Delta Air Lines and a union spar over isolation periods for sick workers.
The airline’s top lawyer sent a letter telling the union to stop criticizing policies on how many days workers should isolate themselves if they test positive for the coronavirus.
Delta has accused the Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A. of posting “false and defamatory information” about the company’s policies.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times
Delta Air Lines and a large flight attendants union are fighting about whether the company’s new isolation policy for employees who test positive for the coronavirus puts workers and travelers at risk.
The airline’s chief legal officer sent a letter on Friday to the Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A. saying the union had posted “false and defamatory information” about the company’s policies and asking it to correct those statements and stop repeating them. The union, which represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines and is seeking to unionize Delta’s flight attendants, responded on Tuesday that its statements had been “truthful and accurate.”
“Delta has always followed the science to form our policies regarding Covid-19,” the airline said in a statement on Tuesday. “We sent a cease and desist letter because we believe institutions and leaders must speak carefully, truthfully and factually.”
The union’s president, Sara Nelson, said Delta was responsible for confusing workers. “We’re glad that A.F.A.’s calling attention to the issues appears to have led Delta to update its policy several times and communicate this to workers,” Ms. Nelson said in her letter, which was addressed to Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian.
The dispute concerns Delta’s adherence to a recent change by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has shortened the recommended isolation time to five days for people who are vaccinated and who get the virus, so long as their symptoms are resolving and they have no fever.
The C.D.C.’s updated guidance was released after Delta executives sent the agency a letter arguing that the previous 10-day isolation period “may significantly impact our work force and operations.” Some public health experts had also called for updated guidelines.
Airlines canceled tens of thousands of flights over the holidays in response to bad weather and because thousands of employees called in sick. In a single day, nearly a third of United Airlines employees at Newark Liberty International Airport reported being unable to work. About 3,000 United employees have recently tested positive for the virus.
After the C.D.C. changed its guidance, Delta quickly adjusted its own policies, slashing the Covid-specific paid sick leave to five days for workers who are fully vaccinated, with two additional paid days if they choose to be tested on Day 5 and the results are positive. In accordance with C.D.C. guidelines, it does not require a negative Covid test to return to work. The C.D.C.’s decision not to recommend a test after five days of isolation has been criticized by some scientists. Delta, which said that over 95 percent of its work force is vaccinated, said employees may return to work only if they had no symptoms and must wear a mask in all settings through the 10th day after testing positive.
Ms. Nelson has claimed that the union is “still getting questions from Delta flight attendants about returning to work with a low-grade fever.” She also said the union was hearing concerns about the availability of tests and confusion over guaranteed pay and the quality of masks required for those returning to work.
Ms. Nelson criticized the changes, warning airlines that they could put passengers and airline employees at risk. Delta’s pilots union has expressed similar concerns.
“Unfortunately, changing C.D.C. and company guidance, compounded by limited testing availability, has led to confusion among employees who may be returning to work sooner than they should or are comfortable doing so,” the pilots union, the Delta Master Executive Council, said in a statement.
Most flight attendants at large airlines are represented by unions, and Ms. Nelson’s organization has been trying to organize Delta for several years.
In his letter to the union, Delta’s chief legal officer, Peter Carter, defended the airline’s policies, saying Delta has been “laser focused on keeping its employees safe and providing them the necessary time off when they are too ill to work” during the pandemic.
Citigroup will exit its consumer banking business in Mexico, where it has more branches than in any other country, closing the curtain on an operation that was both extremely profitable and plagued by scandal.
The bank announced on Tuesday that it would either sell or take public Banco Nacional de M?xico, better known as Banamex, which it bought in 2001 for $12.5 billion, as part of its “strategic refresh.”
Citi will still offer institutional and investment banking services for large companies in Mexico and private banking options for ultrawealthy residents of the country. But it will no longer have branches there to serve individual account holders or small- or middle-market businesses. And it will no longer be bound up with an operation that has generated heavy regulatory scrutiny.
