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Economic Week That Was: May 7-May 11, 2018

Hello again, consumers of the important news of the week. Today, Money Examiners takes a hard look at the economic news of the week just past. This time, May 7-May 11, 2018 is in our crosshairs. What happened, and what does it mean for the present? What took place that will have an impact on our future? Those are our focus, so let’s get straight to it.

Monday, May 7: Average price of a gallon of gas soars to $2.90 nationwide. Those of us intending to take the family on a summer road trip are as thrilled as we can be. *Sarcasm alert*. It turns out that what we were sensing at the local Conoco is actually true. Gas prices are rising, and quickly. The increase May 7-May 11, 2018 was 7 cents a gallon and marks the 10th consecutive week that prices have risen.

Tuesday, May 8: Prospects for a recession very real…unless they aren’t. Last Tuesday was a fascinating day for economic prognostication. First, analysis from Bank of America indicated that a recession won’t take place until 2021, if then. Minutes later, Chase CEO Jamie Dimon stated his belief that a recession is coming, if not imminent. Predictably, investors reacted with a united, “huh?”

The beauty of Baltimore's Inner Harbor hides a persistent unemployment problem in Charm City.
The beauty of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor hides a persistent unemployment problem in Charm City.

Wednesday, May 9: New initiatives toward returning jobs to urban centers get a bipartisan push. The overall unemployment rate is at a generational low. That’s always good news for the party in power. However, hidden inside the feel-good digits is an alarming statistic. The inner city is lagging significantly behind. If jobs were a horse race the minorities in those cities are so far behind the lead horse they are out of the picture. For example, the large minority populations in St. Louis, Cleveland, and Baltimore are suffering from the shift to a service-based economy. Initiatives to attract jobs to urban downtowns are receiving bipartisan support. Among the plans mentioned is a measure in support of granting a capital gains waiver for companies that invest in distressed locations.

Trade between the U.S. and China is in the news virtually every week.
Trade between the U.S. and China is in the news virtually every week.

Thursday, May 10: The U.S. negotiating increased exports to China as part of trade deficit reduction measures. Much has been made of the U.S. and China in terms of trade disparity. The recent steel and aluminum tariffs are designed to help bring that number in line. Under the radar, though, are talks aimed at decreasing the trade imbalance through greater sales of U.S. goods to the Chinese market. What products would we like to send to China? More soybeans, for one, but China has pointed to soybeans as a possible tariff retaliation. Talks continue.

Friday, May 11: President Trump doesn’t like NAFTA. Is there anything he alone can do about it? President Trump’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (originally enacted in 1993 under President Clinton) is not news to anyone with ears. In fact, the President made his distaste for NAFTA a focal point of his election campaign. So far, though, he hasn’t moved to pull the U.S. out of it. According to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the President doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally pull the cord on NAFTA. According to Toomey, as an “agreement” rather than a treaty, the President needs Congressional help if he is to achieve his stated goal of the end of the deal between the U.S, Canada, and Mexico. For his part, Senator Toomey would like NAFTA “fine-tuned” rather than scuttled in its entirety.

That’s it for May 7-11, 2018. We’ll be watching with you to see what comes next week.