May 11, 2020

Axios AM

Good Monday morning.

🎬 On tonight’s "Axios on HBO" (11 p.m. ET/PT): I ask Vice President Pence whether people should wear masks in the White House (clip), and he says he'd welcome former national security adviser Michael Flynn back (clip).

  • Plus Sen. Marco Rubio talks China with Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff discusses the future of work with Ina Fried.

🇮🇷 An "Iranian warship accidentally struck another with a missile during an exercise, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 others," in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. (Reuters)

1 big thing: Big money is on Trump

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even with unprecedented job losses and a bruising recession, investors and betting markets are still putting their money on President Trump to win re-election in November, Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin writes.

Joe Biden holds a sizable lead in most national and individual swing state polls.

  • And Trump hasn't gotten the bump that often comes from national catastrophes, as Americans typically rally around the flag and the president.

But money managers still expect Trump to keep the White House in November.

  • In a late April survey of U.S.-based investors with at least $1 million of assets, UBS found that 53% said they planned to vote for Biden.
  • But 52% think Trump will win.

The world's most popular betting destinations still show Trump as the clear favorite.

  • The RealClearPolitics average of betting websites gives the advantage to Trump with an average spread of 8.2 as of last night.
  • Casino sportsbooks are paying around $83 for winning bets on Trump vs. $135 for winning bets on Biden, making Biden the unequivocal underdog, according to the gambling site Bovada.

What we're hearing: The expectation for Trump to triumph seems to largely reflect optimism about the economy once various state and local lockdown orders end, economists say.

  • "We can’t expect that the economy is going to be in very good shape, although the trajectory ought to be pretty positive by November," Steve Skancke, who worked in Treasury, NSC and economic policy jobs in the Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations, tells Axios.
  • As November approaches, it's "more than likely we’re going to see a positive stock market and there will be positive job growth," adds Skancke, now chief economic advisor at wealth manager Keel Point.

The bottom line: "The wild card obviously is the virus and the [potential] vaccine," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Investor Service, tells Axios.

  • "And that’s a very significant wild card both on the downside and the upside."

Share this story. ... Sign up for Dion Rabouin's daily newsletter, Axios Markets.

2. White House sees 20-25% unemployment

In Salt Lake City, Euro Treasures Antiques owner Scott Evans closes his art and antiques store after 40 years. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Asked about unemployment on CBS' "Face the Nation," White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett said: "I'm looking for rates north of 20%, sadly."

  • "To get unemployment rates like the ones that we're about to see," Hassett said, "which I think will climb up towards 20% by next month, you have to really go back to the Great Depression to see that."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday": "The reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better, but that’s why we’re focused on rebuilding this economy. We’ll have a better third quarter. We’ll have a better fourth quarter. And next year is going to be a great year."

  • Chris Wallace asked Mnuchin: "[T]he unemployment numbers for April stopped in mid-April, does not include the 7 million people who have lost their jobs since then. So aren’t we talking close to 25% at this point, which is Great Depression neighborhood?"
  • Mnuchin replied: "Chris, we could be."
3. 📉 Women's unemployment in double digits for first time

Spotted in Euclid, Ohio. Photo: Tony Dejak/AP

The Great Recession of '08-'09 was called a "mancession" — 70% of the millions who lost their jobs were men, many in construction and manufacturing, the WashPost's Samantha Schmidt writes.

  • "This time, ... the heaviest toll is falling on women."
  • "Waitresses, day-care workers, hairstylists, hotel maids and dental hygienists are among the 20.5 million people who watched their jobs vanish in April."

Until now, women had "never experienced an unemployment rate in the double digits since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting data by gender in 1948."

  • "At 16.2 percent, women's unemployment in April was nearly three points higher than men’s."
4. Pics du jour: Shanghai Disneyland reopens

Photo: Sam McNeil/AP

Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the park reopened today in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism, AP's Sam McNeil reports.

