Connect with us

Business

Biden takes aim at inflation but short on weapons

Published

on

US President Joe Biden is scrambling to ease the pressure on American consumers ahead of November 2022 midterm elections in which his Democrats are forecast to lose control of Congress to the Republicans
Share this:

US President Joe Biden has launched a battle against soaring prices as he tries to claw back waning public support ahead of key congressional elections, but is finding he has few tools to defuse sky-high inflation.

Consumer prices have surged at the fastest pace in more than 40 years, overshadowing an otherwise strong US economy. Supply chain snarls brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic were exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sending prices up as demand rapidly outstripped the supply of available goods, while a worker shortage pushes up wages.

Biden has been left scrambling for solutions as he tries to ease the pain faced by American families ahead of November midterm elections in which his Democrats are forecast to lose control of Congress to opposition Republicans.

But “there’s not much the administration can do directly to fight inflation,” Gregory Daco, chief economist at Ernst & Young Parthenon, told AFP.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Biden outlined his long-term plan to ease price pressures and help the world’s largest economy transition to “stable, steady growth,” by boosting economic productivity and reducing the federal budget deficit.

But the Federal Reserve, not the White House, has the primary role in tackling inflation, and has started aggressively raising interest rates to cool the economy.

Biden pledged to give the central bank the space to do its work free of political interference — unlike some of his predecessors, including Donald Trump who engaged in a relentless campaign against the Fed.

“It starts with a simple proposition: respect the Fed, respect the Fed’s independence,” he said Tuesday, following a rare meeting with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

– ‘Limited and slow impact’ –

While employment is back near pre-pandemic levels and growth is strong, savage price increases for essentials including food and fuel have sparked growing public dissatisfaction.

Biden has pivoted to more aggressively trying to explain inflation as a byproduct of forces beyond his control, including blaming Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine that has pushed energy and food prices higher.

Biden calls the effect “Putin’s price hike.”

But the US leader’s approval ratings are barely in the 40 percent range as people pay more at the gas pump and in the grocery store.

Gas prices on Wednesday jumped to a national average of $4.67 a gallon, from $4.19 a month ago and just $3.04 in June 2021, according to AAA.

The administration has released oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to try and bring down gas prices, but with little effect.

Other steps include clean energy tax credits and federal investments in production, as well as expanding Medicare to lower medical costs.

On Monday, Biden unveiled the Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to improve housing supply and affordability.

But many of the contemplated steps “either require Congress to pass legislation (good luck with that) or they’re policies that won’t do a lot to bring down inflation in the near term,” said Stephanie Kelton, an economics professor at Stony Brook University, in a blog post.

Biden on Wednesday acknowledged that his power to have an immediate impact is limited. 

“The idea that we’re going to be able to click a switch” to lower prices is “unrealistic,” he said.

“We can’t take immediate action” on gas prices, he said, but instead can try to  “compensate” to lower costs of other goods.

– ‘I was wrong’ –

As the US economy roared back to life following the pandemic downturn, policymakers cheered but they were caught off-guard by the inflation surge.

Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last year repeatedly assured Americans that rising prices would be “transitory,” but have since admitted they misjudged.

“I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take,” Yellen told CNN. “There have been unanticipated and large shocks that have boosted energy and food prices, and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly.”

The Fed has begun acting aggressively to try to cool the US economy, raising the benchmark lending rate three quarters of a percentage point since March and signaling more big increases are coming in the effort to tamp down prices, hopefully without tipping the economy into recession.

Moving earlier would have helped slow the economy faster, Daco said, though at the cost of rapid growth.

But Kathy Bostjancic, a chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said the chances of a recession are low.

“We view a soft landing as the more likely outcome in 2023,” she said.

The US economy still has potential for an increase in both labor and goods, as workers return to the labor force  and supply chains are restored, she said.

US consumers also are shifting spending more to services like travel an entertainment, which will take the pressure off goods.

“An increase in the supply side of the economy would go a long way to quell inflationary pressures,” Bostjancic said. 

That would allow the Fed to slow rate hikes, which “could sharply improve the chances of achieving a soft-landing for the economy.”

