An upgraded IMF forecast, an accelerated COVID-19 vaccine timetable and delay in virus-related OSHA standard, Amazon support for a corporate tax hike, the White House steps back from vaccine passports, and an advance for recreational marijuana legalization in Connecticut are among the morning’s top business news items.
The International Monetary Fund has issued a new forecast anticipating that economic growth will be higher than originally expected this year, driven largely by COVID-19 vaccination efforts and stimulus packages in larger economies. The IMF is predicting that the United States will be a major driver, with its economy expected to grow 6.4 percent and the global economy to increase by 6 percent.
President Joe Biden has moved up his deadline for opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults, bringing it from May 1 to April 19. Biden said he is pleased with the progress in vaccination efforts, but said Americans should remain cautious and continue to pursue strategies to improve vaccine access.
Three weeks after a deadline set by the Biden administration for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to decide whether a temporary emergency standard on COVID-19 matters is needed, Secretary of Labor Matty Walsh is putting a temporary hold on the release of the standard. Walsh says this step allows the standard to incorporate the latest information on vaccinations and COVID-19 variants.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he supports Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent to fund a $2 trillion package to improve U.S. infrastructure. Bezos applauded the administration’s “bold investments” in infrastructure and said they will “require concessions from all sides.”
The Biden administration is ruling out the possibility of the federal government taking a role in “vaccine passports,” saying there will be no federal database or credentials requirement on vaccinations. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is deferring to private companies to decide whether they will require proof of vaccination, although some Republican governors have barred this practice.
The Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly has approved a bill proposed by Governor Ned Lamont to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The committee made a number of revisions to the bill, including limiting permits for cannabis shops to existing medical marijuana businesses and “social equity” applicants between July 2021 and January 2024.