C.E.O.s Say ‘It’s a Grind’

Hong Kong, considered an exemplar of coronavirus containment, is seeing a surge in infections — a warning for the rest of the world. And a new study in South Korea suggests that children older than 10 can spread the virus as readily as adults, which could complicate school reopenings. More on that below. (Want this delievered to your inbox each day? Sign up here.)

America’s corporate chiefs are steeling themselves for prolonged economic disruption and the prospect of a slow, halting recovery, The Times’s David Gelles writes. Several C.E.O.s he spoke with were in a gloomy mood about the road ahead.

Fear of illness, arguments over masks and an uncertain future is taking its toll. “It’s a grind on the organization’s psyche,” Brian Niccol of Chipotle told David. He and other leaders also bemoaned a lack of consistent communication from the government. Julia Hartz of Eventbrite said, “The uncertainty and the wildly varying mandates are not helping anybody.”

C.E.O.s are losing confidence in the recovery. “I’m less optimistic today than I was 30 days ago,” Arne Sorenson of Marriott International said. “I have a more cautious view than I did four weeks ago,” Ed Bastian of Delta Air Lines noted.

Now what? “Getting this wrong — overreacting or acting irresponsibly — could be far more devastating to the global economy and the health of Americans,” Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan said. “Open intelligently. Treat your fellow Americans respectfully. Start slow.”

• Rich Lesser of Boston Consulting Group has perhaps the most eye-catching proposal: The federal government should distribute masks, increase testing and distribute food to vulnerable populations at a cost of up to $100 billion a month. That’s a lot of money, but it could reduce hospitalizations by as much as 70 percent, he said, while costing less than the $1 trillion a month that the government spent on relief efforts from March through May.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, is among Republican leaders moving away from the White House line on the pandemic.
Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Lobbying over the coming pandemic aid bill has begun in earnest. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are beseeching Senate Republicans to accept a stimulus package that’s bigger than the $1 trillion they’re currently considering. Surveying the negotiations, the investor Steve Case writes in a Washington Post op-ed: “Congress needs to stop solely backing efforts to restore the old economic reality and focus on how to develop a new one.”

Some Republicans are distancing themselves from the White House. G.O.P. leaders are beginning to advocate the wearing of face masks and heeding advice from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci to stem the rising tide of Covid-19 cases, despite President Trump’s apparent reluctance to do so. The White House has balked at Senate Republicans’ proposal to provide $25 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, instead pushing for things like the construction of a new F.B.I. headquarters.

Schools may be bigger sources of coronavirus infections than previously thought. A study of 65,000 young people in South Korea found that students aged 10 to 19 may spread the disease as efficiently as adults, a finding sure to complicate the debate over how and when to reopen schools.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a top White House coronavirus adviser, is under fire. A Times investigation into the White House’s response in the early days of the pandemic identified her as a central figure, with her optimistic assumptions informing the Trump administration’s actions. “We’re behind the worst of it,” she said in April.

Efforts to develop a vaccine could run afoul of anti-vaccine sentiment. Even as drug makers race to produce a treatment to protect against Covid-19, skepticism of shots — and of those for coronavirus in particular, given the speed at which they are being developed — could undermine the endeavor and imperil widespread immunity.

Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

The senator and former Democratic presidential candidate has exerted increasing influence on Joe Biden’s policy proposals, Axios’s Alexi McCammond reports. That is unsettling more than a few business leaders.

Ms. Warren’s influence can be seen in Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan, where her team consulted closely with his, Axios adds. It’s also reflected in his acceptance of her proposed bankruptcy law overhaul and adoption of her ideas on bolstering Social Security and forgiving student-loan debt.

Some of those ideas may not sit well with the business leaders who support Mr. Biden, particularly those who backed him over Ms. Warren in the Democratic primaries. The prospect of the Democratic Party’s economic platform incorporating her progressive priorities — much less her becoming Mr. Biden’s vice presidential pick — isn’t reassuring for some of his more moderate supporters.

Take Eric Schmidt, the former Google C.E.O. In an interview with the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Friday, Mr. Schmidt expressed concerns about overregulating tech companies and specifically warned about a proposal by Ms. Warren to break up Apple: “Another way to say that is Ms. Warren announced — or is proposing — a rise in prices for iPhones.” (Hat tip to Recode’s Teddy Schleifer.)

Could she be the V.P. pick? After the emergence of protests for racial justice, political observers think Black candidates on Mr. Biden’s shortlist stand a better chance of being chosen. Betting markets currently make Kamala Harris and Susan Rice the favorites.

The Times’s Nathaniel Popper and Kate Conger spoke to some of the people behind last week’s hacking scheme in which the accounts of high-profile users, including Elon Musk and Barack Obama, were taken over to promote a Bitcoin fraud.

The hackers were primarily young people, not state actors like Iran or North Korea. Among them:

• “Kirk,” the apparent ringleader, claimed to work for Twitter and said he had wide-ranging access to user accounts. He controlled the Bitcoin wallet used in the attack.

