Category: BUSINESS

Retailers Rethink Pandemic-Battered Manhattan – The New York Times


In the heart of Manhattan’s garment district, a after-active Starbucks on a corner of Eighth Avenue and 39th Street sits empty. Just down the block, a Dos Toros Taqueria that opened just a few yrs back is now closed. And Wok to Stroll, which as soon as served steaming containers of noodles combined with chicken and veggies to a bustling lunch crowd, is also shuttered.

Whilst the Delta variant of the coronavirus has once more delayed plans by many firms to convey workforce back to offices en masse, workers who have been trickling into Midtown are discovering that several of their favorite haunts for a swift cup of coffee and a muffin in the morning or sandwich or salad at lunchtime have disappeared. A range of people that are open up are functioning at minimized hrs or with limited menus.

With the pandemic holding tens of millions of New York City workplace workers dwelling for the previous 12 months, restaurants, espresso shops, attire merchants and others struggled to keep afloat.

By the conclusion of 2020, the number of chain stores in Manhattan — every thing from drugstores to clothes merchants to restaurants — experienced fallen by a lot more than 17 per cent from 2019, according to the Middle for an Urban Upcoming, a nonprofit exploration and policy group.

Throughout Manhattan, the number of offered ground-floor retailers, commonly the area of occupied eating places and clothes stores, has soared. A quarter of the ground-flooring storefronts in Reduce Manhattan are out there for lease, whilst about a 3rd are out there in Herald Sq., according to a report by the real estate business Cushman & Wakefield.

Starbucks has forever shut 44 retailers in Manhattan considering the fact that March of very last year. Pret a Manger has reopened only 50 percent of the 60 spots it experienced in New York Metropolis ahead of the pandemic. Several delicatessens, independent dining places and more compact neighborhood chains have absent darkish.

“Midtown plainly has been the most difficult strike of any of the regions of Manhattan,” claimed Jeffrey Roseman, a veteran retail true estate broker with Newmark. “If you believe of other office environment-centric regions, irrespective of whether all the way downtown or Flatiron or Hudson Yards, there is a ton of household encompassing these regions that aided maintain all those marketplaces. Midtown, for the most element, is a a single-trick pony.

“It’s generally workplaces and accommodations, which also took a hit from the downturn in tourism.”

The turmoil has arrived at farther downtown, while. Final week, the luxurious home furnishings retailer ABC Carpet & Home — whose flagship retailer has been a fixture of the Union Sq. place — filed for personal bankruptcy defense, in element mainly because of “a mass exodus of recent and prospective customers leaving the metropolis.”

Still, with so substantially uncertainty about when staff members may perhaps entirely return to Midtown offices, some companies are proceeding very carefully. The espresso store Bluestone Lane had plans to broaden aggressively into Manhattan in advance of the pandemic and is even now thinking about areas in Midtown. But it has now turned its emphasis to opening in extra residential neighborhoods like Battery Park Metropolis, Hudson Yards and TriBeCa.

“We deliberately selected city residential places for our new cafes so we are not dependent on our locals returning to a actual physical workplace area, and are very well positioned for the potential of hybrid do the job,” Nick Stone, the founder and main executive of Bluestone Lane, mentioned in an emailed assertion.

And some chain places to eat that by now have reopened in Midtown are altering their tactics to address what they feel are the shifting wants of prospects in a publish-Covid world.

On a the latest weekday, a handful of buyers were being nibbling on salads and sandwiches at the Bryant Park location of Le Ache Quotidien. The very long, communal tables that the moment dominated the front of the restaurant are long gone for now, although refrigerated circumstances for a collection of get-and-go drinks, salads and sandwiches will be expanded upcoming calendar year as component of a transforming. A new app to preorder and choose up food became offered in Might.

Even though the new technologies do the job for some clients, other folks extensive for the previous.

Because early 2020, Starbucks has permanently shut 44 of its 235 areas in Manhattan. But it is introducing cell pickup parts in quite a few merchants and incorporating more pickup-only locations. The company says it expects to have internet new retail outlet progress in Manhattan in the up coming few yrs.

Right before the pandemic, Starbucks operated a few outlets close to the Columbus Circle place. It shut them and this year opened just one massive cafe. Now runners from Central Park choose up their preordered drinks from a cellular counter and head out once more, though other prospects stand in line to spot their orders and can sit at close by tables.

“We had been likely to construct the concept out and evolve more than time,” stated John Culver, the president of North The united states and chief functioning officer for Starbucks. “What we’ve carried out is taken the prospect that the pandemic has introduced and accelerated the transformation of our portfolio of stores. Shopper behaviors in the course of the pandemic have accelerated at levels that no one particular predicted.”



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Why Facebook Shelved an Earlier Report on Popular Posts


When Fb this 7 days unveiled its first quarterly report about the most considered posts in the United States, Dude Rosen, its vice president of integrity, explained the social community had undertaken “a very long journey” to be “by considerably the most transparent platform on the internet.” The record confirmed that the posts with the most attain tended to be innocuous articles like recipes and cute animals.

Facebook experienced organized a identical report for the initial 3 months of the calendar year, but executives in no way shared it with the community mainly because of fears that it would appear bad for the corporation, in accordance to interior e-mails despatched by executives and shared with The New York Situations.

In that report, a duplicate of which was presented to The Periods, the most-viewed backlink was a information write-up with a headline suggesting that the coronavirus vaccine was at fault for the loss of life of a Florida medical professional. The report also confirmed that a Facebook web site for The Epoch Periods, an anti-China newspaper that spreads suitable-wing conspiracy theories, was the 19th-most-well-liked web site on the platform for the 1st a few months of 2021.

The report was nearing public launch when some executives, such as Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of analytics and chief marketing officer, debated no matter whether it would result in a public relations challenge, in accordance to the inside e-mail. The corporation determined to shelve it.

“We thought of producing the report general public before,” stated Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, “but given that we realized the notice it would garner, particularly as we saw this week, there were fixes to the method we needed to make.”

Mr. Stone stated Mr. Schultz had advocated releasing the authentic report but inevitably agreed with the advice to hold off. Fb produced the report on Saturday following the publication of this tale.

Fb did not say why it resolved to deliver a acceptance report, but it has faced raising scrutiny in excess of the knowledge it shares with the federal government and the public, specially over misinformation about the virus and vaccines. The criticism has escalated as cases from the Delta variant of the coronavirus surged. The White Dwelling has known as on the enterprise to share much more details about wrong and deceptive facts on the site, and to do a improved work of halting its spread. Last thirty day period, President Biden accused the company of “killing people” by allowing untrue facts to flow into broadly, a statement the White Home afterwards softened. Other federal businesses have accused Facebook of withholding crucial facts.

Facebook has pushed back, publicly accusing the White Home of scapegoating the enterprise for the administration’s failure to access its vaccination ambitions. Executives at Facebook, together with Mark Zuckerberg, its chief executive, have claimed the system has been aggressively removing Covid-19 misinformation due to the fact the commence of the pandemic. The organization explained it experienced taken out over 18 million pieces of misinformation in that time period.

But Brian Boland, a former vice president of products advertising and marketing at Fb, mentioned there was a good deal of explanation to be skeptical about knowledge gathered and introduced by a company that has experienced a background of preserving its very own interests.

“You can not have confidence in a report that is curated by a company and made to beat a push narrative alternatively than actual significant transparency,” Mr. Boland claimed. “It’s up to regulators and govt officials to provide us that transparency.”

In this week’s report, which covered public content considered in Facebook’s Information Feed from April 1 to June 30, well known backlinks integrated neighborhood information stories, a cat GIF and a Environmentally friendly Bay Packers alumni site. Well known posts, which were being found by tens of millions of accounts, included viral query-and-remedy prompts and memes.

Most of the company’s draft report, like the a person Fb released on Wednesday, confirmed that the 20 most-viewed inbound links on Fb in the United States had been to nonpolitical written content, like recipe websites and stories about the United Nations Children’s Fund.

But the turned down report also included the posting about the doctor’s dying in Florida. The headline of the report, from The South Florida Sunshine Sentinel and republished by The Chicago Tribune: “A ‘healthy’ health practitioner died two weeks immediately after finding a COVID-19 vaccine CDC is investigating why.”

This backlink was viewed by practically 54 million Facebook accounts in the United States. A lot of commenters on the publish elevated thoughts about the vaccines’ security. Six of the prime 20 sharers arrived from general public Facebook internet pages that often publish anti-vaccination content on Fb, according to knowledge from CrowdTangle, a social media analytics firm owned by Fb. Other best sharers of the story included Filipino Fb internet pages supporting President Rodrigo Duterte, a pro-Israel Fb group and a web site termed “Just the Facts,” which described by itself as “putting out the Truth even when the media won’t.”

Months afterwards, the health care examiner’s report explained there wasn’t ample evidence to say regardless of whether the vaccine contributed to the doctor’s demise. Significantly less individuals on Facebook noticed that update.



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The F.T.C. asks for an extension to refile its Facebook antitrust suit.


Daily Business Briefing

July 23, 2021, 11:15 p.m. ET

July 23, 2021, 11:15 p.m. ET

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday asked a federal judge to give it more time to refile an antitrust suit against Facebook that is the agency’s biggest test in reining in the power of big tech.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the agency asked for a three-week extension, or until Aug. 19, to amend a lawsuit that the court dismissed last month. The F.T.C. said in its request that it had reached an agreement with Facebook over the proposed extension.

Last month, Judge James E. Boasberg of the federal court knocked down a core argument made by the F.T.C., saying prosecutors had failed to provide enough persuasive facts to back up the claim — that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking. But the judge gave the F.T.C. a 30-day window to refile its lawsuit.

The new lawsuit will be the first major action by Lina Khan, the new chair of the F.T.C. and a critic of Facebook, Google and Amazon who has advocated for the breakup of the digital platforms.

Wall Street notched a fresh record on Friday as a number of strong corporate earnings reports helped investors overcome worries about the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite both crossed into record territory, with gains of 1 percent.

Tech stocks such as Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, led the gains, as investors took strong corporate profits from Twitter and Snap as a reason to expect similar results from other tech giants next week. Twitter rose 3.1 percent on Friday, and Snap gained 23.3 percent. Facebook climbed 5.3 percent, while Alphabet rose 3.6 percent.

The parade of second-quarter results, which began earlier this month, has been supportive for stocks for a simple reason: Companies are making more money than Wall Street analysts expected, even after accounting for the easy comparisons with last year, when earnings cratered during the worst of the Covid shutdowns.

So far, roughly 86 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported second-quarter results have beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts. (It’s true that companies do often beat expectations, but during a typical quarter, the share of better-than-expected results is closer to 75 percent.)

Those profits — and the fact that many companies are raising the guidance they give analysts about what to expect for the remainder of the year — have helped stocks overcome their brief crisis of confidence earlier this week.

On Monday, the S&P 500 had its worst drop since May, on growing concerns about the Delta variant. But it has steadily climbed since and ended the week with a gain of 2 percent. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.8 percent for the week.

Stocks in Europe were also higher on Friday after a new survey showed the pace of expansion of business activity in the eurozone hit a 21-year high in July. The first reading of the Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 60.6, up from 59.5 the previous month.

