The Fed’s vice chair resigns as questions mount about his early-pandemic trades.
Richard Clarida, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve, will leave on Friday, two weeks ahead of schedule. Updated disclosures showed rapid moves out of and back into stocks as the central bank prepared to reassure markets.
Richard Clarida at a conference in Wyoming in 2019. His updated financial disclosures drew widespread media coverage and lawmaker attention.Credit…Jonathan Crosby/Reuters
Richard H. Clarida, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair, announced on Monday that he would resign from his position two weeks earlier than planned. While he did not give a reason, he had faced renewed scrutiny about trades he made in 2020 as the central bank was poised to rescue financial markets.
“With my statutory term as governor due to expire on Jan. 31, 2022, I am writing to inform you that it is my intention to resign from the board on Jan. 14, 2022,” Mr. Clarida wrote in a letter to President Biden that the Fed released Monday.
The New York Times reported last week that Mr. Clarida had corrected his 2020 financial disclosures in late December. Ethics experts said one of his updated trades raised questions — he sold a stock fund on Feb. 24 before repurchasing it on Feb. 27, just before the chair of the Fed announced on Feb. 28 that the central bank stood ready to help markets and the economy.
His initial disclosures had noted only the purchase of the stock fund, which the Fed had described on his behalf as a planned portfolio rebalancing. But the rapid move out of and back into stocks called that explanation into question, some experts said, and the repurchase could have put Mr. Clarida in a position to benefit as the Fed reassured markets.
Neither the Fed nor Mr. Clarida provided an new explanation for the trades, though the Fed’s ethics office noted in the updated filing that they still appeared to be in compliance with conflict-of-interest laws.
Mr. Clarida’s updated disclosure drew widespread media coverage and lawmaker attention. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, called on the Fed on Monday to release more information about trades by top Fed officials in light of the news.
The amended disclosure and volley of attention came at an inopportune moment for Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, who has been renominated to his position by Mr. Biden. He is scheduled to appear on Tuesday at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
Ms. Warren sits on the Banking Committee, so Mr. Powell is still almost sure to face questions about why some Fed officials traded so actively as markets gyrated and the Fed staged a huge rescue at the start of the pandemic.
“The whole rebalancing story, that just collapses in the face of the fact that he sold and then bought,” said Simon Johnson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “If you are Chair Powell, you don’t want to have your reconfirmation hearing focused on this.”
Mr. Powell and his colleagues have in recent months revamped the central bank’s ethics guidelines — in October releasing plans to overhaul them and prevent many types of financial activity, including trading during times of turmoil. He may point to that as a sign of how seriously the Fed has taken the issue.
Mr. Clarida’s resignation is the latest development in a monthslong trading scandal that has embroiled top officials and prompted high-profile departures at the Fed.
Financial disclosures released in late 2021 showed that Robert S. Kaplan, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, had made big individual-stock trades, while Eric S. Rosengren, the former Boston Fed president, had traded in real estate securities. Those moves drew immediate and intense backlash from lawmakers, ethics experts and former Fed employees.
Fed officials were actively rescuing a broad swath of markets in 2020. In March and April, they slashed rates to zero, bought mortgage-tied and government bonds in mass quantities, and rolled out rescue programs for corporate and municipal debt.
The concern is that continuing to deal in affected securities for their own portfolios throughout the year could have given officials room to profit from their privileged knowledge.
Mr. Kaplan resigned in September, citing the scandal; Mr. Rosengren resigned simultaneously, citing health issues.
Mr. Clarida’s term was scheduled to end at the close of this month because his seat as governor was expiring. Bloomberg News first reported on his stock fund purchase — what was visible before he corrected the disclosure — in October.
While Mr. Clarida didn’t address the trading issues in his resignation letter, he did mention them indirectly during a speech late last year.
“I’ve always acquitted myself honorably and with integrity with respect to the obligations of public service,” he said in mid-October.
The Fed’s government watchdog is investigating the trades officials made in 2020, and Ms. Warren has called for an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The S.E.C. does not comment on whether such investigations are underway.
