deficit

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the nation’s gross domestic product shrank at an annual rate of 1.4% in the first three months of this year — a marked contrast from the final months of 2021, which saw some of the fastest growth in decades.

But economists say that’s not as worrisome as it might seem. Consumption and fixed investment rose quite strongly, by 2.7% and 7.3% respectively, but GDP growth was hugely depressed by a massive 3.2 percentage point drag from net foreign trade, and a 0.8pp hit from inventories. And consumers continue to spend freely, and businesses are still investing, despite the sharp drop in headline GDP growth. “We should not take that as a signal of the direction of the economy,” says Ben Herzon, senior U.S. economist with S&P Global Market Intelligence. He notes that GDP was dragged down by a drop in exports, inventories and government spending.

Read more at MarketWatch


Lawmakers Scramble to Interpret Court Ruling and Set New August Primary Date

If candidates for state Senate and Congress thought petitioning was behind them, the New York Court of Appeals ruling has now turned that on its head.  The process of gathering signatures to get on the ballot will almost definitely start over for them.  “But,” says election lawyer Sarah Steiner, “remember how last year the Legislature shortened the petition period for COVID and lowered the number of signatures you needed to get on the ballot for various offices — the Legislature, who are the people who would have to petition, they would be wise to do that again.”

What this possibly means is two separate primaries, although the Legislature will have to pass a new law in the coming weeks to make that a reality.  “I think this decision is kind of an earthquake here in New York,” says election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder. “We will go forward with the statewide primary, we will go forward with the judicial races, the county races, the political party position races and probably the Assembly races, because they are not involved. But it looks like we will have to have an August or early September primary.”


Why One Million Women Are Missing from the Workforce

In April 2020 as the pandemic took hold, women’s unemployment surpassed men’s by 2.5%. Today, women’s unemployment rate lags men’s by only .1% but the labor force participation rate for women is still a full percentage point lower than it was pre-pandemic. There are several factors contributing to the slower return of women to the workforce. All of them are helping to fuel a workforce shortage that is unsustainable for the American economy and will disadvantage women in the long run.  

Among the key findings of a report from the US Chamber of Commerce into what is keeping nearly 1 million women home include a re-examining of work/life balance, a desire to stay home to care for children coupled with the affordable child care access, and the types of jobs traditionally held by women are more vulnerable to the vagueries of the pandemic.

Read more at The US Chamber


Business Workforce Survey 2022

New York State – in partnership with the Business Council of New York State – has developed a comprehensive online survey to solicit vital feedback from businesses on the skills required for workers to be successful in today’s complex economy, and how New York can prepare and position its labor force to better serve companies’ needs.
 
Collective results from this survey will be used by the State and the Regional Economic Development Councils to develop an inventory of and strategy to address regional needs. Individual responses will be kept confidential.
 
The survey can be found here


German Economy Surprises to the Upside

Recession avoided. According to the statistical office’s flash estimate, the German economy grew by 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2022, from -0.3% QoQ in 4Q 2021. On the year, the economy grew by 3.7%. However, don’t forget that even with this small growth surprise, the German economy is still below pre-pandemic levels. GDP components will only be released later in May but according to the statistical office, investment was the main driver of growth.

Read more at ING


French GDP Stagnates in 1Q, Hit by Household Consumption

France’s economic growth came to a halt in the first quarter, posting a 0% quarterly variation after 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2021. Domestic demand is falling in France, detracting 0.6 percentage points from GDP growth. Within domestic demand, it is above all household consumption that is clearly down, with a drop of 1.3% over the quarter on the back of high inflation and pessimism linked to the war in Ukraine. It should be noted that the total production of goods and services continues to increase in 1Q, but at a less dynamic pace than the previous quarter (+0.5% from +1.0%).

Read more at ING


Ukraine War Speeds Up US Cyber Agenda

The war in Ukraine has pushed the United States to expedite its investment in cybersecurity amid constant — though so far unrealized — warnings of Russian cyberattacks on government agencies, election systems and critical infrastructure. Following the invasion of Ukraine, federal agencies have invested millions in cyber technology, seized and sanctioned hacking forums, charged Russian cyber criminals, and issued almost weekly warnings on the latest threat risks. 

Although many of these efforts predate the Russian invasion, experts say that the war in Ukraine gave the actions momentum and priority, such as lawmakers passing the cyber incident reporting law and the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicting Russian hackers.

Read more at The Hill


Ford to Lean Primarily on Price Increases to Offset Rising Costs

CEO Jim Farley  told analysts and investors the automaker wasn’t spared by supply chain and inflationary pressures in the first quarter: Ford’s spending on commodities this year is now expected to be $4 billion higher than previously forecast and about 53,000 nearly-completed vehicles are awaiting semiconductors. But consumers are still asking for more product and Ford finished the first quarter with $17 billion worth of orders on its books.

Ford posted a net loss of $3.1 billion in the first quarter on sales of $34.5 billion, which were 5% lower from the prior-year period. Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes were $2.3 billion versus $3.9 billion early last year. The company sold about 966,000 vehicles during the quarter, down from about 1.1 million both late last year and in the first three months of 2021, and still expects to grow its wholesale volumes 10% to 15% from 2021.

Read more at IndustryWeek


UAW and NDRC Sue Postal Service for Oshkosh Truck Contract

The United Auto Workers and the National Resources Defense Council announced a joint lawsuit against the United States Postal Service targeting Oshkosh Defense’s contract to build the next wave of mail trucks. 16 state attorneys general have since signed on to the lawsuit opposing the contract, which alleges that the $11.3 billion-dollar contract awarded to Oshkosh in February was awarded using an incomplete Environmental Impact Statement required by federal environmental law. 

Britt Carmon, federal clean vehicles senior advocate at the NRDC, excoriated the Postal Service’s review in a statement, calling it an “error-filled, flimsy analysis” and calling for investment in electric vehicles instead of the 10% electric fleet the current contract promises. USPS spokesperson Kim Frum, in an email to the Washington Post, responded to the criticism by saying that the Postal Service had fully complied with the law by conducting “a robust and thorough review.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


Deeper Dive: New York Redistricting Mess 

The state’s highest court struck down Democrats’ most effective gerrymander in a shocking ruling Wednesday, scuttling a map that would have likely netted the party 22 of New York’s 26 seats in an election when they desperately needed every one of them. The decision has incensed Democrats across the country — particularly since it was delivered by judges appointed by their own party’s governors. 

“I think it looks bad. I think we’ve got egg on our face,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who is retiring from her Long Island seat next year. She was among some Democrats who questioned whether the legislature had overreached when it created a map so heavily slanted toward Democrats when the state constitution placed a check on gerrymandering. “It didn’t need to be that way,” she said. “We could have made lines that were fair and followed the rules and still have been effective at making sure that Democrats are represented.”

Read more at Politico


 

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Daily Briefing – 500

500 -Today’s Daily Briefing is the 500th Published by the Council of Industry

We note this milestone with pride and optimism, as well as a tinge of sadness.  We remain very proud of all of our members and associate members who do so much good for the region through the darkest days of the the pandemic.  We are optimistic that you continue to help shape a better future for your employees, for the region, our nation and the world. And we can’t help but feel sad for the losses experienced by so many in our community over the past 26 months.

Look for 501 on Monday. 

COVID 19 UPDATE 1
Posted on Mar. 12, 2020
 
Council Members:

Over the next few days and weeks we will be using this Blog Page to keep you updated on the impacts of COVID 19 including policy changes, cancellations, best practices and resources. We will let you know when we have updated the page via email, but check back regularly for news related to the virus and Hudson Valley Manufacturers.

Read the first briefing


New York Court of Appeals Rejects Lawmaker-Drawn Redistricting Maps

New York’s highest court tossed out both congressional and state Senate district maps on Wednesday, ruling that they were drawn “with an unconstitutional partisan intent.”

In a majority 4-3 decision, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the maps must be redrawn by a neutral expert, acknowledging that “it will likely be necessary to move the congressional and senate primary elections to August,” the judges wrote, siding with the Supreme Court.

Read more at City & State


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Jumps 17.8% to Record $125.3 Billion

The U.S. trade deficit in goods widened to a record high in March amid a broad surge in imports, suggesting that trade remained a drag on economic growth in the first quarter.  The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday also showed solid increases in retail and wholesales inventories. But the pace of inventory accumulation was probably not fast enough to provide a boost to gross domestic product growth.

The jump in inventories will offset some of the surprise in the trade deficit, but economists expect to see downward revisions to forecasts for tomorrow’s Q1 GDP report. 

Read more at Reuters


New Era of Supply Shocks Risks Years of Inflation Pressure

The decades preceding the pandemic were characterized by chronically weak demand and a seemingly limitless supply of capital, labor and raw materials, resulting in persistently low inflation and interest rates.  Those conditions have since flipped. Demand is robust, especially in the U.S., where fiscal and monetary support have been especially generous. Advanced economies report shortages of labor, and Covid-19 continues to snarl supply chains, most recently in China. Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered widespread shortages of commodities, in particular for food and energy.

Maybe this is a run of bad luck that will be behind us in a year or so. Or maybe it is a prelude to an era in which geopolitical tensions, protectionist policies and natural disasters repeatedly stress the world’s supply networks. Central banks, which spent the last decade fighting off deflationary headwinds, might spend the next battling inflationary headwinds.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – More Than Half of People in U.S. Likely Had Covid-19, CDC Says

Nearly 60% of people in the U.S., including three in four children, exhibited signs of previous Covid-19 infection as of February, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said. Antibodies from prior infection can be detectable for at least two years after infection, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those with such antibodies are totally protected against reinfection, Dr. Clarke said.

The estimated proportion of people in the U.S. with detectable, infection-induced antibodies jumped from 34% in December 2021 to 58% by February 2022, according to a study the CDC released Tuesday, highlighting the reach of the winter Omicron surge that washed over the country.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 22:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.0% of all New Yorkers – 16,543,497
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,722,748

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.7% of all New Yorkers – 14,812,904
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,512,753

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,898,238
  • In the Hudson Valley – 951,437

The Governor updated COVID data through April 22.  There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,631

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,488
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 186

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.37%    –   32.61 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.97%   –   28.11 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize Booster Shots for Kids Ages 5 Through 11

Children ages 5 through 11 who’ve received two shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may soon be eligible for a booster. That’s if the Food and Drug Administration agrees to a request made Tuesday by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech to authorize their booster shot for kids in this age range.  The companies submitted data to the FDA showing that the low-dose booster shot is safe for children ages 5 through 11 and could help protect them against omicron. Currently, boosters are only authorized for people ages 12 and older.

The companies say a third shot for younger kids could help counter waning immunity that has left other age groups more vulnerable, especially against omicron, which is better at getting around the immune system.

Read more at NPR


WHO Says Weekly COVID Deaths Have Dropped to Lowest Level Since March 2020

Deaths caused by COVID-19 have dropped to their lowest levels since March 2020, but World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that slowing down testing in many countries will hamper the WHO’s ability to track the virus as it continues to mutate and spread.

UNICEF head of global health, vaccines and pandemic response Lily Caprani is calling on developed countries with high vaccination rates to increase vaccination rates in other regions to help prevent the emergence of new variants.

Read more at CNBC


Democrats Launch Attempt to Rescue Biden’s Economic Agenda

Democrats began a last-ditch effort to cobble together a narrower version of President Biden’s once-sweeping economic agenda that could win the critical support of Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and hand the party a legislative victory ahead of the fall’s elections. Democrats see the coming weeks as a critical window to attempt to rescue their waylaid ambitions in the 50-50 Senate.

Mr. Manchin met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a party-line package focused on raising taxes and reducing the budget deficit, and he convened a group of lawmakers from both parties on Monday to discuss ways to bolster energy production, another priority for Mr. Manchin.

Read more at the WSJ


The Role of the CEO Has Permanently Changed. Here’s What it Will Take to Lead a Company in the Future

Fortune’s Geoff Colvin talked to a plethora of CEOs and their advisers and concluded that the pandemic fundamentally changed corporate leadership. For many CEOs, he writes, the last two years were:

 “…the most demanding, most disorienting, most exhausting experience of their careers, and for some the most frightening. Yet history suggests it’s just possible that they may someday remember it with gratitude. The past two years have been a classic crucible experience. It has been painful, and it has forced CEOs to look into themselves more deeply than most people ever do. It has transformed them. Few people seek out a crucible experience. But those who go through one almost always conclude much later, looking back, that it changed them for the better.”

Read more at Fortune


Supply Concerns Drive Natural-Gas Prices Higher

Natural-gas prices swung higher on both sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday after Russia stopped exports to Poland and Bulgaria, a move that investors feared could portend deeper global supply strains ahead. European benchmark prices rose on Wednesday by 4.1% to settle at 107.43 euros, or about $114.28, per megawatt-hour, in a turbulent day of trading. That is well below the peak price European gas reached in March, but still roughly five times as expensive as a year ago. 

In the U.S., the benchmark price climbed 6.1% Wednesday to settle at $7.27 per million British thermal units, building on a significant surge that has lifted natural-gas prices from under $4 at the start of the year. Typically, prices decline as spring’s milder weather sets in.

Read more at the WSJ


777X Delay, Air Force One Woes Lead to $1.2 Billion Loss for Boeing

Boeing shares were in free-fall early Wednesday after the aviation giant reported a $1.2 billion loss in an ugly quarter weighed down by fresh one-time costs on its Russia business, the Air Force One presidential jet and the new 777X plane. The loss marks the latest round of disappointing results for the commercial jet maker, which has also suspended deliveries of its 787 plane due to a series of production issues.  

Offsetting those negatives somewhat has been the improvement in the commercial air market, as well as progress on ramping up deliveries of the 737 MAX, which was grounded for more than a year following two deadly crashes.

Read more at IndustryWeek


GM Sticking to 25%-30% Production Growth Target, Greater Availability of Semiconductors Key

General Motors Corp. Chair and CEO Mary Barra has reiterated the car giant’s 2022 goal of growing vehicle production by 25% to 30% despite ongoing supply chain problems and inflationary pressures. A key to Barra’s optimism is an improvement in the availability of semiconductors, which she and CFO Paul Jacobson told analysts and investors is becoming more reliable and should continue to improve through the second half. On top of that, Barra lauded GM teams’ work to find alternative sources for various other parts and tackle other supply chain the company is facing “on a weekly or almost daily basis.”

GM posted a net profit of $2.9 billion in the first three months of this year, a drop of 3% from the prior-year period. Revenues rose nearly 10% to almost $36 billion even though total vehicle sales fell to 1.4 million from more than 1.7 million in early 2021 while adjusted earnings before interest and taxes slipped 8% to $4.0 billion.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Hudson Valley Bridge Tolls to Increase on May 1st

Tolls on the five bridges in the Hudson Valley that cross the Hudson River will be increasing at midnight on May 1, 2022.  The new rates are the third phase of a four-year, phased-in toll revision on the spans operated by the Bridge
Authority. Starting in 2020, the Bridge Authority began an incremental increase in toll rates on May 1 of each
year, with the final phase set to take effect on May 1, 2023.

Passenger cars with E-ZPass, which make up the majority of customers, see an increase of $0.10 each year during the toll revision. The new toll rate schedule was approved in early 2020 after a lengthy public review and regulatory process.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Adjusting: Variable-Rate Mortgage Demand Doubles as Interest Rates Rise

Mortgage rates moved even higher last week, crashing refinance demand and prompting potential homebuyers to apply for riskier loan products which offer lower rates. Total mortgage application volume fell 8.3% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Demand is now half of what it was a year ago.

Rising rates are to blame. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) increased to 5.37% from 5.20%, with points rising to 0.67 from 0.66 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That is the highest rate since 2009. The rate was 3.17% the same week one year ago. Buyers are, however, turning more now to adjustable-rate mortgages, which offer lower interest rates. The average rate on a 5-year ARM was 4.28% last week.

Read more at CNBC


SUNY New Paltz Engineering School Senior Design EXPO May 6th

The faculty, staff and students of the School fo Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz invite Council of Industry members to attend the Annual Engineering Design Expo May 6th 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in the Science Hall Lobby.  The event is sponsored by Fellow members Elna Magnetics, Central Hudson and Selux. The Expo showcases the talents of some of the brightest students in the Hudson Valley region. 

For more information about the EXPO, please contact Rebecca LaVallee  845-257-3784. 


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 499

U.S. Durable-Goods Orders Climb 0.8%, Posting Fifth Increase in Six Months

New orders for products meant to last at least three years increased by 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted $275 billion in March following a 1.7% drop in February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The increase was driven by orders for autos, computers and other electronics and marked the fifth increase over the past six months.

First-time orders in February for all manufacturing industries were revised up to $272.7 billion from the prior month’s estimate. Excluding defense, orders of durable goods rose 1.2%. New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, so-called core capital goods, a closely watched proxy for business investment, rose by 1% to $80.8 billion in March compared with the previous month.

Read more at the WSJ


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Court of Appeals Hears Redistricting Case

New York’s new district lines landed before New York’s top court on Tuesday as the seven judges of the Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on whether maps that would leave Democrats well-positioned to pick up three seats in Congress should stay in place.  A decision is expected by the end of the week and could be handed down as soon as Wednesday afternoon or evening. 

The questioning from judges, who were all appointed by Democrats, seemed to leave open the possibility that at least several judges agreed that the lines seem problematic, though did not yet see an obvious path to make them better without a complex intrusion into a decision from another branch of government ahead of the June 28 primaries for congressional seats.

Read more at Politico


New York’s Gubernatorial Race News

Gov. Kathy Hochul played defense on controversial aspects of the record $220 billion state budget – especially the $600 million in taxpayer funding she garnered for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills – following a new poll showing her struggling with voters.

Read more at the NY Post

Meanwhile… A new statewide poll suggests Rep. Lee Zeldin is gaining ground in the GOP race for governor against rivals like former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani, businessman Harry Wilson and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Read more at the NY Post


US COVID – Creeping Toward 1 Million Deaths

As the US edges closer to marking 1 million deaths from COVID-19, many are grappling with how to explain this reality. In an attempt to describe the seemingly unfathomable death toll.  In the US, the pandemic’s death toll has been concentrated among elderly populations, including those at long-term care facilities, and mortality rates are highest among Black and Hispanic populations. For a second year, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US in 2021, although racial and ethnic disparities narrowed compared with 2020, most likely showing the impacts of public health interventions such as contact tracing, mask mandates, and, most importantly, vaccination.

Additionally, many could have been spared immense amounts of grief with more widespread and quick vaccine uptake. According to a study published April 25 in JAMA Internal Medicine, most families who had loved ones in intensive care units (ICUs) due to COVID-19 have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ed Yong of The Atlantic notes that for every person lost to COVID-19, an average of 9 close relatives are left bereaved, meaning no fewer than 9 million US residents are learning to cope with grief and adjust to their new realities, processes often intensified by the continuing politicization of the pandemic. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 22:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.0% of all New Yorkers – 16,543,497
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,722,748

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.7% of all New Yorkers – 14,812,904
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,512,753

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,898,238
  • In the Hudson Valley – 951,437

The Governor updated COVID data through April 22.  There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,631

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,488
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 186

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.37%    –   32.61 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.97%   –   28.11 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


NY COVID Cases Rose 37%, Hospitalizations 24% – CDC Recommends Mask Wearing in these 23 Counties (None in the Hudson Valley)

New York reported 49,500 cases in the week ending Sunday, up from 36,180 new cases the prior week. COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals statewide last week totaled 3,219, up from 2,603.  New York ranked second among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

Indoor mask wearing recommendations for 23 “high-risk” counties now covered large sections of upstate New York, including much of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, according to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines based on COVID-19 infection rates and the strain on local hospitals. That’s up from 10 counties on April 18.  The “high-risk” NY counties are listed in the article.

Read more at LoHud.com


As U.S. Nears COVID Milestone, What Has it Learned?

The U.S. has a habit of prematurely declaring victory over deadly diseases–and then a new wave roars back and kills hundreds of thousands more Americans. At least that was the cycle more than a century ago with the Spanish flu. Back then, there was some opposition to health experts and mask mandates; applause when the mandates ended; surprise when the killing resumed.

These days, Americans face conflicting mask rulings and guidance, signs of a gathering variant, and the approaching milestone of one million documented COVID-19 deaths. Researchers studying the Spanish flu found death rates varied widely by city, based on how early, stringent or prolonged the public health precautions were.  A century later, drugs and public hygiene have improved dramatically, but the world has become a more crowded, interconnected place. And humans still are wired to be impatient, gravitating toward the easy thing—wanting, powerfully, to believe they’ll be fine. History and baseball great Yogi Berra tell us this: It ain’t over till it’s over.

Read more at Nat Geo


U.S. to Widen COVID Antiviral Pill Distribution

The Federal government is aiming to expand access to Covid-19 oral antiviral treatments like Pfizer’s Paxlovid by doubling the number of locations at which they are available, the White House said on Tuesday.

Pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program for distributing antiviral treatments will be able to order the free treatments directly from the U.S. government starting this week. Currently, the pharmacies are dependent on states to obtain the pills. The government sends the treatments to select pharmacies, as well as directly to states and community centers. Under the current system, the treatments are available in around 20,000 locations. The administration expects to increase their direct distribution to over 30,000 locations soon and reach 40,000 sites over the coming weeks, the official said.

Read more at CNBC


Conference Board: US Consumers Still Confident in April, but Slightly Less So

The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence dipped slightly to 107.3 from 107.6. Expectations rose by  0.5 points, but the present situation measure fell 1.2 points. Confidence was hit by the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent surge in gas prices, but it now appears to have stabilized. Still, the Conference Board’s measure of confidence is much stronger, relative to its long-run average, than the Michigan sentiment data, probably because it is more sensitive to the unemployment rate.

Inflation expectations for the next 12 months dipped to 7.5% after February’s leap to a cycle high, 7.9%, but remain much higher than before the pandemic. Finally, note that homebuying intentions are falling, with the 12-month average hitting an 18-month low in April. It has further to fall.

Read more at CT Insider


China COVID Lockdowns Threaten Higher Prices in US

Beijing’s aggressive action to curb the spread of COVID-19 is likely to further fuel inflation in the U.S., where companies are struggling to get products from their Chinese suppliers.  “The prolonged lockdown in Shanghai plus highway controls in a number of provinces have been severely disrupting logistics in China. The disruption is likely to last for weeks and will weigh on activity in April and into May, if not longer,” Tommy Wu, lead China economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note. 

Nearly one-fourth of the world’s stalled container ships are waiting outside of Chinese ports, according to data provided by maritime intelligence firm Windward AI. In total, 412 vessels were stuck just outside of China over the weekend, down 19 percent from the peak late last month but up 58 percent from February. 

Read more at The Hill


DHS Extends Form I‑9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective May 1, 2022)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I‑9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID‑19. This temporary guidance was set to expire April 30, 2022. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID‑19, DHS has extended the Form I‑9 flexibilities until Oct. 31, 2022.

Employers are encouraged to begin, at their discretion, the in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for employees who were hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who presented such documents for remote inspection in reliance on the flexibilities first announced in March 2020.

Read more at DHS


Amazon Launches $1 Billion Fund to Invest in Warehouse Technologies

The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund will focus on new technologies that will “increase delivery speed and further improve the experience” of warehouse and logistics employees, Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, wrote in a blog post.

The fund is one subset of Amazon’s growing investment activity. The e-commerce giant in 2020 launched a $2 billion fund to invest in climate technologies, and it operates the Alexa Fund, which has made investments in speech-recognition technology, among other areas.

Read more at CNBC


Stanley Black & Decker Awards $25 Million to Workforce Partnerships

As evinced by its facilities like The Manufactory, that pioneers and tests new manufacturing technologies leading to innovations such as its new flexible automation cells, SB&D has a long-standing interest in advancing the construction and manufacturing sectors through providing new tools and the education to use them.

SB&D’s “Empower Makers” Global Impact Challenge aims to close the trade skills gap by committing $25 million in grant money over the next five years to nonprofits that serve the constructing and manufacturing sectors with trade workforce development initiatives. The Manufacturing Institute is among the 86 organizations selected by SB&D on the basis of diversity, sustainable impact, and depth of programs among other considerations.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Ford Juices Production of Lightning F-150 Electric Truck

Ford Motor Co yesterday started regular manufacturing of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, more than tripling planned annual production of the vehicle that now symbolizes the 118-year-old company’s drive to retool for a new century.

Ford aims to build 150,000 Lightning trucks a year at the new part of its historic Rouge manufacturing complex while it builds a much larger electric vehicle production complex in Tennessee. It had planned to build just 40,000 annually, but surging demand for electric vehicles prompted Ford to increase planned production twice since last August of the Lightning, a heavily modified version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck

Read more at Reuters


GE Guides to Low End Renewables Division Lost More than $400 Million During the First Quarter

General Electric posted a net loss of a little more than $1 billion in the first quarter on revenues of $17.0 billion as equipment sales slipped 14% in part because of snarled supply chains. Adjusted for several one-time items, profits rose 19% from early 2021, with aviation work growing strongly while the performance of GE’s healthcare and renewable energy groups was worse than in the prior-year period. The latter posted a segment loss of $434 million as customers delayed orders in the face of strong inflation and the U.S. onshore wind market shrank as stakeholders wait for clarity on the future of a production tax credit.

The company also booked a $200 million pre-tax charge to account for the impact on its businesses, primarily aviation and power, of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and incurred $100 million in costs related to planning work for its separation into three companies.

Read more at IndustryWeek


New Home Sales Dive in March; Prices Surge

New home sales plunged 8.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 763,000 units last month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. February’s sales pace was revised higher to 835,000 units from the previously reported 772,000 units. Sales fell in all four regions. New homes are a leading indicator of the housing market as they are counted when a contract is signed, and can also offer an early read of the impact of higher mortgage rates on housing demand.

The median new house price in March jumped 21.4% from a year ago to $436,700. Almost all the houses sold last month were above the $200,000 price level. Strong house price growth is expected to persist through this year and into 2023.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing – 498

S&P Global Flash PMI for April: U.S. Up, Eurozone Down

The S&P Global Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI rose to 59.7 in April, the best reading since September, with key measures strengthening, proving that manufacturing activity remained resilient despite numerous challenges. Still, the index for future output eased to a six-month low, even as it continued to point to optimism about production growth moving forward.
Manufacturers continued to cite supply chain bottlenecks and workforce shortages as significant challenges to growth, and inflation remained highly elevated, with output prices soaring to a new all-time high and input costs not far from November’s record high.

Meanwhile, the S&P Global Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI decreased from 56.5 in March to 55.3 in April, the weakest reading since January 2021. The Russian invasion of Ukraine negatively impacted activity, with new orders and output expanding at the slowest pace since June 2020 and exports contracting for the second straight month.

Read more at NAM


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Chain’s April Market Swoon Continues 

The April market selloff is continuing apace with China stocks falling to their lowest level in two years on Monday. Overnight, the Shanghai Composite plunged over 5% for its biggest one-day drop since February 2020, while WTI crude oil slipped more than 4% to below $100 on demand concerns. Rising coronavirus cases are increasing fears of a wider lockdown in Beijing, and the country’s easy monetary policy may be no match for the effects of its zero-COVID policy.

“There is no shortage of blood on the financial market dancefloor this morning,” SocGen’s Kit Juckes wrote in a research note. “A poor equity market close on Friday rather set us up for it, but the war in Ukraine, the threat to the Chinese economy of Covid restrictions, and the monetary policy rhetoric, led by the Fed but followed all over the world, make a potent cocktail. 

Read more at SeekingAlpha


Pandemic Border Policy Could Complicate COVID Relief, Ukraine Bills

When Congress returns this week, a pandemic-era immigration policy could complicate efforts to pass further coronavirus relief legislation and possibly another Ukraine aid measure. Earlier this month, the Biden administration said that in May it will end its use of Title 42, a controversial policy dating to the Trump administration that allows Border Patrol agents to quickly turn away migrants at the southern border.

Liberal Democrats cheered the decision, but Republicans and some Democrats, particularly those in difficult re-elections, said the administration didn’t have a detailed plan in place to deal with the expected increase in migrants to the southern border at a time when migrants are already crossing illegally at the fastest pace in at least two decades. Republicans are trying to amend a $10 billion coronavirus relief bill that is being considered in the Senate to reinstate the border policy. They are hoping enough Democrats will join them. A request for additional aid to Ukraine could also become tied up.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – CDC Study Age-Adjusted Death Rates, by Race and Ethnicity 

From 2020 to 2021, disparities in AADR ratios from COVID-19 decreased significantly by 14.0%–40.2% for most racial and ethnic groups, including non-Hispanic White persons, who accounted for 59.6%–65.2% of all decedents; and increased non-significantly (7.2%) for non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander persons (0.2%–0.3% of all decedents) compared with non-Hispanic multiracial persons.

The CDC concludes that providing effective preventive interventions, including vaccination and clinical care, to all communities in proportion to their need for these interventions is an effective tool to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 deaths.

Read more at the CDC


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 22:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.0% of all New Yorkers – 16,543,497
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,722,748

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.7% of all New Yorkers – 14,812,904
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,512,753

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,898,238
  • In the Hudson Valley – 951,437

The Governor updated COVID data through April 22.  There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,631

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,488
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 186

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.37%    –   32.61 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.97%   –   28.11 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


“Concerned but Not Troubled”: Upstate New York is Now a Covid-19 Hot Spot

The latest color-coded map from federal health officials detailing Covid-19 spread across the United States has sobering news for this part of the country: Upstate New York is an apparent hot spot for transmission of the virus. But a large swath of upstate New York, running from Erie County to the Vermont border, is colored either yellow, for medium transmission, or orange, for high transmission. In fact, of the 40 counties across the country with high Covid-19 levels, 23 are in upstate New York – including Erie, Niagara and Orleans.

Public health experts contacted Sunday said they didn’t know precisely why Covid-19 is spreading so rapidly here, compared with the rest of the country, though they suggested weather, behavior and variant types all are likely factors. As noted in recent weeks, officials said they’re not terribly worried about the recent rise in Covid-19 cases here and across the state because it hasn’t been accompanied by a corresponding rise in hospitalizations.

Read more at The Buffalo News


Japan’s Shionogi Says COVID-19 Pill Shows Rapid Clearance of Virus 

An experimental treatment from Shionogi & Co Ltd (4507.T) has shown rapid clearance of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to new data, the Japanese drug maker said on Sunday. The pill, S-217622, “demonstrated rapid clearance of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus”, Shionogi said in a statement, citing Phase-2b results from the Phase II/III clinical trial of the drug.

The company has global aspirations for the antiviral pill, which is now being evaluated by Japanese regulators. The drugmaker said in March it would launch a global Phase III trial worldwide for the drug with U.S. government support, and Chief Executive Isao Teshirogi has said production could reach 10 million doses a year.

Read more at Reuters


Indonesia’s Palm Oil Export Ban Leaves Global Buyers With no Plan B

Global edible oil consumers have no option but to pay top dollar for supplies after Indonesia’s surprise palm oil export ban forced buyers to seek alternatives, already in short supply due to adverse weather and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move by the world’s biggest palm oil producer to ban exports from Thursday will lift prices of all major edible oils including palm oil, soyoil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, industry watchers predict. That will place extra strain on cost-sensitive consumers in Asia and Africa hit by higher fuel and food prices. Vegetable oil prices have already risen more than 50% in the past six months as factors from labour shortages in Malaysia to droughts in Argentina and Canada – the biggest exporters of soyoil and canola oil respectively – curtailed supplies.

Read more at Reuters


Beijing Races to Contain ‘Urgent and Grim’ Covid Outbreak as Shanghai Lockdown Continues

Beijing is racing to track a Covid-19 outbreak that may have been spreading in the capital for a week, city authorities said over the weekend. The rush to contain the outbreak comes as fears grow across China that more stringent measures could be in store as the country sticks with a stringent “zero-Covid” policy to eliminate the spread of the virus in each outbreak.

That policy has faced its most stark challenge since March 1 as the highly transmissible Omicron variant sparked several simultaneous outbreaks. Case counts have ballooned to unprecedented levels in China, driven by large outbreaks in northeastern Jilin province and Shanghai. Lockdowns and enforced quarantines in Shanghai have sparked anger and desperation among citizens, who have struggled to access to food and medical care. The city had earlier said it was not going to implement a full, citywide lockdown, leaving many unprepared when officials rapidly changed course late last month.

Read more at CNN 


Joe Manchin 1. Poll Finds West Virginia Senator Manchin’s Popularity Skyrocketed Over Past Year

Morning Consult found that, even as Manchin has faced backlash from progressives nationally, about 57 percent of West Virginia voters viewed him favorably in surveys conducted from January through March. His popularity jumped 17 points — more than any other senator — compared to the same period last year.  The poll found that Manchin’s popularity particularly grew among independent and Republican voters in West Virginia, while it dropped among Democrats.

Manchin, a moderate, has frequently staked out positions that have found him at odds with the White House and progressive leaders on issues such as expanding the social safety net. The senator has identified inflation as his primary concern when lawmakers have discussed large-scale spending proposals and has often worked to scale back proposals.

Read more at The Hill


Joe Manchin 2. Manchin Pushes for Democratic Compromise on Climate Agenda

Voter unrest over high energy prices and concern over dependence on Russian energy have given Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) leverage to press for measures promoting more domestic fossil-fuel production in the Democrats’ new climate legislation and potential executive actions.  Mr. Manchin’s interests include getting financial and permitting help for natural-gas exports and oil and gas pipelines, as well as policies to make it easier for companies to drill more on federal territory.

More Democrats, including President Biden, have tried to push the country away from fossil fuels in recent years to address climate change. But in a closely divided Senate, Democrats need Mr. Manchin’s support for clean-energy initiatives they hope to revive. They were included in Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which Mr. Manchin helped torpedo last year.

Read more at the WSJ


Container Prices Continue to Drop

Empty containers are piling up in depots at ports along both coasts due to persistent supply chain delays and bottlenecks over the past two years. The most recent snags are being driven by the Russia-Ukraine crisis and Covid-19-related lockdowns in China that have stalled supply lines. These pressures will continue to drive down container costs in the short- and mid-term, according to Container XChange analysis, which shows that U.S. container prices have declined as much as 30% in the past two months along both coasts, and by as much as 50% at some ports compared to 2021.

Some large carriers are shipping empty containers back to Asia to increase profitability and ensure that the high-value cargo in the East makes its way to U.S. shores, where the demand is, according to the report. Such trends may continue as containers pile up.

Read more at Supply Chain Quarterly


Weaning Manufacturers Off Fossil Fuels Requires Lowering Business Risk

Without finding low-cost, environmentally friendly substitutes for industrial materials, the traditional production of steel, cement, ammonia, and ethylene will continue pumping out billions of tons of carbon annually; these sectors alone are responsible for at least one third of society’s global greenhouse gas emissions.

A major problem is that industrial manufacturers, whose success depends on reliable, cost-efficient, and large-scale production methods, are too heavily invested in processes that have historically been powered by fossil fuels to quickly switch to new alternatives. It’s a machine that kicked on more than 100 years ago, and which MIT electrochemical engineer Yet-Ming Chiang says we can’t shut off without major disruptions to the world’s massive supply chain of these materials. What’s needed, Chiang says, is a broader, collaborative clean energy effort that takes “targeted fundamental research, all the way through to pilot demonstrations that greatly lowers the risk for adoption of new technology by industry.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


Nucor Q1 Profit More Than Doubles From ‘21

Charlotte-based Nucor posted a first-quarter net profit of nearly $2.1 billion in the first three months of the year, more than double its prior-year number, on net sales that climbed 50% to $10.5 billion. The company was able to limit increases in its cost of goods sold to about 30%, lifting its operating margin to nearly 28% versus 18.5% in early 2021 even though it shipped 11% fewer tons of product than early last year and 1% less than in Q4.

President and CEO Leon Topalian said in a statement. “Our key forward-looking indicators for 2022 remain favorable and we expect another strong year in both earnings and cash generation.” Topalian and his team said demand remains strong in the company’s end markets but noted that shipments slipped from late last year because sheet mills were less profitable to run and because some customers trimmed their inventories. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


War in Ukraine Cuts Fertilizer Supply, Hurting Food Prices and Farmers

As we move fully into spring, the high price of fertilizer is impacting everyone from home gardeners to landscapers and farmers. Prices have more than doubled in the last two years, and it’s making it difficult for businesses and farms to keep their prices down.  From supply chain issues to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there are many reasons the cost of fertilizer is going up.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in just one year, the price of anhydrous ammonia is up 235%, nitrogen fertilizer urea is up 149% and liquid nitrogen is up 192%.  “These price increases aren’t new unfortunately to farmers. Farmers are expecting a significant increase in costs this year because they need that fertilizer to plant those crops.”

Watch at The WSJ


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 497

Seventy-Five Basis Points is the New 50 Basis Points

A relentlessly hawkish Federal Reserve is ramping up market expectations for big interest rate hikes that would have been considered unthinkable (and market crippling) just two months ago.  The shift in market expectations for even more tightening came after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at an IMF debate Thursday that a 50-basis-point hike in March was “on the table.” Perhaps even more pertinent to the markets, he said there was some merit in front-loading tightening with the current upside risks to inflation and a historically tight labor market. Stock markets sold off in reaction with the Dow shedding 1,000 points Friday. 

Traders quickly priced in more aggressive hiking as Powell spoke, with CME FedWatch now pricing in an 85% chance the benchmark rate will rise to a range of 1.5%-1.75% after the June meeting. That would mean a 75-basis point hike in June if May gets the expected half-point boost.

Read more at Seeking Alpha


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Russia’s War Against Ukraine Continues to Impact Global Supply Chains

As Russia’s war against Ukraine escalates and sanctions by the U.S. and other countries intensify, so does their impact on supply chains around the world. In fact, recent data shows that nearly 300,000 U.S. and European firms have suppliers that are based in Russia and/or Ukraine.

The publication goes on to say that supply chains are affecting people and industries in different ways. For example, food supply chains are snarled because Russia and Ukraine can’t deliver fertilizer, wheat and sunflower oil, while producers of aluminum, steel and platinum face similar challenges. “The largest broad effect comes from the rise in the price of oil,” Forbes adds, “which is more contributing to inflationary pressures than it is affecting the actual delivery of goods.”

Read more at Source Today


Appellate Court: New York’s Congressional Maps Were Improperly Gerrymandered, Dems Appeal to State’s Highest Court

A mid-level appellate court ruled late Thursday that the congressional maps enacted by New York Democrats in early February were improperly gerrymandered and has given lawmakers a little over a week to come up with a new plan.

The case is expected to quickly be heard by the Court of Appeals, New York’s top court, where every judge was appointed by Democrats. Oral arguments could occur as soon as next week. “Under the 2012 congressional map there were 19 elected Democrats and 8 elected Republicans and under the 2022 congressional map there were 22 Democrat-majority and 4 Republican-majority districts.”

Read more at State of Politics


US COVID – Mortality Declines

The US CDC is currently reporting 80.6 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 987,034 deaths. The average 7-day daily incidence was 40,985 on April 19, an increase of nearly 40% since a recent low of 24,845 on March 29. Average daily mortality appears to have declined over the past week, with a 7-day average of 385 on April 19, down slightly from 459 on April 12, the date of our last report. The 7-day moving average number of new hospital admissions of people with confirmed COVID-19 continues to trend upwards, up 7.2% over the prior 7-day average, for the week ending April 18, reflecting the increasing trend in incidence. 

