Turn on the news, scroll through Facebook, or listen to a White House briefing these days and there’s a good chance you’ll catch the Federal Reserve’s least-favorite word: Inflation. If that bubbling popular concern about prices gets too ingrained in America’s psyche, it could spell trouble for the nation’s central bank.
Interest in inflation has jumped this year for both political and practical reasons. Republicans, and even some Democrats, have been warning that the government’s hefty pandemic spending could push inflation higher.And as the economy gains steam, demand is coming back faster than supply. It’s a recipe for bigger price tags for everything from airline tickets to used cars, at least temporarily.
The Fed, which Congress has put in charge of controlling inflation, thinks the jump in prices this year will fade as data quirks, supply bottlenecks and a reopening-induced pop in demand work their way through the system. For now, officials see no reason to tap the brakes by slowing down large-scale bond purchases or raising interest rates, policy changes that would slacken demand as an antidote to accelerating inflation.
And the Fed has big reasons to avoid overreacting: The problem in the wake of the 2007 to 2009 recession was tepid price gains that risked an economically damaging downward spiral, not fast ones. Inflation far above the central bank’s comfort level hasn’t been a feature of the economic landscape since the 1980s.
data from the Gdelt Project. On Fox News Channel, mentions of inflation have surged to six times the normal rate.
Google searches for “inflation” have taken off, Twitter inflation hashtags have increased, and monthly price data reports have newly become front-page headlines.
The surge in attention comes amid stories of computer chip shortages, gas lines, and surging lumber prices, and also as overall measures of real-world price gains are speeding up.
Today in Business
Consumer Price Inflation surprised economists by rocketing higher in April, data released last week showed, rising by 4.2 percent. While prices were expected to climb for technical reasons, supply bottlenecks and resurgent demand combined to push the data point much higher than the 3.6 percent analysts had penciled in. Fed officials use a different but related index to define their inflation goal.
Eye-popping gains are widely expected to cool down as supply catches up with demand and reopening quirks clear, but as they catch consumer attention, inflation expectations are shooting higher across a range of measures. And that poses a risk.
highest level since 2006 last week. A consumer survey collected by the University of Michigan — and closely watched by top Fed officials — jumped in preliminary May data, rising to 4.6 percent for the next year and 3.1 percent for the next five, the highest level in a decade.
The gap between short- and long-term expectations is echoed in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. Americans’ year-ahead inflation expectations rose to the highest level since 2013 in April, but the outlook for inflation over the next three years has been much more stable.
Fed policymakers have taken heart in the fact that households seem to be preparing more for a short-term pop — something central bankers have said they are willing to look past without lifting rates — than for years of superfast price gains.
But they have been clear that there are limits to tolerable increases, without precisely defining what those would be.
If expectations started to rise “month after month after month,” that would be concerning, Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said during an interview on May 10, before the latest Michigan data were released. She declined to put a number on what would worry her.
Inflation expectations data are notoriously hard to parse, and the consumer trackers tend to be heavily influenced by gas prices. The Fed has recently been using a quarterly measure that has moved up by less. But the speed of recent adjustments has called into question how much acceleration would be a problem, signaling that people have come to accept inflation in a way that will keep actual prices rising.
The inflation outlook is uncertain both because of the unusual moment — the economy has never reopened from a pandemic before — and because the way the government approaches economic policy has shifted over the past year.
The Fed’s new policy approach, adopted last August, both aims for periods of higher inflation and doubles down on the central bank’s full employment goal. Practically, it means the central bank plans to leave rates low for years, and it has helped to justify continuing a huge bond-buying program that the Fed began at the start of the pandemic downturn. Those policies make money cheap to borrow, ultimately bolstering demand for goods and services and helping prices to rise.
At the same time, the federal government has drastically loosened its purse strings, spending trillions of dollars to pull the economy out of the pandemic recession. Both the fiscal and the monetary response are meant to keep households economically whole through a challenging period, so there was also a risk to having less-ambitious policies.
Things will most likely work out, economists have predicted. The demand boom anticipated in 2021 is unlikely to last, because consumers’ pandemic savings will eventually be exhausted. Supply issues should be resolved, though it is not clear when. Many analysts expect prices to moderate over the next year or so.
But some underline that expectations are the vulnerability to watch when it comes to inflation, in case they shift before the smoke clears and prices slow their ascent.
“This is something people are talking about in their daily lives, it’s not just a Washington thing,” said Michael Strain, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute. “My expectation is that expectations will remain anchored — but it’s clearly a huge risk.”
