Record U.S. Trade Deficit | Trade Deficit with China Rose $3.1 Billion to $30.3 Billion

Posted on 04/07/2021 8:29 AM

Iowa has most structurally deficient bridges | Sensitive issues with China mount
 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


 

Market Focus:
• Traders await today’s release of FOMC minutes
• Dallas Fed’s Kaplan shares thoughts on monetary policy
• Jamie Dimon: U.S. economic ‘boom could easily run into 2023’
• Perspective on IMF’s updated economic forecasts
• Billionaire buys central Illinois farmland

• Eurozone PMI in expansion
• Perspective on transportation bottleneck
• Iowa has most structurally deficient bridges, 4,571 or 19.1% of its total bridges
• Dollar’s share of global reserves at lowest level since 1995
• EIA: U.S. to see 30% increase in summer gasoline prices
• Aramco in advanced talks to sell minority stake in its oil pipelines
• Russia clears formula-based export taxes on sunflower oil
• Beyond Meat shares climbed 2.9%
• Ag demand update

South Korea to temporarily scrap duties on corn imports, bring in more eggs
• Attaché projects a bin-busting 141-MMT Brazilian bean crop in 2021-22
• Light cash market test at higher prices
• Strong pork movement at elevated prices

Policy Focus:
• Some policy goals in President Biden’s infrastructure plan could be blocked
• Jeff Bezos: Amazon supports Biden’s proposed corporate tax hike
• FarmDoc takes a look at tax on farm estates and inherited gains

 

Biden Administration Personnel

• Defense Sec. Austin to Israel

 

China Update:
• Olympics now snared in Xinjiang controversy
• ITC approves tariffs on small Chinese engines

 

Trade Policy:
• South Korea to lift some import duties in bid to ease food price inflation
• Report: U.S. has ‘long list’ of female candidates for WTO deputy director general post

 

Energy & Climate Change:

• EPA by end of July will issue changes to emissions from vehicles through 2026 model year
• Five felony and 28 misdemeanor criminal charges filed against PG&E Corp.


Food & Beverage Industry Update:
• Idaho potato farmers file antitrust case against several big ag companies
• U.S. sales of plant-based foods hit $7 billion in 2020


Coronavirus Update:
• U.S. outpacing most of the world in its vaccine
• Australia/EU tension
• IMF proposes ‘solidarity’ tax on pandemic winners and wealthy

 

Politics & Elections:
• DCCC targeting 22 House seats for 2022
• Caitlyn Jenner considering California gubernatorial bid
• President Biden says he has not spoken with Fed chair Jerome Powell


Other Items of Note:
• San Francisco school board suspends renaming of public schools
• Israel hits Iranian ship
• Petition calls for EPA regulation of large dairy and hog farms
• House Ag subcommittee to work with FMA re: empty ag containers

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: U.S. stock futures opened flat and are now slightly higher as investors await today’s notes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting regarding how officials view inflation and the pace of economic recovery (see related item below). In Asia, most major stock indexes were mixed by the close of trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ticked 0.1% higher while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.9%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.1%. European equities are seeing light pressure in most markets in early action.
 

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow ended down 96.95 points, 0.29%, at 33,430.24. The Nasdaq fell 7.21 points, 0.05%, at 13,698.38. The S&P 500 was down 3.97 points, 0.10%, at 4,073.94. Bond yields have stabilized in recent days, after climbing sharply from the start of the year. Trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday was the lowest of the year, as 4,057,035,817 shares changed hands.

 

     The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 1.639%, from 1.656% on Tuesday.

 

     Gold prices on Tuesday gained for the fourth consecutive trading session, but are still down 8% this year.

 

On tap today:

 

     • U.S. trade deficit is expected to widen to $70.5 billion in February from $68.2 billion a month earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET) Update: The gap in trade of both goods and services increased to $71.1 billion in February from a revised $67.8 billion a month earlier, according to the Commerce Department. Total imports decreased 0.7% to $258.3 billion, while exports fell 2.6% to $187.3 billion. The trade deficit in goods with China rose $3.1 billion to $30.3 billion.
        Trade deficit

     • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hold press briefing. 12:15 p.m. ET.
     • President Biden delivers remarks on his infrastructure, tax plan. 1:45 p.m. ET.
     • Federal Reserve releases minutes from its March 16-17 meeting at 2 p.m. ET.
     • U.S. consumer credit for February is out at 3 p.m. ET.
     • Federal Reserve speakers: Chicago’s Charles Evans on the economy and monetary policy at 9 a.m. ET, Dallas’s Robert Kaplan at a virtual Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee event at 11 a.m. ET, and Richmond’s Thomas Barkin on the economy and monetary policy at 12 p.m. ET.

