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
Jeff Bezos’ exit from Amazon – the company he founded – became official July 5, as Andy Jassy became the new chief executive officer of the Seattle-based company. Prior to his new role as CEO, Jassy was tasked with managing Amazon’s cloud computing division.

For years, Amazon’s senior leadership was regarded as long-time employees for the company, many of whom helped Bezos found. That has changed over recent years with numerous people in key roles departing the company. Although, the company’s workforce has doubled in the past year to more than 1.3 million. [The New York Times]

American troops have pulled out of the Bagram Air Base on Friday, their main military base in Afghanistan, prior to the July 4 holiday weekend. The departure from Bagram Air Base effectively ends the longest war in American history.

Bagram was where the U.S. military coordinated its air raid and logistical support for the entire Afghan mission. The decision to withdraw troops was negotiated by former President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden said that a limited number of troops will remain in Afghanistan. [Reuters]

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a wave of automation for grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses in the service sector. More restaurants encourage customers to order and pay for their food by phone, while grocery stores are relying on automation to pick out items and check out customers.

In a survey by the World Economic Forum, 43 percent of businesses said that they expected to reduce their workforce through a reliance on technology. While automation will negatively impact some workers, some economists believe that automation will make the economy more productive and benefit workers as a whole. [The New York Times]

The United States trade deficit continued to increase in May. Higher incomes and a brisk economic recovery have increased American consumers’ and businesses’ demand for imported goods and services. Imports rose 1.3 percent to $277.3 billion. Meanwhile, exports were restrained by a slower global recovery, rising 0.6 percent to $206 billion.

Crude oil, lumber, food and beverages fueled the gains in imports, while pharmaceuticals and foods were among the goods to fuel the exports. Travel spending by those visiting the United States increased by $515 billion in May, while services trade continues to slump due to COVID-19. [The Wall Street Journal]

A new era for college athletes began on July 1. The NCAA Board of Directors voted to allow student-athletes the opportunity to profit on their name, image and likeness. The NCAA has fought NIL rights for student-athletes for many years, but that has come under pressure in recent years by new laws passed by numerous state governments.

The major shakeup is likely to transform the college sports landscape. College athletes are now allowed to sign endorsement deals, make appearances in commercials, host camps and clinics, as well as other moneymaking opportunities that have long been impermissible by the NCAA. In states without NIL laws in place, schools are permitted to set their own limitations. [The Washington Post]


All images credited to iStock