according to SPAC Research — more than in all of 2020.

But regulators and some investors say more scrutiny is needed. The Securities and Exchange Commission published two notices last month warning companies considering merging with SPACs to ensure that they are ready for all the legal and regulatory requirements being a public company entails. Many investors known as short sellers, who specialize in betting that share prices of companies are bound to fall, have targeted SPACs like Atlas Crest, which is among the 20 most-shorted SPACs.

The market for electric aircraft is in its infancy but holds huge promise. The prospect of “Jetsons”-like flying vehicles has inched closer to reality in recent years thanks to advances in battery and aircraft design. A high-stakes race to build the first viable electric plane is underway, and some airlines are betting that such vehicles can help them reach their goals of eliminating or offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United, said the Archer aircraft were unlikely to be used for commercial flights but were ideal for short trips to and from an airport.

“They’re not only more environmentally friendly, they’re far quieter than a helicopter,” Mr. Kirby said Tuesday during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. “And, because they have 12 rotors, they’re, I believe, going to ultimately be safer.”

Still, widespread use of electric air taxis is likely years away. Such aircraft may never become more than a luxury used by very rich people because businesses and governments may come up with far cheaper ways to transport people without emissions.

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Bob van Dijk of Prosus on the Future of Technology

The DealBook newsletter delves into a single topic or theme every weekend, providing reporting and analysis that offers a better understanding of an important issue in the news. If you don’t already receive the daily newsletter, sign up here.

Many companies made changes to survive the pandemic. For tech companies, the changes were also about seizing opportunities to thrive as life abruptly moved online. Few companies have juggled these risks and rewards in as many industries, across as many countries, as Prosus, an Amsterdam-based conglomerate that in 2019 was spun out of Naspers, the South African tech and media giant.

Prosus’ holdings run from e-commerce and classifieds to food delivery, fintech and more. The group is valued at around $180 billion, which makes it one of continental Europe’s 10 largest companies. It operates in more than 80 countries and owns sizable stakes in the internet giants Tencent of China and Mail.ru of Russia. The companies that Prosus controls employ around 20,000 people, and many more work as contractors or at companies in which Prosus holds smaller stakes.

Uber, DoorDash and others. But Prosus companies like Delivery Hero and iFood took steps to help preserve long-term good will with its partners at the expense of short-term profits. In Brazil, for example, “we paid restaurants much quicker than we usually did,” Mr. van Dijk said. “From a cash-flow point of view, that was actually pretty important” in keeping restaurants in their good graces, reducing potential tensions between restaurants struggling during the pandemic and online delivery apps seeing demand soar.

It was a similar story in India for classifieds. “We reduced fees substantially, or we waived fees,” he said. “That allowed people to preserve cash. When things started to come back again, there was a lot of appreciation around that.”

digital services taxes throughout Europe, meant to collect more revenue from multinational companies that do extensive business in countries without much of a physical presence within their borders. Those wouldn’t apply to Prosus, Mr. van Dijk said — “we invest locally and pay taxes” — but he added that the charges could erode the industry’s profit margins.

“I understand where it comes from,” he said, but “sometimes the regulation is a little blunt.”

What could hurt Prosus, Mr. van Dijk said, are changes to the gig economy, particularly efforts to entitle delivery drivers to worker benefits. Some drivers prefer the flexibility of being contractors, he said, and “we try to pay people properly regardless of what the legislation is.” As far as he could recall, Prosus has never lobbied against classifying workers as employees, as rivals like Uber have.

Another area to watch is China, which has moved to rein in some of its homegrown internet behemoths. Though officials have focused largely on Alibaba, Tencent hasn’t escaped their gaze: The company, which Prosus bought into back in 2001, was among those fined last month for violating antitrust rules. It is Prosus’ single biggest investment, and a tougher crackdown could batter the conglomerate’s market value.

Despite the stakes, Mr. van Dijk downplayed the threat. “Our impression is that China is still very supportive of its tech giants,” he said.

Adevinta of Norway for $9.2 billion. That defeat followed a losing effort to acquire the restaurant delivery company Just Eat, which Takeaway.com bought for $7.8 billion.

Perhaps surprisingly, Mr. van Dijk said Prosus hadn’t encountered much competition from special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which have raised nearly $100 billion this year and are very active acquirers of tech companies. This may be in part because SPACs are largely a U.S. phenomenon, although other countries have been trying to court the blank-check firms.

Mr. van Dijk said Prosus might eventually find itself competing with SPACs, particularly for later-stage private companies. In the meantime, Prosus itself invested $500 million in a SPAC last year when the shell company merged with Skillsoft, an education technology firm.

Lately, Prosus has mostly been investing in its existing businesses. “Putting money into there is still a good idea,” Mr. van Dijk said. And a few months ago the company announced that it would buy back $5 billion of its shares.