Mr. Clarida has been vice chair since 2018, and during that time has been a close collaborator of Mr. Powell’s and a valuable second-in-command. His speeches were closely watched by Wall Street for the policy signals they often offered, and he was lauded for his skills as a clear and careful communicator.
He also led a push to revamp the Fed’s policy-setting framework to make it more focused on employment and more fitted to the challenges of the modern economic era, one of the major hallmarks of Mr. Powell’s first term.
“I will miss his wise counsel and vital insights,” Mr. Powell said in a statement announcing Mr. Clarida’s early departure.
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair whom President Biden has nominated for a second four-year term, is set to tell senators on Tuesday that central bankers will use their economic tools to keep inflation — which has been high — from becoming entrenched.
Mr. Powell, who is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee as he seeks confirmation, faces reappointment at an anxious economic moment. Inflation is running at the fastest pace in nearly 40 years. While economists have hoped for months that it would soon fade, that has yet to happen. Higher prices are chipping away at household incomes, even as wages rise and as companies hire at a solid clip.
“We know that high inflation exacts a toll, particularly for those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing and transportation,” Mr. Powell will tell lawmakers, according to his prepared remarks. “We are strongly committed to achieving our statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability.”
Mr. Powell and his colleagues in recent months have reoriented their policies to pull back on support for the economy in light of the inflationary burst. They are slowing a large bond-buying program they had been using to keep longer-term borrowing cheap and to stoke the economy, and they could raise interest rates as soon as March.
“Monetary policy must take a broad and forward-looking view, keeping pace with an ever-evolving economy,” Mr. Powell will tell senators.
Economists increasingly expect Fed officials to make three or even four increases this year and eventually to shrink the size of their bond holdings, policies that together will make borrowing more expensive for households and businesses, take juice out of the stock market and slow overall growth.
The pivot — which squarely puts the Fed in inflation-fighting mode — could assuage some lawmakers who are worried that the central bank is going to allow inflation to jump out of control. Even so, some may worry what has taken monetary policymakers so long.
Others may ask whether the central bank risks overdoing it. Removing support for the economy could slow the job market and curtail hiring while virus concerns and child care issues are keeping many former workers on the labor market’s sidelines.
Mr. Powell most likely will also need to address a trading scandal that has rocked the Fed in recent months. Several prominent central bankers traded financial assets for their own portfolios in early 2020, when the Fed was very active in rescuing markets.
One, Richard H. Clarida, the vice chair, recently corrected his financial disclosures in a way that made his hot-button transaction — a move into stocks that took place on the eve of a big Fed announcement — look less like the rebalancing that the Fed originally said it had been and more like a response to market conditions.
Mr. Clarida announced on Monday that he would resign earlier than planned from the Fed.
Mr. Powell did not address that development directly in the prepared remarks, but he pledged to be fair and independent in policy choices.
“I am committed to making those decisions with objectivity, integrity and impartiality, based on the best available evidence and in the longstanding tradition of monetary policy independence,” he will say.
The National Labor Relations Board announced Monday that it had certified a victory for a union at a second Starbucks store in the Buffalo area, where votes were tallied in December but remained inconclusive as the union challenged the ballots of several employees it said did not work at the store.
The labor board declared the union the winner at another Buffalo-area store when it counted the votes on Dec. 9, and the union lost an election at a third store.
The board agreed with the union that the challenged ballots should not count, giving the union a 15-to-9 win. None of the other roughly 9,000 company-operated Starbucks locations in the United States have a union.
Labor experts have said that establishing a second unionized store in the same market could provide a significant boost to the union, Starbucks Workers United. The union is part of Workers United, an affiliate of the giant Service Employees International Union.
Under U.S. labor law, employers are obligated to bargain in good faith with a union that has won an N.L.R.B. election, but they are not required to reach agreement on a contract. As a result, winning a contract often requires unions to apply economic pressure such as a work stoppage, something that a second store could make more potent.
The newly unionized store, near the Buffalo airport, filed for a union election in late August, along with the two other stores that voted in December. The union has formally objected to the outcome of the election that it lost, and that objection is pending before the labor board.
