Macy’s plans to raise wages and offer tuition assistance in the race for hourly workers.22 min read
Macy’s said on Monday that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by May and start offering education benefits to employees in February.
The increase will lift Macy’s average base pay above $17 an hour, a company statement said. Macy’s did not specify its current minimum wage, but said it varied by location. The education program will cover tuition, books and fees for programs including high school completion, college preparation, and associate and bachelor’s degrees within a network. It is expected to cost the company $35 million over the next four years.
Macy’s will also offer employees an extra paid day off, it said.
Retailers have been scrambling to hire ahead of the all-important holiday season, which is expected to be bustling after a grim 2020. Many chains are raising wages and offering new benefits and additional flexibility in their pursuit of hourly workers.
Jeff Gennette, the chief executive of Macy’s, told The New York Times in a recent interview that there was “a war for talent at the front lines.” The retailer has said it aims to hire 76,000 full- and part-time employees this season.
Stocks that experience major volatility as a result of social media attention — often called meme stocks — have not threatened broader financial stability so far but could open the door to vulnerabilities, the Federal Reserve said in a report on Monday.
The Fed’s twice-yearly update on America’s financial system included a special section on the meme stock phenomenon. It attributed the trend, in which attention on Twitter, Reddit and other platforms encourages rapid inflows into or out of buzzy stocks, to new trading technologies including mobile apps and to changing demographics, as younger people enter the retail trading market.
“Along with the rise in risk appetite and the growing share of younger retail investors, access to retail equity trading opportunities has expanded over the past decade,” the report said.
Social media can pump up interest in stocks, and it can also create an echo chamber, one in which “investors find themselves communicating most frequently with others with similar interests and views, thereby reinforcing their views, even if these views are speculative or biased.”
Still, internet-inspired pile-ons do not necessarily create conditions that will spur a broad market crash, the Fed’s report suggested.
“To date, the broad financial stability implications of changes in retail equity investor characteristics and behaviors have been limited,” the Fed said. The central bank specifically assessed what happened to shares of AMC Entertainment and GameStop in January, noting that activity and volatility in those stocks came alongside high activity on Twitter.
While the report concluded that “recent episodes of meme stock volatility did not leave a lasting imprint on broader markets,” the Fed said a few trends “should be monitored.”
The report pointed out that young and debt-laden investors may be more vulnerable to stock price swings, especially since they are now using “options,” which allow traders to place bets on whether prices will rise or fall and which can magnify leverage and potential losses.
The Fed also warned that “episodes of heightened risk appetite may continue to evolve with the interaction between social media and retail investors and may be difficult to predict,” and that financial firms may not have calibrated their risk-management systems to reflect the volatility and losses that meme stock episodes might trigger.
“More frequent episodes of higher volatility may require further steps to ensure the resilience of the financial system,” it said.
Looking across a broader range of asset classes and recent trading activity, the Fed’s financial stability analysis generally suggested that the vulnerabilities have moderated compared with earlier in the pandemic — but it did flag high asset prices and a number of lingering risks.
Stock prices have increased “notably,” the report said, and prices relative to forecast earnings remain near historical highs. Home prices have climbed, it noted, though mortgage lending standards have not deteriorated too badly. When lenders start to lower their standards, that can make the market more vulnerable.
The Fed noted that “corporate bond issuance remained robust, supported by low interest rates,” also pointing out that “across the ratings spectrum, the composition of newly issued corporate bonds has become riskier.”
And while many markets show signs of investor optimism, some financial strains from the pandemic shock persist.
Some commercial real estate sectors continue to face challenges because “office vacancies are elevated and hotel occupancy rates remain depressed,” the report noted. Plus, “structural vulnerabilities persist in some types of money market funds,” which could amplify a future shock to the system.
Money market mutual funds melted down during the pandemic and required a Fed rescue for the second time in a dozen years, and regulators are now looking at how to make them more resilient.
The report also warned that life insurers might struggle to raise cash in a pinch.
And it delved into climate risks. The central bank is among regulators now trying to understand what risks climate change might pose to banks, insurers and the broader financial system.
“The Federal Reserve is developing a program of climate-related scenario analysis,” the report noted. “The Federal Reserve considers an effective scenario analysis program, which is designed to be forward looking over a period of years or decades, to be separate from its existing regulatory stress-testing regime.”
Randal K. Quarles, a Federal Reserve governor who spent four years overseeing bank supervision, will step down from the Fed in December — opening an additional seat that will allow the Biden administration to reshape the central bank’s leadership.
