Bidenomics gets a reboot
President Biden plans to double down on his economic record in a big campaign-style speech on Wednesday. He will hail the country’s record job growth, along with the administration’s signature policy wins aimed at expanding manufacturing, reinvesting in aging infrastructure and reorienting the economy for a clean-energy future.
Yet despite the good news, Mr. Biden hasn’t seen a big jump in his popularity, and he trails his Republican rivals, according to some polls. High inflation and recession fears are dragging down his approval ratings, and the Biden administration is rethinking its messaging to try to convince Americans they should vote for him next November.
“Bidenomics” will be at the heart of the president’s message. In a memo shared with journalists this week, two top Biden advisers, Anita Dunn and Mike Donilon, use the term repeatedly to frame the president’s accomplishments. They credit Bidenomics with helping the country bounce back from the pandemic “more quickly than most experts thought possible.” But as The Times’ Michael D. Shear reports, voters appear skeptical.
What is Bidenomics? The president himself joked that the messaging is a work in progress. “I don’t know what the hell that is,” he told a rally this month. “But it’s working.” The Donilon-Dunn memo tries to give the messaging around Bidenomics a reboot. They point to how, for example, the CHIPS Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the infrastructure law are creating jobs in the high-tech, manufacturing and green sectors.
The numbers behind Bidenomics look impressive. Employers have added 13 million jobs during his presidency. And the unemployment rates of Black and Hispanic Americans are at or near a historic low. The White House also averted a potentially disastrous debt-default standoff with the Republican-controlled House, a victory that largely registered as a nonevent with voters.
Those successes aren’t translating into an uptick in support. According to a Pew Research Center survey, Biden’s approval ratings fell to the lowest level of his presidency this month.
Mr. Biden’s reboot will compete with a contrasting message from the Fed. Hours before the president steps to the microphone in Chicago, the Fed chair Jay Powell will engage with other central bankers in a panel discussion in Portugal on a topic that’s been weighing on the markets: how further interest rate increases are probably needed to bring down stubbornly high inflation.
At the same gathering in Portugal yesterday, Gita Gopinath, the International Monetary Fund’s deputy managing director, warned central banks not to ease up in their inflation fight. “Monetary policy should continue to tighten and then remain in restrictive territory until core inflation is on a clear downward path,” she said.
For now, the boosterism of Bidenomics may get overshadowed a by a hawkish Fed.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Goldman Sachs plans to add an ally of David Solomon to the board. Tom Montag, who led trading at the firm before joining Bank of America as a senior executive, is set to return as a director. DealBook hears that the move is seen by some internally as a message from the board that Mr. Solomon, Goldman’s embattled C.E.O., isn’t going anywhere soon.
KPMG plans to lay off 5 percent of its U.S. employees. The accounting giant, which had 39,000 workers in the United States last year, cited “economic headwinds” in announcing the move. It’s the latest sign of how a slowing economy is battering a wider array of businesses, including white-collar industries.
Janet Yellen reportedly plans to travel to China next month. The Treasury secretary is arranging a meeting with her new Chinese counterpart, according to Bloomberg, in another effort to lower tensions between Washington and Beijing. But China’s premier, Li Qiang, chastised Western countries today for trying to limit ties to Chinese businesses.
Could Saudi money disrupt tennis’s pay-equity goals?
The WTA, the women’s pro tennis tour, will commit on Tuesday to bringing prize money for its tournaments in line with that of men’s competitions, in what’s meant to be a major step toward pay equity in the sport.
But the question looms: How will Saudi Arabia greet the effort? The kingdom has poured billions into pro sports as part of a global campaign to expand its soft power, and is keen to bring its deep pockets to the ATP men’s tour, potentially aggravating the sport’s already sizable pay divide.
The WTA’s effort is set to ramp up over the course of a decade, to allow the tour to raise the revenue necessary to bring its payouts in line with those of men’s competitions. (While men and women receive equal prize money for Grand Slam tournaments, the campaign is focused on the two tiers of competitions below that.)
Saudi Arabia’s plans for tennis complicate the matter. As the kingdom has dug into sports like soccer and golf, its playbook has involved flooding competitions with cash to attract top-flight players. It may now do so for tennis, where it already hosts a lucrative men’s exhibition event, is bidding to host the ATP Next Gen Finals and has plans to launch a similar women’s event.
