Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Big Retail is coming off its worst year since the financial crash, and there will be more bloodletting; 50 retailers declared bankruptcy in 2017, and next year looks worse. Fitch forecasts $7 billion in retail defaults in 2018, 23% higher than the $5.7 billion this year. That is stunning, as retail accounted for a whopping 30% of all 2017 defaults.

Fitch lists these retailers, among others, as most in danger: Sears, Neiman Marcus, J Crew, Talbots, Lands' End and Cole Haan.

What to watch next: whether "experiential" retail, as they call their experiments in transforming physical stores, succeeds in getting people off-line, into their shops, and — most importantly — buying.

Meantime, Amazon is eating the industry, as shoppers chose the convenience and lower prices of online shopping over visiting an actual store.

  • Also look for retailers to use more augmented reality to bring products right into their customers' home. Ikea is leading the way, letting customers see how furniture will look in their homes before they buy.

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Court allows North Carolina mail-in ballots deadline extension

An absentee ballot election worker stuffs ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina, in September. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked Nov. 3 on Election Day until Nov. 12, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday in a 12-3 majority ruling.

Why it matters: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling against state and national Republican leaders settles a lawsuit brought by a group representing retirees, and it could see scores of additional votes counted in the key battleground state.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting — McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election — Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — University of Michigan students ordered to shelter-in-place.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Report: Goldman to settle DOJ probe into Malaysia's 1MDB for over $2B

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Goldman Sachs has agreed with the Department of Justice to pay over $2 billion for the bank's role in Malaysia's multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: The settlement, expected to be announced within days, would allow Goldman Sachs to avoid a criminal conviction in the U.S. over the bribery and money laundering scandal that saw three of its former bankers banned for life from the banking industry by the Federal Reserve Board.