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Over 70% of global organizations are deploying or researching cloud services and are likely to move increasing applications to the cloud.
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The novel coronavirus has capsized the lives of freelancers and self-employed workers who are trying to find financial stability.
Mediaocean CEO Bill Wise joins Yahoo Finance’s On The Move panel to address the state of advertising during the coronavirus crisis.
Under intense pressure to do more to protect its employees during a pandemic, Amazon said Thursday it will start doing temperature checks and providing face masks for all staff on the front lines starting next week. Amazon told Reuters exclusively of its plan to safeguard workers at all its U.S. and European warehouses plus Whole Foods stores. It will start testing hundreds of thousands of employees a day for fevers, using no-contact thermometers at site entrances. Any employee with a fever of more than 100.4 Fahrenheit will be sent home. Amazon has faced fierce criticism from some union and elected officials after workers from at least 19 of its warehouses tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There's been walkouts by a small number of warehouse staff. A group of workers at Whole Foods called for a sick out to protest what they describe as lack of concern for their health, as well as inadequate compensation. Besides temperature checking and face masks, Amazon will use machine-learning software to monitor whether employees are keeping safe distances during their shifts. Facing a worker shortage and a surge in orders, Amazon recently announced it would hire 100,000 new workers. As of Thursday, it has filled more than 80,000 of those jobs and said it plans to spend $350 million more than originally planned to cover pay raises through April.
AI companies have immense potential to aid in surveillance and antidote search amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here are three stocks to keep a close watch on
Shopify Inc (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) is already one of the most successful stocks in Canadian history, but it could grow into the next Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).The post Why Shopify (TSX:SHOP) Stock Is the Next Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) appeared first on The Motley Fool Canada.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Bloomberg’s daily technology newsletter here.The tech bubble is popping, but not in the way anyone expected. After years of fretting that free-spending startups with unrealistic valuations would bring down the startup economy on its own, a global pandemic is doing it in instead.Tech layoffs are accelerating. The New York Times dubbed it “the great unwinding” and one reporter tweeted “here comes the pop.” Of course, this isn’t the dot-com era, where Silicon Valley stood out from the pack for its wild exuberance. Boeing Co. seems more imperiled than Uber Technologies Inc.We might never be able to disentangle what would have happened without this crisis. Would the bubble have burst another way? It feels like a distant memory when in January I took stock of former Y Combinator President Sam Altman’s narrowly defeated bubble bet.At the time it looked like enormous funding rounds for the biggest startups had gotten out of hand, but that many companies were still extremely valuable. Only a few months later, that period looks like the moment just before the peak of the market. Now venture capitalists are hoping to help the companies they’ve invested in score government loans.In some ways, the poster children for this tech run-up had already been chastened. WeWork had much of its dirty laundry aired and its CEO deposed last year. Now, its business model faces serious challenges for reasons that are hard to blame on the company. It’s unreasonable to expect WeWork to have predicted Covid-19, but it was spending money in a way that certainly didn’t protect itself from this black swan event.This week, SoftBank Group Corp. backed out out of a $3 billion deal to buy WeWork stock, which means that Adam Neumann, WeWork’s former CEO, isn’t even a billionaire anymore, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.SoftBank cited regulatory concerns and government investigations, not the collapsing market, as the reason for the move. Those problems would have existed without coronavirus.The hype around scooter companies had already been fading. It turned out that winter, with all its snow and ice, wasn’t great for tiny two-wheeled open-air vehicles. Now that spring is here though, everyone is in lockdown, and so layoffs are underway.WeWork and scooter sharing were prime examples for people who wanted to argue that startups had gone too far. Now they’re plummeting in a way that feels existential. The question is: were things headed this way already or was it the exogenous shock? People will probably be debating that well into whatever boom comes next.And just as in the aftermath of the last crash, the seeds of that next boom may already be being planted. Zoom Video Communications Inc., the video conferencing service, revealed this week that it had gone from 10 million daily active users to 200 million thanks to the crisis. Grocery delivery has become an essential service. Amazon.com Inc., is facing plenty of criticism for its treatment of workers, but the company is the backbone of the American way of life.Everyone is stuck at home watching the "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," searching for thermometers, masks and toilet paper on Amazon Prime, and streaming themselves on Twitch. Tech valuations may be down and some sectors of the industry look very imperiled, but Silicon Valley didn't collapse under its own contradictions. It turns out this time was different after all.If you read one thingAmazon executives said the focus of its public relations campaign responding to a work stoppage on Staten Island should focus on the warehouse worker who organized the action, rather than "simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers." Notes from a private meeting written by Amazon's General Counsel David Zapolsky described the organizer, a man named Chris Smalls who Amazon subsequently fired, as “not smart, or articulate." Zapolsky said in a statement after the notes became public that "I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me.” The incident came a day after Amazon's top spokesman, Jay Carney, complained on Twitter about "ad hominem vitriol."And here’s what you need to know in global technology newsWeWork rival Industrious dismissed or furloughed of 30% of its staff. Sales have spiked at online pet supply retailer Chewy Inc., as homebound pet owners stress buy squeeze toys. Google will start allowing coronavirus political ads. The company is revising its policy after a DNC official complained about decisions that "hamstring Democrats' ability to call out and counter Donald Trump's lies."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
China's recovery from the coronavirus outbreak may hold investable lessons for the rest of the globe, according to fund managers who are closely watching - and have begun cautiously buying - in the world's second-biggest economy. With the worst of the outbreak yet to come in many countries, including the United States, new infections appear to be trailing off in China and businesses are gradually getting back to work. "What happens in China is incredibly important to how global markets react over the next few months, both in terms of the progress of the virus and how quickly the economy is bouncing back," said Sydney-based fund manager Geoff Wilson, who runs A$3 billion ($2 billion) in assets.