 

Perspective on IMF’s updated economic forecasts. The United States is likely to be the only large economy to emerge even richer from the Covid-19 pandemic than if the crisis had never occurred, according to the latest global economic projections released by the International Monetary Fund yesterday. The IMF forecasts global growth of 6% in 2021, the most since 1980, when it started tracking data on a comparable set of countries, and an increase of 0.5% from its January projection. The pandemic cut global output by an estimated 3.3% in 2020, the worst peacetime outcome since the Great Depression. The U.S. and China, the world’s biggest economies, are driving the recovery. The U.S. economy is projected to expand 6.4% this year and regain its pre-pandemic size after an estimated contraction of 3.5% last year. China’s economy is projected to expand 8.4% this year. Of major countries, India is expected to see the strongest growth, 12.5% in 2021 — after a steep 8% contraction in 2020.

 

    IMF summary
    IMF biggies

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual letter to his shareholders that the U.S. economy is emerging from the pandemic in strong fashion and that the economic boom could last until 2023. A combination of excess savings, deficit spending, a potential infrastructure bill, vaccinations and “euphoria around the end of the pandemic,” Dimon wrote, may create a boom that “could easily run into 2023.” That could justify high equity valuations, but not the price of U.S. debt, given the “huge supply” soon to hit the market. There is a chance that a rise in inflation would be “more than temporary,” he wrote, forcing the Fed to raise interest rates aggressively. “Rapidly raising rates to offset an overheating economy is a typical cause of a recession,” he wrote, but he hopes for “the Goldilocks scenario” of fast growth, gently increasing inflation and a measured rise in interest rates.

 

     “Banks are playing an increasingly smaller role in the financial system.” Dimon cited competition from an already large shadow banking system and fintech companies, as well as “Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and now Walmart.” He argued those nonbank competitors should be more strictly regulated; their growth has “partially been made possible” by avoiding banking rules, he wrote. And when it comes to tougher regulation of big banks, he wrote, “the cost to the economy of having fail-safe banks may not be worth it.”

 

     “China’s leaders believe that America is in decline.” While the U.S. has faced tough times before, today “the Chinese see an America that is losing ground in technology, infrastructure and education — a nation torn and crippled by politics, as well as racial and income inequality — and a country unable to coordinate government policies (fiscal, monetary, industrial, regulatory) in any coherent way to accomplish national goals,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, recently, there is a lot of truth to this.”

 

     “The solution is not as simple as walking away from fossil fuels.” Addressing climate change doesn’t mean “abandoning” companies that produce and use fossil fuels, Dimon wrote, but working with them to reduce their environmental impact. He sees “huge opportunity in sustainable and low-carbon technologies and businesses” and plans to evaluate clients’ progress according to reductions in carbon intensity — emissions per unit of output — which adjusts for factors like size.

 

Fed in focus as FOMC minutes due; Dallas Fed’s Kaplan shares thoughts on monetary policy. Minutes from the March 16-17 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting are due today at 2 pm ET, and investors will be comb through the meeting recap for more clues on when Fed officials expect to alter their current accommodative monetary policies. The majority do not see a need to raise rates before the end of 2023. But seven Fed members do see that happening. While there are no names attached, the minutes will use “some,” “few,” “many” or other generic terms to describe views expressed at the meeting. Besides the focus on policy, attention will also be on whether Fed officials — or how many — are alarmed at action in bond markets. Officials speaking since the meeting, including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, have mostly downplayed the rise in bond yields as not being due to some worrisome market situation.

 

     One of those who thinks rates will need to rise before the end of 2023 is Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan who has a 2022 “dot” on the Fed’s “dot plot” of when they expect a need to raise the Fed funds rate. He told the Wall Street Journal (link) that his outlook is optimistic, but it is “just a forecast.” His stance is wanting to see “actual evidence” of how the U.S. has weathered to pandemic “and then that we’re making substantial further progress in terms of employment and price stability.” He reiterated that the Fed’s forecasts are “a point in time” and is “subject to change.” But the path the pandemic takes is a big key as he maintains “we’re not out of the woods yet.” He further noted that if he had to update his forecasts today, he would maintain a similar view with a big “but,” which is that the degree of uncertainty is still “high.” That uncertainty is why Kaplan believes that the Fed will need to keep its accommodative monetary policy stance in place. He also noted that if the Fed does raise the target rate for the Fed funds rate, it does not mean the Fed has pulled back its support for the U.S. economy. He argues that as the economy improves, the neutral Fed funds rate rises, so by not increasing it when those conditions arrive, the Fed is actually increasing its monetary policy accommodation. But Kaplan’s comments and the FOMC minutes due today will serve as a key reminder — the path of the pandemic remains perhaps the most important factor relative to the U.S. and global economy ahead. And it is one that monetary policy cannot impact.

