America's economic growth depends on ports for a competitive edge in exports and for the flow of imported goods that bolster Americans' paychecks. The costs incurred during slowdowns at U.S. ports, recent and otherwise, highlight the considerable importance of ports to the U.S. economy and the need to reform U.S. port labor law. Indeed, if America is to reap the benefits of the two major new free-trade deals currently under negotiation, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), U.S. ports must be open for business.
The Federal Reserve is preparing to normalize monetary policy and has plans to raise its policy rate from zero in the very near future. Economic conditions have improved markedly in the past year. This is seen in respectable economic growth and the unemployment rate has been falling below 5.5%, the Fed’s estimate of the natural rate. Until earlier this year the FOMC has been reluctant to normalize monetary policy and raise the federal funds rate because it felt that labor market conditions were still too soft. That reason is vanishing very quickly.