NEW DELHI — Within the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, few treasures are more coveted than an empty oxygen canister. India’s hospitals desperately need the metal cylinders to store and transport the lifesaving gas as patients across the country gasp for breath.
So a local charity reacted with outrage when one supplier more than doubled the price, to nearly $200 each. The charity called the police, who discovered what could be one of the most brazen, dangerous scams in a country awash with coronavirus-related fraud and black-market profiteering.
The police say the supplier — a business called Varsha Engineering, essentially a scrapyard — had been repainting fire extinguishers and selling them as oxygen canisters. The consequences could be deadly: The less-sturdy fire extinguishers might explode if filled with high-pressure oxygen.
“This guy should be charged with homicide,” said Mukesh Khanna, a volunteer at the charity. “He was playing with lives.” (The owner, now in jail, couldn’t be reached for comment.)
this month that “the moral fabric of the society is dismembered.”
Over the past month, the New Delhi police have arrested more than 210 people on allegations of cheating, hoarding, criminal conspiracy or fraud in connection with Covid-related scams. Similarly, the police in Uttar Pradesh have arrested 160 people.
“I have seen all kinds of predators and all forms of depravity,” said Vikram Singh, a former police chief in Uttar Pradesh, “but this level of predation and depravity I have not seen in the 36 years of my career or in my life.”
have swooped in to connect those in need with lifesaving resources.
The ad hoc system has limits. Vital supplies like oxygen are still stuck in bottlenecks, and people keep dying after hospitals run out. Vaccine and pharmaceutical makers can’t keep up. Politicians in some places are threatening people who publicly plead for supplies.
Infections and deaths are widely believed to be many times more numerous than the official figures indicate, and in hospitals across India, all the beds have been filled and people are dying for lack of oxygen or medicine.
Accusations by one doctor in Madhya Pradesh have gone viral. The doctor, Sanjeev Kumrawat, said he tried to stop a local activist for India’s governing party from selling access to beds in a government hospital where he works. “We all know that to get a bed is a big struggle all around,” Dr. Kumrawat said in an interview. “Government resources are to be distributed equitably and can’t become the property of one person.”
thousands of vials of fake remdesivir during a bust. A tipster led them to a factory where they recovered 3,371 vials that were filled with glucose, water and salt.
Many other doses had already been sold and maybe even put into patients’ bodies, the Gujarat police said, posing a public health risk of unknown scale.
Those who turn to the black market often know they are taking a gamble.
Anirudh Singh Rathore, a 59-year-old cloth trader in New Delhi, was desperately seeking remdesivir for his ill wife, Sadhna. He acquired two vials at the government-mandated price of about $70 each. He needed four more.
Through social media, he found a seller willing to part with four more vials for about five times that price. First, two arrived. When the second two were delivered, he noticed the packaging was different from the first batch. They had been made by different companies, the seller explained.
The Rathores had their doubts, but Sadhna’s oxygen levels were dropping and they were desperate. Mr. Rathore said they gave the doses to the doctors, who injected them without being able to determine whether they were real or fake. On May 3, Ms. Rathore died.
Mr. Rathore filed a police report and one of the sellers was arrested, he said, but he has been racked with guilt.
“I have the regret that probably my wife would have been saved if those injections were original,” he said, adding that the police had sent the vials to be tested.
“People are using the crisis period for their own benefit,” Mr. Rathore said. “This is a moral crisis.”
JERUSALEM — Fighting between Israelis and Palestinians spiraled across several fronts on Saturday as Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza housing the offices of two major international media outlets, Hamas militants in Gaza fired more rocket barrages toward the Tel Aviv area and protests broke out again in the occupied West Bank.
An American envoy, Hady Amr, landed in Israel for two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, joining efforts led by Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations officials to secure a cease-fire.
But as of early Saturday evening, those efforts showed no sign of success: The fighting is the most intense since 2014 and has taken on a rare complexity because of its spread across the entirety of Israel and the occupied territories.
An early morning Israeli airstrike in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza killed at least 10 members of the same extended family, eight of them children, according to Palestinian officials and local news reports.
said on Twitter that the United States had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”
Hamas and its allies in Gaza returned fire with a barrage of rockets across central Israel, sending sunbathers sprinting from the beaches of Tel Aviv toward bomb shelters.