(Bloomberg) -- A senior Amazon.com Inc. executive called a fired Staten Island warehouse worker “not smart or articulate” in internal discussions about how the company should respond to employee criticism of its handling of the pandemic, according to a person familiar with the matter.Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky said fired worker Chris Smalls should be the focus of Amazon’s public-relations campaign countering activist employees, said the person who saw an internal memo. Amazon workers around the country have been walking off the job or holding demonstrations to highlight what they describe as inadequate safety precautions.Smalls said the memo reveals that Amazon is more interested in managing its public image than protecting workers, and he called on employees to keep pressuring the company to implement stronger safeguards.“Amazon wants to make this about me, but whether Jeff Bezos likes it or not, this is about Amazon workers -- and their families -- everywhere,” he said, referring to the company’s chief executive officer. “There are thousands of scared workers waiting for a real plan from Amazon so that its facilities do not become epicenters of the crisis. More and more positive cases are turning up every day.”The e-commerce giant has emerged as a go-to provider of essentials for customers looking to avoid stores during the outbreak. But it has also been criticized for not doing enough to protect workers in its warehouses and those making deliveries.“My comments were personal and emotional,” Zapolsky said Thursday in an emailed statement. “I was frustrated and upset that an Amazon employee would endanger the health and safety of other Amazonians by repeatedly returning to the premises after having been warned to quarantine himself after exposure to virus Covid-19. I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me.”Vice reported Zapolsky’s comments earlier.Smalls participated Monday in a worker demonstration at Amazon’s Staten Island facility and was fired afterward, prompting complaints from the New York attorney general and other officials, including presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Amazon said Smalls was fired for violating safety guidelines, including social distancing.Amazon workers and delivery people are panicking as the illness spreads to warehouses and delivery stations around the country. They’ve complained about a lack of communication from the company about the full scope of coronavirus cases in the ranks. And they cite inadequate protective measures despite Amazon’s insistence that it’s cleaning more and enforcing social distancing guidelines. Some workers said they’re being asked to come in for nonessential work, such as processing returns and packing toys, clothes and cosmetics.Their concerns are getting the attention of lawmakers and regulators even as Amazon executives downplay them on social media. The Zapolsky remarks could hurt Amazon’s reputation in the long term, said Christopher Borick, director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion.“In the short term, as Americans turn to Amazon for many of their needs this incident may not catch the public’s attention or be of limited concern,” he said. “But as we emerge from the height of the pandemic, and the performance and roles of companies and institutions are evaluated, I think this type of incident can add to the public’s existing uneasiness with Amazon’s workplace practices.”(Updates with comments from worker in the third paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Amazon did not confirm the authenticity of the notes, which Vice News reported were from a daily meeting with the company's Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and senior leadership team. David Zapolsky, Amazon's secretary and top lawyer, allegedly wrote that a worker who criticized Amazon's warehouse operation during the coronavirus pandemic was "not smart, or articulate" and suggested Amazon might "make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement." Amazon and other businesses have provided vital deliveries as nearly 90% of the United States has been told by their governments to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
(Bloomberg) -- In four months, the new coronavirus infected more than 1 million people and killed more than 51,000. The U.S. accounts for a quarter of the cases. Italy and Spain represent almost half the deaths.British Airways furloughed 30,000 staff and cut pay. Portugal closed airports during Easter. New York City reported a rise in new cases.The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits more than doubled to a record 6.65 million. In Britain, almost 1 million people claimed welfare payments in two weeks. Stocks gained as oil surged.Key Developments:Global cases top 1 million; deaths exceed 51,000: Johns HopkinsNations with mandatory TB vaccines show fewer coronavirus deathsLA urges city to mask up; NY, NJ deaths double in three daysLocked up, beaten and shamed: virus laws lead to abusePalantir’s new ‘driving thrust’: predicting virus outbreaksLife-or-death hospital decisions come with threat of lawsuitsTrump Issues Order on Supplies (4:40 p.m. NY)President Donald Trump issued an order under the Defense Production Act to speed production of ventilators after state officials raised alarm that supplies are inadequate.Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that General Electric Co., Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Medtronic Plc, ResMed Inc., Royal Philips NV and Vyaire Medical Inc. obtain needed supplies. The order doesn’t name the suppliers to companies manufacturing ventilators.Trump has expressed reluctance to use the law, comparing it to nationalizing industries. He has said he prefers to use threats to invoke the act as leverage to force companies to comply.Tennessee Issues Stay-at-Home Order (4:25 p.m. NY)Tennessee is requiring citizens to remain at home, ending one of the last holdouts by U.S. states. Governor Bill Lee, who had previously only urged residents to stay home, said he made the decision after seeing traffic data showing people were traveling more.Ohio Extends Stay-Home Order (4:15 p.m. NY)Ohio Governor Mike DeWine extended a stay-at-home order that closes non-essential businesses through May 1. The order was set to expire April 6 but is still needed with models showing the peak of the outbreak expected by mid-May, the governor said. Stores will be asked to set, post, and enforce limits on number of customers inside at at any one time.Germany’s Deaths