Category : Economy

Taylor Swift Makes Time’s Person of the Year

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Economy, Music

(WSJ) Johnson and Johnson Hired Thousands of Data Scientists. Will The Strategy Pay Off?

Johnson & Johnson is making one of the biggest bets in the healthcare industry on using data science and artificial intelligence to bolster its work.

The 137-year-old pharmaceutical and medical-device company has hired 6,000 data scientists and digital specialists in recent years, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their work, such as using machines to scour massive health-record datasets. Last year the company opened a state-of-the-art research site near San Francisco that houses advanced data science.

Some early efforts focus on diagnostics, like an algorithm that analyzes heart tests to spot a deadly type of high blood pressure much sooner than humans can, and voice-recognition technology to analyze speech for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a virtual-reality goggle set to help train surgeons on procedures like knee replacements.

The long game, though, is a goal that has seen a lot of hype but less concrete proof that it will become a reality: using AI for drug discovery.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg BW) Just How Bad Is the US Cost-of-Living Squeeze? We Did the Math

After years of inflation, US consumers are shouldering a burden unlike anything seen in decades — even as the pace of price increases has slowed.

It now requires $119.27 to buy the same goods and services a family could afford with $100 before the pandemic. Since early 2020, prices have risen about as much as they had in the full 10 years preceding the health emergency.

It’s hard to find an area of a household budget that’s been spared: Groceries are up 25% since January 2020. Same with electricity. Used-car prices have climbed 35%, auto insurance 33% and rents roughly 20%.

Those figures help explain why Americans continue to register strong dissatisfaction with the economy: Consumers’ daily routines have largely returned to their pre-pandemic normal, but the cost of living has not.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance

Google DeepMind’s Student of Games AI Masters Both Chess and Poker

In an era where artificial intelligence continues to dazzle with its capabilities, Google’s DeepMind lab has unveiled a new AI known as ‘Student of Games’ (SoG), with the power to outperform human intellect in games that range from the strategic depth of chess to the unpredictable nature of poker. This AI marks a clear leap towards the development of an artificial general intelligence, a technology that aspires to outpace human ability in a sweeping array of tasks.

Recounting SoG’s evolutionary roots, it is evident how the project draws on the heritage of two pivotal AI endeavors – DeepStack and AlphaZero. DeepStack, originating from a collaboration including Martin Schmid at the University of Alberta, was the first AI to triumph over professional poker players. AlphaZero, another DeepMind creation, shattered records by defeating top-tier human players in chess and Go. The distinction between two was their handling of games with different levels of accessible information to the player: poker, a game of hidden information, versus the complete transparency seen in chess.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

YouTube to introduce updates that inform viewers when the content is AI-generated over the coming months

We believe it’s in everyone’s interest to maintain a healthy ecosystem of information on YouTube. We have long-standing policies that prohibit technically manipulated content that misleads viewers and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm. However, AI’s powerful new forms of storytelling can also be used to generate content that has the potential to mislead viewers—particularly if they’re unaware that the video has been altered or is synthetically created.

To address this concern, over the coming months, we’ll introduce updates that inform viewers when the content they’re seeing is synthetic. Specifically, we’ll require creators to disclose when they’ve created altered or synthetic content that is realistic, including using AI tools. When creators upload content, we will have new options for them to select to indicate that it contains realistic altered or synthetic material. For example, this could be an AI-generated video that realistically depicts an event that never happened, or content showing someone saying or doing something they didn’t actually do.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(FT) Only 14% of US voters say Joe Biden has made them better off

Only 14 per cent of American voters believe they are better off financially now than when Joe Biden took office, in the latest sign that the president’s economic record could undermine his re-election prospects.

A poll found that almost 70 per cent of voters thought Biden’s economic policies had either hurt the US economy or had no impact, including 33 per cent who said they believed the president’s policies had “hurt the economy a lot”. Only 26 per cent said his policies had helped.

