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Texas Instruments Incorporated
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Delta Air Lines, Inc.
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.
Brown & Brown, Inc.
C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
Franklin Resources, Inc.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.
Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.
The New York Times Company
Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc.
Barnes Group Inc.
Cathay General Bancorp
ABM Industries Incorporated
(Bloomberg) -- Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the final death toll from the virus may be lower than earlier estimated. As fatalities now slow in parts of Europe, they are still accelerating in the U.S., which is on track to overtake Italy in the coming days.Stocks rallied after the Federal Reserve took steps to provide as much as $2.3 trillion in additional aid, even as Americans applied for jobless benefits in huge numbers again. Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman said he had coronavirus and has recovered.Spain reported fewer virus-related deaths and is poised to extend a nationwide lockdown. Curbs are also likely to remain in Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to improve in intensive care. Tighter measures in Germany probably won’t be necessary, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.Key Developments:Global cases top 1.5 million; deaths pass 89,900: Johns HopkinsSpain, Italy to extend lockdowns amid persistent rise in casesUBS, Credit Suisse will split payouts for 2019 into two installmentsSouth Korea’s CDC says virus may “reactivate” in cured patientsWorld economy faces $5 trillion hit, that’s like losing JapanMerkel Says Tighter Measures Likely Unnecessary (9:56 a.m. NY)Tighter measures to contain the coronavirus in Germany probably won’t be necessary as the slowing spread of the disease gives grounds for “cautious hope,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Thursday after a cabinet meeting.GE Sees Cash Flow Keeping Pace Despite Hit to Earnings (9:28 a.m. NY)General Electric Co. said its first-quarter cash flow will be in line with expectations even as the outbreak brings profit “materially below” its prior projection. GE withdrew its forecast for the full year.Canada’s Curve May Be Flattening (9:17 a.m. NY)Three weeks after the governments of Canada’s three most populous provinces told their 28.4 million residents to stay home, the measures appear to be working. The provinces, which have three-quarters of Canada’s people, have recorded just 1.2 deaths from Covid-19 per 100,000 residents. That compares with 32 for New York, 10 for Michigan and 6 for Washington.Canada’s coronavirus case count has been increasing slower than most countries, said Theresa Tam, the nation’s chief public health officer. The number doubles every three to five days. The government expects between 22,580 to 31,850 cases by April 16, which could mean 500 to 700 total deaths, Tam said.Morgan Stanley’s CEO Says He Had Virus, Now Recovered (9:10 a.m. NY)Gorman told staff he contracted coronavirus and has since recovered. He had flu-like symptoms last month and tested positive, he said in a message to the bank’s employees. Gorman was never hospitalized, self-isolated in his home and has been cleared by his doctor.Fed Announces Plan for Muni, Business Aid; Jobless Claims (8:43 a.m. NY)The steps announced include starting programs to aid small and mid-sized businesses, as well as state and local governments.A total of 6.61 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ended April 4, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. That exceeded a median forecast of 5.5 million.Deaths in Sweden Increase Amid Relatively Relaxed Stance (8:41 a.m. NY)Sweden reported 106 more virus-related deaths on Thursday, taking the total to 793, on par with the daily gains reported in the past week. The Nordic country is under scrutiny as it continues to experiment with a laxer policy response compared with the rest of Europe. Restaurants, shopping centers and primary schools all remain open in Scandinavia’s biggest economy. Deaths in Sweden continue to outpace its Nordic neighbors, which implemented stricter measures to curb the spread early on, and are now discussing how to lift them.U.S. Virus Fatalities Looking More Like 60,000, Fauci Says (8:10 a.m. NY)“I believe we are going to see a downturn” and projections look “more like the 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000,” National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Anthony Fauci said in response to an NBC interview question about virus fatality models. Fauci said he thinks the U.S. is starting to see a flattening of the curve in New York. “I don’t want to jump the gun on that but I think that is the case,” he said.Pfizer to Develop Vaccine by Year-End (8 a.m. NY)Pfizer and BioNTech said they will jointly develop a vaccine for Covid-19, potentially supplying millions of doses by the end of 2020. The two companies plan to jointly conduct the first clinical trials as early as the end of April, assuming regulatory clearance. Clinical trials for the vaccine candidates will initially be in the U.S. and Europe across multiple sites.Earlier, IBio jumped 25% in pre-market trading after reaching an agreement with the Infectious Disease Research Institute to support development of a vaccine for Covid-19. And Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding got an FDA “may proceed” letter to begin a Phase 2 trial of intranasal vazegepant to treat lung inflammation after COVID-19 infection.U.K. PM Johnson Continues to Improve (7:58 a.m. NY)“The prime minister had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care in St Thomas’ Hospital,” Boris Johnson’s spokesman James Slack told reporters. Johnson is “receiving standard oxygen treatment,” Slack said. U.K. officials are drawing up plans to extend the lockdown and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee at 3:30 p.m.World Hunger Could Double (7:56 a.m. NY)The number of people going hungry around the world could double in just a few months as the pandemic wreaks havoc on food supplies and hurts incomes, according to a group of major food companies, industry bodies and academics. The number of those suffering from chronic hunger may surge from about 800 million.Charity group Oxfam had earlier warned the economic hit from coronavirus threatens to put more than half a billion people into poverty unless countries take action to cushion the blow.Netherlands Reports Slowest Hospital Intake (7:50 a.m. NY)The Netherlands recorded 237 new hospital intakes, a 3% increase and marking the lowest daily gain since the outbreak began. Confirmed cases rose 6% to 21,762, while fatalities advanced 7% to a total of 2,396.London Delays Pollution Controls for Trucks (7:40 a.m. NY)London delayed the start of stricter pollution controls for trucks in the capital, because the pandemic has put too much pressure on supply chains. New minimum standards for freight are due to come into force in October with fines of as much as 550 pounds ($683) per day. Enforcement will be delayed for at least four months, Transport for London said. It’s already suspended other pollution and congestion charges for cars and van, to ensure deliveries can take place and for key workers to travel.Irish Unemployment Soars (7:20 a.m. NY)Irish unemployment may have risen to its highest level since 1988, in the latest sign of the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Unemployment rose to 16.5% last month if it is adjusted to include people receiving government support because of the coronavirus crisis, the Central Statistics Office said in a statement. The adjusted rate “should be considered as the upper bound for the true rate of unemployment,” it said.U.S. Poised to Pass Italy With Deadliest Outbreak (7:07 a.m. NY)The U.S. is on track for a grim milestone in the coming days -- passing Italy as the world’s epicenter of Covid-19 mortality. Deaths from the virus were at about 14,800 in the U.S. as of