Governor Hochul Delivers 2022 State of the State
In her first State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined her vision to shepherd New York State through its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, while unveiling initiatives to combat gun violence and make the state more affordable and equitable for the working class. She vowed to fuel an economic comeback and position the state as a business-friendly haven, by proposing $100 million in tax cuts for small businesses, accelerating existing tax cuts for the middle class and pouring billions of dollars into clean energy, infrastructure and economic development programs.
She unveiled incentives to recruit and retain more teachers, and to fortify the state’s decimated health care work force through a $10 billion commitment to support wages and bonuses for health care workers. She also plans to incentivize venture-backed start-ups to stay in or relocate to New York State through financial awards, and to accelerate the implementation of a $1.2 billion tax cut for middle-class earners that was introduced by Mr. Cuomo in 2018, but was not supposed to go into full effect until 2025.
Fed Minutes Point to Possible Rate Increase in March, Markets React
Federal Reserve officials at their meeting last month eyed a faster timetable for raising interest rates this year, potentially as soon as in March, amid greater discomfort with high inflation. Minutes of their Dec. 14-15 meeting, released Wednesday, showed officials believed that rising inflation and a very tight labor market could call for lifting short-term rates “sooner or at a faster pace than participants had earlier anticipated.” Some officials also thought the Fed should start shrinking its $8.76 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets relatively soon after beginning to raise rates, the minutes said.
U.S. stocks reacted to the release of the minutes by declining sharply. The S&P 500 dropped 1.9%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.3%, while the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average—which set its own record Tuesday—lost 1.1%, or 392 points.
A Deeper Look into the ISM Survey December Data
Last month’s Institute for Supply Management report showed stable conditions in December for manufacturers and some easing of stubborn labor and material shortages. Several of the ISM’s indicators for manufacturing health fell but remained in growth territory, including its indexes for new orders, production and prices.
- The new orders index fell 1.1 points to 60.4%,
- Production fell 2.3 points to 59.2%, and the
- Prices index decelerated 14.2 points to 82.4%.
- Backlog growth accelerated slightly,
- New export orders measure slowed slightly to 53.6%,
- While the imports index grew by 1.2 points to 53.8%.
A Deeper Look a the Jolts Data Manufacturing Contributes Little to Great Resignation
While a record number of people in the U.S. quit their jobs in November, manufacturing did not contribute much to the Great Resignation. The private economy’s job separation rate rose from 4.0 to 4.2% of the workforce in November, while the separation rate for manufacturing specifically fell from 3.4 to 3.3%.
- The hiring rate in manufacturing fell by between October and November 2021 from 482,000 to 472,000.
- The number of people hired by durable goods production companies remained stable at 270,000 new hires.
- The number of new hires at nondurable goods companies fell by 10,000 people to 202,000 new employees.
- In November 2020, 57% of private workers and 64% of manufacturing workers who left their jobs did so by voluntarily quitting. A year later, those numbers jumped to 72% and 70%, respectively.
- The number of unfilled manufacturing jobs fell to 858,000 positions in October, down from a 948,000 peak in September.
US COVID – CDC Confirms Isolation Guidance, Rejects More Testing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday did not formally recommend a negative COVID-19 test for a person to leave isolation after being infected and instead merely clarified that for anyone who has access to a test and wants to take it, a rapid antigen test at the end of the isolation period is best.
The agency essentially doubled down on its earlier guidance, released last week, that said people infected with COVID-19 can leave isolation and go back to work after five days if they are asymptomatic or if their symptoms are improving and they wear a mask for five days. The CDC also recommended that anyone who is not fully vaccinated and boosted should quarantine for 10 days if exposed to someone who was infected.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of January 5:
One Vaccine Dose
- 84.6% of all New Yorkers – 15,796,298 (plus 26,618 from a day earlier).
- In the Hudson Valley 1,641,404 (plus 2,601).
- 72.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,006,052 (plus 17,539).
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,430,404 (plus 1,508).
- All New Yorkers – 4,837,699
- In the Hudson Valley – 572,451
The Governor updated COVID data through January 4. There were 96 COVID related deaths for a total of 61,749.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 10,867.
7 Day Average Positivity Rate – Cases per 100K population
- Statewide 22.45% – 352.06 positive cases per 100,00 population
- Mid-Hudson: 23.31% – 327.90 positive cases per 100,00 population
Pfizer to Supply U.S. With 10 Million More Courses of COVID-19 Treatment Pills
The Biden administration doubled its order for Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, the company and the White House said on Tuesday, providing the government a total of 20 million courses as it fights a record surge in COVID-19 cases.
The White House now expects some 4 million treatment courses of the pills to be available by the end of January and 10 million by June, three months sooner than previously planned, according to an administration official.
