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Financial News

September 15, 2022

Biden: Tentative railway labor deal reached, averting strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under a tentative railway labor deal avoiding a strike that could’ve devastated the U.S. economy, workers will receive 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Railroads agree to ease strict attendance policies to address some union concerns about working conditions. Railroad workers will be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized. The unions that represent conductors and engineers had pressed hard for changes in the attendance rules. President Joe Biden announced the deal Thursday and says it’ll keep the “critical rail system” working. A strike starting Friday could’ve shut rail lines across the country. The tentative agreement goes to union members for a vote.

 

Buttigieg awards big fed grant to dismantle racist highway

WASHINGTON (AP) — A plan to dismantle a 1-mile-long depressed freeway that was built in Detroit by demolishing Black neighborhoods 60 years ago is a big winner of federal money. The $104.6 million for the Interstate 375 project is the first Biden administration grant being awarded to tear down a racially divisive roadway. The grant is among $1.5 billion in transportation grants being handed out Thursday to 26 projects nationwide thanks to increased funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. Advocates say the money is a key first step that will inspire dozens of citizen-led efforts underway in other cities to dismantle highways.

 

Commuters dodge headaches as freight-rail strike averted

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Joe Biden says a deal has been reached to avert a looming freight rail strike that could have disrupted numerous commuter rail services across the country. Commuter rail services in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere would have been forced into full or partial shutdowns if there was a strike because they use tracks owned by the freight railroads. Big commuter rail systems in the New York metro area would have been unaffected.

 

Shell CEO to step down as oil giant looks to climate goals

LONDON (AP) — Shell CEO Ben van Beurden is stepping down at the end of 2022 after nine years in charge as oil and natural gas companies are under pressure to shift away from fossil fuels. Shell said Thursday that he will replaced by Wael Sawan, who is now director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions. The choice signals the focus of the London-based company to take what it calls a leading role in the energy transition despite facing criticism that it’s been slow to reduce climate-changing emissions. Shell has posted record profits as it benefited from the soaring prices of oil and natural gas fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

 

Unwed couples grew, US was more wired in COVID’s 1st years

During the first two years of the pandemic, the number of people working from home tripled, home values grew and the percentage of people who spend more than a third of their income on rent went up. That’s according to survey results released Thursday which provide the most detailed data on how life changed in the U.S. under COVID-19. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey 1-year estimates show that the share of unmarried couples living together rose, fewer people moved, Americans became more wired, preschool enrollment dropped and the percentage of people who identify as multiracial jumped.

 

As ‘buy now, pay later’ plans grow, so do delinquencies

NEW YORK (AP) — A growing number of American shoppers have jumped at the chance to use “buy now, pay later” loans to pay for new sneakers, electronics, or luxury goods in installments. Companies such as Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna and PayPal have built popular financial products around these short-term loans, particularly for younger borrowers, who are fearful of never-ending credit card debt. But as the industry continues to rack up customers, delinquencies are climbing. Inflation is squeezing consumers, making it tougher to pay off debts. Some borrowers don’t budget properly, particularly if they are persuaded to take out multiple loans, while others may have been credit risks to begin with.

 

EXPLAINER: What to know about ‘buy now, pay later’

NEW YORK (AP) — If you shop online for clothes or furniture, sneakers or concert tickets, you’ve seen the option at checkout to “buy now, pay later” by breaking the cost into smaller installments over time. Companies like Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, and Paypal all offer the service, with Apple due to enter the market later this year. Since the start of the pandemic, the option has skyrocketed in popularity, especially among younger and lower-income consumers who may not have ready access to traditional credit. But with economic instability rising, so are delinquencies. Here’s what you should know.

 

EU lawmakers assail Hungary for attacking democratic values

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers say Hungary’s nationalist government is deliberately trying to undermine the bloc’s democratic values. They deplored the failure of the 26 other EU countries to take action to bring Hungary back into line. The parliamentarians raised concerns in a resolution passed Thursday about Hungary’s electoral system, judicial independence, possible corruption, public procurement irregularities, LGBTQ+ rights and other freedoms. The resolution was passed in a 433-123 vote with 28 abstentions. The lawmakers condemned “the deliberate and systematic efforts of the Hungarian Government to undermine the founding values of the Union.” The vote is highly symbolic but doesn’t impose any penalty on Hungary or oblige its EU partners to take action.

 

Putin, Zelenskyy court major allies as Ukraine makes gains

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy are each courting major allies. They want to prop up their efforts in a war whose fortunes have tilted toward Ukraine in recent days. Putin is in Uzbekistan on Thursday where he hopes to break through his international isolation and further cement his ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Zelenskyy is meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv. She has once more shown the European Union’s full commitment to Ukraine’s cause.

 

US futures wobble as rail strike is averted

NEW YORK (AP) — Futures on Wall Street shifted between small gains and losses as investors turned their attention to an upcoming retail sales report after the White House announced early Thursday morning that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a strike that could have been devastating to the economy. Futures for the Dow Jones industrials inched up less than 0.1% and futures for the S&P 500 were down less than 0.1%. Railroads and union representatives hammered out the deal with the risk of a strike starting Friday that could have shut down rail lines across the country, costing the economy $2 billion per day.