The new monthly poll conducted for the Financial Times and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business will seek to track how economic sentiment affects the race for the White House. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan famously asked voters whether they were better off than they were four years earlier, setting the stage for his landslide victory over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, Psychology

(CNBC) Gen Z, millennials have a much harder time ‘adulting’ than their parents did, CNBC/Generation Lab survey finds

Gen Z and millennial adults are having a hard time achieving the same milestones their parents did when they first ventured out into the workforce.

For instance, 55% of young adult respondents find it is “much harder” to purchase a home, 44% said it is harder to find a job and 55% said it is harder to get promoted, according to a Youth & Money in the USA poll by CNBC and Generation Lab.

The survey polled 1,039 people between ages 18 and 34 across the U.S. from Oct. 25 to Oct. 30.

“This is purely a snapshot of what young people perceive their lives to be like compared to their parents,” said Cyrus Beschloss, founder of Generation Lab, an organization that built the largest respondent database of young people in America.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

(Church Times) Management and mission: the Church of England is not a machine

How is it that the noun “mission” has come so to dominate the avalanche of Anglican reports and episcopal directives? It is oddly contentless, unlike the older word “evangelism”, which suggests that we have the good news of the gospel to impart. What is little understood is how this word has come to be shaped by modern management theory.

Successful managers, Lyndon Shakespeare writes, are “makers of worlds by the use of words”, and those words must have particular qualities: “low in definition and direct reference, vague and mysterious in terms of precise content, easy to say, vivid and radical sounding in metaphorical and imagistic terms”. Two key terms that theorists employ for such world-making are “mission” and “vision”, and readers hardly need to be reminded of the recent use of these words in the Vision and Strategy documents.

The distinction between the two terms is that the vision gives the organisation direction and meaning, while the mission strategy points to how it will realise its purpose. The Church of England, however, while embracing managerialism with an unholy hospitality, has confused mission and vision so that mission has displaced the vision to become an end in itself. Every single facet of our lives as Christians is held to be for the sake of mission, and is subsumed in utilitarian fashion to this end.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Prospect of winter energy bills causing anxiety and fear for millions, Archbishop of York warns, as he backs the Warm Welcome campaign

Millions are looking ahead to this winter with ‘fear and anxiety’ about the cost of heating their homes, the Archbishop of York said today as he backed the launch of a campaign to provide a network of warm spaces for people who struggle to pay their energy bills.

Archbishop Stephen Cottrell is encouraging churches to consider getting involved – if they are not already – in the Warm Welcome campaign, a network of venues from community centres to churches providing warm spaces over the winter for people struggling to heat their homes.

In a video message to support the launch, Archbishop Stephen said: “Sadly, what began as a cost-of-living crisis has simply become the new normal for many.

“Millions of people will look ahead to this winter with fear and anxiety, wondering how they are going to cope with high living costs.

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Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Personal Finance

(WSJ) The Pandemic Cash That Bolstered School Budgets Is About to Run Out

Schools across the country are preparing to see their budgets shift from flush to strained as billions of pandemic aid runs out in less than a year, putting at risk staffing and programs added with Covid-relief funds.

The 2023-24 school year represents the last full year in which districts can spend down what remains of the $180 billion in federal Covid-19 aid. High-poverty districts typically received more emergency relief, so now face steeper cuts as the money runs out.

In New York City, which received $7 billion in education aid, the state comptroller projects that the schools will run short of money to continue to fund prekindergarten expansion and a widely attended summer program. In Los Angeles, the district is funding more than 2,000 staff positions this year with the federal aid, while its budget office is warning of a “structural deficit.”

At the moment, schools largely remain flush. But they are barreling toward a fiscal cliff at the same time students remain behind academically. That means officials are attempting a high-stakes balancing act: spending the remaining Covid-relief funds effectively, while trying to limit disruptive budget cuts in later years.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Children, Economy, Education, The U.S. Government

(USA Today) Hardship withdrawals from Fidelity Investments 401(k) accounts have tripled in five years

More people are making hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) accounts, raiding retirement funds to cover emergency medical expenses or to avoid losing a home.

