Daily Musings — Thoughts on News of the Day

December 23, 2020

House Dems will try to pass $2,000 stimulus checks this week after Trump signals support

In a video address Tuesday night, Trump called the proposed stimulus checks of $600 included in the economic relief bill that Congress passed Monday “ridiculously low” and said the payments should be more than tripled — a proposal that many Democrats immediately lined up behind.

Stimulus arrives as confidence sinks: Morning Brief

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions deteriorated sharply in December, as the resurgence of COVID-19 remains a drag on confidence…”

Jobless claims: Another 803,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week

Though initial unemployment claims improved more than anticipated last week, claims are still coming in at historically elevated levels.

In pandemic America’s tent cities, a grim future grows darker

The virus presents a compounding threat. Not only are these populations some of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, but by destroying millions of jobs, the pandemic threatens a wave of evictions that experts warn could lead to a catastrophic housing displacement and even more people living on the streets.

The ‘Darkest Days’ Are Ahead Of Us, Biden Warns About COVID-19 Pandemic

“Our darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us…”

This billionaire warns that America’s massive wealth gap could lead to conflict

“There will have to be a resolution of the system working for the majority of the people in which there’s productivity…And that could be obtained either in a smart, bipartisan way — or it will come by greater conflict.”

Wheels Come Off For Bus Companies, Closing Down Travel Options For Poorer Americans

Demand for bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic, as public health authorities urge people to avoid travel where possible.

Global cargo logjam deepens, delaying goods bound for retailers, automakers

A surge in demand for furniture, exercise equipment and other goods for shoppers sheltering at home in a worsening COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal trade flows. That has stranded empty cargo containers in the wrong places, spawning bottlenecks that now stretch from factories to seaports.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

December 22, 2020

Half of Americans call 2020 a ‘personal financial disaster,’ plan to change priorities in 2021

Seven in ten say their financial priorities have changed from the start of 2020 to now. For 63 percent, this year has permanently changed their financial priorities.

It will take months for vaccines to help the economy

“In the meantime, the end of year holiday season will soon be upon us with the risk of another surge in Covid-19 cases and the possibility of yet more confinement measures.”

The next stimulus deal will be even harder to get

The first issue is the Senate, now controlled by Republicans who tolerate deficit spending when a Republican is in the White House but become fiscal hawks when a Democrat is president.

The Supreme Court might be finding its way to overturning ‘qualified immunity’

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court not only embraced damages as an appropriate and traditional remedy for violations of constitutional rights, but also rejected the government’s invitation to consider policy arguments in order to deny plaintiffs their day in court.

During crucial holiday season, US consumer confidence slumps

The December reading of 88.6 released Tuesday by the Conference Board is a sharp decline from last month, which was revised downward to 92.9, and it is far worse than economists had expected. It may be an ominous sign for an economy in which consumer spending accounts for 70% of all economic activity.

US public school enrollment dips as virus disrupts education

“I would like to hope that many of them are from homes where their parents have taken responsibility on their own to provide for their education…My fear is that large numbers have simply gotten discouraged and given up.”

Hollywood Boulevard Struggles Amid Pandemic: “75 Percent Is Boarded Up”

According to the Hollywood Partnership’s third-quarter report, 185 businesses remained closed in the area as of September.

Should We Worry About Older Workers With Nontraditional Jobs?

To answer the question, this brief synthesizes the findings of four recent Center studies on nontraditional jobs and older workers, a group that could be particularly vulnerable without employer benefits.

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December 21, 2020

COVID-19 relief package: $600 stimulus checks, $300 bonus for federal unemployment benefits in new deal

The deal includes restarting a $300 boost to the federal unemployment insurance benefit, extending eviction moratoriums for renters for an unspecified amount of time and a $600 direct payment to most Americans.

Panel: People over 75, essential workers next for vaccines

Sunday’s vote by the panel was who should be next in line, and by a vote of 13-1, it decided that it should be people 75 and older, who number about 20 million, as well as certain front-line workers, who total about 30 million.

‘Global COVID-19 herd immunity will take two or three years’

The vaccine is not going to be a magic bullet immediately. So, we are going to still have to live with a certain amount of restrictions in our lives. It is going to be really important to build trust again as we go into the New Year.

Pain, despair and poverty reach fever pitch for unemployed workers

Almost 8 million people have fallen into poverty since the summer. Savings for many, especially the lowest earners, are either dwindling or gone. Millions of households owe thousands in back rent and utilities — and face a renewed threat of eviction in the new year. A growing share of unemployed individuals say their households don’t have enough to eat.

Strained health agencies push do-it-yourself contact tracing

Health officials say do-it-yourself tracing is not ideal, but as infections and hospitalizations soar, it’s likely the most effective way to reach people who may be at risk.

42% of Americans say their income is still below pre-pandemic levels

Half of US households told Bankrate their income has taken a hit at some point during the pandemic. Yet, only 17% of those who suffered an income drop reported that their earnings have returned to the levels they had prior to the pandemic.

American manufacturers pine for home as COVID disruptions, Trump tariffs shake up supplies

“They don’t like having to depend on China. They would maybe like to bring back manufacturing to Mexico or the U.S. But because of the uncertainty, they can’t tell me their requirements. They don’t know how much they’re going to sell. And given how much they don’t know, this probably isn’t the best time to make any major capital investments.”

Costa Rican hybrid sailboat aims to reduce shipping industry’s carbon footprint

Inspired by the historic Finnish trading schooner Ingrid of the Aland Islands, the firm Sailcargo Inc says it designed the vessel named Ceiba “to be the first of its kind in the world.” It will rely mostly on wind power with two auxiliary electric engines for maneuvering in ports and low winds.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 18, 2020

‘Losing A Generation’: Fall College Enrollment Plummets For 1st-Year Students

“That’s a lot of individuals whose lives are on hold, whose career and educational aspirations are suspended…You can almost think of this as an entire generation that will enter adulthood with lower education, lower skills, less employability, ultimately lower productivity.”

US jobless claims rise to 885,000 amid resurgence of virus

With layoffs still elevated and new confirmed viral cases in the United States now exceeding 200,000 a day on average, the economy’s modest recovery is increasingly in danger. States and cities are issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.

Senators expect to pass government funding, coronavirus relief bills this weekend

Indecision remains over how to distribute stimulus checks — they’re expected to be about $600. The final bill is also expected to include boosted unemployment benefits of $300 per week, and $325 billion in aid for small businesses, reports Axios.

Coca-Cola laying off 2,200 workers as it pares brands

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered Coke’s business, as sales at places like stadiums and movie theaters dried up due to lockdowns. Its revenue fell 9% to $8.7 billion in the July-September period.

America’s toughest year? 3 in 4 say 2020 pushed the country into an ‘existential crisis’

With all of these events adding up, over half of respondents have felt too overwhelmed throughout the year to take proper care of their health and wellness. Fifty-six percent said they’ve been struggling now more than ever to find a wellness routine that works for them.

45 of 50 biggest U.S. companies turned profit since March

45 of America’s 50 biggest publicly traded companies have turned profits since March, while nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since June.

States grapple with next steps on evictions as crisis grows

About one-third of U.S. households say they’re behind on rent or mortgage payments and likely to face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

What Happens When the 1% Go Remote

A whopping 80% of New York City’s income tax revenue, according to one estimate, comes from the 17% of its residents who earn more than $100,000 per year. If just 5% of those folks decided to move away, it would cost the city almost one billion ($933 million) in lost tax revenue.

Flight of the Icons

The state’s population, notes demographer Wendell Cox, is now virtually stagnant, with more people leaving and fewer people coming. Today, suggests Cox, California, once the ultimate land of youth, is now aging far faster than the rest of nation.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 16, 2020

Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer

The poverty rate jumped to 11.7 percent in November, up 2.4 percentage points since June, according to new data released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.

For Hungry Americans Across The Country, Food Insecurity Crisis Deepens

Last year, more than 35 million people experienced food insecurity. But because of the pandemic, that number could be as high as 50 million for this year, according to the hunger relief organization Feeding America.

Majority of small U.S. businesses see worst coronavirus impact still ahead -poll

A new U.S. Chamber-MetLife poll of small businesses taken from Oct. 30-Nov. 10 showed that 74% of the owners said they need further government assistance to weather the pandemic. That percentage rises to 81% for minority-owned businesses.

Pink Dot Delivery Robots Cruise West Hollywood

“We’re so excited! Imagine having this robot making deliveries to your door…I’ve been in the delivery business for over 20 years and this is the most revolutionary thing yet. This is the future.”

Teacher Shortage Compounds Covid Crisis in Schools

School districts are recruiting parents as substitute teachers, online class sizes are soaring to 50 children or more and bus drivers are baby-sitting classrooms. Some are considering allowing asymptomatic teachers who were exposed to Covid-19 to continue to show up.

Elon Musk is leaving Silicon Valley for Texas. These millionaires and companies are joining him

Several tech firms have said they’ll give employees the option to permanently work from home even after the pandemic ends. But the relocation of corporate headquarters, company founders and big-name VC investors points to a corporate diaspora of the tech industry — and what some have called a “tech exodus” from the Bay Area.

Is this the end of cities in America?

As people of many professions increasingly telecommute during the age of the pandemic, many are relocating to small or medium-sized cities, either close to their original homes or in low tax states. Places like Louisville, Buffalo, Burlington, Little Rock, Tulsa, Greenville, Knoxville and Syracuse are all seeing population influxes of nearly double their 2019 rates or better.

Staff Pick: How Much Does College Quality Matter?

“We found that the importance of college quality as a determinant of graduation rates and post-college earnings increased, while the importance of aptitude test scores declined.”

2020 Box Office: Domestic Revenue Falls to 40-Year Low

Presently, domestic revenue for 2020 stands at around $2.2 billion, according to Comscore. That’s down roughly 80 percent from 2019, which ended up at $11.4 billion.

A New Warning That International Pandemic Responses Are Eroding Freedom

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dire impact on civic freedoms globally…Our research shows that governments … are using the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce or implement additional restrictions on civic freedoms.”

Amazon’s Zoox reveals self-driving taxi

The vehicle is similar in concept to the General Motors-owned six-passenger Cruise Origin that debuted in January, but is narrower and about three feet shorter in length at under 12 feet.

Couch or cubicle? Vaccine may not lure Americans back to the office

The stigma of “shirking from home” has disappeared, the technology has improved quickly, and companies and employees have adapted, the research concluded. Firms have changed their tech infrastructure to accommodate, and the average worker, the study found, has spent about $660 outfitting their home set up.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 15, 2020

U.S. Congress in sprint to fund government, approve COVID-19 emergency aid

“The plan is alive and well and there’s no way, no way that we are going to leave Washington without taking care of the emergency needs of our people.”

‘Poorly designed and irresponsibly run’: PPP scrutiny mounts after SBA data dump

The data dump showed that more than half of all PPP funds went to only 5% of recipients, while more than a quarter of all funds went to only 1% of borrowers. The program cost nearly $225,000 for each job that it saved.

$100 Billion of Giveaways Could Accompany Year-End Omnibus Package

These measures have nothing to do with the current economic and public health crisis and would be on top of a possible $900 billion COVID relief package.

Neiman Marcus employees rankled by bonuses paid to top executives: report

Belgian-born van Raemdonck stands to reap a reward of as much as $6 million as a result on top of the $4 million bonus he earned earlier this year.

Holiday retail workers seek “temporary lifeline” in warehouse jobs, if they can find one

The supply of available holiday jobs in U.S. customer-facing retail fell by a third to 302,100 this year from around 466,400 jobs last November…Meanwhile, applications for U.S. storefront retail positions have jumped by around 34%.

Streaming is about to get a lot more expensive

“Disney increasing its content budget is a big deal for the whole industry, including Netflix. It is effectively raising the bar to compete…If Disney needs to spend $14 billion to $16 billion on content, then Netflix likely needs to spend well over $20 billion to achieve the same subscriber scale globally.”

Falling plane values, e-commerce rise fuels boom in converting passenger planes to freighters

Permanent conversions are a financial bet that air freight demand, which was weak before COVID-19, will remain strong for years to come as shoppers turn to e-commerce.

Universal Basic Income has been a ‘lifesaver’ to families during coronavirus pandemic: California mayor

“I’ve seen how it’s been a matter of economic life or death for so many of my constituents who did not create COVID-19, who did not ask to be laid off from their job, who did not ask for their hours to be cut and just need a little bit of help to do what’s necessary to stay healthy.”

Churches, synagogues reimagine holiday services — and their messages of faith

For communities of faith, Covid-19 has upended traditions and placed annual festivities at churches and synagogues on hold, forcing rabbis, pastors and priests to reimagine Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations and rethink their messages to the faithful.

Butler on Wheels, Robot Cutting Salad: How Covid Sped Automation

“When we come out of this crisis and labor is cheap again, firms will not necessarily roll back these inventions…These are kind of one-way transitions.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December, 14, 2020

Fox News poll: Majority say US worse off than it was 4 years ago

Asked how history will judge Trump, 42 percent said he will be viewed as one of the worst presidents in history, 22 percent said he will be remembered as one of the greatest and 26 percent said he was average or above average.

Another economic blow: A slowdown in US population growth worsened by COVID-19

The number of U.S. residents is likely to increase by just 700,000, or 0.2%, this year, the slowest pace since 1918, when the Spanish Flu and World War I combined to shrink America’s population, according to estimates by Moody’s Analytics.

Unsold U.S. Hotel Rooms Near 1 Billion as Lodging Crisis Deepens

Based on an average daily rate of $131, hotel owners have seen about $46 billion in lost revenue. The result, industry groups warn, is that many properties will close without a new round of stimulus from the federal government.

Covid: Genes hold clues to why some people get severely ill

“Vaccines should drastically decrease the numbers of covid cases, but it’s likely doctors will still be treating the disease in intensive care for a number of years around the world, so there is an urgent need to find new treatments.”

Liberals announce a vaccine-harms compensation program

If Canada were to create such a program — requiring cooperation with the provinces and territories — we would join just 19 other countries around the world that have some variety of a vaccine compensation policy.

Ailing newspapers abandon newsrooms as pandemic deepens woes

In recent months, established dailies such as the New York Daily News, Miami Herald and Baltimore Sun have joined other news outlets abandoning their headquarters, amid pandemic workplace restrictions that had already left them empty.

NFL Ratings Drop Leaves Networks Scrambling to Make Advertisers Whole

TV networks are feeling the strains of disappointing NFL ratings, as they are forced to restructure deals with advertisers to make up for the smaller audience, and their opportunity to make money off remaining games during the lucrative holiday season narrows.

The death spiral of public life

Both public schools and transit face what some experts have called a “death spiral.” As frustrated parents and scared passengers withdraw from the public system, they take tax dollars and fares with them, which means schools and transit services worsen.

U.S. Poised for Wave of Evictions in January as Federal Ban Expires

Between 2.4 million and 5 million American households are at risk of eviction in January alone, and millions more will be vulnerable in the months after, according to estimates from the investment bank and financial-advisory firm Stout Risius Ross.

The growing backlash against educational extremism

Over 8,700 students have been withdrawn from the Fairfax County school system, with parents preferring to send them to private schools or homeschool them—an eye-opening 5 percent decline in the past year.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

December 11, 2020

Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic

The government stimulus that kept millions of Americans from falling into poverty earlier in the pandemic is long gone, and new aid is still a dot on the horizon after months of congressional inaction. Hunger is chronic, at levels not seen in decades. The result is a growing subset of Americans who are stealing food to survive.

Here’s the case for Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and the rest of America’s billionaires sending $3,000 stimulus checks to everybody

If the ultrarich were to share their “pandemic profits,” research shows, they could give everybody in the country a one-time $3,000 stimulus check and still be wealthier than they were back in March.

‘You don’t need Congress’: Biden increasingly pressured to unilaterally forgive up to $50,000 student debt

“President Biden can undo this debt — can forgive $50,000 of [student] debt — the first day he becomes president…You don’t need Congress. All you need is the flick of a pen.”

Jobless claims rise more than expected after break from holiday

This was the highest weekly total since Sept. 19 and reflects the job market’s struggles lately as coronavirus cases have spiked and local and state governments have imposed restrictions on some activities. Continuing claims increased by 230,000 to 5.76 million.

Restaurants Are Setting Up Shop in Empty Hotel Suites

From Brooklyn, New York, to Minneapolis, restaurants are turning suites into private dining rooms for small groups. This comes at a time when the country’s hotel occupancy rates remain at historic lows—65% are below 50 % occupancy—and the restaurant industry faces continued job and revenue loss.

Stock indexes end mixed as damage to the economy piles up

Treasury yields fell following a report that showed 853,000 U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. It’s also the latest reminder that the pandemic is doing more damage to the economy in the near term, even if prospects are rising that a COVID-19 vaccine will get the economy healthy in the longer term.

U.S. Stocks End Mixed as Jobless Claims Rise and Stimulus Talks Continue

The latest weekly initial jobless claims rose sharply, and continuing claims also rose for the first time in months. But those signs of recent economic weakness might spur Congress to act on a proposed $916 billion fiscal stimulus bill, the thinking goes.

US Oct. job openings blip up to 6.7 million but hiring slows

In its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), the Labor Department reported that companies and government agencies laid off or fired 1.68 million workers, up from 1.44 million in September.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 10, 2020

Yes, the rich got richer: Top 1% saw their wages soar by 160% since 1979, six times the increase of the bottom 90% of workers

In 2019, salaries averaged $38,923 for the bottom 90%; $320,096 for the top 5%; $758,434 for the top 1%; and $2,858,981 for the top 0.1%.

Vaccines Herald Return to Offices, But Workers Don’t Want to Go

More than half of U.S. employees currently working from home say they’d like to keep their remote arrangements beyond the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday.

COVID-19 pandemic puts squeeze on pension plans

Pensions and other retirement-benefit programs have struggled for years to figure out how to close the gap between the assets they have on hand and the cost of benefits they have promised to pay out in future decades. Their concerns continued to grow as investment returns fell.

San Francisco Puts Another Nail in Its Own Coffin

It is not just that this bill will do little to provide additional net revenue to a city facing financial ruin; it is that this bill will surely do the exact opposite. Even critics of modern income inequality see policy prescriptions such as this as counterproductive

U.S. Speaker Pelosi backs putting $1,200 checks for people in next COVID-19 bill

A proposal for $908 billion in relief – put forward by a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week and endorsed by Pelosi, a Democrat, as a basis for negotiations – does not include funding for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks like the ones included in a previous COVID-19 aid package last spring.

‘Unacceptable’: Democrats reject new White House proposal that would slash weekly unemployment benefits in exchange for one-off $600 stimulus checks

Democrats are rejecting a White House proposal to fund new a new round of direct payments to Americans by slashing money for the unemployed.

U.S. Congress seeks lifeline before funds run out

A bipartisan effort to deliver an infusion of COVID-19 relief to families and businesses is hung up over provisions to help state and local governments, which Democrats want, and protecting businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, a top Republican priority.

Holiday skiing — or more email? For 27% of us, the no-fun option beckons

These workers plan to spend more time than usual checking in with the office. For this large slice of us, the holiday season is likely to be defined by a mantra of “less fun, more work.” Even family movie time might turn into a few disjointed glimpses of the big screen while scrolling through email or text messages.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

December 9, 2020

1 in 3 workers had their pay cut during the pandemic, and women’s salaries are taking longer to recover

Mothers are three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for a majority of housework and child care during Covid-19, and twice as likely to worry that their work performance is being judged negatively because of their caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic.

Universal basic income could decimate cities next year, one bank says in its ‘outlandish forecasts

“The risk that societies are entirely torn apart results in the realisation that the Covid-19 measures weren’t a mere panic response, but the start of a permanent new universal basic income (UBI) reality,”

Gripped by surging pandemic, US employers cut back on hiring

Friday’s report provided the latest evidence that the job market and economy are faltering in the face of a virus that has been shattering daily records for confirmed infections. Economic activity is likely to slow further with health officials warning against all but essential travel and states and cities limiting gatherings, restricting restaurant dining and reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.

Americans can pay their credit card bills, but for how long?

Since the Great Recession more than 10 years ago, few mainstream credit card companies have put effort into lending to subprime borrowers or to the poor. Credit card companies are now focusing most of their attention on middle- to upper-class borrowers, who typically have jobs allowing them to work remotely and are not in businesses that have been shut down due to the virus.

Uber, hard-hit by pandemic, sells its robot-vehicle division

Self-driving vehicle technology company Aurora will acquire the employees and technology behind Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in an stock transaction, the companies said Monday. Uber will also invest $400 million into Aurora, and Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Aurora’s board of directors.

Third of Americans binge drink during COVID pandemic, but lockdowns make problem worse

The team finds binge drinkers consume around four alcoholic beverages per occasion during the pandemic. That’s double what non-binge drinkers are consuming. Adults who report drinking harmful levels of alcohol during their isolation are having as many as seven drinks at one time.

Covid-19, Remote Work Make Austin a Magnet for New Jobs

Business relocations to Austin announced this year are expected to create nearly 10,000 jobs. Austin has also managed to remain cheaper than San Francisco, Brooklyn and Manhattan by building tens of thousands of apartments over the past decade.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 8, 2020

Restaurant Closings Top 110,000 With Industry in ‘Free Fall’

“The restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer…What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

Fear and Loathing as Colleges Face Another Season of Red Ink

“Colleges and universities get very high premiums on their housing. It’s a big revenue space for them…But for many, many schools right now, they just can’t operate in person.”

Millions of hungry Americans turn to food banks for the first time

Hunger is a harsh reality in the richest country in the world. Even during times of prosperity, schools hand out millions of hot meals a day to children, and desperate elderly Americans are sometimes forced to choose between medicine and food.

The cost of child care was already astronomical. In the pandemic, it’s ‘terrifying.’

The average cost of child care for a child under 4 is $9,589 per year, according to New America’s Care Report — more than the average cost of in-state college tuition. It’s much more expensive in big cities: In Washington, D.C., the average cost of care for an infant is more than $24,000.

All-Remote Learning Is Failing Many Students All Across The Country: ‘These Children Are Struggling’

And grades in North Carolina paint a bleak picture as well. In Wilson County, 46 percent of students in grades 3-12 failed a class this fall while learning virtually.

Identifying the Most Financially Vulnerable Families

Ricketts and Boshara found the most important predictor of serious delinquency is whether a family has at least two months’ worth of income in the form of liquid assets, such as cash and checking and savings accounts. If they don’t, they’re about 300% more likely to become seriously delinquent than those who have at least that much.

After Once Touting Self-Driving Cars, Uber Sells Unit To Refocus On Core Businesses

As the company continues to chase profitability, it appears to be refocusing attention on its core businesses — ride-hailing and food deliveries. Earlier this year, it sold its scooter and electric bike division to a micromobility company.

FCC awards $9.2 billion for setting up high-speed internet access in rural America

The FCC said the funding would grant broadband access to over 10 million people, adding that the minimum speeds offered will be 100 Mbps, with 85% of users getting gigabit speeds.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 7, 2020

A bleak outlook for millions facing cutoff of US jobless aid

If no agreement is reached in negotiations taking place on Capitol Hill, more than 9 million people will lose federal jobless aid that averages about $320 a week and that typically serves as their only source of income.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck during COVID pandemic

Sixty-four percent are cutting down on dining out or ordering takeout. Another 61 percent add they’re seeing fewer movies, 55 percent are buying less clothing, and 52 percent are traveling less. Nearly two in three (63%) say they’re going paycheck-to-paycheck since March 2020.

America’s hidden depression

Big business, investors, and the wealthy are thriving. But restaurant and bar employees, hotel and airline staff, and other service workers are in a pretty hopeless situation right now:    A “depression” is an apt description of what they’re facing …700,000 Americans have been filing unemployment insurance claims every week for 37 weeks — nine months. Plus, 20 million people are still on the pre-pandemic unemployment rolls.

ABC News Head James Goldston on Layoffs: ‘Necessary as We Adapt to Changes in Our Business’

The news comes on the same day as cuts to Disney’s television arm under general entertainment content chairman Peter Rice, which saw the departures of a number of longtime executives from the ABC Entertainment broadcast network and 20th TV studio unit. Separately, Radio Disney disclosed Thursday that it would shut down operations early next year.

The stock market is soaring to new heights. But most Americans aren’t along for the ride.

But what makes me really uncomfortable is watching nothing emerge from Our Nation’s Capital to help people clobbered by covid-19 while those of us fortunate enough to have substantial stock holdings have seen the value of our portfolios rise sharply since March.

America expected a pandemic baby boom. It got an egg-freezing one instead.

Even as New York City’s businesses — restaurants, bars, gyms, retail — have been slammed by the pandemic, New York University’s Langone Fertility Center has seen a 41 percent increase in women freezing their eggs

The Real Fascist Threat Was Never Trump—It’s Corporate Power

Under the kindly eyes of Uncle Joe, we soon may find ourselves living under an updated version of the fascist “corporate state”— an alliance between political leaders and a handful of ultra-rich, ultra-powerful companies that increasingly dominate the economy and culture.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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December 4, 2020

Biden, leading Democrats on board with the new $908 billion bipartisan stimulus proposal

The proposal includes enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week; $160 billion in financial aid to state and local governments; $288 billion to renew the Paycheck Protection Program and help small businesses; and $25 billion in rental assistance.

As COVID-19 persists, more Americans are unemployed beyond 6 months. Does that carry a stigma even in a pandemic?

Skills erode over time, the theory goes, and extended unemployment may carry a stigma. That means a large group of Americans may have less income and spending power for years, even after the pandemic and its short-term economic effects are over.

Employment growth slows sharply in November amid coronavirus surge

The unemployment rate met expectations, though it fell along with a drop in the labor force participation rate to 61.5%. A more encompassing measure of joblessness edged lower to 12% while the number of Americans outside the labor force remains just above 100 million.

Remote working is here to stay. But who will be doing it?

Roughly 35 to 40% of employees in developed economies have reported working from home most or all of the time during the pandemic, a marked increase from the past.

Store closings: Francesca’s files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, plans to close 140 stores amid COVID-19

The Houston-based clothing chain is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic, joining Guitar Center, New York & Company, J.C. Penney, Stein Mart, Sur La Table, Ascena Retail Group, Tuesday Morning and several others.

Boeing gets a boost from Ryanair order for 75 more Max jets

The order would be worth more than $9 billion at list prices, although airlines routinely receive deep discounts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As profits increase, Walmart is set to pay out $700 million in bonuses to employees

The retail giant said it will provide some $315 million in “special” cash payments paid to workers in their Nov. 25 paycheck, and another tranche of bonuses totaling $388 million that will be paid on Dec. 24.

Southwest warns nearly 7,000 workers of possible furloughs

The warnings went to 6,828 employees including more than 2,500 ground workers and 1,500 flight attendants represented by the Transport Workers Union and 1,221 pilots, who have their own union. As of the end of September, Southwest had about 58,000 employees, including 11,000 on long-term leave.

In ‘seismic’ move, Warner Bros. releasing all 2021 movies on HBO Max. What does this mean for theaters?

“This is the game-changing moment that theaters have feared the most. It’s seismic…It’s a complete change to the Hollywood paradigm as we know it. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle. This is unprecedented.”

Employment Losses in Contact-Intensive Industries

The authors found that nonessential contact-intensive industries were hit hardest in April, losing about 35% of their employment relative to February. Employment declined by about 10% for the other two groups, as shown in the figure below.

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December 3, 2020

McConnell says compromise possible on new fiscal stimulus, if Democrats move in GOP’s direction

“Here in the Senate, I put forward a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including the elements that we know President Trump is ready and willing to sign into law. Why should these impactful and non-controversial life preservers be delayed one second longer?”

Top Democrats Back Off Demands For Larger COVID-19 Bill

“In the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations…Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement.”

Trump says he will support a coronavirus relief bill

U.S. President Donald Trump. said on Thursday he would support a coronavirus relief bill, as lawmakers in Congress seek to hammer our an agreement to help Americans hit by the economic fallout of the deadly disease before the end of the year

Hewlett Packard Enterprise to move headquarters to Texas

“As we look to the future, our business needs, opportunities for cost savings, and team members’ preferences about the future of work, we are excited to relocate HPE’s headquarters to the Houston region.”

U.S. weekly jobless claims fall; services sector activity slows

The pandemic and almost depleted coronavirus relief package are hampering the economic recovery, with services industry activity slowing to a six-month low in November, other data showed.

Container Shipping Is Booming Again. That Probably Won’t Last.

One hopes shipping companies will eventually figure out better ways to serve their customers. But theirs is a slow-moving industry subject to all sorts of non-market-driven incentives. It could take a while. In the meantime, the world seems to be moving on to new things.

Fed reports slowing US economic activity due to virus surge

Four districts reported “little or no growth” during November, while five others reported that activity remained well below pre-pandemic levels in some sectors.

Canceling student loan debt could benefit wealthy Americans the most

A working paper published Monday…shows that erasing all student loan debt would distribute $192 billion to the top 20% of earners in the U.S., but just $29 billion to the bottom 20% of U.S. households.

‘Debt overhang’ could hamstring U.S. economy well after pandemic

It’s a risk especially present in the U.S., where corporate indebtedness has surged as businesses tapped bank credit lines and raised as much cash as they could in an effort to get to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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December 2, 2020

Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908B coronavirus relief proposal amid gridlock

“It’s simply unacceptable for us to not help in this circumstance,” Romney told reporters, “I happen to be a deficit hawk…But the time to borrow money, maybe the only time to borrow money, is when there’s a crisis. And this is a crisis.”

Biden’s Economic Team Draws on Deep Experience With Focus on Jobs, Wages, Inequality

Overall, Mr. Biden’s chosen advisers favor a bigger government role in raising wages and employment.

More than half of emergency small business funds went to larger businesses, new data show

According to data on the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, about 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million.

COVID-19 damage to Social Security to extend beyond pandemic

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that in the aftermath of the pandemic, the trust fund will deplete its $2.8 trillion reserve over the next decade unless changes are made. Inaction would lead to cuts of 20 percent or more to benefits starting in 2031.

ADP reports hiring slowdown in November ahead of government payrolls report

Payrolls grew at their slowest pace since July amid a deceleration in large business hiring for November, ADP’s monthly payrolls report said Wednesday.

The fates of millions of Americans rest on Biden’s economic team

“This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by Covid-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy.”

A New Setback for Big Cities as Return to the Office Fades

The office return rate climbed steadily during the summer and early fall, but it has flattened out after reaching a high point of 27%…Floor after floor of empty office space is a source of great frustration for landlords and companies, which have invested millions of dollars…to make employees comfortable with a shared location.

Nine months after the health and economic crisis began, unemployment claims near record high

“The numbers we’re looking at now are [far higher than] anything we’ve seen before…We’ve never seen a shock like this.”

Americans Flocked to Gun Stores on Black Friday

This year’s Black Friday saw the fourth most gun-related background checks in a single day since 1998, according to data released by the FBI. Five of the top 10 busiest single days in the history of the background-check system have occurred in 2020, which has already set the record for most gun sales in a year.

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December 1, 2020

The Class of 2020 Looks for Work

This spring, when many were graduating from college, unemployment for 20- to 24-year-olds was above 20%…About 25% of employers said they closed their open positions or rescinded offers made in the spring to new graduates.”

Black Friday shopping in stores craters 52% during pandemic as e-commerce sales surge

“We knew Black Friday [traffic] was going to be down, we just didn’t know how much it was going to be down…Shoppers are spreading out their shopping throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and the pandemic.”

Retail apocalypse will spread after gloomy holiday season: strategist

“In total, we think there is going to be at least 25,000 of those 110,000 stores closed from now through the time COVID-19 ends and we get to the other side of it…So in the malls…we could see half of those go dark or be changed dramatically in nature.”

Rising U.S. weekly jobless claims, COVID-19 cases point to slowing economic recovery

“The question is no longer whether the recovery will slow, it will…The real issue is by how much will it decelerate.”

Coronavirus stimulus: Democratic senators push to extend expiring unemployment programs

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program…will expire at the end of the year if Congress does not act. If the programs expire, about 12 million people could lose unemployment aid.

Hollywood Grapples With Mass Layoffs as the Biz Redefines Itself for Streaming Future

“This disruption is hitting every level of employee, and it is compounded by the perception that once you hit a certain number of years of experience, it’s harder to find the next opportunity.”

Disney to Lay Off 32,000 People in the First Half of 2021

As part of these actions, the employment of approximately 32,000 employees primarily at Parks, Experiences and Products will terminate in the first half of fiscal 2021…Additionally, as of October 3, 2020, approximately 37,000 employees…were on furlough…”

Biden’s daunting challenge on jobs

“Over the last four decades, we’ve had a lot of economic growth, but it hasn’t really reached the median worker…It’s been very concentrated at the top, If we do that for the next four decades, it will not be a good outcome and most of us will not benefit.”

The global recovery remains uncertain — here’s why the OECD wants fiscal stimulus to continue

But growth prospects remain “exceptionally uncertain” and increased fiscal support through public spending will remain necessary.

Cyber Monday Sales Set a Record, but It Wasn’t the Blowout Anticipated

According to Adobe, Cyber Monday sales reached $10.84 billion, rising more than 15% year over year. That is at the low end of the 15% to 35% range the firm projected, but still makes it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history.

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November 25, 2020

Will you get a new $1,200 stimulus check by Christmas?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday that Republicans want to sit down soon with members of the opposing party to draft a bill “for the people that really need it.” Mnuchin negotiated nearly nonstop with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the election, but they couldn’t reach a deal.

Millions of Americans Expect to Lose Their Homes as Covid Rages

About 5.8 million adults say they are somewhat to very likely to face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months, according to a survey completed Nov. 9 by the U.S. Census Bureau. That accounts for a third of the 17.8 million adults in households that are behind on rent or mortgage payments.

Canceling student loan debt would be ineffective at boosting US economy, study shows

Instead of giving the average household an extra $15,000 to spend, it would relieve them of their monthly interest payments, freeing up about $200 per month for the typical borrower. “In other words, because borrowers often pay back their loans over 10, 15, or even 30 years, debt cancellation will increase their available cash by only a fraction of the total loan forgiveness,”

Why Janet Yellen makes so much sense as Treasury secretary

“Janet Yellen is brilliant and has a track record for being unflappable…She seems to be popular in all factions, from the financial markets to Main Street.”

Moviegoing Teeters After 700 Theaters Reclose Overnight in North America

Heading into the weekend, 646 movie theaters in the U.S. closed down again virtually overnight amid an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases, according to Comscore. There were also 60 cinema reclosures in Canada, meaning that in the span of several days, the North American box office lost 706 locations compared to a week ago.

Laser fusion reactor approaches ‘burning plasma’ milestone

NIF researchers believe they are close to an important intermediate milestone known as “burning plasma”: a fusion burn sustained by the heat of the reaction itself rather than the input of laser energy.

Hydrogen-powered trains could replace diesel engines in Germany

“Hydrogen drives are an advanced, emission-free form of propulsion that will help decarbonize rail transport and make a significant contribution toward achieving our climate targets.”

Do you work remotely? This program could pay you $10,000 to do so from Tulsa

“We started with the goal to introduce Tulsa to the nation and create a vibrant and diverse talent ecosystem within our community…We seek to bring people from diverse industries and skill sets that bring jobs with them into our economy, and at the same time, population growth is always important.”

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November 23, 2020

‘It’s a big, scary mess’: 12 million Americans to lose jobless aid after Christmas if Congress fails to act

Millions of jobless Americans could suddenly be cut off from their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if Congress fails to extend relief programs, with many facing lasting scars as the worst pandemic in a century threatens to deepen their economic pain.

Robots Invade the Construction Site

A McKinsey report last month predicts a big shakeout across the construction industry over the next decade, with companies adopting technologies and methodologies from the manufacturing world.

Four Reasons the Stay-at-Home Economy Is Here to Stay

It’s no wonder Fed Chairman Jerome Powellsaid on Tuesday, “We’re not going back to the same economy—we’re recovering, but to a different economy.”

Retailers Cut Back on Choices; ‘We Don’t Need Three Types of Red’

“The wider the assortment, the more confused the customer is…Customers want something that is digestible. They want retailers to edit down the choices.”

World Bank warns G20 against doing too little to tackle debt problems

“We need to guard against doing too little now, and then suffering disorderly defaults and repeated debt restructurings as in the 1980s.”

U.S. retailer Guitar Center files for bankruptcy

Earlier this month the company reached a restructuring agreement with key stakeholders that includes debt reduction by nearly $800 million and new equity investments of up to $165 million to recapitalize the company.

How Recessions Impact Household Net Worth

Households varied significantly in their recovery after the Great Recession. Within four to five years after the recession started, all but the bottom half of households had rebuilt their nominal net worth to pre-recession values. The bottom 50% took nearly a decade to return to their pre-recession mark.

Support Grows for Guaranteed Income Among America’s Mayors

“It’s important for me that any discussion of a basic income is grounded in those roots, and understand that it’s not a new conversation…With the twin pandemics of racism and Covid-19, it’s time for us to extend the social safety net.”

November 20, 2020

Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot

Warren, who alongside Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Biden to cancel $50,000 of student debt through executive fiat, upped the pressure this week by characterizing student loan cancellation as the “single biggest stimulus we could add to the economy.”

How the pandemic could permanently change unemployment benefits

The surge in demand for benefits throughout the pandemic — especially in the spring — has put a huge strain on states’ unemployment insurance systems. Some experts and lawmakers say the pandemic has highlighted the need for changes to U.S. unemployment benefits.

Another 1 million Americans entered poverty in the last few weeks as coronavirus pandemic drags on

In October alone, 1 million more Americans fell below the poverty threshold, a study from the University of Chicago found. A total of 7 million Americans have entered poverty since May, with Black Americans falling into poverty in the greatest numbers.

‘The Squad’ pushes Biden to cancel student debt — here’s how they’d personally benefit

Fifty-nine members of Congress reported owing student loans in their latest financial disclosures published last year, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Collectively, the 59 lawmakers with student loan debt owe at least $2.4 million.

Should the Biden administration cancel student debt? Read this before you decide

Following a speech on the economy Monday, Biden told reporters that student-debt cancellation “does figure in my plan,” after being asked about it. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Biden proposed cancelling $10,000 in student debt as a coronavirus relief measure.

U.S. labor market losing steam as COVID-19 rages

“You don’t have to warn the jobless that momentum is fading and the risks are high, they are living it every day without a paycheck and with employment opportunities in increasingly short supply…The blame falls squarely on Washington where there is no attempt to fight the virus in a coordinated manner or to fight the recession by renewing and extending the unemployment benefits to the millions of jobless workers in the country.”

Fed’s Kaplan says economy could shrink as virus surges

“It is possible we could have negative growth if this resurgence gets bad enough and mobility falls off enough…The next couple of quarters is going to be very challenging.”

