China’s Exports to North Korea Up for 3rd Straight Month

China’s exports to North Korea grew for the third straight month in August, taking up a quarter of the overall volume of this year to date, China’s General Administration of Customs reported on Sept. 18.
Chinese shipments to North Korea saw a 30 percent increase from $16.8 million in July to $22.5 million in August, although exports were almost 10 times higher two years earlier, before the pandemic hit. The exports to North Korea in 2019 totaled $2.74 billion.
China accounts for more than 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade despite U.N. sanctions against the country. Data show 96.3 percent of North Korea’s imports in 2020 were from China.
Since 2006, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been prioritizing its nuclear arsenal to boost national defense. The United Nations has banned Pyongyang from importing weapons, oil, and gas products, and from selling metals, seafood, coal, and textiles.
It remains unclear whether the products China is trading with North Korea are in line with U.N. sanctions.
Meanwhile, China imported $6.2 million of goods from North Korea in August, up from $4.1 million in July, China’s customs data showed.
The records tracked official trade only, excluding cross-border smuggling between the two neighboring countries.
Early last year, North Korea was also one of the first countries to shut its borders and halted trade with China following the start of the pandemic.

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Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.

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Is Umbrella Coverage Worth It?

Dear Dave,
Are umbrella insurance policies worth it, or do they just entice people to sue more frequently?
Tammi
Dear Tammi,
I don’t think there’s any indication umbrella policies entice folks to bring lawsuits more frequently. If you hadn’t noticed, we live in a lawsuit-happy world. There are lots of greedy people out there who would try to sue for absolutely anything—no matter how ridiculous.
I think these types of policies are worth the money. You can get a $1 million umbrella policy that attaches to the top of the liability coverage on your car and homeowners for $200 to $300 a year in most places. So, if your original car and homeowners coverage was $500,000, you’d have $1.5 million in coverage with an umbrella policy.
If you’ve got a substantial net worth, or if there’s just something that gives the impression someone might be able to get a lot out of you, an umbrella insurance policy is a smart buy.
— Dave

Dave Ramsey
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Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and a best-selling author, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Follow Dave at DaveRamsey.com and on Twitter @DaveRamsey.

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Teaching the Value of Work

Dear Dave,
What are your views on teaching children good work habits? Many of our friends don’t require their kids to help out or work around the house, but we both strongly feel that instilling a strong work ethic early in life is one of the best things you can do as a parent for your children.
–Deshay
Dear Deshay,
I’m so glad you both feel that way. Our culture has made many great advances to ensure the happiness and well-being of children. But too many parents today are so centered on what their children want that they have lost perspective on what their children need.
Perspective, or looking at life over time, demands that you teach children to work. Teaching a child to work is not child abuse. We teach them to work not for our benefit, but because it gives them dignity in a job well done today and the tools and character to win as adults in the future.
In my mind, children should be taught to work just like you’d teach them to bathe or brush their teeth—as a necessary life skill. An adult who has no clue how to tackle a job and finish it with pride is every bit as debilitated as an adult with body odor or green teeth. If your child graduates from high school, and his or her only skill set consists of playing video games, eating fast food, and believing the world owes them something, you’ve set up your child to fail.
Another benefit of teaching a child the wonder of work is they may grow to lose a little respect for those who refuse to work. I’m not talking about folks who lost jobs due to unforeseen circumstances and are trying to get back on their feet, or someone who genuinely cannot work. I’m talking about folks who refuse to look for, or accept, gainful employment.
My wife and I noticed that our kids, as they grew older, didn’t pursue relationships with people who didn’t understand the value of work and demonstrate the character traits of mature, hardworking people. And that was wonderful news to us!
—Dave

Dave Ramsey
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Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and a best-selling author, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Follow Dave at DaveRamsey.com and on Twitter @DaveRamsey.

