The Federal Reserve chair says the economy has entered an ‘important new phase.’
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, will tell lawmakers on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is bouncing back, but the path ahead remains dependent on the virus and the action of policymakers.
“We have entered an important new phase and have done so sooner than expected,” Mr. Powell said in remarks prepared for delivery to the House Financial Services Committee. He will note that consumer spending rebounded “strongly,” but will warn that the outlook is “extraordinarily uncertain” and hinges on whether efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic succeed.
“The path forward will also depend on the policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief and to support the recovery for as long as needed,” Mr. Powell will say.
The Fed has worked to shore up markets and the economy as the pandemic tossed millions out of work and starved businesses of revenue, including cutting interest rates to near-zero, buying huge quantities of government-backed debt and rolling out a series of emergency lending programs.
Mr. Powell’s testimony on Tuesday is meant to focus on those emergency efforts, which are backed by funding Congress earmarked as part of its coronavirus economic response package. Mr. Powell will describe the programs, most of which have seen fairly limited uptake as financial conditions have calmed, and as the private market or other government programs have met credit demand.
One notable exception is the Fed’s Paycheck Protection Program loan facility, which takes the government’s small-business loans off bank balance sheets to give the institutions room to continue lending. That program holds about $65 billion in outstanding loans, he will say, a sign that banks and other lenders have made use of the facility. — Jeanna Smialek
The pandemic is heaping extra work on banks, regulator says.
The coronavirus pandemic has created so much extra work for banks that they are at risk of falling down on basic requirements such as reporting customer activity to credit bureaus and rooting out fraud, a federal regulator warned in a report on Monday.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees the largest banks in the United States, released the report as part of its routine assessments of the industry. In it, the regulator said programs created by Congress to try to prop up the economy, including a $650 billion aid package for small businesses that was structured as a series of forgivable loans, put special stresses on banks just as they were grappling with volatile financial market conditions and widespread lockdowns that forced many of their employees to work from home.
“This could cause breakdowns in controls related to account management, servicing management, flood insurance coverage, credit bureau reporting, and complying with applicable laws and regulations,” the report said.
The regulator also warned banks to keep a close eye on loans to homes and businesses that could be in jeopardy because of the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic, and to keep an eye out for fraudsters looking to take advantage of the sudden shift to work-from-home to find weaknesses in banks’ security systems.
Ford says it will let buyers return cars if they lose their jobs.
Reprising a sales strategy some automakers used during the last recession, Ford Motor said on Monday it would let new car buyers return their vehicles if they lost their jobs.
Ford said it would allow customers who buy new cars or trucks before Sept. 30 to return those vehicles within a year. The vehicles must be leased or financed through Ford’s credit arm. For a buyer seeking to return cars, Ford said it would subtract the trade-in value of returned cars against what the buyer still owed and waive up to $15,000 of what was still due.
“We feel like right now, the economy is at the stage of recovery where people want things back to normal, they want to buy, but they’re still a little nervous about what the future holds,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement.
The policy, which the company calls Ford Promise, is the latest effort by automakers to entice people to buy new cars during the coronavirus pandemic. Ford, General Motors and other companies previously offered no-interest loans for 84 months and other incentives.
Ford’s car-return program is not the first such effort. In March and April, Hyundai and Kia put out a similar offer. Such programs date back to the recession in 2009 when auto sales plunged and banks all but stopped providing car loans. At the time, Hyundai was among the first automakers to gain attention for giving customers a means of returning cars. — Neal E. Boudette
Facebook’s share price has been hit hard by the growing boycott of advertisers on its platform, which are pausing their spending to protest the network’s policies on misinformation and hate speech. As ever-larger companies joined the movement, the social network’s stock has fallen more than 10 percent from the record high it reached last week. Some $80 billion in market value (and counting) has been erased in the process.
In the past few days, big companies like Coca-Cola, Diageo and Starbucks have announced a halt to ads on all social networks, of which Facebook is the largest. Others, like Honda America, Levi Strauss and Patagonia, have boycotted Facebook specifically. Together, these companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars with Facebook every year.