Across the region, the services industry got a boost from looser pandemic restrictions and higher vaccination rates that have encouraged tourism.

Manufacturing is still being restrained by shortages of critical products, which is causing input prices to rise. Analysts at IHS Markit, which published the report, also noted that business confidence had slipped to its lowest level since February as the Delta variant continued to spread.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index jumped 1.1 percent, while the FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent.

Credit…Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

General Motors is recalling nearly 51,000 Chevrolet electric cars in the United States whose battery modules have been found to be at risk of catching fire.

The recall covers Chevrolet Bolts from the 2017 to 2019 model years and comes after an earlier recall to add software designed to prevent the cars’ batteries from overheating. Two fires have been reported since the initial recall, including one in a Bolt that had the updated software.

The recalled Bolts use battery packs made in South Korea by LG Chem, a close partner in G.M.’s electric vehicle strategy.

G.M. and LG Chem linked the fires to two manufacturing defects that on rare occasions can be present in cells in the Bolt’s battery pack, the automaker said in a statement. G.M. plans to replace battery modules that have defective cells.

Until replacement modules are available, the company has advised owners to avoid parking the cars in garages or near buildings, and to avoid fully charging the battery packs.

“Experts from G.M. and LG have identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt E.V.s,” the company said. “As part of this recall, G.M. will replace defective battery modules in the recall population. We will notify customers when replacement parts are ready.”

G.M. is moving to ramp up production of electric vehicles. It plans to introduce more than two dozen models in the U.S. market over the next few years, and is building several battery plants in a joint venture with LG. G.M. has said it is hoping sales of electric vehicles will take off and surpass sales of gasoline-powered cars and light trucks within about a decade.

The company has set a goal of ending production of internal combustion vehicles by 2035.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration originally opened an investigation into fires involving the Bolt last fall and issued a new alert last week. The original recall was issued in November.

Tony Podesta, who had stepped away from lobbying in 2017 amid a federal investigation that rendered him toxic, is now representing new clients.
Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has hired the veteran Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta as part of an expanded campaign to improve relations with the Biden administration.

Mr. Podesta has deep connections inside the White House, including to President Biden and his close counselor Steve Ricchetti. But Mr. Podesta has been out of lobbying since late 2017, when his $42-million-a-year lobbying and public relations firm collapsed amid a federal investigation that rendered him toxic.

He turned to his vast modern art collection for income, but in recent weeks, he began exploring a return to lobbying, holding talks with prospective clients around the world.

Mr. Podesta signed an agreement with Huawei a couple weeks ago, and this week he signed a deal to represent a Bulgarian energy company seeking to do business with American companies, according to a person familiar with his efforts.

His hiring by Huawei, which was reported by Politico on Friday, comes as the company tries to smooth over tensions with the U.S. government and make inroads into U.S. markets.

Huawei was branded a national security threat by the Trump administration, which argued that the Chinese government could use its communications technology for spying. The company has denied that, but it has suffered from a sustained American campaign to bar it from using U.S. technology and software, and to keep its equipment from being used in new 5G networks around the world.

The company and two of its subsidiaries are also facing federal charges of racketeering and conspiring to steal trade secrets from American companies.

Huawei has hired a number of new lawyers and lobbyists with connections to both parties in recent months, increasing its lobbying spending to more than $1 million in the last three months from $180,000 in the first three months of the year, according to congressional lobbying disclosures.

Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Podesta, 77, was once a dominant figure in Washington, raising millions of dollars for Democratic candidates and party committees, while building his firm, the Podesta Group, into one of the highest-earning shops on K Street.

The firm disintegrated after it became ensnared in one strand of the special counsel’s investigation into President Donald J. Trump, his campaign and its ties to Russia. The firm had taken on a client involved in Ukrainian politics that was linked to two figures central to the investigation: the Republican lobbyists Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who had worked in Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign.

Mr. Podesta’s firm initially failed to register the work under Justice Department foreign lobbying rules, and investigators spent months looking into the Podesta Group’s work, but ultimately decided not to bring charges.

Mr. Podesta’s return to lobbying is starting off more modestly.

He is working mostly by himself and intends to use the corporate name Podesta.com, the person familiar with his efforts said, in part because the Podesta Group’s email accounts and website were compromised after Chinese cyberthieves launched a wide-ranging phishing campaign using one of his domain names.

He is consulting with a lawyer about whether to disclose his lobbying arrangement with Huawei under congressional lobbying rules or the more detailed Justice Department foreign lobbying rules, the person said.

Adam Selipsky, chief executive of Amazon Web Services, spoke to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, last month.
Credit…Albert Gea/Reuters

Amazon has hired a law firm to investigate claims of widespread gender discrimination in part of its cloud computing division, the company said in an email to employees late last week.

The investigation is a response to a petition filed by a group of employees in Amazon Web Services’ Professional Services group, known as ProServ, which helps companies adopt cloud computing. In the petition, the employees alleged gender bias and bullying in the department. The Washington Post, which first reported the investigation, said more than 550 employees had signed the petition.

Adam Selipsky, the new chief executive of AWS, responded with the email, which was addressed to the leaders of the petition.

“We have retained an outside firm to investigate and understand any inappropriate conduct that you or others may have experienced or witnessed,” he wrote. “This firm is experienced and objective, and I personally will review their independent findings, which will help guide any further actions.”

Amazon has been hiring heavily in AWS, which is the largest provider of cloud computing. The industry has largely been dominated by men. About 23 percent of Amazon’s senior leaders are female, company data show.

In May, five women, including one who worked in ProServ, sued the company, accusing it of various forms of racial and gender discrimination, claims the company has denied.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen at the White House in May.
Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned Congress on Friday that the U.S. economy faced “irreparable harm” if lawmakers failed to raise or suspend the nation’s borrowing cap and that the Treasury Department would begin taking “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the so-called debt limit.

In a letter to Congress, Ms. Yellen said that the nation’s debt will hit its statutory limit on Aug. 1 and that it is possible that soon after lawmakers return from their August recess the United States could face the dire prospect of defaulting on its obligations. Urging Congress to act, she recalled that in 2011 the threat of default caused nation’s credit rating to be downgraded.

“Even the threat of failing to meet those obligations has caused detrimental impacts in the past, including the sole credit rating downgrade in the history of the nation in 2011,” Ms. Yellen wrote. “This is why no president or Treasury secretary of either party has ever countenanced even the suggestion of a default on any obligation of the United States.”

Ms. Yellen also warned that the pandemic had made it difficult for the Treasury to predict how long it could delay breaching the debt ceiling given uncertainty around the timing of government payments and tax receipts.

The Treasury often takes what it calls “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the debt limit, which is a cap on how much the government can borrow. Those measures include suspending investments of the Exchange Stabilization Fund and suspending the issuing of new securities for the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the Treasury Department could run out of cash by October or November.

Ms. Yellen noted that the government was required to make a payment of $150 billion for a Department of Defense-related retirement and health care investment on Oct. 1, which will deplete its cash reserves.

Brinkmanship over the debt limit has become common in Washington. Republicans have traditionally resisted raising or suspending the debt limit when Democrats control the White House. They backed a two-year suspension of the debt limit in 2019 as part of a spending agreement with Democrats while President Donald J. Trump was in office.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, suggested this week that Republican senators would not back a debt ceiling increase and that Democrats would have to deal with it on their own.

White House officials said they remained hopeful that lawmakers would work together to avert a debt limit crisis.

“We certainly expect Congress to act in a bipartisan manner as they did three times under the prior administration to raise the debt limit,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said on Friday.

Ms. Yellen said in her letter that suspending or increasing the debt limit did not authorize future spending but, in fact, allowed the Treasury Department to pay for expenses that Congress had already approved.

“The current level of debt reflects the cumulative effect of all prior spending and tax decisions, which have been made by administrations and Congresses of both parties over time,” Ms. Yellen wrote.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries has been dropping for months and remains at just under 1.3 percent.
Credit…Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

The fear that the economic recovery is faltering, in part because of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, appears to have receded among stock investors.

Bond buyers, though, are still spooked. The yield on 10-year Treasuries has been dropping for months and remains at just under 1.3 percent, near the lowest it has been since February, when the prospects for the economy were much shakier.

The DealBook newsletter asks: Who to believe?

A drop in yields usually signals slower growth ahead, which seems at odds with what’s happening. Yes, the Delta variant has delayed some reopening plans, but the economy generally appears to be expanding rather quickly. Most economists think 2021 growth will be the strongest since the mid-1980s.

10-year U.S. government bond yield

That’s led some Wall Street strategists to conclude that the bond market is broken:

  • The long-held belief that bonds are somehow better able to predict the economy than stocks doesn’t make sense in our current situation, said Vincent Deluard, a global macrostrategist at the institutional brokerage firm StoneX. The Federal Reserve’s pandemic stimulus included a heavy dose of bond buying, distorting the market. And the popularity of target date funds, which balance stocks and bonds based on investors’ projected date of retirement, is also moving bonds for reasons unrelated to the economy. “I find it hard to take seriously that the bond market is saying that we are not going to have inflation and a hot economy,” Mr. Deluard said.

  • There is another possibility: Economic rebounds have been getting successively slower, said Tom Atteberry, who runs the FPA New Income bond fund, one of the most conservative funds around. Growth peaked around 5 percent in the 1990s, 4 percent in the mid-2000s and 3 percent before the pandemic.

The big difference this time is that the government has spent trillions to pull the economy out of a deep recession. What if that masks something fundamentally awry? What if growth has already peaked? What if the new long-term ceiling is even lower than before? Mr. Atteberry considered this, “but then I come back to ‘nah,’” he said. “Rates are going to rise and the economy is going to do a lot better than it is now.”

  • Amazon told customers this week that it would no longer require them to resolve their legal complaints involving the technology giant through arbitration, a significant retreat from a strategy that often helps companies avoid liability. In a brief email to customers, Amazon said anyone using its products would now have to pursue disputes with the company in federal court, rather than go through the private and secretive arbitration process, which critics say puts consumers at a huge disadvantage. The five-sentence note informing Amazon’s customers about its updated “conditions of use” did not explain the reasons for dropping arbitration. When asked about the reasoning, a company spokeswoman did not elaborate.

  • Felicia Sonmez, a Washington Post reporter, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the newspaper and some of its top editors on Wednesday, claiming they had discriminated against her by barring her from covering stories related to sexual assault after she went public as a victim of assault. Ms. Sonmez said in the lawsuit that after she publicly stated in 2018 that she had been assaulted by a fellow journalist while living in Beijing, The Post had barred her from covering Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. After an article in Reason magazine on allegations against the journalist came out a year later, Ms. Sonmez said, The Post again subjected her to a coverage ban. She added that her editors had “disciplined” her for publicly requesting a correction to the article.

Movers in New York last summer. “In the short run, prices are going to continue to soar,” said Igor Popov, an economist at Apartment List.
Credit…OK McCausland for The New York Times

The rental market, which slumped during the pandemic, has snapped back more quickly than many economists predicted, and renters across the country are facing sticker shock.

Demand for apartments and single-family rentals is rebounding — and even looking hot in some places, Coral Murphy Marcos, Jeanna Smialek and Jim Tankersley report for The New York Times.