Share this:

Business

5 tips for brainstorming with ChatGPT

How to avoid inaccuracy and leverage the full creative reign of ChatGPT

Published

on

Share this:

ChatGPT recruited a staggering 100 million users by January 2023. As software with one of the fastest-growing user bases, we imagine even higher numbers this year. 

It’s not hard to see why. 

Amazon sellers use it to optimize product listings that bring in more sales. Programmers use it to write code. Writers use it to get their creative juices flowing. 

And occasionally, a lawyer might use it to prepare a court filing, only to fail miserably when the judge notices numerous fake cases and citations. 

Which brings us to the fact that ChatGPT was never infallible. It’s best used as a brainstorming tool with a skeptical lens on every output. 

Here are five tips for how businesses can avoid inaccuracy and leverage the full creative reign of generative AI when brainstorming.

  1. Use it as a base

Hootsuite’s marketing VP Billy Jones talked about using ChatGPT as a jumping-off point for his marketing strategy. He shares an example of how he used it to create audience personas for his advertising tactics. 

Would he ask ChatGPT to create audience personas for Hootsuite’s products? Nope, that would present too many gaps where the platform could plug in false assumptions. Instead, Jones asks for demographic data on social media managers in the US — a request easy enough for ChatGPT to gather data on. From there he pairs the output with his own research to create audience personas. 

  1. Ask open-ended questions

You don’t need ChatGPT to tell you yes or no — even if you learn something new, that doesn’t really get your creative juices flowing. Consider the difference: 

  • Does history repeat itself? 
  • What are some examples of history repeating itself in politics in the last decade?

Open-ended questions give you much more opportunity to get inspired and ask questions you may not have thought of. 

  1. Edit your questions as you go

ChatGPT has a wealth of data at its virtual fingertips to examine and interpret before spitting out an answer. Meaning you can narrow down the data for a more focused response with multiple prompts that further tweak its answers. 

For example, you might ask ChatGPT about book recommendations for your book club. Once you get an answer, you could narrow it down by adding another requirement, like specific years of release, topic categories, or mentions by reputable reviewers. Adding context to what you’re looking for will give more nuanced answers.

  1. Gain inspiration from past success

Have an idea you’re unsure about? Ask ChatGPT about successes with a particular strategy or within a particular industry. 

The platform can scour through endless news releases, reports, statistics, and content to find you relatable cases all over the world. Adding the word “adapt” into a prompt can help utilize strategies that have worked in the past and apply them to your question. 

As an example, the prompt, “Adapt sales techniques to effectively navigate virtual selling environments,” can generate new solutions by pulling from how old problems were solved. 

  1. Trust, but verify

You wouldn’t publish the drawing board of a brainstorm session. Similarly, don’t take anything ChatGPT says as truth until you verify it with your own research. 

The University of Waterloo notes that blending curiosity and critical thinking with ChatGPT can help to think through ideas and new angles. But, once the brainstorming is done, it’s time to turn to real research for confirmation.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

Inflation of goods vs. gold: How these costs have changed over time

Published

on

By

SD Bullion charted the changes in gold prices compared to U.S. inflation, using data from the World Gold Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Share this:

Gold has historically played an essential role as a store of value in economies worldwide.

The U.S. dollar used to be backed by gold, meaning money was exchangeable for an amount of the metal. This is known as the gold standard, which the U.S. started to abandon in 1933 during the Great Depression. With the rise of modern monetary policy, other countries followed suit and switched to the fiat currency used now, which is money backed by a government, not a physical asset.

Nowadays, gold is valued as a commodity to invest in, and many people see it as a hedge against high inflation and a safe-haven asset during times of recession or political tensions. Historically, the price tends to increase when inflation becomes high.

Since there is a limited global supply of gold, the metal, known for its luster and corrosion resistance, has earned a reputation as an asset with enduring value. Investors often seek out gold and other tangible commodities to offset the dollar’s weaker buying power when prices of goods and services rise.

While gold has indeed kept its value over time, its link with inflation hasn’t always held up, particularly in recent decades. Gold prices change for many reasons and can be volatile in the short term. Still, many people look to gold as one way to diversify long-term investments.

