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    Economists are still waiting for the tank to be half full. Although they have been pointing out all year what a big benefit Americans would get as a result of sliding gasoline prices, the predicted boost to consumer spending resulting from this has failed to materialize. Last summer, when oil prices were still near a multiyear high, personal consumption was growing by between 4.4% and 5% versus a year earlier.

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    Important economic data measuring the financial health consumers will be released Friday. At 8:30 a.m. ET comes Personal Income and Outlays numbers. Also expected is Consumer Sentiment Survey results at 10:00 a.m. ET. The Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole, Wy., Symposium, which began Thursday, continues.

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    Fischer, BOE's Carney, RBI's Rajan to discuss inflation. The Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole summit will garner special attention this year given the financial market turmoil and uncertainty over what it means for U.S. central bank monetary policy. The must-see event is a discussion on global inflation by Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan.

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    When your Chinese food delivery guy arrives by plane. At least two Chinese restaurants take the orders, do the cooking and then hand pints of General Tso's chicken, moo shu pork and lo mein to New England Airlines. Christmas season has officially begun.

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    A federal labor board voted Thursday to redefine the employee-employer relationship granting new bargaining powers to workers caught up in an economy increasingly reliant on subcontractors, franchisees and temporary staffing agencies. The decision by the National Labor Relations Board could upend the traditional arms-length relationship that has prevailed between corporate titans such as McDonald’s and its neighborhood fast-food franchises. And it comes as concerns are growing about a generation of new Internet-fueled business such as Uber and Lyft that depend heavily on independent contractors. In a case that drew intense lobbying by both business and union groups, Democratic appointees on the panel split 3-2 with Republicans to adopt a more expansive definition of what it means to be an “joint employer," making it more difficult for companies to avoid responsibility through various forms of outsourcing. In doing so, the panel sided with labor advocates and academics who have described an increasingly “fissured” economy, in which whole industries have been built on business models that offer workers few of the protections of a traditional employer relationship. “With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the Board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances,” the Board said in a release accompanying its decision. The board’s action is just the latest to tackle the trend. The Department of Labor has cracked down on employer misclassification of independent contractors, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has directed inspectors to consider whether principal employers might be at fault for the safety violations of their subcontractors. Courts, meanwhile, have been scrutinizing companies like FedEx (FDX) and Uber for their use of contractors. Employers are pushing back. Businesses that might be subject to the new joint employer definition have warned that it could undermine longtime business models that have kept the U.S. economy competitive by holding down labor costs. As a result of the decision, some businesses may be able to distance themselves from their partners to avoid joint employer status, but others may find they need to exert more control. Corporations are “trying to have it both ways — have the benefits of the control, and not the disadvantages,” says Timothy Glynn, a professor at Seton Hall University Law School. “Where I think it would be very difficult to give up control is circumstances where there’s some exacting need for quality, timeliness, or consistency in the product.” Like a fast food franchise , for example. While this case did not address franchising directly, the new standard will apply in a major series of cases against McDonald’s scheduled for arguments in the fall. The International Franchise Association has been lobbying against the anticipated decision for more than a year, arranging public hearings, airing ads, and rallying franchisees to make politicians aware of the decision’s potential implications. “The Board’s tortured analysis will undoubtedly be met with skepticism and will be rejected by local franchise owners, legislators and, ultimately, the courts,” said IFA president Steve Caldeira in a press release. “IFA and its allies are asking Congress to intervene to halt these out-of-control, unelected Washington bureaucrats to preserve the established joint employer standard.” Congressional Republicans have already obliged, attaching a rider to the budget that would prevent the implementation of a new joint employer standard, among measures meant to block other recent NLRB decisions. Responding to the decision, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) vowed to “roll back” the NLRB’s shift, while Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he would introduce a bill to “invalidate” the ruling. The case concerned a recycling company called Browning-Ferris Industries in Milpitas, Calif., which used a temporary staffing agency called Leadpoint to provide workers. A Teamsters local tried to organize the employees, but did notjust want to negotiate with Leadpoint — it wanted Browning-Ferris to qualify as a “joint employer,” figuring that bargaining wouldn’t be effective unless it also included the larger company that determines the conditions of the working environment. A regional director disagreed, and the Teamsters appealed. This time, the NLRB’s general counsel sided with the union, recommending in an amicus brief that the board ignore a standard in place since the 1980s and instead apply a broader definition of what it means to be an employer. The Board’s Democratic majority agreed and struck down earlier cases that had articulated the previous standard, saying that the growth of the contingent workforce has rendered the definition out of step with the core purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. In doing so, it returned to an even earlier standard, the abandonment of which fostered the growth of independent contractor relationships in industries like trucking and taxis. The Board also reversed the regional director’s decision, saying that Browning-Ferris exercised sufficient control over hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, and work hours to qualify as a joint employer under the new standard. It ordered that ballots impounded after the Teamsters’ election in April 2014 be counted, which — if the union wins — would allow it to bargain directly with the recycling company as well as the staffing agency that hired them. “Today’s decision is another step to show that companies can no longer claim they are not employers when problems arise,” said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division. “Instead of pointing fingers if a worker gets hurt, companies will now be accountable. It’s the decent and reasonable expectation that workers should have at work.” The issue has not just been a bone of contention between unions and employers. It also created sharp disagreements within the labor board: The two Republican appointees authored a blistering dissent, alleging that the new standard goes beyond the body’s authority and could affect a vast swath of new employers. “Under the majority’s test, the homeowner hiring a plumbing company for bathroom renovations could well have all of that indirect control over a company employee!” the dissent read. “We suppose that our colleagues do not intend that every business relationship necessarily entails joint employer status, but the facts relied upon here demonstrate the expansive, near-limitless nature of the majority’s new standard.” This may not be the end of the matter, however. Browning-Ferris Industries has the option to appeal to either the 9th Circuit or the D.C. Circuit Court. “We are currently evaluating all of our available options regarding this matter with the objective of not being unlawfully forced into collective bargaining negotiations with another employer’s employees,” said Darcie Brossart, a spokeswoman for Republic Services (RSG), the waste company that owns Browning-Ferris.  Read more: Bracing for labor board decision, employers spend recess courting DemocratsA federal agency is about to answer the question: Who do you actually work for? Fast food workers score a big win against McDonald’sFranchises fear a ‘devastating’ change to their business modelFast food companies are invoking ‘Main Street’ to fight unions