If rents continue to take off, it could be bad news both for those seeking housing and for the nation’s inflation outlook. Rental costs play an outsize role in the Consumer Price Index, so a meaningful rise in rent could help keep that closely watched government price gauge, which has picked up sharply, higher for longer.

  • Rents last month rose 7 percent nationally from a year earlier, Zillow data shows. That was measured against a weak June 2020, but the gain was also a robust 1.8 percent from May.

  • Measures of rent and “owners’ equivalent rent” — which uses rental data to try to put a price on how much owners would pay for their housing if they hadn’t bought a home — make up nearly one-third of the Consumer Price Index. Both tend to move slowly, but are defying expectations that they would take time to bounce back.

  • The rental experience diverges across markets. Rents have appreciated rapidly in places like Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Wash.; and Phoenix, while big cities on the coasts have lagged, based on Zillow data. Rents in New York and San Francisco are recovering quickly but remain cheaper than two years ago.

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CreditCredit…Nick Little

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that it feels as if we’re in the middle of reimagining both what a “video game” is and what online idle time can be — more engaging and social, perhaps, and a little less passive doomscrolling.



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Stress tests passed, banks are primed to pay shareholders.


Daily Business Briefing

June 25, 2021, 12:07 a.m. ET

June 25, 2021, 12:07 a.m. ET

The nation’s biggest banks can get back to business as usual.

The Federal Reserve said on Thursday that Wall Street lenders were most likely strong enough to fully resume shareholder payouts after the regulator lifted pandemic-related restrictions — the latest sign that the economy is returning to normal.

“The banking system is strongly positioned to support the ongoing recovery,” the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, Randal K. Quarles, said in a statement.

That means the nation’s biggest lenders — including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — can increase the amount they pay out to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

Industry representatives immediately took a victory lap.

“The strength and resiliency of the nation’s largest banks have been reconfirmed,” Kevin Fromer, the chief executive of the Financial Services Forum, said in a statement. The resumption of “reasonable” dividends and buybacks would support the economy’s recovery, said Mr. Fromer, whose group represents the leaders of the eight largest U.S. banks.

The Federal Reserve imposed temporary limits on dividends and buybacks last year as a way to protect against loan losses that could have threatened the financial system. But government efforts to prop up the economy, including enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus payments, meant that such losses never emerged. Indeed, Americans used some of that money to pay down debts and are, overall, comparatively flush and eager to spend after a year of lockdowns.

In March, the Fed’s governors unanimously approved plans to end the buyback and dividend limits after the second quarter as long as banks passed their so-called stress tests — the annual evaluations of banks with $100 billion or more in assets. The test were established by the Dodd-Frank reform law established after the 2008 financial crisis.

On Thursday, the Fed said the banks had passed the test, which assessed how they would fare under dire situations such as a severe global recession punctuated by major stress in commercial real estate and corporate debt markets alongside a 55 percent decline in equity prices. That hypothetical case would trigger collective losses of $470 billion among the 23 large banks, with nearly $160 billion of the losses coming from commercial real estate and corporate loans, the Fed said. While the banks’ capital ratios would fall to 10.6 percent under that scenario, that is still more than double the lowest required ratio.

The stringent conditions in the stress tests contrast with a more rosy reality: U.S. lenders have maintained a firm footing during the pandemic, racking up profits and building up reserves in preparation for a torrent of losses that so far hasn’t materialized. Bank stocks have jumped about 28 percent since January as a speedy vaccine rollout bolstered economic activity.

If a bank’s capital dips below certain levels in the tests, the Fed can restrict it from paying out money to shareholders. But a New York Times analysis of results suggested that none of the six largest banks were close to facing such restrictions.

The banks’ passing grades prompted criticism that the test had been too easy.

“I’m losing my faith in the stress tests,” said Sheila Bair, who was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the financial crisis. She pointed out that the tests are predictable because they have been made more transparent, and that the scenarios are reflective of the 2008 meltdown — not emerging risks, like climate change.

“They need to get a little more creative,” she said. “They’re looking in the rearview mirror — that’s the problem.”

Lenders are expected to announce their capital plans on Monday afternoon, according to the Fed. The lag will allow banks to compare their own analyses with the Fed’s and potentially revise their payout proposals.

“The expectations have been high regarding payouts,” said Ian Katz, an analyst at Capital Alpha Partners, a research firm in Washington. “I think they’re going to meet those expectations, and they’ve gotten the green light to do that.”

Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, a financial risk consultant who trains bankers and regulators, said she expected banks to boost their dividend payouts and share buybacks — although she believed doing so would be premature.

“We still do not know how many corporate or individual defaults are coming our way once all stimulus and Fed programs to provide respite during Covid end,” Ms. Rodríguez Valladares said. “Banks should not be excessive in dividend payouts and should make sure that they are well above minimum capital levels to protect them if defaults rise later in the year.”

Gregg Gelzinis, associate director for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, added that bigger dividends and buybacks wouldn’t bolster the economy.

“That’s money that could have been used to expand lending to businesses and households, aiding the recovery,” he said.

But the Bank Policy Institute, an industry group, said large lenders were on solid ground to help the economy bounce back from the past year’s upheaval.

Large banks “remain in an excellent position to continue to support the economic recovery as loan demand strengthens,” said Francisco Covas, the institute’s executive vice president.

Future tests, however, may not be so forgiving.

Mr. Quarles was appointed vice chair for supervision by President Donald J. Trump, and his term will expire in mid-October. The next time the banks go through their annual checkups, they most likely will be facing scenarios approved by different leadership.

Isaac Boltansky, the director of policy research at the research and trading firm Compass Point, said the change will introduce an element of uncertainty for banks, who might encounter more strenuous scenarios related to the kinds of risks Ms. Bair said could lie ahead.

“Where I think it is a little bit hazier is what happens after this,” he said.

Credit…Laura Morton for The New York Times

Google pushed back plans to phase out a widely used technology to track the web activity of users, in an effort to address growing concerns from regulators and digital advertising industry rivals.

In a blog post on Thursday, Google said it intended to start gradually blocking trackers, or cookies, from its Chrome web browser in mid-2023 and eliminate them altogether later that year. Previously, Google had said it planned to begin stripping cookies from Chrome in January 2022.

Google’s approach to removing cookies from Chrome, the world’s most popular web browser, upset many in the digital advertising industry and captured the attention of regulators. The fear was that Google’s dominance, already evident through its stranglehold on advertising, search and web browsing, would be further entrenched by removing a tool used by many rival online marketers to target ads.

“It’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right,” wrote Vinay Goel, director of privacy engineering for Chrome. “This will allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services.”

The company’s announcement came on the heels of the European Union saying it will investigate Google’s plans to eliminate cookies as part of a broader inquiry of its dominance in digital advertising technology. Earlier this month, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority reached an agreement with Google to allow the regulator to review any changes to Chrome as part of another investigation.

Other web browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox have taken more aggressive measures to curb tracking online, but Google has struggled to move forward — in part because of the concerns that its privacy initiatives are self-serving for a company that already knows so much about the interests and habits of its users.

Under an initiative called the Privacy Sandbox, Google has proposed a new set of tools to approximate the role played by cookies without the same privacy concerns of tracking individuals on the internet.

Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, recently compared the British economy to “a coiled spring,” and inflation to a sleeping tiger.
Credit…Toby Melville/Reuters

Britain’s economic recovery is continuing apace and inflation is now expected to climb even higher than previously predicted, but the Bank of England’s policymakers stood firm on Thursday and saw little need to scale back their large monetary stimulus program.

That is, all but one.

In his final meeting, Andy Haldane, the central bank’s chief economist, cast the lone dissenting vote, arguing that the bank should pare back its bond-buying program because of the improved economic outlook and rising price pressures. It continued a theme he has sounded for months. In February, he described inflation as a sleeping tiger that had been “stirred from its slumber.”

Since the central bank’s previous meeting in May, it has raised its expectations for economic growth and predicted that the annual inflation rate would temporarily climb above 3 percent, higher than previously forecast and exceeding its 2 percent target.

“It is possible,” the minutes from this week’s meeting said, that “upward pressure on prices could prove somewhat larger than expected.”

Still, the majority of policymakers were not ready to withdraw any of the support they were giving to the economy, arguing that the central bank should not undermine the economic recovery by tightening monetary policy too quickly, the minutes said.

The policy-setting committee held interest rates at a record low of 0.1 percent and kept the size of its bond-buying program at 895 billion pounds. It offered few clues about when it might reduce stimulus. After the announcement, the pound dropped 0.5 percent against the U.S. dollar.

Mr. Haldane contends the economy is approaching takeoff speed and, for a second consecutive month, urged the central bank to reduce its target for the amount of bonds it intends to buy by £50 billion. That would end the program in August instead of at the end of the year.

It was the 68th and last policy meeting for Mr. Haldane, 53, who joined the bank in his early 20s and has recently been one of the most optimistic proponents of strong economic recovery in Britain — and a leading worrier that central banks risk underreacting to rising inflation.

He is leaving to run the Royal Society of Arts, a British think tank focused on the future of work and sustainable business practices.

With Mr. Haldane’s departure, the monetary policy committee will lose its most hawkish member as it has to decide how to emerge from its pandemic response measures. Even while Britain was enduring a strict lockdown through a cold and dark winter, Mr. Haldane kept up his confidence in the economy.

In February, he said there was “enormous amounts of pent-up financial energy waiting to be released, like a coiled spring.” Since then, that spring has turned into warnings about the “beast of inflation.”

Now central bankers face their “most dangerous moment” since the early 1990s, when policymakers began using targets for inflation to guide decisions, Mr. Haldane recently wrote in New Statesman magazine. “While nothing is assured, acting early as inflation risks grow is the best way of heading off future threat.”

Mr. Haldane’s imaginative language and directness have been a consistent feature of his time at the Bank of England, which he joined in 1989. He became a member of the policy-setting committee and became chief economist in 2014.

After the 2008 financial crisis, he was outspoken about the risks that banks and large asset managers could pose to national economies, sometimes making him a pariah in the financial sector. But he just as eagerly addressed what he believed was a crisis in economics that left his profession blindsided, and has warned against groupthink in central banks. He has also voiced his support for the Occupy movement, and worked with students determined to make economics education more intellectually diverse.

In 2009, Mr. Haldane founded the charity Pro Bono Economics, which sends economists into charities to help them use data to measure their impact, while also advocating higher levels of math skills across the country. Although he has said economics needs to be more easily accessible, Mr. Haldane has also insisted that economists need to better understand the public. He has crisscrossed Britain meeting community groups and students to discuss topics including homelessness and mental health.

“Technocratic institutions require the continuous consent not just of Parliament but of the wider public,” Mr. Haldane wrote in the foreword to “The Econocracy,” a book by ex-students on reforming economics.

His successor has not been named.

A Maricopa County constable posting an eviction order for non-payment of rent last October in Phoenix.
Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved a one-month extension of the national moratorium on evictions, scheduled to expire on June 30, as officials emphasized this will be the final time they will push back the deadline.

The moratorium, instituted by the agency last September to prevent a wave of evictions spurred by the economic downturn associated with the coronavirus pandemic and extended earlier this year, has significantly limited the economic damage to renters and sharply reduced eviction filings.

On Thursday, the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, signed the extension, which goes through July 31, after a week of internal debate at the White House over the issue.

