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Talking Points

Treasury pressed to act with urgency on airline rescue

American Airlines 777 airplanes were parked at Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma at the end of March.
American Airlines 777 airplanes were parked at Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma at the end of March.Mike Simons/Tulsa World via Associated Press/Tulsa World via AP


Top Democrats press Treasury to accelerate airline bailout

Top Democratic lawmakers have urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to quickly provide US airlines with direct payroll assistance and to avoid overly restrictive terms that could deter companies from taking the money. Major airlines began submitting applications for aid to the Treasury Department on Friday, but there is growing concern that Mnuchin will demand strict terms to ensure that taxpayers are compensated, such as large equity stakes in the companies. Some of the airlines are wary of giving the government too much control over their businesses. Democrats fear that if Mnuchin drives too hard a bargain, airlines will lay off more workers. In a letter to Mnuchin on Sunday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California warned that it would not be in the public interest if airlines declare bankruptcy. “Assistance must not come with unreasonable conditions . . .” they wrote. The lawmakers said they recognize the need to protect taxpayer money but the companies must commit to protecting workers, which was the intent of the law signed by President Trump. — NEW YORK TIMES


Apple designing face shields for health care workers

Apple Inc. is designing face shields for medical workers and separately has sourced more than 20 million masks through its global supply chain, CEO Tim Cook said Sunday on Twitter. Apple’s design, engineering, packaging, and operations teams are working with suppliers to get the shields made and shipped. The first shipment went to a Santa Clara, Calif., hospital last week. The shields are adjustable and assemble in less than two minutes, Cook said, adding that Apple plans to ship more than a million this week and another million weekly after that. And Apple plans to quickly expand shipping of the shields beyond the United States. The company has shuttered all 458 of its retail stores outside of China to curb the spread of the coronavirus and is requiring engineers and designers to work from home. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Boeing extends closing of Seattle-area plants on virus worry

Boeing Co. has decided to keep its Seattle-area manufacturing hub closed indefinitely as state health officials work to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and suppliers show signs of stress. The factories, including a hulking plant where all of the company’s wide-body jets are built, had been scheduled to reopen late Tuesday following a two-week closure. The safety of employees and recommendations of government health authorities were among the considerations, the Chicago-based plane maker said. The pandemic injects fresh uncertainty into Boeing’s plans to restart 737 Max production, which was shut down in January, about 10 months after authorities around the world grounded those jets following two fatal crashes. Also in flux is whether the disruption from the outbreak will stymie efforts to end the flying ban by midyear. Boeing offered buyouts to all 161,000 of its employees last week, and a person familiar with the matter said then that Boeing was taking a closer look at reducing manufacturing rates for wide-body jets amid plunging demand. It’s trying to conserve cash as airlines worldwide slash schedules, moving about 44 percent of their planes into storage, according to the data provider Cirium. “When the world emerges from the pandemic, the size of the commercial market and the types of products and services our customers want and need will likely be different,” CEO David Calhoun told employees last week. Boeing shares have tumbled 62 percent so far this year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Market bulls are tentatively finding a voice, despite stocks’ volatility

Few predict anything less than turbulence for global markets in the coming week. But those who think the worst has passed are finding their voice. Commentators from Morgan Stanley to Eaton Vance are turning less gloomy, encouraged by unprecedented government and central bank stimulus efforts, declining volatility, and signs the pandemic is peaking in parts of Europe. “There is light at the end of the tunnel but it’s still a long tunnel,” Erik Nielsen, UniCredit SpA’s London-based chief economist, wrote Sunday. None of which means markets will gain much traction on Monday. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent Friday, which is likely to put Asian markets on the back foot as the new week gets underway, while the dollar rose and US 10-year Treasury yields slipped back below 0.6 percent. That came after data showed a plunge in US hiring last month. Middle East markets were mixed Sunday after Russia and Saudi Arabia delayed a meeting aimed at ending their oil-price war. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



FDA commissioner says China not creating drug shortages in US

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said there’s no evidence that any drug is in short supply because China or another country is blocking critical ingredients from the US market. “We are monitoring that very closely,” he said in an interview with Fox News. Some shortages may be evident because of spikes in demand for some medications, he said. The FDA maintains a public database of drug shortages, which can occur for many reasons, including manufacturing problems, delays, and discontinuations. Hahn added that it’s critical, in light of what’s been revealed by the coronavirus pandemic, that the US pharmaceutical industry rely on multiple countries to develop medical products like ventilators and masks as well as drugs. “We really need redundancy in the medical products supply chain,” he said. “We cannot be dependent upon any single country.” But he said the agency lacks authority to determine where drugs, devices, or other medical products are made. “We can encourage manufacturers to stay at home, or to be in certain areas. But our job once the manufacturer tells us they are going to go some place, and actually manufacture in another country, is to ensure the quality associated with that manufacturing,” he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS