Feb 4, 2019

Small businesses are waving a caution flag

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

"After a banner year, many small businesses are becoming more cautious about their investment and hiring plans," The Wall Street Journal's Ruth Simon reports.

By the numbers: "Economic confidence among small firms, which edged downward for much of 2018, in January reached its lowest level since President Trump’s election, according to a monthly survey of 765 small firms for The Wall Street Journal by Vistage Worldwide. ... Just 14% of firms expect the economy to improve this year, while 36% expect it to get worse."

Why it matters: "We could be at a turning point," said Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan economist who analyzed the data, told the Journal. "Recessions are not made of one firm collapsing, but of many firms cutting back in marginal ways."

Go deeper: Consumer sentiment at lowest levels since Trump elected

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World coronavirus updates: Half of the globe is on lockdown

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

About half of the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis.

The latest: About half of deaths worldwide are in Italy and Spain, with fatalities exponentially increasing all over Europe. The global death toll exceeded 55,000 on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 27 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: 700,000 jobs lost in March, death toll still rising

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in March, but the report doesn't reflect the height of the virus' impact on the economy. The jobless hits right now are like a natural disaster striking every state at the same time.

The state of play: Payments to Americans from the $2.2 trillion stimulus package will be distributed in mid-April, but those without IRS direct deposit accounts may not receive checks until August, according to a House Ways and Means Committee memo first reported by CNN and confirmed by Axios.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 45 mins ago - Health

Skepticism rises over government's small business bailouts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America today launched its $350 billion bailout for small businesses, and already there is widespread skepticism that the program will run smoothly or be large enough to meet demand.

What's new: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy yesterday said that the affiliation rule will be waived for any company with less than 500 employees that doesn't have a controlling outside shareholder, thus making most VC-backed startups eligible for PPP loans. This was based on a conversation he'd just had with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.