Posts tagged with "CNBC"

In nine states nationwide, the wealthy are looking at a tax increase

September 28, 2020

Legislators in nine states—among them, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland—have renewed their efforts to hike taxes on high earners. The states are facing multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls, due to the costs of the coronavirus pandemic; as well as lost revenue from shuttered businesses.

Indeed, Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the wealthy—who have largely have escaped the economic hardships of the pandemic—should pay more of the costs and help those who have suffered most, reports CNBC.

However, Republicans and some Democratic governors say tax hikes at the state level will only cause the wealthy to move to lower-tax states, such as Florida and Texas.

After New Jersey passed its “millionaire’s tax” last September— under which state residents who earn more than $1million per year will face higher income taxes, while 800,000 lower-income families will get a tax rebate—legislators in other states renewed similar efforts with greater vigor.

Along with New York, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont have proposed various forms of tax increases on high earners, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Those states account for more than one-third of the U.S. population, and nearly half of the nation’s millionaires, according to population data and wealth surveys.

Research contact: @CNBC

Cuomo rips into CDC as Trump’s political tool; says New York won’t follow new virus guidance

August 27, 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on August 26 that his state won’t be following the CDC’s new guidance on coronavirus testing—and urged others to do the same, reports CNBC.

The federal agency has quietly revised its guidance on coronavirus testing to say that people who are asymptomatic, but have been exposed to an infected person, might not need to be screened.

Previously, the Centers for Disease Control had recommended testing for anyone with a “recent known or suspected exposure” to the virus—even if they did not have symptoms. Indeed, the CDC’s previous guidance cited “the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission” as a reason why people without symptoms who were exposed to the virus be “quickly identified and tested.”

Numerous studies have shown that people who don’t have symptoms can still carry and spread the virus — even a few days before symptoms appear or if they never develop symptoms.

Shame on the people at the CDC,” Cuomo said, calling the change in guidance “indefensible.” 

The new guidance, published on Monday, August 24, advises that people without symptoms who were in close contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes “do not necessarily need a test.” The guidance still recommends testing for vulnerable people; if they have come within 6 feet of someone with a confirmed infection for at least 15 minutes.

“We’re not going to follow the CDC guidance. I consider it political propaganda. I would caution private companies against following the CDC guidance. I think it is wholly indefensible on its face. I think it is inherently self-contradictory. It is the exact opposite of what the CDC has been saying,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “So either the CDC is schizophrenic or they are admitting error in their first position or this is just political dictations.”

Cuomo also criticized the CDC for failing to alert Americans to the threat of the coronavirus earlier, before it arrived in the U.S.A. and began to spread rapidly in parts of the country, including the New York tristate region.

“They either lied to the American people or they’re incompetent, because they didn’t track the virus in China. And they didn’t track the virus leaving China and going to Europe,” Cuomo said. “The CDC either totally missed it, or they were ordered not to speak about it. This just evidences, once again, political control over what’s supposed to be a public health organization.”

Cuomo went on to allege that the testing recommendations were changed “because they don’t want publicity that there is a COVID problem.”

“Because the president’s politics are COVID isn’t the problem, we’re past COVID,” Cuomo said. “It’s all about the economy, and the economy is doing great. We’re going to focus on the economy. And that’s his reelection strategy. So he’s using the CDC as a campaign rhetorical device.”

Research contact: @CNBC

‘The doctor is in’: Walgreens to bring Village MD into 700 pharmacy locations

July 9, 2020

It’s a primary care center, a drugstore, and a pharmacy—all under one roof, Forbes reports.

The convergence of sectors within healthcare continued on July 8 with the announcement that Walgreens, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, will open full-service doctor’s offices in up to 700 locations within the next five years in a deal that gives Walgreens a $1 billion equity stake in Chicago-based VillageMD.

Forbes notes that, following a successful trial last year, Walgreens will become the first national pharmacy chain to offer full-service doctor offices co-located at its stores at a large scale—a big step beyond the kiosk-like setups in many Walgreens locations that offer flu shots and some pharmacist consultations.

Rival CVS Health, which owns health insurer Aetna, already has announced plans to expand its HealthHub locations—drugstores that offer more health services and products—by opening 1,500 locations by the end of 2021, according to CNBC.

The Walgreens/VillageMD locations will be staffed by more than 3,600 primary care providers, who will be recruited by VillageMD and also will “uniquely integrate the pharmacist as a critical member of VillageMD’s multi-disciplinary team,” Walgreens said.

The clinics will accept a wide range of health insurance options, offer primary care “across a broad range of physician services,” offer 24/7 care via telehealth and at-home visits—and at least half of the locations will be in medically underserved areas, according to Walgreens.

This rollout follows a trial with five in-store clinics in the Houston area, which produced “very strong results” after opening last November including high patient satisfaction scores, according to Walgreens.

