The chair of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the Treasury will paint starkly different visions of the challenges facing the United States economy in the months ahead on Tuesday, further exposing a rift that began to show earlier this month.
While Jerome H. Powell, the Fed Chair, will point to ongoing uncertainty over a vaccine, the economic dangers of a surge in virus cases and the persistent risks to economic prosperity during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will blame state and local lockdowns as the threat to growth, according to their prepared remarks.
The contrast underlines the divide between two economic policymakers who, earlier in the crisis, worked closely as partners. Mr. Mnuchin announced earlier this month that he would end several Fed emergency loan programs, which are meant to keep credit flowing to state and local governments and medium-sized businesses alike. The Fed has suggested it is disappointed with that decision, and Mr. Powell will address it in his remarks.
Mr. Powell plans to note that the legislation gave “sole authority over its funds” to the Treasury secretary and that the Fed will give the money back. But he will nod to the fact that the Fed believes the programs should continue working.
“Our emergency lending powers require the approval of the Treasury and are available only in very unusual circumstances, such as those we find ourselves in today,” Mr. Powell will say, signaling that he does not believe conditions have returned to normal.
While he plans to reiterate that positive clinical trial results for several vaccine candidates spell good news for the medium term, he will warn that there are still big risks on the horizon.
“For now, significant challenges and uncertainties remain, including timing, production and distribution, and efficacy across different groups,” Mr. Powell will say. “It remains difficult to assess the timing and scope of the economic implications of these developments with any degree of confidence.”
Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Powell will be appearing jointly on Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, and on Wednesday they will testify before the House Financial Services Committee.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Mnuchin touts the strength of the economic recovery but blames continuing economic shutdowns in some parts of the country for impairing progress and causing “great harm” to American businesses and workers.
Regarding the lending programs, Mr. Mnuchin reiterates his call for the $454 billion that is being clawed back to be reallocated to provide economic relief in a new stimulus bill.
“I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response,” Mr. Mnuchin says in his prepared remarks. “The administration is standing ready to support Congress in this effort to help American workers and small businesses.”
The world will start to recover only gradually next year from a devastating global recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but the revival is unlikely to repair an income divide that is leaving more people around the world poorer because of the crisis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday.
The organization, in its half-yearly economic outlook, forecast the global economy would grow by 4.2 percent next year. Led by a massive rebound in China, the momentum is likely to pick up only after the summer.
Even then, most economies will be smaller at the end of 2021 than they were at the end of 2019. That’s because lockdowns to contain the pandemic have carved $7 trillion out of global gross domestic product, Angel Gurría, the O.E.C.D.’s secretary general, said during an online news conference.
“The impact is massive,” Mr. Gurría said. “In human and economic terms this pandemic will have been extremely costly,” he said, adding: “There is hope, but we are not out of the woods yet.”
The notable exception is China, which curbed the pandemic with aggressive quarantine policies. It has rebounded quickly and will end the year with growth of around 10 percent, said Laurence Boone, the organization’s chief economist. South Korea, Sweden and India have also weathered the economic crisis far better than most European countries and nations in Latin America, which have at times struggled to contain the virus, the organization said.
The recovery in Western countries especially is likely to remain fragile as governments continue social distancing policies and keep borders partly closed through the first half of 2021. It may also take at least a year for governments to fully roll out campaigns to vaccinate citizens against the coronavirus, the organization said.
The O.E.C.D. urged governments to continue shielding their economies from the fallout by extending financial support programs and strengthening national health care and social safety nets.
But even with such support, it said, millions of small and medium-sized businesses that are the main drivers of job creation are facing mounting debt levels putting their survival and capacity to invest and create jobs at risk.
The crisis has also worsened income inequality. Today, nearly half of all low-income adults in the 37 countries that are members of the organization have trouble paying their bills, while a third have had to get food from a food bank.
Their children have also suffered disproportionately. While the children of well-off parents have been able to plug into remote schooling fairly easily, dropout rates from online schooling for children in low-income households have been massive, Ms. Boone said, leaving them far behind their peers.
Mr. Gurría said the cost to governments of maintaining social and economic support programs is worth it if it allows countries to ride out the storm until a vaccine is widely available and business activity can resume.
“With the availability of vaccines there is an even stronger case for large scale support of the economy in the remaining months of the pandemic,” he said.
U.S. stocks on Tuesday were poised to extend last month’s rally and open more than 1 percent higher, according to Wall Street futures. Investors appear to be looking beyond what is likely to be a bleak winter — with rising virus cases and businesses trying to survive lockdowns and other restrictions — and focusing instead on the prospect of an economic recovery generated by the rollout of vaccines next year. European and Asian stocks were also higher.
The S&P 500 index is entering December just half a percentage point away from a record high set last week. November was the strongest month since April for the S&P 500 and the second strongest month since 2011, as stocks were propelled higher by relief over vaccine development and the conclusion of a turbulent U.S. presidential election.
