Financial Daily Dose 11.23.2020 | Top Story: Pandemic and Global Economy Dominate Virtual G-20 Meeting
November 23, 2020
New analysis from the Journal shows that the U.S. government “stands to lost more than $400 billion from the federal student loan program”—a figure that approaches “the size of losses incurred by banks during the subprime-mortgage crisis” after “decades of no-questions-asked lending” - WSJ
Here’s an improbable Covid economy winner: bitcoin, the digital currency that’s flirting with its all-time high (of just shy of $20,000 set in Dec. 2017) thanks to “a new group of buyers seeking the opportunity for big profits” - WSJ
As anticipated, Guitar Center—the “country’s largest retailer of musical instruments”—has indeed filed for Ch. 11 protection after reaching an agreement with creditors “in support of a plan that would reduce its roughly $1.3 billion in debt by $800 million” - NYTimes and MarketWatch
Thanks to a push from NY’s AG, business leaders are joining the chorus of other Americans demanding an immediate start to the official presidential transition process, arguing that the current failure to do so “is hurting the country” and placing the “public and economic health and security of America at risk” - NYTimes
Leave it to the French to buck the rest of the consumer world by “postponing Black Friday” in an effort to “quell a nationwide rebellion by shopkeepers who say that Amazon has been stealing business from them during France’s coronavirus lockdown.” What’s the Amazon effect been in France? Well, since its debut in 2000, it’s managed to capture “nearly half of online spending in 2019” in the country, and its sales in France “jumped nearly 50 percent from a year ago” during the most recent lockdown - NYTimes
One strategy for retailers still groping their way the dark Covid night: choice cutting—that is, “trimming styles and colors in the hope that by eliminating the decision paralysis that grips customers when they are faced with too many options, they can boost sales and reduce end-of-season markdowns” - WSJ
With Covid continuing to take a huge bite out of oil demand around the globe, oil companies are downsizing refining operations in the U.S. At the same time, China’s relative success in taming the virus has led to a “seismic shift in the global refining industry as demand for plastic and fuels grow in China and the rest of Asia.” A spate of new refineries opening in the area mean that China “will dethrone the U.S. as early as next year” as the globe’s top oil refining nation - Bloomberg
The Times examines, through the lens of Virgin Atlantic, how one airline’s struggles with the pandemic that has “hollowed out the air travel industry” has ripple effects that impact tens of thousands who work for the “hundreds of other companies the airline has hired to provide the services and goods that make up a smooth flying experience” - NYTimes
Buried among the paperwork in Airbnb’s filing to go public last week was the admission that “its ability to continue doing business in China is a risk factor for its brand and profitability”—a not-so-hypothetical concern for the company who abruptly lost a top exec last year over “concerns about how the massive rental platform shares data on millions of its users with Chinese authorities” - WSJ
Ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is doing her damndest to keep her “wealth, spending and lifestyle” out of her fast-approaching criminal fraud trial - Bloomberg
As we prep for an uncharacteristically small, quiet, and housebound Thanksgiving here in the Covid-slammed North, you’ll forgive us for dreaming of far-off places. Luckily, the Times is going to help us get about as close to a Parisian excursion as possible these days - NYTimes
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