European stocks rose on Monday and Wall Street futures pointed to a rise in the S&P 500 when trading starts later in the day, following Asian stocks higher.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.5 percent, and the benchmark stock indexes in France and Germany each climbed less than half a percent. Shares in China and Hong Kong rose following the holiday week in China and expectations that President Xi Jinping would announce later this week more investment for technology in Shenzhen and increase the city’s links to Hong Kong.
U.S. stocks gained last week on hopes that Congress and the Treasury Department would agree to a broad economic relief package. But on Saturday, Senate Republicans balked at the cost of another deal, while Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the package did not go far enough. On Sunday, the White House suggested an agreement could still be reached before the election. In the meantime, traders will also get more updates on how individual companies are weathering the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic as third-quarter earnings seasons begins.
After a rally last week, oil prices declined on Monday as stalled production restarted in Norway and Libya. U.S. bond markets are closed for Columbus Day, a federal holiday that is recognized in some parts of the country as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Millions of children are encountering all sorts of inconveniences that come with digital instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. But many students are facing a more basic challenge: They do not have computers and cannot attend classes held online.
A surge in worldwide demand by educators for low-cost laptops and Chromebooks — up to 41 percent higher than last year — has created monthslong shipment delays and pitted desperate schools against one another. Districts with deep pockets often win out, leaving poorer ones to give out printed assignments and wait until winter for new computers to arrive.
That has frustrated students around the country, especially in rural areas and communities of color, which also often lack high-speed internet access and are most likely to be on the losing end of the digital divide. In 2018, 10 million students did not have an adequate device at home, a study found. That gap, with much of the country still learning remotely, could now be crippling.
“The learning loss that’s taken place since March when they left, when schools closed, it’ll take years to catch up,” said Angie Henry, the chief operations officer for Guilford County Schools in North Carolina, where more than 4,000 students in the district had to start the school year without the computers they needed for remote learning. “This could impact an entire generation of our students.”
The Walt Disney Company has had a tumultuous three months since reopening Disney World in July. But public health officials and the park’s unions say there have been no coronavirus outbreaks among workers or guests. So far, Disney’s wide-ranging safety measures appear to be working, writes Brooks Barnes.
Disney’s ability to keep workers and guests safe has been at the center of an increasingly tense standoff in California that has kept the company’s West Coast resort closed since March. Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing coronavirus concerns, has refused to allow California theme parks to reopen; Disney, citing the efficacy of its safety procedures in Florida, has pressured him to reconsider. So have elected officials in Southern California, where the two-park Disneyland Resort supports 78,000 jobs, according to economists at California State University, Fullerton.
Getting the Anaheim, Calif., complex running again is important for Disney because other areas of the company — theatrical films, cruise vacations — have also been severely disrupted by the pandemic and face a more strenuous recovery. Disneyland generated an estimated $3.8 billion in revenue last year, according to Michael Nathanson, a media analyst.
“The data shows that we opened responsibly,” said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We didn’t cause a surge.”
But there is concern among Disney World union leaders that a recent decision by Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, to lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, including theme parks, could lead to a wave of infections. “We need people to feel safe coming to Florida for vacation because that puts us to work,” said Mike McElmury, trustee of Teamsters Local 385. “Everyone is worried about going backward.”
Stocks on Wall Street rallied last week as lawmakers — including President Trump — said they were still willing to negotiate a spending deal to support ailing industries and out-of-work Americans.
The on-again, off-again nature of these talks made for some turbulent trading. Investors were already jumpy about the potential for a contested election and related uncertainty.
The volatility reflects short-term developments, but analysts say the overall gains (the S&P 500 is up more than 5 percent over the past two weeks) also reflect the emerging view on Wall Street that a decisive Democratic victory could be good news for financial markets, The New York Times’s Matt Phillips reports.
Mr. Biden has pulled ahead in many national and state-level polls, and that has been fueling some of the gains in the market.
“The cleaner the win, then the less likely that there is a disputed election,” Shahab Jalinoos, global head of macro strategy with Credit Suisse in New York, told Mr. Phillips. “Once you downgrade that risk, it tends to be a market positive.”