Top 1,000 (3:15 p.m. NY)Deaths in Germany climbed to 1,074 Thursday, a day after the government extended a nationwide lockdown beyond Easter. The toll was 931 the previous day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed cases increased to 84,264 -- the third-highest in Europe -- from 77,981.The head of Germany’s public health authority said this week he expects the nation’s relatively low death rate of 0.8% to rise in the next few weeks.NYC Ambulance Response Slows (3 p.m. NY)New York City ambulances are taking almost three minutes longer than usual to respond to the most critical distress calls as administrative bottlenecks in emergency rooms cause delays, even as streets are uncharacteristically clear.Response times in March averaged 10 minutes and 7 seconds, according to New York City Fire Department records, compared with an average 7 minutes, 15 seconds in the same period a year earlier. Ambulances sometimes wait as long as an hour to deliver patients to an ER, said Anthony Almojera, an EMS technician and vice president of the fire department’s EMS Officers Union Local 3621.Sressed-out drivers and paramedics will get some help from 250 more ambulances and 500 specialists that the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent to the city this week.Portugal Shuts Airports (2:40 p.m. NY)Portugal’s airports will be closed April 9-13 as the nation deals with the outbreak during the Easter holiday period. The government also is limiting the number of passengers on flights to put distance between travelers, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in Lisbon on Thursday.President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa earlier extended the state of emergency for two weeks through April 17. The number of confirmed cases in Portugal rose 9.5% to 9,034, slower than the two previous daily increases.U.S. Layoffs Lead to Lost Insurance (1:10 p.m. NY)Some 3.5 million American workers probably lost their employer-provided health insurance policies in the past two weeks as the epidemic triggered an unprecedented wave of layoffs, according to research published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute.The “very rough estimate” is based on industry-specific unemployment claims filed in Washington state, which had the earliest U.S. outbreak.It’s hard to be precise because some laid-off workers will be able to get insurance via Obamacare exchanges or a family member who still has a job, or will qualify for government coverage under Medicaid, the EPI said. On the other hand, the 3.5 million doesn’t include spouses or children of the newly unemployed who may now be without coverage.N.Y. New Cases Rise Almost 9,000 (1 p.m. NY)New York’s coronavirus outbreak shows no signs of abating, with almost 8,700 new infections, 1,200 new hospitalizations, 400 new ICU admissions and more than 400 new deaths, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.Cuomo said at the current infection rate, the state is six days away from exhausting its stockpile of breathing machines. About 350 new patients per night need ventilation, and the state has about 2,200 stockpiled.Unlike other states that claim to have received faulty ventilators from the U.S. stockpile, Cuomo says all those received by New York appear to be in working order.British Airways Staff Furloughed (12:45 p.m. NY)British Airways, which grounded most of its fleet as travel demand slumped, will furlough about 28,000 employees and pay them 80% of their usual pay, the Unite union said Thursday after labor talks. The U.K. government will cover up to 2,500 pounds ($3,095) a month under a national plan, with the airline picking up wages beyond that level.The airline is following other carriers in furloughing workers as the virus wipes out global travel demand. Among U.K. rivals, EasyJet Plc laid off cabin crew for two months Monday after grounding its entire fleet, while staff at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have signed up for eight-week breaks, extended sabbaticals or voluntary severance.Netherlands Urges Quarantine for U.S. Travelers (12:40 p.m. NY)Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on citizens returning to the Netherlands from the U.S. to self-quarantine for 14 days, press agency ANP reports.The same is being asked for all citizens who are being repatriated. Rutte also called on residents in neighboring Germany and Belgium to stay away in the long Easter weekend.Pence Says 100,000 Get Tested (12:34 p.m. NY)Vice President Mike Pence said more than 100,000 Americans are now being tested daily for coronavirus, as the government tries to ramp up its lagging response to tracking the outbreak.A weekend breakthrough on point-of-care testing by Abbott Laboratories will make an additional 50,000 tests available each day, Pence said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.There have been about 1.2 million coronavirus tests performed in the U.S. as of noon Thursday, according to the Covid 19 Tracking Project, which examines data supplied by states.Italy Infections Slow (12:20 p.m. NY)Italy reported 4,668 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday compared with 4,782 a day earlier, as growth in infections slowed.The nation had 760 deaths as the number of fatalities rose again after three weeks of nationwide lockdown.The toll over the past 24 hours compared with 727 on Wednesday, according to figures from the civil protection agency.Remy Cointreau Takes Hit on China Sales (12:20 p.m. NY)Remy Cointreau SA, one of the world’s largest sellers of Cognac, cut its forecast for the fiscal year and said it expects profit to be down between 25% and 30%. Producers of the spirit are enduring a collapse in sales from China as a result of the coronavirus. The country had previously grown to become one of the most important sales markets for Cognac and other European luxury goods. Just under a third of Remy Cointreau’s revenue comes from Asia, with China being the largest market in the region.Democrats Postpone Convention (12:05 p.m. NY)The Democratic National Committee on Thursday postponed the presidential nominating convention from July to Aug. 17 due to concerns about the coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the decision. The delay comes after likely presidential nominee Joe Biden said it should be pushed back for safety reasons.Pelosi Forming Panel to Oversee Stimulus (11:35 a.m. NY)U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will create a select committee with subpoena power to oversee the government’s response to the outbreak, including how the $2.2 trillion from last week’s stimulus plan is spent.Pelosi on Thursday compared the committee to the panel chaired by then-Senator Harry Truman in the 1940s to investigate defense spending as the country mobilized for World War II.