Economics in the News – March 7-13, 2022
Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.
- Major League Baseball is back! MLB team owners and the MLB Players Association agreed terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a lockout that lasted three months. As MLB spring training began over the weekend, Opening Day is now set for April 7 with the full 162-game schedule restored.
Major matters that were agreed upon by the MLB team owners and the MLBPA include an increase to competitive balance tax thresholds, the minimum salary and the size of the pre-arbitration pool for young players breaking into the league. In addition, the MLB playoffs will be expanded to include 12 teams – six per league. Other changes for the 2022 season include the implementation of the designated hitter to the National League. The 2023 season could see a potential ban on the defensive shift, larger bases and a pitch clock. [The Wall Street Journal]
- Amazon.com has announced plans for its first stock split since Sept. 1999. The e-commerce company plans to boost its number of outstanding shares by a 20-to-1 ratio and also announced plans for a $10 billion share buyback.
Amazon’s announcement came a month following Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which announced a 20-to-1 stock split of its own. Amazon and Alphabet are looking to attract more retail investors, while Amazon’s aim is to give employees “more flexibility in how they manage their equity.” Both stock splits are subject to shareholder approval and would take effect in June. [Bloomberg]
- March 11, 2022 marked the two-year anniversary since the World Heath Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. That declaration changed the world overnight. Stocks tanked, classrooms and offices began to close, sports leagues around the world began cancelling games. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than six million deaths globally and cost millions their jobs.
However, in the last six weeks, hospitalizations across the United States are to their lowest level since July 2021. In its latest report, the World Health Organization said that infections and deaths are down globally with only the Western Pacific seeing a rise in cases. Many businesses are seeing a higher number of customers, as mask mandates, vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 measures are being eliminated. [Associated Press]
- Have you filled out your bracket for this year’s March Madness? After the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament and with Indianapolis hosting the 2021 NCAA Tournament, this year marks a return to normalcy for the tournament. Teams will scatter to eight cities across the country and 48 games will be played over a four-day period.
Roughly $1 billion will be spent on advertisements for the 2022 men’s tournament, broadcasted by CBS and Turner Sports with ratings expected to be closer to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the NCAA Women’s Tournament begins over the weekend and the Walt Disney Co. has announced that it has also sold its full inventory of advertisements as well. [CNBC]
- Average gas prices across the United States hit $4.33 per gallon with a US ban on Russian import oils driving the prices higher in the near term. Car buyers are showing interest in fuel-efficient options, including hybrid and electric models. Nearly 78 percent of vehicles sold in the US last year were SUVs or trucks, according to analysts.
The spike in gas prices is renewing the focus on fuel economy, instead of larger vehicles. However, dealerships are already dealing with historic low inventory, leaving new and used car buyers with few options. [The Wall Street Journal]