Senate and White House reach agreement on $2trn coronavirus aid package. Facebook in talks to acquire 10% stake in Reliance Jio. Boeing plans 737 MAX production restart by May. Government likely to unveil ?1.5L cr ($19.6bn) stimulus package.
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After five straight days of hectic, partisan negotiations, the US Senate and the Trump administration have reached an agreement on a $2trn stimulus package to support the country’s economy as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the US.
The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, aims to flood the economy with capital by sending $1,200 checks to many Americans, creating a $367bn loan programme for small businesses, and setting up a $500bn fund for industries, cities and states. [The Washington Post]
Stop In the Name of God
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, real estate, tourism and hospitality companies are reportedly seeking relief in loan repayments, citing the “Act of God” clause. "Act of God" is a legal term used to describe events outside of human control and activity. It’s invoked if a business is impacted by circumstance such as natural calamity, epidemic or war. [Moneycontrol]
Caught Off Guard
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, PM Narendra Modi yesterday declared a three-week nationwide lockdown, explaining that it was the only way of breaking the COVID-19 infection cycle.
Police and security staff have been patrolling the streets, ensuring that everyone stays indoors. The rather unprecedented move has however created huge supply disruptions for consumers and even businesses deemed essential.
As per surveys conducted by community platform LocalCircles, the problem of availability of essential goods across offline and online channels is only getting worse.
Data from the survey shows that percentage of customers unable to buy essential goods through ecommerce services between March 20th and March 22nd was 35%, and it shot up to 79% in the March 23rd-24th period. And 17% of customers were unable to buy essential goods at retail stores on March 20th-22nd, and 32% on March 23rd-24th.
Dairy firms are facing similar challenges in supply of milk and other dairy products, with several smaller vans getting stopped by police. Fish and meat processes have already been hit. Click link for the full scoop. [ET Tech]
Sorry We Are Closed
Amidst the lockdown, e-retailers such as Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket and others have either suspended their services or limited deliveries to essential products. Here's a look at how they are faring. [Gadgets 360]
Facebook is reportedly in talks to buy 10% stake in Reliance Jio, which has over 370m subscribers in India.
However, the spread of the coronavirus could alter the schedule of signing the deal. [TechCrunch]
Facebook on Tuesday reported that it has seen major traffic spikes in the countries hardest-hit by the virus, with total messaging activity rising over 50% and voice/video calls on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubling. However, it also said that this spike wouldn’t shield the company from the online advertising pullback.
Within this backdrop, a deal with Jio may prove to be beneficial for Facebook. With Jio having also launched a slew of digital content, payments and (more recently) e-commerce services, Facebook would have a number of options for integrating its services.
The social media giant could also strike deals with Jio to have its apps pre-installed on Jio-sold phones and not count against data buckets. [Real Money]
Springing Back to Life
While the rest of the world goes into quarantine, China, where the coronavirus originated, is slowly emerging from a long period of lockdowns. Factories and shops across the country are resuming operations and workers are going back to their jobs as restrictions are gradually lifted. This includes Hubei province, where COVID-19 emerged, where restrictions began to be lifted today. In Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, restrictions are expected to be eased after two weeks’ time.
As the Chinese economy picks up steam, its auto and aviation industries are slowly coming back to life. The resumption in economic activity in the world’s second largest economy could provide some respite as Europe, the US and India enforce massive lockdowns of their own to stem the spread of the coronavirus. [ET Business]
The period of recovery is likely to be prolonged. Most companies expect operations to become normal only by the end of April. And many are obviously seeing money lost due to the shutdown, and see additional impact in the coming days due to the virus spreading worldwide. [AP]
It’s Not Enough
Countries around the world are imposing China-style lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus. However, health experts worry that this in itself may be insufficient.
To combat COVID-19, China locked down Wuhan and Hubei provice – and other cities – but it also augmented these efforts with other aggressive and systematic quarantine measures. These included widespread testing, turning hundreds of hotels and schools into quarantine centres, and building new hospitals. Without these additional measures, relying on a lockdown alone will only buy authorities time – but the virus could remain undefeated. [WSJ]
Light at the End of the Tunnel
American aerospace company Boeing plans to restart production of 737 MAX by May.
Boeing had halted the production of its best-selling jet after two fatal crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. [Reuters]
We Shall Overcome
As per sources, the Government is likely to agree on an economic stimulus package of more than ?1.5L cr ($19.6bn) to fight a downturn in the country that is currently locked down to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
The package could be announced by the end of the week. [Reuters]
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