But as today’s DealBook newsletter notes, Facebook generated more than $17 billion in advertising revenue in the first quarter alone. Losing big brands is painful, but the bulk of the company’s sales come from millions of smaller businesses that rely heavily on the platform. And some major advertisers, like Procter & Gamble — the world’s largest advertiser — have not yet taken a position on the boycotts.
Can Facebook turn things around? It has rolled out new measures to flag problematic political posts and expand its policies around hate speech. Attention now turns to Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who is often criticized for policies that are viewed by his detractors as driven by business interests more than any moral code.
But if he were always trying to placate advertisers, the boycott wouldn’t have happened. Facebook’s recent reversal on misinformation could be proof of Mr. Zuckerberg’s malleable principles. (By extension, his prior permissiveness could be seen as placating the Trump administration in hopes of keeping regulators at bay.) But anyone who knows Mr. Zuckerberg knows that he believes in his positions — until he is forced to abandon them. — Andrew Ross Sorkin and Jason Karaian
The Fed says its direct bond-buying program is up and running.
The Federal Reserve’s primary market corporate credit program is up and running, the central bank said on Monday, giving relatively healthy companies a last-ditch option to sell bonds straight to the central bank if they are struggling to raise funding.
The Fed’s announcement, which also set out pricing terms for the program, called it a “funding backstop” that will support market liquidity and “the availability of credit for large employers.”
The Fed’s decision to buy corporate debt has already calmed markets, and analysts do not expect heavy use of the program unless market conditions take a turn for the worse.
The Fed announced on March 23 that it would buy new bonds on the primary market and corporate bonds on the secondary market — the one for already-issued debt. On April 9, it said the two programs would be supported by $75 billion given to the Treasury Department as part of Congress’s coronavirus economic response package. The money was meant to support up $250 billion in secondary market purchases and $500 billion in primary market buying.
The Fed’s primary bond-buying program was initially expected to be the larger effort, but that now seems unlikely, because the primary market program is intended to be a backstop. To use it, a company must check several boxes: It must be unable to get “adequate credit” from banks and markets. It must be investment grade — meaning it is seen as a safe bet — or have been downgraded to junk-bond status only after March 22. Even “fallen angels” cannot use the program if they are now insolvent.
The program could help out if markets gum up again, as they did in March. Its sister program, the one that buys already-issued securities, has been active since mid-May and had made $8.7 billion worth of exchange-traded fund and bond purchases through June 24, based on the latest data.
On Sunday, the Fed detailed the corporate bonds it will buy in that secondary market program. A total of 12 sectors are represented in the index. The most heavily represented companies listed in the index include automotive and technology companies: Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, Volkswagen Group America, Daimler Finance, AT&T, Apple, Verizon Communications and General Electric round out the top issuers. — Jeanna Smialek
Every January for 36 years, the Sundance Film Festival has been staged in Park City, Utah, an affluent ski town tucked 7,000 feet up in the Wasatch Range. Attendees fill theaters to capacity, huddle together in crowded wait-list tents, ride on jam-packed shuttle buses and hot-tub hop with boozy abandon — at the height of flu season.
But the coronavirus pandemic is forcing organizers to rethink Sundance. On Monday, Tabitha Jackson, the festival’s director, unveiled her preliminary plans for the 2021 edition, a gathering expected to take place under social distancing restrictions and with a Covid-19 vaccine still unavailable. It will simultaneously be held in Park City and at least 20 other locales: Exploratory talks are underway with independent cinemas in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas. Mexico City is also on the list.
Participating theaters will chose a “bespoke” selection of Sundance 2021 offerings that make sense for their community, Ms. Jackson said, augmenting those choices with complimentary programming of their own.
She said that Sundance’s “full curated program” would also be made available online.
“It will be the nucleus of the festival,” she said of an online platform that Sundance is developing, “a one-stop point of access, designed to create a participatory experience which brings all the elements and locations of the festival together.” — Brooks Barnes
Stocks rallied Monday, rebounding from a week of losses, even as a resurgence in coronavirus cases that had alarmed Wall Street last week continued.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, after having fallen nearly 3 percent last week. A jump in shares of Boeing helped lead the Dow Jones industrial average to a gain of about 2 percent. Shares in Europe had also ended higher, after rebounding from a decline earlier in the day.
