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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MLB teams are more valuable than ever

Reproduced from Forbes; Chart: Axios Visuals

MLB team valuations have risen yet again, capping a decade of growth during which the average team's value has increased four-fold, per Forbes.

Why it matters: With team profits also reaching record highs — an average of $50 million per team for a 25% increase YoY — the league is confident it will be able to weather whatever economic downturn a shortened season might cause.

Go deeperArrow38 mins ago - Sports

Some economists wary of Fed's coronavirus-driven asset purchases

Data: Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

Some market analysts and economists have gotten wary of the Fed's expanding laundry list of asset purchases.

Why it matters: The big worry for most is that the Fed is now manipulating larger and larger swaths of what is supposed to be a free market.

Hedge funds outperformed the stock market in March

Reproduced from eVestment; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 in March and have suffered fewer losses this year, showing their value during crisis periods, data from eVestment shows.

The state of play: March’s average loss was the second largest on record and largest since the height of the global financial crisis in October 2008 when the average fund lost 8%-9%.

Exclusive: Americans have not been impressed by the Fed's coronavirus response

Reproduced from CivicScience; Note: ±3% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Wall Street seems to unanimously approve of the Federal Reserve's actions so far, but most Americans are less enthused, a new poll from data firm CivicScience provided for Axios shows.

The state of play: The data shows that just 12% of respondents say they think the Fed has done "very well" in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, while 19% say the Fed has done "very poorly."

The coronavirus is pinching labs

Lab capacity has not increased as much as hoped. Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Commercial labs are in a precarious financial position, as the overwhelming demand for coronavirus tests is not close to making up the revenue of other tests that aren't being ordered.

Why it matters: Commercial labs are anchoring coronavirus testing, and testing remains paramount to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - Health

The Fed rescues Wall Street, but Main Street is another story

llustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In less than a month, the Federal Reserve has unleashed a multi-trillion dollar tour de force to buoy the U.S. economy against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: While it has steadied the markets, the Fed is poorly equipped to offset the hit being absorbed by small business owners and the close to 17 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in just the past three weeks.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,612,646 — Total deaths: 96,787 — Total recoveries: 361,377Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 466,299 — Total deaths: 16,686 — Total recoveries: 26,522Map.
  3. 2020 latest: Republicans are getting worried about President Trump's daily briefings and his eventual plan to restart the economy.
  4. Business latest: The auto industry is sharing detailed return-to-work guidelines on how to shield employees from the coronavirus.
  5. Public health latest: The U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health order.
  6. Timeline: How the U.S. fell behind
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Automakers lay out back-to-work playbook for coronavirus pandemic

Magna employees in China adapting to a new normal at work. Images courtesy of Magna

The auto industry is sharing detailed return-to-work guidelines on how to shield employees from the coronavirus as it prepares to reopen its own factories in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: We might not shake hands again, but sooner or later, most of us will return to our jobs, whether in a factory, office or public venue within close proximity of others. Reestablishing an environment where employees feel comfortable and can remain healthy will be a daunting challenge for every employer.

Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

"Saturday Night Live" to return with remotely produced episode

"Saturday Night Live" will return to the air this weekend with a remotely produced episode after NBC suspended the comedy show's production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of play: The show will include its signature “Weekend Update” sketch and original cast content, AP reports. The network said the episode will be produced remotely to abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's social distancing guidelines.

How to understand the scale of American job decimation

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Sentence from a nightmare: 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline from the previous week's 6.9 million.

The big picture: Over the past three weeks, 1 in 10 working-age adults filed for unemployment, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Local media asks Congress for more relief

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The United States' biggest media trade groups, representing thousands of publishers and broadcasters, asked Congress on Thursday to provide extensive relief to local news outlets in its next stimulus bill.

Why it matters: While the $2 trillion rescue package that already passed covers small businesses, including some news companies, advocates argue it's not enough to cover the long-lasting damages coronavirus will have on the news business' models and products.

Medicare's coronavirus loans hit $51 billion

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a coronavirus hotspot. Photo: Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

Hospitals, doctors' offices, suppliers and other health care facilities have now received $51 billion in "advance payments" from Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Thursday.

The bottom line: Those funds, which act as a loan and have to be repaid, are up from $34 billion earlier this week. CMS has processed 21,000 of the 32,000 requests.

