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US household wealth hits record even as economy struggles – TimminsToday

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WASHINGTON — Americans’ household wealth rebounded last quarter to a record high as the stock market quickly recovered from a pandemic-induced plunge in March. Yet the gains flowed mainly to the most affluent households even as tens of millions of people endured job losses and shrunken incomes.

The Federal Reserve said Monday that American households’ net worth jumped nearly 7% in the April-June quarter to $119 trillion. That figure had sunk to $111.3 trillion in the first quarter, when the coronavirus battered the economy and sent stock prices tumbling.

Since then, the S&P 500 stock index has regained its record high before losing some ground this month. It was up 2.8% for this year as of Friday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has soared more than 20% this year.

The full recovery of wealth even while the economy has recovered only about half the jobs lost to the pandemic recession underscores what many economists see as America’s widening economic inequality. Data compiled by Opportunity Insights, a research group, show that the highest-paying one-third of jobs have almost fully recovered from the recession, while the lowest-paying one-third of jobs remain 16% below pre-pandemic levels.

The wealth data “highlights the inequalities in the recovery in the sense that high-income workers not only have jobs that for the most part have come back; they also have savings that have continued to grow,” said John Friedman, an economist at Brown University who is co-director of Opportunity Insights.

The recovery in household wealth has benefited mostly a narrow slice of affluent Americans. The richest one-tenth of Americans owned more than two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, according to Fed data through the end of March, the latest available. The top 1% owned 31%.

The small financial cushion for most households could force many consumers to cut back on spending in the coming months, now that government financial aid such as enhanced unemployment benefits has expired.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

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Economy

An innovative economy requires an innovative government – The Hill Times

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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

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China’s New Growth Plan May Push Economy Past U.S. Within Decade – Bloomberg

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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.

#lazy-img-365456798:beforepadding-top:79.49526813880126%;relates to China’s New Growth Plan May Push Economy Past U.S. Within Decade

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.

READ MORE: China’s Economy Plows On as World’s Only Major Growth Engine

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.

Growth Target

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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    Free webinars will focus on AI, circular economy and Bullfrog Power – OrilliaMatters

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    It Sustainable Orillia Month in Orillia. With that in mind Sustainable Orillia has been offering free webinars throughout October. The final three webinars are planned for this week. Here’s a rundown of topics and what to expect.

    The first webinar will focus on how using artificial intelligence (AI) can help commercial building owners reduce their heating, venting and air-conditioning costs.

    This webinar will be of special interest to building operators who have buildings larger than 75 sq. ft., and where a significant portion of the energy used in these buildings is used for HVAC systems. AI can help you manage and reduce these costs.

    During this presentation, you will meet Bryce Conacher, Sales Director, National Accounts BrainBox AI. 

    Conacher has worked for the Canadian Standards Association and has been a GHG Instructor at the School of Environment at the University of Toronto. Prior to this he was with Brookfield Renewables, one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy. He has been with BrainBox for about nine months. 

    You can expect to learn how BrainBox AI’s technology converts existing HVAC equipment into autonomous HVAC systems using artificial intelligence and cloud computing. In addition, this system can also be used to improve air quality in hotels and/or other buildings being considered for temporary hospitals during these COVID times. 

    Plan to attend How Using Artificial Intelligence Can Help Commercial Building Owners Reduce Their HVAC Energy Costs on Tuesday, Oct. 27 2020 at 2 p.m. Please go to  https://sustainableorillia.ca/so-month/ for registration details.

    BULLFROG POWER
    The second webinar will focus on how you can Bullfrog Power your home and your business 

    This webinar will be of special interest to people with homes and businesses who want to help reduce their GHG emissions and promote renewable energy in Canada. 

    It will appeal to the growing segment of eco-conscious consumers, as well as companies which want to engage their employees in a sustainability-minded culture. The webinar will address both electricity and natural gas.

    During this presentation, you will meet Dave Borins, working for Community Renewable Projects at Bullfrog Power. Borins has been with Bullfrog for seven years. He provides critical financial support to communities bringing new renewable energy projects online across Canada. Bullfrog Power has supported 140 projects to date.

    During this webinar, you can expect to learn:

    • How Bullfrog Power works for both homes and businesses (Why go green?)
    • How it can help reduce your environmental impact
    • How it can increase businesses’ employee engagement and differentiate your brand
    • How your business can better engage with the community

    Plan to tune in to How you can Bullfrog Power your home and your business on Thursday, Oct. 29 2020 at 11 a.m. Please go to https://sustainableorillia.ca/events for registration details.

    CIRCULAR ECONOMY
    Do you understand the circular economy? That’s the topic of the third webinar, which will be of special interest to people who would like to explore how countries around the world are accelerating progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through the lens of the “Circular Economy (CE).”

    During this presentation, you will meet Audrey Bayens, a long-time volunteer for community sustainability projects. As an emerging leader in the Circular Economy movement, her focus is on increasing adoption so Canada can take its proper place in this movement as it hosts the World Circular Economy Forum in Toronto in September, 2021. 

    In this webinar, you will learn how this new reality presents opportunities to achieve sustainability in ways that help us thrive. The Circular Economy is a “toolbox” of ways to achieve many SDG targets. 

    At the core of CE practices is the aim to restore natural capital through a broad range of models such as reuse, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, recycling, industrial symbiosis, biomimicry, product-sharing and supporting better design practices.

    Plan to tune in for Understanding the Circular Economy on Thursday. Oct. 29 at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. Please go to https://sustainableorillia.ca/so-month/ for registration details.

    There is no charge to participate in any of these webinars. If you can’t catch it the first time, the recording will be available for future viewing via Sustainable Orillia’s website www.sustainableorillia.ca.

    Join other local people who care about the future of our community for a valuable hour of new and useful information, followed by questions and answers.

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