resigned after an inquiry into whether he had broken quarantine rules during the pandemic. But he made swift changes in his short tenure. To reduce risk taking, Mr. Horta-Osório said, the bank would close most of its prime brokerage businesses, which involve lending to big trading firms like Archegos. Credit Suisse also lost a big source of revenue as the market for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, cooled.

By July, Credit Suisse had announced its third consecutive quarterly loss. Mr. Gottstein was replaced by Mr. Körner, a veteran of the rival Swiss bank UBS.

Mr. Körner and the chairman, Axel Lehmann, who replaced Mr. Horta-Osório, are expected to unveil a new restructuring plan on Oct. 27 in an effort to convince investors of the bank’s long-term viability and profitability. The stock of Credit Suisse has dipped so much in the past year that its market value — which stood around $12 billion — is comparable to that of a regional U.S. bank, smaller than Fifth Third or Citizens Financial Group.

appeared on Reddit.

Mr. Macleod said he had decided that Credit Suisse was in bad shape after looking at what he deemed the best measure of a bank’s value — the price of its stock relative to its “book value,” or assets minus liabilities. Most Wall Street analysts factor in a broader set of measures.

But “bearing in mind that most followers on Twitter and Reddit are not financial professionals,” he said, “it would have been a wake-up call for them.”

The timing puzzled the bank’s analysts, major investors and risk managers. Credit Suisse had longstanding problems, but no sudden crisis or looming bankruptcy.

Some investors said the Sept. 30 memo sent by Mr. Körner, the bank’s chief executive, reassuring staff that Credit Suisse stood on a “strong capital base and liquidity position” despite recent market gyrations had the opposite effect on stock watchers.

Credit Suisse took the matter seriously. Over the weekend of Oct. 1, bank executives called clients to reassure them that the bank had more than the amount of capital required by regulators. The bigger worry was that talk of a liquidity crisis would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prompting lenders to pull credit lines and depositors to pull cash, which could drain money from the bank quickly — an extreme and even unlikely scenario given the bank’s strong financial position.

“Banks rely on sentiment,” Mr. Scholtz, the Morningstar analyst, said. “If all depositors want their money back tomorrow, the money isn’t there. It’s the reality of banking. These things can snowball.”

What had snowballed was the volume of trading in Credit Suisse’s stock by small investors, which had roughly doubled from Friday to Monday, according to a gauge of retail activity from Nasdaq Data Link.

Amateur traders who gather on social media can’t trade sophisticated products like credit-default swaps — products that protect against companies’ reneging on their debts. But their speculation drove the price of these swaps past levels reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some asset managers said they had discussed the fate of the bank at internal meetings after the meme stock mania that was unleashed in early October. While they saw no immediate risk to Credit Suisse’s solvency, some decided to cut trading with the bank anyway until risks subsided.

In another private message on Twitter, Mr. Lewis declined to speak further about why he had predicted that Credit Suisse would collapse.

“The math and evidence is fairly obvious at this point,” he wrote. “If you disagree, the burden is really on you to support that position.”

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Aimco Files Definitive Proxy Materials and Mails Letter to Stockholders

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apartment Investment and Management Company (NYSE: AIV) (“Aimco” or the “Company”), today announced that it has filed its definitive proxy materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in connection with its 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders scheduled to be held on December 16, 2022. Stockholders of record as of October 26, 2022, will be entitled to vote at the meeting. Aimco’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) strongly recommends that stockholders vote on the WHITE proxy card “FOR ALL” three of Aimco’s qualified and experienced director nominees, Jay Paul Leupp, Michael A. Stein and R. Dary Stone.

In conjunction with the definitive proxy filing, Aimco has also mailed a letter to the Company’s stockholders. Highlights from the letter include:

Aimco’s definitive proxy materials and other materials regarding the Board’s recommendation for the 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders can be found at https://investors.aimco.com.

1 TSR calculation as of September 30, 2022

2 Includes AHH, CLPR, CSR, FOR, FPH, HHC, IRT, JBGS, JOE, STRS, TRC, VRE, and WRE (per AIV 2021 10-K) represents simple average

The full text of the letter being mailed to stockholders follows:

October 12, 2022

Dear Fellow Stockholders:

Your Board of Directors and management team are committed to enhancing the value of your investment in Aimco and have been unwavering in our commitment to acting in the best interests of our stockholders. We have implemented a clearly defined value creation strategy and a comprehensive transformation of Aimco’s legacy business under a recently reconstituted, majority-independent Board (the “New Aimco Board” or the “Board”) and all-new executive management team.

Since the New Aimco Board and management team assumed their current roles following the Apartment Income REIT Corp. (“AIR”) spin-off in December 2020, Aimco has delivered total stockholder returns of 45%3, significantly outperforming its identified developer peer group4, the FTSE NAREIT Equity Apartments Index, the MSCI US REIT Index, the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000.

Aimco expects to continue to drive growth and outsized returns by:

The New Aimco Board and new management team executing this plan were put in place in connection with the 2020 spin-off of AIR, with the Company:

Despite Aimco’s clear momentum and the recent reconstitution of the Aimco Board, Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC (“Land & Buildings”) has initiated a proxy contest and is seeking to remove and replace two of your highly qualified directors. We have engaged with Land & Buildings to better understand its perspectives and have reviewed the qualifications of the candidates it has put forth. It is clear from our interactions to date, however, that Land & Buildings is primarily focused on historical issues and decisions made prior to the reconstitution of the Aimco Board and the replacement of the Aimco management team. While the New Aimco Board and management are open to continued dialogue with Land & Buildings, we believe that additional director turnover at this time is unwarranted. We also believe that the candidates proposed by Land & Buildings would not bring any relevant expertise that is not already well represented on the Aimco Board, and that election of Land & Buildings’ candidates would remove expertise from the New Aimco Board that is critical to our success.

Against this backdrop, you now face an important decision regarding the future of your investment and go-forward Board of Directors. Your Board has three directors up for re-election who have highly relevant skills and expertise and are important contributors to Aimco’s ongoing success. To protect your investment, we strongly recommend that you vote the enclosed universal WHITE proxy card today “FOR” all three of Aimco’s qualified and experienced director nominees: Jay Paul Leupp, Michael A. Stein and R. Dary Stone. Please vote today to ensure your voice is heard at the Company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders (“Annual Meeting”) on December 16, 2022.

PROTECT THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENT.

USE THE UNIVERSAL WHITE PROXY CARD TODAY TO VOTE FOR ALL THREE

OF AIMCO’S QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED DIRECTORS

AIMCO IS SUCCESSFULLY EXECUTING ITS VALUE ADD STRATEGY

For the past 21 months, Aimco has been successfully executing a growth strategy focused on value add, opportunistic, and alternative investments, targeting the U.S. multifamily sector.