Mr. Quarles’s role as vice chair for supervision expired in October, but his term as governor was set to last until early 2032. The Trump appointee was widely expected to stay on until his time as head of the Financial Stability Board, a global monitoring and standard-setting body, ended in December. It was an open question whether he would stay after that.
“I intend to resign my position as a governor of the Federal Reserve during or around the last week of December of this year,” Mr. Quarles wrote in a letter to the White House, which the Fed released on Monday.
The announcement that he will step down is likely to be greeted warmly by Democrats, many of whom have been critical of Mr. Quarles’s push to relax some postcrisis financial regulations. Many Democrats have been calling for the administration to nominate a diverse set of leaders to the central bank.
President Biden already has one open spot on the central bank’s seven-seat Board of Governors to fill, and will have another when Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, sees his term as governor expire early next year. This will give the administration at least three open spots.
Jerome H. Powell’s term as the Fed’s chair is also scheduled to expire early next year, though his term as governor lasts until early 2028. Fed chairs typically leave their unexpired governor seats if they are not reappointed to their leadership roles, though that has not always been the case.
It is not clear when Mr. Biden will announce his central bank nominees, including whether he plans to reappoint Mr. Powell. He said last week that the decision would come “fairly quickly.” Both Mr. Powell and Lael Brainard, a Fed governor who is widely viewed as the other front-runner to lead the institution, were seen leaving the White House last week.
Mr. Powell was initially chosen as a Fed governor by President Barack Obama, but he was elevated to chair by President Donald J. Trump.
While he has been focused on interpreting the Fed’s full-employment goal expansively, something Democrats typically support, he has come under fire for voting for Mr. Quarles’s regulatory decisions, which in many cases made bank oversight less onerous. Ms. Brainard regularly cast dissenting votes against those moves and issued statements warning about relaxing rules that forced banks to behave more cautiously.
Mr. Powell has said he defers to whoever is in the job of vice chair for supervision, since Congress has confirmed that person to oversee banking matters. Fed governors are nominated by the White House and then confirmed by the Senate.
“The vice chair for supervision is charged with setting the regulatory agenda,” he said in September. “I respect that authority. I respect that that’s the person who will set the regulatory agenda going forward.”
But Mr. Quarles’s departure may help defang another argument some progressive groups have been making when arguing against keeping Mr. Powell as chair: that with Mr. Quarles still at the Fed, governors who were appointed or elevated by Mr. Trump continued to dominate the board.
The logic was that Mr. Quarles, Governors Christopher Waller and Michelle Bowman, and Mr. Powell could together prevent more aggressive action on bank regulation, climate-related matters and other issues.
Now, the decks will tilt toward Democrats, between the three open positions and the fact that Ms. Brainard, an Obama appointee, is already on the board.
“I will admit that I am surprised,” said Jeff Hauser, director of the watchdog group Revolving Door Project and an opponent of keeping Mr. Powell, said of the news. He later added that “it definitely takes away one of the many arguments” against reappointing Mr. Powell.
The Board of Governors has regulatory powers over big banks, and it sets interest rate policy alongside the Fed’s 12 regional branch presidents, five of whom vote on monetary policy at any given time. Regional bank presidents rotate through their voting seats, although the New York Fed is granted a constant vote. Governors have a constant vote.
The Biden administration on Monday argued that the federal government had all the power it needed to require large employers to mandate vaccination of their workers against the Covid-19 virus — or to require those who refuse the shots to wear masks and submit to weekly testing.
In a 28-page filing before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which temporarily blocked the mandate with a nationwide stay last week, the Justice Department argued that the rule was necessarily to protect workers from the pandemic and was well grounded in law.
Keeping the mandate from coming into effect “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous costs,” the Justice Department said in its filing. “That is a confluence of harms of the highest order.”
One coalition of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and several states filed a petition on Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana, arguing that the administration overstepped its authority.
On Saturday, a panel of the court temporarily blocked the new mandate, writing that “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, said at a news conference on Monday that the administration was recommending that businesses move forward with vaccination and testing plans, regardless of any possible delays in federal enforcement stemming from the court’s action.
“Do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.
The stay does not have any immediate impact, because the first major deadline for complying with the mandate does not arrive until Dec. 5, when companies with at least 100 employees would have to require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors.
Asked why the broad requirements of the mandate were necessary now, Ms. Jean-Pierre cited the number of people who have been dying from the coronavirus recently — an average of 1,217 deaths a day as of Sunday, according to a New York Times database.
