Posted on

Will the Delta Variant Wreck the Recovery?

The good economic news, when it comes to the ascendant Delta variant of the coronavirus, is that it puts the economy at risk in only two ways. The bad news: They are supply and demand.So far, the recovery remains robust by most available data. Real-time indicators of business activity show little evidence that Americans are pulling back their economic activity in any meaningful way.But while there is no reason to expect a repeat of the huge disruption of 2020, the new variant puts at risk the kind of rapid recovery that has been underway for months. Just as major …

Read More

Posted on

Utah Farm Draws a Rare Breed: The American Shepherd

DIXIE NATIONAL FOREST, Utah — “The object is to keep ’em grazing,” Scott Stubbs said as he looked over the 1,470 ewes and lambs chewing up Castle Valley’s dandelions, clover and grasses. “Get them full, which makes them fat.”Mr. Stubbs, a fifth-generation sheep farmer in southern Utah, did not expect to be giving a hands-on shepherding seminar this summer, but he was stuck. He needed a second experienced herder, and the one who was supposed to arrive in the spring from Peru did not get approval for a special agricultural visa. Now backlogs at some foreign passport offices and American …

Read More

Posted on

Is the U.S. Economy Too Hot or Too Cold? Yes.

Here’s a riddle: What is both too hot and too cold? The answer: the United States economy in the summer of 2021.That is the common thread that comes through in economic data; shifts in financial markets; anecdotes from businesses; and experiences of ordinary people who are simultaneously enjoying higher incomes and facing higher prices and shortages.In the mid-2021 economy, employers are offering higher pay to attract scarce workers; airports and car lots are bustling; and a G.D.P. report due out next week will probably show blockbuster growth. It is also an economy in which inflation is …

Read More

Posted on

Low-Wage Workers Now Have Options, Which Could Mean a Raise

McDonald’s is raising wages at its company-owned restaurants. It is also helping its franchisees hang on to workers with funding for backup child care, elder care and tuition assistance. Pay is up at Chipotle, too, and Papa John’s and many of its franchisees are offering hiring and referral bonuses.The reason? “In January, 8 percent of restaurant operators rated recruitment and retention of work force as their top challenge,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for research at the National Restaurant Association, said in an email. “By May, that number had risen to 72 percent.”Restaurant workers — burger flippers and bussers, …

Read More

Posted on

The Car Market ‘Is Insane’: Dealers Can’t Keep Up With Demand

Some customers have balked at paying top dollar for new cars and have opted to make do with older vehicles. That has increased demand for parts and service, one of the most profitable businesses for car dealers. Many dealers have extended repair-shop hours. Mr. Ricart said he had some repair technicians putting in 10- or 12-hour days three or four days in a row before taking a few days off.Of course, the shortage of cars will end, but it isn’t clear when.As Covid-19 cases and deaths rose last spring, automakers shut down plants across North America from …

Read More

Posted on

Why Is There a Blue Crab Shortage in Maryland?

“We send our kids to school, we send them to college,” he said. “A person doesn’t go to high school, grade school or community college for some type of fishing and become a waterman. You don’t have your kids educated to pick crabs.” Seasonal workers, he said, have traditionally filled a critical labor gap.Heather Mizeur, a Democrat running for Congress from a district on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, said the Biden administration can help address the labor shortage by authorizing more of the temporary visas. “The seafood industry out here on the shore desperately needs a reliable …

Read More

Posted on

Taiwan Accuses China of Blocking Access to BioNTech Vaccines

TAIPEI, Taiwan — This is the age of “vaccine diplomacy.” It is also the era of its bitter, mudslinging opposite.For months, Taiwan has been unable to purchase doses of the BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, and the island’s leaders blame “Chinese intervention.” China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, calls this accusation “fabricated out of nothing.”It is unclear what steps, if any, the government in Beijing has taken to disrupt Taiwan’s dealings with BioNTech, the German drugmaker that developed the vaccine with Pfizer. BioNTech declined to comment.But the crux of the problem is that a Chinese company …

Read More

Posted on

Starbucks, Flush With Customers, Is Running Low on Ingredients

Although most people are familiar with the problems in the global supply chain to some extent, some Starbucks customers are still shocked — even incensed — by their inability to get their coffee exactly how they want it. Others laugh it off.“I was told they couldn’t give me an extra shot of caramel because there was a national shortage,” Nicole Brashear, a 24-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, said of ordering an iced caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle in late May. “I just sort of laughed and was like, ‘Isn’t caramel just burnt sugar?’” …

Read More

Posted on

Senate Passes Bill to Bolster Competitiveness With China

WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday that would pour nearly a quarter-trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China.Republicans and Democrats — overcoming their traditional partisan differences over economic policy — banded together to endorse what would be the most significant government intervention in industrial policy in decades. It includes federal investments in a slew of emerging technologies as well as the semiconductor industry.The 68-32 vote reflected the sense of urgency about the need to counter Beijing and other authoritarian governments that have poured substantial resources into bolstering their …

Read More

Posted on

Biden Administration Moves to Unkink Supply Chain Bottlenecks

Most of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles, is mined in Australia, China, Chile and Argentina. China dominates global production of rare earth minerals such as neodymium, used to make magnets in wind turbines. It has also largely cornered the market in lithium-ion batteries, accounting for 77 percent of the world’s capacity for producing battery cells and 80 percent of its raw-material refining, according to BloombergNEF, an energy research group.Updated June 8, 2021, 12:31 p.m. ETThe United States lags far behind other countries in manufacturing many clean energy technologies, leaving it heavily reliant on …

Read More