Most of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, an antimissile defense system partly financed by the United States. But at least one landed in Ramat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, killing one person, Israeli media reported. And it brought the Israeli death toll since Monday to 10. Another fell near an Ikea store south of Tel Aviv, but left no injuries.
attack on their home in Jaffa, a mixed Arab-Jewish city that was at the heart of Arab life in the Middle East before most of its Arab residents fled to Gaza and other parts of the region in 1948.
For Palestinians, the attack, and the situation in general, had particular resonance on Saturday: It was Nakba Day, an annual commemoration of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948. In Ramallah, the administrative hub of the occupied West Bank, a siren sounded for 73 seconds to mark the 73 years since the dispersal.
Demonstrations and subsequent clashes broke out again in the West Bank, illustrating how widespread the fighting has become since Hamas fired its first rockets shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday.
A Palestinian militant group in Lebanon also fired rockets toward Israel this week, while protesters from Lebanon also briefly entered northern Israel, prompting the Israeli Army to fire on them.
Crowds of Jordanian citizens, many of them of Palestinian descent, have also gathered at the Israeli border to protest the strikes on Gaza.
Given that Greyhound had already suspended operations for about a year because of the pandemic, its announcement on Thursday that it was permanently ending all of its remaining bus service in Canada was almost symbolic.
money being spent in Toronto on the subway. And yet when it comes to rural people, well, they’re just chopped liver. There is no subsidy for transportation.”
In parts of the country where Greyhound operated, its service was usually the most affordable form of travel. And for many rural communities it was frequently the only alternative to owning a car or finding a ride in one.
A 2012 inquiry into dozens of women who went missing on the Highway of Tears in British Columbia found that a lack of reliable public transportation led many of them into danger through hitchhiking. (A subsidized service was restored several years later.)
Professor Prentice added that buses didn’t just provide low-cost travel for people, their quick and economical parcel delivery service offered same-day shipping between many places and gave rural communities not served by courier companies a quick and reliable method to receive time-sensitive shipments such as parts for farm equipment.
The medical system was also a major user of bus parcel express. When shipping packages to family members at Christmas, I often managed to always show up at Ottawa’s bus terminal just after someone had dropped off a cooler covered in stickers indicating that it contained human eyeballs destined for corneal transplants.
government-owned Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation, saying that it could no longer afford its subsidies.
The provinces are now the only authority over bus lines, and some of them have completely deregulated their industries.
The result is an increasingly fragmented system in which Greyhound and others have been replaced by newcomers using smaller buses and nonunion drivers to find profits, although not always successfully. In some cases the newcomers have improved service, but many routes have gone unfilled.
Above all, it’s no longer possible to book a single ticket and enjoy, or perhaps endure, a bus ride across most of the country.
Coast to Coast Bus Coalition. The group is calling on the federal government to return to regulating buses and to work with bus lines to create a national system that would integrate with Via Rail.
Professor Prentice said that the end of Greyhound in Canada had elevated the importance of at least hearing out such a plan.
“It’s remarkable how little people care, or seem to care, about buses,” he said. “Rural areas need transport, but that doesn’t seem to be ever something that translates into votes and therefore doesn’t get a lot of attention.”
The National Rodent
symbol of the sovereignty of Canada.” But beavers don’t immediately conjure up warm feelings among all Canadians.
Property owners struggle to keep their land from being flooded by the industrious creatures, and their dams sometimes lead to dangerous highway washouts. This week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan found a pile of fence posts that had been reported as stolen incorporated into a beaver dam.
please email me directly and include your contact information and where you live. Please don’t labor over the note, I’ll be interviewing everyone who has a story that will fit with the article.
caught up with some of its artists. For one aerialist, Dan found that “the long pause had undermined his confidence, since he couldn’t rehearse his airborne routines. When he recently started retraining, he said, he discovered that he had lost his ‘muscle memory’ and felt afraid to be in the air.” Also be sure to check out this video presentation of the artists getting back to the unique line of work.
Four months after President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada is again at odds with the United States over another pipeline.
A prepandemic pregnancy means that Mandy Bujold, a top ranked boxer from Canada, may miss the Tokyo Olympics because of selection rule changes.
Tom Wilson, a Toronto native who plays for the Washington Capitals, is the talk of the N.H.L. for all the wrong reasons right now. Ben Shpigel reports that Wilson is the teammate that everyone wants and the opponent that everyone loves to hate. And Victor Mather has previewed the upcoming N.H.L. playoffs.
Jon Pareles writes that a new recording by the singer Allison Russell, a native of Montreal, delves into some dark places in her past and is “an album of strength and affirmation, not victimization.”
