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Business Leaders Speak Out on Election Integrity

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Tech, finance, media and other executives are calling on Americans to stay cool during a heated election season. “The health of our economy and markets depends on the strength of our democracy,” the LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman said in a statement signed by more than 50 business leaders, provided first to DealBook. The group, convened by the Leadership Now Project, also includes Eddie Fishman, the chief operating officer of D.E. Shaw; Seth Klarman, the C.E.O. of Baupost Group; Lisa Lewin, the C.E.O. of General Assembly; Marissa Mayer, the former Yahoo and Google executive; and Alan Patricof, the founder of Apax and Greycroft.

The executives expressed support for three key principles:

• “Every vote will be counted,” and election officials should “encourage patience” during potentially protracted counts of absentee ballot.

• The news media should “take caution” and avoid calling the election prematurely.

• Business leaders should “promote patience and civility among employees, communities and the American people.”

America has successfully held elections through previous challenges, like the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the 1918 flu pandemic,” the statement concludes. “Now, it is our turn.”

The statement is a testament to the times. “Nothing about 2020 is usual,” said Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, who advises the Leadership Now Project. He said there was “an essential role for business in addressing political dysfunction,” citing recent data showing that political gridlock is causing a “disastrous decline” in America’s competitiveness.

A contested election is a big worry for business. If recent market moves are any indication, businesses are making peace with the possibility of higher taxes under a Biden administration as a trade-off for a definitive election result. Some Wall Street advisers told us last month that they were preparing clients for the possibility of a contested election, as President Trump repeatedly casts doubt on mail-in ballots and is noncommittal on what he will do if he loses the vote. That’s why some executives, like the group putting their names to today’s statement, may feel the need to say what was once obvious.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Lauren Hirsch in New York, Ephrat Livni in Washington, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.

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ImageApple is betting plenty of users will upgrade their phones this year.
Credit…Apple, via Associated Press

Congress makes little progress on stimulus talks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined “insufficiencies” in the White House’s latest $1.8 trillion offer, and then Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, called for a Senate vote on a $500 billion bill that is doomed to fail in the House.

Apple stakes its future on the latest iPhones. The company announced four new models, ranging from $700 to more than $1,000. Analysts said the lower-than-expected prices might entice owners of older iPhones to upgrade. Another draw is the iPhones’ adoption of 5G wireless technology (more on that below).

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The E.U. can impose tariffs on American goods over Boeing subsidies. The World Trade Organization gave the bloc permission for levies on $4 billion worth of U.S. products in retaliation for illegal government support for the plane maker. It follows a W.T.O. decision last year to let the U.S. impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on European goods over Airbus subsidies.

The economy isn’t doing as badly as once feared — but it’s still bad. The I.M.F.’s latest forecast expects the U.S. economy to contract 4.3 percent this year, subject to uncertainty about the path of the pandemic. Speaking of which, Harvard’s David Cutler and Larry Summers estimated that Covid-19 will ultimately cost $16 trillion in lost output and the effects of “shorter and less healthy life.”

An earnings season lightning round. In short: JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported drops in consumer lending but booming trading results; BlackRock beat expectations with nearly $130 billion in net inflows; Delta lost more than $5 billion and said things wouldn’t return to normal for at least two years; Johnson & Johnson’s bumper earnings were overshadowed by its coronavirus vaccine setback; and AMC Theaters warned that it might run out of cash by the end of the year. (Reporting today: Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, UnitedHealth and Wells Fargo.)

Credit…Adrees Latif/Reuters

Consumers eyeing the new 5G-enabled iPhones may want to consider the purchase from a policy perspective. Yes, 5G at its full potential is 100 times faster than the standard today. But we’re not there yet.

There are network issues. Wireless technology relies on spectrum that’s allocated via F.C.C. license auctions. (As it happens, the inventors of the complex spectrum auction system won the Nobel prize in economics this week.) There are three bands of spectrum — low, mid and high — that interact in a 5G network. There are drawbacks to the low and high bands, while the coveted mid-band ensures both wide coverage and high data capacity. The F.C.C. wants to free up more mid-band for commercial purposes.

• The Senate Commerce Committee recently introduced a bill to make more mid-band spectrum available for auction by late 2021, effectively reallocating spectrum from the Defense Department. DealBook understands that the committee is confident that all of the relevant agencies are on board with the plan.

