August 15, 2023
In ‘Bidenomics,’ Congress delivered a once-in-generation investment — with political promise, peril
WASHINGTON (AP) — There are so many dots on the maps they blur into blobs – each one reflecting trillions of public and private dollars flowing in the U.S. in a nationwide investment. Roads, broadband, green energy projects. It’s a once-in-a-generation undertaking, thanks to three big bills approved by Congress last session. They’re now coming online. President Joe Biden calls it “Bidenomics.” Republicans criticize it as big government overreach. Taken together, the estimated $2 trillion is a centerpiece of Biden’s reelection effort. On the ground, it’s a mix of the promise and pitfalls of domestic policymaking beginning to take shape across the country.
Stock market today: Wall St. futures follow global markets lower after more weak data from China
Wall Street is sliding before Tuesday’s opening bell following yet more troublesome economic signals from China. Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were each down 0.6% before the bell Tuesday. China reported that an economic slump deepened in July and its central bank cut a key interest rate to shore up growth. On the corporate front, Home Depot shares barely budged in premarket after the home improvement giant beat Wall Street’s profit and revenue expectations, even as sales continued to decline.
Russia’s central bank makes huge interest rate hike to try to prop up falling ruble
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russia’s central bank has made a big interest rate hike in an emergency move designed to fight inflation and strengthen the ruble. This week, the country’s currency reached its lowest value since early in the war with Ukraine. The decision Tuesday comes as Moscow increases military spending and Western sanctions weigh on its energy exports. That has dragged down the ruble. Analysts say the flagging currency doesn’t mean the Russian economy is in freefall — though it is facing challenges, including rising prices for households and businesses. A lower exchange rate allows Moscow to transfer the dollars it earns from selling oil and natural gas into more rubles to pay pensions and run government agencies.
Advocates sue federal government for failing to ban imports of cocoa harvested by children
WASHINGTON (AP) — Child welfare advocates have filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to force the Biden administration to block imports of cocoa harvested by children in West Africa that ends up in America’s most popular chocolate desserts and candies. The lawsuit filed Tuesday, which was brought by International Rights Advocates, seeks to have the federal government enforce a 1930s era federal law that requires the government to ban products created by child labor from entering the U.S. The nonprofit group says it filed the suit because Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security have ignored extensive evidence documenting children cultivating cocoa destined for well-known U.S. candy makers.
Biden heads to battleground Wisconsin to talk about the economy a week before GOP debate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is stopping in the battleground state of Wisconsin to discuss how economic policies he calls “Bidenomics” are boosting the economy. The Tuesday trip is timed one day before the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, a major economic bill Biden signed into law. Biden’s visit to a state he narrowly won in 2020 also comes a week before Republicans descend on Milwaukee for the party’s first presidential debate. Biden’s visit, his first since February, showcases the importance of Wisconsin in 2024. Wisconsin voted narrowly for Republican Donald Trump in 2016 but flipped to Democrat Biden in 2020.
As the Black Sea becomes a battleground, one Ukrainian farmer doesn’t know how he’ll sell his grain
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian farmer Victor Tsvik has harvested his wheat this month but exorbitant logistics costs and Russia’s blockade of the ports has made shipping grain too expensive for him. He’s one of thousands of Ukrainian farmers facing a similar dilemma. When asked how he envisions the future, he says “it’s too painful to talk about.” Russia pulled out of a wartime agreement last month allowing Ukraine to ship grain to the world. With that and intensifying fighting in the Black Sea, Ukraine’s farmers are left wondering how they will stay in business and provide the food that’s critical to people in developing nations struggling with hunger.
Home Depot tops expectations again, but signs of spending pullback by Americans continues to emerge
ATLANTA (AP) — Home Depot topped profit and sales expectations in its most recent quarter, but sales continue to decline as inflation and soaring interest rates play a larger role in the spending choices made by Americans. Second quarter revenue was $42.92 billion, edging out Wall Street expectations. Yet that’s down 2% from the $43.87 billion the company reported during the same stretch last year, and sales have fallen 3.1% through the first half of the year. Despite the stronger-than-expected sales figures, Home Depot on Tuesday stuck to previous guidance for the year, seeing sales decline between 2% and 5%, after lowering its forecast in the last quarter.
Biden says auto workers need ‘good jobs that can support a family’ in union talks with carmakers
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is asking the major U.S. automakers and their workers’ union to reach an agreement that takes “every possible step to avoid painful plant closings” as the sector transitions to electric vehicles. He said in a Monday statement that the transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles should not hurt existing workers. The president has not yet been endorsed by the United Auto Workers as he seeks reelection. But he has broad support from organized labor going into the 2024 campaign. The UAW represents 146,000 workers at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which are commonly known as the big three automakers. The workers’ contracts expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14.
Japanese economic growth surges on strong exports and tourism
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s economic growth jumped at an annual pace of 6% in the April-June period, marking the third straight quarter of growth as exports and inbound tourism recovered. Real gross domestic product, which measures the sum value of a nation’s products and services, grew 1.5% in the fiscal first quarter for the world’s third largest economy, according to the Cabinet Office. The annualized pace shows what the growth would have been if what was marked during the quarter had continued for a year. The rate outpaced what analysts had forecast at 3.1% growth. It was the strongest growth since October-December 2020.
Environmentalists sue Puerto Rican government over location of renewable energy projects
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Activists and environmental groups including the Sierra Club are suing Puerto Rico’s government over the planned location of dozens of renewable energy projects meant to ease the U.S. territory’s power woes. The lawsuit filed Monday claims the projects would be built on lands that are ecologically sensitive and of high agricultural value, a violation of local laws. The groups requested that a judge prohibit local government agencies from approving projects on such lands. They note such projects should instead be built on roofs, parking lots, landfills in disuse and previously contaminated grounds. A spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Justice Department said the agency did not have immediate comment.