“We want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” she told reporters. “Where there is money, there is mischief.”Putin Extends Lockdown Through April 30 (10:36 a.m. NY)President Vladimir Putin extended his order keeping Russians at home until April 30, warning that the spread of coronavirus has yet to reach its peak.The Russian leader said certain parts of Russia, including Moscow, haven’t managed to get the situation under control. He said he would give additional authority to regional leaders to determine the level of response locally. He noted that the stay-at-home period could be shortened if the situation improves.Russia has more than 3,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus after a 28% increase overnight.NYC Business Activity Falls (10:30 a.m. NY)A measure of business activity in the New York City area sank to the lowest level on record in March. The Institute for Supply Management-New York’s current business conditions index fell 39 points last month to 12.9, the lowest in data back to 1993 and well below its 27.1 reading duriing the global financial crisis. Levels below 50 signal contracting activity.Kenya to Hire Health Workers (10:15 a.m. NY)Kenya is set to hire 6,000 health workers to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, with 5,000 deployed to counties and 1,000 will remain at the national hospitals, Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.Kenya has confirmed 110 Covid-19 cases and three deaths.Walgreens Flags Sales Downturn (9:43 a.m. NY)Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. executives said sales have started to decline at its drugstores as a result of the pandemic, though the full impact on its business won’t be known for months.U.S. consumers had raced early last month to stock up on drugs, cleaning supplies and toilet paper as they prepared to stay at home to avoid getting or spreading Covid-19. Now, that rush appears to be ebbing.Amazon Hires 80,000, Steps Up Warehouse Safety (9:24 a.m. NY)Amazon.com Inc. said it has hired 80,000 people to help meet demand for online orders and has stepped up safety precautions at its U.S warehouses.Dave Clark, Amazon’s logistics chief, said in a blog on Thursday that Amazon would probably go “well beyond” its previous estimate of an additional $350 million in costs to support a growing workforce.Germany Backs Use of Bailout Fund (9:15 a.m. NY)The government in Berlin says it’s ready to send an “unambiguous signal” to markets by letting countries tap the European Stability Mechanism, the euro area’s rescue fund, to help them deal with the fallout of the pandemic.That’s according to a position paper seen by Bloomberg, which also advocates setting up a 50 billion-euro fund to guarantee loans to small and medium-sized companies, especially in countries that don’t have their own development banks. Germany also said it would welcome a European unemployment reinsurance.U.S. Jobless Claims Doubled to Record Last Week: (8:38 a.m. NY)The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits more than doubled to a second straight record as the coronavirus widened its reach and closed more businesses.A total of 6.65 million people filed jobless claims in the week ended March 28, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday, as many stores and restaurants were forced to close across the nation to mitigate the outbreak.U.K.’s Johnson Still Has Mild Symptoms (8:24 a.m. NY)U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to show mild symptoms after contracting Covid-19, his spokesman, James Slack, said at a briefing with reporters.New Cases in Italy’s Lombardy Region Remain Flat (8:21 a.m. NY)Lombardy’s trend of new virus cases remains flat, with no increases in the last 24 hours, the region’s governor, Attilio Fontana, said at a press conference on Thursday.“It seems what our experts have predicted is happening, and that in a few days we might see a blessed decline in the pandemic trend,” Fontana said.Germany Sees Economy Contracting 5% in 2020 (7:43 a.m. NY)The national output is expected to contract more than 5% in 2020, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said. Germany’s economy could be in position for “reasonable growth” next year, he added. Angela Merkel’s government was widely anticipated to slash its forecast from the pre-crisis prediction of 1.1% growth.Amgen Joins Hunt for Coronavirus Drug, DJ Says (7:35 a.m. NY)Amgen Inc. and Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. are partnering to develop a drug to treat the coronavirus, Dow Jones reported on Thursday, citing an interview with David Reese, Amgen’s executive vice president of research and development.No Decisions on Domestic Travel Ban, Fauci Says (7:32 a.m. NY)“It’s on the table,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci says about whether the U.S. has any plans to restrict domestic travel. “We look at that literally every day,” he said. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he’s looking at domestic travel limits for virus hot spots.HK Orders Bars, Pubs to Close (7:28 a.m. NY)Hong Kong has ordered bars and pubs to close for 14 days from April 3. The city earlier reported 37 new cases, taking its total to 802.Boeing Offers Voluntary Buyouts (7:24 a.m. NY)Boeing Co. offered voluntary buyouts to eligible employees, in a bid to quickly shed costs and adjust its work force of 161,000 to a coronavirus crisis that’s quickly undermined the outlook for aircraft sales. The move will preserve much-needed cash at Boeing, which is facing a sharp contraction in demand along with its European rival Airbus SE.Airline customers around the world have slashed schedules, with some parking their entire fleets as the coronavirus pandemic guts travel. About 44% of aircraft across the globe are in storage.ECB Delays Strategic Review (7:21 a.m. NY)The big policy rethink, which was supposed to become the hallmark of President Christine Lagarde’s presidency, will be completed by the middle of next year, or six months later than initially planned, the ECB said on Thursday.EU Says It Should Have Acted Faster to Help Italy (7:05 a.m. NY)In a letter to Italian newspaper la Repubblica, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted the bloc was late in understanding the scale of the outbreak in Italy and