“That should not be the number that we’re looking at,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “We believe that in order to get this pandemic behind us, we need to get more people vaccinated.”
Union members at Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times Company, said on Monday that they were prepared to stop work during the busy shopping period around Black Friday if a deal for a contract was not reached.
Staff at Wirecutter unionized in 2019, and the Times Company voluntarily recognized the union. In the two years since, the union has been negotiating with the company for a collective bargaining agreement.
The Wirecutter union said it was seeking higher salary minimums and guaranteed raises.
“The business has grown quite extensively during the pandemic,” Nick Guy, the chair of the union, said in an interview. “We’re now on the front page of the New York Times website daily, and even throughout all of that we haven’t seen meaningful increases to wages.”
The union is seeking a $58,000 minimum salary and guaranteed annual increases of at least 3 percent, Mr. Guy said. The company has offered guaranteed annual raises of 0.5 percent, he said.
More than 90 percent of the approximately 70 employees in the union, who work remotely, have pledged to not work during the holiday shopping period after Thanksgiving if a deal is not reached by Black Friday on Nov. 26, Mr. Guy said. The union, which did not say how long the stoppage would last, will also ask supporters not to shop through the site from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Nov. 29.
“It has just dragged on for so long, and the progress we’re seeing has slowed,” Mr. Guy said of the negotiations, adding: “Without action like this, I don’t think we’ll be able to reach a contract we’ll be happy with.”
A spokeswoman for the Times Company said: “We look forward to continuing to work toward an agreement with the Wirecutter union in our standard process at the negotiating table.”
“Our compensation proposal is more generous than what they’ve described and seeks to maintain a similar compensation structure for Wirecutter employees with programs in place for others at the Times Company,” she added.
The Times is facing labor fights on two other fronts. A group of tech workers, including software engineers and product managers, announced the formation of a union in April. That union has filed for an election through the National Labor Relations Board after The Times declined to voluntarily recognize it. And the Times Guild, which has been in place since 1940 and represents about 1,300 reporters and editors at The Times, is bargaining for a new contract. The unions representing technology workers, Times journalists and Wirecutter employees are affiliates of the NewsGuild of New York.
Deep Nishar, a former top investor at SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, is joining General Catalyst, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm known for its successful bets on start-ups including Airbnb and Snap.
Mr. Nishar said last month that he would leave SoftBank by the end of 2021, ending a six-year stint at the Japanese tech conglomerate. He is the latest senior executive to leave the Vision Fund, which struggled after soured bets on WeWork and other companies; at least four others have left in the past two years.
SoftBank’s founder and chief executive, Masayoshi Son, hired Mr. Nishar to rebuild the firm’s presence in the United States after it was forced to scale back when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Mr. Nishar, who previously worked at Google and LinkedIn, made successful investments in companies such as Guardant Health, which uses big data to detect and treat cancer early. Shares of Guardant, which went public in 2018, now trade at more than five times their initial price.
In an interview, Mr. Nishar, 52, said he was proud of what he had helped build at the SoftBank fund. “Four years ago, no one believed you could build a $100 billion investment platform,” he said. Mr. Nishar and Mr. Son remain close, he added, saying the two men “continue to talk every day.”
At General Catalyst, which was founded in Massachusetts and has been building its Silicon Valley presence, Mr. Nishar will both invest in start-ups and help the firm build its own companies. In addition to Airbnb, General Catalyst was an early investor in Warby Parker and helped build the travel search engine Kayak. The firm was also one of the earliest investors in Stripe, the financial technology firm that raised private funding this year at a $95 billion valuation. Stripe’s I.P.O. is widely expected to be among the largest in history.
Hemant Taneja, General Catalyst’s managing partner, who is based in San Francisco, said he had tried to recruit Mr. Nishar in 2015, before Mr. Nishar joined SoftBank. Mr. Taneja said he wanted to bring Mr. Nishar on board to help the firm go after big, broad ideas that cut across fields, including those at the intersection of technology, health care and life sciences.
Over years of long walks around Silicon Valley, Mr. Taneja finally succeeded in wooing Mr. Nishar, who will start his new job in January.
With stocks on a tear in India, the parent company of Paytm, a leading digital payments app, went public on Monday with hopes of becoming the country’s largest initial public offering.
The company, One97 Communications, aims to raise about $2.5 billion in a three-day offer that ends on Wednesday. It has already drawn huge institutional investors like Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Texas teachers’ pension fund and the University of Cambridge, which have invested more than $1 billion.
Paytm was founded in 2010 as a payments transfer business. It now allows users to send money to friends, buy small items like coffee or clothing, and finance big-ticket items like cars.
