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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TGI Fridays takeover called off

Photo by Chris Ison/PA Images via Getty Images

A blank-check acquisition company called Allegro Merger has terminated its $380 million takeover of restaurant chain TGI Fridays, which is owned by TriArtisan Capital Partners.

Why it matters: TGI Fridays is one of the world's largest eat-in restaurant franchisers, with more than half of its 842 stores located outside the U.S. Plus, its spinach and artichoke dip is downright delicious.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,407,123— Total deaths: 80,759 — Total recoveries: 297,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 383,256 — Total deaths: 12,021 — Total recoveries: 20,191Map.
  3. Trump admin latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill.
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. World update: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Environment latest: Coronavirus patients in more polluted parts of the U.S. are more likely to die from the illness than those in cleaner areas, according to a new Harvard University analysis.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers 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.

Group Nine Media lays off 7% of staff during coronavirus crisis

Group Nine Media CEO Ben Lerer. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Group Nine Media, which includes digital lifestyle brands like The Dodo, NowThis, Thrillist, Seeker and PopSugar, is laying off 7% of its employees, according to sources familiar with the cuts. A smaller percentage of employees will be furloughed.

Why it matters: It's one of the many media companies that's been forced to take drastic measures to survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

Podcast: The race to reopen America

The U.S. will not be able to reopen as quickly as it closed. Dan and Axios' Felix Salmon discuss what it will take to safely reopen the American economy and how far off that may be.

Go deeper: What top CEOs fear telling America about the coronavirus shutdown

Quorum Health files for bankruptcy

Quorum Health is in dire straits. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Quorum Health, the chain of small community hospitals spun out by Community Health Systems, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and secured $300 million to keep operations going throughout the process.

The bottom line: Quorum said none of its 23 hospitals will close, and employees will be paid and available to provide care during the coronavirus pandemic. But the company, which has been crushed by debt and was nearly bought out by one of its private equity owners, will remain in a precarious financial position even once it emerges from bankruptcy.

WeWork board sues SoftBank

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

SoftBank was sued Tuesday morning by a special committee of WeWork's board of directors for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty related to SoftBank's decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

Why it matters: SoftBank is viewed by many in the private markets as an unfaithful partner. If this reaches trial, that reputation could either become widely cemented or reversed.

YouTube pulls coronavirus misinformation videos

YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan. Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

YouTube's product chief tells Axios that the Google-owned video site has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos — including some from the Brazilian president's channel — for violating policies related to the spread of medical misinformation.

Why it matters: Though criticized in the past for allowing misinformation to flourish, Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been taking a tougher stand when it comes to the coronavirus.

Hyperlocal news site Patch is making money during the coronavirus crisis

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) digital news platform, had its strongest month ever in March for both revenue and traffic, according to president Warren St. John.

Why it matters: The digital-only local news platform is an anomaly compared other local news publishers which are struggling amid steep advertising losses.

Snapchat launches augmented reality donations for coronavirus relief

Photo: Snapchat

Snapchat launched its first donation tool today to help users donate to coronavirus relief efforts, a spokesperson tells Axios.

Why it matters: It uses augmented reality. Snap users can scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries using the Snapchat app, triggering an AR visualization of how a potential donation could support the World Health Organization’s response efforts.

Go deeper...Exclusive: Snapchat expedites wellness push in response to virus

eSports surge as professional sports get canceled

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Major sports broadcasters are leaning into eSports to fill the programming gaps left from leagues canceling professional sports games because of coronavirus.

The state of play: ESPN on Sunday aired 12 hours of esports including Rocket League, NBA 2K, and Madden.

Here's which local newsrooms are getting that Facebook cash

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook will release today a list of the 400 local newsrooms receiving grants from its Facebook Journalism Project's "Community Network" program to support coronavirus news coverage. 

Why it matters: Local newsrooms desperately need the money. Facebook said it received over 200 applications within the first 48 hours of the program being announced.