slow to act. She said Brussels has done far better recently.The unusual admission comes amid fear that Italy’s debt market is still vulnerable to a mass exodus by investors, even with the European Central Bank offering support through its 750 billion-euro ($820 billion) bond-buying program. The country’s yield spread over Germany, a key gauge of risk in the country remains elevated after last month’s virus-induced rout.Biden Says Sees Democratic Convention Delayed to August (7 a.m. NY)“I think it’s going to have to move into August,” Biden said in an interview on “The Tonight Show.” “I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July.”Norway’s Wealth Fund Lost a Record $113 Billion in 1Q (6:41 a.m. NY)Norway’s sovereign wealth fund lost a record 1.17 trillion kroner in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic roiled stock markets. The loss comes as the fund for the first time faces forced asset sales to cover emergency spending by the government to weather the impact on the richest Nordic economy.Stanchart CEO Says U.K., U.S. Acted Too Late (6:35 a.m. NY)Standard Chartered Plc Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters said authorities in London and Washington have been too slow in ordering the type of lockdown that China used to control the outbreak. Speaking on Bloomberg Television, Winters became one of the highest-profile CEOs to criticize the Western response to the pandemic, saying the U.S. and U.K. had acted “too late.”“I find it interesting to listen to the debate now that we in the West, or in the U.K., or in the U.S., couldn’t have done what the Chinese did because we don’t have that kind of society,” Winters said. “Well, we are doing what the Chinese did; we’re just doing it too late.”EU’s Borrell Warns of Pandemic ‘Spiraling Out of Control’ (6:30 a.m. NY)European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc must mobilize help for poor countries. “Globally, it is to be feared that the worst is yet to come,” Borrell said in a letter to foreign ministers as they prepare to hold a video conference Friday. “Countries already affected by conflicts or mismanagement are particularly vulnerable.”Jobless Claims Soar As Lockdowns Bite (6:20 a.m. NY)Earlier on Thursday, Spain said claims rose by a record 302,265 in March. Spain, one of the countries at the center of Europe’s outbreak, already has an unemployment rate that’s among the highest in the developed world.Almost a million people have claimed welfare payments in Britain over the past two weeks and even Finland, one of the world’s best-funded welfare states, is starting to crack. In Ireland, more than 300,000 people are on government support and 200,000 are classed as unemployed -- that’s a total of about half a million people in a country where around 2.3 million were in work before the crisis.And one-third of Thailand’s population has registered for government cash handouts designed to soften the blow of the novel coronavirus outbreak, far exceeding the funds available for the policy.Brexit Delay May Be Inevitable (6 a.m. NY)Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he won’t delay Britain’s final parting with the European Union at the end of the year. Empty meeting rooms across Whitehall suggest delay is all but inevitable.Business lobbyists say government officials have canceled most meetings to prepare for Brexit as civil servants are pulled away to deal with the growing coronavirus pandemic. It’s now only a question of how Johnson will sell a delay to the British public, rather than whether or not one will happen, they say.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Another activist investor has bought a stake in SoftBank Group Corp., betting the recent stock plunge makes it a bargain that’s too good to ignore.Asset Value Investors Ltd., a U.K. money manager known for its activist campaigns at smaller Japanese firms, has invested about 5 billion yen ($46.6 million) in Masayoshi Son’s company, Chief Executive Officer Joe Bauernfreund said. That comes after Elliott Management Corp. took a large position and called on SoftBank to buy back shares.SoftBank was sucked into the coronavirus sell-off, losing more than half its value from a high in mid-February before paring some of the decline. The reversal came as founder Son decided to do what investors had been urging for years -- sell holdings to fund shareholder returns and pay down debt.“It’s very, very cheap,” Bauernfreund said in an interview. “It trades at a massive discount to the value of its assets. And on top of that, the planned asset disposal and buyback will be massively accretive to the net asset value.”AVI has become known in the Japanese investment community for its activist campaigns at companies including Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings Inc. and Teikoku Sen-I Co., both of which it has urged to increase shareholder returns.SoftBank is too big for AVI to make shareholder proposals at annual general meetings, Bauernfreund said. AVI started buying SoftBank shares in February and continued to build its position throughout March, he said.Still, AVI has prescriptions for SoftBank, and they sound very similar to Elliott’s suggestions. It has written to SoftBank directors to express its views, Bauernfreund said.Buybacks, Governance“They should be selling down some of their investment portfolio, using the money to buy back shares,” he said. “They should be improving their corporate governance by improving the board structure, and by having more transparency in their investment portfolio, in particular in the Vision Fund.”SoftBank declined to comment.SoftBank currently trades at about a 70% discount to its net asset value, Bauernfreund said. The company has a market value of about $73 billion, even though it has equity holdings worth more than $208 billion, including a huge stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“The discount won’t stay at the current level,” Bauernfreund said. “It’s mathematically impossible, really, for the discount to stay at these wide levels.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The company, which has reported virus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations, said it would start testing hundreds of thousands of employees a day for fevers. All locations will have surgical masks available by early next week, after millions were ordered weeks ago, according to Amazon. Particle-blocking N95 masks it has ordered will instead be donated to medical workers or sold at cost to government and healthcare organizations, it said.