Starbucks has 10 business days to request an appeal of the decision announced on Monday. If the request was filed and denied, the result would become final. A company spokesman said that Starbucks was evaluating whether or not to appeal and that it believed its employees’ voices should be heard.
Throughout the union campaign last year, Starbucks dispatched out-of-town managers and a top executive to Buffalo in what it said was an attempt to fix operational issues like understaffing and the poor layout of certain stores. The officials often questioned employees about their workplaces and helped with menial tasks like throwing out garbage.
Several union supporters said they were intimidated by the presence of the officials and were disoriented by other disruptions to their work lives, such as the company’s decision to temporarily close certain stores and send employees to other locations.
Since the initial victory in Buffalo, workers at several other Starbucks stores throughout the country have filed for union elections, including in Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Knoxville, Tenn.
“Today we put an end to Starbucks’s delay attempts and formed our union,” Alexis Rizzo, a shift supervisor at the second unionized location, said in a statement, adding: “We demand that Starbucks stop their union busting in Buffalo and across the nation immediately. No other partners should have to endure what we went through to have a voice on the job.”
Starbucks has denied that it has sought to intimidate employees, but it has said it prefers that its employees not unionize.
Last week, the federal labor board scheduled an election for a Starbucks store in Mesa, Ariz., where workers had filed paperwork in November. Ballots in the election will be mailed out on Friday and will be due back by Jan. 28. Workers at more than 10 other locations, including three in the Buffalo area, are still awaiting decisions from the board on if and when it will set election dates.
Wild volatility in the Nasdaq composite index on Monday pointed to the new reality for technology stocks: After being largely immune to bad economic news during most of the pandemic, that resilience may be waning.
The Nasdaq composite fell as much as 2.7 percent Monday, a slide that had it approaching a correction, a key technical and psychological measure on Wall Street that is defined as a drop of more than 10 percent from a high. By the end of the day, however, tech stocks had rebounded and the index ended the day with a small gain. The S&P 500, a broader index and the U.S. benchmark, ended with a small loss.
But market watchers said Monday’s volatility in tech stocks could soon become a problem for investors.
“People have a mind-set that equity prices always go up,” said Vincent Reinhart, the chief economist of Dreyfus and Mellon. “There is nothing magical about drawing the line at 10 percent other than it makes people realize that stocks don’t always go up.”
Even with Monday’s rebound, many tech company shares, including ones that appeared to be early pandemic winners, remained far from the highs they held just a few months ago. Shares of Zoom Video Communications, the virtual-meeting software company, are now down nearly 70 percent from their high of $560 in late 2020.
Companies that consumers turned to for escape during lockdowns have also fallen. Netflix’s stock price has fallen 24 percent from its high, and Teslahas seen its stock drop nearly 20 percent from its November high.
A large part of this drop, and the recent reversal of the market in general, appears to be tied to the expectation that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner than previously expected. Last week, the central bank released minutes from its December meeting that showed Fed officials are preparing to raise interest rates to tamp down inflation; many economists expect that to happen as soon as March.
And although December’s overall jobs report was weaker than expected, it still showed a significant jump in wages for the past year, which also raised inflation concerns and could prompt the Fed to move quicker.
Rising interest rates discourage risk-taking by investors, which tends to hit tech stocks more than others. What’s more, shares of many technology companies trade at high valuations because of fast growth and expectations that they will produce significant profits in the future. But higher interest rates put future growth in doubt and make those future earnings worth less to current investors.
Other areas of Wall Street have also shown volatility. On Monday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to about 1.8 percent, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, before falling slightly by the end of the day.
“There is a white knuckle fear on the Street around tech stocks,” said Dan Ives, the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities. “Tech stocks have been on a bull run, and now Fed worries and the spiking 10-year yield are crashing the tech party, with investors hitting the sell button and heading for the elevators in unison.”
Mr. Ives said that he thought the sell-off was just a pause and not the end of a rise in tech stocks, but he added that investors should expected more volatility.
The adjustment to higher interest rates isn’t bad news for all stocks. Shares of banks have been climbing as investors anticipate their profits will grow.
