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Home Business Consumers were a big factor in the second-quarter G.D.P. expansion.

Consumers were a big factor in the second-quarter G.D.P. expansion.


Daily Business Briefing

July 29, 2021, 1:55 p.m. ET

July 29, 2021, 1:55 p.m. ET

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Consumers are fueling the economic recovery.

Consumer spending rose 2.8 percent in the second quarter, helping to offset declines in other parts of the economy. Spending on services was particularly robust as widespread vaccinations and falling coronavirus cases led Americans to return to restaurants, nail salons and other in-person activities.

“We finally saw the full pivot to services driving consumer spending instead of goods,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Spending on goods remained strong, too, partly reflecting the continuing impact of the third round of stimulus checks, which arrived in Americans’ bank accounts in the spring.

Business investment was also relatively strong, rising 1.9 percent, as companies stepped up spending on technology and equipment.

The housing sector, however, was a drag on growth, shrinking 2.5 percent after three straight quarters of strong gains. That might seem surprising given stories of frenetic bidding wars in red-hot housing markets. But what matters to G.D.P. is construction, and new home building has been hampered by shortages of labor and supplies, and in particular the high price of lumber.

Overall growth in the second quarter fell significantly short of economists’ expectations. But that was largely because of weaker-than-expected government spending, particularly at the state and local level, as well as an unexpectedly sharp drop in inventories. Both of those factors are likely to reverse later this year.




Major Shareholders

Index Ventures

Venture capital firm

$3.08 billion

Baiju Bhatt

Co-founder and chief creative officer

$2.87 billion

New Enterprise Associates

Venture capital firm

$2.71 billion

Ribbit Capital

Venture capital firm

$2.30 billion

DST Global

Venture capital firm

$2.11 billion

Vladimir Tenev

Co-founder and chief executive

$1.93 billion

As of 1:51 p.m. Eastern time. Assumes shares held by Mr. Tenev and Mr. Bhatt have the same price as the publicly traded stock. Source: FactSet and securities filings • By The New York Times

Shares of Robinhood opened trading at $38, valuing the company at $31.7 billion, but then fell as much as 11 percent. In this market, a first-day slump is rare, showing that investors may be hesitant to buy into the company’s grand mission of upending Wall Street. Read more →

USA’S Simone Biles does her one and only event of the night on the Vault during the Finals of the Team Competition at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo, Japan on July 27.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Tokyo Games may have been marred by a yearlong delay, a recent surge in coronavirus cases and the exit of marquee athletes, but the flurry of events and the rise in the medal count for the United States have helped Peacock, Comcast’s fledgling streaming service.

As of this week, the service had 54 million accounts and about 20 million active users, the company said on Thursday. That’s an increase from the end of March, when the company said it had 42 million sign-ups and 14 million active accounts. Comcast also said it will make Peacock available for free to its 20 million customers at Sky, the company’s satellite TV service in Britain and Europe.

Comcast, which owns the rights to the Olympics through its media unit NBCUniversal, debuted Peacock last year to coincide with the event. With the event pushed off a year, the cable giant relied on a smattering of original programming and older shows from the NBC library to attract customers.

It had a weak start, seeing slow growth in subscribers over its first year. In the second quarter of 2021, the service saw a jump in viewership as it took a page from other streaming platforms and released one of Universal Pictures’s big films, “Boss Baby 2,” on Peacock the same day as it was available in theaters.

NBCUniversal plans to show 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage across all its broadcast and cable networks as well as Peacock, which offers a free tier, making it an outlet for cord cutters.

On a conference call on Thursday following Comcast’s second-quarter financial report, Jeff Shell, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, said Peacock had changed how the Olympics has been watched and will be a key part of the company’s coverage in future games, including the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year.

“What we will learn in this Olympics we will take to Beijing,” he said.

The company expects the Tokyo Games to be profitable, in part because of the rise in viewership on its streaming platform.

Comcast, largest cable provider in the U.S., now considers itself an internet business as pay television continues to erode. Peacock is an extension of that plan, but it is also a way to recapture the ad revenue lost from the drop in traditional viewers at NBC and its cable networks. Unlike Netflix, Peacock relies on a combination of subscription revenue and advertising. It also sells a higher-cost tier that doesn’t include ads.

For the second quarter, Comcast lost 364,000 cable TV customers, bringing its total to 18 million, and gained 334,000 internet subscribers for a total of 29 million. Its internet business is now its largest, growing 14.3 percent to $5.7 billion in revenye.