SD Bullion charted the changes in gold prices compared to U.S. inflation over the last decade, using data from the World Gold Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


A dual line chart showing the fluctuations in gold prices compared to steadily increasing U.S. inflation.

SD Bullion

A decade of gold prices

When fiat currencies lose value quickly during inflation, gold has historically become more appealing to investors. However, parts of the past decade followed a somewhat unusual pattern. While inflation increased over those 10 years, the price of gold was in decline in the mid-2010s.

A significant reason behind that drop in gold prices—in contrast with rising inflation—was the 2013 gold crash, when the metal’s price fell 15% in two trading days. Weak sales of gold during the Lunar New Year, rumors of the Central Bank of Cyprus selling gold as part of a bailout, and noticeably high volumes of computerized trading were among the factors that influenced the slump before prices started upward again.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-risk atmosphere and low interest rates incentivized investors to switch to gold to safeguard their wealth. The rising demand for gold—partially in reaction to talk of government stimulus, inflation, and economic downturn—made the metal outperform other assets in 2020, the World Gold Council noted. That August, the price of gold hit $2,067.15 per ounce, a record high at the time.

In 2023, gold prices continued to reach new highs amid steep inflation, attributed largely to demand for the metal in emerging markets, according to the World Gold Council. The industry group forecasted that escalating conflict in the Middle East would add to inflation fears, likely raising the price of gold in 2024.

Story editing by Rose Shilling. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.

This story originally appeared on SD Bullion and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

The county receiving the most Small Business Administration loans in each state

Published

on

By

Flippa identified the county in each state where applicants were approved for the most Small Business Administration loan funds per capita in 2023.
Share this:

The Small Business Administration backed loans worth $27.5 billion through its primary lending program in 2023—rising well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels as government officials aim to stabilize the economy.

Many small businesses get their start and scale up with SBA loans, which increased lending to Black, Latino, and women entrepreneurs in the past few years in step with efforts to become more equitable.

Flippa found the county within each state where applicants were approved for the most SBA loan funds per capita in fiscal year 2023, which ended in September. The analysis was based on the SBA’s most common loan program, known as 7(a) loans. States are listed in alphabetical order.

SBA’s 7(a) program provides extra security to lenders when they loan money to small businesses that might otherwise be considered too risky to grant. Loans can be for up to $5 million, but in 2023, nearly 7 in 10 loans were for amounts of $350,000 or less. Small businesses can use these funds for real estate acquisitions or improvements, working capital, supplies and equipment, and for other business startup or acquisition purposes.

Barriers do still exist for eligibility, including income, credit history, and location, but SBA loans can be fruitful for founders who don’t qualify for conventional business financing. They can also provide protection against high and volatile interest rates, as SBA-backed loans have maximum interest rates that are predictable and often lower than other loans.

All but two of the #1 ranked counties had populations of less than 500,000—most smaller than 100,000. That’s not surprising, as the Census Bureau classifies about 99% of U.S. counties as small. Still, it signifies that these smaller communities are building successful entrepreneurial environments. In most cases, their small businesses are able to succeed beyond those within the major U.S. population centers—at least in terms of success in gaining SBA funding.

Read on to see whether your county was among those receiving the most SBA loans.


Canva

Alabama: Cleburne County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.6 million (About $375 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

Canva

Alaska: Sitka Borough

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.1 million (About $716 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

Canva

Arizona: La Paz County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.1 million (About $185 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Canva

Arkansas: Lawrence County

– SBA loan funds approved: $8.5 million (About $524 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

Canva

California: Madera County

– SBA loan funds approved: $29.0 million (About $186 per resident)
– Number of loans: 16

Canva

Colorado: Summit County

– SBA loan funds approved: $20.6 million (About $662 per resident)
– Number of loans: 23

Canva

Connecticut: Hartford County

– SBA loan funds approved: $95.6 million (About $106 per resident)
– Number of loans: 212

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

Delaware: New Castle County

– SBA loan funds approved: $49.8 million (About $88 per resident)
– Number of loans: 121

Canva

Florida: Gilchrist County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.6 million (About $317 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

