NFIB Weekly NewsLeading the News Record Number Of Small Business Owners Consider Now A Good Time To Expand. (02/13/2018)
The NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends Survey (2/12) for January saw a “record” number of small business owners say that now is a good time to expand. Furthermore, reported actual earnings climbed to the highest level reported since 1988. NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan is quoted saying, “Main Street is roaring. ... Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they’re also ready to grow and expand. The record level of enthusiasm for expansion follows a year of record-breaking optimism among small businesses.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg is quoted saying, “The historically high index readings over the last year tell us small business owners have never been more positive about the economy. ... This is in large response to the new management in Washington tackling the biggest concerns of small business owners – high taxes and regulations.”
Powell Comes To Fed With Economy Showing “Signs Of Strain.” (02/06/2018)
The New York Times (2/4, Appelbaum, Subscription Publication) wrote that Jerome Powell will become Federal Reserve chairman on Monday “as a half-decade of economic tranquility is beginning to show some signs of strain.” The Times said Powell faces a “high wire” as he strives to keep the economy “in the safe space between overheating and recession. ... He has said that he plans to continue the Fed’s gradual retreat from the economic stimulus campaign it mounted after the 2008 financial crisis, and markets have taken him at his word.” But it is not clear how he would respond to a financial crisis.
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers wriote in the Washington Post (2/4) that “the first challenge facing the estimable” Powell “is working out how to achieve growth that is both adequate and financially sustainable. ... Except in the aftermath of recessions, it has been a long time since the US economy grew well with a stable financial foundation.”
Trump Expected To Tout Economy, Urge Bipartisan Cooperation In State Of The Union. (01/30/2018)
As President Trump prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address tonight, media coverage predicted that he will tout economic gains during his first year in office and call for bipartisan cooperation with Democrats. The AP (1/28, Thomas) reported that in an effort to “move past the shadow of the Russia investigation,” Trump will use the address to “cite economic progress under his watch while pushing for bipartisanship with Democrats on issues such as rebuilding roads and bridges.”
USA Today (1/28, Jackson) said Trump and his aides are projecting confidence about the address. In a tweet Sunday that “looked like a preview of his speech,” Trump wrote, “Our economy is better than it has been in many decades. ... Businesses are coming back to America like never before ... Unemployment is nearing record lows. We are on the right track!” The Wall Street Journal (1/28), Radnofsky, Nicholas, Subscription Publication) said the White House, in previewing the address, has stressed that it will be “very forward looking” and will strike a tone of bipartisanship.
Media Analyses: Trump’s Speech Declaring US “Open For Business” Mostly Well Received At World Economic Forum. (01/30/2018)
President Trump completed his two-day visit to Davos, Switzerland on Friday with a speech hailing his “America First” policies at the World Economic Forum. Media coverage highlighted the generally warm response to Trump’s speech, with the exception of his remarks about immigration and the media.
The New York Times (1/26), A1, Baker, Subscription Publication) reported on its front page that “in an encounter that might have surprised even him two years ago, Mr. Trump reassured the world’s political and financial leaders that his ‘America First’ agenda was not a rejection of international cooperation,” as the President’s persona as a “combative nationalist gave way to the let’s-make-a-deal businessman.” Trump told the packed audience attending his speech, “I believe in America. ... As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also. But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world.” In a front-page article, the Wall Street Journal (1/26, A1, Ballhaus, Nicholas, Subscription Publication) reported that he added, “I am here today to represent the interests of the American people, and to affirm America’s friendship and partnership in building a better world.”
Trump Said To Be Softening Stance On NAFTA. (01/16/2018)
Jonathan Swan reported for Axios (1/14) that President Trump “is developing a softer attitude” towards NAFTA. Swan said “five sources who’ve spoken privately with Trump about NAFTA say he’s taking more seriously the risks of withdrawing.” In addition, a “conga-line of Republican senators have met with the president and explained to him why they consider NAFTA so important to their states.” Reportedly, two arguments have “helped change Trump’s thinking: Withdrawing from NAFTA might interrupt the stock market’s record-breaking run under his presidency,” and “would harm farmers and agricultural communities – whom Trump considers ‘my people.’”
2017 An “All-Time Record Setter” For Small Business Optimism. (01/09/2018)
The NFIB reports in its latest Small Business Optimism index that “small business confidence blasted off the day after the 2016 election and remained in the stratosphere for all of 2017, making last year an all-time record setter.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said, “2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index. ... With a massive tax cut this year, accompanied by significant regulatory relief, we expect very strong growth, millions more jobs, and higher pay for Americans.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said, “We’ve been doing this research for nearly half a century, longer than anyone else, and I’ve never seen anything like 2017.” Last December’s Optimism Index was “slightly lower than the near-record November report” at 104.9, a result that is “still a historically exceptional performance.”
