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Federal Relief is (up) in the Air

5 MINUTE READ | July 20, 2020

Federal Relief is (up) in the Air

Welcome back to PMG’s summer briefing series. I spent most of this weekend perusing NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service and binge-watching an unhealthy number of _Friday Night Light_s episodes. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to download the app and check it out. In it, you’ll find original content, classic TV shows, and more — all for free. 

In today’s briefing, 

  • Relief is in the air 

  • Updates on the news we’re tracking

  • The week ahead

Today, Congress heads back to the Hill to negotiate the next wave of federal pandemic relief in the US. On the docket: a potential new round of stimulus checks, state assistance, support for schools, unemployment benefits, and federal evictions, to name a few.

Lawmakers will need to move quickly. Nearly half of the US workforce is still unemployed, and almost a third of Americans missed a house payment in July. Close to 12 million adults are in households that missed their last rent payment, and according to weekly Census Bureau data, 23 million have “little to no confidence” in their ability to make the next one. The federal eviction moratorium ends next Saturday, the $600 supplemental weekly unemployment benefits are set to expire in a number of days, and analysts agree that the one-time stimulus check from earlier in the pandemic is long gone. 

Related: A JPMorgan Chase Institute report finds that large cuts in consumer spending will result if Congress doesn’t extend the $600-a-week unemployment supplement.

Meanwhile, outbreaks are becoming increasingly difficult to monitor with backlogs in testing across the country, and cities such as LA are considering more stay-at-home orders. The US death toll surpassed 140,000 over the weekend.

Across the pond, a similar debate rages on. EU leaders are now in their fourth day of negotiations over a  €1.8 trillion ($2 trillion) relief package to boost Europe out of the economic downturn. Harder hit countries like Spain and Italy are eager for a quick decision while others call for a more measured approach. One issue with the relief package is how the funds will be dispersed proportionally, either as grants or loans.

These meetings are the first time leaders in the bloc have met in-person since the pandemic began. 

The government’s scrutiny of Big Tech is reaching a critical point. The CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google are just days away from meeting with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust so we can expect plenty of commentary this week on what to expect in those testimonials. All of these companies are facing multiple investigations led by the Federal Trade Commission, US Department of Justice, and the House Judiciary Committee, each leading their own antitrust probes. And that’s just in the US. 

In the EU, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are in the middle of a “sweeping antitrust inquiry” into how Silicon Valley uses data to squash competitors in their growing markets. This antitrust Internet of Things probe comes after last week’s ruling from the EU’s top court that will mandate thousands of companies to face new restrictions on storing information about EU residents on US servers

Now, the Federal Trade Commission back in the US is considering taking sworn testimony from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as part of its investigation

After last week’s hack, the FBI has launched an investigation into the vulnerabilities of Twitter’s systems. Skepticism and concerns continue to mount against the social platform as the hack showed just how reliant politicians, celebrities, and brands have become on the platform to communicate publicly. In an update, Twitter shared the hackers only gained control over a “small subset” of the 130 accounts targeted. Details suggest that the attack wasn’t as severe as experts originally thought. 

In a New York Times article, reporters were in contact with the alleged hackers, learning that the hack was carried out by a small group of unaffiliated people who met on a Discord server and are well known on, a website for hackers to buy and sell valuable social media usernames.

Learn more in Twitter’s blog post about the security incident

TikTok has reportedly stopped discussions for relocating its global headquarters to London after geopolitical tensions between the UK and China continue to escalate. 

  • Disney joined the Facebook ad boycott, “dramatically slashing” Facebook advertising budgets, days after The New York Times article on how Hollywood was avoiding the movement was published. 

  • The CDC extended its ban on US cruises through September 30th. 

  • British Airways will retire its entire fleet of Boeing 747s (the world’s largest jumbo jet fleet) as air travel demand continues to freefall. 

  • Facebook launched Instagram Shop, a new social commerce experience on Instagram in the US. 

  • Target and CVS became the latest nationwide retailers to require customers to wear masks in store

Monday: IBM earnings, Walmart’s in-store mask requirement begins

Tuesday: Snap, Coca-Cola, and United Airlines earnings, ISS spacewalk

Wednesday: Microsoft, Tesla earnings, existing home sales, Comic-Con@Home

Thursday: MLB shortened season begins, Intel, AT&T, American Airlines, Unilever, and Twitter earnings, unemployment claims, Microsoft Xbox event, eurozone consumer confidence

Friday: Manufacturing PMI, American Express and Verizon earnings, new home sales

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We’ll see you back here on Thursday with more insight into the news that’s shaping our industry.

Posted by: Abby Long

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