6 Most Important Things in Business Today

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Gasoline prices have started to rise due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. In some areas, they rose as much as 10 cents in a day. Lock-downs of refineries probably will cause the prices to move higher. The Financial Times reports that a third of U.S. refineries have been impacted.

According to Bloomberg, President Trump may tie an increase in the debt limits to legislation to approve aid to those in trouble due to Hurricane Harvey. The news service reports:

President Donald Trump is considering attaching an increase in the U.S. debt limit to an initial $5.95 billion disaster aid funding request for Hurricane Harvey, two administration officials said, a move aimed at lowering the risk of an unprecedented default.

The White House request, which could come as soon as Friday, would include $5.5 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the remainder to the Small Business Administration. The request is being prepared primarily to cover funding demands through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year, according to the officials, who described the matter on condition of anonymity.

China’s artificial intelligence sector has made tremendous strides recently, which could allow it to equal U.S. accomplishments in the same field. CNBC reports that Goldman Sachs has made an evaluation of the situation:

China has the resources and ambitious top-down plans to potentially create an intelligent economy powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning over the next several years, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs.

In the report, titled “China’s Rise in Artificial Intelligence,” the investment bank said the world’s second-largest economy has emerged as a major global contender in using AI to drive economic progress.

Goldman said the government and companies have identified AI and machine learning as the next big areas of innovation.

The Trump administration will slash the advertising budget to get people to sign up for Obamacare. CNNMoney reports:

The Trump administration plans to spend 90% less on advertising to get people to sign up for Obamacare than former President Obama did last year.
The administration will spend $10 million on promotions during open enrollment season this fall, compared to $100 million a year ago, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers Obamacare, said Thursday. It will focus on radio and digital ads, as well as email to existing enrollees.
At the same time, it is cutting funding for so-called navigators — who help people sign up for coverage — by 41%. The 98 navigator groups will receive a total of $37 million for the coming enrollment season.

Expected changes to the $20 bill may have been killed. According to The New York Post:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that his department may kill an Obama administration plan to replace President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Real estate research firm CoStar reported that the damage to commercial real estate from Harvey has been huge:

As the flood waters finally begin to recede in Texas and Louisiana, officials caution the storm waters continue to pose threats to life and property. However, the region is shifting into recovery mode and beginning to take a full measure of the unprecedented destruction brought by Hurricane Harvey.

A CoStar Group, Inc. assessment of the potential impact of the epic storm on the Houston commercial real estate market reveals that 27% of the market’s gross leasable area, representing approximately $55 billion in property value, was likely affected by flooding.