Talking Points


Walsh wants Boston developers to pay more


Walsh wants Boston developers to pay more

The City of Boston is set to ask commercial developers to contribute more to housing and job training funds. Mayor Martin J. Walsh will ask the Boston Planning & Development Agency this week to boost so-called “linkage” payments by 8 percent, to $10.81 per square foot for new office buildings and other commercial development. It would be the first increase in the fee since 2013. The linkage program has raised $40.4 million in housing funds and $9.4 million for job training programs since 2014. Housing advocates and others have pushed for a boost to capture gains from the ongoing building boom, and Walsh said he agrees now is a good time. “By asking developers to contribute more for affordable housing and job training, we are taking advantage of Boston’s strong market to support opportunities for our residents across the entire city,” he said. The move comes on top of a new Community Preservation Act surcharge on property owners to raise funds for housing, parks and historic preservation. The city also is considering more rigorous affordable housing requirements for new apartment and condo buildings. – TIM LOGAN


Senate bill would include a sort of carbon tax

The state Senate is poised to approve an energy bill that would include a carbon tax of sorts on transportation fuels, with the hope it could help the state meet its aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gases. It’s not exactly clear how this would work, although it would likely be imposed at the wholesale level and not at gas stations. The bill’s description of “market-based compliance mechanisms” is relatively open-ended, although it doesn’t sound like a straight tax. Instead, the result could be similar to an existing system that allows power-plant pollution “allowances” to be bought and sold. With a Senate debate and likely floor vote expected Thursday, the oil industry’s chief lobbying group sounded the alarm Tuesday. The American Petroleum Institute’s local arm warned senators in a letter that this measure “could lead to significant price increases as well as transportation fuel supply disruptions for consumers.” The industry group isn’t necessarily opposed, executive director Steve Dodge says, but it is concerned about states taking individual approaches instead of pursuing one federal solution. Other states have rejected such proposals, and Dodge says California remains the only one with a carbon pricing program for transportation fuels. But Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, head of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, says the bill would help Massachusetts take an important leadership role by establishing a model for others to follow, potentially through a regional approach. This measure will be a tougher sell in the more conservative House of Representatives. And there isn’t much time: Roll call votes end for the year on July 31. But Senate approval would send a strong message that policy makers shouldn’t primarily rely on power industry cutbacks to meet the state’s greenhouse gas goals. — JON CHESTO


Santander under fire for auto loan practices

The largest US labor federation is calling on Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc. to end its practice of allowing car dealers to add interest to a vehicle loan unrelated to the borrower’s creditworthiness. A group of organizations including the AFL-CIO and the Committee for Better Banks said it plans to submit a letter to chairman William Rainer and chief executive Scott Powell at Santander Consumer’s annual shareholder meeting Tuesday. They say the company should end dealer markups to prevent racial discrimination in lending. “In addition to harming consumers, the racially disparate impact of indirect vehicle lending creates risks to the company’s reputation and exposes the company to potential legal liability,” the groups said in a draft letter provided to Bloomberg News. Santander Consumer is a Dallas-based auto lender controlled by Banco Santander SA, the Spanish bank. The US company’s board has said it is committed to complying with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. “Santander Consumer has had a fair lending program in place for many years,” company spokeswoman Raschelle Burton said in an e-mailed statement. “We continually review transactions and processes to prevent disparate impact, including dealer participation, which is a common industry mechanism for compensating dealers for their role in facilitating the financing transaction.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Inflation rose at fastest pace in more than six years


US inflation accelerated in May to the fastest pace in more than six years, reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s outlook for gradual interest-rate hikes while eroding wage gains that remain relatively tepid despite an 18-year low in unemployment. The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent from the previous month and 2.8 percent from a year earlier, matching estimates, a Labor Department report showed Tuesday. The annual gain was the biggest since February 2012 and follows a 2.5 percent increase in April. Excluding food and energy, the core gauge was up 0.2 percent from the prior month and 2.2 percent from May 2017, also matching the median estimates of economists. The pickup in headline inflation partly reflects gains in fuel prices, though the annual gain in the core measure — seen by officials as a better gauge of underlying inflation trends — was the most since February 2017. While the Fed is widely projected to raise borrowing costs this week for the sixth time in 18 months, the path of inflation will figure into policy makers’ thinking on the pace of increases for the second half and in 2019. The data “provide further evidence that inflation is moving towards the Fed’s objective,” and the central bank will continue on its gradual rate-hike path, said Kevin Cummins, an economist at NatWest Markets. The pay figures are “a reminder that you don’t need to necessarily get more aggressive in your approach because wages haven’t accelerated as much as they have in the past,” he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Charitable giving exceeded $400 billion last year

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Fueled by a surging stock market and huge gifts from billionaires, charitable giving in the United States in 2017 topped the $400 billion mark for the first time, according to the latest comprehensive report on Americans’ giving patterns. The Giving USA report says giving from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $410 billion in 2017 — more than the gross domestic product of countries such as Israel and Ireland. That’s up 5.2 percent from an estimated $389.64 billion for 2016. The biggest increase was in giving to foundations — up 15.5 percent. That surge was driven by large gifts from major philanthropists to their own foundations. Other sectors with increases of more than 6 percent included education, arts and culture, environment and animal welfare, and public-society benefit organizations. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Tariffs could cost auto industry 1 billion auto sales

If President Trump slaps a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles, it may cost the US auto industry 1 million annual vehicle sales — and that’s just the low end of the estimated damage. The projection by researcher LMC Automotive assumes automakers would absorb at least half the cost of a tax on imported vehicles, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting. If companies pass the full 25 percent cost on to consumers, it could snuff out about 2 million sales, or more than 10 percent of annual US deliveries, he said. Trump’s order last month to investigate auto imports for potential trade penalties on national security grounds came as a surprise and quickly drew criticism from automakers, dealers and Republican lawmakers. While some analysts discounted it as a negotiating tactic to pressure Canada, Mexico, and the European Union on trade, Trump has since attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada after the G-7 summit in Quebec. Trump’s statements may merely be ‘‘chest thumping,’’ Schuster said. But after the United States imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from countries including Canada and Mexico, the threat of new levies must be taken seriously. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Uber CEO backs fee to help New York taxi drivers

Uber’s chief executive says New York City should impose a fee on app-hailed rides to help taxi medallion owners who are struggling with debt. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the New York Post on Monday that the city should put the surcharge into a fund to help taxi owners who bought their medallions at sky-high prices. He did not say how much the fee should be. ‘‘In circumstances where medallion owner-operators are having a hard time, where technology has changed and demand patterns has changed their environment, we would support some kind of fee or pool to be formed, a hardship fund, call it,’’ Khosrowshahi said. The value of a taxi medallion has fallen from as much as $1 million to $200,000 in the years since Uber and other ride-hailing companies disrupted the industry. Many owners who thought their medallions would continue to grow say they are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Groups that represent drivers blasted Khosrowshahi’s proposal. ‘‘Dara Khosrowshahi’s proposals are a slap in the face to struggling drivers and an attempt to get out of being regulated,’’ said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents Uber drivers, said, Khosrowshahi ‘‘needs to address the widespread hardship faced by drivers for his own company before considering taking another cut from our sub-minimum-wage pay.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS