American households and businesses have gone two months without the enhanced unemployment benefits, low-interest loans and other programs that helped prop up the economy in the spring. And now, after President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he was cutting off stimulus negotiations until after the election, the wait will go on at least another month — and very likely until the next presidential term starts in 2021.
It could be a dangerous delay.
Already, many furloughs are turning into permanent job losses, and major companies like Disney and Allstate are embarking on new rounds of layoffs. The hotel industry is warning of thousands of closures, and tens of thousands of small businesses are weighing whether to close up shop for good. An estimated one of every seven small businesses in the United States had shut down permanently by the end of August — 850,000 in all — according to data from Womply, a marketing platform. The deeper those wounds, the longer the economy will take to heal.
“The risk to waiting is that we may find ourselves in a place where we’re unable to turn back, we’ll hit a tipping point,” said Karen Dynan, a Harvard economist and Treasury Department official during the Obama administration.
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, echoed those concerns in a speech on Tuesday, arguing that failing to act quickly carried risks for the economy.
“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” he said. “Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy and holding back wage growth.”
The failure to provide that assistance will ripple through the economy.
“The economy needs another round of fiscal support with aid to households, small and midsized firms and states,” said R. Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia University economist who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “Failing to act will have real economic consequences.”
Stock indexes, which had risen in recent days on signs that negotiations might be making progress, dropped sharply after Mr. Trump’s announcement. Several major Wall Street banks had said in recent days that they would downgrade their growth forecasts if talks stalled.
Mr. Trump may have been listening. In a series of tweets late Tuesday, he urged both houses of Congress to “IMMEDIATELY” revive a lapsed loan program for small businesses and to approve funds for airlines and another round of stimulus checks. It remained unclear if his tweets reflected a willingness to restart negotiations.
The gridlock in Washington is a reversal from the spring, when fear of an imminent economic collapse led Congress to vote overwhelmingly to approve trillions of dollars in aid to households and businesses. The effort was largely successful: Households began spending again, companies began bringing back workers, and a predicted tidal wave of evictions and foreclosures mostly failed to materialize. The unemployment rate, which reached nearly 15 percent in April, fell to 7.9 percent in September.
But most of the aid programs expired over the summer, and in recent weeks economic gains have faltered. Economists across the ideological spectrum agree that the loss of momentum is likely to get worse if more aid doesn’t arrive soon.
“We had a bridge which took us till about September, and now the question is do we complete the bridge or don’t we?” said Raghuram G. Rajan, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund who is now a professor at the University of Chicago. Without more help, he said, “basically anybody who was on that bridge falls off a cliff.”
Amazon sets the rules for digital commerce, and Apple favors its own apps and services on its devices. Facebook holds “firmly entrenched” monopoly power over social networking. Google has maintained its search dominance by grabbing information from third parties without permission to improve search results.
Those are some of the findings from a sweeping report by House lawmakers accusing four of the world’s largest tech companies of abusing their market power. The document, which was released on Tuesday, concludes a 15-month investigation.
Read more of our coverage of the report:
In a 449-page report that was presented by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic leadership, lawmakers said the four companies had turned from “scrappy” start-ups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” The lawmakers said the companies had abused their dominant positions, setting and often dictating prices and rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking and publishing.
To amend the inequities, the lawmakers recommended restoring competition by effectively breaking up the companies, emboldening the agencies that police market concentration and throwing up hurdles for the companies to acquire start-ups. They also proposed reforming antitrust laws, in the biggest potential shift since the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976 created stronger reviews of big mergers.
Amazon harvests the sales and product data from its marketplace to spot hot-selling items, copy them and offer its own competing products, typically at lower prices.
Apple has used its control over the App Store to punish rivals, including by ranking them lower in search results, restricting how they communicate with customers, and removing them outright from the store.
Facebook has grown so overwhelmingly powerful that internal findings suggest its greatest competition exists within itself.
Google maintained its search monopoly by grabbing information from third parties without permission to improve search results.
China’s New Growth Plan May Push Economy Past U.S. Within Decade – BloombergQuint
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An innovative economy requires an innovative government – The Hill Times
Government’s job is to empower rapid innovation in the private sector, not control it. Promote a new wave of digital-first ADMs and DMs across departments and prioritize candidates who have worked in high growth SMEs, and who value competition and competitiveness in everything they do, writes ISG Senator Colin Deacon. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
China’s New Growth Plan May Push Economy Past U.S. Within Decade – Bloomberg
Communist Party officials gather in Beijing this week to map out the next phase of economic development, just days before one of the most contentious U.S. elections in history will produce a president resistant to China’s ascent no matter who wins.