Overall, the profit picture for corporate America remains quite strong. Earnings at companies in the S&P 500 are estimated to have risen nearly 22 percent in the final three months of 2021 compared with a year prior.
Analysts, though, expect that earnings growth to drop to 9 percent this year, as the boost from government stimulus checks and a surge in consumer spending as pandemic restrictions end are likely to all but disappear.
WASHINGTON — The federal tax filing season will run from Jan. 24 to April 18 this year, the Internal Revenue Service said on Monday, warning in its announcement that staffing shortages and paperwork backlogs could make for a messy and frustrating experience for taxpayers.
In a briefing on Monday, Treasury Department officials said that the I.R.S. would struggle to promptly answer telephone calls from taxpayers with questions and that a lower level of service should be expected. They blamed Republican legislators, who have blocked efforts to increase funding at the agency, for the lack of resources.
The Biden administration has asked for an additional $80 billion over a decade for the I.R.S. to bolster its enforcement and its customer service capacity, raising its staff by nearly 87,000 employees and upgrading its technology. That request is part of the administration’s Build Back Better Act, which is stalled in Congress. The Treasury Department estimates that enhancing the enforcement powers of the I.R.S. could yield the federal government $400 billion in additional tax revenue over a decade by shrinking the so-called tax gap, or tax money that is owed the government but goes uncollected.
Treasury officials noted that in the first half of last year, fewer than 15,000 employees were available to handle more than 240 million calls — one person for every 16,000 calls.
Although the population of the United States has grown by about 60 percent since 1970 and the tax code has become more complex, the size of the work force at the I.R.S. has been flat, the Treasury Department said. The agency has fewer auditors now than it has employed at any time since World War II.
“In many areas, we are unable to deliver the amount of service and enforcement that our taxpayers and tax system deserves and needs,” Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, said in a statement. “This is frustrating for taxpayers, for I.R.S. employees and for me.”
He added: “Additional resources are essential to helping our employees do more in 2022 — and beyond.”
Republicans seized on the Biden administration’s plans to beef up the I.R.S. last year, issuing dire warnings that the agency would be deployed to spy on Americans and target conservatives. Their attacks succeeded in killing a proposal that would have required banks to submit additional taxpayer data to the I.R.S.
The tax season this year will be more complicated than usual because pandemic-related economic impact payments and child tax credit payments were distributed last year. Taxpayers will be required to report the amount of money that they received.
The I.R.S. is urging taxpayers to file their returns electronically, and said people should generally receive refunds within 21 days of filing.
Usually Tax Day falls on April 15, but it will be delayed for most tax payers to April 18 because of the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington. Filing deadlines for state taxes may differ.
Goli Sheikholeslami, the head of New York Public Radio, will become Politico’s new chief executive, Axel Springer announced on Monday.
Her appointment is the first big move by Axel Springer, the German publishing giant, since it bought Politico Media Group last year for more than $1 billion. As part of its ambition to become a force in the American news media, the company acquired Business Insider in 2015 and a controlling stake in the newsletter Morning Brew in 2020.
Jan Bayer, Axel Springer’s president of news media, said that Ms. Sheikholeslami would “further our vision to build the global news and information leader on politics, policy and regulation in power centers across the world.”
Politico Media Group includes Politico, which has a newsroom of nearly 400 journalists, and its tech news counterpart, Protocol.
“What I admire most about Politico is the tenacity that underpins the organization’s fearless, fact-based journalism and its successful business model,” Ms. Sheikholeslami said in a statement.
Ms. Sheikholeslami will start in her new role next month. She succeeds Patrick Steel, who stepped down as chief executive last year. She is making the move after two years as the chief executive of New York Public Radio, which owns WNYC, WQXR and Gothamist. It was a turbulent period for WNYC, which has had significant staff turnover and bullying complaints.
In an email to staff, the New York Public Radio board chair, Timothy Wilkins, said that Ms. Sheikholeslami had invested significantly in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the organization while also strengthening its financial position and increasing the size of the newsroom.