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How China Evergrande’s Debt Troubles Pose a Systemic Risk

HONG KONG—China Evergrande Group has raised fresh warnings of default risks amid late payments to wealth management and trust products.
The real estate giant has been scrambling to raise funds it needs to pay lenders and suppliers, with regulators and financial markets worried that any crisis could ripple through China’s banking system and potentially trigger wider social unrest.
Who Is Evergrande?
Founded in 1996 by Chairman Hui Ka Yan in the southern city of Guangzhou, Evergrande accelerated its growth in the past decade to become China’s second-largest property developer with $110 billion in sales last year.
The company listed in Hong Kong in 2009, giving it more access to the capital and debt markets to grow its asset size to $355 billion today. It has more than 1,300 developments across the nation, many in lower-tier cities.
With national sales growth slowing in recent years, Evergrande has also been branching into businesses unrelated to real estate, such as electric cars, football, insurance, and bottled water.
How Did Concerns Arise Over Debt Pile?
Investors became worried after a leaked letter in September showed Evergrande had pleaded for authorities’ support to approve a now-dropped backdoor listing plan, warning it faced a cash crunch.
Concerns intensified after Evergrande admitted in June it did not pay some commercial paper on time, and news in July a Chinese court froze a $20 million bank deposit held by the firm on the request of Guangfa Bank.
Evergrande’s fast expansion over the years has been fueled by debt. It has been aggressively raising loans to support its land buying spree, and selling apartments quickly despite low margins so as to start the cycle again.
The firm’s interim report said its interest-bearing debt totaled 571.8 billion yuan ($89 billion) at the end of June, compared with 716.5 billion at the end of 2020, as it stepped up deleveraging efforts.
Total liability, which include payables, however, increased slightly to 1.97 trillion yuan, accounting for around 2 percent of the country’s GDP.
Other than the usual bank and bond channels, the developer has been criticized for tapping the less regulated shadow banking market, including trusts, wealth management products, and commercial paper.
What Evergrande Has Done to Deleverage?
Evergrande accelerated its efforts to reduce its debts last year after regulators introduced caps on three debt ratios dubbed “the three red lines” policy. It has said it aims to meet all the requirements by the end of next year.
Evergrande has given buyers steep discounts for its residential developments and sold the bulk of its commercial properties to increase cashflow. Since the second half of 2020, it has had a $555 million secondary share sale, raising $1.8 billion by listing its property management unit in Hong Kong, while its EV unit sold a $3.4 billion stake to new investors.
It unveiled plans earlier this year to spin off three unlisted units–online real estate and automobile marketplace Fangchebao, and theme parks and spring water businesses—to further release capital. Fangchebao has already raised $2.1 billion in a pre-IPO in March.
On Tuesday, it said its asset and equity disposal plans to ease liquidity issues have failed to make material progress.
Does Evergrande Pose a Risk?
China’s central bank highlighted in its financial stability report in 2018 that companies including Evergrande might pose systemic risks to the nation’s financial system.
Evergrande’s liabilities involve more than 128 banks and over 121 non-banking institutions, according to the letter Evergrande sent to the government late last year. JPMorgan estimated last week China Minsheng Bank has the highest exposure to Evergrande.
Late payments could trigger cross-defaults as many financial institutions have exposure to Evergrande via direct loans and indirect holdings through different financial instruments.
In the dollar bond market, Evergrande accounts for 4 percent of Chinese real estate high-yields, according to DBS. Any defaults will also trigger sell-offs in the high-yield credit market.
A collapse of Evergrande will have a large impact on the job market. It has 200,000 staff and hires 3.8 million people every year for project developments.
What Have Regulators Said?
The People’s Bank of China and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission summoned Evergrande’s executives in August and warned that it needed to reduce its debt risks and prioritize stability.
Evergrande must “actively diffuse debt risk and maintain real estate and financial markets stability,” they said in a joint statement, and “earnestly implement strategic arrangements made by the central government to ensure the stable and healthy development of the real estate market, and strive to keep operations stable”.
Media reports said regulators have approved an Evergrande proposal to renegotiate payment deadlines with banks and other creditors. The Guangzhou government is also seeking opinions from Evergrande’s major lenders about setting up a creditor committee.
By Clare Jim

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MassMutual Fined for Failing to Monitor GameStop Saga Star