“We’ll be able to direct our resources to opportunities aligned with our core strengths and competitive advantages,” Citi’s chief executive, Jane Fraser, said in a statement emailed to journalists. “We will further simplify our bank.”
In 2014, Banamex revealed that one of its most important clients, a Mexican oil services firm, had defrauded the bank of $400 million and that, in a separate matter, bodyguards working for bank employees were taking kickbacks from some of the bank’s vendors.
In 2015, federal banking regulators and California fined a related, U.S.-based Citi subsidiary, Banamex USA, $140 million for failing to have adequate anti-money-laundering controls in place, conditions that regulators learned of while trying to follow the flow of drug money. Citi later shut down the U.S. business and paid $97.4 million to settle a federal criminal investigation into the matter.
Citi has also said it will exit its consumer businesses in Asia and Europe, part of a plan to “focus on wealth centers globally,” according to its announcement on Tuesday. Citi earned $1.2 billion from its Mexican consumer business during the first three quarters of 2021. The bank is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on Friday.
Technology stocks had their best day of the year on Tuesday, as Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, reassured lawmakers that the U.S. central bank was committed to lowering inflation.
“If we see inflation persisting at high levels longer than expected, if we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will,” Mr. Powell told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. President Biden nominated him late last year to serve a second four-year term running the Fed.
Mr. Powell’s pledge to raise interest rates seemed to calm investors, who have grown increasingly worried that rising prices could slow economic growth. But while raising interest rates would be expected to bring down inflation, it would also most likely slow growth by raising the cost of borrowing for businesses and consumers alike. The yield on the economically sensitive 10-year Treasury bond, which had been ticking up since early December, fell slightly on Tuesday.
Investors viewed Mr. Powell’s statements as good news for tech stocks, which are sensitive to higher long-term interest rates but are often valued by investors during times of slower growth because those companies’ prospects are often not tied directly to the economy.
“We view the recent equity volatility as an adjustment to the Fed’s incrementally more hawkish stance rather than a sign that the Fed is about to bring the recovery and the equity rally abruptly to an end,” Mark Haefele, the chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.
Indeed, a number of companies that investors had seemed to lose interest in rose on Tuesday. Shares of Peloton, which had fallen more than 70 percent in the past year, gained 6.4 percent after the company announced a new shoe designed for its connected exercise bikes. The stock of the electric vehicle maker Lucid Group, which peaked at $55 in November, rose nearly 9 percent to $45.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite gained 1.4 percent on Tuesday. The S&P 500, a broader index, rose just under 1 percent.
“There were no major surprises. and the hawkishness level from Powell was digestible for the street,” said Daniel Ives, the managing director of equities at Wedbush Securities. “Powell ripped the Band-Aid off this week, and the market is now becoming more comfortable to own high-quality tech stocks that are oversold.”
Still, investors seem less enthusiastic about the stock market than they were just a few months ago. Bank of America noted in a research report on Tuesday that its clients were entering 2022 with more a cautious stance. The bank said its customers had bought more shares of U.S. stocks than they sold in the first week of the year, but not by much. The sector of the stock market that attracted the most interest from investors was health care, usually seen as something to buy when looking for safety.
Bank of America said its clients had also been buying shares of banks and other financial companies, which tend to do well when interest rates are rising, and selling technology and energy stocks.
In addition to inflation, a concern for investors is earnings growth. Companies in the S&P 500 will begin reporting their profits for the last three months of 2021 later this week. On average, earnings are estimated to have risen more than 21 percent in the quarter. But that profit growth is supposed to slow significantly this year.
David Kostin, the chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a recent report that companies would have an “uphill battle” maintaining the same level of profits this year that they did in 2021. Executives have been complaining about labor shortages, he said, and while Goldman’s economists expect the recent jump in wages to slow, it may be months before that happens.