Local officials and tenants rights groups have warned that phasing out the freeze could touch off a new, if somewhat less severe, eviction crisis than the country faced last year during the height of the pandemic.

White House officials agreed and pressed reluctant C.D.C. officials to extend the moratorium, which they see as needed to buy them more time to distribute $21.5 billion in emergency federal housing aid funded by a pandemic relief bill passed this spring.

Administration officials, speaking on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, unveiled a range of other actions intended to blunt the impact of lifting the moratorium and the lapsing of similar state and local measures.

Among the most significant is a new push by the Justice Department, led by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, to coax local housing court judges to slow the pace of evictions by forcing landlords to accept federal money intended to pay back rent.

In a letter to state court officials, Ms. Gupta urged judges to adopt a general order requiring all landlords to prove they have applied for federal aid before signing off on evictions, while offering federal funding for eviction diversion programs intended to resolve landlord-tenant disputes.

Other initiatives include a summit on housing affordability and evictions, to be held at the White House later this month; stepped-up coordination with local officials and legal aid organizations to minimize evictions after July 31; and new guidance from the Treasury Department meant to streamline the sluggish disbursement of the $21.5 billion in emergency aid included in the pandemic relief bill in the spring.

White House officials, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said recently that the one-month extension, while influenced by concerns over a new wave of evictions, was prompted by the lag in vaccination rates in low-income communities.

Ms. Walensky was initially reluctant to sign the extension, according to a senior administration official involved in the negotiations. She eventually concluded, the official said, a flood of new evictions could lead to greater spread of the virus by displaced tenants.

Forty-four House Democrats wrote to Ms. Walensky, on Tuesday, urging them to put off allowing evictions to resume. “By extending the moratorium and incorporating these critical improvements to protect vulnerable renters, we can work to curtail the eviction crisis disproportionately impacting our communities of color,” the lawmakers wrote.

Groups representing private landlords maintain that the health crisis that justified the freeze has ended and that continuing the freeze even for an extra four weeks would be an unwarranted government intrusion in the housing market.

“The mounting housing affordability crisis is quickly becoming a housing affordability disaster fueled by flawed eviction moratoriums, which leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag,” said Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, a trade group representing owners of large residential buildings.

Stocks on Wall Street climbed into record territory on Thursday, extending a rebound lifted by more good news about the economy and progress on a deal in Washington that could boost infrastructure spending.

After a slide last week, the S&P 500 has climbed nearly 2.5 percent this week, gaining three of four days. Last week’s drop reflected uncertainty about the path forward for interest rates and inflation after the Federal Reserve indicated it was open to raising rates sooner than expected and would begin discussing when to pull back on its emergency stimulus to support the economy.

Thursday’s gains came after the Labor Department reported that weekly claims for state jobless benefits declined,; the Commerce Department said orders at factories for big-ticket items like aircraft and machinery rose in May; and lawmakers in Washington said they had reached an agreement on a $579 billion spending plan for roads, broadband internet and other projects.

Though a final bill is still far from assured, optimism around its prospects meant stocks tied to construction and engineering jumped. Terex Corporation, a supplier of cranes and lifts used in large construction projects, jumped 4 percent, while Dycom, which specializes in telecommunication systems, rose 5.8 percent.

Fluor, another engineering and construction company that has a large government contracting business, climbed 4.5 percent. Vulcan Materials, which makes asphalt for roads, rose 3.3 percent, and construction-equipment giant Caterpillar was the one of the best-performing stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, rising more than 2.6 percent.

Banks also rallied on Thursday ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s annual “stress tests” on the largest financial firms. The Fed could drop or relax restrictions put on the banks’ ability to distribute cash to shareholders — limits that were put in place earlier in the pandemic to strengthen the financial system. Goldman Sachs gained 2.1 percent, while JPMorgan Chase rose more than 0.9 percent.

Microsoft climbed about half a percent to end the day with a market value of over $2 trillion for the first time. It’s not the first company to cross that threshold, Apple did so in August 2020, and oil giant Saudi Aramco did so in late 2019.

The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent, notching a record high. The Dow rose 1 percent.

The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund on Thursday, during a stormy week for Bitcoin in a season of extremes for digital assets. A crackdown in China has driven down crypto prices in recent days, the latest bout of volatility that makes regulators wary of the industry as it moves into the mainstream.

Katie Haun, a co-chair of the fund, is a former federal prosecutor who created the first U.S. government cryptocurrency task force. Anyone who has been around crypto for years realizes it will be “a bumpy ride,” she told the DealBook newsletter before the announcement. Nonetheless, the fund is oversubscribed. “We could have quite easily raised a lot larger funds without any issue at all,” she said.

The crypto fund is “all weather,” investing at all stages, in both the equity of companies and directly in crypto coins and tokens, according to a statement from the fund. “We are radically optimistic about crypto’s potential,” Ms. Haun and her fellow co-chair, Chris Dixon, said in the statement. “The size of this fund speaks to the size of the opportunity before us: crypto is not only the future of finance but, as with the internet in the early days, is poised to transform all aspects of our lives.”

This is Andreessen’s third crypto fund. Each is progressively bigger, as the firm expands into new areas and doubles down on what worked before. Ms. Haun said the latest fund — focused on infrastructure, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and decentralized finance, or DeFi — is made up entirely of repeat investors. Through the ups and downs, interest in crypto is only getting stronger, she said. That’s why the industry needs more clarity about “the rules of the road,” she added.

To that end, Andreessen isn’t just betting on crypto businesses, but hiring former government insiders to help steer its strategy as crypto regulation evolves. Bill Hinman, the former director of the SEC’s corporate finance division, where he worked on digital asset issues, is joining as an advisory partner, as is Brent McIntosh, the former under secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, who coordinated the G7’s work on crypto. Tomicah Tillemann, the technologist and former adviser to Joe Biden in the Senate, is joining to run global policy.

“As with any new computing movement, crypto has endured a variety of challenges and misconceptions,” the statement said. “That’s why we are also bringing together heavy-hitters across several functions to help translate crypto to the mainstream.”

  • Initial claims for state jobless benefits fell last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • The weekly figure was about 393,000, down 15,000 from the previous week. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 105,000, up 7,000 from the week before. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. (On a seasonally adjusted basis, state claims totaled 411,000, a decrease of 7,000.)

  • A total of 26 states have announced plans to discontinue some or all federal pandemic unemployment benefits this month or next — including a $300 supplement to other benefits — even though they are funded through September.

  • New state claims remain high by historical standards but are one-half the level recorded in early February. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as businesses return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.

Climate activists protesting during the Group of 7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, this month.
Credit…Jon Rowley/EPA, via Shutterstock

An influential watchdog group said on Thursday that the British government was doing far too little to carry out the ambitious pledges it had made on tackling climate change.

Although the government has promised to cut its greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050, it has failed to take interim steps — such as tax incentives for reducing emissions — essential to meet that goal, according to a report by the group, the Committee on Climate Change.

“The trouble is the action, the delivery has just not been there,” said John Gummer, chairman of the committee, which is funded by the British government to advise lawmakers on environmental policies.

The criticism may prove uncomfortable for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has made leadership on climate diplomacy a key pillar for the post-Brexit Britain that he is trying to shape.

Britain’s ambitions to wield influence in this area will be on display in November in Glasgow, where Mr. Johnson is expected to lead a significant international gathering known as COP26, which leaders like President Biden hope will be a forum for advancing the global climate agenda.

In 2019, Mr. Johnson sketched a vision for a “green industrial revolution” in Britain, pledging to ban the sale of most new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2030 and holding out the prospect of creating some 250,000 jobs in areas like offshore wind, hydrogen and battery production. The ideas followed legislation passed in 2019, before Mr. Johnson took office, that established the net-zero pledge for 2050.

On Thursday, though, the committee said that while such pledges were “historic,” the government was badly lagging in making good on them.

“What we have seen since then is almost nothing at all,” Chris Stark, the chief executive of the committee, said in an interview.

The committee and environmentalists have warned that continued lack of follow-through could make it difficult for Mr. Johnson to persuade other governments to take potentially painful steps on reducing emissions at the climate summit.

“Everyone is looking for action and delivery, not for promises,” said Mr. Gummer, a former cabinet minister who, like Mr. Johnson, is a member of the Conservative Party.

Credit…Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament, via Reuters

Unless the government comes up with credible plans, he said, “the whole concept of global Britain being a leader will, in fact, be undermined.”

In the report published on Thursday, the committee wrote that reaching net zero as well as interim milestones would require what it called a significant change in government action. In addition to tax incentives to spur reduced emissions, the committee called for dedicated government spending to reduce emissions from industry, buildings and agriculture, and a bigger effort to point out the opportunities offered to people and businesses by tackling climate change.

So far, the report’s authors wrote, “it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months.”

Analysts say the criticism may well nudge the government to do more, especially with the climate summit coming.

Doug Parr, the chief scientist of the environmental group Greenpeace UK, said the committee’s critique would be “awkward” for the government. “In this year of all years, yes, it will matter,” he added.

Responding to the report, George Eustice, the government’s environment secretary, told the BBC that Mr. Johnson was closely following climate issues. “This is an agenda that matters to the prime minister, and it is not true to say that he just made a promise and isn’t following through,” he said.

The committee has clout because it is part of the legal framework credited with Britain’s achievements to date on climate. In recent decades, Britain has by some metrics been among the world leaders on tackling climate change, reducing emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2019.

Many observers give credit for Britain’s performance to legislation in 2008 that set legally binding emissions targets and established the committee to monitor progress and advise the government.

At the same time, many say, government foot-dragging at this juncture is not surprising, because Britain has previously picked the low-hanging fruit on climate change and now faces more difficult hurdles to make further progress.

A large portion of the earlier gains have come in the power sector. Britain has replaced most of its highly polluting coal-fired generators — first with natural gas plants and, more recently, with renewable generation sources, carpeting the shallows of the North Sea with wind turbines.

Analysts say reducing carbon in electric power is relatively easy because consumers do not see any real change when they flip a light switch. Future progress may require more intrusive and expensive measures, such as replacing natural gas heating systems with devices known as heat pumps and widespread retrofitting of homes with insulation.

“All politicians are deeply afraid of having to engage with consumers and people’s houses because of the political sensitivities,” said Nick Mabey, the chief executive of E3G, an environmental group.

Mr. Stark listed other areas that the government must address, beginning with around 30 million privately owned buildings that will need to have their emissions slashed over 30 years — a daunting task.

There is also much work to be done in transportation, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The government has pledged to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles but now must follow through on needed infrastructure like electric charging points. The government must also figure out how to clean up heavy industries like steel and chemicals without forcing these businesses to close.

It all adds up to a huge effort for Britain or any other industrialized country to meet climate targets. Last year, because of the pandemic, Britain reached a level where emissions were around half the level of 1990.

“The next half will be the most difficult half,” Mr. Stark said. “We have done most of the easy bits.”

The New York Stock Exchange in March 2020. The early days of the pandemic in the United States rattled the markets.
Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

Laurence D. Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, was in frequent touch with the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the days before and after many of the Fed’s emergency rescue programs were announced in late March, Jeanna Smialek reports for The New York Times.