It isn’t just that. If Democrats are also able to win control of the Senate, then analysts expect a much larger stimulus package could follow.
“It would sharply raise the probability of a fiscal stimulus package of at least $2 trillion shortly after the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, followed by longer-term spending increases on infrastructure, climate, health care and education that would at least match the likely longer-term tax increases on corporations and upper-income earners,” analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote last week.
“Any near-term fiscal deal looked unlikely this close to the election. Hopes of a deal post-election hinge on the outcome of the race,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients Friday. “The bigger factor driving markets this week was the continued swing in both betting odds and polling averages, which show the Democrats are increasingly favored to not only win the presidency but take control of the Senate too.”
📈 The I.M.F. and World Bank hold their annual meetings this week, with key policymakers from around the world discussing the state of the global economy. The I.M.F.’s latest forecast, out on Tuesday, is expected to show that conditions are “less dire” once feared.
🛍 Amazon Prime Day, postponed from its usual time in July, takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The online retailer’s rivals, including Best Buy, Target and Walmart, are holding similar sales events this week in an effort to limit in-store crowds and encourage shoppers to get their holiday purchases in well before Black Friday.
📱 Apple will unveil its latest series of iPhones on Tuesday, promising the first major redesign in years and 5G capability.
💰 Third-quarter earnings season kicks off this week, and all eyes will be on the banks. The Federal Reserve has expressed worry about the health of the financial system without fresh stimulus, which will be the main talking point when bank chiefs present their latest results: JPMorgan and Citigroup are first up on Tuesday, followed by Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo on Wednesday and Morgan Stanley on Thursday.
🗣 Other companies reporting earnings include the airlines Delta on Tuesday and United on Thursday, which will face questions about how deep they might turn to layoffs and furloughs without extra government cash; the health care groups Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday and UnitedHealth on Wednesday, with updates on the progress of Covid-19 treatments; and the French luxury giant LVMH on Thursday, with news of its court battle to get out of the deal to buy Tiffany.
The gap between the Democrats’ proposed $2.2 trillion relief package and the White House’s $1.8 trillion offer may look relatively small, in the grand scheme of things. But an agreement on the aid that many say is needed to keep the economic recovery on track seems remote despite frenzied talks in recent days.
Here’s a quick catch-up on the back and forth, courtesy of today’s DealBook newsletter:
Oct. 6: “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election,” Mr. Trump tweeted. A few hours later, he said he was willing to sign stand-alone bills that would finance stimulus checks, small-business loans and airline aid. Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, warned of “tragic” consequences if no stimulus was forthcoming. The S&P 500 fell 1.4 percent.
Oct. 7: “Move Fast, I Am Waiting To Sign!” Mr. Trump tweeted at Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. The S&P rose 1.7 percent.
Oct. 8: Analysts start pricing in better odds of a deal getting done. The S&P rose 0.8 percent.
Oct. 9: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Mr. Trump tweeted. He said he was inclined to be more generous than either Democrats or Republicans, but Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said a deal was “unlikely in the next three weeks.” No matter: The S&P rose 0.9 percent, ending a tumultuous week with a gain of about 4 percent.
Oct. 10: Ms. Pelosi wrote a letter calling Republican proposals “insufficient,” although she remained “hopeful” that a deal could be struck. For their part, some Senate Republicans complained that a big spending package could cost them seats among fiscally conservative voters.
Oct. 11: The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to lawmakers urging them to “come together and immediately vote on a bill,” tapping unused funds from the first round of stimulus. Ms. Pelosi wrote another letter saying that talks were at an “impasse,” with disagreements over the nature of the aid rather than the size of the bill. On Fox News, Mr. Trump said “Republicans want to do it” and blamed Ms. Pelosi for the stalemate.
Oct. 12: At the time of writing, stock futures are up in premarket trading. Hope springs eternal.
Senate Bill Would Outlaw Bank Discrimination for the First Time
Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation that would make it illegal for banks and other financial firms to discriminate against their customers because of their race, religion, sexual orientation and other characteristics — an effort meant to close a loophole in the Civil Rights Act highlighted in a New York Times report in June.