WHO Sees More Evidence that Omicron Causes Milder Symptom, “Decoupling” from Death
More evidence is emerging that the Omicron coronavirus variant is affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than previous variants and resulting in a “decoupling” in some places between soaring case numbers and low death rates, a World Health Organization official said on Tuesday.
“We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body. Unlike other ones, the lungs who would be causing severe pneumonia,” WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud told Geneva-based journalists. While case numbers have surged to all-time records, the hospitalisation and death rates are often lower than at other phases in the pandemic. “What we are seeing now is….the decoupling between the cases and the deaths,” he said.
Testing Site to Open at SUNY New Paltz
County Executive Pat Ryan yesterday announced that New York State will open a state run COVID-19 community testing site on the campus of SUNY New Paltz starting next week. The state-run testing site will complement the over 50,000 free at-home rapid kits that Ulster County has already distributed to residents throughout the county.
The SUNY New Paltz Community Testing Site is anticipated to open to the public sometime next week. Information regarding hours and appointments for the state run testing site will be announced soon. Follow us for updates.
China’s Zero-COVID Strategy Comes Under Pressure
In most countries, a covid-19 caseload in the low hundreds would be a welcome relief. But on Tuesday Yuzhou, a city in Henan province that is home to 1.1m people, went into full lockdown after three cases were reported the day before. The centre of China’s current covid surge is Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province. The city of 13m people has been locked down for nearly two weeks and has recorded more than 1,700 cases since early December. Residents have complained of food shortages.
Since March 2020 the Chinese government’s zero-covid strategy—with tight border restrictions and draconian domestic measures—has mostly been successful. But it has stumbled against the more-transmissible Omicron variant. Despite lockdowns, the virus is spreading. More than 175 additional cases were reported on Tuesday.
White House: No plans to Change Definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’
The Biden administration said Wednesday it has no plans to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” against the coronavirus to include getting a booster shot. The definition is important for an array of vaccine requirements the administration has put forward. It means two shots of Pfizer or Moderna will remain enough to satisfy Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandates for large employers and for health workers.
“Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’ve received their primary series, that definition is not changing,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing. She said that the CDC is instead using the term “up to date” to encourage people to get boosters.
E-Verify Updates on Referred TNCs and Open Cases
In March 2020, E‑Verify extended the timeframe employees had to contest their Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs). This extension was due in part to the Social Security Administration (SSA) closing their offices to the public. Many referred TNCs have not received final responses. E‑Verify will begin updating some referred TNCs with final responses.
To complete the E‑Verify process, employers are required to close every case, including those cases that were recently updated with final responses. However, E‑Verify will automatically close cases that receive a result of Employment Authorized. Employers must close cases that were created in error, with incorrect information, or for employees who are no longer employed. Incomplete cases must also be closed.
Fire at Vital Tech Factory Could Worsen Global Computer Chip Shortage
A fire at a factory owned by the sole provider of a vital technology used to manufacture computer chips could exacerbate an already serious global shortage of semiconductors used in everything from phones to cars.
The blaze broke out overnight on Sunday at a plant in Berlin, Germany, owned by ASML Holding. Although far from a household name, the Dutch company is the world’s largest supplier of photolithography systems and the only source of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, which are more advanced. These devices are used to etch circuits onto silicon wafers and create computer chips used by Apple, IBM and Samsung. In the third quarter of last year, ASML Holding sold €5.2 billion worth of this equipment.
Semiconductor Supply Chain to See More Volatility This Year
Industrial reports revealed recently that delivery time for chips increased again in December 2021, dampening the outlook of related industries that relate to nearly all segments of the global economy. The delivery time between when a semiconductor is ordered and when it is delivered stood at about 25.8 weeks in December, an increase of six days from November levels, Bloomberg reported, citing an industrial report released by Susquehanna Financial Group. It was the longest delivery timespan since Susquehanna started tracing the data in 2017.
There is a list of reasons behind the fluctuations, including Washington’s efforts to disrupt the global supply chain which has sent shockwaves throughout the sector. Amid the historical trend of globalization, the semiconductor industry is one the representatives marking the global division of labor based on each economy’s comparative advantages. The trend line following economic rules, however, goes against the US’ hegemonic position in the field, especially when Chinese advanced technology is catching up or surpassing the US in many respects.
Space Law: Getting Europe to Sign on to the Artemis Accords
The U.S. is trying to set rules for space exploration—covering everything from the protection of lunar bases to mining on asteroids—but France and Germany are yet to sign up to the so-called Artemis Accords (China and Russia are, needless to say, unlikely to get onboard anytime soon.) The discussion comes amid a new space race with China, which is moving quickly on its own national program and has outlined embryonic plans for a moon base with Russia. Both countries have made clear they aren’t interested in signing up to the U.S.-led effort.
The accords would be non-binding, but there are fundamental questions here about whether Europe should be joining a U.S.-led policy or setting up its own “space law.”