Things are looking slightly more measured these days, Mr. van Dijk said, with valuations coming down “to much more sustainable levels.” For a serial dealmaker, that means opportunity: “It’s easier to do acquisitions in a market that is cooling off.”

dealbook@nytimes.com

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Black Executives Call on Corporations to Fight Restrictive Voting Laws

Dozens of the most prominent Black business leaders in America are banding together to call on companies to fight a wave of voting-rights bills being advanced by Republicans in at least 43 states. The campaign appears to be the first time that so many powerful Black executives have organized to directly call out their peers for failing to stand up for racial justice.

The effort, led by Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, is a response to the swift passage of a Georgia law that they contend makes it harder for Black people to vote. As the debate about that bill raged in recent weeks, most major corporations — including those with headquarters in Atlanta — did not take a position on the legislation.

“There is no middle ground here,” Mr. Chenault said. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

The executives did not criticize specific companies, but instead called on all of corporate America to publicly and directly oppose new laws that would restrict the rights of Black voters, and to use their clout, money and lobbyists to sway the debate with lawmakers.

almost no major companies spoke out against the legislation, which introduced stricter voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limited drop boxes and expanded the legislature’s power over elections.

Big corporations based in Atlanta, including Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot, offered general statements of support for voting rights, but none took a specific stance on the bills. The same was true for most of the executives who signed the new letter, including Mr. Frazier and Mr. Chenault.

Mr. Frazier said he had paid only peripheral attention to the matter before the Georgia law was passed on Thursday. “When the law passed, I started paying attention,” he said.

resignation led other chief executives to distance themselves from Mr. Trump, and the advisory groups disbanded.

“As African-American business executives, we don’t have the luxury of being bystanders to injustice,” Mr. Frazier said. “We don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines when these kinds of injustices are happening all around us.”

a pledge that states their “clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of L.G.B.T.Q. people in society.” Dozens of major companies, including AT&T, Facebook, Nike and Pfizer, signed on.

To Mr. Chenault, the contrast between the business community’s response to that issue and to voting restrictions that disproportionately harm Black voters was telling.

“You had 60 major companies — Amazon, Google, American Airlines — that signed on to the statement that states a very clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of L.G.B.T.Q. people in society,” he said. “So, you know, it is bizarre that we don’t have companies standing up to this.”

“This is not new,” Mr. Chenault added. “When it comes to race, there’s differential treatment. That’s the reality.”

Activists are now calling for boycotts of Delta and Coca-Cola for their tepid engagement before the Georgia law was passed. And there are signs that other companies and sports leagues are becoming more engaged with the issue.

The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association said he “would look forward” to a discussion about moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta, where it is planned for July. And Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, released a statement on Tuesday affirming his company’s commitment to voting rights.

“Voting is fundamental to the health and future of our democracy,” he said. “We regularly encourage our employees to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and we stand against efforts that may prevent them from being able to do so.”

That language echoed statements made by many big companies before the Georgia law was passed. The executives who signed the letter are likely to seek more.

“People ask, ‘What can I do?’” Mr. Chenault said. “I’ll tell you what you can do. You can publicly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote.”

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Free With Your Covid Shot: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

The benefits of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 — namely, protection against a dangerous virus — should be obvious by this stage in the pandemic.

If that isn’t sufficient motivation, consider the swag.

Businesses across the United States and beyond are offering free merchandise and other stuff to people who receive Covid shots. The perks include free rides, doughnuts, money, arcade tokens and even marijuana.

Experts in behavioral motivation say that offering incentives is not necessarily the most effective or cost-efficient way to increase vaccine uptake. But that hasn’t stopped the freebies from piling up.

In Cleveland, the Market Garden Brewery is offering 10-cent beers to the first 2021 people who show a Covid-19 vaccine certificate. “Yes, you read that right,” the brewery says on its website. “Ten Cents.”

prerolled joint until the end of the month.

Chobani provides free yogurt at some vaccination sites. And Krispy Kreme said on Monday that for the rest of the year, it would give one glazed doughnut per day to anyone who provides proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.

As vaccinations accelerated across the United States, “We made the decision that said, ‘Hey, we can support the next act of joy,’ which is, if you come by, show us a vaccine card, get a doughnut any time, any day, every day if you choose to,” the company’s chief executive, Michael Tattersfield, told Fox News.

The Krispy Kreme initiative is no relation to the “vaccinated doughnuts” that were sold last month by a bakery in Germany, garnished with plastic syringes that dispense a sweet, lemony-ginger amuse-bouche. It also does not entitle vaccinated Americans to endless doughnuts, as Mr. Tattersfield seemed to imply in his Fox News interview — just one per day, as the company notes on its website.