Bank of America will reduce — but not eliminate — overdraft fees for 63 million customers, the biggest step by a major bank to dial back the pricey penalties, which have drawn increased scrutiny from regulators.
In May, the bank, the country’s second-biggest, will cut its fee for overdraft services to $10 from $35, it said in a statement on Tuesday. That fee is charged when a transaction exceeds the account’s balance and the bank covers it, allowing the payment to go through. The bank also will eliminate a $12 fee for transfers from linked accounts to an overdrawn account.
Starting next month, Bank of America will do away with fees for insufficient funds, such as when a check bounces, and will stop customers from being able to overdraw their accounts at A.T.M.s.
Customers will still be able to send their accounts into the red with other transactions, like recurring or automatic payments or checks, and take the $10 charge.
Some customers still want occasional access to overdraft services, Holly O’Neill, the president of retail banking at Bank of America, said in an interview Tuesday. “Just eliminating or stopping clients from using overdraft is not the solution, so that’s really why we are continuing to retain access to our clients to overdraft at a much lower fee,” she said.
Banking regulators have taken aim at overdraft practices in recent months. Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has said many lenders have become “hooked on overdraft fees” to feed their profits. The acting comptroller of the currency, Michael J. Hsu, has said the charges disproportionately affect vulnerable customers.
Bank of America’s plan is the most aggressive among the biggest banks, but smaller banks have gone further: Capital One and Ally Financial eliminated fees for overdrafting last year. Some lenders have introduced less-punitive alternatives to the fees, like grace periods or small short-term loans.
JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, said last month that it planned to give overdrawn customers an extra business day to raise their balances to within the $50 “overdraft cushion” that prevents fees from being charged. Even before Tuesday’s announcement, Bank of America was offering strapped customers loans of up to $500 that must be repaid over three months.
Bank of America consulted community groups including the Center for Responsible Lending as it formulated the new policies.
“This is a very strong program that creates both limits, guardrails and the supports that people need to get through cash crunches that are going to continue to come to many working families,” Mike Calhoun, the president of the advocacy group, said in an interview.
The group, which promotes financial fairness, has urged all banks to eliminate overdraft fees.
“Families of color are more likely to be hit with overdraft fees, even though they are less likely to have bank accounts than other customers,” Mr. Calhoun said. Because overdraft fees are a leading cause of involuntary account closures, minorities are more at risk of being pushed out of the mainstream financial system, he added.
The U.S. banking industry’s revenue from overdraft and insufficient funds was $15.47 billion in 2019, according to a December estimate from the consumer bureau. JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America brought in 44 percent of the fees that year among banks with assets of more than $1 billion, the bureau said.
Bank of America declined to say how much it makes from overdraft fees. Ms. O’Neill said that overdraft fees accounted for less than 1 percent of its total revenue, and the company said that the changes would reduce its overdraft fee revenues “by hundreds of millions of dollars.” In the third quarter, the bank’s total revenue was $22.8 billion.
A federal judge on Tuesday allowed the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to move forward, rejecting Facebook’s request to dismiss the case and handing the agency a major victory in its quest to curtail the power of the biggest tech companies.
The judge, James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, said last year that the F.T.C. had not provided sufficient evidence that the company, which has since renamed itself Meta, had a monopoly in social media and abused that power by harming competition. The agency refiled the case in August, and on Tuesday Judge Boasberg said that it had provided adequate support.
But he also included some caveats. Judge Boasberg said the agency could proceed with its claims that the company abused its monopoly power through acquisitions, which the agency has described as a “buy-or-bury” strategy. He dismissed, however, the agency’s charge that Facebook violated antitrust laws by cutting off third parties from its platform.
The facts provided by the agency, he said, “are far more robust and detailed than before, particularly in regard to the contours of defendant’s alleged monopoly.”
The judge’s decision is a major step forward for regulators battling the powerful armies of lobbyists and litigators employed to protect the empires built by tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Their combined market value has surpassed $7 trillion.