Apple (AAPL) extends program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer direct buying or renting options unlike its payment system, which takes a 30% cut of the purchase price.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A wave of protests and work stoppages is moving across companies that are delivering groceries and other essentials during the pandemic. These workers have their own motivations, of course, but it’s crucial to understand that government policy — especially the generous extended unemployment benefits Congress passed last month — has potentially lit a match under already combustible conditions.Some context: The pandemic is leading not just to a partial economic shutdown but to a shift: from a high-touch to a low-touch economy. Restaurants brick-and-mortar retail are out, meal and grocery delivery are in. That’s putting an enormous strain on operations like Amazon and Instacart, where existing employees are being worked to the bone. Faced with huge increases in demand, both companies have plans to hire hundreds of thousands of workers.The stimulus bill put a serious a kink in any such plans. In a well-meaning but misguided effort, Congress boosted unemployment insurance benefits by $600 per week across the board — the equivalent of a 40-hour work week at $15 an hour. As a result, many laid-off workers will see their pay dramatically increase. The bill also allows for any worker who “has to quit his or her job as a direct result of Covid-19” to receive benefits, but leaves it up to the worker to self-certify the reasons for quitting.The logic was obvious. Vast swaths of the economy are shutting down to fight the virus, and no one wants to see people suffer for doing what is in the national interest. The side effects were perhaps less obvious: Workers who are leaving high-touch jobs in restaurants and traditional retail have little incentive to seek new jobs in groceries and delivery.Essential delivery companies should and in many cases did offer higher salaries to compensate existing workers and attract new ones. But they cannot offer an extra $15 an hour, as the government is. Or rather they can, but they would have to pass the increased costs on to consumers, who are themselves suffering from the effects of the economic slowdown.Additionally, a smaller pool of workers places more strain on the existing workforce. It creates pressure for companies to keep on staff more vulnerable workers, who would themselves benefit from moving at least temporarily to unemployment insurance.In the long term, the consequences are even more pernicious. As more employees go on unemployment and see their incomes rise as result, resentment among essential workers will naturally grow. Not only are they being asked to do more without the additional assistance that they need, but they are at financial disadvantage relative to laid-off non-essential workers.It is unrealistic to expect grocery and delivery employees to accept this second-rate treatment. Workers who form the backbone of the food and medical supply chains, as well as lower-paid hospital staff, could understandably walk off the job as well.Backing out this quagmire will not be easy for Congress, especially now it has left Washington. Still, there are some potential short-term solutions. The Department of Labor is reportedly considering capping unemployment benefits at a worker’s previous wage despite the fact that the law says benefits may exceed that level. That’s a radical step that could provide an impetus for Congress to make a legislative fix.There are less radical approaches. How about allowing only workers over 55 with pre-existing conditions or otherwise unattended children to qualify for benefits if they quit as a result of Covid-19? This policy might even find justification in the legislation, although its effect on the problem would be modest.But the first step is for Congress to recognize that it has made an error with potentially far-reaching consequences. That means abbreviating its recess and coming back to Washington to work on legislation to rectify its mistake.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Karl W. Smith, a former assistant professor of economics at the University of North Carolina and founder of the blog Modeled Behavior, is vice president for federal policy at the Tax Foundation.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Follow Bloomberg on LINE messenger for all the business news and analysis you need.Singapore’s government urged residents to consider ordering their groceries online rather than going to the shops. That just became tougher.Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Lazada Group SA is temporarily suspending new grocery orders in Singapore after strict physical distancing measures and rising coronavirus cases triggered a surge in orders.RedMart, Lazada’s online grocer unit, will not take new orders until it resumes on April 4, the company said in a notice to customers on Thursday. RedMart will use this time to make changes to the range of products available and prioritize daily essentials such as rice, flour and eggs, it said, adding that it will fulfill existing orders.Lazada’s RedMart and other grocery delivery services such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Now have been kept busy amid harrowing economic times in Singapore. These companies have been trying to cope with surging demand as about 5.7 million people in the densely populated island increasingly turn to online grocery shopping, part of Singapore’s S$7.5 billion ($5.2 billion) grocery market estimated by Euromonitor.