In a promotion it is calling “Tokens for Poke’ns,” Up-Down, a chain of bars featuring vintage arcade games, is offering $5 in free tokens to guests who present a completed vaccination card. Up-Down, which has six locations in five Midwestern states, is extending the offer to guests who visit within three weeks of their final dose.

Cleveland Cinemas, a movie-theater chain in Ohio, is offering a free 44-ounce popcorn at two of its locations to anyone who presents a vaccination card through April 30.

The Times of Israel reported.

Presenting cards for so many promotions might cause some wear and tear. To protect the cards from damage, Staples is offering to laminate them at no charge after customers have received their final dose. The promotion runs through May 1.

Some vaccine perks flow from corporations to their employees. Tyson Foods, Trader Joe’s and others pay for the time it takes them to get vaccinated, while Kroger pays them a $100 bonus.

study, Ms. Dai and her colleagues found that text messages could boost uptake of influenza vaccinations. The most effective texts were framed as reminders to get shots that were already reserved for the patient. They also resembled the kind of communication that patients expect to receive from health care providers.

Jon Bogard, a graduate student at U.C.L.A. who contributed to the study, said that policymakers should proceed with caution on incentives because they can sometimes backfire. One problem is that the campaigns are expensive, he said. Another is that people receiving shots could see a large incentive as a sign that “vaccines are riskier than they in fact are.”

A better alternative, Mr. Bogard said, could be handing out “low-personal-value, high-social-value” objects — like stickers and badges — that tap into a larger sense of “social motivation and accountability.”

There appears to be no shortage of such swag swirling around the world’s hospitals and vaccination clinics.

Hartford, Conn., people receiving shots can pick up an “I got my Covid-19 vaccination” sticker bearing the home team’s mascot, a goat.

If you aren’t satisfied with the vaccine-related style accouterment at your local clinic, there are plenty of options available for purchase online.

One badge — “I got my Fauci ouchi” — pays homage to America’s best-known doctor, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

“Thanks, science,” says another.

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What Sky Bet, The Gambling App, Knows About You

LONDON — When Gregg finally stopped gambling in late 2018, he was in a dire financial position. He had lost nearly $15,000 during a nine-month betting binge, on top of two outstanding loans totaling more than $70,000 and a mortgage of more than $150,000 on his small home in Britain.

Now he is on a hunt to know whether his favorite gambling app, Sky Bet, knew about his problems and still tried to hook him.

Records show that Sky Bet had what amounted to a dossier of information about Gregg. The company, or one of the data providers it had hired to collect information about users, had access to banking records, mortgage details, location coordinates, and an intimate portrait of his habits wagering on slots and soccer matches.

After he stopped gambling, Sky Bet’s data-profiling software labeled him a customer to “win back.” He received emails like one promoting a chance to win more than $40,000 by playing slots, after marketing software flagged that he was likely to open them. A predictive model even estimated how much he would be worth if he started gambling again: about $1,500.

More than a dozen states, including New Jersey, Nevada and Virginia, now allow app-based gambling.

London lawyer behind the effort to obtain Gregg’s data. “When we start to look inside the vault, as we are here, then we see how vulnerabilities are laid out to the platforms.”

report published last year said 60 percent of the gambling industry’s profits came from the 5 percent of customers who were “problem gamblers,” or at risk of becoming so.

“We’re trying to get transparency,” Mr. Naik said. “It shouldn’t take this much work from lawyers to figure out what’s going on.”

Sky Bet was the most popular gambling app in Britain last year, downloaded roughly 140,000 times per month, according to the market research firm Apptopia. Once controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s British media company, Sky, it is now owned by Flutter Entertainment, which owns a number of casino apps and generated about $7.4 billion in revenue last year.

In Sky Bet’s privacy policy, which runs over 10,000 words, the company says it collects personal information including browsing history, spending, demographic data and behavioral information, such as the sports a person likes to bet on. The data, which can be shared across at least 12 gambling services owned by Flutter, is used for marketing and personalization, while financial information is collected for money-laundering and fraud protection, the policy says.

chat service for sports fans. “If you use that data in a way that you know, or should know, is harmful to your users, then that’s a serious problem.”

Mr. Naik, who previously helped uncover data misuse by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, was contacted last year by Gregg, who was seeking help getting copies of data from Sky Bet and companies it used to profile users.

The data that he and Mr. Naik obtained included a 34-page breakdown of his financial history from a company called CallCredit, which conducts fraud and identify checks for Sky Bet. It contained information about his bank accounts, debts and mortgage, with details down to monthly payments. In bold was a loan default in March 2019.

Another company used by Sky Bet, Iovation, provided a spreadsheet with nearly 19,000 fields of data, including identification numbers for devices that Gregg used to make deposits to his gambling account and network information about where they were made from.

totaled $7.3 billion, nearly double the next-largest market, Japan, according to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, an industry research group. This week, four of the top five free sports apps on Apple’s App Store in Britain are gambling related. The companies own and sponsor soccer teams and dominate advertising during televised sporting events.