Government officials argue that this concentration of power hurts rivals and can harm consumers. In rare bipartisan agreement, Democrats and Republicans have rallied around antitrust action. This week, the Senate announced that it would begin to vote on new antitrust laws aimed at the tech sector.
President Biden has filled federal antitrust agencies with vocal critics of the technology giants, including the F.T.C. chairwoman, Lina Khan, whom Facebook targeted in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Justice Department and dozens of states have filed lawsuits against Google, accusing the company of crushing competition in search and in advertising technology.
While the judge’s decision was a big victory for the agency, ultimate success with the suit is far from certain and it will be years before there is any final resolution. Facebook has assembled many top lawyers to fend off legal threats. In addition, Judge Boasberg has been tough to please. In June, he dismissed a similar antitrust lawsuit against Facebook filed by more than four dozen states for falling far too short on supporting evidence of anticompetitive action. The states, led by New York, have said they plan to appeal the judge’s opinion.
“Although the agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations, the court believes that it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery,” Judge Boasberg said.
Holly Vedova, the director of the agency’s bureau of competition, said in a statement that the “F.T.C. staff presented a strong amended complaint, and we look forward to trial.”
Facebook said the judge’s decision was a partial victory, because he dismissed one claim, that the company had harmed competition by cutting rivals like the video service Vine from accessing data and features of the Facebook platform. That practice ended in 2018, the judge said.
“Today’s decision narrows the scope of the F.T.C.’s case by rejecting claims about our platform policies,” said Chris Sgro, a spokesman for Meta. “We’re confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims. Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today. They have been good for competition, and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products.”
The F.T.C. argues in its suit that Facebook obtained a monopoly in social networking and maintained it illegally by acquiring rivals. The lawsuit focuses on the company’s acquisitions of Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
In its amended complaint, the agency used data from Comscore, a publicly available data analysis firm, showing that Facebook’s share of the daily social media market had exceeded 70 percent since 2016. That figure jumps to 80 percent a month for smartphone users, 86 percent for tablet users, and about 98 percent for desktop users.
The agency said the company was able to achieve and maintain its dominance by buying rivals including the photo-sharing app Instagram, and WhatsApp, a popular messaging service. Instead of innovating and growing on its own merits, the company removed competition from the market and made it harder for new entrants to emerge, the agency claimed. Those deals, which were approved by previous leaders at the F.T.C., have led to less innovation and a deterioration in privacy and security for Instagram and WhatsApp users, it added.
“The agency will need to substantiate these allegations at later stages in the litigation — likely with expert testimony or statistical analysis,” the judge said. “But lack of proof at this juncture does not equate to impermissible speculation.”
In its motion to dismiss the case, Facebook said Ms. Khan had an “ax to grind” given her vocal criticism of Big Tech in past roles as an academic and congressional aide. The company argued it had created a conflict of interest. Judge Boasberg rejected the argument, saying she was not involved in the initial decision to pursue the case.
“Nothing the company presents suggests that her views on these matters stemmed from impermissible factors,” Judge Boasberg said. “Indeed, she was presumably chosen to lead the F.T.C. in no small part because of her published views.”
Bill Kovacic, a former chairman of the F.T.C., said Judge Boasberg “simplified the case in a useful way” to focus on illegal monopolization through mergers. The agency’s merger approvals, he said, were the “original sins” that led to Facebook’s dominance.
But Mr. Kovacic said the suit still faced many hurdles.
“The F.T.C. case lives to see another day,” he said.
Amazon workers in Alabama will have another shot at voting to form a union this winter, as the National Labor Relations Board scheduled a mail-in election to start Feb. 4.
The agency told the workers on Tuesday that they will have until March 25 to submit their votes. The agency will count the ballots on March 28.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse near Birmingham, known as BHM1, had voted against forming a union last spring after a highly contentious and public campaign. The labor agency threw out the results after finding that Amazon improperly interfered with the election, opening the door for a new vote.