Thursday morning and still accelerating, while Italy had more than 17,600 fatalities and the pace was beginning to slow, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. has logged about 2,000 deaths each of the past two days, while in Italy, the number has hovered around 550 daily deaths.German Study Finds Virus in 15% of Hard-Hit Town (6 a.m. NY)The coronavirus probably infected 15% of people in Gangelt, a small town in the hard-hit rural German region of Heinsberg, researchers said in preliminary results after using antibody tests to sample a random portion of the population. On that basis, the case mortality rate in the town so far would be 0.37%, less than one-fifth of the mortality rate based on confirmed positive tests in Germany as a whole, the researchers said.The difference is because the antibody test picked up mild cases of the virus that had previously gone unnoticed. The researchers didn’t disclose how many lab-confirmed cases of the virus had previously been found in the 12,500-person town. In the Heinsberg region as a whole, less than 1% of the population has tested positive for the virus, and 44 patients have died, according to the Robert Koch Institute.Infections and Deaths in Spain Slow (6 a.m. NY)Spain reported fewer coronavirus deaths and new cases on Thursday in Europe’s second-most deadly outbreak of the disease. There were 5,756 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday, pushing the total above 150,000, according to Health Ministry data. The death toll rose by 683 to 15,238, a smaller gain than Wednesday’s 757.Iran also reported a decline in cases and fatalities. The health ministry reported 1,634 new cases, down from 1,997, and 117 deaths, down from 121. That brings the country’s total to 66,220 cases and 4,110 fatalities.India Steps Up Stringent Lockdown Measures (5:54 p.m. HK)India has further tightened lockdown measures and enhanced surveillance at hundreds of areas designated as virus hotspots, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the epidemic as a “social emergency.” Authorities have sealed settlements, lanes and apartment complexes in the financial capital Mumbai, as well as in Delhi and the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, allowing in only medical services, surveillance workers and those delivering food and other essential items.Botswana Quarantines Lawmakers (5:35 p.m. HK)Botswana is placing its entire cabinet and members of parliament in quarantine after a health worker screening lawmakers for coronavirus was found to be infected. All lawmakers, as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi, will go into quarantine on Thursday.KLM, Philips Set Up China Airlink (5:20 p.m. HK)Air France-KLM will start a temporary airlink to China with support from Royal Philips NV and the Dutch government to increase the transport capacity of medical equipment and other supplies between China, Europe, and the U.S. KLM will temporarily return two Boeing 747s which it phased out last month to operate five weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai from its base at Amsterdam Schiphol.The first flight is set to take of on April 13, and add to the “skeleton operation” Air France-KLM announced earlier today, which includes regular cargo flights to destinations around the world, including the U.S. The operations are expected to remain in place for six to eight weeks.Indonesia Reports Highest One-Day Virus Deaths (5:10 p.m. HK)Indonesia reported the largest number of deaths in a single day since the outbreak and new confirmed cases continued to climb in the world’s fourth-most populous nation. The death toll jumped to 280 with 40 more fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, while the number of new cases surged by 337, the highest since the country reported its first case in early March, taking total infections to 3,293.Italian Cabinet Meets (4:45 p.m. HK)Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was set to hold a cabinet meeting at 11 a.m. in Rome. La Stampa reported earlier that the government plans to extend its lockdown by two weeks as scientists warn Conte that it’s too early to relax confinement measures,. The government will approve a decree on Friday to extend the closures beyond the current April 13 expiration date, the newspaper said.Conte told BBC the country may start easing the lockdown by the end of the month. If scientists confirm that Italy can start a gradual return to activity, “we might begin to relax some measures by the end of this month,” he said. Italian steelmakers are in talks with the government to restart at reduced capacity in the coming weeks.Luxembourg to Start Mass Testing (4:30 p.m. HK)Luxembourg will become the first EU country to start mass testing its citizens, regardless of whether they show coronavirus symptoms or not. The move is important, as mass testing to isolate carriers and prevent new surges is a condition for the lifting of restrictions on movement, according to a draft “exit strategy” memo by the European Commission, seen by Bloomberg.The tiny Grand Duchy, which has one of the highest infection rates in the world in its population of just over 600,000, will this week start a new series of tests to evaluate “the dynamics of the spread” among citizens. The project will consist of 1,500 tests first on a sample of people over the age of 18 and follow-up tests will then be done only on those that are asymptomatic and show mild symptoms, the nation’s health ministry said. The tests could provide the first comprehensive data on herd immunity.EU Agency Recommends Use of Face Masks (4:15 p.m. HK)The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control now recommends the widespread use of face masks to reduce the spread of the infection. While face protection is seen only complementary to other measures, such as social distancing and personal hygiene, “the use of face masks in the community could be considered, especially when visiting busy, closed spaces, such as grocery stores, shopping centers, or when using public transport,” according to the EU agency.The debate over whether face masks can help contain the spread of Covid-19 is shifting quickly, with more countries requiring citizens to cover their faces in public.Dubai Freezes Hiring, New Projects (4 p.m. HK)Dubai’s government is freezing all hiring and cutting administrative spending by at least 20% across departments as the coronavirus pandemic squeezes state revenue. The emirate’s Department of Finance also ordered a 50% reduction in capital spending and a delay to new government construction projects until further notice, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.China Says Accusations It Covered Up Virus are Groundless (3:52 p.m. HK)Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that the World Health Organization had upheld the nation’s objective and science-based position.Russia Cases Jump Again (3:50 p.m. HK)Russia reported 1,459 new cases, up 17%, taking its total to 10,131. This is the country’s biggest daily jump yet, and Russia has now reported more than 1,000 cases for three straight days. Total deaths rose by 13 to 76.Tokyo Finds at Least 180 New Cases (3:46 p.m. HK)Tokyo found at least 180 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number yet in a single day, FNN reported in a flash headline, without attribution. NTV later reported the number at 181.Sweden Hits Back at Trump’s ‘Herd Immunity’ Criticism (3:44 p.m. HK)“He has used a factual error,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with TV4. Her comments follow Trump’s remarks a day earlier when he told reporters that Sweden is trying to achieve “herd immunity” and “is suffering greatly” from not doing enough.The Nordic country is under intense scrutiny as it continues to experiment with a laxer policy response to the virus despite an accelerating death toll. Restaurants, shopping centers and primary schools all remain open in Scandinavia’s biggest economy.Goldman Sees Virus Causing $75 Billion Funding Hole in Africa (3:28 p.m. HK)“Possibly the most severe impact of the crisis will be on already stretched fiscal