The country is at the center of the global debate about regulating the new generation of betting apps. The government has opened a review of gambling laws that will include the consideration of new rules for data use and affordability checks, according to the agency conducting the review.

Lawmakers should pass new regulations that allow companies to use data to spot problem gamblers but limit how it can be used for marketing and other sales objectives, said James Noyes, a senior fellow at the Social Market Foundation, a London think tank.

“They detect your pattern of play, your likes, dislikes, spending tendencies and exposure to risk,” Mr. Noyes said. “It’s taking information about you and turning it right back on you.”

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What a Gambling App Knows About You

LONDON — When Gregg finally stopped gambling in late 2018, he was in a dire financial position. He had lost nearly $15,000 during a nine-month betting binge, on top of two outstanding loans totaling more than $70,000 and a mortgage of more than $150,000 on his small home in Britain.

Now he is on a hunt to know whether his favorite gambling app, Sky Bet, knew about his problems and still tried to hook him.

Records show that Sky Bet had what amounted to a dossier of information about Gregg. The company, or one of the data providers it had hired to collect information about users, had access to banking records, mortgage details, location coordinates, and an intimate portrait of his habits wagering on slots and soccer matches.

After he stopped gambling, Sky Bet’s data-profiling software labeled him a customer to “win back.” He received emails like one promoting a chance to win more than $40,000 by playing slots, after marketing software flagged that he was likely to open them. A predictive model even estimated how much he would be worth if he started gambling again: about $1,500.

More than a dozen states, including New Jersey, Nevada and Virginia, now allow app-based gambling.

They said the companies behind the apps required more oversight and are calling for tougher laws to identify problem gamblers and prevent data from being used in underhanded and predatory ways.

London lawyer behind the effort to obtain Gregg’s data. “When we start to look inside the vault, as we are here, then we see how vulnerabilities are laid out to the platforms.”

report published last year said 60 percent of the gambling industry’s profits came from the 5 percent of customers who were “problem gamblers,” or at risk of becoming so.

“We’re trying to get transparency,” Mr. Naik said. “It shouldn’t take this much work from lawyers to figure out what’s going on.”

Sky Bet was the most popular gambling app in Britain last year, downloaded roughly 140,000 times per month, according to the market research firm Apptopia. Once controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s British media company, Sky, it is now owned by Flutter Entertainment, which owns a number of casino apps and generated about $7.4 billion in revenue last year.

Flutter, like Sky Bet, declined to comment for this article. In Sky Bet’s privacy policy, which runs over 10,000 words, the company says it collects personal information including browsing history, spending, demographic data and behavioral information, such as the sports a person likes to bet on. The data, which can be shared across at least 12 gambling services owned by Flutter, is used for marketing and personalization, while financial information is collected for money-laundering and fraud protection, the policy says.

At least eight times in the privacy policy, the company suggests that people who don’t want all that data collected “not use our services and to close your account.”

chat service for sports fans. “If you use that data in a way that you know, or should know, is harmful to your users, then that’s a serious problem.”

Mr. Naik, who previously helped uncover data misuse by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, was contacted last year by Gregg, who was seeking help getting copies of data from Sky Bet and companies it used to profile users.

The data that he and Mr. Naik obtained included a 34-page breakdown of his financial history from a company called CallCredit, which conducts fraud and identify checks for Sky Bet. It contained information about his bank accounts, debts and mortgage, with details down to monthly payments. In bold was a loan default in March 2019.

Another company used by Sky Bet, Iovation, provided a spreadsheet with nearly 19,000 fields of data, including identification numbers for devices that Gregg used to make deposits to his gambling account and network information about where they were made from.

A document from Signal, a company used by Sky Bet that provides tools for tracking users online and offline, listed personal characteristics, like Gregg’s history of playing slots and making soccer his favorite sport to bet on.

totaled $7.3 billion, nearly double the next-largest market, Japan, according to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, an industry research group. This week, four of the top five free sports apps on Apple’s App Store in Britain are gambling related. The companies own and sponsor soccer teams and dominate advertising during televised sporting events.

The country is at the center of the global debate about regulating the new generation of betting apps. The government has opened a review of gambling laws that will include the consideration of new rules for data use and affordability checks, according to the agency conducting the review.

Lawmakers should pass new regulations that allow companies to use data to spot problem gamblers but limit how it can be used for marketing and other sales objectives, said James Noyes, a senior fellow at the Social Market Foundation, a London think tank.

“They detect your pattern of play, your likes, dislikes, spending tendencies and exposure to risk,” Mr. Noyes said. “It’s taking information about you and turning it right back on you.”

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The Fed Meets Against a Revamped Economic Backdrop: Live Updates

on emergency mode to bolster growth in the face of the pandemic’s shock, it must now navigate an economy that is expected to strengthen rapidly in the coming months.

