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U.S. Gas Prices Hit $3 Per Gallon, a 7-year High, as Buyers Panicked During the Colonial Pipeline Shutdown

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  • The national average gas price has climbed above $3 for the first time in seven years.
  • The increase comes as the country’s largest fuel pipeline remains largely shuttered for the sixth day in a row following a ransomware attack, leading to panic buying and massive gas shortages in some cities. 
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the company behind the pipeline should be able to make a decision on a full restart of the system by the end of Wednesday.
  • Still, she cautioned that it will take several days for fuel supplies to go back to normal. 

Update: Colonial Pipeline restarted operations at 5 p.m. EST Wednesday. “Following this restart it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal,” Colonial said in a statement. “Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period.”

Panic Buying Drives Fuel Shortages

The national average gas price reached $3.008 Wednesday, its highest value in seven years. 

The jump is largely being driven by two factors. The first is that the country’s largest fuel pipeline was forced to shut down last Friday following a ransomware attack by the criminal gang Darkside. That pipeline, owned by the Colonial Pipeline Company, stretches from Texas to New York and supplies 45% of the East Coast’s fuel.

The second is that panic buying related to the shutdown and fears of fuel scarcity have exacerbated the problem. In fact, Tuesday evening, over 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast ran dry. 

By Wednesday, the situation was even worse. Nearly a quarter of all stations in North Carolina were out of gas, and in urban areas like Charlotte, 71% of stations were empty.  Meanwhile, around 15% percent of stations in both Georgia and Virginia were out of gas, and in the Atlanta metro area, 60% of stations had been depleted. 

Photos and video from affected states show hours-long lines. Some people have reported waiting more than five hours to get to the pump. Others have shared images of “out of fuel” signs. Stretching pumps even thinner are reports that many drivers are simply trying to top off mostly-full tanks or gas cans. 

In one tense situation captured at a gas station near Raleigh, North Carolina, a woman can be seen spitting on a man and hitting a car after she reportedly tried to cut the line. The man fires back a spit of his own, leading to a fight between the two.

When Will the Pipeline Be Back?

On Monday, some (but not most) of the pipeline was brought back manually. Colonial Pipeline officials have also said they hope to restart most operations by the end of the week.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also told reporters Tuesday that Colonial should be in a position to make a decision on a full restart by the end of Wednesday; however, it’s likely going to take several days for fuel supplies to return to normal even after operations recover.

“Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline,” Granholm said. 

Many analysts have echoed that warning, telling people to fuel up only if they need to and asking them to try to conserve as much gas as possible until the pipeline becomes largely operational again. 

The governors of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have all declared states of emergency to try to stave off shortages and keep gas prices down. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (USA Today) (MarketWatch)

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Biden and Other G7 Leaders To Endorse a Global Minimum Corporate Tax of 15%

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The leaders are hoping to prevent companies from moving their headquarters to countries with lower tax rates, but their plan will likely face substantial hurdles both internationally and from the U.S. Congress.


Global Tax Minimum

President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders announced on Friday that they are endorsing a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%. 

Their plan seeks to effectively end company strategies of moving headquarters to countries with cheaper tax rates, even if most of their business is located elsewhere. Coupled with the tax minimum, the leaders have also announced a tax plan that links companies to where they do business rather than where they are headquartered.

Should it become widely adopted, the plan could prove to be a significant threat to the so-called tax-cutting “arms race,” where countries push for lower and lower corporate tax rates to attract businesses; however, the plan will undoubtedly face challenges of its own. For example, Ireland — a country with a 12.5% corporate tax rate — has said such a policy would be detrimental to its economic success. 

The Wall Street Journal has also reported that China is unlikely to support the plan, though it noted that such support isn’t completely off the table. While China already has a higher corporate tax rate of 25%, its special administrative region of Macau has a noticeably lower rate of 12%.

Even England itself, which is backing the global tax rate, is looking to exclude London’s financial services companies from the overhaul. 

As the White House noted in a press release, “This U.S. priority is a critical step towards ending the decades-long race to the bottom that pushes nations to compete over who can offer the lowest tax rate to large corporations at the expense of protecting workers, investing in infrastructure, and growing the middle class.”

The G7, or Group of Seven, is an informal alliance between many of the world’s top economies, composed of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada. Leaders for each met in person Friday to discuss not only the global tax rate but also issues such as coronavirus aid, climate change, and cybersecurity.

Following this weekend’s summit, the G7 hopes to push its global tax minimum before the G20, which is composed of 19 countries and the European Union. 

Congress Would Need to Sign Off

While only an endorsement, any official implementation of a global tax rate in the U.S. would require congressional approval.