balances,” Dylan Smith and Andrew Matheny, Goldman’s economists in London, said in a note. “Budget deficits would likely rise from an average of around 3.5% to high single digits, even before any loosening to soften the economic effects of the corona-crisis.”Earlier, the World Bank said Sub-Saharan Africa will post its first recession in 25 years as the coronavirus pandemic brings economies to a halt and disrupts global trade.U.K. Economy Shrinks (2:57 p.m. HK)The U.K. economy unexpectedly contracted in February, putting it on an unsteady footing even before the nation imposed more stringent restrictions to contain the coronavirus. GDP fell 0.1% from January, with the downturn driven by a huge drop in construction, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday.The government signaled plans to borrow directly from the Bank of England, easing the pressure to immediately sell bonds for the billions it needs to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury said Thursday that it’s increasing the long-standing “Ways and Means facility,” a short-term overdraft that it can use if needed to smooth its cash flow and support the functioning of markets.UBS, Credit Suisse Delay Dividends (2:00 p.m. HK)Switzerland’s two biggest banks proposed pushing back dividend payments as the spreading coronavirus roils markets and upends businesses.Credit Suisse Group AG said on Thursday its board proposes to pay half of its 2019 dividend and intends to distribute the rest in the fall of this year. UBS Group AG, meanwhile, has proposed shareholders approve the bank’s previously announced dividend of $0.73 for the 2019 financial year be paid in two installments, according to an emailed statement.Investors in British-listed companies could lose as much as half of their dividend income this year, according to a report from Link Group. More than a fifth of companies on the European benchmark Stoxx 600 Index have canceled or postponed dividends in recent weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- There has been concern for months in Silicon Valley that the eventual Democratic presidential candidate would be someone who wanted to break up large technology companies. Bernie Sanders’s decision Wednesday to end his campaign effectively ends that scenario, leaving a presumptive nominee—former vice president Joe Biden—who is comparatively content with the way Silicon Valley does business.The turn in the primary race corresponds with an upheaval in political priorities due to the Covid-19 crisis. It’s still uncertain how the aftermath of the pandemic will play out, but the political landscape the industry faces in 2020 has almost certainly been transformed over the last six weeks.The primary process first took a hostile turn to the tech industry last spring when Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a plan to force Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. to spin off parts of their businesses. Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, later said he would “absolutely” aim to break up large technology companies if elected. At the same time, multiple investigations into allegations of anticompetitive behavior from large technology companies were accelerating.For his part, Biden has called it “premature” to call for breaking up companies like Facebook. The former vice president has criticized tech companies and their leaders, particularly Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, telling the New York Times editorial board that he had “never been a big Zuckerberg fan.” In the same interview, Biden suggested revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law protecting tech companies from legal liability for what their users post. The industry has made defending the law one of its top political priorities.But Biden’s attacks have never provoked the concerns as those from Sanders and Warren. He has deep ties to the tech industry; his former director of communications, Jay Carney, is now Amazon’s top spokesman. Biden has also repeatedly framed his administration as a continuation of the Obama years, and several former Obama officials have set up shop in Silicon Valley.While the tech industry rank-and-file mostly donated to the industry’s antagonists, its executives seemed most excited about younger moderates Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker. Biden is a happy consolation prize.An open question is who Biden surrounds himself with now that he seems to have locked up the nomination. Neither Warren nor Sanders has endorsed him, and may hold out to push Biden to pick staff supporting their priorities.The anti-tech momentum may also fade because of the coronavirus pandemic. While state and federal antitrust investigations will continue, new antitrust rules will likely take a back seat to more economic rescue legislation. Tech services seem even more vital when large swaths of the population are confined to their houses. And Google, Facebook, Apple Inc., and others have been quick to offer help in various ways.President Donald Trump has been vocally critical of technology companies, and he’s widely unpopular among tech workers. He has regularly called for crackdowns on social media companies and other perceived enemies in the industry. But his top policy achievement, a major corporate tax cut, helped send tech stock prices soaring. (They have since come back down after coronavirus fears have sunk the entire market.) Trump has also seemed to pick favorites among the tech sector, cozying up to Oracle Corp. and Apple, while repeatedly criticizing Amazon and Facebook.Silicon Valley voters generally lean Democratic. But it’s even harder than usual to predict what the upcoming election will look like. Even basic questions about the mechanics of voting remain unresolved. But for now, the things the tech industry was worried about at the beginning of this year seem like a distant memory.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Turkey is preparing to take new steps to alleviate the damage to its labor market from restrictions imposed during the coronavirus outbreak, offering relief to workers that was immediately criticized as insufficient.The government will ban layoffs for three months and provide a daily stipend of almost 40 liras ($5.8) to people who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits and lost their jobs after March 15, NTV reported Wednesday, citing a draft law proposal by the ruling AK Party. The proposal grants President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the right to extend the ban by up to six months, NTV said.Keeping unemployment in check is among the urgent challenges facing an economy Morgan Stanley says is the most heavily affected by the pandemic across countries in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The non-farm jobless rate was 15.8% in the three months to January, according to the latest official data.The package of support soon came under withering attack. Arzu Cerkezoglu, head of the labor confederation DISK, described it as a “freakish unpaid-leave policy.”Commenting on Twitter, Cerkezoglu said the monthly payment to workers who will be sent on unpaid leave under the proposal would amount to 1,177 liras, almost a quarter of what they could get under the government’s short-term employment allowance program. “Workers should be paid at least the minimum wage,” she said.Turkey reported 87 new coronavirus fatalities Wednesday, bringing the death toll from the outbreak to 812, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.The number of confirmed cases rose 12.1% from Tuesday to 38,226. Turkey screened 24,900 people over the past 24 hours with 4,117 testing positive for the virus, the minister said.Surge in Turkey’s New Coronavirus Cases a Concern, WHO SaysBelow are highlights of data compiled by Bloomberg on the outbreak in Turkey:Total cases rose 12.1% on Wednesday, compared to an all-time low of 11.6% on MondayThe percentage of people who tested positive during screening was 16.5% on WednesdayThe number of total tests administered during the first 30 days of the outbreak reached 247,768. The daily number will reach 30,000 from next week, Koca saidPolicy makers have gradually increased restrictions on people’s mobility since the first case was confirmed March 10. The government has announced a lockdown for young and elderly people, suspended air transportation and limited movement in and out of more than 30 cities, including Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.Erdogan unveiled a 100-billion-lira package to mitigate the economic fallout, including cheaper credit and tax deferrals for businesses. Morgan Stanley now sees Turkey’s gross domestic product contracting 3.6% this year, followed by a gain of 5% in 2021.