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    Since the Black Lives Matter movement arose in the wake of protests over the police killing of an unarmed teenager last summer in Ferguson, Mo., it’s given new energy in many places to the fight for a $15 minimum wage. There’s a lot of overlap in poor, African American communities that see a strong link between racial and economic justice.But in St. Louis, a small fracture appeared Wednesday when Democratic Alderman Antonio French — whocame to national prominence during the protests, hassupported Black Lives Matter andsees himself as a mediator between residents and the police —published an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explaining his opposition to a measure that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $11 by 2018. Doing so, he argued, could send what few jobs exist in the community out to St. Louis County, which has given no indication it’s willing to raise its own wage floor. "In my neighborhood, when I look at the young guys, black males, unemployment is close to 50 percent,” French said in an interview. “For me, my main interest is to get people to work.”That puts him at odds with some constituents, like Ashli Bolden, a community organizer with Missouri Jobs with Justice who lives in French’s ward.“He’s screaming black lives matter, but we don’t deserve higher wages?” Bolden says. She’s noticed plenty of low-wage employers opening in the area, and thinks they could afford to pay more. “I can’t see these Family Dollars moving to the county because of a wage increase.”The tension illustrates a challenge that many poorer cities will face as residents press for higher wages: Although most cities that have raised their minimum wages thus far haven’t experienced dramatic job losses, the hikes being contemplated by city councils now are much larger. Places with much higher median wages, like Seattle and San Francisco, are likely better able to absorb large minimum wage increases without job losses.That hassome economists warning that these smaller, lower-wage cities might do themselves harm by raising their minimums too far above the state’s baseline. "If you raise the minimum wage in one area, then businesses that pay minimum wage workers will relocate over time depending on the goods and services they provide and on how easy the migration is,” saidBrian Speicher, a senior lecturer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "This is why state or federal increases are better, because it does not create imbalances in the labor market."Most of these smaller cities aren't going all the way up to $15. Kansas Cityvoted to increase its wage to $13, Birmingham, Ala. raised its minimum to $10.10 over two years, and Greensboro, N.C. went up to $10 for city employees. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, while making apublic show of support for the Fight for $15 in Detroit this week, declined to endorse a $15 minimum wage everywhere — cities should decide the best level for themselves, he said. Part of French’s opposition to the $11 minimum wage bill — whichneeds one more vote in the city council before going to the mayor, who has signled he would sign it — is that the city so far hasn’t undertaken a formal study of how such an increase would affect the local economy, asLos Angeles did before raising its minimum wage to $15. At the moment, there’s a big income difference between St. Louis City and St. Louis County, which wraps around the urban core: Median household incomein the city is $34,582 a year and 27.4 percent of residents fall below the poverty line, compared to $58,910 and 10.9 percentin the county. In the larger metropolitan area, which encompasses the city and several surrounding counties, the average wage for food preparation and serving workers is $10.04 — which may reach $11 through natural increases by 2018. According to French, employers are only willing to pay a finite amount, and he’d rather more people have low-paid, part-time jobs than a few people have well-paying, full-time jobs.“I’m just trying to spread the pot out as much as possible so people can have more money in their pockets,” he says. “And this hurts our efforts a little bit."But Jeanina Jenkins, who now makes $8.65 an hour working at a McDonalds in St. Louis, thinks the wage hike would create a virtuous circle, increasing the size of the pot for everyone."If the bill does get passed, more businesses will want to come into the community, because there will be more money in the community. They will see that people aren’t living in poverty,” she says. “This is an opportunity he can use to change and push to better the communities. Try it out and then see what happens.”