Emails obtained by The New York Times through a records request, along with public releases, underscore the extent to which Mr. Fink planned alongside the government for parts of a financial rescue that his firm referred to in one message as “the project” that he and the Fed were “working on together.”

Mr. Mnuchin held 60 recorded calls over the frantic Saturday and Sunday leading up to the Fed’s unveiling on Monday, March 23, of a policy package that included its first-ever program to buy corporate bonds, which were becoming nearly impossible to sell as investors sprinted to convert their holdings to cash. Mr. Mnuchin spoke to Mr. Fink five times that weekend, more than anyone other than the Fed chair.

The Fed and Treasury consulted with many financial firms as they drew up their response — and practically all of Wall Street and much of Main Street benefited — but no other company was as front and center.

The Fed has explained the decision to hire the advisory side of the house in terms of practicality.

“We hired BlackRock for their expertise in these markets,” Mr. Powell has since said in defense of the rapid move. “It was done very quickly due to the urgency and need for their expertise.”

  • Delegates to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters convention on Thursday approved a resolution making it a priority to organize Amazon workers and help them secure a union contract. The union represents more than one million workers in industries including parcel delivery and freight and had more than $200 million in revenue last year. The resolution states that Amazon “presents an existential threat to the standards we have set in these industries” and that the union will eventually create a division to organize workers at the company.

  • President Biden removed the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, hours after the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the president had the authority to dismiss the agency’s director. The director, Mark Calabria, had overseen a number of rules aimed to end the federal government’s conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie, imposed in 2008 at the start of the financial crisis. Mr. Calabria favored the eventual privatization of the mortgage giants, and his dismissal hit the companies’ share prices, hurting hedge funds that had bet on an exit from government control.

  • BuzzFeed, the digital publisher known for quizzes, listicles and a news division that won its first Pulitzer Prize this month, is close to reaching a merger deal that would take the company public, a person with knowledge of the company said Wednesday. An announcement could come as soon as this week, the person added. BuzzFeed declined to comment. Led by its founder and chief executive, Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed has been in talks to merge with an already public shell company, 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, in what is known as a SPAC deal.

  • After nearly two decades leading Southwest Airlines, Gary C. Kelly, will step down from the chief executive position next year, the airline said on Wednesday. He will be replaced by Robert E. Jordan, a top executive who has held a number of jobs at the company. Both men have worked for Southwest since the 1980s. Mr. Kelly, 66, has been in the top job since 2004, expanding Southwest into the nation’s largest airline by passengers carried. Mr. Jordan, 60, an executive vice president who oversees communication and outreach and human resources, will become chief executive on Feb. 1.

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Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Cecilia Kang about a package of bills written by House lawmakers that poses existential threats to the tech giants.



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Few Minority-Owned Businesses Got Relief Loans They Asked For


Black and Latino small business owners are having difficulties to get pandemic help below the Paycheck Protection Plan and other federal help efforts, a new study has located, and many say they are on the brink of closing permanently.

By comparison, in a survey of smaller corporations by the Census Bureau from April 26 to Could 2, 3-quarters mentioned they had requested for a financial loan and 38 % of them said they experienced acquired a person.

Rashad Robinson, the president of Shade of Modify, reported the new survey confirmed that “if we really do not get insurance policies to safeguard these communities, we will shed a era of black and brown companies, which will have deep impacts on our overall country’s financial system.”

Two-thirds of the respondents sought loans of beneath $50,000 through the government’s aid software. Approximately fifty percent claimed they experienced to lay off at least some personnel.

The program was the initially time some black and Latino organization proprietors had ever sought a lender mortgage.

Equivalent-legal rights advocates and some lawmakers are pushing to get a lot more aid for minority enterprise entrepreneurs crafted into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 2nd round of funding for the bank loan application established apart $60 billion for modest and rural banks and nonprofit loan providers, which often do much more work in minority communities than substantial banking institutions do.

Mr. Robinson mentioned his group was pushing lawmakers to occur up with other means to transmit aid to enterprise owners, these kinds of as immediate payments to businesses’ workers through payroll processors or other means.



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Coronavirus News and Live Updates


The president says he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug against the virus.

President Trump said on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug whose effectiveness against the coronavirus is unproven, for about a week and a half as a preventive measure, saying he had no symptoms of Covid-19.

The drugs can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in virus patients, the F.D.A. warned, saying they should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems.

Several doctors said they were alarmed that Mr. Trump was using the bully pulpit of the presidency to tell the public he takes a drug that has not been proven to be effective against the coronavirus, but which does have known risks.

Dr. Steven E. Nissen, the chief academic officer of the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said he had treated patients who developed a life-threatening arrhythmia, which the drug can cause.

“This disorder can be lethal,” Dr. Nissen said. “My concern would be that the public not hear comments about the use of hydroxychloroquine and believe that taking this drug to prevent Covid-19 infection is without hazards.

“In fact, there are serious hazards.”

Dr. Nissen noted that hydroxychloroquine had stayed on the market because it treated serious conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But other drugs with the same dangerous side effect have been withdrawn because they treated less serious ailments.

Mr. Trump has in recent weeks stopped talking about the drug that he had been touting as a possible miracle cure. But on Monday, he appeared to relish telling reporters that he was taking it, with approval from the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley.

“After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks,” Dr. Conley said in a statement on Monday night. He also said the president “is in very good health and has remained symptom free.”

The coronavirus outbreak spread to the White House this month, and two members of the staff tested positive. After that, the White House ordered all West Wing employees to wear masks at work unless they are sitting at their desks; the order did not apply to the president.

Early studies of hydroxychloroquine in the laboratory showing that the drug could block the virus from attacking cells prompted enthusiasm. But the studies of the drug in humans have largely proved disappointing, and some have pointed to serious side effects in people with heart problems.

“I’m not going to get hurt by it,” said Mr. Trump, 73, claiming he was making the disclosure in order to be transparent with Americans. “It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it. Front-line workers take it. A lot of doctors take it. I take it.”

Trump says that if the W.H.O. doesn’t change, he will permanently cease funding.

President Trump told the director-general of the World Health Organization he would permanently end all funding to the organization if it did not “commit to substantive improvements within the next 30 days,” according to a copy of a letter he posted to Twitter late Monday night.

“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” the president wrote in a four-page letter outlining his grievances against the organization and its leader, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The letter was his latest broadside against an organization he has sought to blame for the spread of the coronavirus while rewriting the history of his administration’s belated response. He wrote that the United States would reconsider its membership in the organization because it was “so clearly not serving America’s interests.”

Earlier on Monday, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, sharply criticized the W.H.O., saying its handling of the outbreak in China led to unnecessary deaths.

“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons that this outbreak spun out of control,” Mr. Azar said. “There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives.”

Before Mr. Trump posted his letter, President Xi Jinping of China offered to provide $2 billion in the fight against the pandemic and called on other nations to increase their contributions to the W.H.O. China’s contribution last year was $43 million.

Government reaches $354 million deal with new company to make drug ingredients in the U.S.

The Trump administration will announce on Tuesday that it has signed a $354 million four-year contract with a new company in Richmond, Va., to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients that are needed to treat Covid-19 but are now made overseas, mostly in India and China.

The contract, awarded to Phlow Corp. by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, meshes President Trump’s “America First” economic promises with concerns that coronavirus treatments be manufactured in the United States. It may be extended for a total of $812 million over 10 years, making it one of the largest awards in the authority’s history.

It was unclear why the Trump administration decided to award such a large grant to a company incorporated in January when an entire industry exists — contract manufacturing — that makes drugs for other companies. However, those manufacturers that operate in the United States generally make finished products using raw ingredients imported from elsewhere. They do not make the raw ingredients.

Eric Edwards, an entrepreneur and physician who founded Phlow, said the company initially planned to focus on drugs needed by children but switched gears when the coronavirus pandemic emerged. He said Phlow intended to create a stockpile for pharmaceutical ingredients to be used in the event of drug shortages or an emergency.

“There are not a lot of people wanting to bring back generic medicine manufacturing to the United States that has been lost to India and China over decades,” he said. “You need someone like the federal government saying this is too important for us not to focus on.”

The drug maker Moderna said on Monday that the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appeared to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus.

The findings, which helped give Wall Street its best day in about six weeks, are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine starting in March.

Those people, healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55, made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community. Two more age groups — 55 to 70, and 71 and over — are now being enrolled to test the vaccine.

Though encouraging, the findings do not prove that the vaccine works. Only larger, longer studies can determine whether it can prevent people in the real world from getting sick. Moderna’s technology, involving genetic material from the virus called mRNA, is relatively new and has yet to produce any approved vaccine.

If those trials go well, a vaccine could become available for widespread use by the end of this year or early 2021, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview.

Despite the uncertainties, the company’s announcement rapidly encouraged investors, who also welcomed a pledge from the Federal Reserve chairman that there was “really no limit” to what the central bank could do with its emergency lending facilities.

The S&P 500 rose more than 3 percent Monday — Moderna’s shares rose 20 percent — while stock benchmarks in Europe were 4 percent to 6 percent higher.

The rally had all the characteristics of one focused on the prospects for a return to normal, with travel stocks among the best performers in the S&P 500. Oil prices also moved higher.

Mr. Abbott’s latest round of easing restrictions came after the state reported its deadliest day yet last week — 58 deaths between Wednesday and Thursday — and recorded 1,801 new infections on Saturday, the highest single-day increase the state has seen.

“Keep your wits about you,” she urged. “Let’s not all go rushing out and force a closure eventually. What we want to do is keep moving forward.”

The order is especially important for the tourist hub of northwest Michigan, which has already canceled the popular National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival in July.

“We want to be measured about how we invite people back and how we reopen our businesses,” Mayor Jim Carruthers of Traverse City said. “It’s been horrible to see all the shops and restaurants closed.”

In Massachusetts, another hard-hit state, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, on Monday presented a four-phased strategy to gingerly resume public life, replacing his stay-at-home advisory with a new one, “safer at home.”

The four stages, which begin on Monday and last for three weeks each, are known as “start,” “cautious,” “vigilant” and “new normal,” with each new phase replacing the previous guidelines with slightly looser ones. Progress from one stage to the next is contingent on a continuing decline in the spread of the virus, Mr. Baker said.

“If we don’t keep up the fight, and don’t do the things that we all know we have to do and know we can do, we run the risk of creating a second spike in the fall,” he said.

Across the country, governors are weighing the risks of reopening their states with the need to minimize economic harm. The pendulum will move further toward the economy this week, when several more states, including Connecticut, Kentucky and Minnesota, move to reopen. If current trends hold, New York City is expected to meet the state’s criteria to begin reopening in the first half of June, the mayor said.

But even governors who have allowed certain returns to business have expressed hesitance, and public health officials have been warning for weeks that reopening too soon could lead to a devastating second outbreak.

“This is really the most crucial time,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, said Sunday on CNN. “And the most dangerous time.”

Stores and malls could reopen in Minnesota beginning Monday. The enormous Mall of America, in Bloomington, has said that it does not plan to reopen its shops until June 1. On Wednesday, hard-hit Connecticut is expected to reopen salons, museums and office buildings. By Friday, stores and restaurants are expected to open back up in Kentucky.

Oregon judge says the state’s stay-at-home order has lasted too long.