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.
How are we doing? We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to email@example.com.
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Critics of the state regulations warned that tech companies weren’t the only ones that would have to maneuver through the patchwork of rules. “For consumers, this means confusion,” said Daniel Castro, a vice president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a think tank sponsored by tech companies.
Apple and Google declined to comment. Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Amazon, pointed to an April blog post from the company’s policy executive Brian Huseman, who said the state laws risked creating a hodgepodge of regulations that wouldn’t serve users well.
Will Castleberry, Facebook’s vice president of state and local public policy, said that instead, the social network largely backed more federal legislation. “While we support state efforts to address specific challenges,” he said in a statement, “there are some issues, like privacy, where it’s time for updated federal rules for the internet — and those need to come from Congress.”
To fight against the splintering rules, the tech companies have gone on the offensive. While data on state lobbying is inconsistent and often underreported, Google, Amazon and Facebook funneled a combined $5 million into those efforts in 2019, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics, a nonprofit. The companies also increased their lobbying ranks to dozens in state legislatures compared with skeletal forces five years ago.
Let Us Help You Protect Your Digital Life
Some of the companies have also recently sent top engineers to kill state proposals. In February, Apple’s chief privacy engineer, Erik Neuenschwander, testified in a North Dakota Senate hearing to oppose a bill that would let app developers use their own payment systems and bypass Apple’s App Store rules. The bill died a week later in a 36-to-11 vote.
Even so, states have barreled forward.
Maryland lawmakers in February overrode their governor’s veto of a new tax on sites like Facebook and Google. The tax, the first aimed at the business of behavioral advertising, takes a cut of the money that the companies make from the sale of ads shown in Maryland. One analysis projected that it would raise up to $250 million in its first year, a fraction of Facebook and Google’s combined $267 billion in annual revenue, but a real threat if replicated across states.
Trade groups for Google, Amazon and Facebook tried to stop the tax. They hired a well-connected political consultant to argue that it would hurt small businesses. When that failed, the trade groups sued to block it. The litigation is pending.
In a 28-second video, which was posted to Twitter this week by a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip appeared to launch rocket attacks at Israelis from densely populated civilian areas.
At least that is what Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said the video portrayed. But his tweet with the footage, which was shared hundreds of times as the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis escalated, was not from Gaza. It was not even from this week.
Instead, the video that he shared, which can be found on many YouTube channels and other video-hosting sites, was from 2018. And according to captions on older versions of the video, it showed militants firing rockets not from Gaza but from Syria or Libya.
The video was just one piece of misinformation that has circulated on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media this week about the rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as Israeli military ground forces attacked Gaza early on Friday. The false information has included videos, photos and clips of text purported to be from government officials in the region, with posts baselessly claiming early this week that Israeli soldiers had invaded Gaza, or that Palestinian mobs were about to rampage through sleepy Israeli suburbs.
has removed several disinformation campaigns by Iran aimed at stoking tensions among Israelis and Palestinians. Twitter also took down a network of fake accounts in 2019 that was used to smear opponents of Mr. Netanyahu.
The grainy video that Mr. Gendelman shared on Twitter on Wednesday, which purportedly showed Palestinian militants launching rocket attacks at Israelis, was removed on Thursday after Twitter labeled it “misleading content.” Mr. Gendelman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Gendelman appears to have mischaracterized the contents of other videos as well. On Tuesday, he posted a video on Twitter showing three adult men being instructed to lie down on the floor, with their bodies being arranged by a crowd nearby. Mr. Gendelman said the video showed Palestinians staging bodies for a photo opportunity.
Mr. Kovler, who traced the video back to its source, said the video had been posted in March to TikTok. Its accompanying text said the footage showed people practicing for a bomb drill.
Danyel Smith used to make a podcast in her kitchen. Smith, an author, journalist and former editor in chief of Vibe magazine, recorded it with her husband, Elliott Wilson, a fellow journalist and the founder of Rap Radar, between the sink and a bowl of fruit.
As one might expect of a show hosted by longtime music journalists, the podcast, “Relationship Goals,” which ran from 2015 to 2016, featured lots of music — in between playfully adversarial banter about domestic and professional headlines. The song placements, like the show itself, were done off the cuff — without much forethought, professional assistance or official permission.
“It was a little bit of pirate podcasting,” Smith said. “We weren’t a part of a network, and this was before podcasting had become super popular. We would just sit at our little kitchen table and play music and talk about it.”