Peacock, on the other hand, is the fastest-growing unit, but it loses the most money. For the three months ending in June, Peacock took a pretax loss of $363 million on $122 million in revenue, compared with a $117 million in pretax loss on $6 million in revenue in the same period last year.

For 2021, Comcast expects Peacock to lose $1.3 billion as it spends big on original shows and sports programming.

There was a concern that the Olympics could also be a money loser given the weak ratings of the opening ceremony. About 17 million people tuned in to that broadcast, about a 36 percent drop from the Rio Games. NBCUniversal paid about $12 billion for the rights to televise 10 Olympic Games through 2032.

“We had a little bit of bad luck — there was a drumbeat of negativity,” Mr. Shell said on the earnings call. “But the flip side of that is the digital trends kind of offset that.”

Stocks rose on Thursday after the latest reading on gross domestic product showed that strong consumer spending and robust business investment brought the economy back to its prepandemic size.

The economy grew 1.6 percent in the second quarter, a 6.5 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was slower than economists had expected, but the shortcoming may also help ease a concern among stock investors about the economy running too hot.

Wall Street has been contending with the risk that high inflation will prompt the Federal Reserve to pull back on its emergency support for the economy. At the same time, the rise of the Delta variant and the end of many pandemic-related support programs could weigh on growth in the future.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve left its policy rates unchanged and said it would give plenty of warning before beginning to dial back support for the economy. But Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, made it clear that the central bank isn’t ready to withdraw support just yet. Speaking on Wednesday, he said that while the economy was making “substantial” progress, “we have some ground to cover on the labor market side.”

  • The S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent, a gain that put it back in record territory, while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 percent.

  • Markets in Europe were also slightly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 closing with a gain of 0.5 percent.

  • Shares for Robinhood fell during its public trading debut. The stock trading start-up opened for trading at $38, the same price as its offering, but was about 5 percent lower by Thursday afternoon.

  • Facebook was down 4 percent after the company noted that its rapid growth — profits doubled in the last quarter — may not last, especially as more people are vaccinated and begin to venture out of their homes and away from their computers.

  • Initial claims for state jobless benefits declined slightly last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • The weekly figure, seasonally adjusted, was about 400,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 95,166, down about 14,700 from the week before.

  • New state claims remain high by historical standards but are one-third the level recorded in early January. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as businesses return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality. (With the latest report, The New York Times is returning to an emphasis on seasonally adjusted figures for state claims. A change in methodology for seasonal adjustments last year, several months after the pandemic’s onset, made comparisons with earlier data more difficult.)

  • More than 20 states have recently moved to discontinue some or all federal pandemic unemployment benefits — including a $300 weekly supplement to other benefits — even though they are funded through September. Officials in those states said the payments were keeping people from seeking work.

  • A survey of 5,000 adults conducted June 22-25 by Morning Consult found that those whose unemployment benefits were about to expire felt more pressure to find work. But of all those on unemployment insurance, relatively few — 20 percent of those who had worked full time, and 28 percent of those who had worked part time — said the benefits were better than their previous work income in meeting basic expenses.

Prosecutors said that for nearly a year, Trevor Milton used social media, television and podcasts to spread “false and misleading statements regarding Nikola’s product and technology.”
Credit…Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Federal prosecutors filed securities fraud charges on Thursday against Trevor Milton, the former chief executive of the electric vehicle start-up Nikola, the most prominent case against an executive with a business that secured a stock exchange listing through a merger, an increasingly popular maneuver on Wall Street.

An indictment by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan charged Mr. Milton with misleading investors — in particular retail investors — about the technology for battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles it had hoped to manufacture. In a separate civil case filed on Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission also accused Mr. Milton of securities fraud.

The twin legal filings are the biggest lightning bolts prosecutors and securities regulators have delivered to the supercharged market for the investment vehicles known as special-purpose acquisition companies. More such cases could be filed in the coming months; regulators are investigating several other companies and executives in similar circumstances.

The investment vehicles, called SPACs, have raised nearly $200 billion in initial public offerings for the express purpose of buying an operating business. If SPACs don’t buy a company within two years, their sponsors, often professional investors or Wall Street bankers, have to return the cash they raised — a provision that critics argue encourages them to buy shaky or unproven businesses.

The boom in SPACs has coincided with and been spurred on by retail investors who share trading tips and strategies on social media, often deciding en masse to buy the shares of companies they believe are undervalued or are destined for greatness. These individual traders, often with the encouragement of professional investors or corporate executives, have helped drive up the stock prices of various companies, including GameStop, AMC and Tesla.

