Biden Misspeaks on Defending Taiwan | Biden Unveils Different Type of Trade Pact
White House exploring tapping into emergency diesel reserve
In Today’s Digital Newspaper
Tomorrow marks three months since Russia launched its assault on Ukraine. Since then, a staggering 8 million people in the country have been displaced, the U.N. Refugee Agency said today. On the ground, tensions remain high and Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Saturday he has ruled out a ceasefire with Russia, emphasizing Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory.
Biden’s Taiwan gaff. President Joe Biden this morning said, in answer to a reporter question, that the U.S. military would intervene to defend Taiwan from any attack from China. The comment was walked back by the White House officials later who said Biden simply meant the U.S. would provide equipment rather than troops should China invade.
The International Monetary Fund may need to further trim forecasts for economic growth this year, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said while at Davos. Despite increased risk of recession for some countries, a global recession isn’t the group’s base case. Members of the global elite are back in Davos after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The first day’s main event is a virtual speech from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Biden administration announced that a dozen Indo/Pacific countries will join the U.S. in a sweeping economic initiative designed to counter China’s influence in the region, even as questions remain about its effectiveness. Altogether the nations involved in the Indo/Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, constitute roughly 40% of global gross domestic product, according to the White House, which has touted its launch as a marquee accomplishment of Biden’s first trip to Asia. Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand were included, along with seven Southeast Asian countries.
CBO Budget Outlook: Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Budget Committee on the CBO’s budget and economic outlook, which is scheduled to be published Wednesday.
A shipment of 35 tons of baby formula arrived yesterday in Indiana on a U.S. military aircraft from Germany to address the nationwide shortage — but none of it will land on store shelves in the U.S., a Biden administration official said. The recent batch of formula is a specialized prescription and will be fed to babies intolerant of protein in cow milk, the official said. The shipment will provide enough formula for 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for one week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. The White House announced yesterday that additional flights to import formula from abroad will "take place in the coming days.”
The White House is exploring the possibility of tapping into an emergency diesel reserve to ease the spike in gas prices, a senior White House official said, according to CNN. The emergency declaration under consideration would enable President Biden to release diesel from a rarely used stockpile, but the reserve is relatively small and will only serve as a temporary solution to buy time. The national average price for diesel stood at $5.56 a gallon as of yesterday, just shy of the record of $5.58 set last week, according to AAA. Deliberations about tapping the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve underscore the level of concern inside the White House about record-high prices for diesel. Tapping the reserve has only been done once before: in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
A federal judge on Friday ordered the Biden administration to maintain, for now, pandemic-related restrictions that have largely closed the borders to asylum-seekers for more than two years. The order halts the administration’s plans to lift the public health directive known as Title 42 on Monday.
Anthony Albanese was sworn in as Australia’s prime minister, his Labor party having defeated Scott Morrison’s ruling Liberal-National coalition at the ballot box on Saturday. The growing popularity of independent candidates means he may have to govern without a majority.
The head of the World Health Organization ranked monkeypox as one of the “formidable” challenges facing the world, alongside Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the remarks in Geneva, where experts convened to discuss the disease. More than 100 cases have been reported, mostly in Europe. But the virus is not very good at spreading, and existing vaccines can protect those at risk.
Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed but mostly up overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings. U.S. stock futures rose early Monday, after President Joe Biden said he would consider cutting the U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports imposed by the Trump administration. Bitcoin also recovered to $30,000 over the weekend. This week, Macy’s, Dollar General, Costco Wholesale and other retailers are slated to release quarterly reports showing sales without the lift from government stimulus that helped consumer spending last year. In addition, rising costs for fuel, freight and labor as well as changing purchasing habits are expected to weigh on profits. Walmart’s and Target’s recent underwhelming earnings show shoppers are spending more carefully.
U.S. equities Friday: The Dow finished up 8.77 points, less than 0.1%, to 31,261.90. The Nasdaq fell 33.88 points, 0.3%, to 11,354.62. The S&P 500 endede up 0.57 point, or less than 0.1%, at 3,901.36; at its intraday low, it was down 2.3%.
For the week, the Dow lost 2.9% for its first eight-week losing streak since 1932. The S&P 500 lost 3.05% for the week, extending its recent losing streak to seven weeks. That's the longest such streak since March 2001 when the market fell for eight-straight weeks, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Nasdaq shed 3.8% — falling for its seventh-straight week, matching a streak also set in March 2001.