• “Lol” said he was a 20-something living on the West Coast.

• “Ever so anxious” said he was 19 and lived with his mother in the south of England.

Some of them seem to regret their role in the swindle. “I’m not sad more just annoyed,” the user “ever so anxious” told The Times. The motivation for the hacking appeared to be seizing and selling “early or unusual screen names.” But then Kirk used his access to start the broader Bitcoin scam, exploiting famous users’ Twitter accounts, the other hackers said. An investigation into the breach is continuing.​

Judy Shelton could move one step closer to a seat on the Fed’s board of governors this week. The unorthodox economist has made a career of questioning the Fed’s basic functions, The Times’s Jeanna Smialek writes, which makes her a noteworthy choice at a time when the central bank is employing the full limits of its power to rescue the pandemic-hit economy.

It’s up to the Senate Banking Committee, which will vote tomorrow on her nomination. The scheduled vote appears to signal that previously skeptical Republican members have come around on her prospective appointment. Her past views on adopting the gold standard and questioning the Fed’s political independence made for a rocky hearing in February. But if she passes the committee vote — which would probably happen along party lines — she would go to the full Senate for confirmation via a simple majority vote.

• She is often mentioned as a candidate to become the next Fed chair if President Trump wins re-election.

More specifically, it’s up to Senator John Kennedy. The Louisiana Republican was among the most skeptical committee members of Ms. Shelton’s nomination, and he appears to be the swing vote now. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania now says he will vote for her and Richard Shelby of Alabama says he will go along with his colleagues — making Mr. Kennedy the only Republican on the committee not to have publicly made up his mind.

• “Nobody wants anybody on the Federal Reserve that has a fatal attraction to nutty ideas,” Mr. Kennedy said in February, adding that he was “not saying that’s the case here.”

More than 90 members of the S&P 500 report their latest quarterly results this week. So far, 73 percent of blue-chip companies that reported second-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations, according to FactSet. Can they keep it up?

⚡️ Technology, media and telecom: IBM (Monday); Snap and Texas Instruments (Tuesday); Microsoft and Rogers Communications (Wednesday); AT&TIntel and Twitter (Thursday); Verizon and Vodafone (Friday).

💰 Finance: Capital One and UBS (Tuesday); Nasdaq (Wednesday); Blackstone and Travelers (Thursday); American Express (Friday).

🥤 Food and beverages: Coca-Cola (Tuesday); Chipotle (Wednesday); Hershey and Unilever (Thursday).

💊 Pharma and healthcare: Novartis (Tuesday); Biogen and HCA (Wednesday).

✈️ 🚄🚗 Planes, trains and automobiles: Lockheed Martin and United Airlines (Tuesday), CSX and Tesla (Wednesday); American AirlinesDaimler, Hyundai, Southwest Airlines and Union Pacific (Thursday); Honeywell (Friday).

👩‍🏭 The usual Thursday release of data on weekly jobless claims will be noteworthy because it covers the survey period for the monthly jobs report. There are signs that the post-pandemic improvement in labor markets has stalled, with some states reporting a rise in claims in recent weeks.

🗓 On this day in history: “Men have landed and walked on the moon,” began the story on the front page of The Times on July 21, 1969. The night before, at 10:56 p.m. Eastern, Neil Armstrong “planted the first human footprint on the lunar crust.” The first 17 pages of the paper the next day were devoted to coverage and analysis of the Apollo 11 mission. Of particular interest to DealBook readers: “Capitalist Moon or Socialist Moon?,” an Op-Ed debating the balance between private enterprise and government programs in space, which remains an issue today.

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Credit…The New York Times

Deals

• EBay is reportedly near an agreement to sell its classified-ads division to Adevinta for more than $8 billion. (WSJ)

• Penske Media, the owner of Variety and Deadline, is reportedly weighing a bid for The Hollywood Reporter, which would give it control of nearly all the movie industry’s top trade publications. (Los Angeles Magazine)

• Arthur Samberg, the founder of Pequot Capital, once the world’s biggest hedge fund, died on July 14. He was 79. (Bloomberg)

Politics and policy

• Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was hospitalized for what a representative said were “minor” health issues unrelated to the coronavirus. (CNN)

• Several government contractors borrowed money from the federal coronavirus aid program — even as they were paid for government work during the pandemic. (WSJ)

Tech

• Disney has reportedly cut its ad spending on Facebook, amid a growing advertiser boycott of the social network. (WSJ)

• Uber will again appeal a ruling in Britain that deemed its drivers employees who are owed a minimum wage and paid time off. The ride-sharing app contends that the drivers are independent contractors. (FT)

Best of the rest

• American leaders in politics, civil rights and business paid tribute over the weekend to Representative John Lewis, the Georgia lawmaker and civil rights icon who died on Friday at age 80. “He risked his life and his blood,” former President Barack Obama said; Arthur Blank, the co-founder of Home Depot, which is based in Mr. Lewis’s home city of Atlanta, called him “one of the most courageous people I ever met.” (NYT, Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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