Prosecutors and the S.E.C. said that for nearly a year, Mr. Milton used social media, television and podcasts to spread “false and misleading statements regarding Nikola’s product and technology.”

One such misleading statement, the charging document filed by prosecutors said, concerned the company’s Nikola One long-distance truck prototype. The prototype did not work, contrary to the glowing statements Mr. Milton made about it.

Federal prosecutors and securities regulators started investigating Nikola last fall around the time an investment firm published a report questioning its products and some of Mr. Milton’s claims. That firm, Hindenburg Research, said the company had put out a promotional video to suggest it had a working prototype — but never disclosed that the truck was moving forward only because it was rolling down a hill in neutral gear. Mr. Milton resigned a few weeks later.

The S.E.C. also noted in its complaint that a Bloomberg News article, published in June 2020, said that Mr. Milton had “exaggerated” the capabilities of its truck.

Yet Nikola went public in June 2020 in a $700 million merger with a SPAC called VectorIQ.

Some young, untested businesses have opted to merge with SPACs because doing so is usually faster, requires fewer disclosures and attracts less scrutiny from investors and regulators than a conventional initial public offering. Nikola, for example, managed to go public just five years after Mr. Milton founded it.

“In carrying out his fraudulent scheme, Milton exploited features of the SPAC structure,” Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Thursday.

Federal prosecutors contend that retail investors were hurt by the stock’s sharp drop, which started last summer, but not early investors in the company, including Mr. Milton. Nikola’s shares were trading at about $13 Thursday afternoon, down about 8 percent for the day, after falling from more than $65 in the middle of last year, a point at which the company had a valuation in excess of Ford Motor’s.

The S.E.C.’s complaint said that Mr. Milton held approximately 25 percent of Nikola’s stock after the SPAC deal and “ultimately reaped tens of millions of dollars in personal benefits as a result of his misconduct.” Securities regulators noted that Mr. Milton “embarked on a relentless public relations blitz aimed at a class of investors he called “Robinhood investors” — a reference to the popular retail brokerage that just raised $2.1 billion in its own initial public offering.

A lawyer for Mr. Milton could not immediately be reached for comment. He was scheduled to appear for a bail hearing in federal court on Thursday in Manhattan.

Nikola said in a statement that Mr. Milton had not been involved with the company since resigning in September 2020. “Today’s government actions are against Mr. Milton individually, and not against the company,” the company said. “Nikola has cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry.”

Mr. Milton, who dropped out of high school and college, started Nikola with the aim of becoming the Tesla of trucking. Like Elon Musk, the Tesla chief executive, Mr. Milton cultivated a reputation as a charismatic showman with a grand vision for revolutionizing an industry. “We’re going to completely control trucking in America,” he told Automotive World last year.

Mr. Milton even named his company after the inventor whose last name Mr. Musk’s business uses, Nikola Tesla.

Enticed by the prospects of finding the next Tesla, big and small investors poured money into start-ups like Nikola in recent years. They came to believe that the world would rapidly switch from fossil fuel cars and trucks to electric and hydrogen vehicles, and that start-ups, not established automakers like General Motors and Daimler, would lead the way. But unlike Tesla, which has produced and sold hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles over several years, many of the newer entrants have struggled to make even a few thousand.

Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

The S.E.C. has been warning investors beginning this year about the dangers of SPACs and the businesses they acquire, specifically that people should not be lulled by overly optimistic claims. A handful of companies that completed mergers have disclosed investigations by the S.E.C., federal prosecutors or both.

The Stanford Law School Securities Clearinghouse found that at least 30 companies that went public through a merger with a SPAC have been sued by shareholders since 2019.

Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan, said authorities “are sending a message they think SPACs are breeding ground for things more serious than just sloppy disclosure.” He added, “They think it is breeding ground for fraud and misrepresentation.”

Just two weeks ago, the S.E.C. reached a settlement with several parties involved in the planned merger of Momentus, a company that said it had developed a unique propulsion technology, and Stable Road Acquisition, a SPAC. The regulators said investors were misled into believing the propulsion system had been successfully tested in space when it had in fact failed.

Federal prosecutors and securities regulators are also investigating Lordstown Motors, a company that hopes to make electric pickup trucks and merged with a SPAC last year.

Lordstown, based in Ohio, said it had raised much-needed cash this week, but it has yet to begin commercial production. Federal authorities are investigating whether the company and its founder, Steve Burns, who resigned as chief executive in June, exaggerated claims about customer interest in its truck, which is meant to be used by businesses like contractors and utilities.