A judge in Oregon has rejected the state’s coronavirus restrictions, saying on Monday that Gov. Kate Brown did not have the authority to keep orders in place for more than 28 days.

The Oregon case was brought by a group of churches that contended that Oregon law prohibited the governor from issuing long-term mandates. The governor’s office has argued that Ms. Brown’s orders were issued under a different part of the law with no such limitations.

“Reopening the state too quickly, and without ongoing physical distancing, will jeopardize public health and cost lives,” she said.

On the eve of a hearing to assess federal relief measures, a group of Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee wrote a letter to Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, urging them to take greater risks in a lending program meant to keep credit flowing to midsize businesses.

The so-called Main Street lending program, first unveiled March 23, has yet to get up and running. When it does, it will be backed by $75 billion of the $454 billion that Congress gave the Treasury Department as part of the CARES relief law to support the Fed’s emergency loan efforts.

Mr. Powell and Mr. Mnuchin will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat, has expressed concern that the program is taking too long to get started, and that its terms are too cautious, limiting the chances that it will lose taxpayer money but also potentially curbing its effectiveness.

“The vast majority of these firms are not seeking public assistance due to risky behavior,” the senators wrote, adding that “should firms fail to receive affordable financing terms under these facilities, many will be left with a choice between declaring bankruptcy, posing long-term risks to the economy or opening up too quickly.”

The report is the first in what will be a monthly review of how the funds are being used. The money, which was allocated as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, is being used to provide grants and loans to airlines and companies that are vital to national security and to backstop lending programs designed by the Fed.

The report said that Treasury had yet to disburse the $46 billion in grant and loan money to airlines or businesses critical to national security. Thus far, it has used only $37.5 billion for the Fed’s Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, which purchases outstanding corporate bonds through a special purpose vehicle.

The bipartisan commission is made up of two Republicans, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Representative French Hill of Arkansas, and two Democrats, Bharat Ramamurti, a former economic adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Donna Shalala of Florida.

Hotlines in California were deluged on Monday as the state began taking applications for $75 million in cash assistance to help undocumented immigrants weather the economic downturn.

The one-time grants of $500 per person or $1,000 per household will be awarded to about 150,000 people who phone in on a first-come, first served basis, state officials said. Philanthropic organizations and private donors pledged an additional $50 million, for another 100,000 immigrants, Miriam Jordan reports.

There are an estimated 10.6 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., of whom 2 million live in California, more than any other state.

Undocumented immigrants are among the most vulnerable during the pandemic; many work in jobs in homes, hotels and restaurants that have been shut down during the lockdowns.

In anticipation of the payments, people looking for information on how to apply over the weekend directed a flurry of calls to the 12 nonprofit organizations contracted to vet the applications. By Monday, when the phone lines opened, many people reported they could not get through.

The sign-ups were being conducted almost entirely by telephone to avoid hazardous in-person contacts.

To qualify for the money, applicants must prove they are undocumented, out of work because of the health crisis and not eligible for federal stimulus checks or unemployment benefits.

Groups opposed to the program sued to block the state from using taxpayer dollars, arguing that it was illegal. The cases were dismissed by the court.

Amid continued questions about the small business loan program, Trump says he supports relaxing terms.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that he was open to relaxing the terms of a federal program to help distressed small businesses weather the crisis, even as new questions arose about who is able to benefit from the program.

During a round table at the White House, restaurant executives pressed Mr. Trump to extend the forgiveness period for loans under the Paycheck Protections Program from eight weeks to 24 weeks, a change that the president said “should be easy.”

For the loans to be forgiven, businesses must show that they kept their workers on payroll and used three quarters of the money on employment costs.

“The eight-week period is simply not enough time,” said Will Guidara, the owner of Eleven Madison Park, who attended as part of the newly created Independent Restaurant Coalition.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the program with the Small Business Administration, said he believes there is bipartisan support for such a change.

Monday was the deadline for businesses that got money from the program — which was designed to help mom-and-pop shops struggling during the pandemic — to return it under tightened eligibility rules that the administration imposed after several big companies benefited.

By comparison, in a survey of small businesses by the Census Bureau from April 26 to May 2, three-quarters said they had asked for a loan and 38 percent of them said they had received one.

“If we don’t get policies to protect these communities,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, “we will lose a generation of black and brown businesses, which will have deep impacts on our entire country’s economy.”

The state’s standards that New York City has yet to meet are:

  • A rate of new hospitalizations below 2 per 100,000 residents a day. In New York City, that works out to around 170 per day. According to the state, the number in the city is around 200 per day.

In the regions that can restart, construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade can resume. Some retail businesses may open for curbside service only. Five regions became eligible on Friday and a sixth, around Buffalo, can reopen on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.

Other activities that are allowed include drive-in movies, landscaping and gardening businesses and “low-risk recreational activities” like tennis.

Beaches in New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and elsewhere in New York State will open for swimming then, albeit with crowd limits and social distancing rules in place on the sand.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia announced on Monday that the city of Virginia Beach would be allowed to reopen its beaches with some restrictions on Friday, just before Memorial Day weekend.

Several states on the East Coast, including Delaware, New Jersey and New York, have recently announced plans to reopen their beaches before the unofficial start of summer.

And the Florida Keys will reopen to visitors on June 1, officials announced, after two months under lockdown, with the only access roads closed off by checkpoints.

The archipelago has been blocked off to anyone who does not work or live there since late March. Hotels were ordered closed, and visitors who flew in through the airport were screened and instructed to self-isolate for two weeks.

The stringent measures worked: Monroe County had just 100 confirmed cases and three deaths, according to state data. The three heavily populated counties to the north — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — had a total of more than 25,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.

Under Virginia Beach’s new plan, residents and visitors will be permitted to sunbathe, swim, fish and surf, with beach parking being limited to 50 percent capacity. Group sports, alcohol consumption, speakers, tents and umbrella groupings will still be banned.

“These rules must be followed — you must be responsible,” said Mr. Northam, who added that he would close beach access if social distancing measures were not followed.

Virginia began to relax restrictions on businesses and places of worship last week as part of the three-phase plan to reopen the state, which has a stay-at-home order until June 10.

The order has not stopped residents from going to the beaches even when they were still considered closed. Over the weekend, the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach felt like any other hot summer’s day, with children playing in the water and beachgoers catching some rays.

“Virginia’s beaches offer important mental health benefits, rest, relaxation and exercise,” Mayor Bobby Dyer of Virginia Beach said. “I believe we have a great plan, and I am prepared to stand by this great plan to ensure that when we open, we will be the safe beach that is required.”

Keep up with Times correspondents around the globe.

Japan’s economy becomes the largest to officially enter a recession. A Canadian military jet crashes during a flyover for virus workers.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Ellen Barry, Alan Blinder, Neal E. Boudette, Max Brimelow, Jane E. Brody, Julie Chang, Matthew Conlen, Michael Cooper, Pedro Cota, Melina Delkic, Emily Flitter, Jacey Fortin, Dana Goldstein, Abby Goodnough, Denise Grady, Kathy Gray, Kristen Hwang, Andrew Jacobs, Miriam Jordan, Annie Karni, Adam Liptak, Michael Mason, Alex Matthews, David McCabe, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Andy Newman, Sharon Otterman, Nadja Popovich, Alan Rappeport, Frances Robles, Rick Rojas, Marc Santora, Michael Schwirtz, Anjali Singhvi, Jeanna Smialek, Kaly Soto, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Neil Vigdor, David Waldstein and Michael Wilson.





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Live Coronavirus News and Updates


President Trump is expected to announce as soon as Thursday evening that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hire hundreds of people to perform contact tracing in communities around the country as part of the president’s push to allow the country to go back to work and school, a top government official said.

Mr. Trump is also expected to say that the federal government will help states pay for even more medical personnel to help track the spread of the virus by getting in touch with people who test positive for coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, to see who they have had contact with three or four days before they started showing symptoms.

“The president will announce a plan in the works to drastically increase the capacity for state and local health departments to do core public health work like testing people, doing contact tracing,” said the official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement. “We want to beef up state capacity to be able to perform core functions, so that if and when we start to open the country back up, we don’t have a resurgence of cases to require the country to shut back down.”

In a tweet on Thursday, Mr. Trump revealed that an announcement would come soon, saying: “Major News Conference tonight, the White House at 6:00 P.M. (Eastern), to explain Guidelines for OPENING UP AMERICA AGAIN!” It was not clear what else the new guidelines would include.

The president has repeatedly said he wants to get the country back to work by lifting the draconian restrictions that have kept people in their homes, shuttered businesses and schools and severely damaged the nation’s economy. But public health officials and many governors have said Mr. Trump’s desire for normalcy is running into the reality that doing so quickly could lead to more infections and once again overwhelm the nation’s health system.

Hiring medical personnel to perform contact tracing is needed, public health experts said. But many have cautioned that hiring several hundred for the entire country will be nowhere near enough to keep track of the virus as it spreads. Thomas R. Frieden, a former C.D.C. director, said there are estimates that the country will need to hire as many as 300,000 such workers.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have called for a $30 billion investment in testing capacity across the country, including hiring people to perform contact tracing once someone tests positive. And states have already begun hiring their own teams of workers for the job.

In Massachusetts, the governor said his state will hire 1,000 people to trace the contacts of infected patients. It is not clear how much money Mr. Trump will propose to spend helping the states hire their own people.

“There will be this effort in the coming weeks and months to dramatically scale up the public health work force to do the core functions that are needed to try to prevent re-emergency of the virus when we open up the country,” the official said.

“Everybody’s working so hard on all of these initiatives, including on how we can come together, whether it’s by proxy voting or remote voting or whatever it is,” Ms. Pelosi said. “When we are ready, we will do it.”

In a conference call with Democrats on Thursday, Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Rules Committee who has been studying the issue at the speaker’s request, recommended changing House rules to allow remote voting by proxy, according to one person on the private call who described it on condition of anonymity.

Other Democrats have different ideas. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, told reporters on Wednesday that he favors voting by FaceTime.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi noted that the House would have to reconvene to approve the creation of a special committee that she has proposed to oversee the federal government’s response to the coronavirus, and it could move then to change the voting rules.”

When people ask about remote voting or proxy voting and the rest, that requires a change in the rules of the Congress,” Ms. Pelosi said. “ At that time, I would hope that we could approve the committee.”

The $349 billion lending program for small businesses has run out of funds.

A federal loan program intended to help small businesses keep workers on their payrolls has proved woefully insufficient, with a staggering 22 million Americans filing for unemployment in the last four weeks.

The program, called the Paycheck Protection Program, was in limbo as the Small Business Administration said Thursday that it had run out of money. Millions of businesses unable to apply for the loans while Congress struggled to reach a deal to replenish the funds.

Congress initially allocated $349 billion for the program, which was intended to provide loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The money has gone quickly, with more than 1.4 million loans approved as of Wednesday evening.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, warned on Wednesday night that “by law, the S.B.A. will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations.”

The loans have been sought after as small businesses struggle with quarantines and closures, which have quickly depleted cash flows as businesses remain shuttered and customers stay home.

The program underwrites bank loans for small businesses that will never need to be repaid if owners use most of the money to keep paying employees for two and a half months. Economists and business lobbyists warned when the bill was being debated that the money was nowhere close to the $1 trillion or more that companies would need.