As part of this strategy, we’ve taken decisive actions to drive stockholder value, by:

AIMCO HAS DELIVERED SIGNIFICANT VALUE FOR STOCKHOLDERS

Since the December 2020 spin-off, Aimco has significantly outperformed its identified developer peer group, real estate market indices, and broader market indices, as evidenced in the following chart.

From an operating perspective, we have generated significant value across our stabilized portfolio and our development pipeline. For example, during the first half of 2022, we increased net operating income by 14.9%, and since the start of 2021, we have nearly tripled the Company’s future development pipeline.

Importantly, we have a clear plan to build on this progress and drive continued growth. We will remain primarily focused on multifamily housing with an increased allocation to value add and opportunistic investments. We will also continue to leverage the Company’s best-in-class platform, existing portfolio of value add and stable core properties, and an investment pipeline that leads to superior risk-adjusted returns.

Despite these strong results and clear and actionable strategy, the New Aimco Board is not standing still. We routinely consider all viable options to enhance and unlock stockholder value and remain committed to doing so going forward.

NEW AIMCO BOARD AND MANAGEMENT TEAM HAVE ENGAGED CONSTRUCTIVELY

WITH STOCKHOLDERS, INCLUDING LAND & BUILDINGS

Aimco is committed to open and constructive engagement with all stockholders, including Land & Buildings. Aimco has held more than 80 individual meetings with more than 35 current and prospective stockholders in the past 13 months, including stockholders that own in the aggregate more than 80% of Aimco’s outstanding shares of common stock, as well as multiple meetings with Land & Buildings, as described in the Company’s proxy statement. The New Aimco Board has demonstrated that we value and act on the feedback we receive.

The New Aimco Board and management team are focused on the future, executing a clear and effective strategy to enhance the value of your investment, while Land & Buildings’ complaints primarily relate to decisions made almost two years ago by the pre-spin Board of Directors and management team.

THE DIRECTORS ON AIMCO’S MAJORITY-INDEPENDENT, RECONSTITUTED BOARD

BRING HIGHLY RELEVANT SKILLS AND FRESH PERSPECTIVES

Aimco is seeking your support to vote FOR ALL of its three highly qualified, experienced directors at this year’s Annual Meeting: Jay Paul Leupp, Michael A. Stein and R. Dary Stone.

The New Aimco Board is purpose-built, and its composition reflects our commitment to closely aligning the skill sets and experience of the Company’s directors with the needs of the Company and its stockholders. Importantly, the Board works closely with management and has been—and will continue to be—a significant agent of change overseeing the continued improvement of Aimco’s performance and valuation.

We are confident that our three highly-qualified nominees seeking re-election are the better choice to build on the success that Aimco has delivered. Aimco’s three director nominees bring highly relevant expertise and complementary skillsets, and our Board is unanimous in recommending that stockholders vote for our three nominees.

Mr. Leupp, an independent director and the Chairman of Aimco’s Audit Committee, has been an integral part of our Board since his appointment in December 2020 and brings capital markets, investment and finance, real estate, and development experience gained through his over 28 years as a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director focused on investments in publicly traded real estate securities and publicly traded REIT board service. Mr. Leupp is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Mr. Stein, an independent director and Chairman of Aimco’s Investment Committee, is a seasoned executive who brings real estate investment and finance, financial reporting, accounting and auditing, capital markets, and business operations experience, gained through his experience as a director of five publicly traded companies and Chief Financial Officer of three publicly traded companies. Further, having served on Aimco’s Board since October 2004, Mr. Stein has significant institutional knowledge of Aimco.

Mr. Stone, an independent director and Chairman of Aimco’s Nominating, Environmental, Social, and Governance Committee, is an experienced leader and has served on Aimco’s Board since December 2020 and brings investment and finance, real estate, development, property / asset management and operations, and capital markets experience gained through his over 30-year career investing and developing a variety of projects and joint ventures, including the management of one of the country’s largest master planned developments. He also brings publicly traded REIT board service.

PROTECT THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENT AND AIMCO’S FUTURE GROWTH PROSPECTS.

USE THE UNIVERSAL WHITE PROXY CARD TODAY TO VOTE FOR ALL THREE

OF AIMCO’S QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED DIRECTORS

The New Aimco Board is active, engaged and focused on continuing to grow Aimco and providing enhanced value for all our stockholders. We strongly recommend that stockholders vote FOR the Company’s three director nominees on the universal WHITE proxy card: Jay Paul Leupp, Michael A. Stein and R. Dary Stone.

Your vote “FOR” our director nominees will help ensure that you, as an Aimco stockholder, have a Board acting in your best interest at all times.

On behalf of the New Aimco Board, we appreciate your investment and support.

Sincerely,

The Aimco Board of Directors

3 TSR calculation as of September 30, 2022

4 Includes AHH, CLPR, CSR, FOR, FPH, HHC, IRT, JBGS, JOE, STRS, TRC, VRE, and WRE (per AIV 2021 10-K) represents simple average

If you have questions or require any assistance with voting your shares, please contact the Company’s proxy solicitor listed below:

MacKenzie Partners, Inc.

1407 Broadway, 27th Floor

New York, New York 10018

Call Collect: (212) 929-5500

or

Toll-Free (800) 322-2885

Email: proxy@mackenziepartners.com

Forward Looking Statements

This document contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical statements of fact and those regarding our intent, belief, or expectations, including, but not limited to, the statements in this document regarding future financing plans, including the Company’s expected leverage and capital structure; business strategies, prospects, and projected operating and financial results (including earnings), including facts related thereto, such as expected costs; future share repurchases; expected investment opportunities; and our 2022 pipeline investments and projects. We caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements.

Words such as “anticipate(s),” “expect(s),” “intend(s),” “plan(s),” “believe(s),” “plan(s),” “may,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “seek(s),” “forecast(s),” and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance, condition or results, and involve a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other important factors, among others, that may affect actual results or outcomes include, but are not limited to: (i) the risk that the 2022 preliminary plans and goals may not be completed in a timely manner or at all, (ii) the inability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the pipeline investments and projects, and (iii) changes in general economic conditions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements, which are based on management’s expectations and estimates, are reasonable, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained.

Risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations include, but are not limited to: the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Company’s business and on the global and U.S. economies generally; real estate and operating risks, including fluctuations in real estate values and the general economic climate in the markets in which we operate and competition for residents in such markets; national and local economic conditions, including the pace of job growth and the level of unemployment; the amount, location and quality of competitive new housing supply; the timing and effects of acquisitions, dispositions, redevelopments and developments; changes in operating costs, including energy costs; negative economic conditions in our geographies of operation; loss of key personnel; the Company’s ability to maintain current or meet projected occupancy, rental rate and property operating results; the Company’s ability to meet budgeted costs and timelines, and, if applicable, achieve budgeted rental rates related to redevelopment and development investments; expectations regarding sales of apartment communities and the use of proceeds thereof; the ability to successfully operate as two separate companies each with more narrowed focus; insurance risks, including the cost of insurance, and natural disasters and severe weather such as hurricanes; financing risks, including the availability and cost of financing; the risk that cash flows from operations may be insufficient to meet required payments of principal and interest; the risk that earnings may not be sufficient to maintain compliance with debt covenants, including financial coverage ratios; legal and regulatory risks, including costs associated with prosecuting or defending claims and any adverse outcomes; the terms of laws and governmental regulations that affect us and interpretations of those laws and regulations; possible environmental liabilities, including costs, fines or penalties that may be incurred due to necessary remediation of contamination of apartment communities presently or previously owned by the Company; activities by stockholder activists, including a proxy contest; the Company’s relationship with each other after the consummation of the business separation; the ability and willingness of the Company and their subsidiaries to meet and/or perform their obligations under any contractual arrangements that are entered into among the parties in connection with the business separation and any of their obligations to indemnify, defend and hold the other party harmless from and against various claims, litigation and liabilities; and the ability to achieve some or all the benefits that we expect to achieve from the business separation.

In addition, the Company’s current and continuing qualification as a real estate investment trust involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and depends on the Company’s ability to meet the various requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code, through actual operating results, distribution levels and diversity of stock ownership.

Readers should carefully review the Company’s financial statements and the notes thereto, as well as the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 and in Item 1A of the Company’s Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarterly periods ended March 31, 2022 and June 30, 2022, and the other documents the Company files from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements reflect management’s judgment as of this date, and the Company assumes no (and disclaims any) obligation to revise or update them to reflect future events or circumstances.

We make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of any projections, estimates, targets, statements or information contained in this document. It is understood and agreed that any such projections, estimates, targets, statements and information are not to be viewed as facts and are subject to significant business, financial, economic, operating, competitive and other risks, uncertainties and contingencies many of which are beyond our control, that no assurance can be given that any particular financial projections or targets will be realized, that actual results may differ from projected results and that such differences may be material. While all financial projections, estimates and targets are necessarily speculative, we believe that the preparation of prospective financial information involves increasingly higher levels of uncertainty the further out the projection, estimate or target extends from the date of preparation. The assumptions and estimates underlying the projected, expected or target results are inherently uncertain and are subject to a wide variety of significant business, economic and competitive risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the financial projections, estimates and targets. The inclusion of financial projections, estimates and targets in this presentation should not be regarded as an indication that we or our representatives, considered or consider the financial projections, estimates and targets to be a reliable prediction of future events.

Glossary and Reconciliations of Non-GAAP Financial and Operating Measures

This document includes certain financial and operating measures used by Aimco management that are not calculated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP. Aimco’s definitions and calculations of these Non-GAAP financial and operating measures and other terms may differ from the definitions and methodologies used by other REITs and, accordingly, may not be comparable. These Non-GAAP financial and operating measures should not be considered an alternative to GAAP net income or any other GAAP measurement of performance and should not be considered an alternative measure of liquidity.

NET OPERATING INCOME (NOI) MARGIN: Represents an apartment community’s net operating income as a percentage of the apartment community’s rental and other property revenues.

PROPERTY NET OPERATING INCOME (NOI): NOI is defined by Aimco as total property rental and other property revenues less direct property operating expenses, including real estate taxes. NOI does not include: property management revenues, primarily from affiliates; casualties; property management expenses; depreciation; or interest expense. NOI is helpful because it helps both investors and management to understand the operating performance of real estate excluding costs associated with decisions about acquisition pricing, overhead allocations, and financing arrangements. NOI is also considered by many in the real estate industry to be a useful measure for determining the value of real estate. Reconciliations of NOI as presented in this document to Aimco’s consolidated GAAP amounts are provided below. Due to the diversity of its economic ownership interests in its apartment communities in the periods presented, Aimco evaluates the performance of the apartment communities in its segments using Property NOI, which represents the NOI for the apartment communities that Aimco consolidates and excludes apartment communities that it does not consolidate. Property NOI is defined as rental and other property revenue less property operating expenses. In its evaluation of community results, Aimco excludes utility cost reimbursement from rental and other property revenues and reflects such amount as a reduction of the related utility expense within property operating expenses. The following table presents the reconciliation of GAAP rental and other property revenue to the revenues before utility reimbursements and GAAP property operating expenses to expenses, net of utility reimbursements.

Segment NOI Reconciliation

Twelve Months Ended (in thousands)

December 31, 2021

December 31, 2020

Total Real Estate Operations

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

 
 

Total (per consolidated statements of operations)

$

169,836

 

$

67,613

 

$

151,451

 

$

61,514

 

 

Adjustment: Utilities reimbursement

 

(3,022

)

$

(3,022

)

 

(2,163

)

 

(2,163

)

 

Adjustment: Non-stabilized and other amounts not allocated [2]

 

(30,629

)

 

(21,158

)

 

(18,528

)

 

(17,676

)

 

Total Stabilized Operating (per Schedule 6)

$

136,185

 

$

43,433

 

$

130,760

 

$

41,675

 

 
 
 

Segment NOI Reconciliation

Three Months Ended (in thousands)

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2021

Total Real Estate Operations

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

 
 

Total (per consolidated statements of operations)

$

50,697

 

$

19,708

 

$

40,418

 

$

16,403

 

 

Adjustment: Utilities reimbursement

 

(1,347

)

 

(1,347

)

 

(1,128

)

 

(1,128

)

 

Adjustment: Assets Held for Sale

 

(1,823

)

$

568

 

 

(1,798

)

 

634

 

 

Adjustment: Other Real Estate

 

(4,383

)

$

1,317

 

 

(3,138

)

 

1,090

 

 

Adjustment: Non-stabilized and other amounts not allocated [2]

 

(10,040

)

 

(9,825

)

 

(4,589

)

 

(7,056

)

 

Total Stabilized Operating (per Schedule 6)

$

33,104

 

$

10,420

 

$

29,765

 

$

9,943

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Segment NOI Reconciliation

Six Months Ended (in thousands)

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2021

Total Real Estate Operations

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

Revenues,

Before Utility

Reimbursements
[1]

Expenses,

Net of Utility

Reimbursements

 
 

Total (per consolidated statements of operations)

$

100,691

 

$

38,929

 

$

80,222

 

$

33,345

 

 

Adjustment: Utilities reimbursement

 

(2,903

)

 

(2,903

)

 

(2,473

)

 

(2,473

)

 

Adjustment: Assets Held for Sale

 

(3,628

)

 

1,159

 

 

(3,503

)

 

1,265

 

 

Adjustment: Other Real Estate

 

(9,378

)

 

(2,822

)

 

(6,324

)

 

(2,127

)

 

Adjustment: Non-stabilized and other amounts not allocated [2]

 

(19,455

)

 

(13,696

)

 

(8,903

)

 

(9,871

)

 

Total Stabilized Operating (per Schedule 6)

$

65,327

 

$

20,667

 

$

59,018

 

$

20,139

 

[1] Approximately two-thirds of Aimco’s utility costs are reimbursed by residents. These reimbursements are included in rental and other property revenues on Aimco’s consolidated statements of operations prepared in accordance with GAAP. This adjustment represents the reclassification of utility reimbursements from revenues to property operating expenses for the purpose of evaluating segment results and as presented on Supplemental Schedule 6. Aimco also excludes the reimbursement amounts from the calculation of Average Revenue per Apartment Home throughout this Earnings Release and Supplemental Schedules.