Asian markets rose on Tuesday after data showed Chinese manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in a decade, and exceeded analysts’ expectations, according to the latest report from Caixin and IHS Markit. The Shanghai composite index rose 1.8 percent, the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 0.9 percent higher and the Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 1.3 percent.
In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed nearly 2 percent, while benchmarks in Germany and France were higher by more than 1 percent.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development presented a counterargument to the optimism in financial markets on Tuesday. It lowered its forecast for global growth next year to 4.2 percent from 5 percent, saying the economy will “gain momentum only gradually” and China will account for more than a third of the growth.
Oil prices were little changed after OPEC said it was postponing until Thursday a teleconference, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, with other petroleum exporters including Russia and Kazakhstan. The move comes after the oil cartel failed to reach consensus on Monday about whether to continue cutting production to cope with reduced demand as a result of the pandemic.
Shares in UniCredit, the big Italian bank, fell more than 7 percent after its chief executive, Jean Pierre Mustier, said he would leave in April because the board had rejected his strategic plan.
British retailer Debenhams said that it would begin to wind down its department stores after failing to find a buyer to save the company. The announcement came a day after Arcadia, the owner of Topshop stores, filed for bankruptcy. The demise of two large high street chains, with about 25,000 employees between them, bolstered the share prices of other retail stores with a stronger online presence, which now face less competition. Shares of Next rose 1.4 percent. JD Sports jumped 2.8 percent after it confirmed it would not buy Debenhams.
Tesla rose about 5 percent in premarket trading, after S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would add the stock to the S&P 500 in a single step later in the month. S&P Dow Jones had been weighing adding Tesla to the index in a two-step process because of the company’s large market capitalization.
Airbnb is trying to ride the soaring stock market to a comeback.
The home rental start-up said on Tuesday that it intends to sell shares at between $44 and $50 each in its initial public offering, valuing it as high as nearly $35 billion.
The company said it plans to raise as much as $2.75 billion from the offering, according to a prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its three founders also plan to sell stock that may be valued at as much as $9.6 billion.
Such a sale would return Airbnb’s valuation to where it was before the pandemic battered its business. At the beginning of the year, investors had valued the company at $31 billion. But in the spring, with travel halted and cancellations pouring in, Airbnb raised emergency funding valuing it at $18 billion.
Airbnb is betting that Wall Street will buy into its narrative of a rebounding business. Even though its revenue shrank in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year, bookings in the most recent three-month period recovered as people took road trips to home rentals in remote areas.
Airbnb now plans to embark on a virtual “road show” to pitch its stock to investors over the next week, culminating with its shares listing on Nasdaq under the symbol “ABNB.”
The company is among a flock of high-profile tech companies going public before the end of the year. On Monday, the food delivery company DoorDash said it hoped to raise up to $2.8 billion from its I.P.O., in a sale that could value the company at as much as $31.6 billion. E-commerce company Wish and children’s game maker Roblox are expected to list their shares in the coming weeks.
Michael J. de la Merced contributed reporting.
The labor market has recovered 12 million of the 22 million jobs lost from February to April. But many jobs may not return any time soon, even when a vaccine is deployed, The New York Times’s Eduardo Porter reports.
This is likely to prove especially problematic for millions of low-paid workers in service industries like retailing, hospitality, building maintenance and transportation, which may be permanently impaired or fundamentally transformed. What will janitors do if fewer people work in offices? What will waiters do if the urban restaurant ecosystem never recovers its density?
CIRCLES ARE SIZED BY SHARE OF TOTAL JOBS
Decline in jobs
from the first
home health aides
Share of workers who transition
into occupations that are growing
Decline in jobs
from the first
through the third
quarter of 2020
Share of workers
that are growing
Waiters and Waitresses
Hosts and Hostesses
Food Prep Workers
Special Ed. Teachers
Practical and Voc. Nurses
Other Service Sales Rep.
Their prognosis is bleak. Marcela Escobari, an economist at the Brookings Institution, warns that even if the economy adds jobs as the coronavirus risk fades, “the rebound won’t help the people that have been hurt the most.”
Looking back over 16 years of data, Ms. Escobari finds that workers in the occupations most heavily hit since the spring will have a difficult time reinventing themselves. Taxi drivers, dancers and front-desk clerks have poor track records moving to jobs as, say, registered nurses, pipe layers or instrumentation technicians.
The challenge is not insurmountable. Stephanie Brown, who spent 11 years in the Air Force, found her footing relatively quickly after losing her job as a cook at a hotel in Rochester, Mich., in March. She took advantage of a training program offered by Salesforce, the big software platform for businesses, and got a full-time job in October as a Salesforce administrator for the New York software company Pymetrics from her home in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Yet despite scattered success stories, moving millions of workers into new occupations remains an enormous challenge.