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has escalated tensions in the White House with a swift series of staff changes that have drawn complaints from some in the West Wing about his management style, according to people familiar with the matter.Trump changed his top aide last month just as the U.S. coronavirus outbreak began to accelerate. After a slow start -- Meadows didn’t resign his North Carolina House seat until the end of March -- the new chief of staff kicked off his tenure by ousting a top legislative liaison last week and then, on Monday, replacing the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.Meadows brought in Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany as press secretary and also installed two loyalists in the communications operation, Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah and his top congressional aide, Ben Williamson.Other aides may depart in the near future, including the chief of domestic policy, Joe Grogan, according to two people familiar with the matter.Meadows has also gotten involved in the administration’s coronavirus response, calling Republican governors who have held out against issuing stay-at-home orders in their states to ask them to implement the policies immediately, according to two people familiar with the calls. The president has said such decisions are up to state leaders and has not publicly criticized those who decline, who are all Republicans.It is typical for chiefs of staff to make changes and hire familiar faces upon entering the White House, but the turnover has been more frequent under Trump because he is on his fourth chief in less than four full years as president.Meadows has demonstrated a firm grip on the issues and is working to ensure that everyone at the White House is carrying out the president’s agenda, according to one senior administration official. Meadows didn’t respond to a request for comment.Mid-Crisis ChangesThe White House was already on its heels as Trump confronts the coronavirus outbreak, which has collapsed the U.S. economy and swiftly become both the greatest crisis of his presidency and a severe threat to his re-election in November.Meadows’s moves -- especially Grisham’s replacement, which she and her staff learned was under consideration in a report last week by Axios -- have suddenly dialed up tension in a building that has long been riven by infighting, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.Meadows told Grisham over the weekend he wanted her to give up the press secretary position and serve only as the White House communications director. She declined, according to two people familiar with the matter.Grisham has a powerful advocate in the White House: first lady Melania Trump, who promptly brought the ousted press secretary back to the East Wing as her personal chief of staff. The only formal announcement about the staff changes on Tuesday came from the first lady’s office, which some of the people suggested was a sign of her displeasure.All of the people asked not to be identified discussing internal White House tension. The White House formally announced the new communications hires Wednesday in a brief, 84-word statement.Top aides still have confidence in Meadows and are trying to work with him. But there is concern that he hasn’t spent time getting to know how the West Wing works before making aggressive changes, the people said.Meadows pushed out other aides ahead of Grisham. He told people he believed Jessica Ditto, who had worked for Trump since the 2016 campaign, wasn’t a team player and she later decided to resign, according to two people familiar with the situation. Mike McKenna, a deputy to legislative director Eric Ueland, also resigned last week, and it is unclear how long Ueland will remain in the White House under Meadows.Ditto had been the primary White House spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump, who called her “talented, smart, driven and a joy to know” in a statement after she resigned.Virus CallsThe moves have damaged morale inside the West Wing, as staff have begun to fear the possibility of a broader shakeup. Some aides have come to Meadows with recommendations about which staffers he should oust, further raising anxiety, according to one person familiar with the interactions.Meadows’s immediate predecessor, Mick Mulvaney, had lost Trump’s confidence and was barely involved in the coronavirus response effort before he was pushed out of his job last month. But while Mulvaney had internal foes, he was regarded as promoting a more collegial atmosphere inside a West Wing known for its knife-fighting.The new chief of staff, by comparison, has jumped into some of the touchiest debates in the coronavirus crisis.In a White House meeting on Monday, Meadows sided with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar against Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, according to people familiar with the situation. Azar wanted to provide $30 billion in grants to health-care systems; Verma wanted to provide $34 billion in loans. Verma announced both the grants and loans at a White House news conference on Tuesday.Azar and Verma have had a contentious relationship with multiple policy disagreements, to the point that Vice President Mike Pence instructed them in a December meeting to get along. HHS declined to comment on the Meadows meeting and CMS didn’t respond to a request for comment.Meadows has also tried to persuade a group of holdout Republican governors that they should issue shelter-in-place orders to help curb the coronavirus outbreak. It isn’t clear if the new chief of staff has Trump’s blessing for the calls. The president has publicly said it is up to governors and local leaders to decide whether stay-at-home orders are appropriate and has declined to criticize the holdouts, all of whom are his political allies.The governor of one of the holdout states, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, tweeted Wednesday that she’d spoken with Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is a top medical adviser to the president. “Thankfully, he AGREES that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the answer in our state,” Noem wrote.The tweet, according to one person familiar with the matter, was read by some as a signal to Meadows.(Adds Ivanka Trump statement on Ditto in 15th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Senator Kelly Loeffler said Wednesday she and her husband are liquidating their investment portfolio following criticism of their sales and purchases of millions of dollars worth of stocks amid the coronavirus outbreak.The Georgia Republican, who is running to keep her Senate seat in a Nov. 3 nonpartisan primary, announced in a Wall Street Journal opinion-page article that the couple’s stock holdings will be converted to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds to be controlled by third-party advisers.She and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, have a net worth estimated at more than $500 million.