In its lack of authorized music, “Relationship Goals” wasn’t unusual — the process of licensing music from official rights holders often takes resources that many independent podcast publishers don’t have. But when Smith decided to start a new podcast last year, inspired by her work on a coming book about the history of Black women in pop music, she knew she wanted to do things differently.
Black Girl Songbook,” Smith’s new podcast, is one of several music-focused shows introduced on the platform in the last year that take a novel approach to one of the industry’s oldest problems. It uses a hybrid format, which Spotify calls “shows with music” or “music and talk,” that allows creators to incorporate full songs from the service’s vast catalog into their podcasts free of charge. (Spotify takes a 30 percent cut of ads set up through the service.) The format gives podcasters easy access to music that would be difficult or too costly to attain on their own and presents listeners with a seamless interface for learning more about a song or adding it to their library.
Those listeners have to be using Spotify — the format, designed to exploit Spotify’s existing deals with music companies, isn’t compatible with other platforms. And only users with a premium subscription will hear full songs; everyone else gets a 30-second preview. But for Smith and others, the trade-offs have so far been worth it.
“Full songs are where the magic is,” Smith said. “There’s nothing like teeing up a song that means so much to me and that I know will mean so much to others if they just have the opportunity to hear it.”
All podcasters who want to use third-party, pre-existing music have faced the same obstacle. Unlike radio broadcasters, who can purchase blanket licenses that give them rights to most popular songs, copyright law requires podcasts and other forms of on-demand media to license songs individually. The costs, which, for a typical three-year term, can range from $500 to $6,000 per use, add up quickly. Last fall, Hrishikesh Hirway, the host of the popular music podcast “Song Exploder,” announced on Twitter that he would have to remove some episodes of the show because of mounting licensing fees. (The tweets were later deleted. Hirway declined to comment.) “Relationship Goals” faced similar challenges — most episodes of the show are no longer online.
Many podcasts that feature music get around licensing through an exception to copyright law known as “fair use,” which allows for the usage of small portions of copyrighted material for specific purposes, including comment and criticism. But fair-use defenses have an inconsistent track record in court, and as podcasts have grown in popularity, rights holders have become more aggressive.
Put Your Records On,” to her early experiences wearing a natural hairstyle.
remain too small.) Courtney Holt, a vice president at Spotify, compared the format to Spotify playlists, describing it as a new way to deepen the company’s relationship with users.
“We think more people want to have these types of content-based conversations around music,” he said. “It ultimately drives more music engagement, it drives more artist love, and it makes Spotify that much more sticky.”
Spotify allows anyone to create a music-and-talk show through Anchor, the podcast-production software it purchased in 2019. There are currently over 20,000 music-and-talk shows on the service, many of which are similar in tone and structure to FM radio. Most of the more ambitious shows so far are produced by Spotify or its subsidiaries: “Black Girl Songbook,” for example, is produced by The Ringer; and “Murder Ballads,” a story-driven series that spotlights lurid folk songs covered by the likes of Nirvana and Johnny Cash, is from Gimlet.
60 Songs That Explain the ’90s,” said the podcast, his first, affords him a more tactile relationship with the music he covers. Each week, the show dives into a different song from the 1990s — Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” — with an opening monologue from Harvilla and a conversation with a special guest.
“What cracked the show open for me was being able to interact with the songs,” Harvilla said. “People listening can hear the tone of voice, the lyrics, the guitar solo — it makes things so much more vivid, whether I’m doing astute critical analysis or just a dumb joke.”
For Smith, who, as the editor of Vibe in the late ’90s, was an early champion of artists like Master P and Lauryn Hill, the new format has meant a return to old principles.
“At Vibe, my entire life was about putting people on the cover that other magazines wouldn’t — people that couldn’t get booked to perform on ‘The Tonight Show,’” she said. “I wanted to create more space to serve the underserved, not only for the women who are featured, but for the listeners who don’t get enough of what makes them happy.”
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C.D.C. surprised health experts, political leaders and others yesterday when it announced that vaccinated people could go maskless in most places, including indoors. The agency’s advice doesn’t override local and state rules, though at least seven states adopted its mask guidelines. Others, like New York, said they would study the new guidance before deciding whether to adopt it. That puts businesses in a tricky spot.