Hardship withdrawals from Fidelity Investments 401(k) accounts have tripled in five years, according to a report from the investment firm. The share of plan participants withdrawing money rose from 2.1% in 2018 to 6.9% in 2023.

“It’s a big problem, and it’s a growing problem,” said Kirsten Hunter Peterson, vice president of thought leadership at Fidelity.

Vanguard reports that hardship withdrawals have doubled in a four-year span, from a monthly rate of 2.1 transactions per 1,000 participants in 2018 to 4.3 in 2022.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance & Investing

(Telegraph) Ambrose-Evans-Pritchard–A rising wave of property defaults threatens hundreds of US banks

America’s commercial property collapse is becoming a danger to the financial system.

Office blocks purchased with debt remain half empty, 18 months after the end of the pandemic. Thousands of buildings will have to be torn down. Hundreds of regional banks are sitting on crippling losses that they yet to acknowledge.

“It’s a trainwreck in slow motion,” said Professor Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, a property and finance expert at Columbia University.

“The return to the office isn’t happening. Data from turnstile swipes shows that occupancy levels are still just 49pc of where they used to be. It has been stable for a year and a half,” he said. Sensors tracking physical presence in offices tell the same story. Hybrid work is here to stay.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Banking System/Sector

(Bloomberg) Half of Working-Age Americans Struggle to Afford Medical Care

Paying for health care is increasingly straining US adults as escalating medical costs converge with rising prices throughout the economy.

More than half of working-age Americans said they had difficulty paying for health care in 2023, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey published Thursday. Among people without insurance, more than three-quarters reported trouble affording care. But 43% of people with employer health plans said they had difficulty paying, and the rate was even higher among people on public health plans like Medicare and Medicaid.

The results highlight a fundamental problem in the $4.3 trillion US health system: Despite spending more on medical care than any other wealthy country, the US fails to make it broadly accessible to much of the population. The rising financial burden squeezes families and leads people to delay care, which can hurt their health over the longer term, researchers said.

“As a primary care provider I’ve seen the impact of this grow over the past several years,” said Joseph Betancourt, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a health research nonprofit. “These affordability challenges are real, they’re getting worse and they’re a clear and present danger.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance

(Southwark news) Walworth cafe and bakery moves into church crypt

A Walworth bakery and cafe is baking its loaves from the bowels of a Georgian church after saying its rent became unaffordable.

Independent eatery Louie Louie has renamed itself Saint Louie after relocating to the crypt inside St Peter’s Church, on Sunday, October 15.

The cafe’s owners have said they are “delighted” by the move and that its products will be cheaper thanks to a more affordable rent.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry

(Bloomberg) Deficit Doubling as US Economy Grows Shows Why Yields Are at 5%

In a year when the US economy exceeded almost everybody’s expectations, the underlying federal deficit roughly doubled, spotlighting a dire fiscal trajectory likely to only worsen the partisan budget battles in Washington.

The government ran a $2.02 trillion deficit for the fiscal year through September, after adjustments to remove the impact of President Joe Biden’s student-loan forgiveness program, which was scotched by the Supreme Court. The gap is $1.02 trillion more than the prior year.

The surge is a powerful illustration of a fiscal path that’s triggered warnings from economists, politicians and credit rating agencies. It also helps explain why yields on longer-term US Treasuries are reaching highs unseen since before the global financial crisis, with the government needing to issue ever more debt to cover the shortfall of revenues relative to spending. Ten-year yields surpassed 5% on Monday.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Medicare, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(FT) Late payments rise on US loans tied to inflated pandemic credit scores

US borrowers who took on new debt in the middle of the pandemic are falling behind on repayments at unusually high rates, after lenders extended more credit to households helped by government stimulus. 

Federal programmes sent cash and froze certain loan repayment requirements for US consumers strapped by the economic shock of Covid-19. 