The Fair Access to Financial Services Act, introduced on Wednesday by members of the Senate Banking Committee, would explicitly outlaw discrimination against bank customers. Currently, it is legal for banks and some other businesses to treat some customers differently as long as those customers eventually receive the services they are seeking. That means, in practical terms, that banks can racially profile their customers and delay their transactions, or ask them to take extra steps to prove their legitimacy, without risking penalties as long as they eventually do business with those customers.
The loophole stems from the specificity of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which lists the kinds of businesses — including movie theaters, restaurants and hotels — where discrimination is prohibited. Courts have ruled that the law does not apply to any businesses not on the list. That leaves customers who say they have been mistreated with little recourse, especially in states like Georgia, where there are no statewide anti-discrimination laws.
The bill stipulates that “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges and accommodations of financial institutions.” It is sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
The bill was written after The Times described the ways in which Black bank customers have been treated with suspicion and hostility while trying to do basic banking business. In one instance, a man seeking to withdraw cash from his Wells Fargo account to buy a car was turned away by a manager who threatened to call the police. In another, Wells Fargo employees called the police on a woman trying to cash a $200 check.
Because of the loophole in federal law, customers who experience discrimination can rely only on state protections when they seek justice.
“Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions,” Senator Brown said in an announcement of the bill emailed to The Times. “Victims of discrimination are not even able to hold financial institutions accountable — it is shameful.”
The two-and-a-half page bill lays out what bank customers who experience discrimination can do about it: Ask a federal court to order the bank or financial institution to cease the mistreatment and recoup lawyers’ fees from the institution if the court rules in their favor.
“Our legislation would be a clear and comprehensive statement that discrimination has no place in our financial system,” Senator Smith said in the announcement.
The bill has been endorsed by civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P., UnidosUS and the National Urban League, according to the announcement.
Two Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, Representatives Hank Johnson of Georgia and Joyce Beatty of Ohio, will introduce a complementary bill, according to the Senate announcement.
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October 21, 2020 2 min read
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8 Lessons in Entrepreneurship From the Greatest Inventor of All Time
October 21, 2020 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’ve ever read Harry Potter, The Odyssey or any traditional folk tale, you’ll be familiar with the hero’s journey. They all (and countless others) follow the same template. It was literature professor Joseph Campbell who, in 1949, published the book that described and analyzed this structure: The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This book has inspired writers across a range of genres including films, novels, plays and gaming.
In my new book, The Entrepreneur Journey, A Strategic Blueprint for Market Domination, I explore the idea that the mythological hero journey mapped out by Campbell might also provide a framework for the journey undertaken by entrepreneurs.
To illustrate the different phases in the entrepreneur’s journey, I have started each chapter with an episode from the life of one of the most prolific innovators of all time, Thomas Edison. Edison will forever be associated with the phrase “a light bulb moment,” a flash of blinding intuition that apparently comes out of nowhere, but the reality was very different. I hope these stories will highlight the complexities behind his invention, the teamwork and effective delegation needed, the extent of collaboration, the detailed planning and ceaseless cycles of testing and improvement.
According to Campbell, there are 17 steps on the hero’s journey. I have narrowed these down to eight.
The journey starts when the entrepreneur, immersed in the world sensing their surroundings, is visited by inspiration and feels an urge to make a change. This call prompts a step away from everyday life, whatever the form of inspiration. For Edison, this came when he visited inventor William Wallace’s workshop in Ansonia, Connecticut, and saw his Telemachon, or new dynamo. It was at that moment he saw the solution to the problem of developing a system to supply cheap, abundant electric light.
Articulating this idea, expressing it, so it can be shared and understood by others takes a certain amount of dedication and even courage, particularly if the entrepreneur is operating in an environment in which individualism and personal growth are not prized. In Edison’s case, this meant returning to his own workshop at Menlo Park and inspiring his own muckers to invest in the project. This took conviction and passion, daring and an enduring sense of clarity and purpose
Those who have decided to proceed to the otherworld — the external world of the collective and teamwork — face their first initiation: crossing the threshold from the second phase to the third to present their idea to a group of peers such as investors, programmers and engineers. It is here that the entrepreneur must partner up with these collaborators, and they all need to reorient themselves to work together harmoniously and embark on the adventure of collaborative work and building the product. In this context, Edison’s habit of leaving his notebooks lying around constituted an open invitation to all his workers to engage with his ideas and give him their honest opinion. He also fostered collaboration by staying up all night socializing with his colleagues and workers.