Companies with frontline workers aren’t sure what to do. Retailers likeMacy’s and the Gap said they were reviewing the new guidance, while Home Depot has not changed its rules requiring customers and workers to wear masks in its stores. Airlines and other transportation companies didn’t need to react, because federal guidelines still require masks for their industry.
sharp turnabout, Douglas Brayley, an employment lawyer at Ropes & Gray, told DealBook. Companies need to abide by local guidelines, but the change in federal guidance raises questions. How do large companies establish a common policy when local public health agencies may not agree? How to handle employees who are still uncertain about safety when protocols shift? How will companies find out whether employees are vaccinated, and thus determine if they need to wear a mask?
And what about the Yankees? Eight fully vaccinated members of the baseball team tested positive for the virus. Some may interpret it as a lesson for businesses when workplaces loosen their protocols for things like masking, even if a majority of employees are vaccinated. “For a little bit there, we were getting pretty comfortable, because that’s what the rules called for. Now, we’ll tighten it back up and hopefully everyone stays safe,” the Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon told The Times. Others argue that the Yankees’ frequent testing makes asymptomatic cases more likely to be caught, and given that only one of the eight has shown symptoms, it’s a sign that the vaccines are effective.
What are the rules where you are? See reopening plans and mask mandates for all 50 states.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Colonial Pipeline paid a $5 million ransom to hackers. The payment, made in Bitcoin, came shortly after the company shut down its network — and, as a result, the pipeline that supplies almost half of the East Coast’s fuel — in response to a ransomware attack. In other hacking news, Ireland’s health system operator shut down today because of a ransomware attack, and a unit of Toshiba said that it had been targeted by DarkSide, the group blamed for the Colonial infiltration.
increase pay at its 650 company-owned restaurants to an average of $13 per hour. But about 95 percent of McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are independently owned and will not be affected by the move.
A major teachers’ union called for schools to reopen. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.7 million members, said of the next academic year, “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week.” Teachers’ unions have sought strict virus mitigation measures that some say have slowed reopening timelines.
Delta will require new hires to be vaccinated, making it one of the first major corporations to enact such a provision. The airline’s C.E.O., Ed Bastian, told CNN that the requirement wouldn’t extend to current employees, but he said that he expected up to 80 percent to get shots.
DoorDash tripled its revenue in the first quarter. Demand for food delivery does not seem to be dropping as restaurants reopen dining rooms. “The negative impact that we were expecting in consumer behavior was smaller than we were anticipating,” the company’s C.F.O., Prabir Adarkar, told The Wall Street Journal.
Crypto’s first earnings call
The crypto exchange Coinbase yesterday held its first earnings call since going public. Its bumper profit for the first quarter largely matched expectations set in its filings ahead of its I.P.O. last month, so the numbers didn’t raise many pressing questions from investors, who were able to submit queries online and vote for their favorites to put to management.
based on a meme, was, inevitably, the most popular and so it was asked first. “We plan to list Doge in six to eight weeks,” said Coinbase’s C.E.O., Brian Armstrong, noting that the company was looking to expand its assets and aimed to list new products faster.
met with regulators in Washington, Armstrong said, providing no specifics.
The company’s C.F.O., Alesia Haas, said that Coinbase was “bullish on the global market” and eager to expand internationally but that it needed licenses and bank partnerships, which take time.
Armstrong loves an internet reference. The company’s co-founder referred to this period in the crypto industry as similar to the internet’s infancy at least three times and at one point likened Coinbase to Google. The exchange welcomes competition, he said, just as “in the early days of the internet, Google wanted more websites out there.” But Coinbase isn’t looking to compete with rivals on fees, so if users had dreams of trading for free, as on the Robinhood app, they were dashed. “We do not believe in fee-less crypto trading,” Haas said.
digs into the Gates family fortune, estimated to be worth at least $124 billion, which includes a stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain, huge tracts of farmland, a beachfront mansion in Southern California and one of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks.
In the papers
Some of the academic research that caught our eye this week, summarized in one sentence:
poison pills, shareholder primacy and the purpose of companies, are now available in a digital archive.
The back story: Leo Strine, former chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court and now at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, helped create the archive. “It has taken several years to do the coding of the memos, to draft a narrative that situates ML’s work in historical context, and that also, critically, provides links to the key cases, regulatory developments and scholars and advocates involved in the policy debates in which ML participated,” Strine said in an email. He worked on it with teams at Wachtell and Penn Law, where he teaches. An in-depth essay that serves as a guide to the archive, “Lipton and His Impact,” is the place to start.