Go deeper: Hospitals are starting to get their coronavirus cash infusion

The great stock market rebound

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's one of the biggest and fastest stock market rallies in living memory. In the 12 trading sessions since its low point on March 23, the S&P 500 has rallied by 25%, with its component companies increasing in value by more than $4.4 trillion.

The state of play: The tech-heavy Nasdaq index is now higher than it was a mere 6 months ago: If you bought it at the beginning of October, you'd be sitting on a profit right now.

Africa eyes a debt "standstill"

Data: IIF; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A debt standstill looks unworkable in the U.S., but it might yet be possible in Africa.

Driving the news: The biggest names in African finance are urging the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to announce a "standstill" on the continent's external debt obligations.

Banks' first-quarter profits are expected to get rough

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors expect the earnings season that kicks off on Tuesday to be ugly.

What to watch: The banks are among the first to report. They still made a ton of money, but the results — and the companies' outlooks — will give insight into our current unprecedented halt in economic activity.

Go deeperArrow19 hours ago - Health

Big business beefs up in era of coronavirus uncertainty

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

All companies want to be cash-rich — and as big as possible — heading into an era of extreme uncertainty.

The big picture: Companies raised an astonishing $287 billion through bond issuance between March 17 and April 3 alone. That's more than they raised in the entire second quarter of last year.

Small businesses struggle to get cash

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Federal Reserve is pouring trillions of dollars into programs making it easy for big companies to access liquidity on capital markets, and the Fed's new Main Street Lending Program is designed to target medium-sized businesses that need between $1 million and $150 million in marginal new debt. But the state of affairs for small businesses is still bad.

Driving the news: The government has pledged $350 billion, and probably will commit another $250 billion on top of that, for small businesses to keep their employees on payroll. But the program got off to a very rocky start, and it's still extremely rare to find businesses that have actually received any funds.

A pause button for debts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governments have forcibly put much of the U.S. and the global economy on pause in recent weeks, for very good reason. Factories, offices, sporting arenas, restaurants, airports and myriad other institutions have closed down. But one thing hasn't been paused: monthly debt-service obligations.

The big picture: The less movement and activity there is in an economy, the more the coronavirus curve is flattened. But the obligations in bond and loan contracts can't be paused. That's worrying CEOs who fear a wave of business failures if economic activity doesn't pick up next month.

A good month for one "black swan" hedge fund

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Universa Investments, the "black swan" hedge fund, had a pretty good March.

Why it matters: While the coronavirus pandemic isn't really a black swan — a lot of people knew such a thing would come at some point — the slump in the markets was severe enough that the fund's out-of-the-money options trades suddenly became extremely profitable.

Trump plans second coronavirus task force focused on the economy

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus, two administration officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: There is growing energy within the West Wing to start easing people back to work by May 1. But some public health officials, including those on the coronavirus task force, have warned against doing so, raising concerns about reopening America too soon.

TSA screened fewer than 100,000 people at airports across the U.S. twice this week

An empty TSA checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration screened fewer than 100,000 people at airports around the U.S. on both Tuesday and Wednesday, per agency data.

The state of play: The 94,931 people screened on Wednesday is down from 2,229,276 on a comparable weekday a year ago. The last time the nation averaged fewer than 100,000 air passengers was in 1954, notes the AP.

Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion amid coronavirus crisis

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference in March. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will support the coronavirus-hit economy with up to $2.3 trillion in loans to businesses, state and city governments — made possible in part by Treasury funds set aside in the government stimulus package.

Why it matters: It adds to the number of huge, unprecedented steps the Fed has taken during the coronavirus outbreak to blunt the effects of the resulting economic shutdown. Its actions to date are bigger than any seen during other crises in U.S. history.

DetailsArrowUpdated 22 hours ago - Economy & Business

Senate in stalemate over $250 billion PPP injection

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before the Paycheck Protection Program formally launched last Friday, we knew two things: The rollout would be rocky, and the initial $350 billion wouldn't be enough for America's small businesses.

The state of play: Banks and government officials have been working to smooth out the process. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) attempt to pump another $250 billion into the program via unanimous consent was blocked by Democrats, who are proposing an alternative that includes billions more for hospitals and states.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 22 hours ago - Economy & Business

Pacific Collective says coronavirus is an act of God that prevented ExxonMobil deal

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pacific Collective, a California retail developer, is asking a court to declare the state's coronavirus lockdown to be an act of God, or force majeure, that prevented it from completing a $4.2 million property purchase from ExxonMobil, per Reuters.