NEW YORK—Massachusetts regulators are fining MassMutual $4 million and ordering it to overhaul its social-media policies after accusing the company of failing to supervise an employee whose online cheerleading of GameStop’s stock helped launch the frenzy that shook Wall Street earlier this year.
The settlement announced Thursday by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin centers on the actions of Keith Gill, who was an employee at a MassMutual subsidiary from April 2019 until January 2021. His tenure ended as GameStop’s stock price suddenly soared nearly 800 percent in a week, as hordes of smaller-pocketed and novice investors piled in, to the shock and awe of professionals.
Gill’s job at MassMutual was to create educational materials for current and potential customers, but regulators say he was also posting more than 250 hours of videos on YouTube and sending at least 590 Tweets about investing and GameStop through accounts that were unaffiliated with the company.
Massachusetts regulators cited those messages while alleging MassMutual failed to monitor the social-media accounts of Gill and other employees who were registered as broker-dealer agents in the state, and therefore subject to certain supervision requirements. The MassMutual unit where Gill worked prohibits broker-dealer agents from discussing generic securities on social media.
In his online messages, Gill would often talk about why he owned and was optimistic about GameStop’s stock, even though it had been struggling for years. He used the nicknames “Roaring Kitty” and “DeepValue,” with an expletive in the middle of the latter one, and he amassed tens of thousands of followers. He also posted regular updates on Reddit about his GameStop holdings, which ballooned into the tens of millions of dollars.
Gill, and the red headband he wore in many of his videos, became such central characters in the GameStop phenomenon that he testified in a Congressional hearing about it. There he professed once again, “I like the stock,” a statement that became a rallying cry for GameStop investors in forums across the internet. GameStop shares started the year at around $19 and closed Friday at $204.97.
Regulators also said MassMutual failed to have reasonable policies and procedures to monitor the personal trading of its registered agents, among other things. To watch for excessive trading, for example, the MassMutual unit where Gill worked had a rule to flag transactions of $250,000 or more in a single security made across all the accounts by registered representatives. Regulators say Gill sold $750,000 worth of GameStop options and bought $703,600 of GameStop stock in one day during January, but his employer’s trade surveillance system didn’t flag either of the trades.
In the settlement, MassMutual neither admitted nor denied state regulators’ findings. It said in a statement that it’s “pleased to put this matter behind us, avoiding the expense and distraction associated with protracted litigation.”

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Tougher EU Airport Slot Rules Trigger Asia Retaliation Threat, Risk Industry Trade War

Regulators in Asian hubs like Hong Kong have threatened to retaliate against European Union plans to force airlines to start using takeoff and landing slots frozen during the coronavirus pandemic, a move that could oblige Europe’s carriers to fly empty seats for thousands of miles at a loss.
Authorities controlling slots at major Asian airports are ready to slap similar ‘use it or lose it’ conditions on European carriers flying to Asia’s cities—raising the prospect of an industry trade war over the uneven impact of COVID-19.
After rare unity during the pandemic, when carriers were being bailed out or trying to stay afloat, industry leaders say the dispute has rekindled fundamental differences across a fragmented sector as the world stages a multi-speed recovery.
