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The White House said on Thursday that it was aiming for half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric powered, portraying the shift to battery power as essential to keep pace with China and to fight climate change.
President Biden is expected to announce the target on Thursday afternoon, a White House statement said, as part of a plan that will also include construction of a nationwide network of charging stations, financial incentives for consumers to buy electric cars and financial aid for carmakers and suppliers to retool factories for electric vehicles. The president also plans to tighten fuel economy standards that were rolled back by President Donald J. Trump.
Electric vehicles account for a much higher share of auto sales in Europe and China because of incentives for consumers and government regulation. In June, less than 4 percent of the new cars sold in the United States were pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, according to Argonne National Laboratory.
“Despite pioneering the technology, the U.S. is behind in the race to manufacture these vehicles and the batteries that go in them,” the White House said in a statement. “Today, the U.S. market share of electric vehicle sales is only one-third that of the Chinese electric vehicle market.”
Virtually all major American carmakers as well as numerous foreign automakers endorsed the plan, though they described the target as 40 percent to 50 percent electric vehicles and said it would be possible only with enough charging stations for millions of cars.
“We look forward to working with the Biden administration, Congress and state and local governments to enact policies that will enable these ambitious objectives,” Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which owns Jeep and Chrysler, said in a joint statement.
The United Auto Workers expressed support for the plan, as did BMW, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo.
When Bank of England policymakers meet on Thursday they will be under pressure to offer more clues into how they plan to reverse the emergency stimulus they adopted during the pandemic, when they cut interest rates to just above zero and began a £450 billion ($625 billion) bond-buying program.
While the British central bank isn’t expected to change its monetary policy stance on Thursday, it is likely to update its forecasts for economic growth and inflation as pandemic restrictions have been lifted and the recovery continues. The debate facing the Bank of England and other central banks, including the Federal Reserve, is how much more stimulus the economy needs to ensure that the recovery continues without overheating and losing control of inflation.
In Britain, the annual inflation rate is already above the central bank’s 2 percent target, and three months ago policymakers predicted it would temporarily exceed 3 percent. But the bond-buying program is set to run until the end of the year. Some members of the Monetary Policy Committee, such as Michael Sauders, have already suggested that the bank could start to pull back on stimulus, for example by ending the bond-buying program early.
“Assuming energy prices do not continue to rise, much of that overshoot versus the 2 percent target is likely to fade during next year,” Mr. Saunders said last month in a speech posted on the bank’s site. “But I am not confident that (with the current policy stance) all the inflation overshoot will prove temporary.”
A report by the House of Lords published last month called on the central bank to explain more clearly what it means by “transitory” inflation and to demonstrate that it has a plan to keep price gains under control. The report also said that the bond-buying program had exacerbated wealth inequalities and that the Bank of England hadn’t sufficiently engaged in the debate about the downsides of the sustained use of the asset purchases, which began in 2009.
And then there is the question of what the central bank will do once it stops buying bonds. Historically, the central bank has said it would raise interest rates to 1.5 percent before it started selling the assets from the bond-buying program, a threshold that has never been reached since then. In February, the central bank asked its staff to review the way it should tighten monetary policy, including whether the order should be reversed to sell assets before raising rates. On Thursday, analysts will be looking for updates from the review. Markets are already predicting that the central bank will begin raising interest rates next year.
The central bank is also expected to update markets on the readiness of financial institutions for negative interest rates. In February, it gave banks six months to prepare for below-zero rates so that it could make that policy change if needed. A negative interest rate would mean charging banks to store cash at the central bank, which would also lower the other interest rates in the economy, for example, on loans to businesses and households. In theory this would encourage more borrowing and investment.
Since asking the banks to prepare, the British economy has moved into an upswing, albeit an uneven one, which has diminished the case for negative interest rates. But from now on, the Bank of England would have this policy tool in its pocket.
After the departures of the bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, in June, there are only eight committee members voting in this meeting.
Economists in Wall Street and in Washington will be parsing employment data Friday for any hint at whether workers are prodded back into the labor market as federal unemployment insurance benefits are cut off.
This will be the first jobs report that may reflect an increase in labor supply and hiring from the loss of benefits, because about half of the states had ended a $300-a-week federal supplement by the time of data collection. That money expires at a federal level on Sept. 6, but some states — all but one led by Republicans — began to curtail the federally funded support in mid-June, at the tail end of that month’s labor market survey.
