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The Cost of a Stuck Ship

After almost a week of dredging, drigging and tugging — and with some help from the moon — salvage teams yesterday freed the giant container ship that had been stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

As a result, traffic has resumed for the hundreds of ships waiting on both ends of the canal. And while estimates have varied wildly, the delay is also expensive. “The disruption has caused the canal authorities in Egypt losses of $95 million in revenue,” The Times’s Peter Goodman told me.

And even though the ship is free, the disruption isn’t over.

“It’s not just like flipping a switch,” Vivian Yee, the Times’s Cairo bureau chief, told me. Now that the ship is out of the way, the backlog will take at least a few days, maybe even weeks, to resolve.

High winds from a sandstorm caused the ship, the Ever Given, to turn sideways in the canal and get stuck, its operators said. But shipping experts have suggested that while the wind probably had a role in the crisis, human error might have, too.

few extra inches of tidal flow and gave workers the boost they needed to set the ship free.

It’s rare that a maritime disruption makes international news. But this was not your average mishap. For one, the Suez Canal isn’t like other waterways. “It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil,” Peter writes.

And the Ever Given is one of the world’s biggest container ships. “From a distance, it’s hard to comprehend how big it is,” Vivian told us. “From land, all the containers on top look like Legos — and then you realize each one of those Legos is 20 or 40 feet long.”

a backlog of goods sitting in factories, waiting to be put in boxes, Vivian says.

It took 10 years of hard labor — during which tens of thousands of Egyptian workers died — to build the canal in the 19th century.

For more: This is how giant container ships are built.

began yesterday.

  • The prosecution argued that Chauvin acted with excessive force, and played a video that showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. “You can believe your eyes that it’s homicide,” a prosecutor told the jury.

  • The defense argued that Floyd’s death was caused by underlying medical conditions and a drug overdose, and urged jurors to consider evidence beyond the video.

  • This two-minute video shows key moments from the first day of the trial.

  • After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, does the U.S. need a domestic terrorism law?

    Makeover: The beauty industry has entered a phase of total pop-culture domination. Celebrities, social media stars and lifestyle influencers are changing the way the sell works.

    Lives Lived: A fierce advocate for New York’s disabled, Edith Prentiss fought to make the city she loved more navigable for everyone. She died at 69.

    suffered more during the pandemic than most other U.S. restaurants.

    Their business began declining sooner — in January of last year, when news broke that a new virus was circulating in Wuhan, China. The restaurants have also had to cope with a rise in anti-Asian racism — “vandalized, robbed, attacked online in racist Yelp reviews,” as The Washington Post reported. Xi’an Famous Foods in New York began closing early after two employees were punched in the face while commuting to and from work.

    Grace Young, a decorated author of cookbooks, is worried that traditional Chinatowns, like New York’s and San Francisco’s, will never recover from the pandemic, and she has spent months trying to call attention to the problem. “When you step into those restaurants, you are stepping back in time, and it’s a privilege,” Young said on a recent episode of “The Splendid Table,” a food podcast.

    For anyone who wants to help Chinese restaurants, Francis Lam, the host of “The Splendid Table,” offered a suggestion: “If you can, order yourself some Chinese takeout. Get extra. Leftovers are your friend.” In The Times, Bonnie Tsui has more tips for supporting restaurants. — David Leonhardt

    creamy asparagus pasta to the next level.

    See a short opera film starring the drag queen Sasha Velour, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner and lip-syncing legend.

    Young artists are bypassing art schools and student loans, quitting their day jobs and pursuing careers as full-time artists on TikTok. But what happens when viewership plummets and copycats arrive?

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    Fallout From Hedge Fund’s Defaults Spreads Through Markets: Live Updates

    Bloomberg identified it as Archegos Capital Management, a New York-based family office that manages the wealth of Bill Hwang, a former hedge fund manager at Tiger Asia Management who was found guilty of wire fraud in 2012.

    Investment banks that provided services to Archegos, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, dumped huge quantities of stocks including ViacomCBS and Chinese tech companies on Friday.

    Archegos was forced into the stock sales, worth about $20 billion, after bets the fund made moved the wrong way, Bloomberg reported. Shares in ViacomCBS, one of Archegos’s positions, dropped 23 percent on Wednesday last week. On Friday, the share price plummeted a further 27 percent as the investment banks liquidated positions. ViacomCBS shares fell about 3 percent in early trading on Monday.

    Shares in Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley opened about 2-3 percent lower on Monday. Shares in Deutsche Bank fell more than 3 percent, after it was said to also have some exposure to Archegos.

    Credit Suisse has already been roiled this month by the collapse of Greensill Capital, a London-based financial firm it sold funds for, and to whom it extended loans of $140 million. The Swiss bank told investors it would probably report some losses on the loan.

    “A significant U.S.-based hedge fund defaulted on margin calls made last week by Credit Suisse and certain other banks,” the Swiss bank said on Monday. It did not yet know the exact size of the loss from exiting its positions but “it could be highly significant and material to our first quarter results,” the statement said.

    Bill Hwang, right, with his lawyer in 2012. Archegos Capital Management manages the personal fortune of the former hedge fund mogul.
    Credit…Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

    The fallout from risky investments made by Archegos Capital Management continued to spread through the global markets on Monday, and it could spur more attention from regulators on the murky world of swaps and investor borrowing, the DealBook newsletter reports.

    But how did one firm’s bad bets cascade to become a multibillion-dollar fire sale of stocks by banks around the world? Here’s what we know so far:

    Archegos manages the personal fortune of the former hedge fund mogul Bill Hwang, who won Wall Street’s business despite having pleaded guilty to insider trading years ago. It amassed huge positions in media giants like ViacomCBS and in several Chinese tech companies — largely with borrowed money.

    The Archegos strategy included using swaps, contracts that gave Mr. Hwang financial exposure to companies’ shares while hiding both his identity and how big his positions really were. (It is also becoming increasingly apparent that several Wall Street banks lent Archegos money without knowing that others were doing the same thing for the same trades.)

    Trouble for Mr. Hwang, and his banks, arose when the prices of those stocks started to fall. That prompted some of his lenders to demand cash to cover his bets. When they began to question his ability to do so, some of them, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, seized some of his holdings and kicked off the sale $20 billion worth in huge block trades.

    That forced selling led to even bigger drops in the prices of those stocks, starting a vicious circle.

