Economy & Business

Why it matters: Despite murmurs of an impending economic crash, the U.S. has seen strong job growth and record low unemployment as trade wars, sweeping technological change and new media consumption habits are changing the American economy.

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Mint Event Design founder: COVID forced innovation

Mint Event Design founder Carolina Villarreal. Photo: Axios screenshot

Mint Event Design founder Carolina Villarreal said she had to find new ways to serve her family party clients when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

What she's saying: Villarreal said at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday that she created custom kits for clients to decorate their own homes. She used social media to spread the word about the shift in her business, bringing traffic to her website.

2 hours ago - Health

Austin Mayor Steve Adler calls for caution when reopening economies

Photo: Axios screenshot

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler cautioned states against loosening restrictions meant to stem the spread of coronavirus without having proper measures in place, at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

The big picture: Adler called on jurisdictions to "be innovative and adaptive and creative" when they reopen, to ensure people's safety.

Apple adds audio to Apple News, along with in-house daily podcast

Photo: Apple

Apple is adding new audio features to both its free Apple News and subscription Apple News+ services, including a short daily podcast, produced and narrated by its own editorial staff.

Why it matters: Apple is doubling down on its commitment to human and editorial curation of news content, something its rival tech partners have mostly been slower to do.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 13,397,167 — Total deaths: 580,388 — Total recoveries — 7,449,477Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 3,459,053 — Total deaths: 136,900 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. States: Alabama's GOP governor issues statewide mask mandate — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive.
  4. Politics: Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre" — Trump says Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci.
4 hours ago - World

Pompeo announces visa restrictions on some Huawei employees

Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese telecom Huawei and other companies that "provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations globally," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's latest escalation against Huawei, which U.S. intelligence officials view as a threat to national security due to its ties to the Chinese military, comes the day after the U.K. announced it will no longer allow the telecom to access its 5G network.

4 hours ago - Health

UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history

UnitedHealth's financial power is growing. Photo: UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group registered more than $6.6 billion in profits in the second quarter — by far the conglomerate's highest quarterly profit ever, according to an analysis of company financial data from FactSet.

Why it matters: Most companies struggled in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic froze the economy, but health insurers like UnitedHealth heavily benefited as people held off on going to the doctor or hospital, resulting in fewer medical claims that needed to be paid.

Walmart will require all customers to wear masks

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 5,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.

Boston Scientific considering sale of snake venom unit

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) is considering a sale process for its snake venom unit, which could fetch upwards of $1 billion, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Because snake antivenom products, like Boston Scientific's CroFab, are the sort of niche things you never think about until that unfortunate moment when it's all you can think about.

Dave Morin's next act

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Early Facebook employee Dave Morin is back with a new venture capital fund called Offline Ventures, 15 months after leaving Slow Ventures.

Driving the news: Morin's new effort is called Offline Ventures, and is raising money via a "rolling fund" structure recently introduced by AngelList. Expect it to invest in both health and IT startups.

5 hours ago - Technology

Google to invest $4.5 billion in India's Jio

Photo: Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investing $4.5 billion in India's Jio Platforms, with plans to team up on an entry-level smartphone, the tech giant announced Wednesday.

The big picture: Jio has become tech's favorite bet on India as perhaps the world's greatest digital growth market. Google is following the likes of Intel, Qualcomm and Facebook in investing in Jio, which houses India's largest wireless carrier and a range of other tech and telecom assets.

BlackRock took "voting action" against 53 companies on climate issues so far this year

Photo: Hannes Breustedt/picture alliance via Getty Images

BlackRock, in a report published Tuesday, said this year it has used its shares to take "voting action" against 53 companies that are "making insufficient progress integrating climate risk into their business models or disclosures."

Why it matters: The tally is an early sign of how BlackRock is implementing one element of its wider plan unveiled early this year to make climate change more central to its strategy.

Mergers and acquisitions picked back up in Q2

Reproduced from CB Insights; Chart: Axios Visuals

Big companies are quickly getting back to business as usual even as coronavirus cases continue to hit record levels.

What's happening: A recent survey of U.S. chief financial officers found the difference in outlooks between small and large firms over the next 12 months "is extreme."

Federal Reserve boosted big banks' bond trading profits in Q2

Fed chair Jerome Powell. Photo: Federal Reserve via Getty Images

Tuesday's earnings reports showed how banks have reaped the rewards of the Federal Reserve's efforts to carpet bomb markets with liquidity since March.

What happened: JPMorgan's fixed-income trading revenue jumped 99% in the quarter, while fixed-income trading revenue climbed nearly 60% at Citi during the quarter.

What a Democratic wave in 2020 could mean for asset prices

Data: BofA Global Investment Strategy, Bloomberg, Haver; Table: Axios Visuals

More asset managers are starting to consider the "rising probability of political 'blue wave'" with Democrats sweeping the White House and Congress in the fall, strategists at Bank of America write in a note.

Where it stands: The analysts note that Oddschecker.com is factoring in a 57% likelihood of a win for Joe Biden, while Real Clear Politics puts a 62% likelihood on Democrats taking the Senate. BofA's data found annualized returns for assets from 7 out of 21 "blue waves" since 1928. The analysts also cite the likelihood of a "Blue Deal" fiscal stimulus in 2021 that would include infrastructure, student debt forgiveness and health care spending, which would be positive for value stocks and banks.

Cloud gaming is finally having its moment

Reproduced from ABI Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Revenue from cloud gaming is expected to explode in the next four years, according to a new report from ABI Research, commissioned by InterDigital Lab, a mobile technology research and development company.

Why it matters: Higher broadband speeds and penetration from 5G connectivity will make cloud computing gaming more accessible to the masses.

Newsrooms vs. "the ultimate editor" Twitter

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Bari Weiss' dramatic resignation from The New York Times' Opinion department Tuesday is the latest aftershock from an earthquake that has rocked U.S. newsrooms re-evaluating what role opinion journalism should play in the internet age.

Driving the news: In a letter written to the Times' publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, Weiss says she was the victim of persistent bullying within the organization and warns the New York Times that "Twitter has become its ultimate editor."

The existential threat to small business

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the game for U.S. businesses, pushing forward years-long shifts in workplaces, technology and buying habits and forcing small businesses to fight just to survive.

Why it matters: These changes are providing an almost insurmountable advantage to big companies, which are positioned to come out of the recession stronger and with greater market share than ever.

10 hours ago - Health

Health care's "COVID quarter" is here

A COVID-19 unit at a Houston hospital. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Health care companies will start reporting second-quarter financials in earnest this week, showing how the coronavirus lockdowns and subsequent reopenings affected their businesses.

The big picture: Revenues almost certainly will be down for most companies, as the virus forced people to stay at home and led to fewer people getting surgeries and going to pharmacies. But that doesn't mean profits were eliminated, and Wall Street has already pumped health care stock prices back to where they were pre-pandemic.

Students say they'll sacrifice fun if they can return to campus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College students overwhelmingly plan to return to campus this fall if their schools are open — and they claim they'll sit out the fun even if it's available, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.

Why it matters: For many, even an experience devoid of the trappings of college life is still a lot better than the alternative.

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