 

Billionaire buys central Illinois farmland. The billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, has purchased since 24,000 acres of farmland in central Illinois since 2015 and views it as "a good investment and legacy asset," said a spokesman. Link for details via CU-Citizen Access.

 

Eurozone PMI in expansion. The IHS Markit Composite PMI rose to 53.2 in March from 48.8 in February, above the flash estimate of 52.5 and into expansion territory despite a rise in Covid cases and restrictions in some countries. The services PMI was at 49.6, just shy of the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction, up from 45.7 in February and above the flash estimate of 48.8. Strong readings in Germany likely helped to Eurozone reading. The future outlook index also improved to 67.9 from a prior 67.0, putting it at the highest mark since February 2018. While the reading is positive, indications are that recent lockdowns and supply chain disruptions could alter the outlook ahead.

 

Perspective on transportation bottleneck. The bottleneck created when the Ever Given container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal stranded shipments from auto parts and dairy products to beer and luxury goods on their way to markets in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The Wall Street Journal reports (link) maritime tracking data shows the cargo snared by last month’s blockage as a snapshot of global trade that is usually in constant motion. “The varied goods in the containers illustrate the far-flung nature of modern supply chains and show how transportation problems on one side of the world can affect the production of goods and store inventories thousands of miles away,” the article concludes.

 

     Bottlekneck

 

A proposed merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern and transportation snags around the world highlight the enduring value of North America’s freight rail networks.

     RR merger

 

Iowa has the most structurally deficient bridges, 4,571 or 19.1% of its total bridges. Pennsylvania comes second on the list with 3,353 of its bridges falling into the same category, along with 2,374 in Illinois. West Virginia has the highest share of bridges classified as structurally deficient at 21% while Nevada has the lowest at just 1.4%. Last week, President Biden unveiled his plans for a $2.25 trillion investment in American infrastructure, describing it as "a once-in-a-generation effort.” It would involve replacing lead piping, rebuilding 20,000 miles of roads and repairing the country's 10 most economically important bridges. Biden described the program as "unlike anything we have seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago". He added that it would be "the largest American jobs investment since World War II.”

 

     A report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) illustrated the scale of the challenge in overhauling and repairing U.S. infrastructure by finding that more than 220,000 American bridges need repair work. 45,000 of them were deemed structurally deficient and Americans cross them 171.5 million times daily. At the current rate, it would take more than 40 years to fix all of them and cost an estimated $41.8 billion. The good news is that the number of structurally deficient bridges has declined for the past five years but that trend has been tempered by more bridges being downgraded from good to fair condition. Link to report.

     Bridges

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is weaker. Nymex crude oil prices are higher and trading around $59.80 a barrel. Meantime, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently fetching around 1.65%. Gold and silver futures are under pressure ahead of US trading, with gold under $1,733 per troy ounce and silver under $24.96 per troy ounce.


     • Dollar’s share of global reserves has decreased to its lowest level since 1995, according to International Monetary Fund figures on central banks’ foreign-exchange holdings released last week. The currency now stands at 59% of global reserves as of December 2020 — a 1.5 percentage point decline over the quarter. The dollar’s depreciation has driven its slip as a share of reserves, along with an increase in central-bank holdings of currencies including the euro and Japanese yen. Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at Bank of Montreal, said gains in the dollar this quarter would likely boost the currency’s share of central bank holdings when the IMF next releases its data for the first quarter of 2021.

        Dollar share

     • Crude oil futures have moved higher as traders await U.S. gov’t inventory data due later this morning. US crude is trading around $59.85 per barrel and Brent around $63.35 per barrel. Futures edged higher in Asian action, with U.S. crude up nine cents at $59.42 per barrel while Brent was up seven cents at $62.81 per barrel.

