Daily Briefing – 366

Powell Says Fed Could Start Scaling Back Stimulus This Year

Speaking to an audience of economist and CEOs and academics at a Virtual Jackson Hole Event, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed the central bank’s emerging plan to begin reversing its easy-money policies later this year while explaining in greater detail why he expects a recent surge in inflation to fade over time.  

At the Fed’s meeting late last month, “I was of the view, as were most participants, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace” of the Fed’s $120 billion in monthly asset purchases this year, Mr. Powell said Friday.  Since that meeting, the economy has seen “more progress in the form of a strong employment report for July, but also the further spread of the Delta variant” of the Covid-19 virus, Mr. Powell said Friday morning at a virtual symposium hosted by the Kansas City Fed.

Read More at the WSJ

As Schools Restart, Worry About the Delta Variant Rises, Vaccine Hesitancy Wanes

According to The Economist’s weekly polling with YouGov, an online firm, worry about the Delta variant has jumped in recent weeks. The percent of adults who say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried rose from 47% in late June to 58% this week. Yet this fear is accompanied by an only modest increase in favorable attitudes to vaccination. In YouGov’s data, the percentage of people saying they have or will get the jab increased only from 69% to 72% over the last month.

Concerns about in-school transmission are resurfacing. The majority of the public thinks that children should be required to wear masks to school. Yet despite the spectre of crowds of pupils packing maskless into school auditoriums, many parents are still unenthusiastic about vaccinating their children. Just over half of parents with children old enough have got theirs vaccinated or plan to do so.

Read more at The Economist

FDA Sees Growing Pressure to Authorize Vaccines for Children Under 12

Pressure on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is shifting to vaccine authorization for children under 12, now that the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved for adults. 

With children going back to school and the delta variant raging, some experts and lawmakers are calling for the agency to act with more urgency and to clarify its timeline for authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine for children, given that none is currently available for those under 12. More than 100 House lawmakers wrote to the FDA last week asking for an update on its timeline for vaccines for children, given the current “alarming” situation. 

Read more at The Hill

NAM’s Timmons: Vaccines are Crucial for Worker Safety

Manufacturers should consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination even if they risk losing some workers, says National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons.  Llet’s be upfront about it: We have a very severe worker shortage in our country right now. We’re in competition now all across every sector for workers, but in the end it’s better to have live employees than sick or dead ones, so this is something I think all employers are going to be grappling with,” 

The number of companies, government entities and organizations that have adopted strict coronavirus vaccine policies has accelerated in recent weeks, as government and corporate leaders alike try to convince hesitant Americans to receive the lifesaving shots. 

Read more at CNBC

US COVID Update – Hospitalizations Approach a Peak as Delta Variant Spreads

Covid-19 hospitalizations nationwide crossed above 100,000 this week for the second time in the pandemic, overwhelming caregiver capacity in several states. Patients are younger, and disparities across race and ethnicity persist.

The climb in hospitalizations has been steep, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. “That spike is more exaggerated,” said Hugh Tappan, who oversees 11 HCA Healthcare Inc. hospitals in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In recent weeks, they have paused surgeries that could be delayed, diverted ambulances and stopped taking patients from other hospitals as capacity has become strained.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Saturday August 28th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.9 of all New Yorkers – 12,921,643 (plus 35,598 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,371,226 (plus 3,032) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.6% of all New Yorkers – 11,617,765 are fully vaccinated (Plus 28,371)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,217,754 (plus 2,527) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Friday August 26th.  There were 26 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,453.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,251.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.32%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.62%

Useful Websites:

Administration Likely to Approve Covid-19 Boosters at Six Months

Federal regulators are likely to approve a Covid-19 booster shot for vaccinated adults starting at least six months after the previous dose rather than the eight-month gap they previously announced, a person familiar with the plans said, as the Biden administration steps up preparations for delivering boosters to the public.

Data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries under review by the Food and Drug Administration is based on boosters being given at six months, the person said. The person said approval for boosters for all three Covid-19 shots being administered in the U.S.—those manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson —is expected in mid-September.

Read more at the WSJ

Origins of SARS-CoV-2: Window is Closing for Key Scientific Studies

A group of scientists tasked by the World Health Organization to study how covid-19 spread in Wuhan in 2019 took to Nature to defend their investigation and to warn that delays could make further studies “biologically impossible”. 

Scientific discussions between the international and Chinese teams during this mission were lively. Large amounts of information were exchanged on the basis of the work carried out. …We found the laboratory origin hypothesis too important to ignore, so brought it into the discussions with our Chinese counterparts. And we included it as one of the hypotheses for SARS-CoV-2 origin in our report.