The S&P 500 currently sits 19% off its record high while the Dow is down 15.4%. The Nasdaq is already deep in bear market territory, down 30% from its high.
Bank of America strategists say that, if history is any guide, the S&P could bottom out at 3,000 in October. That compares with Friday’s close of 3,901. The bullish case is for the bottom to be 3,600.
Agriculture markets Friday:
- Corn: July corn futures fell 4 1/2 cents to $7.78 3/4, down 2 1/2 cents for the week and the contract’s lowest close since May 10. December corn fell 4 cents to $7.32, down 33 1/2 cents for the week.
- Soy complex: July soybeans rose 14 3/4 cents to $17.05 1/4, up 58 3/4 cents for the week and the contract’s highest close since April 21. November soybeans rose 7 1/4 cents to $15.21 3/4, up 23 1/2 cents for the week. July soymeal gained $4.60 to $429.90 and July soyoil rose 140 points to 80.93 cents.
- Wheat: July SRW wheat fell 31 3/4 cents to $11.68 3/4, down 8 3/4 cents for the week. July HRW wheat fell 42 1/2 cents to $12.52 3/4, down 29 1/4 cents for the week. July spring wheat fell 51 1/2 cents to $12.79.
- Cotton: July cotton fell 543 points to 142.27 cents per pound, down 293 points for the week and the contract’s lowest closing price since April 27.
- Cattle: June live cattle rose 7.5 cents to $131.575, down 50 cents for the week. August feeder futures fell $1.275 to $163.925, down $4.10 for the week
- Hogs: June lean hog futures rose $3.575 to $108.875, the contract’s highest closing price since April 28. July lean hogs rose $2.025 to $109.00, up $7.80 for the week.
Ag markets today: Wheat futures posted strong corrective gains overnight, while the corn and soybean markets followed to the upside. As of 7:30 a.m. ET, winter wheat futures were trading 18 to 22 cents higher, spring wheat was 16 to 20 cents higher, corn was 4 to 5 cents higher and soybeans were mostly 5 to 8 cents higher. Front-month U.S. crude oil futures were around $1 higher and the U.S. dollar index is more than 1,000 points lower this morning.
Technical viewpoints from Jim Wyckoff:
On tap today:
• USDA Grain Export Inspections report, 11 a.m. ET.
• Federal Reserve speakers: Atlanta's Raphael Bostic on the economic outlook at 12 p.m. ET, and Kansas City's Esther George at an agricultural symposium at 7:30 p.m. ET.
• USDA Cold Storage report, 3 p.m. ET.
• USDA Crop Progress report, 4:00 p.m. ET.
• President Biden is in Tokyo, where he’s already met with Emperor NARUHITO, had a bilateral meeting and press conference with PM Kishida Fumio, met with families of Japanese people abducted by Korea decades ago and launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. He’s now having dinner with Kishida at Kochūan.
Annual Davos Summit back in person amid increased uncertainty. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today as the annual meeting convenes in person for the first time since 2020. Headliners include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Other scheduled speakers include Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, and International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian business oligarchs weren’t invited.
The Russia-Ukraine war has raised fears of a global food shortage that could trigger widespread social unrest and migration. Officials including Syngenta CEO J. Erik Fyrwald will discuss averting a global food crisis.
Biden said that a U.S. recession wasn’t inevitable, insisting that the challenges the domestic economy faces are less severe than much of the rest of the world, including China. “No,” Biden responded flatly when asked if a recession was unavoidable following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
White House economic adviser Brian Deese stopped short of ruling out a recession as the Federal Reserve combats inflation, saying the central bank needs space to do its job. Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, said that approach reflects Biden’s pledge to make reining in the biggest consumer price increases in four decades his “top priority.”
European Central Bank is likely to increase its key interest rate to zero or above by September, President Christine Lagarde said, drawing a line under an eight-year experiment with negative interest rates amid record-high inflation and mounting concerns over the weakness of the euro currency.
How to spot a recession: The Sahm rule. The Fed’s efforts to slow inflation are raising the possibility of higher unemployment, a slower-growing economy and a recession, prospects that could create new headaches for the Biden administration. As the country heads into midterm-election season, much of the political discussion has centered around solid economic growth and robust employment versus the damaging impact of inflation. More recently, warnings about the prospect of an economic downturn — which could come in 2023 according to some estimates — have complicated the economic picture in a new way.
