Business Briefs – December 9, 2019

Amazon Says Trump’s ‘Improper Pressure’ Doomed Pentagon Bid

NEW YORK (AP) – Amazon says President Donald Trump’s “improper pressure” and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract. The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing contract to Microsoft in October. Amazon argues in a lawsuit unsealed Monday that the decision should be revisited because of “substantial and pervasive errors” and Mr. Trump’s interference. Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos have been a frequent target of Mr. Trump. Bezos personally owns the Washington Post, which Trump has referred to as “fake news.” A Pentagon spokeswoman said Monday the decision to select Microsoft was made by career public servants and military officers and without external influence.

Fed Is Likely to Reinforce a Message Of Continued Low Rates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is expected to send a clear message when its latest policy meeting ends Wednesday: Interest rates will likely stay ultra-low for the foreseeable future. Behind that message is a view that has gained support at the Fed as the U.S. economic expansion has entered a record 11th year: That contrary to long-standing thinking, a robust job market won’t necessarily fuel high inflation. Fed policymakers appear to feel freer now to keep their benchmark short-term interest rate low.

World Trade Without Rules? U.S. Shuts Down WTO Appeals Court

GENEVA (AP) – Global commerce is losing its umpire and leaving countries unable to resolve trade disputes at the World Trade Organization. They will be subject instead to what critics call “the law of the jungle.’’ The United States seems to like it that way. Two of three judges on the WTO’s Appellate Body are to step down Tuesday at the end of their terms and rendering what amounts to the Supreme Court of world trade unable to issue rulings. President Donald Trump has blocked replacements from taking up their jobs.

GM Lending $40M to Startup Company Buying Closed Ohio Plant

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — General Motors has agreed to loan $40 million to a newly formed company that wants to make electric pickup trucks at a massive Ohio assembly plant GM shut down earlier this year. Documents filed last week show the agreement also would allow GM to buy back the plant up until next May. Lordstown Motors wants to begin making electric trucks at the former GM plant by late 2020.

Business Economists See U.S. Slowing but Avoiding Recession

WASHINGTON (AP) – Business economists expect U.S. economic growth to slow this year and next, but they say the economy will avoid recession. If it does, that will extend a record-breaking expansion already in its 11th year. The latest survey by 53 forecasters with the National Association for Business Economics shows that they expect economic growth to slow from 2.9% last year to 2.3% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020.

Insulin Prices Double, Pinching Diabetics’ Budgets

(The Columbus Dispatch) – People with Type 1 diabetes spent $5,705 per person on insulin in 2016, the latest year for which data was compiled by the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute. That’s a $2,841, or 99%, per-person increase over 2012. The rising prices are causing many diabetics to go to extremes, including rationing, which can result in death.

In people with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can’t make insulin. Those with the condition require several doses of insulin a day and spent $5,705 per person on it in 2016, an increase of $2,841, or 99%, per person since 2012, according to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute.

Costs continue to rise, so much so that almost half of diabetics have temporarily skipped taking their insulin, according to a 2018 survey by UpWell Health, a Salt Lake City company that provides home delivery of medications and supplies for chronic conditions.

“Insulin prices doubled in a four-year period,” said Cathy Paessun, the director of the Central Ohio Diabetes Association. “They continue to go up, and the infuriating thing is that there is no change in the process for creating the product.”