Good morning! This is the most I’ve ever looked forward to a Monday, when New York City enters Phase 2 of its reopening. (Outdoor dining, here we come.) Here’s what else you need to know for the week ahead in business and tech news. — Charlotte Cowles
What’s Up? (June 14-20)
Social Media vs. Politics
Facebook has notoriously refused to block political ads or content that contains violent rhetoric or even outright lies. But the Trump campaign still managed to cross a line when it ran an ad last week featuring a symbol used by Nazis. Facebook removed the ad, claiming that it violated the company’s “policy against organized hate.” It’s the second time this year that Facebook has blocked a Trump campaign ad for breaking its rules. If you’re tired of seeing political ads, period, Facebook also said it would start allowing users to opt out of receiving them. Separately, Twitter placed a warning on one of Mr. Trump’s tweets about a “racist baby” on Thursday because it contained manipulated imagery.
A Dubious Deal
China is committed to buying an additional $200 billion of American products by the end of 2021, or so says the hard-won trade deal it struck with the United States in January. But analysts were skeptical of that lofty sum even before the pandemic. Now that China’s economy has been crippled by the coronavirus, its imports of American products are lagging way behind the benchmarks it needs to meet if it’s going to stick to the plan. Still, the Trump administration doubled down on its claims that the deal was going strong. In related news, John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote in his new book that the president pressured Beijing officials during the trade negotiations to help him win re-election by buying U.S. farm products.
Trouble With Europe, Too
The Trump administration is back on the trade warpath against the European Union and the World Trade Organization. The president’s officials walked away from talks about global trade coordination last week, threatening (once again) to punish the European Union with escalating tariffs if it proceeded with imposing taxes on American internet companies, particularly in France. Sound familiar? The spat began last winter and was never resolved. If the United States makes good on its threats, the dispute could result in hefty tariffs on French wine, cheese and chocolate — basically, our few sources of joy in recent months.
What’s Next? (June 21-27)
You may have heard that Quaker Oats fired Aunt Jemima last week, citing the racist history behind the brand. (The products get to stay, but their packaging will be overhauled by the end of the year.) Now, other companies that have been criticized for using racial stereotypes in their marketing, like Uncle Ben’s rice and Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, are “reviewing” their branding, too. New food labels don’t exactly qualify as dismantling systemic racism, but the decisions do signal a shift in some corporations’ stepping up to confront their roles in racial bias. On that note, many large companies — including Nike, Mastercard, Target, Twitter and Uber — declared Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, to be a paid day off.
Reopenings Plow Forward
More countries and states continue to lift lockdowns, even as coronavirus cases spike again. Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas all reported their largest one-day increases in cases this past week. Those states were bullish on reopening, and their officials have resisted calls to slow down, citing economic reasons. More than 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a larger number than expected and one that portends a long road to recovery. But a big second wave could be even more damaging. Some countries have reinstated restrictions after fresh outbreaks, including China, which closed schools in Beijing and restricted travel when new hot spots emerged.
Catching a Break
Now that many small businesses are allowed to reopen, they’re struggling to come up with the cash for it. So Congress has relaxed rules governing the Payroll Protection Program, the relief effort that gives small businesses loans that are forgivable if the money is spent on specific things, like paying staff and rent. It was supposed to help businesses weather the economic crisis, but wound up confusing many of them instead. (That is, if they were lucky enough to get the funding in the first place.) The Treasury Department clarified on Wednesday that small businesses would still be eligible for loan forgiveness even if they didn’t rehire all their employees, a reversal of a previous rule.
The former chief executive of Bumble Bee Foods was sentenced to 40 months in prison for fixing the price of canned tuna. The coronavirus caused many shoppers to eschew cash, resulting in a shortage of coins. And airlines are getting stricter about requiring passengers to use face masks — American Airlines even barred a passenger who refused to wear one.