Congress, Don’t Forget the Long-Term Unemployed

The thing to realize is that we don’t have a skills gap; we have a jobs gap. The unemployed in retail do not need to go to coding camp, as Rahm Emanuel, a high-ranking adviser in the Barack Obama administration, said recently.

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November 19, 2020

End of Year Means End of Federal Aid for Millions of Americans

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has been a safety net for those who aren’t typically eligible for jobless benefits, like self-employed and gig workers. As many as 9.4 million people were claiming PUA in late October. The final payable week is currently the second-to-last week of December.

‘I will be put out of my house’: Some Americans who struggled early in crisis are on brink, others find jobs

USA TODAY recently checked back in with some of the dozens of Americans who spoke to us earlier this year after losing jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and found that many have edged closer to financial calamity.

Jobless claims: Another 742,000 Americans filed new unemployment

New unemployment claims held below the 1 million mark for a twelfth straight week. New claims also rose for the first time in five weeks, however, though they have moved steadily lower from a pandemic-era peak of nearly 7 million.

Americans’ mortgage debt soars to a record $10 trillion

Homebuyers are leveraging the near-constant new lows in rates. At the beginning of this month mortgage rates fell to a record low — the 12th record low in 2020. So it’s no surprise that Americans are out buying houses. Between July and September, mortgage debt increased by $85 billion to a total of $9.86 trillion.

Amazon opens online pharmacy, shaking up another industry

The potential impact of Amazon’s arrival in the pharmaceutical space rippled through that sector immediately. The stocks of CVS Health Corp., Walgreens and Rite Aid all tumbled Tuesday. “The news represents a disruption to the system and competitive threat that will likely shift scripts away from the retail channel,” analysts at Citi Research said in a note.

Amid pandemic, big US retailers cash in as small business suffers

Walmart’s profits came in well above forecasts with a surge to $5.1 billion — 56.2 percent more than the year-ago period — based largely on the strength of its online sales.

As COVID-19 rages, millennials make up growing share of ‘sandwich generation,’ caring for kids and parents

Millennials, age 24 to 39, graduated from college just as the Great Recession of 2007-09 was upending the economy, setting back their careers and salaries. They took on hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt. And now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re suddenly becoming the largest contingent of the “sandwich generation,” the cohort of adults providing financial and other support to both children and elderly parents.

‘Attack of the debt tsunami’: Coronavirus pushes global debt to record high

Among advanced nations, debt surged above 432% of GDP in the third quarter — a 50 percentage points increase from 2019. The United States, which has implemented one of the biggest stimulus packages in the world, accounted for almost half of this rise.

These are the Americans choosing to take on more debt in the middle of a pandemic

While the US continues to experience elevated unemployment, Americans who still have jobs and high credit scores are clearly driving the trend. Many people moved from dense cities to suburban and rural areas during the pandemic. Some are still renting in their new locales arrangement, but the homebuyers are common in this group.

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November 18, 2020

Hundreds of Companies That Got Stimulus Aid Have Failed

Many of the companies, which employ a total of about 23,400 workers, say the funds from the Paycheck Protection Program weren’t enough to keep them going as the coronavirus and lack of additional stimulus payments weighed on their businesses.

Fed’s Powell signals emergency credit programs should be extended

Even as recent positive news on experimental coronavirus vaccines has raised the prospect of a fuller economic recovery next year, the next few months could be “challenging” the Fed chief said at a virtual event hosted by the Bay Area Council in California.

Home Prices Are In a Bubble. Full Stop.

But if the concern is the possibility of major economic disruption—rather than just whether houses are good investments at current prices— the focus should be on long-term macroeconomics.

Another booming quarter for Walmart, but sales are slowing

“This was another strong quarter on the top and bottom line…We think these new customer behaviors will largely persist, and we’re well positioned to serve customers.”

Central Bank Is Committed to Using All Available Tools to Boost Economy, Top Fed Official Says

To provide more support to the economy, officials could give more detail around how long those purchases might last or they could increase the share of long-term securities they are buying. Mr. Clarida didn’t indicate Monday whether he favored any changes or whether any were imminent.

U.S. Retail Sales Rose in October at Slowest Pace in Six Months

Weaker momentum in consumer spending — which accounts for two-thirds of the economy — indicates growth could slow more sharply following the third quarter’s record jump in gross domestic product.

US weekly jobless claims fall to pandemic low of 709,000

The number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs during the week ended October 24 was 21.16 million, the Labor Department said.1 There were 1.45 million people claiming benefits across all programs during the comparable week in 2019.

Where should the Republican party go from here? As in 1980, look outside of Washington

But in Washington, both parties have been more concerned with winning arguments than actually solving problems.

States plead for more federal help as virus outbreak worsens

The needs have become more urgent as the virus rampages across virtually every state. California and Texas each have exceeded 1 million cases. California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week barred indoor restaurant dining and imposed other restrictions. As intensive care units fill up, some Republican governors once reluctant to impose mask mandates have reversed course, and some cities and states are threatening fines against businesses that violate restrictions on social gatherings.

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November 17, 2020

Thousands of desperate Texans wait in line at drive-thru food bank in hope of getting one of the 7,000 frozen turkeys ahead of the holiday

The food bank distribution event, held by North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in Dallas on Saturday, saw 600,000 pounds of food given away – including 7,000 turkeys. It is hoped enough food was given out to feed around 25,000 people.

Feeding Those Independent Critters Creates Dependence

Every ranger understood that feeding the animals only turned them into pets, wholly dependent on human charity and unable to fend for themselves when humans went home. Come to think of it, maybe the same logic could be applied to government handouts of the inedible variety.

Occupations in decline: These are 25 jobs that are disappearing in the US

These are the 25 fastest disappearing jobs according to government data projections on the percentage decline in employment expected from 2018 to 2028.

Millions of Unemployed Americans Face Loss of Benefits at Year’s End

The number of people receiving extended benefits is expected to rise in coming weeks as more workers—many of them jobless since the pandemic began—exhaust their regular benefits.

New stats reveal massive NYC exodus amid coronavirus, crime

From just March through July, there were 244,895 change of address requests to destinations outside the city, more than double the 101,342 during the same period in 2019. The escape from New York is fueled not only by coronavirus concerns but economic worries, school chaos and rising crime, experts say.

With COVID on the rampage, will you get a 2nd stimulus check soon?

A survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that close to 60% of Americans used their first stimulus checks to pay for basic expenses like groceries and utilities.

China, 14 other nations sign pact for world’s largest trade bloc

The absence of the U.S. as a member of RCEP or other regional trade pacts, such as the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which President Donald Trump withdrew in 2017, leaves China in a position to sell itself as a champion of multilateralism and free trade.

‘More people may die’: Biden urges Trump to aid transition

“Right now, we don’t have a standardized set so you’re hearing all these governors and mayors are scrambling to try to find what is the right answer for us, and it would surely help all of them, and that’s what I’m hearing from them, that we have a standardized set of recommendations and protocols.”

Uber in talks to sell its ATG self-driving unit to Aurora

Uber has been seeking options for its autonomous vehicle divisions, a heavy cash burn machine, including seeking more outside investment, as Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi refocused on core businesses including ride-hailing and food delivery since the pandemic hit.

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November 16, 2020

Is This the End of College as We Know It?

Dr. Wittern’s 37-year-old husband worked in a warehouse for several years before becoming an apprentice electrician. He expects to earn comparable money when he’s finished—minus the debt. When and if they have children, Dr. Wittern says her advice will be to follow her husband’s path and avoid a four-year degree.

Fed’s Harker says U.S. economy is not going to ‘snap right back’

“We’re not just going to snap right back to the previous economy,” Harker said. “I think that’s unrealistic.” Harker repeated his view that some low-income workers will need help training for better-paying jobs. Hiring in some sectors, including retail, is unlikely to fully return to prior levels now that some companies are relying more on technology, he said.

Wall Street Beat: A Dark Winter and Another Tough Year

Randy Quarles, the vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve, said this week that it could be as late as 2023 before the economy returns to pre-Covid levels. He added his voice to a number of others who keep pushing the horizon for recovery further and further away.

Restaurants and stores are struggling to survive amid COVID-19. So why are many boosting spending, hiring workers?

U.S. business investment soared over the summer and early fall, defying the pattern of the last two economic recoveries and bolstering the nation’s comeback from the pandemic-induced downturn.

As COVID-19 shuts malls and hotels, their owners fall behind on loans, setting the stage for a changed landscape

As it stands now, nearly 20% of all hotel loans and slightly more than 14% of all retail loans originated by commercial real estate lenders and packaged into securities that are sold to investors are now delinquent.

US piles up record October budget deficit of $284.1 billion

The October deficit, while a record for the month, was far below the all-time monthly record of $864.1 billion set in June as the spending on the $3 trillion in coronavirus support measures passed by Congress ramped up. In a September report, the CBO forecast annual deficits will remain above $1 trillion through 2030.

Ex-Im reviewing nearly $2 billion in applications for space industry projects

“The industry has changed significantly as far as the technology and also the companies that are involved…We have to be involved in a technology that is proven…There has to be a commercial viability so we can underwrite it to get to this reasonable assurance of repayment.”

Delivery giant DoorDash plans IPO

“No industry has benefited more than food delivery…In a horrific backdrop, a silver lining has been, from an economic perspective, it’s been a huge positive for these workers, drivers and restaurants that could utilize companies like DoorDash in this environment.”

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November 13, 2020

Meet George Jetson? Orlando Unveils Plans for First Flying-Car Hub in U.S.

The so-called vertiport is scheduled to be completed in 2025 and will enable passengers to bypass Florida’s notoriously congested highways, the city and the hub’s developers contend. The electric-powered aircraft will be capable of taking off vertically from the ground-based hub and reaching a top speed of 186 miles per hour

U.S. data suggests economic recovery may be weakening

Red flags are appearing across a range of high-frequency measures of retail foot traffic, small business hiring and other data, and even previously bullish forecasters are increasingly concerned consumers may buckle in the face of rising health risks.

Congressional COVID-19 impasse drags on, Pelosi warns ‘house is burning down’

“I gather she (Pelosi) and the Democratic leader in the Senate still are looking at something dramatically larger. That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go…But I do think there needs to another package…Hopefully we can get past the impasse.”

To get to Mars, first develop the moon

The next “gold rush” will be for lunar resources to enable an energy rich economy in Earth-moon space.  This new wealth will make the human exploration and settlement of more distant Mars practical.

Mounting commercial real estate losses threaten banks, recovery

If U.S. banks absorb big losses on their $2 trillion in commercial real estate loans, the entire economy will suffer. Just the fear of looming bankruptcies and defaults has prompted banks in recent months to restrict new lending, at a time when the virus-ravaged economy needs all the help it can get.

Employees working from home should pay ‘privilege’ tax’ to support workers who cannot

“Our calculations suggest the amounts raised could fund material income subsidies for low-income earners who are unable to work remotely and thus assume more ‘old economy’ and health risks.”

Lagarde: Recovery could be stop-and-go despite vaccine news

 “While the latest news on a vaccine looks encouraging, we could still face recurring cycles of accelerating viral spread and tightening restrictions until widespread immunity is achieved…the recovery may not be linear, but rather unsteady, stop-start and contingent on the pace of vaccine roll-out. In the interim, output in the services sector may struggle to fully recover.”

Monthly U.S. Budget Gap More Than Doubled in October

The U.S. budget gap rose 111% in October, due to higher federal spending last month on health-care and safety-net programs, and lower federal tax collection, according to monthly Treasury data. Government outlays rose 37% to $522 billion, while revenue declined 3.2% to $238 billion.

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November 12, 2020

Student debt cancellation already in focus amid President-elect Biden transition

“I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asserted recently, “and we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation.”

Jobless claims preview: Another 734,000 Americans likely filed new unemployment claims last week

“We are watching the trend in weekly initial claims for any reversal of the recent modest declines…Against a backdrop of a raging pandemic, risks are skewed to the downside for the labor market.”

Report: The Pandemic Is Not Good For Freedom And Democracy. But There Are Exceptions

The picture looks bleak. Since the outbreak began, the condition for democracy and human rights has grown worse in 80 countries. The report points to clear cases where governments have used COVID-19 as a pretext to shut down opposition, marginalize minority groups and control information.

The Office Space Apocalypse

In the coming months, particularly after Trump likely loses the White House, there will be a massive campaign—already starting from office owners like Related—to force people back into their cubicles.

Remington Arms, oldest U.S. gunmaker, to lay off 585 employees in New York, union says

The sale of the Remington plant in Ilion to Roundhill Group, LLC was approved late last month in federal bankruptcy court as part of the Remington Outdoor Company bankruptcy case, according to court documents.

Merkel expects second wave of pandemic to be more severe than first

“As it was the case with the Spanish flu, we now also have to expect that the second wave will be more severe.”

How Elite Colleges Rip Off Taxpayers

Yale owns about a quarter of the town of New Haven, Connecticut, but the school pays little property tax. It even has a golf course that’s half tax-exempt.

Future of business travel unclear as virus upends work life

“Maybe it’s just the acceptance of the new normal. I have all of the resources necessary to be on the calls, all of the communicative devices to make sure I can do my job…There’s an element of of face-to-face that’s necessary, but I would be OK without it.”

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November 11, 2020

Millions of Americans have been out of work for months

Nearly 3.6 million Americans were out of work for at least 27 weeks in October, a stunning jump of nearly 50% from September, according to the jobs report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They now account for one-third of the unemployed, up from less than one-fifth a month earlier.

U.S. bankruptcy court approves sale of J.C. Penney

Still, the retailer faces an uphill battle to attract shoppers this holiday season as they stay away from the malls and stores for safety reasons and shop online more. Meanwhile, Amazon and big discounters like Walmart and Target are only getting stronger as they offer low prices and one-stop shopping.

Small business optimism slightly below expectations, but still strong

The percentage of business owners who now expect the economy to improve in the next few months dipped by five percentage points to 27% in October following an eight-point gain in September and a dip of one point in August.

Senate’s McConnell backs smaller coronavirus relief bill, omnibus appropriations bill by year’s end

“We need to think about, if we’re gonna come up with a bipartisan package here, about what size is appropriate…It seems to me that snag that hung us up for months is still there. I don’t think the current situation demands a multi-trillion dollar package. So I think it should be highly targeted, very similar to what I put on the floor in both October and September.”

No more fiscal firehose? That might be okay by the Fed

“We are going to need extended unemployment insurance, likely some additional funding in the PPP program or a different program that’s directed at those kinds of small businesses, but additional ways to bridge those individuals through the pandemic and put them in a good position to recover once the economy is fully back,”

Race for space pushing up suburban rents

The situation speaks to the uneven economic recovery. Multitudes of Americans remain unemployed and without the means to make up for missed rent payments once eviction moratoriums are lifted. Meanwhile, work-from-home professionals have kept earning and are looking for more living space.

‘A scary number’ of retail companies are facing bankruptcy amid the coronavirus pandemic

“I think many of these companies will file [for bankruptcy], and it’s not a handful. It’s several dozen. And that’s a scary number…We will see some major chains go away and not come back…These are chains that were struggling before the situation. COVID-19 will put them over the ledge.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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November 10, 2020

Why Pfizer’s ultra-cold COVID-19 vaccine will not be at the local pharmacy any time soon

The main issue is that the vaccine, which is based on a novel technology that uses synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the virus, needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.

Walmart To Test Robotic Deliveries With Cruise’s Electric Self-Driving Vehicles

“Customers can place an order from their local store and have it delivered, contact-free, via one of Cruise’s all-electric self-driving cars…Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about.”

Biden and unemployment benefits: What a Joe Biden presidency could mean for the next COVID-19 stimulus package

“A divided government, with Democrats controlling the White House and Republicans the Senate, is likely to mean a smaller fiscal stimulus package than had been anticipated.”

US job openings rise slightly in September, hiring slips

“The fact that there are any help-wanted signs posted at all is remarkable given the severity and depth of this economic downturn…Happy days aren’t here again for jobless workers but the labor market is slowly healing day by day.”

U.S. still faces possible default wave, asset declines due to pandemic: Fed

“As many households continue to struggle, loan defaults may rise, leading to material losses…” Business debt “has risen sharply as businesses increased borrowing to weather the period of weak earnings. The general decline in revenues associated with the severe reduction in economic activity has weakened the ability of businesses to services these obligations.”

There’s a new barrier to a fourth stimulus bill

But the posturing continues, since two runoff races for Senate seats in Georgia on Jan. 5 are now set to determine the makeup of the Senate. This new political landscape is likely to push a fourth stimulus bill into 2021 and make it considerably smaller than many investors would like.

Op-ed | Securing cislunar space: A vision for U.S. leadership

“Today, the entirety of economic and military space activities is confined to the geocentric regime; however, commercial investments and new technologies have the potential to expand the reach of vital National space interests to the cislunar regime and beyond in the near future.”

Coronavirus canceled office clothing. These stores are in big trouble

On Wednesday, Brooks Brothers, the 202-year-old menswear retailer that has dressed 40 US presidents and is synonymous with the classic Wall Street banker look, filed for bankruptcy as demand for suits plummeted amid the pandemic.

Automats Make a Comeback in Covid-19 Pandemic

The automat, a concept developed more than a century ago in which customers could buy a hot meal offered from a vending machine’s glass locker, is getting a reboot, with two modern takes on the idea opening in Jersey City, N.J., and Manhattan.

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November 9, 2020

Could ‘dark stores’ help retailers like Macy’s hang on?

That doesn’t mean they’re shutting off the lights and calling it a day. Instead, these so-called “dark stores” are attempting to stay open by closing their doors to shoppers and transforming their spaces to order fulfillment centers.

Dollar General aims at higher-end shoppers with new $5 or less ‘popshelf’ stores

Whereas Dollar General stores focus on consumer staples, popshelf will feature home decor, party supplies, entertainment goods, and other non-consumables that “bring joy” to shoppers.

Drop in leisure driving stalls global recovery in fuel demand

College football in parts of the United States has been cancelled, leaving towns that normally swell to 100,000 or more on game day empty. Teams in the U.S. Big Ten Conference, home to storied football schools like Ohio State and Michigan, started its schedule last weekend, several weeks late, with fewer fans.

Evidence of PPP Fraud Mounts, Officials Say

Banks and the government allowed companies to self-certify that they needed the funds, with little vetting. The Small Business Administration’s inspector general, an arm of the agency that administers the PPP, said last month there were “strong indicators of widespread potential abuse and fraud in the PPP.”

Global economy: The coming wave of lockdowns

As of last week, “85 percent of companies had beaten expectations by an astounding 19 percent on average” in the third quarter, a great sign of economic strengthening. Then soaring coronavirus case numbers in France and Germany prompted both countries to close bars, restaurants, and theaters for a month.

How the pandemic has changed Americans’ spending and saving habits

But for many of those who are still employed — or who have a spouse who still is — it has changed how they use their money. Some have cut expenses and increased savings, paid off debt, or donated more to help those in need. Others have spent more on impulse purchases, made big life moves or postponed them. CNN Business asked readers how the pandemic has changed their spending and saving habits. Here’s what some of them had to say.

For Business, Biden Bodes a Less Hospitable but More Predictable Presidency

President-elect Joe Biden ran on one of the most progressive Democratic platforms in decades. It envisions increased taxes on investors and businesses, a public health insurance option for Obamacare, lower prices on drugs and bold plans to confront climate change and empower unions.

OPEC would miss ‘friend Trump’, wary of strains under Biden, sources say

Strict enforcement of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela has kept millions of barrels of oil per day off the market, and if Biden should relax measures on either in years to come an increase in production could make it harder for OPEC to balance supply with demand.

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November 6, 2020

Election uncertainty leaves US economic rescue hanging in the balance

Thanks to a divided Congress, and with Republicans unwilling to spend as much as Democrats, this scenario would likely result in the smallest of economic rescue packages and it probably wouldn’t pass until February.

More Americans Than Forecast File for State Jobless Benefits

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 751,000 in the week ended Oct. 31, down from an upwardly revised 758,000 in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. On an unadjusted basis, the number of applications was little changed.

Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Ann Taylor, others: These 6 retailers may be in more trouble than you think

As more retailers continue to struggle, commercial landlords will need to brace for withheld rent and lease negotiations. And as stores close, vacancies will increasingly become an issue in both malls and outdoor shopping centers.

The UK economy is heading back into recession

England re-entered a national lockdown on Thursday, with restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses closed until December 2.

EU cuts 2021 economic outlook as virus spreads

“This forecast comes as a second wave of the pandemic is unleashing yet more uncertainty and dashing our hopes for a quick rebound… But through this turbulence, we have shown resolve and solidarity.”

Massachusetts Voters Affirm the Right To Repair Your Own Car

The initiative’s passage means that car manufacturers will be required to provide vehicle diagnostic data to consumers and independent mechanic shops.

Shares jump as Biden edges toward victory, dollar slips

Investors leapt on the prospect of gridlock in Congress and the notion Silicon Valley will be spared greater oversight if the Democrats in fact are unable to control the Senate.

Pet Valu retailer to liquidate US operations with 358 store closings, warehouse shut downs

The retailer said Wednesday that it will close its 358 locations and its office in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Liquidation sales are expected to begin “in the coming days.”

A divided government could lead to massive stock market gains: strategist

A president Joe Biden working alongside Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives could mean no major tax hikes, no progressive green agenda, no public option for health care and not much of anything else large on the political front.

EU lending arm considers ending airport expansion support: draft

The EIB last year rewrote its energy lending rules to stop funding unabated fossil fuel power plants from the end of 2021, with certain exemptions. Now it is turning to other sectors, in a “climate roadmap” that will impose tighter criteria on projects seeking support from the end of 2022.

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November 5, 2020

The US dollar will remain weak no matter who wins the presidency

The higher spending could offset any additional revenue that comes into the government’s coffers if Biden claws back some of Trump’s tax cuts. That would likely keep a lid on the dollar.

The Link Between the Stock Market and the Economy Is Weakening

As the economy has evolved toward services industries such as health care and education, though, and as private equity funds have grown to become a larger force, the stock market has become even less representative of current economic activity.

How the pandemic has changed Americans’ spending and saving habits

But for many of those who are still employed — or who have a spouse who still is — it has changed how they use their money. Some have cut expenses and increased savings, paid off debt, or donated more to help those in need. Others have spent more on impulse purchases, made big life moves or postponed them.

‘The markets are being too sanguine’ given the likelihood of a contested election: Niall Ferguson

“I find the market a little bit too sanguine at the moment as we could well be on the brink of a very protractive, painful, process that will make the year 2000 election look like a walk in the park.”

If This Is the Covid Recovery, Then Steel Yourself

Australia’s stance reflects a new global monetary-policy paradigm in which reviving the labor market has supplanted inflation as the primary concern.

Big Tech is still in trouble regardless of whether Trump or Biden wins

Because if there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that Big Tech needs a gut check. That could come in the form of an antitrust crackdown, an overhaul of Section 230, a law that gives internet giants broad protections from legal liability, or both. Big Tech is in trouble no matter who takes office in January.

Moon patrols could be a future reality for Space Force

A key development last month was the announcement by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate that it will embark on an experiment to investigate technologies to monitor cislunar space.

Entrepreneurship Is the Vaccine for Urban Economies

About 60% of business closures are now permanent, according to recent data from Yelp. Our cities won’t revive until we create new businesses to replace those lost.

Massachusetts Voters Affirm the Right To Repair Your Own Car

Consumers should have the right to control the data created by the products they own—and that’s true not only for automobiles. Consider the outcome of this expensive ballot initiative fight in Massachusetts to be one more small victory for freedom on an Election Day where that was an under-the-radar trend.

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November 4, 2020

Facebook, Twitter and VC firms consider life outside Silicon Valley as they shift to remote work

Facebook expects to make 10,000 global engineering and product hires for the year, many of them remote. The giant accelerated hiring for permanently remote positions on July 1, focusing on making the U.S. remote hires in extended areas surrounding Facebook’s existing offices.

Tech Workers Take to the Mountains, Bringing Silicon Valley With Them

In Bozeman, Mont., with a population around 50,000 as of 2019, the median home price has risen to $515,000 from around $432,500 in a year, with inventory shrinking sharply.

Nike to cut 700 jobs at its Oregon headquarters by 2021

The layoffs come in response to the coronavirus pandemic’s ongoing effects on Nike’s businesses. In its fiscal fourth quarter that ended May 31, Nike reported an unexpected loss. Its revenue fell 38% after digital sales failed to make up for losses in physical stores shuttered to combat the spread of the virus.

The pandemic made 107,000 oil and gas jobs disappear. Most aren’t coming back anytime soon

Even if US oil prices stay at $45 a barrel until the end of 2021, 70% of the jobs lost during the pandemic in the oil, gas and chemicals industry may not come back by the end of next year.

How much longer until the US economy is back to normal? This new index shows we have a long way to go

Based on the Back-to-Normal Index that we constructed, the US economy was operating at only 78% of normal as of August 19. “Normal” for our purpose is the economy as it stood prior to when the pandemic struck in early March.

California voters to decide fate of gig economy workers

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart and Postmates, some of whom threaten to shut down in California if they lose, have poured more than $205 million into what has become the most expensive ballot campaign in state history.

Steel Industry Cries for Help Beyond Trump Tariff ‘Band-Aid’

Since a recent peak in the summer of 2019, steel jobs fell more than 10% to a new low of 78,000 in July, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as producers shuttered at least 10 blast furnaces amid the pandemic.

America’s Economy Faces a Winter Chill

The growing danger, however, is that the country is facing a set of challenges that could set it back on its heels. To begin with, there is the challenge that never left: Covid. After a period during the summer that suggested the virus might be coming under some semblance of control, it is extending its grip once again.

The end of $600 stimulus checks has left unemployed Americans facing financial ruin

“August was the tail end for financial support provided by the CARES Act… By the time we came back to talk to individuals in September and October, that money was gone and their fragility had risen significantly.”

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November 3, 2020

U.S. manufacturing near two-year high; road ahead difficult

“Manufacturing rebounded strongly with fewer restrictions on economic activity and stimulus efforts, but the path forward will be more difficult as the economy continues to cope with the pandemic.”

‘It’s certainly going to get worse’: Businesses plan more layoffs, hiring freezes as COVID-19 escalates

This quarter, 11% of businesses plan to reduce bonuses, 8% expect to defer raises or bonuses, and 12% say they’ll freeze hiring or restrict it to critical roles – adding to the 15%, 31% and 77%, respectively, that took those actions earlier this year, according to the survey.

What will it take for Americans to ditch their obsession with single-family homes?

“One of the reasons I wrote the book was to help provide some context for people to understand how we’ve stigmatized other types of housing, whether it’s calling co-living ‘adult dorms’ or calling multigenerational living ‘doubling up’”.

 FedEx showcases autonomous tech, robotics helping its network as volume continues surge

One FedEx development eliminates the need for a van with a driver entirely for certain deliveries. Roxo, FedEx’s autonomous robot, will be used for same-day, on-demand delivery of small orders. Its “sweet spot” is deliveries within a 3-to-5-mile radius, said FedEx Office CEO Brian Philips.

It’s the End of an Era for the Media, No Matter Who Wins the Election

President Trump, after all, succeeded in making the old media great again, in part through his obsession with it. His riveting show allowed much of the television news business, in particular, to put off reckoning with the technological shifts — toward mobile devices and on-demand consumption — that have changed all of our lives. But now, change is in the air across a news landscape that has revolved around the president.

We Have Learned to Live Without Movie Theaters

AMC and its rivals have no choice but to retreat from areas where the box office shows low odds of recuperating. Even then, how many theaters that remain can survive a streamer’s world?

Biggest U.S. Banks Aren’t as Strong as They Appear, Group Says

“We’re not in a 2008 situation where major banks are facing collapse, but we’re going into an uncertain future due to the pandemic, and the big banks aren’t in as good a shape as they appear.”

From Exxon to Charles Schwab, white-collar job cuts are mounting

In the last few days, ExxonMobil, Chevron (CVX), Charles Schwab and Raytheon have announced plans to cut thousands of white-collar jobs. That’s on top of major layoffs already announced or reported in the press at Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Salesforce (CRM), Allstate (ALL) and CNN owner WarnerMedia.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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November 2, 2020

The great divergence: U.S. COVID-19 economy has delivered luxury houses for some, evictions for others

Nationwide, millions of people including hotel workers, retail clerks, waiters, bartenders, airline employees and other service workers have lost jobs as COVID-19 fears crushed consumer demand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to a trend that began in the mid-1970s: The economy has produced too many low wage jobs

Many have lost their jobs or had their hours sharply reduced and now are struggling to make rent and pay other bills. A large share are Black or Latino workers. The majority are women.

Record-breaking GDP growth leaves U.S. economy in the same place as the height of the Great Recession

Looking at annualized growth reveals how much bigger the economy would be if it “grew at this rate for the next three quarters,” Wolfers tweeted. “But there’s no chance that will happen, so the annualized rate answers a question no one is asking.”

San Francisco curbs virus but once-vibrant downtown is empty

The exodus has pushed rents in the prohibitively expensive city to their lowest in years. Tourists are scarce, and the famed cable cars sit idle.

New jobless claims still exceed 750,000 in last week before election

Around 751,000 Americans filed unemployment claims for the first time last week, Labor Department numbers released Thursday revealed. That’s down 40,000 from the week before, marking a continuing slide in the final jobs report before the election.

Restaurant closings: IHOP may close up to 100 underperforming locations amid the pandemic

“Given the impact of the pandemic on individual restaurant-level economics, the Company is evaluating the viability of greatly underperforming domestic IHOP restaurants.”

COVID could be the wakeup call businesses need to fix a broken child care system

Even before the pandemic, our country’s market approach to child care was broken, and it hurt everyone it touched. Infant care can cost families more than college tuition even while more than half of our child care workers must supplement their wages with public assistance.

America After Covid: What Demographics Tell Us

“When there is a general change in conditions, it is as if the entire creation had changed, and the whole world altered.”  —Ibn Khaldun, 14th century Arab historian

Here’s how stores are changing Black Friday for the pandemic

Nearly 51% of shoppers feel anxious about shopping in-store during the holidays and 64% of their budget is expected to be spent online, according to a new shopping survey from Deloitte.

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October 30, 2020

Gun, marijuana stocks rise on prospects of a Democratic sweep in 2020 election

Driven by a combination of social unrest fears and the prospects of a Democratic sweep that might lead to stricter gun laws and legalization of marijuana coast to coast, both gunmakers and cannabis companies have seen their stock prices trade higher.

The Fed Is Really Running Out of Firepower

Even if the Fed did more — much more — it would not provide much additional support to the economy. Interest rates are already about as low as they can go, and financial conditions are extremely accommodative.

Ted Cruz says the swelling national debt will reemerge as a major concern for Republicans

“I’ve raged against my own party not genuinely fighting to rein in spending and deficits and debt.”

Those ‘Gales of Creative Destruction’ Are for Real

Getting financing for a new business is far easier than it was a decade ago. And because of the huge changes in economic behavior brought on by the pandemic, a lot of people have ideas for new businesses.

Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis

But the national eviction ban and some state and city protections are set to expire by January or sooner. Renters then will be on the hook for months of missed payments, which even those who have jobs could struggle to pay.

A Rising Deficit Isn’t the U.S. Economy’s Worst Problem

Theory and evidence both come down strongly against cutting spending in a downturn. And although government borrowing can be bad in some situations, now is not one of those times.

Cannabis, no longer so divisive, draws more conservative support

As bipartisan support for legalization grows in states across the country, there’s increased likelihood of change at the federal level, too. First up might be the STATES Act, which wouldn’t legalize cannabis but would defer authority to states.

U.S. States Face Biggest Cash Crisis Since the Great Depression

The drop in tax revenue has led to a total shortfall expected in the hundreds of billions of dollars—greater than 2019’s K-12 education budget for every state combined, or more than twice the amount spent that year on state roads and other transportation infrastructure

Europe struggling with 2nd surge of COVID-19 case, and it may be worse than the 1st

The continent now accounts for 46% of global coronavirus cases, and nearly a third of total related deaths. This month, both France and Spain have declared states of emergency, imposing more restrictions to try to ease up pressure on hospital ICU departments.

L.A. Dodgers’ World Series Clincher Scores All-Time Viewership Low In Early Numbers

However, while up 2% from this year’s Game 5 in initial audience, last night’s game is down a hard 37% in sets of eyeballs from Game 6 of the 2019 World Series on October 29 last year. It is also an audience drop of 55% from last year’s Game 7 of October 30, 2019.

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October 29, 2020

Dr. Fauci Tells Australians That Covid in the US is ‘Getting Worse and Worse’ and Might Not Get Close to Normal Until 2022

“I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 and perhaps into the next year before we start having some semblance of normality.”

Scientist infects himself with Covid-19 TWICE to study antibodies – and says results show that hopes of herd immunity are futile

His conclusion based on his own case is that collective or herd immunity is a forlorn hope. The virus is here to stay, and while vaccines may give immunity this is likely to be temporary.

Boeing to cut 7,000 more jobs after fourth straight quarterly loss

The new cuts mean Boeing will have cut its workforce by about 20% by the end of next year compared to the start of 2020, reductions amounting to about 30,000 jobs.

This is what the new Burger King and Popeyes drive-thrus will look like

Restaurant Brands International, which owns the three brands, said Tuesday that it is planning to modernize and speed up the drive-thru experience at over 10,000 restaurants in North America by the middle of 2022.

Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis

But the national eviction ban and some state and city protections are set to expire by January or sooner. Renters then will be on the hook for months of missed payments, which even those who have jobs could struggle to pay.

City Locked Down for Three Months Has Bleak Lessons for the World

Despite key factors working in Melbourne’s favor, including closed borders, an infection count that was tiny by international standards, and a state government with strong public backing, it still took twice as long as anticipated to crush the curve.

Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino: ‘Hot and Heavy’ Speculation on Wall Street That Jeff Bezos is Buying CNN

“CNN is an asset that does make money, although it’s in third place in terms of ratings, from what I understand it’s profitable…Also, there’s a lot of talk inside AT&T that they’re a little uncomfortable with having content — if they’re going to keep content and distribute it through their wireless networks that they run right now — that they would like less controversial content.”

Amazon to hire 100,000 holiday-season workers

“These new seasonal employees will help pick, pack, and ship customer orders this holiday season…These new seasonal jobs offer opportunities for pay incentives, benefits, and a path to a longer-term career, or can simply provide extra income and flexibility during the holiday season.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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October 28, 2020

We’re Looking at the Glass-Half-Empty Recovery

This climb back up from the coronavirus crash, the worst slump since the 1930s, will be arduous. Deep contractions in gross domestic product will turn to more shallow ones. The lucky countries that do show absolute growth won’t return to their former grandeur for a while.

Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis

A large number of renters have been unable to pay some or even all of their rent since March, when the pandemic temporarily shut down most businesses. Many businesses remain closed or only partially open, pushing renters into unemployment and draining their savings.

You’re Not Welcome Here: How Social Distancing Can Destroy The Global Economy

The path toward recovery continues to be inherently antisocial and runs counter to how humans interact, live lives and conduct their business. This unwelcome policy — which has already harmed families, societies and economies — has the potential to lead to a tectonic shift in how the world functions in the foreseeable future.

Bonuses before bankruptcy: Companies doled out millions to executives before filing for Chapter 11

Since the pandemic took hold in March, at least 18 large companies have rewarded executives with six- and seven-figure payouts before asking bankruptcy courts to shield them from landlords, suppliers and other creditors while they restructured, the Post review found. They collectively meted out more than $135 million, documents show, while listing $79 billion in debts.

As virus resurges, so does fear of more economic pain ahead

Now, with confirmed COVID cases surging across the United States, so is the risk that the economy could weaken again as more people choose to hunker down at home — and that even more stimulus might be needed next year than negotiators in Washington are contemplating.

‘I will be put out of my house’: Some Americans who struggled early in crisis are on brink, others find jobs

USA TODAY recently checked back in with some of the dozens of Americans who spoke to us earlier this year after losing jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and found that many have edged closer to financial calamity.

Why the next truck you see may be a quiet, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell rig

Living next to a highway with trucks could eventually become a much more pleasant experience – but only if the promise of hydrogen fuel cells finally pays off after decades of development.

September factory orders up 1.9%, economists see risks ahead

“While the September data are positive, the risk to the manufacturing sector now comes from surging virus cases that could result in supply chain disruptions, weigh on demand and slow the pace of rebound going forward.”

BP reports 3Q earnings plunge amid falling demand

The London-based oil company said Tuesday that profits, excluding one-time items and changes in the value of inventories, dropped to $86 million from $2.25 billion in the same period last year.

Reimagining higher education in the United States

Students and their families are struggling with the impact of campus shutdowns and questioning whether it is worth it to pay for an on-campus experience when much of the instruction is being done remotely. Under these circumstances, the risk of outcome inequities—from completion to employment to lifetime earnings—could worsen.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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October 27, 2020

Working From Home Is Here to Stay, So Let’s Get It Right

And when high-income workers become accustomed to staying home and ordering online instead of going out to eat and shop, it’s lower-earning local service workers who bear the brunt of the shift in demand.

For workers, ‘digital upskilling’ puts tech trends on fast-forward

With much of the workforce cooped up at home for eight months or so, many of us have had to get increasingly tech-savvy in a hurry. There is even a term for it: “Digital upskilling”.

The Pandemic Kick-Started an Urban Motorcycle Boom. Are Cities Ready?

But the pandemic-powered surge in usage is challenging some cities’ long-term goals for air and noise pollution, as well as safety. While motorcycles emit less carbon than cars mile to mile, they can give off a disproportionate amount of traffic-related pollutants, and make their presence known with a piercing howl that does not go unnoticed amid the silence of lockdowns.

Consumer companies must take leaps, not steps

What a difference a few months can make. It turns out that people are much more open to change than businesses expected. They’ve rushed online to shop. They are experimenting freely to find what works best for them. And they are proving remarkably adept with technology tools.

It’s been years since investors have been this fearful of a stock market crash, Nobel-winning economist warns

“The question now is whether another reminder of crashes past could emerge to create a psychological sense of the risk…A further pickup in coronavirus cases, a chaotic or violent election or any number of other events could well shake people up.”

Bond defaults deliver 99% losses in new era of U.S. bankruptcies

Desperate to generate higher returns during a decade of rock-bottom interest rates, money managers bargained away legal protections, accepted ever-widening loopholes, and turned a blind eye to questionable earnings projections. Corporations, for their part, took full advantage and gorged on astronomical amounts of debt that many now cannot repay or refinance.

As Goes the Rust Belt, So Will Go America

The primary challenges impacting coastal cities today, like astounding housing unaffordability, the depletion of the middle class, and widening economic and social disparities, are a result of their strengths, not their weaknesses.

U.S. new home sales drop; record low mortgage rates underpinning demand

The decrease in sales reported by the Commerce Department on Monday followed data last week showing single-family homebuilding and permits racing to levels last seen in 2007 in September.

SpaceX reaches 100 successful launches with Starlink mission

This was the 100th successful launch in the company’s history. That total includes 95 Falcon 9, three Falcon Heavy and two Falcon 1 launches.

