BUSINESS AND MONEY
Chris Benbow 18, Jul 3 mins
3 mins
The Ritz Herald
“Fearless Girl” facing the New York Stock Exchange. © Joannes Eisele / AFP
Overheated asset markets, national debt driving over-consumption; U.S. Net asset position now in worst deficit position in history

According to Beacon Economics’ new outlook for the U.S. economy, the economy will continue its steady expansion for the foreseeable future but may face a crisis of severe proportions by the end of the decade. A colossal Federal deficit and overvalued asset markets are driving excessively hot consumer spending, which may be supporting the nation’s current expansion but could be building into a serious future threat.

According to the new outlook:

  • Elevated spending by American households is being driven by unusually high asset values and the $5 trillion in (stimulus) money injected into the economy during the pandemic.
  • For the first time since the run-up to the 2007 Great Recession, the savings rate for U.S. households is below 4%.
  • Today’s excess spending is being fueled by public, not private, sector borrowing.
  • The nation’s current account deficit is twice what it was prior to the pandemic.
  • The United States’ net asset position is in the worst deficit position in history.

“There is no version of the future in which these trends are sustainable,” said Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and the outlook’s author. “In any smaller economy the warning signs would already be flashing red to global asset markets, but the United States is too big and relatively safe for the danger to be acknowledged… yet.”

The new outlook lays the problem’s intensification squarely at the Federal Reserve’s feet and its policies throughout and after the pandemic. “These issues began long before the pandemic struck, but actions by the Fed in response to the crisis have made the nation’s long-run economic situation significantly worse,” said Thornberg. “Their decision to firehose an extreme amount of new…

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U.S. Consumers Feel the Pinch of Soaring Food Prices as Inflation Takes Its Toll
The Ritz Herald

U.S. consumers are gassed when it comes to their stamina for paying historically high food prices. Having borne the brunt of a protracted post-pandemic inflation runup with extraordinary resilience, Americans have finally hit the wall.

Over the past five years, a series of macro factors have catapulted prices higher, weighing…

New Research Highlights Role of Pension Plans in Recruiting and Retaining Public Safety Professionals
The Ritz Herald

As state and local governments across the nation continue to struggle to fill public safety positions, new research from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) explores how defined benefit pension plans are a critical workforce management tool for public safety employers.

The Role of Defined Benefit Pensions in…

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. Fell Again in May 2024
The Ritz Herald

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. decreased by 0.5 percent in May 2024 to 101.2 (2016=100), following a 0.6 percent decline in April. Over the six-month period between November 2023 and May 2024, the LEI fell by 2.0 percent—a smaller decrease than its 3.4 percent…

Kamala Harris Advocates for Economic Empowerment at 100 Black Men of America Conference
The Ritz Herald

Vice President Kamala Harris, in a significant move, brought her economic opportunity tours to Atlanta to visit the 38th Conference of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. This pivotal stop was to discuss economic empowerment with the audience, underlining the importance of the event.

The Vice President, in a…

J.P. Morgan Private Bank Releases 2024 Mid-Year Outlook
The Ritz Herald

J.P. Morgan Private Bank released its 2024 Mid-Year Outlook, A Strong Economy in a Fragile World, which defines the most important considerations for investors amid this complex environment.

“Despite global inflation not falling as quickly as forecasters may have hoped, the global economy looks remarkably strong, defying the pressure of…

3 mins
© DHL
The Ritz Herald
Teamsters demand DHL recognize CVG sort workers' right to collectively bargain

Sort workers at DHL’s global hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) are calling for the company to recognize their right to collectively bargain a union contract. A majority of the over 1,300 sort workers at DHL-CVG support joining the Teamsters.

“Today my co-workers and I, with majority support, demanded recognition from DHL to become Teamsters,” said Liam Burke, a member of the CVG Sort Workers Organizing Committee. “A Teamsters contract means respect and the right to bargain on the many issues that affect us at our workplace, including favoritism, guaranteed hours, and the better pay we deserve. We are not numbers — we are human beings.”

