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Biden Will Need to Get Creative to Save the Economy – BNN

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(Bloomberg Opinion) — Joe Biden has been elected to be the next President of the United States. Now he’ll have to get creative.

When the President-elect takes office, he’ll confront the country’s two most acute challenges: an  ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the economic damage it’s wrought. But he’ll have an uphill battle to enact the sort of bold policy agenda that many supporters were hoping for.

Barring a January surprise in Georgia’s runoff election, Republicans are likely to retain control of the Senate, denying Biden the unified control of government that his predecessors enjoyed when they came into office.  With traditional relief and stimulus measures limited by opposition party intransigence, Biden might still be able to pass policies designed to resuscitate the stricken service sector directly.

The U.S. economy has bounced rapidly back since April, but only partially. Employment has only recovered about halfway to where it was before Covid-19 struck, giving it the shape of a reverse square-root sign:

Lower-wage employees, who tend to work at the local services businesses most deeply impacted by the virus, are suffering more.

The economy is being afflicted by two simultaneous maladies. The first is continued fear of the virus, now in the middle of a devastating third wave. Fear, more than lockdowns, has kept Americans shut inside their homes, reluctant to take the risk of going out to shop or eat. That in turn gives rise to the second problem of decreased demand, which filters through the entire economy.

Fear of the virus will eventually be reduced by vaccines, which may become available in early 2021. A national program of testing and contact tracing — which President Donald Trump long resisted — would also help speed Covid-19 on its way, and should be a priority for the incoming administration. But even when the virus is gone, the economy is likely to remain depressed for awhile, as the overhang of unemployment works its way out of the system.

Bold relief measures, of the type that sustained Americans through the pandemic’s dark early days, probably won’t be forthcoming given the GOP Senate’s inevitable turn towards austerity. The same is true of traditional fiscal stimulus, such as a burst of infrastructure spending, that might help boost demand back to normal levels. But there might be a chance for more targeted measures to help the sectors of the economy that Covid-19 has hurt the most — local services.

Restaurants, shops, and other establishments that cater in person to customers have gone bust in large numbers. After the threat of the virus has passed, the U.S. government might try to resuscitate local economies by subsidizing new shops to fill the empty storefronts that now dot America’s urban landscape. Some of these new establishments would be run by the same owners whose businesses went under during the pandemic, while others would be run by enterprising newcomers. But all would be able to draw on the local pool of unemployed, most of whom were working in these same types of businesses in 2019.

Subsidizing new local businesses would accomplish several goals at once. It would put people back to work at jobs they know how to do, and start pumping demand through the ecosystems of local economies. It would help prevent cities’ commercial retail space from being riddled with unsightly boarded-up vacancies — a blight that hurts viable businesses next door. And it would help sustain and preserve the small business class.

This last aspect might make local business formation subsidies attractive to Republicans in the Senate; small businesspeople are a reliable Republican constituency. Additionally, this policy would be highly targeted; the subsidies could last only until a town’s existing commercial vacancies had been mostly filled, limiting the cost of the program and avoiding the appearance of handing out money at random.

Strict free-market adherents might worry that this plan would delay or prevent needed transformation in the U.S.’s industrial mix. The pandemic has shifted demand from local services to e-commerce; people are watching Netflix instead of going to movie theaters, and ordering things off of Amazon instead of buying them in stores. Some will question whether reversing that shift should be an economic priority.

But the benefit of quickly and cheaply resuscitating local U.S. economies far outweighs the danger of slightly delaying the evolution to a more online future. In fact, local business formation subsidies will simply accelerate a move that’s already in place; new business filings have been above trend since August, as entrepreneurs take advantage of cheap rents and labor. The local economy is restoring itself already — it could just use a push to get the job done faster.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Statistics Canada to say today how country's economy fared in third quarter of 2020 – Humboldt Journal

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OTTAWA — The national statistics office will say this morning how much Canada’s domestic economy bounced back in the third quarter of the year.

The Canadian economy suffered its worst three-month stretch on record in the second quarter as the economy came to a near halt in April before starting to recover in May and June.

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Expressed at an annualized rate, real gross domestic product fell 38.7 per cent in the second quarter, the worst posting on record.

The rebound is expected to be equally sharp in the ensuing three-month stretch over July, August and September.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate is for an annualized growth rate of 47.6 per cent for the quarter.

The firm also says the average economist estimate is for a 0.9 per cent increase in real GDP for September, which Statistics Canada will also unveil this morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

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Statistics Canada to say today how country's economy fared in third quarter of 2020 – CKPGToday.ca

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By Canadian Press

Dec 1, 2020 1:08 AM

OTTAWA — The national statistics office will say this morning how much Canada’s domestic economy bounced back in the third quarter of the year.