The agency told the workers on Tuesday that in the original vote, Amazon had “interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice” by having a mailbox installed at the warehouse, “creating the appearance of irregularity,” and polling workers about their opinion. Amazon, which has said the mailbox was intended to make voting easier, has not appealed the decision to rerun the election.
The prominent organizing effort has been run by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It has drawn national attention from politicians and other figures as it aims to form the first union at one of the nation’s largest employers.
Barbara Agrait, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement that Amazon’s “employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join.” She added that the company looked forward to the workers “having their voices heard again.”
The union said in a statement that it had asked the agency to provide “a number of remedies that could have made the process fairer to workers” in the new election, but that the agency did not approve their requests. “We are deeply concerned that the decision fails to adequately prevent Amazon from continuing its objectionable behavior in a new election,” the union said.
The company, which has vowed to become “Earth’s best employer,” is facing labor pressure on multiple fronts. It has said it would spend $4 billion in the holiday quarter alone to deal with labor shortages. Workers in Staten Island are also trying to unionize, and last month Amazon and the labor board signed an unusually broad nationwide settlement giving workers more power to organize.
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said the Fed could raise interest rates to manage inflation within the rapidly growing economy. He spoke during his Senate confirmation hearing.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Brendan Smialowski
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, told lawmakers on Tuesday that a rapidly healing economy no longer needed as much help from the central bank and that keeping inflation in check — including by raising interest rates — would be critical for enabling a stable expansion that benefited workers.
Mr. Powell, whom President Biden recently nominated for a second term as chair, is confronting a complicated economic moment as he moves toward another four-year stint as head of the world’s most powerful central bank. He provided his latest thoughts on the Fed’s challenge during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
The economy is growing swiftly, but it has been buffeted by repeated waves of the coronavirus and by a surge in inflation that has proved stronger and longer lasting than economists expected. Workers are finding jobs and winning wage increases, but the rising costs of housing, gas, food and furniture are pinching shoppers and tanking consumer confidence.
The Fed is charged with maintaining price stability, and its officials have recently signaled that they could raise interest rates several times this year to try to cool the economy and prevent rapidly rising prices from becoming permanent. Mr. Powell — who is widely expected to win confirmation — reiterated that commitment on Tuesday.
“If we see inflation persisting at high levels longer than expected, if we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will,” Mr. Powell said.
But the central bank also has a second mandate: It is supposed to guide the economy toward full employment, a situation in which people who want to work and are able to do so can find jobs. Cooling off the economy can slow hiring, so trying to foster a strong labor market and trying to set the stage for a strong labor market can require a balancing act for policymakers.
Mr. Powell squared the two goals in his testimony, suggesting that keeping price gains under control would be critical for achieving a sustainably strong labor market.
“High inflation is a severe threat to the achievement of maximum employment,” he said.
If rapid price gains start to become “entrenched in our economy,” the Fed might have to react starkly to choke off runaway inflation and risk touching off a recession, Mr. Powell said. To avoid a painful policy response and instead set the stage for a strong future labor market, he added, it is important to control inflation.
“If inflation does become too persistent, if these high levels of inflation get entrenched in our economy, and in people’s thinking, then inevitably that will lead to much tighter monetary policy from us, and it could lead to a recession, and that would be bad for workers,” Mr. Powell said.
Economists increasingly expect Fed officials to make three or four interest rate increases in 2022, moves that would make borrowing expensive for households and businesses and slow down spending and growth. That could, in turn, weaken hiring, keep wages from growing as swiftly and hold down prices over time as people shop less.
The Fed’s rate increases would come on top of other moves intended to keep the economy from overheating: Officials are slowing down the big bond purchases they had been using to lower longer-term interest rates and stoke growth, and policymakers have signaled that they may begin to shrink their bond holdings this year.
