The daily business briefing: December 30, 2021
A Champagne shortage ahead of New Year's Eve, airline woes continue, and more
Champagne in short supply ahead of New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve might not be quite as bubbly this year — and not just because fears of the Omicron variant are bringing the mood down. Alison Napjus, the senior editor of Wine Spectator, warned Fox Business that "it could be tough to find some of your favorite labels [of Champagne] this year" as the industry is impacted by ongoing supply chain issues. "The market has fluctuated over the last 18 months, too," Beverage Industry Enthusiast adds. "In 2020, the demand for Champagne dropped 18 percent by volume, according to Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the trade organization for the Champagne region." Then, as demand climbed again in 2021, heat and frost hurt the Champagne region's production. Experts say the shortage is expected "to last several years."
Jet stream causing more issues for airlines
U.S. airlines are already understaffed because of COVID-19, and the weather isn't helping matters. The jet stream winds have been unusually strong for several days, affecting transcontinental flights. Those going eastbound on Wednesday were arriving up to an hour earlier than scheduled, while westbound flights were slowed down, some delayed by as much as 45 minutes. Earlier this week, the headwinds were so strong that a Phoenix-bound American Airlines flight from Boston had to stop in Oklahoma City to refuel, The Wall Street Journal reports. Thousands of flights have been canceled in the last few days, due to snow in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest combined with staffing shortages caused by pilots, flight attendants, and other airline crew members testing positive for COVID-19; as of Wednesday night, more than 500 flights were already canceled for Thursday.
Experts say HBO Max had the 'best 2021' of any streamer
Which streaming service had the best 2021? According to experts who spoke with Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw for his "Screentime" newsletter, the easy answer was HBO Max. "With roughly 70 million global subs, the service grew its user base substantially and has emerged as a viable challenger to Netflix and Disney," Variety's Brent Lang told Shaw. "It also fielded a number of buzzy hits like Hacks, Mare of Eastown, and The Flight Attendant that, for my money (and I subscribe to all of them), were far more accomplished than anything I watched on Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon, Paramount Plus." The Ringer's Alison Herman agreed, explaining that HBO's "day-and-date bet for movies paid off in subscribers." Netflix came in second in the expert's informal poll, being credited for its indispensability.
Futures tick upward in quiet final week of 2021
Low trading volumes characterized the last week of 2021 on Wall Street, with U.S. futures ticking upward ahead of open on Thursday, "poised to rise … to new all-time highs," Barron's writes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a new all-time high of 36,488 in its sixth consecutive winning day on Wednesday while the S&P 500 managed its 70th consecutive new high of the year. Investors are likely anticipating Thursday's weekly jobless claims report, with "first-time unemployment filings … expected to tick up slightly from last week's reading but remain near pre-pandemic lows," Yahoo! Finance writes. Added Kevin Philip, a managing director at Bel Air Investment Advisors, "Despite global surges in COVID cases, the markets are reflecting the new reality that COVID is here to stay albeit more on our terms than its."
Don't forget to include 'income from illegal activities' on your tax forms, says IRS
The IRS would like to remind taxpayers to include any "income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs," on their forms, noting that "if you steal property, you must report its fair market value" but only if you don't "return it to its rightful owner in the same year." The amusing requests went viral this week on social media, although "the statutes are law and have been on the books for years," NBC News reports. As Gary Schroeder, a Maryland-based tax preparer, explained, "All income, from whatever source, is taxable income, unless excluded by an act of Congress. If you receive $500 to kill your neighbor's annoying rooster, or find $1 on the street, or embezzle from your employer, that's all taxable income, as well as your paycheck from flipping burgers at McDonald's."