Daily vaccinations have mostly leveled off over the past 2 weeks, with a slight increase from 455,258 on April 6 to 459,655 on April 14. A total of 256.9 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.4% of the entire US population.  A total of 219 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 66% of the total population. Only about 50% of those eligible for a first booster dose have received one.

Read more at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 22:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.0% of all New Yorkers – 16,543,497
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,722,748

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.7% of all New Yorkers – 14,812,904
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,512,753

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,898,238
  • In the Hudson Valley – 951,437

The Governor updated COVID data through April 22.  There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,631

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,488
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 186

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 6.37%    –   32.61 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 5.97%   –   28.11 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Study: A Quarter of US COVID-19 Deaths Could Have Been Prevented by Vaccination

A new analysis finds that approximately 234,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 since June 2021 could have been prevented if people had been vaccinated.  The analysis from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation underscores the importance of vaccination, and indicates a significant portion of the heavy toll from the virus could have been prevented.  

The analysis made its calculations using the share of COVID-19 deaths that were among unvaccinated people, which ranged from 85 percent in June 2021 to 58 percent in January 2022.  As of February 2022, 22 percent of the adult population was unvaccinated, but made up a much higher percentage of COVID-19 deaths, at 60 percent.

Read more at The Hill


One-Way Masking Works

If you are vaccinated, boosted, and wearing a well-fitted N95 or similar indoors, “your risk is extremely low,” says Joseph Allen, a COVID and ventilation expert at Harvard. “I mean, there’s not much else in life that would have as low a risk as that. I would qualify your risk as de minimis.”

An N95 mask filters about 95 percent of airborne particles. But two surgical masks—one on me, one on you—filter only about 91 percent, Allen wrote recently for The Washington Post. Because most people’s masks aren’t perfectly sealed onto their faces, studies show that N95s reduce the wearer’s uptake of coronavirus particles by 57 to 86 percent. And that’s on top of the protection that vaccines and boosters already offer.

Read more at The Atlantic


French Election: Macron Defeats Le Pen and Vows to Unite Divided France

Emmanuel Macron comfortably defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday, heading off a political earthquake for Europe but acknowledging dissatisfaction with his first term and saying he would seek to make amends. With 97% of votes counted, Macron was on course for a solid 57.4% of the vote, interior ministry figures showed.

In his victory speech he acknowledged that many had only voted for him only to keep Le Pen out and he promised to address the sense of many French that their living standards are slipping. “Many in this country voted for me not because they support my ideas but to keep out those of the far-right. I want to thank them and know I owe them a debt in the years to come,” he said.  Leaders in Berlin, Brussels, London and beyond welcomed his defeat of the nationalist, eurosceptic Le Pen.

Read more at Reuters


Jobless Claims – 184,000 People Filed New Claims Last Week

Weekly unemployment claims held near their lowest levels since the 1960s, with a strong labor market and improving levels of unemployment remaining a bright spot in the U.S. economy.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended April 16: 184,000 and an upwardly revised 186,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended April 9: 1.417 million and an unrevised 1.475 million during prior week.

Companies in other industries have also highlighted these concerns. Bank of America CFO Alastair Borthwick said during the firm’s earnings calls earlier this week that the bank’s clients “are definitely seeing supply chain challenges” that have extended to the workforce. “We’ve also seen inflation, and we’re seeing labor and wage pressure,” Borthwick said. And rising labor costs as companies compete for talent could ultimately exert even further pressure on corporate profit margins.

Read more at YahooFinance


Orrin Hatch, Former Longtime Utah Republican Senator, Dead at 88

ormer Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has died at the age of 88. “The Hatch Foundation sadly announces the passing of Senator Orrin G. Hatch—the former President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and the longest-serving Senator in Utah history (1977-2019),” 

“Senator Orrin G. Hatch personified the American Dream,” said Matt Sandgren, Executive Director of the Hatch Foundation.  “From tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, few legislators have had a greater impact on American life than Orrin Hatch. He was a profoundly positive influence in the lives of those he served, whether they were the constituents he helped over four decades of casework, the hundreds of interns he sponsored in both Utah and DC, or the robust network of Hatch staffers who carry on his legacy to this day. Senator Hatch touched the hearts of countless individuals, and I know I speak for all of them when I say he will be dearly missed.” 

Read more at Fox News


How CEOs Are Battling Employee Burnout

Quantifying ROI in the area of wellness spend can seem, on its face, a bit squishy. And the notion that companies should be responsible for employees’ mental health is relatively new; most CEOs today—the vast majority either Boomers or Gen X—grew up in a corporate culture rife with stigmas around depression, addiction and other mental health challenges, and one that encouraged people to leave their personal problems at home.

But as times and expectations have changed, more and more leaders are seeing a direct link from promoting mental health and wellness to profitability. “It’s crystal clear to me that if we’re not investing in our people and helping and supporting them, it’s going to hurt our overall bottom line,” says Dan Dye, CEO of flour milling and ingredient company Ardent Mills. “There’s just no question in my mind about that.

Read more at Chief Executive


What’s the 329?  New Mid Hudson Area Code Announced

Beginning as early as the third quarter of 2023, the Mid-Hudson Valley will have a second telephone area code. Persons with the current 845-prefix will retain it, but as those numbers run out, new ones will be issued with a 329-area code. The 845-code serves all or parts of the counties of Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.

The need for the new code stems from the increasing demand for residential and business phone numbers. What is a local call now, will continue to remain local, even between the two area codes and all calls will require dialing all 10 digits. The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


New Low-Cost Airline to Fly to Eight Cities from Westchester County Airport

Breeze Airways began service only 10 months ago and has now announced it will fly to eight cities from Westchester County Airport.  Charleston, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida and Norfolk, Virginia will all start at the end of June while service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Francisco and Savannah, Georgia will start in the fall.

All of the flights will be non-stop with the exception of New Orleans, which will stop at Jacksonville to pick up additional passengers, said Director of Corporate Communications Gareth Edmondson-Jones. The leisure airline will fly daily to the west coast and Charleston while the other cities will operate on a four-days-per-week schedule, similar to Allegiant Airlines’ model, he said.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Bacteria in Urine May be a Sign of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Scientists in the UK say they have discovered bacteria in urine linked to aggressive prostate cancer—although whether they are a trigger for the disease or a marker is not yet clear. Bacteria are known to cause some other cancers, including in the stomach, so a causal link may help oncologists treat the condition. Even if the bugs are a byproduct, they could prove a handy diagnostic tool.

The University of East Anglia team which found the link plan more work to see if clearing the infection might prevent bad tumors. Bacterial infection is known to play a part in the development of other cancers – a bug called H. pylori can trigger stomach cancer, for example, and a course of antibiotics can get rid of this risk.

Read more at the BBC


Why the Federal Reserve Has Made a Historic Mistake on Inflation

America’s Federal Reserve has suffered a hair-raising loss of control. In March consumer prices were 8.5% higher than a year earlier, the fastest annual rise since 1981. In Washington inflation-watching is usually the preserve of wonks in shabby offices. 

Uncle Sam has been on a unique path because of Mr Biden’s excessive $1.9trn fiscal stimulus, which passed in March 2021. It added extra oomph to an economy that was already recovering fast after multiple rounds of spending, and brought the total pandemic stimulus to 25% of gdp—the highest in the rich world. As the White House hit the accelerator, the Fed should have applied the brakes. It did not. Its hesitancy stemmed partly from the difficulty of forecasting the path of the economy during the pandemic, and also from the tendency of policymakers to fight the last war. For most of the decade after the global financial crisis of 2007-09 the economy was hung over and monetary policy was too tight. 

Read more at The Economist


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 496

The Odds of a Recession are 35%, “Soft  Landing 50%,” Says Moody’s Economist Mark Zandi 

Although many economists and financial experts started the year forecasting that 2022 would be the year that the U.S. put supply-chain issues in the rearview mirror and produced another strong four quarters of economic growth, those hit the wall in February when Russia invaded Ukraine and inflation continued to spiral upward. Since January 2021, one economist in particular has gotten cited repeatedly by the Biden administration, and he doesn’t even work in the White House.

That’s Mark Zandi, Moody’s chief economist, and even he is worried about a recession in the next two years, although that’s not quite the full story. On Tuesday, Zandi noted that he believes there’s about a 35% probability that the U.S. will enter a recession in the next two years, but he sees bigger potential for something else. Rather than a recession, Zandi says the most probable outcome is that the economy will evolve into what’s called a “self-sustaining economic expansion,” in which the U.S. will be back to full employment and the sky-high inflation levels retreat. He said there’s about a 50% chance of this scenario playing out. 

Read more at Fortune


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Inflation Persistence: NY Fed Economists Ask: How Much Is There and Where Is It Coming From?

The surge in inflation since early 2021 has sparked intense debate. Would it be short-lived or prove to be persistent? Would it be concentrated within a few sectors or become broader? The answers to these questions are not so clear-cut. In the authors’ view, one should ask how much of the inflation is persistent and how much of it is broad-based. In this post, they  address this question through a quantitative lens.

They find that the large ups and downs in inflation over the course of 2020 were largely the result of transitory shocks, often sector-specific. In contrast, sometime in the fall of 2021, inflation dynamics became dominated by the trend component, which is persistent and largely common across sectors.

Read more at the NY Fed


DOJ to Appeal Mask Ruling After CDC Request

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday said it would appeal a ruling striking down the mask mandate for public transportation after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requested it appeal. The administration is now in the position of having to carry out a legal fight to maintain masking powers for the future, even though officials are seeking to project more of a sense of normalcy and Democratic governors across the country previously lifted mask mandates in other settings. 

The CDC said in a Wednesday statement that “to protect CDC’s public health authority beyond the ongoing assessment announced last week, CDC has asked DOJ to proceed with an appeal in Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., et al., v. Biden, et al.  It is CDC’s continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health,” the agency added.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID – This is No Time to Stop Tracking COVID-19

Around the world, the frequency of national reporting has slipped below five days a week for the first time since the early months of the pandemic, according to the publishers of the website Our World in Data. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still reporting nationwide data, but there’s less real-time reporting of death and infection figures at the local level. All but eight states have scaled back to reporting data five or fewer days per week. 

In many countries, political sentiments are shifting towards adopting a ‘new normal’. Of course, national budgets are being stretched thin as governments look to increase public expenditure on subsidizing fuel and food as the world plunges from dealing with the pandemic to tackling the global impacts of war in Ukraine. But scaling back virus surveillance at this time is short-sighted. It’s like stopping a course of antibiotics at the first sign of symptoms easing: it increases the risk that the infection will roar back. 

Read more at Nature


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 15:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.9% of all New Yorkers – 16,520,976
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,719,951

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.5% of all New Yorkers – 14,795,564
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,510,754

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 921,707

The Governor updated COVID data through April 15.  There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,488

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,216.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 147

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.68%    –   28.88 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.22%   –   25.92 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Moderna Announces Step Toward Updating COVID Shots for Fall

Moderna hopes to offer updated COVID-19 boosters in the fall that combine its original vaccine with protection against the omicron variant. On Tuesday, it reported a preliminary hint that such an approach might work. Today’s COVID-19 vaccines all are based on the original version of the coronavirus. But the virus continues to mutate, with the super-contagious omicron variant — and its siblings — the latest threat.

Before omicron came along, Moderna was studying a combination shot that added protection against an earlier variant named beta. Tuesday, the company said people given that beta-original vaccine combination produced more antibodies capable of fighting several variants — including omicron — than today’s regular booster triggers.

Read more at the AP


Mask Mandates are Falling. Should HR Be Ready to Bring them Back?

Fewer companies than ever currently have mask mandates in the workplace—but employers should be prepared to put face-covering requirements back in play if COVID-19 cases continue to increase.  Most mask mandates were dropped in the past couple of months as Omicron cases drastically fell after they surged to a pandemic all-time high around the holidays.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that employers will reinstate mask mandates for employees, as well, especially if cases continue to rise. 

As with most things from the pandemic, employers would be wise to be flexible and adaptable in their mask and testing strategies and to tell employees that policies are subject to change, says Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at Willis Towers Watson. “It’s good to set an expectation [with workers] that, ‘We’ve looked at the situation right now, and there’s no requirement to wear a mask, but we’re going to keep on monitoring the situation. We really care about everybody’s safety, and if the situation changes and cases go up, masks might come back.’ ”

Read more at HR Executive


Should You Wear a Mask Anyway as Federal Mandates Are Dropped for Airports, Airlines?

Although much of the U.S. no longer requires people to wear masks in indoor public settings, there are still scenarios where wearing a mask could be beneficial, public health and infectious disease experts say. Factors that help determine whether you should consider masking include local Covid-19 levels, where you are going and your underlying health conditions.

Good ventilation can help clear the virus from the air, filtering out virus-carrying particles known as aerosols that are created when an infected person coughs, speaks or breathes. But it isn’t often easy to tell how well a space is ventilated. Public-health experts continue to encourage people to wear masks in crowded, indoor settings, particularly those with poor ventilation. The closer people are packed together and the longer they are in contact, the higher the risk for spread, according to infectious-disease experts.

Read more at the WSJ


Hudson Valley Region Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.5% in March

The March 2022 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley Region is 3.5 percent.  It is down from 3.7 percent in February 2022 and down from 5.7 percent in March 2021.  In March 2022, there were 39,800 unemployed in the region, down from 42,300 in February 2022 and down from 64,400 in March 2021.  Y

Year-over-year in March 2022, labor force increased by 12,700 or 1.1 percent, to 1,145,600.

Hudson Valley Region Local Area Unemployment Statistics


NYS Redistricting Case Heads to Appellate Court in Rochester

An appellate judge in Rochester heard arguments Wednesday to decide whether or not to uphold a lower court ruling invalidating new New York state Legislature and congressional maps.  Former U.S. Rep. John Faso, an advisor to the Republican petitioners that brought the lawsuit, said he’s optimistic. “We think the very clear language in the constitution, it means what it says, and for the appellate judges to ignore that over politics, I just don’t think that’s where they’re going. I think these judges are going to consider it fairly and certainly that’s our hope,” he said.

Faso said the petitioners view several recent developments as good signs. Late last week, the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization, filed an amicus brief with the court supporting them and the state Supreme Court ruling that the Independent Redistricting Commission violated the state constitution by failing to submit two sets of maps to the Legislature.

Read more at State of Politics


U.S. Dollar Rockets to 20-Year Peak vs Yen on Central Bank Policy Differences

The dollar surged on Tuesday to a 20-year high against the Japanese yen, underpinned by the divergence in monetary policy between a Federal Reserve determined to keep a lid on soaring inflation and a Bank of Japan that has kept interest rates ultra-low. The greenback hit 128.97 yen , the highest since May 2002. It was last up 1.5% at 128.94 yen. The dollar has risen 5.9% on the yen so far this month, on pace for the largest monthly percentage rise since 2016.

Morgan Stanley, in its latest research note, said the yen’s decline versus the dollar was justified amid Japan’s worsening terms of trade, with soaring raw materials driving up import costs, as well as contrasting inflation outlooks between the countries.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Home Prices Hit a Record of $375,300 in March

U.S. home prices reached a record $375,300 in March as mortgage-interest rates shot up and a shortage of homes for sale continued to thwart buyers. Existing-home sales fell 2.7% in March from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. March sales fell 4.5% from a year earlier.

The median existing-home price rose 15% in March from a year earlier, NAR said. The $375,300 figure is a record high in data going back to 1999. Mortgage-interest rates have surged since the start of the year. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5% as of Thursday, up from 3.04% a year earlier. At the same time, home-buying demand continues to exceed the extremely low inventory of homes for sale. Many homes on the market receive multiple offers, pushing prices higher.

Read more at the WSJ


“Card Check 2.0” — NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Resurrect Long-Dead Joy Silk Doctrine to Help Unions Organize Employees

During his campaign, President Biden vowed to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”  His appointment of Abruzzo as NLRB GC, and her swift and radical pro-union agenda, has given life to that vow. GC Abruzzo has wasted no time in setting out to fundamentally shift NLRB policy in an effort to tilt the playing field in favor of labor unions. 

On April 11, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, filed a brief in a case pending before the NLRB, Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, seeking a return to the NLRB’s long-abandoned Joy Silk doctrine. Under that doctrine, unions may obtain representational status, simply by claiming to have the support of a majority of a private employer’s employees (typically through union card signing)—and putting the burden on the employer to affirmatively demonstrate a good-faith doubt as to that majority status in order to lawfully refuse to recognize the union as the employees’ exclusive representative without an election. 

Read more at JD Supra


Tesla Earnings Rise Despite Production Disruptions in Shanghai

Tesla (TSLA) reported its Q1 earnings after the bell Wednesday, beating analysts’ expectations on the top and bottom line and recording a record quarter with revenue up 81% year-over-year.  Revenue was $18.8 billion versus $17.9 billion expected
Adjusted earnings per share were  $3.22 versus $2.27 expected.

Tesla, like many of the world’s automakers, continues to grapple with pandemic-induced supply chain problems and a global chip shortage. Tesla was forced to shutter its Shanghai plant for three weeks amid a city-wide lockdown geared toward stopping COVID infections. “Challenges around supply chain have remained persistent, and our team has been navigating through them for over a year. In addition to chip shortages, recent COVID-19 outbreaks have been weighing on our supply chain and factory operations,” the company said in a statement.

Read more at YahooFinance


Pentagon Calls for Wartime Weapons Production Ramp-Up

As Pentagon officials gauge the defense industry’s ability to ramp up arms production in response to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, firms are still grappling with pandemic-related supply chain and workforce woes. 

According to Bill Greenwalt, who served as deputy undersecretary of defense for industrial policy during the George W. Bush administration, it has historically taken the U.S. defense industrial base 18 months to 3 years to get ready for conflicts. “Our budget, appropriations, requirements, and acquisition systems are stuck in a peacetime mode where time doesn’t matter, and it will be difficult to pivot out of those processes quickly,” Greenwalt, now with the American Enterprise Institute, said in an email.

Read more at Defense News


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 495

U.S. Housing Starts Unexpectedly Rise to Fastest Pace Since 2006

Residential starts climbed 0.3% last month to a 1.79 million annualized rate from an upwardly revised February figure, according to government data released Tuesday. Applications to build, a proxy for future construction, climbed to an annualized 1.87 million units. The number of total homes authorized for construction but not yet started rose 2.9% in March, while the number of one-family homes authorized but not yet started was little changed at 149,000.

The figures also showed builders are still faced with large backlogs that reflect supply chain difficulties, high materials costs and lingering shortages of skilled labor. At the same time, mortgage rates above 5% for the first time since 2018 are putting purchases out of reach for a growing number of potential buyers.

Read more at YahooFinance


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


World Bank Slashes Global Growth Forecast to 3.2% from 4.1%, Citing Ukraine War

The World Bank lowered its annual global growth forecast for 2022 on Monday by nearly a full percentage point, down from 4.1% to 3.2%, citing the impact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having on the world economy. Other factors behind the slowdown in growth from January’s forecast include higher food and fuel costs being borne by consumers in developed economies across the world, said World Bank President David Malpass.

Malpass told reporters on a conference call that the largest single factor in the reduced growth forecast was a projected economic contraction of 4.1% across Europe and Central Asia, according to Reuters. The World Bank is “preparing for a continued crisis response, given the multiple crises,” Malpass told reporters. “Over the next few weeks, I expect to discuss with our board, a new 15-month crisis response envelope of around $170 billion to cover April 2022 through June 2023.”

 Read more at CNBC


Dems Eye Build Back Better Revival

Top Democrats and the White House are eyeing a revival of a stalled-out tax-and-spending bill as the party tries to show deliverables to voters heading into a November election where they are facing tough political headwinds. The hopes of reviving Build Back Better — albeit significantly altered and likely with a different name — comes after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) deep-sixed a roughly $2 trillion, House-passed bill late last year. Since then they’ve struggled with when, or how, to revive the issue with most of the political oxygen focused on a Supreme Court

They’ll have to win over Manchin, who recently stated he would nix many of the earlier package’s social programs and has expressed concerns about surging inflation.
The White House is signaling that they could try to assuage Manchin’s concerns by packaging debt reduction with programs aimed at cutting costs for Americans into a bill. 