Most of the clinics will be about 3,330 square feet, with some as large as 9,000 square feet.

Research contact: @Forbes

Bono-backed Beautycounter is bringing its clean makeup to the masses at Sephora

June 23, 2020

On August 7, Beautycounter—a beauty brand with a much-hyped “Never List” of 1,800 ingredients that are not used in the production of its clean products—is launching some of its most popular confections at the stores of makeup retail giant Sephora in a bid to bring its clean mission to the masses.

The products will hit Sephora’s website even sooner, on July 7, for a limited time only, CNBC reports.  “It’s an opportunity to really validate the movement for clean,” CEO Gregg Renfrew told the cable news outlet in a phone interview, adding, “We have an army of advocates, and we want more voices to our movement.”

For LVMH-owned Sephora, the partnership advances its commitment to stocking its shelves with more clean beauty products, building on the trend toward using only safe and sustainable personal-care products. Beautycounter’s merchandise will be featured online on Sephora’s “Clean Makeup” page, alongside brands such as Kosas and Supergoop.

“We also know our clients continue to seek high-performing, clean beauty products,” Artemis Patrick, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Sephora, said in a statement.

Beautycounter’s business has been unconventional from the start — in that it eschewed the first-floor makeup counters of traditional department stores in favor of a model more akin to the cosmetics giant Avon.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, it launched as a direct-to-consumer business in 2013, selling through its own website and web of consultants—of which it has more than 60,000 today. It was first founded by Renfrew in 2011.

Many of these consultants are so-called micro-influencers, according to Renfrew, and they tout Beautycounter’s merchandise through their social media accounts with thousands of followers, or over virtual Zoom gatherings. They receive up to 35% commission on their retail volumes, she said. And many of the consultants will actually build out their own teams and sell together, Renfrew added.

According to CNBC, Beautycounter currently has three boutiques—in Denver, in New York City, and a seasonal pop-up in Nantucket— with another set to open in Los Angeles later this year.

Beautycounter has raised $106.9 million to date, according to PitchBook. The privately held company, whose roster of investors includes the U2 frontman Bono and the private-equity firm TPG, was most recently valued at about $400 million.

Research contact: @CNBC

NBA drops Spalding as official basketball supplier after 37 years

May 15, 2020

The NBA has “bounced” Kentucky-based Spalding off its list of suppliers—ending a 37-year relationship with the sporting goods company that produced its custom-made basketballs, the league announced on Wednesday, May 13.

The new contract for the game balls has been awarded to Chicago-based Wilson, starting with the 2021-22 season, the league announced according to a report by CNBC.

“This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future,” Salvatore LaRocca, the NBA’s president of Global Partnerships said in a statement.  “We were partners … dating back to when Wilson manufactured the first official NBA basketballs in 1946, and we look forward to growing the game of basketball together.”

The financial terms of the NBA’s partnership with Wilson were not disclosed.

“Our commitment to growing the game of basketball on the global stage is at the heart of Wilson and our new partnership with the NBA,” Kevin Murphy, GM of Wilson basketball division said in a statement. “Our passion for this game and the league runs incredibly deep, as does our history with it. And as we start this new chapter in the game, our focus and energy will be on supporting the league and the players, coaches and fans with the most advanced, high-performance game basketballs possible.”

The end of the NBA’s partnership with Spalding comes as a bit of a surprise in sports circles. The company, which begin making the basketballs exclusively for the NBA starting in 1983, had just advised the league on cleaning equipment once games resume after the COVID-19 stoppage.

After 30 years using leather balls, the company switched to a synthetic version of basketballs in 2006, only to suffer backlash CNBC reports. Spalding eventually sought feedback from players before making another switch.

The company, which produced the world’s first basketball in 1894, became the official backboard of the NBA in 2009.

Wilson is owned by Finland based company Amer Sports.

Research contact: @CNBC

New York City partners with Salesforce on COVID-19 contact tracing program

May 11, 2020

New York City—the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with over 26,000 deaths from the disease and more than 55,500 recoveries  celebrated—is partnering with san Francisco-based Salesforce, to build the city’s COVID-19 contact tracing program, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on May 8.

Salesforce will deploy a call center as well as a customer relationship and case management system that will help the city to track people who have had contact with those who have tested positive for the virus—and isolate them before they become sick, according to a report by CNBC.

De Blasio explained that the city is implementing a “test and trace corps” that will be tasked with testing New Yorkers for the infection.  The partnership will be “up and running” by the end of May, he said.

“It will allow us to track every case, analyze the data constantly, keep the right information on each and every case, manage the whole process efficiently,” de Blasio said. “This is going to be a huge effort, just think how it grows and grows over the weeks, but it’s something that if we do right continually will constrain this disease.”