Sort workers are demanding the immediate right to negotiate a Teamsters contract after DHL left over 150 full-time workers with just 24 hours’ notice to accept part-time positions or resign, despite the company continuing to bring on new hires. Workers are also calling for the provision of water and working fans to mitigate high temperatures in the workplace and the reinstatement of their wrongfully terminated co-workers.

“DHL’s decision to give over 150 full-time workers just 24 hours to accept part-time positions or resign is not just unfair — it’s inhumane,” said Cathy Davis, a member…

4 mins
© AmeriCorps
The Ritz Herald
AmeriCorps NCCC and AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP activated a network of tax assistance across the country to help nearly 125,000 individuals receive benefits and relief

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, assisted nearly 125,000 low-income Americans with tax preparation, returning more than $83 million to eligible families. AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP and AmeriCorps NCCC programs activated volunteers and members to assist families through what can be a difficult process, ensuring individuals received all benefits for which they were eligible.

“We are incredibly proud of the dedication and impact our AmeriCorps members and volunteers have shown in providing essential tax preparation services to underserved individuals and communities,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO, AmeriCorps. “Their efforts not only ease the financial burdens of thousands of individuals working hard to make ends meet but also strengthen the economic resilience of entire communities.”

AmeriCorps members in the NCCC program worked on 16 tax projects across the county to complete more than 18,000 tax returns.

This year, an AmeriCorps NCCC team worked with Tygart Valley United Way in Fairmont, W. Va. The team helped the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site offer in-person appointments, which increased the number of families served by 230 percent during their time there. US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent certificates of appreciation to each team member for their service.

Another AmeriCorps NCCC team made a noticeable contribution…

Generative AI Market Forecasted to Reach $52.2 Billion by 2028
The Ritz Herald

As generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology pivots from research to the monetization and product launch stages, the software part of the generative AI market is now forecast to see significant expansion, reaching $52.2 billion by 2028 with a compound annual growth rate of 58% from 2023, according to S&P…

S&P Global Mobility Forecasts 3% Increase in U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Volume for May 2024
The Ritz Herald

S&P Global Mobility projects new U.S. light vehicle sales volume in May 2024 to reach 1.4 million units. This unadjusted volume total would be up approximately 3% from the year-ago total, and up 7% from the April 2024 result. The estimated May sales total would translate to a sales…

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rose in May 2024
The Ritz Herald

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® rose in May to 102.0 (1985=100) from 97.5 in April (a slight upward revision). The Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—increased to 143.1 (1985=100) in May from 140.6 in April.

Meanwhile, the Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term…

Florida Housing Market Shows Positive Trends in April 2024
The Ritz Herald

Florida’s housing market in April showed more closed sales, more for-sale inventory, more new listings and higher median prices compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors®’ latest housing data.

“More active listings provide more options and more homeownership opportunities for buyers, which in turn helps encourage buyer demand,”…

DuPont Announces Plan to Separate Into Three Independent, Publicly Traded Companies
The Ritz Herald

DuPont (NYSE: DD) announced a plan to separate into three distinct, publicly traded companies. Under the plan, DuPont would execute the proposed separations of its Electronics and Water businesses tax-free to its shareholders, with New DuPont continuing as a premier diversified industrial company after completion of the separations. Both…

8 mins
The Ritz Herald
U.S. business leaders address AI impact and regulation sentiments in recent survey
By / Executive Editor

As robust as artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities have become, it is still very much in its infancy. With governments formulating strategies for AI regulations, the onus is on U.S. businesses to successfully adapt to AI policies as they emerge, says Research Professor Kislaya Prasad at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

As academic director of the school’s Center for Global Business, Prasad surveyed 885 U.S. business executives and middle managers from for-profit companies. Published as “AI Use and Regulation: A Survey of U.S. Business Executives,” the findings shed light on executive sentiments, revealing both the concerns and support surrounding AI adoption and governance.