All but ubiquitous in India’s biggest cities, Paytm commands more than 40 percent of India’s digital payments market. The company has yet to turn a profit, but it is benefiting from a surge of interest from foreign and Indian investors looking for a stake in India’s surging internet economy. The I.P.O. could value the company at $20 billion.
“Paytm is evolving into a marketplace in itself,” said Amit Khurana, an analyst with Dolat Capital in Mumbai. “There is a lot of appetite to allocate money to this kind of model because it’s seen as the business of the future.”
Investors, in general, have been increasingly bullish on the Indian economy’s recovery from the pandemic and a series of related lockdowns that slashed industrial activity and consumer spending sharply.
India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has steadily cut interest rates, encouraging banks to lend more and consumers — particularly young, savvy online shoppers — to spend more.
“We are now in a sweet spot, where the bank recovery is coinciding with the demographic transition, which in turn is coinciding with the digital revolution,” said Madhavan Narayanan, an economist in India. “All these three are making the sun and the moon and the stars align for young India.”
With coronavirus infections in India low and foot traffic returning to brick-and-mortar stores, newly sanitation-sensitized shoppers may prefer to scan QR codes rather than handle cash.
The pandemic has helped a trend in India toward a cashless economy that began with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden demonetization in 2016. The policy, meant to tamp down on money laundering, banned the most widely circulated currency notes, wiping out families’ savings and shuttering businesses overnight. But five years later, it appears to have also created some winners, digital payments companies like Paytm among them.
Competition is heating up. Google offers Google Pay. India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, began a joint venture with Facebook last year to offer digital payments over WhatsApp, India’s most popular messaging service.
Paytm’s share offering is the latest in a series of oversubscribed I.P.O.s in recent months, among a bevy of so-called unicorns backed by e-commerce giants like China’s Alibaba and its financial affiliate, Ant.
In July, institutional and foreign investors also flocked to the initial public offering of India’s food delivery app, Zomato, which was oversubscribed by 38 times the available shares.
The Reserve Bank of India predicted in an August report that 2021 “could well turn out to be India’s year of the initial public offering.”
Paytm’s push to become India’s biggest initial public offering has overshadowed another sizable offering. The parent company of Nykaa, an online beauty products retailer, was publicly listed on Monday, seeking a $7.4 billion valuation.
Sameer Yasir contributed reporting.
The United States reopened its borders for vaccinated foreign travelers on Monday, ending more than 18 months of restrictions on international travel that separated families and cost the global travel industry hundreds of billions of dollars.
Before dawn on Monday, thousands of passengers flocked into Heathrow Airport for the first flights to the United States out of London. They were welcomed by dozens of airline staff who beamed and waved American flags.
The policy shift has come in time for the holiday season, when the beleaguered tourism industry is eagerly awaiting an influx of international visitors, especially in popular big-city destinations. Eager to make up for lost time, tourists traveling on Monday had packed itineraries, from Broadway shows in New York and family days at Disney World in Florida to bingo nights in Arizona.
In New York alone, the absence of tourists in 2020 resulted in a loss of $60 billion in revenue and wiped out 89,000 jobs across retail, arts, culture, hotels and transportation, the state comptroller found. Though travelers from abroad account for just one-fifth of the city’s visitors, they generate 50 percent of the city’s tourism spending, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency.
Towns along the borders with Mexico and Canada also suffered under the restrictions, which shut down land crossings to “nonessential” traffic and cost businesses millions of dollars.
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to enter the United States if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test taken within three days before departure. Unvaccinated Americans and children under 18 are exempt from the requirement, but must take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of travel.
While the new entry requirements ease travel for vaccinated travelers, they restrict people who were previously permitted to visit the United States, including unvaccinated travelers from Japan, Singapore, Mexico and other countries. Those who have received vaccines that have not been approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use, like the Russian Sputnik V, will also not be permitted to enter.
The extended ban on travel from 33 countries resulted in losses of nearly $300 billion in visitor spending and more than one million American jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group.
Many of the airplanes arriving in the United States on Monday were full of travelers reuniting with family and friends after a span of almost 600 days.
American Airlines said bookings over the three days after the announcement were up 66 percent for flights between Britain and the United States, 40 percent for those from Europe and 74 percent for Brazil, compared with a similar period a week earlier. United Airlines said that it sold more tickets for trans-Atlantic flights in the days after the announcement than during a similar period in 2019, a first since the pandemic began. Delta Air Lines said many of its international flights on Monday were fully booked.