    Goldman Sachs has told investors that its potential losses are “immaterial,” having covered its exposure, but other investment banks faced a reckoning:

    One person who is surely paying attention is Gary Gensler: President Biden’s pick to lead the S.E.C. has been an advocate for market transparency, having argued that unregulated dark pools could cause a broader risk to the U.S. economy.

    Southwest Airlines, the largest buyer of Boeing’s 737 Max jet, said that it had ordered a total of the planes over the next decade.
    Credit…Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Southwest Airlines is doubling down on Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet, adding 100 new orders for the plane just months after regulators began allowing it to fly again.

    The airline, already the largest customer of the Max, said on Monday that it had ordered a total of 349 Max jets over the next decade. Southwest, which resumed flights aboard the Max this month, also said it had more than doubled the number of planes it had options to buy, to 270.

    “Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Today’s commitment to the 737 Max solidifies our continued appreciation for the aircraft.”

    Regulators around the world grounded the Max, which is quieter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessors, in March 2019 following fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people. The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on the plane in November, requiring various changes and upgrades. It was soon followed by other aviation regulators and the plane has been used on thousands of flights since.

    The expanded Southwest order comes as more passengers start flying again. More than 1.5 million people were screened at airport security checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the most since the coronavirus pandemic began. Still, that was about 37 percent fewer people than the agency had screened on the same day in 2019.

    Southwest did not say how much it will pay for its new Max order. The airline is spending more than $10 billion in new and existing airplane orders. The airline expects to receive 28 Max planes this year and at least 30 each year after through 2025.

    By acquiring Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, will be better able to compete as publishing has come to be dominated by the biggest players.
    Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

    HarperCollins, one of the five largest publishing companies in the United States, has made a deal to acquire Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Media, the trade publishing division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for $349 million.

    The acquisition will help HarperCollins expand its catalog of backlist titles at a moment of growing consolidation in the book business. Houghton Mifflin publishes perennial sellers by well-known authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, Philip Roth and Lois Lowry, as well as children’s classics and best-selling cookbooks and lifestyle guides.

    News of the sale was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

    By acquiring Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, will be better able to compete as publishing has come to be dominated by the biggest players.

    The book business has been transformed by consolidation in the past decade, with the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, News Corp’s purchase of the romance publisher Harlequin, and Hachette Book Group’s acquisition of Perseus Books. Last fall, ViacomCBS agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion, in a deal that has drawn scrutiny from antitrust regulators and has raised concerns among booksellers, authors and agents.

    Book sales across the industry have remained strong during the pandemic, but Houghton Mifflin saw its revenue fall sharply last year because of a steep drop in sales in its education division. Its revenue fell by more than 46 percent in the nine months that ended on Sept. 30 of last year, compared with the same period in 2019. The company put its trade publishing division up for sale last fall, as it aims to focus on its core business of K-12 educational publishing, and to pay down its debt.

    “There is incredible demand for our expertise as schools across the country plan for post-pandemic learning and recovery,” Houghton Mifflin’s president and chief executive, Jack Lynch, said in a news release. “This is an inflection moment for K-12 education in our country and for HMH as a trusted partner to schools and teachers in advancing learning for every student.”

    Tankers and freight ships near the entrance of the Suez Canal.
    Credit…Ahmed Hasan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Oil prices fell on Monday as word spread that the giant cargo ship blocking the Suez Canal had been set free, raising hopes that hundreds of vessels, many carrying oil and petroleum products, could soon proceed through the critical waterway.

    Oil prices had swirled earlier in the day, as prospects of an end to the logjam brightened, and then dimmed. But following the announcement that the containership Ever Given had been freed, the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell about 2.5 percent, to $63.90 a barrel.

    Since the vessel got stuck early last week, tankers have been lining up at the entrances to the canal waiting to deliver their cargoes to Europe and Asia.

    The Suez Canal is a crucial choke point for oil shipping, but so far the impact on the oil market of this major interruption of trade flows has been relatively muted. Though prices jumped after shipping on the canal was halted, oil prices still remain below their nearly two-year highs of about $70 a barrel reached earlier this month.

    Traders are now expected to focus on broader threats to the oil market, including whether the imposition of new lockdowns in Europe may hold back the recovery of oil demand from the pandemic.

    From a global perspective, oil supplies are considered adequate, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, the group known as OPEC Plus, are withholding an estimated eight million barrels a day, or about 9 percent of current consumption, from the market. Officials from OPEC Plus are expected to meet by video conference on Thursday to discuss whether to ease output cuts.

    Goldman Sachs’s headquarters in New York. A group of investors is suing the Wall Street bank over claims of fraud. 
    Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday from Goldman Sachs and pension funds over a claim that the Wall Street giant misled investors about its work selling complex debt investments in the prelude to the 2008 financial crisis.

    In its latest brief, Goldman makes an interesting argument, the DealBook newsletter reports: Investors shouldn’t rely on statements such as “honesty is at the heart of our business” or “our clients’ interests always come first” that appear in Securities and Exchange Commission filings and annual reports.

    The case is a test of shareholders’ ability to sue over claims of investment fraud. The pension funds sought to sue as a class over Goldman’s statements, saying they belied those statements of honesty, and lower courts agreed to let them proceed. Goldman has argued that the investors are engaged in “guerrilla warfare” and aren’t providing “serious legal arguments,” relying on support from the federal government instead.

    However, the Biden administration isn’t taking sides, technically. It will argue as a “friend of the court” on Monday that “meritorious private securities-fraud suits” are “an essential complement” to enforcing securities laws.

    “I expect the court to be troubled by the claim that companies cannot be held accountable for saying that clients come first and then acting otherwise,” Robert Jackson Jr., who served on the S.E.C. from 2018 to 2020 and is now an N.Y.U. law professor, told DealBook.

    The justices probably won’t agree with the claim that making a company “mean what it says” will lead to a tsunami of meritless lawsuits,” he added. Regardless, Goldman is right that the stakes are high, because the case is likely to decide whether shareholders can “hold corporate insiders accountable when they tell investors one thing and do another,” Mr. Jackson said.

    President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela promoted an unproven remedy for Covid-19 on Facebook, which prompted the company to freeze his page. 
    Credit…Manaure Quintero/Reuters

    The Facebook page of Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, was frozen for “repeated” violations of its misinformation policies, including a post about an unproven remedy for Covid-19, the company said on Sunday, the latest example of the social media giant cracking down on political figures who violate its content policies.