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October 26, 2020

Pelosi says she is waiting for ‘final yes’ from White House on stimulus deal

“I sent over on Friday the list of concerns we still had … and my understanding [is that] he will be reviewing that over the weekend and we will have some answers on Monday…We’re still waiting for the final OK.”

Americans Working From Home Face Internet Usage Limits

The amount of time consumers spend streaming TV, gaming and using Zoom or other videoconference platforms substantially increased since the start of the pandemic, activities that often eat up large amounts of data. The practice of limiting the internet usage of customers and charging heavy users more is common among many of the nation’s internet providers.

80,000 furloughed as bus industry grinds to a halt

“Every small business I think across America is hurting at some level…But there are very few other industries that are almost completely shut down with no hope of coming back for at least six months, next year, and then it’ll be a slow recovery.”

They’re Afraid. They’re Buying Guns. But They’re Not Voting for Trump.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, about 15.4 million background checks were conducted nationally. That’s more than all of 2019, and quickly approaching the all-time record of 15.7 million checks in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was running for president.

Media executives are finally accepting the decline of cable TV as they plot a new path forward

The projected decline in subscribers will mean a drop of about $25 billion in cable subscription revenue plus associated advertising losses for the largest U.S. media companies, including Disney, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, Fox, Discovery, Sinclair and AMC Networks.

COVID-19 is pushing Americans to want more government involvement in their lives

Among respondents saying the government should play a stronger part in American life, 88 percent want two-weeks paid sick leave. Four in five supported an increased minimum wage and 73 percent favored universal health insurance.

College-Age Americans Face Permanent Hit With Few Job Prospects

Economists say the longer that young people are forced to delay their careers, the worse their prospects will be in the future to hold a job, accumulate wealth, or even get married or start a family.

How liberal politics, COVID-19 and a high cost of living are fueling a new California exodus

But a turbulent 2020 has added new motivations for migration. Amid coronavirus shutdowns, wildfires, street protests and a tense election-year political environment, some say California’s “charm” has finally worn too thin.

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October 23, 2020

U.S. coronavirus aid prospects uncertain after Trump blasts Democrats

Trump, who has recently called for more stimulus as he trails in national opinion polls ahead of next month’s election, blasted House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a tweet after she pushed for a roughly $2 trillion proposal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Pelosi says she is optimistic on stimulus deal before election

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Pelosi said final areas that needed more work to bring the sides together included aid for state and local governments and liability protection for companies. Speaking after Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would bring a comprehensive stimulus bill to the floor for a vote…

Are We Trading Our Happiness for Modern Comforts?

The General Social Survey, which has been measuring social trends among Americans every one or two years since 1972, shows a long-term, gradual decline in happiness—and rise in unhappiness—from 1988 to the present.

Expect More Moms to Sacrifice Careers

Last spring, one in four women nationwide who’d either quit their jobs or were laid off blamed the difficulties of working after the schools closed or they lost child care to COVID-19, a Northeastern survey found.

Zoom, the office and the future: What will work look like after coronavirus?

They are starting to evolve, however, thanks to the immense competition among the different platforms and the critical factor that programmers who are creating these tools have to use them extensively as well.

Remote Work Isn’t Just for White-Collar Jobs Anymore

This robot isn’t out front, wowing customers. No, it is in the back, doing the unglamorous job of keeping shelves stocked. It has broad shoulders, wide eyes, a boomerang-shaped head and strange hands, capable of grabbing objects with both suction and a trio of opposable thumbs.

Arenas, stadiums find new life as safer options for voting

Featuring rows and rows of voting machines, ample space for social distancing and staff accustomed to large crowds, these mega voting sites are proving attractive to voters looking for the best way to cast their ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

US jobless claims drop to 787,000, but layoffs remain high

Economists welcomed the declines as evidence that the job market is still recovering from the pandemic recession. But some cautioned that the improvement could prove short-lived.

Permanently remote workers seen doubling in 2021 due to pandemic productivity: survey

The survey said information technology decision-makers expect permanent remote work to double to 34.4% of their companies’ workforces in 2021, compared with 16.4% before the coronavirus outbreak, a result of positive productivity trends. About 72% of their companies’ total global workforce is currently working remotely, according to the CIOs.

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October 22, 2020

Cruise, GM to seek U.S. okay for self-driving vehicle without pedal, steering wheel

Cruise unveiled the Origin, which only has two long seats facing each other that can comfortably fit four passengers, in January. GM plans to begin building the Origin in Detroit in late 2021 or early 2022.

Fed’s Brainard says lack of stimulus spending is biggest risk to economy

“The recovery remains highly uncertain and highly uneven — with certain sectors and groups experiencing substantial hardship. These disparities risk holding back the recovery…Apart from the course of the virus itself, the most significant downside risk to my outlook would be the failure of additional fiscal support to materialize.”

Fed survey finds tepid growth as US economy battles pandemic

The report, known as the beige book, said that the outlook among the central bank’s business contacts remained generally optimistic but that respondents expressed “a considerable degree of uncertainty” about the future.

Millennials used to like democracy. Now, most don’t trust it, a Cambridge study suggests.

Fifty-five percent of millennials — compared to 45% of Generation X’ers and a small minority of Baby Boomers surveyed at the same age — are unhappy with democracy.

US regulator says pandemic may push lower-income households out of banking system

The number of unbanked households has been significantly higher in households with volatile income, the FDIC said, adding that the unbanked rate is likely to rise due to the pandemic. Nearly half of the unbanked households in the survey were unbanked because they did not have enough money to meet minimum balance requirements, the FDIC said.

ULA’s Tory Bruno argues for U.S. investments in the production of fuel in space

“What would be the one thing that the government could do, the one big lever that it could pull to stimulate economic activity in cislunar space? The answer, we believe, is the establishment of a strategic propellant reserve.”

Lowe’s kicks off holiday shopping with ‘Season of Savings’ sale Thursday amid COVID-19 with more online deals

Instead of a traditional Black Friday sale, Lowe’s will have daily one-day, online-only “Cyber Steals” from Oct. 22 through Dec. 2 on tools, generators, pressure washers, patio sets, electronics, small appliances, floor care, lighting, decor and more at Lowes.com/CyberSteals.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead to 3 criminal charges

The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said, and the agreement will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.

Minneapolis residents sue city council for lack of police, blame ‘defund police’ movement

“We have made the emotional appeal…We have demonstrated the statistical uptick [in violence], and now, this is the legal action we are exercising because it seems as if the City Council cannot hear us and doesn’t feel what we feel.”

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October 21, 2020

Walmart, Lowe’s have announced Black Friday plans. Here’s how the holiday shopping season is different amid COVID-19

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the hottest deals this holiday shopping season will be available online to reduce crowds and to eliminate the need to rush into a store. The sales also are starting earlier than in past years and lasting longer to spread out demand in a season retailers say is unlike any other they have experienced.

800 Compton residents to get guaranteed income in two-year pilot program

Each selected family will receive at least a few hundred dollars on a recurring basis, as well as tools that will help them access financial guidance…Parents or other residents caring for dependents may receive more. Anonymous researchers will track the participants’ spending and well-being.

Justice Dept. files landmark antitrust case against Google

It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

With evictions looming, U.S. cities seek legal help for renters

As U.S. families continue being forced from their homes, renters’ advocates and lawmakers are calling for “right to counsel” policies to give all tenants legal representation in eviction court or help navigating the protections open to them.

AT&T Chief Says Tech Giants Hold Too Much Power Over Streaming

But the CEO said tech giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. should be scrutinized for their power to restrict the kinds of apps and services allowed on their platforms.

Where Liberal Power Lies, And why conservatives fear the creep of authoritarianism, too.

“This is what totalitarianism looks like in our century…Not men in darkened cells driving screws under the fingernails of dissidents, but Silicon Valley dweebs removing from vast swaths of the internet a damaging exposé on their preferred presidential candidate.”

Robots Encroach on Up to 800 Million Jobs Around the World

The Gulf Cooperation Council, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Japan are most vulnerable to disruption from automation, they wrote. That’s because those countries have a large segment of the workforce in the kind of simple, routine roles that can be most easily replaced by machines or already rely on cheap labor for tasks.

Enforce quarantine to crush pandemic, says WHO

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan linked soaring transmission rates in the northern hemisphere to the failure to implement the vital step rigorously.

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October 20, 2020

Women in same-sex marriages more likely to be in the labor force than their opposite-sex counterparts.

Employment and labor force characteristics among householders and spouses in same-sex married households differed in key ways from those of their opposite-sex married peers and varied across states and metropolitan areas.

United Airlines CEO doesn’t expect ‘normal’ demand for flying until 2024

United Airlines doesn’t anticipate business demand getting back to “normal” until 2024, CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla reports

Coronavirus spending pushes U.S. 2020 fiscal year deficit to record $3.132 trillion

At the start of the 2020 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the U.S. government had been forecast to rack up a $1 trillion deficit before coronavirus lockdowns began in March, shutting down large portions of the travel, retail and small business sectors of the economy.

INSIGHT-Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.

Landlords, most of whom are mom-and-pop operators with mortgages to pay, say they, too, are under unprecedented financial strain, as many move into the eighth month of nonpayment.

Flippy, the $30,000 automated robot fast-food cook, is now for sale with ‘demand through the roof’

Robots like Flippy in the kitchen could keep fast food locations competitive despite “smaller margins, less foot traffic and new health and safety concerns.”

Robot cooks and virtual kitchens: How the restaurant industry looks to technology for help

Kitchen United, one such virtual kitchen, allows customers to order meals from more than a dozen brands ranging from P.F. Chang’s and Baja Fresh to Boston Market and White Castle. Kitchen United offers a dining-hall experience at its Scottsdale, Arizona, location, one of four nationally, along with pick-up and delivery options.

AP-NORC/SAP poll: 1 in 4 US workers have weighed quitting

About 7 in 10 workers cited juggling their jobs and other responsibilities as a source of stress. Fears of contracting the virus also was a top concern for those working outside the home.

As the Virus Surges, Stark Differences Over What Is Around the Corner

The statistics are headed the wrong way: More than 70,450 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Friday, the highest figure since July 24.

Dentists could raise fees, exit family practices as pandemic keeps patients away

While 99% of dentists have reopened, the number of patients visiting offices remains about 20% below usual levels, according to the American Dental Association.

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October 19, 2020

‘I’m Still Unemployed’: Millions In Dire Situation As Savings Start To Run Out

“It’s not a situation I would wish on anybody, to be constantly stuck in this with no foreseeable end to it…I don’t know when I’m going to get a job again. Hopefully, it will be soon. But until then, it’s just constant stress for everybody.”

The next economic crisis: Empty retail space

The longer the pandemic paralyzes hotels, retailers and office buildings, the more difficult it is for property owners to meet their mortgage payments — raising the specter of widespread downgrades, defaults and eventual foreclosures.

The average American has $90,460 in debt—here’s how much debt Americans have at every age

Not only do you pay interest fees, borrowing of any kind requires you to make your payments on time in order to keep your account and credit score in good standing.

Manufacturing Still Among Top five U.S. Employers

From 2017 to 2018, the number of people employed in manufacturing went up 1.7%, to 11.7 million. The value of shipments rose 9.1% to $6 trillion from 2017 to 2018.

‘It’s all fake’: Trump’s manufacturing jobs promises ring hollow in midwest

Even after adding 66,000 manufacturing jobs in September, the sector is still 647,000 jobs short of where it was in February before the pandemic hit the US. In the meantime, nearly 1,800 US factories disappeared between 2016 and 2018.

U.S. retail sales blow expectations in September; dark clouds gathering

“Although sales growth is strong, it will slow through the rest of this year and into next year. The slowing will be even larger if Congress does not pass another stimulus bill. Unemployment remains pervasive throughout the U.S. economy.”

Coronavirus Pandemic Putting Damper on Holiday Shopping Season

Households face the prospect of Halloween without trick or treaters, Thanksgiving without family travels, Black Friday without crowds, and a December without parties and in-person gift-giving.

Smoothie-making bot at Walmart signals the rise of the robot fast-food worker

“COVID-19 is a pandemic that robots were built to help navigate…Contactless food prep is now a necessity, and it is something that robots inherently deliver. Blendid has seen a tremendous rise in demand since COVID-19 started — and we’re grateful to be in a position to help.”

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October 16, 2020

Rethinking the holidays: Traditions, change are on the table

If ever there were a year when people could use the comfort of a big holiday dinner, this is it. Yet in 2020, a joyful, multigenerational meal around a crowded, indoor dinner table is a potentially high-risk activity.

Bay Area Bowlers See Bleak Future For Bowling Alleys Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

“Most of them think they’ve only got maybe a month or two left before they have to decide whether they want to close permanently or not.”

GM to run robot cars in San Francisco without human backups

Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement that the company got a permit Thursday from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to let the cars travel on their own. The move follows last week’s announcement from Waymo that it would open its autonomous ride-hailing service to the public in the Phoenix area in vehicles without human drivers.

Young Families Are Driving the Exodus From New York City to the Suburbs

“Almost all of our friends have left the city…It’s sad because there’s no celebration of the departure. It’s almost like a slow slink away.”

Unsuited to new era? Fate of formal fashion hangs by a thread

Most people in “white-collar” jobs are working from home, with a newfound love of sweatpants, a trend that some experts expect to outlive the pandemic. This seismic shift in behaviour is having profound repercussions across the supply chain for suits and formal wear, upending a sartorial sector spanning every continent.

Fed’s Kashkari: Recovery will be grinding and slow without more stimulus

“If you can’t pay your bills, more quantitative easing is a poor substitute for extended unemployment insurance…Only Congress has the ability to get that direct fiscal aid to the small businesses and to the Americans who have lost their jobs and who are facing real hardship.”

Top World Bank economist says coronavirus pandemic morphing into ‘major economic crisis’

“This did not start as a financial crisis but it is morphing into a major economic crisis, with very serious financial consequences…There’s a long road ahead…”the longer the uncertainty, the longer the pandemic works its way through the global economy, the bigger the balance sheet damage.”

Report: Enrollment Continues to Trend Downward

The largest declines of all are in first-year students. Just over 16 percent fewer freshmen have enrolled this fall compared to last year. Graduate enrollment was trending upward earlier. While it’s still an increase over last year, that gain has slipped by 1.3 percentage points.

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October 15, 2020

Goodbye Middle Class: Half Of All American Workers Made Less Than $34,248.45 Last Year

This year, we have seen more than 63 million Americans file new claims for unemployment benefits as the U.S. economy has imploded during this pandemic, and so the final wage numbers for 2020 could be quite a bit worse than the numbers for 2019 were.

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up

The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of an $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.

Jobless claims jump, hitting highest level since mid-August

The total for the week ended Oct. 10 was the highest number since Aug. 22 and another sign that the labor market continues to struggle to get back to its pre-coronavirus pandemic mark as cases rise and worries increase over a renewed wave in the fall and winter.

INSIGHT-U.S. gun sales soar amid pandemic, social unrest, election fears

The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey estimated the number of U.S. guns at 393 million in 2017. That dwarfed the next highest totals of 71 million in India and nearly 50 million in China – countries that both have populations four times the size of the United States.

Overdose deaths rise, driven by illegal opioids and the pandemic

Preliminary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that overdose deaths rose about 5.6% in 2019 to 71,148. The increase follows a decline of 4.1% in overdose deaths in 2018.

Cryptography vs. Big Brother: How Math Became a Weapon Against Tyranny

“If you look at 1791, at the moment of the Bill of Rights…impenetrably private conversations dominated…Public-key cryptography gives you a mechanism whereby you can recover this ability to have an impenetrably private conversation between two people.”

Governments Use Pandemic To Crack Down On Online Dissent: Watchdog

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free..Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

Facebook to ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated

“Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts.”

Facebook to ban content that ‘denies or distorts the Holocaust’

“Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”

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October 14, 2020

Best Western CEO fears for the industry’s future: ‘It’s really bad’

“It’s really hard to say when a recovery is going to be. This situation we are in now, it’s not sustainable. It’s really bad…As people use up all their savings and reserves, they’re going to default on their loans. And then what?”

America’s true unemployment rate

A person who is looking for a full-time job that pays a living wage — but who can’t find one — is unemployed. If you accept that definition, the true unemployment rate in the U.S. is a stunning 26.1%.

Wearable tattoo: Scientists print sensors directly onto skin without heat

“It could be recycled, since removal doesn’t damage the device…And, importantly, removal doesn’t damage the skin, either. That’s especially important for people with sensitive skin, like the elderly and babies. The device can be useful without being an extra burden to the person using it or to the environment.”

Trump Didn’t Save Coal or Steel. To Be Fair, No One Could.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, 145 coal-burning units at 75 power plants have been idled during Trump’s time in. Power generated from coal has dropped from 31% to 20%. Coal production is down 34%. And some 5,000 coal miners have lost their jobs while Trump has been president.

Pandemic could delay energy demand recovery to 2025

In such a case, the IEA predicts “a deeper near-term slump erodes the growth potential of the economy, high unemployment wears away human capital, and bankruptcies and structural economic changes mean that some physical assets become unproductive as well.”

As Covid Cases Surge, More Public-Health Experts Say Lockdowns Aren’t the Answer

The World Health Organization has long favored interventions that come with less economic and social disruption than lockdowns, recommending that governments pursue a strategy called “test, trace, isolate,” of sequestering people exposed to the virus.

McConnell says he’ll try to move $500 billion stimulus package before Barrett vote

As the Nov. 3 general election draws nearer, each side in the negotiations – House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House – wants to avoid blame for there being no large follow-up to the $1.7 trillion CARES Act passed in March, but with talks dragging on for weeks the outline of a common approach becomes harder to see.

Billionaire investor Howard Marks paints grim view of economic outlook: stimulus alone won’t cure ‘down-cycle’

To be sure, he notes that further expansive government spending is required to help individuals, businesses and cities emerge from the worst pandemic in at least 100 years, but managing the spread of the illness means that injecting fresh funds to help the economic malaise will prove no immediate panacea.

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October 13, 2020

Exclusive: America’s true unemployment rate

A person who is looking for a full-time job that pays a living wage — but who can’t find one — is unemployed. If you accept that definition, the true unemployment rate in the U.S. is a stunning 26.1%.

Jobs Hardest Hit by the Pandemic

“These safety measures have directly affected many businesses, particularly those that involve direct contact with customers or clients, such as those in the leisure and hospitality sector, but also indirectly through lower demand.”

Trust in science wanes, another casualty of coronavirus pandemic

Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process in 2020. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the novel coronavirus, which causes the illness covid-19.

Rise of the Machines: One of These Advanced Robots May Soon Take Over the World

Over the past few years, we have seen established companies and start-up-made debut machines that can move like us, and even talk like us. Sophisticated manufacturing processes and increasingly powerful artificial intelligence has opened the gates to a new age in the field, moving far beyond their ancestors, which were mostly immobile and focused on one task.

Be prepared: A return to normal is still a long way away, warns banking billionaire Jamie Dimon

The billionaire banking boss, in comments cited by Bloomberg News this weekend, told a conference on Friday that he doesn’t expect normality to return until the summer of 2021. Dimon said that it’ll take that long before there’s any chance that his bank’s offices will be full staffed due to local rules, a lack of a vaccine and the personal preferences of his workforce.

WHO discourages lockdowns as US hospitalizations climb; 11 states set records for new COVID-19 cases

Hospitalizations, which peaked at nearly 60,000 across the nation in July, had fallen by more than half last month. But since dipping below 29,000 on Sept. 20, the number of people being treated in hospitals each day has crept higher, to almost 35,000.

Analysis: China undeterred as Trump’s bets fall through

Tensions over the coronavirus pandemic have exposed Trump’s claims of friendship with Xi, the most ruthless leader since Mao Zedong, as expedient and hollow.

Will the Cultural Revolution Be Canceled?

Over the past 20 years, virtually all the most progressive large states—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California—have suffered massive outmigration, while red or purplish states like Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, or Arizona welcome more and more Americans to resettle there.

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October 12, 2020

McDonald’s, Chipotle and Domino’s Are Booming During Coronavirus While Your Neighborhood Restaurant Struggles

A similarly uneven recovery is unfolding across the business world as big firms have tended to fare far better during the pandemic than small rivals, thinning the ranks of entrepreneurs who could eventually become major U.S. employers. In the retail world, bigger chains like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. are posting strong sales while many small shops struggle to stay open.

Maine and marijuana: Sales of pot for recreational use start Friday

Sales of marijuana for recreational use began Friday in the state, one of 11 that have made it legal for adults, 21 and older, to possess small amounts for non-medical purposes. Washington D.C. has also legalized the recreational use of weed.

Dress-Code Policies Reconsidered in the Pandemic

“Before COVID-19, a work-from-home dress-code policy would have seemed like a strange concept…But, with the recent increase of remote workers and videoconferences, this has become a real issue for some employers.”

Space industry rebounds from pandemic

“Despite my worst fears, we seemed to have rolled through this whole COVID thing with not nearly the amount of damage I thought we could have sustained.”

Opinion: Half of Americans over 55 may retire poor

“Our data is showing that, because of the COVID recession, about 50% of workers over the age of 55 will be poor or near-poor adults when they reach 65.”

‘Black gold’ How global demand for hair products is linked to forced labor in Xinjiang

Now, some of the Chinese factories supplying thousands of kilograms of hair to the American market are under scrutiny by the United States government, which is alleging the use of forced labor in the country’s far western region of Xinjiang — where rights groups say up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps since 2016.

Lesson not learned: Europe unprepared as 2nd virus wave hits

Epidemiologists and residents alike are pointing the finger at governments for having failed to seize on the summertime lull in cases to prepare adequately for the expected autumn onslaught, with testing and ICU staffing still critically short.

Microsoft to allow employees to permanently work from home

“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture.”

U.S. Transportation Command to study use of SpaceX rockets to move cargo around the world

One of the scenarios would be to establish a space transportation surge capability, similar to the existing Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) emergency preparedness program where civilian airlines commit to augmenting DoD airlift capability during emergencies.

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October 9, 2020

Survey finds that one out of every five Americans could be out of money “by Election Day”

There is absolutely no guarantee that economic conditions will get any better for the foreseeable future. With each passing day, more businesses are going under and more jobs are being lost.

Bleak outlook without stimulus: More layoffs, anemic growth

Half of all small businesses expect to need more aid from the government over the next 12 months to survive, according to a survey by the right-leaning National Federation of Independent Business.

There’s no stimulus deal in sight: What does that mean for you?

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump effectively killed discussions on a broader stimulus package until after the Nov. 3 election. The move came just hours after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged Congress to pass a robust package.

What Does Retirement Look Like in a Pandemic?

Still, more than six months into the pandemic, many retirees, after what some described as a period of fear and hopelessness, are finding ways to adapt.

The US debt is now projected to be larger than the US economy

“The US federal budget is on an unsustainable path, has been for some time,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this week. But, Powell added, “This is not the time to give priority to those concerns.”

WarnerMedia Plans Thousands of Job Cuts in Restructuring

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic…We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

Kissinger Warns U.S. and China Must Set Limits to Avoid a Blowup

“Our leaders and their leaders have to discuss the limits beyond which they will not push threats…And then they have to find a way of conducting such a policy over an extended period of time…You can say this is totally impossible…And if it’s totally impossible, we will slide into a situation similar to World War I.”

U.S. airline aid up in the air as pandemic relief talks resume

U.S. airlines received a $50 billion bailout in March, half in payroll support that was primarily composed of cash grants and half in federal loans. They are seeking another $25 billion in payroll aid to protect jobs for another six months.

Time is running out for an economic rescue

There was a huge collapse in economic output from March through May thanks to the pandemic and near-total cessation of in-person activities, but the CARES Act rescue was so enormous and generous that it actually left most people better off. Personal income and savings increased markedly, and poverty decreased.

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October 8, 2020

Top US Food Bank Warns Of Nationwide “Meal Shortages” In Next 12 Months

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey from late August, about 10% of adults, 22.3 million, reported they didn’t have enough to eat or lacked food. This figure is up from 18 million in early March.

‘Wonder Woman’ director warns movie-going could become extinct

“I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where the only option is to take your kids to watch a movie in your own living room, and not have a place to go for a date.”

Congress Extends Pork Another Year

It’s not like there was any new information, such as a pandemic, widespread forest fires, or the acceleration of urban decentralization, that might lead Congress to change its funding priorities anyway.

Remote Learning Is a Catastrophe. Teachers Unions Share the Blame.

Students denied in-person education will suffer permanent learning loss that will degrade their skills for decades to come.

Corey DeAngelis: COVID-19 Is Super-Spreading School Choice

The lockdowns and forced shift to mostly virtual learning are driving massive interest in alternatives to the residential-assignment public schools most Americans have attended for decades.

Jobless claims were worse than expected amid slowdown in hiring

Claims have been above 800,000 every week since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, leading to the shutdown of the U.S. economy.

As job loss strips Americans of health insurance, diabetics turn to insulin-sharing underground

Many patients who once had good insurance are now realizing the $100 cap is only a partial solution, applying just to state-regulated health plans.

Which political party is really better for the U.S. economy?

While the study finds a divided government actually produces the best results, analysts say each party has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to handling the economy.

Poor City, Rich Suburb: A Defining Characteristic of the Rust Belt

Most sought changes to state legislation that would allow for incorporation of small towns at the urban perimeter. They would fight off annexation by the big city and follow their own path. They’d become modern suburbia.

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October 7, 2020

Fed Chair Powell calls for more help from Congress, says there’s a low risk of ‘overdoing it’

However, Powell cautioned that backing off now with fiscal and monetary help runs the risk of losing momentum and bringing about an added downturn.

Long-term jobless figures rise, underscoring economic pain

“It’s hard on people to be unemployed for such a long time. It’s hard on their mental health, it’s hard on their children’s performance in school, and it makes their employment prospects much worse in the future.”

Fed chair warns of economic tragedy if America can’t control the coronavirus

A second wave of coronavirus could “more significantly limit economic activity, not to mention the tragic effects on lives and well-being,” Powell said. “Managing this risk as the expansion continues will require following medical experts’ guidance, including using masks and social-distancing measures.”

How Financially Fit Are American Retirees?

“Overall, we see that the average size of assets among retirees grew significantly over time, while the size of debt rose only slightly; thus, liabilities remained a smaller share of retirees’ total assets.”

IMF chief says global economy faces long, uneven recovery

She said continued recovery would require a focus from nations on protecting people’s health, continued economic support from central banks and governments, and debt relief and financial aid for poor countries.

Coronavirus aid hopes evaporate as Trump ends talks with U.S. Democrats

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”

Microsoft diversity pledge draws scrutiny from U.S. Labor Dept.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month “to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” in the federal workforce and among federal contractors. Microsoft is a major federal contractor, supplying its Office workplace software and cloud computing services to multiple government agencies.

House Report Attacks Tech Giants as Monopolists That Stifle Competition

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the committee said in an introduction to the report.

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October 6, 2020

The Post-Pandemic ‘New Normal’ Looks Awfully Authoritarian

“The central irony of the crisis may be that the very methods that liberal democracies are currently using to effectively fight the virus are the same tactics that authoritarian leaders use to dominate their people.”

As U.S. job growth stalls, some workers face long-term unemployment

After big improvements over the summer, the labor market recovery is slowing. People who previously worked as bartenders, housekeepers or in other jobs dependant on travel and close human interaction, are sidelined as their industries adjust to lower demand and the pandemic begins to leave a lasting mark on the U.S. economy.

It’s Getting Better and Worse at the Same Time

The larger question is how to know when this great stagnation is ending. Counterintuitively, the answer might be when people are most upset — because that’s generally how most humans react to change, even when it proves beneficial in the longer run.

A snapshot of the $1.2 trillion freelance economy in the U.S. in the age of Covid-19

Fifty-nine million Americans performed freelance work in the past 12 months, representing 36% of the U.S. workforce, an increase of 2 million freelancers since 2019

Condos could make comeback in housing market if single-family home prices keep rising

Now, condos and single-family homes are seeing the “largest price-growth gap between the two property types since 2014,” according to the residential real estate company’s latest report.

There’s No Place to Hide Anymore When the Stock Market Plunges

From the S&P 500’s high on the 2nd of the month, stocks, Treasurys, gold, bitcoin and the VIX volatility index all dropped. This total failure of hedging is unusual, but investors need to get used to the idea that Treasurys no longer provide the ballast for a portfolio.

Poll: Many Americans blame virus crisis on US government

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation.

Southwest seeks pay cuts from unions to avoid layoffs through 2021

The union representing Southwest pilots said it had tentatively agreed to meet and discuss cost savings if a second COVID-19 relief package does not pass in Washington. The flight attendants and mechanics unions did not immediately comment.

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October 5, 2020

Opinion: Half of Americans over 55 may retire poor

A report done by the New School Retirement Equity Lab found that over half of older unemployed workers may be forced into involuntary retirement. Nearly three million older workers have left the labor force since March and if the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 continue, another million could join them soon.

Mother’s Little Helper Is Back, and Daddy’s Partaking Too

Though there aren’t reliable statistics that break down parents’ use of alcohol, marijuana and anti-anxiety medications specifically, overall adult use of these substances has gone up since the pandemic began. Mothers Little Helper

Long-term jobless caught in a squeeze that imperils recovery

People who have been jobless for six months or longer — one definition of long-term unemployment — typically suffer an erosion of skills and professional networks that makes it harder to find a new job. Many will need training or education to find work with a new company or in a new occupation, which can delay their re-entry into the job market.

Regal Cinemas Suspending Operations at All U.S. Locations

The second-largest cinema chain in the U.S. is closing all of its locations nationwide after reopening in August, escalating the pandemic-driven crisis facing the entertainment industry.

Lengthy era of rock bottom interest rates leaving its mark on U.S. economy

Long-term trends such as disappointing productivity gains and limited labor force growth are sapping the economy’s potential. In July, the Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. economy could expand in the long-run at an average annual rate of just 1.8% – down from more than 4% in 2000.

Would a Universal Basic Income Make Us Lazy or Creative?

A UBI would create a new and permanently dependent underclass, a lumpenproletariat of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And to provide the nectar that feeds these UBI drones, all those diligent worker bees who still have jobs would have to pay unacceptably high taxes.

NYS Comptroller Audit: Up To 50% Of NYC Bars And Restaurants Could Close Permanently In Next 6 Months

An audit by the state comptroller spells out what was feared — that the financial outlook for many is bleak. It finds up to 50% of Big Apple bars and restaurants could close permanently within the next six months.

Federal Debt Tops $27 Trillion for First Time

Only 114 days elapsed from when the debt topped the $26-trillion threshold on June 9 to yesterday, when it topped $27 trillion for the first time.

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October 2, 2020

‘Massively concerning’ jobs report sends a signal that the economic recovery could be fading

“This report is an illusion of progress at a time when we needed accelerating gains in the labor market. The number of jobs added this month is just not enough…This report is massively concerning. We are not where we need to be, nor are we moving fast enough in the right direction as we head into fall.”

Does Jobs Report Even Matter Anymore?

The U.S. employment report that is usually released on the first Friday of every month has traditionally been viewed as the most important piece of economic data. No longer.

American, United to furlough 32,000 as time runs out on aid

The moves by two of the nation’s four biggest airlines represent the first — and likely the largest part — of involuntary job cuts across the industry in coming days.

SpaceX has busy manifest of Dragon missions

Reed said that the current manifest projects seven Dragon missions will launch in the next 14 months, including three Crew Dragon missions…there will be at least one Dragon spacecraft, and sometimes two, docked to the station continuously through the end of 2021.

California will require public companies to have diverse boards

Assembly Bill 979 requires publicly traded companies based in California to add at least one board member from underrepresented groups — people who identify as Black or African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native, or gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender — by the end of next year.

Farewell, Fido: U.S. cities see boom in pet cemeteries

“People have told me, ‘I don’t want to bury my dog in the backyard because one day it might be a parking lot or a shopping center. I want to know I can go visit them with my kids.”

Americans Increasingly Believe Violence is Justified if the Other Side Wins

Our data shows that the willingness of Democrats and Republicans alike to justify violence as a way to achieve political goals has essentially been rising in lockstep.

City of London’s Socially Distanced Streets May Be Here To Stay

“A lot of these roads were congested, air quality has been an issue, road safety has been an issue. We’re determined those things should be tackled, so I’d anticipate that a lot of our measures will stay.”

H&M is closing 250 stores

H&M rival Inditex, which owns Zara and other fast-fashion brands, said earlier this year it plans to close as many as 1,200 stores this year and next

Swiss city Geneva to introduce a minimum wage of over $4,000 a month

Nearly two-thirds of the canton of Geneva on Sunday voted in favor of introducing the minimum wage, which is reported to be the highest in the world.

Why writing by hand makes kids smarter

Results from several studies have shown that both children and adults learn more and remember better when writing by hand.

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October 1, 2020

Seniors are younger today, more mentally and physically fit than 30 years ago

The University of Jyväskylä research finds older adults who are 75 and 80 years old today are enjoying more years in middle age, leading to being more physically fit later in life. Today’s seniors are also enjoying even better mental health than 75 and 80 year-olds in 1990.

The Murky Case for Mass Telecommuting

During its September 23 meeting, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional authority that finances and coordinates local mobility plans in California’s Bay Area, set a requirement that large office-based employers should have at least 60% of their employees work remotely on any given workday by 2050.

U.S. Retail Store Closures Hit Record in First Half

This year’s collapse in American retail could overtake that of 2010, when 48 retailers filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the 2007-09 recession, according to the report by professional-services firm BDO USA LLP.

Manhattan Offices Are Nearly Empty, Threatening New York City’s Recovery

Overall, about 10% of Manhattan office workers were back as of Sept. 18, according to CBRE Group Inc., a commercial real estate services firm

Cities Experiment With Remedy for Poverty: Cash, No Strings Attached

The idea is related to universal basic income, popularized by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Whereas UBI involves regular payments to everyone regardless of income, Stockton’s experiment targets poor neighborhoods.

NIST Scientists Get Soft on 3D Printing

Some future structures made with this approach could include flexible injectable electrodes to monitor brain activity, biosensors for virus detection, soft micro-robots, and structures that can emulate and interact with living cells and provide a medium for their growth.

Will a wave of white collar layoffs short-circuit the recovery?: Morning Brief

In the leisure and hospitality industry, for example, the unemployment rate in August stood at 21.3%. In professional and business services, unemployment was 7.2% in August. As a result, average hourly earnings for workers have actually increased as more job losses accrue at the lower-end of the wage scale.

US private payrolls grow by 749,000 in September

Large companies with 500 or more employees added 297,000 employees in September, according to ADP’s National Employment Report.1 Midsized businesses with between 50 and 500 employees added 259,000 jobs, and small businesses, those with less than 50 employees, added 192,000.

Disney to lay off 28,000 workers at theme parks in California, Florida

In a statement the company said the main factors behind its decision were “limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

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September 30, 2020

6 ways the coronavirus pandemic has forever altered the retail landscape

When the outbreak began, some companies spoke about Covid-19 but described it as a temporary inconvenience or a supply chain challenge. As the global death toll reaches 1 million people, retailers stare down a new reality.

Movie theaters in jeopardy as studios move blockbusters to 2021, audiences stay home

The theater industry is “not going to recover fully until consumers are confident that they won’t die if they go to the movies…That means no return to normal until there is a vaccine widely available, likely not until April to July 2021.”

Height of fashion? Clothes mountains build up as recycling breaks down

The multi-billion-dollar trade in second-hand clothing helps prevent the global fashion industry’s growing pile of waste going straight to landfill, while keeping wardrobes clear for next season’s designs. But it’s facing a crisis.

Fast-Growing Food Truck Industry Can Operate Amid COVID-19 Social Distancing Rules, No Indoor Seating Orders

Food truck businesses have been on the rise in recent years. The number of food truck establishments in 2018 was 5,970, nearly double the 3,281 in 2013. In 2018, these businesses employed 16,210 workers and reported annual payroll of $320.6 million.

Leading your team of hunter-gatherers

Like the work done by hunter-gatherer societies of the past, the flat structures and team-based work of today call for cooperative behaviors. Yet many organizations still prioritize competitive prowess.

An Overview of The 2020 Long-Term Budget Outlook

If current laws governing taxes and spending generally remained unchanged, debt would first exceed 100 percent of GDP in 2021 and would reach 107 percent of GDP, its highest level in the nation’s history, by 2023, CBO projects. Debt would continue to increase in most years thereafter, reaching 195 percent of GDP by 2050.

The Forces That Will Reshape American Cities

There is no doubt that the current crises have impelled some, particularly families with young children and also the old and the vulnerable, to decamp to the suburbs or even rural communities.

Shell plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs as oil demand slumps

We have to be a simpler, more streamlined, more competitive organization that is more nimble and able to respond to customers…To be more nimble, we have to remove a certain amount of organizational complexity.”

A Perception Problem About Free Speech

Sixty percent of students have at one point felt they couldn’t express an opinion on campus because they feared how other students, professors or college administrators would respond

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September 29, 2020

Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa’s low fatality rates from pandemic

“Based on what we have seen so far it is unlikely that we are going to see anything at the scale that we are seeing in Europe – both in terms of infections and mortality,”

Community College Enrollments Drop This Fall

Although the enrollment declines were steepest at community colleges, undergraduate enrollment fell at all types of colleges, including private nonprofit four-year colleges (-3.8 percent) and private for-profit four-year colleges (-1.9 percent).

US colleges struggle to salvage semester amid outbreaks

Institutions across the nation saw spikes of thousands of cases days after opening their doors in the last month, driven by students socializing with little or no social distancing.

Grocers Stockpile, Build ‘Pandemic Pallets’ Ahead of Winter

Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months, when some health experts warn the country could see another widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions.

Airlines face worst crisis since 9/11 as funding ends

Lawmakers say they didn’t intend to create a precipice when they gave airlines an initial $25 billion in aid on the condition that they not lay off workers until October. Like many Americans, they expected the virus to be under control by now.

Why the US dollar is only going to fall faster and harder

For the first time since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the net national savings rate has entered negative territory, at minus 1 per cent in the second quarter. And it did so at speed, falling by 3.9 percentage points from the previous quarter – the sharpest plunge since records began in 1947.

U.S. Retail Bankruptcies, Store Closures Hit Record in First Half

In the first six months, 18 retailers filed for chapter 11 protection, mostly concentrated in apparel and footwear, home furnishings, grocery and department stores.

NASA working with cosmetics company on space station commercialization

“We are always looking for the next frontier or breakthrough. We are really incredibly inspired by the work NASA is doing to push the boundaries of space exploration, and we saw a lot of synergy between both our brands’ commitment to science and innovation.”

Touchless lattes and self-service kiosks: office break rooms go virus-proof

The break room, where employees used to get their daily fix of caffeine and office gossip, is a big part of that reboot as coffee companies, such as Keurig Dr. Pepper, Lavazza and Nestle roll out new technology for the COVID-19 era.