Training has always been a challenge for policymakers, and the pandemic complicates matching new skills with jobs. At scale, it will be a considerable challenge to assist workers in the transition to a new economy in which many jobs are gone for good and those available often require proficiency in sophisticated digital tools.
Nasdaq asked the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday for permission to adopt a new requirement for the companies listed on its main U.S. stock exchange: have at least one woman and one “diverse” director, and report data on boardroom diversity. If companies don’t comply they would face potential delisting, reports the DealBook newsletter.
If approved, Nasdaq will require boards to have at least one woman and one director who self-identifies as an underrepresented minority or L.G.B.T.Q. (Those categories are not, of course, mutually exclusive.)
It would be the first time a major stock exchange demanded more disclosure than the law requires, which Nasdaq’s chief executive, Adena Friedman, described as “an unusual step.” It raises questions about whether exchanges could use their listing rules to force action on other hot-button issues, like climate change.
To give Nasdaq-listed companies time to comply, they will need to publicly disclose their diversity data within a year of S.E.C. approval, and have at least one woman or diverse director within two years. Bigger companies will be expected to have one of each type of director within four years.
Companies that report their data but don’t meet the diversity standards would have to publicly explain why. Over the past six months, Nasdaq found that more than 75 percent of its listed companies did not meet its proposed diversity requirements.
Any potential rule changes would take months to come into effect: After Nasdaq files its request, the S.E.C. will solicit public comments. That typically lasts several weeks, and then the commission will decide how to proceed.
Nasdaq had lobbied the S.E.C. to make diversity disclosure a rule for all companies. “The ideal outcome would be for the S.E.C. to take a role here,” Ms. Friedman said. “They could actually apply it to public and private companies because they oversee the private equity industry as well.”
Nasdaq cites research showing the benefits of board diversity, from higher-quality financial disclosures to the lower likelihood of audit problems. “Diversity of the board is an important element of giving investors confidence in the future sustainability of the company,” Ms. Friedman said. “It’s not like we’re saying this is an optimal composition of a board, but it’s a minimum level of diversity that we think every board should have.”
Exxon Mobil announced on Monday that it would significantly cut spending on exploration and production over the next four years and would write off up to $20 billion of investments in natural gas.
The company struggled to adapt as oil and gas prices tumbled this spring when the coronavirus pandemic took hold. While oil prices have recovered somewhat in recent months, they remain much lower than they were at the start of the year.
The company said it was removing gas projects from its plans in Appalachia, the Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Canada and Argentina.
Darren Woods, Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, said in a statement that the moves were designed to “improve earnings power and cash generation, and rebuild balance sheet capacity to manage future commodity price cycles while working to maintain a reliable dividend.”
Exxon’s board of directors accepted a proposal by management to slash capital expenditures to between $16 billion and $19 billion next year, down from $23 billion in 2020. This year’s capital expenditures had already been reduced from a planned budget of $33 billion, as the company slowed projects in Africa and the Permian Basin in New Mexico and West Texas.
The company said capital spending would be limited to between $20 billion and $25 billion annually through 2025.
In 2010, Exxon Mobil acquired XTO Energy and its natural gas assets for more than $30 billion, just as gas prices were peaking. Over the next decade, the shale boom flooded the market with cheap gas.
Exxon Mobil had previously resisted writing down assets by large amounts. Several of the largest oil companies have recently written down assets, including Royal Dutch Shell by up to $22 billion, BP by more than $17 billion and Chevron by $10 billion.
But Exxon has fared worse than other major oil companies during the pandemic. It was removed from the Dow Jones industrial average in August and has suffered three consecutive quarterly losses. It recently said it would cut 14,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its global work force.
Exxon’s stock, which is down more than 40 percent over the past year, is back to where it was in 2003. Company executives continue to express confidence about the future because Exxon is producing more oil and gas in the Permian Basin and in the offshore waters of Guyana and Brazil. The company has also committed to maintaining its dividend, which yields more than an 8 percent return on its share price.
Arcadia Group, the British retail company owned by Philip Green that includes the Topshop clothing chain, has gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy, the company said Monday. It is one of the biggest retail collapses in Britain since the start of the pandemic. Deloitte has been appointed as the administrator. Arcadia, which has 444 stores in Britain, 22 overseas and about 13,000 employees, said it would keep operating during administration.
Meredith Corporation has parted ways with J.D. Heyman, the editor in chief of Entertainment Weekly magazine, the company confirmed on Monday. A Meredith spokeswoman said that the end of the editor’s tenure at the publication would go into effect “immediately.” The reason was not disclosed.
DoorDash said on Monday that it hopes to raise up to $2.8 billion from its initial public offering, in a sale that could value the company at as much as $31.6 billion, including all shares and options. It has set a price range of $75 to $85 a share for the I.P.O. The fund-raising goal, disclosed in the food-delivery company’s latest I.P.O. prospectus, signals the company’s ambitions as it begins pitching prospective investors. It was valued at $16 billion in a private fund-raising round in June.