Wednesday's economy & business stories

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Facebook, Instagram transfer accounts, followers to Biden administration

Screenshot of official White House Facebook account.

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed that it is transferring the millions of followers of the official Facebook and Instagram White House accounts to the Biden administration.

Details: The accounts for "@POTUS," "@VicePresident" ("@VP" on Instagram) and "@FLOTUS" are having the followers from their personal Pages and accounts be transferred over. It's unclear when that transition process will be complete.

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Controversial USAGM CEO Michael Pack is out

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was nominated by Donald Trump to lead the government's foreign media arm, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), left the agency Wednesday at the request of President Biden.

Why it matters: Pack's eight-month tenure was filled with controversy. Most recently, he was accused of fraud, as well as misuse of office. Observers and whistleblowers have alleged throughout his tenure that he was abusing his power in an attempt to transform the agency into a pro-Trump propaganda arm.

Venture capital and private equity trade groups halt political donations

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Trade groups representing private equity and venture capital firms have joined the trend of pausing political donations, in the wake of Jan. 6.

Driving the news: The American Investment Council has suspended political contributions from its PAC to all political candidates for an undetermined length of time.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Momentum builds for major antitrust reform

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's outgoing antitrust chief Makan Delrahim on Tuesday endorsed a proposal from House Democrats that would put new limits on acquisitions by large companies, during comments made at a Duke University event.

Why it matters: Momentum is building for major antitrust reform, updating rules that were written for railroads instead of routers.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Jan 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

By the numbers: The impact of the $15 minimum wage

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Map: Axios Visuals

President-elect Joe Biden is calling to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is nearly double the current $7.25. The move would be the first change to the federal minimum wage since 2009.

Why it matters: The pandemic exposed the ugly ways in which America treats low-wage employees — even when they're doing essential jobs. Raising the federal minimum wage would put more money into the pockets of many of these same essential workers who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Jan 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

The age of digital nomads

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Work-wherever is now mature enough that startups are popping up to serve the digital nomads — those who are hopping around from city to city or country to country as they telework.

What's happening: Leases are getting shorter and countries are experimenting with remote work visas as the pandemic upends the way we live.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen said all the right things to reassure the markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Treasury Secretary nominee and former Fed chair Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday showed markets just what they can expect from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden: more of what they got under President Trump — at least for now.

What it means: Investors and big companies reaped the benefits of ultralow U.S. interest rates and low taxes for most of Trump's term as well as significant increases in government spending, even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump stock market underperformed Obama's

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. stock markets hit record highs during President Trump's time in office, but mostly underperformed his predecessor.

By the numbers: The stock market selloff that followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic wiped out three and a half years' worth of market gains for Trump. As of March 23, 2020, the S&P 500 had lost 1.5% since Trump's first day in office.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Jan 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Work-wherever turns to work-whenever

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic killed the 9-to-5 workday for many.

The big picture: So much of our society — from after-school child care programs to the most coveted time slots for television shows — is structured around working from 9 to 5. But our countrywide experiment in remote work has demonstrated that the hours we are logged on don't matter as long as the work gets done.

Biden will ask CDC to "immediately" extend eviction restrictions

Photo: Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images

As part of his Day One executive actions, President-elect Biden will ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "immediately" extend the federal eviction moratorium until the end of March and ask other federal agencies to extend foreclosure moratoriums on federally-backed mortgages.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of people out of work and resulted in many unable to pay their rent or mortgages. The moratorium was scheduled to expire on Jan. 31. As the deadline approached, the Urban Institute warned of a "looming evictions cliff" as renters reported they would be unable to make payments.

Biden will issue executive order to rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

President-elect Biden will issue an executive order on Wednesday to rescind permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first acts on his first day in office.

Why it matters: The move is a major development in a longtime fight over a controversial pipeline that began under the Obama administration. It reverses some of President Trump's own first actions aimed at advancing the project upon taking office in 2017.

Biden will ask the Department of Education to extend student loan relief

A U.S. flag flies above a building as students graduate from California's Pasadena City College in June 2019. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP

As part of his day one executive actions, President-elect Biden on Wednesday will ask the Department of Education to extend federal student loan relief, hoping to pause payments and interest accrual until at least Sept. 30.

Why it matters: The relief, in place since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire Jan. 31 . The measures, which also include expanding forgiveness and income-based repayment programs, have helped tens of millions of borrowers handle the financial strain brought on by the public health crisis.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.

Ex-Uber autonomous driving exec gets pardon from Trump

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In the last hours of his presidency, President Trump granted a full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of a 2017 lawsuit between Google's self-driving car unit and Uber over alleged theft of trade secrets.

Why it matters: The case made headlines as a bitter legal battle between two of Silicon Valley's best-known companies in the race to build self-driving cars.

Retailers drop My Pillow after pro-Trump CEO's election claims

President Trump and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's and Wayfair have stopped selling My Pillow products after Trump-supporting CEO Mike Lindell pushed baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Driving the news: Lindell told NBC News Tuesday the retailers phoned him to say they could face "a boycott" if they didn't take the action. But Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl's have both said the decision was related to a lack of demand for My Pillow's products.