There is a debate about nationalization. Some in the telecoms industry believe that the Defense Department is, separately, considering nationalizing some mid-band spectrum. Trade groups’ grumbling has prompted an inquiry by House Democrats, who cite industry feedback particularly critical of Rivada Networks, a wireless company perceived to be angling for a role in helping run a nationalized network. The company has retained Karl Rove, who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush; and it is backed by the investor Peter Thiel, an early supporter of President Trump.

The bottom line: No one can say when 5G will be universally available across America. Industry and the government agree that modernizing network infrastructure is a priority, but differences over the details mean it probably won’t happen soon.

Eli Lilly said yesterday that it was pausing its trial for a Covid-19 antibody treatment due to a “potential safety concern.” The announcement came a day after Johnson & Johnson said it was pausing its coronavirus vaccine trial because of a sick volunteer. Last month, AstraZeneca said its vaccine trial was on hold over concerns about two participants who had fallen ill after getting the company’s vaccine.

A “pause” is not a “hold.” Study sponsors can, and often do, pause a study when a volunteer gets sick. Once a trial is stopped in this way, an independent review determines whether the illness is a result of the drug. A hold, by contrast, is a regulatory decision made by an agency like the F.D.A. based on concerns about the study itself.

• When it announced its pause this week, J&J made sure to outline the distinction. The company’s finance chief told The Wall Street Journal that it hoped to find out within days whether it can restart the paused trial.

• AstraZeneca has resumed its trials everywhere but in the U.S., where the F.D.A. is still investigating. Sources told Reuters that the hold was a sign of the American regulator being “thorough,” and not necessarily of safety issues with the vaccine.

Credit…Don Ryan/Associated Press

Employees at the tech giant have long spoken openly about many topics, from its work in China to sexual harassment. But as Google faces scrutiny from governments around the world, one topic is now off limits: antitrust.

“Google’s leaders have made it clear that antitrust is not a topic to be trifled with,” The Times’s Dai Wakabayashi writes. It’s not to be mentioned in emails or big meetings, and definitely not in job interviews. Workers are reminded regularly that Google doesn’t “crush,” “kill” or “block” the competition.

How Google enforces the unspoken rule:

• People often declare in meetings that a sensitive subject, like competition strategy, is “not for notes” summarizing the proceedings.

• Employees often mark internal communications as “A/C Priv,” referring to attorney-client privilege, and copy lawyers on those messages. The move is meant to shield those documents from regulators, and while it can be challenged in court, can tie up inquiries in costly legal delays.

• Workers are trained to avoid estimating market share so that they have nothing to provide if asked.

Employees are divided on the efforts, which were born out of years of antitrust fights around the world. Some consider the moves overly aggressive — excessive redactions can attract unwanted attention if regulators get their hands on internal documents — while others said that they didn’t care about the issue or that the flurry of investigations had become white noise.

Credit…Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Pret A Manger, the ubiquitous sandwich chain that’s a staple for office workers in London, New York, Hong Kong and elsewhere, is trying anything to survive. The pandemic has made the company’s biggest strength — its city-center locations — its biggest weakness, The Times’s Eshe Nelson writes.

Counting the cost. Pret’s weekly sales in Britain have fallen to what they were 10 years ago, when it had 150 fewer stores, and it has laid off about a third of its staff. It is closing locations, renegotiating rents and moving to a smaller head office.

“When you’re in survival mode, you’ve got to try things,” Pano Christou, Pret’s chief executive, told Eshe. It is thinking about selling its food in supermarkets and has signed up to delivery platforms. It also recently introduced a coffee subscription, offering up to five drinks a day for 20 pounds a month (about $26), to entice people back to its restaurants and collect more data about its most loyal customers.

• Mr. Christou said he got the idea for a coffee subscription from Panera Bread, the U.S. chain also owned by JAB Holding. The C.E.O.s of JAB-owned companies — which include Caribou Coffee, Einstein Bros. and Peet’s — trade ideas in a WhatsApp group, he said. It must be a busy chat as companies delay a return to the office to next summer (if not indefinitely), forcing those dependent on the office economy to rethink their business models.

