Welcome to August, everybody. I’m on trip subsequent week, escaping the subtropical zone of Brooklyn for the sanity-restoring woods of Vermont, so Gillian Friedman will likely be filling in. Until then, right here’s what it is advisable to know in enterprise and tech for the week forward.
What’s Up? (July 26-Aug. 1)
A Long Fall
Appalling new information reveals simply how badly the pandemic has devastated the United States economic system: Gross home product shrank 9.5 p.c, or 32.9 p.c at an adjusted annual fee, in the second quarter of this yr, according to a report from the Commerce Department. It’s the most extreme collapse in the 70-plus years that G.D.P. statistics have been compiled, and wiped away almost 5 years of financial progress. If the virus had been now below management, the dive may show to be non permanent. But with instances surging in many states, a fast comeback is trying much less and fewer probably.
No Mask, No Service
The science is obvious that masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus and permit folks to buy and exit in public extra safely. That’s why many huge companies, most recently McDonald’s, are requiring prospects to put on them. But there’s a wrinkle: Enforcement is tricky. Stores like Walmart have appointed “health ambassadors” to remind prospects to placed on masks earlier than getting into, but when somebody refuses, what’s the worker going to do? Confront the individual and get breathed on? No thanks. Many companies are struggling to take care of this loophole, which impacts the security of different prospects in addition to workers.
On the Spot
The chief executives of the tech business’s “Big Four” — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — confronted a blistering round of questions (by way of video, awkwardly) from a congressional antitrust panel on Wednesday. The listening to was a fruits of a yearlong investigation into monopolies in the digital market, and people in the sizzling seat — Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai — struggled to defend claims that their corporations had damaged antitrust legal guidelines by exploiting their measurement to consolidate energy and thwart rivals. Lawmakers vowed to tighten laws, however how they’ll do that is still to be seen. And the corporations proceed to rake in money as the pandemic makes shoppers extra reliant on digital providers. Apple, Amazon and Facebook all reported blockbuster income this previous week, and Google reported higher earnings than anticipated.
What’s Next? (Aug. 2-8)
Not So Fast
Congress might discuss an enormous sport about reining in huge tech, however European Union leaders are literally doing it. In the previous, European officers have been notoriously aggressive about attempting to hit American tech corporations the place it hurts — with higher taxes and business restrictions — with various success. Now, they’re pursuing a handful of new laws that would cut the scope of what digital companies can do and promote. One would make it unlawful for Amazon and Apple to steer prospects towards their very own merchandise as an alternative of these made by rivals. Another would set up stricter guidelines towards hate speech on social networks. If any of those proposed legal guidelines come to fruition, they may push the platforms to alter their behaviors worldwide.
Millions of employees (roughly one in five) are nonetheless out of labor in the United States, and so they’re about to get determined. Until the finish of July, they had been receiving supplementary unemployment advantages (an extra $600 a week) from the federal authorities as a part of the CARES Act that was handed in March. But that provision expired on Friday, and efforts to increase or substitute components of it stalled in Washington this previous week when President Trump put the kibosh on negotiations for a broad relief package. (His chief of workers summed issues up: “We’re nowhere near a deal.”) Lawmakers at the moment are scrambling to discover a fast Band-Aid, like one other spherical of direct funds to Americans, lots of whom are facing the threat of eviction.
Where Are the Jobs?
The July employment report comes out this Friday, and analysts are break up on the place issues stand. Most economists anticipate the numbers to point out one other improve in payrolls for the third consecutive month (good!), however say that it will likely be modest — in spite of everything, a number of huge states have paused and even reversed their reopenings as the variety of virus instances will increase (unhealthy). Others suppose payrolls may have even declined. One factor we do know for positive: The variety of new jobless claims is on the rise once more for the second week in a row, which doesn’t paint a promising image.