Bloomberg Businessweek November 23, 2020

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2 min
in brief

Globally, 56 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 1.3m have died. A particularly explosive resurgence in the U.S.—which has recorded 1 million new cases since the beginning of November—is forcing many states to tighten curbs. BioNTech and Pfizer are seeking emergency FDA authorization for their vaccine. Final results from late-stage trials reported on Nov. 18 suggest the Covid-19 shot is 95% effective. On Nov. 16, Moderna released preliminary results from the late-stage clinical trials of its vaccine—which would be easier to distribute—showing 94.5% efficacy. In the first commercial crew transport in NASA’s history, a SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts docked at the International Space Station on Nov. 16. The scientists are on a six-month mission aboard the orbiting lab. “Unless there is some basis for some cooperative action,…

1 min
a grounded industry

U.S. retailers are preparing for Black Friday’s annual holiday shopping rush, on Nov. 27, though tighter pandemic restrictions may keep many consumers out of stores. The Institute of International Finance holds its emerging-markets central-banking conference via livestream on Nov. 23-24 to discuss the future of monetary policy. Germany’s Ifo Institute releases its monthly survey of business sentiment on Nov. 24. It’s one of the most closely watched economic indicators in Europe’s largest economy. Minutes from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee’s Nov. 4-5 meeting will be released on Nov. 25. At its last gathering, the Fed kept borrowing costs at close to zero. In the week starting Nov. 23, U.K. and EU negotiators hope to reach a deal on what trade and commerce will look like after the Brexit transition ends on Dec. 31,…

2 min
cities still need their pandemic lifeline from the fed

America’s state and local governments face a difficult winter. Already under severe financial pressure, they’ll see their resources stretched further still by a resurgent pandemic. Congress needs to give them new fiscal aid now, but whether that will happen is in doubt. Given these uncertainties, this is no time to remove their one reliable lifeline: the Federal Reserve’s highly successful program to ensure they can borrow what they need. The Fed and the Treasury introduced the Municipal Liquidity Facility amid the Covid-induced mayhem of March and April—when markets froze and borrowing costs more than doubled for even the most highly rated cities. To restore calm, the central bank pledged to buy debt securities directly, at a closer-to-normal yield, from any creditworthy issuer that couldn’t raise money from private investors. It worked. Simply…

9 min
the final hurdle is bureaucracy

Making vaccines that are safe and effective is certainly the hard part of the race to pull humanity from the pandemic brink. Promising results are pouring in. On Nov. 9, Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE said early findings indicated their vaccine prevented more than 90% of symptomatic infections among volunteers. On Nov. 16, Moderna Inc. reported a 94.5% prevention rate for its vaccine. Two days later, Pfizer-BioNTech matched that with a final analysis of its data. Yet if triumph in this scientific, corporate, and nationalistic contest is defined as the first vaccine to get approved and administered on a large scale, the victory is still anyone’s to win. The final phase will require navigating the maze of regulators, scattered across continents and agencies, who will determine when, which,…

6 min
santa has a pandemic plan

The coronavirus has upended many aspects of life, dramatically changing how people work, study, and even worship. Now it’s primed to wreak havoc on another pillar of modern existence: Santa Claus. Macy’s Inc., the iconic department-store chain whose 34th Street flagship in Manhattan is the setting for the most famous Santa movie ever, has announced that the jolly old elf won’t be visiting because of the pandemic. And while Santas in many malls across the U.S. haven’t gotten the boot, their traditional faux North Pole backdrops near the food court are going to look a lot different this year, when many of their brethren will be checking their nice and naughty lists online. Children at the Park Meadows mall in Denver will be able to greet a masked Santa sitting safely…

4 min
delta’s flight plan to avoid trump’s tariffs

Delta has made no secret about its aversion to the tariffs the Trump administration placed on European jetliners imported into the U.S. But more than just grousing about the fees, Delta Air Lines Inc. has found a way to sidestep millions of dollars of the levies: by initially routing new planes far outside its home country to such places as Amsterdam, Tokyo, and El Salvador. The U.S. carrier has taken delivery of seven European-built Airbus SE planes since President Trump’s levies took effect in October 2019. Rather than flying them to the U.S. as it’s done in the past, Delta has based the aircraft overseas. The decision, coupled with the awkward definition of new planes in the tariff rules, has kept the jets from being considered imports even though some of…