Read more at The Hill


US COVID – Kids and Omicron

12.9 million. That’s the cumulative number of child Covid-19 cases reported in the U.S. as of last Thursday, accounting for 19% of all cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). An AAP study of data from 46 states, New York City, Puerto Rico and Guam found a cumulative total of 994 child Covid-19 deaths.

Omicron appears to put children at less risk of severe illness than other coronavirus variants. Between December 26 and February 17, the risk of severe illness among children hospitalized with Covid-19 fell to 3.4%, down from 38.8% during the previous roughly 22 months, according to the JAMA Pediatrics study. An AAP analysis of data from 46 states found that children accounted for between 0% and 0.26% of Covid-19 deaths in each state, with three states reporting zero child Covid-19 deaths. Tuesday’s CDC study recorded no child deaths during either the delta period or the omicron period.

Read more at Forbes


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 15:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.9% of all New Yorkers – 16,520,976
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,719,951

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.5% of all New Yorkers – 14,795,564
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,510,754

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 921,707

The Governor updated COVID data through April 15.  There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,488

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,216.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 147

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.68%    –   28.88 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.22%   –   25.92 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


New York COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Rise 13%. CDC Says 26 Counties at Medium, High Risk

New York reported 36,180 cases in the week ending Sunday, up from 32,114 new cases the previous week. New York ranked fourth among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

Some of the coronavirus’ resurgence in New York stemmed from outbreaks in the Finger Lakes and Central New York linked to two new omicron subvariants, called BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1.  federal officials have renewed indoor mask-wearing recommendations for 10 counties in New York, spanning parts of the Finger Lakes, Central New York, the Southern Tier and the North Country. Another 16 counties fell under the medium-risk category due to rising COVID-19 cases and strain on local health care facilities.

Read more at LoHud.com


Airlines are Ditching Mask Rules for the First Time in Two Years. Here’s What Travelers Need to Know

United, American, Southwest, Delta, Alaska and other airlines late Monday said they were dropping their face mask requirement effective immediately given a federal judge’s ruling in Florida and the White House response to it.

The mask mandate, announced in January 2021, had been set to expire Monday. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that it would keep it in place until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is responsible for the majority of cases in the country. It was the mask mandate’s fifth extension despite repeated requests from airlines and other travel industry officials to ease restrictions. 

Read more at USA Today


Justice Department Punts Mask Ruling Appeal to CDC

The Biden administration late Tuesday said it will appeal a federal judge’s decision striking down a mask mandate for public transportation if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deem the mandate necessary for public health. The Justice Department’s announcement comes after hours of deliberation, with some Biden administration officials insisting that an appeal is essential to preserve the government’s public health authorities while others argued a fight would have relatively little political benefit or practical effect for the broader Covid response. 

The announcement ultimately leaves next steps in the hands of the CDC, where there have been divides over how to proceed on a mandate that was already set to expire in early May. There is growing consensus among White House and public health officials that an appeal would be impractical.

Read more at Politico


Judge Appoints Special Master as New York Redistricting Suit Continues

A judge in Steuben County on Monday appointed a special master to draw new congressional district boundaries as the legal challenge to the legislative maps drawn by the state Legislature continues to play out.  Judge Patrick McCalluster selected Jonathan Cervas of the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University to draw the new lines.

The move is not wholly unexpected and the same judge last month ruled the maps should be redrawn after ruling they violated the state’s constitutional amendment against partisan gerrymandering. Democrats who control the state Legislature have argued the lines were drawn fairly and will be upheld. An appeal to that ruling is expected to be heard in court this Wednesday, which could make the move a moot point. 

Read more at NY State of Politics


New York’s SALT Cap Challenge Rejected by Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court declined to review a New York-led constitutional challenge to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by Congress in the 2017 tax law. The high court issued an order Monday denying the request from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The appeals court rejected several state legal arguments against the cap, including that it unconstitutionally coerces the states to abandon their preferred fiscal policies.

The states argue the cap unconstitutionally interferes with their sovereign authority to levy and collect property and income taxes. The Second Circuit rejected their arguments, finding that neither Article I of the Constitution nor the 16th Amendment bars Congress from curtailing the SALT deduction, even if that means citizens in certain states will pay billions of dollars in additional federal taxes. Such injuries aren’t significant enough to be coercive under the Tenth Amendment, the appeals court ruled.

Read more at BloombergTax


‘Greenflation’ Is Driving Up Metal Prices. What’s a Manufacturer to Do?

While economists expect high inflation to subside once supply chains stabilize, the growing focus on environmentally friendly materials, products and processes will ensure that prices for some commodities—even after stabilizing—will settle well above their pre-pandemic levels.

For manufacturers that rely on metals and other commodities that are experiencing surging demand, we expect this “greenflation” is not transitory and will have an impact regardless of a particular company’s climate objectives. Increasing energy costs, geopolitical conflicts, political roadblocks around growing mining capacity and the overall supply chain imbalance have no doubt contributed to current price levels, but demand for these metals is also higher than before.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Biden Administration Restores Stricter Environmental Reviews

The Biden administration is restoring stricter environmental standards for approving new pipelines, highways, power plants and other construction projects, including requiring consideration of how such projects might affect climate change. The changes announced Tuesday reinstate National Environmental Policy Act measures that had been removed by former President Donald Trump, who said that federal regulations were needlessly hindering much-needed infrastructure projects.

Under the stricter reviews, federal agencies must take into account the cumulative impacts that a project or a new proposed federal regulation would have in areas such as air and water quality, wildlife habitat and climate change, according to a White House statement. The new guidelines widen the scope of environmental reviews beyond direct and indirect effects.

Read more at the WSJ


Traffic Rebounds on Five Mid-Hudson Bridges

Traffic rebounded on the five bridges over the Hudson River operated by the New York State Bridge Authority last year as the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to have eased somewhat. When the pandemic hit and the economy virtually came to a halt, traffic dropped 19.4 percent, to 51.4 million crossings in 2020

Traffic over the last five years peaked at 63.8 million vehicle crossings in 2019. Revenues also hit a five-year high in 2019, at over $58.9 million. It fell to $49.4 million in 2020, but bounced back to over $64.4 million in 2021. The increase was a factor of additional traffic as well as toll increases.

Read More at Mid Hudson News


IBM Quarterly Results Beat Estimates As Restructuring Shows Progress

IBM reported first-quarter earnings late Tuesday that beat estimates on the top and bottom lines as the tech giant continued to make progress on its massive restructuring. The company reported adjusted earnings of $1.40 a share on revenue of $14.2 billion. Analysts expected IBM to report earnings of $1.38 a share on revenue of $13.85 billion. Revenue climbed 8% from the year-ago period, or 11% in constant currency.

IBM stock climbed 2.4% to 132.25, during after-hours trading on the stock market today. IBM is committed to $20 billion in mergers and acquisitions through 2024, focusing on software.

Read more at IBD


3 Strategies to Navigate Packaging Shortages

“Shortages of packaging materials such as pallets, plastics, corrugate, metal and glass are wreaking havoc across supply chains, and it remains unclear when – or if – these constraints will subside,” said John Blake, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, in a statement. “Packaging procurement is highly complex, as it requires coordinating many different suppliers. To further complicate matters, there has been a lack of investment in technology that would allow for seamless collaboration across the supply chain.”

To successfully navigate in this environment, CPOs must adopt new tactics that drive greater resilience, manage the rising costs of packaging, and improve packaging sustainability. The three actions for COPs to reduce the impact of packaging supply constraints include: Centralize Packaging Specifications, Collaborate with Suppliers, Segment Packaging.

Read more at Materials Handling and Logistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 494

Industrial Production Climbs in March Driven by Automaker Rebound 

Industrial production climbed 0.9% last month, the Fed said, more than expected and pushing the metric of industry output to an annualized rate of 8.1% for the first quarter. Manufacturing output for March also increased 0.9%. Industrial production year on year rose 5.47% .

Other highlights from the Fed on the state of the manufacturing sector:

  • Total industrial production advanced 8.1 percent for the first quarter.
  • The output of motor vehicles and parts jumped 7.8 percent.
  • Consumer durables and transit equipment increased 5.2 percent.
  • At 104.6 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production in March was 5.5 percent above its year-earlier level.
  • Capacity utilization climbed to 78.3 percent, a rate that is 1.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2021) average.
  • Although, the capacity utilization is still below it’s long run average by 1.2% (from 1972), it still is at its highest level since January 2019. The 2018 cycle high reached 79.9%

Read more at IndustryWeek


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Judge Strikes Down CDC Mask Mandate for Travel

A federal judge in Florida on Monday struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate for travel on planes, trains and buses. Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Trump, wrote that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority with the order. Mizelle added that the CDC had also failed to follow the rulemaking processes laid out in law and provide a sufficient justification for its mandate. The CDC had recently extended the order for 15 days, through May 3, amid some discussion of whether to end it. But the agency decided more time was needed to monitor an uptick in cases from the BA.2 subvariant of omicron.

The ruling can be appealed, but there could be confusion in the short term. The travel mask mandate was one of the few remaining mask orders, as states and localities across the country have largely lifted mask mandates for the general public. Philadelphia is a rare exception in reinstating a more general mask mandate in recent days due to the uptick in cases. 

Read more at The Hill


Goldman Sachs Sees 1 in 3 Chance of a Recession, Other Bank Predictions

The Goldman Sachs economics team says that there is now a 35% chance of a U.S recession over the next two years, with the labor market a particular problem for the Federal Reserve. The large gap between jobs and workers, which keeps wage growth elevated, has historically only declined during periods of economic contraction, chief economist Jan Hatzius and team wrote in a note out on Sunday. 

  • Deutsche Bank was the first big Wall Street bank to forecast a recession, saying in the first week of April a recession in late 2023 is now their base case. 
  • Wells Fargo stock strategist Chris Harvey said in a note last week that despite “daily calls for a recession from anyone with a megaphone, we do not expect one of the next 12 months. Rather, stagflation (high inflation/slower growth) likely will prevail.”
  • Credit Suisse says “we only tend to get recessions 9 months after 3-month money inverts relative to 10-year.”

Predictions for a recession have been growing as the Fed tries to negotiate a soft landing for the economy at a time when inflation is at a level not seen in four decades.

Read more at Seeking Alpha


US COVID – BA.2 Proves the Pandemic Isn’t Over, but People Are Over It

The Omicron subvariant is contributing to school and work absences, yet two years of dealing with Covid-19 have made people tired of taking precautions, getting tested and asking about other people’s status, say physicians, psychologists and behavioral scientists. If this is a pandemic wave, then many have decided the best response is a weary shrug.

Psychologists say it can be difficult to discern how seriously to take BA.2, given shifting guidance and sometimes difficult-to-parse public-health messaging. Avoidance takes various forms including refraining from asking friends about Covid exposures to avoid answers people may not want to hear.  Some people say they won’t worry about BA.2 unless it is absolutely clear they need to. Nearly three-quarters of Americans polled by Monmouth University in mid-March agreed that Covid is here to stay, and people should get on with their lives.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 15:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.9% of all New Yorkers – 16,520,976
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,719,951

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.5% of all New Yorkers – 14,795,564
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,510,754

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 921,707

The Governor updated COVID data through April 15.  There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,488

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,216.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 147

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.68%    –   28.88 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.22%   –   25.92 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Hochul Vows She Won’t Shut Down New York as COVID Cases Spike

Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a new interview that New York would never again be crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, vowing to not reimpose COVID-related restrictions that ground the state to a halt even as cases begin to rise again.

The Democratic Party nominee for governor vowed to not reimpose COVID-related restrictions that ground the state to a halt — as the Big Apple faces an uptick in cases. “I’m going to protect the health of New Yorkers, but I’m also protecting the economy,” she told John Catsimatidis, host of “The Cats Roundtable,” in an interview out Sunday. “I’m not going to shut it down again, you can count on that.”

Read more at the NY Post


“Long Social Distancing” – Survey finds Several Million U.S. Workers Seen Staying Out of Labor Force Indefinitely

About three million workforce dropouts say they don’t plan to return to pre-COVID activities—whether that includes going to work, shopping in person or dining out—even after the pandemic ends, according to a monthly survey conducted over the past year by a team of researchers. The workforce dropouts tend to be women, lack a college degree and have worked in low-paying fields. The research team has named this phenomenon “long social distancing” and believes it will be one of the lasting scars of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should the researchers’ predictions turn out to be true—that the labor force will be depressed for potentially years after the pandemic recedes—the implications for the world’s largest economy and the Federal Reserve are substantial. A sharp drop in the labor force at the pandemic’s start led to shortages of workers and products that have frustrated households, restrained economic growth and helped push inflation to a 40-year high.

Read more at the WSJ


Can COVID-19 Alter Your Personality? Here’s What Brain Research Shows

More than two years into the pandemic, it’s become clear that neurological problems from COVID-19 can linger or intensify. After recovering from the virus, an alarming number of patients remain shrouded in brain fog, suffering from anxiety or depression, unable to think straight or hold on to memories, and fumbling for words. Not all had been hospitalized; some had only mild infections.

While little is known about the mechanisms behind many of these symptoms, researchers increasingly believe that inflammation may play a key role. With COVID-19, a storm of inflammatory cytokine proteins can trigger an out-of-control immune response that might permanently damage or destroy brain cells.  And with damage to the brain, Maura Boldrini, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Manhattan’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center. says, “we may not be the same person anymore.”

Read more at Nat Geo


Biden to Require US-Made Steel, Iron for Infrastructure

New guidance issued Monday requires that the material purchased — whether it’s for a bridge, a highway, a water pipe or broadband internet — be produced in the U.S..  “There are going to be additional opportunities for good jobs in the manufacturing sector,” said Celeste Drake, director of Made in America at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The guidance includes three standards for these requirements to be waived: if the purchase “would be inconsistent with the public interest”; if the needed materials aren’t produced “in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality”; or if U.S. materials increase a project’s cost by more than 25%.

Read more at The Hill


Forecast Sees Flat Steel Demand

Global steel demand growth for 2022 will rise just 0.4% year-over-year, according to the World Steel Assn.’s latest Short Range Outlook report. The ongoing decline, which began in mid-2021, is shaped by Chinese government restrictions on real-estate and construction growth along with rising inflation worldwide and the instability surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  World Steel, a trade association representing steelmaking businesses in 64 countries, pegged the current year’s global steel demand total at 1.84 billion metric tons, to be followed by a 2.2% rise in 2023 to 1.89 billion metric tons.

In its previous SRO, World Steel set the 2022 demand target at 1.89 billion metric tons, which was a downgrade from the preceding forecast level of 1.92 billion metric tons. The global industry had rebounded in the first half of 2021, but by midyear a slowdown had begun – starting in China.

Read more at American Machinist


Utilities Plan Huge Electric Grid Upgrades, Adding to Power Bills

American utilities are planning their biggest spending increases in decades to upgrade aging grids, prepare for electric vehicles and make the transition to renewable energy—moves poised to further boost power costs as consumers face historic inflation.

The plans propose tens of billions of dollars in spending in the coming years to reduce carbon emissions, partly in response to state and federal mandates, and to replace aging infrastructure that has become more prone to failure. Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group, expects that utilities will invest roughly $140 billion each year in 2022 and 2023, substantially more than any year since 2000, when the group began tracking spending.

Read more at the WSJ


Bank of America Beats Profit Estimates on Strength in Consumer Lending

Bank of America Corp reported a smaller-than-expected 13% fall in first-quarter profit on Monday, as strong growth in its consumer lending business helped cushion the blow from a slowdown in global deal-making. The bank reported a 9% rise in consumer banking revenue to $8.8 billion in the quarter ended March.

“First-quarter results were strong despite challenging markets and volatility,” Chief Financial Officer Alastair Borthwick said in a statement. However, total investment banking fees plunged 35% to $1.5 billion in the quarter.

Read more at Reuters


California Dreaming – Lawmakers Propose 32 Hour, 4 Day Work Week for Private-Sector Companies with More than 500 Employees

A proposal in the California State Legislature would define the workweek in the state as 32 hours, not 40, for larger companies. By the end of this week, the California State Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee is expected to decide if the bill will move forward. While the proposal is still many steps away from becoming law, if passed, the bill could affect more than 2,000 businesses.  Earlier this month the California Chamber of Commerce added the bill to its “job killer list,” saying the legislation would significantly increase labor costs.

Research into the effectiveness of shortened weeks is mixed. Economic studies out of Germany and France found that fewer hours didn’t increase employment. A 2013 study on private companies in Belgium found that employees who worked between 25 and 35 hours a week were more productive than those who worked more or less than that.  

Read more at the WSJ


China’s First Quarter GDP Beats Grew 4.8% Year-on-Year

China’s first quarter GDP grew faster than expected despite the impact of COVID lockdowns in parts of the country in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics Monday. First quarter GDP rose by 4.8%, topping expectations of a 4.4% increase from a year ago. Industrial production in March rose by 5%, beating the forecast for 4.5% growth. However, retail sales in March fell by a more-than-expected 3.5% from a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters anticipated a 1.6% decline.

Fixed asset investment for the first quarter rose by 9.3% from a year ago, topping expectations for 8.5% growth. Investment in manufacturing rose by 15.6% in the first quarter from a year ago, and infrastructure saw an 8.5% increase over the same period. 

Read more at CNBC


In the Chips: TSMC Reports Record First-Quarter Revenue

Taiwanese tech giant TSMC posted record revenue for the first three months of the year Thursday. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) operates the world’s largest silicon wafer factories and produces some of the most advanced microchips. CEO C.C. Wei said first-quarter revenue was “above the high-end of our guidance mainly due to better demand from smartphone and automotive-related applications than our forecast three months ago.”

Its first-quarter revenue rose 36% on-year and 12% on-quarter, respectively, to a record Tw$491.1 billion (US$17.6 billion), according to a company statement. It also posted a 45% year-on-year profit of Tw$202.7 billion in the January-March period. That was up 22% from the 2021 fourth quarter.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Shanghai’s


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 493

Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Activity “Picked Up Significantly”

After three months of sluggishness, manufacturing activity picked up significantly in New York State, according to the April survey. However, firms are less optimistic about the future as longer delivery times, higher prices, and increases in employment are all expected in the months ahead.

  • The general business conditions index shot up thirty-six points to 24.6. 
  • The new orders index climbed thirty-six points to 25.1.
  • The shipments index rose forty-two points to 34.5, pointing to a strong rebound in orders and shipments.
  • The unfilled orders index climbed to 17.3. 
  • The delivery times index moved down eleven points to 21.8, pointing to ongoing increases in delivery times.
  • The index for number of employees dropped seven points to 7.3,
  • The average workweek index came in at 10.0, pointing to a small increase in the average workweek.
  • The prices paid index climbed thirteen points to 86.4, a record high, 
  • The index for future business conditions fell twenty-one points to 15.2, its lowest level since early in the pandemic. 

Read more at the New York Fed


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


U.S. Retail Sales Rise 0.5% in March, But High Gas Prices and Inflation Take Toll

Consumers increased retail and restaurant spending by 0.5% in March compared with the previous month, according to the Commerce Department, from the revised monthly increase of 0.8% in February. Sales at gas stations accounted for much of the increase with an 8.9% jump over the previous month, reflecting sharply higher fuel prices related to the Ukraine war. Excluding gasoline sales, retail sales fell by 0.3%. Spending rose for a range of other categories, including appliances, electronics, groceries, dining out and clothing.

