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USA finance and payments news summary | 20 May 2022

Update:
President Biden meets with Sweden's Prime Minister Andersson and Finland's President Niinisto in Washington.

Headlines: 20 May 2022

- Dow and S&P 500 eke out slight gains on Friday, Nasdaq ended down 0.3%.

- White House secures first batch of overseas baby formula as part of Operation Fly Formula program

- The Great Resignation continued in April with eight states seeing an increase in the number of workers who quit their jobs

- Number of people receiving unemployment insurance falls below 1% for the first time since 1969

- The average price of a gallon of gasoline now exceeds $4 in all fifty states for the first time in US history

- Crude oil prices hit $114, an 11% increase over prices recorded this time last month

- The Bitcoin and crypto-collapse continues to have massive impacts on Wall Street, some coins like Luna have hit zero

- Inflation continues to cut into the purchasing power of consumers: what products have seen a decrease in price?

Helpful information & links

- Does working after one’s full retirement age increase Social Security benefits?

- New York State offers home loan forgiveness program

- Wide support for California $400 gas check

How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

US NEWS

How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

AS USA takes a look at the three federal stimulus checks sent out in the US during the covid-19 pandemic. How much? Who qualified? And what about credits for dependents? 

Action speaks louder than words in solving baby formula crisis

The first shipment as part of the "Operation Fly Formula" announced by the White House will be landing in Indiana this weekend. It will contain 246 pallets from Zurich, Switzerland with three types of hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow’s milk protein allergies which are in short supply in the US.

The shipment will include 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA.

The lack of baby formula has been growing for months but became a crisis after a recall by Abbot Nutrition, the largest producer of formula in the US, when four babies fell ill, two of whom died, after consuming potentially contaminated formula. This has caused frustration and panick for families with infants and children who rely on the hypoallergic formulas for daily meal.

One such mother, Claire Rowan, spoke of her own travials to secure a supply of formula for her son.

When asked who does she blame said;

" I would like to to say initially I didn't blame anyone. And certainly pointing fingers and blame doesn't get anything done. But, I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed that in a first world country we cannot figure out how to feed our children, our infants and our medically fragile community members.

"So, I'm not sure I want to blame anyone at this point. But, action will say a whole lot more to me than continual talk.

"I would like to see something where we have some... some change up of the way this market is managed. Four companies should not have 90 percent of the market. When one of them goes down it crashes. We cannot manage that way."

What is the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program?

US NEWS

What is the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program?

California, for the purpose of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, defines “disability” differently than that of the Social Security program. Workers who are prevented from carrying out the regular and customary requirements of their job due to a medical condition may be eligible to claim benefits.

This can include a non-work-related illness or injury, whether it be physical or mental, along with pregnancy and childbirth or even elective surgery, among other medical conditions. The program provides financial support to all eligible California workers who are unable to work or losing wages because of the condition.

Full details

Hyundai announces new multi-billion-dollar EV factory in Savannah, Georgia

Electric vehicles are gaining traction, especially as gas prices stay sky-high nationwide. To supply the market with more EVs Hyundai confirmed plans on Friday to build an assembly plant for that purpose near Savannah, Georgia.

The South Korean automotive giant intends to invest $5.54 billion and hire around 8,100 workers. Ground will be broken for the facility in 2023 with plans to roll 300,000 vehicles per year off the line by 2025. Additionally, the plant will build batteries to power the electric vehicles in an effort to establish a stable supply chain.

Inflation: Target and Walmart profits drop and stocks plunge after posting financial reports

FINANCIAL NEWS

Inflation: Target and Walmart profits drop and stocks plunge after posting financial reports

Some of the biggest retailers in the United States have recorded severely disappointing figures for the first quarter of 2022, causing a slump in their stock market valuations. Target and Walmart both had their worst day on the stock exchange this week in 35 years.

What's behind the disappointing financial reports?

Which states spend the most money on Medicaid?

US NEWS

Which states spend the most money on Medicaid?

The most recent data on Medicaid shows in the US almost 17 percent of healthcare expenditure is spent on Medicaid, but the amount varies in each state.

Here's a look

New poll shows that Americans want regulation on AI deployment

The European Union and United States held their second Trade and Technology Council meeting last week to "advance Transatlantic cooperation and democratic approaches to trade, technology, and security." One of the topics on the table was AI to develop and implement systems that are "innovative and trustworthy and that respect universal human rights and shared democratic values.”

Nearly 3 out of 5 respondents to the survey want to see agreement between the EU and US on the ethical use of AI, they differ on the focus of the negotiations.

While negotiators are focusing on how to address bias in artificial intelligence, those surveyed are more focused on the economics of AI systems and how they will affect jobs and privacy. Two-thirds are concerned that AI will eliminate jobs and cause unemployment and over half are worried about violations of their privacy.

Only 40 percent of respondents though AI bias would disadvantage people of other races or ethnic backgrounds, less than 30 percent raised concerns about bias toward women.

FTC warns of online scammers using baby formula shortage to rip you off

Parents will do anything for their kids and with the current shortage of baby formula, its made many desperate to find available supplies for their babies. It makes the perfect situation for shameless individuals to take advantage of them to make a quick buck.