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September 28, 2020

Blue Origin considers entering commercial space station business

“To develop Blue Origin’s vision of millions of people living and working in space, humanity will require places for them to live and work: space destination systems in which value-creating economic activity can occur…LEO (low Earth orbit) habitable stations, learning from but going beyond the ISS (International Space Station), are a first step.”

Building a robust space economy requires more partnerships

With the advent of the entrepreneurial space age, the industry is forming more partnerships, innovating on business model design, and developing best practices for successful collaborations. This is a sign of a maturing industry.

More Homes Are Going Dark as Moratoriums on Utility Shut-Offs End

“It may be a week. It may be the end of the month…I don’t know when they’re going to turn it off.”

I’m Leaving the West Coast

“Yearly fires now sweep through the region, brought on by extreme heat, high winds, and freak lightning storms. Preemptive power outages, mandatory evacuations, hazardous air quality, school and work closures, and the risk of losing everything to fire have been a yearly reality.”

Democrats need to bring retirement back to politics

Presidential nominee Joe Biden is 77, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 80, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 81, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is 80, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is 69, and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin is 75. Appropriations chair Nita Lowey is 83, Ways and Means chair Richard Neal is 71, Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler is 73, and Foreign Affairs chair Eliot Engel is 73.

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

Community College Enrollments Drop This Fall

“But I think even within that overall average, there are a lot of students and institutions that are already in great need, so I would say it would be very bad indeed if the enrollments stay this low later in the term for community colleges, where we have 7.5 percent decline from last year at this point. And it’s not much better for the four-year private nonprofits.”

Why skills – not degrees – will shape the future of work

Clearly, the future of work will not be about college degrees; it will be about job skills. Now is our opportunity to steer those without college degrees toward successful careers and increase diversity amongst our workforce.

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September 25, 2020

Fed and Treasury leaders call for additional federal economic stimulus

Powell and Mnuchin on Thursday, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, said hundreds of billions of dollars in unused funds from the March $2.2 trillion CARES Act could be reallocated to help American households and businesses.

House Democrats prepare $2.4 trillion coronavirus aid package

The party aims to restart stimulus negotiations with the White House after talks fell apart last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly pushed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to boost the administration’s roughly $1.3 trillion offer by another trillion dollars.

Congress Continues to Spend Delusional Amounts of Money

Congress never reduces spending, even when times are calm and prosperous. Instead, it inexorably hikes spending by more than the taxes that are supposed to pay for it. Ever-larger budget deficits accumulate year after year.

Google Shows Huge Panic Attack Rise During COVID

The researchers used Google search data to examine trends in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and based on that search, say panic attacks could be affecting millions.

Amazon pushes security products with indoor drone and car alarm

Amazon’s indoor drone, the Ring Always Home Cam available next year, aims to capture video where customers otherwise lack static cameras. It can show users video where an alarm has gone off.

US parents delaying preschool and kindergarten amid pandemic

In Los Angeles’ public schools, kindergarten enrollment is down about 6,000 students, or 14%. In Nashville, Tennessee, public kindergarten enrollment is down about 1,800 students, or 37%, from last year.

Creating the office of the future

Today, skeptical executives who believed employees could not be productive away from the office have come around, or at least have softened their views, and see that working from home can be effective. Now many large companies across industries have announced their intent to let employees work from home at least part of the time going forward.

When will the COVID-19 pandemic end?

Based on our reading of the current state of the variables and their likely progress in the coming months, we estimate that the most likely time for the United States to achieve herd immunity is the third or fourth quarter of 2021.

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September 24, 2020

Does the Debt Matter?

Massive debt is surely a real problem. But rather than a sudden, Greek-style economic implosion, in the United States, it likely poses the threat of a gradual and incremental weakening of economic potential.

Jobless claims: Another 870,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week

At 870,000, Thursday’s figure represented the fourth consecutive week that new jobless claims came in below the psychologically important 1 million level, but was still high on a historical basis.

Harley deepens restructuring with India exit

Harley has been scrambling for years to grow sales beyond baby boomers in the United States and has not posted retail sales growth there in the past 14 quarters.

California to ban all new gas-powered cars by 2035 under order by Gov. Gavin Newsom

The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market, according to the state.

From Sci-Fi To Everyday Business: Welcome To The Age Of The Robot

A high-speed cellular connection over 5G could enhance robots’ potential even more, enabling operators to control, reprogram and communicate with machines remotely while enhancing use cases where real-time agility is a priority—delivering packages or groceries or dispensing medication, for example.

Economist Stephen Roach issues new dollar crash warning, sees double-dip recession odds above 50%

“As we head into flu season with the new infection rates moving back up again with mortality unacceptably high, the risk of an aftershock is not something you can dismiss.”

No stimulus, no problem for U.S. consumers so far: Morning Brief

Edgerton notes according to the bank’s 30 million cards, spending in September looks set to fall 5.8% from last year, a market improvement from August’s 10% decline from a year earlier and the best year-over-year comparison we’ve seen for any month since February.

‘Nobody wants to move back in with their parents’: COVID-19 recession is forcing grown kids to move home, again

About two-thirds of parents say they are providing financial support to their adult children during the crisis, helping to pay for everything from groceries to health care expenses.

Walmart to hire 20,000 seasonal workers, stocks up on TVs for the holidays

The retail giant is also stocking up on items that have grown in demand since the start of the pandemic, like bicycles, exercise equipment and athleisure gear.

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September 23, 2020

Seven-foot robots are stacking shelves in Tokyo convenience stores

Seven feet tall when extended to its full height, the robot moves around on a wheeled platform and is kitted out with cameras, microphones and sensors. Using the three “fingers” on each of its two hands it can stock shelves with products such as bottled drinks, cans and rice bowls.

Outlook not improving for beleaguered US movie theaters

According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” earned $4.7 million in its third weekend from nearly 2,930 locations, Disney’s “The New Mutants” added $1.6 million in its fourth weekend, “Unhinged” brought in $1.3 million and Sony’s rom-com “The Broken Hearts Gallery” picked up an additional $800,000 in its second frame.

Fed, Treasury chiefs back more aid for small business but leave details fuzzy

Help for small businesses, Powell said, would better come through another grant-type program like the Paycheck Protection Program because “trying to underwrite the credit of hundreds of thousands of small businesses would be very difficult,” for the Fed.

Ralph Lauren to lay off thousands as pandemic dulls luxury fashion

The company did not say how many or what type of jobs could go, but based on its last reported total workforce of about 24,900 employees, the changes could impact more than 3,700 employees.

Airline industry will never be the same again – former IAG CEO Walsh

Looking five years ahead, Walsh forecast it would be a smaller industry and there would be fewer players. Most of the consolidation would initially come through failures, he said, as he also predicted COVID-19 would make airlines more resilient.

U.S. drivers’ mileage in July falls to lowest for the month since 2012: Department of Transportation

U.S. drivers covered 262.4 billion vehicle miles in July, 33.2 billion vehicle miles fewer than the same month a year earlier. The drop came as government lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus kept drivers home.

How many Americans are working from home? Not as many as you may think

Many of the industries with the lowest share of employees working from home were those that usually don’t require a college degree — construction, transportation, and warehousing, and hotel and food services — while finance and professional services had the most people telecommuting.

Walmart experiments with using drones to deliver COVID-19 self-test kits

The news shows Walmart is continuing to build on its drone delivery ambitions as it looks to compete with Amazon, Alphabet and UPS for the future of deliveries.

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September 22, 2020

Sweden spared surge of virus cases but many questions remain

“We must recognize that Sweden, at the moment, has avoided the increase that has been seen in some of the other countries in western Europe…I think there are lessons for that. We will be very keen on working and hearing more from the Swedish approach.”

Americans Want Homes, but There Have Rarely Been Fewer for Sale

Buyers are accelerating purchase plans or considering homeownership for the first time, rushing to get more living space as many Americans anticipate working from home for a while.

After the Stimulus Binge, Brace for a Crash

Unnecessary borrowing will just make it that much more difficult to get the national debt under control and stabilize our fiscal and economic future once this crisis has passed.”

Congressional Budget Office: Federal debt nears ‘unsustainable’ levels

The fiscal path over the coming decades is unsustainable,” Federal debt held by the public will reach 98% of gross domestic product this year and will cross the 100% threshold next year.

Government debt rose at a 59% pace in Q2 amid effort to halt virus

A Federal Reserve report released Monday showed the total household balance sheet in the U.S. rose to nearly $119 trillion in the April-through-June period, a 6.8% increase from the first quarter.

FinCEN Files investigation

Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.

A financial crisis could surprise investors ‘sooner rather than later,’ warns Deutsche Bank

Hooper expects the virus will leave lasting scars though, such as a permanent hit to the hospitality industry and automation taking jobs away forever, meaning the full recovery of the economy to before COVID-19 may never happen.

Monday’s stock-market selloff sets up worst September in 18 years

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.84% was off by about 3% on the session, with the index looking at a month-to-date drop of 5.6%, which would represent its sharpest drop in September since 2011, if the decline holds at this level through the month.

Dow drops more than 500 points, S&P 500 posts first 4-day losing streak since February

Monday’s decline marked the first time since February that the S&P 500 posted four straight daily losses. The Dow, meanwhile, had its worst day since Sept. 8, when it dropped 2.3%.

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September 21, 2020

Why Rich Americans Are Fleeing To The Caribbean This Winter

“It’s the first time the U.S. has gone through a period like this and it’s not just the Covid-19 situation…It is the fear of what an extreme outcome on the left or right may look like after the presidential election.”

Qantas seven-hour flight to nowhere sells out in 10 minutes

Flight QF787, due to depart Sydney Domestic Airport on October 10 and return to the Australian metropolis seven hours later, had 134 tickets on sale — spanning business class, premium economy and economy and costing from AUD$787 to $3,787 (US$566 to $2,734).

‘This is going to bankrupt me’: Americans rack up $45B worth of medical debt in collections

Medical debt is piling up as millions of unemployed Americans struggle to stay afloat after losing their health insurance coverage following a historic wave of layoffs this year.

Democrats boost U.S. consumer sentiment, current account deficit widens 52.9%

“The September gains were primarily in the outlook for the economy, and it was Democrats that posted gains in economic prospects while optimism about the economy weakened among Republicans,”

U.S. House Democrats to file measure funding government through December 11

The measure, known formally as a continuing resolution or CR, was expected to be released by the Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee and taken up by the full House and the Republican-led Senate next week. But it was not immediately clear when the CR would be filed.

Stopgap bill to prevent shutdown held up over farm funding

A tentative proposal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to permit Trump to keep awarding agricultural funds this campaign season in exchange for food aid for the poor ran into severe turbulence with both House and Senate Democrats.

Fall of the frat house: Students target Greek life amid a racial reckoning

Greek life has been a cornerstone of college campuses, surviving for generations despite public outrage over high-profile sexual assaults and hazing deaths. But now…students once affiliated with Greek life have built a new movement calling for its abolition.

Education Secretary DeVos warns about wave of private school closings: ‘That’s a crisis in the making”

Independent schools, which are not governed by local religious organizations and run by a board of trustees with charitable endowments, have fared better during the pandemic. Just three have closed out of about 1,600 schools nationwide

The latest crisis: Low-income students are dropping out of college this fall in alarming numbers

The lower enrollment figures are the latest sign of how the economic devastation unleashed by the coronavirus crisis has weighed more heavily on lower-income Americans and minorities, who have suffered higher levels of unemployment and a higher incidence of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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September 18, 2020

Momentum for Basic Income Builds as Pandemic Drags On

At their most targeted, such programs essentially function as a type of cash welfare, providing a flexible, fungible benefit to low-income Americans. In broader and more ambitious proposals, so-called universal basic-income programs would send cash to everyone regardless of income level.

U.S. labour market recovery stalling; housing market presses ahead

“With nearly 30 million people unemployed and the ongoing failure of politicians to deliver additional needed fiscal stimulus, the climb out of the pandemic downturn is likely to be slower and more damaging to long-term growth than it should have been.”

Jobless claims: Another 860,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week

The ranks of jobless Americans grew yet again last week, with 860,000 first-time unemployment benefits filed last week, rising slightly from the prior week’s level and reaffirming that a relatively robust U.S. recovery is losing momentum.

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio on capitalism’s crisis: The world is going to change ‘in shocking ways’ in the next five years

Unless the U.S. takes steps to make systemic repairs designed to provide greater opportunity for more Americans to achieve personal growth and financial security, the consequences likely will be painful for the country.

Fed’s Powell sees a long road to ‘maximum employment’

But Powell laid out a menu of factors – including wage growth, workforce participation and disparities in minority joblessness relative to whites – that must be satisfied before the Fed would view the economy at maximum employment, and thus even consider raising interest rates.

Hertz Bonuses Rejected by Judge Who Calls Them ‘Offensive’

Under the pre-bankruptcy retention plan, Chief Executive Officer Paul Stone received $700,000. With the new plan, Stone could have collected as much as $1.6 million.

The future is cyborg: Kaspersky study finds support for human augmentation

“Human augmentation is one of the most significant technology trends today…Augmentation enthusiasts are already testing the limits of what’s possible, but we need commonly agreed standards to ensure augmentation reaches its full potential while minimising the risks.”

A second coronavirus aid check may be in the cards after all

The proposal addresses a number of points, including boosted unemployment benefits; state and local aid; and assistance for small businesses, many of which have struggled immensely during the pandemic and risk closing permanently.

Homeschooling Hits a Tipping Point

“As COVID-19 continues to disrupt schools in the U.S., parents of school-age children are significantly less satisfied than they were a year ago with the education their oldest child is receiving…While parents’ satisfaction with their child’s education has fallen, there has been a five-point uptick (to 10%) in the percentage of parents who say their child will be home-schooled this year.”

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September 17, 2020

Check in, but don’t fly? Airlines launch ‘flights to nowhere’

Basically, the passengers will board the plane, fly around for a few hours, and come back — a quirky round-trip that could also include staycations at the city’s hotels and limousine ferry rides.

Analyst: Neither Trump or Biden care about soaring federal debt, deficit

However, many analysts have questioned whether either candidate have the political will to get the debt under control with servicing costs so low.

CDC chief says COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to be widely available before middle of 2021

“If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter, 2021.”

Fed to keep interest rate near zero through 2023

Under a new policy regime, the Fed said it will allow inflation to go above its 2% target before increasing rates to keep prices in check.

This group wants to send Americans a second stimulus check – and maybe even a third

The Problem Solvers Caucus, which is made up of 24 House Democrats and 24 House Republicans, is proposing a $2 trillion compromise to inject much-needed relief into the hardest-hit areas of the U.S. economy.

Raytheon doubles job cuts to 15,000, citing airline downturn

Raytheon Technologies Corp. plans to eliminate more than 15,000 jobs this year at its corporate offices, jet engine-maker Pratt & Whitney and aviation and military equipment manufacturer Collins Aerospace amid the downturn in the airline industry.

Trump says he can talk GOP into going for ‘larger’ virus aid

“I like the larger amount…Some of the Republicans disagree, but I think I can convince them to go along with that.” Pelosi said, “All they want is to have the President’s name on a check going out. …. That’s all he really cares about”.

 A snapshot of the $1.2 trillion freelance economy in the U.S. in the age of Covid-19

Freelance jobs most in demand today are in computers/mathematics, and in finance/business operations, according to the report. Even before Covid-19, 26% of freelancers worked entirely remote and 46% worked remotely more than half the time.

Europe Virus Stars Scramble After Declaring Victory Too Fast

In an unfortunately growing trend, eastern EU states that acted more decisively than peers like France and Spain are battling a resurgence that took root when restrictions fell.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 16, 2020

Perpetual recession? Recovery in a year? Economists deeply divided on U.S. future

The guessing game that U.S. economic forecasting has become has produced a massive split in predictions as economists from the Federal Reserve to the top Wall Street firms take a stab at unknowables like the path of the pandemic and the ability of a fractured Congress to compromise on spending.

Yelp data shows 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July.”

US industrial production growth slows, up 0.4% in August

It’s the fourth consecutive monthly increase after COVID-19 sent production plunging in March and April. But even with the gains over the summer, industrial production remains 7.3% below where it was in February, right before economic activity seized up in the pandemic.

U.S. median income hit record in 2019, Census data shows

The U.S. Census Bureau said real median household income jumped 6.8% from $64,324 in 2018 to $68,703 last year – the highest since the agency began tracking the data in 1967.

U.S. lawmakers committed to stay until they reach a coronavirus relief deal, Pelosi says

“I just got off a call with my colleagues. We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement – an agreement that meets the needs of the American people. We’re optimistic that the White House, at least, will understand that we have to do some things.”

As far as the economy goes, we might want to start spelling ‘pandemic’ with a ‘K’

Those sectors pointing up on the “K” include grocery stores and technology companies like Zoom and Amazon. On the downward leg of the “K” are the airlines, restaurants and hotels that many of us haven’t gone near for six months.

JPMorgan’s Dimon says economic recovery could be derailed: report

Dimon added that earlier government stimulus had delayed the full effects of the recession. As it hits, customers who have borrowed from the banks will feel the impact, the note said.

WFH WTF: JPMorgan CEO Says Young Employees Working From Home Slack Off

The spokesperson added, however, that working remotely could lead younger workers to be “disadvantaged by missed learning opportunities.” JPMorgan’s analysis also determined that Mondays and Fridays were particularly unproductive.

Amazon Plans to Put 1,000 Warehouses in Suburban Neighborhoods

So with the holidays approaching, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is doubling down by investing billions in proximity, putting warehouses and swarms of blue vans in neighborhoods long populated with car dealerships, fast-food joints, shopping malls and big-box stores.

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September 15, 2020

Golf Courses Emerge as a Fix for L.A.’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Dunham estimates that one could fit 15,000 units — homes for about 50,000 people — on the 200-acre site, which is also within walking distance of both an upcoming Purple Line extension and a station on the Expo subway line.

Mining on the Moon will be biggest ‘economic revolution’ in history, expert says

“It’ll be a race between entrepreneurs, companies and nations. It’s going to open up a billion times greater resources and it will be an economic revolution greater than any we’ve seen before.”

Eating out(side): Restaurant dining in the next normal

Our survey of US consumers suggests that indoor dining in restaurants may not return to precrisis levels for months—or possibly even years. That means full-service restaurant operators need a new economic model.

PepsiCo, Longtime Purveyor of Caffeine, Aims to Make You Sleepy

With tastes shifting away from sugary drinks, PepsiCo Inc. is about to start selling a beverage with L-theanine, which is an amino acid and FDA-approved supplement used for relaxation and usually found in green teas.

Vaccine maker got $1 billion from taxpayers. Now it’s boosting drug prices

AstraZeneca hiked prices on some of its biggest selling medicines by as much as 6% this year at a time when the overall inflation rate is hovering around 1%, the analysis shows.

Americans are raiding retirement savings during coronavirus pandemic

Nearly 3 in 10 people have decreased the amount of money they’re setting aside for retirement or stopped saving altogether due to the economic fallout of Covid-19, according to a FinanceBuzz survey published in August.

Biggest Crisis Test Is Still to Come With Insolvencies, BIS Says

While the liquidity measures have helped companies stay afloat, there are concerns they may also be creating a swathe of uncompetitive firms that hold back investment and innovation.

Amazon workforce to hit one million after pandemic hiring spree

Amazon has gone on a hiring frenzy since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, hitting a total of 876,800 employees at the end of June. That does not include another 175,000 temporary crisis hires that have already been announced, of whom around 125,000 will become permanent.

Holiday sales likely to tick up only slightly, as shoppers hedge their bets amid COVID-19

In the first holiday season since the coronavirus pandemic, shopper concerns about health of their families and their finances are likely to put a chill on spending, with retail sales expected to rise only slightly.

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September 14, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic could permanently change grocery shopping

“We believe the growth we’re experiencing marks a long-term shift in consumer adoption of grocery delivery and pickup services.”…“When things return to normal, there will be a lot of people who don’t go back to shopping in-person.”

Coronavirus relief bill fails in Senate

The bill lacked much of what Democrats wanted most. It would not have authorized another $1,200 payment to individuals or provided local and state governments any funding.

What will 2030 look like for people over 60? How today’s trends will collide and reshape future life

Growing old is not the terminology we should be using; it’s just adding years. A 65- or 75-year-old today is, in many cases, a relatively young person who can travel and play sports and enjoy all kinds of things in life.

Zoom, the office and the future: What will work look like after coronavirus?

Yes, there’s a growing awareness that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing – well, at least, too many video calls. As a result, the number and length of video-based meetings will likely decline somewhat over time, but they aren’t going to disappear.

‘Groundbreaking’ U.S. housing data hailed as new tool to target COVID-19 aid

The report said the pandemic could exacerbate higher rates of housing loss in mainly non-white areas dominated by renters where residents often lack health insurance. The cost of dealing with a medical emergency is a major cause of losing housing.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Keeps Proving Deadly to Liberty

While authoritarian governments commonly criminalize gatherings of potential dissidents, meeting to oppose the current batch of seat-warmers in favor of your own lot is essential to the democratic experience in nominally free countries.

Amazon to hold virtual career day with 33,000 jobs on offer

An Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business that the corporate and tech jobs come with average compensation of $150,000 including salary, stock-based compensation and benefits…the new hourly jobs will feature pay of at least $15 per hour and up to 20 weeks of parental leave.

The COVID-19 Death Toll Is Rising Much Faster in the U.S. Than in Sweden, Which Now Has Fewer Deaths Per Capita

Newly confirmed cases are falling in both countries, but the downward trend in Sweden has been much sharper since late June. The seven-day average of daily new cases has fallen by more than 80 percent in Sweden since June 29.

Reimagining a more equitable and resilient K–12 education system

Our research shows that top-performing school systems can vary significantly in curricula, assessments, teacher behaviors, and even desired outcomes. What unites them is a focus on excellence for every child, regardless of race, gender, income level, or location.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 11, 2020

Jobless claims come in worse than forecast, and with a key ‘red flag’

Red flag: The jump in unemployment claims is coming mainly from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA is mainly for self-employed and gig workers. It implies many still can’t find steady work.

Amazon survey finds more than half of US workers say coronavirus has left them underemployed

Among workers, 36% say they are not working as many hours as they want to or are taking on tasks that don’t tap their primary skills. And of that group, 53% say they are underemployed or underutilized because of the pandemic.

Weekly jobless claims miss estimates as employment gains taper

Continuing claims from those filing for at least two weeks rose from the previous week, hitting 13.385 million, an increase of 93,000 from last week’s report and an indicator that the strong jobs improvement through the summer may be tailing off entering the fall.

Welfare, Tax Rules Keep Working-Class Americans From Marrying, Experts Say

The report, in other words, argues that government policy has both stood in the way of marriage formation and perpetuated socioeconomic inequality, highlighting a policy concern that could galvanize lawmakers on both the left and right to act.

Mortgage rates slide to record-low 2.86% for 30-year loans

The average for a 30-year, fixed loan was 2.86%, down from 2.93% last week and the lowest in almost 50 years of data-keeping by Freddie Mac.

First-time gun buyers in Texas fear civil unrest, poll shows

Just over a third of Texans polled say they own at least one gun. Some 17% of gun owners bought a gun within the past 90 days, and of those, more than half were first-time buyers.

Target announces plans to increase representation of Black employees by 20% over next 3 years

According to Target’s diversity report, based on 2019 information, nearly half of the retailer’s workforce of nearly 350,000 are people of color with 15% Black, 25% Hispanic or Latinx and 5% Asian.

Walmart launches on-demand drone delivery pilot. But it might take time before drones deliver your next order

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone…That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”

NASA wants to buy Moon rocks from private companies

Today, the space agency is putting out a call for proposals from companies, challenging them to snag small samples of rocks on the Moon’s surface. Such a purchase would also be the first transaction of space resources to take place off-world.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 10, 2020

The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming.

Spring’s temporary job losses – caused at first by the shutdowns – are settling into a long-term pattern of economic malaise that could reduce low-income and middle-class families’ income for years to come.

Walmart to test drone delivery of grocery, household items

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said the test would start on Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items.

What Jobs Do Employers Want Older Workers to Do?

The results show that the jobs potentially open to older workers tend to pay better but are less likely to provide benefits. And RetirementJobs.com direct postings…pay much less than jobs in general.

U.S. weekly jobless claims stuck at higher levels

Though claims have dropped from a record 6.867 million at the end of March, layoffs persist across industries as many companies have exhausted loans from the government to help with wages and the coronavirus lingers.

Working hard, just to stay in place; job promotions this year slump 40%

Data from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team shows that the overall U.S. promotion rate has been running significantly below the year-earlier pace for all of 2020. The low point came in late April, when the promotion rate was more than 60% below its year-earlier levels.

Weekly jobless claims miss estimates as employment gains taper

Continuing claims from those filing for at least two weeks rose from the previous week, hitting 13.385 million, an increase of 93,000 from last week’s report and an indicator that the strong jobs improvement through the summer may be tailing off entering the fall.

Hot new job title in a pandemic: ‘Head of remote work’

As the pandemic has rapidly accelerated a move to remote work — and widespread work-from-home arrangements are predicted to become permanent over the long-haul — some tech companies are carving out new jobs for executives to act as advocates for virtual workers and think more broadly about a lasting remote future.

Covid Is Turning Us All Into Hipsteaders

Just as victory gardeners supplemented rations and boosted morale during the World Wars, the DIYers of coronavirus are facing quarantines and shortages with a mix of survivalist bravado and self-expression.

Millennials to redistribute wealth from older generations to the young in new ‘age of disorder,’ warns Deutsche strategist

So say goodbye to the “era of globalization” and brace yourself for the “age of disorder” where millennials, firmly established as the generation of ‘have nots’, take their revenge and redistribute wealth from the old to young.

Labor Day weekend air travel hits nearly 6-month high, but holiday caps dismal summer season

From Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, which comprises what is generally the busiest and most lucrative time of year for airlines, the TSA screened 65 million people, down nearly 76% from the 269 million it screened on the same dates last year.

General Motors, Uber launch partnership on all-electric vehicles

“Improving access to EVs for on-demand service providers can help reduce overall tailpipe emissions in cities across the country and help accelerate widespread EV adoption…Our collaboration with Uber will facilitate drivers’ switch to an EV, empowering these drivers, their passengers and communities to experience electric vehicles and contribute to cleaner air in our cities.”

More than half of households in 4 largest U.S. cities struggled financially during pandemic, poll shows

At least half of all households in those cities — 53 percent in New York City, 56 percent in Los Angeles, 50 percent in Chicago, and 63 percent in Houston — reported facing serious financial problems, including depleted savings, problems paying credit card bills, and affording medical bills.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 9, 2020

Fed survey finds widespread pessimism about economic future

The Fed report made public Wednesday said that a theme echoed across the country is the lingering uncertainty stemming from the pandemic and its negative effect on consumer and business activity.

Why the real unemployment rate is likely over 11%

“One of the things many people seem to have missed is, the unemployment rate doesn’t count people who aren’t looking for work.”

U.S. job growth loses speed as fiscal stimulus ebbs

Nearly a fifth of the job gains reported by the Labor Department on Friday were from the government’s temporary hiring for the 2020 Census. While the unemployment rate fell below 10%, it was biased down by a continuing misclassification problem.

‘A tale of 2 recessions’: As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half struggles

The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7, a group of major developed countries.

Fuddruckers, Luby’s to be sold in liquidation plan

Houston-based Luby’s said Monday that its board has approved a liquidation plan calling for the sale of its company-owned Luby’s Cafeterias and Fuddruckers outlets as well as its culinary contract business and real estate.

LA Rams ready for kickoff in new, $5 billion high-tech SoFi Stadium — without fans

“I don’t think when we sat at the drawing board five years ago, we ever conceived that we would open up without fans, but I don’t think there’s anything about 2020 that any of us ever could have conceived.”

The 5G lie: The network of the future is still slow

My median download speed on AT&T was 32 Mbps with the 5G phone and 34 Mbps on the 4G one. On T-Mobile, I got 15 Mbps on the 5G phone and 13 Mbps on the 4G one. Verizon’s limited 5G network wasn’t available in my test area.

Robot companions improve mental health and loneliness in older people, scientists find

“Socially assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve some pressures in hospitals and care homes.”

The Fed Now Owns Nearly One Third of All US Mortgages

As of August 26, 2020 the Fed’s Balance Sheet is nearly $7 trillion total of which $3.7 trillion are notes or bonds, and nearly $2 trillion in mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae).

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 8, 2020

Child care crisis pushes US mothers out of the labor force

The trend threatens the financial stability of families in the near-term. In the long-term, the crisis could stall — if not reverse — decades of hard-fought gains by working women who are still far from achieving labor force parity with men.

Parents Got More Time Off. Then the Backlash Started.

As companies wrestle with how best to support staff during the pandemic, some employees without children say that they feel underappreciated, and that they are being asked to shoulder a heavier workload.

Today’s older workers may see the first cuts to Social Security benefits

Among the numerous adverse effects of the current crisis is the steep incline in the expected insolvency dates for Social Security and Medicare’s programs, which are expected to run out of money in 11 years compared with the previous projection of 15 years

The Notion That US Debt Can Ever Be Paid Back is Ridiculous’, Analyst Says

“Therefore, not only is the shrinking amount of revenue being dwarfed by the tremendous of amount of debt; but the government is adding to this debt at a rate that is equal to 17% of GDP per annum. In other words, the notion that this debt can ever be paid back is ridiculous”

Renters in U.S. cannot be evicted through the end of the year due to coronavirus, CDC order states

The CDC’s moratorium will apply to all rental units nationwide until Dec. 31 and goes into effect immediately, senior administration officials said of an unpublished CDC agency order…the moratorium would cover around 40 million renters.

Critics: Eviction ban may only delay wave of homelessness

“My first reaction was, ‘Thank God,’” said Matthew Hill, an attorney with the Public Justice Center in Baltimore. But he noted that tenants will be expected to repay their rent when the moratorium expires on Jan. 1, and without some kind of rental assistance, “we are just going to be kicking the can down the road.”

AP Explains: US debt will soon exceed size of entire economy

The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the government this year will run the largest budget deficit, as a share of the economy, since 1945, when World War II ended. Next year, the federal debt …is forecast to exceed the size of the entire American economy for the first time since 1946.

A new $300 federal jobless benefit? Not likely for some

On Thursday, the government said the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a still-elevated 881,000. It shows that the pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs. Counting all the government’s aid programs, roughly 29 million people are receiving some form of unemployment aid.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 4, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic likely to leave legacy of fear and uncertainty that holds back economy for decades

“While the virus will eventually pass, vaccines will be developed, and workers will return to work, an event of this magnitude could leave lasting effects on the nature of economic activity.”

Without strong e-commerce presence, Ross Stores and Burlington are struggling through COVID-19

Sales fell 33% year over year for Ross Stores and 39% for Burlington Stores. The discrepancy mainly related to how quickly the companies were able to get the bulk of their stores reopened.

GM forms alliance with Honda to develop future products in North America

Honda and GM plan to collaborate on purchasing supplies by leveraging their scale to gain costs savings. Purchasing collaboration would focus on joint sourcing of materials, logistics and localization strategies, GM said.

Expert predicts auto industry could take 2 years to rebound to pre-pandemic sales levels

“Everyone is predicting this year about 13 million (vehicles sold), pre-COVID we were about 17 million. We expect it’s going to take another two years, but that’s predicated on a good recovery and continued recovery throughout this year.”

Signs of depression have tripled in the U.S. since the COVID-19 pandemic got underway

The prevalence of sleep troubles, lethargy, feelings of hopelessness and other depression symptoms in adults across the country has more than tripled since the pandemic began, according to a new study.

Debate rages over whether FDA should use emergency powers to clear a coronavirus vaccine early

President Donald Trump’s repeated promise to deliver a safe and effective vaccine this year, “or maybe even sooner,” has become central to his reelection campaign and has sparked concerns in the scientific community in particular that the White House could pressure regulators to cut corners.

US trade deficit surges in July to highest in 12 years

When Donald Trump campaigned for president in 2016 he pledged to sharply lower the country’s large trade deficits, especially with China, which for years has been the country with the largest trade surplus with the United States.

Majority of workers expect their ‘retirement’ to include a job, survey shows

“The definition of retirement is evolving and will keep evolving…It’s not going to be about working until a certain age and then switching to no work.”

Amtrak Will Furlough Over 2,000 Workers Because of the Coronavirus

The job cuts represent nearly 10 percent of Amtrak’s roughly 20,000-member work force and will take effect as the agency begins its new fiscal year, which starts in October.

‘Just Because I Have a Car Doesn’t Mean I Have Enough Money to Buy Food’

The pandemic has exposed the fragile nature of success for millions of Americans: material markers of outward stability, if not prosperity, but next to nothing to fall back on when times get tough.

Labor Day weekend will set the course for the coronavirus this fall: ‘We may have some hard days ahead’

“We don’t want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following other holiday weekends…We don’t want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall.”

‘Wrong direction’: Survey shows dismal outlook for New York City

The survey found that two in five New Yorkers say that they would leave the city if they had the ability to live anywhere they wanted.

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September 3, 2020

U.S. private payrolls miss expectations, point to slowing labor market recovery

“The recovery in jobs lost in this pandemic recession was always a weak one…But for a second month in a row it is looking like the jobs are not going to come back unless there is more stimulus from Washington to bolster economic demand and keep business activity and consumer spending growing.”

U.S. Debt Is Set to Exceed Size of the Economy Next Year, a First Since World War II

The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that federal debt held by the public is projected to reach or exceed 100% of U.S. gross domestic product…That would put the U.S. in the company of a handful of nations with debt loads that exceed their economies, including Japan, Italy and Greece.

A harrowing US economy milestone: Federal budget deficit projected to hit a record $3.3T

The $3.3 trillion figure is more than triple the 2019 shortfall and more than double the levels experienced after the market meltdown and Great Recession of 2008-09.

Isolation, inactivity during COVID-19 leaving half of Americans battling more aches and pains

When it comes to what’s troubling most Americans, the poll of 2,000 people reveals 48 percent say their back bothers them the most during quarantine. A third of respondents point to their neck as their biggest achy spot.

Ford wants to cut 1,400 salaried jobs in U.S.: Who is targeted

Details of who qualifies were not released publicly Wednesday, but a source close to the situation confirmed that salaried workers may apply for the “Voluntary Incentive Program” with:

    30 years of service for those hired or rehired before Jan. 1, 2004

    55 and older with 10 years of service

    65 with 5 years of service

Here comes the real recession

The looming recession — a possible recession within a recession — is less severe than the coronavirus-driven downturn. But it’s more likely to permanently push millions out of the labor force, lower wages and leave long-lasting scars on the economy.

Economic recovery stalls as consumers signal caution

The federal government’s $2.2 trillion aid package, including $1,200 direct payments to households and an additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, spurred the start of a spending rebound in May. But as autumn approached with no sign of an end to the pandemic and further aid tied up in Congress, consumers appeared to be retreating once more.

Nordics welfare model limits corona economic damage

Like elsewhere, the Nordic countries introduced state aid, compensated employees whose hours were reduced, and agreed to postpone tax payments, but the effects seem to have paid off more in the Nordics than elsewhere.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 2, 2020

Inflation Is Higher Than the Numbers Say

In normal times, the government’s numbers are thought to overstate the true rate of inflation. But the pandemic has upended the economy in ways that have reversed these biases, so that the official statistics are now an underestimate.

Survey: US companies added just 428,000 jobs last month

“Given the enormous job losses during the Viral Recession, job growth of around 400,000 per month means that it would take years for the labor market to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Work from home: No cubicles? No problem. How to bond with your team when you work together, apart

Maintaining a healthy work environment while spending hours behind a computer screen and a video camera is a challenge many of us are dealing with. We’re being asked to complete tasks, develop new skills, and improve our communication along the way. Much of that is happening through videoconferencing.

Coronavirus: Some school districts are willing to open up public schools — for a price

The Supporting Return to School Program (SRS Program) plans to provide daycare for approximately 2,000 Fairfax County children, with the possibility for expansion. While means-tested, SRS can be pricey, costing families up to $1,472 per month per child.

Exxon weighs global job cuts after unveiling Australian lay-off plan

“We have evaluations underway on a country-by-country basis to assess possible additional efficiencies to right-size our business and make it stronger for the future.”

Pelosi says ‘serious differences’ between Democrats, White House on coronavirus aid

“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.”

American Food Banks Are Being Overwhelmed by Worst Crisis Ever

If one place underscores just how dire America’s hunger problem has become during the pandemic, it is here—in the middle of the breadbasket that supplies food from coast to coast. The ranks of Americans fighting hunger are projected to swell some 45% this year to more than 50 million.

Germany’s Scholz: EU recovery prospects good, but worst might not be over

“The economic situation is quite serious in Europe. That is why it is important in the second half of the year to tackle the serious recession we are experiencing. Current indicators give us hope that we will have a good recovery, we se that in a number of countries around Europe, but these developments are still quite precarious and I can’t say we are over the worst of it yet.”

Walmart’s Flipkart starts wholesale e-commerce service in India

Amazon.com Inc and other e-commerce players including online grocery upstart JioMart – backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani – have been wooing India’s mom-and-pop stores, considered the backbone of the economy.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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September 1, 2020

People Line Up In Record Numbers At Alameda Co. Food Bank In COVID-19 Economy

“We’ve never seen anything like this in 35 years in business. Each one of these distributions is serving well over a thousand cars…They start lining up as early as seven in the morning and this will run for six straight hours”

U.S. economy needs more Fed stimulus ‘in coming months,’ Brainard says

“With the recovery likely to face COVID-19-related headwinds for some time, in coming months, it will be important for monetary policy to pivot from stabilization to accommodation.”

Small the new big for hotels post-pandemic, says Oyo CEO

“The hospitality industry will never be the same again, that is absolutely clear…Small hotels are going to be in vogue. In my view, small is going to be the new big, wherein people will rethink a lot about going back to that 1,000-room hotel versus going to a 40-room niche hotel.”

White House’s Meadows says Senate aiming to unveil new coronavirus bill next week

“We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope that the House would pass and the House would agree to. It’s focused on getting people back to work, getting kids back to school,” he told a reporter after the session…That’s the goal, is to come back and vote to move to that.”

Markets unprepared for wave of defaults in coming months: S&P Global

The report…found that the dire state of the U.S. economy suggests a higher rate of defaults for what are known as speculative-grade companies.

The pros are getting ready for a market crash — retail investors, not so much, top economist warns

“The seemingly endless rally… gives the impression that prices are endorsed and supported by the entire professional investment community…After all, despite the vocal concerns over valuations having split away from underlying corporate and economic fundamentals, few fund managers have been willing to challenge the market by placing outright shorts. “

Walmart unveils ‘ultimate life hack,’ a $98 membership with access to gas, groceries and free delivery

Walmart+ members will get access to unlimited free delivery on more than 160,000 items, from groceries and toiletries to toys and electronics, which will be delivered to their doorsteps as soon as the same day.