Here are two of our favorite letters. One comes from the 1980s takeover era, when junk bonds drove Wall Street and the poison pill was invented by Lipton in response, and the other from more recently, 2018, in which Lipton frames his early thinking on anti-takeover measures in the context of focusing on all stakeholders, not just shareholders:
“Our Nation is blindly rushing to the precipice.” In his Oct. 28, 1988, memo, “Is This the End of Takeovers,” Lipton warned that “abusive takeover tactics” were saddling American companies with too much debt and forcing them to focus on short-term market results. “As with tulip bulbs, South Sea bubbles, pyramid investment trusts, Florida land, REITs, LDC loans, Texas banks and all the other financial market frenzies of the past, the denouement will be a crash,” he wrote, urging rules to rein in investors who “show no restraint and no regard for the public good.”
“It promotes inequality and strikes at the very heart of our society.” In his April 10, 2018, memo, “The Purpose of the Corporation,” Lipton took aim at Milton Friedman’s mantra that companies should serve shareholders above all, which he said led to the damaging short-termism that he had fought against in takeover battles throughout his career. Noting “important new support for counterbalancing shareholder primacy and promoting long-term sustainable investment” at firms like BlackRock (and later the Business Roundtable, among others) he lent his voice to a burgeoning movement.
THE SPEED READ
The rail operator Kansas City Southern said it had accepted Canadian National’s $33.6 billion takeover bid, upending a previous deal agreed with Canadian Pacific. (Reuters)
The activist short-seller Carson Block sent the insurer Lemonade a salty letter about alleged security flaws in its site, dropping the F-bomb in the opening sentence. (TechCrunch)
The “SPAC King” Chamath Palihapitiya isn’t worried about the blank-check boom turning to bust. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Politics and policy
Amazon, Apple, Google and other tech companies filed an amicus brief in a court case in support of spouses of H-1B visa holders’ right to work legally in the U.S. And in an op-ed, the Bridgewater C.E.O., David McCormick, calls for the U.S. to raise the cap on visas for highly skilled foreign workers. (Google, National Review)
“Beneath Joe Biden’s Folksy Demeanor, a Short Fuse and an Obsession With Details” (NYT)
Alibaba reported its first quarterly loss since going public, after paying a big antitrust penalty that China levied on the e-commerce giant. (NYT)
The I.R.S. and Justice Department have reportedly sought information about illicit activity on Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. (Bloomberg)
An IBM executive said that the computer chip shortage could last another two years. (BBC)
Best of the rest
Tom Montag, Bank of America’s No. 2 executive, runs its markets and corporate banking division with favoritism and an iron fist, employees say. (NYT)
“How the superrich soaked up Covid cash.” (FT)
A conversation with a Dogecoin millionaire. (NYT)
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But in recent years, that compact has begun to fracture. Democrats, pushed by progressive activists, have shifted further to the left on a wide range of economic policy issues. Under Mr. Trump, Republicans became more hostile to free trade and immigration. After the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, some prominent companies and business groups announced they would cut off donations to Republicans who had joined an effort to challenge in Congress the results of Mr. Trump’s November loss to Mr. Biden, prompting some Republican lawmakers to swear off corporate donations.
Many top executives feel they have little choice. They are being pressured by customers and increasingly by young, progressive employees to speak out publicly on major issues. And in the era of social media, companies can get into just as much trouble by staying silent as by weighing in.
Polling data shows the squeeze. A Gallup poll conducted in January, in the days leading up to and immediately following the Capitol riot, found that just 31 percent of Republicans were satisfied with the “size and influence of major corporations.” That was down from 57 percent a year earlier.
And in a survey conducted last month for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey, 81 percent of Republicans who knew enough to form an opinion said it was inappropriate for business leaders to speak out against the Georgia law. And 78 percent of Republicans said large corporations had too much influence over American life in general. (The survey was conducted before two coalitions of business leaders released letters calling for expanded voting rights in Texas.)
Elena Adams, a survey respondent in Northern California, said she began to feel that corporate America was shifting against her a few years ago, when Nike embraced Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who drew widespread attention for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence.
“Basically I think we’re celebrating people who are not for the United States and pushing the agenda that we should be ashamed if we’re not people of color,” she said. “This whole narrative of the race thing, it’s reverse racism, is what’s happening.”
Today in Business
Ms. Adams, 66, said she had stopped flying Delta and buying Coca-Cola products. Since Major League Baseball relocated the All-Star Game from Atlanta over the Georgia voting law, she has quit following the Oakland Athletics. She has abandoned social media, believing that companies such as Facebook and Twitter are unfair to conservatives, and told the purchasing managers at the emergency response business where she is a partner to avoid buying from companies that espouse liberal positions, although she said it was too difficult to avoid companies like Amazon and Google altogether.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finally catching up to the science.