Why it matters: This is the leading edge of what could become a flood of similar lawsuits. Force majeure is a common term in M&A contracts, but there is no legal consensus that it covers a pandemic — let alone government action in response to a pandemic.

Sports communication platform Teamworks raises $25 million

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Teamworks, an athlete engagement platform that grew up in the college sports space and has since expanded to the professional ranks, announced yesterday that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Delta-v Capital.

The big picture: The round also includes participation from new investors Afia Capital, a private investment platform backed by pro athletes, and Stadia Ventures, a global sports innovation hub.

Go deeperArrow24 hours ago - Sports

ESPN hit hardest after coronavirus shuts down live sports

Reproduced from Variety Intelligence Platform; Chart: Axios Visuals

878 nationally televised sporting events have been canceled or suspended due to COVID-19, according to data from Variety Intelligence Platform.

By the numbers: ESPN+ (160), ESPN (139), ESPN3 (22), ESPN2 (20) and ESPNU (4) have accounted for 39% of all dropped fixtures.

Go deeper: How the sports world is helping on coronavirus

Another 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week amid coronavirus crisis

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It adds to the staggering 10 million jobless claims in recent weeks — by far the sharpest spikes in American history — as the world economy has ground to a halt in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus is squeezing more people out of the housing market

Data: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus is helping existing homeowners but also causing dislocations in the U.S. mortgage market. This, combined with the pandemic, is weakening access to and demand for mortgages even with rates at record lows.

Why it matters: In addition to the expected downturn in the housing market from nationwide shelter-in-place orders, the current shock is making it harder and more expensive for individuals, especially those with lower credit scores and less cash, to get a mortgage.

Investors see more volatility ahead as coronavirus hammers markets

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The stock market continues to bounce back and analysts and investors are lining up on opposing sides of the market's big new question — whether stocks have hit the bottom. The one thing they both agree on is that there will be significant volatility ahead.

On one side: The rebound from this recession may come at warp speed because the fall came at warp speed, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, tells Axios.

1 in 10 Americans believe economy will never return to normal from coronavirus

Deep Root Analytics of Arlington, Va., surveyed its corporate social responsibility audience — consumers who say a company's stance on key issues is important to their buying decisions.

By the numbers: They found that 47% believe that it will be on or after Christmas before the economy and the American way of life return to mostly normal. 11% said it will never return to normal.

Methodology: 843 U.S. voters were interviewed April 2-5, with 604 interviews online and 239 via automated telephone technology. Margin of error: ±3.4%.

Go deeper: The coronavirus outbreak will forever change the world economy

The coronavirus's domino effect on startup layoffs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the coronavirus continues to paralyze much of American daily life, startups that aren’t directly affected by the sudden shift in consumer behavior are now laying off employees too, worried that their products and services won't be in demand anytime soon.

Why it matters: Startups create a lot of jobs — in 2015 alone they created 2.5 million — and their pain could make a recovery from the virus downturn harder.

Coronavirus pandemic pushes WeWork to make more room for workers

A WeWork in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

WeWork — the driver of America's shift to smaller, shared office spaces — is planning layout changes at its nearly 900 locations for life after the coronavirus pandemic, according to company documents reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: After months of paranoia, social distancing and working from home, the millions who work from WeWorks will be wary of returning to shared kitchens, phone booths and desks. WeWorks have 75 square feet of space per worker, compared to the national average of 214.

Hospitals are starting to get their coronavirus cash infusion

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The federal government is sending $64 billion to hospitals, post-acute facilities and other medical providers to help cope with the coronavirus fallout.

Yes, but: Even though more funding is coming, safety net and rural hospitals fear they are getting a raw deal from the way some of the money is being distributed.

Go deeperArrowApr 9, 2020 - Health

In photos: Food banks demand surges amid coronavirus crisis

People wait on line standing in squares 6 feet apart at a food bank in Edgewood, Washington, April 4. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

There's been an upsurge in demand for food banks across the U.S. because of the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the U.S., projects a $1.4 billion shortfall over the next six months. "School closures, rising unemployment and rising poverty due to quarantine and stay-at-home orders will disproportionately impact people already at risk of hunger and could result in an estimated additional 17.1 million people experiencing food insecurity, an increase of 46%," the nonprofit said in a statement.

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