“And she did all this while leading through a pandemic — working with all of you to keep our audiences informed, connected and inspired during one of the most challenging times for our organization and our city and region,” Mr. Wilkins wrote.
Mr. Wilkins said the board would lead a national search for a new leader.
The video game publisher Take-Two Interactive agreed on Monday to buy Zynga, a mobile game maker, for more than $11 billion, in a deal that unites the makers of Grand Theft Auto and FarmVille.
With the deal, Take-Two — known for producing games like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K for traditional platforms like the Sony PlayStation console and personal computers — is acquiring a specialist in mobile and social gaming, with Zynga’s best-known titles including Words With Friends and other apps.
Adding Zynga’s stable of app developers is meant to help Take-Two roll out more smartphone versions of its popular titles. Zynga will also help Take-Two expand its revenue from so-called recurrent consumer spending, in which players pay for new content and upgrades within games.
The deal values Zynga at about $12.7 billion, making it one of the largest in the history of the video game industry, topping the purchase of Supercell by the Chinese internet giant Tencent in 2016 for $10 billion and Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in 2020.
The gaming industry has boomed during the pandemic, providing large tech companies with the cash to buy smaller rivals. It has also helped more troubled companies like Zynga, which found early success tying itself to Facebook with the mobile game FarmVille. The company stumbled as the mobile gaming industry shifted away from social media and toward apps like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush.
Zynga has laid off employees and cycled through executives over the years as it struggled to maintain relevance. It was still losing money — $42 million — in its most recent quarterly earnings report.
By contrast, Take-Two is profitable and has gone on a buying spree since the pandemic, adding a handful of smaller studios to its portfolio of games.
“This strategic combination brings together our best-in-class console and PC franchises, with a market-leading, diversified mobile publishing platform that has a rich history of innovation and creativity,” Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Frank Gibeau, Zynga’s chief executive, said in a statement that combining the two companies would “allow us to create even better games, reach larger audiences and achieve significant growth as a leader in the next era of gaming.”
Under the terms of the deal, Take-Two will pay $3.50 in cash and $6.36 worth of newly issued stock for each Zynga share. That amounts to $9.86 a share, up 64 percent from where Zynga closed on Friday.
Google wrongly claimed attorney-client privilege to protect documents subpoenaed in a National Labor Relations Board case filed by former employees who say the company fired them because of their unionization efforts, a labor judge has ruled.
The administrative law judge, Paul Bogas, whom the N.L.R.B. appointed as a special master to review the documents, said in a report on Friday that “this broad assertion is, to put it charitably, an overreach.”
The ruling is the latest legal blow to Google’s defense against a complaint, brought by the labor agency in December 2020, that said the company illegally fired and surveilled employees who were involved in labor organizing.
A Google spokeswoman, Jennifer Rodstrom, said in a statement on Monday that the matter had nothing to do with unionization but was about employees breaching security protocols. “We disagree with the characterization of the legally privileged materials referred to by the complainants,” she said.
Judge Bogas ruled in November that Google had improperly characterized 71 of 80 documents sought by the former employees as privileged. The latest report covers around 200 additional documents pertaining to communications around Google’s hiring of IRI Consultants, a firm known for its anti-union work, as part of Project Vivian, an effort to fight labor organizing at the company.
Google must hand over nearly all of those 200 documents, Judge Bogas ruled. He also ordered the company to produce for his review more than 1,000 additional documents that it logged as privileged.
Google’s argument that it had the right to withhold the documents was not “persuasive,” Judge Bogas said, because IRI assisted Google with messaging that did not include legal advice.
In one document that the judge said did not pass muster for confidentiality, a Google lawyer explained that the company wanted consulting help for Project Vivian “to engage employees more positively and convince them that unions suck.” The lawyer provided a long list of areas where IRI could help, including “understanding the current sentiment around labor organizing/unionization efforts at Google.” The lawyer did not mention assistance with legal help.
In another document that Google claimed was privileged, a different Google lawyer offered public relations advice but not legal counsel. The lawyer proposed that the company find a “respected voice” to publish an editorial about what a union would look like in a tech workplace to discourage employees of Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Google from forming one. A human resources director said that she supported the idea, but that it needed to be done without Google’s fingerprints. IRI then sent a proposed editorial to the Google lawyer.
