The Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government’s ambitious effort to keep workers at small businesses off the unemployment rolls, was a lifeline for many businesses.
But with many cities still shut down, consumers’ habits have changed and recharging the economy may take years. Small companies, which employ nearly half of America’s workers that don’t work in government, typically have thin margins and scant savings. Some fear they won’t survive without further help.
Just one week after A&J Transportation, a Frac-sand shipper based in Oklahoma, got its paycheck loan, its entire staff of truckers was out of work because producers shut down their wells when oil prices plunged in April.
“We lived through the 2014 oil crash, the 2008 economic crash. This one is worse,” said Dana Sanford, the office manager for the family-run business, which worked exclusively on oil fields.
The loan arrived right as the work disappeared, so A&J used it to keep paying all of its 72 employees, even though most had nothing to do but stay home. The money kept those workers off the unemployment rolls, Ms. Sanford said.
She does not expect a quick recovery. A&J hopes to return one of its crews — about a third of its workers — to the oil fields in June, but Ms. Sanford thinks it will be months before the company’s full fleet is needed. Its eight weeks of payroll support will run out in mid-June.
“The drivers are getting a little more scared as that last week approaches, wondering, ‘Am I going to have a job when this is done?’” she said. “I wish we could apply again. Even four more weeks would be really helpful.”
Target, Walmart and CVS shut stores amid protests.
A number of retailers, still reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdown, have temporarily closed some stores as protests and looting spread across the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Target is temporarily closing or shortening the hours of about 200 stores, a spokesman, Joshua Thomas, confirmed on Sunday morning. The Target store on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the location nearest to where Mr. Floyd died, was badly damaged and looted last week. Images of the battered store have featured prominently in news coverage of the unrest in Minneapolis, where Target has its headquarters.
Target has nearly 1,900 stores in the United States. The decisions to temporarily shutter or shorten store hours at roughly 200 locations, Mr. Thomas said, were being made “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure “the safety of our teams.”
Walmart and CVS also shuttered a number of stores. Amazon said it would scale back deliveries in some cities. Adidas is temporarily closing all of its U.S. stores, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Wall Street rises amid U.S.-China tensions.
U.S. stocks followed global markets higher on Monday, with investors watching for signs of increasing tensions between the United States and China.
The S&P 500 was up about half a percent, following a weekend of violence and unrest in the United States after the death of George Floyd. Shares of some retailers who said they were temporarily closing some stores in response to protests that had led to looting took a hit. Target was down more than 2 percent.
Stocks in London and Paris were about 1 percent higher on Monday, though markets in Germany and a number of other countries were closed for a holiday. Asian markets rose strongly, paced by an increase of more than 3 percent in Hong Kong and more than 2 percent in mainland China shares.
Investors in Asia and Europe were cheered by results from surveys of purchasing managers around the world, which showed uneven but steady progress in recovering from the coronavirus outbreak. An index of U.S. manufacturing activity rose in May, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday, a sign that the worst of the economic damage could be over. The index was 43.1 last month, up from 41.5 in April, which was the lowest level in more than a decade. However, it was still below 50, which connotes an economy in contraction.
Investors also saw President Trump’s response on Friday to China’s efforts to take a heavier hand in Hong Kong’s affairs as less severe than it could have been. Mr. Trump said the United States would begin rolling back the special trade and financial status it grants to the former British colony but left many of the details unsaid.
The S&P 500 rallied on Friday after Mr. Trump’s address on China, leaving the benchmark stock index up more than 4.5 percent for the month. Combined with a 12.7 percent gain in April, it was the best two-month jump for the markets in 11 years, a rise that reflects investor focus on the return of economic activity in regions that were locked down to fight the coronavirus.
A group of publishers sued the Internet Archive on Monday, saying that the nonprofit group’s trove of free electronic copies of books is robbing authors and publishers of revenue at a moment when it is desperately needed.
The Internet Archive has made about 1.3 million books available for free online, according to the complaint, which were scanned and available to one borrower at a time for 14 days. The group said in March that it would lift all restrictions on its book lending until the end of the public health crisis, creating what it called “a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners.”
But many publishers and author have called it something different: theft.
“There is nothing innovative or transformative about making complete copies of books to which you have no rights and giving them away for free,” said Maria A. Pallante, president of the Association of American Publishers, which is helping to coordinate the industry’s response.
Traditional libraries pay licensing fees to publishers and agree to make them available for a particular period or a certain number of times. Internet Archive, on the other hand, acquires copies through donated or purchased books, which are then scanned and put online.
The lawsuit, which accused the Internet Archive of “willful mass copyright infringement,” was filed in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House.
Brewster Kahle, the founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, defended his organization and said it was functioning as a library during the coronavirus pandemic, when physical libraries have been closed.
It has been one week since the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide unrest. Business leaders, like many others, spoke out about this and other cases of police brutality and discrimination as protests turned increasingly violent over the weekend.
Robert Smith, the billionaire founder of Vista Equity Partners, sent a memo to his firm’s staff over the weekend, which is reproduced in full in today’s DealBook newsletter:
“When I see the face of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or Christian Cooper, I see myself as a young man; I see the faces of my children; and I am reminded of the many times in my life when I have been judged not by my character, but by my skin color,” he wrote. “Let’s each of us hold the people we love a little tighter this weekend, and do our part to make of this old world a new world. We have work to do.”
