Good morning and happy easter. Here are the top business and tech stories you should know for the week ahead. – Charlotte Cowles
What’s happening? (March 28th – April 3rd)
light at the end of the tunnel
Employers created a whopping 916,000 jobs in March, which more than doubled employment growth in February. Many workers were employed in the hospitality and construction industries, which was driven by the rapid pace of vaccinations and a new round of government aid. (The spring weather didn’t hurt either.) In other good news, Wall Street hit a record high last week, with the S&P 500 index closing above 4,000 for the first time.
President Biden put forward his proposal for a huge infrastructure package, which he described as “the largest American employment investment since World War II.” It also comes at a steep price, costing around $ 2 trillion over eight years. The plan aims to repair thousands of old bridges, roads, and plumbing systems, improve commute times, and improve drinking water. It also includes $ 100 billion to provide broadband internet to rural areas struggling with spotty WiFi. And it will invest heavily in environmentally friendly initiatives like electric cars and more efficient energy networks. The proposal faces a difficult path through Congress, however, as Republicans oppose the corporate tax hikes Biden says will be paid for them.
More Student Loan Relief
Anyone who has a federal student loan has not had to make any payments for about a year. But those on private student loans have not had a break so far. The Ministry of Education will temporarily stop paying payments for approximately six million loans granted under the federal program for family education loans that are now privately owned. There’s a catch: only borrowers who have defaulted will receive redress. The move will also temporarily prevent those who are in default from garnishing their wages or having tax refunds confiscated from collectors, and returning any confiscated refunds or wages paid since March 2020.
What’s next? (April 4th to 10th)
Blue skies ahead
The aviation industry showed some promising signs of life last week. After a year of rest, domestic vacation bookings are recovering. United Airlines is recruiting pilots, starting with those who had pre-pandemic-related vacancies or whose departure dates have been postponed once travel restrictions are in place. Delta Air Lines, the final major hurdle in locking center seats to ensure space between passengers, will resume bookings for the center seat in May. Finally, the low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines went public, a sign that it is expecting a rebound.
From the mud
After six days of digging and pulling as well as a full moon push, the huge container ship that was housed in the Suez Canal was freed and the waterway is reopened for operations. But the ripple effect of its blockage will be felt for weeks. The stuck boat prevented up to $ 10 billion of cargo from moving through the canal every day and cost the Egyptian government up to $ 90 million in lost toll revenue. Who will pay the damage? A fleet of insurers, government agencies and lawyers are investigating who is financially responsible (likely the Japanese owner of the stalled ship) and how much they have to pay for it.
Meet supply, demand
As the world economy gets going again, the demand for fuel increases. And the question arose as to whether the oil producers would increase their supply to achieve this. If they don’t, the gasoline could be as high as $ 4 a gallon by this summer – not exactly welcome news for anyone trying to drive to work. But OPEC and its allies addressed those fears last week when they agreed to gradually increase production over the next three months, which should keep prices stable.
Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, two companies with a large presence in Georgia, along with more than 70 black executives from across the country, have opposed the state’s new law that restricts access to voting. The New York Attorney’s Office has cited the personal banking records of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen H. Weisselberg as part of their investigation into the business practices of former President Donald J. Trump and his family business. And a group of doctors have sued insurance giant UnitedHealthcare, accusing it of stifling competition and harming their business.