    Mr. Maduro’s Facebook page will be frozen for 30 days in a “read-only” mode, the company said, “due to repeated violations of our rules.”

    “We removed a video posted to President Nicolas Maduro’s Page for violating our policies against misinformation about Covid-19 that is likely to put people at risk for harm,” a Facebook spokesman said. “We follow guidance from the W.H.O. that says there is currently no medication to cure the virus.” The spokesman was referring to the World Health Organization.

    Facebook’s move came after Mr. Maduro posted a video on his page that promoted Carvativir, a drug derived from thyme. He said in January that the medicine was a “miracle,” but did not provide evidence of its effectiveness — and declined to release the name of the “brilliant Venezuelan mind” that created the drug. In the video, Mr. Maduro falsely claimed that Carvativir can be used preventively and therapeutically against the coronavirus.

    In the past, Facebook has been criticized for its inaction against political figures who test the boundaries of the company’s content policies by spreading misinformation. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, has said he does not want to be the “arbiter of truth” in public discourse.

    But in recent months, Facebook has cracked down on certain types of misinformation across the network. The company has banned posts containing false or misleading information regarding the coronavirus, and has shown willingness to take action against some political figures. And in the past, it has removed at least one post by Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, for false coronavirus remedy claims regarding the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

    In January, after insurgents stormed the United States Capitol, President Donald J. Trump’s account was banned indefinitely for inciting his supporters to violent action using the social network.

    In response to his account restriction, Mr. Maduro has said Facebook is practicing a form of “digital totalitarianism,” according to Reuters, which first reported Mr. Maduro’s suspension.

    Mr. Maduro said on Twitter on Sunday that he would continue to broadcast his regular coronavirus briefing from his other digital accounts, including Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. And to circumvent his suspension, he said he would use the Facebook account belonging to his wife, Cilia Flores, to broadcast Covid-19 information. Facebook would not comment on whether it would suspend Ms. Flores’s account.

    A rally on Friday in support of the Amazon workers outside the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union’s building in Birmingham, Ala.
    Credit…Charity Rachelle for The New York Times

    One of the most closely watched union elections in recent history is wrapping up on Monday, one that could alter the shape of the labor movement and one of America’s largest employers.

    Almost 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse near Birmingham, Ala., one of the company’s largest, are eligible to vote in this election. After years of fierce resistance from the company, they could form the first union at an Amazon operation in the United States.

    The outcome of the vote may not be known for days, but the union drive has already succeeded in roiling the world’s biggest e-commerce company and spotlighting complaints about its labor practices, The New York Times’s Karen Weise and Michael Corkery write. If the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union succeeds, it would be a huge victory for the labor movement, whose membership has declined for decades. A victory would also give it a foothold inside one of the country’s largest private employers. The company now has 950,000 workers in the United States, after adding more than 400,000 in the last year alone.

    If the union loses, particularly by a large margin, Amazon will have turned the tide on a unionization drive that seemed to have many winds at its back. A loss could force labor organizers to rethink their overall strategy and give Amazon confidence that its approach is working.

    Hansjörg Wyss, the former chief executive of the medical device manufacturer Synthes, said he had agreed to join a bid for Tribune Publishing.
    Credit…Ruben Sprich/Reuters

    A Swiss billionaire who has donated hundreds of millions to environmental causes is a surprise new player in the bidding for Tribune Publishing, the major newspaper chain that until recently seemed destined to end up in the hands of a New York hedge fund.

    Hansjörg Wyss (pronounced Hans-yorg Vees), the former chief executive of the medical device manufacturer Synthes, said he had agreed to join with the Maryland hotelier Stewart W. Bainum Jr. in a bid for Tribune, an offer that could upend Alden Global Capital’s plan to take full ownership of the company, Marc Tracy of The New York Times writes.

    Mr. Wyss, who has given away some of his fortune to help preserve wildlife habitats in Wyoming, Montana and Maine, said he was motivated to join the Tribune bid by his belief in the need for a robust press. “I have an opportunity to do 500 times more than what I’m doing now,” he said.

    Alden, which already owns roughly 32 percent of Tribune Publishing shares, is known for drastically cutting costs at the newspapers it controls through its MediaNews Group subsidiary. Last month, the hedge fund reached an agreement with Tribune, whose papers include The Daily News, The Baltimore Sun and The Chicago Tribune, to buy the rest of the company’s shares.

    The sale of Tribune, which the newspaper company hopes to conclude by July, requires regulatory approval and yes votes from company shareholders representing two-thirds of the non-Alden stock.

    “We are in a hyper-growth industry,” said Dhivya Suryadevara, Stripe’s chief financial officer.
    Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Thousands of financial technology start-ups are riding an investor frenzy driven by a growing realization that the industry is ripe for a tech makeover, writes Erin Griffith of The New York Times.

    When the pandemic forced businesses to speed up their usage of digital tools, including e-commerce and online banking, the demand for what is known as fintech exploded.

    Now start-ups with names like Blend, Brex and Dave that provide decidedly unglamorous banking, lending and payment processing offerings are hot tickets. That was punctuated this month when Stripe, a payments company, raised $600 million in a financing that valued it at $95 billion, the highest ever for a private start-up in the United States.

    Financial technology companies are also making a splash on the stock market. On Tuesday, Robinhood, a stock trading app popular with young adults, filed for an initial public offering. And Coinbase, a cryptocurrency start-up, is scheduled to go public in the next few weeks in what could be a $100 billion listing.

    In total, venture capital investors poured $44.4 billion into financial technology start-ups last year, up from $1.1 billion in 2009, according to PitchBook, which tracks private financing. Many investors are now making bold predictions that these start-ups will upend big banks, established credit card providers — and in some cases, the entire financial system.

    Christopher Waller, a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.
    Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

    The Federal Reserve’s independence from partisan politics is essential and must be protected, Christopher Waller, a member of Fed’s Board of Governors, said in his first speech as a top central bank official.

    Mr. Waller, who previously worked in research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, was nominated to the Fed by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed to the job late last year.

    He used his first extensive public remarks to push back on the idea that the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates, might keep them steady just to make interest costs on the government’s huge debt pile low in the wake of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

    “Going forward, the monetary policy choices of the F.O.M.C. will continue to be guided solely by our mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices,” Mr. Waller said. “Partisan policy preferences or the debt-financing needs of the Treasury will play no role in that decision.”