Officials will release an interest rate policy decision and their first economic projections of 2021 at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and they are virtually certain to leave borrowing costs unchanged at near zero.

But analysts and Wall Street investors alike are eager to see whether growing economic optimism will shake up the outlook for policy in the months and years ahead.

The Fed slashed interest rates to rock bottom a year ago as the pandemic shut down huge swaths of the economy. It has also been buying $120 billion in bonds per month, a policy meant to keep credit cheap and help the economy rebound from a virus that has thrown millions out of work.

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, has been clear for months that officials expect to be patient in removing that policy help — a cautious tone that he is expected to maintain at a news conference on Wednesday.

“This is one of the most critical Fed meetings we’ve had in a while,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Markets are really paying attention, and they’re going to dissect everything he says.”

That’s because the economic backdrop is shifting. Coronavirus vaccines are fueling hopes for reopening parts of the service sector. A freshly signed stimulus package will pump $1.9 trillion into the economy, with an eye on preventing evictions, funneling cash to parents and putting $1,400 checks directly into bank accounts.

Against that improving backdrop, economists in a Bloomberg survey expect the Fed to increase rates twice in 2023, the news outlet reported. In December, they expected rates to remain unchanged until 2024 or later.

As investors expect faster growth, higher inflation and a quicker-moving Fed, they have pushed up the yield on 10-year Treasury notes. That has weighed on stock indexes, which tend to fall when rates rise.

The Fed’s economic projections — which anonymously report officials’ forecasts for interest rates, unemployment, inflation and growth both through 2023 and in the longer run — could show a shift when they are released on Wednesday.

Wall Street will pay particular attention to the inflation forecast and the policy rate path. The Fed’s median interest rate forecast previously showed no rate increases over the next three years, but analysts expect that officials could now pencil in one move in 2023.

Wall Street has been paying close attention to the outlook for inflation in recent weeks. Key price indexes are expected to bounce back after weak readings last year, and some economists have warned that big government spending could keep them elevated.

That could put a spotlight on Federal Reserve officials’ inflation estimates, and on anything that Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, says about the outlook during his news conference after the central bank’s meeting on Wednesday.

The Fed is trying to use its policies to coax the economy back to full employment while lifting and stabilizing inflation, which has been slipping in recent decades. It wants to hit 2 percent annual price gains on average, and it has pledged not to raise rates from near zero until they are poised to hum along at a slightly faster pace for some time.

But some prominent onlookers have warned that the economy could overheat. They say inflation may jump well above the 2 percent average target, thanks to government outlays and booming demand in a reopening economy.

Fed officials have been consistently less concerned about that possibility, and will give an up-to-date snapshot of their own expectations in their first Summary of Economic Projections of 2021. The last set of estimates, released in December, showed inflation stabilizing at 2 percent.

“How much do they revise up inflation? That’s something I’ll be looking for,” said Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS and a former Fed employee.

Analysts broadly expect price gains to accelerate in the coming months for a mechanical reason: The data are about to lap very weak readings from last spring. The most closely watched inflation measures are compared against the same month a year earlier, a recipe for an automatic increase.

But Fed leaders have been clear that a short-lived bounce is not what they’re talking about when they say they want to see quicker increases.

“There’s a difference between a one-time surge in prices and ongoing inflation,” Mr. Powell said this month.

An increase in longer-term bond yields could prompt the Fed to revamp its bond-buying program.
Credit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Investors expect a stronger economy and slightly higher inflation in 2021, and they will watch the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, at his news conference on Wednesday for any hints about what that portends for the central bank’s bond-buying plans.

The Fed has been buying $120 billion in Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds each month, and officials have said they will continue that pace until they see “substantial” further progress.

But Mr. Powell and crew haven’t defined “substantial” with any precision. What counts as sufficient economic healing — when the Fed might slow and stop its program — matters to markets because the buying helps to push up prices in bonds and stocks alike.

Some investors have begun to expect the Fed to taper off its buying sooner than they had been forecasting. Others think a recent increase in longer-term bond yields, which has been driven by investor expectations for growth and inflation, could prompt the Fed to revamp its program in the near term.

That’s because those higher market-based rates could make mortgages more expensive and corporate investments less attractive, working against the Fed’s goals. The central bank could shift the composition of its purchases or even buy more to keep interest rates historically low across the spectrum.

Mr. Powell has pushed back on the idea that a taper is imminent and has promised that the Fed will alert investors well before the slowdown starts. He has also pointed out that rates are moving up because of a brightening outlook, and has suggested that the change isn’t worrying for now.

“I would be concerned by disorderly conditions in markets or a persistent tightening in financial conditions that threatens the achievement of our goals,” Mr. Powell said at an event this month, while stressing that the Fed looks at a range of financial conditions.

