Today's Business and Markets News: Live Updates – The New York Times

ImageRandal K. Quarles

Randal K. Quarles, a Federal Reserve governor who spent four years overseeing bank supervision, will step down from the Fed in December — opening an additional seat that will allow the Biden administration to reshape the central bank’s leadership.

Mr. Quarles’ role as vice chair for supervision expired in October, but his term as governor was set to last until early 2032. The Trump appointee was widely expected to stay on until his time as head of the Financial Stability Board, a global monitoring and standard-setting body, ended in December. It was an open question whether he would stay after that.

“I intend to resign my position as a governor of the Federal Reserve during or around the last week of December of this year,” Mr. Quarles wrote in a letter the Fed released on Monday.

The announcement that he will step down is likely to be greeted warmly by Democrats, many of whom have been critical of Mr. Quarles’s push to relax some post-crisis financial regulations. Many Democrats have been calling for the administration to nominate a diverse set of leaders to the central bank.

President Biden already has one open spot on the central bank’s seven-person Board of Governors to fill, and will have another when Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, sees his term as governor expire early next year. This will give the administration at least three open spots. Jerome H. Powell’s term as the Fed’s chair is also scheduled to expire early next year.

It is not clear when Mr. Biden will announce his central bank nominees, including whether he plans to reappoint Mr. Powell. He last week said that the decision would come “fairly quickly.”

Credit…Punit Paranjpe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With stocks on a tear in India, the parent company of Paytm, a leading digital payments app, went public on Monday with hopes of becoming the country’s largest initial public offering.

The company, One97 Communications, aims to raise about $2.5 billion in a three-day offer that ends on Wednesday. It has already drawn huge institutional investors like Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Texas teachers’ pension fund and the University of Cambridge, which have invested more than $1 billion.

Founded in 2010, Paytm started as a payments transfer business. It now allows users to send money to friends, buy small items like coffee or clothing, and finance big-ticket items like cars.

All but ubiquitous in India’s biggest cities, Paytm now commands more than 40 percent of India’s digital payments market. The company has yet to turn a profit, but it is benefiting from a surge of interest from foreign and Indian investors looking for a stake in India’s surging internet economy. The I.P.O. could value the company at $20 billion.

“Paytm is evolving into a marketplace in itself,” said Amit Khurana, an analyst with Dolat Capital in Mumbai.

“There is a lot of appetite to allocate money to this kind of model because it’s seen as the business of the future.”

Investors, in general, have been increasingly bullish on the Indian economy’s recovery from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and a series of lockdowns that slashed industrial activity and consumer spending sharply.

India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has steadily cut interest rates, encouraging banks to lend more and consumers — particularly young, savvy online shoppers — to spend more.

“We are now in a sweet spot, where the bank recovery is coinciding with the demographic transition, which in turn is coinciding with the digital revolution,” said Madhavan Narayanan, an economist in India. “All these three are making the sun and the moon and the stars align for young India.”

With coronavirus infections in India low and foot traffic returning to brick-and-mortar stores, newly sanitation-sensitized shoppers may prefer to scan QR codes rather than handle cash.

The pandemic has helped a trend in India toward a cashless economy that began with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden demonetization in 2016. The policy, meant to tamp down on money laundering, involved banning the most widely circulated currency notes, wiping out families’ savings and shuttering businesses overnight. But five years later, it appears to have also created some winners, digital payments companies like Paytm among them.

Competition is heating up. Google offers Google Pay. India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, began a joint venture with Facebook last year to offer digital payments over WhatsApp, India’s most popular messaging service.

Paytm’s share offering is the latest in a series of oversubscribed I.P.O.s in recent months, among a bevy of so-called unicorns backed by e-commerce giants like China’s Alibaba and its financial affiliate, Ant.

Institutional and foreign investors also flocked to the initial public offering of India’s food delivery app, Zomato, in July, which was oversubscribed by 38 times the available shares.

In an August report, the Reserve Bank of India predicted that 2021 “could well turn out to be India’s year of the initial public offering.”

Paytm’s push to become India’s biggest initial public offering has overshadowed another sizable offering. The parent company of online beauty products retailer Nykaa was publicly listed on Monday, seeking a $7.4 billion valuation.

Sameer Yasir contributed reporting.