But the WTA hasn’t committed to that plan — or to holding any competitions in Saudi Arabia, which only recently gave women the right to drive, and which faces criticism over its human rights record. The WTA has taken stances on human rights before, notably by suspending operations in China for 18 months over the country’s treatment of the former player Peng Shuai.
Things could change, given that the WTA has held talks with Saudi officials. But it’s unclear how the kingdom’s plans for tennis will affect the effort by the women’s tour to more tightly integrate with the ATP.
In other Saudi sports news, a five-page pact between the PGA Tour and Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf shows the two sides have agreed on ending their litigation — but it lacks details of their planned alliance.
A new shield for pregnant workers
A new federal law will go into effect on Tuesday that provides protections for pregnant workers. More than a decade in the making and passed in December with bipartisan support, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is meant to help close loopholes in existing rules that left millions of women subject to discrimination, The Times’s Alisha Gupta writes for DealBook.
What the act requires: Companies with more than 15 employees, including hourly workers, must provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical events like fertility treatments, abortion and pregnancy loss.
Left intentionally undefined, reasonable accommodations can include a stool to sit on during long shifts, a flexible schedule to accommodate morning sickness or time off to recover from childbirth complications. But companies aren’t expected to suffer “undue hardship” in their business.
It’s an effort to stop pregnancy discrimination. Advocates say that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was riddled with ambiguity. That has had disastrous consequences for many women:
Twenty-three percent of mothers have considered leaving their jobs because of a lack of accommodations or fear of discrimination, according to a poll last year by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
At least a third of the more than 2,000 pregnancy discrimination complaints that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received last year were about companies that failed to accommodate pregnant workers.
The law signals growing recognition of pregnancy discrimination’s economic toll. The Fairness Act helps ensure that women no longer have to choose between “maintaining a healthy pregnancy or a safe recovery from childbirth and a paycheck,” said Dina Bakst, the co-president of the advocacy group A Better Balance, which helped Congress draft the new law.
— The medical costs associated with pickleball injuries in the United States this year, according to a new research report by UBS analysts.
Remembering Jim Crown
James Crown, the billionaire financier who was a longtime board member of JPMorgan Chase and General Dynamics, died on Sunday, The Times’s Emily Flitter writes for DealBook. He was 70.
The scion of a Chicago industrialist family, Mr. Crown became a major figure in business, philanthropy and political giving. He died on his birthday in Aspen, Colo., when a vehicle he was driving crashed into a barrier on a racetrack, according to the Pitkin County coroner’s office.
Mr. Crown was C.E.O. of Henry Crown and Company, which managed the fortune built up by his grandfather Henry by investing in an array of real estate and corporate investments. He joined the firm after working for Salomon Brothers.
Mr. Crown was also a prominent corporate director. He had served on the board of what became JPMorgan Chase since 1991: His family had owned a major stake in Chicago’s Bank One, where he was a director and helped recruit Jamie Dimon as C.E.O. In 2004, Bank One merged with J.P. Morgan.
“He has been a trusted adviser to me for nearly 20 years, playing a key role in helping our company navigate numerous business and economic challenges,” Mr. Dimon wrote to employees on Monday.
Mr. Crown was also the lead director of General Dynamics, the aerospace giant that bought his grandfather’s Material Service Corporation in 1959.
He also played a role beyond corporate America. Mr. Crown split his time between Chicago and Aspen, where he once served as chair of the Aspen Institute, which is holding its annual Ideas Festival now. As managing director of the Aspen Skiing Company, he played a big role in the American skiing industry.
Mr. Crown was also a major Democratic donor, and he attended last week’s state dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. “Jim represented America at its best — industrious, big-hearted and always looking out for each other,” President Biden said in a statement.
THE SPEED READ
Lordstown Motors, the embattled electric truck maker, filed for bankruptcy protection and sued the electronics giant Foxconn over its failure to invest in the company. (Reuters)
Group Black, a Black-owned media investment firm, is reportedly in talks to buy control of the publisher of Sports Illustrated. (WSJ)
Despite companies’ concerns about universal proxy, which makes it easier for investors to vote for board candidates from different slates, the policy had a muted impact in proxy fights this year. (Kirkland & Ellis)
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