For Americans, 2021 delivered healthiest finances in 8 years
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)
For Americans, 2021 delivered healthiest finances in 8 years.
Americans’ financial health reached its highest level in nearly a decade last year, the Federal Reserve said Monday, spurred by a strong job market and government support payments.
Almost eight in 10 adults said last fall that they were either “doing okay or living comfortably” when it came to their finances in 2021, according to an annual Fed survey, the highest proportion to say so since the survey began in 2013.
The survey of 11,000 adults was taken last October and November, when inflation had topped 6% year-over-year, though before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed gas and food prices sharply higher. The Fed did not ask any specific questions about how inflation was affecting Americans’ financial situations.
The survey also took place before the huge omicron wave of coronavirus cases occurred in late 2021, causing some Americans to pull back on travel and other spending.
The financial health captured by the report helps explain the resilience of consumers in the face of higher prices, as consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, has continued to rise even as inflation is near a 40-year high.
The report found that members of all racial groups reported healthier finances, with Hispanics showing the sharpest improvement and Whites the smallest.
Contractor’s criticism puts Shell in spotlight over its ‘double talk on climate’
A longtime contractor for Shell has publicly called out the oil and gas company’s climate plans, accusing the company of “double talk” by saying it wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions while working on tapping new sources of fossil fuel.
Caroline Dennett, who says she consulted Shell on safety issues for more than a decade, said Monday that she was ending her links with the company and urged others in the fossil fuel industry to do likewise.
“I’m quitting because of Shell’s double talk on climate,” Dennet said in a public post on the business networking site LinkedIn.
“They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms to our climate, to our environment, and to people,” she said. “And what ever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels.”
Shell, which is due to hold its annual general meeting for shareholders Tuesday, responded by saying it was committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
“We have set targets for the short, medium and long term, and have every intention of hitting them,” the company said in a statement.
Fed rate-hike pause in September may ‘make sense,’ Bostic says
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic said policymakers could potentially pause interest-rate increases in September after hiking by a half point at each of their next two meetings.
“I have got a baseline view where for me I think a pause in September might make sense,” Bostic told reporters Monday following a speech to the Rotary Club of Atlanta. “After we get through the summer, and we think about where we are in terms of policy, I think a lot of it will depend on the on-the-ground dynamics that we are starting to see. My motto is observe and adapt.”
Bostic repeated that he supports Chair Jerome Powell’s plan to raise rates by a half point at the Federal Open Market Committee meetings in June and July, adding the caveat that an upside surprise on prices could call for more aggressive action. Inflation has been running close to a four-decade high and at rates more than triple the central bank’s 2% target.
“I’m at 50 basis points as long as the economy proceeds as I think it’s going to,” Bostic said. “If inflation starts moving in a different direction than it is right now, I’d have to be open to us moving more aggressively. I do want to make it clear that nothing is off the table. As we go through the months, we will see how it plays out.”
Bostic said he is forecasting inflation will likely be in the “high 3%” range at year’s end, with a lot of uncertainty around forecasts. He expects economic growth to be above trend for this year.