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Business Highlights: Supply shortage, infrastructure bill

November 15, 2021 GMT

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Key reason for supply shortages: Americans keep spending

DETROIT (AP) — Take a step back from the picked-over store shelves, the stalled container ships and the empty auto showrooms, and you’ll find a root cause of the shortages of just about everything you’d want to buy. We’re buying too much stuff. Households flush with cash from stimulus checks, booming stock markets and enlarged home equity have felt like spending freely again. And since consumer demand drives most of the economy, the recovery keeps sailing ahead. Add the fact that companies are ordering more goods and parts than they need so they don’t run out, and you end up with an almost unquenchable demand that is magnifying the supply shortages.

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Biden signs $1T infrastructure bill with bipartisan audience

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has signed his $1 trillion infrastructure deal into law on the White House lawn, with a smattering of Republican lawmakers on hand for what could be one of the last shows of bipartisanship ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The president hopes to use the law to build back his popularity, which has taken a hit amid rising inflation and the inability to fully shake off the public health and economic risks from COVID-19. Biden says, “My message to the American people is: America is moving again.” He also is promising people that “your life is going to change for the better.”

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Roads, transit, internet: What’s in the infrastructure bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The $1 trillion public-works plan that President Joe Biden plans to sign into law on Monday has money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more. It’s a historic investment and the money promises to reach just about every part of the country. The White House is projecting that the investments will add about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade. The bill would provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles of America’s highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition.

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Democrats push for paid family leave ahead of critical votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi surprised advocates, and even many of her Democratic colleagues, when she revived a long-sought paid family and medical leave plan and said it would be part of a massive social and environmental spending bill in the House. Ahead of eventual votes in the House and Senate, supporters are scrambling to try to keep it in the bill. And their effort is largely focused on one person — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin’s Democratic colleagues and advocacy groups who support paid leave have been lobbying the mercurial senator at home and in Washington.

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Washington seeks over $38 billion from opioid distributors

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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has taken the state’s case against the nation’s three biggest drug distributors to trial. The trial started Monday after Ferguson rejected a half-billion-dollar settlement. He says they must be held accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. His gamble isn’t without risk, as a loss by three California counties in a similar case this month demonstrates. The attorney general’s office sued McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. in 2019, alleging they made billions off the opioid epidemic by shipping huge amounts of prescription painkillers into the state when they should have known those drugs were fueling addiction. The companies deny wrongdoing.

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Charities see more crypto donations. Who is benefiting?

NEW YORK (AP) — As the biggest cryptocurrencies flirt with record highs in value, they are increasingly becoming bigger sources of revenue for charities. However, the number of charities accepting the virtual currencies, known for their volatility, remains limited. According to CoinGecko pricing, the world of crypto recently pushed past $3 trillion in value. The virtual currencies are attractive to donate because they allow donors to bypass capital gains tax on the appreciated assets they give to charity. Donors would also be eligible for an income tax deduction. Many large charities and aid organizations have set up ways to accept crypto contributions. But experts say smaller organizations are running behind.

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Film crew union narrowly approves contract with producers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Film industry crew members have narrowly voted to approve a pair of contracts with Hollywood producers. The vote announced Monday comes after a standoff that nearly led to a strike that would have frozen productions across the U.S. The popular vote of members was within a single percentage point. Many members of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees felt the two deals didn’t go far enough on issues like long workdays that lead to fatigue that can be dangerous. The union represents about 150,000 behind-the-scenes workers, including stagehands, cinematographers, camera operators and makeup artists.

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E-commerce mattress maker Casper sold for about $308 million

NEW YORK (AP) — The e-commerce mattress maker Casper is being acquired and taken private for about $308 million. Shares of Casper Sleep Inc. spiked 88.5% to close Monday at $6.69. Durational Capital Management will pay $6.90 per share for Casper’s stock. The New York City company went public in February 2020 and it’s had a rough debut. After being valued as a private company at more than $1 billion, it began selling shares early last year for $14.50, which put its value as a public company at around $575 million. That was close to its peak. At the close of trading Friday, a share of Casper could be had for $3.55.

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The S&P 500 fell 0.05 points, less than 0.1%, to 4,682.80. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 12.86 points, less than 0.1%, to 36,087.45. The Nasdaq dropped 7.11 points, less than 0.1%, to 15,853.85. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 10.84 points, or 0.4%, to 2,400.93.