News Roundups

Fed’s corporate intervention spurs anxiety, fossil fuels have upper hand in G20 coronavirus stimulus plans, and more

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from July 16, 2020.

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from July 16, 2020.

‘The balloon might pop’: Fed’s corporate intervention spurs anxiety

The Federal Reserve, which long came under withering attack from President Donald Trump for not doing enough to boost the economy, is now drawing fire for a massive rescue of U.S. corporations that’s driving up Trump’s favorite barometer of success: the stock market.

The Fed’s months-long effort to support hundreds of companies hammered by the coronavirus crisis is also propping up weak firms and subsidizing large ones like Apple and Amazon that don’t need help. As a result, critics say, it’s inflating stock prices, widening wealth inequality, delaying a wave of inevitable defaults, and directing investment into poorly run corporations at the expense of the long-term vitality of the economy.

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What if a ‘green’ economic recovery isn’t the best thing for the climate?

Back in February — what we might call, in the world of COVID-19, the “before times” — environmentalists had a whole host of ideas for how to curb climate change. A Green New Deal, for example. Or a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, plans for 2020 were thrown out the window, and strategies for fighting climate change had to change — fast. As governments around the world have struggled with rising unemployment and recurrent shutdowns, advocates and policymakers are quickly shifting their attention to the stimulus plans designed to rescue cratering economies. Their goal: Make at least some of the $10 trillion in worldwide government spending go toward boosting solar energy, wind power, and electrification. In short, environmentalists want to turn stimulus plans “green.”

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Fossil fuels have upper hand in G20 coronavirus stimulus plans so far

G20 governments' pandemic recovery packages are steering much more funding to fossil fuel industries and energy-intensive sectors like airlines than "clean" energy, an Energy Policy Tracker project from several think tanks and activist groups shows.

Why it matters: International agencies like the United Nations and International Monetary Fund have been urging governments to prioritize climate-friendly energy in economic recovery packages.

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Pandemic aid went to politically wired oil companies

A nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog accused the Interior Department today of handing pandemic relief assistance to petroleum companies with a history of giving millions of dollars to oil-friendly politicians.

Hundreds of federal oil and gas leases in the West have been granted royalty rate reductions or lease suspensions in recent months as a virus-fueled economic slowdown drove oil prices to historic lows.

The Trump administration has refused requests for blanket relief for the oil and gas sector that operates on federal land or waters, but it has been rapidly processing requests for companies to get a financial break in the form of temporarily reduced royalties.

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Lawmakers call for extending federal aid for airline workers

A group of House lawmakers is launching an effort to drum up support for extending the payroll support for airlines included in the CARES Act, warning that without action from Congress, hundreds of thousands of aviation workers could lose their jobs on Oct. 1.

In a Dear Colleague letter sent earlier this week, led by House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), four Democrats and three Republicans called for extending the program, which goes directly to worker pay, through March 2021.

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Fed survey says economy has picked up but outlook cloudy

The Federal Reserve says economic activity has picked up in most regions of the country but still remains well below pre-pandemic levels with the country facing high levels of uncertainty.

The Fed reported Wednesday that its latest survey of economic conditions around the country found improvements in consumer spending and other areas but said the gains were from very low levels seen when widespread lockdowns push the country into a deep recession.

And the report said that business contacts in the Fed’s 12 regions remained wary about the future.

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