 

     • U.S. is expected to see a 30% increase in summer gasoline prices compared to a year earlier as a result of anticipated rises in both crude oil prices and travel, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA forecast an average retail price of $2.78 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline for the 2021 summer driving season between April and September, compared to $2.07 per gallon during the summer of 2020.

 

        EIA also forecast that U.S. oil production will hit 11.04 million barrels per day in 2021, a decrease from the agency's March forecast of 11.15 million bpd for the year. The agency also lowered its production forecast for next year by 100,000 bpd, a move that comes as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have pledged to boost output in the coming months.

 

     • Aramco Stake: Saudi Arabia’s energy giant is in advanced talks to sell a minority stake in its oil pipelines to a consortium of U.S., Chinese and local investors.

 

     • Russia clears formula-based export taxes on sunflower oil. Russia’s government has approved a formula-based export tax system for sunflower oil and a higher export tax on sunflowerseeds, the government said, with the actions linked to ongoing efforts to combat domestic food price inflation. The order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin would set a one-year export tax on sunflower oil of 70% of the difference between $1,000 and a price per tonne calculated by the country’s ag ministry. That price will be reduced by $50 per tonne each month. Sunflowerseed exports will be taxed at 50%, with a minimum of $320 per tonne for July 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022. Rapeseed export taxes would be at 30% for that period. Russia is estimated to have exported 3.8 million tonnes of sunflower oil in 2019-20.

 

     • Beyond Meat shares climbed 2.9% premarket after the plant-based meat company said it will open its own production facility in China.

 

     • Ag demand: Egypt bought 290,000 MT of wheat from Russia and another 55,000 MT of wheat from Ukraine in a tender Tuesday. A group of importers in Thailand issued an international tender to buy up to 504,000 MT of animal feed wheat, but the group reportedly made no purchase. Japan purchased 66,195 MT of food-quality wheat from the U.S. and another 24,620 MT of the grain from Canada.

 

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include

     • South Korea to temporarily scrap duties on edible corn imports, bring in more eggs
     • Attaché projects a bin-busting 141-MMT Brazilian bean crop in 2021-22
     • Light cash market test at higher prices
     • Strong pork movement at elevated prices

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

— Some of the policy goals in President Biden’s infrastructure plan could be blocked if Senate Democrats try to pass the measure through reconciliation — a process that allows lawmakers to skirt the Senate’s usual 60-vote threshold but requires that the legislation have a direct impact on the budget. Those rules could mean that several provisions in the plan, including labor rules and a clean-electricity standard, may have to be removed from or amended in the final legislation.

 

— Jeff Bezos says Amazon supports Biden’s proposed corporate tax hike. Amazon supports a corporate tax hike proposed by President Biden to help pay for his administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, said on Tuesday. Biden has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% to help fund his sweeping proposal. “We recognize this investment will require concessions from all sides — both on the specifics of what’s included as well as how it gets paid for (we’re supportive of a rise in the corporate tax rate),” Bezos said in a statement. “We look forward to Congress and the Administration coming together to find the right, balanced solution that maintains or enhances U.S. competitiveness.” Bezos’ statement came after the president called out the e-commerce giant when he unveiled his infrastructure plan, blasting it over how much it pays in federal taxes. The president said last week that Amazon was one of 91 Fortune 500 companies that “use various loopholes where they pay not a single solitary penny in federal income tax.” Had the minimum tax Biden proposed been in place for 2020, Amazon’s cash taxes would have been about double what it reported.

 

 FarmDoc takes a look at tax on farm estates and inherited gains. The U.S. Congress is debating two sets of new legislation that would impact the tax on farmer estates and inherited gains, indicative of the momentum for changes to the current code for estate, gifts, and generation skipping taxes. Both pieces of legislation could have significant impacts for middle class business owners like farmers. The first – For the 99.5% Act – would require more estates to pay estate tax by lowering the estate tax exemption level and would increase the estate tax rates resulting in larger amounts of estate tax to be paid. The second piece of legislation, the Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, would have two impacts on farmers if passed as currently understood. First, removing the step-up in basis provisions at the time of death creating the potential for more tax. Second, a new transfer tax instituted in the STEP Act would apply to transfers of property in a farm estate at death and transfers during a lifetime. Link to FarmDoc article.
 


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL


 

— Austin to Israel. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will head to Israel next week, Axios reports, the first visit to the country by a Biden cabinet official. Austin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, with a focus on Iran as well as Syria and Lebanon.
 


