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Business News Roundup, February 16, 2021

Fears of inflation due to economic recovery initiatives diminish, and President Joe Biden faces calls to be a stronger advocate for a higher minimum wage. A winter storm in Texas is upending the oil and gas market. Drugmakers and health officials are poised to meet the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic. And local retailers have often been the beneficiaries of pandemic conditions as larger chains struggle.


Inflationary concerns will be less of a concern to the Biden administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as they pursue recovery from the economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19. A New York Times feature explores how the federal government is breaking from decades of economists’ warning about inflation in an attempt to foster a faster return to stability.

Biden is under pressure from activists to be more aggressive in his support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Although the proposal was included in a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package Biden is proposing, he has acknowledged that it is unlikely to make it to the final version and that he will pursue it as a standalone measure if necessary.

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Variants in the COVID-19 virus could be likely be addressed by modifications to already available vaccines, although health authorities would need to decide when the virus has changed enough to take this step. The vaccines that have been developed are so far holding up against the variants that have emerged.

The frigid weather affecting Texas is both boosting fossil fuel demand and hindering oil and gas production in the state. Natural gas prices in particular are closely tied to weather conditions and has seen a rapid increase in demand and price.

A New York Times feature looks at the disparate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on retailers. While New York City’s major retail chains in areas dependent on tourism traffic have suffered the most, independent local shops have been better able to endure the pandemic conditions.

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