Read more in Nature

More Than 90 percent of Gulf Oil Production ‘Shut In’ Ahead of Hurricane Ida

The top environmental oversight agency in the U.S. activated its hurricane response team Saturday and is monitoring all offshore oil and gas operations as the Gulf States prepare for Hurricane Ida. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures are trading higher late in the session on Friday.

The team will work with offshore operators in coordination with state and federal agencies until “operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat,” announced the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Workers have reportedly been evacuated from half of all offshore oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, with 279 of the 560 platforms now sitting unmanned.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Hochul, Legislature Call Emergency Session on Evictions

When the Supreme Court voided President Biden’s federal eviction moratorium Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul kicked New York’s tenant protection efforts into overdrive.  The governor said in a statement Friday that she plans to hold a special session, effectively pulling the Legislature out of recess, to address evictions. The state’s own moratorium expires Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear if she intends to act on legislation introduced earlier this month by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou to extend the moratorium until Oct. 31, or to tweak the rent relief program’s enabling legislation to speed delivery of the money.

Read more at The Real Deal Real Estate News

Commerce Dept.: Automobiles Restrain U.S. Consumer Spending, Monthly Inflation Slowing

U.S. consumer spending slowed in July as a decline in motor vehicle purchases due to shortages offset a rise in outlays on services, supporting views that economic growth will moderate in the third quarter amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

But the foundation for the recovery remains solid, with the report from the Commerce Department on Friday showing wages rising and Americans further boosting savings. Inflation appears to have peaked, which could preserve households’ purchasing power. Businesses are also restocking and exporting more goods, suggesting a slowdown in growth this quarter could be temporary

Read more a Reuters

Q2 GDP Revised Slightly Upward 

The second estimate of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2021 remained below expectations but rose to 6.6%, according to data released Thursday from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This is a slight increase from the advanced estimate’s 6.5%, and up from the first quarter’s 6.3%.

The modest rise was due to upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investments and exports, but was partially offset by downward revisions to private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction to the GDP calculation, were also revised down.

Read more at Fox Business

Manhattan Office Suites Emptier Than Other Major Metros

Fewer than one in four New York City office workers are back in the office, according to a pair of datasets issued this week.   New York’s office re-occupancy rate is 30 percent lower than the current 10-city average of 31.3 percent. 

At just 21.8 percent of its pre-COVID baseline, New York’s office re-occupancy rate lags that of other major American cities, according to data issued Tuesday by Kastle Systems, which tracks unique entries (fob or card swipes) of the 341,000 individuals authorized to enter the 2,600 buildings nationwide where it controls access. Kastle posts occupancy data each week for an index of 10 cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Jose, Austin, San Francisco and Washington, DC. 

Read more at The Empire Center

Orange County Legislature Begins its Own Investigation of IDA

The Orange County Legislature, Wednesday, began its own investigation into whether contracts signed by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency are void under general municipal law. County Attorney Langdon Chapman, who is serving as interim counsel to the IDA, believes the agency is owed more money than that which was uncovered by the district attorney’s office. “District Attorney (David) Hoovler has already secured over $1.2 million in financial assistance for the IDA as part of the compensation through the wrongful acts.”

The Rules Committee, tasked with the investigation, spent its first session discussing a timetable for its investigation.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

Hudson Valley Unemployment Rage Ticks Up in July

The July 2021 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley Region is 5.3 percent.  That is up from 5.0 percent in June 2021 and down from 12.5 percent in July 2020.  In July 2021, there were 59,900 unemployed in the region, up from 56,900 in June 2021 and down from 145,900 in July 2020.  Year-over-year in July 2021, labor force decreased by 34,900 or 3.0 percent, to 1,136,400.

Local Area Umeployment Statistics Hudson Valley Region

US Jobless Claims Rise by 4,000 to 353,000

Jobless claims edged up by 4,000 to 353,000 from a pandemic low 349,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell by 11,500 to 366,500 — lowest since mid-March 2020 when the coronavirus was beginning to slam the United States.

Some employers blame labor shortages on supplemental unemployment benefits from the federal government — including $300 a week on top of regular state aid — for discouraging some of the jobless from seeking work. Some economists point to other factors that have kept out of the job market — difficulty finding or affording child care, fear about becoming infected by the virus at work and the hope of some people to find better jobs than they had before the pandemic. Whatever the causes, the economy remains 5.7 million jobs shy of what it had in February 2020.

Read more at Yahoo Finance