[2] Properties not included in the Stabilized Operating Portfolio and other amounts not allocated includes operating results of properties not presented in the Stabilized Operation Portfolio as presented on Supplemental Schedule 6 during the periods shown, as well as property management and casualty expense, which are not included in property operating expenses, net of utility reimbursements in the Supplemental Schedule 6 presentation.

About Aimco

Aimco is a diversified real estate company primarily focused on value add, opportunistic, and alternative investments, targeting the U.S. multifamily sector. Aimco’s mission is to make real estate investments where outcomes are enhanced through its human capital so that substantial value is created for investors, teammates, and the communities in which we operate. Aimco is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as AIV. For more information about Aimco, please visit its website www.aimco.com.

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Labor Hoarding Could be Good News for the Economy

PROVO, Utah — Chad Pritchard and his colleagues are trying everything to staff their pizza shop and bistro, and as they do, they have turned to a new tactic: They avoid firing employees at all costs.

Infractions that previously would have led to a quick dismissal no longer do at the chef’s two places, Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria and Bistro Provenance. Consistent transportation issues have ceased to be a deal breaker. Workers who show up drunk these days are sent home to sober up.

Employers in Provo, a college town at the base of the Rocky Mountains where unemployment is near the lowest in the nation at 1.9 percent, have no room to lose workers. Bistro Provenance, which opened in September, has been unable to hire enough employees to open for lunch at all, or for dinner on Sundays and Mondays. The workers it has are often new to the industry, or young: On a recent Wednesday night, a 17-year-old could be found torching a crème brûlée.

Down the street, Mr. Pritchard’s pizza shop is now relying on an outside cleaner to help his thin staff tidy up. And up and down the wide avenue that separates the two restaurants, storefronts display “Help Wanted” signs or announce that the businesses have had to temporarily reduce their hours.

added 263,000 workers in September, fewer than in recent months but more than was normal before the pandemic. Unemployment is at 3.5 percent, matching the lowest level in 50 years, and average hourly earnings picked up at a solid 5 percent clip compared with a year earlier.

roughly 20 percent and sent unemployment to above 10 percent. Few economists expect an outcome that severe this time since today’s inflation burst has been shorter-lived and rates are not expected to climb nearly as much.

are still nearly two open jobs for every unemployed worker — companies may be hesitant to believe that any uptick in worker availability will last.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about how big of a downturn are we facing,” said Benjamin Friedrich, an associate professor of strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “You kind of want to be ready when opportunities arise. The way I think about labor hoarding is, it has option value.”

Instead of firing, businesses may look for other ways to trim costs. Mr. Pritchard in Provo and his business partner, Janine Coons, said that if business fell off, their first resort would be to cut hours. Their second would be taking pay cuts themselves. Firing would be a last resort.

The pizzeria didn’t lay off workers during the pandemic, but Mr. Pritchard and Ms. Coons witnessed how punishing it can be to hire — and since all of their competitors have been learning the same lesson, they do not expect them to let go of their employees easily even if demand pulls back.

“People aren’t going to fire people,” Mr. Pritchard said.

But economists warned that what employers think they will do before a slowdown and what they actually do when they start to experience financial pain could be two different things.

The idea that a tight labor market may leave businesses gun-shy about layoffs is untested. Some economists said that they could not recall any other downturn where employers broadly resisted culling their work force.

“It would be a pretty notable change to how employers responded in the past,” said Nick Bunker, director of North American economic research for the career site Indeed.

And even if they do not fire their full-time employees, companies have been making increased use of temporary or just-in-time help in recent months. Gusto, a small-business payroll and benefits platform, conducted an analysis of its clients and found that the ratio of contractors per employee had increased more than 60 percent since 2019.

If the economy slows, gigs for those temporary workers could dry up, prompting them to begin searching for full-time jobs — possibly causing unemployment or underemployment to rise even if nobody is officially fired.

Policymakers know a soft landing is a long shot. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, acknowledged during his last news conference that the Fed’s own estimate of how much unemployment might rise in a downturn was a “modest increase in the unemployment rate from a historical perspective, given the expected decline in inflation.”

But he also added that “we see the current situation as outside of historical experience.”

The reasons for hope extend beyond labor hoarding. Because job openings are so unusually high right now, policymakers hope that workers can move into available positions even if some firms do begin layoffs as the labor market slows. Companies that have been desperate to hire for months — like Utah State Hospital in Provo — may swoop in to pick up anyone who is displaced.

Dallas Earnshaw and his colleagues at the psychiatric hospital have been struggling mightily to hire enough nurse’s aides and other workers, though raising pay and loosening recruitment standards have helped around the edges. Because he cannot hire enough people to expand in needed ways, Mr. Earnshaw is poised to snap up employees if the labor market cools.

“We’re desperate,” Mr. Earnshaw said.

But for the moment, workers remain hard to find. At the bistro and pizza shop in downtown Provo, what worries Mr. Pritchard is that labor will become so expensive that — combined with rapid ingredient inflation — it will be hard or impossible to make a profit without lifting prices on pizzas or prime rib so much that consumers cannot bear the change.

“What scares me most is not the economic slowdown,” he said. “It’s the hiring shortage that we have.”

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A Strong Dollar Is Wreaking Havoc on Emerging Markets. A Debt Crisis Could Be Next.

The average household in Ghana is paying two-thirds more than it did last year for diesel, flour and other necessities. In Egypt, wheat is so expensive that the government has fallen half a billion dollars short of its budget for a bread subsidy it provides to its citizens. And Sri Lanka, already struggling to control a political crisis, is running out of fuel, food and medical supplies.

A strong dollar is making the problems worse.

Compared with other currencies, the U.S. dollar is the strongest it has been in two decades. It is rising because the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates sharply to combat inflation and because America’s economic health is better than most. Together, these factors have attracted investors from all over the world. Sometimes they simply buy dollars, but even if investors buy other assets, like government bonds, they need dollars to do so — in each case pushing up the currency’s value.

That strength has become much of the world’s weakness. The dollar is the de facto currency for global trade, and its steep rise is squeezing dozens of lower-income nations, chiefly those that rely heavily on imports of food and oil and borrow in dollars to fund them.

But much of the damage is already behind us.

  • Discordant Views: Some investors just don’t see how the Federal Reserve can lower inflation without risking high unemployment. The Fed appears more optimistic.
  • Weathering the Storm: The rout in the stock and bond markets has been especially rough on people paying for college, retirement or a new home. Here is some advice.
  • College Savings: As the stock and bond markets wobble, 529 plans are taking a tumble. What’s a family to do? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but you have options.
  • “We are in a fragile situation,” Mr. El-Erian said. “Country after country is flashing amber, and some are already flashing red.”