Declines in online shopping and auto sales held back spending totals. Overall retail sales would have been even higher if not for a 1.9% monthly auto sales decline. Auto companies struggled with a vehicle shortage during the pandemic due to supply disruptions, pushing prices up sharply. Sales also declined sharply at online retailers, a 6.4% drop over February.

Read more at MarketWatch


Hudson Valley Regional Job Growth Continued in March, Manufacturers Added 300 workers

Manufacturers in the region added 300 net jobs in March according to data from the BLS compiled by the New York State Department o f Labor.  Since march of 2021 that number is 1,600. Over the past year, private sector job counts in the Hudson Valley rose by 27,400, or 3.7 percent, to 765,100 in March 2022.  Growth was centered in leisure and hospitality (+12,000), professional and business services (+4,900), trade, transportation and utilities (+4,500), other services (+4,100), manufacturing (+1,600), information (+700) and financial activities (+200).  Job losses occurred in educational and health services (-600).      

Private sector job growth continued to be broad-based, with seven of nine sectors adding jobs for the 12-months through March 2022.  Within the region, the Kingston MSA’s private employment sector grew the fastest year-over-year, up 7.9 percent.  The second fastest growth was recorded in Sullivan County (+5.9 percent), followed by the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+3.5 percent), and the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+2.6 percent).

Hudson Valley Labor Market Profile – March 2022


US COVID – Uptick

The US CDC is currently reporting 80.3 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 984,018 deaths. The 7-day daily incidence was 29,401 new cases on April 12, trending upward since a recent low of 24,816 on March 29. Daily mortality appears to have leveled over the past week, with a 7-day average of 454 on April 7, increasing to 493 on April 8, and down to 452 on April 12. Notably, the 7-day moving average number of new hospital admissions of people with confirmed COVID-19 is +1.4% over the prior 7-day average, reflecting the increasing trend in incidence. 

The US has administered 567 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations have increased significantly over the past 2 weeks, with the average climbing from 157,534 on March 28 to 444,409 on April 7. The increase likely is a result of the US FDA’s authorization of a second booster dose of the mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for certain individuals. A total of 256.5 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.3% of the entire US population.  A total of 218.6 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 65.8% of the total population.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 15:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.9% of all New Yorkers – 16,520,976
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,719,951

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.5% of all New Yorkers – 14,795,564
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,510,754

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 921,707

The Governor updated COVID data through April 15.  There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,488

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,216.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 147

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.68%    –   28.88 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.22%   –   25.92 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


New York’s True COVID Infection Rate Unclear as Many At-Home Tests Go Unreported

New York’s true COVID-19 infection rate remains unclear as scores of at-home rapid test results go unreported, while questions mount about disparities among those using the test kits. As the highly contagious Omicron strain fueled COVID-19 surges in recent months, some counties asked people to self-report positive at-home tests via online portals. But the patchwork reporting, which is excluded from the state’s official daily case count, only offered a glimpse of the virus’ spread.

Now, the gaps in at-home test use and reporting are unfolding as New York’s COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed 14% last week, underscoring the urgency of utilizing the test kits efficiently to catch cases early and limit the virus’ spread.

Read more at LoHud.com


New ‘Highly Contagious’ Omicron BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 Subvariants Detected in NY, Cases Mild

New sub-lineages of the omicron strain of COVID-19 that are estimated to be even more contagious than the BA.2 subvariant have been detected in New York state, Department of Health officials said Wednesday, attributing the discoveries to rising case levels.

BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 are sub-lineages of the omicron BA.2 subvariant, which now accounts for more than 80% of new infections in the state, the Department of Health said in a press release. The new subvariants are estimated to spread at an alarmingly faster rate – 23% to 27% – than BA.2, but do not appear to cause an increased level of severity in infections, officials said.

Read more at City & State


The Way Chinese Think About COVID-19 is Changing, Will Government Policy Adjust?

For much of the pandemic the Chinese public has joined officials in hailing the zero-covid strategy as a success. Over the past two years China has had a lower mortality rate from the virus and stronger economic growth than any other big country. But the current wave is changing the way people think about the virus—and about the government’s strategy.

No one wants mainland China to end up like Hong Kong, which was overwhelmed by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, leading to a spike in deaths among unvaccinated old people. The mainland’s elderly population is similarly vulnerable, so a complete lifting of controls is out of the question. At the moment, though, anecdotal evidence suggests that more people are dying because of the Chinese government’s restrictions than from the virus. The state needs to adapt, say critics.

Read more at The Economist


Biden Increases Oil Royalty Rate and Scales Back Lease Sales on Federal Lands

The Interior Department on Friday said it’s moving forward with the first onshore sales of public oil and natural gas drilling leases under President Joe Biden, but will sharply increase royalty rates for companies as federal officials weigh efforts to fight climate change against pressure to bring down high gasoline prices.

The royalty rate for new leases will increase to 18.75% from 12.5%. That’s a 50% jump and marks the first increase to royalties for the federal government since they were imposed in the 1920s. Biden suspended new leasing just a week after taking office in January 2021. A federal judge in Louisiana ordered the sales to resume, saying Interior officials had offered no “rational explanation” for canceling them.

Read more at NPR


Companies Size Up Their Losses on Russian Operations

Global businesses are tallying up tens of billions in losses from their Russian operations as they grapple with the impact of asset sales, shutdowns and sanctions, according to public statements and securities filings. More than 6oo Western companies have said they would exit or cut back operations in Russia, according to researchers at Yale University.

Losses stemming from the pullout include the expected write-down, or complete write-off, of assets ranging from oil wells to car factories and consumer loans, according to statements by the companies. The impact will be felt well beyond the big announcements that have already come mostly from energy companies. A fifth of the companies in the S&P 500 listed Russia subsidiaries for 2021, according to data provider Calcbench.

Read more at the WSJ


US Warns of Cyberthreat to Specific Industrial Machines – Schneider Electric and OMRON Named

A new joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) from the United States government issued on Wednesday warns that advanced persistent threat (APT) actors (read: cybercriminals) have developed a way to gain full system access to multiple industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition devices (SCADA), targeting specific models of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) manufactured by Schneider Electric and OMRON.

According to the CSA, cybercriminals have developed custom-made tools to specifically target the machines in question. Once the machines are compromised, the cybercriminals can upload malicious code, modify device parameters, and back up device contents, among other things a company does not want to have to deal with.

Read more at IndustryWeek


185,000 Americans Filed New Jobless Claims Last Week

U.S. jobless claims held near multi-decade lows last week as companies worked to keep employees on their payrolls amid ongoing labor shortages.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended April 9: 185,000 vs. 170,000 expected and a revised 167,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended April 2: 1.475 million vs. 1.500 million expected, 1.523 million during prior week.

“It seems like we’re in the midst of a perfect storm of factors with rising commodity prices, supply chain issues, and a tight labor market so it is not surprising that inflation is rising at its fastest pace in 40 years,” Bill Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network, said in an email Tuesday.

Read more at YahooFinance


Summer is Coming – New OSHA Emphasis Program for Heat Hazards

On April 11, OSHA announced it has launched a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries. The NEP lists many manufacturing industries for enforcement.

As part of the program, OSHA will proactively initiate inspections in over 70 high-risk industries in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning or advisory for a local area. On days when the heat index is 80 F or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists will engage in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job.

Read more including a link to the High Risk Industries at EHS Today


ECB Confirms the End of its Bond Buying in the Third Quarter as Inflation Surges

The European Central Bank on Thursday kept its monetary policy unchanged but confirmed it will end its bond buying in the third quarter. The Governing Council faces a dilemma, with inflation hitting a record high of 7.5% in March, while the economic growth outlook weakens due to the war in Ukraine.

The ECB said in a statement Thursday that it now expects to conclude its net asset purchases under its APP (asset purchase program) in the third quarter. It had previously said this would be the course of action if supported by the data. “At today’s meeting the Governing Council judged that the incoming data since its last meeting reinforce its expectation that net asset purchases under the APP should be concluded in the third quarter,” the bank said Thursday. Once the bond buying program is completed, the ECB is expected to begin hiking interest rates, following the same path as the Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Read more at CNBC


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Daily Briefing – 492

11.2% – Producer Prices Index Rise in March is Highest on Record, Core was 7.0%

The producer price index, which measures the prices paid by wholesalers, increased 11.2% from a year ago, the most in a data series going back to November 2010. On a monthly basis, the gauge increased 1.4%, above the 1.1% Dow Jones estimate and also a new record. PPI is considered a forward-looking inflation measure as it tracks prices in the pipeline for goods and services that eventually reach consumers.

Stripping out food, energy and trade services, so-called core PPI rose 0.9% on a monthly basis, nearly double the 0.5% estimate and the biggest monthly gain since January 2021. Core PPI increased 7% on a year-over-year basis. In the details, car prices rose only 0.3% in March, but light truck prices jumped 0.9%; supply constraints continue to bite. The PPI recorded a 6.9% leap in airline fares, less than the 10.7% surge in the CPI version; they are measured differently but follow the same broad trends over time. Finally, healthcare prices rose only 0.1% and remain well-contained.

Read more at CNBC


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


NFIB Survey: Inflation Overtakes Labor Quality as Top Business Problem For Small Businesses

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased in March by 2.4 points to 93.2, the third consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Thirty-one percent of owners reported that inflation was the single most important problem in their business, up five points from February and the highest reading since the first quarter of 1981. Inflation has now replaced “labor quality” as the number one problem.

Key findings include:

  • Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased 14 points to a net negative 49%, the lowest level recorded in the 48-year-old survey.
  • Forty-seven percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, a decrease of one point from February.
  • The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased four points to a net 72% (seasonally adjusted), the highest reading in the survey’s history.

The surveys activity and sentiment reading of 93.2 is the lowest since April 2020, the first full month of the pandemic.

Read more at NFIB


Global Trade Declined in March Hit by Ukraine War, China Lockdowns

In its latest projections, published Tuesday, the World Trade Organization said it expects the global economy to expand just 2.8% in 2022, weaker than the 3% average between 2010 and 2019. It expects global trade in goods to grow just 3%, after adjusting for price changes, compared with 9.8% in 2021. The Geneva-based WTO said it marked down its expectations because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted trade in essential goods such as grain and fertilizer, and lockdowns in China “are again disrupting seaborne trade at a time when supply chain pressures appeared to be easing.”

Data from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all point to a pullback in global trade as European consumers wilted under the pressure of surging energy prices, and Chinese factories slowed to a crawl as major cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen locked down. The U.S. appetite for imports has held up, but is likely to be challenged as inflation and rising interest rates bite into consumer spending.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – ‘We Are Probably Only in the 4th Inning’

Last week, more than 31,000 new cases were reported daily nationwide, a 3% increase from just two weeks ago, according to the New York Times’s COVID database. In big cities like New York City COVID cases have increased nearly 40% in the past two weeks, largely because of the emergence of the BA.2 subvariant. Now some doctors say that rolling back COVID safety precautions may have come too soon, and that the continued rise in cases poses a higher risk to even the most careful followers of COVID safety guidelines.

Dr. Manoj Gandhi, senior medical director at medical instruments maker Thermo Fisher Scientific, said the pandemic is far from over and compared the country’s battle against the virus to a nine-inning baseball game.  “We are probably only in the fourth inning, maybe the top of the fifth,” Gandhi told Fortune. “This virus is not going anywhere anytime soon, and we will end up seeing some [new] different variants down the line.”

Read more at Fortune


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Why It Is Hard to Know Who Needs a Covid Booster: Mysterious T Cells

People 50 years and older can now get the additional booster at least four months after their first. The CDC isn’t pushing those eligible to get the shots, however, and many vaccine experts say healthy people under 65 years old can wait. A big reason: researchers’ limited understanding of the molecular soldiers known as T cells that help mount the immune defense against Covid-19. T cells continue to work against the virus, according to the experts and studies, after antibodies have waned or lost effectiveness because of a variant.

T cells, and another molecular soldier known as memory B cells, are also mobilized by Covid-19 vaccines to protect against the new coronavirus. T cells and B cells play a longer game than antibodies, however. Antibody levels jump after each Covid-19 shot but fall back weeks or months later, as they do with other vaccines. The T cells and memory B cells stick around, researchers have found, an army waiting for when the body becomes infected.

Read more at the WSJ


TSA Extending Travel Mask Mandate for Two Weeks

The Biden administration will extend the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks through May 3, 15 days after it is set to expire amid a new coronavirus surge fueled by the BA.2 variant. The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) mask mandate for travel on airplanes, in airports and on buses and on rail systems was set to expire on April 18. The two-week extension is from an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based off the rise in cases from BA.2 since early April.

“At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022,” a CDC spokesperson said. This extension of the mandate is the shortest yet. The mandate has been in place for 14 months and initially went into effect with an expiration date of May 2021.

Read more at The Hill


Hochul Faces Tough Choices After Lt. Gov. Benjamin’s Arrest and Resignation

Now the job she once held had become a political albatross for Governor Hochul. The person she wound up picking for that role — then state Sen. Brian Benjamin — has been indicted in an alleged bribery scheme. On Tuesday, he was arrested and arraigned in federal court in Manhattan. By the end of the day, he announced he had resigned to focus on “explaining in court why his actions were laudable—not criminal.”

The high-profile case puts Hochul in a difficult position as she seeks a full term this year while tethered to Benjamin. While Benjamin is out of office, Hochul could be forced to maintain political ties to Benjamin through the June primary election — and maybe run on the same ticket in November should he win the Democratic nomination and turns down options for bowing out of the race.

Read more at Politico


Noteworthy Corporate Earnings News

Several companies in a variety of industries reported earnings yesterday that may provide insights into the direction of the economy.  

BlackRock Profit Increases 20%, but the firm’s assets under management dipped from over $10 trillion to $9.6 trillion. The firms is a top provider of exchange-traded funds and other low-cost alternatives that track market indexes. But the firm’s actively managed funds, its higher-fee products, made up nearly half of the manager’s fees last quarter, despite only making up about a quarter of BlackRock’s total assets under management.

Delta Airlines reported a Q1 loss, but raised guidance amid ‘all time high’ demand.  The company reported revenue of $8.16 billion during the quarter which was restored to 79% of the levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and business operations returned to profitability during the month of March during a surge in consumer demand.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s first-quarter profit dropped 42%, weighed down by lower Wall Street fees and higher expenses. The nation’s biggest bank earned $8.28 billion, or $2.63 per share, compared with $14.3 billion, or $4.50 per share, a year ago. Analysts had expected $2.72 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell 5% to $30.72 billion, ahead of analyst expectations for $30.59 billion.


Oil Prices Extend Gains, Falling Supplies in Focus

Oil prices rose by more than 2% on Wednesday after Moscow said that peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end, fuelling supply worries, while weak economic data from China and Japan kept a lid on gains.

Brent crude rose by $2.26, or 2.2%, to $106.90 a barrel by 1126 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained $2.02, or 2%, to $102.62. Both benchmarks had surged by more than 6% on Tuesday.

Read more at Reuters


States Compete to Become “Hydrogen Hubs”

States, either in alliances or on their own, are announcing their interest in claiming a share of the $8 billion earmarked for these hubs. Companies worldwide are exploring hydrogen as a fuel for long-haul trucks, factories, trains, ships and even airplanes, though many efforts are in their early stages. Establishing hydrogen hubs could provide the jolt needed for the gas to gain ground in the country.”

Current contenders include West Virginia, which intends to compete alone for a portion of the funds, as well as an alliance between New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  A group comprising U.S. Steel Corp., Equinor ASA and Marathon Petroleum announced in February that “they would help work on a hub that would knit together Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.   

Read more at Bloomberg


GM Signs Cobalt Deal with Glencore as Rush for Battery Metals Intensifies

General Motors Co (GM.N) said on Tuesday it would buy cobalt from miner Glencore PLC (GLEN.L) to use in its electric vehicles (EVs), as automakers around the world scramble to stock up on the critical raw material amid supply chain disruptions.  Metals to make batteries that last longer are hard to come by due to supply chain disruptions, which has led to automakers rushing to secure supplies of lithium, nickel and cobalt. The prices of these rare metals have soared to multi-year highs. 

Global automakers, ranging from EV leader Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) to Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), are splurging billions of dollars on developing vehicles for a market that could be worth $5 trillion over the next decade.

Read more at Reuters


MetLife: Zillennial Workforce is Stressed Out

As workforce needs continue to be front and center for companies, research has devised yet another category of people calling them Zillennials. They are a micro-generation born between 1993-1998 that has increased in size by more than 5 million workers over the last 5 years.   MetLife’s annual survey,  U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, released March 21, found that this group is very insistent on a work culture and environment that better aligns with their personal values. The report finds they are the least satisfied in their jobs – amid a 20-year low across all generations – and more than half of Zillennials (53%) say having an unfulfilling job is currently a top source of stress.

Over the past twenty years that MetLife has been issuing this report looking at workers’ shifting perceptions of their employers as work-life balance, some new trends have emerged. Purposeful work and supportive cultures have emerged as key retention-driving aspects of the employee experience. 

Read more at EHS Today


Shanghai’s Covid-19 Cases Resume Setting Daily Records After a One-Day Pause, Extending Horizon of Citywide Lockdown

Shanghai reported 26,330 confirmed Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, setting a daily record for the 11th time in 12 days, underscoring how the disease has defied more than a week of lockdowns and quarantines to be deeply entrenched in the population of 25 million people. Symptomatic cases surged to 1,189 cases from 914 a day earlier. The vast majority of infections remained asymptomatic, and no fatality has yet been linked directly to Covid-19 since March 1.

Shanghai authorities ordered a citywide lockdown on April 5, reversing an earlier plan for a two-phase quarantine for both sides of the Huangpu River – Pudong and Puxi – which was supposed to end that day.

Read more at the South China Morning Post


Starbucks Prepares to Expand Worker Benefits That Might Exclude Unionized Staff

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz is ramping up the company’s campaign against a unionization push in its U.S. stores, saying new benefits being developed for chain employees legally can’t be extended to unionized locations.  In an online forum with U.S. store leaders this week, Mr. Schultz said he is reviewing the company’s benefits to develop an expanded employee-benefit package in an effort to better recruit and retain baristas. 

Mr. Schultz told store leaders that expanded benefits will help reduce attrition among Starbucks workers, but that those new benefits legally can’t go to the growing number of stores that have voted to unionize. Federal law requires separately negotiated contracts for union-represented workers’ pay and benefits, and the company can’t change their compensation unilaterally, Mr. Schultz said, citing Starbucks’s legal counsel.

Read more at the WSJ


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 491

8.5% – CPI in March Rises by the Most Since 1981. Core CPI up 6.5% 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.5% in March compared to the same month last year, according to the latest report released Tuesday. That marked the fastest rise since December 1981. This followed a 7.9% annual increase in February. On a month-over-month basis, prices rose 1.2% in March following a 0.8% monthly rise in February.

Some of the biggest contributors to the latest increase in inflation were food, shelter and gasoline, according to the BLS. In fact, the index tracking gas prices surged to rise 18.3% month-on-month in March, comprising more than half of the total monthly increase in CPI. In February, gasoline had posted a 6.6% monthly increase. But even excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI also posted a marked move higher in March. The so-called core CPI jumped 6.5% in March.

Read more at YahooFinance


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


A Final Report Card on the States’ Response to COVID-19

More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to draw some conclusions about government policy and results. In a study  published last week as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The authors are University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan and Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. They compare Covid outcomes in the 50 states and District of Columbia based on three variables: the economy, education and mortality. It’s a revealing study that belies much of the conventional medical and media wisdom during the pandemic, especially in its first year when severe lockdowns were described as the best, and the only moral, policy.

The bottom 10 are dominated by states and D.C. that had the most stringent lockdowns and were among the last to reopen schools. Their economies are for the most part still behind most others in recovering from the pandemic.  New York, whose former Governor Andrew Cuomo was celebrated as a Covid hero, ranks 49th. Albany’s severe and overlong economic shutdown (48th) had no payoff in mortality (47th).

