Business Briefs – March 30, 2020

Trump Signs $2.2T Stimulus After Swift Congressional Votes

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week. The package will support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic. As he signed the bill Friday, Trump declared it “will deliver urgently needed relief.” He thanked members of both parties for putting Americans “first.” The legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses big and small will get loans, grants and tax breaks.

Detroit Auto Show Canceled, Center to Be Used as Hospital

NEW YORK (AP) – The North American International Auto Show said that it will cancel its Detroit show because of the coronavirus pandemic and the center where it is held will likely be repurposed into a hospital.

The Detroit Auto Show, as it is more commonly known, is one of the largest auto shows in North America. It was scheduled to be held in June. Prior to this year, the auto show was traditionally held in January.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to repurpose the TCF Center into a temporary field hospital, according to NAIAS. A number of convention centers and other large facilities are being considered as potential sites for care as the virus spreads.

Staying Afloat: $2.2 Trillion Bill Offers Economic Lifeline

WASHINGTON (AP) – The record $2.2 trillion emergency relief package is aimed at businesses and families facing a coronavirus cash crunch. Caught in a COVID-19 lockdown that has brought economic life to a standstill, they are at risk of running out of money and being unable to pay bills or meet expenses. The idea behind the rescue is to keep firms and families afloat long enough to weather the health crisis. So Congress is sending checks directly to families, expanding benefits for the unemployed and offering incentives to businesses to keep workers on the payroll.

Trump Seeks to Force General Motors to Produce Ventilators

DETROIT (AP) – President Donald Trump has issued an order that seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients under the Defense Production Act. Trump says negotiations with General Motors had been productive, “but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.” Trump says “GM was wasting time” and says his actions will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.

IMF Head Says Global Economy Now in Recession

WASHINGTON (AP) – The head of the International Monetary Fund said Friday it is clear that the global economy has now entered a recession that could be as bad or worse than the 2009 downturn. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the 189-nation lending agency was forecasting a recovery in 2021, saying it could be a “sizable rebound.” But she said this would only occur if nations succeed in containing the coronavirus and limiting the economic damage. She said a key concern was whether the sudden halt in activity might trigger a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs.

Cruise Stocks Sink After Missing Out on Economic-Relief Bill

NEW YORK (AP) – Congress has left cruise lines high and dry when it comes to emergency relief from the new virus outbreak. That sent shares of major cruise companies including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line plummeting Friday. The economic-rescue package signed by President Donald Trump says companies getting loans or loan guarantees must be “organized” in the U.S. under American laws and have a majority of their employees based in the U.S. That knocks out Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, all of whom are chartered overseas. Cruise lines have canceled many sailings and seen bookings drop since the outbreak started.

Garment Workers Going Unpaid As Fashion Labels Cancel Orders

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – A survey of factory owners in Bangladesh has found that major fashion retailers that are closing shops and laying off workers in Europe and the U.S. are also canceling their sometimes already completed orders, as workers often go unpaid. A report released Friday says the coronavirus crisis has resulted in millions of Bangladesh factory workers being sent home without the wages or severance pay they are owed. Bangladesh, the world’s No. 2 garment exporter after China, is just beginning to feel the direct impact of the pandemic. But the shocks to its export markets have been cascading into its economy for weeks.