Why Whole Foods is trying out a ‘dark store’ as part of its vision for the future of grocery shopping online

“We started working on this over a year ago and it was really an opportunity for Amazon and Whole Foods Market to come together and create this vision for the future of grocery online.”

Schlumberger sells North America fracking unit as oil crash cripples demand

The rig count in the United States has plummeted more than two thirds since the start of the year with completions also set to be much lower than expected as the coronavirus-related curbs has led to sharp decline in energy consumption and prices.

Zoom shares soar, Wall Street warns of risks when lockdowns ease

Zoom shares soared as much as 47% to $478 in morning trade, with brokerages raising price guidance by an average of $161 after the company reported blockbuster quarterly results and lifted its annual revenue forecast.

U.S. construction spending almost flat in July: Commerce Department

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that construction spending edged up 0.1%. Data for June was revised to show construction outlays falling 0.5% instead of decreasing 0.7% as previously reported.

U.S. manufacturers grow fourth month in a row, ISM finds, but they aren’t bringing all their workers back

The employment gauge, meanwhile, also increased, but manufacturers have reduced hours and staff levels because of weaker domestic and foreign demand for their products.

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August 30, 2020

Cashierless stores are popping up at gas stations, stadiums and even Dunkin’

“Even prior to COVID, the evolution of frictionless experiences is something we were seeing retailers investing in and testing already…Based on the demand we’re seeing, we expect this to grow and expand. It’s not just about the US, we see it as a global trend.”

Coca-Cola says it will cut thousands of workers

Half of Coca-Cola’s sales come from stadiums, movie theaters and other places where people gather in large numbers. Those venues have been mostly closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Consumer-Spending Rebound Cools, Hinting at More Risk Ahead

The deceleration in spending — which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy — marks a tempering in the economic recovery following two months of stronger gains.

An Epidemic of Depression and Anxiety Among Young Adults

In the U.S., the national rate of anxiety tripled in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2019 (from 8.1% to 25.5%), and depression almost quadrupled (from 6.5% to 24.3%).

History Suggests Post-Pandemic Peace Is Rare

Successful Democratic candidates for the presidency of the United States invariably campaign with promises of domestic largesse and moral uplift. They nearly always end up taking their country to war.

‘What am I going to do at 55?’: More temporary layoffs could become permanent during COVID-19 recession

But there are signs the initial burst of job gains may have played out and as much as half of temporary layoffs and furloughs could become permanent, according to some economists’ estimates.

MGM Resorts to lay off 18,000 furloughed US workers

MGM Resorts International on Friday told its staff it will be sending termination letters to 18,000 employees in the U.S. who were furloughed during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, making the job cuts permanent.

Another stimulus check may not come until October, if it comes at all

Even if a stimulus payment makes it into the final bill, lawmakers will only first reconvene to talk about it in September, which means by the time the details are sorted out, it could take until October at the earliest to get that money into the hands of those who need it.

Is America’s economy headed for a double-dip recession?

Roughly 1 in 6 households reported recently that they have not been able to afford food during the pandemic, while one out of 10 adults have said “they haven’t been able to pay rent or their mortgage in time.”

The US is adding jobs. But the recovery could take years

“There is a particular part of the economy which involves getting people together and feeding them, flying them around the country, having them sleep in hotels, entertaining them,…That part of the economy will find it very difficult to recover. That’s a lot of workers.”

New Yorkers Are Fleeing to the Suburbs: ‘The Demand Is Insane’

The suburban demand, driven in part by New York City residents who are able to work remotely while offices are closed, raises unsettling questions about how fast the city will be able to recover from the pandemic.

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August 28, 2020

Elon Musk Is About to Show Off His Neuralink Brain Implant

Neuralink’s device is a tiny computer chip, meant to be stitched by a “sewing-machine-like” robot into the brain on a network of superfine electrode-studded wires. It is supposed to pick up on signals in the brain and then translate them into motor controls.

Could bartering become the new buying in a changed world?

Around the world, people have been turning to swapping, trading and bartering during the coronavirus pandemic, whether to do their bit for the local community, save money or simply source hard-to-find baking ingredients.

With Halo, Amazon’s entry into the fitness space is ambitious, but odd

A tone-analyzing, Amazon health band that also lets you scan your body fat may sound like Black Mirror incarnate, but it’s also opening up some ideas in fitness that we’ve never seen before.

Opinion: The biggest problem in the stock market: Bullishness is clouding investors’ thinking

Five big challenges have cropped up in the past two weeks. They’re telling us the market will struggle to move higher, and it may even drop sharply in the seasonally volatile months of September and October.

U.S. consumer spending beats expectations in July

The Commerce Department said on Friday that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose 1.9% last month, after jumping 6.2% in June.

Fed plans to keep interest rates low, even if inflation rises: Who stands to benefit?

Powell said the new approach reflects the reality that potential economic growth has slowed and that the threat of high inflation has diminished over the years, even when unemployment is low.

Mercedes gets big electric van order from Amazon

“We need continued innovation and partnership from auto manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to decarbonize the transportation sector and tackle the climate crisis…the addition of 1,800 electric delivery vehicles is another step in our journey to building the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year.”

U.S. economic recovery hampered by wobbly performance in powerhouse states

Democratic-governed California and New York tackled the spread of the virus aggressively with lockdowns and other steps that exacted a heavy toll on their economies. Republican-led Texas and Florida, in contrast, took a more hands-off approach. Neither tandem, so far, has managed to pull off the tricky balancing act of getting and keeping infections under control…

Powell’s white-collar world led to Fed pivot for blue-collar jobs

The change comes at an opportune time. Thriving stock markets amid massive, pandemic-related unemployment and a national debate about racial justice have drawn attention to Fed policies as possible drivers of inequality.

People Won’t Go to the Movies Just Because They Can

Bringing back cinemas isn’t just about being able to go see a movie again. Their reopening symbolizes a greater return to normalcy — the ability to venture back out unafraid. But a sense that it’s safe to do so and that the virus is under control needs to come first.

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August 27, 2020

U.S. economy plunged an annualized 31.7% in second quarter

The Commerce Department downgraded its earlier estimate of the U.S. gross domestic product last quarter, finding that the devastation was slightly less than the 32.9% annualized contraction it had estimated at the end of July. The previous worst quarterly drop since record-keeping began in 1947 was a 10% annualized loss in 1958.

Another 1 million expected to file unemployment claims as coronavirus spikes and ebbs

The number seeking unemployment aid for the first time has been volatile, slightly dipping and rising, yet remaining stubbornly high…The see-sawing numbers reflect the stops and starts occurring throughout the U.S. economy, as businesses gradually reopen in some parts, while others roll back or halt re-openings as COVID-19 cases spike.

1M apply for unemployment, as economy remains in limbo amid COVID-19 pandemic

“Six months into the pandemic, the leading issue is not new layoffs but rather the exceedingly slow pace by which workers are being rehired…With September rent due soon and food insecurity already at elevated levels, the worst is yet to come if Congress and the President can’t turn their attention to pandemic relief.”

Salesforce cuts about 1,000 jobs even as stock has record one-day surge

Salesforce is cutting about 1,000 jobs, or close to 2% of its workforce, after a blowout earnings report pushed the stock up 26% to a record valuation on Wednesday.

‘A complete fantasy’? College students are moving in, but they’re making COVID-19 back-up plans

Classes begin Wednesday, and many will be online. But extenuating factors –such as a high number of COVID-19 cases, lack of coronavirus testing supplies, or a student or faculty death – could force the university to close all classroom doors as it did in March when the pandemic arrived in Texas.

How to fix a state economy ravaged by pandemic? Legalize weed, Pennsylvania governor says

Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on the Pennsylvania legislature to legalize recreational marijuana and use the tax revenue to help small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

I ‘walked’ Boston Dynamics’ robot dog around San Francisco

The Boston Dynamics robot dog known as Spot stood out. Some people were fascinated. Others were annoyed and wary. Most, however, seemed excited to see the four-legged robot in person. That’s what I noticed from more than 4,500 miles away from home in Lima, Peru,

Eighty Years After Hindenburg, Startup Pitches Hydrogen Flight

Universal Hydrogen has no interest in becoming an aircraft maker itself. Instead, starting in 2024, the company plans to offer not just the pods but a retrofit kit for converting a 50-seat, single-aisle, regional aircraft to run on fuel cells.

Powell announces new Fed approach to inflation that could keep rates lower for longer

In a move that Chairman Jerome Powell called a “robust updating” of Fed policy, the central bank formally agreed to a policy of “average inflation targeting.” That means it will allow inflation to run “moderately” above the Fed’s 2% goal “for some time” following periods when it has run below that objective.

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August 26, 2020

Mortgage Delinquencies Soar To Decade High

The prospect of a tidal wave of foreclosures could be ahead as the mortgage industry and government’s policies were merely short-term measures to push a housing crisis off until after the election.

The Great Inflation Debate Is Heating Up With Trillions at Stake

That’s still a widely held view. And those who hold it are pointing to the wave of money created by governments to fight the pandemic –- and predicting that sooner or later it will wash through the whole economy and push prices up.

More Than Half Of San Francisco Storefronts Closed Due To Pandemic

“The survey showed only 46 percent of storefront businesses in San Francisco that were open at the beginning of the pandemic are still operating.”

Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish

For the week that ended July 21, the most recent numbers available, roughly 29 million U.S. adults — about 12.1 percent — said their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat the preceding seven days, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Nearly 15 million renters said they were behind on rent during the same period.

These schools have the largest endowments in the country — yet they’re still raising tuition during the COVID pandemic

Cornell is one of at least 39 U.S. institutions whose endowments are in the top 100, that is going ahead with a planned tuition increase for undergraduates this upcoming academic year, according to a MarketWatch analysis.

How Baby Boomers Are Coping With Covid-19’s Financial Hit

The pandemic has left many people at or near retirement age out of work and unexpectedly living on a shoestring budget. They’re cutting their high-speed internet and life-insurance premiums. Frills like subscriptions are gone.

Working from home due to COVID-19 will remain the norm for many employees through 2020.

For those whose homes have become their offices, with the potential for remote work sticking around for quite some time, here are some tips to better separate your work and home life.

American Airlines to cut 19,000 jobs when federal aid expires in October

American said it expects to have 40,000 fewer employees in October compared with when the pandemic began, the carrier said. The involuntary cuts include furloughs of 17,500 union workers, including flight attendants, pilots and mechanics, and 1,500 administration and management jobs.

CDC warns against arguing with anti-mask customers

As part of new guidance for workplace safety, the agency said employees should not attempt to force customers to follow COVID-19 prevention policies if the customers appear to be upset or violent.

‘Back to school’ has taken on grim new reality as 55% of city kids are stuck with online learning,

 After a summer devoted to surveying, studying and strategizing, the only certainty about this new school year is that nothing is certain at all, as the pressure to get students back in classrooms amidst the Covid-19 pandemic grows.

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August 25, 2020

The U.S. economy is shedding over 1 million jobs per week. They won’t come back for years, the IRS says

Lower rates of W-2 filings are seen persisting through at least 2027, with about 15.9 million fewer forms filed that year compared with prior estimates.

Goldman Sachs Confirms Roughly 4 Million Employees to Remain Unemployed Into 2022

“Overall, these patterns suggest that temporarily laid-off workers will boost the labor market recovery for the remainder of 2020, but will increasingly transition to permanent unemployment as time separated from their prior job increases.”

How airships could provide the future of green transport

it may not be long before we can start eating air-flown vegetables from Peru or blueberries from Kenya without feeling pangs of guilt. Fresh food may reach us in cargo Hindenburgs without the unconscionable CO2 footprint of jet freight.

Economists see a chance of a double-dip recession, survey shows

Two-thirds of NABE members say the economy has not yet come out of the recession that started in February.  Eighty percent see a 25% chance of a second dip, once the economy recovers.

New Orleans Braces for Evictions as Renters Fall Behind, Belongings Pile Up on Streets

Chucked-out belongings are now spotted on some New Orleans street corners. Baby cribs and child car seats, the remnants from forced-out families, sit stacked in piles in 90-degree heat.

Qantas expects global travel won’t resume until mid-2021

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said international routes would not reopen until the middle of next year and U.S. services might depend on a COVID-19 vaccine becoming widely available.

Target sales surge as Americans lean on big box stores

Store executives say the federal stimulus checks and the extra unemployment benefits helped boost spending during the period. But even as business tapered off when they expired, retailers continue to see strong sales growth and acknowledge that a major shift in spending is at play.

World’s top shipper says outlook for trade uncertain

CEO Soeren Skou said the results were strong considering the economic conditions. “We are well positioned to financially and strategically come out stronger of the crisis.”

Delta set to furlough over 1,900 pilots in October

“We are six months into this pandemic and only 25% of our revenues have been recovered. Unfortunately, we see few catalysts over the next six months to meaningful change this trajectory,”

The Economics of Remote Work

The report by Upwork, an online platform that connects businesses and freelancers, found that while about half of spending came from businesses based in the top 15 metros in 2018, a much larger 72% of earnings went to workers located outside the 15 metro areas, meaning a significant share of the spending was flowing from larger cities to workers in smaller ones.

America’s College Towns Are Facing an Economic Reckoning

“We are a city of 42,000, and two-thirds of our residents are students…The absence of students since March has been crippling to our city.”

Southwest Airlines is cutting 35,000 flights in October when stimulus money runs out

Southwest trimmed 36% of its schedule for October with an update published last week, according to an analysis from Dallas-based Airline Data Inc. That includes nearly 35,000 flights nationwide and nearly 35% of its traffic out of hometown Dallas, or about 60 flights a day.

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August 24, 2020

Corporate America Is Choking on Debt and Imperiling the Recovery

Many companies will have to divert even more cash to repaying these obligations at the same time that their profits sink, leaving them with less to spend on expanding payrolls or upgrading facilities in months ahead.

As more colleges stay online, students demand tuition cuts

In petitions started at dozens of universities, students arguing for reduced tuition say online classes fail to deliver the same experience they get on campus. Video lectures are stilted and awkward, they say, and there’s little personal connection with professors or classmates.

‘TWO MORE YEARS’ Coronavirus pandemic could last for another TWO YEARS, says World Health Organisation chief

“And in our situation now with more technology, and of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast because we are more connected now… We hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts.”

Coronavirus ‘will be with us forever in some form or another’, says former chief scientific adviser

“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations…So a bit like flu, people will need revaccination at regular intervals.”

How working from home works out

We find that 42 percent of the U.S. labor force are now working from home full time, while another 33 percent are not…The remaining 26 percent are working on their business’s premises, primarily as essential service workers. Almost twice as many employees are working from home as at a workplace.

‘The housing market is on a sugar high’: Home sales are soaring, but is it a good time to buy? Here’s what the experts say

“The housing market is on a sugar high brought on by government stimulus and a pandemic-fueled rush to low density housing.”

‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze

Lower-paid workers are losing their jobs at about three times the rate of higher-wage employees. But the drop in overall employment that white-collar industries like real estate, information and professional and technology services have seen in five months is already on par with or worse than the hits they took during the Great Recession.

Life will never be the same for people over 60 — even with a COVID-19 vaccine

“Before COVID-19, baby boomers — those born after 1945 but before 1965 — felt reassured that with all the benefits of modern medicine, they could live for years and years…What we never calculated was that a pandemic could totally change the dialogue.”

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August 21, 2020

U.S. weekly jobless claims jump back above 1 million

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 15 came in at 1.106 million. Continuing claims, which refer to those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks, declined by 636,000 to 14.844 million in the week ending Aug. 8.

Movers in N.Y.C. Are So Busy They’re Turning People Away

According to FlatRate Moving, the number of moves it has done has increased more than 46 percent between March 15 and August 15, compared with the same period last year. The number of those moving outside of New York City is up 50 percent…

Covid-19 Pounds New York Real Estate Worse Than 9/11, Financial Crash

“It’s not like New York City is all of a sudden on sale. New York has been on sale for the past 24 months…Sellers who are motivated and want to do deals need to add on another layer of discount.”

American Roads Are Getting Rougher as Repair Spending Plummets

But more than 700 U.S. cities have said they may cut infrastructure spending because of budget shortfalls, and more states are pushing off construction projects.

San Francisco’s Cops Aren’t Waiting Around To Be “Defunded”: They’re Leaving En Masse

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 23 officers resigned during the first six months of the year, with many resigning even before Floyd’s murder. Most expect that another wave of resignations spurred by the protests and widespread anti-police sentiment in the deep blue state will spur even more officers to leave.

After 5 months, AMC Theaters reopens its doors, cautiously

AMC opened some 113 locations across the U.S., advertising retro pricing and retro screenings to entice audiences back to the movies. Regal, the second largest exhibitor, is following suit Friday. It’s been a long-time coming for the beleaguered businesses, which had several false starts due to coronavirus spikes.

Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy

The overall number of laid-off American workers collecting unemployment benefits declined last week from 15.5 million to 14.8 million. Many of them probably found jobs. But some may have used up all their benefits, which in most states run out after about six months.

We Just Crossed the Line Debt Hawks Warned Us About for Decades

Critics repeatedly said this circular form of fiscal finance — in which one arm of the government, the central bank, basically creates the money needed to fund the arm of government that taxes and spends — would inevitably lead to a spiral of inflation, a spike in interest rates or a loss of confidence in the currencies.

July home sales spike a record 24.7% as prices set a new high

“The new listings are running a little higher than one year ago but all those new listings are being grabbed by the buyers and taken off the market.”

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August 20, 2020

Your Brain, With a USB Port in It: Elon Musk’s Neuralink Vision Divides Experts

A “single USB-C cable provides full-bandwidth data streaming from the device” the paper noted: the device having been stitched, in theory, to your cerebral cortex.

SpaceX earns $1.9 billion in latest fundraising round

This is the largest fundraising round yet for the Hawthorne, California aerospace manufacturer… The private company now has a valuation of $46 billion…They reported brokerage giant Fidelity Investments as one of the biggest participants of this latest round.

Target reports higher profit as online sales almost triple

The company reported a 195% increase in digital comparable sales, while comparable, in-store revenue – which measures sales at stores open at least a year – rose by 10.9%.

Coronavirus doesn’t take a vacation, neither should Congress on relief for the unemployed

Lawmakers don’t even have the excuse that they have to attend the national political conventions, which are primarily virtual in this year of COVID-19. They need to get back to work now and come together on an agreement for desperately needed relief.

Less than half of furloughed workers have returned to a job during the pandemic

In an analysis of its small business clients, Gusto found that only 37% of workers who were initially furloughed in March and 47% of those who were furloughed in April had returned to their jobs by July. Furthermore, among those furloughed in March who were able to go back to work, nearly 25% had their wages reduced.

Curbside pickup drives sales at Target, Walmart, other stores amid COVID-19. Here’s where to use the service

As part of its quarterly earnings Wednesday, Target CEO Brian Cornell said its Drive Up curbside pickup grew an “astonishing 730%” over the same quarter in 2019. Its Shipt online delivery service grew more than 350% year over year.

Space Force technology roadmap to emphasize partnerships with private sector

The Space Force supports the idea of “building unity of effort across government, industry and academia to incentivize that industry base,” she said.

Monopoly Power Lies Behind Worst Trends in U.S., Fed Study Says

Those include a fall in labor share, or the chunk of output that goes to workers, even as corporate profits increased; and a surge in wealth and income inequality, as the net worth of the top 5% of households almost tripled between 1983 and 2016… poorer households borrowed to make ends meet while richer ones shoveled their wealth into bonds — feeding the demand for debt instruments.

Rising stock market would be in the red without a handful of familiar names

Along with Apple, the overachievers – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft and Google’s parent, Alphabet – are household names that have leveraged digital expertise to prosper amid the new, socially distanced reality. Through Tuesday, these six stocks collectively were up more than 43 percent this year, while the rest of the companies in the index together lost about 4 percent.

Covid-19 Appeared to Be Under Control in Europe. Now It’s Surging Again.

The seven-day moving average of reported new daily cases has more than doubled since the end of July in the five largest European countries, nearing 11,000.

Apple becomes first US company to reach $2 trillion in market value

On July 31, Apple passed the oil giant Saudi Aramco, becoming the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company.3 Microsoft and Amazon are worth just over $1.6 trillion. Google parent company Alphabet is worth just over $1 trillion.

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August 19, 2020

Cannabis Customers Can Now Buy Marijuana From Vending Machines In Colorado

The machine holds up to 2,000 products, including flower, edibles and vape oils. “Customers browse their favorite cannabis products, add to their bag, and request checkout,” the website states.

Now, a week after starting classes at UNC Chapel Hill, undergraduates are being sent home as coronavirus spreads on campus

Just days after welcoming students to campus, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday told undergraduates to move out of their dorms, go back home and prepare to complete all their courses online.

Michigan College Will Digitally Track Students’ Movements At All Times

“The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing…I have a ton of concern with that…. Why is the state of Michigan’s contact tracing not enough?”

Displaced Workers and Public College Enrollment

The report used data from 2002 to 2009 in Ohio to see how mass layoffs impacted enrollment at two- and four-year public colleges. While the findings were a statistically significant positive relationship of about one percentage point, that isn’t the best colleges could hope for.

Coronavirus Lockdowns Could Ramp Up Obesity Epidemic, Study Warns

In short, researchers believe that the coronavirus is creating a perfect storm of psychosocial insecurity that may lead to far greater numbers of obese individuals over the coming months and years.

Joe Biden’s 2020 tax plan: The key points

Biden has said the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and that the tax code should be more progressive and equitable. That includes eliminating loopholes that favor the rich and large corporations.

Walmart beats on profit, posts record online sales on pandemic boost

The near-doubling of online sales in the second quarter helped the retailer trounce Wall Street expectations for quarterly profit and same-store sales.

Life will never be the same for people over 60 — even with a COVID-19 vaccine

Experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, nearly everything will change, from the way older people receive health care to how they travel and shop. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with one another.

Why the dollar’s fall could turn into a rout if ‘political disarray’ continues

“The state of political disarray is clearly weighing on the buck as the failure to produce more fiscal stimulus [and] the clearly partisan skirmishing over mail-in voting that threatens to undermine the credibility of the election are all taking their toll on the dollar,”

Virus pandemic reshaping air travel as carriers struggle

Surveys indicate that instead of growing comfortable with air travel, more people are becoming skeptical about it. In the United States, airline bookings have stalled in the past month after slowly rising — a reaction to a new surge of reported virus infections.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship

August 18, 2020

300 Pizza Huts, mostly dine-in locations, to close

In its filing, NPC said that closing stores not designed for pick-up or delivery will allow it to invest in smaller stores that can better handle online orders. In May, Pizza Hut’s U.S. carryout and delivery sales reached an eight-year high, according to Yum Brands Inc., the Louisville, Kentucky, company that also owns KFC and Taco Bell.

Budget carrier Ryanair cuts flights as contagions increase

The low-cost carrier said Monday that most of the reductions would come from trimming the frequency of flights, rather than route closures. Ryanair said the cuts would be focused on flights serving countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, where a rise in coronavirus cases has triggered tighter travel restrictions.

Taller cubicles, one-way aisles: Office workers must adjust

“The one-way paths take me a little out of the way, but it was easy to get used to…It actually gives me the opportunity to see more people and say a quick hello when I might have just walked directly to my desk before.”

Virus pandemic reshaping air travel as carriers struggle

Surveys indicate that instead of growing comfortable with air travel, more people are becoming skeptical about it. In the United States, airline bookings have stalled in the past month after slowly rising — a reaction to a new surge of reported virus infections.

As U.S. homebuilder confidence matches record high, mortgage delinquencies rise

But even as home builder confidence surges, more homeowners affected by the crisis have stopped paying their mortgages, a separate report showed. The delinquency rate for residential mortgages rose to 8.2% in the second quarter, up nearly 4 percentage points from the first quarter and the largest quarterly increase on record, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Denmark to Make Banks, the Rich Fund Its Early Retirement Plan

The government’s plan includes a targeted corporate tax on banks and pension funds and higher levies for the most wealthy investors on their stock market returns, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters Tuesday.

The war against the dollar is heating up

A growing chorus of investors, including billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, has worried openly in recent months that the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic — trillions in balance sheet expansion from the Fed and trillions in government spending while still having the world’s worst outbreak — is further undercutting the dollar’s supremacy.

Walmart sales soar as Americans stock up on supplies to get through the pandemic

Consumers had already begun to rely on Walmart and other essential retailers like Target and Amazon as lifelines for necessities during the start of the pandemic, sending Walmart’s online sales up 74% for the fiscal first quarter.

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August 17, 2020

More Americans Go Hungry Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Census Shows

As of late last month, about 12.1% of adults lived in households that didn’t have enough to eat at some point in the previous week, up from 9.8% in early May, Census figures show. And almost 20% of Americans with kids at home couldn’t afford to give their children enough food, up from almost 17% in early June.

Interest in homeschooling has ‘exploded’ amid pandemic

“One day the school district says X and four days later they say Y. And then the governor says another thing and then that changes what the school district can do. And parents and teachers are tired of what appear to be arbitrary and capricious decisions. They are tired of it and saying we are out of here.”

FreightWaves shifts its Chattanooga business to a fully remote workforce

“We did a survey of our staff and only 10% of our team wanted to come back full time. Our plans long term are not to have anybody come to the office other than the production crew.”

Jobless claims see continued dip but recovery not yet within reach

The Labor Department reported 963,000 first-time claims last week, to be precise. Since mid-March, those claims have ranged from 1.2 to 6.8 million. Also, the number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits…fell under 30 million. But this improvement in the jobless data starts from a really bad place of record unemployment during the ongoing pandemic.

National Debt To Surpass $78 Trillion By 2028: What It Means For Americans

If the national debt rises as projected ($45 trillion in 2024 and $78 trillion in 2028), Americans will feel the pain as labor markets tighten, the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 50% widens, and social unrest grows.

Stock market looks like ‘hapless Wile E. Coyote, running off the edge of a cliff,’ says behavioral economist

“Never before have I seen a market so highly valued in the face of overwhelming uncertainty,” James Montier, behavioral economist and member of GMO’s asset allocation team, wrote it in a recent research paper titled “Reasons (not) to be cheerful: Certainty, Absurdity, and Fallacious Narratives.”

The last thing America needs is another high-dollar COVID-19 stimulus bill

The economy will improve as the coping mechanisms, and the disease running its course, permit broader reopenings. Additional stimulus from Congress won’t accelerate or improve the trajectory of this process.

Property repossessions hit lowest level since 2005

A number of policies put in place by federal, state and local governments have helped protect and support homeowners throughout difficult financial conditions brought on by the pandemic, experts say repossessions and foreclosures may remain low thanks to strong demand.

As Colleges Move Classes Online, Families Rebel Against the Cost

A rebellion against the high cost of a bachelor’s degree, already brewing around the nation before the coronavirus, has gathered fresh momentum as campuses have strained to operate in the pandemic. Incensed at paying face-to-face prices for education that is increasingly online, students and their parents are demanding tuition rebates, increased financial aid, reduced fees and leaves of absences to compensate for what they feel will be a diminished college experience.

Struggling Farmers Work With Overwhelmed Food Banks to Stay Afloat

In the California program, farmers donate their crops but are reimbursed by the food banks for labor and packaging expenses. Those small payments have been just enough to keep some farmers in business.

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August 14, 2020

The recession is over for the rich, but the working class is far from recovered

“The stock market isn’t the economy. The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector of the economy,” Janet Yellen said…”This pandemic is causing suffering and losses…Individuals and businesses are not going to make it through this unless they get grants, and only the federal government can do that.”

Are bread riots coming to America?

People around the country have been testifying how they are down to their last dollar or flat broke, facing eviction or living on the street, unable to afford vital prescriptions or even food.

Kaplan: Consumers ‘still spending’, but shifts mean risks to service sector

“I am very concerned how quickly they will be able to get back to work, if they have to shift industries how long that will take…Not only will you not have a job, will you be able to make ends meet?”

Forced Isolation May Be the Only Way to Stop Resurgence of Virus

…there’s a tried-and-tested approach to cutting off transmission: move them out of their homes into centralized facilities while they get over their infections, which usually doesn’t require longer than a few weeks.

US productivity rises 7.3% as hours worked are nearly halved

The Labor Department said Friday that output decreased 38.9%, also the biggest decline ever recorded as hours worked fell 43%, with the coronavirus pandemic sowing economic damage throughout the U.S.

US retail sales rise for 3rd month but slowdown expected

The problem now is that roughly 28 million laid-off workers are no longer receiving a $600-a-week federal unemployment check that they had received in addition to their state benefit but that lapsed last month. In addition, a $1,200 stimulus check that was sent to many Americans in April and May likely won’t be repeated.

Home prices climb to record in pandemic as buyers seek space

The average mortgage rate fell from around 3.75% at the beginning of the year to under 3% in a matter of weeks after the pandemic struck the U.S.

U.S. dollar slides, on pace for worst weekly stretch in a decade

“The fact is the domestic coronavirus in the United States is the worst epidemic of any comparable economy and that’s because of the lack of management from the U.S. authorities. That has meant the outbreak has created a materially worse outlook for the U.S. economy than its peers.”

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August 13, 2020

Uber CEO says the service might shut down in California if it has to reclassify workers

“If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly…So I think Uber will shut down for a while.”

REI Built an Elaborate HQ. Because of Covid-19, the Outdoor Retailer Wants to Sell It

Instead of a single headquarters, REI will open a number of smaller offices and allow employees to work remotely, the company said. Employees have been working from home since March.

Simon reportedly in talks with Amazon to convert former Sears, JCPenney stores into distribution centers

Seattle-based Amazon is reportedly in talks with the nation’s largest mall operator to convert empty department stores including Sears and J.C. Penney anchor spaces into distribution centers.

Gone for good? Evidence signals many jobs aren’t coming back

As the coronavirus continues to transform a vast swath of the economy, it’s becoming evident that millions of Americans face the prospect of a permanent job loss that will force some to seek work with new industries or in new occupations.

6 national restaurant chains in deepest trouble amid COVID-19 include Outback Steakhouse, IHOP and Denny’s

The owners of chains like Outback Steakhouse, Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory are on a newly updated list of national restaurants that are facing the highest likelihood of not paying back their debts.

Most Americans now fear touching cash, survey says

According to a new survey, 54% of Americans are concerned about touching coins or bills due to COVID, while 60% plan to use so-called touchless payments in the future.

Oil prices end at highest since March with U.S. crude supplies down 3 weeks in a row

The Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.5 million barrels for the week ended Aug. 7. That followed sizable declines in each of the previous two weeks.

Over 1 million more Americans are expected to file unemployment claims amid lingering economic uncertainty

Unemployment fell to 10.2% in July, down from 11.1% in June. But the fledgling economic rebound has been uneven, with rehiring increasing in certain industries while stalling in others.

A back-to-school shopping season like no other has parents, retailers scrambling

Set against the backdrop of a highly contagious viral pandemic and the devastation it has woven across the U.S. economy, 2020’s back-to-school season is unlike any other.

US consumer prices jump in July, pushed by autos

After plunging in the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, the consumer price index (CPI) has roared back, posting a gain that was double what economists had been expecting, the Labor Department reported.

US budget deficit climbs to record $2.81 trillion

The federal government rang up a $63 billion deficit in July, the department reported. That’s a relatively modest amount compared to red ink that spilled in the spring months when the government tried to revive an economy that all but ground to a halt due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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August 12, 2020

Cannabis industry readies for M&A after COVID-19 boosts weed demand

Profitable cannabis companies want to buy their way into niche segments and expand their brands, betting that the November U.S. presidential election will lead to weed becoming legal across the United States.

Retail Chains Abandon Manhattan: ‘It’s Unsustainable’

In the heart of Manhattan, national chains including J.C. Penney, Kate Spade, Subway and Le Pain Quotidien have shuttered branches for good. Many other large brands, like Victoria’s Secret and the Gap, have their kept high-profile locations closed in Manhattan, while reopening in other states.

Interest in homeschooling has ‘exploded’ amid pandemic

Homeschooling applications are surging in states including Nebraska, where they are up 21%, and Vermont, where they are up 75%. In North Carolina, a rush of parents filing notices that they planned to homeschool overwhelmed a government website last month, leaving it temporarily unable to accept applications.

Teachers Unions Try To Protect Their Monopoly as Parents Flee Traditional Schools

The United Teachers Los Angeles co-signed a document with nine other unions and the Democratic Socialists of America calling for a moratorium on all new charter schools and private voucher programs.

Nervous Freshmen, Nervous Colleges

Forty percent of incoming freshmen say they are likely or highly likely to not attend any four-year college this fall. Further, 28 percent of returning students who have the option to return to their campus say they are not going back or haven’t decided yet.

At Home, Workers Seek Alternative Credentials

Online learning leaders report that interest in both free and paid credentials is holding steady at a rate that is significantly higher than what many were seeing last year — suggesting the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn may have a lasting counter-cyclical impact on online enrollment.

Amazon Is Having a Very Good Pandemic

People are getting more comfortable with buy-online-pickup-in-store and curbside pickup options. About 31% of shoppers said they preferred this method of online shopping in July, up from 24% in June.

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August 11, 2020

Restaurants in Italy are reopening ancient ‘wine windows’ used during the plague

Between the wrath of the Black Death in the 1300s and the Italian Plague in the 1600s, wine merchants in the Italian region of Tuscany built “wine windows” to protect buyers and sellers from coming into close contact.

The Washington Post

Hard times: One in four Americans have missed a bill payment since COVID-19 emerged

Twenty six percent say they haven’t paid their cell phone or cable bills. Another 25% failed to pay for streaming services…On average, Americans who admit to skipping a bill payment have missed five bills altogether.

States strain to carry out Trump order on unemployment aid

Trump’s order allocates $44 billion in federal dollars from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to boost unemployment aid for the jobless and calls on states to kick in roughly $15 billion.

Judge orders Uber, Lyft to stop classifying drivers as contractors

“Defendants may not evade legislative mandates merely because their businesses are so large that they affect the lives of many thousands of people.”

U.S. bankruptcies on track for 10-year high with more than 100 consumer companies already filing

The coronavirus has hit consumer companies hard, with more than 100 filing for bankruptcy including Men’s Wearhouse parent Tailored Brands Inc…department store Lord & Taylor and work wear retailer Brooks Brothers. Nearly 100 bankruptcies are in the energy and industrials sector…Chesapeake Energy Corp…small-engine maker Briggs & Stratton Corp…

‘I can’t afford tuition’: College students face financial strains, health concerns from pandemic ahead of fall semester

Just over a third of college students will return to campus and attend class in-person this fall if given the option…Another 16% still plan to return to campus, but will take courses online, while roughly 29% plan to study online from home, the data shows.

For pandemic jobless, the only real certainty is uncertainty

The coronavirus outbreak and resulting economic upheaval have thrown millions of lives into disarray. Industries have collapsed, businesses closed, jobs disappeared. Compounding the misery is a question no one can answer: When will this all be over?

Virus causing financial pain even for people still working

Some have endured pay cuts or have had their hours slashed. Others have been furloughed temporarily — without pay. Many just feel seized by fear that their job could vanish at any time or that their struggling employer will go out of business.

Pandemic wrecks global Class of 2020′s hopes for first job

Around the world, young people armed with new degrees, diplomas and professional qualifications are struggling to enter the workforce as the pandemic pushes the global economy into recession. COVID-19 has thwarted hopes of landing first jobs – important for jumpstarting careers – as employers cut back graduate recruiting plans or even revoke job offers.

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August 7, 2020

US private payrolls grow by 167,000 in July

ADP’s National Employment Report shows that small businesses, those with 1-49 employees, added 63,000 jobs in July, while large businesses with more than 500 employees added 129,000. Medium sized enterprises, with between 50 and 499 staff, lost 25,000 jobs.

US weekly initial jobless claims fall by 249,000

It is the lowest number of weekly initial claims since the pandemic began affecting the economy in March. The number of claims for the week ended July 25 was revised up to 1.44 million.

Annual Government Spending Approaches Historic Territory

As of Aug. 5, the federal government has obligated $438 billion in spending, with agencies expected to unload almost $200 billion more before the close of the 2020 fiscal year on Sept. 30.

GOP senators support more money for airlines to pay workers

Nine of the 16 GOP senators who signed the letter are up for re-election in November and could be hurt by headlines about thousands of airline furloughs the month before the Nov. 3 election.

Uber lost $1.8B in 2Q as riders stayed home and ordered in

“The COVID crisis has moved delivery from a luxury to a utility.”

Wall Street gains as markets look to aid package, Nasdaq closes above 11,000

Investors are looking to the next fiscal aid package to further cope with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists predict U.S. added 1.7 million jobs in July, but admit it’s largely a guess. Here’s what worries them

The consensus of economists polled by MarketWatch points to an increase of 1.7 million jobs in July — just one-third of the 4.8 million gain in June.

Americans’ household debt fell for the first time since 2014 — but that doesn’t mean people are paying off their loans

Indeed, the downturn in debt is actually a reflection of people cutting their spending more than it is a sign that people are paying off loans. The main driver behind the decrease was a $76 billion decline in credit card balances.

Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states

Experts predict the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks, with 30 million unemployed and uncertainty whether Congress will extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits that expired Friday.

Coronavirus Has Upended Everything Airlines Know About Pricing

“The entire demand patterns and booking patterns have changed. Not only are they lower, but any information about the mix of business and leisure bookings is no longer relevant.”

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August 6, 2020

Service side of the U.S. economy show surprising growth in July, ISM finds, but employment worsens

The weak level of employment in the ISM’s manufacturing and service surveys signals that U.S. employment growth in July is likely to soften after big gains in June and May.

Dems, White House optimistic stimulus deal could be reached this week after both sides make concessions

“They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions, which they appreciated. We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues…The fundamental disagreement is the scope and depth of the problem and its solution.”

More Bailout Cash Won’t Stop Wave of Credit Card Defaults

More than half of consumers with credit card debt said they will need more bailout money to make minimum payments over the next three months.

US dollar could be a ‘CRASH RISK’ amid rising economic & political uncertainty

“We expect the currency to be undermined by an ebbing of safe-haven flows, a reduction in the US rate advantage, and political uncertainty ahead of the November presidential election.”

Layoffs: 1.4M more workers likely filed jobless claims as states pull back on reopenings

Such a tally would push total initial claims past a mind-blowing 55 million since pandemic-induced business shutdowns and layoffs began in mid-March.

Chicago schools to begin fall remotely, dropping hybrid plan

“The decision to start remotely makes sense for a district of CPS’ size and diversity…But we also understand the struggle this will be for many of our parents who have to manage work, child care and all the other needs at home.”

Survey: US companies cut back sharply on hiring in July

U.S. firms added just 167,000 jobs in July, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday, far below June’s gain of 4.3 million and May’s increase of 3.3 million. July’s limited hiring means the economy still has 13 million fewer jobs than it did in February, according to ADP, before the viral outbreak intensified.