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    By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch, Eric Yep. Venezuela requests emergency OPEC meeting: WSJ. Oil futures jumped by more than 10% on Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark adding to already large gains following a report that Venezuela asked the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold an emergency meeting.

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    By Joseph Adinolfi, MarketWatch, Hiroyuki Kachi. Russian ruble rises 3.5% in strongest performance of the year. The dollar rose for a third straight day Thursday after the Commerce Department revised second-quarter gross domestic product growth upward to 3.7% from 2.3%.

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    This morning my big idea focused on the call-back spread tactic, and now we will employ that strategy. The CBS (CBS) tactic fits this ETF primarily because of the premium bids/offers in terms of risk/reward potential and liquidity. The CBS (CBS) expiry for this trade is January, which is a relatively long term for any premium buyer.

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    Donald Trump is finally showing us more of his economic plan beyond the "Make America Great Again" slogan on his red hat. America has now learned: -- He wants to tax the rich more and the middle class less. -- He wants to lower corporate taxes. -- He wants to cut government spending and stop raising the debt ceiling.

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    The U.S. economy grew more rapidly than initially estimated between the months of April and June, new government data showed Thursday morning, expanding at a 3.7 percent annualized rate.The latest read on gross domestic product suggests that the economy is getting a significant boost from consumer and business spending, even as concerns spread about a slowdown in China and greater global volatility.A previous estimate of second-quarter growth, released last month, showed the U.S. economy had expanded 2.3 percent. Ahead of this revision, economists had expected the number to bump up, but more modestly, to around 3.2 percent.“I was just really, really pleased by the breadth of improvement,” said Michael Dolega, a senior economist at TD Bank. “You basically have that consumer strength, and at the same time businesses are investing despite the huge hit from energy.”The GDP report provides a reassuring note about the underlying strength of the American economy and could push officials at the Federal Reserve to consider raising interest rates sometime in the next months. Such a move had been called into question by several top economists earlier this week as stock markets plunged amid concerns about the durability of Chinese growth."The Fed can be confident that the economy is in a healthy state" when it meets next month to discuss whether to raise rock-bottom interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years, Mike Jakeman, global analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, said in an e-mail.Consumer spending in the second quarter grew at a rate of 3.2 percent, compared with the 2.9 percent pace in the original estimate last month. The fresh numbers suggest that Americans, despite stagnant wages, are getting a boost from cheaper prices at the pump, new jobs, and rising home prices.The GDP figure in the second quarter also got a major push from business investment — that is, investment in research, equipment, land and development. The Commerce Department said that nonresidential investment increased 3.2 percent in the second quarter after barely budging in the previous six months. In the estimate from last month, business investment in the second quarter had actually been negative, dragging down the GDP.Business investment had been sluggish throughout the recovery and was particularly weak earlier this year, as declining energy prices caused major cutbacks in the oil fields of Texas and North Dakota. But other sectors are booming. Investment in intellectual property — a good proxy for the software world — has grown 7.9 percent over the last year, the fastest pace since 2007.For now, 2015 seems to be following the pattern of the previous year, with a sharp winter slowdown and then a recovery to more normal growth. Most economists say that, overall, the U.S. is still moving at the same steady but unspectacular pace seen throughout the recovery from the financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the U.S. GDP will grow by 2.5 percent this year.






