USA finance and payments: summary 30 June
US Financial News: Latest Updates
Headlines: 30 June 2022
- Bitcoin drops again on Thursday dipping below $19,000, with no thaw in crypto winter in sight.
- Fed chair Jerome Powell says economy possibly permanently changed after covid-19
- California and several other states are sending stimulus checks to help residents combat inflation.
- Concerns over the housing market grow as a more financial experts predict a recession is on the horizon.
- Tesla shutters Autopilot office and fires 200 hourly workers contrary to what Elon Musk previously stated to cut costs
- Average US gas price $4.86 on Thursday- where in the country is it most expensive?
- Biden administration agrees to cancel $6bn in studen loan debt for 200,000 borrowers
Helpful links & Information
- What is 'shrinkflation'?
- Strategies for investing in cryptocurrency
- When will mortgage interest rates go down again?
- How does the COLA affect my Social Security retirement benefits?
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One Chilean citizen had a nice surprise when he discovered that he had been paid 330 times his normal salary in what appears to have been a monumental accounting mix-up. At time of writing it does not appear that any of the money, which he received through no fault of his own, has been returned.
Moreover, he has reportedly stopped coming to work and the company does not know his current whereabouts.
What goes into the cost of gasoline?
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In this report, CBS News breaks down the factors affecting the price of gas...
The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows the spouse of a beneficiary to claim partial benefits when their spouse begins to receive their benefits regardless of how much money the spouse has paid into the system. The spouse claiming the partial benefits must be at least sixty-two years of age or be in the care of a disabled child or one younger than sixteen.
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White House notes inflationary pressure easing
Tackling sky-high inflation has been one of President Biden's top aims for much of 2022 as rapid price rises have devalued wages and slahed consumers' purchasing power. New figures released by the White House suggest that core inflation has began to decelerate in recent months, a strong sign that the overheated economy is beginning to cool.
Core inflation is a measure of the change in prices of goods and services, but excludes volatile products like food and energy which can otherwise scew the data.
Those who depend on Social Security benefits are being hit especially hard by inflation. While, the historic 5.9 percent COLA increase announced last year has helped but inflation has continued to undermine the boost in payments that began in January.
Based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), used to determine the COLA each year has tracked significant increases in prices since the 2023 increase was announced.
Read our full coverage for our predictions.
“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries.
“The centerpiece of the agreement, a $17 billion inflation relief package, will offer tax refunds to millions of working Californians. Twenty-three million Californians will benefit from direct payments of up to $1,050. The package will also include a suspension of the state sales tax on diesel, and additional funds to help people pay their rent and utility bills.
How much do hourly workers make in the US?
The BLS has released compensation data from March 2022 showing that “private industry workers [earned on average] $38.61 per hour worked.” Wages and salaries made up the largest chuck of this figure, around $27.19, “while benefit costs averaged $11.42 and accounted for 29.6 percent of employer costs.
Sectors with the highest wages included utilities, information, and financial activities.
Those with the lowest included leisure and hospitality and retail trade.
Tesla's poor market performance could be an investment opportunity
Tesla, like many other companies, has seen the value of its shares take a beating as investors fret about high inflation and how agressively the Federal Reserve will respond to bring it under control. Since the beginning of the year the largest electric car maker as seen its stock market value drop by over 40 percent, helping wipe around a third of Elon Musk's net worth off the books.
However, for brave investors it may be an opportunity to pick up shares of Tesla while the price is devalued with its popular electric cars as demand for EVs is hitting record levels with gas prices sky-high.
Musk and the engineers working on the Autopilot system will need to work out some kinks though with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looking into accidents that happened while the driver-assistant software was activated which could lead to a recall of the program. Likewise, Tesla isn't the only game in town with a number of established car manufacturers rolling out their own EVs, but its fans are extremely passionate about the brand and loyal.
Consumer spending dropped in May
Fast rising food and fuel prices dampened consumer spending in May according to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
While personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose 0.2 percent in May, those gains dropped to negative 0.4 percent when adjusted for inflation. Likewise, inflation reduced a personal income growth of 0.5 percent to negative 0.1 percent once inflation was accounted for.
The year-on-year inflation rate in May was 6.3 percent, in line with April’s. However, once volatile food and energy prices were taken out the annual increase in the PCE fell to 4.7 percent in May, the third month straight that it has declined.
In early June around 5.8 percent of households in the US were behind on their mortgage or rent. Compared to this time last year, this rate has fallen by around 0.4 percent from 6.2 percent.