The Federal Trade Commission is giving advice on how to avoid these unconscionable predators. One, always check out the company to make sure its legit and see if it has a record of complaints. Two, consider how you pay, if they ask for payment with a gift card, money transfer or crypto its a scam. Three, know your rights when shopping online.

The FTC also recommends that you check with your pediatrician to see if they have any baby formula stock available. And if you see a scam to inform the agency at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

There was some general thinking that India was going to be able to fill a lot of that supply gap that Ukraine historically filled, but it’s less likely to fill it this year. The news that India banned their exports, that drove prices even higher and suggests global supplies are tightening even more

Mark Jekanowski, research economist with the Department of Agriculture

If you see increasing prices and shortages of flour and grain in your country, the reason is because Russia attacked Ukraine. We have a lot of agricultural products, the entire crop from 2021, in our warehouses ready to be shipped around the world. The only reason why we are not doing it is because Russia continues blocking our ports and not allowing exports.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister

Of far greater concern” to the price of bread “would be the price of gas and transportation costs, getting the wheat to the mill, the flour to the baker, the bread to the supermarket, and then stacking the shelves. A lot of what we call ‘food price inflation’ is inflation affecting labor costs and the particular issue of higher energy prices.

Vincent H. Smith, professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University

Food inflation to get worse before it gets better

Food inflation in the US is at a 40-year high, with the index for consumer food prices up 9.4 percent in April, the largest 12-month increase since 1981, according to the Department of Labor.

With other nations in the world restricting exports, such as India which recently announced there would be a partial wheat export ban. While that would protect food prices in these countries, the world supply of crucial foods would diminish further after the war in Ukraine has strangled much of the food supply.

America is back to work.  The number of Americans who are forced to rely on unemployment insurance programs for their support fell to its lowest level in over 52 years. When I took office, there were nearly 20 million Americans on unemployment insurance to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Today, that number is about 1.3 million. That’s millions of families moving from government support to earning a paycheck.

President Biden, White House statement

Today, the percentage of people receiving unemployment insurance fell below 1 percent for the first time since 1969. This historic progress is the result of my economic plan to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out.

President Biden, White House statement
Baby formula shortage worsens: Why is there a limit on buying infant formula?

US NEWS

Baby formula shortage worsens: Why is there a limit on buying infant formula?

A number of major retailers in the United States have imposed new purchasing restrictions on infant formula in response to a worrying supply shortage.

Last month CVS said it was limiting both in-store and online purchases of baby formula to three per order, following a similar cap introduced by Walgreens in March. Kroger has opted for a four-item limit per customer while Target has also placed restrictions on order size.

Read more

White House response to baby formula shortages

Supple chain pressures and a major product recall have combined to create a dangerous shortage of infant formula in the United States. President Biden is looking to increase the supply and make parents aware when new products become available near them. There have been reports of baby formula products being resold online at a huge mark-up as parents are desperate to stock up on the essentials. 

Stimulus checks and how the US government has helped Americans

US News

Stimulus checks and how the US government has helped Americans

During the first year of the pandemic the federal government introduced a variety of financial relief programs to ensure that people could cover the cost of essentials amid the economic uncertainty. Tens of millions of people lost their jobs, businesses were shuttered and any savings were quickly depleted. 

The government authorised three rounds of stimulus checks to provide the short-term relief needed, worth a total of $3,200 per person. We take a look back at those payments, and the prospects of another round of stimulus checks...

Read more

Memorial Day weekend gas prices set to hit all-time high

Gas Buddy released its annual summer travel survey, and despite gas prices $1.50 higher than last year 58 percent of respondents say they plan to hit the road, an increase from 2021. However, they are keeping their options open with around two-thirds waiting to confirm their travel plans.

Gas prices are predicted to go over $4.60 per gallon for the start of the summer holiday travel season. Minus any significant events, drives can expect to see prices around $4.40 at the pump on average nationwide through Labor Day weekend.

What is the maximum unemployment benefit in NY for 2022?

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

What is the maximum unemployment benefit in NY for 2022?

Those who lose their job through no fault of their own in New York and meet other requirements can expect at most $504 in weekly jobless financial assistance. However, the real amount will be determined by the state based on a worker’s “base period” with a minimum weekly amount set at $116.

In order to calculate an individual’s unemployment compensation, officials at the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) will look at a “basic base period” or your “alternate base period. The agency will not “automatically” consider the latter in the event that you have enough wages in your basic base period to assess if you would get a higher weekly amount. 

Read more

Employment gains in one out of three metropolitan areas over past year

During the past 12 months nonfarm payroll employment increased in 147 metropolitan areas. The remaining 242 areas were essentially unchanged. The largest percentage employment gains from March 2021 to 2022 occurred in:

Atlantic City, New Jersey (+12.3 percent)

Las Vegas, Nevada (+12.1 percent)

Flagstaff, Arizona (+10.2 percent)

Hello and welcome to AS USA's Financial News live blog for Friday, 20 May 2022.

We will be bringing you all the investment and monetary news you need.

Still haven't received your tax refund? Do not worry, we have you covered on how to contact the IRS.

Cryptocurrency is seeing one of its largest decreases in years, with many long-term investors exiting the market, what does this mean for Bitcoin?

Gas prices are up around the country, a sign that while inflation began to slow in April, numbers could spike again in May.

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