    Many lower-income countries were already struggling during the pandemic.

    Roughly 22 million people in Ghana, or a third of its population, reported a decline in their income between April 2020 and May 2021, according to a survey from the World Bank and Unicef. Adults in almost half of the households with children surveyed said they were skipping a meal because they didn’t have enough money. Almost three-quarters said the prices of major food items had increased.

    Then came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war between two of the world’s largest exporters of food and energy led to a big surge in prices, especially for importers like Ghana. Consumer prices have gone up 30 percent for the year through June, according to data from the research firm Moody’s Analytics. For household essentials, annual inflation has reached 60 percent or more this year, the S&P data shows.

    To illustrate this, consider the price of a barrel of oil in dollars versus the Ghanaian cedi. At the beginning of October last year, the price of oil stood at $78.52 per barrel, rising to nearly $130 per barrel in March before falling back to $87.96 at the beginning of this month, a one-year increase of 12 percent in dollar terms. Over the same period, the Ghanaian cedi has weakened over 40 percent against the dollar, meaning that the same barrel of oil that cost roughly 475 cedi a year ago now costs over 900 cedi, almost twice as much.

    Adding to the problem are large state-funded subsidies, some taken on or increased through the pandemic, that are now weighing on government finances.

    Ghana’s president cut fuel taxes in November 2021, losing roughly $22 million in projected revenue for the government — the latest available numbers.

    In Egypt, spending on what the government refers to as “supply commodities,” almost all of which is wheat for its long-running bread subsidy, is expected to come in at around 7 percent of all government spending this year, 12 percent higher — or more than half a billion dollars — than the government budgeted.

    As costs ballooned throughout the pandemic, governments took on more debt. Ghana’s public debt grew to nearly $60 billion from roughly $40 billion at the end of 2019, or to nearly 80 percent of its gross domestic product from around 63 percent, according to Moody’s.

    It’s one of four countries listed by S&P, alongside Pakistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where interest payments alone account for more than half of the government’s revenues.

    “We can’t forget that this is happening on the back end of a once-in-a-century pandemic in which governments, to try and support families as best they could, did borrow more,” said Frank Gill, an analyst at S&P. “This is a shock following up on another shock.”

    In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its government debt for the first time in its history. Over the past month, the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana have all reached out to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout as they struggle to meet their debt financing needs, no longer able to turn to international investors for more money.

    “I don’t think there is a lot of appetite to lend money to some of these countries,” said Brian Weinstein, co-head of credit trading at Bank of America. “They are incredibly vulnerable at the moment.”

    That vulnerability is already reflected in the bond market.

    In 2016, Ghana borrowed $1 billion for 10 years, paying an interest rate of just over 8 percent. As the country’s financial position has worsened and investors have backed away, the yield — indicative of what it would now cost Ghana to borrow money until 2026 — has risen to above 35 percent.

    It’s an untenable cost of debt for a country in Ghana’s situation. And Ghana is not alone. For bonds that also mature in 2026, yields for Pakistan have reached almost 40 percent.

    “We have concerns where any country has yields that calls into question their ability to refinance in public markets,” said Charles Cohen, deputy division chief of monetary and capital market departments at IMF.

    The risk of a sovereign debt crisis in some emerging markets is “very, very high,” said Jesse Rogers, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. Mr. Rogers likened the current situation to the debt crises that crushed Latin America in the 1980s — the last time the Fed sought to quell soaring inflation.

    Already this year, more than $80 billion has been withdrawn from mutual funds and exchange-traded funds — two popular types of investment products — that buy emerging market bonds, according to EPFR Global, a data provider. As investors sell, the United States is often the beneficiary, further strengthening the dollar.

    “It’s by far the worst year for outflows the market has ever seen,” said Pramol Dhawan, head of emerging markets at Pimco.

    Even citizens in some of these countries are trying to exchange their money for dollars, fearful of what’s to come and of further currency depreciation — yet inadvertently also contributing to it.

    “For pockets of emerging markets, this is a really challenging backdrop and one of the most challenging backdrops we have faced for many years,” Mr. Dhawan said.

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    Less Turnover, Smaller Raises: Hot Job Market May Be Losing Its Sizzle

    Last year, Klaussner Home Furnishings was so desperate for workers that it began renting billboards near its headquarters in Asheboro, N.C., to advertise job openings. The steep competition for labor drove wages for employees on the furniture maker’s production floor up 12 to 20 percent. The company began offering $1,000 signing bonuses to sweeten the deal.

    “Consumer demand was through the roof,” said David Cybulski, Klaussner’s president and chief executive. “We just couldn’t get enough labor fast enough.”

    But in recent months, Mr. Cybulski has noticed that frenzy die down.

    Hiring for open positions has gotten easier, he said, and fewer Klaussner workers are leaving for other jobs. The company, which has about 1,100 employees, is testing performance rewards to keep workers happy rather than racing to increase wages. The $1,000 signing bonus ended in the spring.

    “No one is really chasing employees to the dollar anymore,” he said.

    By many measures, the labor market is still extraordinarily strong even as fears of a recession loom. The unemployment rate, which stood at 3.7 percent in August, remains near a five-decade low. There are twice as many job openings as unemployed workers available to fill them. Layoffs, despite some high-profile announcements in recent weeks, are close to a record low.

    Walmart and Amazon have announced slowdowns in hiring; others, such as FedEx, have frozen hiring altogether. Americans in July quit their jobs at the lowest rate in more than a year, a sign that the period of rapid job switching, sometimes called the Great Resignation, may be nearing its end. Wage growth, which soared as companies competed for workers, has also slowed, particularly in industries like dining and travel where the job market was particularly hot last year.

    More broadly, many companies around the country say they are finding it less arduous to attract and retain employees — partly because many are paring their hiring plans, and partly because the pool of available workers has grown as more people come off the economy’s sidelines. The labor force grew by more than three-quarters of a million people in August, the biggest gain since the early months of the pandemic. Some executives expect hiring to keep getting easier as the economy slows and layoffs pick up.

    “Not that I wish ill on any people out there from a layoff perspective or whatever else, but I think there could be an opportunity for us to ramp some of that hiring over the coming months,” Eric Hart, then the chief financial officer at Expedia, told investors on the company’s earnings call in August.

    Taken together, those signals point to an economic environment in which employers may be regaining some of the leverage they ceded to workers during the pandemic months. That is bad news for workers, particularly those at the bottom of the pay ladder who have been able to take advantage of the hot labor market to demand higher pay, more flexible schedules and other benefits. With inflation still high, weaker wage growth will mean that more workers will find their standard of living slipping.