Virgin Atlantic airline files for US bankruptcy protection

A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said the bankruptcy filing is part of a court process in the United Kingdom to carry out a restructuring plan that the airline announced last month. The process is supported by a majority of the airline’s creditors, and the company hopes to emerge from the process in September, she said.

As dollar slides, some investors fret about its status as world’s reserve currency

Investors and analysts…are among those who have warned that massive U.S. government spending in recent months could hurt the dollar.

‘Clueless’ investors just keep driving this ‘stupidly bullish’ stock market higher, CNBC’s Jim Cramer says

“Never underestimate the power of enthusiastic buyers who do not know what they’re doing…Sometimes the market rallies and it makes perfect sense. Then there are days like today, when I can’t take how stupidly bullish this market can be.”

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August 5, 2020

U.S. Satisfaction at 13%, Lowest in Nine Years

Satisfaction now sits just six points above the all-time low in October 2008 immediately following sharp drops in the U.S. stock market during the global financial crisis. The current measure ties as the ninth lowest in Gallup’s history of tracking satisfaction since 1979.

Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states

Some are low-income families who have endured evictions before, but there are also plenty of wealthier families facing homelessness for the first time — and now being forced to navigate overcrowded and sometimes dangerous shelter systems amid the pandemic.

More than 100 executives warn Congress of ‘catastrophic’ consequences without relief for for small business

In a letter to top congressional leaders of both parties in the House and the Senate that was released Monday, the CEOs and other executives warn of significant consequences to the economy if Congress doesn’t immediately act to save small business.

‘We’re in for a bad and rocky ride:’ Ex-WHO doctor who helped eradicate smallpox predicts COVID-19 turmoil for years

“We will still be chasing the virus four years from now. But it won’t be like today…It will be like the smallpox eradication program. The polio eradication program. Having yellow fever in some countries and not in others.”

COVID-19 outbreaks in agricultural communities raise harvest fears

Hundreds of migrants flock to the sunny high desert each summer, where they live in riverside dormitories and camps as they harvest apples, peaches, cherries and grapes for Gebbers Farms, one of the biggest fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest.

For the unemployed, rising grocery prices stretch budgets even more

“For some goods, including food, supply constraints have led to notably higher prices, adding to the burden for those struggling with lost income.”

‘Sobering’ report shows hardening attitudes against media

“That’s a bad thing for democracy…Our concern is that when half of Americans have some sort of doubt about the veracity of the news they consume, it’s going to be impossible for our democracy to function.”

MSNBC producer pens scathing exit letter: Ratings model ‘blocks diversity of thought and content’

“It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would ‘rate.’ The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices.”

Around the world, countries thought to have contained the coronavirus face new waves of infection

The fresh spikes in countries that had successful containment strategies, such as Vietnam, also underscore the challenges facing the United States, which has struggled to implement a cohesive plan to beat back a global pandemic that has killed more Americans than the citizens of any other nation.

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August 4, 2020

US energy use hit 30-year low during pandemic shutdowns

The drop was driven by less demand for coal that is burned for electricity and oil that’s refined into gasoline and jet fuel, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Nearly half of all furloughed workers now believe their temporary layoff will become permanent

Now, as states have stalled or reversed reopening plans and the coronavirus outbreak worsens, nearly half of unemployed workers believe their jobs are not coming back.

Dollar Sends Warning That U.S. Is Losing Its Grip on the Virus

“What people are most desperately waiting for is good news on virus control, that I think is number one…The currency bet is mainly a bet on relative control of the virus, not reflecting the fundamental strength of the economies in question.”

Top Federal Reserve official says US needs another lockdown to save economy

“That’s the only way we’re really going to have a real robust economic recovery. Otherwise, we’re going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies for an extended period of time unfortunately.”

The housing crisis is here

Realtors’ cellphones have been “ringing with eager buyers” looking to flee urban areas for the suburbs while mortgage interest rates are at record lows. For renters, on the other hand, the outlook is grim.

Scared For School: 4 In 5 Parents Considering Homeschooling Kids This Fall

A new survey finds four in five parents are thinking about homeschooling their school-age children this fall. Of those parents, nearly half say they’re seriously considering keeping their kids home in 2020 and 2021.

Spirit warns of layoffs; aid for contractors being examined

CEO Ted Christie said in a memo to employees that furloughs might be needed because Spirit is burning through too much cash as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cut sharply into air travel. Separately, key members of Congress said they are investigating aviation contractors that took federal payroll aid and then laid off thousands of workers.

Air travel not expected to recover until 2024

Traffic was down 86.5% in June from the same month a year ago, compared with a drop of 94.1% in April.

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August 3, 2020

‘Insulin or groceries’: How reduced unemployment affects struggling Americans from California to Mississippi

Millions of struggling out-of-work Americans are in limbo after the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, leaving many fearful of how they will survive and pay their bills without the extra jobless aid.

Is this the death of the coffee shop? Starbucks is betting on contactless options

Specifically, Starbucks expects drive-thru usage to increase, and is investing in new tools for employees to increase throughput. Curbside pickup capability is also rolling out to no fewer than 700 U.S. stores by the end of the current quarter. And where drive-thru and curbside pickup aren’t workable – specifically in dense urban areas – a new small-footprint “walk-through” Starbucks store has been developed.

Opinion: Bye, boomer: the coming cull of workers over 50

Age discrimination in the jobs market, which is supposedly illegal, goes up in recessions. Some employers take the opportunity to ax experienced workers who are paid a reasonable wage, and replace them with cheap, desperate kids who will put up with anything.

Exclusive: Eastman Kodak top executive got Trump deal windfall on an ‘understanding’

Eastman Kodak Co on Monday granted its executive chairman options for 1.75 million shares. One day later, the administration of President Donald Trump announced a $765 million financing deal with Eastman Kodak, and in the days that followed the stock soared.

EU GDP shrinks by 11.9% in second quarter

Eurostat said the economic downturn was due largely to the impact of the shutdowns and travel bans imposed around Europe to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Most US stocks fall after earnings reports, weak economic data

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department reported that in the second quarter, the U.S. economy contracted 9.5% quarter-on-quarter, and 32.9% on an annualized basis, a post WWII record

The stock market could be facing ‘multiple decades’ of ‘deleterious’ economic after-effects, analyst warns

Even if a vaccine is available, the public, having adapted to a new normal, will likely remain hesitant to gather in large groups and ride public transportation, which will pose a headwind to growth.

Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Banks parent Tailored Brands files for bankruptcy: report

Since July 1, Tailored Brands has missed interest payments on bonds, slashed its corporate workforce by 20%, announced plans to close up to 500 stores and was notified that it will be delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. The company operated more than 1,400 stores in the U.S. and Canada as of Feb. 1

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August 1, 2020

U.S. Gets a Debt Warning From Fitch as Stimulus Battle Rages

Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on the country’s credit score to negative from stable, citing a “deterioration in the U.S. public finances and the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan…High fiscal deficits and debt were already on a rising medium-term path even before the onset of the huge economic shock precipitated by the coronavirus…They have started to erode the traditional credit strengths of the U.S.”

Boeing to stop production of 747 jumbo jet in 2022

The 747, dubbed the “Queen of the Skies,” had its 50-year anniversary last year. Production was extended by orders for cargo versions of the plane.

U.S. economy plunges at titanic 32.9% rate in 2nd quarter and points to drawn-out recovery

The path of the recovery depends heavily on whether Congress passes another massive relief package, economists say, and whether the pandemic is brought under control again. Prolonged uncertainty will only cause Americans to save more and spend less, thus hurting the economy.

One-Third of U.S. Restaurants Face Permanent Closure This Year

As many as 231,000 of the nation’s roughly 660,000 eateries will likely shut down this year…This will bring the industry’s steady growth to a halt and mark the first time in two decades that U.S. restaurant counts don’t climb.

Study: US adults who mostly rely on social media for news are less informed, exposed to more conspiracies

Across nine questions related to foundational political knowledge, only 17% of primarily social media news consumers scored “high political knowledge,” meaning they got eight to nine of the questions right.

Fed Sticks to Whatever It Takes With No Sign of Virus Easing

“Even if the reopening goes well — and many, many people go back to work — it is still going to take a fairly long time for parts of the economy that involve lots of people getting together in close proximity” to recover

International student applications to U.S. colleges are predicted to fall this year — why that will hurt more than universities

Research indicates that public colleges rely on international students, who typically pay full tuition, to fill in budget gaps. A drop in international students would also likely impact the economy more broadly; international students contributed $45 billion to the economy in 2018, according to IIE.

United warns it could furlough more pilots, extends voluntary leave deadlines

United earlier this month told about 36,000 employees, or more than a third of its staff, that their jobs are at risk and this week extended deadlines into August for voluntary leave and buyout applications.

Op-Ed by Wilbur Ross and Eugene Scalia: America’s broad-based effort to get workers better jobs

At the heart of the ad campaign is recognition that American workers and businesses have a shared interest in developing high-quality skills for the workplace — and that this doesn’t necessarily require a four-year degree.

Summertime Blues: U.S. Consumer Sentiment Sinks Deeper Into Coronavirus Resurgence Funk

“While the 3rd quarter GDP is likely to improve over the record-setting 2nd quarter plunge, it is unlikely that consumers will conclude that the recession is anywhere near over.”

Japan Acted Like the Virus Had Gone. Now It’s Spread Everywhere

“This is the result of the government prioritizing economic activity by getting people to move around again over infection control.”

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July 31 2020

Amazon wins FCC approval for $10 billion satellite internet project

The network, known as Project Kuiper, is intended to beam high-speed internet service to “unserved and underserved consumers” across much of the world, including the U.S.

How U.S. Poverty Could Spike in the Last Half of the Year

The report finds that the poverty rate for the last five months of 2020 will rise to 11.9% if expanded unemployment-insurance benefits, a second round of stimulus checks, and increased SNAP allotments are not approved, a significant increase over the projected annual rate of 8.9%.

Record economic plunge, bleak jobs numbers reveal virus toll

But with coronavirus cases rising in the majority of states and the Republican Senate proposing to scale back aid to the unemployed, the pain is likely to continue and potentially worsen in the months ahead.

US is expected to report a record-breaking economic plunge

Analysts warn that the outlook could darken still further if Congress fails to enact enough financial aid to replace the expiring $600-a-week federal boost in unemployment benefits or provide sufficient help for businesses and state and local governments.

How Are Americans Dealing With Income Loss During COVID-19?

Forty three percent of Americans who lost income lost between 10% and 49% of their earnings. Workers earning less than $15,000 a year were most likely to lose all of their income compared to moderate and higher earners. Sixty five percent of Americans had to cut expenses due to income loss, while 26.2% took out some type of loan.

Extra $600 in federal unemployment aid set to lapse as talks deadlock

Friday’s expiration of the $600 jobless benefit sent Republicans controlling the Senate scrambling to respond.

Did the extra $600 unemployment benefit stop people from job hunting? These Yale economists say they finally have an answer

”Workers facing larger expansions in unemployment insurance benefits have returned to their previous jobs over time at similar rates as others…We find no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time.

Johns Hopkins Experts Address COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges, Realistic Timelines

A reasonable timeline for wide distribution of vaccines is likely the end of 2021…

A Day After Congress Grilling, Big Tech Stocks Add $250 Billion in Market Cap

The firms are booming while Old Economy industries like retailing and car-making falter, pushing scores of companies into insolvency and costing millions of Americans their jobs.

Most US stocks fall after earnings reports, weak economic data

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department reported that in the second quarter, the U.S. economy contracted 9.5% quarter-on-quarter, and 32.9% on an annualized basis, a post WWII record.

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July 30, 2020

Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Last Week

In the bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, roughly 23.9 million of 249 million respondents indicated they had “sometimes not enough to eat” for the week ended July 21, while about 5.42 million indicated they had “often not enough to eat.”

Kodak’s stock rose so fast it tripped 20 circuit breakers in a single day

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the company would receive a $765 million loan to launch Kodak Pharmaceuticals…The company’s shares have skyrocketed on the news. Following a more than 200% jump in Tuesday trading, the rally continued on Wednesday and the shares ended up 318%

Kodak’s top exec sees $200 million windfall on stock frenzy

As of Monday, Continenza’s 650,000 Kodak shares were worth just $1.3 million  By Wednesday afternoon, his holdings were worth roughly $215.8 million.

US energy use hit 30-year low during pandemic shutdowns

The drop was driven by less demand for coal that is burned for electricity and oil that’s refined into gasoline and jet fuel, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

U.S. weekly jobless claims rise for a second straight week, total 1.434 million

It was the 19th straight week in which initial claims totaled at least 1 million and the second consecutive week in which initial claims rose after declining for 15 straight weeks.

Shell profits plunge 82% as pandemic hits energy demand

CEO Ben van Beurden says the company is facing a “remarkably challenging environment” and focusing on “decisive cash preservation measures” to underpin the balance sheet.

Fed Sticks to Whatever It Takes With No Sign of Virus Easing

“Even if the reopening goes well — and many, many people go back to work — it is still going to take a fairly long time for parts of the economy that involve lots of people getting together in close proximity…Those people are going to need support.”

Homeschool pods are gaining traction amid worries about school reopening; here’s how parents are getting the finances to work

“We are preparing for another jump because it seems like schools aren’t going to reopen in any way that looks normal…In states where they are moving more aggressively to open schools, we’re seeing increased demand, not decreased.”

Fed won’t be happy with how the economy is performing, but is holding off on next bazooka for now

There is talk that the Fed is preparing to publicly pledge to keep rates at zero until inflation reaches or moves above its 2% target.

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July 29, 2020

Biden unveils plan to promote racial equity in US economy

Around $30 billion would go to a small business opportunity fund, and refundable tax credits of up to $15,000 would be available for first-time homebuyers. The plan would also provide student debt relief while making public colleges and universities and private historically black colleges and universities tuition-free for those with family income under $125,000.

Almost half of all jobs lost during pandemic may be gone permanently

All told, roughly 10 million workers might need to find a new employer after the pandemic wraps up, and some might need to switch gears and find a new profession altogether.

‘The virus beat us’: Colleges are increasingly going online for fall 2020 semester as COVID-19 cases rise

Earlier this year, nearly two-thirds of institutions had planned on in-person instruction. As of Tuesday, about 49% said they were on that track. About a third were planning for a semester that would include a mix of online and in-person classes, while 13% were planning for online instruction.

Homeschool pods are gaining traction amid worries about school reopening; here’s how parents are getting the finances to work

“We are preparing for another jump because it seems like schools aren’t going to reopen in any way that looks normaI… In states where theyare moving more aggressively to open schools, we’re seeing increased demand, not decreased.”

Spike in gold puts dollar’s reserve status in question: Goldman Sachs

The idea that the dollar may one day be seen as less of a safe currency jeopardizes its role as the world’s reserve currency, a position that has given the U.S. financial system a tremendous advantage in global financial markets for decades.

Remington, the nation’s oldest gunmaker, files for bankruptcy for second time in two years

In a Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy court for Northern District of Alabama this week, the nation’s oldest gunmaker listed assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, and between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors.

Here’s the stock sector you want to be in if the Democrats sweep the November elections

And even if Biden saying is able to add a “public option”…he would expect the new program “would still be run through the big managed-care companies, just like the Medicare Advantage programs.” In other words, more revenue for the managed-care companies.

The Next Coronavirus Stimulus Plan: More Spending, Smaller Unemployment Benefits, and Tax Breaks for Going Out To Eat

The HEALS Act, if passed, would be the fourth major stimulus package intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is in many ways a direct sequel to the CARES Act.

Fed wrestles with its next moves as virus stalls US economy

Some Fed watchers expect no rate increase until 2024 at the earliest given their bleak outlook for the economy and expectations of continued ultra-low inflation. But more specificity from the Fed could provide further assurance to businesses and households of a low-rate environment for years to come.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 28, 2020

U.S. Republicans unveil coronavirus plan, slash emergency unemployment benefit

The plan sparked immediate opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats decried it as too limited compared to their $3 trillion proposal that passed the House of Representatives in May, while some Republicans called it too expensive.

Gig workers are finding it harder to make money as surging unemployment drives up competition

The massive pool of unemployed Americans has quickly saturated the market for contract-based drivers and delivery people, just as ridership on services like Uber and Lyft has come to a screeching halt.

2020 is the summer of booming home sales – and evictions

This summer is one of the best times for home buyers and worst for many renters. Americans with money in the bank are buying bigger homes, while renters increasingly worry about eviction.

11 million households could be evicted over the next four months

If landlords evict all their tenants, they will have a hard time finding replacements because of how unstable the rental market is. Empty buildings harm property values and mean less tax revenue.

The millions ‘hanging by a thread’ as coronavirus aid expires

When the US approved more than $2.4tn in spending this spring to try to shield its economy from damage caused by coronavirus, economists warned more would be necessary. While Democrats have proposed another $3tn in spending, Republicans have rejected that plan and been divided about how much more aid – if any – is warranted.

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio fears for the dollar and the ‘soundness of our money,’ and here’s why

Ray Dalio warned the conflict between the U.S. and China could develop into a “capital war,” which would hurt the U.S. dollar.

MGM Resorts says ‘large majority’ of employees in the entertainment, sports division will be fired

MGM told its employees that it had originally hoped the casino closures would be brief and full operations could be restored. But the pandemic has progressed, and based on currently available data, it doesn’t look like “it will be safe to restart shows prior to August 31, 2020.” That means the “large majority” of employees in the entertainment and sports division will be fired on that date.

Ryanair expects air travel to be depressed for 2-3 years

Travel restrictions led to a collapse in the number of travellers, with 500,000 passengers in the first quarter compared with 41.9 million in the same period last year.

‘Trouble’s coming,’ warns short-selling legend who just cashed in a roughly $100 million winning bet

He claimed we’re in a “golden age of fraud,” describing the current market climate as rife with euphoria, FOMO and Trumpian “post-truth” politics — “a really fertile field for people to play fast and loose with the truth, and for corporate wrongdoers to get away with it for a long time,” he said.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 27, 2020

Aldi plans to open 70-plus new stores by end of 2020, while other retailers look at permanent store closings

“As we continue to expand, we promise to do everything in our power to offer the lowest prices, every day, without exception…In fact, as food costs are rising across the country, we’re lowering prices on hundreds of items to meet our customers’ increased need for savings.”

The ‘cobra effect’ will have a ‘disastrous and unimaginable’ impact on the market, Wall Street vet warns

“As the massive monetary and massive fiscal stimuli (over $15T globally) conjoin to save the economy from a deflationary depression, they will cause instead a hyperinflationary economic collapse.”

The Message Behind Gold’s Rally: The World Economy Is in Trouble

All these things, when taken together, have even triggered concern in some financial circles that stagflation — a rare combination of sluggish growth and rising inflation that erodes the value of fixed-income investments — could take hold across parts of the developed world.

24 million Americans fear missing next rent payment as benefits dry up

“We’re really facing a situation that is not only a health crisis but becomes a major housing crisis when you start to see people losing their roofs in a pandemic that’s calling for you to stay at home as one of the prescriptions.”

‘Spread out? Where?’ Smithfield says not all plant workers can be socially distanced

“For better or worse, our plants are what they are,” Smithfield Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan said. “Four walls, engineered design, efficient use of space, etc. Spread out? Okay. Where?”

GOP stimulus relief package will extend federal eviction moratorium, top White House economic advisor says

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that a $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill from Senate Republicans will be released Monday. It includes another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, additional funding for elementary and secondary schools and a limited extension of the current unemployment benefits.

The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System

Eighty percent of infections can be traced to food processing plants, ships, aged care homes, bars, restaurants, shops, and worker dormitories. All of those are places notoriously associated with low pay and poor job security. Office workers are almost absent from the records, except for 148 cases associated with a business conference.

AP-NORC poll: Nearly half say job lost to virus won’t return

“Honestly, at this point, there’s not going to be a job to go back to…The kids are going to do virtual school, and there is no day care.”

‘A Band-Aid on a bullet wound’: Workers are getting laid off anew across US as PPP program runs out

“All it really did was prolong the agony of having our workers file for unemployment. Whether it’s April 15 or June 30, the end result is still the same.”

The COVID economy in 6 charts: Rebounding from recession could prove tougher in months ahead

But clawing back the rest of the lost ground is likely to be a tougher slog. The federal programs are expiring unless Congress quickly votes to extend them in some form.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 24, 2020

Coronavirus lockdown leads to less air pollution, more clean energy

“We’ve gotten a glimpse of what a world with better air looks like and see that there may be an opportunity to ‘flatten the climate curve.’”

Healthy habits: Comforting rituals, traditions key to stress relief

Normally, rituals like weddings or even a July 4th party serve as a familiar source of comfort for people. Looking forward to and planning for such events help us cope with daily stressors and anxiety, and function as “mechanisms of resilience.”

Financial markets need to ‘start thinking about a blue wave’: strategist

“Maybe we’ll get encouraging news on a virus. But I think for the financial markets, it’s prudent to start thinking about a blue wave. I think that’s quite likely.”

Pandemic Puts More Retirements at Risk

Laid-off workers’ paychecks vanish immediately, but they may also earn less in the next job. The depressed earnings, over months or years, reduce the money flowing into their 401(k)s, and the amount they’ll receive in pensions and future Social Security benefits.

More than 31 million Americans are still relying on unemployment

There were 1.4 million Americans who applied for traditional unemployment benefits — the first time the figure has risen from the prior week after consistently declining for 15 straight weeks. Another 975,000 were first-time applicants to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

After Trump meeting, GOP considers payroll tax cut, another stimulus check in next COVID bill

McConnell has floated a proposal to limit the number of Americans eligible for another check to those earning $40,000 a year or less.

Landlords Jump the Gun as Eviction Moratorium Wanes

As the number of Covid-19 cases has surged across the country, a disturbing trend has emerged: landlords commencing eviction proceedings even though the CARES Act relief law currently protects about 12 million tenants living in qualifying properties.

Successful in-person leaders may not be a great fit for virtual teams, study finds

“On a virtual team, it’s more important than in a face-to-face meeting to stand out as the one who helps others…Those who take the time to pause and assist others with tasks are more likely to be viewed as leaders.”

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rise to 1.416 Million

Economists had forecast 1.3 million claims. The prior week was initially reported as 1.3 million claims. The Labor Department revised that figure up by 7,000. Claims hit a record 6.87 million for the week of March 27. Until this week, each subsequent week has seen claims decline.

U.S. Government Engages Pfizer to Produce Millions of Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

“Through Operation Warp Speed, we are assembling a portfolio of vaccines to increase the odds that the American people will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year…Depending on success in clinical trials, today’s agreement will enable the delivery of approximately 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.”

You Don’t Solve the Economy With a Curriculum

At some point, if the jobs simply aren’t there, they can’t be trained into being. Academics should know that better than anybody. The academic job market of the last few decades should be conclusive proof that good training doesn’t necessarily produce good jobs.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 23, 2020

GOP considers extending unemployment benefit at reduced level of $100 a week through December

Republicans hope to keep the cost of the package around $1 trillion, though Democrats have argued that level of spending would be insufficient.

Face it. Most kids are not going to school next month

The bottom line is most people will need to buckle in for more distance learning, alongside their own work and other responsibilities.

Yelp says more than half of restaurants temporarily closed are now permanently shuttered

Sixty percent of the 26,160 temporarily closed restaurants on the business review site as of July are now permanently shut. Temporary closures are dropping, and permanent shutdowns are increasing.

Insiders Who Nailed Market Bottom Are Starting to Sell Stocks

“Our indicator is now flashing a warning sign…I’m not prepared to say everybody should sell everything and short the market because of the recent insider data…We still don’t trust the market’s recent recovery.”

As debt climbs to record $27 trillion, Congress says it’s not time to turn off stimulus spending

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie told Just the News in June that he thinks the national debt will hit $40 trillion by the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Some experts have predicted that the debt held by the public will soon exceed the nation’s entire GDP.

Amazon expands robot package delivery system to more cities

“We’re thrilled to bring Amazon Scout to two new communities,” Amazon said. “Adding Atlanta and Franklin to our existing operations gives Scout devices the opportunity to operate in varied neighborhoods with different climates than they operate in today.”

Arms industry: Gun buys up 95%, ammo 139%, sales to blacks jump 58%

“Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of.”

Macy’s, Kohl’s suffer as brands, competitors and e-commerce step in to replace department stores

“We think the ‘Go It Alone’ moment has arrived…This means brands should plan for a future that does not rely on department stores or malls …The ideal business model will be one where a brand can profitably sell directly to consumers either online or in-store.”

A third of U.S. museums not confident they can survive coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

According to data from the New Hampshire-based firm Dynamic Benchmarking, many museum directors worry they will not be able to sustain their organizations in the coming months.

Over a million more expected to file jobless claims as coronavirus pauses reopenings

“Recent media reports have covered anecdotes of people being laid off after being rehired…This would suggest a second wave of initial applications, as many states require people to file again if they had discontinued their weekly benefits from their first period of unemployment.”

Up to 500 store closings planned by Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank owner Tailored Brands

With a new form of business casual taking over as millions of Americans work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the owner of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank plans to close up to 500 stores.

Opinion: The feared jumbo mortgage debacle is here — thanks to the coronavirus — and ready to pound the housing market

What has been largely overlooked are the mounting problems of wealthier homeowners with jumbo mortgages. They have also been slammed by the lockdowns.  According to Black Knight, 11.8% of all jumbo loans were in forbearance as of June 16.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 22, 2020

GOP splits as virus aid package could swell past $1 trillion

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday promised a new round of direct payments to earners below a certain income level, similar to the $1,200 checks sent in the spring. President Donald Trump insists on a payroll tax holiday for workers. And Democrats want billions to outfit schools and shore up local governments.

The Economy Won’t Be Recovering Anytime Soon

A double-dip recession is possible, but the most probable outcome right now looks like treading water, with the fast recovery of the late spring turning into a long, slow slog. Fewer jobs will be created, and many businesses will find themselves unable to stay afloat until conditions improve.

What’s Next for Remote Learning?

While most online leaders described their spring pivot to remote instruction as a success, most also recognized that plenty of improvements could be made to their remote courses. Many respondents felt that their remote courses fell short in terms of student engagement when compared to their fully online courses

Best Guess on When Business Travel Will Recover? It Could be Years

And two to three years may be too optimistic — at least for a recovery by the major airlines.

There are two COVID Americas. One hopes for an extension of federal unemployment and stimulus. The other is saving and spending.

There are workers who have been more insulated from the recession and have used the pandemic as a time to build their nest egg. Nearly a third of Americans have put their stimulus money into a savings or retirement account, Jackson Hewitt data showed.

Nostalgic for 2019: Three in four Americans worry life will never go back to ‘normal’

As of now, 59% of surveyed Americans admit they would be far too afraid to start reporting to a shared workplace once again. Meanwhile, 36% have concerns they’ll never be able to get back to the office without potentially putting themselves and their family in harm’s way.

Split societies, global chaos and World War Three: We could be in for the most tumultuous era in modern history

This sense of uncertainty has been building up for years. It probably began with the global financial crisis of 2008-09. Yet, until 2020, there was hope that the world would somehow return to the right track and regain stability. Covid-19 ended this hope

A Glimpse Into the Fiscal Gloom Bearing Down on America’s Cities

“We’ll have to lay off police and firefighters if people like Mitch McConnell and the White House can’t put their differences aside…What’s being sacrificed in the meantime? Virtually every service we provide is being provided more slowly.”

Employment recovery going backward in states hit hard by virus, small business data shows

The jobs recovery has slowed and, in some cases, reversed as coronavirus cases have surged in sunbelt states where case numbers are climbing and governors have reinstated economic restrictions.

McConnell says economy needs ‘another shot of adrenaline,’ backs additional round of stimulus checks

“The economy needs another shot of adrenaline,” McConnell said Tuesday. “If we lose control of the virus…everything else will be window dressing.”

Opinion: ‘Fed Accounts’ for all — with automatic and recurring payments triggered by economic crises

By providing to every American a $2,000 monthly guaranteed income, America will be a more resilient nation. Monthly cash payments will ensure people can pay rent and buy food, provide the peace of mind needed to socially distance today, and better prepare everyone for the next disaster.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 21, 2020

The Real Unemployment Rate Is 21%… And Heading Higher

Everyone who digs beneath the headline numbers of employment / unemployment soon discovers a number of jarring anomalies in what the media presents as “factual statistics.”

Tax Hikes in a Pandemic: Some States, Cities Say Yes

“I was ready to support a reasonable tax increase, but then the pandemic hit. We lost a lot of sales tax revenue and small businesses are doing what they can to stay afloat. Now we are going to hit them with an even bigger tax increase? Jeez.”

Hundreds camp out in Oklahoma unemployment lines

In the four months since the pandemic began, nearly 50 million workers have filed unemployment claims nationwide, a flood that’s overwhelmed some states, freezing antiquated computer systems and jamming websites and phone lines for days.

A Glimpse Into the Fiscal Gloom Bearing Down on America’s Cities

The pandemic reduced tax collections across the country as safety precautions to limit the spread of the virus shuttered businesses and kept shoppers and tourists at home. A resurgence of the virus has forced states to reverse or slow reopenings.

Judd Gregg: When the dollar is worth 60 cents

Even without further spending, your government is headed toward almost $4 trillion in deficit spending, accompanied by somewhere near $10 trillion of financial infusion by the Federal Reserve.

Top US banks boost loan loss reserves by $25 billion

“Despite some recent positive macroeconomic data and significant, decisive government action, we still face much uncertainty regarding the future path of the economy.”

Biden presents $2 trillion energy plan

Some of the plan’s major provisions include accelerated investment in carbon-free energy and grid infrastructure, investment in mass transit, encouraging efficient buildings and sustainable housing, and “climate-smart” agriculture solutions.

China says it will retaliate against US sanctions over Hong Kong

“In order to safeguard its legitimate interests, China will make necessary response and sanction the relevant individuals and entities of the United States.”

Paying Remote Workers to Relocate Gets a Pandemic-Era Boost

Remote work was already one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the country when coronavirus came around, closing offices and stranding millions of professionals at home. Employees are proving to their bosses that remote working isn’t only possible, it’s preferable — at least for now — and the prospect of a work-from-anywhere future now seems less hypothetical.

Wisconsin small gas engine maker Briggs & Stratton files for bankruptcy protection

Briggs was the world’s largest manufacturer of small gasoline engines. It has sold more than 125 million of the engines. At one point, it employed about 11,000 people in the Milwaukee area.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 20, 2020

US weekly jobless claims fall to 1.30 million

The total number of active unemployment recipients in the U.S. fell to 17.3 million for the week ending July 4, a decrease of 422,000 from the previous week’s revised figure.

America’s hidden economic crisis: Widespread wage cuts

Combined with those who have been forced to log fewer hours, the number climbs to 20 million people — or 1 in 8 workers — who have seen their paychecks shrink over the past few months even as they continued to work…

Mnuchin urges swift aid bill; ex-Fed chairs want bigger deal

“We anticipate that additional relief will be targeted to certain industries, smaller businesses and lower- to middle-income families that have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic…Our focus will be on jobs and getting all Americans back to work.”

IMF: U.S. economy will drop 6.6% in 2020 in face of pandemic

The grim forecast is actually an upgrade from one the IMF made last month when it foresaw the American economy contracting 8% in 2020.

Out of Reach

As this year’s Out of Reach shows, the persistent gap between renters’ incomes and the cost of housing continues. Many of our essential workers…have risked their lives during the pandemic, but don’t get paid enough to afford housing.

Coronavirus Hastens the Rise of the Cashless Economy

Across the globe, Covid-19 is fueling the rise of  the cashless economy as employees and consumers alike worry that the direct handling of paper currency could spread the coronavirus.

A Lot of Americans Are About to Lose Their Homes

“There are two things we need to do right now…First, we need to keep doing CARES Acts until this is over. If we run the debt up $10 trillion, it will be money saved. Second, we’ve got to get a grip on the pandemic, and that probably means shutting every indoor business down for a few months again and moving as much outdoors as we can.”

For parents who can afford it, a solution for fall: Bring the teachers to them

In some cases, families are teaming up to form “pandemic pods,” where clusters of students receive professional instruction for several hours each day. It’s a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded.

Data: Congress created virus aid, then reaped the benefits

Among businesses that received money was a California hotel partially owned by the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as a shipping business started by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationsh

July 17, 2020

Chipotle pledges to hire 10,000 workers as it reopens dining rooms

In May, the company kicked off a campaign to drive hiring, resulting in about 8,000 new employees to date. Chipotle said that it has received close to 700,000 job applications this year. It now has more than 85,000 workers nationwide.

Weekly jobless claims rise by more than 1 million for 17th straight week

Initial weekly jobless claims came in at 1.3 million for the week ending July 11…Economists polled by Dow Jones expected 1.25 million. It was also the 17th straight week in which initial claims totaled at least 1 million. Initial claims have risen by more than 51 million since late March, when it peaked at 6.867 million.

Merck CEO says raising COVID-19 vaccine hopes ‘a grave disservice’ – report

The potential vaccines may not have the qualities needed to be rapidly deployed in large numbers of people…“If you’re going to use a vaccine on billions of people, you better know what that vaccine does.”

New jobless claims surge in Washington with no ‘V-shaped recovery’ in sight

For the week ending July 11, workers in Washington filed 40,466 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment insurance — a 42.5% jump from the prior week — reported the state Employment Security Department (ESD) Thursday.

Our time of dread

People have taken to talking about normal life before coronavirus hit…as “the before time.” My problem is that I’ve begun to feel like I’m living in another such time right now — like there’s some worse thing looming just around the corner as we dither and bicker about trivialities, oblivious to the doom about to strike.

Small cars are being discontinued: Why GM, Ford, Toyota have given up on subcompact cars

Put simply, most Americans are no longer willing to squeeze into small cars despite their affordability and fuel efficiency.

The next coronavirus stimulus deal will have a big change

Per Mnuchin, unemployment payouts will not total more than 100% of what a worker would usually bring home, if employed. Making enhanced unemployment benefits dynamic to a worker’s typical pay will ensure that there’s an incentive to get the unemployed back to work.

Modern families: Multigenerational households are on the rise, thanks to financial and emotional benefits

Millennials have led the movement toward multigenerational households, with the Census finding about one in three people between the ages of 18 to 34 lived with their parents in 2015.

Opinion: As Trump and Biden trade age insults, older workers suffer

Ageism runs deep in our culture–especially in the workplace. This kind of bias is pervasive and starts at the top, even as an off-the-cuff comment that sows a seed and adds to the perception of older adults as less than.

Consumer sentiment backslides in July as new coronavirus outbreak alarms Americans

“Unfortunately, declines are more likely in the months ahead as the coronavirus spreads and causes continued economic harm, social disruptions, and permanent scarring.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 16, 2020

With elective procedures delayed, UnitedHealth profit spikes

UnitedHealth’s better-than-expected performance “punctuates just how much it benefited from COVID-19 induced low utilization,” Jefferies analyst David Windley said in a research note.

Executives at Bankrupt Companies Scored $131 Million in Bonuses

The companies say they need to keep their management teams to help turnaround consultants repair the damage, even when it means rewarding people who were in charge when the business began sinking.

U.S. June Consumer Prices Rose Sharply as Reopenings Prompted More Buying

The consumer-price index rose 0.6% in June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The index had fallen in each of the previous three months, with particularly sharp declines during the earlier part of the pandemic in March and April.

JPMorgan just reported its highest quarterly revenue ever

“JPMorgan’s fixed-income traders generated $7.3 billion in revenue in the second quarter — a figure so high, that even if the equities trading group had generated NOTHING, the bank *still* would’ve set a record for total trading revenue.”

Can shopping malls survive the coronavirus pandemic and a new slate of permanent store closings?

“The whole business model of a mall, which is about pulling in as many people as you can and getting them to stay for as long as you can, has just unraveled.”

From staggered hours to automatic doors, how offices might look different amid the pandemic

“People don’t want to invest capital in these huge office buildings with these huge spaces until they really know what they need to do.”

It’s time for investors to stop buying stocks that are ‘stunningly decoupled’ from reality, economist warns

“Rather than buying assets at valuations stunningly decoupled from underlying corporate and economic fundamentals, investors should think a lot more about the recovery value of their assets…The sense that the worst did not come to pass has fed complacency among investors of all stripes.”

Wells Fargo plans $10 billion in cuts, posts first quarterly loss since 2008

Some employees have already been told their jobs will be eliminated…but that their terminations were delayed due to the pandemic…the bank told federal regulators that it plans to close 65 branches across the U.S., many in small towns and rural areas. More cuts are expected across the entire bank over the coming years.

‘A day none of us wanted to see’: American Airlines warns employees of up to 25,000 job cuts

The airline expects to have more than 20,000 more workers on its payroll than it needs this fall as it shrinks its schedule to reflect the reality of depressed travel demand for the foreseeable future.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 14, 2020

Will the remote work craze sparked by COVID-19 sound a death knell for office buildings?

“The genie is out of the bottle,” with many companies now embracing remote work, says Victor Calanog, of Moody’s Analytics. “Do we really need that much office space?” Downtowns, he says, could become speckled with gleaming, hulking office-building skeletons that resemble industrial relics in cities like Cleveland or Detroit or the growing crop of empty retail spaces in, well, virtually any American city.

Southwest Air Says Flyer Numbers Need to Triple to Avoid Layoffs

“Although furloughs and layoffs remain our very last resort, we can’t rule them out as a possibility in this really bad environment…We need a significant recovery by the end of this year, and that’s roughly triple the number of passengers from where we are today.”

Forget about that overseas holiday: Qantas cancels all international flights until MARCH next year

Qantas’ decision comes just weeks after the airline slashed 6,000 jobs – 20 per cent of its workforce – and chief executive Alan Joyce predicted international flights were unlikely to resume until July 2021.

New York & Company could close all stores as its parent company files for bankruptcy due to COVID-19 impact

Like other apparel retailers with a heavy commitment to shopping malls, the company and its brands were grappling with declining foot traffic long before the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I hide in the bathroom and cry’: Americans struggle with unemployment delays

Gripped by one of the deepest recessions since the 1930s, state governments across the country have to race to catch up with escalating demand for unemployment assistance.

Federal Spending and Deficit Set Records Through June

During the October-June period, the government spent a record $5,004,372,000,000 while it collected $2,260,069,000,000 in total taxes.

Federal Reserve’s $3 trillion virus rescue inflates market bubbles

“COVID-19 is now inversely related to the markets. The worse that COVID-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus. That is what has been driving markets.”

Atlanta, L.A., San Diego to keep schools closed

Several other big cities were considering similar plans, while others have adopted hybrid plans through which students would be in school on certain days and at home on others.

Online food prices jump as food companies struggle to meet demand

Online food prices have climbed 4.2% over the past six months according to the latest Adobe Inc. data as grocery e-commerce accelerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic and food producers struggled to keep up with continued high demand.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 13, 2020

Virtual health: A look at the next frontier of care delivery

Virtual health adoption can create opportunities for a variety of providers to attract patients with new service offerings and connections to perceived higher-quality providers.