    Mr. Waller noted that the government’s pandemic response spending packages — which totaled more than $5 trillion — have pushed the U.S. debt to a level last seen in World War II, relative to the nation’s output.

    At the same time, the Fed has been keeping short-term policy interest rates near zero while buying up huge amounts of government debt to make financing of all kinds cheaper, helping to stoke demand and fuel an economic recovery.

    That has contributed to a narrative that “the Federal Reserve will succumb to pressures” to keep rates low and continue buying bonds, Mr. Waller said, policies that would make it easier for the government to borrow and spend.

    “It is simply wrong,” he said. “Monetary policy has not and will not be conducted for these purposes.”

    Instead, the Fed will focus on fostering maximum employment and price stability — its two Congress-given goals. The Fed is politically independent, and although it has traditionally cooperated with the Treasury Department during times of crisis, elected officials and those with close ties to the presidential administration do not have a say in how it sets monetary policy to achieve its targets.

    Mr. Waller’s remarks do not mean interest rates are poised to rise soon, though. The Fed has signaled that it will leave them near rock-bottom until inflation has moved higher and looks poised to stay there, and until the economy has returned to what they see as full employment.

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    HarperCollins will acquire the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    HarperCollins, one of the five largest publishing companies in the United States, has made a deal to acquire Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Media, the trade publishing division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for $349 million.

    The acquisition will help HarperCollins expand its catalog of backlist titles at a moment of growing consolidation in the book business. Houghton Mifflin publishes perennial sellers by well-known authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, Philip Roth and Lois Lowry, as well as children’s classics and best-selling cookbooks and lifestyle guides.

    News of the sale was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

    By acquiring Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, will be better able to compete as publishing has come to be dominated by the biggest players.

    The book business has been transformed by consolidation in the past decade, with the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, News Corp’s purchase of the romance publisher Harlequin, and Hachette Book Group’s acquisition of Perseus Books. Last fall, ViacomCBS agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion, in a deal that has drawn scrutiny from antitrust regulators and has raised concerns among booksellers, authors and agents.

    remained strong during the pandemic, but Houghton Mifflin saw its revenue fall sharply last year because of a steep drop in sales in its education division. Its revenue fell by more than 46 percent in the nine months that ended on Sept. 30 of last year, compared with the same period in 2019. The company put its trade publishing division up for sale last fall, as it aims to focus on its core business of K-12 educational publishing, and to pay down its debt.

    “There is incredible demand for our expertise as schools across the country plan for post-pandemic learning and recovery,” Houghton Mifflin’s president and chief executive, Jack Lynch, said in a news release. “This is an inflection moment for K-12 education in our country and for HMH as a trusted partner to schools and teachers in advancing learning for every student.”

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    Masonite Innovations to Bring Power and Connectivity to Doors

    TAMPA, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Masonite International Corporation (NYSE: DOOR), a leading global designer, manufacturer, marketer and distributor of interior and exterior doors, announced patent-pending technology to integrate power and internet connectivity into residential doors. This groundbreaking innovation marks the company’s most significant advance in research and development since the founding of the company nearly a century ago.

    Masonite plans to leverage this revolutionary technology through relationships with Ring and Yale Home. These collaborations will explore opportunities for product development to integrate new lifestyle and security functionality into doors that provide additional value and peace of mind for homeowners.

    We believe power and connectivity will create expanded capabilities for homeowners,” said Cory Sorice, Masonite Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer. “We’re pleased to build relationships with Ring and Yale to transform what people can expect their doors to do, as we continue to innovate and deliver doors that do more.”

    We’re excited to be a part of this innovative step forward in smart home connectivity,” said Jamie Siminoff, Founder and Chief Inventor at Ring. “The seamless integration of our Ring Video Doorbell technology and the Yale smart lock into the Masonite door is an example of how we can add technology in smart ways to make customers’ homes work harder for them.”

    For most people, security and peace of mind start at the front door. We’ve seen this firsthand at Yale for the last 180 years,” said Jason Williams, President of Smart Residential Group U.S., ASSA ABLOY. “As smart security rapidly evolves, it’s a logical next step for doors to become directly integrated with the technology themselves. With Masonite and Ring, we look forward to driving this innovation and helping bring about a new era of home security.”

    The Masonite story began nearly a century ago, when founder William H. Mason developed a method to turn large quantities of waste wood into useful products. That spirit of innovation continues to thrive at Masonite today. The Masonite Innovation Center (MIC), located in West Chicago, Illinois, is the largest private research and development center in the world focused on doors and door technologies. The MIC is designed to give Masonite an industry-leading edge in developing new products to meet the needs of today’s homeowners.

    For more information on Masonite innovation or to submit a collaboration request, visit masonite.com/innovation. Follow Masonite on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

    ABOUT MASONITE

    Masonite International Corporation is a leading global designer, manufacturer, marketer and distributor of interior and exterior doors for the new construction and repair, renovation and remodeling sectors of the residential and non-residential building construction markets. Since 1925, Masonite has provided its customers with innovative products and superior service at compelling values. Masonite currently serves approximately 7,600 customers in 60 countries. Additional information about Masonite can be found at www.masonite.com.

    ABOUT RING

    Since its founding in 2013, Ring has been on a mission to make neighborhoods safer. From the video doorbell, to Ring Alarm, which was named #1 in Customer Satisfaction for DIY Home Security Systems by J.D. Power, Ring’s smart home security product line, as well as the Neighbors App, offer users affordable whole-home and neighborhood security. At Ring, we are committed to making home and neighborhood security accessible and effective for everyone — while working hard to bring communities together. Ring is an Amazon company. For more information, visit www.ring.com. With Ring, you’re always home.

    ABOUT YALE

    At 180 years strong, Yale is a leading security brand that protects the people, places and things we love most. It secures millions of homes and businesses worldwide with its innovative mechanical locks, safes and smart locks for front doors, interior doors, cabinets, package deliveries and more. Yale is part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, the global leader in access solutions. Every day, we help billions of people experience a more open world. For more information, visit US.yalehome.com.

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    Microsoft to Ease Workers Back to the Office Starting Next Week: Live Updates

    wrote on the company blog.