Read the Study


More on Inflation from Pantheon Macroeconomics

On a month-to-month basis, the March headline was boosted by an 18.3% jump in gasoline prices, triggered by the war in Ukraine, and a 1.0% rise in food prices, in line with the recent trend. In the core, rents – 40% of the index – rose 0.43%, also in line with the recent trend, and contributing 0.17% to the m/m increase. Elsewhere, airline fares and lodging costs rose sharply, up 10.7% and 3.3% respectively, These components together contributed 0.12% to the core. But these gains were more than offset by a 3.8% drop in used vehicle prices, which subtracted 0.16%. New vehicle prices are still rising, up 0.2% in March, but the rate of increase has slowed this year after a long run of 1%-plus monthly gains.

The headline inflation rate jump to 8.5% from 7.9%, and the core rate rose to 6.5% from 6.4%. But these will be the peaks, because a run of favorable base effects from last spring, when used vehicle prices exploded, will exert substantial downward pressure over the next few months. We expect the headline and core rates to drop to xx% and xx% respectively by June, but much depends on the path of vehicle prices and the state of the oil market.

Read more at Pantheon Macro


US COVID – Uptick in Cases in the Northeast

Since the middle of March, the US has averaged between 25,000 and 30,000 new daily COVID-19 cases. But some health experts believe the country may be experiencing a new surge of cases, fueled by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant and masked by incomplete data from unreported at-home testing, a lack of testing among milder cases, and reduced access to testing centers.

Numbers of new cases are beginning to rise in the northeast region of the country; of the 10 states with the highest 7-day case rates per 100,000 people, 7 are in the northeast. Average daily COVID-19 case numbers have increased approximately 53% in Rhode Island and 64% in both New Jersey and New York over the last 2 weeks. Other northeastern states experiencing increases in COVID-19 case loads include Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. COVID-19 levels in wastewater have increased nationwide over the last 3 weeks, with the northeast showing the highest levels, according to Biobot Analytics. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


High Profile Cases and Public Pandemic Sentiment

Several recent outbreaks among high-profile politicians and celebrities could represent the tip of the iceberg in understanding ongoing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the US. Health officials note that politicians and celebrities are tested more frequently than the average individual, and increases in cases among their ranks might signal that more people are becoming infected but experiencing mild or no symptoms.

More than 70 high-profile people tested positive after an event known as the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, DC, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, US Attorney General Merrick Garland, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, several US lawmakers, and many others. Some of those who were infected are reportedly up-to-date on their vaccinations. Meanwhile, less than 10% of the US population feels that COVID-19 represents a serious crisis in the country, 17% say it is not a crisis at all, and 73% feel the pandemic is a manageable problem, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll. Notably, an average of 500 people in the US die daily from COVID-19. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Some More Details on the 2022 New York State Budget

The New York State Legislature approved a FY 2023 State Budget over the weekend. The approximately $220 billion agreement between the Legislature and Governor, boosted by federal funds and a tax surplus, includes several measures to aid small businesses, enhance workforce development initiatives, and expand childcare eligibility.

The budget includes continued funding for the Manufacturers Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP) to sustain the program and additional monies to expand and enhance the program statewide. It also included small business tax relief – that will expand the small business tax relief subtraction modification under the personal income tax. It also will expand the definition of a small business to include a limited liability company, partnership, or S corporation that is not a farm business and has a New York gross business income less than $1.5 million.  fortunately, the final state budget does not include a proposal to ban the use of natural gas in most new construction buildings, though this is still under consideration by the legislature. 

2022 New York State Budget: Highlights for Manufacturers


NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Resigns Following Arrest in Campaign Finance Fraud Case

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has resigned after he surrendered to authorities to face campaign finance fraud-related charges in connection with a past campaign, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced. “I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately. While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them,” Hochul said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) last year, Benjamin was planning to run alongside her in their bid for a full term. Hochul served as former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor and took office in August 2021 after Cuomo resigned amid sexual assault allegations. 

Read more at NBC New York


Chaotic Trading in Energy, Metals and Food Spills Into Real World

Wild swings in futures markets are complicating business for the people and companies who actually produce and use natural gas, zinc or soybeans, to name a few. They are driving speculators and others from the markets, an exodus that has led in turn to even choppier trading and higher prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to market disruption, especially in energy and grain sectors. Bouts of inclement weather and supply-chain problems have complicated delivery in some markets.

Appalachian coal, soybean oil, oats, canola, rapeseed oil, natural gas in the Netherlands, wheat in Paris and Chicago, gasoline, diesel, propane, palm oil, copper and tin have all notched new highs in 2022. Soybeans, lean hogs, frozen pork bellies and zinc aren’t far off their records.  The surge has been propelled by demand from consumers emerging from the pandemic flush with savings and government stimulus and ready to spend.

Read more at the WSJ


Fed’s Brainard Says Lowering Inflation Is Central Bank’s Key Mission

“Inflation is too high,” said Fed governor Lael Brainard, who is awaiting Senate confirmation to serve as the Fed’s vice chairwoman. “Getting inflation down is going to be our most important task,” she said, speaking Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit, as the central bank is raising interest rates as part of its most aggressive effort in decades to curb price pressures.

Fed officials signaled they could raise rates by a half percentage point at their meeting early next month and begin trimming their $9 trillion asset portfolio, according to minutes of the Fed’s March 15-16 meeting released last week. The meeting minutes followed remarks by Ms. Brainard last week that sent bond yields rising amid anticipation of tighter Fed policy this year.

Read more at the WSJ


Canada to Invest C$2 billion on Mineral Strategy for EV Battery Supply Chain

 Canada’s federal budget will include an investment of at least C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) for a strategy to accelerate the production and processing of critical minerals needed for the electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain, two senior government sources said. The investment could be spread over more than one year, but the sources declined to comment on the time frame.

“Canada has an abundance of valuable critical mineral deposits, and with the right investments, this sector can create thousands of new good jobs, grow our economy, and make Canada a vital part of the growing global critical minerals industry,” said Adrienne Vaupshas, press secretary for Finance Minister Freeland.

Read more at Reuters


EPA Will Allow More Ethanol in Gas This Summer in Bid to Tame Prices

The Biden administration plans to temporarily allow high-ethanol content gasoline to be sold in the hot summer months in a bid to tame high fuel prices. The decision will allow gasoline with 15% ethanol to be sold between June 1 and Sept. 15. Normally only a 10% ethanol blend can be sold during that time period to reduce smog caused by the 15% blend’s higher volatility.

Allowing fuels with a higher ethanol content will lessen reliance on oil and give drivers more options, senior administration officials said, adding that it could save drivers 10 cents a gallon off current prices. Oil-industry officials have questioned whether such moves would lower prices. Higher ethanol blending can sometimes raise prices on refiners. Corn prices, like oil, have also seen sharp increases this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more at the WSJ


US airports top ranking of ‘world’s busiest’ hubs in 2021, Total Traffic Still off 2019 Levels

Eight airports in the United States were in the top 10 in the Airports Council International‘s (ACI) preliminary list based on passenger traffic, along with two airports in China. At the top of the list was the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which saw roughly 75.7 million passengers last year. It was followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which saw nearly 62.5 million passengers in 2021, and Denver International Airport, with about 58.8 million passengers.

According to ACI, the total number of global passengers in 2021 is estimated to have been close to 4.5 billion, which was an increase of almost 25 percent from 2020. Despite the increase recorded last year, however, passenger traffic figures were still down more than 50 percent from 2019 results.

Read more at The Hill


China’s Li Issues Third Growth Warning as COVID Takes Toll

China’s Premier Li Keqiang issued a third warning about economic growth risks in less than a week, suggesting heightened concern about the outlook as widespread Covid lockdowns disrupt production and spending. Authorities should “add a sense of urgency” when implementing existing policies, Li told local authorities at a seminar Monday. China will study and adopt stronger economic policies as needed to support the economy, he said.

The comments come days after similar warnings from Li, highlighting the toll the economy is taking from lockdowns and other virus control measures imposed to curb the latest wave of omicron outbreaks. Nomura Holdings Inc. economists said the risk of recession is rising in China, estimating that about 373 million people in 45 cities are now under full or partial lockdown, making up 40% of China’s gross domestic product.

Read more at Bloomberg


2022 Machine Tool Orders Near $1B

U.S. manufacturers ordered $479.3 million worth of machine tools during February, an 8.9% rise over January’s order value and a 27.1% increase over the February 2021 figure. Comparing two months of machine-tool new orders, machine shops and other manufacturers’ capital investments are 30.4% higher than the comparable 2021 total.  The $919.46 million year-to-date increase in order values compared to January-February 2021 represent the highest total for that period since 1998.

“The industry seems to be carrying the momentum of 2021 into the beginning of 2022, recording the best start to the year in over two decades,” according to Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology. AMT compiles the monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report, from which the new-orders data is sourced.

Read more at American Machinist


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Daily Briefing – 490

Recession Risk Is Rising, Economists Say

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal this month on average put the probability of the economy being in recession sometime in the next 12 months at 28%, up from 18% in January and just 13% a year ago. “Risk of a recession is rising due to the series of supply shocks cascading throughout the economy as the Fed lifts rates to address inflation,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP.

Economists slashed their forecast for growth this year. On average they see inflation-adjusted gross domestic product rising 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, down a full percentage point from the average forecast six months ago, though still higher than the 2.2% average annual growth rate in the decade before the pandemic.

Read more at the WSJ


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Four of the Top Five Metropolitan Areas for New COVID Cases are Currently in New York, Syracuse Tops the List

While COVID-19 cases have remained low in the U.S. since the decline of the omicron wave this winter, the “stealth” BA.2 variant has reached the U.S. and is causing a rise in cases in some parts of the country, particularly in regions of New York state. The BA.2 strain is currently the dominant strain in the U.S., accounting for about 3 out of 4 new coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health experts had said that the U.S. would likely see an uptick in new coronavirus cases, reflecting what occurred in parts of Europe and Asia. However, a full-on surge like delta and omicron is less likely, according to experts.

Read more at The Hill


New York Fed: Public Expectations for March 2023 Inflation Hit 6.6% Record

U.S. consumers boosted their expectations for inflation and household spending in the year ahead as the price of gas and food steepens according to a survey released on Monday by the New York Federal Reserve.  Expectations for where inflation will be in one year rose to 6.6% in March, the highest since the survey was launched in 2013 and up from 6.0% in February. Household spending was seen growing 7.7% in the year ahead, also a series high. Just 23% saw their household finances improving in the year ahead, the smallest share since the survey began.

Americans are experiencing the worst bout of inflation in decades, and it is getting worse: economists polled by Reuters expect a report out on Tuesday will show consumer prices rose 8.4% in March, up from 7.9% in February, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drives up food and energy prices.

Read more at YahooFinance


US COVID – A New COVID Wave is Probably Coming, and America Doesn’t Seem to Care

Anthony Fauci said this week that a surge of COVID is likely this fall, and an increase in cases over even the next few weeks would not be surprising. Fauci’s remarks contrast with a sudden vanishing of the Omicron wave that gripped the country in December and January (and ruined many people’s holiday plans). Cases fell so far so fast that big cities like New York relaxed mandates that had been in place for nearly two years.

When it comes to the blissful oblivion of many to the pandemic’s continued existence, “motivated reasoning” is to blame, says psychologist Paul Thagard, a philosopher and cognitive scientist who authored the paper “The cognitive science of COVID-19: Acceptance, denial, and belief change.” Regarding COVID, “You have to mitigate the risk of the worst thing without having a big debate about whether or not it’s going to happen today. People aren’t really having that conversation.”

Read more at Fortune


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Are Some People Resistant to COVID-19? Geneticists Are on the Hunt.

Thousands of people repeatedly exposed to the virus never got sick. Scientists are racing to understand if they might have a genetic resistance to the virus—and whether the trait could be harnessed to develop new drugs against the disease. “There used to be a tendency to more think about the pathogen in terms of severity—it’s a severe pathogen or a mild pathogen,” says molecular virologist Johan Nordgren at Sweden’s Linköping University. Relatively less attention was paid to a host and whether their genes affect their ability to fight off an infection, he says.

In the last two decades or so, though, scientists have been conducting so-called genome-wide association studies to identify certain genes or regions of DNA that may be linked to specific diseases. They do this by comparing the genetic sequences of infected individuals with those who are healthy and seeking correlations between mutations and resistance. While genetic resistance to viral infections isn’t widespread, the fact that it happens at all has ignited interest in similar mutations in COVID-exposed individuals.

Read more at Nat Geo


Shanghai Has Recorded More Than 130,000 COVID Cases—and No Deaths

In a Covid-19 outbreak that has locked 25 million people at home, the city of Shanghai has reported more than 130,000 cases since March 1, but says there have been no deaths and currently only one patient with severe illness. The absence of deaths, and the low incidence of severe illness recorded in Shanghai as cases rise, stands out compared with outbreaks elsewhere, even accounting for the fact that Covid deaths often lag behind infections by several weeks.

But health and data experts caution that calculating and comparing Covid’s toll in China and elsewhere is difficult due to challenges including determining exactly how people have died, differences in vaccination rates and diverging methods for testing and recording pandemic data.

Read more at the WSJ


White House Adviser: Extending TSA Mask Mandate ‘Absolutely’ Still on the Table

A top White House COVID-19 adviser on Monday said that extending the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks, which is set to expire next week, is “absolutely” under consideration.  “This is a CDC decision and I think it is absolutely on the table,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on NBC’s “Today.”

Jha said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky will make the decision on extending the mask mandate for transportation networks based on a scientific framework that the agency is developing. He also said that framework will be available in the “next few days.”

Read more at The Hill


10-year Treasury Yield Tops 2.76% Monday

Ahead of bank earnings and inflation data later in the week, investors are keeping their eyes on the 10-year Treasury yield, which continues to spike to multi-year highs. Early Monday, the rate climbed 5 basis points to 2.76%, notching a level last seen in 2019. The momentum gathered pace last week after Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard said the central bank’s balance sheet would be reduced “at a rapid pace” as soon as May, only to be followed up by similar sentiment during the release of FOMC minutes.

The tightening cycle in the U.S. is also making way for some interesting shifts as policy diverges across the globe. The yield on China’s 10-year government bond fell to 2.75% overnight, marking the first time it has been below the rate of its U.S counterpart in 12 years. The fading premium comes as Beijing sticks to an accommodative monetary stance as prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns – like the one in Shanghai – weigh on its economy.

Read more at CNBC


With New York District Lines On Hold, Judge Blesses Possible Backup Plan

A New York appeals court judge on Friday signed off on the appointment of a neutral expert to prepare new congressional district lines that could be used if the state’s highest court upholds a lower-court ruling that struck down maps drawn by Democratic lawmakers. Justice Stephen K. Lindley of the Fourth Appellate Department, emphasized in his decision that the substitute maps would only be a backup measure meant to preserve a range of possible remedies as the courts consider a broader legal challenge to the maps brought by Republicans.

But Justice Lindley’s directive raised the specter that an increasingly tangled fight over New York’s freshly drawn congressional districts could yet veer away from Democrats months after they enacted a map that favors their candidates in 22 of 26 districts, and require the state to delay this year’s primary contests from June until August.


Where to Start with Robotics and Automation

Today, the major question is not if a manufacturer will adopt automation and advanced technologies, but rather when and how. Adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies is a matter of survival – not only for large manufacturing companies, but also for small and mid-sized manufacturers.The long-term viability of these businesses likely depends on their ability to increase productivity while reducing costs.

Of the new Industry 4.0 applications being deployed in manufacturing operations, applied robotics have experienced the most growth. But more often than not, first-time adopters are apprehensive for fear of making an expensive mistake. According to the Manufacturing Institute, 1 in 3 manufacturers report that insufficient resources and expertise could limit their investment in emerging technologies.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Fortune Releases Their 100 Best Places to Work List

So who are this year’s winners? Top of the list, for the second year in a row: Cisco. It also has the distinction of having been on the list for all 25 years. It has long prioritized its employees’ well-being, and never more than during the pandemic.  Number two on the list is Hilton. Despite the pain of the pandemic in the travel industry, Hilton pressed ahead with multiple commitments to helping its employees, including a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

And number three Wegmans Food Markets. This grocery chain, which spreads across seven eastern states, has managed to successfully compete against much bigger chains for over 100 years by taking extra care of its workers. It’s best known for an extremely generous scholarship. The current number of open job-postings at these 100 companies is 238,959—the most we’ve ever seen in the history of the list.

View the list at Fortune


JetBlue is Cutting its Summer Schedule to Avoid Further Flight Disruptions

JetBlue scrapped more than 300 flights over the weekend, with nearly a fifth of all its flights canceled on Saturday. That’s on top of hiring 2,500 workers this year and perks to keep staff on the job. It’s now offering a $1,000 bonus to flight attendants who don’t call out of work through May 31, as well as an extra $100 per trip for attendants who pick up open flights on days off.

“We’ve already reduced May capacity 8-10% and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer,” JetBlue COO Joanna Geraghty declared. “Despite these challenges and, based on your feedback that the schedule is wound too tight, we know the best plan is to reduce capacity now. I think everyone recognizes that the industry still remains very much in recovery mode, so we believe this proactive step is the right decision.”

Read more at CNBC


West Coast Port Labor Talks Carry High Stakes for Economy, Midterms

More than 22,000 unionized workers at nearly 30 ports along the West Coast are set to begin renegotiating their contract next month against the backdrop of an already-imperiled supply chain, a historically tight labor market and looming midterm elections.

The whirlwind of economic and political factors significantly ups the stakes for the talks, which take place every six years and have in the past stalled traffic at the busiest ports in the U.S. The Biden administration plans to keep close tabs on the talks — and intervene immediately should a breakdown appear imminent.

Read more at Politico


How Manufacturers can Prevent Becoming Cybersecurity Targets

The  alliantGroup writes that by 2019 manufacturing had moved up to the eighth most targeted sector and in 2021 it moved into second place (behind finance). It is clear that, unlike other industries, the manufacturing sector is learning cybersecurity the hard way!

While hackers may lock down your system, halt production, and demand a ransom, it can get worse. They also can compromise a company’s intellectual property, patents, and financial information. Worse still, they might breach a system and do nothing at all. That’s because bad actors know that there’s always a bigger fish to fry at the end of the supply chain. A defenseless supplier can provide relatively easy access to a more valuable target company. 
 
 Read more Tube & Pipe Journal


5 Takeaways from the First Round of France’s Presidential Election

French President Emmanuel Macron took first place, ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, in the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday, but he is on course for a far closer second-round clash than five years ago.  While polling suggests Macron should retain the presidency in two weeks, first round results show the incumbent can’t rest on his laurels.

Le Pen will be able to count on voters from far-right TV-pundit-turned-politician Eric Zemmour, who called on his supporters to back her on April 24. Meanwhile, leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon fared better than expected and brings a heavy dose of uncertainty to the mix as his voters are a diverse bunch. Many are likely to abstain in the second round, while others will divide up between the French president and Le Pen. 

Read more at Politico


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 489

$220 Billion – The 2022 State Budget By the Numbers

A litany of policy proposals got included in the budget, including changes to state bail laws and the temporary legalization of to-go cocktails. The budget though is ultimately a financial document filled with the dollars and cents needed to keep the Empire State chugging along until another fiscal year concludes at the end of next March.

  • $31.5 billion – Total amount of total school aid compared to the $31.2 billion proposed by the governor in January. 
  • $7 billion – Total amount of new child care expansion over four years.
  • $4.2 billion – Total amount of an environmental bond act that will go before voters this November. 
  • $600 million – Amount of state support authorized in the state budget to help fund a $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills.  
  • $750,000 – Amount for Manufacturing Apprentices.

The deal also includes the suspension of the State’s Gas tax for seven months from June 1 – December 31.


