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Welcome back to this week's edition of The Economic Perspective! We're getting into the Holiday spirit around here. We've had our teammates from the Seattle and Tallahassee offices here in Winter Park this week, and we all celebrated the year and the holidays in festive fashion. For our Holiday party we visited the Winter Park Heritage Center and then shared a lovely meal together - full of awards, prizes, and good cheer! Our sweater weather game was strong this week - pictured below.
In this edition we have articles on AI readiness, forest management, mining workforce and more.
We'll be back next week with our final 2023 edition of The Economic Perspective!
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Fed Projections: Soft Landing in Sight
21 months ago the Federal Reserve began the most aggressive monetary tightening cycle in decades and the optimal outcome of bringing down inflation without inducing a recession may be achieved. A ‘soft-landing’ is in sight, as measured by the Consumer Price Index inflation was down to 3.1 percent last month, the unemployment rate remained below 4 percent, and GDP is tracking to grow 2.5 percent this year. There is still cautious optimism following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting this week with the rate likely at or near its peak for tightening, but the committee is prepared to tighten policy further if needed. See the data here.
Why the U.S. has a Serious Mine Worker Shortage
More than half the nation’s miners are expected to retire in 2029, and the number of workers willing to fill these slots is dwindling. Baby boomers dominate the miner job position and many are retiring or will retire soon despite the industry continuing to rely on their expertise. Additionally, with demand on the rise for lithium, cobalt, copper, and other critical minerals for EV batteries and other electronics, this presents a problem for the transition to green energy. 384 new mines will likely need to be opened to meet demand for EVs by 2035. Read More.
Community Forest Management Identified as Key Predictor for Improved Environmental Qualities
A recent study published in Nature Climate Change reveals that community tropical forest management by rural and Indigenous communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America can serve as predictors for positive outcomes for carbon storage, biodiversity, and forest livelihoods. The study, analyzing 314 tropical forests in mixed-use rural landscapes, classifies them into five clusters based on benefits. It identifies formal community forest management associations, local rule-making participation, and tree plantation interventions as key predictors of positive outcomes. The findings emphasize the importance of legal recognition and implementation of community rights, highlighting the need for tailored governance conditions for successful forest restoration and conservation. Read more here
The Green Nobel Prize
The great grandnephew of Alfred Nobel, Marcus Nobel, has established the annual “Green Nobel” prize to recognize environmentally-focused and accomplished individuals in this field. It was first awarded last year with no prize money, but the scope of the field has broadened for 2024. The aim of the prize is for "raising consciousness” of environmental impacts, sustainability, and promoting healthier, and more resilient, ecosystems. The next awardees are 6 individuals that have been preserving and protecting the Amazon Rainforest’s biodiversity, and will be awarded in 2024 with prize money yet to be confirmed. Read more here.
Congestion Pricing for NYC
New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board approved congestion pricing measures this week, which implements fees to vehicles entering any Manhattan Street south of Central Park, excluding major highways. Tolls will be charged during peak hours, which occurs from 5am to 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 9pm on weekends. Pricing begins at $15 for passenger vehicles and is as high as $36 for larger trucks, with a 25% increase in the toll occurring for all vehicles during high congestion time periods like the holidays and a 50% increase for vehicles not using E-ZPass technology. The tolls would also apply to ridesharing and taxi services. Exemptions have been made for certain categories of drivers including those who make under $50,000 a year, emergency services vehicles and drivers who are transporting people with disabilities. The tolls have not been put in place yet, with the vote spurring a 60-day public comment period before a final vote is held in 2024. Read more here
Data Visualization of the Week
AI Readiness Index
The U.S. seems to be the County most prepared to deal with Artificial Intelligence tools – at least according to the government artificial intelligence (AI) readiness index rankings. It was ranked first with an index score of 84.8 – using an index that integrates information on AI implementation readiness for public services, healthcare, transportation and other sectors. Singapore, the UK, and Finland came in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th on the index of AI readiness. See the data here