CHINA UPDATE


 

Olympics now snared in Xinjiang controversy. Axios is reporting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave a uniform contract for this summer’s games in Japan to Hengyuanxing (HYX) Group for formal uniforms, including those used in ceremonies, for IOC members and staff. HYX has advertised on e-commerce platforms that its products contain Xinjiang cotton, and one of the factories overseen by HYX Group is located in Xinjiang, according to the company website. An IOC spokesperson told Axios that the HYX Group has provided the IOC with a certificate on the origin of cotton for the production of IOC uniforms and that the cotton originated outside China. The IOC did not provide a copy of the certificate to Axios and emphasized that the IOC “must remain neutral on all global political issues.” While it is committed to upholding human rights, the IOC said it “has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.” The item also notes that the IOC did not say where the certificate came from or what process was used to make the claims.

 

     This remains a growing issue in the global cotton market and appears to emphasize what we have been hearing in global cotton circles — that China is making strides to replace Xinjiang cotton from its exported textiles and garments via importing the raw fiber from the U.S. and other sources.

 

— ITC approves tariffs on small Chinese engines. The International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously Tuesday to approve tariffs on small vertical shaft engines from China, finding their importation has harmed U.S. producers. The Commerce Dept. earlier this year set antidumping tariffs between 317% and 542%, and the vote means those duties will now be imposed.  

 


TRADE POLICY


 

South Korea to lift some import duties in bid to ease food price inflation. South Korea will lift import tariffs on edible corn and some grains through the end of 2021 in a bid to ease inflationary pressures in the country, but the quota system will still apply, according to the announcement from South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. Currently, duties of 3% are levied on imported corn, according to Yonhap news. The country will also import eggs and release reserves of napa cabbage, with imports of 25 million eggs planned in April to temper prices that have risen due to bird flu — Yonhap reported egg imports totaled 64 million since late January.

 

— Report signals U.S. has ‘long list’ of female candidates for WTO deputy director general post. The WTO has some high-profile roles to fill, including the four deputy director generals that help run the world trade body. One of those has typically been held by the U.S., and Politico reports there are several women on the list of those that could be candidates—Wendy Cutler, vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute; Jennifer Hillman, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Darci Vetter, vice chair for agriculture, food and trade at Edelman, a public relations and consulting firm.

 


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


 

— EPA by end of July will issue its changes to a Trump administration rule that eased limits on emissions from vehicles through the 2026 model year, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. “We need to go as far as we can to meet the demands of the day,” Regan said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with Bloomberg News (link). “The science indicates we have a short window in time to reverse the path that we’re on and mitigate against certain climate impacts.”

 

— District attorney of Sonoma County, Calif., filed five felony and 28 misdemeanor criminal charges against PG&E Corp. in connection with the 2019 Kincade Fire that burned 120 square miles, damaged or destroyed over 400 buildings and seriously injured six firefighters. PG&E said in a statement that it accepts California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's conclusion that PG&E equipment started the Kincade fire, but that the utility does not believe it is criminally liable in the case. Link to details via the NYT.

 


FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY


 

Idaho potato farmers have filed an antitrust case against several big ag companies, accusing them of banning e-commerce sales to drive up prices. Link to AP article for details.

 

— U.S. sales of plant-based foods hit $7 billion in 2020. U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods increased 27% to $7 billion in 2020, growing at a pace that is twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, according to new data released Tuesday (April 6) by the Good Food Institute (GFI) and the Plant Based Foods Association. The data, commissioned from SPINS (an analytical data gathering-group), found 57% of US households purchase plant-based foods, up from 53% in 2019. Plant-based milk — the largest plant-based category — reached $2.5 billion and accounted for 35% of the total plant-based food market. The value of plant-based meat — the second largest plant-based category hit $1.4 billion in 2020, up 45% from 2019. “Almost 40% of households now have plant-based milk in their fridge, and at this rate, it won’t be long until we see just as many households purchasing plant-based meat,” said GFI research analyst Kyle Gaan.

 

     To put the plant-based food figures in perspective, USDA data showed that in 2019, food spending by U.S. consumers, businesses, and government entities totaled $1.77 trillion. Also, the GFI data noted that 18% of US households purchased plant-based meat last year, up from 14% in 2019. Plant-based meat sales account for 2.7% of all retail packaged meat sales. While the rate of increase is strong, the sales are still only a very small component of the overall food dollar spending by consumers at this stage.