One effect was to drive up the median consumer credit score by 20 per cent to a peak of 676 in the first quarter of 2021, according to a report by TransUnion, a credit reporting agency. Credit scores above 670 are considered “good”. 

Lenders became more willing to provide consumer credit. Credit card and unsecured loan originations rose by more than half between 2020 and 2022, TransUnion said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Personal Finance & Investing

(Gallup) In a Tight Labor Market, Employees Bear the Burden

Fifty-eight percent of employees say their organization has asked workers to take on additional responsibilities, according to Gallup’s first-quarter survey of the U.S. workforce.

This comes in the middle of a tight labor market. Job openings remain high, and layoffs have fallen below 2019 levels, according to the BLS.

One consequence of a labor shortage is a higher demand for individual worker productivity. Employers look to their current workforce to fill the gaps of essential job openings that remain unfilled.

However, the risk is increased employee stress and burnout. When employees say that their organization has asked them to take on additional responsibilities, they are also:

–2.5x as likely to feel burned out at work very often or always
–55% more likely to watch for or actively seek a new job
–39% less likely to be engaged at work
–half as likely to think their employer cares about their wellbeing

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Telegraph) Ambrose-Evans-Pritchard–We are one miscalculation short of a Middle East firestorm and the next world oil crisis

The grand bargain between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia is already a dead letter. This has large implications for oil at a time when the crude market is already in deficit and prices are at the upper band of their historical range – pushed higher by Saudi and OPEC production cuts of two million barrels a day (b/d), otherwise known as cartel price manipulation.

The unspoken terms of the deal were that Saudi Aramco would feed back one million b/d as a unilateral gesture. But this depended on Israel beefing up the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, one reason why Hamas was so determined to thwart it. The accord is now almost unthinkable.

One can only assume that Hamas intended to provoke total conflagration by decapitating women and children in the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Events must now follow their Sophoclean script with a haunting inevitability.

There must be a high risk that the unstoppable chain of events will trigger an assault by the Lebanese Hezbollah, backed by Iran and armed with 150,000 missiles on the northern Blue Line, in turn spreading to Syria. Israel bombed Damascus and Aleppo airports in a preemptive strike on Thursday. “The longer the war, the greater the probability that Hezbollah joins in,” said Dr Walid Abdel Hay, a Jordanian political analyst.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics in General, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

(WSJ) The Federal Deficit Is Even Bigger Than It Looks

When it comes to the size of the federal government’s annual deficit, appearances can be deceiving.

The gap between spending and revenue for fiscal year 2023, which ended on Sept. 30, was $1.7 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office projected ahead of the official Treasury Department figures. That would be a roughly $300 billion widening in the shortfall from fiscal year 2022.

But the gap was actually much larger. That is because of the odd way President Biden’s attempt to broadly cancel student debt shows up in budget figures.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Budget, Credit Markets, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, The U.S. Government

(Bloomberg) Niail Ferguson–The Law of Unintended Consequences Caused the Great Bond Rout

But the biggest consequences will be for the biggest borrower — namely the US government. As Greg Ip put it in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, “Rising Interest Rates Mean Deficits Finally Matter.” It is no coincidence, he argued, that “the recent rise in bond yields came as Fitch Ratings downgraded its US credit rating, Treasury upped the size of its bond auctions, analysts began revising upward this year’s federal deficit, and Congress nearly shut down parts of the government over a failure to pass spending bills.”

US fiscal policy has long been on an unsustainable trajectory — for more than 20 years, in fact. But under President Joe Biden it has jumped the shark. The federal deficit looks like it will exceed 7% of GDP in fiscal 2023, after the Congressional Budget Office adjusts for the vagaries of policy on student debt forgiveness. That is a truly shocking number for an economy that is running at close to full employment. And, as I pointed out here a month ago, there is no scenario the CBO can devise in which the total debt relative to GDP does not keep growing, with spending driven up partly by the rising burden of interest payments.

