Higher Rock Education - Economics Blog

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Economics in the News – April 8-14, 2024

Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

o   More perks are coming to credit card users awaiting their flights in style. Capital One and American Express are among credit card issuers who have opened lounges at airports across America. Airport lounges have increased in popularity over recent years. There are broadly three types of airport lounges: those that are airline operated, those that are shared-use spaces that aren’t limited to one airline or frequent flier status, and those operated by credit cards or in partnership with lounge development services.

American Express was once the only credit card issuer with lounges in the United States, before Chase Sapphire and Capital One each opened locations at major airports, and have plans to expand to more airports in the coming years. Younger travelers are more inclined to book travel with credit card loyalty programs. Because of such, credit card companies have seen an opportunity to expand their brand awareness through the use of lounges, while access to the lounges can be a perk for a credit card with an annual fee. Users of lounges gain access to private bathrooms with showers, complimentary massages, game rooms, or even an exercise room equipped with Peloton bikes. [The New York Times]

o   The prices of postage stamps is expected to rise in the coming months. The United States Postal Service proposed a nearly eight percent increase, the latest of several price increases since 2021. The new prices would take effect in July, pending approval from an independent regulatory commission.

The price of a Forever stamp would increase to 73 cents from its current price of 68 cents, while the price of a domestic postcard would increase to 56 cents from a current price of 53 cents. The proposed changes are part of the 10-year plan to raise prices and slow deliveries in attempt to recoup some of the $160 billion in projected losses over a decade. [The New York Times

o   Sales of gas-electric hybrid vehicles accelerated over electric vehicles over the first quarter of 2024. Hybrid sales climbed 43 percent in the first quarter of the year while sales of electric vehicles increased by 2.7 percent. Consumers are leery of charging availability of electric vehicles and other hassles, including a price tag that many buyers find to be too high.

Many car companies de-emphasized hybrid vehicles in recent years to invest heavily into building their electric vehicle offerings. But with hybrid vehicles dominating, automakers are enhancing plans to build out their hybrid inventory. [The Wall Street Journal]

o   Did you file your taxes before Tax Day? Most Americans, except for those living in Maine and Massachusetts, have until April 15 to file their taxes or file for an extension. Residents in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 17 because of a state holiday. Before April 1, roughly 90 million Americans had filed their tax returns with 20 million Americans expected to file their returns before the deadline, according to previous trends.

Payments are due on the day that your tax return is due. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will charge a late fee with interest on what you owe, if taxes are not filed on time. [The Washington Post]

o   Food and beverage chains took advantage of marketing opportunities during the solar eclipse, offering free and discounted specials. The eclipse brought heavy demand for lodging, food and travel industries, with a Texas-based economic consultancy estimating an economic impact of $6 billion.

Some of the specials offered by chains included a $3 whole pizza for 7-Eleven customers who used the chain’s delivery service. Burger King offered a buy one, get one free promotion for their Whopper. Insomnia Cookies gave away a free classic cookie with any $5 purchase. Krispy Kreme introduced a “Total Solar Eclipse Doughnut” featuring sprinkles with an Oreo cookie in the center. Wendy’s offered customers a free frosty with any mobile app purchase through Sunday. [NPR]

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