That could prove difficult considering people like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have called the plan “crazy.” 

“Certainly the whole fact that they had to try to persuade all these other countries to make sure they raise their taxes is a confession of the damage we’re doing to our own country,” Toomey added. “They certainly wouldn’t have the votes to approve a treaty of this kind that they’re contemplating.”

Biden’s plan to raise domestic corporate tax rates from 21% to 28% has also faced major opposition from Republican lawmakers. This week, the president indicated that he would be willing to decouple the tax hike from his infrastructure plan, but talks with Republicans have since fallen through.

See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Fox Business) (The Guardian)

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Man Sparks Debate After Boasting About His 14-Year-Old Working at Burger King Every Day

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Many Twitter users said kids should enjoy childhood since they have their entire adult lives to work, while others argued that working young teaches beneficial life skills.


Viral Facebook Post

A father’s Facebook post celebrating his 14-year-old son for working every day at Burger King has triggered a heated debate regarding children in the workforce.

The post in question, written by a man named Chris Crawford, featured two images of his son in his uniform.

“HUGE shout out to this kid of mine, 14 years old and has a [[art time] job at Burger King,” he wrote.

“Not only does he work every day he can, including weekends when most kids are out enjoying their summer, he goes in early and stays late almost every time he works, he loves every minute of it,” the father continued.

“Making his own money, saving for a car, being responsible in his decisions, becoming a respectable young man!!! I couldn’t be more proud of him! Some of y’all lazy, grown ass people out there should take notes !!! #prouddad,” he concluded.

That post was shared on Twitter by a user who wrote, “god this is depressing.” 

Users Speak Out Against Working at a Young Age

Many were quick to agree with that Twitter user, accusing the father and others like him of romanticizing exploitation and advocating for child labor.

Another user wrote, “Capitalism has literally brainwashed people to think this is a heartwarming story.”

Meanwhile, others noted that there is more to life than work and said kids should be enjoying their childhood because they have the rest of their adult lives to have jobs.

Many even shared regrets they have about working from a young age because of all the experiences they missed out on. One person said, “All I got from it was an unhealthy relationship with work that I carry to this day.

Others Show Support for Working as a Teen

However, not everyone was outraged by the young teen working.

In fact, others applauded the child for having a “go-getter attitude,” arguing that he is setting himself up for bigger and better opportunities in the future by gaining good experience at a young age.

Some even said that working young helps teach money management, people skills, self-sufficiency, and more beneficial life tools, though many have pushed back that there are other ways to teach such skills.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Indy 100)

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Weekly Unemployment Hit Another Pandemic Low, but Consumer Price Inflation Saw Its Biggest Jump Since 2008

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The Federal Reserve believes the Consumer Price Index hike is only temporary and related to unique factors brought about by the pandemic.


CPI on the Rise

While the past week marked the sixth straight round of pandemic-era lows for the number of initial unemployment claims, additional data shows that prices on the consumer side are climbing at their fastest rate since the summer of 2008.

Year over year, the Consumer Price Index rose 5% in May. The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, also rose at its fastest rate since 1992, jumping 3.8%.

Just looking at the numbers and nothing else, that could be pretty concerning given the fact that last month beat out 13 years worth of data tracking back to just before the U.S. was hit by the 2008 financial crisis.

But the Federal Reserve doesn’t seem all that concerned. In fact, it believes the CPI jump is based on mainly temporary factors related to the pandemic. That includes supply bottlenecks and other shortages brought by the reopening of the economy. 

Economists have also noted that year over year values are currently stilted since so much of the economy was shut down this time last year. By comparison, that yields a large and alarming figure if looked at without context.

Because of that, the Fed said prices will likely come down as the year continues.

Still, that explanation hasn’t completely shaken fears that a high CPI could potentially cause long-term damage if it fails to subside. 

“The stakes are high on both Wall Street and Main Street,” The New York Times reporter Jeanna Smialek said in a Thursday article. “Inflation can erode purchasing power if wages do not keep up. A short-lived burst would be unlikely to cause lasting damage, but an entrenched one could force the Fed to cut its support for the economy, potentially tanking stocks and risking a fresh recession.” 

Sixth Straight Week of Pandemic-Era Low Unemployment Claims

Initial unemployment claims fell to yet another pandemic low, this time dropping to 376,000. 

Meanwhile, continuing claims dipped as well, falling from 3.65 million the previous week to 3.5 million this past week. 

Despite the U.S. currently experiencing an ongoing labor shortage, multiple weeks of continuing declines indicate that the job market is gradually working its way back down to pre-pandemic levels of around 200,000 claims a week.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (The New York Times) (CNBC)

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