Online shopping demand has never been higher amid coronavirus lockdowns

Data: Parse.ly; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

New data from Parse.ly shows that demand for shopping-related content online is up far more than any other type of web traffic.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has created a new reality for media publishers: the need to convert an influx of traffic into consumer dollars instead of ad dollars.

Former Fox execs charged in bribery scheme for World Cup rights

llustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In October 2011, the American soccer world was stunned to learn that the World Cup broadcast rights, which ESPN had owned since 1994, would be moving to Fox for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Driving the news: According to a federal indictment handed down by U.S. prosecutors yesterday, two former Fox executives participated in an alleged scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to secure those rights.

Go deeperArrow7 hours ago - Sports

Gold surges as coronavirus upheaval continues

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gold futures rose to their highest since late 2012 on Monday, surging above $1,700 an ounce and pushing out the spread over spot prices, even as U.S. stock indexes rose by more than 7%.

The big picture: Investors continue to buy gold even on days that equity prices soar, in part because of worries about the coronavirus outbreak but also because of the prospect of untold trillions in spending from global governments and central banks, decreasing the value of the dollar and fiat currencies.

Americans think the stock market will still rise as the rest of the economy sinks

Adapted from Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans are more worried than ever about losing their jobs, their household income and the equity in their homes, but one thing they are not worried about is the stock market.

The state of play: The Fed's latest survey of consumer expectations shows "a significant deterioration in households’ expectations regarding their labor market and financial situation, a decline seen across all age, education, and income groups," but respondents also reported an unprecedented spike in expectations for the stock market to rise.

The coronavirus outbreak will forever change the world economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Both the U.S. and global economies are set to be permanently altered by the coronavirus outbreak and the measures that have been taken in response to it, experts say.

The state of play: "Fundamentally there are going to be huge changes in household consumption patterns, business patterns and global supply chains," Kevin Warsh, a former Fed governor and current economics lecturer at Stanford, said during a Reuters teleconference.

Coronavirus breaks the telecom bundle

Reproduced from Park Associates "Broadband Services in the U.S." report; Note: 2019 survey was conducted in Q3, with 10,059 respondents and a ±1% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumers are adopting stand-alone broadband services at a much higher rate than just two years ago, and analysts predict that the economic downturn prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak will accelerate the trend.

Why it matters: With a recession looming, consumers may look to cut pay TV service in favor of more robust standalone internet packages once they're free to leave their homes.

David Rubenstein distills lessons from those at the top in "How to Lead"

Cover: Simon & Schuster

David Rubenstein — a business titan who has developed a sideline as a captivating interviewer — will be out Sept. 1 with a book that captures five years of learnings from his onstage and on-air conversations.

"How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers" includes conversations with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Warren Buffett, Oprah and more.

America's funeral homes buckle under the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries in hot spots across America cannot keep up with the staggering death toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The U.S. has seen more than 10,000 deaths from the virus, and at least tens of thousands more lives are projected to be lost. The numbers are creating unprecedented bottlenecks in the funeral industry — and social distancing is changing the way the families say goodbye to their loved ones.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - Health

Feds relax Medicare Advantage regulations amid pandemic

An older coronavirus patient at a New York City hospital. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Federal payments to Medicare Advantage companies will increase by 1.66% in 2021, and several of the insurance program's policies are being waived or changed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Monday.

The bottom line: Medicare Advantage continues to grow at a lofty rate, and the Trump administration is protecting those health insurers through the pandemic and into next year.

Go deeperArrow11 hours ago - Health

Wells Fargo not opening up PPP loans, despite Fed facility

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Wells Fargo reiterated Monday night that it will not open up its small business Paycheck Protection Program loans to companies with more than 50 employees, despite an announcement from the Fed that it would set up a facility to buy the loans from banks.

Why it matters: Wells Fargo's announcement shows that even with a Fed backstop one of the country's largest banks will still not be participating in a program designed to help businesses on the verge of collapse because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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