Supply chain shortages and a bump in the road for Biden’s big goals

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… where the shipping containers anchored off the coast of Southern California seem to be at the root of all of our problems. Also, Democrats aim to package their agenda into one bill but cannot seem to get that bill to a vote. And—are Chairman Powell’s measures for fighting inflation working? Or are all signs pointing to inflation getting worse? Then, the problem no party seems to be able to tackle—helping working women. Finally, the IRS is now set to track more than ever before—what the new rule is, and how small banks respond. This is the Weekender, and as always, thanks for joining us!
 
THE BIG FIVE
Shortage, Shortage, Shortage: Not Only the Materials, but also Labor

Seems like every aspect of the supply chain is facing shortages: from the materials to the workforce making the products. A story we have brought to you before continues to worsen as container ships sit waiting to be unloaded—and now reports show that virtually every home in the U.S. awaits products that are sitting in the Long Beach Harbor. While this seems like an ongoing issue since the Pandemic started, Secretary Buttigieg warns these supply issues are sure to continue into next year. But it is not just the goods—it is also the labor and workforce behind these goods. Pizza chains are seeing a decline in sales due to long delivery times because there are not enough drivers, stores are practically begging for hired hands. This shortage of workers is causing the economic rebound in an (almost) post-pandemic world to slow down, experts say. While the end is not in sight, we bet the shipping containers are a great place to start. Read more in CNN

Are Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s Now-Famous Measuring Sticks Working?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is infamous for using his five measuring sticks to hold back inflation—yet, as we have all witnessed with growing prices, this does not seem to be working very well. In a Senate Committee hearing, Chairman Powell laid out this reason why inflation will soon be going away—however, that was months ago, and inflation is continuing to rise. Here are the five measuring sticks and how they are holding up to reality. 1. Supply chain disruptions: As discussed above, the supply chain is clearly disrupted. 2. Vehicle costs: Powell claims this will dip and then the pricing of moving goods will also fall. However, vehicle prices did fall in September, but prices associated with shipping remained at a 30-year high. 3. Raising wages for workers: Powell argues that increasing wages will balance out the higher costs of goods. However, higher wages increase the price of goods—meaning inflation. 4. Keeping inflation around 2%: the feds prefer this market-based measure of inflation, and Chairman Powell hopes rates will balance back soon. Unfortunately, experts anticipate that the U.S. will remain at 2.7% in a five-year turn. 5. Out of Powell’s hands: Chairman Powell has long said there are many factors, such as aging populations, that the Fed has no control over this. This is true—but let’s focus on the four other aspects the Fed can control. So, (and unfortunately for families around the country) Powell is wrong in his tactics to fight inflation and it is here to stay. To add insult to injury, a shadow looms over the Federal Reserve, as personal activities during the pandemic from Fed leaders bring into question how engaged (if at all) staff should be in the market, and many are calling on Chairman Powell to be held accountable for his actions and others. Read more in CNBC

Biden’s Big Goals Keep Getting Pushed—What It Means.

Biden’s climate agenda is at risk as Democrats negotiate their budget bill. This is the true example of “every vote counts” as Biden grapples with appeasing every Democrat member—not because he wants to, but because he needs to. Without compromise for aspects of the bill, Biden simply does not have the votes. Negotiations seem never-ending, key Congressional Democrats even joke that they have their own parking spots at the White House. This is more than just getting a bill to pass the House and the Senate—this is the entire Biden and Democrat agenda rolled into one, single bill. The fact that Democrats cannot even agree on their own agenda is the bigger issue at hand. The timeline of this bill continues to be pushed, and now insiders say it won’t even be heard until the end of the year. Let’s look at the first session of Congress so far in the Biden Administration: there have been talks of legislation, but no real, transformative change for the country as every newly elected president aims to do in his first year in office. This hurts Biden’s legacy and sets the tone for the remainder of his term. As a reminder, the midterm elections are next year, meaning members will not be in session as often, and big policy changes hardly come to a vote. This is the golden window for Biden, but time is running out—it’s like watching a 50-car pile-up in slow motion, just waiting for the crash. But do not count Biden out just yet, there is one person who could come in and join the fight: as TIME calls her “the fixer”, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Could Pelosi be the uniting factor? She has yet to play a large public role in the negotiations, but she could just be the voice of reason that the Democrats need to tie up the loose ends and get this bill passed. Read more in CNBC

