THE SECOND ROUND OF STIMULUS – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
President Trump has officially signed into law a second round of stimulus checks to citizens as part of the coronavirus relief package. This second round of direct payments does come with a few fundamental changes though. In the first round of funding, eligible households received $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. This time around, we see a decrease to $600 per adult and an increase to $600 per child. These changes apply to individuals with gross income under $75,000 and married couples under $150,000 based on their 2019 income. All of these changes are expected to happen relatively quickly, as the IRS has started sending out payments via direct deposit as of December 29th. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, states that all taxpayers who have current banking info with the IRS will receive direct deposits by January 4th. With nearly a third of Americans reporting that they are struggling to pay their bills due to the pandemic, this is undoubtedly welcome news, despite failure to push through legislation to increase direct payments to $2,000 from $600.
COVID-19 RELIEF BILL
House Representatives passed the updated Covid-19 relief bill with increased payments from $600 to $2,000 and the bill now includes college dependent students. This all seems to be for not due to the expected vote of the Senate to decline the increased Stimulus. This re-vote was all based on President Trump initially declining the first round of stimulus funding in favor of the larger package.
In other news, Boeing had its first flight with its controversial 737 Max from Miami to LaGuardia after 21 months of being forced aground after two fatal crashes. This comes after nearly two years of the plane being grounded and facing harsh regulations from every aviation agency across the globe. With Boeing able to now fly this plane we can begin to see Commercial Airlines begin to purchase and renew contracts for the 737Max.
Ant group is facing harsher regulations from the Chinese government as they want to hold Ant Group’s finances in a holding company. China is using this as a possible way of increasing domestic consumption by having raised consumer loans. They want to use Ant groups finances as a way of providing funding to citizens which in turn will then increase at home spending.
And finally, the United Kingdom approved the third vaccine from AstroZenica to combat the notorious Covid-19. AstroZenica has partnered with Oxford University to create this vaccine, and it has reached the minimum efficacy needed to push forward for implementation. This approval is only within the United Kingdom and needs to go through trials within the United and be approved by the Food and Drug administration. The United States is skeptical of the AstroZenica vaccine as they have had several missteps along the way and need to re-prove their credibility to the United States marketplace.
The head of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination program has requested that Health Canada, the department responsible for the country’s federal health policy, delve into the feasibility of administering Moderna’s two-shot vaccine in a single dose. General Hillier (Ret.) cites a desire to increase efficiency in helping citizens. Notable health officials have expressed that there is a lack of evidence to suggest merit to this idea. If this idea gains traction and is proven to be effective, the implications are significant as it will lower the time necessary to inoculate and protect the population effectively lowering the rate at which coronavirus will spread.
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
The House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and override President Trump’s veto. The 740 billion dollar law automatically comes into effect. The bill contains multiple cybersecurity provisions relevant to the Solar Winds hack. It also gives the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS the authority to issue administrative subpoenas that will enhance the agency’s ability to investigate private-sector networks’ hacks. The bill is necessary for strategic programs, cyber, intelligence matters, drug interdiction, and counter-drug activities in appropriations adjustments.
In other news, there may be major international shipping disruptions in 2021 due to a law signed in 2018 that comes into effect. Over 180 countries and territories are not in compliance with the 2018 Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. The bill’s purpose was to combat the opioid crisis and stop fentanyl shipments through the USPS by providing advanced electronic data, or AED. AED provides USPS and Customs and Border Protection with information about international packages’ contents before they reach the United States. Country waivers are available, but only to countries without the technological and financial capital to properly comply with it, which is only 10-15% of total volume.