Financial Daily Dose 10.23.2020 | Top Story: CA Appeals Court Tells Uber and Lyft to Treat Drivers as Employees

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A California appeals court has affirmed a lower court decision requiring Uber and Lyft to “treat their California drivers as employees, providing them with the benefits and wages they are entitled to under state labor law.” The ruling places even greater importance on a “ballot initiative sponsored by gig economy start-ups to exempt themselves from the law” that voters will take up in less than 2 weeks – NYTimes and WSJ and MarketWatch and Marketplace

Anticipating coming action by the DOJ in its sweeping opioid probe, Walmart has gone on the offensive, suing the federal government “in an attempt to strike a pre-emptive blow” to seek “a declaration from a federal judge that the government has no lawful basis for seeking civil damages from the company based on claims pharmacists filled valid prescriptions that they should have known raised red flags” – WSJ

New numbers in yesterday show initial unemployment claims down some 73,000 from a week before “but still stubbornly high as the incipient economy recovery struggles to maintain a foothold.” All told, “more than 23 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment relief” – NYTimes and WSJ and Marketplace

Paul Singer’s $41 billion hedge fund Elliott Management is decamping from New York in favor of West Palm Beach, Florida, a move apparently “prompted by the pandemic and the uncertainty over the future of Manhattan offices.” Singer himself and at least some others will maintain a smaller presence in NYC – NYTimes

On the heels of its nearly $3 billion payout to government authorities over its role in the Malaysian 1MDB scandal, Goldman Sachs has moved to cut anticipated bonuses and claw back $174 million in “compensation from executives,” including current CEO David Solomon, three of his top lieutenants, and former chief Lloyd Blankfein – WSJ and Bloomberg and MarketWatch and Law360

Amazon’s warehouse workers are calling on peers to temporarily shut down on Halloween if management doesn’t give all employees “a paid day off to vote,” an “escalation of the internal pressure being put on executives at the company, the country’s second-largest private employer” – NYTimes

PayPal is reportedly “exploring acquisitions of cryptocurrency companies including Bitcoin custodian BitGo Inc.,” a company that “helps investors store Bitcoin securely.” PayPal announced earlier this week that its customers “can buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin from digital wallets, as well as use the virtual money to shop at the 26 million merchants on its network” – Bloomberg

As we wrap up the week in which the feds finally delivered on their long-awaited antitrust suit against Google, many of the company’s competitors are already pushing for “additional enforcement actions to broaden the government’s claims against Google” in hopes that the action will go far beyond search supremacy – WSJ

And since we’re in an anticompetitive mood, might as well check in with the FTC and its own potential antitrust action against Facebook, including the company’s practice of buying “smaller rivals to maintain a monopoly” in the social networking realm. FTC officials must vote before deciding to actually pursue such a case against Zuck & Co. – NYTimes and WSJ

California’s supreme court has refused a petition for hearing from Bayer AG “seeking to reverse a jury verdict that the company’s Roundup herbicide caused a groundskeeper’s cancer, leaving the company with few remaining options to avoid paying a $20.4 million judgment.” That verdict was the “first of three jury decisions” that ultimately led the company to “strike a $10.9 billion settlement deal with tens of thousands of plaintiffs in July” – WSJ

The Times considers the economic landscape in Iowa, a state in which businesses are struggling thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, even without the state-imposed restrictions that some have painted [wrongly] as the bogeyman suppressing retail growth – NYTimes

Despite a long history as a “nation of grids,” late 20th century America (and its burbs) have been marked by the rise of “winding roads and blossoming cul-de-sacs.” CityLab suggests, however, that the “Great American street grid may be staging a comeback,” and Texas could be ground zero – Bloomberg

Stay safe, and have a great weekend.

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