Now the team must come to a decision as to what exactly they are going to build and bring to market and how they are going to achieve that. They must draw up the best plan together: There are many considerations (market forces and the nature of the competition) to take into account, and the task can be much tougher than they expect, especially if delays and internal conflict hinder progress. The entrepreneur might be tempted to abandon their internal call and initial purpose and proceed to build a product that does not resonate with their needs.
For Edison to complete his task, he was going to have to spend most of the little money he had leftover from the initial investment on the latest equipment. Menlo Park had to be the most comprehensive facility in the world for conducting electrical research. He was also going to have to hire new staff: men skilled in the arts of machining and glass blowing. The laboratory would now be a special-purpose facility. As Edison explained to his employee Theodore Puskas (who would go onto invent the world’s first telephone exchange), Menlo Park was going to need “all the means to set up and test more deliberately every point of the electric light, so as to be able to meet and answer or obviate every objection before showing the light to the public, or offering it for sale either in this country or Europe.”
With their plan in hand, the team now starts to execute and actually create a system in the physical world, developing this system in the form of a service or product. There are threats to overcome — dragons to be slain — at this stage: tight budgets, unexpected setbacks, quality maintenance and compliance with legislation. Many iterations might be needed at this stage to emerge triumphant. But if you get through this stage, you’ll have passed the point of no return. In theory, there is always an option to pull back, but you may, as in the hero’s journey, find that you have gone too far to be able to abandon the quest and must see it through. Within two weeks of creating a miracle light filament that could burn for 13-and-a-half hours, Edison and his team had improved on this design and applied for a patent. It was not until several months after the patent was granted, the following year, that they came up with a bulb capable of lasting 1,200 hours.
Now the work to develop a whole system — dynamo, lamps, connecting wires — could really begin. Again, Edison quite spontaneously adopted an approach entirely consistent with modern management in dividing the work between a number of multi-functional teams, each with its own goals, that briefed him on their progress every evening.
The prize as we move into the next stage is a product or system that is proven, through vigorous testing and experimentation, to function — an offering robust enough to fulfill the expectations, and indeed the aspirations, of those who use it. When John Kreusi, Edison’s chief machinist, remarked on the sheer quantity of the offers to build power stations that they were receiving, Edison looked at him and said “Do nothing. We’re not ready yet. We have carried out an experiment, that’s all. Yes, it was successful and the concept is there. We showed that. But that is not enough for a project such as this. We have to test every part of this system — not just for faults and improvements but for longevity. It has been shown to work, but we have to show it functions — not just once, but over a long period of time. If there’s a failure in the system we must discover it before anyone else does.”
It’s time to take your product to market, and there you will need to engage with potential users to make them aware that your offering can solve their problem — or even a problem they weren’t aware they had. (Bear in mind that the entrepreneur might still be pursued by guardians from the other world, in the form of revised regulation, for example, which might require a retreat to an earlier stage.) Developing your networks is a worthwhile activity, giving you far greater access to information, expertise and maybe even partnership. You will have a much better chance of success if you surround yourself with the right people from the beginning, such as marketers who will actively want to partner with you.
Although the Paris Electrical Exhibition of 1881 might have been an international scientific and trade conference rather than a marketing one, the presence of Edison’s team there enabled him to enrich his networks and size up the opposition.
Finally, the entrepreneur will begin to receive feedback from the users — some positive, confirming that they have made the right decisions; some critical, signaling the need for improvement. As in a video game where you pass to the next level, the journey begins again, this time with new challenges, but with the benefit of hindsight.
When Edison was presented with complaints from customers who were more than a mile from his stations and so unable to enjoy the benefits of his lighting system, he listened and went back to the drawing board and invented the three-wire system. In researching Edison’s story I was struck by the fact that although more than a century has passed since his Edison Illuminating Company was formed, the entrepreneur journey itself has not changed much.
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