Employers are placing a new focus on access to housing in an attempt to attract and retain workers. Walt Disney, meat packer JBS USA Holdings and medical-devices maker Cook Group are among the companies planning to add affordable housing near job sites. Companies are being squeezed by record-high job openings and turnover, and unemployment at a low 3.6%, the WSJ reports (link). “It’s a labor-market issue they’re solving, not a housing-market problem,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
• Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is sharply down and hit a nearly four-week low in early trading. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is fetching 2.815%. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.9% to $111.22 a barrel. Gold futures rose 1% to $1,866.40 an ounce.
• Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, fell about 3.6% to finish Friday at $29,121.13. The currency’s price has fallen 57% since its November all-time high.
• Gas prices in the U.S. leaped 33 cents in the last two weeks to a whopping average of $4.71 a gallon. That’s $1.61 higher than a year ago.
• Dockworker talks… and talks… The head of the U.S.’s second-busiest port doesn’t see talks over new labor contracts for 22,000 dockworkers at two West Coast operations reaching settlement by a July 1 deadline but is optimistic of a solution a month or two later.
• CFTC Commitments of Traders report (Source: Barron’s):
• NWS weather: Heavy rain and flash flooding possible over portions of the Southeast and Southern Plains today... ...Increasingly warm/hot with fire conditions for the Sacramento Valley early this week.
Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:
• Wheat leads overnight gains
• Rains this week, hotter temps coming
• Russia pushes for EAEU countries to restrict grain exports (details below)
• Indonesia requires permit for palm oil exports
• Malaysia scraps wheat import permit approvals, chicken exports
• Another bearish placements figure
• Bulls have short-term momentum in hog futures
— Summary: Poland’s president addressed Ukraine’s Parliament. On a surprise visit to Kyiv, Andrzej Duda said that only Ukraine should decide any terms upon which it pursues peace with Moscow and called for a complete removal of all Russian troops from the country.
- U.S. officials are considering presenting President Biden with a plan to deploy dozens of special forces troops to “guard” the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal reports (link). Though it would be a limited mission focused on the embassy, such a decision “would mark an escalation from Biden’s initial pledge that no American troops will be sent into the country.”
- Russia pushes for EAEU countries to restrict grain exports. Russia insisted at a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Commission last Friday that all Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) members (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzsta) impose quotas and duties on grain exports to third countries, national daily Kommersant reported. Russia’s ag ministry believes this is necessary to prevent re-exports of Russian grain through EAEU countries in circumvention of Russian restrictions. Kazakhstan reportedly is opposed to duties, as they could prevent the country’s farmers from fulfilling international obligations.
— Market impacts:
- Boston Consulting Group issues report on Ukraine war impact. The Boston Consulting Group releases a report titled “The War in Ukraine and the Rush to Feed the World.” The lead author is Ertharin Cousin, the former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program. Link for details.
- China has ramped up its buying of Russian oil. The Russian ally is purchasing nearly 1.1 million barrels per day of discounted Russian crude. That's up from 750,000 barrels a day in the first quarter.
— Second baby-formula shipment from Europe coming this week. The Defense Department has contracted with FedEx to transport a second formula flight, of Nestlé’s Gerber Good Start Extensive hypoallergenic formula from Germany to Washington Dulles International Airport in coming days. The specialty formula is for children who are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk. Together with Sunday’s shipment of 78,000 pounds of Nestlé’s Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula, they represent the equivalent of 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of specialty formulas. The initial shipment arrived on a C-17 military plane from Germany to Indianapolis, Ind.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the shipment came under President Joe Biden’s Operation Fly Formula, which authorizes the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments to pick up infant formula from overseas that meets U.S. health and safety guidelines.
Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford wrote a letter to the Washington Post apologizing for the company’s part in the shortage. It closed a Michigan factory earlier this year after a voluntary recall. That factory could reopen by the first week of June. Abbott will restart production of its EleCare brand first when the factory resumes. It also created a $5 million fund to help affected households with medical and living expenses and moved some production of ready-to-feed liquid formula to Columbus, Ohio.
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese asked on CNN why three companies control 90% of the nation’s baby formula production, said the U.S. needs more competition and more formula manufacturers, “so that no individual company has this much control over supply chains.”
— Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby will move to the White House to take a senior communications role with a foreign policy focus. The decision to shift Kirby to the administration comes after the departure last week of Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
— Biden to re-nominate Glick as FERC Chair. President Biden said he will nominate FERC Chair Richard Glick for another five-year term. Democrats currently hold a 3-2 margin on FERC and Glick has been leading the panel. If confirmed, Glick could be on the commission well into 2027.
