Feb 17, 2017

Big in Business: "Buy American" is back

UAW to resurrect 'Buy American' campaign: That's according to the Detroit Free Press, which quotes UAW leader Dennis Williams saying "No company … can survive without the market of the United States of America," and that it's time Americans started using that power to say "enough is enough." But the problem of identifying what is exactly "American" hasn't gotten any easier since the 1980s during the campaign's heyday. Foreign automakers build much of what they sell in the U.S. here, while American firms are often using Mexican labor for part of their supply chains.

The great American debt machine: CNNMoney published the eye-grabbing headline, "Household debt is dangerously close to 2008 levels," based on New York Fed data showing that consumer debt climbed by $460 billion in 2016, the largest jump in close to a decade. But the debt profile of American consumers is much different today than in 2008, while the income and assets we're holding as collateral have changed too. Mortgage debt increased by 2.8% last year, but that's actually a slower pace than the growth in overall home values, and roughly in line with income growth.

The real drivers of debt of late have been auto and student debt. Though 11.9% of student loans are either delinquent or more than 90 days late, that figure has not been rising in recent months, so no alarms just yet.

Who will run Trump's Fed? Obama-era gridlock has left President Trump the chance to reshape the central bank. There are two open seats on the seven-member board, which serves staggered 14-year terms. Janet Yellen and Vice-chair Stanley Fischer's terms are up at the end of next year. Deustche Bank names four possible choices for the Trump Fed, including monetary hawks John Taylor and John Cochrane. These two would be no-brainers for another Republican, but as Trump has abandoned the strong-dollar policy, it's difficult to see how he could justify choosing these avid interest-rate hikers.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

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Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health