Federal prosecutors are also investigating Lordstown’s merger with DiamondPeak, a SPAC put together by David Hamamoto, a former Goldman Sachs partner and a Wall Street real estate investor.

But proponents of SPACs said the charges against Mr. Milton and other investigations should not be used to tar the reputation of these investment vehicles, which some people on Wall Street assert are innovative. Douglas Ellenoff, a New York lawyer whose firm has specialized in representing the founder of SPACs, said some regulators have been “putting out statements that are stigmatizing the industry at large.”

Filling up at at Shell station in Denver. Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday it would increase its dividend and buy back shares.
Credit…David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Two of Europe’s largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell and TotalEnergies, the new name for Total, reported sharply higher earnings for the second quarter on Thursday as higher energy prices and reviving demand for oil and natural gas bolstered results.

Shell’s adjusted earnings were $5.5 billion, compared with just $638 million in the period a year earlier, when much of the global economy gripped by lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus. TotalEnergies — the new name is meant to reflect the Paris-based company’s growing emphasis on renewables and electricity — also reported a big jump in adjusted net income for the quarter: $3.5 billion versus $126 million a year ago.

Shell, which disappointed investors last year when it sharply cut its dividend for the first time since World War II, said that it would increase its dividend for the second quarter by 38 percent, to 24 cents a share. Shell also said it aimed to buy back $2 billion worth of shares in the second half of this year.

Shell’s share price gained more than 3 percent Thursday. TotalEnergies, which also announced plans to buy back shares, gained 2.2 percent.

Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, said that the company’s decision to sweeten the rewards for shareholders reflected confidence in the future after last year’s brutal downturn set off by the pandemic.

He also said that he thought oil prices, which averaged $69 a barrel in the quarter compared with $30 a barrel a year earlier, were supported by market fundamentals.

“Supply is going to be restrained and demand quite strong,” he said during a news conference Thursday.

AstraZeneca shots ready for use in Milan this year. The vaccine was developed with Oxford University.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

AstraZeneca has released one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to 170 nations this year, the company said on Thursday, an important milestone despite the many challenges that its low-cost vaccine has faced — including legal fights with the European Union, slashed deliveries and hesitancy in many countries.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed with Oxford University, was once earmarked for broad use throughout Europe and other continents, including Africa.

But the vaccine has been held back by various problems. AstraZeneca has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the European Union after the company said this year that it could deliver only a third of the 300 million doses it was expected to provide to the bloc.

Several European countries, as well as Australia and Canada, stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine for young people after reports of extremely rare but serious blood clots. Denmark and Spain have stopped using it altogether because of the blood clot risk. South Africa stopped using the vaccine after it was found to be ineffective on a variant there. And the United States has not authorized its use. (AstraZeneca said on Thursday that in the second half of the year, it would seek full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a process that can take many months to complete.)

Experts say they fear that the negative publicity the vaccine has received in some countries — President Emmanuel Macron of France called the vaccine “quasi-ineffective” among those over 65 — may have also affected others that are in critical need of doses.

“We are definitely seeing that hesitancy in high-income countries can affect low-income countries,” Andrew Pollard, a professor of pediatric infection and immunity who leads the group at Oxford University that developed the vaccine with AstraZeneca, said on the BBC on Thursday.

Dr. Pollard added that he believed most people across the world were desperate to receive the vaccines and that the main issue remained the inequitable distribution of doses.

AstraZeneca, which has pledged not to make any profit from the shots, said on Thursday that its Covid vaccine sales for the first half of the year had reached $1.2 billion. In comparison, Pfizer, which created a shot with the German company BioNTech and has made no such promise, said it predicted its Covid vaccine sales to reach more than $33 billion by the end of the year.

Apple’s new mask policy will affect its stores where Covid-19 cases are high.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Companies are rushing to revisit their coronavirus precautions, with some mandating vaccines and pushing back targets for when employees are expected to return to the office, as cases rise across the United States, fueled by the Delta variant and slower pace of vaccinations.

Lyft said on Wednesday that it would not require employees to return to the office until February, while Twitter said it would close its newly reopened offices in San Francisco and New York and indefinitely postpone other reopening plans.

Their actions follow announcements by authorities in California and New York City that they will require hundreds of thousands of government workers to get inoculations or face weekly testing. And President Biden is set to announce that all civilian federal workers must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.