Keith Gill, known as Roaring Kitty, testified at the House Financial Service Committee’s first GameStop hearing.
Credit…House Financial Services Committee

The House Financial Services Committee is holding its second hearing on the GameStop frenzy on Wednesday, with a range of experts expected to expound on what the saga says about the stock market’s plumbing.

The hearing appears likely to have a more wonkish tone than the committee’s first hearing on GameStop, which put a spotlight on Robinhood, the trading app at the center of a remarkable rally that sent shares of the struggling video game retailer up by over 1,600 percent in January,

Witnesses will include stock exchange officials, market analysts, former regulators and academics. Prepared testimony suggests the witnesses will focus on what — if any — deficiencies in the American stock trading system were revealed by the surge of trading in GameStop.

Sal Arnuk, co-founder of trading firm Themis Trading, plans to spotlight the growing role of payment-for-order-flow, where retail brokerage houses such as Robinhood channel customer orders to specific trading firms in exchange for payments.

“These practices create a massive incentive for such brokers to sell their clients orders to sophisticated trading firms uniquely tooled to profit off of them,” Mr. Arnuk will say, according to preliminary testimony released by the House committee. “This is a needless conflict that can harm retail investors, and it degrades the integrity of the market ecosystem as a whole.”

Other witnesses, such as Alexis Goldstein, a senior policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform, will underscore the growing dominance of the trading firms that pay retail brokerage firms to execute their orders.

Two major market-makers, Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial, “execute a larger volume of U.S. stocks than the New York Stock Exchange,” she said in prepared testimony, urging regulators to look at whether their growth has worsened the prices that are available to investors on the public exchanges.

The hearing is to begin at 10 a.m. Other participants include Michael Blaugrund, chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange; Vicki L. Bogan, a Cornell University professor who focuses on the financial and investment behavior of households; Dennis Kelleher, the chief executive of Better Markets, which advocates market reforms; and Michael Piwowar, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets and a former S.E.C. commissioner.

BMWs on display at last year’s Bangkok auto show. The German carmaker is taking a more cautious approach to electric vehicles than some rivals.
Credit…Jorge Silva/Reuters

BMW became the latest carmaker to promote its commitment to electric vehicles Wednesday, moving up the introduction of a new electric sedan, hinting at plans for an electric Rolls-Royce, and saying that its Mini cars will run exclusively on batteries, though not until the 2030s.

BMW follows rivals like Volkswagen, General Motors and Volvo that have recently declared their intention to shift to electric vehicles. But BMW, based in Munich, is pursuing a more cautious strategy than some of the others.

Unlike Volkswagen, for example, BMW has not introduced a platform — a chassis and other components shared among numerous body styles — designed exclusively for electric propulsion. BMW models will accommodate either battery power or internal combustion engines, an approach that inevitably involves engineering compromises.

Oliver Zipse, the BMW chief executive, said the company’s strategy gave customers more choice. “Others focus on individual market segments and niches,” he said during a news conference Wednesday. “We, on the other hand, are taking a targeted approach across all market segments.”

Some analysts say BMW’s approach prevents it from fully exploiting the advantages of battery power, such as the opportunity to create roomier interiors.

BMW said Wednesday it would introduce its last new Mini with an internal combustion engine in 2025, but would continue to sell the model into the 2030s. In addition, BMW will begin selling its electric i4 BMW sedan this year, sooner than planned. Rolls-Royce, which has been owned by BMW since the late 1990s, will also offer an electric model, Mr. Zipse said, but he did not give details.

Unlike General Motors or Volvo, BMW and other German carmakers have not set a deadline to stop selling cars that run on fossil fuels. They argue that many regions lack charging stations for electric vehicles. “It is not realistic that the same technologies will prevail equally in every country at the same time,” Mr. Zipse said Wednesday.

BMW sold 2.3 million passenger cars last year, 8 percent fewer than in 2019. That is a relatively small number of vehicles compared with Volkswagen or Toyota, which sell four times that number, and could be a disadvantage as the industry goes electric.

BMW as well as Daimler will have trouble selling enough electric vehicles to justify the expense of retooling factories or developing dedicated platforms, Patrick Hummel, an auto industry analyst at UBS, said during a conference call with reporters last week.

“BMW and Daimler will not be in a position to replicate what Volkswagen is doing,” Mr. Hummel said.

Payments top out at $1,400 per person, including children and adult dependents. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person must have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below.
Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The stimulus money promised under the American Rescue Plan will hit the bank accounts of many Americans on Wednesday — the first official payment date — though some financial institutions chose to make the cash available to people even before it arrived from the government.

Not everyone eligible to receive a payment will get one on Wednesday, though. Additional rounds of payments will be made in the coming weeks, including for people who will receive theirs by mail as a check or debit card. You can check the status of your payment with the Internal Revenue Service’s Get My Payment tool.