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    This week's fall in equities markets is not expected to have a major impact on August U.S. auto sales, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Thursday. The consultancies say monthly auto sales to be reported next Tuesday by major automakers will show a decline of 3.9 percent from a year ago, to 1.52 million vehicles.

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    This week's fall in equities markets is not expected to have a major impact on August U.S. auto sales, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Thursday. The consultancies say monthly auto sales to be reported next Tuesday by major automakers will show a decline of 3.9 percent from a year ago, to 1.52 million vehicles.

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    China's insatiable appetite for metals like copper is falling off a cliff. And killing U.S. jobs. Copper -- a key indicator of global growth -- has been hit especially hard by China's slowdown. Besides electronic products and cars, copper is widely used in wiring, plumbing and building construction -- key components in China's massive infrastructure development boom of the last decade.

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    As Federal Reserve officials and central bankers from around the world gather for an annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., inflation will be in the spotlight. "Because Chair Janet Yellen is not attending, the focus of Jackson Hole will shift to inflation," said Michael Hanson, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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    The jump in business investment in the second quarter is not an illusion, and it's likely to continue to grow in coming quarters, economists said Thursday. Business investment was the star of the second-quarter GDP data, having been revised dramatically upward to a 3.2% advance from an initial estimate of a 0.6% decline. All subcategories of business investment-- structures, equipment and intellectual property-- were revised higher.

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    Let’s forget about China for a moment.The turmoil that the world’s second-largest economy has incited in global financial markets has ramped up speculation over when the Federal Reserve will finally raise its target interest rate, with the odds of that happening when the central bank meets next month falling rapidly.But that doesn’t mean September was a done deal before the latest crisis.Fed officials have repeatedly pushed out their forecasts for the first rate hike and moved down their expectations of the path of subsequent increases. One of the main culprits? Inflation, or rather a lack thereof.The central bank has stated that it wants to be “reasonably confident” that inflation is headed back up to its goal of 2 percent before it begins to withdraw its support for the U.S. recovery. But something is always getting in the way — a surge in the dollar, a drop in oil prices, weak productivity.There were glimmers earlier in the year that prices were starting to move back up. Wage growth, in particular, seemed to have some momentum after stagnating for years. Average hourly earnings for private workers rose by 2.3 percent this spring compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, the employment cost index, which tracks how much businesses spend on wages and salaries, saw its biggest year-over-year jump since the Great Recession during the first quarter.The activity, combined with the strong hiring and a rapidly falling unemployment rate, gave the Fed hope that the economy would be able to withstand the first rate hike in nearly a decade by the end of the year.In a March speech in California, Fed Chair Janet Yellen laid out a strong case for an interest rate increase this year. She emphasized that monetary policy works with long lags and the dangers of waiting too long to make a move:I would not consider it prudent to postpone the onset of normalization until we have reached, or are on the verge of reaching, our inflation objective. Doing so would create too great a risk of significantly overshooting both our objectives of maximum sustainable employment and 2 percent inflation, potentially undermining economic growth and employment if the FOMC is subsequently forced to tighten policy markedly or abruptly.In her remarks, Yellen explicitly stated that a pickup in inflation was not a precondition to a rate hike. But she also said that she would be “uncomfortable” raising the Fed’s target rate if wage growth or inflation were to weaken.Guess what happened?The employment cost index posted its smallest quarterly gain on record during the spring. The pickup in average hourly earnings turned out to be just another blip. Oil prices resumed their slide. Productivity remains a puzzle.The standard driver of a Fed rate hike is the appearance of inflation on the horizon. But it would take a telescopic lens to find any sign of it now. And as the threat of inflation becomes increasingly remote, the catalyst for the Fed to act becomes weaker.It’s worth noting that this is essentially the same position that Chicago Fed President Charles Evans staked out last year: The lack of inflation pressure gives the central bank plenty of room to be patient, even as the unemployment rate continues to fall.So the Fed was heading into the September meeting with lukewarm arguments on both sides of the coin: Any urgency to act to combat inflation was fading, but a tiny increase in the target rate wasn't likely to do much harm.Now add China back to the equation. The uncertainty surrounding the world’s second-largest economy provides the Fed with a good reason to stay the course when it meets next month. And bets are growing that it will wait a while longer.