“These companies now have to deal with a new situation where demand for essential items outpaces operational capacities,” said Yinglan Tan, founding managing partner of Insignia Ventures. “Players that manage shorter supply chain may be more equipped to handle the stress.”While the number of coronavirus cases has mounted to 1,000, the city-state has refrained from ordering a full lockdown of daily life and business, preferring to implement an ever-more-stringent set of rules and guidelines to restrain activity and curb the spread. Among the new cases was an employee working at a branch of a local supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice.And while lockdowns in neighboring Malaysia may have disrupted food supply into Singapore, government officials have assured the nation it won’t run out of food or basic necessities.NTUC FairPrice on March 27 imposed online purchase limits on items such as rice, instant noodles, vegetables and cooking oil.Read more: Singapore Grocery Delivery Demand Surges Amid Virus Curbs: ChartSingapore’s government advised the public on its official WhatsApp channel to order groceries online instead of venturing out, while also pushing more companies to make staff work from home. To help address a shortage of delivery slots, taxi and ride-hailing drivers are now allowed to make food and grocery deliveries.Separately, the city-state said Thursday it’ll support 90% of the cost for local retailers going online in order to help them diversify their sales channels beyond traditional brick-and-mortar.(Adds FairPrice online purchase measures in 8th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The federal government’s $2 trillion economic relief bill to help the nation cope with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has many excellent features. The amount of money is large -- probably enough to cushion and sustain the economy for the next two months. To some extent, the bill addresses the needs of individuals, families, small businesses, big businesses, and state and local governments.But there are lingering questions about the bill’s unintended consequences. Many of them involve the bill’s heavy reliance on the unemployment-insurance system. The small-business lending program does reward employers for keeping workers on payroll through the shutdown and the bill does give them a modest universal payout. But mainly the bill is designed to wait for people to lose their jobs and then giving them money.One problem with this is that the unemployment-insurance system isn’t built to handle this many claimants. Already the surge is unprecedented and it’s only going to get worse: The overloading of the system could lead to claims being delayed or even denied, leaving people without an economic lifeline.Some legislators and commentators have identified another worry: that generous unemployment benefits will discourage work. On top of normal unemployment benefits, the bill offers $600 a week to laid-off workers. For many low-income Americans, this would amount to much more than their normal monthly income.Does this mean that workers will find it rational to quit their jobs and receive government checks instead? Normally this isn’t an issue because only employees who are laid off qualify, not those who leave voluntarily. But the coronavirus-relief bill allows people to claim the $600 weekly benefit if they have to quit for any reason related to the coronavirus, including taking care of kids during school closures. Whether this is necessary is up to the claimant to determine, via so-called self-certification. Overburdened state unemployment systems probably won’t be up to verifying many of those claims. This means some people really will be able to abandon their jobs and raise their incomes for a couple of months if they want to.Still, a wave of quits isn't much of a worry. First of all, it's clearly not rational for most workers to resign in the face of a looming multiyear depression just to receive a couple of thousand dollars of extra income in the short term. Second, for nonessential workers -- those not involved in food distribution, health care, utilities and basic maintenance and so on -- it’s not such a bad thing if they do quit. Less crowded workplaces help slow the spread of the infection, which pays economic dividends in the long run.The problem is essential workers, such as grocery-store clerks, delivery workers and those in the medical field: If a large number quit, it could leave crucial industries short of labor. It also might put a kink in these companies’ hiring plans: If workers are too comfortable cashing their generous unemployment-insurance checks, they might be unwilling to fill growing numbers of jobs at grocery stores or delivery services.The obvious response is for these employers to raise wages. But coronavirus itself has made these jobs much more hazardous, which will mean wages need to rise even more. Already this appears bound to happen, with workers at Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods threatening or going on strikes.Higher wages often are a good thing and stores and delivery companies can cope with having little or no profit temporarily. But if they need to raise wages a lot to lure people away from generous jobless benefits and into dangerous working conditions, some essential companies might scale back or just shut down. That could leave some people with reduced access to food or other supplies. Alternatively, these companies could raise prices a lot, which would fall heaviest on low-income consumers.It’s not clear how much of a shortage of essential workers the combination of coronavirus and the relief bill’s incentives might create. But the government should act to avert the risk. The most obvious approach is to allow laid-off workers to continue to collect pandemic unemployment benefits in addition to salary if they go back to work in an essential industry. The downside of this approach is that it could lead to some disruption, with workers quitting grocery stores or delivery services in order to start collecting unemployment insurance and then trying to get hired back.A more efficient solution is to subsidize pay raises for workers in essential industries, perhaps through a program where the government matches a portion of wage hikes. This would allow pay to rise to necessary levels while keeping companies out of bankruptcy. It also would avoid straining the unemployment-insurance system further because it would involve direct payments from the government to companies.As the pandemic unfolds, the government is going to experience lots of unintended consequences and many situations in which initial efforts prove to be insufficient. It’s important for legislators to be constantly adapting, learning and fixing holes. Unemployment-benefit incentives are only one example. It’s going to be a long, hard, fraught fight.