Thursday, July 9

Retailers Shut Stores Amid U.S. Protests: Live Business Updates – The New York Times

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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.

ImageNew York Stock Exchange in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

U.S. stocks wavered while global markets rose on Monday, with investors watching for signs of increasing tensions between the United States and China.

The S&P 500 drifted between losses and gains in early trading after a weekend of violence and unrest in the United States after the death of George Floyd. Shares of retailers who said they were temporarily closing some stores in response to the turmoil took a hit. Target was down about 2 percent, while Walmart dipped nearly 1 percent.

Stocks in London and Paris were about 1 percent higher in midday trading 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. They 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.

It has been one week since the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide unrest. Business leaders, like many others, spoke out 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.”

Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

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.

🗣 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.

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.”

Credit…Cayce Clifford

For all the pain that the virus has caused the 25,000 or so who live in Bernal Heights, a dense little neighborhood built around a grassy hill in the south of San Francisco, it has also brought them together as a community — a pattern that is playing out in neighborhoods around the country.

Neighbors have formed a small newspaper for children. Socially distanced street dance parties and cocktail hours have taken over, block by block, as the sun sets. Some people have created a new micro-social safety net, turning bookshelves into sidewalk food banks and garages into medical-supply distribution centers. Email lists and text chains for each block are buzzing.

And as sheltering in place eases, some of the changes in Bernal Heights are turning permanent.

“The scale of life has changed,” said Francesca Russello Ammon, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. “Your world has shrunk. The neighborhood and the block become really important.”

When Ryan Stagg, 27, started baking bread for his neighbors in a one-bedroom apartment on Wright Street, he offered it for free, dangling each loaf in a basket, over the fence and down to the sidewalk.

But he and his fiancée, Daniella Banchero, were both out of work, and their landlord was unwilling to reduce their rent, so they started to charge $9 for a big sourdough loaf and expanded the menu, adding cinnamon rolls ($3), cookies ($2) and crumb cakes.

Recently, they have started using a commercial kitchen in a restaurant that’s been shuttered. And they applied to start a proper registered business: The Bernal Bakery.

Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

There is widespread agreement that the United States economy will soon begin to recover from coronavirus lockdowns. The big debate is whether that rebound will resemble a V, a W, an L or a Nike Swoosh.

Increasingly, economists and analysts are penciling in another glyph: a question mark, writes Jeanna Smialek.

Forecasters often label their expectations for a post-recession rebound with letters — a “V” suggests a rapid recovery, a “W” a double-dip, and so on — but that’s hard to do this time around. As all 50 states begin to open up and consumers trickle out of their homes, the path ahead is wildly uncertain, making prognostication dicey.

It isn’t just Wall Street forecasters eschewing the alphabet in favor of a range of what-if’s. From the Federal Reserve to the White House, analysts have suggested that posing confident prognostications is probably more misleading than helpful. John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said during an appearance last week that it was important for policymakers to prepare for every eventuality, rather than focus on one type of recovery.

Credit…Robert Neubecker

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.

  • Nasdaq said 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, Matt Richtel, Ron Lieber, Nellie Bowles, Carlos Tejada, Jason Karaian and Jeanna Smialek.

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