Deals

• Saudi Aramco is said to be in talks to sell a stake in its oil pipeline business to BlackRock and others in a deal that could be worth $10 billion. (Reuters)

• Buying into this week’s I.P.O. of Big Hit Entertainment, the music label behind BTS, is really a bet on the Korean band’s army of fans. (NYT)

• The parent company of Business Insider is reportedly near a deal to buy control of the newsletter publisher Morning Brew. (WSJ)

Politics and policy

• Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas expressed doubt about the federal law that limits the liability of internet companies for user-generated content. (Protocol)

• Three-quarters of executives surveyed by PwC say that taxes will go up no matter who wins the U.S. presidential election. (Accounting Today)

• “No, There Isn’t Evidence That Trump Owes Money to Russia” (NYT)

Tech

• Many companies have emptied out their Manhattan offices during the pandemic, but tech giants are taking up more space. (NYT)

Best of the rest

• The philanthropic foundation created by the hedge fund mogul Ray Dalio is donating $50 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to address health social inequalities. (PR Newswire)

• China’s stock market has hit a record $10 trillion in value. (FT)

• At-home meal kits have taken off during the pandemic. But would you buy one for $275, even if it’s from a three-star Michelin restaurant? (Bloomberg)

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Fighting Zoom Fatigue? These Cards Can Help

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The co-founder of DigiCards shares how business owners can increase engagement with teams that are working remotely.

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October 20, 2020 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Courtney Spritzer is the co-founder of , a and marketing agency, and co-host of the podcast Entreprenista with her partner Stephanie Cartin. She spoke with Jessica Abo about how her company adjusted to remote work and the genesis of DigiCards, sets of cue cards for virtual meetings.

When Covid hit, Spritzer and Cartin had to make changes to how they ran their business. 

“We had a lot of learnings and some things that we had to implement right away,” Spritzer says. “We wanted to make sure that we were still having face-to- with all of our employees and our employees were getting that face-to-face time with each other.” 

Months into working remotely, Spritzer and her team found themselves on about ten video meetings a day. She says laying down ground rules from the beginning helped the company transition smoothly.

“We had to share with everyone what it means to work from home and share expectations,” Spritzer says. “Everyone still has to be available. You still have to communicate with each other. You have to over-communicate during this time. And I’m really thankful that our company was set up on Slack because now we really, really leverage Slack for interoffice communications and to quickly stay updated on what’s going on.”

Spritzer and Cartin have put extra time and energy into helping their employees feel connected. “We meet once a month as a team,” Spritzer says. “We do a virtual lunch and send everyone a gift card. Everyone orders lunch in advance, and we get together and play games and catch up and try to bond during that time.”

Spritzer says they also remind their team to take breaks. “You don’t really have that balance anymore of getting out of bed, getting out of your apartment or house and going into an office. Now it’s all blended and we have hours back in our day, and a lot of people are filling those hours with more work.”

After experiencing Zoom fatigue, the co-founders decided to create a product to make video meetings less painful.

“I remember that back in May I called my business partner Stephanie and said, ‘This has to be better and it can be better. What can we do to make this better?’ And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had very colorful cards that we could use to communicate over video?’ Because a lot of times there are technical glitches and sound issues, so the best way to communicate is just holding a sign, essentially.”

Spritzer and Cartin created a set of 20 colorful cards that focus on different aspects of a video meeting to help people know they are on mute or to let everyone know when someone has an idea they want to share. “We made the product for ourselves,” Spritzer says. “It worked so well that we decided to roll it out as a business solution for other businesses. And we also saw that it could be used for remote . So now the product is also available to teachers and students.”

They are also making customized packages for brands. “Something that I realized in my business, and also in talking to other business owners, is that the of a lot of businesses is really suffering during this time, since there’s no longer an office for a lot of businesses to go to and build that camaraderie,” Spritzer says. “So we can custom-make cards for businesses. And now businesses are hiring us to redesign the DigiCards to put their on front, send this out as gifts to their remote workers to keep them more engaged and then also customize the individual card so that it ties back to their values and their unique business culture. Right now we are offering ten percent off to help entrepreneurs and educators with the code Entrepreneur10.”

Spritzer says that if you have an idea you feel passionate about, go for it. “Do your research, the idea, see if it already exists, see if this is something that people want,” Spritzer says. “Ask your network, ask your friends if this is a product that they would buy. Collect as much feedback as possible and then based on that, decide if it’s worth your time to push the idea forward.”

Related: How Small Business Owners Can Bounce Back from the Pandemic

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The Problems With Passive Income for Entrepreneurs

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October 20, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Passive income” is a phrase uttered by most modern entrepreneurs, as they seek to achieve the greatest amount of profit for the least amount of effort. It’s such a popular concept that it’s become a veritable buzzword, losing meaning each time it’s included in the title of an article or the foundation of a business plan.

And don’t get me wrong; passive income can be a path to building meaningful wealth. However, there are some serious problems with passive income, both in theory and in practice, that you’ll need to reconcile before moving forward with any plan.