Thasunda Brown Duckett, JPMorgan Chase’s consumer banking chief executive, posted on social media: “It’s 2020 and Enough Is Enough. We can no longer be silent.” She urged followers to watch “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” a PBS documentary. “We can’t heal without truly understanding the depth of the disease,” she said.
Mark Mason, Citigroup’s chief financial officer, wrote a frank post on the bank’s site that began by quoting Mr. Floyd’s last words — “I can’t breathe,” repeated 10 times:
The latest deaths in deaths in police custody “are reminders of the dangers Black Americans like me face in living our daily lives,” he wrote. “These systemic problems will not go away until we confront them head on. So we must continue to speak up and speak out whenever we witness hatred, racism or injustice. I know I will — and I hope you will too.”
Tenants are staying current on their rent payments, for now.
Since April, landlords have looked to the first of the month fearing that tenants will stop paying their rent. For the most part, that has not happened, writes Conor Dougherty.
Despite a 14.7 percent unemployment rate and millions of new jobless claims each week, collections are only slightly below where they were last year, when the economy was booming.
How can this be? The answer is a little negotiation and a lot of government money. The $2 trillion CARES Act, which backstopped household finances with stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, has kept a surprising number of tenants current on their monthly balances. At the same time, many landlords have reduced rents or are forgiving overdue payments in full or in part.
The trend cannot continue without a swift and robust recovery, which is becoming increasingly unlikely, or without another big injection of government money, which Senate Republicans say is not happening anytime soon.
American households were struggling with rent long before the economy went into free fall, and there are signs — from an increase in partial payments to surveys that show many tenants are putting rent on their credit cards and struggling to pay for essentials like food — that this pressure is building.
Here’s the business news to watch this week.
🗣 All eyes will be on Zoom, the videoconferencing company that has seen its user base explode during the lockdowns; it reports earnings Tuesday. Others releasing earnings this week include Tiffany on Tuesday, Campbell Soup on Wednesday and Gap on Thursday.
🎶 Warner Music prices its I.P.O. on Tuesday, aiming for a valuation of up to $13 billion. China’s Tencent is reportedly considering taking a stake in the record company as part of the listing on Nasdaq.
🇪🇺 The European Central Bank meets on Thursday, and could unveil more monetary stimulus measures to tide over the region’s struggling economy as its members negotiate a huge fiscal package.
📉 On Friday, U.S. employment data for May is expected to show a decline of 9 million jobs in the month, with the official unemployment rate rising to just under 20 percent.
Poor countries face a debt crisis ‘unlike anything we have seen.’
From Angola to Jamaica to Ecuador to Zambia, the world’s poor countries have had their finances shredded by the global pandemic.
The low interest rates of the past decade, combined with investors searching for better returns, allowed governments, state-owned companies and other businesses to raise money relatively cheaply to finance their growth.
As a result, developing countries owe record amounts of money to investors, governments and others outside their borders: $2.1 trillion for countries ranked as “low income” and “lower-middle income” by the World Bank, including Afghanistan, Chad, Bolivia and Zimbabwe.
Now, the pandemic has brought economic activity to a halt, closing ports, shutting factories, canceling flights and emptying resorts. Governments are on the hook for billions of dollars in interest and principal repayments — payments suddenly made more expensive by volatility in the currency markets at the same time that their public health costs are skyrocketing. And their investors are not in a forgiving mood.
“This is really unlike anything we have seen,” said Mitu Gulati, a law professor at Duke University who studies the debts of countries, or sovereign debt. “The last time we had this many countries likely to go under at the same time was in the 1980s.”
Looking to donate? Here are some ways to quickly get money to those in need.
What is the very best way for people with more money than they need to quickly hand it over to those in need, so they can use it for food, shelter and other necessities?
It isn’t easy to find a satisfying answer. Sites and services like GoFundMe can connect donors with real people, but they may lack vetting of recipients, their back stories or their plans. Donors with large amounts to give may want to use tax deductions to increase what they can afford to donate, but may not be able to get them through one-off cash transfers.
The elusiveness of perfect solutions has inspired a variety of social entrepreneurs to pursue various forms of direct giving. If you’ve sent money via DonorsChoose to help a teacher pay for a classroom project, you get the basic idea: Give a little money, know exactly where it’s going, have some sense of who’s getting it and have someone between you and the recipient to provide at least some verification.
Two existing organizations and one new entrant are offering some of the most satisfying ways of providing few-strings-attached assistance. Modest Needs Foundation and GiveDirectly, both nonprofit organizations, are using years of experience to pay people’s bills or hand them money to pay for things themselves. And the 1K Project is facilitating money transfers, although without the tax deductions the other two can offer donors.
GiveDirectly partnered with Propel, a company that helps recipients of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program once known as food stamps) manage their benefits. They receive a message at random offering the money, a bit like a lottery that they don’t have to enter.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Marriott International’s chief executive, Arne M. Sorenson, said all of its Chinese hotels had now reopened and occupancy levels were over 40 percent, Reuters reported. Mr. Sorenson, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Travel and Leisure Conference on Monday, said the company’s open hotels in the United States had crossed the 20 percent occupancy threshold.
Nasdaq said Monday that it would postpone the planned reopening of its trading floor in Philadelphia, which had been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, as protests in the city continued.
Reporting was contributed by Conor Dougherty, Steve Lohr, Matt Richtel, Ron Lieber, Nellie Bowles, Carlos Tejada, Jason Karaian, Katie Robertson and Jeanna Smialek.