    Microsoft also released on Monday the results of a survey of that it says shows the work force has changed after a year of working remotely. In the survey of more than 30,000 full-time and self-employed workers, 73 percent said they wanted flexible remote work options to continue, and 46 percent said they were planning to move this year now that they could work remotely.

    “There are some companies that think we’re just going to go back to how it was,” Jared Spataro, the corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, said in an interview. “However, the data does seem to indicate that they don’t understand what has happened over the last 12 months.”

    Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said the Fed’s research into central bank-issued digital currencies is early and exploratory — and that U.S. officials would only consider issuing a digital dollar if they believed there was a clear use and if the idea had widespread public and political buy-in.

    “You can expect us to move with great care and transparency,” Mr. Powell said on Monday at a Bank for International Settlements event on central bank innovation. “We would not proceed with this without support from Congress.”

    Mr. Powell said that at this stage, the Fed is looking into whether there is even a need for a central bank digital currency — a technology-based instrument with official government backing. Payment systems are already speeding up and banks offer digital money in the form of bank deposits, he noted, so the need for a central bank version is an open question.

    “Does the public want, or need, a new digital form of central bank money to complement what is already a highly efficient, reliable and innovative payments arena?” he said.

    Central bank digital currency could offer benefits, Mr. Powell said — perhaps laying the groundwork for a more efficient, more inclusive payment system, and maintaining the dollar’s competitive position as the leading global currency. But there are also big risks. Digital currencies could bring cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the possibility of money laundering, and they might disrupt the stable relationship between customers, banks and the Fed.

    “We’re sort of purveyors of stability,” Mr. Powell said Monday.

    The Fed’s Washington-based board has begun experimenting with central bank digital currencies, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is collaborating with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on complementary research.

    “The focus really is on developing and understanding the capabilities and limitations of the relevant technologies,” he said. “It’s not an attempt to create a prototype.”

    Mr. Powell said regulation is not “where it needs to be” when it comes to stable coins — a type of cryptocurrency which has value tied to an outside asset. He dismissed the possibility that private stable coins could substitute for central bank money.

    And when it comes to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that aren’t backed by some value anchor, Mr. Powell said they are risky assets as opposed to dollar-like money.

    “Crypto assets, they’re highly volatile — see Bitcoin — and therefore not really useful as a store of value,” Mr. Powell said. “It’s more a speculative asset, that’s essentially a substitute for gold, rather than for the dollar.”

    A group of junior bankers at Goldman Sachs assembled a presentation about working conditions at the Wall Street bank that circulated on social media.
    Credit…Emon Hassan for The New York Times

    Last week, a presentation by a group of junior bankers at Goldman Sachs went viral on social media, in which they complained about what they described as workplace abuse, including 100-hour weeks.

    The DealBook newsletter’s inbox has been overflowing with reactions, notably from current, former and aspiring investment bankers. Here’s what some had to say — most requested anonymity to speak freely about their experiences — edited and condensed for clarity:

    Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange in Ankara. An unexpected change at the head of Turkey’s central bank caused a steep drop in the lira’s value.
    Credit…Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Turkey’s currency tumbled on Monday after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the head of the central bank, who had been in the job just four months and had pursued policies aimed at taming inflation. The Turkish lira plunged 10 percent against the U.S. dollar.

    The removal of Turkey’s central bank chief, Naci Agbal, signals a return to the unorthodox policies that Mr. Erdogan has long favored, such as cutting interest rates to lower inflation, but which most economists regard as counterproductive. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly meddled in the central bank’s activities and over the years traders have dumped the lira.

    Since his appointment in November, Mr. Agbal has raised the central bank’s benchmark interest rate from 10.25 percent to 19 percent in an effort to slow the overheating economy, control inflation and lure in foreign investment. He had succeeded in pulling the lira up from its record low. The most recent increase in the benchmark rate was on Thursday and he was fired on Friday.

    The annual inflation rate was officially 15.6 percent in February but is probably much higher.

    The new central bank chief, Sahap Kavcioglu, a university professor and former member of Turkey’s National Assembly, said in a statement that he would continue to fight inflation. But on Monday, the lira was trading at about 7.93 to the dollar, compared with 7.22 on Friday. The plunge in value was a sign that currency traders expect him to bow to pressure from Mr. Erdogan to cut rates, worsening the inflation problem and pushing the country of 82 million people closer to economic collapse.

    “We have abandoned our cautiously optimistic view on the lira,” Piotr Matys, a strategist at Rabobank wrote in a note. Mr. Kavcioglu’s comments suggest he is clearly in favor of lower interest rates to stimulate growth, he added.

    Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan, is a fugitive after fleeing Japan, where he was facing charges of alleged financial misconduct, which he had denied.  
    Credit…Hussein Malla/Associated Press

    Tokyo prosecutors on Monday charged two Americans with helping Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chief, jump bail in Tokyo, where he was awaiting trial on four counts of financial wrongdoing.

    Japanese prosecutors said in an indictment that the two men, Michael Taylor, 60, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Maxwell Taylor, 27, assisted Mr. Ghosn’s efforts to escape the country, helping him flee to Turkey and then on to Lebanon, where he has been beyond the reach of Japanese law.

    American officials arrested the men last May in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, they were extradited to Japan, where they have been held in a Tokyo detention center while undergoing questioning by prosecutors. A third man believed to have aided Mr. Ghosn’s escape remains at large.

    The Japanese authorities have accused Michael Taylor of helping Mr. Ghosn travel by train to the western city of Osaka, through security checks at a private jet terminal and then onto a plane bound for Turkey. Once there, Mr. Ghosn transferred to a flight bound for Beirut. Peter Taylor assisted in planning for the escapade, visiting Mr. Ghosn several times before the escape, officials say.

    Mr. Ghosn and his son, Anthony Ghosn, paid more than $1.3 million to the Taylors and a company they controlled, U.S. prosecutors have said in court filings.

    Mr. Ghosn’s case raised international concerns about what some critics call Japan’s system of “hostage justice,” which includes lengthy detentions of criminal suspects without charge. While in the United States, the Taylors fought a long legal battle to prevent their extradition, with their lawyers arguing that they could be subjected to harsh conditions in a Japanese jail.

    Jessie Astbury Allen with her daughters Mae, 7, and Livia, 12. They left China more than a year ago; Ms. Astbury Allen’s husband is still there.
    Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

    For the past year, people trying to go to China have run into some of the world’s most formidable barriers to entry. To stop the coronavirus, China bans tourists and short-term business travelers outright, and it sets tough standards for all other foreigners, even those who have lived there for years.