“Is it a trade war? Certainly the germ of one,” said former Australian aviation negotiator Peter Harbison, chairman emeritus of the Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation consultancy.
“And it will be accentuated as more airlines collapse and international markets remain closed, or at best, uncertain.”
Tensions have grown since July, when the EU announced plans to force airlines to use 50 percent of their rights or lose them to rivals from next month. That move partially reinstated competition rules that had been waived as airlines struggled to survive the pandemic.
But while the EU decision reflects a traffic recovery that is well under way in Europe’s mainly short-haul market, Asian carriers are protesting they will be unfairly penalized because their long-haul networks will take much longer to recover.
In Asia, long quarantines remain the norm for travelers and airlines operated just 14 percent of their 2019 international capacity in July, well below the 46 percent of 2019 levels seen in Europe and 48 percent in North America, International Air Transport Association (IATA) data shows.
Cathay Pacific last month warned publicly that the slower recovery in Hong Kong meant it risked losing prized overseas airport slots and harming the city’s hub status.
Taiwan’s China Airlines and Korean Air Lines expressed concern about the EU rules in statements to Reuters.
In Europe, Lufthansa—the EU carrier with the most flights to Asia—said the tough EU rules could ultimately harm the climate as well as airlines, if they are forced to fly empty planes to keep slots. Air France and KLM said their decisions to fly were not based on airport slots.
‘Shock Phase’ Over
The EU broke with a global industry recommendation and tightened rules for the winter schedule season, which runs from October to March, after heavy lobbying by low-cost carriers like Ryanair, with big short-haul networks, and European airports, many of which are privatized and trying to produce returns.
“We’re no longer in immediate shock phase,” said Aidan Flanagan, safety and capacity manager at Airports Council International Europe. “We are now in a situation where the market is stable with much lower levels than what we were in 2019, but it’s stable.”
The European Commission said in July the 50 percent use rate—down from 80 percent in normal times—was chosen to ensure good use of airport capacity and to benefit consumers. It also granted exceptions so that airlines do not need to reach 50 percent while strict measures like quarantine that make it hard to travel remain in place.
The Commission did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
6 Weeks to Respond
Once travel restrictions are lifted, Asian carriers will have to boost flying to the European Union within six weeks or risk losing slots even if demand is slow to return.
“When the demand is not there it is unreasonable to expect people to operate,” IATA Head of Worldwide Airport Slots Lara Maughan said. “It is a really short window they have once restrictions are removed to sort of recalibrate that whole operation back.”
René Maysokolua, managing director of German airport slot manager FLUKO, said his organization had been informed that some Asian countries were telling European airlines they would need to fly 50 percent of the time or risk losing their slots in retaliation for the EU rules.
Hong Kong and South Korea are among those taking a harder line against European carriers, said an industry source who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
Authorities in Hong Kong confirmed reciprocity provisions are in place but declined to comment on specific cases.
Korea Airport Schedules Office did not respond to a request for comment, but Korean Air, a member of the country’s slot working group, confirmed the provisions.
Meanwhile, even as the potential for conflict brews between Asia and Europe, the United States on Thursday announced more lenient winter season rules for international carriers than the European Union.