— President Joe Biden this morning said that the U.S. military would intervene to defend Taiwan from any attack from China. The comment was walked back by the White House officials later who said Biden simply meant the U.S. would provide equipment rather than troops should China invade. The U.S. has long held a policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards the island. Biden, who is in Asia for meetings with allies, had earlier boosted the offshore yuan when he said he will review Trump-era tariffs imposed on China. It seems likely that any goodwill with Beijing gained from that move was quickly extinguished by the Taiwan comments, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying the U.S. should "avoid causing grave damage to bilateral relations.”
— Sen. Cotton: Biden in bind re: China relations. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said President Joe Biden is in a bit of a bind regarding his administration’s relations with China, noting that the idea of easing tariffs on the Asian country will miss the mark for any attempt to help rising inflation. With Biden in Asia this week, Cotton told Sunday Morning Futures host Maria Bartiromo that the White House is concerned Biden will consider removing tariffs so he can be seen as taking action. “There’s a lot of division inside the administration right now. On the one hand, they understandably don’t want to be seen as weak on China since Joe Biden has been weak on China going back decades,” Cotton said. “Just as recently as a couple years ago, he was still saying that China is not our main competitor, and that China has no chance of beating us in that competition. Even if he, like an ostrich, sticks his head in the sand.” Cotton noted that the Biden administration is concerned about inflation under its watch and may resort to lifting tariffs, saying Democrats will try to use the move as a disguise. “These tariffs didn’t cause the inflation we see now. We had tariffs under the Trump administration. For that matter, we had a global pandemic under the Trump administration,” Cotton said. “We did not have inflation during the Trump era though. That inflation only started when Joe Biden took office and poured trillions of dollars on an economy that was already recovering from that pandemic.” “So, the president can blame tariffs on China or the pandemic, or for that matter, big oil, or big meat, or Vladimir Putin, or anything else he wants for inflation, but the American people know that this inflation is a result of the Democrats' reckless policies,” the senator added.
— Beijing reported its highest number of Covid-19 cases during the current outbreak, triggering fears that China’s capital might yet be put under a lockdown. Meanwhile in Shanghai, where millions of residents have been stuck at home for weeks, new cases fell to a two-month low. In both cities, officials are trying frantically to adhere to a zero-Covid policy.
— China provides subsidies to grain farmers. China will make available 10 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) for “one-off” subsidies to support farmers and ag companies involved in grain production, according to the country’s finance ministry. The subsidies aim to support grain farmers during the growing season, to alleviate any impact of rising costs and to “further mobilize farmers’ enthusiasm” for grain production.
— Who won the U.S./China trade war? Figuring out the answer is surprisingly complicated and contains important lessons for those tempted to wield tariffs like weapons, the WSJ reports (link). “There is plenty of evidence for a U.S. loss.” China fell 40% short of its commitment in a Phase 1 trade deal to buy an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods over two years, says Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and frequent critics of the accord. As for U.S. complaints about Chinese coercion, technology theft and other misdeeds, United States Trade Representative reports on China’s trade practices are clear: No progress.
But there is also plenty of data to show that China was the loser in the trade war because it took a bigger economic hit than the U.S. Chinese companies facing American tariffs exported less to the U.S., reduced hiring, spent less on research and development and were less likely to start new firms, according to economists at Peking University, Fudan University and other leading Chinese universities. Overall, China’s GDP loss was three times as high as the U.S., estimates Yang Zhou, a Fudan University economist who did her research at the University of Minnesota.
The real winner? Weighing whether China or the U.S. came out ahead in the trade war is an exercise in counting gains and losses. But some countries had nothing but wins; they started exporting to the U.S. goods that China once sold. Who won the U.S.-China trade war? In many respects, it’s been Vietnam.
— U.S. and other countries launched a trade initiative to establish rules covering $34.7 trillion— more than 40% — global economic activity. The Indo/Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, consists of four pillars that seek to:
- increase trade links in the Indo-Pacific region,
- strengthen global supply chains,
- promote infrastructure investment and decarbonization, and
- establish new rules on tax and anti-corruption.
The IPEF, which includes Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, intentionally excludes China because the White House sees Beijing as unable to meet the agreement’s high standards.
