As people continue to feel the effects of the pandemic, many small business owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. The US Congress is considering House Bill 3807 to help small businesses with a $42 billion relief package. Erika Polmar, the Independent Restaurant Coalition executive director, said this bill would be a "lifeline" for around 2,700 independent restaurants in Oregon that applied for relief last year but never received it. House Bill 3807 now has to pass the US Senate, and we’ve yet to see how much relief small businesses will actually receive. If this bill passes, it will provide much-needed relief to small businesses across the country. As Polmar said: "The future of our industry, the 216,000 jobs that restaurants and bars provide Oregonians, are in jeopardy if we don’t replenish this fund." If voted in, House Bill 3807 would help the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and support many other businesses impacted by the pandemic. With this bill, small business owners could apply for grants to cover expenses such as payroll, rent, and utilities, letting them avoid getting unfavorable loans to keep their business running. This would be a massive relief for many small businesses that have been struggling to stay open during the pandemic. And although many of them are busy again, they are now facing serious problems with inflation. "All of those costs have skyrocketed. So, what you may have seen happening in 2019 as a really great banner night is now barely making ends meet," said Polmar. Dwayne Thomas, the president of the Live Events Coalition, commented on the bill, saying: "We’re just in debt up to the hilt trying to stay open and relevant as now we’re going back to work. We’re going back to work amid a worker shortage, amid all kinds of supply chain issues, and we’re going back to work quite quickly." He also said that the $13 billion would be allocated to different businesses and divided into three rounds. The first round of relief will go to those who lost 80% or more of their income within the past two years.
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2022 saw significant job growth.
Despite some progress over the years, the gender gap persists in finance programs at top business schools.
The US housing market kept up its momentum in December 2021, with some 40% of homes fetching more than their listing price.
In 2021, the prices of wholesale products rose by 9.7%, reflecting the highest consumer inflation in the last 40 years.
Despite disruptions and challenges posed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, unemployment continues to decline.
The Producer Price Index for final demand jumped 9.6% during the year, after increasing 0.8% in November.
Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to fund an infrastructure revamp in a push to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and transition to cleaner energy.
According to a new Mercatus/Incisiv study, the e-commerce industry will account for 20% of the US grocery retail market in five years’ time.
Square, a popular payments system, has recently launched its new product, Square KDS, a display system for restaurants that focus on delivery and don’t necessarily have a front-of-house or even a POS system. Square’s Kitchen Display System helps restaurants streamline their processes, connecting the front-of-house to the back-of-house and order fulfillment. Likewise, orders from delivery apps and the Square Online site are all sent directly to the kitchen via Square KDS. It has already replaced post-it notes in many restaurants due to its ease of use. Restaurant owners can also benefit from additional features, such as ticket timers, performance reports, and notifications that can be customized to meet the restaurants’ specific needs. It seems that Square has jumped to cater and adapt to the pandemic-related trend of delivery-only restaurants. These ghost kitchens and other businesses that don’t have a front-of-house can take advantage of Square’s technology. Originally released in November 2020 as part of the Square for Restaurants POS software package, Square KDS has now become available as a stand-alone product. Some other big names in the restaurant industry, such as Kitchen United, have focused on developing their own solutions to keep up with the new trends, but smaller businesses rarely have enough time and funds to do so, making solutions such as Square KDS even more valuable. Square’s new product is currently available as a standalone in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Square is currently offering a special price for this new solution, standing at $10 per month per device until the end of 2021. Alternatively, users can get it if they opt for Square’s Plus plan, which costs $60 per month per location. Large businesses might also consider purchasing Square’s Premium plan, which can be tailored to a particular restaurant’s needs.
Check Point Software Technologies researchers gained access to the data of over 100 million Android users due to misconfigured cloud-based storage solutions. They published their findings on May 20, citing 23 highly sought-after mobile apps as dangerous for internal user data due to oversights in cloud-based-storage security configurations. Real-time databases, cloud-based storage, and notification managers were misconfigured, leaving both developers and users exposed. Both secret and access keys were embedded in the same service that stores personal data. The mishandling of these cloud-based solution services revealed personal information like passwords, email addresses, device location, private messages, user identifiers, and more. For example, Astro Guru - an astrology app downloaded more than 10 million times - exposed its users’ personal info and payment details due to unsecured syncing, which could have been avoided with appropriate identity theft protection. Similarly, Check Point’s researchers managed to acquire chat messages exchanged between drivers and passengers on the T’Leva taxi app. Over 50,000 users had their in-app correspondence leaked with a single request sent to the app’s real-time database. Users’ full names, locations, and phone numbers were also contained in the leak. The last example is a screen-recording and storing app called Screen Recorder; the app has over 10 million users. Its developers embedded access keys in the same database they used to store recordings, essentially offering them to anyone who decided to look. Cloud storage on mobile apps is a very convenient solution for developers. However, this widespread mishandling of configuration and implementation put both developer and user data at risk. Check Point Software researchers have found dozens of cases where developers tried to hide how they keep cloud service keys in their apps by providing a solution that doesn’t fix the issue. Researchers had contacted Google and app developers before they published their findings. However, only a few apps have evaluated their configuration since.
Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius has recently said that a cryptocurrency intended to compete with the dollar is likely to be made at some point by the Federal Reserve. Crypto traders are not enthusiastic about this news, as it brings a level of regulation to the traditionally unregulated market. “The Fed is still in the research stage,” Hatzius explained for Yahoo Finance Live and added that there is an appetite for introducing a digital currency. However, he also says that the Fed needs to move cautiously to avoid undermining the current payment and financial system. “I think small steps are not likely to be very disruptive ,” Hatzius said. “Large steps could be disruptive. That’s why I think you need to move slowly, and gain a lot more experience before you ramp it up.” Crypto traders look unfavorably on the US government’s initial attempts to regulate Bitcoin. The same goes for China. Authorities in that country have already openly said that cracking down on Bitcoin mining and trading is necessary, so this news has a bitter taste for crypto traders around the world. Following the Chinese authorities’ announcement, Bitcoin plunged on Sunday, May 23, by more than 15%. At the moment of writing, it stood at $32,652, half its peak in April. Ether, too, initially shed 18% but recovered the following morning. Currently, both the Fed and the Treasury consider cryptocurrencies to be highly speculative assets. US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says that “to date, cryptocurrencies have not served as a convenient way to make payments, given, among other factors, their swings in value.” Considering Bitcoin’s volatility, many small businesses are likely better off opening checking accounts in banks than using this and other cryptocurrencies. Still, a new currency, coming from the Fed, shouldn’t pose any risk to the current financial system, according to Hatzius. He believes that its introduction could work, provided that the Fed takes its time to research the digital currencies and fit them into the current financial system.