The United States reopened its borders for fully vaccinated travelers from dozens of countries on Monday, ending more than 18 months of restrictions on international travel that left families separated from loved ones and cost the global travel industry hundreds of billions of dollars in tourism revenue.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter the U.S. if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel. Unvaccinated Americans and children under the age of 18 are exempt from the requirement, but must take a test within one day of travel.

The shift has come in time for the holiday season, when the beleaguered tourism industry is eagerly awaiting an influx in international visitors, especially in popular big-city destinations like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The extended ban on travel from 33 countries — including European Union members, China, India and Iran — devastated the sector and resulted in losses of nearly $300 billion in visitor spending and more than one million American jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

“It is a monumental day for travelers, for the communities and businesses that rely on international visitation, and for the U.S. economy overall,” said Roger Dow, the association’s president and chief executive officer.

At Miami International Airport, a major hub for travel to and from South and Central America, Natalia Vitorini, a 28-year-old student living in Miami, waited for her parents to get off the morning’s first arriving flight from São Paulo, Brazil, with her 3-week-old son.

Her mother, Debora Vitorini, and her husband, Sergio, arrived a little after 6 a.m. The last time they had seen each other was in March 2020. “I was waiting for the border to open so my mom can come to see my baby,” Natalia Vitorini said.

And thousands of Canadians — “snowbirds,” typically retirees — are already on their way to Florida, Arizona and California, among other warm destinations, with campers and boats in tow.

“We’re ready to enjoy what the United States has to offer,” said Wayne Peters of Kelowna, British Columbia, who is about to embark on a 1,520-mile journey south to Yuma, Ariz., with his wife for five months of hiking, golfing and playing pickle ball.

Delta Air Lines said that many of its international flights on Monday were fully booked. The carrier’s first flight into the United States under the looser restrictions, DL106, arrived from São Paulo, Brazil in Atlanta on Monday, just before 10 a.m. Eastern time. By the end of Monday, Delta expects to fly 139 mostly full planes from 38 countries into the U.S.

Hotels across the country, particularly those in cities, also felt the impact of the reopening announcement, with increased bookings and interest over the holiday season. Hyatt, the hotel group, said that approximately 50 percent of its bookings by international travelers to the U.S. for the week of Nov. 8 came after the date was announced in mid-October, with travelers flocking to top cities.

The chef Daniel Boulud, who owns several restaurants in New York City, said that customers from overseas had already started to call for reservations or to go on a waiting list.

He added that while his restaurants were already “quite busy,” buoyed by domestic tourism and a trickle of international visitors, “the faucet was not open for tourism yet.” International tourists, he said, will bring necessary foot traffic, in particular to his restaurants near the Theater District.

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British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the re-opening of the United States border for fully vaccinated international travelers, by taking off simultaneously from Heathrow Airport in London.CreditCredit…Alex Ingram for The New York Times

Many of the airplanes departing for the United States over the coming weeks will be full of travelers reuniting with family and friends after more than a year apart. Felicity Fowler, a retired homeopath from London, missed the birth of her grandson. He was born in New York in April; she hasn’t seen her daughter, his mother, since February 2020.

“It’s been emotional torture to be so far away from my girl at a time when she has needed me the most,” she said in an interview. “We need to make up for lost time.”

Credit…Annice Lyn/Getty Images

Shares of several drug makers in Asia fell sharply on Monday in response to Pfizer’s announcement that its antiviral drug was highly effective in treating Covid-19.

CanSino Biologics, the Chinese maker of a Covid-19 vaccine, dropped by 17 percent during trading in Hong Kong. Shanghai Fosun, which has marketing rights in greater China for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, saw its Hong Kong shares drop by 7 percent before rebounding somewhat to end 2 percent lower.

WuXi Biologics of China, which is developing Covid vaccines and antibodies, fell by 9 percent in Hong Kong. And shares of Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi & Co., which is also developing a Covid treatment drug, dropped 6 percent in Tokyo.

Pfizer said Friday that when its new pill was given within three days of the start of Covid symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths were reduced by 89 percent. The company said it planned to submit the drug for Food and Drug Administration approval as soon as possible. A panel of experts had recommended not enrolling any more candidates in the trial because it had already shown such effectiveness, the company said.

