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Briefs for Friday

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in October, the lowest reading in five months, suggesting that a price spike over the summer is beginning to fade as coronavirus cases spread.

The flat reading for last month followed a gain of 0.2% in September. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, also showed no changed in October, another indication that inflation remains well- behaved, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Over the past 12 months, overall inflation is up a moderate 1.2% while core inflation is up 1.6%. Both readings are well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for annual price gains.

Bank officials seek more stimulus efforts worldwide

FRANKFURT, Germany – Three of the globe’s top central bankers said their economies continue to need help despite progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine, with U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell saying that the U.S. Congress “may need to do more” to cushion the blow from the pandemic.

Speaking at an online conference held by the European Central Bank, Powell, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and ECB head Christine Lagarde emphasized the longer-term threat to the economy from the pandemic while welcoming the preliminary results showing a vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer was highly effective.

Powell said the main risk to the economy “is the further spread of disease here in the United States” and that people may lose confidence that it is safe to go out: “We have said from the beginning that the economy will not fully recover until people are confident it is safe to resume activities involving crowds of people.”

Remote workers’ tax sought to support others

LONDON – White-collar staff reaping the financial benefits of working from home should be taxed to help other workers who aren’t getting the same advantages, experts at Deutsche Bank said in a new report.

In its report on how to rebuild the economy after COVID-19, the bank proposed a 5% daily tax on each employee that continues to work from home, which could raise tens of billions of dollars for governments.

The money could be used to help lower income workers who have taken on greater risk because their jobs can’t be done remotely, it said.

The bank noted that the global pandemic has turbocharged the shift to remote work, a trend that looks set to last for the long term with many workers expecting to spend at least a few days of their work week at home even after the pandemic ends.

These workers benefit from more convenience and flexibility.

They also save money directly because they don’t have to pay for commuting costs, takeout lunches, or buying and dry-cleaning work clothes – but it means those businesses that have grown up to support office workers won’t be able to recover and “the economic malaise will be extended,” the report said.

From wire reports

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