Economics in the News - Aug. 16-22, 2021 HOW ECONOMICS IMPACTS OUR LIVES ON A DAILY BASIS

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
Consumers now spend more money on Amazon than at Walmart. It’s further proof that e-commerce is the way of the present and the future, as Amazon is now the largest retail seller in the world outside China.

Boosted by surging demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, people spent more than $610 billion on Amazon over a 12-month period ending in June. By contrast, Walmart reported sales of $566 billion over the last year ending in July. Alibaba is the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, as neither Amazon nor Walmart have a large footprint in China. [The New York Times]

Is your household looking to upgrade the back patio? The costs in furniture increased 8.6 percent in June in comparison to a year ago. Even so, experts say that demand is high for eager buyers who have been stuck indoors and have started home improvement projects.

Higher manufacturing and shipping costs have been the largest contributors. Commodity prices such as aluminum have soared. The short supply of containers is causing shipping prices to increase, as are ports congested with ships waiting to unload. [The Wall Street Journal]

Federal Reserve officials are debating when it should scale back support for the markets, as it remains optimistic that the labor market and economic recovery will continue. Economists have anticipated that the Fed would slow down its $120 billion per month in asset purchases, which have held long-term rates low to make borrowing easier.

The decision would depend on the delta variant of COVID-19 and any potential repercussions for the economic recovery. The Fed are in discussions on when it would scale back purchases, with further talks to be held at the next policy board meeting in September. [The Washington Post]

Students are returning to the classroom and many school districts across the United States are having difficulties in finding enough school bus drivers. The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, disagreement over mask-wearing requirements and a growing demand for delivery workers have contributed to the shortage of school bus drivers.

Some school districts are offering bonuses and incentives to lure new bus drivers. Others are taking measures to assist new drivers in obtaining their licenses to operate a commercial vehicle, which is needed to drive a school bus. [Associated Press]

Tropical storm Henri made landfall Sunday off the coast of Rhode Island, knocking out power in more than 140,000 homes. Henri had sustained winds of about 60 miles per hour once it made landfall.

Some areas received eight inches or more of rainfall, including what the National Weather Service called the wettest hour ever in Central Park with 1.94 inches of rain between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday. [Associated Press]


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