The Canadian economy suffered its worst three-month stretch on record in the second quarter as the economy came to a near halt in April before starting to recover in May and June.

Expressed at an annualized rate, real gross domestic product fell 38.7 per cent in the second quarter, the worst posting on record.

The rebound is expected to be equally sharp in the ensuing three-month stretch over July, August and September.

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Powell Sees Hope and Uncertainties for Economy in Vaccines – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden has had his first look as president-elect at the President’s Daily Brief, a top secret summary of U.S. intelligence and world events — a document former first lady Michelle Obama has called “The Death, Destruction, and Horrible Things Book.”
Biden has already had eyes on different iterations of the so-called PDB, which is tailored to the way each president likes to absorb information.
More than a decade ago, Biden read President George W. Bush’s PDB during Biden’s transition into the vice presidency. After that, he read President Barack Obama’s PDB for eight years. Beginning Monday, after a four-year break, he’s reading President Donald Trump’s PDB.
“The briefers almost certainly will be asking Biden what he prefers in terms of format and style,” said David Priess, author of “The President’s Book of Secrets,” a history of the PDB. “At a minimum, they’re seeing what seems to resonate most with him so that when they make the book his book, they can tailor it to him.”
Obama’s PDB was a 10- to 15-page document tucked in a leather binder, which he found waiting for him on the breakfast table. Later in his presidency, he liked reading the ultra-secret intelligence brief on a secured iPad.
“Michelle called it “The Death, Destruction, and Horrible Things Book,” Obama wrote in his recently released book, ”A Promised Land.”
“On a given day, I might read about terrorist cells in Somalia or unrest in Iraq or the fact that the Chinese or Russians were developing new weapons systems,” Obama wrote. “Nearly always, there was mention of potential terrorist plots, no matter how vague, thinly sourced, or unactionable — a form of due diligence on the part of the intelligence community, meant to avoid the kind of second-guessing that had transpired after 9-11.”
From now until Inauguration Day, Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be reading the PDB crafted for Trump, who had delayed giving Biden and Harris access to it as he contests the outcome of the election.
Trump, who prefers absorbing information in visual ways, likes short texts and graphics.
“Trump himself said during his campaign and during the transition in 2016 that he did not like reading long documents — that he preferred bullet points,” said Priess, who has not seen any of Trump’s PDBs. “It probably has charts, tables, graphs — things like that. Not the parody that people make that it’s like a cartoon book … but something that is more visual. But we don’t know for sure.”
The written brief, which Trump doesn’t always read, often is followed by a verbal briefing with an intelligence official, although those oral briefings stopped at least for a time in October. Priess said he didn’t know why they stopped or if they had resumed, but that they stopped at a time when Trump was spending much of his time on the campaign trail.
Before Trump authorized Biden to get the PDB as president-elect, Biden was given some intelligence background briefings as a candidate. But they were more general and did not include the nation’s top secrets.
The other thing that a president-elect gets is a briefing “on CIA’s covert actions,” former acting CIA director Mike Morell said at an event hosted by the Center for Presidential Transition based in Washington. “It’s important for the president-elect to get this briefing … because on Inauguration Day, these covert actions will become the new president’s.”
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy read his first brief while sitting on the diving board of a swimming pool at his retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. President Lyndon Johnson liked to read his brief in the afternoon. President Richard Nixon relied on his national security adviser Henry Kissinger to peruse the briefs and tell him what he thought the president should know.
As the laborious recount of ballots dragged on in 2000, President Bill Clinton decided that then-Gov. George W. Bush should get access to his PDB just in case he was the winner. Bush became was the first incoming president to read it before he was president-elect.
Biden is getting the PDB later than usual because of Trump’s ongoing protest of the election results. Trump approved the briefings for Biden last Tuesday, a day after his administration approved the formal transition process to his successor.
When Biden walks into the Oval Office, he’ll be inheriting nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, changing political dynamics in the Middle East, the winding down of America’s presence in Afghanistan and rising competition from China.
Biden had access to the PDB in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris received it in a secure room at the Commerce Department, where the presidential transition offices are located.
Even Biden, who has decades of experience in foreign policy, could be the victim of an old political adage that no matter how informed he thinks he is, he could learn otherwise from the PDB.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden wrote in his book that revelations and new insight found in the PDB are known as “aw s—” moments. As in: “Aw s—,” he wrote, “wish we hadn’t said that during that campaign stop in Buffalo.”
___
Riechmann reported from Washington.

Deb Riechmann And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

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