    But for employers — and for policymakers at the Federal Reserve — the calculation looks different. A modest cooling would be welcome after months in which employers struggled to find enough staff to meet strong demand, and in which rapid wage growth contributed to the fastest inflation in decades. Too pronounced a slowdown, however, could lead to a sharp rise in unemployment, which would almost certainly lead to a drop in consumer demand and create a new set of problems for employers.

    Recent research from economists at the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and St. Louis found that there had been a huge increase in poaching — companies hiring workers away from other jobs — during the recent hiring boom. If companies become less willing to recruit workers from competitors, and to pay the premium that doing so requires, or if workers become less likely to hop between jobs, that could lead wage growth to ease even if layoffs don’t pick up.

    There are hints that could be happening. A recent survey from another career site, ZipRecruiter, found that workers have become less confident in their ability to find a job and are putting more emphasis on finding a job they consider secure.

    “Workers and job seekers are feeling just a little bit less bold, a little bit more concerned about the future availability of jobs, a little bit more concerned about the stability of their own jobs,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

    Some businesses, meanwhile, are becoming a bit less frantic to hire. A survey of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Business found that while many employers still have open positions, fewer of them expect to fill those jobs in the next three months.

    More clues about the strength of the labor market could come in the upcoming months, the time of year when companies, including retailers, traditionally ramp up hiring for the holiday season. Walmart said in September that this year it would hire a fraction of the workers it did during the last holiday season.

    The signs of a cool-down extend even to leisure and hospitality, the sector where hiring challenges have been most acute. Openings in the sector have fallen sharply from the record levels of last year, and hourly earnings growth slowed to less than 9 percent in August from a rate of more than 16 percent last year.

    Until recently, staffing shortages at Biggby Coffee were so severe that many of the chain’s 300-plus stores had to close early some days, or in some cases not open at all. But while hiring remains a challenge, the pressure has begun to ease, said Mike McFall, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. One franchisee recently told him that 22 of his 25 locations were fully staffed and that only one was experiencing a severe shortage.

    “We are definitely feeling the burden is lifting in terms of getting people to take the job,” Mr. McFall said. “We’re getting more applications, we’re getting more people through training now.”

    The shift is a welcome one for business owners like Mr. McFall. He said franchisees have had to raise wages 50 percent or more to attract and retain workers — a cost increase they have offset by raising prices.

    “The expectation by the consumer is that you are raising prices, and so if you don’t take advantage of that moment, you are going to be in a pickle,” he said, referring to the pressure to increase wages. “So you manage it by raising prices.”

    So far, Mr. McFall said, higher prices haven’t deterred customers. Still, he said, the period of severe staffing shortages is not without its costs. He has seen a loss in sales, as well as a loss of efficiency and experienced workers. That will take time to rebuild, he said.

    “When we were in crisis, it was all we were focused on,” he said. “So now that it feels like the crisis is mitigating, that it’s getting a little better, we can now begin to focus on the culture in the stores and try to build that up again.”

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    More Americans Filed Unemployment Claims Last Week

    By Associated Press

    and Newsy Staff
    September 22, 2022

    First time applications for jobless aid — which generally reflect layoffs — rose by 5,000 to 213,000 last week, the Labor Department reported.

    The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits rose slightly last week with the Federal Reserve pushing hard to cool the economy and tamp down inflation.

    Applications for unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 17 rose by 5,000 to 213,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number was revised down by 5,000 to 208,000, the lowest figure since May.

    First-time applications generally reflect layoffs.

    The four-week average for claims, which evens out some of the weekly volatility, fell by 6,000 to 216,750.

    On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark short-term borrowing rate by another three-quarters of a point in an effort to bring down persistent, decades-high inflation. Though gas prices have steadily retreated since summer, prices for food and other essentials remain elevated enough that the Fed has indicated it will keep raising its benchmark interest rate until prices come back down to normal levels.

    Fed officials have pointed to the remarkably resilient U.S. labor market as added justification for raising rates five times this year, including three 75-basis point hikes in a row.

    The Fed’s move boosted its benchmark short-term rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level since early 2008. The officials also forecast that they will further raise their benchmark rate to roughly 4.4% by year’s end, a full point higher than they had envisioned as recently as June.

    Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that before Fed officials would consider halting their rate hikes, they want to be confident that inflation is retreating to their 2% target. He noted that the strength of the job market is fueling pay gains that are helping drive up inflation.

    He emphasized his belief that curbing inflation is vital to ensuring the long-term health of the job market.

    Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that employers added still-strong 315,000 jobs in August, though less than the average 487,000 a month over the past year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7%, largely because hundreds of thousands of people returned to the job market. Some didn’t find work right away, so the government’s count of unemployed people rose.

    The U.S. economy has been a mixed bag this year, with economic growth declining in the first half of 2022. Investors and economist worry that the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes could force companies to cut jobs and tip the economy into a recession.

    Online real estate companies RedFin and Compass recently announced job cuts as rising interest rates have cooled the housing market. The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell again in August, the seventh straight monthly decline.

    Other high-profile layoffs announced in recent months include The Gap, Tesla, Netflix, Carvana and Coinbase.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    Bad News From the Fed? We’ve Been Here Before.

    The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates again is hardly a positive development for anyone with a job, a business or an investment in the stock or bond market.

    But it isn’t a great shock, either.

    This is all about curbing inflation, which is running at 8.3 percent annually, near its highest rate in 40 years. On Wednesday, the Fed raised the short-term federal funds rate for a third consecutive time, to 3.25 percent, and said it would keep increasing it.

    “We believe a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain later on,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said. He acknowledged that the Fed’s rate increases would raise unemployment and slow the economy.

    last time severe inflation tested the mettle of the Federal Reserve was the era of Paul A. Volcker, who became Fed chair in August 1979, when inflation was already 11 percent and still rising. He managed to bring it below 4 percent by 1983, but at the cost of two recessions, sky-high unemployment and horrendous volatility in financial markets.

    around 6 percent — and had set the country on a path toward price stability that lasted for decades.

    The Great Moderation.” This halcyon period lasted long after he left the Fed, and ended only with the financial crisis of 2007-9. As the Fed now puts it on a website devoted to its history, “Inflation was low and relatively stable, while the period contained the longest economic expansion since World War II.”

    mandates — “the economic goals of maximum employment and price stability”— as new information arrived.

    Donald Kohn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, was a Fed insider for 40 years, and retired as vice chair in 2010. With his inestimable guidance, I plunged into Fed history during the Volcker era.

    I found an astonishing wealth of material, providing far more information than reporters had access to back then. In fact, while the current Fed provides vast reams of data, what goes on behind closed doors is better documented, in some respects, for the Volcker Fed.

    That’s because transcripts of Fed meetings from that period were reconstructed from recordings that, Mr. Kohn said, “nobody was thinking about as they were talking because nobody knew about them or expected that this would ever be published, except, I guess Volcker.” By the 1990s, when the Fed began to produce transcripts available on a five-year time delay, Mr. Kohn said, participants in the meetings “were aware they were being recorded for history, so we became more restrained in what we said.”