Hiring Outlook Remains Dim, With ‘Scarring in the Economy’

“Their circumstances may be more challenging to rectify than those who were laid off because of a temporary closure…Finding new jobs will be more difficult. There’s been scarring in the economy.”

DavidsTea closing 82 stores in Canada, exiting the U.S. market

The Montreal-based company says it is sending notices to terminate the leases at the 124 stores to take effect in 30 days.

The #Vanlife Business Is Booming

Dozens of new companies are popping up to rent or sell retrofitted sleeper vans, some now with yearlong wait-lists. Apps are surfacing to help these van dwellers find legal parking.

Major Tax Increases Are About To Slam America As Cities & States Want You To Pay For COVID Fallout

The question for mayors and governors will be, ‘how much money can we extract from the people without causing extreme poverty and triggering widespread revolt?’

Coronavirus spike in the dog days of summer saps economy of momentum

The loss of momentum in the recovery is evident in key segments of the economy such as retail and dining out. Some businesses in California, Texas and elsewhere have been ordered to scale back operations again.

Opinion: These 2 charts explain why the stock market is so strong while the economy is still so weak

About 130,000 jobs in air transportation disappeared during that time—but airlines were just 0.4% of the index at the start of the year. By contrast, job losses were minimal in information technology, the S&P’s biggest sector, which accounted for 23% of the index.

Fed’s aggressive monetary policy behind the stock market rally

It is no secret that easy monetary policy, which began in earnest during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, fuels higher stock prices.

Layoffs: 1.3M workers file for unemployment as COVID-19 spikes and businesses close again

The high number of jobless claims punctures the positive news last week that the U.S. economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June as states allowed more businesses to reopen and a growing number of Americans returned to work.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 10, 2020

Jobless claims at better-than-expected 1.3 million, total getting benefits falls to 18 million

Despite the better-than-expected numbers, this marked the 15th consecutive week that initial claims totaled above 1 million.

Biden announces $700 billion economic plan

“I do not buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said in a speech at a factory in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, where he introduced the plan.

Biden says his economic plan would create five million new U.S. jobs

“I’ll be laser-focused on working families: the middle-class families I came from here in Scranton, not the wealthy investor class…They don’t need me, but working families do.”

US grants $1.6 billion to Novavax for coronavirus vaccine

Vaccine developer Novavax has been awarded $1.6 billion by the U.S. government…The government in May pledged up to $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca…Johnson & Johnson was awarded $456 million for vaccine development…Moderna received $483 million to create a vaccine.

More grim job losses as U.S. hits record high on new COVID cases

The grim U.S. numbers come on top of extraordinarily high jobless figures, although they came in lower than economists had forecast.

A Downwardly Mobile Boomer Survives

“It’s frustrating that, in my mind, somebody who has done the things you were told as a kid you need to do – stay at a job, work, learn, be helpful, get promotions – and then you find yourself, at this point, that your career doesn’t mean [anything].”

Coronavirus ‘Class of 2020’: Europe’s lost generation?

The pandemic has effectively pulled away the first rung of the jobs ladder for many young Europeans, a situation economists say has the potential to blight their employment and earnings prospects long term.

Lack of insurance threatens supply of Hollywood films, TV shows in 2021

Without coverage, many producers cannot get the completion bond, or guarantee, that banks require to lend to productions.

Dow drops 361 points as surging virus cases dim recovery hopes

But optimism was kept in check Thursday after cases continued to surge despite a report that showed fewer workers are getting laid off across the country.

Big Ten scraps nonconference football games due to pandemic

“We may not have sports in the fall…We may not have a college football season in the Big Ten.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 9, 2020

Walgreens to open 500 to 700 in-store clinics with primary care doctors

The clinics will be spread out among more than 30 markets, with more than half in locations that are underserved by medical professionals. The move marks the latest evolution in the drugstore sector’s pivot away from retail floor space toward more healthcare services.

Walmart launching a subscription service for less than $100 a year

Retail giant Walmart is launching a subscription program later this month. The Walmart+ membership program will include fuel discounts, same-day shipping at no additional cost, and other perks, at an annual cost of $98.

Storied apparel brand Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy as it seeks a buyer and closes dozens of stores

The retailer, founded in 1818, boasts of having dressed 40 U.S. presidents and countless investment bankers.

NYC Rental Market Pushed to Breaking Point by Tenant Debts

It would take something on the order of divine intervention to keep the situation from worsening

US small-business recovery after the COVID-19 crisis

Across all businesses, that could take five years or longer…Among small businesses, recovery is again likely to take even longer. Many may never reopen.

Fed officials suggest U.S. recovery may be stalling

“I do expect unfortunately that the economy is going to remain weaker than many had hoped through the summer and fall.”

Government debt is skyrocketing across the world. Here are their options, according to Barclays

What they’re going to do as a result is a subject of intense debate, even as governments roll out new stimulus packages to fight the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dow ends nearly 400 points lower, U.S. stocks swoon, on doubts of quick economic recovery

Nagging unease over the outlook for the global economy in the midst of rising U.S. coronavirus infections helped dampen the buying mood on Wall Street.

Wall Street Is Pessimistic About the Dollar

The world’s biggest currency banks see the dollar edging lower toward year-end, a consensus that may only hold if rising coronavirus infections don’t hamper the global growth rebound.

Bed Bath & Beyond announces plans to permanently close 200 stores over next two years

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. plans to close approximately 21% of its namesake stores, or 200 locations, over the next two years, the company announced Wednesday.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 8, 2020

U.S. service sector rebounds strongly in June

U.S. services industry activity rebounded sharply in June, almost returning to its pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels

Our Cash-Free Future Is Getting Closer

“People are using cards and contactless payments because they don’t want to have to touch anything,” said Mr. Cornu, as a line of mask-wearing shoppers stood three feet apart before approaching the register and swiping contactless cards over a reader.

Bank of Canada survey finds business sentiment is ‘strongly negative’

“Softer sales expectations are widespread across all regions and sectors, with firms often expressing a high degree of uncertainty about consumer behavior and future demand.”

‘We’ll be living with masks for years’: COVID-19 through the eyes of a pandemic expert

But there’s no silver bullet. Experts agree that it will be at least a year from now before we have a vaccine that’s accessible to most people. Mass immunization likely won’t come until 2022.

Survey: Students Optimistic About Jobs, but Not Salaries

About 44 percent of students said the pandemic and ensuing rise in unemployment have also impacted their ability to pay for college. And while students are confident about finding relevant jobs, 66 percent are worried about finding a job that meets their salary needs.

How Widespread Unemployment Might Affect Retirement Security

Ensuring retirement security for an aging population was one of the most compelling challenges facing the nation before the onslaught of COVID-19.  The unemployment associated with the pandemic has made the situation worse across the board. 

States mandate masks, begin to shut down again as coronavirus cases soar and hospitalizations rise

Fauci noted that while Europe managed to drive infections down — and now is dealing with little blips as it reopens — U.S. communities “never came down to baseline and now are surging back up.”

 Americans leave large cities for suburban areas and rural towns

The dense nature of urban living and the lack of proper local government planning led to the coronavirus spreading five times faster in New York than the rest of the country. The city that never sleeps now resembles a ghost town in many areas after thousands of its wealthy and middle-class residents fled early in the pandemic

Market Focus Starts to Turn Toward Biden Victory, Analysts Say

“For the last several months investors watched Biden’s rising poll momentum with trepidation, but now a narrative is emerging whereby he’s being painted as a neutral (and possible upside surprise) for stocks (as taxes won’t rise by as much as feared while trade policy should be less disruptive and the volume of nonsense tweets will be substantially reduced).”

Dunkin’ to close 450 stores permanently by end of 2020

Though the locations that will be closing are all reportedly located inside Speedway gas stations, and not free-standing cafes. The big news comes as part of termination of the coffee shop’s partnership with Hess, owner of Speedway gas stations, Today Food reported.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 7, 2020

Economists call for more direct cash payments tied to the health of the economy

“The first round of economic impact payments were a lifeline that helped some get by for a few weeks…Even after businesses start to re-open and jobs begin to come back, there will be significant economic fallout, and demand will continue to lag if people don’t have money to spend.”

Uber buys Postmates, ups delivery game in $2.65 billion deal

“The vision for us is to become an everyday service…Postmates is a great step along that vision. Anyplace you want to go, anything you want delivered to your home, Uber is going to be there with you, and we think these everyday frequent interactions create a habit, create a connection with customers.”

Uber launches grocery delivery in Latin America, Canada with U.S. to follow

The company’s latest foray into the delivery space is in partnership with Cornershop, a Chilean online grocery provider that Uber has held a majority stake in since October.

And so it begins…

Risk-on move dents dollar; yuan notches best day since December

The yuan on Monday recorded its best day against the dollar since December as investors lapped up risky assets on growing expectations of a strong Chinese economic rebound and as glimmers of good news in U.S. data drove down demand for the safe-haven dollar.

The long countdown to commercial crew’s liftoff

How a 2005 call for ‘skin in the game’ started a 15-year countdown to the first human orbital spaceflight from U.S. soil since 2011.

The Coming Wave of Coronavirus Evictions Will Wipe Out Black Renters

Eviction cases filed since the start of the pandemic are overwhelmingly located in majority-Black neighborhoods.

CityLab University: Understanding Homelessness in America

What are the forces that create homelessness? What are the main strategies aimed at helping people exit homelessness? What are the major debates that could shape this policy discussion going forward, especially in light of Covid-19?

Americans leave large cities for suburban areas and rural towns

In March and April, over 2 million young people moved back in with their parents or grandparents. If the allure of cities declines further due to the risk of disease, a sputtering economy, and a future of telework, the flight to suburban and rural safety will continue well after a coronavirus vaccine hits the market.

World’s richest billionaires risk turning US into ‘powder keg’ as their wealth surge

The growing gap between rich and poor is creating two Americas, one with a stake in the economy, and one without.

July 6, 2020

American fortitude: Loneliness hasn’t increased during the pandemic, but resilience has

“…the research indicates a remarkable amount of resilience and gumption in the face of this ordeal.”

Support Grows for Guaranteed Income Among America’s Mayors

“We don’t necessarily agree on everything, but we do agree that our constituents deserve an income floor”

Experts fear the end of eviction moratoriums could plunge thousands of people into homelessness

“State and local eviction moratoriums are expiring rapidly and courts are beginning to address the backlog and new eviction cases…And they’re putting people out of their homes in the middle of a pandemic, and in places where Covid-19 is raging out of control.”

What a Democratic Sweep Could Mean for the Market

“People buying stocks are not worried about earnings in 2020 or even 2021…They’re thinking, ‘Am I paying the right price for 2022?’”

Lucky Brand files for bankruptcy citing COVID-19, looks to sell company to Aéropostale owner.

COVID-19 has hit retailers who were already in debt harder than others and bankruptcy filings have increased due to the pandemic with J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Tuesday Morning, GNC and J. Crew filing for Chapter 11. Other retailers…plan to shutter locations, including Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom and Signet Jewelers, parent company of Kay, Zales and Jared.

Trump touts ‘historic’ June jobs report, but the labor market is still grim

“It remains too difficult to call this trend with any real confidence as we continue to see-saw between lockdown tightening and lockdown loosening…Instead, it’s the revision to these numbers in the next set of data that will prove most revealing.”

Economist Roubini expects ‘anemic’ US recovery — and a ‘Greater Depression’ looms

“If you have to spend less, what is your major cost? It’s your labor cost, and they’re slashing jobs like we’ve never seen before. We’ve lost more jobs in three months than in the last ten years.”  When companies rehire, rather than bringing back full-time jobs with full wages and benefits, they’ll opt for more part-time, contractor, and gig workers, according to Roubini.

Gig workers face shifting roles, competition in pandemic

“I started to juggle three apps to make ends meet…It was really hard, because at that time, I could not afford to stay home because I had to pay rent.”

Across Sun Belt, hopes for economy give way to renewed fears

“I didn’t fathom that a whole country could stay shut down and affect people’s businesses and people’s livelihoods for the duration of time that it has…I’ve put my life’s work into this business, and it’s really hanging on a thread.”

Nouriel Roubini: ‘My prediction for a Great Depression is not about 2020, but the decade of the 2020s’

New York University’s Stern School of Business Professor of Economics & Roubini Macro Associates, LLC CEO Nouriel Roubini joins Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche to break down his economic outlook amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney could be facing a lot more than a lost summer

“What Disney has to do is figure out how to make itself matter, how to get in front of audiences in very different ways than it has in the past…Because the previous rules – of gathering a lot of people in one place, of just riding safely down the middle of American society – won’t apply for the next 12 months. And maybe a lot longer.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 3, 2020

Walmart to turn 160 parking lots into drive-in movie theaters in August

“Walmart will roll out this red carpet experience in towns across the country for a combined 320 showings.”

Amid strong June job growth, signs U.S. recovery may be stumbling

“More than ever, we’re concerned about the worsening health situation and its impact on the burgeoning recovery. Rebounding mobility and poor use of protective equipment will make for a dangerous summer cocktail.”

Dollar’s dominance to slowly melt away over coming year: Reuters poll

“The dollar rises in two instances: when you see risk off or when there is a situation where the U.S. is leading the global recovery, and we don’t think that’s going to be the case anytime soon…The U.S. is playing fast and loose with the virus, and chronologically they’re behind the rest of the world.”

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

“Even as we move into the second half of the year, a large number of people will still be looking for work.”

‘I’m ready to start with a career’: 2020 graduates face uncertain job market with hope

“I’m just sitting and waiting, and it’s frustrating because I took the five years and got a degree, and I’m ready to start with a career.” Now, she’s babysitting.

Dr. Fauci says coronavirus surge ‘way beyond worst spikes we’ve seen’ as U.S. sets new single-day high

“What we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that is way beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen. That is not good news.”

The Next Pandemic Will Be Caused by the National Debt. It Will Crater the Economy.

The amount of money the government owed to the public was 79 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2019, up from 31 percent in 2001. The COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent emergency spending will push the curve above 100 percent of GDP by the end of 2020, and it’s expected to keep rising.

Unemployment rate won’t recover for the next decade, CBO projects

The CBO now forecasts the unemployment rate will remain above its pre-pandemic level — which was a near-50-year low of 3.5% — until after 2030.

Real estate prices fall sharply in New York

“I would like to say that it fell because we sold everything, but that is not the reality.”

COVID: The Challenge for Older Workers

The older workers must choose between “health risks – returning to work before the virus is under control – or economic risks – delaying work until the environment is safe, which may exhaust their resources.”

The great balancing act: Managing the coming $30 trillion deficit while restoring economic growth

Yet even if governments do avoid defaults, record public-sector debt levels could seriously dampen economic recovery if not managed effectively. Increased debt-servicing costs could crowd out vital investments in areas such as infrastructure and reskilling. Decisions to “print money” at scale could prompt a rise in inflation. And a big rise in taxation could hamper business innovation and growth and harm countries’ competitiveness.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 2, 2020

Airbus plans to cut 15,000 jobs by next summer

“With air traffic not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures to reflect the post Covid-19 industry outlook.”

The ‘Rocket Ship’ Economic Recovery Is Crashing

The next few months of recovery could be rocky even if the current infection surge abates. Job losses have slowed but remain at levels higher than in any previous recession, and a growing share of workers now report they have been laid off permanently, rather than temporarily furloughed.

As shaken cities and states pull back from reopening, Fauci sounds alarm on surging virus

“I’m not satisfied with what’s going on because we’re going in the wrong direction.”

U.S. coronavirus cases rise by 47,000, biggest one-day spike of pandemic

“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told a U.S. Senate committee. “I am very concerned because it could get very bad.”

McDonald’s Halts Reopening Plans as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Grow

The burger giant said Wednesday that it would wait three weeks before any new U.S. restaurants add dine-in service to its drive-through, takeout and delivery operations.

The economy is falling apart but Wall Street had its best quarter in decades

But investors were optimistic about the summer thanks to the gradual reopening of the economy — which began as early as April in some states — as well as unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus left investors optimistic about the summer.

Fed officials fear second wave of coronavirus will cause deeper recession

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell offered a similar warning Tuesday during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, arguing that a full recovery is “unlikely” until Americans feel comfortable gathering in large numbers and close spaces.

Background checks, a metric for gun sales, hit all-time high

“Politicians who entertain notions of defunding police departments are the same ones who call for strict gun control and even outright confiscation…These figures aren’t push polls. They are representative of Americans from all walks of life who are taking action and taking responsibility for their rights and their safety.”

Country Garden Opens Restaurant Operated Completely By Robots

“Country Garden…has built a complete industry chain encompassing back-end supply production (the centralized kitchens) and robotic cooking alongside the operation of restaurants and the management of robots.”

‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic

“It’s when you feel alone, stigmatized and hopeless that you are most vulnerable and at risk…So much of addiction has nothing to do with the substance itself. It has to do with pain or distress or needs that aren’t being met.”

US to get latest unemployment figures as virus explodes

But with the US seeing about 40,000 new cases of coronavirus a day, economists fear a renewed malaise as local authorities roll back the efforts to return to pre-pandemic normal and businesses are forced to shut down again.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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July 1, 2020

Fireworks sales are booming nationwide due to COVID-19

“Fireworks sales have been unprecedented and stronger than ever in the history of my being in this industry and I’ve been in it for 50 years.”

The (near) cashless society arrives

“It’s just been like three years of digital commerce growth being pulled forward into three months…People are making purchases that they would have made in person, but they’re making them online now.” [Another nail in the coffin of traditional retail jobs.]

Quarter of gym-goers don’t expect they’ll ever return to fitness clubs thanks to coronavirus

Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) say they will never return to the gym at all. A third will keep their membership, but expect to go less frequently than they used to.

Airlines defend moves to full-capacity flights

“Temperature checks are not a guarantee that passengers that don’t have an elevated temperature don’t have COVID-19.”

Gold Climbs Above $1,800 for the First Time Since 2011

There’s an “explosion” in demand for gold, said Peter Thomas, a senior vice president at Chicago-based broker Zaner Group. “The virus concerns, inflation on the back of people’s mind, and the fact that it’s up almost 20% this year” is driving further increases in the metal, he said.

In Los Angeles, an Economy Built on Freelancers Crumbles

Creative workers with multiple gigs are among the worst hit by the recession and face long roads to recovery

How the Fed is driving savers to riskier investments

… I think we’re also about to see large workforce reductions by states and cities and other local governments that have had their tax revenue ravaged by the coronavirus fallout and their expenses increased.

U.S. States Beg, Borrow and Cut to Close Massive Budget Gaps

“Even with states that have enacted full-year budgets, this will be a banner year for mid-year adjustments…And that’s because the revenue picture is constantly falling, and that’s really going to be an unprecedented level of change for state budgets.”

As virus roars back, so do signs of a new round of layoffs

“We’re still in a very deep hole…This makes the June employment report backward-looking instead of forward-looking.’’

Dow notches best quarter since 1987

“The rebound sparked concerns that the markets have become unmoored from economic reality.”

With bankruptcies surging, 2020 may become one of the busiest years for Chapter 11 filings since the Great Recession

“I very much expect to see the numbers continue to rise…Every day there are more rumors of this or that company, and the rumors are almost never wrong.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 30, 2020

Airbnb CEO: Travel may never be the same

“I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-COVID; it just won’t…There are sometimes months when decades of transformation happen.”

Nearly half the U.S. population is without a job, showing how far the labor recovery has to go

“To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000 we need to create 30 million jobs.”

Coronavirus Brings American Decline Out in the Open

Unless there’s a huge push to turn things around — to bring back immigrants, sustain research universities, make housing cheaper, lower infrastructure costs, reform the police and restore competence to the civil service — the result could be decades of stagnating or even declining living standards.

WarnerMedia to Sell Atlanta’s CNN Center, Sidesteps Threat of Impending Layoffs

“During the pandemic, we have learned a lot about working remotely and we will be looking at space solutions that are more agile for the appropriate teams.”

A cash cliff spells trouble for U.S. unemployed, and everyone else

“I’m very scared to think I may not be able to make my bills…With my future so uncertain, I have a house payment and bills based on 18 years of what I was making.”

Big Hotel Owners Stand to Gain From a Government-Orchestrated Debt Relief

Both Congress and the Federal Reserve are pumping trillions of dollars into the economy to fight the economic damage caused by the coronavirus. WSJ explains where all that stimulus money is coming from.

Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection, terminates 3,500

Cirque du Soleil shut down all 44 of its shows in March, laying off 95 percent of its workforce, including more than 1,300 in Las Vegas. The company further announced that nearly 3,500 employees in its international workforce would be terminated, though none in its Las Vegas productions.

Fed will keep low interest rates as economy is ‘extraordinarily uncertain’

“We expect to maintain interest rates at this level until we are confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve our maximum employment and price-stability goals.”

With bankruptcies surging, 2020 may become one of the busiest years for Chapter 11 filings since the Great Recession

“I very much expect to see the numbers continue to rise…Every day there are more rumors of this or that company, and the rumors are almost never wrong.”

Layoffs: 1.48M workers file for unemployment amid COVID-19 signaling slow recovery

“If these trends hold steady, 26 million Americans are set to lose benefits by July 26th, costing the economy $15.6 billion dollars in economic stimulus per week and leaving millions of families at a sudden severe risk for evictions and hunger.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 29, 2020

Silicon Valley economy remains strong 100 days into coronavirus

The technology sectors good fortune is also reflected in venture capital funding, where Silicon Valley far outpaces the rest of California and the nation.

Stocks Slide as Texas Rolls Back Reopening

“The Texas response to close bars and restaurants is a the real driver of lower markets today, as it portends to a possible second shutdown across the country if we see Covid spikes…And a second shutdown would be devastating to the overall economy.”

The Fed’s reckless experiment

The Fed has taken a recession caused by a government-forced shutdown and applied its traditional demand-management tools to stimulate employment. This amounts to beating a dead horse.

Microsoft says it is closing its Microsoft Store physical locations after shifting online during COVID-19

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location.”

Half of U.S. homeowners struggle with mortgage due to COVID-19, consider selling home

A survey of 2,000 American homeowners found that 52% are constantly concerned about making their mortgage payment on time. Forty-seven percent of the poll say they’re considering selling their home because they can’t afford their mortgage anymore.

Universities cut sports teams, as they struggle with coronavirus fallout

As universities scramble to survive the financial fallout of the coronavirus, sports teams are being cut, abruptly ending thousands of student-athletes’ careers and exposing a collegiate sports model that many believe is broken.

Despite Payment Protection Program loans, 14% of businesses still anticipate layoffs

Among the 14% of small businesses that anticipate layoffs once their PPP funds are depleted, around 50% say they’ll let one or two workers go, while 31% say they’ll lay off between three and five. About 12% say they’ll lay off more than 10 employees.

Pandemic-Emptied Hotels Could Become Affordable Housing

“So we’ve been looking hard at — are there hotels that we could acquire to turn into supportive housing rather than having to build from ground up?”

Fed Reveals Bond Purchases Including AT&T, UnitedHealth, Walmart

The Federal Reserve bought bonds issued by companies including AT&T Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Walmart Inc. as part of its emergency lending program set up in response to the pandemic, according to new disclosures.

The Pandemic’s Economic Carnage Looks Worse Than Expected

“The lockdown measures brought in by most governments have succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus and in reducing the death toll but they have also frozen business activity in many sectors, widened inequality, disrupted education and undermined confidence in the future.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 26, 2020

U.S. consumer spending rebounds

The report from the Commerce Department on Friday added to increases in homebuilding permits, industrial production and orders for manufactured goods in suggesting the economy was turning the corner.

More Adults Than Ever Live With Parents or Grandparents

Gen Zers who returned to their childhood bedrooms in March and April represent lost rental revenue of $726 million a month.

Colleges Weigh Scrapping Football Season in Threat to a Cash Cow

It’s the toughest call in sports this year: to play or not to play.

Fed puts restrictions on bank dividends after test finds some banks could be stressed in pandemic

“While I expect banks will continue to manage their capital actions and liquidity risk prudently, and in support of the real economy, there is material uncertainty about the trajectory for the economic recovery.”

Trump executive order directs feds to prioritize skills over college degrees in hiring

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements…We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”

Governments eye new taxes on cigarettes, homes and tech giants to pay for budget shortfalls

“No politician wants to lead with raising taxes…When they get there, it’s because they’ve run out of other options.”

Coronavirus mortgage bailouts suddenly swell as homeowners face new struggles

The number of active forbearance plans rose by 79,000 in the past week, erasing roughly half of the improvement seen since the peak of May 22.

Dow drops 500 points as virus cases surge

Friday’s losses were driven by a decline in bank shares as investors weighed the Federal Reserve’s move to temporarily suspend shareholder payouts by big banks ahead of a potentially damaging recession.

Trump payroll tax cut would come at a time when Social Security is already facing trouble

“Tax cuts are wonderful things — they give you a little extra money up front, but when the tax cut affects your long-term retirement income, it can have a very long-reaching impact.”

Here’s an ever-growing list of companies that will let people work from home forever

“Very senior people are saying, ‘We have a whole bunch of jobs we thought never could be done remotely and we’re finding they can be—and it’s going pretty well.”

Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty

Should the downside scenario materialize, vulnerable firms would exit markets, vulnerable households would sharply reduce consumption, and several low- and middle-income countries would see heightened financial stress.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 25, 2020

Orders for US big-ticket factory goods surge 15.8% in May

“We had extreme lows… It’s only natural that we bounce back from that and have extreme highs.’’

IMF says global economic collapse caused by coronavirus will be even worse than feared

“Maybe we can say the world has bottomed out, for now, and we’re in a recovery phase…But still, the strength of the recovery is highly uncertain because there is no solution yet to the health crisis.”

The Second Great Depression. At least four major factors are terrifying economists and weighing on the recovery.

At least four major factors are terrifying economists and weighing on the recovery: the household fiscal cliff, the great business die-off, the state and local budget shortfall, and the lingering health crisis.

Colleges cut academic programs in the face of budget shortfalls due to Covid-19

That means shifting priorities away from the value of a liberal arts education and focusing on degrees that pay. “We are going to start to see those programs marketed that have a direct return on investment — that will prepare that student for a job.”

Jobless claims: Another 1.48 million Americans file for unemployment benefits

“Everything we have seen in the last week or two between rising case counts/hospitalizations, stalling economic progress in some important states, government job cuts, means one thing: the Phase 4 of fiscal stimulus must be bigger.”

‘A scary number’ of retail companies are facing bankruptcy amid the coronavirus pandemic

“I think many of these companies will file [for bankruptcy], and it’s not a handful. It’s several dozen. And that’s a scary number. It’s far more than we have seen over the last several years combined.”

‘Finance is, like, done. Everybody’s bought everybody else with low-cost debt’

“Everybody’s maximized their margin. They’ve bought all their shares back . . . There’s nothing there. Every industry has about three players. Elizabeth Warren is right.”

The harsh reasons behind GNC’s and J.C. Penney’s death

Why do icons of our childhood one day go from being on top of the retail world to being buried 6 feet under and relegated — to an — in memoriam Wikipedia page?

Technology for a no-touch world

We’ve long gotten used to touchless water faucets in public bathrooms, for instance. And a simple website can solve the problem of multiple hands on restaurant menus: Everyone at the table could get the menu on their mobile phones. But newer technologies will drive some of the more interesting changes.

Sticky weekly jobless claims underscore U.S. labor market distress

“While it counts as good news that businesses are ordering more equipment in May as the states reopened, the second wave of the pandemic may keep companies cautious in the months ahead when it comes to making new investments in the country’s future.”

Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid pandemic closings

The move came after the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to temporarily close locations. The chain has also been weighed down by debt it accumulated in a private equity buyout several years ago.

Layoffs: 1.48M workers file for unemployment amid COVID-19 signaling slow recovery

While the number of people seeking first time aid fell below the 1.5 million who filed claims the week before and mark the 12th weekly drop in a row, the slide is slowing.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 24, 2020

MLB players set to report to camps July 1

Nearly three months of frustrating and failed economic negotiations ended with the league implementing a 60-game season that will run through Sept. 27 and feature a number of new elements.

Trump tells aides he supports second round of stimulus checks, but White House divisions remain

However, leading congressional Republicans and some senior White House officials remain skeptical of sending more checks.

Layoffs: About 1.3M more workers likely filed jobless claims, signaling slow recovery

Job cuts…have spread to other sectors, including manufacturing, education and professional services.

Americans putting off traditional goals like marriage, having kids for financial security

“While traditional milestones are no longer making or breaking what’s important in life, our study shows our hearts are still an important driver to achieving financial peace of mind, no matter your life path.”

Junk Bonds Topple Monthly Sales Record in ‘Party Like No Other’

“You get an invitation to a party from the Fed, Treasury and Congress — they offer to pick you up, take you home and bring you breakfast in bed the next morning…You know it is going to be a party like no other.”

NASA takes initial steps to fly personnel on commercial suborbital vehicles

“Now we’ll be looking at a new way of enabling NASA personnel to fly on commercial suborbital space systems by considering factors such as flight experience and flight history.”

Reviewing Remote Work in the U.S. Under COVID-19

According to Gallup Panel data, the percentage of employed adults saying they had worked from home specifically out of concern about the coronavirus rose from 31% in mid-March to 49% a few days later, and to 59% the week after that. Remote work leveled off at 62% in mid-April.

U.S. Billionaire Wealth Surged During The Pandemic

The level of inequality across the U.S. was highlighted by the fact that total U.S. billionaire wealth increased by twice as much as the federal government paid out in one-time stimulus checks to 150 million Americans.

GNC parent company files for bankruptcy protection, plans to permanently close up to 1,200 stores

“The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation where we were unable to accomplish our refinancing and the abrupt change in the operating environment had a dramatic negative impact on our business.”

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June 23, 2020

Hiring rose in 46 states in May

As a whole, the figures illustrate the unusually broad nature of the recession, with all states enduring unemployment rates that soared in April as the coronavirus forced business closures and then generally fell in May but remained painfully high.

Facebook Starts Planning for Permanent Remote Workers

“It’s clear that Covid has changed a lot about our lives, and that certainly includes the way that most of us work,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “Coming out of this period, I expect that remote work is going to be a growing trend as well.”

Virgin Galactic inks deal with NASA for private trips to ISS

Virgin Galactic’s new agreement will “directly support NASA’s broad strategy to facilitate the commercialization of low-Earth orbit by US entities.”

US mortgage rates have dropped to another all-time low. Can they go even lower?

The worse things look for the pandemic, the economy and the stock market, the better they look for mortgage rates.

Stock-market legend who called 3 financial bubbles says this one is the ‘Real McCoy,’ this is ‘crazy stuff’

“The great bubbles can go on a long time and inflict a lot of pain but at least I think we know now that we’re in one. And the chutzpah involved in having a bubble at a time of massive economic and financial uncertainty is substantial.”

A Stealth Double Dip or Bear Market Has Started

Instead of letting the markets naturally correct and revalue stock prices with each economic cycle (which is more or less what happened in the past), now, leaders and central bankers don’t want to let the music stop.

Stem cell companies sell hope with unproven medicine for COVID-19

Stem cell treatments offer tantalizing hope for the future. But such lofty claims are not out of character in the world of stem cell marketing…virtually all unproven by American scientific standards.

Key Support for the Economy May Be About to Buckle

Considering that low-income workers have been hit hardest by the crisis as restaurants, hotels and other service-industry businesses laid off workers in droves, the recovery in spending among poorer Americans is striking.

The decline of the U.S. dollar could happen at ‘warp speed’ in the era of coronavirus

“This massive shift to fiscal stimulus is going to blow out the national savings rates and the current-account deficit.”

Trump tells aides he supports second round of stimulus checks, but White House divisions remain

Other conservative White House officials and influential congressional Republicans oppose the plan, expressing concern with the impact of tremendous levels of new spending on the deficit.

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June 22, 2020

US vehicle traffic has rebounded to about 90% of pre-pandemic levels

Traffic has been steadily increasing since mid-April, when it bottomed out at 52 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Fed’s Neel Kashkari warns bank losses during COVID could trigger next financial crisis

The head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve warned Friday that banks should “stop paying dividends” and “raise capital” as more Americans struggle to pay their loans and credit losses mount at America’s large banks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

MLB, NHL teams close Florida facilities, dampening outlook for sports in COVID-19 era

“All facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected.”

The stock market is running out of steam with reopening trades fading and economic data ‘uneven’

“The market was priced for a continuation of improvement and I think that’s overstating what’s going to happen…We are going to have episodes of cases rising. We are going to have a very slow and uneven improvement in the jobs market.”

The crisis goes up a gear

But an imminent banking crisis is now a near certainty, with most global systemically important banks in a weaker position than at the time of the Lehman crisis. US markets appear oblivious to this risk, though the ratings of G-SIBs in other jurisdictions do reflect specific banking risks rather than a systemic one at this stage.

Hollywood poised for big-screen gamble as theaters reopen

Everyone from indie distributors to blockbuster studios will be carefully watching to see how the experiment with new theatrical releases proceeds.

Existing home sale plunge 9.7% in 3rd straight monthly drop

Sales fell in all regions of the country, with the biggest decline coming in the Northeast where virus infections were especially heavy. Sales of both existing and new homes have fallen sharply during the traditional spring selling season as communities were locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Bye $600 jobless benefit, eviction reprieve, cash for small firms. COVID-19 relief ending.

“But the economic impacts of the pandemic will last more than a handful of months. It is really important to tie the fiscal support to economic conditions…rather than have policies end with a cliff based on arbitrary timelines.”

Positive Economic Views Plummet; Support for Government Aid Crosses Party Lines

Most now say the economy is in either only fair (38%) or poor (38%) shape. In January, just 9% of Americans said economic conditions were poor.

The Rebellion of America’s New Underclass

Like its Medieval counterpart, today’s serf class consists of the permanently marginalized—like the peasants of feudal times, these people are unlikely to move to a higher station.

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June 19, 2020

McDonald’s is hiring 260,000 people in the US this summer

McDonald’s is experiencing a rebound in sales and demand. Its US sales fell 19% during the month of April compared with the same period in the year prior, but were down just 5% year-over-year in May.

Coronavirus: What’s it like to start a new job when working remotely?

Meeting your new team and being shown round the office is one of the biggest parts of starting a new job. But how does it feel when everyone is working from home?

A tale of two recessions: Some Americans thrive as others suffer

Lower earners, those with less schooling, women and minority groups have borne the brunt of the economic pain driven by soaring unemployment.

U.S. economy will likely need more support, Fed’s Rosengren says

Rosengren repeated his view that the U.S. unemployment rate will likely be “at double-digit levels” at the end of 2020 and cautioned against reopening the economy too quickly after the end of lockdowns aimed at containing the virus.

Fed’s Powell says economy’s path ahead likely to be challenging

“We will make our way back from this, but it will take time and work … The path ahead is likely to be challenging…Lives and livelihoods have been lost, and uncertainty looms large.”

As Work Has Moved Home, So Has Harassment

As many people continue working remotely and others begin transitioning back to the office, employers will have to prioritize rooting out improper behavior and mistreatment of employees.

Exclusive: Cruise industry announces US sailing suspension extended until Sept. 15

Major lines, including Norwegian Cruise Line, have already extended their sailing suspensions well into fall, and Canada issued a ban on cruises in the country’s waters through Oct. 31.

Briggs & Stratton skips $6.7 million interest payment, awards $5 million to executives

  • $1.2 million for Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO
  • $600,000 for Mark Schwertfeger, senior vice president and chief financial officer
  • $425,000 for David Rodgers, senior vice president and president of the engines and power division
  • $425,000 for Harold Redman, senior vice president and president of the turf and consumer products division

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June 18, 2020

U.S. labor market improvement stalling; second wave of layoffs seen

“The recent sightings of green shoots for economic growth are going to fade in a hurry if workers can’t return to the jobs they lost during the pandemic recession…Over 20 million out of work without a paycheck is a lot of spending missing from the economy.”

Jobless claims total 1.5 million, worse than expected as economic pain persists

“It’s not clear why claims are still so high; is it the initial shock still working its way up through businesses away from the consumer-facing jobs lost in the first wave, or is it businesses which thought they could survive now throwing in the towel, or both? Either way, these are disappointing numbers and serve to emphasize that a full recovery is going to take a long time.”

Rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations underscore the long road ahead

As states started easing back shelter-in-place restrictions last month, public health experts warned cases would increase. That’s simply the nature of the coronavirus: more people encountering more people provides more chances for the virus to pass from one to another.

When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?

Is this the end of moving to where the jobs are?

Confidence in Travel Slides With Less Than Half Willing to Fly

“…consumers have actually got rather more cautious and we have a majority saying now that they would wait more than six months before traveling…The survey is telling us that passengers are rather cautious.”

AT&T confirms thousands of job cuts, 250 store closings

…there will be targeted, but sizable reductions in our workforce across executives, managers and union-represented employees, consistent with our previously announced transformation initiative.”

IMF says deeper-than-expected contraction in U.S. economy likely in second quarter

A defacto lockdown in the United States has lasted longer than expected despite a rollback in some restrictions on mobility, pointing to a deeper-than-expected contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter.

S&P 500, Dow muted as virus cases rise, jobless claims weigh

“Investors desperately want to be optimistic, but we’re not out of the woods yet…This market seems to be all about the short term – a lot of volatility, lots of fluctuations and extremely dependent on a number of (COVID-19) cases.”

SpaceX to build floating spaceports for hypersonic flights around Earth

The company has also advanced plans for landing sites for its reusable rockets which promise to bring down the cost of space travel by billions of dollars.

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June 17, 2020

There’s a one-in-three chance of a ‘massive’ disaster that could be worse than COVID-19, says Deutsche Bank

Analysts…say there is at least a one-in-three chance that at least one of four major tail risks will occur within the next decade: a major influenza pandemic killing more than two million people; a globally catastrophic volcanic eruption; a major solar flare; or a global war.

Target raises minimum wage to $15 an hour for store, distribution and headquarter employees

The discount retailer said Wednesday it will permanently raise its starting wage for its store, distribution and headquarter employees to $15 an hour beginning July 5. The company raised its starting minimum wage to $13 an hour last June.

Why the Cannabis Sector May be Turning a New Leaf

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many lives and industries, but it’s also brought certain realities to bear; among them, the need for a legal and regulated global cannabis industry and the tax-revenues and jobs that come with it.

Extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits runs out next month. Here’s how to prepare

Unless Congress steps in to extend the benefits, Americans will see their unemployment checks reduced to their state’s typical payout starting in August, with a national average of about $378 per week.

The sinking of Evinrude, a legendary Wisconsin brand in outboard motors, shocked even dealerships

“Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by Covid-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately. This business segment had already been facing some challenges, and the impact from the current context has forced our hand.”