“While the American people are enduring the impact of Covid-19, I have become a top target of baseless attacks from political adversaries and the media,” wrote Loeffler in the article headlined “I Never Traded on Confidential Coronavirus Information.”In an effort to move on past “these distractions,” said Loeffler, she and her husband’s holdings would be converted.Loeffler was appointed in December by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to finish the term of Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired.Loeffler has been criticized about her sales and purchases of stocks following government briefings to Congress on the virus. She and her husband sold $46,027 worth of stock in an online travel company in the day leading up to President Donald Trump’s announcement of a ban on most European travel to the U.S. They had purchased that stock just days earlier.Some stock sales by another senator, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, have prompted a government inquiry.In a press release Wednesday, Loeffler’s Senate campaign said her investments are managed by third-party money-managing advisers at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Sepio Capital, and Wells Fargo. Loeffler had previously refused to identify her advisers.“These professionals buy, sell and option stocks on behalf of Senator Loeffler and her husband,” the campaign release stated. “Neither Senator Loeffler nor her husband directed trading in these accounts.”Primary ChallengersLoeffler is also quoted as saying she and her husband put the arrangement in place to insulate themselves “from these sorts of unfounded accusations.”She faces several challengers in Georgia’s Nov. 3 primary for her Senate seat from Representative Doug Collins, a fellow Republican, as well as three Democrats, a Libertarian and an independent.If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two will be in a runoff likely in January.Collins has raised the controversy over Loeffler’s stock trades in his campaign. His campaign spokesman Dan McLagan said in an email Wednesday regarding her move, “This is essentially a guilty plea, and Georgians who just saw their retirement plans crater while she profited are not going to agree to the plea deal.”“Same advisers, different funds and no blind trust? We’re not buying it,” McLagan said.Helen Kalla, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement, “Nothing can undo the damage that’s already been done with voters who have no reason to trust anything she says or does in public office.”(Adds Democratic group’s statement in last paragraph; an earlier version corrected ‘billion’ to ‘million’ in third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Morgan Stanley (MS) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
Cathay (CATY) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
With coronavirus wrecking air-travel, the likes of Alaska Air (ALK) and American Airlines (AAL) trim their respective flight schedules.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. banks, facing criticism for prioritizing existing customers over new ones who are seeking coronavirus rescue loans, put the blame on federal rules meant to catch terrorists and money launderers.The lenders, who have been getting beaten up by small businesses and lawmakers alike, have urged a little-known agency charged with monitoring suspicious financial transactions for relief from the stringent regulations. But their requests have gone unheeded for now.The issue is just one of a number of problems that have surfaced during the rollout of the $350 billion Small Business Administration lending program that began last week. If left unresolved it could cause a major logjam in the effort, which the Trump administration has demanded move quickly to get cash to hundreds of thousands of companies teetering on the edge of closure.“Small businesses and policy makers should understand that a primary reason most banks will be extending these loans only to existing customers is because the anti-money laundering process is so onerous and time-consuming,” said Greg Baer, president of the Bank Policy Institute, a Washington-based trade group for lenders that has been working closely with the Treasury Department and SBA. “Banks large and small have urgently sought relief from these requirements from day one, to no avail.”Bad RecipeTo underscore its point, the industry estimates that even the initial steps of processing a new borrower’s application can add as much as two hours of work. And then verifying that the customer’s information is legitimate can take a month or longer. Bankers say it’s hardly a recipe for rapidly getting rescue funds out the door.For borrowers, there’s a risk that much of the billions -- available on a first-come, first-served basis -- will be gone by the time their requests go through. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that “we will be running out of money very quickly” and that he has asked Congress to add another $250 billion by the end of the week.The target of banks’ ire is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. Tensions between the industry and the agency aren’t new, as lenders have long lobbied Congress to roll back some of its rules, many of which were put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Coronavirus is giving firms a fresh opening to argue that FinCEN should be reined in.A FinCEN spokesman pointed to a statement on the agency’s website that says it is “committed to promoting the success” of the new stimulus law, “including the need to facilitate expeditious disbursal” of funds. FinCEN plans to issue additional guidance as the law is rolled out and questions arise, the statement added.Still KinksThe SBA loan program, a crucial aspect of the government’s response to the virus-fueled crisis, is still a work in progress. Treasury issued guidelines for participating banks only last Thursday, the night before they were slated to begin processing loans. That in turn caused a number of banks, including some of the biggest like Wells Fargo & Co., to say they couldn’t immediately participate.One major bank that did, Bank of America Corp., drew public scorn for saying it was first processing applications from existing clients. It was even sued over the decision last week.In a Tuesday call between Trump and bank leaders, Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said his firm is “prioritizing our work to make sure we serve the clients who have a relationship with us.”“That is keeping us plenty busy but we’re hear to continue to support this effort,” Moynihan added.A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit filed against the company. He said the lender has received some 250,000 applications seeking $40 billion, as of Tuesday evening.Lawmakers AngrySome members of Congress have also expressed frustration over who’s getting funds. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has flagged reports that banks were only lending to customers who had a credit card or had previously taken out a loan. Maryland lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, urged Treasury in a Tuesday letter to insist that applicants not be required to have existing relationships with banks.Bankers said they had repeatedly warned the Trump administration that money-laundering rules would lead to problems with the so-called Paycheck Protection Program. Still, some firms said they were surprised that FinCEN has been so unresponsive to their concerns because it resides within Treasury, which has been the epicenter of the government rescue effort. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, they said, has been very willing to cut red tape and address issues lenders have had that could slow down payouts.A Treasury spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.FinCEN RulesFinCEN regulations impose tough know-your-customer requirements that force banks to be able to verify clients’ identities. For people, that often entails providing information like a driver’s license and Social Security number.The process is more complex for businesses. Banks must check the identity of each person who owns more than 25% of the company, as well as any person that has control of its operations. That involves getting corporate documents as well as the standard information for individuals.The industry says obtaining these details can add between 40 minutes and 120 minutes to the application intake process. And, depending on the complexity of the business’s ownership, it can require up to 30 more days for verification.Adding to the problems: both banks and small business customers are now working remotely because of the virus. Often, applications with smaller clients are done in person at branch offices.Banks’ RequestTo speed things up, the banks have asked FinCEN to let them collect the customer information and verify it after the loan application is processed. That would allow lenders to significantly cut the delays facing borrowers who don’t already have documents on file with a bank.Though FinCEN hasn’t granted the request, it did provide some relief in another area. The agency issued guidance stipulating that banks providing the SBA loans don’t need to re-verify existing clients. Still, that doesn’t help with new customers.Though analysts say there could be a significant amount of fraud in the SBA lending program, especially since banks aren’t required to vet a borrowers’ small business credentials, few think the loans will used to finance terrorism -- a prime target of FinCen’s rules.Delaying ReliefAaron Klein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who worked at Treasury in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, said well-intentioned regulations shouldn’t stand in the way of companies getting cash quickly.“Delaying emergency relief to America’s small businesses in order to check for money laundering is counter to the spirit of the law and the well being of the nation,” he said.(Updates with comment from Bank of America’s Moynihan in 11th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG and Haitong International Securities Group were among the biggest participants in a series of margin loans to Luckin Coffee Inc.’s founder before accounting fraud allegations at the Chinese company triggered a collapse in the stock and caused him to default, a person with knowledge of the matter said.The banks were part of a group that extended margin debt to Luckin Chairman Lu Zhengyao across three funding rounds, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. Haitong put up $140 million, while Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse lent about $100 million each, the person said. Barclays Plc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and China International Capital Corp. also had smaller exposures, the person said, adding that a portion of the loans were repaid before the default.Goldman Sachs said in a statement on Monday that an entity controlled by Lu’s family trust reneged on $518 million of margin debt and that lenders had seized as many as 76.4 million Luckin shares. The stake was worth about $335 million based on the closing price Monday, down from more than $2 billion before the scandal emerged. It’s unclear whether the banks have sold the shares or whether they’ll be forced to book losses on their loans. Goldman, which didn’t elaborate on individual banks’ exposures, was given the role of handling the share disposal.Barclays’ and Goldman’s exposure to the margin loan was about $70 million each, people familiar with the matter said.Haitong International didn’t respond to emailed questions from Bloomberg News, while the rest of the banks declined to comment.Luckin, the biggest challenger to Starbucks Corp. in China, has lost $5.5 billion of market value since last week after saying its chief operating officer and some of its employees may have fabricated billions of yuan in sales, upending what was supposed to be one of the country’s best growth stories.The episode has dealt another blow to banks that worked closely with Luckin on its expansion over the past years, including arranging its initial public offering. Credit Suisse, which also led a group raising convertible debt for the coffee chain, has been sued over its role in Luckin’s U.S. share sale.Shares of CICC and Haitong International, which also helped underwrite Luckin’s IPO, fell more than 4% in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Trading in Luckin’s stock was suspended in New York.Goldman Sachs said lenders have full recourse to claim money back from Lu and his spouse, but it’s unclear whether the couple still has enough assets to make up for any potential shortfall. The scandal has erased most of Lu’s wealth, knocking him out of the ranks of China’s billionaires.(Adds exposure of Goldman in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. is in talks with investors to take on as much as $1 billion in additional debt after announcing a $1 billion debt and equity deal Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.The travel platform company announced Monday that it was raising $1 billion in debt and equity from Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners. The company has held discussions about raising $500 million to $1 billion more by either issuing first-lien debt, which would give its holders priority in case of a default, or a convertible note or selling an equity stake, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information wasn’t public.The additional funds would give Airbnb an extra financial cushion as prospects dim for an initial public offering this year. The money could help Airbnb weather the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic without going public, and could also allow the company to make acquisitions, a strategy it has been weighing, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg last month.Airbnb hasn’t disclosed the terms of its deal with Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners. People familiar with the matter have said that the transaction was comprised of second lien debt, along with warrants for about 1% of the company’s equity. The warrants give Airbnb an $18 billion valuation, one of the people said. That compares with a value earlier of $31 billion.In March the world’s biggest home-sharing company posted a fourth-quarter loss of $276.4 million excluding interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with a loss of $143.7 million a year earlier, according to a person familiar with the company’s accounts.Monday’s deal carried an 11% to 12% interest rate, the people said. The investment doesn’t entitle the investors to a seat on Airbnb’s board of directors, one of the people said.Raising second lien debt, means that Airbnb has room to take on more senior debt, which it is considering. The company could also raise a convertible note or equity instead, the people said.As the home-sharing company raises debt, it is canceling a $1 billion credit facility with several banks that is administered by Bank of America Corp. Those banks include Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., both of which advised on the Silver Lake-Sixth Street transaction, one of the people said. A representative for Bank of America declined to comment.The deal announced Monday was meant to help the home-sharing company make it through the pandemic that is devastating the global travel industry, Airbnb said in a statement.“The new resources will support Airbnb’s ongoing work to invest over the long term in its community of hosts who share their homes and experiences, as well as the work to serve all stakeholders in the Airbnb community,” the company said.