The key problem, as Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute has pointed out, is that the average maturity of the federal debt is just 76 months. So even if the CBO is right, and long-term interest rates average 4% over the next three decades, the result will still be budget deficits rising to 10% of GDP. And each additional percentage point on interest rates would add an additional $2.8 trillion of debt service costs over 10 years.

This disastrous outcome is a perfect illustration of the law of unintended consequences.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Medicare, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–The Scale of USA Borrowing is portending a Crisis in the Making

It is sobering to think that the US federal government was running a large budget surplus in 2000 and the gross debt ratio was 54pc of GDP.

A quarter of a century later the ratio is 120pc and vaulting past the 1945 peak. This is partly due to two big recessions and Covid, to be sure, but mostly due to three sets of unfunded tax cuts, two unfunded 21st-century wars and no serious effort to control ballooning middle-class entitlements.

David Kelly from JP Morgan says the US is looking at annual fiscal deficits of $2 trillion this year, next year, and as far as the eye can see. This is at a time of effectively full employment and what should be bumper tax revenues. The deficit could hit $3.5 trillion in the next downturn.

The US Treasury must roll over $8 trillion of existing debt and raise $2 trillion of fresh debt this fiscal year, even as the Fed tosses another $1 trillion onto the heap under its QT programme.

Investors have belatedly, and suddenly, woken up to the shocking implications of a structural budget deficit heading for 8pc of GDP even before any trouble starts. It is this that has driven up yields on US Treasuries by 100 basis points since July.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Medicare, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

(Guardian) Global carbon emissions from electric power may peak this year, report says

Carbon emissions from the global electricity sector may peak this year, after plateauing in the first half of 2023, because of a surge in wind and solar power, according to a climate thinktank.

A new report on global electricity generation found that the growth of renewables was so rapid that it was close to the incredibly fast rate required if the world is to hit the tripling of capacity by the end of the decade that experts believe is necessary to stay on the 1.5C pathway.

It also noted that there had been only a slight increase in emissions in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period a year before.

The findings suggest the world may be close to reaching the peak of the global power sector’s carbon emissions, and they could soon even begin to fall in line with global climate targets.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) Sitting all day increases dementia risk — even if you exercise

In news that we shouldn’t take sitting down, a study just published in JAMA finds that people who stay seated for long hours at work and home are at much higher risk of developing dementia than people who sit less.

The negative effects of extended sitting can be so strong, researchers found, that even people who exercise regularly face higher risk if they sit for much of the day.

The study, which involved 49,841 men and women aged 60 or older, “supports the idea that more time spent in sedentary behaviors increases one’s risk of dementia,” said Andrew Budson, a professor of neurology at Boston University and author of “Seven Steps to Managing Your Aging Memory,” who was not involved with the study.

The results also underscore just how pervasive the consequences of sitting can be, affecting our minds, as well as our bodies, and they hint that exercise by itself may not be enough to protect us.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) Long Shutdown Could Be Significant Drag on U.S. Economy

Federal government shutdowns have become so common in recent years that forecasters have a good read on how another one would affect the American economy. The answer is fairly simple: The longer a shutdown lasts, the more damage it is likely to inflict.

A brief shutdown would be unlikely to slow the economy significantly or push it into recession, economists on Wall Street and inside the Biden administration have concluded. That assessment is based in part on the evidence from prior episodes where Congress stopped funding many government operations.

But a prolonged shutdown could hurt growth and potentially President Biden’s re-election prospects. It would join a series of other factors that are expected to weigh on the economy in the final months of this year, including high interest rates, the restart of federal student loan payments next month and a potentially lengthy United Automobile Workers strike.

A halt to federal government business would not just dent growth. It would further dampen the mood of consumers, whose confidence slumped in September for the second straight month amid rising gas prices. In the month that previous shutdowns began, the Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence slid by an average of seven points, Goldman Sachs economists noted recently, although much of that decline reversed in the month after a reopening.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy

(Bloomberg) Investors With $24 Trillion Push Companies to Fight Biodiversity Loss

Investors overseeing $23.6 trillion of funds have kick-started a campaign to pressure 100 companies to ramp up the fight against biodiversity loss.