Credit…Jan Haas/Picture-Alliance/DPA, via Associated Press

Deep Nishar, a former top investor at SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, is joining General Catalyst, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm known for its successful bets on start-ups including Airbnb and Snap.

Mr. Nishar said last month that he would leave SoftBank by the end of 2021, ending a six-year stint at the Japanese tech conglomerate. He is the latest senior executive to leave the Vision Fund, which struggled after soured bets on WeWork and other companies; at least four others have left in the past two years.

SoftBank’s founder and chief executive, Masayoshi Son, hired Mr. Nishar to rebuild the firm’s presence in the United States after it was forced to scale back when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Mr. Nishar, who previously worked at Google and LinkedIn, made successful investments in companies such as Guardant Health, which uses big data to detect and treat cancer early. Shares of Guardant, which went public in 2018, now trade at more than five times their initial price.

In an interview, Mr. Nishar, 52, said he was proud of what he has helped build at the SoftBank fund. “Four years ago, no one believed you could build a $100 billion investment platform,” he said. Mr. Nishar and Mr. Son remain close, he added, saying the two men “continue to talk every day.”

At General Catalyst, which was founded in Massachusetts and has been building its Silicon Valley presence, Mr. Nishar will both invest in start-ups and help the firm build its own companies. In addition to Airbnb, General Catalyst was an early investor in Warby Parker and helped build the travel search engine Kayak. The firm was also one of the earliest investors in Stripe, the financial technology firm that raised private funding earlier this year at a $95 billion valuation. Stripe’s I.P.O. is widely expected to be among the largest in history.

Hemant Taneja, General Catalyst’s managing partner who is based in San Francisco, said he had tried to recruit Mr. Nishar in 2015, before Mr. Nishar joined SoftBank. Mr. Taneja said he wanted to bring Mr. Nishar on board to help the firm go after big, broad ideas that cut across fields, including those at the intersection of technology, health care and life sciences.

Over years of long walks around Silicon Valley, Mr. Taneja finally succeeded in wooing Mr. Nishar, who will start his new job in January.

Credit…Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

Last winter was warmer than average, which led to relatively low residential energy bills. Even if the coming winter is not severe, heating costs could rise to levels not seen a decade.

Several factors — lower global fuel inventories, incentives for producers to let prices rise and a mismatch between supply and demand as economies emerge from the pandemic — may combine to push bills higher, The New York Times’s Talmon Joseph Smith reports.

After plunging during the pandemic as the global economy slowed, energy prices have been climbing. Natural gas, used to heat almost half of U.S. households, has roughly doubled in price since this time last year. The price of crude oil — which strongly affects the 10 percent of households that rely on heating oil and propane during the winter — has soared by similarly eye-popping levels.

And those costs are being quickly passed through to consumers, who have become accustomed to cheaper energy prices in recent years and find themselves with growing concerns about inflation this year.

Credit…Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel, via Associated Press

Monday

  • Facebook whistle-blower: Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager, will testify at a European Parliament hearing. In previous appearances before American and British lawmakers, Haugen called for stronger regulations for Facebook, which recently renamed itself Meta.

  • Roblox earnings: The popular online gaming platform, which went public in March, recently suffered an outage that lasted several days.

  • AMC earnings: The world’s largest movie theater chain could be the latest business to report rising fortunes as Americans return to prepandemic life. In a sign that movie theaters may be on the rebound, the sci-fi film “Dune” recently surpassed $300 million at the worldwide box office.

Tuesday

  • Rivian I.P.O. pricing: The electric truck maker backed by Amazon and Ford Motor is closer to pricing an initial public offering that could value it at more than $60 billion. If Rivian prices its I.P.O. on Tuesday, it would begin trading Wednesday.

Wednesday

  • Consumer Price Index: The Labor Department will release inflation data for October. Costs for everything from food to furniture have been climbing fast as strong demand and supply chain snarls have pushed prices higher.

  • Disney earnings: The Walt Disney Company, the world’s largest entertainment company, will report its fiscal full year and fourth quarter earnings after the market closes.

Thursday

  • Singles Day: The online shopping event created by the e-commerce giant Alibaba kicks off. China reported slower economic growth last month, though retail sales have been a bright spot.