Judge Bogas also chastised Google for marking documents as privileged just because it copied in a company lawyer, even though the communication did not seek legal advice.
“A company cannot cloak a document in privilege merely by providing a copy to counsel,” the judge wrote.
The New York Times reported earlier that Google encouraged employees to aggressively mark internal communication as “A/C Priv,” which is shorthand for “attorney-client privilege,” in the subject line even if they are not seeking legal advice.
Google denied that was the case, and said it informed employees that they should do that only when appropriate.
The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday named Jodie Ginsberg, a journalist turned news executive, as its new president.
Ms. Ginsberg, a former international correspondent and business journalist at Reuters, is the chief executive of Internews Europe, a nonprofit organization that supports independent media. She previously headed the Index on Censorship, a freedom of expression campaign group.
She will replace Joel Simon, who led the Committee to Protect Journalists for 15 years before announcing last year that he was stepping down. Founded in 1981, the organization defends the rights of journalists around the world.
“We wanted to find someone who had experience as a journalist and as an advocate,” Kathleen Carroll, the chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in an interview. “The two skills are different. You really need granular on-the-ground experience if you are going to be the head of an organization protecting journalists.”
Ms. Ginsberg, a citizen of Britain and South Africa who was also the bureau chief for Britain and Ireland during her 11 years at Reuters, is scheduled to start as the organization’s president in April.
“Journalists help hold power to account, expose corruption and injustice and shine a spotlight on the most important issues of our day — from health to climate to social change,” Ms. Ginsberg said in a statement. “For that, far too many face a growing threat of violence and harassment. I am determined to help reverse this trend and am honored to be leading C.P.J. at such a critical juncture.”
According to a census by the organization, the number of journalists jailed for doing their job hit 293 in 2021, a record. At least 24 journalists were killed for reasons having to do with their work last year, according to the group.
Audie Cornish, who signed off as a host of NPR’s news program “All Things Considered” on Friday, is heading to CNN’s new streaming service.
The longtime NPR star, who had been a host of “All Things Considered” since 2012 and was a 17-year veteran of the public broadcaster, will host a weekly show for CNN+, as well as contribute to the streaming service’s slate of live programming, the network announced on Monday. She will also appear on the cable news network during breaking news stories.
“I am very excited to join CNN and the CNN+ team,” Ms. Cornish said in a statement. “There are fresh stories to be told and new ways to tell them. CNN has a dynamic system of reporters and storytelling channels. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
The move comes as the CNN president, Jeff Zucker, builds a roster for CNN+, which is scheduled to debut in the spring.
Ms. Cornish’s exit from NPR followed the recent departures of other prominent NPR hosts of color, including Noel King, who went to Vox Media, and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who went to The New York Times. Ari Shapiro, Ms. Cornish’s former co-host at “All Things Considered,” observed on Twitter last week that NPR was “hemorrhaging hosts from marginalized backgrounds.”
“If NPR doesn’t see this as a crisis, I don’t know what it’ll take,” Mr. Shapiro continued.
Ms. Cornish addressed the issue in a Twitter thread on Thursday. “My path through public media and frankly journalism has of course not been all roses,” she wrote, adding that she had often been “the only person of color” covering events. She added that circumstances have changed over the years “for the better.”
Last week, CNN announced it had hired Alison Roman, the author of a popular cooking newsletter, to host a “highly opinionated and never finicky” cooking show for the planned streaming service. The network also announced that the actress and producer Eva Longoria would host a series in which she travels Mexico and explores the culinary culture there, similar to the CNN show “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” Last month, the anchor Chris Wallace left Fox News to join CNN+.
Energy prices have soared across Europe over the past few months, straining household budgets and unnerving politicians. As the cost of oil and natural gas remain volatile, a policymaker at the European Central Bank has warned that the transition to a low carbon economy could lead to rising energy bills and faster inflation.
