Coronavirus-Driven Recession All but Certain at This Point
After months of breathless speculation as to if or when the U.S. will enter a recession following an unprecedented decade-long economic expansion, it looks like we have our answer. A new report out from JP Morgan forecasts the economies of U.S. and Europe will shrink by 2% and 1.8% respectively by July as a result of coronavirus-linked quarantines, work-stoppages, business closures, event cancellations, and financial market chaos. Negative growth could reach 3% in the U.S. and 3.3% in the Eurozone during the second quarter. The report also calls for targeted stimulus measures to avoid a long and painful recession.
Covid-19 Adds to Boeing’s String of Miseries
It hasn’t been Boeing’s day or week or month, or even its year. On Wednesday, the troubled aerospace giant announced that coronavirus-related market turbulence was forcing it to draw on a $13 billion loan it secured in January sooner than expected. The news sent its stock price plummeting 10% to lows not seen since mid-2017. As a result, Tesla overtook Boeing as the country’s most valuable industrial company. The planemaker also said it was freezing hiring and overtime in order to preserve cash during this challenging time. This comes after the company made the gamble to ramp up its payroll dramatically in anticipation of the 737 Max returning to service. No word when that day will come. And yesterday, Washington state officially repealed Boeing's $100 million tax breaks in order to resolve a dispute with the World Trade Organization.
Jobless Benefits Available for Workers Affected by Outbreak
America’s busiest port, the Port of Los Angeles, has become a ghost town as a result of the coronavirus. This according to four workers who said things weren't this quiet even during the Great Recession. Last month’s unemployment rate touched a 50-year low, but that’s likely to change as airlines, hotels, travel agencies, event companies and other businesses are trimming their rosters in light of business downturns. The U.S. Labor Department amended its guidance to allow states to offer unemployment benefits to workers laid off, furloughed, or forced to care for a sick family member as a result of Covid-19.
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Construction Robots Come in Peace
While skeptical at first, members of Texas’ International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) warmed up to an autonomous Caterpillar 336 excavator that joined its outfit. The new addition came as part of a collab with Built Robotics – a San Francisco startup that sells gear that can modify existing heavy equipment for autonomous functionality. The self-driving Caterpillar 336 uses computers and sensors to dig trenches for gas pipelines or wind turbine foundations while workers supervise activity from a mission control room. IUOE intends to expand its fleet of autonomous vehicles over the coming year, augmenting the workforce of an industry desperately in need of more hands.
Elon Musk Scouts U.S. for Factory Locations, Sweet Incentives
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he’s scouting locations to manufacture the automaker’s all-electric Cybertruck, and central USA is high on the list. Texas and Nashville appear to be in the running as the production home of Tesla’s sixth model vehicle, which is expected to arrive in 2021. Musk also tweeted that he’s looking at cities on the East coast to manufacture its forthcoming Model Y, a 7-passenger crossover utility vehicle. The executive dropped not-so-subtle hints that incentives will play a role when making his final decisions.
Did you hear about the Mars 2020 Rover official new name? If not, check out last week's Weekly Roundup.