  • Why it matters: The House of Mouse's experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global leisure industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus' telltale fever.
Waiting to get in. Photo: Sam McNeil/AP

Decals on sidewalks and at lines for attractions show visitors where to stand to keep themselves separated. The company said rides will be limited to one group of visitors per car to keep strangers apart.

  • Advance reservations are required and visitors are assigned times to enter.
  • The company said guest numbers will be limited to one-third of the usual daily level of 80,000 at the start and will gradually increase.
5. 🚨 Top talker: Life insurance is suddenly tougher to get

"U.S. insurers are doing the once unthinkable, turning away business from some Americans who want a life-insurance policy," the Wall Street Journal's Leslie Scism writes (subscription).

  • Why it's happening: "A collapse in interest rates tied to the spread of the new coronavirus and an expectation from insurers that rates won’t rebound significantly anytime soon."

"[S]ome companies say more consumers are seeking out life insurance during the coronavirus pandemic."

  • "In addition to suspending sales of some popular products and raising prices, insurers are also scaling back policy sizes and reducing benefits."
6. Why clean energy won't lead recovery

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Calls to include clean energy provisions in coronavirus recovery packages face uphill battles as the Trump administration and lawmakers are in crisis mode, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • The UN, the IMF and a broad swath of investors and corporate executives are all pushing similar ideas.

But most major policies that would have the biggest impact on climate change are not huge job creators in the short term, says Varun Sivaram, a senior visiting fellow at the Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy policy.

  • Innovation into new technology, like long-term energy storage and carbon-capture equipment that are key to big emission reductions, will create jobs over a long period of time, but not immediately.

Read the column.

7. Effort to get business on board with early voting

Envelopes from mail-in ballots in Washington state in March. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Forces behind a "Vote Early Day 2020" initiative are launching a paid media campaign this week to get companies to encourage people to seek absentee ballots or vote early in person amid the coronavirus threat, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev reports.

  • It will run a $100,000 ad tomorrow in the Wall Street Journal addressed "Dear CEOs and Business Leaders."
  • The nonpartisan group includes representatives from MTV and ViacomCBS, Twitter, BET, Univision, Snapchat, and other media and technology outlets; nonprofit groups such as the League of Women Voters; and companies including Levi Strauss & Co., Kenneth Cole, Patagonia, REI and Sweetgreen.

Share this story.

8. Biden slams Trump on testing

Courtesy Biden for President

Joe Biden calls President Trump's plans to reopen the economy a "false choice that none of us should fall for" designed to stoke partisan tensions to deflect from his administration's public-health failings in a Washington Post op-ed.

  • "If we're going to have thriving workplaces, restaurants, stores and parks, we need widespread testing. Trump can’t seem to provide it — to say nothing of worker safety protocols, consistent health guidelines or clear federal leadership to coordinate a responsible reopening."
9. CLEAR to offer virus screening for businesses

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Biometric ID company CLEAR, which you've likely encountered at airport checkpoints around the country, is introducing a new product that will link personal health data to verified IDs to help businesses screen employees for coronavirus infections as they return to work, Axios Future editor Bryan Walsh reports.

  • Why it matters: Before businesses can effectively reopen, workers and customers need to be assured that they're unlikely to encounter coronavirus infections.

Share this story.

Breaking: Jerry Stiller dies at 92

Stiller in a 1994 "Seinfeld" episode. Photo: Michael Yarish/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jerry Stiller, the comedian best known for his roles on "Seinfeld" and "The King of Queens," has died of natural causes, according to an announcement from his son, Ben.

  • "He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed."
10. 1 smile to go

Screenshot via CNN

As a Mother's Day guest during his daily coronavirus news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo [Corrected] welcomed his mom, Matilda Cuomo, former first lady of New York when her husband, the late Mario Cuomo, was governor.

  • Andrew joked: "I know I'm your favorite, deep down inside."

Below, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) showed off a mask reminiscent of the signature red-checked shirts from his campaigns.

  • Later in the day, Alexander's office announced that he'll self-quarantine for 14 days after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.
Courtesy NBC's "Meet the Press"

📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.