For months, research about Covid-19 has pointed to two encouraging patterns. First, the underlying virus that causes Covid rarely spreads outdoors. Second — and even more important — fully vaccinated people are at virtually no risk of serious disease and only a minuscule risk of spreading the virus to others.
But the C.D.C., which has long been a cautious agency, has been unwilling to highlight these facts. It has instead focused on tiny risks — risks that are smaller than those from, say, taking a car trip. The C.D.C.’s intricate list of recommended Covid behavior has baffled many Americans and frightened others, making the guidance less helpful than it might have been.
Yesterday, the agency effectively acknowledged it had fallen behind the scientific evidence: Even though that evidence has not changed in months, the C.D.C. overhauled its guidelines. It said fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in most settings, including crowded indoor gatherings.
The change sends a message: Vaccination means the end of the Covid crisis, for individuals and ultimately for society.
long accepted without upending our lives, like riding in a car, taking a swim or exposing ourselves to the common cold.
‘Evidence-based’ and ‘bold’
The announcement also sends a message to the unvaccinated (who, the C.D.C. emphasized, should continue wearing masks in most settings): Life is starting to return to normal, and a vaccine shot is your best protection against a deadly virus. It is also the best way to protect your community and the rest of the world. And the long vaccine waits and difficult sign-up procedures are disappearing in most places.
Some experts praised the announcement. “Good move for the C.D.C. and our country,” Dr. Howard Forman, a Yale School of Medicine professor and former Senate staff member, wrote on Twitter. “They must stop making perfect the enemy of very good. And this is a step in that direction.”
Dr. Uché Blackstock, the C.E.O. of Advancing Health Equity, wrote: “I’m ecstatic about this news! It’s evidence-based and it’s bold. I hope that the updated guidelines incentivize more people to get vaccinated.”
Other experts worried that encouraging vaccinated people not to wear masks might cause unvaccinated people to shed them too — the so-called slippery-slope argument. It is a common concern whenever health authorities lift behavior restrictions. But history suggests it is often overblown. An absolutist message often fails, Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School has noted, especially when it urges people to take steps that do not actually protect them.
criticized the C.D.C. during a hearing this week for not hewing to the data — and she argued that the change would lead to safer behavior. “This really matters because if people don’t have confidence in the C.D.C. guidance, if they believe it is driven more by politics than science, then they are likely to disregard the C.D.C. guidelines that we should be following,” Collins said.
will not fall to zero, and it is important to remember that. But zero is not a realistic goal, and the freezing of normal life has brought big costs of its own: children who are not learning; parents who cannot return to the work force; businesses that cannot rehire their workers; and millions of people who miss everyday forms of human companionship.
When Covid was raging out of control, these costs were nonetheless smaller than the alternative. With vaccines widely available, that’s no longer the case.
The C.D.C. has not fully shed its caution. It has not withdrawn its exaggeration of outdoor risks for the unvaccinated. And yesterday’s guidance continues to direct vaccinated people to wear masks and remain physically distant in some circumstances.
Some of those exceptions — like nursing homes, hospitals, homeless shelters and prisons — probably make sense. Many people in these settings are vulnerable, and masks can continue to provide protection, from both small Covid risks and other contagious diseases.
The rationale for other exceptions — like airplanes and public transportation, as well as airports and other travel hubs — is less clear, and the C.D.C. did not offer a public explanation for why vaccinated people need a mask on a bus but not in a bar.
in spreading the virus, a little extra caution is not beyond comprehension. It will not last forever, either. Yesterday’s about-face showed that while the C.D.C. may be slow, officials there take their mission seriously and do not enjoy being out of step with science.
“This is a watershed moment in the pandemic,” Dr. Lucy McBride, an internist, wrote on Twitter. “Next up: unmasking kids outdoors. Please, C.D.C.??”
“After a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple: Get vaccinated, or wear a mask until you do,” President Biden said.
Biden and Republican senators meeting at the White House removed their masks. “Get vaccinated!” said Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on a visit to his home state with Jill Biden. “We feel free.”
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James Poniewozik, The Times’s chief television critic, hails the show as a “stirring, full-feeling, technically and artistically and morally potent work.” — Tom Wright-Piersanti, Morning editor