A Credit Suisse branch in Bern, Switzerland.
Credit…Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Credit Suisse issued a report on Thursday that dissected in painful detail the “fundamental failure of management and controls” that led the bank to lose $5.5 billion from its business with the investment fund Archegos Capital Management earlier this year.

But investigators from the New York law firm hired to conduct the autopsy attributed the losses to incompetence and fear of alienating a big client, and said that none of the bank employees “engaged in fraudulent or illegal conduct or acted with ill intent.”

Credit Suisse, which also reported a big drop in profit on Thursday, said it would use the Archegos debacle “as a turning point for its overall approach to risk management.” The bank said that 23 employees would forfeit or be required to pay back $70 million in bonuses, and that nine in the group would be fired.

Archegos collapsed in March after its stock market bets, financed with money borrowed from Credit Suisse and other banks, turned sour. Credit Suisse was slower than Goldman Sachs and other creditors to liquidate Archegos’s positions and suffered the biggest losses.

But the risk of doing business with Archegos had been apparent for years, according to the 165-page report published Thursday. In 2012 its founder, Bill Hwang, while running another fund, pleaded guilty to a United States charge of wire fraud and settled insider trading allegations with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the report by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He had also been banned in 2014 from trading in Hong Kong.

In 2015, Credit Suisse employees “shrugged off” Mr. Hwang’s history after reviewing the risk of doing business with him, the Paul, Weiss report said. In subsequent years the bank allowed Archegos to make big bets using mostly borrowed money, and failed to take action as the fund chronically exceeded limits on the amount of risk it was allowed to assume.

Credit Suisse executives ignored numerous red flags because they were aware that Archegos was working with other banks and were afraid of alienating an important client. When Credit Suisse risk managers suggested in February that Archegos be required to post an additional $1 billion in cash to reduce its leverage, people responsible for working with the fund said that would be “pretty much asking them to move their business,” according to the report.

“The Archegos matter directly calls into question the competence of the business and risk personnel who had all the information necessary to appreciate the magnitude and urgency of the Archegos risks, but failed at multiple junctures to take decisive and urgent action to address them,” the report from Paul, Weiss said.

This week Credit Suisse appointed David Wildermuth, a veteran Goldman Sachs executive, as its chief risk officer, the latest in a series of high-level management changes. Lara Warner, who served as the bank’s chief risk officer and chief compliance officer, stepped down in April.

Archegos remains a burden on Credit Suisse earnings. The bank said Thursday that net profit in the second quarter fell nearly 80 percent, to 253 million Swiss francs, or $278 million. The bank booked an additional loss from Archegos of $653 million in the quarter, and also absorbed an 18 percent decline in sales, to 5.1 billion francs.

Credit Suisse also updated its progress in salvaging $10 billion that investors had put into funds organized by the bankrupt firm Greensill Capital. Credit Suisse, which marketed the so-called supply chain finance funds, said it would return at least $5.9 billion to investors, including a payment scheduled for August.

The Celebrity Edge cruise ship, docked at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Credit…Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Nothing demonstrated the horrors of the coronavirus contagion in the early stages of the pandemic like the major outbreaks onboard cruise ships, when vacation selfies abruptly turned into grim journals of endless days spent confined to cabins as the virus raged, eventually infecting thousands of people on board, and killing more than 100.

It was difficult to imagine how the ships would be able to sail safely again. Even after the vaccination rollout gained momentum in the United States in April, allowing most travel sectors to restart operations, cruise ships remained docked in ports, costing the industry billions of dollars in losses each month, report Ceylan Yeginsu and Niraj Chokshi for The New York Times.

Together, Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company, and the two other biggest cruise operators, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, lost nearly $900 million each month during the pandemic, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency.

Several epidemiologists questioned whether cruise ships, with their high capacities, close quarters and forced physical proximity, could restart during the pandemic, or whether they would be able to win back the trust of travelers.

But the opposite has proved true, said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises. “The ship environment is no longer a disadvantage, it’s an advantage because unlike anywhere else, we are able to control our environment, which eliminates the risks of a big outbreak,” he said.

After months of preparations to meet stringent health and safety guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cruise lines have started to welcome back passengers for U.S. sailings, with many itineraries fully booked throughout the summer.

Carnival said bookings for upcoming cruises soared by 45 percent during March, April and May as compared with the three previous months, while Royal Caribbean recently announced that all sailings from Florida in July and August were fully booked.

“The demand is there,” said Jaime Katz, an analyst with Morningstar.

