The week in business: a debt deadline looms

The Federal Reserve indicated on Wednesday that it could soon ease the measures it has taken to prop up the economy since the bottom of the pandemic downturn. Fed chairman Jerome H. Powell said the central bank’s $ 120 billion monthly purchases of government-backed bonds “still make sense, but it is time we started curbing them” and indicated that this could slow the program down in early November. Meanwhile, half of the Fed’s policymakers said they expected a rate hike next year.

New York City Council has set new rules for how app-based delivery companies must treat their delivery workers in the first piece of legislation of its kind. The package of laws requires companies to disclose their tipping policies, gives delivery drivers more control over where they work, and requires restaurant owners to provide restrooms for delivery staff. Unlike laws in other cities and states that have sparked battles with gig economy companies, New York law ceases to question the status of the independent contractor of delivery agents. Supply firms like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats weren’t the only tech companies to re-examine their work practices. The California governor signed a bill banning warehouse operations from setting productivity quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks or complying with health and safety laws, a measure that could transform work in Amazon warehouses.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved booster injections for people over 65 who received the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, as well as those at high risk of becoming seriously ill or those who work in certain high-risk occupations, such as the in grocery stores. Hours later, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overruled a recommendation from an agency advisory committee and approved the additional doses for frontline workers. The moves contributed to a debate about whether healthy Americans need a booster vaccination, especially if much of the world remains unvaccinated. President Biden set a goal last week to vaccinate 70 percent of the world by next year as health officials abroad put pressure on American drug companies to share their vaccine formulations with manufacturers in other countries.

Thursday is the deadline for the Senate to pass a bill that would prevent a partial government shutdown the next day. A law passed by the House of Representatives last week would keep government funding through early December and raise the debt ceiling before the government hits its borrowing limit, which could be as early as next month. House Democrats pooled spending and raising the debt ceiling in hopes of pressure Republicans to drop their opposition to raising the debt ceiling, but Senate Republicans have said they stand firm. To avert a government shutdown or the very first government debt default, Democrats and Republicans could vote ahead of Thursday’s deadline to keep the government open so that Democrats have to exceed the debt ceiling increase through a process that bypasses the filibuster, but takes more time – consuming. Or they could make raising the debt ceiling part of their $ 3.5 trillion social policy bill.

President Biden continued his drive to raise taxes on the rich as he seeks to unite the Democrats over his infrastructure plan. Last week, White House economists published an analysis that estimated an effective tax rate for the richest 400 households to be just over 8 percent, lower than the average tax rate of about 14 percent for all taxpayers. To fund his plans to improve the social safety net, Mr Biden has proposed raising capital gains tax on profits from the sale of assets to the wage income rate and removing a provision that wipes out capital gains for income tax purposes when assets are inherited. But a tax plan approved in-house remained behind both proposals. (It is likely to change.) Some Democrats have opposed Mr Biden’s proposals, while others have argued that they don’t go far enough. Progressive Senators have criticized the House of Representatives tax plan for removing a wealth tax that would tax billionaires’ wealth.

The giant Chinese property developer Evergrande is on the verge of financial collapse. The company appeared to miss a deadline on Thursday to make an interest payment of $ 83 million, but has a 30-day grace period before the missed payment results in default. This opportunity has rocked global financial markets, angering suppliers, homebuyers, and employees who have asked for their money. Markets have calmed down on assurances from China that it can contain a crisis. But it was not yet clear whether China would save Evergrande outright or what the Evergrande collapse would mean for China’s economy.

Facebook’s chief technology officer will step down next year. China has banned cryptocurrency transactions and issued a nationwide ban on cryptocurrency mining. Delta Air Lines wants airlines to create a national “no fly” list for unruly customers. And the United States will lift travel restrictions on visitors from November as long as they have proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test.

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