Payments top out at $1,400 per person, including children and adult dependents. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person must have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income must be $112,500 or less, and for married couples filing jointly, that number has to be $150,000 or below. Partial payments are available to people who earn more, but the amounts fall quickly.

The payments are calculated using the most recent information on file with the I.R.S., which could be your 2019 tax return if you haven’t yet filed for 2020.

If you’re newly eligible for a payment based on your 2020 income but haven’t yet filed your return, the law allows the Treasury Department to continue payments until September. If you don’t get one during that period, you can claim what you’re owed when you file your 2021 taxes.

Amalgamated Bank, the New York-based lender with a history of supporting progressive causes, announced on Wednesday that it would endorse a bill calling for a federal commission to study the lingering effects of slavery — and the merits of providing reparations.

It is the first American bank to support H.R. 40. The legislation, named after the federal government’s promise to give freed families “40 acres and a mule,” was first proposed more than 30 years ago. Its current lead sponsor is Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, and its 169 co-sponsors are all Democrats. (President Biden has endorsed forming a committee to study reparations, but he has not committed to signing the bill should Congress approve it, which isn’t assured.)

Amalgamated came to support the bill after racial justice protests last year. Lynne Fox, the lender’s chair and interim chief executive, told the DealBook newsletter that the protests convinced the bank’s leaders that they needed to address structural racism with “systemic changes” to society. The bank, which has $6 billion in assets, has previously embraced policies that it said would help reduce gun-related violence.

A bank’s support is symbolically important, according to Ms. Fox. “We acknowledge — and I think others in the financial industry need to acknowledge — the deep-rooted connections between the American financial sector and the slave economy,” she said.

Executives in the banking industry have noted that their firms’ histories have included financing slaveholders, and admitted more recently to racial discrimination against employees and customers. Lenders are under increasing pressure to promote racial equity, including by shareholders.

For her part, Ms. Fox declined to criticize other lenders directly. “We don’t see ourselves as judging other institutions’ conduct,” she said. “Talking is a good first step. We look forward to when other concrete steps are taken.”

Amalgamated has already moved to address racial equity within its walls, Ms. Fox said. Those steps include reviewing wage policies, forming an employee-led committee to review policies and practices, and providing antiracism training.

In its statement endorsing the legislation, Amalgamated pledged to do more: “We believe the commission created through H.R. 40 is an important first step towards achieving racial justice. The work shouldn’t stop there.”

The problems of Greensill Capital, a financial firm with ties to SoftBank and Credit Suisse, deepened Tuesday after its German unit entered insolvency proceedings.

Germany’s banking regulator, known as BaFin, said Tuesday that a judge had granted its request to open insolvency proceedings for Greensill Bank in Bremen. BaFin also formally determined that Greensill Bank was not able to repay all of its customers’ deposits, a step that allows depositors to receive compensation from public and private insurance funds.

The insolvency of the German unit was expected after Greensill Capital, which provides financing to companies and has been advised by former Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, filed for a form of bankruptcy protection in Britain last week.

Credit Suisse acknowledged on Tuesday that it was likely to suffer losses from a loan it had made to the firm. It said that it had received $50 million from the administrator of Greensill Capital’s assets in Britain but that $90 million of the loan was outstanding.

Credit Suisse’s asset management unit oversaw $10 billion in funds that Greensill packaged based on financing it provided to companies. The loans allowed companies to stretch out payments to suppliers. Credit Suisse has returned $3 billion in cash to investors in the funds and said it was working to recover more money.

Credit Suisse said Tuesday that the funds’ managers “intend to announce further cash distributions over the coming months.” The bank has not specified what losses, if any, investors in the funds might ultimately suffer.

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In a First, Uber Agrees to Classify British Drivers as ‘Workers’

LONDON — For years, Uber has successfully deployed armies of lawyers and lobbyists around the world to fight attempts to reclassify drivers as company workers entitled to higher wages and benefits rather than lower-cost, self-employed freelancers.

Now the ride-hailing giant is retreating from that hard-line stance in Britain, one of its most important markets, after a major legal defeat.

On Tuesday, Uber said it would reclassify more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers who will receive a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan. The decision, Uber said, is the first time the company has agreed to classify its drivers in this way, and it comes in response to a landmark British Supreme Court decision last month that said Uber drivers were entitled to more protections.

The decision represents a shift for Uber, though the move was made easier by British labor rules that offer a middle ground between freelancers and full employees that doesn’t exist in other countries. That middle ground makes it unclear whether Uber will change its stance elsewhere. More labor battles are coming in the European Union, where policymakers are considering tougher labor regulations of gig-economy companies, as well as in the United States.

employee,” which includes paternity and maternity leave and severance pay if dismissed, among other benefits.

Britain’s minimum wage for people over 25 years old will be 8.91 pounds, or about $12.40.