The goal is to hire 2,500 public health “foot soldiers” by June, who will be trained using the contact tracing program led by Mike Bloomberg in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. There have been nearly 7,000 applications for the program already, de Blasio said.

A spokesperson for Salesforce confirmed the company’s partnership to CNBC, but didn’t provide any further details.

In late April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tapped Bloomberg to head the state’s contact tracing program. Bloomberg said his team is developing three smartphone apps to help the state trace every person who comes into contact with someone infected with Covid-19.

Cuomo has said the state will need to hire at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people in order to begin reopening the state’s economy, CNBC noted.

Research contact: @CNBC

Companies pledge not to lay off workers amid COVID-19 unemployment crisis

April 14, 2020

A record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. But several employers—in the consulting and financial services sectors—have pledged to hold off on job cuts, and are offering workers a financial cushion, The Washington Post reports.

Indeed, as early as evening of March 19—as stay-at-home orders were just going out in a number of states , but reports of job layoffs already were surging—New York City-based professional services firm Marsh & McLennan CEO Dan Glaser made a pledge to his employees.

“I want to say to all of you that while we are in the thick of this global pandemic, your job is secure,” Glaser said in a video message to the firm’s 76,000 global employees, including workers in its insurance and risk management, human resources, management consulting and reinsurance brokerage businesses.

“There will be no counting of sick days or vacation days until things return to normal,” he reassured workers, announcing the creation of a $5 million fund that would offer grants to employees facing financial hardship and reminded people of the “formidable resources and financial strength” of the company. “We will be fine — if you are fine.”

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the economy and brings a once-roaring labor market to a near-screeching halt, layoffs have mounted at a stunning pace, the Post reports.  For Glaser, the calculus of making such a temporary pledge is far different than for a small retailer or travel industry start-up. Although he expects a “rough period,” he said, “we are among the fortunate not to have to worry about profitability or whether we’re going to survive.”

But because Marsh & McLennan is in what Glaser likes to call “a brains business” — reliant on his employees’ ability to focus on clients— he wanted to assuage fears and concerns. “Are we really going to have somebody remotely call somebody at their home— not knowing their personal circumstances in any degree, not knowing whether they have a loved one in the next room who’s struggling—and let them go?” Glaser said in an interview with the Washington Post. “What would that say about us as a company?”

Several large financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, said last week they will suspend layoffs until the end of the year.

“We don’t want our teammates to worry about their jobs during a time like this,” Bank of America CEO  Brian Moynihan said in a CNBC interview posted on March 27. “We told them there’s no issue, you’re going to be working now through year end. No layoffs, nothing. We’ll continue to pay everybody.”

San Francisco-based payments company Visa will have no COVID-19 layoffs in 2020, CEO Alfred F. Kelly Jrsaid on LinkedIn.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledged March 25 “not to conduct any significant lay offs over the next 90 days,” and to continue to pay hourly workers while offices are shut down. He also encouraged employees to keep paying dog walkers and housekeepers during the crisis.

In subsequent tweets, the Post reports, he encouraged other chief executives to follow suit, calling for a “90-day CEO no layoff pledge.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Intelligence warned of COVID-19 crisis as early as November; White House did not respond

April 9, 2020

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region—changing the patterns of life and business, and posing a major threat to the population—according to four sources briefed on the secret report, ABC News revealed on April 8.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images, ABC News reports. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia—troops that depend on the NCMI’s work.

What’s more important, the network news outlet notes, it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

“Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. “It was then briefed multiple times to” the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and the White House.

From that warning in November, the sources described repeated briefings through December for policy-makers and decision-makers across the federal government as well as the National Security Council at the White House.

All of that culminated with a detailed explanation of the problem that appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January, the sources told ABC News . For something to have appeared in the PDB, it would have had to go through weeks of vetting and analysis, according to people who have worked on presidential briefings in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing,” the source said of preliminary reports from Wuhan. “But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on.”

The NCMI report was made available widely to people authorized to access intelligence community alerts. Following the report’s release, other intelligence community bulletins began circulating through confidential channels across the government around Thanksgiving, the sources said. Those analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept such crucial information from foreign governments and public health agencies.

“It would be a significant alarm that would have been set off by this,” former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Mick Mulroy, now an ABC News contributor, said of the NCMI report. “And it would have been something that would be followed up by literally every intelligence-collection agency.”

Mulroy, who previously served as a senior official at the CIA, said NCMI does serious work that senior government leaders do not ignore.

“Medical intelligence takes into account all source information — imagery intelligence, human intelligence, signals intelligence,” Mulroy said. “Then there’s analysis by people who know those specific areas. So for something like this to have come out, it has been reviewed by experts in the field. They’re taking together what those pieces of information mean and then looking at the potential for an international health crisis.”