Business Climate White House Releases 2019 Budget Proposal. (02/13/2018)
Bloomberg News (2/12, Sink) reports on President Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2019, though the piece calls the President’s budget plan “a plan Congress is expected to all but ignore that would slash entitlements and other domestic programs in favor of higher spending on the military and immigration enforcement.” Bloomberg reports the budget plan includes President Trump’s $200 billion in federal funding for an infrastructure program that the Administration “estimates it would create as much as $1.5 trillion in investments.”
Trudeau Still Sees “Clear Path Forward” On NAFTA. (02/13/2018)
Bloomberg News (2/11, Wingrove) reported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “latest mission to bolster NAFTA ended on an upbeat note, as the Canadian leader said there’s still a ‘clear path’ to a deal while pushing back” against President Trump. Trudeau ended a US visit Saturday in Los Angeles after stops in Chicago and San Francisco. During the trip, he “rejected the belief that trade deals see one country ‘win’ over another – a veiled rebuke of Trump’s more transactional view of trade.” Said Trudeau, “There is a clear path forward and we’re working very hard together on that path.” Canada, he added, wants to “ensure that we can move forward in a way that is a win-win for all of us.”
President Trump’s announcement Monday of a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan received mixed coverage, with many focusing on opposition from both sides of the aisle and questioning whether it will get enough support to pass.
The Washington Times (2/12, Miller) reports that Trump “pushed” the plan at a White House meeting “with a bipartisan group of state and local lawmakers, declaring that he would loosen the red tape that has a stranglehold on construction projects.” The Hill (2/12, Shelbourne) says the plan, which “would focus on public-private partnerships and funding from state and local governments,” is “structured around four main goals: generating $1.5 trillion for an infrastructure proposal, streamlining the permitting process down to two years, investing in rural infrastructure projects and advancing workforce training.”
Fed Expected To Face Pressure To Accelerate Rate Hikes After Spending Package. (02/13/2018)
Bloomberg News (2/9, Miller, Chandra) reported that the Fed is expected to face increasing pressure “to accelerate its planned interest-rate increases after a nearly $300 billion spending package signed into law Friday juices a US economy already souped up on tax cuts.” Economists at banks and consulting firms “are busy marking up their economic forecasts in response to the legislation, saying it will help lift growth in 2018 to well above the 1.8 percent rate the Fed reckons is the economy’s long-run potential.”
House Hearing Discusses Federal Cyber Information Sharing With Small Businesses. (02/06/2018)
Security Info Watch (2/2, Lasky) reported members of the House Small Business Committee and FBI and DHS officials “examined how federal agencies are facilitating greater information sharing with small businesses that find themselves vulnerable to foreign-backed cyber attacks.” As stressed in a recent hearing, “A key component in combating these cybersecurity vulnerabilities is strengthening the federal government’s engagement with the private sector and it is through [the Small Business Advanced Cybersecurity Enhancements Act of 2017] the Congress feels it has laid a foundation for strengthening these protections.”
EPA Extends Date For WOTUS Rule. (02/06/2018)
The AP (1/31, Biesecker) reports that the EPA delayed the implementation of the Waters of the US rule “by another two years to give” it “and the Army Corps of Engineers more time to do away with” the rule. In a statement, EPA Administrator Pruitt said, “EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers. ... The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama Administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”
Small Business Marketing More Food Companies Launching Sustainability-Driven Campaigns. (02/13/2018)
The Orlando (FL) Sentinel (2/10) reported on the “growing number of food companies” that are “trying to convince customers their food comes from safe and responsible sources.” For instance, “Darden Restaurants, Publix, Winn-Dixie and other grocers have launched their own ‘sustainable seafood campaigns,’ and other companies are rallying around commitments to animal welfare and curbing overuse of antibiotics.” Such moves come in “response to a growing consumer desire for cleaner foods such as organic and locally grown products, as well as pressure from activists to cut down on what they see as abuse in supply chains, said Steve Kirn a lecturer at the University of Florida’s Miller Retail Center.”
Facebook Testing “Downvote” Button For Flagging Content. (02/13/2018)
The Drum (UK) (2/10, Srivastav) reports Facebook “is now testing a ‘downvote’ button” as a way for people to flag posts for content that “is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading.” Facebook said the downvote button is getting a small test in the US. The Drum says Facebook also said it will introduce facial recognition technology to “help users find untagged images, prevent the use of other people’s images by strangers and aid those with visual impairments know what is contained within a video or image.”
Marketers Need “An Amazon Strategy” Now, Ad Scholar Says. (02/06/2018)
Brian Sheehan, professor of advertising at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, posted at AdWeek (2/2, Sheehan) that a key task for marketers this year is “to develop an Amazon strategy,” in part because Amazon is getting ambitious about ad revenue, and it starts from a formidable position of knowing what customers actually purchase. Among more “sobering thoughts” is that “Amazon’s monthly reach on its site is 183 million users,” while one report found that “55 percent of U.S. internet users start a product search on Amazon, not Google or other sites.” Developing brand awareness across other channels is key to a “win on the ‘digital supermarket shelf,’” Sheehan said.