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System Outage Grounds United Flights Briefly

A United Airlines jetliner taxis down a runway for take off from Denver International Airport in Denver, Colo., on July 2, 2021. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)
NEW YORK—United Airlines suffered a brief system outage early Friday and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop of less than an hour for all United flights.
The ground stop order was lifted before 8 a.m. at the airline’s request, according to an advisory issued by the FAA.
“We experienced a system outage this morning, but everything is up and running and operations have resumed,” the Chicago airline said just after 8 a.m. Eastern on Twitter.
It was unclear how many delays occurred, or if there were any related cancellations.

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Think Twice Before Jumping on Husband’s Maximizing Bandwagon

I probably have written more than 100 columns about the obsession older adults have with “maximizing” their Social Security retirement benefits. I’m not going to get into that issue today. I personally don’t think it’s always the right move. But if you’re determined to employ these alleged strategies (which almost always mean delaying starting your benefits as long as possible), then go ahead and do it. And then hope you just live long enough to beat the system!
But today I’m going to deal with another side of the maximizing coin. This has to do with spousal benefits. It’s based on an email I got from a woman whose husband is trying to convince her to get on his maximizing bandwagon. And I’m going to give her some food for thought to help her decide if that is really what she wants to do. To see what I’m talking about, let’s start with the email.
Q: My husband is absolutely determined to maximize our Social Security benefits. That’s why he is going to wait until age 70 to file for his Social Security. His name is Frank, and he is currently 62 years old. My name is Ann, and I’m also 62. I have a much smaller benefit than Frank does. I want to file for my benefit now and switch to higher benefits on his record when he starts his at 70. But he is telling me that to get the highest possible benefit and maximize my Social Security payout, I should wait until my full retirement age to start my own and then switch to his when we’re 70. Will you please help me decide what to do?
A: The best way to help you figure this out is by looking at the numbers. Your husband gave me the benefit projections in a subsequent email. Frank’s full retirement benefit is $3,010. His benefit at age 70 will be $3,973. He told me your full retirement rate would be $1,390. If you take benefits at 62, you’d get $1,002.
And before I go on, here’s an apology. Most of the rest of this column is going to be filled with lots of numbers and lots of math. I hate too many numbers and too much math. I think it just confuses most readers. But in order to make the points I want to make, I have to trot out all these numbers. If your eyes start to glaze over with math anxiety, just go to the last paragraph or two of the column to see my bottom-line message. OK, here comes the math!
Frank wants you to wait until your full retirement age, which for you is age 66 and 10 months, and start collecting $1,390. Then a little more than three years after that, when he turns 70, he wants you to file for spousal benefits on his record. At that point, you’d be due an amount equal to 50 percent of his age 66 rate, not his age 70 rate. Fifty percent of $3,010 is $1,505. So, you’d keep getting your $1,390 retirement benefit and then you’d get $115 in spousal benefits to take you up to the $1,505 rate you are due.
Now let’s look at what happens if you do what you want to do—file for reduced retirement benefits now. That means you’d start getting $1,002 now already. Then you would keep getting those reduced retirement benefits until Frank turns 70. At that point, here is how they will figure your spousal benefits. They will take your full retirement rate, or $1,390, and subtract that from one-half of his full retirement rate, or $1,505. The difference, or $115, would be added to your reduced retirement benefit. So, from that point on, you’d start getting $1,117.
That’s $388 per month less than you’d get if you follow Frank’s advice and wait until you are 66 and 10 months to file. But remember, in Frank’s option, you wouldn’t get a nickel in Social Security benefits until you are almost 67 years old. In your option, you’d start getting benefits now.
So, let’s compare the two scenarios. What would you get in total benefits between now and the point when Frank turns 70? In your option, you’d get $1,002 for 8 years (96 months) for a total of $96,192. In Frank’s option, you’d get $1,390 for 3 years and 2 months (38 months) for a total of $52,820.
So, you’d get $43,372 more in benefits between now and age 70 in your option. But again, your spousal rate beginning at age 70 would be $388 per month less. In other words, it would take you 112 months, or more than 9 years, before you come out ahead of the game using Frank’s “maximizing” strategy.
So, if you’re pretty sure you are going to live well past age 80, then you probably are ahead to follow Frank’s advice. But if you’re not so sure about your life expectancy, or if you just happen to be a “live for today” kind of person, then call Social Security tomorrow and tell them you want to file for your retirement benefits now.
Oh, I forgot to mention a possibly crucial point. And that has to do with future widow’s benefits. Assuming Frank dies before you do, your widow’s rate under either scenario will be exactly the same. When he dies, you’ll start getting his age 70 rate, or $3,970, in the form of widow’s benefits.
So, for example, if you do take benefits at 62 and start getting $1,002 per month then, and then $1,117 per month at 70, you’d start getting an additional $2,853 per month to take you up to his $3,970 level after he dies.
Or if you waited until you are 66 and 10 months to file and started getting $1,390 per month and then $1,505 per month at 70, you’d start getting an additional $2,465 per month to take you up to his $3,970 level after he dies.
The point I am making here is that you suffer absolutely no reduction in your future widow’s benefits if you take reduced retirement benefits on your own now.
So, what should you do? Your husband wants you to jump on his maximizing bandwagon and wait almost five more years to file for Social Security. I’d be inclined to suggest you jump off that wagon and file for benefits tomorrow. But before you take my advice, remember this: You’ve got to live with Frank. I’m just an old goat you meet once a week in the newspaper!

Tom Margenau
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Tom Margenau worked for 32 years in a variety of positions for the Social Security Administration before retiring in 2005. He has served as the director of SSA’s public information office, the chief editor of more than 100 SSA publications, a deputy press officer and spokesman, and a speechwriter for the commissioner of Social Security. For 12 years, he also wrote Social Security columns for local newspapers.