Axa Investment Managers, Robeco, the Church Commissioners for England, Storebrand Asset Management and 186 other participants in the Nature Action 100 initiative have written to companies demanding “urgent and necessary actions” to protect and restore ecosystems, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The targeted companies include BHP Group Plc, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Nestle SA, Bayer AG, Inc. and Unilever Plc. They were selected based on their market values and participation in industries ranging from mining, food and pharmaceuticals to chemicals and forestry that are considered vital to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

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Posted in Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(Bloomberg) Nearly Half of All Young Adults Live With Mom and Dad — and They Like It

Nearly half of all young adults are living with their parents — and they’re not ashamed to say it.

Moving out and living on your own is often seen as a marker of adulthood. But dealt an onerous set of cards — including pandemic lockdowns, decades-high inflation, soaring student debt levels and a shaky job market — young people today are increasingly staying put. What’s more, it’s no longer seen as a sign of individual failure.

Almost 90% of surveyed Americans say people shouldn’t be judged for moving back home, according to Harris Poll in an exclusive survey for Bloomberg News. It’s seen as a pragmatic way to get ahead, the survey of 4,106 adults in August showed.

“We’re in an economy where it’s harder to live independently,” said Carol Sigelman, professor of social psychology at George Washington University. “Adults recognize that it’s tough these days.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

(WSJ) American Labor’s Real Problem: It Isn’t Productive Enough

For the United Auto Workers, it makes perfect sense to demand more pay and better work-life balance from Detroit’s three automakers. After all, workers throughout this historically tight labor market are getting exactly that. But what makes sense to striking factory workers makes no sense for manufacturing as a whole.

Pay is ultimately tied to productivity: the quantity and quality of products a company’s workforce churns out. And here, American manufacturing companies and workers are in trouble.

The issue isn’t with labor-intensive products such as clothing and furniture, which largely moved offshore long ago. Rather, it’s in the most advanced products: electric cars and batteries, power-generation equipment, commercial aircraft and semiconductors. President Biden might be celebrating a manufacturing renaissance based on new factories, but the share prices of former manufacturing icons Ford Motor, Intel, Boeing and General Electric suggest skepticism is warranted about the durability of this renaissance: All are at a fraction of all-time share-price highs.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(WSJ) The Unexpected New Winners in the Global Energy War

BIR REBAA, Algeria—Once-obscure corners of the energy world, from offshore Congo to Azerbaijan, are booming as Europe finds new sources of natural gas to replace the Russian supplies that once powered the continent. The shift is redrawing the world’s energy map at a rapid clip.

In Bir Rebaa, deep in the Sahara, the Italian energy company Eni and Algeria’s state-owned energy company are drilling dozens of wells, producing gas from previously untapped fields in a matter of months.

Three pipelines beneath the Mediterranean Sea connect Algeria’s vast gas reserves to Europe. For much of the last decade, Russian gas giant Gazprom had kept prices low, pushing suppliers like Algeria out of the European market.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Algeria, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

(LA Times) Home insurance and climate change have collided — and we’re all going to pay for it

As another legislative session draws to a close in Sacramento, the problem lawmakers failed to fix is one of the most urgent facing Californians: the slow-moving collapse of the property insurance market as costs from climate disasters mount.

It “is not even a yellow flag issue. This is a waving red flag issue,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday night when asked about the failure of the Legislature to act.

This year, multiple companies, including the state’s largest home insurer, State Farm, have announced they are no longer taking on new residential and commercial properties, citing wildfire risk. In fact, seven of the 12 insurance groups operating in California — together, responsible for about 85% of the market — have pulled back.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance

Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Moving to Purchase Land for Camp and Retreat Center

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Stewardship