(Updates with details about fundraising talks starting in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Some on Wall Street are bridling at stay-at-home orders when they would rather see employees in the office, pandemic notwithstanding. As New York City suffers a ghastly death toll and even after their Manhattan headquarters saw 16 people infected on one trading floor, JPMorgan managers have nevertheless been making plans to get workers back to their desks.Bloomberg is mapping the pandemic globally and across America. For the latest news, sign up for our Covid-19 podcast and daily newsletter.Here are today’s top storiesNew York State, ground zero for America’s coronavirus outbreak, recorded 731 deaths in one 24-hour period, its highest daily loss of life yet. Infections, however, fell for a third straight day. There are 384,000 recorded cases and more than 12,000 dead from the coronavirus in the U.S. alone. Globally, there are 1.4 million cases and 81,000 dead.Today’s Wisconsin primary is a key contest, one in which former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to deal a knockout blow to rival Senator Bernie Sanders. Democrats sought to delay the vote and extend absentee balloting, to both protect voters from Covid-19 and because some 12,000 ballots had yet to be received by voters. But the Republican-controlled state legislature, along with Republican-appointed majorities of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court, decided in-person voting couldn’t be postponed and that there would be no extensions for submitting absentee ballots. Voting rights experts said the changes effectively disenfranchised thousands of voters who didn’t want to risk contagion. At the few polls that were open Tuesday, voters who did show up waited in line for hours. There are at least 2,511 Covid-19 cases in Wisconsin, and 85 have people have died. Senator Sanders said that holding the election today “ may very well prove deadly.”While the U.S. has arguably become one of the worst examples of how to stop the spread of the coronavirus, New Zealand is turning out to be one of the best. Several weeks after the pandemic struck America in earnest, some hospitals remain under siege and short of supplies. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said in an interview that the White House is “playing politics” with medical supplies by sending more equipment and protective gear to Republican-leaning states, and less to hard-hit Democratic-leaning states like hers.Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who has vigorously defended a malaria drug touted by the president as a Covid-19 treatment (despite a lack of conclusive medical evidence), warned Trump in January of the catastrophic potential of the outbreak. The New York Times also reported that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, is made by companies in which Trump and his allies have a financial stake.Trump fired another inspector general, this one responsible for overseeing how $2 trillion in taxpayer dollars will be spent on rescuing the U.S. economy. Additionally, the Treasury is seeking another $250 billion for small businesses.While much of the world is trying to slow greenhouse gas emissions, it turns out more methane was spewed into the atmosphere last year than at almost any other time in the past 20 years. What’s Joe Weisenthal thinking about? The Bloomberg news director says the so-called war bond proposal by a Trump adviser is the diametric opposite of what the U.S. needs to help pay for the massive surge in spending on fighting Covid-19. Not only would this be unnecessary, Joe says, but it would be harmful. War bonds, typically associated with World War I and World War II, weren’t just a way of funding the war effort, but also designed to encourage savings. Because the cost of war led to a massive surge in private-sector income, a rise in domestic spending would have been counterproductive. As much as possible, the government needed the industrial capacity of the nation going towards munitions for the war effort. Any increase in spending would lead to a competition for real resources between the end-consumer and the government, which needed factories to churn out goods to fight the war. Joe says this is the exact opposite of the current crisis: Private sector income is collapsing. The last thing the government should do is launch some big patriotic-themed effort aimed at getting people to spend less money on goods and services.What you’ll need to know tomorrowNavy secretary who fired, insulted aircraft carrier captain has quit. U.K.: Johnson still in the ICU and Covid-19 test kits don’t work. Who is Dominic Raab, Johnson’s stand-in while he’s sick? U.S. mortgage borrowers are beginning to skip payments. Billionaire who wrote off 2020 says the worst is yet to come. Good news for the Waltons: Walmart is making tons of money. A taste of winter returns to the U.S. next week.What you’ll want to read tonight in BusinessweekBy 2018, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom increasingly found himself having to satisfy the concerns of his parent company, Facebook, and its boss, Mark Zuckerberg. Under near-constant attack for, among other things, abusing private user data, allowing live broadcasts of murders and suicides and turning a blind eye to Russia’s use of his platform in an attempt to tilt the 2016 election, Zuckerberg was jealous of his wildly popular subsidiary. It looked too much like a rival.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. senators including Elizabeth Warren, the onetime presidential candidate, are pushing for details from Deutsche Bank AG about contacts with the family business of President Donald Trump, which has asked the German lender for leniency on some of its loans.Contact between the lender and the Trump Organization raises “troubling new concerns about the extent to which Deutsche Bank holds financial leverage over the president,” and whether administration officials would offer “regulatory favors” as enticement, the four senators wrote in a letter released by Warren’s office. The president’s sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., criticized the lawmakers for sending the letter during a worldwide pandemic.Trump Organization representatives reached out to Deutsche Bank’s private-banking unit in New York late last month as the coronavirus pandemic forces widespread disruptions to the economy, according to a person familiar with the matter. The talks are ongoing, the New York Times has reported.“The American public has a right to know if Deutsche Bank is providing special financial favors to the president or his family’s company so that they can determine if these favors are affecting Trump administration policy as it relates to Deutsche Bank,” the senators wrote. Signing the letter with Warren were senators Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Chris Van Hollen, all Democrats.They asked the bank to provide details of contacts between the firm and the Trump Organization, including dates, who was involved and what was discussed. The lawmakers requested the same information regarding Kushner Cos., the real estate enterprise run by the Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who’s also a senior adviser to the president. Emailed requests for comment to the Trump Organization and Kushner Cos. weren’t immediately returned.Troy Gravitt, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, said the bank has received the letter and is reviewing it. “We remain committed to cooperating with authorized investigations,” he said in an emailed statement.“This is the very definition of tone deaf,” Trump’s sons said Tuesday in a statement. “The world is in the midst of one of the worst crises in history. The entire country is under lockdown, millions of jobs have been lost and people cannot even go to the supermarket.” They added, “The American people see through their endless partisan politics.”The lawmakers asked specifically if any changes to loan deals were discussed or agreed upon and how those deals compare to offers the bank is making to other companies. And they want to know if anyone from the firm had contact with Trump or anyone in the executive branch about “any legislative, regulatory, or enforcement matter relating to Deutsche Bank.”“Favor-seeking from the Trump Organization in the midst of the economic collapse raises the questions of whether Deutsche Bank may treat the Trump Organization more favorably than other similarly situated companies, and whether President Trump or other administration officials may be inclined to either provide regulatory favors to Deutsche Bank in exchange for this beneficence or punish Deutsche Bank if it chooses not to engage in financial favoritism,” the senators wrote.Deutsche Bank’s loans to Trump have included money for a Florida golf resort, a hotel in Washington, D.C., and a Chicago tower. The firm’s leaders in late 2016 were so concerned about the potential public-relations impact if the Trump Organization were to default that they discussed extending repayment dates until after the end of a potential second term in 2025. They decided against the idea, choosing not to engage in new business with Trump while he’s in office.The loans, negotiated between 2012 and 2015, include a personal guarantee from Trump. That would put the German lender in the position of potentially having to collect from a sitting president in case of a default.