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Red States Lead In Employment, Blue States Get Props for Sharpness of Rebound: Report

Red states, on the whole, recorded the lowest rates of unemployment in the United States in August, although blue states led the way in terms of the sharpest reduction in their rates of unemployment over the past year, new government data shows.
The top seven states with the lowest unemployment rates in August were Alabama (3.1 percent), Idaho (2.9 percent), Nebraska (2.2 percent), New Hampshire (3.0 percent), South Dakota (2.9 percent), Utah (2.6 percent), and Vermont (3.0 percent), according to a Sept. 17 release of state-level unemployment data by the Commerce Department.
With the exception of Vermont, which has a Democrat-controlled state House and Senate and a GOP governor, all have Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans hold the governorship, a majority in the state Senate, and a majority in the state House.
“More than twice as many GOP-led states are below the national unemployment rate average than Democrat-led states. The consistent, top performance of Republican-led states is no coincidence,” the Republican Governors Association (RGA) wrote in a tweet, parsing the data according to the number of states above and below the 5.2 percent national unemployment rate.
The seven states with the highest unemployment rates in August were Hawaii (7.0 percent), California (7.5 percent), Connecticut (7.2 percent), Illinois (7.0 percent), New Mexico (7.2 percent), New Jersey (7.2 percent), and New York (7.4 percent). All seven have Democrat trifectas.
Blue states, meanwhile, led the way in the sharpest declines in the unemployment rate over the 12 months through August, with the top seven all Democrat-led. California’s unemployment rate over the past year fell 4.8 percentage points, Hawaii’s dropped 7.1 percentage points, Illinois’ fell 4.1 percentage points, Massachusetts’ dropped 4.3 percentage points, Nevada’s and Rhode Island’s both declined 6.8 percentage points, and New York’s fell 4.3 percentage points.
Base effects are a likely explanation for why the over-the-year rebound in blue state employment was so pronounced. Blue states tend to be more reliant on service industries, especially ones related to travel, leisure, and hospitality, which were hit by the pandemic disproportionately hard, driving up joblessness more sharply than in red states, where manufacturing and agriculture play a bigger role.
Also, blue states generally took more aggressive steps in responding to the pandemic, with Democrat leaders tending to impose stricter measures than their Republican counterparts, which may have pushed the unemployment rates in blue states artificially higher. Last October, a study of lockdown measures in the states was carried out by researchers at the personal finance site WalletHub, concluding that the states with the most restrictions tended to have the highest unemployment rates. Easing of restrictions and economic reopening may have thus led to a proportionally bigger bounce-back in employment.
The Commerce Department’s state unemployment report comes as Federal Reserve officials peruse labor market data to calibrate the timing for rolling back the crisis-era support measures for the economy. In response to the outbreak, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) dropped interest rates to near zero and set out on a massive bond-buying program, purchasing around $120 billion in monthly Treasury and mortgage securities. While a rate hike is still a ways off, Fed officials are considering tapering the asset purchases, with investors fixated on next week’s FOMC meeting for a possible taper announcement.
While tapering is expected to start this year, the timing of the announcement, as well as the pace of the wind-down, hasn’t yet been settled.
Patrick Harker, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, told Nikkei in an interview on Sept. 13 that he favors moving quickly toward a taper announcement.
“I am supportive of moving toward a tapering process sooner rather than later. When exactly that happens, the committee needs to decide. I would hope sometime this year we would be able to start the tapering process,” he told the outlet.

Tom OzimekReporter
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Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’

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Teamsters Organizing Workers’ Unions at 9 Amazon.com Facilities in Canada

