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Colombia Leans Left in Election Run Up

Colombia may elect a leftwing government for the first time in years in its upcoming presidential election, potentially changing its relationship with the United States. 

New polls show radical left candidate Gustavo Petro in the lead over more conservative competitors, center-right Federico Gutiérrez and populist Rodolfo Hernández, in advance of this weekend’s May 29 election. Experts say the election will likely go to a run-off in June, as no candidate is likely to get over 50% of the vote.

Petro has promised sweeping changes, including renegotiating Colombia’s free trade agreement with the U.S., legalizing the drug trade, and restoring diplomatic relations with Venezuela, whose president the U.S. doesn’t recognize. His campaign promises have made business leaders and landowners nervous, reports the Financial Times, and Colombia’s central bank, Banco de la República, says it has seen capital flight from the country leading up to the election.

100 Best and Worst US Companies

Source: The Harris Poll

In a poll ranking the most visible U.S. companies by reputation, brands that Americans considered good employers were also ranked the best companies overall, reveals a new Axios Harris Poll 100. The poll surveyed over 33,000 U.S. adults between March and April of this year to determine which companies “excel or falter in society.” 

Among the top 10 most reputable companies were three grocery chains, two car manufacturers, and big brands like Patagonia, Amazon, and Samsung. Seven out of the top 10 companies ranked highly in culture, meaning Americans considered them good places to work. Companies like Trader Joe’s and Patagonia also performed well across demographics, ranking highly regardless of age or political party. Companies that Americans consider the least reputable include Twitter, Wish.com, and the Trump Organization.

Political or public scandals also affected how companies performed year over year. Disney dropped sharply in the rankings, likely in reaction to its initial silence—followed by its public stance against—Florida’s anti-LGBTQ legislation. “The findings suggest that companies that are slow to respond to political crises, or do it inconsistently, suffer the most in terms of consumer reception and trust,” reported Axios.

The U.S. May Be Headed for a Recession

Rising inflation and recent dips in U.S. stock markets have caused some experts to forecast a recession for the U.S., reports Investment Monitor

The U.S. economy shrank by 1.4% in the first quarter of this year, and rapidly rising interest rates have prompted concern that an economic downturn is around the corner. But banks are divided over the likelihood of a recession: Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank expect a recession this year, while Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the New York Reserve put the odds of a downturn at 25% or lower. 

Decades-high inflation has reduced consumer confidence to its lowest point since 2011, with the majority of Americans (52%) reporting that they’re in greater financial distress now than last year. U.S. businesses also report lower confidence in the future, with over a quarter of business owners (29%) expecting a decrease in business activity.

Global Supply Chain Woes Grow

Global supply chain disruptions are growing worse as the crisis in Ukraine continues and a new wave of the Omicron variant sweeps China, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Global Supply Chain Pressure Index. In April 2022, supply chain pressures increased for the first time since December 2021.

China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy put the greatest pressure on supply chains in April, as lockdown measures in major cities cause shipping, air freight, and trucking delays and freight backlogs worldwide. European delivery times were also delayed, as Russia’s attacks on Ukraine disrupt trade routes through both countries. Increasing airfreight costs from the U.S. to Asia, due in part to a surge in jet fuel prices, were also a factor.  

From December 2021 to March 2022, the NY Fed reported an overall easing of pressures on supply chains, though they remained at historically high levels. Last month’s data and the likelihood of future geopolitical tensions are likely to increase supply chain pressures in the near term.

NOAA Warns of Severe Hurricane Season

Forecasters at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting an above-average hurricane season this year, with up to 21 storms between June and November 30. 

NOAA estimates there is a 65% chance that the 2022 season is above average, with only a 25% chance of a near-normal season. Of the 14 to 21 named storms, NOAA predicts six to 10 of these could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and three to six could be major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). This will be the seventh consecutive season with above-average hurricane activity.

As climate change impacts weather patterns, natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes will be more extreme and their seasons will last longer. The more intense hurricane activity this season is due to “several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, warmer sea surface temperatures, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon,” NOAA says. 

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