May flowers: Where the U.S. retail blooms are and are not

But, to be clear, while the rebound was strong overall, sales remain 8% below where they were in February, and many corners of retail are miles shy of where they were just three months ago when coast-to-coast stay-at-home orders brought many businesses to a full standstill.

U.S. mortgage rates hit record low, purchase applications at 11-year high

“The housing market continues to experience the release of unrealized pent-up demand from earlier this spring, as well as a gradual improvement in consumer confidence.”

Positive Economic Views Plummet; Support for Government Aid Crosses Party Lines

Most now say the economy is in either only fair (38%) or poor (38%) shape. In January, just 9% of Americans said economic conditions were poor.

Women Make Gains in the Workplace Amid a Rising Demand for Skilled Workers

Employers in the United States are increasingly in pursuit of workers who are adept in social skills, like negotiation and persuasion, and have a strong grounding in fundamental skills, such as critical thinking and writing.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

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June 16, 2020

Trump team prepares $1 trillion infrastructure plan to spur economy

The Department of Transportation’s preliminary version reserves most funds for projects such as roads and bridges, but will also set aside about a quarter of the money for priorities such as 5G wireless infrastructure and rural broadband.

Dallas Fed president sees high unemployment rate through end of the year

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan says the unemployment rate could be “as high as 8% or more” at the end of 2020.

A dollar crash is virtually inevitable, Asia expert Stephen Roach warns

“The U.S. economy has been afflicted with…a very low domestic savings rate and a chronic current account deficit…The dollar is going to fall very, very sharply.” His forecast calls for a 35% drop against other major currencies.

Walmart looks to remove all cashiers from stores

Walmart is testing a store that will only offer self-checkout. The retailer is removing cashiers and standard conveyor belt lines at one of its popular superstores in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Walmart says it is an attempt to see if checkout times are faster while limiting human interaction in the age of the coronavirus.

July’s looming economic risk: Morning Brief

But in just six weeks, the most significant part of the $2 trillion CARES Act passed back in March will roll off the books when enhanced unemployment benefits expire. The end of enhanced unemployment benefits is a turning point for the recovery.

Green shoots welcome but recovery still a long road, Fed’s Powell says

A full U.S. economic recovery will not occur until the American people are sure that the novel coronavirus epidemic has been brought under control.

Hilton to cut 2,100 corporate jobs globally

Hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N) said on Tuesday it would cut about 22% of its corporate workforce, or 2,100 jobs

U.S. bank profits plunge 70% on coronavirus loss provisioning

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reported that “deteriorating economic activity” caused lenders to write off delinquent debt and set aside billions of dollars to guard against future losses. Over half of all banks reported a profit decline, and 7.3% of lenders were unprofitable.

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June 15, 2020

The Pandemic Is Propelling a New Wave of Automation

“Anywhere today that you have repetitive operations in place, those are prime things you could potentially automate to reduce your costs and become more efficient and more responsible…If you have to do it now, you’re not going to stop doing it when the market recovers.”

College Towns Fear Covid Will Leave Them as Ghost Towns

Colleges are among the largest employers in their towns. They helped drive economic growth for decades and were seen as stable sources of jobs.

Most Americans Say Wealth Hasn’t Improved During Trump Years

Almost twice as many respondents said they’re worse off since Trump moved into the White House in January 2017, while about half of the U.S. adults polled, 45%, said their financial situation has stayed about the same.

24 Hour Fitness Files for Bankruptcy Amid Onslaught of Gym Closures

The majority of locations to be closed are in California and Texas. As many as 8,352 employees, or roughly 46% of the total workforce, could be affected by the changes, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Data show Americans are afraid to quit their jobs right now

Without much of a possibility of greener pastures, an unusually low number of Americans, 1.8 million, quit their jobs in April, according to recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the fewest quits in any month since July 2010.

Tesla negotiating incentives for possible Texas vehicle assembly plant, report says

The paper said it was unclear whether negotiations with Travis County show that Tesla has picked the Austin region as the site for the plant, which would build the company’s electric pickup truck and Model Y SUV and employ thousands of people, or if the company is also negotiating with officials in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Blackouts this summer could DECIMATE Big Tech companies in Silicon Valley

Big Tech firms in Silicon Valley managed to stay afloat during those electricity outages because of fortified power lines, but power cuts this summer could spark a catastrophic fallout for thousands of staffers who’ve set up home offices. 

Hertz says it expects stockholders to lose all their money in filing for selling more stock

Hertz said in a government filing Monday that it would sell up to $500 million in common stock. In that very same filing, the company said those shares won’t be worth anything unless those with higher priority in a bankruptcy, such as the company’s debtholders, are paid in full.

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June 12, 2020

Going out of business sales set to begin at closing J.C. Penney stores

Liquidation sales could begin as soon as this weekend at the initial 154 J.C. Penney stores that will permanently close. The company is hoping to shed debt and split into two entities: an operating business and a real estate investment trust.

Fed sees ‘persistent fragilities’ for households and businesses: Fed report

That somber assessment of the outlook doused much of the optimism for a fast recovery that had been sown by the surprise growth in employment in May and factored heavily in Thursday’s dramatic sell-off on Wall Street, when U.S. stocks fell by the most since March.

Government’s cure for the coronavirus recession is worse for the global economy than the disease

Public sector debt increases reflect higher healthcare spending, actions to alleviate the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, emergency loans and the loss of tax revenues. Households and businesses have also substantially increased borrowings to cover income shortfalls.

Fed’s Barkin says some jobs lost during crisis will not come back

“In many cases they will be back in jobs that they had before as those businesses come back…But in many cases they won’t, I think there are jobs that will go away.”

What rebound? North Dakota in economic crunch as virus batters oil, agriculture

North Dakota is among the states most dependent on both energy and agriculture. The impact of the virus and trade war on its lifeblood industries could ripple through its budget for years through cuts to education, government and highway services.

‘YOU CREATE MORE DAMAGE’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says US ‘can’t shut down the economy again’ if coronavirus has another spike

The treasury secretary said that, even if the US sees more coronavirus cases, it won’t be necessary to impose tough restrictions now that testing and contact tracing programs are now in place.

If Trump isn’t re-elected as president, here’s what may happen to corporate profits

Biden’s tax plan…would lift the federal tax rate on domestic income to 28% from 21%…double the GILTI tax rate on certain foreign income, impose a minimum tax rate of 15%, and add an additional payroll tax on higher earners.

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June 11, 2020

Fed warns of uncertain path for post-pandemic US economy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell however cautioned that the outlook remains highly uncertain, and both the central bank and Congress may have to do more to boost the recovery.

Another 1.5M workers file for unemployment even as many Americans return to work amid COVID-19

About 1.5 million Americans filed first-time applications for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That pushes the tally of those who have made initial claims – a rough measure of layoffs — over the past 12 weeks past a staggering 43 million.

Fed economist argues negative interest rates needed to boost US economic recovery

“A combination of aggressive fiscal and monetary policies is necessary for the U.S. to achieve a V-shaped recovery in the level of real GDP,” they wrote. “Aggressive policy means that the U.S. will need to consider negative interest rates and aggressive government spending, such as spending on infrastructure.

Will your local Starbucks close? Coffee giant says it will close 400 stores but expanding pickup options

Starbucks will close up to 400 company-owned locations over the next 18 months while also speeding up the expansion of “convenience-led formats” such as curbside pickup, drive-thru and mobile-only pickup locations. The Seattle-based coffee giant says the moves are being driven by changing consumer behaviors

US airlines record lowest passenger numbers since 1974 in April with international travel down 99 PERCENT from the same time last year

The Transportation Department announced the news on Wednesday, saying the dramatic drop was the direct result of the coronavirus crisis currently crippling the globe.

The Rebellion of America’s New Underclass

Almost 40% of those Americans making under $40,000 a year have lost their jobs. The unemployment rate of those with less than a high-school diploma jumped from 6.8% on the month to 21.2%. For college graduates, it rose from 2.5% to 8.4%. Salaried workers have been laid off at roughly half the rate of hourly workers.

Alarming Study Finds US Public Pensions To Run Out Of Money By 2028

“Public plans with extremely low funded ratios in 2020 may face the risk of running out of assets in the foreseeable future if markets are slow to recover.”

Federal Debt Tops $26 Trillion for First Time; Jumps $2 Trillion in Just 63 Days

The federal debt had topped $24 trillion for the first time on April 7, 2020. It then climbed another trillion dollars in just 28 days, topping $25 trillion for the first time on May 5.

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June 10, 2020

More Food Shortages Loom With Outbreaks at 60 U.S Plants

At least 60 food-processing facilities outside the meatpacking industry have seen outbreaks, with more than 1,000 workers diagnosed with the virus.

‘We need help’: Small cities face fiscal calamity from virus

We represent the average city. If cities like Allentown begin to crumble, that’s how America crumbles…So something needs to be done. We need help.”

Evictions expected to spike as states end moratoriums that offered relief during COVID-19

So far, 24 states are now processing evictions again, and that number is expected to climb to at least 30 states by the end of June.

Fed ponders what else it can do to buoy economy

“The Fed will welcome the improvement in employment we saw in May, but those gains will not be enough to stop members of the FOMC from worrying about the pace of the rebound in growth…The Fed has been consistent in its view that more fiscal stimulus will be needed. It is not expected to back down now.”

Don’t Lose the Thread. The Economy Is Experiencing an Epic Collapse of Demand

“There’s a lot of denial here, as there was in the 1930s…At the beginning of the Depression, nobody wanted to admit that it was a crisis. The actions the government took were not adequate to the scope of the problem, yet they were very quick to say there had been a turnaround.”

The Looming Bank Collapse

After the housing crisis, subprime CDOs naturally fell out of favor. Demand shifted to…the CLO, or collateralized loan obligation. A CLO walks and talks like a CDO, but in place of loans made to home buyers are loans made to businesses—specifically, troubled businesses.

May consumer prices fall 0.1%, the third consecutive month

“Overall, the initial impact of the shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus is deflationary…Going forward, expect increased volatility in the coming months — but the medium-term risks to inflation remain firmly to the downside.″

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June 9, 2020

A Crash in the Dollar Is Coming

Already stressed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. living standards are about to be squeezed as never before. The balance is shifting, and a crash in the dollar could well be in the offing.

Was the Latest Jobs Report Too Good to Be True?

So yes, the actual unemployment rate may be worse than Friday’s headlines suggest…Based on the BLS’s estimates adjusted for the misclassification error, the unemployment rate dropped from 19.5 percent in April to 16.4 percent in May.

Hospitals Got Bailouts and Furloughed Thousands While Paying C.E.O.s Millions

They…are collectively sitting on tens of billions of dollars of cash reserves that are supposed to help them weather an unanticipated storm. They awarded their five highest-paid officials about $874 million in the most recent year for which they have disclosed their finances.

Millions Of Americans Skip Payments As Tidal Wave Of Defaults And Evictions Looms

“We’re paycheck to paycheck like most people,” he says. “And when you take away that paycheck, especially for this length of time, we have to make the decision — a vehicle or food.”

Federal Budget Deficit Nears $2 Trillion For Fiscal Year

U.S. budget gap more than doubled in May as the pandemic undercut federal revenue and triggered spending increases

Pandemic drives broadest economic collapse in 150 years: World Bank

“This is a deeply sobering outlook, with the crisis likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges.”

Economy Loses Jobs Equal to Metro New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and DFW

CBO estimates that the unemployment rate in the 2020 second quarter will be 15.1%. This unemployment rate is more than four times the rates of both the 2019 fourth quarter (3.5%) and the 2020 first quarter (3.8%).

The Agonizing Question: Is New York City Worth It Anymore?

The pandemic alone, however, poses new challenges for a city that thrives on, and is packed with, people. It also comes at a time when New York is pricing out those who are perfectly capable of working elsewhere remotely.

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June 8, 2020

Left out: More workers now losing hope of getting back jobs

Forty-two percent of the layoffs caused by the pandemic could become permanent job losses, according to a study by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics.

U.S. labor market unexpectedly improves; recovery years away

“It took years for the economy to grow enough to find jobs for those unemployed in the last recession, and it will take years again this time to do the same.”

People Aren’t Visiting Branches. Banks Are Wondering How Many They Actually Need

Branch traffic fell more than 30% in April and the first three weeks of May compared with the same period last year

Wall Street’s latest surge isn’t benefiting many Americans

“Even with the mild improvement in May, the unemployment rate of all groups is still higher than the highest level the overall unemployment rate hit at the height of the Great Recession, when it reached 10.0% in 2009.”

Jim Cramer: The pandemic led to ‘one of the greatest wealth transfers in history’

“The bigger the business, the more it moves the major averages, and that matters because this is the first recession where big business … is coming through virtually unscathed, if not going for the gold”

U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings surge in May

U.S. commercial bankruptcy filings under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code jumped in May by 48% from year earlier.

Next Wave of U.S. Job Cuts Targets Millions of Higher-Paid Workers

“It will get worse before it gets better—white-collar workers will now bear the brunt   Even if states and businesses reopen, we’re likely to see this second wave of losses.”

Employment levels are bad, but the direction is good thanks to stimulus

The accuracy of the numbers is questionable. And even if they were accurate, there’s still an incredibly long way to go.

Survey: Business economists expect worst slump since 1940s

The panel forecast that the monthly unemployment rate will average 10.9% this year. …Forecasters expects the 5% annual GDP drop to be followed by a record 33.5% annual plunge in the current April-June quarter.

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June 5, 2020

The Real Pandemic Danger Is Social Collapse

Even a seemingly small requirement—for instance, that everyone who enters a country needs to present, in addition to a passport and a visa, a health certificate—would constitute an obstacle to the return to the old globalized way, given how many millions of people would normally travel.

Covid, hysteresis, and the future of work

Now that telework is feasible for a hefty slice of their workforce, firms will soon realise that they can get some of the remote work done at much lower cost by hiring workers sitting in low-wage countries. While it is certainly true that foreign talent working online is unlikely to be as good as domestic talent working in the office, the foreign talent may be a whole lot cheaper.

How many jobs can be done at home?

Our classification implies that 37% of US jobs can plausibly be performed at home.

May sees biggest jobs increase ever of 2.5 million as economy starts to recover from coronavirus

As it turned out, May’s numbers showed the U.S. may well be on the road to recovery after its fastest plunge in history.

Jobless claims, total unemployment level worse than expected

Filings for unemployment insurance claims totaled 1.877 million last week in a sign that the worst is over for the coronavirus-related jobs crisis but that the level of unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Three Reasons Stocks Are Rising

In the time that officially recorded U.S. deaths from COVID-19 increased from 100 to 100,000, the S&P 500 rose by 20 percent. What is going on?

Is America headed for a post-apocalyptic currency collapse?

“The best laid plans: inspired by myopic modelers, eschewing of expert opinions of dissident scientists, disregarding of essential rights, fueled by media fabrications and irresponsibility, imposed by governments at all levels. It’s a new chapter of The Road to Serfdom.”

SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit

“The goal of Starlink is to create a network that will help provide internet services to those who are not yet connected, and to provide reliable and affordable internet across the globe.”

JC Penney closing 154 stores in first post-bankruptcy phase

As part of its bankruptcy reorganization, Penney said it planned to permanently close nearly a third of its 846 stores in the next two years. That would leave it with just over 600 locations.

Retailers look to boost sales, German car sales weak

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus

US public schools need major building repairs, report finds

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, outdated and hazardous school buildings were undermining the quality of public education and putting students and educators at risk.”

Gap records nearly $1 billion in losses on coronavirus-led store closures

“While our economics in our Old Navy and Athleta fleets are strong, our specialty store fleet (Gap and Banana Republic) has not been as profitable as we need it to be.”

Explainer: No one really knows how many Americans need unemployment benefits

But the simplest way to calculate that impact – tallying up the number of initial unemployment claims filed each week since a national emergency was declared in March, for a total of 42.6 million – is increasingly flawed, analysts say.

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June 4, 2020

Coronavirus will have long-lasting effects on US economy for next decade, CBO says

“Business closures and social distancing measures are expected to curtail consumer spending, while the recent drop in energy prices is projected to severely reduce U.S. investment in the energy sector.”

Wall Street Warning to Corporate America: Get Cash While You Can

The long list of worries includes a new wave of coronavirus contagion in the fall, an extended period of double-digit unemployment, a spike in defaults and a slower-than-expected economic recovery as businesses around the globe adapt to the realities of prolonged social distancing.

U.S. airlines gain final approval to drop services to 75 domestic airports

Fifteen U.S. airlines were granted final government approval on Wednesday to temporarily halt service to 75 domestic airports as travel demand has been crushed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Swamped by diesel, refiners struggle with coronavirus recovery

Brimming diesel inventories and stronger oil prices are driving down refining profits, stifling incentives to hike production even as fuel demand recovers from the coronavirus hammering.

Hedge funds brace for second stock market plunge

Hedge funds are getting ready for another slump in stock markets after growing uneasy that surging prices do not reflect the economic problems ahead.

The next big problem for the economy: Businesses can’t pay their rent

The problem for the broader U.S. economy is that when businesses…stop paying rent, it sets off an alarming chain reaction. Landlords are now at risk of bankruptcy, too. Commercial real estate prices are falling. Jobs at property management companies and landscapers face cuts. Banks and private investors are unwilling to lend…strapped city and local governments are realizing the property taxes are…unlikely to be paid…

Millions Of Americans Skip Payments As Tidal Wave Of Defaults And Evictions Looms

“When the $600-a-week unemployment insurance runs out at the end of July, most people expect tremendous displacement risk…Evictions are likely to go through the roof.”

AMC has ‘substantial doubt’ that it can survive coronavirus outbreak shutdown

The world’s largest movie theater chain said Wednesday it has “substantial doubt” it can remain in business after shuttering all of its locations during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Disastrous at a time like this’: the US Postal Service is on the brink of crisis

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the United States post office had been atrophying from financial turmoil. Over the past decade, post offices have been closed across the country, rural mail delivery is stretched thin, and thousands of post office workers’ positions have been eliminated.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

June 3, 2020

Wells Fargo, worried about defaults, stops making loans to most independent car dealerships

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman confirmed that the bank…will no longer accept loan applications from most independent shops. Wells Fargo has also been stepping back from parts of the mortgage market.

Zoom nearly doubles revenue forecast on remote-work boost, but costs rising

The company has transformed itself into a global video hangout from a business-oriented teleconferencing tool. It came under fire over privacy and security issues, prompting it to roll out major upgrades.

Opinion: Job losses have hit older workers harder than prime-age workers

Yes, young workers got slammed when the economy fell off the cliff, but the next most severely affected group is older workers — those 55+.

Renault to eliminate 15,000 jobs, cut production

“The difficulties encountered by the Group, the major crisis facing the automotive industry and the urgency of the ecological transition are all imperatives that are driving the company to accelerate its transformation,” the company said in a statement.

New US jobless claims fall, continuing claims drop by almost 4 million

More than 2.1 million people in the U.S. filed for unemployment in the week ended May 23, the Labor Department reported on Thursday, the eighth week in a row that the number of new claims has declined since it peaked in the week ended March 28.

Negative interest rates could be needed for a ‘V’ recovery, Fed economist says

“I found that a combination of aggressive fiscal and monetary policies is necessary for the U.S. to achieve a V-shaped recovery in the level of real GDP,” Wen wrote. “Aggressive policy means that the U.S. will need to consider negative interest rates and aggressive government spending, such as spending on infrastructure.”

Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in U.S. for tracking ‘private’ internet use

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.

Handheld UV Light Devices That Kill COVID-19, Other Viruses May Soon Be As Common As Phone, Keys

Besides just personal use, UV light devices can conceivably be used to disinfect large public areas like parks, theaters, buses, and subways.

Bar employs humanoid robot waiter to serve and take orders during Covid-19 pandemic

The 5ft-tall robot, known as Alexia, can move around the terrace while carrying a tray of up to nine drinks at one time. It is currently in use in Bar Baviera in the Plaza del Castillo square in the city of Pamplone in the province of Navarre.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

June 2, 2020

Desperate retailers to ask Fed, Treasury for emergency help amid worries that economic turmoil could worsen

With five big retailers having filed for bankruptcy in May, some of the industry’s survivors can’t get financial backing for their holiday season orders — prompting an urgent appeal to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve for help.

Google Rescinds Offers to Thousands of Contract Workers

“We’re slowing our pace of hiring and investment, and are not bringing on as many new starters as we had planned at the beginning of the year.” The move affects more than 2,000 people

The pandemic is making people reconsider city living, trading traffic for chickens

“There’s nowhere we want to be other than with our families right now. It’s really heartbreaking to be far away…We’ve gained a lot from living in the city, but as we get older, and going through this pandemic, we see the value of being close to family and having land.”

Retailers and restaurants across the U.S. close their doors amid protests

“In normal times, businesses would probably take it in their stride…But coming off the back of the pandemic, it’s devastating.”

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer: ‘I can’t see anybody agreeing to reopen arenas in the foreseeable future’

“I can’t see anybody agreeing to reopen arenas or concert venues in the foreseeable future…So, I have to say that things will be fan-less, which, who knows what kind of experience that will be to watch on TV, and for the players.”

Mortgage Sector Off to Worst Start Since 2013 Despite Fed Help

Mortgage investors have yet to enjoy robust returns this year despite the Federal Reserve providing $688 billion of support to the sector since mid-March.

Worried comments from Fed’s Powell foreshadow even lower mortgage rates

“A full recovery of the economy will really depend on people being confident that it’s safe to go out…A second wave would really undermine public confidence, and might make for a significantly longer recovery, and weaker recovery.”

The stock market isn’t reflecting reality yet, but Citigroup warns that pain and ‘collateral damage’ are on the way

“Markets are pricing a V [shaped recovery], everyone’s coming back to work, and this is going to be fine…I don’t think it’s going to be that easy quite frankly…As the second quarter comes along and we start seeing the pain…we think this is going to be much tougher than it looks.”

Negative interest rates: What they are, how they work and whether they are coming to the U.S.

So many unusual policies and practices have come out in recent months to help stabilize the economy that it seems almost anything could be on the table. Might negative interest rates be next?

Dow ends modestly higher as Wall Street looks beyond civil unrest to hopes for economic recovery

“The direct economic impact of the protests is small, at least so far…Just when people were starting to come out of the proverbial bunkers, the protests may be too much for them, and they will go back in.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

June 1, 2020

In U.S., 71% Believe Economy Is in Recession or Depression

71% of Americans say the country is in an economic depression or recession, a figure that has remained at or above 70% since mid-April.

What Is the Stock Market Even for Anymore?

The market was heavily weighted to a small number of companies — Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook — that were positioned to become even more dominant than they were before the crisis and whose stock prices were rising in anticipation of that.

US food prices see historic jump and are likely to stay high

“If you’re going to euthanize thousands of animals and it takes six months to raise a new one, obviously there’s going to be some type of delay or buffer in the supply chain.”

In the new downtown future, devoid of office workers, every day could be Sunday

But the corporate rush to working from home has most dramatically drained the money-fuelled downtown life of the people who once needed to be there every day: the office workers.

Spain creates a universal minimum income targeted at 2.3 million people

“Today this government is showing that its political choice is social justice and that it takes the [Spanish] Constitution seriously.” People between 23 and 65 years old with “assets of less than 16,614 euros,” not including house and discounted loans, will be eligible for the basic income plan

In a pandemic, no one wants to touch it. Why cash has become the new Typhoid Mary

“This crisis is clearly pushing us even farther away from using cash in our everyday legal transactions,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economics professor and author of “The Curse of Cash.” “And it’s for obvious reasons. No one wants to touch something you or someone else just touched. That’s not going to change any time soon.”

States, cities plead for virus aid as Congress faces crises

As local leaders are pleading for more federal aid…the Senate resumes session Monday with no immediate plans to consider a fresh round of relief.

Desperate retailers to ask Fed, Treasury for emergency help amid worries that economic turmoil could worsen

“Unless this is fixed soon, the retail engine that supports one in four American jobs will have a hard time coming back to life…the retail industry could suffer “a commercial credit crisis that threatens to seize up our economy and stall the safe restart in its infancy.”

Google Rescinds Offers to Thousands of Contract Workers

“We’re slowing our pace of hiring and investment, and are not bringing on as many new starters as we had planned at the beginning of the year.”

The ingenuity keeping indie bookstores going

Now, indie bookstores everywhere, confronted with the twin threats of Amazon and covid-19, are struggling to survive. And in response, readers across the country are banding together to save them.

Scientists Discover So-Called ‘Skinny Gene’

We all know that one person who can eat whatever they like and never gain a pound…Now, a groundbreaking new international study appears to have zeroed in on the so-called “skinny gene” that help keep such individuals thin.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 29, 2020

The next 100 days: How the coronavirus will continue to change your life at home, at work, at school and beyond

“Because of the lack of guidance from the federal government, it’s up to the states, and it will probably evolve into the cities and counties as well. Nothing’s going to be uniform. These people will stay closed, these people will open up. You’ll get some hot spots and flareups of infections.’’

Millions Relying on Pandemic Aid Can See Its End, and They’re Scared

“The CARES Act was massive, but it was a very short-term offset to what is likely to be a long-term problem…This economy is clearly going to need more support.”

White House punts economic update as election draws near

“It’s a sign that the White House does not anticipate a major recovery in employment and growth prior to the election and that it has essentially punted economic policy over to the Fed and the Congress.”

American and Delta offer buyouts as airlines prepare for a long recovery.

“Delta will have to be a smaller airline as we adjust to reduced demand and the need for distancing and safety during travel…A smaller Delta unfortunately means fewer people will be required.”

I Don’t Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore

Our economy is built on Americans of all class levels buying things. What happens when the ability — and desire — to do so goes away?

After coronavirus, employees want workplaces to physically change: Survey

In fact, 66 percent of respondents said their workplaces should be physically changed “to create more personal space,” the survey found.

Tuesday Morning retailer files Chapter 11 bankruptcy, plans 230 store closings

The company plans to permanently close about 230 of its 687 stores this summer.

Exclusive: U.S. taxpayers’ virus relief went to firms that avoided U.S. taxes

Of the almost 110 recipients of $4 million or more, Reuters found some 46 paid no U.S. corporate tax for the last year.

U.S. economy shrank at 5% annual rate in the first quarter

The U.S. economy shrank at an even faster pace than initially estimated in the first three months of this year with economists continuing to expect a far worse outcome in the current April-June quarter.

The downsides of remote work

“The longer we remain fully remote, the more difficult it is going to be to mitigate a rate of decay in culture…That should be keeping leaders up at night.”

The stakes have never been higher as America reopens. What can a post-coronavirus world look like?

“Whether it’s the bubonic plague, the Spanish flu or coronavirus, pandemics inevitably are both health events and social events that cause transformations in society and politics.”

CEO pay has topped $12.3M. Can it keep rising post-pandemic?

“I think there has been a growing sense — not by all, but a growing portion of institutional investors — that CEOs are overpaid,” said Amy Borrus, deputy director of the Council of Institutional Investors. “It’s not so much that they’re overpaid but that it’s out of whack with corporate performance.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 28, 2020

Coronavirus recession could plunge tens of millions into poverty, new report warns

Even under a best-case scenario “the annual poverty rate will reach levels comparable to the Great Recession.”

Boeing Cuts 12,000 Jobs, Resumes Production of Grounded Jet

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices.”

Bankruptcy cases, store closings pile up as coronavirus wreaks havoc for J.C. Penney, Hertz, others

“That’s unlike anything the industry has ever seen,” Coresight CEO and founder Deborah Weinswig said. “It’s the speed with which it’s all happening which has been a little surprising.”

Why your Social Security could feel like a lot less next year

The check’s the same each month for a whole year, but the prices, well, they just keep going up.

Fed finds new challenge for the economy: Workers who don’t want to come back to their jobs

Business leaders “cited challenges in bringing employees back to work, including workers’ health concerns, limited access to childcare, and generous unemployment insurance benefits.”

Fed: Sharp economic decline in May leaves businesses ‘pessimistic’ about recovery

The Fed’s May “Beige Book”…painted a dire picture of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic as states began to gradually lift restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Unemployment claims may reach 41 million in 10 weeks as U.S. businesses slowly reopen

“While almost all states have begun to re-open their economies in one way or another, the process is gradual…This argues for persistent pain in labor markets.”

An ‘Avalanche of Evictions’ Could Be Bearing Down on America’s Renters

“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly…we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”

Coronavirus recession could plunge tens of millions into poverty

The authors “emphasize the urgent need for the provision of income assistance to all U.S. residents, with a particular focus on children and working-age adults who we find are at the greatest risk of falling into poverty.”

WHO warns of second peak, discourages swift return to normalcy

“We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it’s going to keep going down.”

Can Virtual Reality Help Sports Fans Experience Game Day In A Post COVID-19 World?

But, the headsets, while helpful for gaming and some interactive experiences, are likely out of reach for the everyday sports consumer. Prices start at around $200 and go up from there depending on the model.

Sovereign debt crises are coming

This special report looks at what impact increasing public debt will have on both developed and poorer countries, alongside the potential long-term consequences for the global economy.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 27, 2020

Salaries Get Chopped for Many Americans Who Manage to Keep Jobs

“It’s one of the reasons why we don’t expect a so-called V-shaped recovery,” said Michael Gapen, Barclay economist. Americans taking pay cuts “might have little, and in some cases maybe nothing, left over after that for discretionary purchases.”

The Stock Market and Consumer Sentiment Are Telling Different Stories

Personal incomes in March suffered the steepest drop since 2013, and consumer spending fell at the fastest rate since 1959. The numbers for April, due Friday, are expected to be worse. Yet stocks have continued to rise. The S&P 500 has surged 34% since bottoming March 23,

Frustrated and struggling, New Yorkers contemplate abandoning the city they love

“I’m a born-and-raised, do-or-die New Yorker because it was always a party, but the party is over…I’m not getting my city back, so I’m leaving before it gets to the point that I can’t get my mind back.”

What If College Students Simply Don’t Return in the Fall?

“Presidents and trustees are deluding themselves into thinking that students will return in mass or are willing to pay the remarkably high-tuitions that have become a hallmark of our secondary educational system, especially given the deep financial contraction that has impacted almost everyone.”

Humans ‘not meant to be alone’: Many Americans haven’t seen or touched another person in 3 months         

“We are not meant to be alone…The reason it feels unpleasant is it’s a biological signal, much like hunger and thirst, to motivate us to reconnect with others.”

The Pandemic Is Exposing the Limits of Science

After all, the “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means new and unknown. Science moves slowly and attempts to push it along ensures poor science.  

The benefits isolation can have on your work

Yet the latest psychological literature suggests that less communication might actually be more: constant collaboration can in fact reduce collective intelligence.

Back to school? 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return to reopened classrooms

 “The expectation of parents and society is we’re sending our children to be educated in a safe environment, and how we’re going to provide that safe environment is completely unknown.”

Coronavirus is just ‘tip of iceberg,’ Chinese researcher cautions

“If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious-disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings…If we don’t study [the viruses], there will possibly be another outbreak.”

Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works are closing hundreds of stores

L Brands also said it was closing 50 Bath & Body Works stores, mostly in mall locations where it doesn’t expect foot traffic to regain pre-pandemic normalcy.

Hertz paid top executives $16 million in bonuses ahead of its bankruptcy filing

Paul Stone, promoted to CEO three days before the retention bonuses were awarded, got $700,000. Chief Financial Officer Jamere Jackson got $600,000, while Chief Marketing Officer Jodi Allen got about $190,000.

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 26, 2020

Why Our Economy May Be Headed for a Decade of Depression

Nouriel Roubini, the economist who warned of the 2008 economic debacle, now warns of a long-term economic downturn.

Hertz files for bankruptcy

“The impact of Covid-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the company’s revenue and future bookings…uncertainty remains as to when revenue will return and when the used-car market will fully re-open for sales, which necessitated today’s action.”

Colleges Lower the Boom on Retirement Plans

Retirement contributions are offered mostly to full-time professors. Only about 25% of college professors are full time; the remainder are low paid part time or adjunct instructors, with no job security or benefits.

Kohl’s exits Jennifer Lopez, other women’s brands as losses mount

“Exiting them (the 8 brands) will create focus and clarity on the brands that will continue…We’re still highly committed to the women’s business. In the short term, we’re facing some challenges here.”

Reopening reality check: Georgia’s jobs aren’t flooding back

“…nothing to signal there’s any return to economic stability or recovery happening right now,” said Alex Camardelle, a senior policy analyst with the nonprofit Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

2 out of 3 tech workers would leave SF permanently if they could work remotely

When asked if they would “consider relocating” if given the option to work remotely, 34% of Bay Area respondents said no. About 18% said they’d consider moving out of the Bay Area but staying in California, 36% said they’d consider moving elsewhere in the US and 16% said they could foresee leaving the country.

Facebook employees may face pay cut if they move to cheaper areas to work from home

“We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point,” Zuckerberg said, “There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.”

New Threat to New York City: Commercial Rent Payments Plummet

“Unless the federal government steps in to help renters and owners in a big way, we are going to see a housing disaster the likes of which we have never seen.”

New college grads are having their job offers rescinded—now they’re in ‘survival mode’

“And so now, people graduating this spring are going to face the worst job market in the entire post-depression history.”

Report: Texas-size rivalry for Tesla’s Cybertruck factory heats up

Austin and Tulsa vying for Tesla factory, while the east and west coasts are not even in the running.

Together, Alone. The Car as Shelter in the Pandemic

“They are like the ultimate P.P.E. — you can really seal yourself into them.”

Many US states have seen LOWER infection rates after ending lockdowns

“Unlike rigorous testing of potential new drugs, lockdowns were administered with little consideration that they might not only cause economic devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 22, 2020

Trump says he won’t close the country if second wave of coronavirus hits

“We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,” Trump said. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.”

Top White House economic adviser expresses uncertainty about recovery despite Trump’s confidence

“The numbers coming in are not good. In fact, they are downright bad in most cases. But we are seeing some glimmers, perhaps … there’s a lot of heartbreak here. There’s a lot of hardship here. There’s a lot of anxiety here. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Many Jobs May Vanish Forever as Layoffs Mount

“I hate to say it, but this is going to take longer and look grimmer than we thought,” Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University, said of the path to recovery. Bloom…estimates that 42% of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss. “Firms intend to hire these people back. “But we know from the past that these aspirations often don’t turn out to be true.”

Some stores including Lululemon won’t take cash as they reopen, putting them further out of reach for millions of Americans

“We won’t be accepting cash payments for 30 days after reopen, and we’ll reassess after that time. We prefer contactless tap payments like credit and debit cards or ApplePay. Check in with your financial institution so your digital wallets are ready to go!”

Victoria’s Secret to close about 250 stores in the U.S. and Canada, Bath & Body Works to close 50

“We would expect to have a meaningful number of additional store closures beyond the 250 that we’re pursuing this year, meaning there will be more in 2021 and probably a bit more in 2022.”

How the pandemic is changing shopping

Apple is checking shoppers’ temperatures at the door. Best Buy is asking customers to shop by appointment. Macy’s and Nordstrom are doing away with beauty consultations and alteration services, while the Gap is closing off bathrooms and fitting rooms. Cosmetics giant Sephora won’t allow shoppers to test products anymore.

How Is the US Going to Pay for All This Stimulus Spending?

As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the coronavirus response has already pushed government spending to its highest levels since World War II (the single most expensive event in U.S. history). How is the United States going to pay for all of this?

As America Reopens, Trial Lawyers Salivate at Endless Coronavirus Lawsuit Possibilities

An outsized battle looms in Washington, as trade associations for trial lawyers push their own vision of open-ended lawsuits while groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce come down on the side of restricting litigation over coronavirus.

Several GOP senators press for more stimulus payments during coronavirus crisis

“Congress has a tremendous responsibility to help mitigate the impact of this crisis on our states and our local communities and on the families they serve…We must not wait. We should act now.”

New Virtual Babysitting Service Launches During Coronavirus Pandemic

“This thought came into my head, like, ‘how amazing would it be for a virtual babysitter to come up on my screen while I would exercise, so I didn’t have to invite someone into my home for three hours to watch my child for 45 minutes’.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

May 21, 2020

Fed minutes show fears of ‘extraordinary amount of uncertainty and considerable risks’ because of coronavirus

“Participants commented that, in addition to weighing heavily on economic activity in the near term, the economic effects of the pandemic created an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and considerable risks to economic activity in the medium term.”

Facing Adulthood With an Economic Disaster’s Lasting Scars

A large body of research — along with the experience of those who came of age in the last recession — shows that young people trying to start their careers during an economic crisis are at a lasting disadvantage. Their wages, opportunities and confidence in the workplace may never fully recover.

Free money: Amid the coronavirus, a monthly paycheck from the feds doesn’t seem crazy

Lawmakers will face pressure to extend these benefits, said Joshua Rauh, a Stanford University professor, “Once these things get started, it’s very hard to stop them,” he said. “Once you think about it that way … we’re getting closer to something that certainly resembles universal basic income.”

Singles now flaunting antibody test results in dating profiles

Singles across the country are boasting about their coronavirus antibody test results when they’re out on the prowl. Some are even including the status of the test results in their online dating profiles, using their possible immunity to score a lover in the middle of a pandemic.

Highly indebted ‘zombie’ companies control more than 2 million U.S. jobs

“The zombie companies are those firms that are able to borrow in effect cheaper than they should given their revenue, and they’re able to stay in business,” said Steve Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard “What they’re talking about is not so much zombie firms but firms that would otherwise just shut down,”

Study Shows 70% of Consumers Would Rather Watch New Movies at Home

“Just as the country begins to open up there has been a swing toward increasing caution, with a majority of Americans clearly saying ‘not yet’ when it comes to attending large public events,”

Covid-19: China’s new outbreak shows signs the coronavirus could be changing

Patients found in the northern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang appear to carry the virus for a longer period of time and take longer to recover

Cash, long a refuge in uncertain times, now under suspicion

A growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus.

Over 4M Americans skip mortgage payments as coronavirus hammers finances

A weekly survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association released Monday found that 8.16 percent of total loans are now in forbearance plans, up from 7.91 percent as of May 3. It was the smallest increase in forbearance since March 10, when the outbreak of the virus first paralyzed the nation’s economy.

Sweden in deep economic crisis despite soft lockdown, as per capita deaths rise

Sweden has kept most schools, restaurants and businesses open during the pandemic and some theorized it might at least suffer less economic pain. But the latest data challenge that idea.

‘Hot’ nurse disciplined for wearing bra and panties under see-through PPE gown

The unidentified staffer told her managers at Tula Regional Clinical Hospital that she was “too hot” to wear clothing underneath the head-to-toe vinyl gown…While there were reportedly “no complaints” from her patients, hospital chiefs punished the nearly nude nurse for “non-compliance with the requirements for medical clothing.”

Read more at VicNapier.com and my Medium.com page.

Links may lead to sites where the author has an affiliate relationship.

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    …Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666″ (Revelation 13:16-18 NKJV).

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