The Teamsters workers’ union has launched campaigns to organize employees in at least nine Canadian facilities of U.S. e-commerce company Amazon.com, according to Reuters interviews with union officials.
The influential union took the first step earlier this week to organize employees at one of Amazon’s Canadian facilities, and the interviews reveal it is widening such efforts across the country, where the e-commerce company employs about 25,000 workers and plans to add 15,000 more.
The campaigns could be seen as a bet by the Teamsters that early success unionizing employees in a more labor-friendly market such as Canada will inspire similar results south of the border, where Amazon has so far fended off unionization attempts.
In the latest challenge to Amazon’s anti-unionization stance, Edmonton, Alberta’s Teamsters Local Union 362 filed for a vote on union representation at a company fulfillment center in nearby Nisku late on Monday.
Interviews with Teamsters units in other cities and provinces show that the union’s efforts stretch from the Pacific coastal province of British Columbia to the Canadian economic heartland in southern Ontario.
The Teamsters’ Edmonton unit says it has enough signed cards calling for a union to meet the 40 percent threshold to require a vote. Two of the union’s units in Ontario and one in Alberta have confirmed they are signing membership cards with Amazon workers.
And two of the five units that confirmed to Reuters that they are organizing said they are running campaigns at multiple sites, bringing the total Amazon facilities involved in some level of organizing to at least nine.
“Any locals that have an Amazon facility in their area are doing an organizing campaign,” Jim Killey, an organizer with Teamsters Local 879 near Hamilton, Ontario, told Reuters.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier in the week, Amazon Canada spokesperson Dave Bauer said in an emailed statement: “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.”
Unions would prevent the company from changing quickly to meet employees’ needs and represent “the voices of a select few,” he added.
A sign supporting Amazon workers unionizing is seen in Bessemer, Ala., on Feb. 20, 2021. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)
The Teamsters say they can help the workers win better wages and benefits, such as leaves of absence.
Sleeping in Their Cars
Unionization votes in Canada do not have any direct bearing on the United States, but they could raise enthusiasm, said John Logan, a labor professor at San Francisco State University.
“Organizing at a place like Amazon requires workers to take a certain amount of risk,” Logan said. “If they can look to other places and see that that risk has paid off for other workers, then they are far more inclined to do it themselves.”
Union members are going to great lengths to connect with Amazon workers, sleeping in their cars to catch the employees after graveyard shifts and forging ties at local churches.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has more than a million members in the United States and Canada, has made organizing Amazon a top priority, describing it as an “existential threat.”
Amazon does not have any unionized facilities in North America. The Teamsters is one of a handful of unions trying to undertake the daunting task of organizing its vast, high-churn workforce.
Earlier this year, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) lost a vote to organize workers in Bessemer, Alabama, by a more than two-to-one margin. Amazon pushed hard against unionization, and the result is being disputed.
The Teamsters have indicated they will not seek to hold such votes in the United States any time soon, arguing the process is unfairly tilted toward employers.
But in Canada, where labor laws are more favorable, the Teamsters see an opportunity to go straight to the ballot box.
The Teamsters’ Killey said his chapter is campaigning at Amazon facilities in Milton, Cambridge, and Kitchener, all traditionally working-class towns just west of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city.
“Where we see there is a lot of support, we’re going to go full steam ahead,” said Christopher Monette, spokesperson for Teamsters Canada.
Jason Sweet, president of Teamsters Local 419 in Ontario, said his unit has begun signing cards with workers in the greater Toronto area and has formed WhatsApp groups with Amazon workers to keep them abreast of the union’s efforts, delivering updates every 48 hours or so. “We are trying to build relationships from the inside,” he said.
In British Columbia, Teamsters Local 31 President Stan Hennessy said potential members have been receptive.
“It’s our hope that we can help these workers,” he said. “They certainly can use some help.”
By Julia Love and Moira Warburton

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ECB’s Lane Reveals in Private Meeting Inflation Target May Be Met by 2025: Report

FRANKFURT—European Central Bank (ECB) chief economist Philip Lane revealed in a private meeting with German economists that the ECB expects to hit its 2 percent inflation goal by 2025, the Financial Times said on Thursday in a report that was partly disputed by the bank.
The ECB had not made this long-term forecast public, meaning Lane could face questions from the public and lawmakers about the report, which suggests he revealed unpublished information to a select group of individuals.
The Times added that Lane told the German economists that the ECB’s “medium-term reference scenario” showed inflation rebounding to 2 percent soon after the end of its current forecast period.
The ECB, which initially declined to comment, later disputed the story, calling it inaccurate.
“Mr. Lane didn’t say in any conversation with analysts that the euro area will reach 2 percent inflation soon after the end of the ECB’s projection horizon,” an ECB spokesman said in a written statement.
The spokesman, however, did not comment on the 2025 date mentioned by the paper when asked.
Earlier this year, Lane was forced to suspend one-on-one meetings with investors immediately following policy meetings, due in part to public criticism of such engagements. But he has still been meeting with groups of economists.
The ECB updated its forecasts last week as it reduced the pace of its emergency bond purchases. It now sees inflation at 2.2 percent this year, 1.7 percent the next, and 1.5 percent in 2023.
The central bank has pledged not to raise rates until it sees inflation hitting 2 percent well before the end of its forecast horizon, which is typically between two and three years. Money markets have priced in a rate hike two years from now.

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