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


UN: Global Food Prices Hit Record High in March

World food prices jumped nearly 13% in March to a new record high as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple grains and edible oils, the U.N. food agency said on Friday. The February figure was previously put at 140.7, which was a record at the time. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 141.4 for February.

In separate cereal supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO cut its projection of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tons, from 790 million last month, as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop area would not be harvested.

Read more at Reuters


Logistics Index Hits All-time High

the Logistic Manager’s Index report for March showed an overall LMI reading of 76.2. That figure is the highest in the history of the index, up (+1.0) from February’s reading of 75.2. The average over the first quarter of 2022 was 74.5, well above the all-time average of 65.2. The first three months of 2022 have been marked by high levels of inventory, and insufficient capacity to deal with it. This trend started at the end of 2021 when inventories increased by 2.4% in December 2021 – an all-time month-to-month record.

The growth in this month’s index is fueled by metrics from across the index. Continued inventory congestion has driven Inventory Costs, Warehousing Prices, and overall aggregate logistics costs to all-time high levels. This is putting even more pressure on already-constrained capacity. Warehousing Capacity hit an all-time low in March.

Read more at Materials Handling & Logistics


US COVID 

The CDC is reporting 80.1 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 980,220 deaths. The decline in daily incidence tapered off at approximately 25-26,000 new cases per day from March 25-April 4, but the average jumped to 26,845 on April 5. Daily mortality continues to decline, down to 533 deaths per day on April 5, an 80% decline from the recent high in early February. Notably, the average daily mortality is at its lowest level since August 2, 2021. 

The US has administered 563 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations have increased slightly over the past several days. Based on the timing of the increase, it is likely a result of the US FDA’s authorization of a second booster dose of the mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for certain individuals. A total of 256 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.1% of the entire US population.  A total of 218 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 65.7% of the total population. Approximately 75.6% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of April 8:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.7% of all New Yorkers – 16,498,222 (plus 3,259 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,716,803 (plus 406).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.3% of all New Yorkers – 14,787,582 (plus 4,356).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,507,651 (plus 442). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,494,039
  • In the Hudson Valley – 894,012

The Governor updated COVID data through April 8.  There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,374

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 948.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 3.39%    –   19.68 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.78%   –   18.88 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Variant Vax Strategy for Long Haul Is Needed, FDA Official Says

A top U.S. health regulator said that asking people to frequently get Covid-19 boosters wasn’t sustainable because of vaccine fatigue and that authorities needed to develop a long-term strategy for protecting the public from the virus as it evolves. Yet Dr. Marks and the experts said there are serious challenges to tweaking vaccines as needed, especially in time for the winter, when there could be another wave of infections.

Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, outlined several key features of a potential long-term plan: preventing severe disease, developing criteria for when to update vaccines and collecting data to support the efficacy of the shots.  Several of the experts also said a future Covid-19 vaccine should probably target more than one strain of the virus, which could protect against those currently circulating and potentially others that are yet to emerge.

Read more at the WSJ


Should You Be Worried if  You Get Infected With the BA.2 Variant?

Most people who are up-to-date with Covid-19 vaccines face little risk of landing in the hospital after a BA.2 infection, data suggest. Prior infection with another variant also bolsters the body’s defenses against BA.2, research has shown. And while hospitalization rates tend to lag behind new-case trends, the low levels of people hospitalized with Covid-19 as BA.2 has become dominant across the U.S. suggests that immunity may be strong enough in much of the country to avoid a big surge in severe cases, some public-health experts have said.

The virus still poses a threat to personal health and the public at large, doctors and officials have said. Some people, even those who are vaccinated, could suffer lingering effects of infection known as long Covid, some infectious-disease experts said. Covid-19 also remains a significant threat to the unvaccinated and to people with autoimmune conditions, public-health experts have warned.

Read more at the WSJ


Emmanuel Macron and Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Qualify for the Second Round of French Presidential Election

Projections by French polling firm Ipsos suggest the French president won 28.4 percent of the vote at the end of the first round of voting. His rival Le Pen, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, garnered 23.4 percent of the vote, according to the same projections. It is Le Pen’s third appearance —and her highest ever showing — in the first round of a presidential election. While polling suggests Macron should retain the presidency in two weeks, he is on course for a far closer second-round clash than in the 2017 election, when he also faced Le Pen.

When it comes to NATO, Le Pen has triggered alarm by stating her desire to pull the EU’s only nuclear power out of the alliance’s integrated command structure “so as to be no longer caught up in conflicts that are not ours.” 

Read more at Politico


NLRB General Counsel Aims to Drastically Change Employers’ Rights

For nearly 75 years, employers have held the right to gather employees at work for mandatory meetings to discuss, in a non-coercive manner, the employer’s views concerning unionization. On April 7, 2022, however, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all NLRB Field offices announcing that she will ask the NLRB to overturn this precedent and find that meetings of this sort violate of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”).

As it stands today, the NLRB precedent established in the Babcock & Wilcox Co. case remains intact, but the memorandum foreshadows that General Counsel Abruzzo will be submitting one or more cases to the Board in the near future to attack that precedent through the NLRB litigation process.

Read more at Harris Beach


Sanctions Risk Weakening Dollars Global Dominance as Currency of Choice

Many of the recent sanctions leveled on Russia have power because they’re based on the U.S. dollar, which is the most widely used currency in global financial markets, trade and central bank reserves. However, some are cautioning that weaponizing the greenback in this fashion could erode its dominance, stoking fears that smaller currencies like the renminbi could gain a bigger role on the international stage.

China is already buying Russian energy with the yuan, while India is looking into a rupee-ruble trade arrangement. “Wars upend the dominance of currencies and serve as a doula to the birth of new monetary systems,” cautioned Zoltan Pozsar, analyst at Credit Suisse.

Read more at Chartbook


Senators to Restart Bipartisan Immigration Reform Talks

A bipartisan immigration deal appears to be congressional Democrats’ best hope of making good on their pledge to reform immigration, after Democrats’ attempts to go it alone as part of a sweeping bill unraveled last year. They would face a significant uphill climb getting such a reform deal heading into the November election, where Republicans plan to make the issue a key line of attack. 

But Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told The Hill that they want to bring together a group of senators interested in trying to revive immigration discussions — a perennial policy white whale for Congress — after a two-week recess. 

Read more at The Hill


Nucor Invests in Nuclear Small Modular Reactor Venture

NuScale executives have agreed to buy $15 million worth of shares of Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. via a private placement that will help fund the commercialization of NuScale’s technologies. NuScale and Spring Valley in December agreed to combine in a deal valuing the combined company at $1.9 billion. The NuScale team has signed 20 memoranda of understanding with energy companies and other organizations to build their carbon-free small reactors across the world starting late this decade.

“We are looking for safe and reliable sources of power generation that are consistent with our sustainability goals,” Leon Topalian, Nucor’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The continued development of small modular nuclear reactors is critical to ensure our nation has carbon-free, baseload power, which is why we are making this investment.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


Lockheed Confirms Hypersonic Weapon Concept

A Lockheed Martin-led team conducted a successful flight test of a new hypersonic weapon concept, achieving speeds above Mach 5 and altitudes higher than 65,000 feet. A release by the research consortium stated that the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) test flight “furthers the understanding of operations in the high-speed flight regime.”

Lockheed is known to be developing high-speed systems for combating high-value targets quickly from hundreds or even thousands of miles away – so-called, hypersonic weapons. Hypersonic systems are among the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s top developmental priorities, along with establishing secure domestic supply base. In May 2021, Lockheed along with Northrop Grumman conducted a live-fire hypersonic strike test system, and in October the company announced a new manufacturing plant for hypersonic missile systems in Courtland, Ala.

Read more at American Machinist


Jobless Claims: 166,000 Americans Filed New Claims Last Week

U.S. first-time unemployment claims fell much more than expected last week to reach the lowest level since 1968, with the rate of new layoffs and firings staying low compared to pre-pandemic averages.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended April 2: 166,000 vs. 200,000 expected and a revised 171,0000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended March 26: 1.523 million and a revised 1.506 million during prior week

The number of new claims filed last week marked the least in more than five decades and represented a third consecutive week that new claims were below 200,000. The prior week’s new claims were also markedly downwardly revised to 171,000, from the 202,000. Some of the volatility in the most recent weekly jobless claims data likely reflects a change in the way the Labor Department adjusted the figures to account for seasonal factors. Starting in Thursday’s report, the Labor Department returned to using “multiplicative” seasonal adjustment factors for the data. Over the course of the pandemic, the Labor Department had been using “additive” seasonal adjustment factors, which help smooth out large shifts in the data — as had been the case with the anomalous spikes in jobless claims that took place during the early wave of lockdowns in 2020.

Read more at YahooFinance


Amazon Objecting to Union’s Victory in New York.  Union Objecting to Amazon’s Victory in Alabama

Amazon.com accused the new union at a New York City warehouse of threatening workers unless they voted to organize, an assertion an attorney for the labor group called “really absurd.” The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is giving Amazon until April 22 to back up its objections to last week’s election in New York, in which Staten Island workers voted to form the company’s first U.S. union. Amazon had requested extra time to provide evidence because its objections are “substantial,” it said in a filing Wednesday.

A second labor group, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which was losing a bid to organize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, also filed objections on Thursday to that union election.  

Read more at Reuters


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Daily Briefing – 488

Fed Minutes: Officials Plan to Shrink Fed Balance Sheet by $95 Billion a Month

Officials “generally agreed” that a maximum of $60 billion in Treasuries and $35 billion in mortgage-backed securities would be allowed to roll off, phased in over three months and likely starting in May. In addition to the balance sheet talk, officials also discussed the pace of interest rate hikes ahead, with members leaning toward more aggressive moves. “Many participants noted that one or more 50 basis point increases in the target range could be appropriate at future meetings,” the minutes said.

The FOMC remains quite bullish on growth – “participants judged that economic fundamentals remained solid and that they expected above-trend growth to continue, sustaining a strong labor market.”  Fear of a wage-price spiral is clear – “Consistent with a tight labor market, nominal wages were rising at the fastest pace in many years… Many participants commented that they expected the labor market to remain strong and wage pressures to remain elevated.” Only “a few” members saw signs of hope of easing wage pressures, in the rising participation rate; we think the next ECI readings, a few days before the FOMC meeting, will come as a pleasant surprise, but won’t prevent a 50 bp hike.

Read more at CNBC


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Kendra’s Law Expansion Final Hurdle in New York State Budget

An expansion of law that requires people in a mental health crisis receive treatment remains one of the final stumbling blocks for lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul as they seek to forge a final state budget agreement. The effort to expand and extend the law was part of a broader package of proposals by Gov. Kathy Hochul to combat concerns over rising violent crime in New York. 

Advocates, including Harvey Rosenthal of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, have opposed the law being extended to include provisions for court-ordered treatment. Some lawmakers, including Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, are worried the expansion of the law will have unintended consequences for vulnerable people. Abinanti is worried people on the autism spectrum could be mistaken for someone facing a mental health crisis and be swept up in the process. 

Read more at Spectrum News


Economic Development Reform Part of State Budget Negotiations

Proposals advanced by the state Legislature creating greater oversight of New York’s billions in economic development subsidies are being  considered as part of budget negotiations. In several instances, key points of contention have also emerged between lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration concerning the depth of oversight or who will conduct it.

One of the matters under negotiation would create a so-called “Database of Deals. ” The proposal would require the state’s economic development arm, Empire State Development, to create a searchable database of initiatives receiving subsidies and economic development benefits. It would require reporting how many jobs were being created and what type: Full-time, part-time or contract. ESD would also have to provide information about the number of jobs being filled by women and minorities. The proposal was part of both the Assembly and state Senate’s one-house budget resolutions. 

Read more at the Times Union


US COVID – FDA Advisory Panel is Discussing Ways to Evolve the US Vaccine Strategy 

An FDA Advisory Panel is Discussing Ways to Evolve the US Vaccine Strategy (New York Times) A federal advisory committee of outside experts is meeting Wednesday to help fashion the U.S. coronavirus vaccine strategy for the rest of the year. The meeting, which can be watched live on YouTube, represents a kind of transition point for the federal government, one troubled with many uncertainties.

Many scientists have concluded that the existing vaccines need to be retooled to meet the evolving virus. Federal officials are anxious to figure out how to do that as soon as possible, lest the nation confront a scenario when the virus resurges in the fall and the vaccines’ defenses are depleted. The committee is hearing from a cast of luminaries, including experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization and the FDA’s office of vaccine research.

Read more at the NY Times


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Title 42 Expiration Snags COVID Funding Deal 

Congress appears poised to punt a $10 billion deal on coronavirus relief until after a looming two-week break, as multiple stumbling blocks are complicating quick passage of the agreement. A bipartisan group of senators announced this week that they had clinched an agreement for long-sought coronavirus aid, with Democrats and the White House hoping to quickly deliver it to President Biden’s desk after weeks of negotiations. 

Republicans are demanding votes to include reinstating a policy from the Trump administration known as Title 42, which allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border and blocks them from seeking asylum due to the risk of the virus.  If the fight is resolved, the coronavirus deal could fairly quickly pass through the Senate. But there were little signs of that Tuesday, as Democratic senators said they had been told there would not be amendment votes and Republicans blocked the deal from advancing.  

Read more at The Hill


U.S. Trade Gap Stays Close to Record

The U.S. trade deficit held close to a record in February as the merchandise shortfall shrank and the surplus in services declined, partly reflecting the impact of broadcast rights for the Olympics. The February gap in goods and services trade was little changed at $89.2 billion after a record shortfall in January. 

The value of imports rose 1.3% in February to a record $317.8 billion and exports climbed 1.8% to $228.6 billion. Services imports increased by $2.4 billion to a record $51.6 billion, with about half of the rise coming from the biggest monthly increase in charges for use of intellectual property since 2016. That probably reflects a temporary boost from rights fees to broadcast the winter Olympics, consistent with such spikes in previous years.

Read more at Bloomberg


Deutsche Bank is First to Forecast US Recession for 2023 With Unemployment Rate Rising to 5.1

Deutsche Bank predicted the U.S. will fall into a recession in 2023 that will cause unemployment to go up to 5.1 percent due to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to bring down inflation.  Deutsche said the recession will be ‘moderate,’ but it would serve as yet another blow to already struggling Americans, CNBC reported.  

‘The US economy is expected to take a major hit from the extra Fed tightening by late next year and early 2024,’ the bank’s economists said in a note to clients Tuesday. Deutsche added that while it expects the US economy to take a hit, the outlook past that is relatively positive.  

Read more at the Daily Mail


The EU is Preparing a Ban on Russian Coal Imports

Since the Ukraine invasion began in late February, European leaders have hesitated to ban Russian energy imports, as the region still heavily depends on the country for coal, oil and gas. In 2020, Russia accounted for over 40% of Europe’s natural gas imports, 35.5% of its oil imports, and almost 20% of its coal imports, according to EU data.

However, after evidence emerged last week suggesting that Russian troops massacre civilians in Bucha while retreating from Kyiv, some European leaders have grown convinced that stronger measures against Russia may be necessary. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen—the head of the EU’s governing body – proposed the ban on Russian coal imports and other sanctions Tuesday. 

Read more at Fortune


U.S. Wants More Oil From Canada but Not a New Pipeline to Bring It

Biden administration officials are seeking ways to boost oil imports from Canada, people familiar with the situation say, but with one big caveat—they don’t want to resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline that President Biden effectively killed on his first day in office. Canada could export some more oil via rail, according to analysts and others familiar with the situation, and it could also pump more oil by increasing pressure on existing lines or by installing larger pipelines along permitted routes.

Those options, however, offer limited potential because rail transport is expensive and existing pipelines are at or near capacity. Longer term, Canadian officials and oil-industry analysts say expanding the existing Keystone pipeline network would offer a bigger, more efficient solution. The XL expansion was to carry 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude from Alberta to Nebraska, where the pipeline would meet up with the existing Keystone pipeline, and then on to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Allies to Release Close to 60 Million Barrels of Oil From Reserves

U.S. allies are planning to release close to 60 million additional barrels of oil from their reserves. The 31-member nations of the International Energy Agency—which include the U.S., most of Europe, Australia, Japan, Mexico and others—are planning to announce a new reserve release totaling 120 million barrels, officials said, the largest release in the IEA’s 47-year history. Around half of that amount will come from U.S. reserves, which were included in Washington’s previously announced decision to release 180 million barrels of oil over six months.

That leaves around 60 million barrels of additional oil that will hit the market because of the IEA decision, which is expected to be announced by the end of the week. Those barrels are expected to be released over six months to track the U.S. schedule, an official said. IEA nations on March 1 announced the release of 60 million barrels—including 30 million barrels from the U.S.—in what was then the agency’s biggest-ever release of reserves.

Read more at the WSJ


GM and Honda to Produce ‘Attainable EVs’ in Bid to Surpass Tesla Sales

General Motors (GM.N) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T) said on Tuesday they will develop a series of lower-priced electric vehicles based on a new joint platform, producing potentially millions of cars from 2027 in a bid to beat Tesla (TSLA.O) in sales. The announcement expands on plans for GM to begin building two electric SUVs for Honda starting in 2024 – the Honda Prologue and an Acura model. 

The automakers said the new deal is for “affordable” EVs. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said Tuesday at an Axios event the pricing will come in below the $30,000 price tag planned for the electric Chevrolet Equinox SUV. She said the new lower-priced vehicles would be “attainable EVs.”

Read more at Reuters


IKEA CEO on Russian Business – The Right Way to Respond “Was Not Obvious”

Jesper Brodin, the CEO Ikea—is one of many CEOs who has wrestled over the last six weeks with how to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company built up a sizable business in Russia, with nearly $2 billion in annual sales last year. And the right way to respond to Putin’s invasion, Brodin said n in a podcast last week, “was not obvious.”

The company had to consider the effects of a decision not just on its business, but on its employees, and on innocent people in Russia. In the end, it closed its Ikea stores, and discontinued furniture exports to Russia, but kept open Ingka’s shopping malls to make sure Russians continued to have access to food and pharmaceuticals. “I myself have been part of the generations at Ikea that for more than 20 years have been building up our business in Russia… It’s a little bit like the pandemic—there is no manual or guidebook for us here. It’s about weighing all aspects of the situation, trying to get a 360-degree perspective of the situation, and using our moral and ethical compass to do the right thing.”

Listen to the Leadership Next Podcast at Spotify


Shanghai COVID Lockdown – GM Keeps Plants Running in China by Asking Workers to Live in Factory, Sleep on Floors

As the biggest city in China goes on lockdown, General Motors is taking extreme measures to keep new car production going, including asking workers to sleep on factory floors. That lockdown is forcing automakers and suppliers to scramble and make tough decisions.  Leaders in Shanghai, China’s financial epicenter that’s located on the southeastern coast, started a two-stage lockdown Monday to try to control a massive COVID-19 outbreak.

A source familiar with GM’s joint venture with Chinese state-owned automaker SAIC Motor Corp. told the Detroit Free Press Tuesday that it has kept production going in Shanghai by keeping employees living in the plant. The person asked to not be named because there was no authorization given to share that with the media.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press


Who to Blame if Your Company Gets Hacked?

Have a mirror ready.

IndustryWeek recently dipped into the cybersecurity well for some very good reasons related to current affairs. In nearly all the stories there is a common theme: If a company is not paying attention to cybersecurity and has the bandwidth and budget to establish proper cybersecurity, it’s kind of asking to get hacked.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Boeing’s New Air Force One Hit by Production Mishaps

Factory problems disrupted production of one of Boeing’s new Air Force One planes earlier this year, adding to the manufacturer’s stumbles developing the U.S. presidential jets, people familiar with the matter said. The production mishaps, which involved a pair of attempts to place one of the two jets under development onto jacks, risked damaging the aircraft whose development is already behind schedule, these people said.

