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JPMorgan sends policy recommendations to Biden team on ways to prevent more Covid-related misery

Failing to agree on another Covid relief bill will lead to unnecessary suffering as the pandemic deepens in coming months, according to a JPMorgan brief….

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Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., gestures while speaking during a Bloomberg Television interview at the JPMorgan Global Markets Conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Christopher Morin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase has a set of policy recommendations for ways President-elect Joe Biden can prevent a coming wave of economic misery and reduce inequality in a post-Covid world, CNBC has learned.

The first priority is for lawmakers to agree on another round of pandemic relief payments to lower-income households and extending benefits for the unemployed, according to the paper, which can be found here. Failing to do so will result in unnecessary suffering as the pandemic deepens in coming months, according to Heather Higginbottom, head of the bank’s policy group, whose findings are backed by data from hundreds of thousands of Chase customers.

“We see how real households are weathering this, and can project that if they don’t have additional savings and income, they’re going to be in dire straits,” Higginbottom said in a phone interview. “We have a cliff of a bunch of programs that will expire at the end of the year. There are families relying on those payments, and many of them will be food insecure. We’ll see a lot of families feeling a lot of economic pain.”

The bank’s paper, which echoes remarks that CEO Jamie Dimon has made recently, adds another voice to ongoing negotiations for a follow-up stimulus relief bill after key elements of the March CARES Act lapsed. Lawmakers are now hashing out the details of a slimmed-down bill that includes a $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and money for small business loans that could be voted on next week.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, began sharing the summary with members of the Biden transition team in the past week, said Higginbottom, a former Obama administration official.

The key elements of the paper – which include pushing for federal policy changes to boost family’s emergency savings and expanding affordable housing programs — are likely to find a receptive audience in the incoming Biden administration, which campaigned on the need to help the most vulnerable Americans.

But what adds heft to JPMorgan’s arguments are the anonymized customer data the bank says supports the rationale for reinstating unemployment benefits, especially as the economy weakens amid surging coronavirus cases nationwide. CARES Act money from earlier in the year helped Chase customers avoid falling behind on mortgage payments, and their spending and assets dropped immediately after benefits expired in August.

“There is concrete evidence that these expanded unemployment insurance payments have had a stimulative effect on the economy and will help individual families,” Higginbottom said. “They’ll spend that money and help the economy.”

Even if lawmakers succeed in passing a relief bill before they leave for winter recess, Biden has said he would seek more aide after he takes charge in January, setting the stage for ongoing negotiations. The slimmed-down bill doesn’t include another round of $1,200 direct payments.

Beyond the immediate crisis Americans face this winter, there are structural issues that need to be addressed, said Higginbottom. Minorities and women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic because job losses have been concentrated in service industries, she said.

The bank suggested ways to boost household savings, including changes to retirement accounts that allow for emergency savings buckets and the creation of so-called baby bonds to help fund education costs. The firm also supported increasing the earned income tax credit for low-income workers and reducing barriers for people with criminal backgrounds to enter the workforce.

In some ways, it’s an unusual stance for a corporate giant with $3.2 trillion in assets. The banking industry has been blamed for exacerbating inequality in the past and caters to wealthy customers who have been the winners of the U.S. economy. But the move is also part of a larger shift recently among corporations seeking to play a more active role in society.

The bank launched its policy group last year and in October announced a $30 billion effort to drive inclusive growth.

“Historically, when we’ve had an economic hit and recovered from it, it has left certain communities further behind,” Higginbottom said. “With the real disproportionate impact on communities of color, low-wage workers and women who are pushed into caregiving roles, we’re at risk of exacerbating these gaps if we don’t address some fundamental issues.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/07/coronavirus-stimulus-here-is-letter-jpmorgan-sent-to-biden-advisors-on-ways-to-prevent-misery.html

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Reduced microbial stability linked to soil carbon loss in active layer under alpine permafrost degra

Credit: NIEER Chinese researchers have recently discovered links between reduction in microbial stability and soil carbon loss in the active

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Chinese researchers have recently discovered links between reduction in microbial stability and soil carbon loss in the active layer of degraded alpine permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP).

The researchers, headed by Prof. CHEN Shengyun from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources (NIEER) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and XUE Kai from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, conducted a combined in-depth analysis of soil microbial communities and their co-occurrence networks in the active permafrost layer along an extensive gradient of permafrost degradation.

The QTP encompasses the largest extent of high-altitude mountain permafrost in the world. This permafrost is different than high-latitude permafrost and stores massive soil carbon. An often ignored characteristic of permafrost is that the carbon pool in the active layer soil is more active and directly affected by climate change, compared to deeper layers.

Triggered by climate warming, permafrost degradation may decrease soil carbon stability and induce massive carbon loss, thus leading to positive carbon-climate feedback. However, microbial-mediated mechanisms for carbon loss from the active layer soil in degraded permafrost still remain unclear.

In this study, the researchers found that alpine permafrost degradation reduced the stability of active layer microbial communities as evidenced by increased sensitivity of microbial composition to environmental change, promoted destabilizing network properties and reduced resistance to node or edge attacking of the microbial network.

They discovered that soil organic carbon loss in severely degraded permafrost is associated with increased microbial dissimilarity, thereby potentially contributing to a positive carbon feedback in alpine permafrost on the QTP.

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The results were published in PNAS in an article entitled “Reduced microbial stability in the active layer is associated with carbon loss under alpine permafrost degradation”.

This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Strategic Priority Research Program (A) of CAS and the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program.

Triggered by climate warming, permafrost degradation may decrease soil carbon stability and induce massive carbon loss, thus leading to positive carbon-climate feedback. However, microbial-mediated mechanisms for carbon loss from the active layer soil in degraded permafrost still remain unclear.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/reduced-microbial-stability-linked-to-soil-carbon-loss-in-active-layer-under-alpine-permafrost-degra/

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Chipmaker TSMC says too early to say on Germany expansion

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

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The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is pictured at its headquarters, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI, July 26 (Reuters) – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

The European Commission had held discussions with global chip giants, including Intel (INTC.O) and TSMC, as the EU seeks to boost semiconductor production and shield itself from shocks in the global supply chain. read more

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

“We are currently doing reviews on Germany seriously, but it’s still in very early stages,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu told an annual shareholder meeting when asked about building chip fabrication plants in the EU country.

“We continue to communicate with our major clients in Germany to see whether this is most important and effective for our clients,” he said. “It’s too early to say.”

TSMC signalled in July plans to build new factories in the United States and Japan amid concern over the concentration of chipmaking capability in Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s most advanced chips and is geographically close to political rival China. read more

On TSMC’s $12 billion factory in the U.S. state of Arizona, Liu said the expansion would support client demand, especially in infrastructure and national security.

“Clients are the backing of our global expansion. We will move very cautiously,” Liu said, adding that the company’s customers would help share costs of overseas operations.

TSMC announced this year plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity, riding on what it called a “multiple years of growth opportunities”, as the COVID-19 pandemic and new technologies drove global demand for advanced chips.

Reporting By Yimou Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/chipmaker-tsmc-says-too-early-say-germany-expansion-2021-07-26/

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