For vacation, drivers will receive 12 percent of their earnings, paid out every two weeks, a calculation set by the government.

Uber did not disclose how much the reclassification of British drivers would increase its costs, but it said in a regulatory filing that it did not alter the company’s target of becoming profitable this year. London is one of Uber’s five largest markets, and Britain accounts for about 6.4 percent of the company’s total gross bookings.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, put pressure on other ride-hailing companies to adopt similar policies in Britain.

“Uber is just one part of a larger private-hire industry, so we hope that all other operators will join us in improving the quality of work for these important workers who are an essential part of our everyday lives,” he said in the statement.

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In First, Uber Agrees to Classify British Drivers as ‘Workers’

LONDON — For years, Uber has successfully deployed armies of lawyers and lobbyists around the world to fight attempts to reclassify drivers as company workers entitled to higher wages and benefits rather than lower-cost, self-employed freelancers.

Now the ride-hailing giant is retreating from that hard-line stance in Britain, one of its most important markets, after a major legal defeat.

On Tuesday, Uber said it would reclassify more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers who will receive a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan. The decision, Uber said, is the first time the company has agreed to classify its drivers in this way, and it comes in response to a landmark British Supreme Court decision last month that said Uber drivers were entitled to more protections.

The decision represents a shift for Uber, though the move was made easier by British labor rules that offer a middle ground between freelancers and full employees that doesn’t exist in other countries. That middle ground makes it unclear whether Uber will change its stance elsewhere. More labor battles are coming in the European Union, where policymakers are considering tougher labor regulations of gig-economy companies, as well as in the United States.

employee,” which includes paternity and maternity leave and severance pay if dismissed, among other benefits.

Britain’s minimum wage for people over 25 years old will be 8.91 pounds, or about $12.40.

For vacation, drivers will receive 12 percent of their earnings, paid out every two weeks, a calculation set by the government.

Uber did not disclose how much the reclassification of British drivers would increase its costs, but it said in a regulatory filing that it did not alter the company’s target of becoming profitable this year. London is one of Uber’s five largest markets, and Britain accounts for about 6.4 percent of the company’s total gross bookings.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, put pressure on other ride-hailing companies to adopt similar policies in Britain.

“Uber is just one part of a larger private-hire industry, so we hope that all other operators will join us in improving the quality of work for these important workers who are an essential part of our everyday lives,” he said in the statement.

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Three Uber passengers coughed on a driver and ripped off his mask. Two have been arrested.

Two arrests have been made after scenes from a viral video that circulated showed passengers taunting and deliberately coughing on an Uber driver.

In the dashcam video, the driver, who had a hand on his head, looked exasperated. A woman in the passenger’s seat uttered an expletive about a mask and then coughed on the driver, while using racial slurs. Another passenger joined in, pulling down her mask and laughing. “And I got corona,” she said.

The driver refused to continue the ride, and the situation escalated. The passenger who had initially coughed on the driver grabbed his phone and tore off his mask, breaking the strap. The women continued screaming profanities.

The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement last Thursday that the driver, identified by KGO-TV as Subhakar Khadka, had picked up three passengers in the early afternoon on March 7, but when he saw that one of the women was not wearing a mask, he told them he would not continue unless they all wore masks.

video that was posted on Instagram and has since been removed, one passenger said that the driver was trying to make them exit the car in the middle of the freeway.

Soon, “an altercation ensued,” the police said.

One woman grabbed the driver’s cellphone, which Mr. Khadka eventually retrieved, and another passenger sprayed “what is believed to be pepper spray” into the car through an open window after they exited the vehicle, according to the police.

The flare-up is the latest high-profile example of mask conflicts, which have sometimes taken violent turns. Last year, prosecutors in Chicago said two sisters attacked a store security guard with a garbage can. One of the women stabbed the guard repeatedly with a small knife after he tried to insist that they wear masks and use the store’s hand sanitizer on entry.

In another case last year, an 80-year-old man in upstate New York was killed after he asked a bar patron to wear a mask; the patron shoved the man to the ground, causing him to hit his head.

Mr. Khadka, an Uber driver from Nepal who came to the United States eight years ago, said in an interview with KPIX that he never said anything “bad” to the women, and that they had refused to leave his car. Mr. Khadka said he believed he was singled out for their ire because he is South Asian. “If I was of another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them,” he said. “The moment I opened my mouth to speak, they realized I’m not among one of them. It’s easy for them to intimidate me.”

turned herself in on Sunday, the San Francisco Police Department announced. Ms. Kimiai was booked on charges of robbery, assault and battery, conspiracy, and violation of a health and safety code.

“The behavior captured on video in this incident showed a callous disregard for the safety and well-being of an essential service worker in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” said Lt. Tracy McCray, who heads the San Francisco Police Department’s robbery detail.

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