The U.S. Air Force said the two jacking mishaps didn’t result in any damage to the jet involved. An examination of the mishaps later, however, found that a Boeing employee involved wasn’t properly credentialed for overseeing the work, crews didn’t follow established procedures and another employee involved in the operations failed a routine post-incident drug test, people familiar with the matter said

Read more at the WSJ


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 487

Fed’s Balance Sheet Runoff Will be Rapid, Brainard Says

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard on Tuesday said she expects a combination of interest rate increases and a rapid balance sheet runoff to bring U.S. monetary policy to a “more neutral position” later this year, with further tightening to follow as needed. To do so, she said, the Fed will raise rates “methodically” and, as soon as next month, begin to reduce its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet, quickly arriving at a “considerably” more rapid pace of runoff than the last time the Fed shrank its holdings.

The rapid portfolio reductions “will contribute to monetary policy tightening over and above the expected increases in the policy rate reflected in market pricing and the Committee’s Summary of Economic Projections,” she said.  The hawkish tone from one of the Fed’s usually more dovish policymakers sent stocks down and Treasury yields up to multi-year highs, as investors digested the implications of a more aggressive policy path.

Read more at Reuters


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


New York Set to Ban Natural Gas in New Buildings

ew York Governor Kathy Hochul will soon release a budget that likely will include a plan to make New York the first state to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels in new construction, according to Food & Water Watch and other environmental groups. 

In her State of the State address in January, Hochul committed to “zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions for new construction no later than 2027.” The gas industry has warned that giving up on gas would boost consumer costs because electric heat is much more expensive. With the economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s gas use rose to around 3.44 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2021. That compares with a record high of 3.63 bcfd in 2018.

Read more at Reuters


Negotiations Continue on Already Late State Budget – What’s in or out so Far?

Lawmakers may have returned to Albany after leaders took the weekend to continue negotiating the budget, but the state Legislature is no closer to passing a spending plan than it was on Friday. Lawmakers approved a short term budget extender on Monday to keep the government running and state employees paid. With spring recess set to begin for lawmakers at the end of the week,  Albany leaders are rushing to finalize a deal on a range of issues affecting everyday New Yorkers. They hope to have bills passed by Wednesday or Thursday.

A number of big issues still separate negotiators – bail and discovery reform chief among them. Other proposals that hang in the balance include a big expansion of state support for child care, funding for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, and the legalization of to-go cocktails. 

Read more at City & State


US COVID – CDC Announces Sweeping Agency Review

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told employees that Jim Macrae, associate administrator for primary health care at the Health Resources and Services Administration, would be conducting a one-month review of the organization that has been in the public spotlight amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Walensky said that on Monday, Macrae will begin evaluating current COVID-19 efforts and “provide me with insight on how the delivery of our science and program can be further strengthened during this critical time of transition.” 

The review comes more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic began. The CDC has faced intense scrutiny during the global pandemic.

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


COVID and Diabetes, Colliding in a Public Health Train Wreck

After older people and nursing home residents, perhaps no group has been harder hit by the pandemic than people with diabetes. Recent studies suggest that 30 to 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have occurred among people with diabetes, a sobering figure that has been subsumed by other grim data from a public health disaster that is on track to claim a million American lives sometime this month. 

A study published earlier this month suggested that those with mild COVID infections had a 28% chance of developing diabetes compared to those who never got COVID-19. Another study published in the Lancet, also found that people who had low to no risk factors for diabetes had a 38% increased risk after a COVID-19 infection.

Read more at the NY Times


CDC: COVID Lockdowns Caused ‘Traumatic’ Stress In Teenagers

A new survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed an alarming rise in the number of teenagers who are struggling with their mental health. During the first six months of 2021, 44% of the teenagers surveyed reported they felt persistently sad or hopeless. The CDC said that coronavirus lockdowns were one of the reasons why the number was so high.

The agency said that nearly 20% of teens contemplated suicide. Females were more than twice as likely as males to seriously consider suicide. Female students also reported higher rates of drinking and smoking. In 2009, 26.1% of teenagers reported feeling sad and hopeless. That percentage rose to nearly 37% in 2019 before jumping another seven points amid the coronavirus pandemic as many teens found themselves isolated from their peers. Not only were they separated from their friends, but they also dealt with emotional abuse at home.

Read more at iHeart Media


New COVID-19 Variant XE Identified: What to Know and Why Experts Say Not to be Alarmed

A new COVID-19 variant has been identified in the United Kingdom, but experts say there is no cause for alarm yet. The variant, known as XE, is a combination of the original BA.1 omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2. This type of combination is known as a “recombinant” variant.

Public health experts say that recombinant variants are very common and often crop up and disappear on their own. “Right now, there’s really no public health concern,” said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor. “Recombinant variants happen over and over. In fact, the reason that this is the XE variant recombinant is that we’ve had XA, XB, XC, XD already, and none of those have turned out to be any real concern.”

Read more at ABC News


Senators Reach $10 Billion Deal on COVID Funds

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a $10 billion deal on another round of emergency pandemic funding requested by the Biden administration. The money will be directed to domestic needs for vaccines, tests and therapeutic drug treatment. About $5 billion in international aid to combat the pandemic abroad was dropped from the deal because senators could not come to terms on how to pay for it.

Schumer and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, reinvigorated stalled talks over COVID aid that was originally included in a recent bipartisan $1.5 trillion government spending bill, but the money was scuttled at the last minute when a critical number of House Democrats objected. Some of that money would have been offset by cutting previously approved COVID funds to states, and rank-and-file lawmakers were given little notice of the change agreed to by party leaders.

Read more at NPR


U.S. Labor Market Is Tightest of Postwar Era, Goldman Gauge Shows

The U.S. jobs market has never been tighter than it is today, increasing the risks to the economy as Federal Reserve policy makers move to rein in inflation, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The Wall Street bank’s economists have compiled a gauge of U.S. labor that they say better tracks wage gains — which are key to inflationary pressures — than other measures. They add the total number of employees and the number of job openings to estimate labor demand. For supply, they count the labor force, or people in work and those looking for positions.

The latest reading of the gap shows an excess of 5.3 million in labor demand versus supply of workers — “the most overheated level of the postwar period both in absolute terms and relative to the population,” Jan Hatzius, Goldman’s chief economist, wrote in a note Monday. 

Read more at Bloomberg Canada


ISM: Services Sector Growth Eases in March, Still Solid

Services economy activity continued to show solid momentum in March, according to the most recent edition of the Services ISM Report on Business, which was issued today by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The reading for the report’s key indicator—the Services PMI was 58.3. 

  • Business activity/production, at 55.5, increased 0.4%, growing, at a faster rate, for the 22nd consecutive month, with 13 services sectors reporting growth;
  • New orders, at 60.1, increased 4.0%, growing, at a faster rate, for the 22nd consecutive month, with 15 services sectors reporting growth;
  • Employment, at 54.0, increased 5.5%, growing after a month of contraction following seven straight months of growth, with 13 services sectors growing in March; and
  • Supplier deliveries—at 63.4 (a reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries)—were down 0.5% compared to February, slowing, at a faster rate, for the 34th consecutive month

Read more at Modern Materials Handling


With Inflation Not Letting Up, Shoppers Cut Back on Staples

American consumers are starting to cut costs on mainstays from toothpaste to baby formula as inflation hits a swath of the economy that had thus far proven resistant to substantial price increases. Procter & Gamble Co., Clorox Co., Kraft Heinz Co. and other consumer-products giants have made a bet that consumers will pay up for household products even as inflation takes hold. Over the past year, the companies have seen profits and market share grow as they have raised prices on products from detergent and diapers to snacks and soda.

Now consumers, hit by soaring costs for everything from gasoline to child care, are drawing a line, analysts and retailers say. Shoppers are buying staples in smaller quantities, switching to cheaper, store-name brands and more rigorously hunting for deals. The shift is especially pronounced among lower-income consumers who splurged on household products amid the heights of the pandemic, they say.

Read more at the WSJ


Biden Plans to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause

The White House plans to once again extend the moratorium on federal student loan payments through the end of August, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, including an administration official.

The announcement, expected on Wednesday, comes as the current pause on payments was set to expire May 1, potentially impacting more than 40 million Americans. The new August 31 extension, however, is considerably shorter than what many Democrats have been requesting. It also tees up another fight over the relief just months before the midterm elections.

Read more at Politico


Colleges Are Trying to Re-Enroll Adult Learners Who Dropped Out. Here’s How It’s Going.

As colleges across the country try to turn around sagging enrollment rates, many are targeting one group in particular: the 36 million adults who left college without a degree. Undergraduate enrollment has decreased by about 8 percent during the pandemic, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That has made it even more urgent to bring those students back. Higher-education leaders, politicians, and education nonprofits alike are trying to find the best ways to do so. But how can they make sure students are better prepared to face barriers this time around?

Finding adult learners, re-enrolling them, and retaining them takes time. Many institutions don’t have the bandwidth to do it on their own, which is one of the big gaps InsideTrack is hoping to help fill, said Angela Jaramillo, its strategic partnership director.

Read more at the Chronical of Higher Education (Tiered Subscription) 


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 486

Stop Gap: Emergency Appropriation Bill Funds State While Budget Negotiations Continue

Late last night the legislature passed an emergency appropriation bill to temporarily allow the State to continue to fulfil its obligations while budget negotiations continue. The emergency appropriation is effective retroactively on April 1st, and will expire on Thursday, April 7th, 2022. Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly have been told by legislative leaders to stay in Albany at least through mid-week, with some predicting they will be in town through Friday to iron out details on the more than $216 billion budget.

The state Legislature remains at odds with Gov. Kathy Hochul over her dual push for criminal justice reforms and $850 million in public funding for a new Buffalo Bills stadium, the top Democratic leader in the Assembly griped Monday morning, as lawmakers are set to miss another deadline to pass New York’s fiscal 2023 budget. 

Read more at the NY Post


Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Supply Chain: Ford, GM Plants Idled

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. have separately idled production at two Michigan assembly plants for the week of April 4. In each case the automakers have cited parts shortage. The Ford Flat Rock (Mich.) Assembly plant – where it builds the Ford Mustang – is being slowed by a shortage of semiconductor chips, the automaker announced. The issue has been an ongoing problem for automakers since the initial end of Covid lockdowns and the effort to resume regular production efforts. Most automakers operating in the U.S. have resorted to idling plants for various lengths of time over the past year.

GM’s Lansing (Mich.) Grand River Assembly plant has paused production of the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 and the Chevrolet Camaro, though company spokesperson emphasized that this idling is not due to a shortage of semiconductor chips. Even so, GM would not specify the particular part or parts that are unavailable, citing competitive issues.

Read more at American Machinist


Commerce: Factory Orders Decline in February

New orders for U.S.-made goods fell in February, likely because of persistent shortages of materials and a shift in spending back to services, but manufacturing remains supported by low inventories at businesses. The pullback in factory orders came as durable goods orders tumbled by 2.1 percent in February following a 1.5 percent spike in January. Orders for non-durable goods shot up by 1.2 percent in February after jumping by 1.5 percent in January.

The Commerce Department said on Monday that factory orders fell 0.5% in February. Data for January was revised slightly higher to show orders rising 1.5% instead of 1.4% as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders would decline 0.5%.

Read more at Reuters


US COVID – Masks Come Off, Mandates Loosen as Companies Relax Covid-19 Protocols

U.S. companies are relaxing many of the vaccine and other COVID-related requirements that had become a staple of corporate life in the pandemic. As office occupancy nears pandemic-era highs in many U.S. cities, a number of employers have communicated new, looser safety protocols to workers. Some companies made masks optional in the office for all workers, while others dropped testing requirements for the unvaccinated or simplified the daily return-to-office questionnaires.

Beginning this week, JPMorgan Chase will relax—for now, anyhow—a number of its COVID safety workplace measures, including rules on masks at the office and testing for the unvaccinated. It’s not alone. It joins Verizon, and others. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, social media giant Meta is reversing its employee booster policy.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of April 2:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 89.6% of all New Yorkers – 16,481,404 (plus 2,939 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,714,562 (plus 343).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 76.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,765,091 (plus 3,889).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,505,325 (plus 408). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 7,355,830
  • In the Hudson Valley – 875,852

The Governor updated COVID data through April 2.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,251

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 833.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.65%    –   15.63 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.74%   –   14.35 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


NYS Makes Second COVID-19 Booster Shot Available to Eligible New Yorkers

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced eligibility for second COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Booster doses are free and widely available statewide, including at all state-run mass vaccination sites. Eligible New Yorkers may receive an mRNA vaccine—either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine—for their second booster shot.

The State’s Department of Health released new clinical guidance on the administration of second booster doses for all providers enrolled in the New York State vaccination program. Adults 50 years and older can receive a second booster of an mRNA vaccine at least four months after their first booster. Additionally, adults ages 18 – 49 years who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine and initial booster dose now may receive a second booster four months after their first booster dose. Also eligible for the second booster are New Yorkers 12 years and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. 


COVID Antibody Drugs Work Best When Given as Early as Possible

A first-of-its-kind analysis has a clear message about when to give the COVID-19 therapies called monoclonal antibodies: the earlier people get this type of treatment, the better they fare1. The study, based on dozens of clinical trials, also suggests that many antibody therapies might work at doses much lower than those usually administered.

The authors estimated that early treatment could reduce the risk of hospitalization by around 70%. They also determined that doses of antibody drugs 7 to 1,000 times lower than typically administered could still achieve nearly the same efficacy. This finding could have far-reaching implications given monoclonal antibodies’ extraordinarily high cost and their ability to keep people with COVID-19 out of hospital. The study was posted on the medRxiv preprint server on 22 March and has not yet been peer reviewed. 

Read more at Nature


Mysterious Wave of COVID Toes Still has Scientists Stumped

Puffy, red-purple, and sometimes painful toes were one of the odder symptoms seen early in the pandemic. But experts are debating their cause—and whether COVID-19 is even to blame. A study published in October last year in the British Journal of Dermatology was among those suggesting an aggressive immune response to a SARS-CoV-2 exposure may be responsible for COVID toes. 

Some experts suggest that there may be COVID toe cases that have nothing to do with the virus but something to do with pandemic behavior. People weren’t wearing shoes and socks as much while staying at home, which could have induced pandemic chilblains in some people. Until experts are able to trace back a definitive SARS-CoV-2 footprint in COVID toes patients, that association will continue to be subject to speculation. “There’s lots of open questions,” Arkin says, “and may be more mysteries still than answers.”

Read more at NatGeo


Goldman Sachs:  Your Portfolio Will Flatline this Year—if You’re Lucky

Over the weekend, Goldman Sachs gave clients a best-case, worst-case scenario for stocks—and even the glass-half-full take looks pretty lousy. The Goldman team, led by chief US equity strategist David J. Kostin, reiterates it sees the benchmark S&P 500 closing at 4,700 at year-end. That would imply stocks are only set to rise a further 4% this year.

A 4,700 handle would be a bit of a jolt to investors, as the S&P closed out 2021 at 4,766.18. The investment bank reckons equities could tumble a further 21% to finish 2022 at 3,600. That would be Goldman’s “recession scenario.”

Read more at Fortune


Economists Seek Recession Clues in the Yield Curve

Much was made of the inversion last week of the yield curve between 2 and 10 year treasury bonds and how that might portend a recession.  Yield curves can be measured using interest rates across a wide spectrum of maturities, from overnight to 30 years, and some inversions matter more than others. Though investors often look at differences between yields on two-year and 10-year Treasury notes, Fed researchers Eric Engstrom and Steven Sharpe concluded those weren’t the rates that actually mattered. “There is no need to fear the 2-10 spread,” Messrs. Engstrom and Sharpe argued in a recent paper.

They found the relationship of rates over shorter horizons of less than two years was a more accurate measure of the risk of recession. They compare current three-month Treasury-bill rates to market expectations for three-month rates 18 months in the future. Using that approach, recession alarms aren’t ringing. Short-term rates are much lower than expected rates 18 months from now.

Read more at the WSJ


JPMorgan CEO Dimon: Big Risks Loom for the U.S. Economy

The head of the nation’s biggest bank offered a largely upbeat view of the economy’s health in his annual letter to shareholders Monday. Consumers and businesses are flush with cash, wages are rising and the economy is growing rapidly after its pandemic slowdown. While consumer confidence has declined, Mr. Dimon says the more important gauge is booming spending. Yet Mr. Dimon warned that the war in Ukraine could collide with rising inflation to slow the pandemic recovery and alter global alliances for decades to come.

“They present completely different circumstances than what we’ve experienced in the past—and their confluence may dramatically increase the risks ahead,” Mr. Dimon wrote. “While it is possible, and hopeful, that all of these events will have peaceful resolutions, we should prepare for the potential negative outcomes.”

Read more at the WSJ


EEOC Gets Over 6,000 COVID Complaints

Employers should have paid attention when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its COVID-19 discrimination guidelines, covering responses to the disease itself as well as vaccination policies. It was recently revealed that between April 2020 and December 2021 more than 6,000 discrimination charges were filed. The EEOC also received more than 2,700 separate vaccine-related charges after the vaccine became widely available and vaccine mandates were introduced to workplaces across the county.

The majority of the EEOC charges claimed violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while others cited racial, ethnic and gender discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act along with other anti-bias laws. Many of the EEOC charges related to vaccine mandates appear to cite violations of the ADA; however, the majority of vaccine-related charges raised other statutes.

Read more at EHS Today


Cutting Tool Demand Down, But Up Year/Year

Machine shops and other manufacturing operations consumed $159.9 million worth of cutting tools during January 2022, according to the most recent Cutting Tool Market Report. The new total falls -2.7% below the figure for December 2021, but still shows 10.5% rise over than the consumption value for January 2021.

Despite the month-to-month decline indicated by the latest CTMR total, Steve Stokey, executive vice president and owner of Allied Machine and Engineering, said the January CTMR shows that “cutting tool data indicates we are continuing to trend in a positive direction, although the overall growth appears to be flattening. “If manufacturing was not already dealing with enough challenges coming out of the pandemic, it will now see how the war in Ukraine and the energy policies of this administration impact the numbers moving forward.”

Read more at American Machinist


Frontier Modifies Flights in and out of Stewart

When Frontier Airlines began to operate from New York Stewart International Airport last November, they flew to Miami, Orlando and Tampa. One of those routes was switched, said the airline’s Will Evans, Jr. “We found that there was more demand from the Hudson Valley to the Fort Lauderdale versus Miami so it just made sense to move the operation,” he said. Effective in May, the airline will be adding flights to Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham as well.

Meanwhile new discount airline Play will begin its European service to New York via New York Stewart International Airport at Newburgh on June 9. Based in Iceland, the airline will fly to dozens of European cities connecting through its Icelandic facilities. Service to European cities will dependent on the day of the week and can be reviewed at www.flyplay.com.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


How Does Amazon’s Union Vote Affect Manufacturers?

The votes are in, and 55% of the workers at Amazon’s warehouse located on Staten Island,  New York City, want to form a union.  While it’s a historic event in Amazon’s history, it also will have a far-reaching impact on manufacturers. At first, it might not seem obvious to draw the line from Amazon to manufacturing, but as any manufacturers will tell you, and many have told me, in the competition for talent, Amazon looms large. 

In an article on Bloomberg, in September of 2021, author Conor Sen said, “We’re used to America losing manufacturing jobs because companies can find cheaper workers abroad, but perversely, we might begin losing more of those jobs because factory owners can’t offer what service employers can.” He notes that while some manufacturing positions, like that of an autoworker,  pay $30 an hour, those in the food industry pay closer to $20 and that’s not the starting pay.  Sen said that manufacturing as a whole has lagged behind other industries over the past decade with leisure and hospitality wages increasing by 46% while factory wages rose 27% since 2011.

Read more at IndustryWeek


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