Mr. Mnuchin is expected to resume negotiations with lawmakers about adding another $250 billion to the fund on Thursday, while Treasury staff members were expected to meet with aides to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.

While both parties agree on the need to replenish the program, talks have broken down over whether to simply fill the pot, as Republicans and the White House want, or make significant changes to how money is allocated to businesses, as Democrats have called for.

Democrats have insisted on attaching new restrictions to ensure that the money flows to minority-owned businesses and other companies that are traditionally disadvantaged in the lending market. They also want to add more money for hospitals, food-stamp recipients and state and local governments whose tax receipts have plunged.

The Senate is expected to convene in a procedural session on Thursday, but it is unclear whether Senate Republicans will try to pass the funding. Such a maneuver would require unanimous agreement from all 100 senators.

And, just as the money ran out, the Federal Reserve’s backstop for the program came on line. The facility, which takes the loans banks make to small businesses as collateral, became fully operational as of Thursday. Banks that make loans are now able to essentially get financing from the Fed to extend that credit by using the loans they are making as collateral.

The promise that the program was coming has most likely encouraged lending by assuring banks that they would not have to keep the loans on their balance sheets.

More than 5.2 million workers were added to the unemployment tally on Thursday, another staggering increase that is sure to add fuel to the debate over how long to impose stay-at-home orders and restrictions on business activity.

In the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million — roughly the net number of jobs created in a nine-and-a-half-year stretch that began after the last recession and ended with the pandemic’s arrival. The latest figure from the Labor Department, reflecting last week’s initial unemployment claims, underscores how the downdraft has spread to every corner of the economy: hotels and restaurants, mass retailers, manufacturers and white-collar strongholds like law firms.

“There’s nowhere to hide,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton in Chicago. “This is the deepest, fastest, most broad-based recession we’ve ever seen.”

Some of the new jobless claims represent freshly laid-off workers; others are from people who had been trying for a week or more to file.

The mounting unemployment numbers seem certain to add to pressure to lift some restrictions on business activity. President Trump has said some measures should be relaxed soon because of the impact on workers. “There has to be a balance,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday evening. “We have to get back to work.”

Many governors and health experts are more cautious. If business conditions return to normal too quickly, they fear, a second wave of infections could spread.

“For all practical purposes, the U.S. economy is closed, so why would you expect layoffs to stop?” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “The longer the wait to reopen, the more painful it will be in terms of layoffs. Getting a date for reopening and getting more certainty about reopening is critical.”

Mr. Slok expects the unemployment rate to hit 17 percent this month, up from 4.4 percent in March and higher than any mark since the Great Depression.

Fed up with the broad restrictions on American life, and in some cases encouraged by anti-government activists on the right, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the country to urge governors to reopen businesses and relax strict rules on daily life that health officials have said are necessary to save lives.

In Michigan, thousands of demonstrators in cars jammed the streets around the State Capitol in Lansing, saying the restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus were drowning small businesses. In Frankfort, Ky., dozens of people shouted through a Capitol building window, nearly drowning out Gov. Andy Beshear as he held a news conference. And in Raleigh, N.C., at least one woman was arrested during a protest that drew more than 100 people in opposition to a stay-at-home rule, The News & Observer reported.

More protests against stay-at-home orders have been planned in other states, including Texas, Oregon, and California, as the economic and health effects of the coronavirus mount in the United States.

Some organizers and demonstrators had affiliations with the Tea Party and displayed the “Don’t Tread on Me” logo that was an unofficial slogan for the movement. Others waved flags and banners in support of President Trump, who has pushed to reopen the economy.

But the size of the protests in places like Michigan suggested that anger over the no-end-in-sight nature of the lockdowns is not limited to the far right, and that the public’s patience has a limit. As anxiety, uncertainty and joblessness grow, the next few weeks will pose a test for governors and local leaders who are likely to face increased pressure to loosen some of the restrictions.

In Michigan alone, more than 1 million people — roughly a quarter of the state’s work force — have filed for unemployment benefits.

Greg McNeilly, a Republican consultant in the state who has criticized the governor’s response as too blunt and sweeping, said that while the protests this week included fringe elements of the right, politicians would be mistaken if they dismissed them outright.

“At the heart of this is legitimate concern that, look, we can’t beat this virus without a vaccine or herd immunity,” he said. “And right now it feels like our policymakers, state and federal, are choosing fear instead of saying ‘how can we live safely with this?’”

New York’s sweeping shutdown will last until at least May 15, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday as he urged people to prepare for a “new normal” while the state sputtered into reopening over the next few months.

“This is going to be a moment of transformation for society, and we paid a very high price for it,” he said. “But how do we learn the lessons so that this new normal is a better New York?”

The governor’s guidance, including that businesses begin considering how to “reimagine” workplaces by weighing more regular use of telecommuting and sustained social distancing, came as he announced that his state’s official death toll had risen by 606 to 12,192, an increase in fatalities that was the state’s lowest in 10 days. (The tally did not include the more than 3,700 people in New York City who had died during the outbreak without being tested and were now presumed to have died because of the virus.)

Although Mr. Cuomo and other public officials have been encouraged by some statistics suggesting that New York’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus were working, he cautioned that reopening too hastily would cause the infection rate to swell.

“The rate of infection is everything,” said Mr. Cuomo, who is coordinating with other Northeast governors on a strategy for restarting the bulk of the economy.

Mr. Cuomo signaled that “more essential” businesses with a low infection risk would be prioritized for reopening, though he did not articulate a specific timeline. “Less essential” industries with a high infection risk, one of his presentation slides said, would be the “last priority — dependent on infection decline and precautions put in place.”

Other states and cities also extended stay-at-home orders. Wisconsin’s governor said his state would now stay at home until May 26, with schools also being closed for the rest of the academic year. Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Mo., and Sam Page, the St. Louis County executive, also announced that they would extend their stay-at-home mandates. On Wednesday, despite pushback, Idaho’s governor extended his statewide order through the end of April, telling residents, “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for the people of Idaho.”

Back in New York, the economic consequences of the pandemic came into clearer view when Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City would need at least $2 billion in “very tough budget cuts” in its next fiscal year. His proposal forecasts an extraordinary drop in the city government’s tax revenue: some $7.4 billion over the current fiscal year and the next.

George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and liberal financier, is directing more than $130 million through his foundation to combat the effects of the virus, with $37 million aimed to help at-risk populations in New York City, including undocumented families and low-wage workers.

More immediately, the state’s latest high-profile tactic to quell the virus — a requirement for people to wear facial coverings in public when they cannot maintain six feet of social distancing — will take effect at 8 p.m. on Friday. It applies to settings like sidewalks and grocery stores as well as buses, subway cars and ride-share services. The move came after officials in Honolulu, Los Angeles and Washington imposed some requirements for people to cover their faces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings, which is intended to protect those around them, a move that came after research showed that many people were infected but did not show symptoms. (Public health officials have warned against buying or hoarding the N95 masks needed by health care workers.)

Health officials have urged people to combine face coverings with social distancing, suggesting that one tactic did not replace the need for the other.

Death tolls are growing at nursing homes in New Jersey and Virginia as the virus sweeps through.

Nations around the world are going further in limiting movement, and anger is building.

Country after country around the world concluded on Thursday that restrictions on public life needed to be tougher or longer-lasting than they had planned, settling in for a longer, harder fight than they expected against the pandemic.

And along with the frustration and pain, anger and recrimination have flared in many places, as they have in the United States.

In Japan, where the epidemic is surging, the government abandoned its much-criticized, relatively laissez-faire approach and declared a national emergency — though the constraints on people and businesses remain voluntary.

Britain had set this week as the time to review, and possibly lift, its original lockdown order, but instead extended it for three weeks, as conditions there continued to worsen. Just a few days earlier, France had stretched its restrictions into May.

Australia, despite having a small and declining number of cases, extended its lockdown for at least four weeks. Russia canceled one of its marquee events, the annual Red Square parade commemorating victory in World War II. Greece, bowing to concerns about the virus hitting crowded migrant camps, said it would move thousands of people out of them.

China’s pride over the country’s success in getting the contagion under control, and comparisons to nations that are still struggling, have fueled a wave of nationalism and xenophobia. A widely circulated cartoon showed foreigners being sorted into trash bins, shops have barred foreigners, and in one major city, Africans report being mistreated, singled out as possible carriers of the virus.

In Spain, the pandemic’s appalling toll and suggestions that victims are being undercounted have become fodder for critics of an already-shaky government. And around Manila, as in so many of the world’s urban areas, resentment is rising over a lockdown has intensified the poverty and misery of countless people.

We answer your housing questions on breaking leases, paying rent and more.

Whether you’ve moved back with your parents, or simply to a different space to ride out the pandemic, do you have any options if you want to break your lease? Or are you looking for your next house and considering a life-changing purchase during these strange times? We have the answers you need.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Ellen Barry, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Jason DeParle, Caitlin Dickerson, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Emily Flitter, David Gelles, Abby Goodnough, Adeel Hassan, Neil Irwin, Danielle Ivory, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Kate Kelly, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Richard Pérez-Peña, Jeremy Peters, Roni Caryn Rabin, Alan Rappeport, Simon Romero, Marc Santora, Nelson D. Schwartz, Michael D. Shear, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas and Elizabeth Williamson.





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Live Coronavirus Stock Market Updates


Monetary markets reeled again on Wednesday, as the coronavirus continued its relentless distribute, governments ramped up endeavours to include it and traders ongoing to wait for lawmakers in Washington to get action on proposals to bolster the American overall economy.

The S&P 500 fell much more than 9 p.c, right after earlier environment off a 15-minute pause in trading. Stocks in Europe had been also sharply reduced, and oil rates cratered.

The advertising on Wednesday reflected another swing in sentiment on Wall Road. Stocks jumped on Tuesday as the White Property called for urgent motion to pump $1 trillion into the financial state.

But the calls so significantly have not been fulfilled with tangible motion in the Senate. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin achieved with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday and warned them that the unemployment rate in the United States could strategy 20 per cent with no the intervention of robust economic stimulus steps.

The Trump administration’s $1 trillion proposal features two rounds of immediate payments to Us citizens, 1 in April and one in Could, at a whole price of $500 billion, in accordance to a summary acquired by The New York Times on Wednesday.

The renewed promoting showed how fragile any gains have develop into as extensive as the virus proceeds to distribute and the quantity of conditions continues to mature at a staggering price. Analysts proceed to downgrade their anticipations for the world-wide economic climate and company gains as measures to have the virus grow to be a lot more intense.

The turmoil on Wednesday was evident in other marketplaces as well. The British pound fell to its most affordable degree in 35 several years towards the American greenback.

Rystad Electrical power, a consulting agency, reported that offer of oil around the world would exceed desire by about three million barrels a working day in April as air journey and other transportation floor to a halt.

“With each individual day, there appears to be yet an additional lure door lying beneath oil costs, and we hope to see rates carry on to roil,” explained Louise Dickson, a Rystad analyst.

The American oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate dropped to just over $21 a barrel, the least expensive value considering the fact that 2003.

The worldwide Brent benchmark fell to just earlier mentioned $25 a barrel, a amount just beneath January 2016. Oil charges are additional than 60 per cent under exactly where they were at the beginning of the yr.