 


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE


 

Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 132,501,757 with 2,857,514 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 30,847,737 with 556,529 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 168,592,075 doses administered, 58,747,870 have been fully vaccinated, or 18.0% of the U.S. population.

— U.S. outpacing most of the world in its vaccine rollout, especially given the size of its population, placing itself in the best position for a reopening of the economy. The pace of vaccinations has even increased to an average of 3.1 million doses a day administered over the past week, from about 1 million doses a day when Biden took office. At that rate, it will take an additional three months to cover 75% of the population, also known as the herd immunity number.

 

— Australia/EU tension. The Australian government accused the European Union of blocking a shipment of 3.1 million AstraZeneca vaccines, a claim an EU spokesperson denied. Australia’s government accused the European Union of “arguing semantics,” noting that it has not issued the approvals necessary to begin shipments. “If you’re not approving, it’s the same as effectively you’re blocking,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. Australian authorities are under pressure to deliver on a pledge to administer 4 million vaccine doses by April; it has so far given out 850,000 doses.

 

— IMF proposes ‘solidarity’ tax on pandemic winners and wealthy. High earners and companies that prospered in the coronavirus crisis should pay additional tax to show solidarity with those who were hit hardest by the pandemic, according to the IMF. A temporary tax would help to reduce social inequalities that have been exacerbated by the economic and health crisis of the past year, the fund said in its twice-yearly fiscal monitor today (link for more details).

 


POLITICS & ELECTIONS



DCCC targeting 22 House seats for 2022. The Hill reports (link) the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a list of 22 target seats for 2022 (link). The targets “include a slate of traditional swing districts as well as a number of seats Democrats were upset in last year.” Roll Call (link) says the list signals “a conservative approach” by the DCCC as it defends a “narrow majority and fight[s] historical headwinds facing the party in control of the White House during a midterm election.” By contrast, the DCCC’s initial target list at this point in the last cycle included 33 seats.

 

     House seats

— Caitlyn Jenner considering California gubernatorial bid. Axios reports (link) Caitlyn Jenner “is talking with political consultants as she actively explores a run for governor” in California’s expected recall election. Axios says Jenner is “a high-profile Republican and previous Trump supporter,” and a run “would draw heightened attention to the race to lead the nation’s most populous state.”

 

— President Biden says he has not spoken with Fed chair Jerome Powell and has been "very fastidious" about not talking to the U.S. central bank at all, asserting that he is "not going to do the kinds of things that have been done in the last administration."

 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


 

San Francisco school board suspends renaming of public schools. San Francisco's Board of Education voted to suspend the renaming of a third of the city's public schools it said honored figures linked to slaveholding, colonization or oppression. The vote comes after the decision to rename 42 schools honoring individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Sen. Dianne Feinstein set off a political furor that subjected the school board to local and national ridicule. The school board is expected to return to the renaming issue later — after students are back in classrooms full time, according to the Los Angeles Times.

 

— Israel hits Iranian ship. An Iranian military vessel in the Red Sea was damaged by an Israeli mine on Tuesday in the latest naval confrontation involving the two countries. The incident follows several attacks against Iranian vessels suspected of shipping oil to Syria. Iran has responded with strikes of its own, hitting an Israeli container ship in March. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the ship struck in Tuesday’s attack had been stationed in the Red Sea to combat pirates in the area.

 

— Petition calls for EPA regulation of large dairy and hog farms. Two dozen environmental and consumer groups, including the Sierra Club and Government Accountability Project, petitioned the EPA on Tuesday to regulate large dairy and hog operations under federal air pollution laws. Agriculture generally is exempt from air and water pollution laws, but the [etition said the EPA could use the same section of the Clean Air Act to establish air pollution limits on industrial hog and dairy farms that it used several years ago to propose carbon emission limits on power plants. The petition called for regulation of facilities that house at least 500 cows or 1,000 hogs without access to pasture. Those large farms account for 13 percent of all U.S. emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, according to the groups. The petition (link) also asked EPA to “reject the false solution of burning factory-farm gas” — or methane emissions from animal waste — to power factories. “Proven, pasture-based farming with reduced, sustainable herd sizes…will help restore rural communities, help stabilize the climate and provide environmental justice,” it said.

 

— Empty ag containers: After reports that some ships were leaving U.S. ports with empty cargo containers rather than loaded with American farm exports, the leaders of two House subcommittees said they would work with the Federal Maritime Commission "to ensure that these shipping delays are ended expediently." Link for details.

 


 

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