They could do that passively, allowing bonds to mature without reinvesting, or they could sell assets. Mr. Powell left the door open to either possibility on Tuesday. If the Fed trims those balance sheet holdings, that will reinforce the move higher in interest rates, cooling the economy further.
“The committee hasn’t made any decisions about the timing of any of that — I think we’re going to have to be both humble and a bit nimble,” Mr. Powell said.
He noted that all members of the Fed’s policy-setting committee expected to raise interest rates this year, but the number of increases will depend on how the economy evolves. Officials have made clear that higher borrowing costs could come soon.
Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and an official who has traditionally favored more interest rate increases than many of her colleagues, said on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday that she would favor beginning rate increases in March and that she expected three moves this year. Raphael Bostic, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, also indicated in an interview with Reuters that a March policy rate change could be appropriate.
The prospect of rising interest rates has unnerved stock investors lately. Higher rates discourage risky investments like stocks, and can curb corporate profit growth. Wall Street’s major benchmarks moved between losses and gains on Tuesday as Mr. Powell spoke.
The Fed’s recent and decisive move toward inflation-fighting mode could be shored up by an inflation report, slated for release on Wednesday, that is expected to show the fastest growth in consumer prices since June 1982.
Mr. Powell emphasized that inflation has been high both because consumer demand for goods has been strong and because supplies of goods and services have been seriously disrupted: The pandemic has shut down factories, shipping routes haven’t been able to keep up as consumers buy more imported goods, and companies have in some cases struggled to hire workers to expand production and services.
The Fed can help to cool demand with its tools, but it is also hoping that supply bounces back as companies learn to live with the new backdrop the pandemic has created, Mr. Powell said.
Keeping inflation under control is “going to require us to use our tools, to the extent that they work on the demand side, while we also expect some help from the supply side,” he said.
Still, predicting the trajectory for inflation has been a fraught task during the pandemic. The Fed had initially forecast that inflation would pop early in 2021 and then fade, but policymakers — like many private sector forecasters — got that wrong.
“We’re not really seeing, yet, the kind of progress essentially all forecasters really thought we’d be seeing by now,” Mr. Powell said, at least when it comes to snarled supply chains.
“People want to buy cars — carmakers can’t make any more cars, because there are no semiconductors,” he said, emphasizing what an unusual period the pandemic has been. “That’s never happened.”
Some Republicans, including Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, worried that the Fed might have moved too slowly to counteract price gains in part because of a new, employment-focused policy approach Mr. Powell ushered in.
“I worry that the Fed’s new monetary policy framework has caused it to be behind the curve,” Mr. Toomey said. But he then praised the Fed for adjusting its stance as conditions have evolved and as inflation has shown signs of sticking around.
Investors do not seem to share the concern that the central bank will be unable to wrestle the situation back under control, said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale. She noted that inflation expectations priced into financial assets had been stable, as investors looked for about four rate increases this year.
Markets “at least believe they are going to be able to raise rates and curb the risk of runaway inflation,” she said.
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Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, told lawmakers on Tuesday at his nomination hearing that the central bank was making changes to rules surrounding financial trades to prevent the kind of eyebrow-raising transactions surrounding three top Fed officials.
The Fed has come under fire for allowing central bank officials to trade securities for their own portfolios in 2020, a year in which the Fed was actively saving many asset classes and markets. That included notable trades by two of the 12 regional reserve bank presidents and the Fed’s vice chair, who is a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors in Washington.
The mere possibility that officials could have financially benefited from the privileged knowledge they had access to as policymakers has prompted outrage and lawmaker questions. All three of the officials in question have resigned early, one citing health concerns, one giving no reason and one explicitly referencing the trading issues.
Mr. Powell has repeatedly acknowledged that the trading scandal created an appearance problem for the Fed, and he and his colleagues moved quickly to establish a new set of ethics rules. On Tuesday, he suggested that those changes should preclude the types of trades that have come into question.