NCMI is a component of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. Together, the agencies’ core responsibilities are to ensure U.S. military forces have the information they need to carry out their missions—both offensively and defensively. It is a critical priority for the Pentagon to keep American service members healthy on deployments.

However, as late as the third week in January, the Trump Administration believed no significant action was necessary. On January 22, for instance, Trump made his first comments about the virus when asked in a CNBC interview, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” The president responded, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Passengers wear facemasks as they form a queue at the Wuhan Wuchang Railway Station in Wuhan, early April 8, 2020, as they prepare to leave the city in China’s central Hubei province.Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

On February 19, ABC News notes, Trump had only positive reviews for the way in which China’s leaders had handled the coronavirus.

“I’m confident that they’re trying very hard,” Trump told an interviewer from Fox 10 in Phoenix. “They’re working it—they built, they built a hospital in seven days, and now they’re building another one. I think it’s going to work out fine.”

It was not until March 13 when Trump declared a national emergency and mobilized the vast resources of the federal government to help public-health agencies deal with the crisis that was poised to crash on to the homeland.

If it were true that America’s spy agencies were caught that off guard, one intelligence official told ABC News, “that would be a massive intel failure on the order of 9/11. But it wasn’t. They had the intelligence.”

ABC News contributor John Cohen, who used to oversee intelligence operations at the Department of Homeland Security, said even the best information would be of no use if officials do not act on it.

“When responding to a public health crisis or any other serious security threat, it is critical that our leaders react quickly and take steps to address the threat identified in the intelligence reporting,” said Cohen, the former acting undersecretary of DHS. “It’s not surprising to me that the intelligence community detected the outbreak; what is surprising and disappointing is that the White House ignored the clear warning signs, failed to follow established pandemic response protocols and were slow to put in place a government-wide effort to respond to this crisis.”

Research contact: @abcnewsC

Medtronic posts design specs for ventilator to combat coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Medical equipment company Medtronic announced on March 30 that it would publicly share the design specifications for a ventilator product, in order to enable other companies to explore producing it rapidly to help meet demand driven by the novel coronavirus.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company posted online the design documents, service manuals and other information for its Puritan Bennett 560, which is sold in 35 countries. The company plans to post software code and other information shortly.

What’s more, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports,  Medtronic will get an assist from automaker Tesla Inc., which will convert a New York production plant to churn out medical devices instead of solar power cells.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak discussed the partnership in an interview with CNBC, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter, “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

Medtronic has ramped up production of another of its ventilators in recent weeks, the Puritan Bennett 980.

“By openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against Covid-19,” said Bob White, executive vice president and president of the Minimally Invasive Therapies group at Medtronics.

Ventilators are needed for people severely ill with the coronavirus who have trouble breathing on their own. Hospitals and state officials have increased orders for the machines, and manufacturers have boosted production, but some health experts say there may not be enough to meet a surge in cases in coming weeks.

Research contact: @WSJ

Udacity offers one month of free tech training during COVID-19 crisis

March 27, 2020

Online learning platform Udacity is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering free tech training to workers who have been laid off, furloughed, or are sheltering in place, due to the crisis.

On March 26, the Mountain View, California-based company announced on its blog that it will offer its courses—known as nanodegrees—free for one month. The average price for an individual signing up for a nanodegree is about $400 a month, and the degrees take anywhere from four to six months to complete, according to the company.

Gabe Dalporto, CEO of Udacity, told CNBC that over the past few weeks, as he and his senior leadership team heard projections of skyrocketing unemployment numbers as a result of COVID-19, he felt the need to act. “I think those reports were a giant wake-up call for everybody,” he says. “This [virus] will create disruption across the board and in many industries, and we wanted to do our part to help.”

Dalporto says Udacity is funding the scholarships completely and that displaced workers can apply for them at udacity.com/pledge-to-americas-workers .

Udacity will take the first 50 eligible applicants from each company that applies, and within 48 hours individuals should be able to begin the coursework. Dalporto says the offer will be good for the first 20 companies that apply and that “after that we’ll evaluate and figure out how many more scholarships we are going to fund.

The hope is that while individuals wait to go back to work, or in the event that the layoff is permanent, they can get training in fields that are driving so much of today’s digital transformation. Udacity’s courses include artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital marketing, product management, data analysis, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, among others.

The company also announced this week that any individual, regardless of whether they’ve been laid off, can enroll for free in any one of Udacity’s 40 different nanodegree programs. Users will get the first month free when they enroll in a monthly subscription, but Dalporto pointed out that many students can complete a course in a month if they dedicate enough time to it.

Dalporto says. “The great irony in the world right now is that at the same time that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs, there are areas in corporations where managers just can’t hire enough people for jobs in data analytics, cloud computing and AI.”

Research contact: @CNBC