This could also force central bankers to rethink how energy prices are considered when setting monetary policy, Isabel Schnabel, a member of the central bank’s executive board, said in a speech on Saturday.
Some central banks, increasingly focused on the risks created by climate change, have set out plans to stress-test banks to see if their financial systems can withstand the risks from extreme weather and are analyzing the economy to calculate the costs of the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“While in the past energy prices often fell as quickly as they rose, the need to step up the fight against climate change may imply that fossil fuel prices will now not only have to stay elevated, but even have to keep rising if we are to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement,” which commits countries to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, Ms. Schnabel said.
Looking ahead, higher carbon prices, fewer investments in fossil fuel energy, and a period during which renewable energy production can’t meet demand will mean there is a risk of a “protracted transition period” when energy bills are rising, Ms. Schnabel said.
But governments shouldn’t roll back or slow down transition measures in the face of higher prices, she added. For central banks, the challenges posed by the green transition are “equally profound,” she said.
Central bankers tend to “look through” energy price shocks because the surges are usually short-lived. Also, policymakers don’t want to exacerbate the negative effects by raising interest rates and dampening demand, Ms. Schnabel said.
That is the case in the eurozone today, where the annual rate of inflation climbed to 5 percent last month, a record high. Energy prices were 26 percent higher than they were a year earlier.
The European Central Bank has held interest rates at record lows and made a plan to slow, but not stop, its bond-buying programs because it expects inflation to be once again below its 2 percent target by next year. Christine Lagarde, the president of the bank, has insisted that the surge in prices is temporary because, for one, energy costs will stabilize throughout this year, and so monetary policy needs to continue to support the economy.
But Ms. Schnabel said that the central bank’s forecasts depend on energy prices not contributing to inflation rates in 2023 and 2024 — something that would be “unusual.”
“The scale of the energy transition, and the political determination behind it, implies that these estimates could be conservative,” she said, adding that the energy transition poses “measurable upside risks” to the bank’s inflation projections.
If higher energy prices from the transition push up long-term inflation expectations and cause widespread demands for higher wages, or if higher carbon prices help increase economic growth and push up prices more broadly, then the central bank would need to act, Ms. Schnabel said.
Airlines canceled thousands more flights in recent days as the industry tried to move past its holiday hangover.
Bad weather and coronavirus outbreaks among workers continued to disrupt schedules across the United States, but airlines have also called off many recent flights, in advance, so they can correct course at a traditionally slow time for travel without surprising customers with last-minute cancellations.
About 5,000 flights were canceled from Friday through Sunday, according to FlightAware, a data tracking service, with the daily number of cuts declining steadily over that period. Southwest Airlines suspended over 1,000 flights, more than any other carrier. SkyWest Airlines, which operates flights for several major carriers, and United Airlines each canceled more than 500 flights.
The turmoil began before Christmas, caused by bad weather in the West and staff shortages because of virus outbreaks among employees. Snowfall in the Northeast continued to wreak havoc at major airport hubs across the country into the first weekend of this month.
“Given the ongoing surge in Covid cases and related sick calls, we’ve been working with each of our major partners to proactively reduce our January schedules,” SkyWest said in a statement. The airline operates flights for United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines and said the pullback is intended to “ensure we’re able to adequately staff our remaining flying as we work to recover in the coming weeks.”
After canceling flights at high rates over the holidays, JetBlue Airways said it would preemptively cut about 1,300 flights in the first half of January. Alaska said in a statement last week that it would slash about one in 10 flights planned for the month to gain “the flexibility and capacity needed to reset.”
As in many other industries, airlines are also contending with workers calling in sick at high rates as the Omicron virus variant spreads at astonishing speed.
“It has been one of the most difficult operational environments we’ve ever faced,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, said in a statement last week apologizing to customers for the disorder.
To deal with staffing shortages, many carriers have started offering extra pay to those who were otherwise not scheduled to work. Southwest, for example, said last week that it was offering double pay for most of the month to employees who picked up extra shifts, incentives available to workers across its operation, including ground staff, flight attendants, customer service employees, flight schedulers and maintenance technicians.
