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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Federal Reserve Looking to Curb Inflation

Aug 11, 2022 02:10PM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

Tom Barkin, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, spoke to an Accelerate luncheon at the Champions Club at Fluor Field in Greenville on Aug. 8, 2022, and said the Fed’s responsibility is to act to reduce inflation and stabilize expectations, and it’s doing so. But it will take time to bring inflation back to a 2 percent target, he said.

“The Fed’s tools don’t work immediately,” Barkin said.

“They work over time so you shouldn’t expect inflation just to plummet back to 2 percent suddenly.”

He added, “After you’ve had a decade of stability, and you replace it with two years of volatility, it’s like the aftershocks of an earthquake. It just takes a while for this amount of volatility to settle down back to target.”

He sees inflation coming down in three ways. First, demand should flatten, reducing pricing pressure. He believes higher interest rates should slow the economy by increasing borrowing costs and discouraging spending and investment.

Secondly, he said, pandemic supply chain challenges should heal as pandemic pressures ease and companies adjust. There are early signs of this healing, he added, with freight costs decreasing, large retailers announcing they are now more fully stocked, and employers having more hiring success.  

The third involves commodities, like oil and wheat. Over the last couple of months, the dollar has strengthened, and gasoline and even the broader range of commodities dropped from peak pricing levels, Barkin said.  

A recession could happen, but most importantly, Barkin believes moderating demand has a higher purpose squarely in the Fed’s mandate: containing inflation.

Wells Fargo economists reported consumer price inflation surprised to the downside in July, with the headline index flat over the month and core prices rising 0.3 percent. 

Falling prices for gasoline, used autos and travel service categories such as airline fares, car rentals and lodging away from home helped cool monthly inflation from the torrid pace seen in May and June, the economists said. 

Accelerate is Greenville’s private sector-fueled economic development initiative. It exists above and beyond regular Greenville Chamber initiatives in an aggressive and forward-thinking effort to cultivate further growth. 

Cedar Fair Approves Capital Allocation Strategy

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, said its board of directors approved an updated capital allocation strategy, highlighted by the declaration of a cash distribution of $0.30 per limited partner (LP) unit and the authorization of a $250 million unit repurchase program.

The distribution is payable on Sept. 15, 2022, to unitholders of record as of Aug. 31, 2022. In addition, the repurchase program authorizes the company to make unit purchases in the open market, or through privately negotiated transactions, up to $250 million.

Headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Fair owns and operates Carowinds, which straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina state line.

Company officials said the objectives of Cedar Fair’s capital allocation strategy are to maintain a strong balance sheet, provide adequate liquidity for investing in growth opportunities, and return excess capital to unitholders.

“Having weathered the worst of the pandemic, we are pleased that Cedar Fair has emerged with the capital structure and free cash flow generation to support the return of capital to unitholders once again,” said Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman.

Countybank Names James T. Hedgepath as General Counsel

Countybank announced that James T. Hedgepath is its new general counsel and chief human resource officer.

Hedgepath comes to Countybank with more than 20 years of experience in employment and employee benefit law. Hedgepath most recently served as an attorney for Nexsen Pruet, LLC, where his practice focused on a wide range of employment-related matters including discrimination, Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, employee benefits, and general advice and counsel.

He has extensive experience assisting clients in almost all areas of employment law. In addition, Hedgepath is a seasoned litigator and appellate practitioner, having tried cases in numerous courts as well as arguing and winning numerous appeals in state and federal appellate courts.

He is certified by the South Carolina Supreme Court as an Employment and Labor Law Specialist and serves on the South Carolina Supreme Court’s Specialization Advisory Committee.

“Jamie’s expertise in human resources and employment litigation make him a perfect fit for this critical leadership role,” said R. Thornwell Dunlap III, president and CEO of Countybank.

“We are pleased to welcome him to Countybank and look forward to seeing our associates and corporate culture continue to thrive under his strategic guidance.”

In his dual role, Hedgepath will advise Countybank with respect to all legal matters and strategically lead the development and execution of Countybank’s human resource strategy, including talent management, organizational and performance management, training and development, and compensation.

Foreclosure Rates Take Slight Downward Turn

ATTOM, curator of real estate data nationwide for land and property data,  released its July 2022 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows there were a total of 30,358 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — down 4 percent from a month ago but up 143 percent from a year ago. 

Nationwide, one in every 4,628 housing units had a foreclosure filing in July 2022. States with the highest foreclosure rates were Delaware (one in every 2,127 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Illinois (one in every 2,334 housing units); New Jersey (one in every 2,564 housing units); Nevada (one in every 2,609 housing units); and South Carolina (one in every 2,976 housing units).

“While it's encouraging to see both foreclosure starts and completions drop off a bit in July, it's also worth noting that there may be some seasonality impacting the numbers,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM. 

“In eight of the last 10 years, Q3 foreclosure activity has been lower than the previous quarter, so we might just be seeing a return to a more normal seasonal pattern of delinquencies and defaults.” 

Lenders started the foreclosure process on 21,428 U.S. properties in July 2022, down 4 percent from last month but up 226 percent from a year ago.

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