The country’s 14th five-year plan is expected to center around technological innovation, economic self reliance and a cleaner environment. Officials will also set goals for the next 15 years as President Xi Jinping seeks to deliver on his vow for national rejuvenation by gaining the global lead in technology and other strategic industries.
If China’s economy — which is already recovering swiftly from the coronavirus shock — can stick to the growth trajectory of recent years, it’ll surpass the U.S. within the next decade. The prospect of ever deeper frictions with the U.S. underpins Xi’s strategy to accelerate plans to shield China from swings in the world economy.
“It reflects China’s realist reassessment of the current global climate,” said Fred Hu, the founder of Primavera Capital Ltd., a private-equity fund based in Beijing. “Self reliance is about developing certain domestic capabilities through investments in R&D and innovation, a necessary and prudent response to external uncertainties.”
“However, it doesn’t mean China will repudiate its longstanding ‘open door’ policy and turn inward,” said Hu, who previously worked for the International Monetary Fund and led Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in China.
Xi and other officials have recently insisted the economy will further open its doors to foreign capital and competition, reflecting concerns about how the world will perceive the upcoming plans. In a speech in Shenzhen this month, Xi vowed to drive technological innovation, but softened that message by making it clear he wants a “new open economic system.”
That desire to avoid having the new plans become the latest lightning rod in the nation’s deteriorating relations with the U.S. and other trading rivals may mean the language around them is toned down. A previous strategy dubbed “Made in China 2025” went dark after it inflamed trade hawks in the Trump administration and spurred unease in Europe and other economies at risk of losing out to increased competition.
What Bloomberg’s Economists say…
“An emphasis on encouraging domestic circulation would not signal that China is closing its doors on the world. We expect the plan to encourage two-way trade and promote services trade.”
–Chang Shu and David Qu. Bloomberg Terminal clients can read the report HERE.
There’s already growing support in capitals from Washington to Canberra to restrict China’s access to strategic technologies. President Donald Trump’s aggressive stance toward China now has bipartisan backing and Chinese officials worry Joe Biden may be even more effective by bringing allies together to curb its development.
Which is why the new plans “will be much less explicit and not as specific as before, because the Made in China 2025 plan had brought so much trouble for China and helped energize the opposition from the U.S.,” said Chen Zhiwu, director of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong. “So, I expect them to focus on general guidelines and stay vague on specifics,” said Chen, who is a former adviser to China’s State Council.
Officials have been quick to argue that what’s good for China is good for the world. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian cited media reports to reporters on Wednesday that said a third of Mercedes Benz AG’s profits came from China in the third quarter and that China’s box office sales of more than $2 billion surpassed that of North America for the first time this year.
This proves that China’s massive market will generate “sustainable impetus for Chinese and world economic growth,” Zhao said.
That’s backed up by IMF forecasts. Bloomberg calculations based off the latest estimates show China will be the world’s biggest growth engine in the years ahead.
Unlike its peers, China’s economy is the only major one in the world forecast to grow this year after authorities aggressively contained the coronavirus.
Still, the number of countries that consider Chinese technology companies as national security threats is growing. Some are banding together to shift import dependency away from China as criticism grows over its domestic policies. Global companies are also assessing their supply chains due to reports of forced labor and China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang and its policies toward Hong Kong.
That resistance from the international community is pushing China to look inward for sources of growth. So far, tariffs and sanctions have done little to change China’s behavior. It maintains an extensive negative list of foreign companies operating in China that it may target, while recent actions aimed at Australian exports show it’s prepared to retaliate when it feels its interests have been threatened.
A more coordinated effort that brings together Europe, Japan and other American allies may be harder to resist and could push China onto a more isolated path.
That overseas wariness will impact the flow of outbound Chinese investment, said Hu, with the likelihood that state-backed investment into markets such as the U.S., U.K. or Australia is scaled back and ambitions around other projects, such as Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, will be readjusted.
Five-year plans, a legacy of China’s command economy, have recently focused on industrial restructuring and maintaining a medium to high rate of growth. State media has reported that China will likely downplay the GDP target in the upcoming plan as it shifts to high-quality growth. While deliberations will be announced after the gathering, the document in its entirely will only be made public at an annual parliamentary session in March.
Delivering on self reliance while still benefiting from globalization — or “dual circulation” as the twin goal is dubbed by Chinese officials — will be a challenge given that hawkish rhetoric toward China will persist, said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Group AG in Hong Kong.
“China is facing a more challenging external environment of development,” she said. “Going forward, China has to be more ambitious on domestic reform and opening. It will probably intensify.”
— With assistance by Lucille Liu
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