The Week in Business: Running for the Doors
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here is the business and technical news you need to know for the week ahead. Stay safe, everyone.
How are you? (January 10-16)
More and more companies and organizations have severed ties with President Trump, his political supporters and his family’s company in recent days.
Citing Mr. Trump’s role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, New York City announced that it will terminate its contracts with the Trump Organization, which currently operates two public ice rinks, the Central Park Carousel and a golf course in the Bronx. Trump-affiliated financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest lender, have also said they are distancing themselves from him.
The PGA of America announced that it would no longer plan to hold its 2022 championship at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A number of America’s largest corporations, including AT&T, Marriott International, Dow, Airbnb, and Morgan Stanley, pledged to end the competition, making donations to the 147 Republican Congressmen who backed Trump’s attempt to overturn the presidential election results.
Worse and worse
Unemployment claims have risen sharply over the past week, reflecting the aftermath of the aggressive resurgence of the pandemic. Economists are now predicting that the labor market may not improve significantly until the spring, when hopefully the virus is (more) present. And even then, it can take some time for jobs to recover.
Good news, at least for potential borrowers: Federal Reserve chairman Jerome H. Powell reiterated that interest rates would stay near zero for the foreseeable future to prop up the central bank’s weak economy.
Google what is my heart rate?
Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit, the fitness tracking device company, after regulators promised not to collect data from the trackers for use in targeted advertising on its search engine. Critics of the deal remain skeptical, however, especially as Google is already battling an antitrust lawsuit accusing the tech giant of using unfair tactics to bring its rivals to their knees.
What’s next? (January 17-23)
Biden’s big bill
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will take office this Wednesday and has already announced his detailed proposal for a comprehensive US $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package – known as the American Rescue Plan – aimed at fight the virus and mitigate the economic damage it causes. So what’s inside More checks to start with. Mr. Biden wants to send $ 1,400 direct payments to Americans who earn less than $ 75,000 a year. He also wants to extend the emergency unemployment insurance programs until the end of September (expected to expire in mid-March) and add an additional $ 400 per week to unemployment benefits. Finally, he asks for more funds for school openings, state governments and the distribution of vaccines.
Your job or the shot
While many Americans are breathlessly anticipating their turn, some are rejecting the vaccine. Most employers have stopped requiring vaccinations, but some – especially hospitals and nursing homes – are offering incentives like cash rewards, extra time off, and even waffle house gift cards for those who are vaccinated. Others draw a tougher line. Officials from two major long-term care chains, Juniper Communities and Atria Senior Living, said their workers would have to take the vaccine if they wanted to keep their jobs unless they had extenuating conditions like pregnancy or severe allergies.
Talk vs. Amazon
After the siege of the Capitol, social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook banned the president or blocked his accounts. As a result, many of its supporters flocked to Parler, an online forum that encourages its users to “speak freely and express themselves freely without fear of being” de-platformed “for their views.” Or before Amazon, which provides Parler’s cloud computing services, blocked access to its servers and took Parler offline last Monday, citing “a steady increase in violent content” on the website. In an effort to re-establish itself, Parler has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon that has so far been unsuccessful.
Airbnb has canceled all reservations and will block new rentals in the Washington area this week as another attack similar to the one at the Capitol looms. (The company reimburses hosts who have already rented property during this time slot.)
Flo, a period and fertility tracking app used by more than 100 million women, has settled federal charges for misleading users about their data practices and sharing their intimate health data with Facebook and Google.
Office and hotel properties that have been nearly vacant since the pandemic began are also gradually falling in value – lowering property tax revenues at a time when state and local governments are short of money.