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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The world is hunkering down and staying home, which is sending the travel industry — and the rest of the economy — into a tailspin.
Why it matters: A freedom we usually take for granted — the ability to go anywhere, anytime — is taking a back seat to public health concerns as officials try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
What's happening: Starting today, the U.S. is banning travel from most European countries, except for Americans who undergo screening when they return.
The latest restrictions are sure to hurt the airline industry, already suffering from a plunge in bookings not seen since the aftermath of 9/11.
The economic fallout will be widespread, according to the International Air Transport Association, which just a week ago warned the crisis could wipe out some $113 billion of airline revenue.
There are unintended consequences for air freight, too.
The $150 billion cruise industry is also suffering due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The bottom line: As long as the coronavirus is running rampant, the economic effects will continue to mount.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The economic fallout of the global pandemic will test the resiliency of U.S. automakers, who vowed after going bankrupt a decade ago that they would be prepared for the next downturn.
Why it matters: No one is suggesting the coronavirus means a repeat of 2009's bleak days, when the U.S. auto industry was on the verge of collapse and needed a taxpayer bailout to survive.
The state of play: It could be a month or two before parts shortages that began in China ripple through supply chains and potentially interrupt U.S. production, industry experts say.
Another problem could be weakening consumer demand: People who are working from home and avoiding airports, conferences and sporting events aren't likely to visit a dealership to buy a new car amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Even if the virus gets much worse, the industry is generally healthier today than it was in 2009.
The bottom line: Detroit's long era of prosperity is about to be upended.
A mechanic maintains an electric vehicle in Germany. Photo: Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images
Cheaper gasoline due to the oil price collapse won't undercut electric vehicles too much, analysts say, but the coronavirus impact will be a hurdle, writes Axios' Ben Geman.
What they're saying: "For many years the theory is that low oil and gas is not good for EV demand from a high level," Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives tells Ben. But he adds...
The big picture: He's not alone. Morgan Stanley analysts gamed out the effects of gasoline prices at $2.37 per gallon — where it was a few days ago — compared to $3.50 per gallon.
Yes, that lengthens the "payback period" from switching to an EV from a traditional car to roughly seven years rather than four.
But, but, but: Fleets and cities will drive EV adoption more than individual consumers, notes Morgan Stanley.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Women who took extended time off from work to raise a family often assume their careers have hit a dead end. But in a tight job market, many companies are rolling out the red carpet to bring back that kind of experienced talent.
Why it matters: Career reentry programs — sometimes called "returnships" — give employers an opportunity to repopulate the ranks with high-caliber mid- to senior-level women. And they provide women who've been out of the workforce a chance to get back on the career path.
What's happening: More than 100 of the world's largest companies offer some type of return-to-work initiative.
GM's Take 2 program, launched in 2016, was one of the first STEM programs.
The bottom line: GM CEO Mary Barra broke barriers in 2014 as the only woman to lead a global automaker, but the industry as a whole remains a boys' club, reports USA Today.
Help wanted: China automakers seek government relief after February sales dive 79% on coronavirus (Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh — Reuters)
Cleaning crew: In planes and trains, mini-mops and Fog machines battle coronavirus (Aarian Marshall and Alex Davies — Wired)
Back in business: Uber resumes autonomous car testing in San Francisco (Kyle Wiggers — Venture Beat)
This week I'm driving the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, an affordable electric hatchback.
The big picture: The timing of the loan was interesting, coming just a few days after GM unveiled a broad lineup of electric vehicles based on a new, more advanced battery and modular EV architecture.
Key stat: The Bolt EV has a driving range of 259 miles between charges.
One catch: GM has sold more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles, which means the $7,500 federal tax credit on EVs is no longer available starting in April.
What to watch: If GM delivers on its promise for lower-cost batteries in its next crop of EVs, they could be affordable even without federal tax credits.