Passive income in a nutshell

Passive income is any kind of income that you generate without the need for ongoing work. If you get paid a in exchange for full-time work, this is active, not passive. If you get paid hourly, you’re earning money in return for your efforts, so it’s active, not passive. Passive income hypothetically requires no time expenditure to make money. For example, if you invest in a dividend-paying stock, you’ll often earn a quarterly dividend based on the number of shares of stock you own. If you own 1,000 shares of a stock that pays $0.30 per share as a dividend, you’ll earn $300 in quarterly income by owning that stock, with no further effort required.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of strategies that purportedly allow you to generate passive income, and all of them have their merits. However, there are several problems with passive income that need to be addressed.

Related: 5 Ways to Generate Passive Income and Keep Your Job

Passive income streams don’t start out passive

First, there are some income streams that require little-to-no effort from you on an ongoing basis, but even these require at least some effort to start. Take our dividend-paying stock as an example: Before you can start generating passive dividend-paying income, you’ll need to carefully research different dividend stocks, do your due diligence and purchase your shares.

The same is true of many other supposedly passive income streams. For example, if you’re hoping to generate rental income from a property, you’ll need to spend time finding the right property, fixing it up and attracting the right tenants. If you want to make money from on a blog, you’ll need to spend time writing content and attracting an initial audience before you can build that momentum.

Many passive income streams still require upkeep

Some income streams fall into the “set it and forget it” category, but the majority of passive income streams still require ongoing upkeep. Within that set, some income streams can be downright disruptive in your life. For example, if you’re making money via advertising on a blog, you’ll need to create new posts on a regular basis and maintain your website. If you rely heavily on organic search traffic and you’re penalized by , you’ll have to quickly adapt your if you want to survive.

The same dilemma applies if you own a rental property. Ideally, you’ll generate income via rent paid by tenants, but what happens if you have a tenant who refuses to pay rent, or one who destroys your property? You’ll need to manage an eviction, which can be both expensive and time consuming. In other words, it compromises both the “passive” and the “income” part of “passive income.”

Capital is a massive gatekeeper

You’ll also find that capital is a massive gatekeeper for many passive income strategies. Anyone can start a blog, more or less for free, and anyone can try to start a business selling stock photography. But if you want to make substantial income with strategies like managing rental property, collecting dividends from stocks or loaning money to peers, you’ll need tens of thousands of dollars in the bank.

If you’ve already got your finances together and you’re making a strong stream of revenue from an active source, this may not be a big deal for you. However, it compromises the accessibility of some otherwise universal strategies.

Related: 17 Passive Income Ideas for Increasing Your Cash Flow

There’s no surefire formula

Even with a good plan and significant business experience, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to make money passively. Most approaches require you to put together a comprehensive strategy and be prepared to fend of competition, economic challenges and other threats. Too many people venture into the world of passive income believing they can follow a step-by-step approach and end up making money with little to no effort. They face a rude awakening when they encounter the first challenge that requires them to pivot their approach.

Passive income sounds fantastic on paper, because it offers entrepreneurs a chance to generate income with a minimal number of hours spent. However, there are many misconceptions surrounding passive income that lead people to overestimate its value and approachability. In many cases, passive income requires substantial upfront effort, initial capital and modest ongoing efforts; even then, there’s no guarantee of success.

Still, if you’re interested in diversifying your revenue streams or if you just want more opportunities to build wealth, passive income development could be right for you. Just be sure you treat it as a business strategy and not a get-rich-quick scheme. Source

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The number of hospitalizations grows and Mexico City could return to a red light

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For now, the job will be to increase the number of tests and isolate positive cases as well as continue to insist on preventive measures.

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October 20, 2020 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

  • The availability of beds to care for COVID-19 patients is 58.2%.

Did the regrowth start? Claudia Sheinbaum , head of Government of Mexico City, declared that there was an increase in the number of hospitalized by COVID-19 in the last 10 days in the capital city.

He also commented that there is still time to avoid the application of restrictive measures or the return to the red traffic light and that for the moment he would not call it a regrowth, but a slight change in trend where hospitalizations are growing.

The head of government said that this week would be crucial to know if the traffic light was changed or not. For now, the job will be to increase the number of tests and isolate positive cases as well as continue to insist on preventive measures.

All this before moving to the closure of some economic activities, times or schedules in areas with high contagion danger. According to Sheinbaum, the availability of beds to care for COVID-19 patients is 58.2%, so there is still a great availability of beds, however, he emphasized continuing to comply with health regulations.

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