Financial Daily Dose 6.17.2020 | Top Story: Consumer Spending Surged 17.7% in May, but Economists Warn of Yearslong Recovery Ahead

Robins Kaplan LLP

Robins Kaplan LLP

May saw a huge jump in consumer activity to the tune of +17.7%, as Americans unleashed their pent-up demand. It was welcome news for markets and beyond, but “the underlying data presents a more complicated picture and shows just how arduous an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be” – NYTimes and WSJ and MarketWatch and Marketplace

Speaking of consumer spending, the Journal tracks how the lockdown shifted American shopping habits, with home-improvement and entertainment, furniture, and fitness equipment stores all seeing big bumps from the Covid-induced reallocation of buying power – WSJ

At the very time that racial inequality is finally being discussed in broader circles than usual, new Upshot analysis shows that pandemic-related unemployment is hitting Black workers harder than any other group in America – NYTimes

Fed Chair Powell had similar concerns in mind (among other things) during his Senate appearance yesterday. He’ll testify before the House Financial Services Panel today – NYTimes and WSJ and Bloomberg and Law360

On the heels of a White House executive order (of questionable constitutionality) targeting the legal protections of social media companies, the Department of Justice is expected to announce its own set of reforms that would “roll back . . . legal protections that online platforms have enjoyed for more than two decades, in an effort to make tech companies more responsible in how they police their content” – WSJ

Rough look for Morgan Stanley on the D&I front, as the firm’s former longtime global head of diversity has filed a lawsuit accusing it of racial discrimination and retaliation over her push “to get senior executives in [the wealth management] division to embrace her plan to restructure a program for training black financial advisers” – NYTimes and WSJ

The UK’s top financial watchdog, the FCA, has issued a $47.4 million fine to German lender Commerzbank AG “over shortcomings in its anti-money laundering controls that ‘created a significant risk’ that crime was going undetected” – Law360

AT&T is kicking off a $6 billion cost-cutting program that will see it close 250 stores and eliminate thousands of jobs in an effort to address its status as one of the “most heavily indebted companies in the U.S.” – Bloomberg

HSBC has also announced plans to resume layoffs affecting some 15% of its workforce, or 35,000 workers. The bank had paused its restructuring plans because of the pandemic but is kicking it back into high gear – WSJ and Bloomberg

Streetwise on just how ill-equipped markets are, exactly, for inflation, should it ever hit the U.S. again – WSJ

Disney has suspended top ABC News exec Barbara Fedida over allegations that she made racially insensitive remarks to a colleague during a contract negotiation session in 2018 and contributed to a generally toxic environment at the network – WSJ

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one (and would guess others on the retail front lines are too)—a Covid-19 outbreak at an Oakland, CA McDonald’s has “spawned a public nuisance lawsuit . . . alleging the franchise’s owners forced highly contagious workers who had contracted the virus to keep working and gave workers face masks made from dog diapers” – Law360

California utility PG&E pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the devastating 2018 Camp Fire that “devastated lives and wreaked billions of dollars in property damage” in California – NYTimes and WSJ and MarketWatch

Avery Trufelman is leaving 99% Invisible, which—if you know her work—is a massive loss. If you don’t, let this recent edition of her “Articles of Interest” series (on suits, of all things) be your entrée into her work at one of the most interesting podcasts out there – 99PI

Stay safe,

Written by:

Robins Kaplan LLP

Robins Kaplan LLP on:

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