Democrats Face Tough Choices When It Comes to Working Women

Working mothers often have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring their children are taken care of during the workday—and this has been an ongoing issue since, what seems to be, the beginning of time when Native Americans strapped their babies to their chests and took them along to finish their family duties or when colonial women built pens for their infants to stay alone while the women went off to do their work. The history of childcare shortcomings is long and continues to impact working women now, as much as it did then. Democrats aim to create solutions, but the issue comes with more caveats than what may be obtainable. Take universal preschool for example: while having every child be able to go to preschool and be watched during the school day would be great, what about women with newborns? What about women who work in the evenings? This is not just a Democrat issue, as Republicans tried to tackle this in their historic tax bill in 2017 by creating a child tax credit. While this did create a benefit for millions of families, it was argued not to be enough. After all, the United States gives about $500 per child, per family, while other countries average about $14,000. Obviously, no party wants infants staying home alone—but the parties cannot seem to achieve overarching and effective reform. We want to hear your thoughts: what do you think the solution is? Read more in The Hill

Only Things Certain in Life: Death, Taxes, and the IRS Monitoring Everything You Do?

In an attempt to crack down on tax evaders, the Biden Administration has been working with the IRS to monitor all bank accounts with more than $10,000 flowing in and out each year. This was raised from the original $600 the IRS planned. The new rule, if it’s enacted, will have banking institutions report the exact amount of money flowing in and out of banking accounts. While they cannot see where the money came from (maybe a little too Big Brother), they will now see more information about individuals’ bank accounts than ever before. This will impact a large portion of the country, and smaller banks and credit unions are concerned they do not have the capacity to alert customers. This begs the question, is this causing more harm than good? Read more in Fast Company

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

A New Cold War, But This Time with China?

Last week, the United States got word of China’s (possible?) test of a hypersonic missile test. Of course, China denies any confirmation of this test—but, is it the first sign of a Cold War with China? China is intensifying its mission to catch American Spies in the country, bolstering the theory. The United States’ economy is tied to China—even having our stocks fall when Chinese growth reports underperformed. And, not to bring up those shipping containers again, but most of those are coming from China. So, what can Americans do? It is up to the Biden Administration to keep a close eye on what is going on overseas and sharply adjust our strategies. For now, we must sit back and hope for the best. Read more in The New York Times

DATA POINTS

5.9%: The percentage increase of Social Security benefits next year, the largest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years.

5.6%: The percentage increase in nursing school enrollment in 2020. That increase will continue in 2021. Thousands of nurses quit or retired before the pandemic, creating a nursing shortage as COVID-19 struck the United States.

84: The age of retired four-star general, former White House national security advisor, and first Black secretary of state Colin Powell when he passed away on Monday. His family announced that Powell was experiencing complications from COVID-19.

2 billion: The expected number of those in the Generation Alpha category – kids born from 2010 through 2024 – who are unprecedented in that they’re growing up online. Marketing giants have their eyes on this group as they already stand out from Gen Z in their worldliness and brand awareness.

262: The total days since March 2020 that Melbourne, Australia has spent under lockdown, more than any other city in the world during the pandemic. Melbourne’s latest lockdown has lasted 73 days and includes a 9pm-5am stay-at-home curfew, ending on Thursday at 11:59pm. 

49%: The United States’ global approval rating of United State leadership, up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and matching former President Obama’s first year.

6 million: The number of U.S. households who will use propane as their primary heating source this winter. U.S. propane prices are so high, and supplies are so scarce that the market appears to be headed for what experts are calling an ‘armageddon’ this winter.

2.5 billion: The amount Johnson & Johnson expects to generate in COVID-19 vaccine sales this year. J&J registered $502 million of global revenue from its vaccine in the third quarter alone, bringing year-to-date vaccine sales to $766 million.

50%: U.S. Latinos ownership rate in 2020, a new high. Homeownership is viewed as a key factor to building personal wealth in the U.S., and Latinos are narrowing the gap between their white counterparts.

FEATURED TWEET

Credit: USA Today on Twitter. 
 
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