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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Sears filed for bankruptcy this week, and its owner, Eddie Lampert, is warning employees that absent "material progress over the next few months," the fate of the company is going to be "a shutdown and liquidation."

The bottom line: There are good bankruptcies, which discharge legacy debts and allow the company to continue anew. And then there are bad bankruptcies, which cut off supply chains and result in outright liquidation. Bad bankruptcies inevitably result in thousands of job losses — and Sears is looking like it's going to be one of them.

The big picture: Sears hasn't made any visible "material progress" since Lampert took control of the company in 2005. The chances of it doing so now are slim.

  • Lampert is a master of financial engineering, but the way that this bankruptcy plays out is now largely out of his control.
  • Sears could easily go the way of Toys "R" Us: An outright liquidation, with tens of thousands of employees losing their jobs.

Worryingly, there are many other companies which are worth very little on the stock market but which have thousands of employees relying on them to make payroll every month.

  • JC Penney, another troubled retailer, has 98,000 employees and a market value of just $5,600 per employee. Pier 1 is worth only $7,000 per employee.
  • Netflix, by contrast, has a market capitalization of some $27 million per employee, with a workforce of 5,500.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

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It was 563 days ago that the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by healthcare reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at our Covid future.

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.