“We’ve really made a complete change in the way we govern purchases and sales of securities,” Mr. Powell said while testifying before members of the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday as he sought confirmation for a second term as chair.
He noted that buying individual stocks would now be disallowed and sales must come with a 45-day notice.
“You’ve got to clear that trade — that sale — with a central body,” he said. “We don’t have a group in the center that applies these rules consistently and clearly across the whole system. We will have that now, at the Board of Governors.”
That means that “there will be no ability to time the market,” Mr. Powell added.
The New York Times reported last week that Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, had engaged in more extensive trades than he initially disclosed and corrected his 2020 financial disclosures in late December. Ethics experts said one of his updated trades raised questions given he sold a stock fund on Feb. 24 before repurchasing it on Feb. 27, a day before Mr. Powell announced 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.
Mr. Clarida announced on Monday that he planned to step down two weeks ahead of his planned departure at the end of the month, without giving a reason.
The Fed’s new notice period would probably prevent future trades like the rapid-fire one Mr. Clarida made.
Mr. Powell noted that the Fed’s old approach to policing trading activity among its personnel had been in place for a long time, noting that weaknesses had only recently surfaced — and are being rectified.
“The old system was in place for decades on end, and then suddenly it was revealed as insufficient,” he said, calling the new system “easily the toughest in government.”
Boeing said on Tuesday that it received 79 new orders for planes in December, capping its best year of sales since 2018 as it tried to move past a prolonged crisis caused by two crashes of the 737 Max jet.
The company sold a net 535 new planes last year after factoring in cancellations. That was a big turnaround from 2020, when cancellations exceeded new sales by 471 planes, and just ahead of its chief rival, Airbus, the European aviation giant. But Boeing delivered 340 aircraft to customers, far fewer than Airbus.
In addition to the Max crisis, the company’s performance has been dented by quality concerns about its 787 Dreamliner. The concerns forced Boeing to slow production and suspend deliveries of that plane.
About two-thirds of the planes sold last year were variants of the Max, which regulators around the world grounded for nearly two years after the crashes, which killed a total of 346 people. Boeing’s December orders included the sale of 50 Max jets to Allegiant Air in what amounted to a big shift by the budget airline, which typically buys used planes.
Since the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the Max to fly again in late 2020, the plane has been used for just over 300,000 flights carrying paying passengers, with about 475 of the planes in circulation, the company said.
Boeing also sold a record 84 freighter planes last year, reflecting strong demand for air cargo. At the start of this year, the company had 4,250 orders in its backlog, about 80 percent of which were for the Max.
Airbus, which is based in France, said on Monday that it sold 507 planes last year and delivered more than 600. It has an order backlog of 7,082 planes.
WASHINGTON — The World Bank said on Tuesday that the pace of global economic growth was expected to slow in 2022, as new waves of the pandemic collide with rising prices and snarled supply chains, blunting the momentum of last year’s recovery.
This projection underscores the stubborn nature of the public health crisis, which is widening inequality around the world. The pandemic is taking an especially brutal toll on developing countries, largely owing to rickety health care infrastructure and low vaccination rates.
“The Covid-19 crisis wiped out years of progress in poverty reduction,” David Malpass, the World Bank president, wrote in an introduction to the report. “As government’s fiscal space has narrowed, many households in developing countries have suffered severe employment and earning losses — with women, the unskilled and informal workers hit the hardest.”
Global growth is expected to slow to 4.1 percent this year, from 5.5 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank. Output is expected to be weaker, and inflation is likely to be hotter than previously thought.
The World Bank said growth rates in most emerging markets and developing economies outside East Asia and the Pacific would return to their prepandemic levels, still falling short of what would be needed to recoup losses during the pandemic’s first two years. The slowdown in these regions will be more abrupt than what advanced economies will experience, leading to what the World Bank describes as “substantial scarring” to output.
