Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." -- Stephen King, author
Hurricane Ida became the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States Sunday, as the category four storm left more than one million people without power. Economists are projecting a modest impact on the United States economy from Hurricane Ida.

Lower storm surge and New Orleans’ improved levee system increased the city’s resistance to the storm, as Ida is projected to cause less of a financial blow than a larger Hurricane Katrina did 16 years ago. On a national scale, experts project a likely downgrade for annual U.S. economic growth for the third quarter of 2021. Gas prices are expected to rise slightly. [Associated Press]

In an effort to bolster the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve has been maintaining low interest rates by buying $120 billion in government-backed bonds each month. Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, signaled at the Fed’s latest meeting that the central bank could begin to slow its activity in bond buying.

The reduction in buying government-backed bonds is the first step to moving toward a more normal policy, as officials have been debating when to do so. Powell said as the central bank continues to monitor risks posed by the Delta COVID-19 variant, interest rates would remain low for the foreseeable future. [The New York Times]

After months of offering incentives and encouragement for their employees to be vaccinated, some businesses are considering more aggressive methods to get their employees vaccinated. Other companies are reluctant to impose a vaccine mandate due to fears of workers leaving or causing disruptions.

In a program that begins in November, Delta Airlines became one of the first companies to announce a $200 health-insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees. Chevron is requiring some workers to be vaccinated and is considering a company-wide mandate, while Walt Disney Company will require workers to show proof of vaccination at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. [The Wall Street Journal]

Could cities soon charge drivers for using roads? New York plans to implement a congestion charge in Manhattan this year, while cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are exploring the idea.

London adopted a similar congestion charge in 2003. In studies since, surveys have found that citizens find that it reduces traffic congestion, allows cities to improve the quality in public transportation, and it has improved overall quality of life. Some economists have long advocated for a congestion charge, noting that each driver on the road imposes a burden on other drivers. However, economists warn that the practice needs to be put into practice carefully to avoid harming lower-income families. [The Wall Street Journal]

It’s not your imagination. Businesses and grocery stores are filling their shelves and menu with seasonal fall items earlier than ever. Even in the sweltering heat of August, pumpkin season has arrived.

Starbucks rolled out its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte – the earliest ever rollout of the beverage. Dunkin’ has had its pumpkin-flavored coffee available since August 18. Home Depot stores sold out of Halloween products almost immediately after making them available online. [NPR]


All images credited to iStock