The industry’s turnaround is far from guaranteed. The highly contagious Delta variant, which is causing a surge of cases around the world, could stymie the industry’s recovery, especially if large outbreaks occur on board. But analysts are generally optimistic about its prospects. That optimism is fueled by what may be the industry’s best asset: an unshakably loyal customer base.

  • ArcelorMittal, Europe’s largest steel company, reported net income of $4 billion for the second quarter on Thursday, the highest in more than a decade, as economies rebounded from the severe downturn of the pandemic. Aditya Mittal, the chief executive, said that the steel maker expected to spend $10 billion over the next decade reducing carbon emissions, and that he expected governments to foot half that bill.

  • Facebook said on Wednesday that revenue rose 56 percent to $29 billion in the three months ending in June compared with the same period last year, while profits rose 101 percent to to $10.4 billion, as the social network continues to benefit from a surge of users spending more time online during the pandemic. Advertising revenue, which continues to be the bulk of Facebook’s income, rose 56 percent to $28.6 billion, easily surpassing Wall Street expectations. Roughly 3.51 billion people now use one of Facebook’s apps every month, up 12 percent from a year earlier.

  • Ford Motor said on Wednesday that its profit for the three months that ended in June fell by about 50 percent, to $561 million, in large part because a global shortage of computer chips kept the company from selling more cars and trucks. The result, however, was not as bad as the automaker had feared. Ford also gave a more upbeat outlook for the full year, saying it now expected an adjusted operating profit in the range of $9 billion to $10 billion, some $3.5 billion more than it had previously forecast.

  • Boeing on Wednesday said that it made a $587 million quarterly profit, a result that surprised Wall Street, which had been expecting a loss, and a strong sign that the aerospace giant is overcoming the 737 Max crisis, problems with its 787 Dreamliner jet and the economic shock caused by the pandemic. The profit for the second quarter, which ended in June, is a big turnaround from the $2.4 billion loss Boeing reported in the same period last year. Wall Street analysts had expected Boeing to lose more than $100 million in the quarter this year, according to S&P CapitalIQ.

The Maricopa County constable inspected an apartment while serving an eviction order in Phoenix in September.
Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

President Biden is pushing Congress for a second consecutive one-month extension of a moratorium on residential evictions, as the White House struggles to stand up a $47 billion rental relief program plagued by delays, confusion and red tape.

White House officials, under pressure from tenants’ rights groups, agreed to a one-month extension of the ban, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just before June 30, its previous expiration date. The freeze is now set to expire on Saturday.

Last month, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge by landlords, saying the moratorium could be extended to July 31 to give the Treasury Department and the states time to disburse cash to landlords to cover back rent that tenants did not pay during the pandemic. But Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in concurring with the majority decision that any future extension of the moratorium would require Congressional action.

On Thursday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, cited the steep rise in coronavirus infections around the country and called on Congress to extend the freeze one more month to avoid a health and eviction crisis.

“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the C.D.C. to further extend this eviction moratorium,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

Mr. Biden “calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay,” she added.

It is not clear whether there are enough votes in the Senate, which is divided 50-50 on partisan lines with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker, to pass another extension to the moratorium.

The Biden administration’s effort to head off a crisis gained modest momentum in June, with 290,000 tenants receiving $1.5 billion in pandemic relief, according to Treasury Department statistics released last week.

But the flow of the cash, provided under two pandemic relief packages, remains sluggish and hampered by confusion at the state level, potentially endangering tenants who fell behind in their rent over the past year.

Ms. Psaki, in her statement, included a plea to local officials to accelerate their work.

“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet this critical need of so many Americans,” she said.

Tenants’ groups have been urging Mr. Biden to extend the eviction moratorium, but White House lawyers argued that challenging the Supreme Court’s conservative majority on the case could eventually result in new restrictions on federal action during future health crises.

The moratorium was initially imposed by the C.D.C. last fall, during the Trump administration, because of the danger of virus spread that could arise from a wave of evictions stemming from economic shutdowns and job losses during the pandemic.

Earlier this week, the country’s biggest trade group for residential landlords sued the federal government over the national moratorium, claiming that it had cost owners around $27 billion that was not covered by existing aid programs.

The suit by the group, the National Apartment Association, cited industry estimates showing that 10 million delinquent tenants owed $57 billion in back rent by the end of 2020, and that $17 billion more had gone unpaid since then.

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CreditCredit…Nicole Ginelli

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes, “The already bonkers dollars of Big Tech have become even bonkers-er,” and offers an explanation for what it all could mean.



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