Jan 13, 2018

Economic boom: optimism, markets, jobs rising

Traders and financial professional work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A sentence to savor in a Washington Post front-pager on what full employment looks like: "A decade after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the United States suddenly finds itself at a place where almost everyone who wants a job can find one."

Why it matters: "The unemployment rate in December was 4.1 percent, leaving employers struggling to attract and retain good workers and raising the prospect of higher wages as the United States approaches congressional elections in November."

Key quote, from Art Mazor, a principal at Deloitte Consulting: "Employees today have lots of options in all corners of industry, whether you’re in fast food or retail or investment banking.”

It depends where you live, and what your skills are. But a huge slice of America is enjoying the combination of bullish expectations based on the tax cut, and a stock market that keep pushing further into record territory:

This is big: I hadn't seen this before ... The tax cut may lower utility rates:

  • "Public utility regulators from Oklahoma to Massachusetts are considering lowering the rates that homeowners and businesses pay for electricity and natural gas after a federal tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump reduced the corporate income tax rate by 14 percent," per AP.

Other bullish headlines this morning:

  • Barron's cover story: "Bright Outlook ... A growing economy could produce more gains for stocks, our panelists say. Tech shares would do especially well. But keep an eye on interest rates and inflation."
  • Wall Street Journal lead story: "Banks Upbeat As Taxes Muddy Earnings." (Subscription)
  • Financial Times lead story: "US banks vow to share spoils of tax reforms: Rises in investment and pay promised Wells and JPMorgan tout bill's benefits." (Subscription)
  • And we're on the eve of a big earnings season. (Bloomberg) graph

But, but, but: "Wells to close 900 branches despite $3.4bn tax boost." (Financial Times)

Be smart: Vast swaths of America aren't enjoying this bounty. (Some Sam's Club employees showed up for work this week and found their stores locked — among the 63 locations, or 10% of stores, that owner Walmart is closing.) That will keep incubating the discontent that burst out of Trump Country in November 2016.

P.S. Warning sign to D.C. economy in this week's announcement that Discovery Communications will move its HQ from Silver Spring, Md., to New York, per the lead story of tomorrow's WashPost Business section:

  • "The headquarters move ... cripples hopes that the Washington region can develop as a national hub for broadcast and digital entertainment media."
  • Maryland's "failed effort to retain several hundred back-office jobs ... highlighted the challenges posed by the area’s high prices."
  • "[T]he state lost out to New York for the high-end, creative jobs ... and to Tennessee for the low-end positions."

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Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness in COVID-19 the treatment has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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