    The restrictions have hampered the operations of many companies, separated families and upended the lives of thousands of international students, report Sui-Lee Wee and Keith Bradsher for The New York Times. Global companies say their ranks of foreign workers in the country have dwindled sharply.

    As deadlier and more infectious virus variants appeared in other countries in recent months, China introduced onerous new requirements.

    Officials regard travel restrictions as crucial to their success in containing the virus. Since the outbreak started, China has reported more than 101,000 Covid cases. Although questions have been raised about the accuracy of the numbers, they are far lower than in the United States, where 29.8 million people have tested positive for the virus.

    China’s tough restrictions, including its recent ban on dependents, have exacted an emotional toll on some families who have been forced to live apart for months.

    In February of last year, Jessie Astbury Allen took her two young daughters to England to wait out the outbreak as it swept across China, hoping they would reunite with her husband in Shanghai by Easter. It was a plan she would come to regret.

    “I knew in my gut we were doing the wrong thing, but it was too late,” she said, weeping, as she described how she felt on landing at London’s Heathrow Airport.

    Abraham Sanchez, a Sacramento musician, put $1,200 of his stimulus money last week into his Robinhood trading account.
    Credit…Salgu Wissmath for The New York Times

    For a decade before the pandemic, small investors accounted for roughly a tenth of trading activity in the stock market. But in the last year, they have become responsible for close to a quarter, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.

    The speculative appetite of small investors may seem at odds with an economy still reeling from a pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans, decimated jobs and snuffed out businesses and livelihoods. But one of the biggest tools deployed by the U.S. government to cushion the economic blow — stimulus payments — is also driving a huge surge in investing by small traders, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.

    Analysts at Deutsche Bank recently estimated that as much $170 billion from the latest round of stimulus payments could flow into the stock market. They conducted a survey of retail traders in which respondents said they planned to put roughly 40 percent of any payment they received — or $2 of every $5 — into the stock market. Traders between the ages of 25 and 34 said they expected to put half of their stimulus check into stocks.

    “That could lead to a bit more mania, speculation in the market,” said Patrick Fruzzetti, managing director and partner at Hightower Advisors, an investment firm. The “stimmies,” he said — using a popular online term for stimulus checks — will go into people’s trading accounts, and “they will trade.”

    Volkswagen can spread the cost of developing new technologies over millions of vehicles and undercut Tesla on price.
    Credit…Matthias Rietschel/Reuters

    In October 2015, a month after Volkswagen confessed to rigging diesel cars to conceal illegally high emissions, shellshocked company executives gathered in the brick-clad high-rise executive office building topped with a giant VW logo that looms over the carmaker’s main factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.

    The executives authorized development of a collection of mix-and-match components that would serve as the basis for a range of electric models including sedans, S.U.V.s and vans, Jack Ewing reports for The New York Times. The standardized platform, called the Modular Electrification Toolbox, could also be used by other company brands, including Audi.

    The platform will allow Volkswagen to exploit the big advantage it has over Tesla: size. With 665,000 employees and sales of 9.3 million vehicles last year, Volkswagen is the second-largest carmaker in the world after Toyota. It can spread the cost of developing new technologies over millions of vehicles and undercut Tesla on price.

    The commitment Volkswagen made then is paying off now as the company rolls out a line of vehicles developed from the ground up to run on batteries, with more interior space and more appeal than adaptations of gasoline vehicles.

    By 2025, Volkswagen will be able to produce electric vehicles for less than it costs to build a gasoline or diesel car, UBS analysts wrote in this month’s report. They cautioned that Tesla retained a significant lead in battery technology and autonomous driving software.

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    Current and former investment bankers react to claims of workplace abuse by junior analysts at Goldman Sachs.

    Last week, a presentation by a group of junior bankers at Goldman Sachs went viral on social media, in which they complained about what they described as workplace abuse, including 100-hour weeks.

    The DealBook newsletter’s inbox has been overflowing with reactions, notably from current, former and aspiring investment bankers. Here’s what some had to say — most requested anonymity to speak freely about their experiences — edited and condensed for clarity:

    • “My view is that if it’s not to your liking, quit and find another line of work. It won’t pay as well, but it’s also possible that you won’t learn as much. I am still reaping the benefits of what I learned.” — Anonymous in Sydney

    • “I had heard all about the long hours, but once I was in it, I found that I had underestimated. I threw in the towel and left banking, because no amount of money was worth the terrible lifestyle.” — Anonymous in New York

    • “I knew I was worked like a donkey but quid pro quo. I could leave, work fewer hours and make less money. But I wasn’t interested in that.” — Anonymous in London

    • “In our day, we may have complained to our friends or our family, but we knew that short-term pain was good for long-term gain. I now live a comfortable life enabled by my first years at Goldman Sachs.” — Anonymous in New York

    • “We would do the math on the compensation and realize that we were making less than minimum wage per hour. It wasn’t worth being tortured. My health still suffers from my years on Wall Street.” — Anonymous in New York

    • “The learning experience was incredible and career-wise it set me on the right track. In hindsight, it could have actually killed me, but I was too young to realize this.” — Anonymous in Dubai

    • “Yes, we were ‘abused’ and yelled at, but this was expected and how we learned. My message for these analysts is: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” — Anonymous in New York

    • “There is no money that rewards the mental and physical harm that investment banking does to you. Of course, it’s a hell of an experience, Excel and PowerPoint-wise.” — Anonymous in São Paulo

    • “I spent many long nights in the office at the behest of associates and V.P.s, most of the time for no reason but ‘they might need me.’ Then I joined the military, where I had better work-life balance and more respectful leadership than I did in banking.” — Anonymous in New York

    • “I am an incoming Goldman Sachs intern. I knew about the work conditions before applying to the job. Anyone engaging in a career at a top investment bank knows about it, or else they applied for the wrong reasons.” — Anonymous in Europe

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    Barefoot Dreams Blankets America

    The first time Amanda John glimpsed a Barefoot Dreams blanket, she was watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” “Khloé was wearing her little leopard blanket and I was like, ‘What is that?’ Then, when I Googled it, I had a little bit of sticker shock,” said Ms. John, 32, who lives in Atlanta and whose blog, Strawberry Chic, focuses on “sharing style for the everyday girly girl.”

