Economics in the News – April 11-17, 2022
Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.
- Move over electric car, get ready for electric airplanes. Alia, an experimental electrical aircraft designed by Beta Technologies, is being developed in Vermont. The aircraft relies on batteries and therefore has no carbon emissions. It’s designed to transport cargo, rather than passengers. Despite the excitement for e-planes, the Federal Aviation Administration has never certified electric propulsion as safe for commercial use.
Beta has captured the attention of a broad audience with the Alia. Amazon has invested in Beta through its Climate Pledge Fund, while the Air Force and Army have signed contracts with the company. [The New York Times]
- American utility companies are planning upgrades to shift to renewable energy and replace aging power grids. It will cost companies the biggest spending increase in decades to prepare for electric vehicles, reduce carbon emissions, and replace infrastructure that has become prone to failure. The move comes partly as a response to federal and state mandates. The increased spending is expected to result in higher electricity bills.
Experts believe the investments are critical to meet renewable energy targets and climate change has heightened the need to upgrade grids to withstand severe weather patterns that meteorologists link to higher temperatures. The proposed investments are likely the largest since the 1970s and 1980s. [The Wall Street Journal]
- With many students falling behind in school because of lost instruction time in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic, many school districts are hiring tutors. The schools must spend $122 billion before federal aid from the American Rescue Plan expires in 2024. A barrage of online tutoring companies have come to the forefront, with schools often contracting with tutoring services without proof that their methods are effective.
The pandemic spurred a boom in online tutoring companies, some of which are well-established with a record of advancing students and other venture-capital startups that led student chats through questions around the clock. The federal aid is designed to be spent on evidence-based programs, but the Education Department is leaving the decisions up to the districts the verify that the services are effective. [The Wall Street Journal]
- The Evergreen Ever Forward container ship was dislodged by two barges and five tugboats early Sunday, April 17 after a spending a month aground in the Chesapeake Bay outside Baltimore. Crews had to remove 500 of the 5,000 containers the ship was carrying to lighten the ship. The ship ran aground March 13 while traveling from Baltimore to Norfolk, Va.
The Ever Forward is operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp and is a sister vessel to the Ever Given container ship that was grounded in the Suez Canal last year. Experts have said that the grounding hasn’t resulted in injuries, damage or pollution. [Associated Press]
- Wedding season is in full swing. After many couples delayed their big day, the wedding industry has seen a boom in demand. Americans are expected to host 2.5 million weddings this year – the most in nearly four decades – according to the national trade group the Wedding Report.
But ongoing supply chain issues, labor shortages and inflation have brides and grooms paying escalating prices.Average spending on weddings is up 25 percent from last year to more than $27,000. Many wedding planners expect prices to increase as companies raise prices and account for higher fuel costs. [The Washington Post]