    So reading the Volcker transcripts is like being a fly on the wall. Some names of foreign officials have been scrubbed, but most of the material is there.

    In a phone conversation, Mr. Kohn identified two critical “Volcker moments,” which he discussed at a Dallas Federal Reserve conference in June. “In both cases, the Fed moved in subtle ways and surprised people by changing its focus and its approach,” he said.

    Congress, financial circles and academic institutions. Economics students may remember Milton Friedman saying: “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.”

    For Fed watchers, the change in the central bank’s emphasis had practical implications. Richard Bernstein, a former chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch who now runs his own firm, said that back then: “You needed a calculator to figure out the numbers being released by the Fed. By comparison, now, there are practically no numbers. You just need to look at the words of Fed statements.”

    The Fed’s methods of dealing with inflation are abstruse stuff. But its conversations about the problem in 1982 were pithy, and its decisions appeared to be based as much on psychology as on traditional macroeconomics.

    As Mr. Volcker put it at a Federal Open Market Meeting on Oct. 6, 1979, “I have described the state of the markets as in some sense as nervous as I have ever seen them.” He added: “We are not dealing with a stable psychological or stable expectational situation by any means. And on the inflation front, we‘re probably losing ground.”

    17 percent by March 1980. The Fed plunged the economy into one recession and then, when the first one failed to curb inflation sufficiently, into a second.

    unemployment rate stood at 10.8 percent, a postwar high that was not exceeded until the coronavirus recession of 2020. But in 1982, even people at the Fed were wondering when the economy would begin to recover from the damage that had been done.

    The fall of 1982 was the second “Volcker moment” discerned by Mr. Kohn, who was in the room during meetings. The Fed decided that inflation was coming down — although in September 1982, it was still in the 6 to 7 percent range. The economy was contracting sharply, and the extraordinarily high interest rates in the United States had ricocheted around the world, worsening a debt crisis in Mexico, Argentina and, soon, the rest of Latin America.

    Fed meeting that October, when one official said, “There have certainly been some other problem situations” in Latin America, Mr. Volcker responded, “That’s the understatement of the day, if I must say so.”

    Penn Square Bank in Oklahoma had collapsed, a precursor of other failures to come.

    “We are in a worldwide recession,” Mr. Volcker said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.” He added: “I don’t know of any country of any consequence in the world that has an expansion going on. And I can think of lots of them that have a real downturn going on. Obviously, unemployment is at record levels. It is rising virtually everyplace. In fact, I can’t think of a major country that is an exception to that.”

    It was time, he and others agreed, to provide relief.

    The Fed needed to make sure that interest rates moved downward, but the method of targeting the monetary supply wasn’t working properly. It could not be calibrated precisely enough to guarantee that interest rates would fall. In fact, interest rates rose in September 1982, when the Fed had wanted them to drop. “I am totally dissatisfied,” Mr. Volcker said.

    It was, therefore, time, to shift the Fed’s focus back to interest rates, and to resolutely lower them.

    This wasn’t an easy move, Mr. Kohn said, but it was the right one. “It took confidence and some subtle judgment to know when it was time to loosen conditions,” he said. “We’re not there yet today — inflation is high and it’s time to tighten now — but at some point, the Fed will have to do that again.”

    The Fed pivot in 1982 had a startling payoff in financial markets.

    As early as August 1982, policymakers at the central bank were discussing whether it was time to loosen financial conditions. Word trickled to traders, interest rates fell and the previously lackluster S&P 500 started to rise. It gained nearly 15 percent for the year and kept going. That was the start of a bull market that continued for 40 years.

    In 1982, the conditions that set off rampant optimism in the stock market didn’t happen overnight. The Volcker-led Fed had to correct itself repeatedly while responding to major crises at home and abroad. It took years of pain to reach the point at which it made sense to pivot, and for businesses to start rehiring workers and for traders to go all-in on risky assets.

    Today, the Fed is again engaging in a grand experiment, even as Russia’s war in Ukraine, the lingering pandemic and political crises in the United States and around the globe are endangering millions of people.

    When will the big pivot happen this time? I wish I knew.

    The best I can say is that it would be wise to prepare for bad times but to plan and invest for prosperity over the long haul.

    I’ll come back with more detail on how to do that.

    But I would try to stay invested in both the stock and bond markets permanently. The Volcker era demonstrates that when the moment has at last come, sea changes in financial markets can occur in the blink of an eye.

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    Federal Reserve Attacks Inflation With Another Big Hike, Expects More

    The central bank raised its key short-term rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for the third consecutive time.

    Intensifying its fight against high inflation, the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate Wednesday by a substantial three-quarters of a point for a third straight time and signaled more large rate hikes to come — an aggressive pace that will heighten the risk of an eventual recession.

    The Fed’s move boosted its benchmark short-term rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level since early 2008.

    The officials also forecast that they will further raise their benchmark rate to roughly 4.4% by year’s end, a full percentage point higher than they had forecast as recently as June. And they expect to raise the rate further next year, to about 4.6%. That would be the highest level since 2007.

    On Wall Street, stock prices fell and bond yields rose in response to the Fed’s projection of further steep rate hikes ahead.

    The central bank’s action Wednesday followed a government report last week that showed high costs spreading more broadly through the economy, with price spikes for rents and other services worsening even though some previous drivers of inflation, such as gas prices, have eased. By raising borrowing rates, the Fed makes it costlier to take out a mortgage or an auto or business loan. Consumers and businesses then presumably borrow and spend less, cooling the economy and slowing inflation.

    Fed officials have said they’re seeking a “soft landing,” by which they would manage to slow growth enough to tame inflation but not so much as to trigger a recession. Yet economists increasingly say they think the Fed’s steep rate hikes will lead, over time, to job cuts, rising unemployment and a full-blown recession late this year or early next year.

    In their updated economic forecasts, the Fed’s policymakers project that economic growth will remain weak for the next few years, with rising unemployment. It expects the jobless rate to reach 4.4% by the end of 2023, up from its current level of 3.7%. Historically, economists say, any time the unemployment rate has risen by a half-point over several months, a recession has always followed.

    Fed officials now see the economy expanding just 0.2% this year, sharply lower than its forecast of 1.7% growth just three months ago. And it expects sluggish growth below 2% from 2023 through 2025.

    And even with the steep rate hikes the Fed foresees, it still expects core inflation — which excludes the volatile food and gas categories — to be 3.1% at the end of next year, well above its 2% target.

    Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged in a speech last month that the Fed’s moves will “bring some pain” to households and businesses. And he added that the central bank’s commitment to bringing inflation back down to its 2% target was “unconditional.”

    Falling gas prices have slightly lowered headline inflation, which was a still-painful 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier. Declining gas prices might have contributed to a recent rise in President Joe Biden’s public approval ratings, which Democrats hope will boost their prospects in the November midterm elections.