    Ms. John received a gift card, then waited for a sale, to finally buy her own. Now, “I have two or three of the blankets, maybe. I have a robe. I think two cardigans,” she said. “I’m pregnant right now with my first, and I’ve even got her first Barefoot Dreams blanket ready to go.”

    To look at the unassuming blob of oatmeal-colored fuzz is not to understand why celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson and Chrissy Teigen swaddle themselves in Barefoot Dreams; why the blankets consistently sell out during Nordstrom’s big annual sale; why bloggers, influencers and YouTubers painstakingly weigh the $180 price tag with their followers.

    But after a brutal winter, closing out Year 1 of a pandemic, many have sought relief in the nubby fabric: a nation of Linuses with blankets spread across laptopped laps, grasped tight in anxious fingers.

    “It is the ultimate comfort lifestyle brand,” Melia McGee, the merchandise director of home goods at Nordstrom, wrote in an email of Barefoot Dreams. “We see a lot of repeat customers for the brand who may start out by purchasing an entry item like pair of slippers, and expand their collection to include multiple throw blankets for every room in their house.”

    “That’s obviously where I’ve spent more of my money — having this sense of feeling comfortable and cozy during a time that is kind of traumatic,” said Kelsey Boyanzhu, 29, who blogs for Blondes & Bagels in San Francisco. “I make money from affiliate links on my website and I’ve absolutely seen a shift. I saw traffic to some of my most popular fashion posts plummet off a cliff.”

    But her December 2020 post, “Are Barefoot Dreams Blankets Worth It?” is now one of her most popular. “We’re not necessarily looking for a handbag in the same way that we’re looking for a blanket,” she said.

    Indeed.

    While Barefoot Dreams only recently seems to be everywhere, it was actually founded in 1995 by Annette Cook, a mother of young children who started a line of baby clothes and products from her garage in Burbank, Calif.

    She traveled to trade shows in Las Vegas and boutiques around the country, and she trademarked the term “CozyChic” in 2002. In 2003, Oprah Winfrey named the robe one of her “favorite things.”

    Ms. Cook died in 2012 from cancer, but her husband, Stan, has remained on as C.E.O., her brother-in-law Steve serves as sales director, and her son Grayson, 25, has joined the business.

    “She put her whole life into this,” Steve Cook said. “She hasn’t seen what it is today, but she had a pretty good idea of what was happening and where it was going.”

    Thanks in part to the company’s P.R. firm, Rogers & Cowan, a parade of celebrities now post Barefoot Dreams blankets; here’s Kate Hudson’s teenage son, Ryder, sprawled on a white throw, or Chrissy Teigen’s toddlers with creamy leopard print puddled at their feet.

    “I use mine 365. It stretches and wraps over your shoulders and feet and nothing else compares,” Ms. Teigen tweeted about her blanket in 2019. She has also touted a full outfit, top and bottoms, from the line in Instagram Stories.

    “She even said, ‘Oh, if you make a scrunchie, I will wear a scrunchie, too,’” said Frederic Barrouquere, the sales manager at Barefoot Dreams. “Well, we’re going to do some scrunchies!”

    QVC reported strong sales of Barefoot Dreams apparel in the pandemic, especially the wrap and cardigans, and Mr. Cook said that with “everybody dressing down and wanting to get comfy,” the company did exceptionally well last year and vowed “this year, we’re going to be double that.”

    The Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe said she has been “a forever fan” of the company, especially the ponchos. “Their robes also make the best gifts,” she said.

    The exceptional softness of the polyester microfiber fabric is what seems to make fans at first touch. “The hand feel is definitely unique. It’s very spongy,” Ms. Boyanzhu said. “I haven’t felt a fabric quite the same as that.”

    “This is not your father’s polyester,” said Deborah Young, a textile historian and professor at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, of the fabric used to make Barefoot Dreams. “Microfiber is incredibly fine, like silk. We never managed to imitate silk chemically, but ultimately came closer by making one finer than silk.”

    Of course, Barefoot Dreams isn’t the only manufacturer of synthetic fluff. Its competitors have similarly dreamy names. Urban Outfitters offers a “Stargazer” knit throw in nubby gray, while Target’s “Stars Above” line has a velvety cream chenille robe. Even Sam’s Club has found fuzz fans with its Crafted by Catherine throw, a steal at $30.

    “I know I personally have tons of fuzzy socks and blankets around my house, so we wanted to add in something that we were really shopping for,” said Tori Gerbig, the C.E.O. of Pink Lily, a company that sells a $94 leopard print blanket. Pink Lily started offering more soft “stay-at-home basics” last fall.

    Many of these products echo the dusty palette or instantly recognizable animal pattern of Barefoot Dreams. “It really goes with the Malibu vibe, the coastal vibe,” Mr. Barrouquere said of the color scheme; the brand distinguishes colors like “graphite,” “stone,” “pewter” and “beach rock,” all subtle variations on gray-taupe — or dishwater, if feeling uncharitable.

    As bloggers breathlessly catalog the best dupes, the company has began running a banner on its home page warning customers of unauthorized sellers.

    “Wash it! That’s where the others fall apart,” Mr. Cook said.

    The popularity of these fluffy products — and that very machine washability — scares environmentalists, who in recent years have observed the horrors of certain synthetic fabrics on the global water supply.

    “Polyester in general and microfiber especially are really under scrutiny right now because of their environmental impact,” said Patrice George, a professor of textile development at FIT, who cringes at Barefoot Dreams’ beachy website and aesthetic. “All those little tiny microfibers go into the waters and they’re polluting the ocean.” It’s the very delicacy of the synthetic textile that makes it more likely to shed and shred in the washing machine, she said, “but they do feel great.”

    The effect can be mitigated by washing the blanket or apparel inside a microfiber-catching gadget, like the Cora Ball or Guppyfriend bag. Later this year, Barefoot Dreams will release EcoChic, a new product line made with 70 percent recycled fabric.

    “Textiles have always had that dichotomy of protection and revelation,” Ms. Young said. “On the one hand, what you’re wearing reveals who you are, but on the other hand, when we go home, we always crawl under the blankets. There’s something so secure about that.”

    “Security” is a word Mr. Barrouquere returns to as well. “You know when you’re a baby and you’re carrying one everywhere?” he said. “That’s why people get really addicted to our product. You want the sweater, you want the socks, you want the slippers. We’re just taking you throughout the day.”