Friday’s report will only offer high-level numbers, figures on industries and data on demographic groups, so analysts may have to wait until state-by-state data are released in mid-August to compare the places that cut off the $300 supplement with those retaining it.
Many businesses have blamed generous unemployment benefits for inducing workers to remain out of work. That is why many states chose to end the benefit early. The Biden administration has been loath to say that the added benefit discouraged work, but is allowing it to lapse. The infrastructure plan being considered by the Senate would be funded in part by unused appropriations for jobless benefits.
But it’s unclear to what extent the aid cutoff will prod people back into the job market. It has been difficult to judge from up-to-date data — like jobless claims — whether more workers are searching for positions as the help ends.
“So far, the claims data don’t show overwhelmingly clear evidence that there is a meaningful reaction in the labor market when states have ended the pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs,” Daniel Silver at J.P. Morgan wrote in a recent note, while adding that some places cutting off federal aid have seen continuing claims fall “more noticeably” than elsewhere.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs found little difference in the June jobs data between states that ended federal jobless benefits early and those that did not. While the cutoff in federal benefits by some states had just begun when the June survey was conducted, the prospective loss of income might have nudged workers to search for jobs.
“While workers in these states knew the policy was ending soon and could have responded pre-emptively, the full effect of expiration on official employment measures should not be fully visible until the July report,” Ronnie Walker, a Goldman economist, wrote in a research note on July 17. At the time, Goldman thought the cutoff might add as many as 150,000 jobs to the data being released Friday, based on early state-level figures.
Some economists are skeptical that the loss of benefits will greatly affect the labor market.
Deutsche Bank analysts have said that the role of unemployment insurance benefits in discouraging people from returning to work seems limited.
“There is limited evidence that U.I. benefits have been a primary factor weighing on employment,” Matthew Luzzetti and his colleagues wrote in a recent analysis, pointing out that job growth has been strong in low-wage sectors where employers should be competing with the benefit, and that those sectors have similar patterns in job openings relative to new hires that other sectors have shown.
Mr. Luzzetti said in an email that he did not expect the early cutoff of federal benefits in some states to have a meaningful effect on the July jobs figures.
And Luke Tilley, Wilmington Trust’s chief economist, wrote in a research note that employment numbers released by the payroll and data company ADP on Wednesday — which showed disappointing job growth — suggested that “the expiry of federal unemployment insurance benefits (which has now occurred in nearly 50 percent of states) will not be an immediate panacea for labor shortages.”
While ADP figures are often out of line with the monthly Labor Department numbers, and may be especially so this time because of seasonal adjustments, they can signal direction.
Still, many economists will watch hiring categories like leisure and hospitality this month for any sign that people are surging back to work as benefits end.
Luke Pardue, economist at the payroll platform Gusto, found in a recent analysis of the company’s data that hiring in small service businesses hadn’t been helped overall in states that ended federal benefits early — though it may have tilted toward older workers and away from teenagers.
A federal official’s recommendation for a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama is just one aspect of the broadening pressure to rein in the power the company wields over its employees and their workplace conditions, our labor reporter, Noam Scheiber, reports.
The officer recommended the dismissal of many of the union’s objections to the election, including the contention that Amazon illegally threatened workers with a loss of pay or benefits if they unionized. But she found that a collection box that Amazon pressured the U.S. Postal Service to install near the warehouse entrance gave workers the impression that the company was monitoring who was voting, thereby tainting the outcome.
A union brief described how Amazon surrounded the collection box with a tent, on which it printed a company campaign message (“Speak for Yourself”) and the instruction “Mail Your Ballot Here.” The union noted that Amazon’s surveillance cameras could record workers entering and leaving the tent. The company did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The board’s regional office will rule on the recommendation in the coming weeks. If it leads to a new election, as seems likely, the union would face long odds of victory.
Efforts to challenge Amazon’s labor practices include a campaign by the Teamsters that would generally circumvent traditional workplace elections and pressure the company through protests, boycotts and even fights against its expansion efforts at the local level. Legislation in California would force Amazon to reveal its productivity quotas, which unions contend are onerous and put workers at risk.
And in April, the general counsel of the labor board found merit to charges that Amazon fired two white-collar workers who had raised concerns last year about the conditions facing the company’s warehouse workers during the pandemic.
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