The report begins with five key takeaways:

  • Considerable concern exists about job displacement and is foremost in financial services and insurance and telecommunications.
  • Strong support is evident for AI regulation, including mandates for transparency about AI use, explaining autonomous decisions and undergoing third-party auditing for bias in algorithms.
  • Strong support exists for restrictions on export of key AI technologies.
  • “Powering chatbots” and “coding” are identified as the most important uses for Generative AI, which was already widely used across sectors by November 2023.
  • While “improving customer experience” and “improving operations” are key drivers of AI adoption, major reasons for non-adoption are an “absence of a clear use case or perceived need” and “limited technical expertise of resources.”

Survey respondents were chosen primarily based on the ability to provide diverse responses and viewpoints on AI implementation across industries. Respondents spanned eight sectors comprising roughly half of the U.S. private sector workforce: financial services and insurance, healthcare and biotechnology, hospitality and…

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Study Finds ‘Smart’ Incentives Key to Economic Development in Distressed Areas
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A new study from Case Western Reserve University School of Law seeks to help settle a long-standing debate about how to design incentives to spark economic development in distressed places. It finds that “smart” incentives—those selectively awarded, monitored and adaptable—yield greater community impact.

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Percentage of American Workers Feeling Financially Well Rises to 47%
The Ritz Herald

Today, 47% of American workers feel financially well, up from 42% at this time last year. This is according to Bank of America’s 14th annual Workplace Benefits Report, “The Resurging Workforce.” Conducted in partnership with Bank of America Institute, the report also found that 53% of employees are concerned…

U.S. Leading Economic Index (LEI) Continued to Fall in April 2024
The Ritz Herald

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. decreased by 0.6 percent in April 2024 to 101.8 (2016=100), after decreasing by 0.3 percent in March. Over the six-month period between October 2023 and April 2024, the LEI contracted by 1.9 percent—a smaller decrease than its 3.5 percent…

11 mins
Chicago Ford Assembly Plant, Illinois. © Scott Olson
The Ritz Herald
Commentary on June Jobs Report by Dana M. Peterson, Chief Economist, The Conference Board

Payrolls rose by a healthy amount in June following a robust gain in May. While Q2 payroll additions were slower on average than in Q1 and in 2023, hiring remains vigorous. Of course, a handful of industries are driving the largest gains, but few companies are letting go of workers and are still choosing to retain talent as labor supply remains constrained. Consequently, wages remained elevated and a continued threat to consumer inflation.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.1 percent in June as we expected at this point in 2024 but remains near historical lows. The jobless rate is likely to stay subdued going forward and below the natural rate of 4.4 percent, again because companies are holding onto workers. An aging workforce is constraining growth in labor force participation, which ticked up only modestly in June.

Meanwhile, the average number of hours worked held steady in June and was roughly on par with levels experienced right before the 2020 pandemic. This is a sign that there is no material stress building up in the labor market.

Trusted Insights for What’s Ahead™

  • The modest cooling in the labor market in Q2, from raging to robust, should be viewed favorably by the…

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U.S. Private Sector Employment Increased by 150,000 Jobs in June 2024

Duncan / RH
Private sector employment increased by 150,000 jobs in June and annual pay was up 4.9 percent year-over-year, according to the June ADP® National Employment Report™ produced by the ADP Research
After Four Years of Wild Swings From Shortages to Glut, Global Supply Chains Are Now in the Goldilocks Zone
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The GEP Global Supply Chain Volatility Index — a leading indicator tracking demand conditions, shortages, transportation costs, inventories and backlogs based on a monthly survey of 27,000 businesses — rose in April to -0.18, from -0.32 in March, which signals that global supply chains are operating at close to…

Chicago’s Youth Joblessness Rate Worse Than U.S. & Illinois
The Ritz Herald

As the nation continues to emerge from the recession brought on by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on youth employment, Uneven Recovery and Sustained Inequality after the COVID-19 Recession: Employment for Chicago’s Youth and Young Adults, shows that not all Chicago communities are recovering at the…

After Three Straight Months of Declines, New-Vehicle Prices Reversed Course in April 2024
The Ritz Herald

A downward slide in new-vehicle prices through the first quarter of 2024 reversed course in April, with average transaction prices (ATPs) increasing by 2.2% to $48,510, the highest prices since December 2023. The April price estimates were released today by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive brand. Year over…