Good morning! Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here. (Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,308 words, 5 minutes. )
🎙 “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.” - See who said it and why it matters at the bottom.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As restaurants, department stores and other local businesses grapple with operating at half occupancy (or less) to comply with social distancing guidelines, airlines are packing customers to near capacity on a reduced number of flights.
Why it matters: The practice shows how a lack of a national policy allows certain companies — like airlines — to continue to put Americans at risk for exposure to COVID-19 while other companies miss out on revenue by adhering to local regulations.
How it works: Airlines reduced the number of flights they offered by as much as 90% through the end of May, and as travel demand has picked up, they've simply loaded new passengers onto the few remaining scheduled flights.
The big picture: Policymakers have created local ordinances for land-based businesses and public transit services that require new layouts to reduce the number of people.
Delta, for example, instituted a rule "capping seating at 50% capacity in first class and 60% capacity in the main cabin and keeping middle seats blocked."
What's next: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, sent a letter this week to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging her department to issue uniform national social distancing guidelines for the aviation sector.
The aviation industry has been the economic sector most impacted by the lockdown in terms of activity.
Today's 1 big thing happened because of an angry tweet I sent.
What happened: I needed to fly to Phoenix for a family matter and booked a flight on American that ended up being canceled. They offered to put me on a different flight with a layover in Dallas/Fort Worth and assured me they were booking all flights at 50% capacity, so I agreed to the change rather than taking a refund.
And then what: When I boarded the first flight, it was mostly full but there were visible open seats. The next flight was completely full. I had a middle seat. I saw no open seats on the plane.
The big picture: In the course of my angry back and forth with American, I got a flurry of DMs from other passengers who had similar experiences — they expected or were told planes would be socially distanced or at 50% capacity and were shocked to discover their flights packed full.
The last word: I wondered how this could happen given all the restrictions on every business I've tried to patronize over the past month. Now I know.
In Senate testimony, Fed chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin laid out contrasting visions of the economy, with Powell warning of long-lasting damage and Mnuchin predicting a quick, V-shaped recovery. (WSJ)
Three months after filing for bankruptcy, Pier 1 said it plans to liquidate as soon as it can reopen its closed stores. (NPR)
The CBO estimates U.S. unemployment will exceed 15% through September, remain above 11% the rest of the year and hold above 9.3% for all of 2021, just a percentage point below the Great Recession high. (CBO)
The Labor Department will permanently end the practice of giving news media early looks at market-moving economic data. (Bloomberg)
Axios' Ben Geman writes: The history of low oil prices juicing the U.S. economy was broken during the pandemic-fueled price collapse, Dallas Fed economists argue in a new commentary.
Why it matters: "[O]n balance this oil price decline has weakened rather than strengthened the U.S. economy, making this event different from past episodes of falling oil prices," they write.
What they found: Normally, low gasoline prices stimulate help the economy because people have more money to spend on other things, while high prices act as drag on growth.
The big picture: These tragically strange circumstances followed more structural changes over the last decade as U.S. production soared and petroleum imports fell.
Of note: By late 2019, U.S. net petroleum imports were negative, meaning that regardless of how much more consumers spend on gasoline, lower oil and gas prices do not mean that aggregate spending in the U.S. economy rises.
The bottom line: "In the current environment, the sharp reduction in capital expenditures by oil companies explains why this oil price decline, on balance, actually hurt U.S. investment spending — and hence, economic growth — not only in oil-producing regions, but overall."
They have more access to information and analytics than ever before, but new research shows retail investors are also moved to make stock purchases by ads they see on TV.
What it means: In a new paper, researchers at Cornell and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology find a "predictable, recurring, and robust pattern between investor exposure to television commercials and subsequent retail stock trading."
Details: "Within 15 minutes of seeing an ad for a firm’s product or service, investors begin searching for financial information on that firm’s stock."
The bottom line: "We found that each dollar spent on advertising translated to roughly 40 cents of additional trading volume in the advertiser’s stock."
Thanks for reading!
Quote: "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it."
Why it matters: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz who had been known as Malcolm X was a minister and human rights activist who was a leader and seminal figure in the civil rights movement. If he were still alive, yesterday would have been his 95th birthday.