The American economic climate is poised for the worst quarterly contraction ever, with a sudden slowdown in economic activity that is a lot more akin to what took place in wartime Europe than throughout preceding American slowdowns like the economic disaster extra than a decade ago or even the Great Depression.

Greg Daco, main U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, thinks the economic climate could shrink by 12 % up coming quarter, with unemployment hitting 10 % in April.

As it rose to report heights, the stock marketplace had maybe no even larger cheerleader than President Trump, who has viewed the rally as an endorsement of his economic guidelines and crowed about the gains throughout his presidency.

But stocks have been slipping for a month, and the severity of that drop has all but wiped out the gains that followed Mr. Trump’s inauguration. In intraday investing on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial regular fell below its pre-inauguration closing stage 19,732. The S&P 500, a greater measure of the broader current market, is however slightly previously mentioned its pre-inauguration level.

Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016, together with the Republican Party’s command of Congress, established off a surge in share rates as traders looked forward to the prospect of steep cuts to company tax prices and an administration stocked with field-welcoming faces.

In December 2017, Mr. Trump sent a sweeping tax overhaul. By the pursuing thirty day period, the S&P 500 was up additional than 30 per cent, and the gains saved coming for a lot of the yr. For Mr. Trump, this was a surefire barometer of his achievement as president.

There was a person other awful dip together the way: In late 2018, traders grew progressively concerned about Mr. Trump’s trade war with China and the prospect that the Federal Reserve would raise curiosity premiums. But with the financial state continue to developing, the career market strong, and the Fed reversing study course on its system to increase curiosity charges, the sector overcame that dip and climbed just about 30 p.c.

Since Entire world War II, the S&P 500 has entered a bear market place — a drop of 20 p.c from its peak — 12 periods, which includes the just one we are in. There have been as numerous recessions in that time.

However, not every bear market place preceded a economic downturn. The inventory current market isn’t an indicator of economic exercise, and thus is not essentially a predictor of recessions.

But steep declines in the stock current market have generally coincided with a downturn in the financial state. Of the bear markets that came right before the existing just one, 3 happened with out a recession afterward.

President Trump mentioned Wednesday that he would not drop tariffs on more than $360 billion truly worth of Chinese items as section of an economic reaction to the virus, irrespective of the urging of business enterprise groups who say the measure would enable amid a pronounced financial slowdown.

“China’s having to pay us billions and billions of bucks in tariffs, and there’s no explanation to do that,” Mr. Trump reported. “China has not questioned me to do that.”

The Trump administration however maintains tariffs on extra than $360 billion of Chinese merchandise, a legacy of a protracted trade war with China. On Wednesday, 160 firms and organizations sent a letter to the president contacting on him to suspend tariffs as component of his emergency actions to assistance the overall economy.

“This is an action that the administration can take these days with no ready on authorization from Congress, and we urge President Trump to act with no more hold off,” said Jonathan Gold, the spokesman for Us residents for Free Trade, which structured the letter.

The White Household is inquiring Congress to allocate $500 billion for two independent waves of direct payments to American taxpayers in the coming months and an further $300 billion to assist tiny firms continue on to meet up with payroll, in accordance to a Treasury Department proposal circulating on Capitol Hill and amid lobbyists.

The outline, a copy of which was attained by The New York Situations, calls for a full of $1 trillion in expending for these plans, which would also include things like $50 billion for secured financial loans for the airline market, and an additional $150 billion for secured loans or bank loan assures for other sections of the economic system hard strike by the unfolding money crisis.

It would enable for the use of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, an emergency reserve account that is usually employed for intervening in forex marketplaces, to cover those people charges, and also briefly allow it to promise cash market place mutual funds.

President Trump also invoked the Protection Manufacturing Act on Wednesday, offering the administration expanded powers to immediate factories to deliver encounter masks, robes, gloves and other health-related supplies desired to battle the virus.

The act, which stems from the Korean War, permits the govt to commandeer American factories and direct them to produce items required to defend countrywide protection. The law is normally thought of applying to weapons, tanks, uniforms and other military services goods, but the administration will use it to force American factories to ramp up generation of medical materials like ventilators, respirators and other protecting equipment for health care staff.

In a briefing Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he was set to indicator the act Wednesday afternoon, “just in case we have to have it.”

Individually, the Federal Housing Finance Agency mentioned it was directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large government-operate mortgage loan finance firms, to suspend all foreclosures and foreclosures-connected evictions for at least two months.

Reporting and exploration had been contributed by Jack Ewing, Ana Swanson, David McCabe, Cecilia Kang, Alan Rappeport, Ben Casselman, Clifford Krauss, Sapna Maheshwari, Nicholas Fandos, Jim Tankersley, Amie Tsang, Kate Conger, Adam Satariano, Matthew Goldstein, Mike Isaac, Jason Gutierrez, Edmund Lee, Carlos Tejada, Kevin Granville, Daniel Victor and Nelson Schwartz.



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Video Chats and Ordering in: Coronavirus Quarantine With a Smartphone


Yardley Wong, captive on the Japanese cruise ship grappling with the coronavirus, captured in a solitary impression the essence of life underneath quarantine. From within her little cabin, Ms. Wong took a picture of the shut doorway. She posted it to Twitter previous week.

“So considerably thinking as a result of this door,” she wrote.

From the Black Plague to the flu pandemic of 1918 to a lot more the latest outbreaks, the history of quarantine and health care isolation exhibits common emotional threads of those people on equally sides of these doors — uncertainty, terror, loneliness, separation. But this time, the raw bodily barrier is exhibiting cracks, many thanks to the smartphone.

“After some emotional breakdown, I find my peace from you all,” Ms. Wong tweeted numerous times soon after her put up introduced messages of guidance from men and women all over the world. “Thank you for the kindness. Your tweets give me strength.”

Whilst newspapers, radio and tv have softened the ordeal of earlier sequestrations, the coronavirus quarantines of 2020 are contrary to any other in human background owing to almost common electronic relationship.

Laptops, tablets and smartphones are letting persons in quarantine to work at their work remotely, purchase foods, shop on Amazon, chat face-to-face with close friends and loved types, preserve up with social media feeds, down load motion pictures and tunes — in short, to continue to be engaged in the world and fulfill numerous pursuits of their typical life.

Karey Maniscalco, an American actual estate agent who was quarantined with her partner, Roger, on the similar cruise ship, located isolation shockingly fast paced. “The previous few of times, we have been just catching up on get the job done on the internet, and executing a great deal of Facebooking,” she mentioned in an job interview previous week, before the U.S. federal government evacuated Us citizens from the ship and flew them back again to the United States, where they will continued to be quarantined. “Our inboxes are constantly entire. Holding up on social media is amazingly pretty time consuming.” She begun posting TikTok movies to stave off what she explained could be “overwhelming” emotion. “I woke up noticing that I’m still in this article and just began crying.” Engaging on social media, she claimed, “keeps me as well hectic to sit and dwell, I guess.”

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its area. The coronavirus can infect both equally animals and men and women, and can trigger a range of respiratory health problems from the popular chilly to a lot more risky conditions like Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      In accordance to preliminary investigation, it looks moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted by means of the air. Scientists have believed that every single contaminated man or woman could unfold it to someplace in between 1.5 and 3.5 individuals with out productive containment actions.
    • How anxious should really I be?
      Even though the virus is a significant general public wellness worry, the hazard to most folks outdoors China stays pretty minimal, and seasonal flu is a extra speedy menace.
    • Who is performing to incorporate the virus?
      Earth Health and fitness Organization officers have praised China’s intense reaction to the virus by closing transportation, educational institutions and marketplaces. This week, a crew of gurus from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer you guidance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are briefly denying entry to noncitizens who lately traveled to China and a number of airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I hold myself and many others harmless?
      Washing your arms often is the most important matter you can do, alongside with being at dwelling when you’re ill.

In China, Isabel Dahm, 22, has been ready to see her cats and puppy back dwelling in Minnesota as a result of chats with her father, Bob Dahm, utilizing an app, WeChat. She is in Zhejiang province, wherever she’s been teaching English considering the fact that November and is now largely relegated to her apartment below semi-quarantine.

“I consider if this was going on in the Center Ages, I would’ve truly absent crazy months ago,” Ms. Dahm stated by e-mail.

She is permitted out of her apartment only each other working day, so she is teaching her course on the web from her personal computer in her modest effectiveness apartment. “I have a VPN, a digital personal network, so I’m capable to entry all of the points I could again in the States, like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube that are ordinarily blocked in China,” she explained. She also orders meals delivery but the shipping and delivery persons are not authorized upstairs.

“She’s learned the phrase in Chinese for ‘I’ll satisfy you at the gate,’” her father said.

Much more substantively, those beneath quarantine have had unprecedented accessibility to information about the virus alone. For example, in Shenzhen, in the Guangdong province, which has the greatest infection level outside the house of Wuhan, Krista Lang Blackwood, a trainer from Kansas Town, follows virus updates from the Planet Wellness Firm and the Facilities for Ailment Handle and Avoidance. From time to time, she and her spouse and children appear out their fifth-flooring window and wonder if the tranquil streets are telling them infection is spreading. Then they test the cellphone to discover out.

In before times, Ms. Lang Blackwood noted in an electronic mail, persons probably would have fretted more than how near the closest circumstance of disease was. “In the 21st century, do not fret! There is an app for that!” she wrote.

“You can actually appear at your neighborhood and see wherever just about every claimed scenario is on a map. We have no strategy who runs that app, because it’s all in Chinese, but, on the app, there is no purple exclamation point at the condominium advanced down the street.”

“It’s an odd mixture,” she extra, “of glut of data blended with isolation.”

This common connectivity seems to be transforming the character of isolation according to professionals in two disparate fields — those people who study the sociology of engineering use and those who review quarantine. In 1918, through the flu pandemic, sections of the United States embraced a strategy known as “social distancing,” that was explicitly meant to restrict interpersonal exposure. Only 1-3rd of households experienced phones and persons were being fearful to contact newspapers, fearing the spread of germs.

Investigate, likely again many years, exhibits distinct instances in which new media assisted limit isolation. Journal articles or blog posts from the early days of radio clearly show how radio transmissions lifted the spirits of individuals in isolation at hospitals. An experiment in the late 1950s in Omaha observed that a closed-circuit television sign served the mood of clients at a psychological clinic when they could see and respond to their kinfolk.

In 1832, when a cholera outbreak struck North America, newspapers carried news of the an infection as it spread.

“There is a extended history of new media in reworking these moments around time,” reported Dr. Jeremy Green, director of the historical past of medication section at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The latest media seems to combine all that which has appear right before — letter crafting, online video, radio and television, and all instantaneously and all over the place. Referring to the swine flu pandemic of 2009, he stated, “Even with H1N1, we did not see this certain outcropping of social networking.”

Dr. Jeremy Nobel, an adjunct teacher at the division of world health and social drugs at Harvard Clinical University, warned that the common ability to communicate comes with the similarly effective capacity to manipulate, distort and censor data. As a outcome, he stated, men and women less than quarantine could be still left to ponder if governments are telling the truth, generating stress in between the convenience of interpersonal communications and pain of formal types. “In an era of faux information,” he reported, “people might talk to: What is fact, and what is fact?”





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