    Ms. Boyanzhu understands that Barefoot Dreams may not be achieved, or even desired, by everyone. “The reality is, I don’t know that there’s ever going to be a way for me to say that a $180 blanket is worth it,” she said. “So I want to acknowledge that. Do I regret my blanket purchase? No.”

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    Cushman & Wakefield Brokers $64.5M Sale of Luxury Multifamily Community in Arizona

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) announced the firm has brokered the sale of Village at Aspen Place, a 222-unit Class A, mixed-use luxury multifamily community located within a premier lifestyle center in Flagstaff, Arizona. An entity formed by Orange County, California-based NNC Apartment Ventures, LLC acquired the Village at Aspen Place community for $64.5 million. The seller was an entity formed by Kansas City, Missouri-based VanTrust Real Estate, LLC.

    David Fogler and Steven Nicoluzakis with Cushman & Wakefield’s Multifamily Advisory Group in Phoenix represented the seller in the transaction.

    “The buyer was attracted by the opportunity to acquire one of the finest apartment communities in the Flagstaff submarket,” said Fogler, Executive Managing Director. “Village at Aspen Place’s unit interiors feature high quality finishes while its amenities are best in class. Additionally, the surrounding property features some of the finest shopping, restaurants and service businesses Flagstaff has to offer.”

    Village at Aspen Place was completed in 2015 and features a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans. The community features ground floor retail, an attached parking garage and has elevator service to each floor.

    Located at 601 East Piccadilly Dr., Village at Aspen Place is conveniently located to nearby shopping, dining and entertainment venues as well as Flagstaff’s historic downtown area and Northern Arizona University.

    About Cushman & Wakefield

    Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with approximately 50,000 employees in over 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2020, the firm had revenue of $7.8 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services. To learn more, visit www.cushmanwakefield.com or follow @CushWake on Twitter.

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    Amazon Versus Unions

    A labor union’s effort to organize about 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., has turned into a national story. The workers are now voting whether to join the union, in an election that runs through March 29.

    I asked Noam Scheiber, who covers workplace issues for The Times, to explain what’s going on. Our conversation follows.

    David: Why has this one local union election become such a big deal?

    Noam: Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the U.S. In the more than 25 years since its founding, the company has successfully resisted unionization at all of its U.S. facilities, which now number in the hundreds. But labor leaders believe that a single high-profile success will reverberate across the country.

    There are already signs that they may be right. Some nonunionized Amazon workers on Staten Island walked off the job last year, to protest pandemic working conditions. And the union that’s trying to organize the workers in Alabama — the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union — says it has received more than 1,000 inquiries from other Amazon workers since this campaign started.

    some justification.

    Amazon exerts a lot of influence over working conditions for tens of millions of other workers. When Amazon enters an industry, it often forces the competition to adopt similar labor practices — partly on pay, but also squeezing efficiency out of workers. Consider, for example, that shares of Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco swooned after Amazon announced its acquisition of Whole Foods back in 2017.

    Amazon and the union have made competing claims about whether the jobs already come with good wages and benefits. Can you help us understand them?

    The company typically pays rank-and-file warehouse workers between $15 and $20 per hour and offers health care and retirement benefits. For a full-time worker, that translates into about $700 a week. Amazon touts its compensation package as “industry-leading,” though most of its workers are likely earning well below the national weekly median of about $1,000 for full-time workers.

    tends to be higher than for nonunion workers, even when you control for factors like education and experience. But I suspect Amazon will likely raise wages even if the union loses, because credible threats of unionization tend to drive up wages even at nonunion companies.

    Joe Biden offer stronger pro-union words than any president in decades — and then see Marco Rubio, a conservative Republican, also encourage the Bessemer workers to join a union. Is it possible that labor unions are on the verge of growing again?

    There’s an element of social contagion here, in which successful activism by some workers can inspire others. We saw that during the teacher walkouts that began in West Virginia in 2018 and quickly spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona. The same has recently happened in digital media and among white-collar tech workers.

    That said, it’s hard to believe we’ll see a reversal in the decades-long decline in unionization, as opposed to a slowing of the decline, absent a major change in U.S. labor law. The current law gives employers enormous advantages in a union campaign. They can subject workers to a barrage of anti-union rhetoric, through mandatory meetings, emails, signage. Unions have no comparable way of getting their message out. And the law rarely results in more than a slap on the wrist for employers that fire workers for supporting a union.

    What would “a major change in U.S. labor law” look like?

    Something along the lines of the PRO Act that the House just passed, which would dramatically increase the penalties for retaliating against workers who organize. Or card check, which would allow workers to unionize if a majority sign cards, allowing them to bypass a contentious election like this one.

    Another approach would be sectoral bargaining, in which a union could bargain with all the major employers in an industry by getting, say, 10 to 20 percent of the industry’s workers to sign cards. That would diminish the incentive of any one employer to fight a union campaign out of a fear of competitive disadvantage. Germany, France and Norway use sectoral bargaining.

    won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor, for turning old structures into new affordable housing.

  • Eight migrants died in a car crash in Texas near the Mexican border. A similar accident happened two weeks ago in California.

  • The U.S. federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. What should it be?

    Morning Reads

    Cody’s World: The key to a healthy lifestyle? For The Times’s Amanda Hess, it’s a Peloton instructor who looks “like a piece of Disney fan art.”

    DealBook: Were the airline buyouts necessary?

    Lives Lived: In 1976, the British wine expert Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting to compare French and Californian wines. The result revolutionized the industry. Spurrier died at 79.

    “Have you ever wanted to control my life?” a 15-year-old TikToker with 3.3 million followers asked in a recent online video. He then asked his fans what game he should play with friends — dodgeball or catch — and 78 percent chose dodgeball. Fans have also voted on what he should watch, what video games he should play and what to name his pet hamster.

    Taylor Lorenz, a Times tech reporter, writes. One of those companies is NewNew, where fans pay to vote in polls, like the dodgeball one, to determine a creator’s daily choices. Five votes cost $4.99.

    “It doesn’t matter how boring you think you are, there’s someone out there who would find your life interesting to the point that they’re willing to pay,” NewNew’s founder, Courtne Smith, said.

    Influencers are joining such platforms for the promise of diversification, Taylor writes, leaving them less beholden to a the ever-changing algorithms and pay structures of a few social media giants.

    play online.

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