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- SoftBank Group Corp. needs to cut and run on its entire WeWork investment, not just the shares. Covid-19 and the economics of a prolonged crisis necessitate strict pragmatism.As recently as two weeks ago, it seemed that a move to renegotiate the Japanese conglomerate’s $3 billion purchase of equity in The We Co. from existing shareholders, including founder Adam Neumann, was savvy and cunning. Today, that looks ill-advised, which is why it decided not to consummate the tender offer, Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement from a committee advising WeWork's board.After a $1.5 billion lifeline late last year, the next step in SoftBank’s bailout of the office rental company — predicated on completing the share purchase — was to be a further $5 billion in debt financing. Masayoshi Son, opportunistic venture capitalist that he is, should walk away from that deal, too.With WeWork bonds trading at around 36 cents on the dollar and the global economy in upheaval over the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no price in the world that could have made SoftBank’s double-down on the shares look smart. Pouring $5 billion into WeWork debt would be a poor use of its funds.SoftBank has bigger problems at the moment.Last week, Moody’s Corp. cut its debt by two notches, citing SoftBank’s planned offload of assets that amounts to little more than a fire sale. Son wants to monetize them through sales or loans to repurchase the company’s own shares and pay down debt. SoftBank fired back at Moody’s. It claimed that the downgrade would “cause substantial misunderstanding,” and then asked Moody’s to remove its rating altogether. That temper tantrum merely proved the ratings provider correct.Despite a broad portfolio that includes its stake in the Vision Fund, its domestic telecommunications operator, a U.S. telco, and a semiconductor company, the only asset that SoftBank has of significant value is its 25% stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Those shares aren’t very liquid and could take months to sell. Son doesn’t have time. Many Alibaba investors believe that the e-commerce company has gotten through the worst of the Covid-19 crisis and will benefit from a return to normalcy in China.What they aren’t reckoning on is an unavoidable global slowdown that could have a profound impact on the spending power of Chinese consumers, who drive revenue. We’re in the eye of the storm now, where things seem calm but soon won’t be. Selling a massive chunk of Alibaba shares at any price is going to become more difficult.Bad as things might get for an internet giant, they’re going to be a whole lot worse for a shared office company. Co-working spaces are anathema to the wave of social distancing that’s sweeping the world. Many of WeWork’s clients are freelancers or startups and likely to be hardest hit in any downturn. The company is trying to soften the blow by seeking rent reductions from its own landlords, who are showing reluctance. Walking away from its pending $5 billion investment in WeWork debt is not only an honest verdict on that outlook, it also means $5 billion of shares in Alibaba that SoftBank doesn’t have to sell to cover its funding needs. Ask any investor in the world where they’d prefer to put a chunk of money right now, and I am sure WeWork bonds won’t be their choice.Masayoshi Son isn’t the type to follow what others might do, but perhaps this time he should.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- What was once sacrosanct is no more. Apple Inc. seems to have blinked.Late Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that Apple has relaxed its rules requiring a 30% cut for any content sold inside video apps on its iOS platform. The tech giant said its program allows “premium subscription video” providers the ability to charge consumers directly using their own payment systems without paying a commission to Apple.For customers of Amazon.com Inc., which started taking advantage of the change on Wednesday, it means Amazon’s Prime Video subscribers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, can now buy or rent video content using the e-commerce company’s app on Apple’s platforms. Amazon.com Inc. had previously only allowed video purchases outside of Apple’s ecosystem, such as its website. Canal+, owned by Vivendi SA, and Altice USA Inc.’s Altice One had already joined Apple’s program in recent years.As recently as last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CBS News the company didn’t have a dominant position in any market. But analysts have said Apple’s App Store may be the one business where it actually had excessive power over developers, because of the steep commission it was able to demand in exchange for allowing their apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions to be sold on its platforms. (The 30% subscription fee is lowered to 15% after the first year.)The Apple App Store’s high commission structure has been infuriating for many companies. In 2019, music-streaming company Spotify Technology SA filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, while Epic Games Inc. CEO Tim Sweeney, whose company makes Fortnite, has consistently railed against Apple’s commission structure as unjustified. Netflix Inc. even abandoned using Apple’s payment system altogether to avoid the fee in 2018.Why did Apple budge? Perhaps it’s a move to preempt further pressure from regulators. Whatever the reason, once the first step is made toward lower fees, there is no turning back.It’s only a matter time before other companies such as Netflix, Spotify and countless others ask for better terms as well. Lower middle-man fees can also be good news for consumers if it leads to lower prices, too.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.