Canva

Georgia: McIntosh County

– SBA loan funds approved: $10.0 million (About $888 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

Canva

Hawaii: Kauai County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.1 million (About $56 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

jfergusonphotos // Shutterstock

Idaho: Shoshone County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.8 million (About $365 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

Canva

Illinois: Logan County

– SBA loan funds approved: $8.2 million (About $291 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

Canva

Indiana: Bartholomew County

– SBA loan funds approved: $16.4 million (About $201 per resident)
– Number of loans: 10

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

Iowa: Chickasaw County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.5 million (About $207 per resident)
– Number of loans: 6

Canva

Kansas: Gove County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.0 million (About $721 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Canva

Kentucky: Owen County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.1 million (About $456 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

Canva

Louisiana: Claiborne Parish

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.0 million (About $412 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

E.J.Johnson Photography // Shutterstock

Maine: Knox County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.3 million (About $132 per resident)
– Number of loans: 19

Canva

Maryland: Allegany County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.5 million (About $95 per resident)
– Number of loans: 9

Canva

Massachusetts: Nantucket County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.3 million (About $240 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

Canva

Michigan: Keweenaw County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.3 million (About $2,101 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

vagabond54 // Shutterstock

Minnesota: Marshall County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.1 million (About $559 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

Canva

Mississippi: Smith County

– SBA loan funds approved: $7.3 million (About $506 per resident)
– Number of loans: 14

Canva

Missouri: Pettis County

– SBA loan funds approved: $17.4 million (About $406 per resident)
– Number of loans: 9

Canva

Montana: Sweet Grass County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.8 million (About $1,312 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

SevenMaps // Shutterstock

Nebraska: Nuckolls County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.2 million (About $521 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Canva

Nevada: Carson City

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.3 million (About $229 per resident)
– Number of loans: 15

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

New Hampshire: Rockingham County

– SBA loan funds approved: $35.3 million (About $113 per resident)
– Number of loans: 117

Jorge Moro // Shutterstock

New Jersey: Cape May County

– SBA loan funds approved: $26.7 million (About $280 per resident)
– Number of loans: 27

Canva

New Mexico: Torrance County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.2 million (About $280 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

tomtsya// Shutterstock

New York: Essex County

– SBA loan funds approved: $11.5 million (About $306 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

MarkVanDykePhotography // Shutterstock

North Carolina: Dare County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.3 million (About $362 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

SevenMaps // Shutterstock

North Dakota: Oliver County

– SBA loan funds approved: $384,000 (About $208 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Canva

Ohio: Putnam County

– SBA loan funds approved: $7.4 million (About $214 per resident)
– Number of loans: 10

Canva

Oklahoma: Craig County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.4 million (About $311 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

Canva

Oregon: Wasco County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.1 million (About $229 per resident)
– Number of loans: 7

Canva

Pennsylvania: Jefferson County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.8 million (About $153 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

Canva

Rhode Island: Kent County

– SBA loan funds approved: $14.9 million (About $88 per resident)
– Number of loans: 39

Canva

South Carolina: Jasper County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.5 million (About $192 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

SevenMaps // Shutterstock

South Dakota: Deuel County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.5 million (About $341 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

SevenMaps // Shutterstock

Tennessee: Decatur County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.0 million (About $262 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

Canva

Texas: Menard County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.5 million (About $745 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Canva

Utah: Piute County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.4 million (About $746 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

Mike Hardiman // Shutterstock

Vermont: Windham County

– SBA loan funds approved: $9.2 million (About $201 per resident)
– Number of loans: 15

Erin Cadigan // Shutterstock

Virginia: Richmond County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.9 million (About $777 per resident)
– Number of loans: 22

davidrh // Shutterstock

Washington: Columbia County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.3 million (About $331 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

Canva

West Virginia: Marshall County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.3 million (About $172 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

Canva

Wisconsin: Vilas County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.6 million (About $597 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

Ems Images // Shutterstock

Wyoming: Sheridan County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.9 million (About $451 per resident)
– Number of loans: 7

Story editing by Ashleigh Graf. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Michael Flocker.

This story originally appeared on Flippa and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Featured