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August 26 - September 1: Week in Review

Progress in China-U.S. Diplomacy: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Vice Premier He Lifeng, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Minister of Culture and Tourism Hu Heping, an effort to establish regular communications between the U.S. and China and to support practical cooperation between businesses from both countries.


During Raimondo's two-day meeting, the two countries agreed to the following:

  • Establish routine meetings to discuss commercial issues between the commerce departments. They have agreed to meet twice a year at the vice minister level and once a year at the minister level. The first meeting is scheduled to take place in the U.S. in early 2024.

  • Hold the 14th China-U.S. Tourism Leadership in China in the first half of 2024.

  • Convene experts from both sides for technical discussions about protecting trade secrets during administrative licensing proceedings.

  • Hold informal discussions as frequently as needed.

During the meeting, the Chinese diplomats raised concerns about U.S. tariffs, export controls on China, investment restrictions and other measures. Raimondo stated that the U.S. would not negotiate on matters of national security when speaking on behalf of China's requests for the U.S. reduce export controls and retract the executive order on outbound investment screening. Read more at CNBC.


American Airlines Fined $4.1 million for Unlawful Tarmac Delays: The U.S. Department of Transportation fined American Airlines $4.1 million for violating the Department's rules prohibiting tarmac delays of three hours or more on domestic flights and four hours or more on international flights.


The Department's investigation found that the airline kept 43 flights stuck on the tarmac for long periods of time without lettting passengers off. The delays affected 5,821 passengers and occurred most often at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.


$2.05 million of the fine will be credited back to the airline for compensation that the airline provided to passengers on the affected flights. Read more at U.S. Department of Transportation.


Google to Begin Selling Google Maps Data to Companies Building Solar Products: Google is reportedly planning to license new sets of mapping data and application programming interfaces to a range of companies to use as they build products around renewable energy.


Some of the data from the solar application programming interface will come from a consumer-focused pilot called Project Sunroof, a solar savings calculator that originally launched in 2015. This program allows users to enter their address and receive estimated solar costs such as electric bill savings and the size of the solar installation they will need.


An air quality applicaiton programming interface will also let customers request air quality data, such as pollutants and health-based recommendations for specific locations.


Google has stated that is has data for over 350 million buildings and estimates that it could generate approximately $100 million in the first year.


Some of the types of companies that may be interested in using this data include solar installation companies, energy and solar design companies, utility companies and real estate companies. Read more at Everyday Health.


FBI Investigating Asylum Seekers from Uzbekistan Due to ISIS Affiliation: Earlier this year, over a dozen migrants from Uzbekistan requested asylum at the U.S-Mexico border. Because there was no information in any of the intelligence community's databases that raised any red flags, they were released into the U.S. pending a court date. The FBI later learned of the existance of a human smuggling network consisting of at least one person with connections to ISIS, which helped these foreign nationals travel to the U.S.


FBI agents have rushed to locate the migrants and investigate their backgrounds with help from Turkish authorities, who arrested the alleged smuggler and other members of his network.


Officials claim that there remain no indications that any of the individuals brought to the U.S. by this network have any connections to foreign terrorist organizations or that they are plotting a terrorist attack in the U.S. Read more at Fox News & CNN.


Medicare Drug Price Negotiations: The Biden administration announced the first 10 drugs that will be subject to drug price negotiations for Medicare patients. The price negotiations seek to lower the prices of medications that Medicare Part D spends the most on.


The 10 drugs being negotiated include the following:

  • Eliquis: blood-thinner

  • Xarelto: blood-thinner

  • Jardiance: diabetes

  • Januvia: diabetes

  • Farxiga: diabetes

  • Entresto: heart failure

  • Enbrel: arthritis and psoriasis

  • Imbruvica: blood cancer

  • Stelara: psoriasis and Crohn's disease

  • Fiasp: diabetes

The drugs' manufacturers have a month to decide whether to participate in the negotiations or to sit out the process and potentially subject themselves to significant financial penalties.


Drugmakers who refuse to negotiate will face an excise tax of up to 95% of their U.S. sales, or they can withdraw their drugs from Medicare and Medicaid coverage, which would shut them out of huge markets. Read more at Axios.


Regulators Force Regional Banks to Raise Debt Levels: U.S. regulators announced a three-year plan that will force regional banks with at least $100 billion in assets to issue debt and bolster their living wills in efforts to protect the public in the event of more bank failures. The move will force the banks to hold a layer of long-term debt to absorb losses in the event of government seizure.


Impacted lenders will be required to maintain long-term debt levels equal to 3.5% of average total assets or 6% of risk-weighted assets, whichever is higher. Banks will also be discouraged from holding the debt of other lenders to reduce contagion risk.


The move will force some lenders to either issue more corporate bonds or replace existing funding sources with more expensive forms of long-term debt.


Many banks already hold acceptable forms of debt according to regulators. They also estimate that regional banks already have roughly 75% of the debt they will ultimately need to hold. Read more at CNBC.


Jobs Report: The most recent jobs report provided an optimistic indication that the Federal Reserve may be less inclined to increase interest rates again at their upcoming September meeting.

  • Nonfarm payrolls increased by 187,000 jobs in August.

  • Average hourly earnings increased by 0.2%, in August, the smallest increase since February 2022.

  • Unemployment increased by 0.3%.

  • The economy created 110,000 fewer jobs than were previously reported in June and July.

  • The healthcare sector saw the largest job growth with 71,000 new jobs in August spread across ambulatory services, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities.

  • Leisure and hospitality increased by 40,000 jobs but remain 290,000 jobs below their pre-pandemic levels.

Read more at Reuters.


North Korean Spy Satellite Launch Fails: North Korea's second attempt to put a spy satellite into space failed three months after its first launch crashed into the Yellow Sea. A spy satellite would allow North Korea to monitor incoming attacks and plan for their own attacks more accurately.


North Korea's space agency said that they plan to try again in October. Read more at BBC News.


Mass Shootings in US: This week, Gun Violence Archive reported a total of 11 mass shootings resulting in 47 victims injured and 5 victims dead.




Photo by Henry Perks

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