Capital One’s Endhardt Gives Tips On How Small Businesses Can Better Compete With Big Firms. (01/30/2018)
Johannes Endhardt, Capital One’s Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Analytics for Spark Business Bank, wrote in a piece for Smart Hustle (1/26) about how small businesses can better compete with big businesses this year. He noted small business optimism “has been on an upward swing with the majority of small business owners citing increased sales and improved business conditions throughout 2017, according to the latest Capital One Small Business Growth Index.” Among the tips he provided were: running promotions, utilizing social media, and formulating a budget for the year.
Facebook Says It Will Emphasize Personal Posts, De-Emphasize News. (01/16/2018)
Facebook upended its relationship with news publishers Thursday when it announced what the New York Times (1/11, Isaac, Subscription Publication) called “sweeping changes” designed to “prioritize” posts from family and friends “while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.” Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the platform seeks more “meaningful interaction,” the Times reported, adding that “the shift is the most significant overhaul in years to Facebook’s News Feed.” Zuckerberg said, “We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people. ... We need to refocus the system.”
Adobe Marketing Cloud, Mediaocean Partner To Automate Ad-Buying Process. (01/16/2018)
Axios (1/9, Fischer) reported “Facebook and Google will be paying attention” to a partnership between the TV ad-buying platform company Mediaocean and Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. The partnership will allow users “to integrate digital ad buying with TV” and “automate every aspect of a TV ad buy” from the Adobe Advertising Cloud, an agnostic tool for buying some $3 billion in ads, or an “estimated 75% of all TV ads in the U.S.,” Axios said, adding that the deal “represents the first time an independent marketing stack company has partnered to use Mediaocean to manage the full television buying process.”
Wages and Benefits Commentary: Recent Corporate Tax Cut Inspiring Companies To Raise Minimum Wage. (02/13/2018)
Forbes (2/11) contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas discussed what he says is the “official explanation” for some retailers’ recent decision to raise the minimum wage and offer cash bonuses and paternal leave to their employees. Citing the “recent corporate tax cut,” Mourdoukoutas said “lower tax rates leave American companies with larger after-tax profits, which in the name of fairness and good publicity, they are willing to share with employees.”
The US’ National Home Healthcare Industry Infrastructure May Not Be Prepared For Aging Population. (02/13/2018)
Bloomberg News (2/9, Kim) reported on the home care industry in a 4,100-word article. The piece highlights projections that 80 million people will be over 65 by 2050, compared with 50 million today. The article also discusses the growth in the number of home health agencies, the “aide shortage,” government programs’ spending on home healthcare, and the work conditions for home healthcare workers. The article observes, “As the first wave of 76 million baby boomers turns 70, our long-term-care infrastructure will bend from the strain.”
Average Wages Rose Over 3% In Half US States In 2017, A Sharp Increase. (02/06/2018)
Reuters (2/5) reports, in an analysis of state data, that “the kind of pay raises for which American workers have waited years are now here for a broadening swath of the country.” The Reuters analysis found that “average pay rose by more than 3 percent in at least half of US states last year, up sharply from previous years.” President Trump “says his tax cuts and regulation rollbacks are lifting business sentiment,” and in his State of the Union address last Tuesday, he said American workers “are finally seeing rising wages.” Average hourly wages “were up 2.9 percent in January year-on-year, the biggest rise in more than 8-1/2 years.” While conducting its analysis, Reuters said interviews across the country found “wage increases in industries ranging from manufacturing to technology and retail.”
Nine Democratic-Leaning States Mull Health Insurance Mandates. (02/06/2018)
The Wall Street Journal (2/3, Armour, Subscription Publication) reported that at least nine states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia – may require residents to have health insurance following the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The Journal said this could be the latest sign that traditionally Democratic states will keep or expand ACA components, while Republican states will move in the opposite direction.
Moderate Lawmakers’ Push For Medicaid Expansion Faces Uncertain Future. (01/30/2018)
On its front page, the Washington Post (1/28, A1, Stein) reported that moderate Republican legislators are leading an effort to expand Medicaid with added work requirements for recipients, and they are gaining support from conservative lawmakers who previously opposed expanding the program. The chances of success for the effort “vary widely depending on the state;” moderate legislators need the support of their governors and more conservative colleagues in order to expand the program. Additionally, many Democratic lawmakers have concerns about the concept of work requirements, making their support uncertain.
Republicans Expected To Target Employer Mandate Next. (01/16/2018)
The New York Times (1/14, Pear, Subscription Publication) reported that “having wiped out” the individual mandate, Republicans in Congress are “taking aim at a new target: rolling back the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that employers offer coverage to employees.” Many employers who see the mandate “as onerous and expensive” are “cheering the effort.” The Times, however, cautioned that “such a move could also increase costs for the federal government. ... If fewer people receive coverage from employers, more will qualify for subsidized coverage in the public marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.”
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