Over the past year, the federal government has tracked an eighteen percent increase in housing prices. This is the quickest price increase seen in the market since 1991. Between 2004 and 2006, housing prices increased around ten percent of each year. However, none are seeing a collapse in the housing market on the horizon. The conditions in the market are driven by very different factors, compared to those seen in 2006-2008.
California has become the latest state to take the action of dispensing checks. In a $17 million inflation relief package, more than 23 million Californians will receive checks in the fall.
“Millions of Californians will be receiving up to $1,050 as part of a NEW middle class tax rebate,” Gov. Newsom tweeted on Sunday.
Fed Chair willing to run the risk of recession to bring down inflation
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell joined European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey to exchange views on current policy issues and discuss the longer-term perspective at the ECB Forum on Central Banking Forum in Sintra, Portugal on Wednesday. He told the panel that "The economy is being driven by very different forces." Adding "What we don't know is whether we'll be going back to something that looks like, or a little bit like, what we had before."
Powell said that the Fed's role of securing price stability and maximum employment in light of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and inflation pressures arising from Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a different ball game than that of the past quarter century.
As the Fed moves aggressively to bring down inflation not seen in four decades by raising rates, the latest was the sharpest increase since 1994, there are worries that policymakers may cause a recession. However, Powell said that allowing inflation to run rampant would be worse.
"Is there a risk that we would go too far? Certainly there's a risk, but I wouldn't agree that that is the biggest risk to the economy. The bigger mistake to make would be to fail to restore price stability," Powell said.
Woes grow for Three Arrows Capital crypto hedge fund
The "crypto winter", which has seen around two thirds of market cap disappear, or roughly $2 trillion, claimed a new victim.
Three Arrow Capital, also known as 3AC, one of the most prominent cryptocurrency hedge funds, was plunged into liquidation on Wednesday after reportedly becoming insolvent in mid-June.
There are fears of contagion in the market to other companies that could be exposed to the unwinding of 3AC like Voyager Digital which failed to meet loan obligation on Monday, causing a further rout in crypto assets.
Now the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the city-state's central bank, has reprimanded 3AC for misleading it with false information. The financial authorities accuse the embattled hedge fund of failing to disclose ownership information and exceeded the threshold set for assets under management.
Housing prices could come down by as much as ten percent in some markets that are overvalued reports Fortune according to Moody’s Analytics. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told NPR that he expects prices to come down in some of the “most juiced-up markets.”
And, if “prices are 5, 10, 15% below where they are today where they’re peaking,” in two years’ time “I’d say that sounds about right to me,” he said. However, he doesn’t see a housing collapse because home prices will be bolstered by a couple fundamentals, supply and improved lending practices.
To help residents combat inflation many states and cities are offering stimulus checks.
States and cities like Chicago, Maine, Iowa and Indiana will send checks valued between $850 to $1,700 in July.
Could Tesla layoff of Autopilot staff signal doom ahead for white collar workers
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month that he had a "super bad feeling" about the economy and that it would be necessary to cut costs. Part of that belt tightening would be to cut staff by around 10 percent.
The head of the electric carmaker clarified that the cuts would be from salaried positions and not hourly workers, which he expected to increase. So it came as a double surprise to around 200 hourly workers whose office in San Mateo was shuttered, and instead of being transfered to another office in Palo Alto as they had been told were given a pink slip.
"It was definitely kind of numbing," one of the laid-off workers told Reuters. "Yeah, we're definitely shocked; we're definitely blindsided."
Musk in an interview this month said that "both Berlin and Austin factories are gigantic money furnaces right now."
Michael Burry, famed investor depicted in The Big Short who predicted and profited from the housing market collapse of 2008, says that Tesla is the canary in the coal mine and the US labor market is about to be sliced in half.
While blue-collar workers should weather the coming storm being highly sought after, a glut of white-collar workers could see their wages fall if they aren't laid off.
Electric vehicle prices going up due to increased costs and high demand
A record number of electric vehicles were sold last year and expectations are that 2022 will be see even more car shoppers opting for EVs. The high cost of gas, topping $5 per gallon on average nationally, has been helping to drive demand.
However, the car industry has been struggling with disrupted supply chains and a semiconductor chip shortage due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. This has meant low production numbers of all vehicles and higher costs.
To offset this carmakers are raising prices on all their vehicles, but even more for EVs. This is due to the cost of materials needed to make the batteries, such as lithium, cobalt and nickle, have doubled in price since the pandemic. Likewise, with demand so high manufacturers are looking to cash in on consumers keen on adopting the new technology.
The Fourth of July holiday weekend kicks off on Friday when an expected 42 million people will hit the road to travel to festivities. Despite gas prices being two dollars higher on average than they were before the pandemic, more Americans are choosing to drive to their destination than in 2019.
“Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much needed vacation.”
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