The week in business: attempts to prop up the Russian economy

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said last week that he would require “hostile countries” to pay for russian gas in rubles. The move was intended to force countries like the United States and Britain to prop up the Russian currency, which it crashed after sanctions against Russia’s central bank effectively froze hundreds of billions of dollars in assets. People, in turn, rushed to exchange their rubles for dollars or euros. Officials in Europe and experts in the United States have already rejected the idea to pay in rubles. In another attempt to mitigate economic doom, the Russian stock market reopened for limited operations on Thursday after a month-long shutdown. The MOEX index rose 4.4 percent, but this upward trend was likely due to government measures aimed at preventing a sell-off.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell foreshadowed the central bank’s more aggressive approach to inflation, speaking urgently last week about the Fed’s willingness to take additional steps to ease demand and curb record inflation. His comments followed the Fed’s decision to raise its key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, the first of several increases the Fed is now projecting to 2022. “If we conclude that it is appropriate to act more aggressively by raising the fed funds rate by more than 25 basis points in a meeting or meetings, we will do so,” Powell said Monday. past. . In Britain, where inflation is at its highest point in three decades, officials announced measures Wednesday to help people cope with rising pricesincluding plans to cut taxes on gasoline and diesel and release more funds to support low-income households.

The Biden administration took two steps to reduce tariffs imposed by President Donald J. Trump that sought to limit trade with Britain and China. On Tuesday, the administration announced the end of Trump-era tariffs on British steel and aluminum. In exchange, Britain agreed to lift tariffs on a variety of American products, including whiskey and blue jeans. The deal removed some of the remaining transatlantic trade tensions that arose under Trump. The next day, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said it would allow some Chinese products to avoid tariffs imposed during a trade war between Trump and Beijing.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a comment period for a long range ruler that would require public companies to report their impact on the environment to shareholders and the federal government. The public can respond within 30 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register or until May 20, whichever comes first. The rule is intended to inform shareholders about the risks that climate change may pose to a company’s bottom line, even if consumers may lose interest in products or services that contribute to global warming. Proponents of the measure say it will hold companies accountable for how they affect the climate and give investors more leverage to push companies toward more environmentally friendly practices. But the proposed rule already faces opposition from some commercial trade groups and the prospect of potential court challenges.

Union drives continue to sweep Starbucks locations across the country, with employees in Seattle, the franchise’s hometown, and Mesa, Ariz. voting last week to unionize. Stores are the seventh and eighth places to vote for unions. Since December, more than 100 Starbucks stores have stood for union elections. Amazon has been trying to fend off unions in two of his own elections: Employees on Staten Island were still casting their ballots, and voting ended Friday in Bessemer, Alabama. A union victory in either location would be a first for Amazon’s US operations. Particular attention is paid to Bessemer, where the union lost an election last year and Amazon was hit with complaints from the National Labor Relations Board for their activities during trade union negotiations. This time, Amazon has relied heavily on mandatory meetings intended to dissuade workers from supporting the union.

Job report for the last month showed a strong profit, and US employers added 678,000 jobs in February. The March report is also expected to be strong, although how strong will depend on the elasticity of demand, which has to do with whether factors such as changing prices affect consumer behaviour. The March report from the Department of Labor will not have recorded the effects of the Fed’s rate hike, which was announced in the middle of the month. But the central bank’s moves will be a big warning going forward as potential recession looming.

Germany unveiled plans to drastically reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Uber and New York City Taxis formed a society. The European Union approved radical legislation to regulate the largest technology companies. And billionaire MacKenzie Scott has donated $12 billion to 1,257 groups since 2020.

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