The chaos comes at a frustrating time for the industry, which is preparing for a significant rebound this summer. That recovery rests largely on the hope that the pandemic will be mostly under control by then and that people will be more willing to travel internationally and for work.
On television, the pandemic is already over. In reality, it continues to wreak havoc on the entertainment industry.
The Golden Globes, which traditionally kick off the award show season, were not televised on Sunday night because of ethical issues surrounding the group that gives out the awards. The jump in coronavirus cases is also threatening the rest of awards season, which is about more than just self-congratulation.
The undercutting of an effective form of advertising comes at a time when the industry desperately needs it, and it has the movie business reconsidering its fate in a year that was supposed to signal a return of Hollywood’s glamour, Nicole Sperling reports for The New York Times. The Academy Awards remain scheduled for March 27, with nominations on Feb. 8, but there has been no indication what the event will be like.
If the Hollywood hype machine loses steam, it could prove devastating to the box office, which has struggled with each rise in coronavirus cases. The latest Spider-Man movie was a big success, but other big-budget films, like “West Side Story,” flopped. Pixar said last week that its latest film, “Turning Red,” would skip theaters and will debut exclusively on Disney+ in March, free for subscribers.
Movies with midsize budgets are particularly vulnerable, given their reliance on word of mouth and awards to spread awareness. In response, studios are experimenting with slowing theatrical rollouts, accelerating home streaming and holding more virtual screenings to court award voters.
“The movie business is this gigantic rock, and we’re close to seeing that rock crumble,” said Stephen Galloway, the dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. According to a recent study, 49 percent of prepandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Eight percent say they will never return.
Fed chair confirmation hearing: The Senate Banking Committee will begin to hold confirmation hearings for the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell. Mr. Powell is expected to face questions regarding the outlook on inflation and the Fed’s former permissive culture toward stock trading by policymakers.
Consumer Price Index: The Labor Department is set to publish its latest report on price increases, which is being watched closely by the Federal Reserve as policymakers decide how quickly to pull back on the central bank’s support for the economy.
Fed vice chair confirmation hearing: Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, will also face the Senate Banking Committee for her confirmation hearing.
Delta earnings: The airline is set to publish its financial performance report for the three months ending in December as it faces new staffing challenges posed by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Delta canceled more than 1,700 flights between Christmas Eve and New Year’s weekend.
Retail sales: The Commerce Department’s report on consumer spending in December will offer economists a snapshot of spending during the last month of the holiday season, as well as a sense of whether the Omicron variant affected retailers.
Bank earnings: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are set to publish their earnings reports for the fourth quarter. Analysts are expecting the banks to post strong profits, driven by investment-banking and strong capital markets.
This year’s tax filing season is likely to be another challenging one because of pandemic-related tax changes. But the first step for many taxpayers is simple: Check your mail.
The Internal Revenue Service is sending special statements to the millions of Americans who received monthly payments of the expanded child tax credit last year as part of the pandemic relief program. The agency is also sending letters to the people who got the third stimulus payment last year, reports Ann Carrns for The New York Times.
The advance payments of the child tax credit reflected half of a family’s estimated credit. To claim the other half, people must enter information from the I.R.S. statement on their federal tax return to reconcile the amounts. The document, I.R.S. Letter 6419, details the total amount of advance payments paid last year and how the amount was calculated.
A quick refresher:
Congress expanded the child tax credit for the 2021 tax year, providing as much as $3,600 per child, up from $2,000.
Half of the credit was paid in advance, divided into monthly payments delivered from July through December.
The aid went to families with about 61 million children, according to the Treasury Department.
The I.R.S. is also sending a second letter later this month regarding the third round of stimulus checks. The third batch of checks, of $1,400 per person, was sent beginning in March as part of the pandemic relief effort.
Most eligible people have already received the payments. But if you didn’t, or if you got less than the full amount, the letter — known as Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Statement — will help determine if you can claim the money as a “recovery rebate credit” on your 2021 tax return.
Filing season normally starts in mid- to late January, but the I.R.S. hasn’t yet announced when it will begin accepting returns. READ MORE