May 3, 2018

Steve Mnuchin's blind spot on U.S. jobs

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is unaware that many U.S. companies are having difficulties finding enough skilled workers to fill open positions, based on comments he made this week at the Milken Global Conference.

Reality check: Almost anywhere you look, companies of all types report sharp difficulty finding skilled workers. Dallas, Washington State, Shreveport, Prescott, wherever. They are turning to measures they have not taken in years — hiring teenagers and convicts, and paying big signing or moving bonuses.

  • One of the most demanded skills is cybersecurity technician. But there is also a dire shortage of construction workers and truckers. One problem is that companies are a lot less willing than they used to be to train workers so they *become* skilled.

Why it matters: The White House has been laser focused on growing the economy and cutting unemployment, while also proposing cuts to legal immigration. One obvious consequence of that strategy could be even further shortages of skilled labor, which is troubling if the current shortage isn't even acknowledged.

This also isn't the first time that Mnuchin has expressed an inexplicable blind spot when it comes to labor. This is from 2017:

The Treasury Department later walked back those comments, after they were met with incredulity by the tech community. But a Treasury spokesman did not respond to an Axios inquiry on his Milken Conference appearance.

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Scoop: Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates will be reassigned as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, the National Security Council said Thursday — and a senior White House official said that the administration "rejects" the rumors that she is "Anonymous."

Why it matters: Coates has battled claims that she is the still-unknown Trump administration official that penned a New York Times op-ed and book critical of President Trump.

The Fed may be setting the table for 2020 rate cuts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Fed looks to be laying the groundwork to lower U.S. interest rates this year, just as they did in April 2019 before cutting rates in July, September and October.

Why it matters: A Fed rate cut makes taking on debt more attractive for U.S. consumers and businesses, helping to juice the economy, but also puts the central bank in a weaker position to fight off a potential recession.

Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in a $13 billion deal

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Morgan Stanley is planning to buy E*Trade Financial Corp. in a $13 billion all-stock deal, the Wall Street Journal reports, with plans to acquire the company known for helping everyday Americans manage their money.

Why it matters: The deal, which would be the largest by a major American bank since the financial crisis, signals Morgan Stanley‘s desire to bulk up in wealth management.