Income inequality is widening both within and between countries, the World Bank said, and could become entrenched if disruptions to education systems persist and if high national debt hinders the ability of nations to support their low-income populations. Globally, the prospect of higher interest rates and withdrawal of fiscal support could take a toll on low-income countries while they are already vulnerable.
Growth in the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, is poised to moderate considerably. The World Bank said that the recently passed infrastructure law would do little to buttress growth in the United States in the near term and that pandemic restrictions were curbing consumer spending and residential investment in China.
The World Bank is recommending stronger debt relief initiatives to help poor countries as well as urging support for policies that will strengthen their financial systems and improve local infrastructure in ways that will spur growth. Easing global supply chain bottlenecks, particularly for Covid vaccine doses, will be crucial.
“At the start of 2022 the supply of vaccines is increasing appreciably, but new variants and vaccine deployment bottlenecks remain major obstacles,” Mr. Malpass said.
Citadel Securities, the powerful trading firm that serves brokerage firms like Robinhood, said on Tuesday that it had sold a stake to the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Paradigm for $1.15 billion, uniting an established financial giant with two top Silicon Valley investors.
The deal, which values Citadel Securities at about $22 billion, is the first outside investment in the firm, which was founded two decades ago by the billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, who runs the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Citadel.
It’s a bet on disrupting Wall Street. Citadel Securities has become a trading giant, dominating market making for stocks and options. Its institutional business now has more than 1,600 clients, while it also works with consumer-facing brokerage firms like Robinhood.
“Citadel Securities has carved out a unique place in the financial markets through its ability to absorb and price risk using techniques and capabilities from far outside the traditional world of Wall Street,” Alfred Lin, a Sequoia partner who will take a seat on Citadel Securities’ board, said in a statement.
Sequoia is one of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms, having backed the likes of Apple, DoorDash and WhatsApp. Paradigm was founded by Fred Ehrsam, a co-founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, and Matt Huang, who led crypto investments at Sequoia.
Citadel Securities has been criticized for its relationship with Robinhood, which it pays for the right to process users’ trades. Some say that could create conflicts of interest; Sequoia is also an investor in Robinhood.
Mr. Huang of Paradigm said Citadel Securities would move into more markets and asset classes, “including crypto.” Mr. Griffin has mixed feelings about crypto, so this is a noteworthy aside.
Mr. Griffin, whose net worth was most recently estimated at $21 billion, is believed to own about 85 percent of the securities unit, according to Bloomberg. If that’s the case, his stake in Citadel Securities alone would be valued at some $18 billion.
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.
Reporting to work has always meant accepting a variety of unpleasantries: commutes, pre-coffee chitchat, people who would like you to do what they tell you to do even if it’s not yet 10 a.m.
But for some, the last year has rebalanced the power seesaw between worker and boss. Maybe it was the surge of people quitting: A record high 4.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in November. Maybe it was the ebbing will-they-won’t-they tides of return to office plans. Whatever the change, more workers are feeling empowered to call out their managers, Emma Goldberg writes for The New York Times.
The scrutiny of workplace behavior comes after several years of prominent conversation about appropriate office conduct. The #MeToo movement propelled dozens of executives to step down after accusations of sexual assault. The Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd prompted corporate leaders to issue apologies for past discriminatory behaviors and the lack of racial diversity in their work forces and to pledge to make amends.
And increasingly, as people’s work routines have been upended by the pandemic, they’ve begun to question the thrum of unpleasantness and accumulation of indignities they used to shrug off as part of the office deal.
“The tolerance for dealing with jerky bosses has decreased,” said Angelina Darrisaw, chief executive of the firm C-Suite Coach, who saw interest in her executive coaching services rise last year. “You can’t just wake up and lead people,” she added. “Companies are thinking about how do we make sure our managers are actually equipped to manage.”
Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that the speed by which electric vehicles have taken over Norway has stunned even the cars’ enthusiasts.