5 things to know: 2 December 2019
5 things to know: 2 December 2019
02 DECEMBER 2019 10:11 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • ICE deports witness in Hard Rock Hotel collapse case
  • Trump to restore tariffs on steel, aluminum from South America
  • Hotel C-Corps CEO changes not a sign of what’s to come
  • Storms upset post-Thanksgiving travel
  • Interest rates not expected to rise for a while

ICE deports witness in Hard Rock Hotel collapse case: Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma, a witness in a federal workplace safety investigation of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans that collapsed in October, The New York Times reports. Ramirez Palma, originally of Honduras, was among the injured when the under-construction hotel collapsed. Three construction workers died in the collapse. 

Ramirez Palma emigrated from Honduras in 1999 and has been in the U.S. since, working in construction even though he was not authorized to work, the article states. A federal immigration judge ordered his deportation in 2016, but he was able to stay because of his 10-year-old son.

Prior to the collapse, Ramirez Palma told supervisors about problems with the construction “multiple times,” the newspaper reports. As the building collapsed, he gave an on-air interview with a Spanish-language news outlet. He later became a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the hotel’s developers.

ICE’s official position is that there is no connection between the deportation and his role as a witness because his latest application for an extension was denied a week before the collapse. Workplace safety advocates worry this could discourage other immigrants from reporting problems and serving as witnesses. 

Trump to restore tariffs on steel, aluminum from South America: President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement via Twitter that he planned to restore tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, The Wall Street Journal reports. In his explanation, Trump wrote that both countries “have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers.”

These tariffs were originally part of the tariffs imposed on multiple countries in 2018, the article states, but Brazil and Argentina were among the many countries who were able to negotiate an exemption.

The Trump administration continues to negotiate a trade deal with China that would remove some of the tariffs on Chinese imports.

Hotel C-Corps CEO changes not a sign of what’s to come: Though the boards at RLH Corporation and Extended Stay America recently decided they needed to make a change in leadership, industry analysts say these moves were the results of circumstances specific to these companies and not the start of a trend at other publicly traded hotel companies, reports HNN’s Bryan Wroten.

If there is any parallel between the two companies, it’s that both boards want a CEO who can drive franchise sales growth while communicating the company’s value proposition to future owners and Wall Street, said Brian Dobson, VP of equity research at Instinet.

“I think that in both (RLH) and Extended Stay, there was a question as to what the path for the core business was forward, and that’s what drove the boards’ decisions in both cases,” he said.

Storms upset post-Thanksgiving travel: A large winter storm making its way through the Northeast led to the cancelation of hundreds of flights Monday, CNBC reports. The storm is expected to drop more than a foot of snow in upstate New York and New England.

As of this morning, 172 flights have been canceled and more than 450 delayed, the article states, citing flight-tracker Flightaware.com.

Stormy and windy weather on 1 December forced more than 950 flight cancelations and 8,400 flight delays from Boston to San Francisco, the article states.

Interest rates not expected to rise for a while: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has given several indications that the Fed won’t increase interest rates for some time, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Citing statements from a news conference in October, the newspaper reports Powell said the Fed would need to see a “significant move-up in inflation that’s persistent” before considering a rate increase. In a speech last week, Powell justified the Fed’s decreasing of rates because the economy had less momentum last year and the current rates aren’t that stimulative.

“The threshold to cut rates is still significantly lower than the threshold to raise rates,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, told the newspaper, adding that core inflation would likely need to reach 2.25% for about six months for the Fed to consider a rate increase.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten.

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