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Daily Briefing – 416

Post: Nov. 30, 2021

Euro Zone Inflation Rate Hits a Record 4.9% for November

Headline inflation came in at 4.9% for the month, compared to the same month last year. This was above a consensus forecast of 4.5% from Reuters and was higher than October’s 4.1%. The figure was the highest on record in the 25 years that the data has been compiled.  The question going forward is how the ECB will square the high inflation readings with uncertainty over the pandemic.

In Germany — a country historically scared of high inflation — the inflation rate hit a 29-year high in November. They were up by 6% from a year ago, as measured by the harmonized index of consumer prices. The trend is the same in France, where the inflation rate reached 3.4% in November, the highest reading since 2008.

Read more at CNBC

Powell: “I Think its Time Retire that Word (Transitory)” – Fed Will Consider Faster Taper

U.S. central bankers in December will discuss whether to end their bond purchases a few months earlier than had been anticipated, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday, pointing to a strong economy, stalled workforce growth, and high inflation that is expected to last into mid-2022. High inflation, now running at more than twice the Fed’s flexible target of 2% annually but which the central bank has for months characterized as “transitory,” is only expected to ease in the second half of 2022, Powell said. Given how long it has lasted, Powell said: “I think it’s probably a good time to retire that word.”

Powell twinned his remarks, whose hawkish tone took some analysts by surprise, with an observation that the economic risk from an emergent variant of COVID-19 will be better understood by the Fed’s Dec. 14-15 policy meeting but will in any case be far less than in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic erupted.

Read More at Reuters

Schumer: ‘Good Conversation’ With McConnell on Debt Hike 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had a “good conversation” about raising the debt ceiling and that talks are ongoing as Congress barrels toward a debt cliff.  Schumer hasn’t yet outlined what the path forward is on the debt ceiling. In testimony earlier in the day  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that they have until Dec. 15 to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. 

Republicans are pushing Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own through reconciliation, a budget process that lets them avoid the filibuster. Republicans have offered to expedite that process, which typically involves a lengthy debate and a freewheeling vote-a-rama where any senator can offer an amendment. 

Read more at The Hill

Senate Build Back Better Vote as Soon as Week of Dec. 13

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to bring President Biden’s social spending and climate bill to the floor as soon as the week of Dec. 13, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill.  Schumer’s plan is to bring the bill to the Senate floor once Democrats finish their conversations with the parliamentarian, who provides guidance on what can be included in a bill passed through budget reconciliation.

To start debate on the Build Back Better legislation, Schumer would also need total unity from his caucus, something he doesn’t have yet.  Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have not said if they support the spending bill. Manchin has also declined to say if he would vote to start debate — something that Democrats won’t be able to do without Manchin’s support.

Read more at The Hill

US COVID Update – U.S. Steps Up Search for Omicron Variant in Domestic COVID-19 Cases

The United States is enhancing its COVID-19 surveillance to distinguish domestic cases of the Omicron variant from the still-dominant Delta, the head of the association of state-run public health laboratories told Reuters on Monday.

Detecting COVID-19 cases in which the S-gene appears to drop out alerts lab officials that such samples should undergo additional sequencing to confirm the presence of Omicron.  Of the 68 public health labs doing sequencing in the United States, 56 have done a test run with the ThermoFisher system, and 35 are already using it. Currently, the United States runs sequences on 93,000 COVID-19 tests a week, up sharply from 3,000 a week at the beginning of 2021, Becker said. Public health labs run between 15,000 and 20,000 of those per week, he said.

Read more at Reuters

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday November 30th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 78.1of all New Yorkers – 14,909,312 (plus 15,719 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,564,811 (plus 2,637).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 68.4% of all New Yorkers – 13,291,979 (plus 15,214).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,366,3111 (plus2,030). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday November 29th.  There were 41 COVID related deaths for a total of 59,177. 


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,992.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 4.19%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.49%

Useful Websites:

CDC Says Everyone 18 and Older Should Get Covid-19 Booster Due to Omicron Variant

The CDC on Monday recommended that everyone 18 and older get an additional shot after completing a first course of Covid-19 vaccination. The agency earlier this month encouraged boosters only for those 50 and above, adding that people ages 18 and above could get an additional dose. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged unvaccinated people who are eligible for Covid-19 shots to get them.

The stock prices of several vaccine makers have risen in recent days on the prospect of new demand for booster shots. Officials in New York City on Monday again tightened guidance on wearing masks, strongly recommending that people wear face coverings indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

Read more at the WSJ

28% of Unvaccinated Workers Consider Lying About Status

New research says some vaccine resistance will continue to challenge employers strategizing vaccine and testing mandates of their own. Nearly 30% of unvaccinated employees would consider misrepresenting their vaccination status or fabricating documents for a variety of reasons, including keeping their jobs, according to new research from experience management technology Qualtrics.

“Millions of Americans remain hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and as governments and employers double down on policies and incentives, many unvaccinated people are digging in their heels,” said Benjamin Granger, Ph.D., head of employee experience advisory services at Qualtrics.

Read more at HR Executive

Supply Chain Woes Dominate Earnings Season

Manufacturing market watchers looking to take away one thing from the boatload of earnings reports this fall from some of the biggest names in business—headaches bedeviling large parts of the global supply chain are going to be a big story well into 2022 and perhaps even longer. General Electric’s Larry Culp said his team is playing Whac-A-Mole keeping with supply chain snags. While some of his peers voiced optimism that things are getting better, he said he wasn’t yet seeing improvement. 

A byproduct of consumers’ enduring appetite for cars, homes and many other products—and a way to offset some of the enduring pressure on supply chains—is that companies have pricing power that looks like it’ll stick for a bit. General Motors CFO Paul Jacobson said on the heels of that company’s third-quarter report that the auto giant has learned “a lot of lessons in inventory management” during the past year and a half that have informed its pricing strategies. 

Read more at IndustryWeek

Global Steel Output Steady, but Contracting

Global steel production rose slightly in October, up 0.9% from September to 145.7 million metric tons, as steelmakers in much of the world maintained a steady pace. However, the latest figure is also -10.6% lower than the October 2020 total, indicating the global effects of the Chinese steel industry continuing to cut its output.  The October total brings the year-to-date global steel production volume to 1.607 billion metric tons, which is 5.9% ahead of the pandemic-marked figures for 2020. Regional results for most of Asia, Europe, and North America indicate a return to normal market conditions after the anomalous results of last year.

All the tonnage data is supplied by the World Steel Assn., which tracks raw-steel output for 64 countries representing about 98% of global steel production – meaning carbon steel, produced in basic-oxygen or electric arc furnaces and cast into semi-finished forms like billets for bar and rod products; slabs for flat products; or blooms, for beam and pipe products. Specialty and stainless steel are accounted separately.

Read more at American Machinist

Amazon Ordered to Hold New Union Election at Alabama Facility

A federal labor relations official has ordered a second union election at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Ala..  The decision by National Labor Relations Board Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson largely rests on the e-commerce giant’s decision to install a mailbox in front of the fulfillment center to collect employees’ mail-in ballots for the union election.

Workers at the facility overwhelmingly voted — 1,798 to 738 — against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in April. But, after the union filed dozens of objections to the election results. Kerstin Meyers, the hearing officer for the NLRB’s Region 10 office, found that Amazon interfered with the “conditions necessary to conduct a fair election” by installing the mailbox and offering employees anti-union badges and signs.

Volvo Sales Down on Supply Crunch

Volvo sales and profits fell in the third quarter due to the global shortage of semiconductors, but supply is now improving, the Swedish automaker said Tuesday. Sales volume fell 17% to 149,900 units sold in the third quarter, the company said. Revenue fell by seven percent to 60.8 billion kronor ($6.7 billion, 5.9 billion euros). Net profit was 31% lower at 2.3 billion kronor.

The auto industry has struggled with a lack of chips that are key electronic components for cars, forcing some factories to pause production. “The supply situation has improved going into the fourth quarter, but the industry-wide shortage of semiconductors is expected to remain a constraining factor,” chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said in an earnings statement.

Read more at IndustryWeek

U.S. Home-Price Growth Decelerated in September

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 19.5% in the year that ended in September, down from a 19.8% annual rate the prior month. The median existing-home sales price in October rose 13.1% from a year earlier to $353,900, the National Association of Realtors said earlier this month.

The Case-Shiller index, which measures repeat-sales data, reports on a two-month delay. In more recent weeks, mortgage rates have increased, which could slow home-price gains by raising monthly payments for home buyers. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.1% as of Wednesday, according to mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac.

Read more at the WSJ

COVID-19 Antibody Drugs Are Challenged by Omicron, Preliminary Testing Indicates

Preliminary tests indicate the Covid-19 antibody drug cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. loses effectiveness against Omicron, the company said Tuesday, a sign that some products in an important class of therapies might need modifying if the new strain becomes widespread. 

The findings are the early results of researchers’ race to assess the impact of the new Omicron variant on Covid-19 treatments that patients, doctors and hospitals have been relying on, as well as pills in development that have promised to keep people out of the hospital. Researchers say some antibody therapies are likely to be especially vulnerable to Omicron because it contains mutations to the spike protein that the Regeneron and Lilly drugs target, while other drugs should hold up well because they attack elements of the virus unchanged in the variant.

Read more at the WSJ

South Africa’s Scientists Have Bought the World Time on Omicron. It Should Use it

The admirable work of South Africa’s scientists and their exemplary openness, along with the rapid recognition that Omicron poses a genuine threat, show that the world has learnt a lot about dealing with pandemics in the past two years. However, the very fact that Omicron was spotted early, using sparse data, means that its true nature will remain unclear without further research. The real test of pandemic preparedness will be how wisely the world uses the time it has won.

The most important is whether Omicron will displace the Delta variant. Another question is whether Omicron causes severe disease. Early reports of mild cases in South Africa are not conclusive. They may have described symptoms in mostly young people, who are less vulnerable to all variants of covid-19. A third question is how much protection vaccines, prior infections and medicines give against Omicron. The grounds for concern are mostly theoretical. Omicron has roughly 30 mutations on the spike protein, some of which are thought to help virus particles enter human cells and others of which frustrate attacks from antibodies.

Read more at The Economist