(Updates with statement from Trump’s sons in second, seventh paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is replacing his press secretary Stephanie Grisham with Kayleigh McEnany, the top spokeswoman for his campaign, as the White House reshuffles its communications operation in the midst of a pandemic.The shake-up is driven by Trump’s new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, with people close to the former North Carolina congressman assuming top communications jobs in the White House.A Meadows aide, Ben Williamson, will become a senior communications adviser, and the Defense Department spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, will be detailed to the White House as strategic communications director, according to people familiar with the matter. The principal deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, will remain in his job, two of the people said.The people asked not to be identified because the moves haven’t been publicly announced. The White House press office declined to comment on the appointments.Grisham was the first and only press secretary in modern presidential history never to brief reporters. She only occasionally fielded questions on television networks friendly to the White House.She will also step down as communications director, a role she filled in addition to press secretary. She’ll take on a less prominent role as Melania Trump’s chief of staff, replacing Lindsay Reynolds, who left this week to spend more time with her family, according to a statement from the first lady.The president himself had recently asked aides and others close to him for their views on Grisham’s efficacy, according to people familiar with the matter. Meadows had also been dissatisfied with the White House’s press and communications operations, according to a person familiar with the matter.“We’ve done a poor job on press relationships,” Trump said at a March 17 press conference on the administration’s coronavirus response. “I guess I don’t know who to blame for that.”Crisis MovesTwo deputy press secretaries, Judd Deere and Steven Groves, will also remain in their positions, the people said.Grisham’s departure comes as Trump confronts the biggest crisis of his presidency: the coronavirus outbreak that his health experts have projected may kill more than 100,000 Americans while cratering the economy. The president has given daily televised briefings on the virus while Grisham has largely remained out of public view.Grisham was serving in more roles than traditional press secretaries, also acting as communications director and spokeswoman for the first lady. Her departure follows those of Jessica Ditto and Adam Kennedy, two longtime Trump aides who together essentially ran the administration’s communications department.Trump appointed Meadows last month to replace Mick Mulvaney. Neither chief of staff has been prominently involved in the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.McEnany, 31, is viewed as a Trump loyalist and senior officials believe her extensive television background will help her in her new role as chief White House spokeswoman.But some of her on-air comments have also drawn scrutiny. During a March 11 appearance on Fox Business Network, McEnany defended the Trump campaign’s reluctance to cancel rallies even though Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders scrapped theirs.“Look, the president is the best authority on this issue ... Right now, we are proceeding as normal,” McEnany said, while accusing Biden of “looking for an excuse to get off the campaign trail.”Trump began canceling campaign events the following day.Grisham’s rise to the position of press secretary -- a job that comes not only with one of the largest offices in the West Wing, but one of the highest profiles in the White House -- was remarkably meteoric.During the 2016 presidential campaign, Grisham worked as a press wrangler, herding reporters around campaign events. She was hired from Arizona where she had worked as a spokeswoman for the statehouse’s Republican majority – and precipitated a major flap when she sought to revoke the press credentials of a reporter who had written critically about state House Speaker David Gowan.The effort ultimately failed, as did Grisham’s effort last year to revoke the White House press credential of a Playboy reporter who engaged in a shorting match with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka during an event in the Rose Garden. A federal judge blocked the administration’s bid to suspend the pass.Before her work in Republican politics, Grisham did public affairs work for the AAA auto club of Arizona and an online service called GarageFly. The New York Times reported that she left the first job amid accusations she filed false travel expense claims and the second after a plagiarism accusation. Grisham was also twice arrested for driving under the influence during her time in Arizona.But those incidents did little to stop her rise within the White House, where she parlayed a close relationship with Melania Trump into a job leading East Wing press relations and increasing influence. When former press secretary Sarah Sanders decided to depart the administration to return home to Arkansas – where she’s writing a book and pondering a run for governor – the president selected Grisham to take over the job.Briefing ReluctanceGrisham’s reluctance to hold press briefings was seen by some in the White House as an effort to stave off a potentially embarrassing policy gaffe as she pivoted into a job with a far more expansive portfolio than she handled in the first lady’s office, and a desire to allow the president to defend himself directly during the contentious impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. But by January, her absence from the podium prompted an open letter signed by seven former press secretaries spanning each of the past three administrations calling on Grisham to restore regular briefings.Grisham dismissed the letter as “groupthink at its finest” in a statement to Axios and said press complaints over her absence were motivated by White House reporters who “can’t grandstand on TV.”It wasn’t the only time Grisham proved prickly when asked about her refusal to hold briefings. Later that month, she sent Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple a full accounting of her schedule on a given morning and told the paper that she believed the sessions had “turned into more shouting and arguing and gotcha moments over substantive back and forth, which is why I have Cabinet Secretaries and other subject matter experts out there when needed.”The White House’s turn to confront the coronavirus crisis also coincided with a waning of influence for Grisham within the West Wing.Hope Hicks, who previously held the communications director title, returned to the administration after briefly working in communications for Fox Corporation. Katie Miller, the press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence and spouse of senior presidential adviser Stephen Miller, was given primary responsibility for organizing the administration’s coronavirus media appearances and press statements.And Grisham was forced to quarantine at home after contact with members of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago. While Bolsonaro press secretary Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for the virus, Grisham eventually tested negative and returned to work.In the interim, however, the president moved to restore the daily White House press briefings -- but with himself at the podium, not his press secretary.(Updates with McEnany’s background beginning in 13th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.