The framework does not offer increased market access through tariff and non-tariff concessions. Instead, the IPEF seeks to improve trade relations by reducing costly behind-the-border trade barriers. It is also intentionally vague about the matter of enforceability. The Biden administration has not yet decided whether the pact will have a dispute settlement system like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, or if its commitments will be enforced by unilateral U.S. tariffs like the Phase 1 U.S./China trade agreement. There is no guarantee that this agreement won’t simply be cast aside if a new administration wins the U.S. presidential 2024 election.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the new trade framework was “doomed to fail.”
Bottom line: The IPEF is not structured as a free trade deal, but is rather a framework that is being called a "21st-century economic arrangement." As a result, most of its components will likely not have to go through Congress, where there is little appetite for new trade deals. Meanwhile, the trade pact does not include Taiwan, per national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Inclusion of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would have irked Beijing.
— Where does our food come from? As concerns rise about the impact of the war in Ukraine and global food inflation, the University of the Potomac released a guide to the most widely produced agricultural commodities worldwide and their trade patterns. Link to the report.
LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
— Putin’s war and a ‘coming food catastrophe.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has shocked global food supplies, The Economist writes in a cover story (link) that notes a 53% increase in global wheat prices this year and predicts a “coming food catastrophe.”
“Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil,” the magazine writes. “Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400 million people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.”
— Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for kids younger than 5 is 80 percent effective, data shows, potentially leading to shots soon. The companies said they plan to finish filing their data on the three-shot regimen with the Food and Drug Administration this week. The results signal that the long and frustrating wait for a vaccine for children younger than 5, the last group to lack access, could soon be over.
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
— A state judge in New York late Friday adopted a set of new U.S. House district lines for the state that was cheered by Republicans and creates an open seat in the heart of New York City that has already drawn interest from several Democrats. States redraw district lines for the U.S. House of Representatives and local offices once a decade to reflect new population data from the latest U.S. Census. There are currently eight Republicans in the state’s 27-member U.S. House delegation. New York will lose a seat due to population shifts. President Biden carried 21 of the new House districts, but five of them were by a single-digit margin, according to an analysis by the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman. As such, New York could elect as many as 10 Republicans to Congress depending upon the electoral climate, Wasserman wrote on Twitter. Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are headed for an incumbent-vs-incumbent showdown after the court decision imposed new district lines merging many of Nadler’s constituents on the West Side of Manhattan with many of Maloney’s constituents on the East Side. Under the new map, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney represents 61% of people in the new 12th District, compared with 39% for Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler. “What this map does do is create eight competitive districts in which either party has a reasonable chance to win and three districts in which the Republicans will likely win. On the other hand, the Democrats have 15 safe districts,” the order said. Biden would have won 21 of the 26 reconfigured districts in the 2020 election, though in six of them — the 1st, 3rd, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 22nd — his margin of victory was 10 percentage points or fewer. Most if not all of those districts could be politically competitive in November.
— On Tuesday, there are primaries in Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, and runoffs in Texas. In Texas primary on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is on the ballot just as his party has made protection of abortion rights a central issue. His opponent, immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, is trying to win by emphasizing her support for “unfettered access to abortion care.” Cuellar is the only House Democrat to oppose abortion. See The Week Ahead for details on other races.
— Australia’s center-left opposition won a national election on Saturday after Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat. Anthony Albanese, who leads the Labor Party, is poised to become prime minister and will be Australia’s first Labor leader since 2013, according to a tally from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Labor was winning city and suburban seats where inflation and climate policy were key issues for many voters. The result is the latest example of how soaring inflation is posing a challenge to incumbents world-wide.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
— The prospects for a meeting between Biden and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remain slim. Biden said Saturday he’d consider holding talks with Kim only if he was convinced the North Korean leader was prepared to meet in good faith. Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed Saturday to start talks on expanding joint military exercises aimed at countering the threat posed by North Korea. Biden then said Sunday that he wasn’t concerned about the possibility of North Korea holding a nuclear test while he’s in Asia.
— Retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy added his voice to those condemning the historic leak of a draft verdict that suggests the court will reverse its landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade. The 85-year-old jurist said it was a “cowardly, corrupt, contemptuous act,” in remarks published Friday at an event marking the 300th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
— Biden sought to reassure Americans that the current monkeypox outbreak was unlikely to cause a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19. “I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with Covid-19,” he told reporters Monday in Tokyo at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
— A Louisiana federal judge blocked the Biden administration on Friday from ending Title 42. The preliminary injunction provides a more long-term stop to the administration’s plans while the lawsuit led by a multi-state coalition of Republican attorneys general plays out — barring a successful appeal by the Biden administration. The border restriction had been set to lift today (May 23).