Companies that have come to reflect investor sentiment toward the return of normal spending by American consumers — retailers and airlines — were among the best performing stocks in the S&P 500. Southwest Airlines rose about 9 percent, and Simon Property Group, which operates shopping malls, jumped 10 percent.
Oil prices also rose, with West Texas intermediate futures approaching $40 a barrel.
Boeing surged more than 14 percent after the F.A.A. cleared the company to begin test flights of its beleaguered 737 Max jet, a critical step that could mean the aircraft is back in service by the end of the year.
Investors have been watching nervously as coronavirus cases rise in the United States and in places where the pandemic had seemed to be under control, like Europe. Florida, Nevada and South Carolina broke daily records for new cases over the weekend. The global death total reached 500,000 on Sunday, according to a New York Times database. The number of confirmed cases passed 10 million.
But there was also more good news on the economic recovery on Monday. The National Association of Realtors said contracts to buy previously owned homes rebounded by the most on record in May.
Here’s the business news to watch this week.
💸 The biggest U.S. banks publish their capital plans after the market closes Monday, responding to last week’s stress tests by the Fed. Regulators forced banks to forgo share buybacks in the third quarter, and put a limit on dividends that analysts think will be toughest on Wells Fargo.
🗣 The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing Tuesday to review the government’s coronavirus response programs, featuring testimony from the Fed chairman, Jay Powell, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is also the last day to apply for loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, the $660 billion rescue program aimed at small businesses that has been revised several times, and still has well over $100 billion left to lend.
🇺🇸🇲🇽🇨🇦 The “new NAFTA” — formally known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or U.S.M.C.A. — comes into force on Wednesday. The trade agreement hasn’t exactly spurred greater continental camaraderie: the U.S. recently threatened to reimpose tariffs on Canadian aluminum.
📈 Thursday is a big day for economic data, with monthly payrolls and weekly unemployment claims coming out. Economists expect that the U.S. economy added a net 3 million jobs in June, following the unexpectedly strong 2.5 million gain in May. At the same time, the latest week’s unemployment claims are forecast to come in at 1.3 million, the 15th week in a row above one million.
🗓 Noteworthy corporate earnings include the chip maker Micron Technology and the high-end office furniture seller Herman Miller today; Mrs. Butterworth’s parent, ConAgra, and the package deliverer FedEx tomorrow; and the Corona brewer Constellation Brands, the cereal giant General Mills and the troubled department store chain Macy’s on Wednesday. — Jason Karaian
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
AMC Theaters, the largest cinema operator in North America, said it would push back its planned reopening by two weeks. AMC now plans to reopen most of its locations on July 30, with another 150 coming online the following week “barring further complications from the coronavirus outbreak.”
Cirque du Soleil announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and would seek to do the same in the United States. With productions shuttered, the famed circus said that it had lost its entire revenue stream. The company, which earlier this year temporarily laid off 5,000 employees, nearly 95 percent of its work force, said that it had entered into a “stalking horse” purchase agreement for existing shareholders to restart the business.
Broadway will remain dark for at least the rest of this year, and many shows are signaling that they do not expect a return to the stage until late winter or early spring. The Broadway League said Monday that theater owners and producers were ready to refund or exchange tickets previously purchased for shows through Jan. 3. But the league said it was not yet ready to specify a date when shows would reopen.
The first in a series of crucial test flights of Boeing’s 737 Max jet took off from a Seattle-area airport just before 10 a.m. on Monday. The flights, which are expected to take about three days, represent a significant milestone in returning the plane to service after it was grounded last year following two fatal crashes.
Reporting was contributed by Emily Flitter, Jeanna Smialek, Niraj Chokshi, Neal E. Boudette, Carlos Tejada, Clifford Krauss, Salman Masood, Jason Karaian, Eve Edelheit, Paul Sullivan, David Streitfeld, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Mohammed Hadi, Katie Robertson and Brooks Barnes.