    Short-term rates at a level the Fed is now envisioning would make a recession likelier next year by sharply raising the costs of mortgages, car loans and business loans. The economy hasn’t seen rates as high as the Fed is projecting since before the 2008 financial crisis. Last week, the average fixed mortgage rate topped 6%, its highest point in 14 years. Credit card borrowing costs have reached their highest level since 1996, according to Bankrate.com.

    Inflation now appears increasingly fueled by higher wages and by consumers’ steady desire to spend and less by the supply shortages that had bedeviled the economy during the pandemic recession. On Sunday, though, President Biden said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he believed a soft landing for the economy was still possible, suggesting that his administration’s recent energy and health care legislation would lower prices for pharmaceuticals and health care.

    Some economists are beginning to express concern that the Fed’s rapid rate hikes — the fastest since the early 1980s — will cause more economic damage than necessary to tame inflation. Mike Konczal, an economist at the Roosevelt Institute, noted that the economy is already slowing and that wage increases – a key driver of inflation — are levelling off and by some measures even declining a bit.

    Surveys also show that Americans are expecting inflation to ease significantly over the next five years. That is an important trend because inflation expectations can become self-fulfilling: If people expect inflation to ease, some will feel less pressure to accelerate their purchases. Less spending would then help moderate price increases.

    Konczal said there is a case to be made for the Fed to slow its rate hikes over the next two meetings.

    “Given the cooling that’s coming,” he said, “you don’t want to rush into this.”

    The Fed’s rapid rate hikes mirror steps that other major central banks are taking, contributing to concerns about a potential global recession. The European Central Bank last week raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Canada have all carried out hefty rate increases in recent weeks.

    And in China, the world’s second-largest economy, growth is already suffering from the government’s repeated COVID lockdowns. If recession sweeps through most large economies, that could derail the U.S. economy, too.

    Even at the Fed’s accelerated pace of rate hikes, some economists — and some Fed officials — argue that they have yet to raise rates to a level that would actually restrict borrowing and spending and slow growth.

    Many economists sound convinced that widespread layoffs will be necessary to slow rising prices. Research published earlier this month under the auspices of the Brookings Institution concluded that unemployment might have to go as high as 7.5% to get inflation back to the Fed’s 2% target.

    Only a downturn that harsh would reduce wage growth and consumer spending enough to cool inflation, according to the research, by Johns Hopkins University economist Laurence Ball and two economists at the International Monetary Fund.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    STD, STI Cases Rise Each Year. Why Isn’t The U.S. Making Any Progress?

    The pandemic might have made rising STD/STI numbers even worse. Health officials have urged action, but prevention efforts have stalled for years.

    Public health has been top of mind for many the last couple of years, but there’s a public health problem that has largely flown under the radar: a growing rate of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

    The number of STD and STI cases among Americans have been rising steadily each year since 2014. Even the pandemic, which trapped millions inside their homes, didn’t really make a dent in those numbers, and it might have made it worse.

    These rising numbers have led many health officials to raise an alarm and urge action. Many experts believe one of the causes behind this problem is the lack of knowledge about the basic principles of safe sex, typically taught in sex education classes.

    In fact, a Centers for Disease Control survey from 2019 showed that nearly 46% of sexually-active high school students did not use a condom the last time they had sex. That’s a huge problem considering the fact that out of all new STDs reported to the CDC each year, half were among young people aged 15 to 24.

    The numbers show there were 2.4 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2020, which is the most recent year of data.

    Chlamydia is currently the most common STD in the U.S., with 1.6 million cases reported to the CDC that year. While its numbers saw a slight drop from 2016, the CDC notes that the drops are probably not really because of an actual drop in infections. Since chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, case rates are heavily influenced by screening coverage, which the pandemic worsened.

    Although overall cases of STDs and STIs fell in the pandemic’s early months, the CDC acknowledges that’s likely due to the reduced frequency of in-person health care services, resulting in fewer screenings. STD test and lab supply shortages, the diversion of health workers to pandemic response teams, and lapses in health insurance due to unemployment also contributed. Plus, the pandemic came after years of cuts to public health funding.

    As anticipated by many experts, numbers picked up again at the end of 2020, with other diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis surpassing 2019 levels, according to CDC data. Preliminary data from 2021 shows there were more than 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in that year, meaning STDs and STIs continued to increase during the second year of the pandemic too, with no signs of slowing.

    The CDC says it’s likely, “…we may never know the full impact of the pandemic on STDs. What is clear, however, is the state of STDs did not improve in the United States. Prevention and control efforts remain as important as ever.”

    But, the country’s prevention and control methods need work. Comprehensive sex ed programs would be a start on prevention among the most commonly affected age group, but robust public testing and information campaigns could help all Americans. Public health funding, however, has faced slashes for years, taking a toll on STD screening and prevention efforts.

    “Public funding cuts will prevent the public health system, the safety net, of being able to track down people’s partners so that your index patient doesn’t get reinfected because their partner was also treated appropriately,” said Dr. Anna Maya Powell, co-director of the Johns Hopkins HIV Women’s Program. “It’s easy to say, ‘People should take personal responsibility and come in for care,’ but I think the picture is a lot more complex than that.”

    Only 2.5% of all health spending in the U.S. — which is about $3.8 trillion — is spent on public health and prevention programs. Last year, the Biden administration did announce a $1.13 billion investment to strengthen the disease intervention specialists (DIS) workforce at the CDC, but much of that funding seems to be for the agency’s pandemic response. 

    Still, there’s reason for some optimism: There has been progress on STDs and STIs since the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. The STI spread rapidly in the country then, especially among certain groups, like men who have sex with other men. 

    Years of public information campaigns and research into treatment brought numbers down through the early 2000s and to a stable level by 2013. More recent figures may seem to hint at further progress on the overall HIV cases during the early pandemic, but those figures are also misleading because of the sharp drop in testing.

    Plus, many experts have criticized the focus of historic HIV treatment and prevention efforts as largely being focused on treating rich, white, gay men and transgender groups, leaving out many lower-income Americans, people of color and women.

    Women in general face a greater burden when it comes to sexual health. Many studies have established that women have a higher biological risk for contracting many STIs and HIV than men, with a higher probability of transmission from men to women.

    “Women tend to be more asymptomatic for a lot of a lot of the conditions we’re talking about,” Dr. Powell said. “Not having symptoms maybe gives people a false sense of security, and then they don’t come in to get the routine screening that they might have otherwise if things were open and accessible.”

    Black women in particular suffer higher numbers of both HIV and other STDs like herpes, and many experts say public prevention efforts have failed to address these groups adequately. Overall, inconsistencies in access to health care and prevention programs across different demographics throughout the country have affected our national battle against STDs and STIs. 

    “We have had data that shows consistently what we need to be doing in the sexually transmitted infections, those cases in reproductive health,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, director of health for the city of St. Louis, Missouri. “We need to make sure that those policies are as standardized as possible so that they’re easily implementable and therefore easy to track data, data that then feeds back into the funding.”

    Source: newsy.com

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