Senate Passes Bill to Address Competition From China
The Senate passed a far-reaching $250 billion China legislative package on Tuesday, offering a framework for how the U.S. plans to counter increasing competition from China.
Much of the sweeping package is aimed at bolstering the country’s ability to out-compete China, with increased investment in research and development around advanced technology like artificial intelligence and funding for semiconductor production closer to home. The Senate voted 68-32 to pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act the same day the Biden administration released a report outlining initiatives to shore up critical supply chains of goods, including semiconductors, advanced batteries and rare earth minerals, and measures to address bottlenecks with a “whole of government” approach.
Biden Ends Infrastructure Talks with Senate GOP, Bipartisan Senate Group Takes Center Stage
Bipartisan infrastructure talks between President Joe Biden and GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito are over, and the White House will now focus on working with a bipartisan group of 20 senators. Biden and Capito spoke for five minutes Tuesday, the West Virginia senator said, the final conversation in what’s been a stubborn deadlock over how to pay for a massive infrastructure bill and how large that measure should be.
The focus will now shift to a group of 20 senators, 10 from each party, that convened Tuesday afternoon and have been meeting for months. That effort is being spearheaded by senators including Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). They have been closing in on a $900 billion infrastructure framework but haven’t yet clinched it.
More on Administration’s Supply Chain Review
The review covers four areas: semiconductors, used in products from cars to phones; large-capacity batteries used in electric vehicles; pharmaceuticals and rare-earth elements that are key to technology and defense. “While amplified by the public-health and economic crisis, decades of underinvestment and public-policy choices led to fragile supply chains across a range of sectors and products,”
The secretaries of commerce, transportation and agriculture will make up a new supply-chain task force focused on sectors that have experienced supply disruptions and demand issues. The review calls for a number of actions that represent a more active government role in supply chain issues and domestic manufacturing and much of it is geared toward competing with China.
CDC, State Department Downgrade Travel Alerts for Dozens of Countries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised travel health notices for dozens of countries to a lower risk tier on Monday, adjusting travel guidance for vaccinated Americans in the process. While the CDC had advised all travelers to avoid these destinations while they were considered “COVID-19 very high,” it now cautions travelers to make sure they are fully vaccinated before traveling to these regions. Unvaccinated travelers should still avoid nonessential travel to the Level 3 destinations, the agency said.
A total of 62 destinations – including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Italy, France and Germany – dropped from “COVID-19 very high” Level 4 tier to “COVID-19 high” Level 3 tier on the CDC’s travel recommendations list, which rates the risks by country.
US COVID Update – US May Fall Short of Biden’s July 4 Vaccination Goal of 70%
he U.S. is on pace to fall short of President Joe Biden’s aim to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. So far 14 states have reached 70% coverage among adults, with about a dozen more on pace to reach the milestone by July 4. But the state-to-state variation is stark.
The White House has launched a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, particularly in the South and Midwest. But it is increasingly resigned to missing the president’s vaccination target. Nearly 64% of US adults have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 53% are fully vaccinated.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Trend Continues
Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the 7-day average positivity is 0.51% and has declined for 64 consecutive days.
Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday morning:
One Vaccine Dose
- 55.0% of all New Yorkers – 10,982,582 (plus 40,073 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,168,404 (plus 5,184)
- 47.9% of all New Yorkers – 9,547,656 are fully vaccinated (Plus 66,508)
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,004,692 (plus 8,722) are fully vaccinated.
The Governor updated COVID data through Tuesday June 8th. There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,824.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 777
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 0.48%
- Mid-Hudson: 0.45%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
Pfizer and BioNTech Have Begun Testing Their Vaccine in Children Under 12
Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE BNTX -7.43% said Tuesday that they have begun testing their vaccine in children under 12 years old in a pivotal study. If the results prove positive, Pfizer said it would ask U.S. health regulators in September to expand use to some of the younger children.
Meantime, Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said results of testing Moderna’s vaccine in children as young as five years could become available by the fall, which if positive could lead to regulatory authorization of its use in the younger age group.
Indian Variant Spreads in UK, Now 6% of US Cases
The Indian variant of Covid-19, also known as the Delta variant, could be linked to complications including hearing impairment and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in Covid patients. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the strain – which is also now dominant there – carries a higher risk of hospital admission.
While Covid-19 patients have long been at risk of other complications including increased strain on the heart and severe fatigue, which can continue for months after diagnosis, the reported new symptoms from the Indian variant will bring renewed focus on controlling its spread.
Ulster Vaccine Site Moves from Fairgrounds to SUNY Ulster – Appointments and Walk-ins Began Yesterday
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the State’s Ulster County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site will begin to transition operations to a mobile vaccination trailer at the SUNY Ulster campus parking lot effective Wednesday, June 9. New first-dose appointments will be available at the new SUNY Ulster location starting tomorrow and all current appointments for second doses will be honored at the original location at the Fairgrounds.
The Fairground site will continue to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for walk-ins and will continue to administer second doses. First dose appointments will be available at the SUNY Ulster site beginning June 9. Walk-ins will also be accepted at both locations, as they are at all state-run mass vaccination sites. After June 29, the Fairgrounds site will close.
Chinese Producer Prices Reach Record Highs
The People’s Republic has an unusual inflation problem. A commodities rally exacerbated by domestic speculators pumped up the producer price index by a whopping 9% in May read more , the fastest gain since 2008. Consumer inflation, on the other hand, rose a tepid 1.3%. Companies appear unable to pass higher costs onto their customers.
The surge is a partial by-product of Beijing’s pandemic package, which relied on its standard playbook focused more on credit-fuelled infrastructure investment than transfers to consumers. Excess liquidity has flowed into real estate, pumping up demand for steel and glass; increased energy use has pushed up thermal coal prices. Higher interest rates might help, but hiking them would be extremely risky given factory output and retail sales both slowed in April.
Oil prices Close Above $70 a Barrel
Oil futures rose Wednesday, with the U.S. benchmark crude extending a push above the $70-a-barrel threshold on expectations for strengthening demand and as data from an industry trade group showed a fall in American crude inventories. WTI closed Tuesday at its highest since October 2018, while Brent logged the highest settlement for a front-month contract since May 2019.
West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CL00, 0.40% CLN21, 0.43% rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $70.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. August Brent crude BRN00, 0.55% BRNQ21, 0.54%, the global benchmark, was up 45 cents, or 0.6%, at $72.67 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Q: The Economy is Booming, Why Isn’t Job Growth? A: Technology is Filling the Gap Between Jobs and GDP
The economy is rapidly reopening, consumers are flush with federal stimulus cash, and retail sales, factory orders and housing are all booming. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is up 5.3% through May this year, according to a monthly series calculated by IHS Markit.
The gap between GDP and jobs is explained by soaring output per worker. The U.S. is in the midst of a productivity boom. That is positive for wages and inflation because higher revenue can absorb increased wages without companies raising prices. It isn’t such great news for the jobs outlook if employers conclude they can meet sales goals with less hiring.