Hotels across the United States, particularly those in cities, also felt the impact of the reopening. Hyatt, the hotel group, said that approximately 50 percent of its bookings by international travelers to the U.S. for the week of Nov. 8 came after the opening date was announced in mid-October.
A previous version of this item incorrectly described how Belinda Calva, Dayanna Patino Calva and Anabel Patino Calva are related. Dayanna Patino Calva and Anabel Patino Calva are sisters and Belinda Calva is their mother.
Shares of several drug makers in Asia fell sharply on Monday in response to Pfizer’s announcement that its antiviral drug was highly effective in treating Covid-19.
CanSino Biologics, the Chinese maker of a Covid-19 vaccine, dropped by 17 percent during trading in Hong Kong. Shanghai Fosun, which has marketing rights in greater China for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, saw its Hong Kong shares drop by 7 percent before rebounding somewhat to end 2 percent lower.
WuXi Biologics of China, which is developing Covid vaccines and antibodies, fell by 9 percent in Hong Kong. And shares of Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi & Co., which is also developing a Covid treatment drug, dropped 6 percent in Tokyo.
Pfizer said Friday that when its new pill was given within three days of the start of Covid symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths were reduced by 89 percent. The company said it planned to submit the drug for Food and Drug Administration approval as soon as possible. A panel of experts had recommended not enrolling any more candidates in the trial because it had already shown such effectiveness, the company said.
Last winter was warmer than average, which led to relatively low residential energy bills. Even if the coming winter is not severe, heating costs could rise to levels not seen a decade.
Several factors — lower global fuel inventories, incentives for producers to let prices rise and a mismatch between supply and demand as economies emerge from the pandemic — may combine to push bills higher, The New York Times’s Talmon Joseph Smith reports.
After plunging during the pandemic as the global economy slowed, energy prices have been climbing. Natural gas, used to heat almost half of U.S. households, has roughly doubled in price since this time last year. The price of crude oil — which strongly affects the 10 percent of households that rely on heating oil and propane during the winter — has soared by similarly eye-popping levels.
And those costs are being quickly passed through to consumers, who have become accustomed to cheaper energy prices in recent years and find themselves with growing concerns about inflation this year.
Facebook whistle-blower: Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager, will testify at a European Parliament hearing. In previous appearances before American and British lawmakers, Haugen called for stronger regulations for Facebook, which recently renamed itself Meta.
Roblox earnings: The popular online gaming platform, which went public in March, recently suffered an outage that lasted several days.
AMC earnings: The world’s largest movie theater chain could be the latest business to report rising fortunes as Americans return to prepandemic life. In a sign that movie theaters may be on the rebound, the sci-fi film “Dune” recently surpassed $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Rivian I.P.O. pricing: The electric truck maker backed by Amazon and Ford Motor is closer to pricing an initial public offering that could value it at more than $60 billion. If Rivian prices its I.P.O. on Tuesday, it would begin trading Wednesday.
Consumer Price Index: The Labor Department will release inflation data for October. Costs for everything from food to furniture have been climbing fast as strong demand and supply chain snarls have pushed prices higher.
Disney earnings: The Walt Disney Company, the world’s largest entertainment company, will report its fiscal full year and fourth quarter earnings after the market closes.
Singles Day: The online shopping event created by the e-commerce giant Alibaba kicks off. China reported slower economic growth last month, though retail sales have been a bright spot.
Warby Parker earnings: The direct-to-consumer eyewear company will announce earnings for its third quarter, the company’s first report since it went public in September.
SoftBank on Monday reported a net loss of $3.5 billion in the last quarter, reflecting the impact of China’s regulatory crackdown on its investments. The Japanese tech conglomerate recorded a $10 billion hit to its Vision Fund caused by declines in the share prices of its portfolio companies.
Elon Musk polled his Twitter followers over the weekend about whether he should sell 10 percent of his stake in Tesla, his electric car company, with a majority voting “yes.” Mr. Musk may have already been compelled to sell a sizable portion of his Tesla shares: He holds nearly 23 million stock options awarded in 2012 that have since vested and will expire in August. And it’s likely that much of his 2012 options don’t qualify for a preferential tax treatment. Tesla shares were down about 4 percent in premarket trading on Monday.
Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, on Saturday reported a sharp decrease in earnings in the third quarter, reflecting the turmoil in financial markets and the broader slowdown in U.S. economic growth. Profits fell by two-thirds to $10 billion, down from $30 billion in the same three months of 2020, when the economy was still in the process of reopening from pandemic shutdowns.