Friday

  • Warby Parker earnings: The direct-to-consumer eyewear company will announce earnings for its third quarter, the company’s first report since it went public in September.

The Biden administration last week set Jan. 4 as the deadline for companies with 100 or more employees to mandate Covid vaccinations or enact weekly testing of workers. The mandate, in the works for some time, quickly faced legal challenges, and on Saturday, a federal appeals panel temporarily blocked the measure.

The court, in a two-page order, directed the Biden administration to respond by 5 p.m. Monday to a request for a permanent injunction.

The administration is “prepared to defend” the rules, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, said on Sunday. “The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think that they were appropriate and necessary,” Dr. Murthy said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Dr. Murthy pointed to the nation’s history as precedent: George Washington required troops to be inoculated against smallpox in 1777. The mandate would allow for medical or religious exemptions, and companies that fail to comply may be fined.

One coalition of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and several states filed a petition on Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana, arguing that the administration overstepped its authority.

On Saturday, a panel of the court temporarily blocked the new mandate, writing “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.”

The stay does not have immediate impact, as the first major deadline in the rule is Dec. 5, when companies with at least 100 employees must require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors.

Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

In Indianapolis, eviction courts are packed as judges make their way through a monthslong backlog of cases. In Detroit, advocates are rushing to knock on the doors of tenants facing possible eviction. In Gainesville, Fla., landlords are filing evictions at a rapid pace as displaced tenants resort to relatives’ couches for places to sleep or seek cheaper rents outside the city.

It is not the sudden surge of evictions that tenants and advocates feared after the Supreme Court ruled in August that President Biden’s extension of the eviction moratorium was unconstitutional.

Instead, what’s emerging is a more gradual eviction crisis that is increasingly hitting communities across the country, especially those where the distribution of federal rental assistance has been slow, and where tenants have few protections.

While the number of eviction filings remained at nearly half of prepandemic averages during the first two weeks of October, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, in the 31 cities and six states it tracks, the filings are also increasing.

In the first two weeks of September, just after the moratorium ended, eviction filings increased by 10 percent from the first two weeks of August. In the first two weeks of October, evictions increased by nearly 14 percent from the first two weeks of the previous month.

“In places that don’t have protections, these numbers are increasing pretty quickly,” said Peter Hepburn, a researcher at the Eviction Lab. “And we don’t know where the ceiling is.”

Gene Sperling, the economist overseeing the Biden administration’s pandemic relief programs, credited the $46.5 billion in federal rental assistance set aside by Congress last winter with mitigating the problem. More than two million payments have been made — nearly a million in August and September alone.

Some jurisdictions have used part of the money to introduce programs that provide alternatives to eviction or legal assistance for tenants. Just over 37 percent of all renters in the country live in places that still have local eviction bans or are postponing eviction judgments pending rental assistance, according to the Urban Institute.

But elsewhere, limited renter protections and limits in the distribution of rental assistance are spurring the increase in evictions.

“No one should be sleeping well at night when there are still way too many painful, avoidable evictions,” said Mr. Sperling.

The true extent of the crisis facing tenants is understated by the available numbers on eviction, housing advocates and experts say. “The eviction avalanche is absolutely here across the country,” said Katie Goldstein, a housing justice campaign director with the Center for Popular Democracy.

  • SoftBank on Monday reported a net loss of $3.5 billion in the last quarter, reflecting the impact of China’s regulatory crackdown on its investments. The Japanese tech conglomerate recorded a $10 billion hit to its Vision Fund caused by declines in the share prices of its portfolio companies.

  • Elon Musk polled his Twitter followers over the weekend about whether he should sell 10 percent of his stake in Tesla, his electric car company, with a majority voting “yes.” Mr. Musk may have already been compelled to sell a sizable portion of his Tesla shares: He holds nearly 23 million stock options awarded in 2012 that have since vested and will expire in August. And it’s likely that much of his 2012 options don’t qualify for a preferential tax treatment. Tesla shares were down about 4 percent in premarket trading on Monday.

  • Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, on Saturday reported a sharp decrease in earnings in the third quarter, reflecting the turmoil in financial markets and the broader slowdown in U.S. economic growth. Profits fell by two-thirds to $10 billion, down from $30 billion in the same three months of 2020, when the economy was still in the process of reopening from pandemic shutdowns.

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