Tribune News Service

Business Budget for Thursday, September 10, 2020


Updated at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 UTC)



This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^Obamacare co-ops down from 23 to final ‘3 little miracles'<

^HEALTHCARE-ACA-COOPS:KHN—<New Mexico Health Connections’ decision to close at year’s end will leave just three of the 23 nonprofit health insurance co-ops that sprang from the Affordable Care Act.

One co-op serves customers in Maine, another in Wisconsin, and the third operates in Idaho and Montana and will move into Wyoming next year. All made money in 2019 after having survived several rocky years, according to data filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

They are also all in line to receive tens of millions of dollars from the federal government under an April Supreme Court ruling that said the government inappropriately withheld billions from insurers meant to help cushion losses from 2014 through 2016, the first three years of the ACA marketplaces. While those payments were intended to help any insurers losing money, it was vitally important to the co-ops because they had the least financial backing.

1500 by Phil Galewitz. MOVED


^Language in Seattle-area rental ads divides neighborhoods along racial lines, study finds<

REAL-RENTAL-LANGUAGE:SE — New research from the University of Washington offers some clues as to why, more than 50 years after the federal government banned housing discrimination, Seattle’s neighborhoods remain segregated by race.

The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Social Forces, suggests that language in rental ads may have racially coded subtexts, possibly reinforcing biases among white prospective tenants that less-white neighborhoods are unsafe, peripheral and uninteresting.

The study underscores many academics’, authors’ and activists’ depiction of racism as subtle, insidious and present in nearly every institution of American life — including the rental housing market.

1550 by Katherine Khashimova Long in Seattle. MOVED


^’Enough is enough’: Commissioners and cruise execs urge CDC to let cruising resume<

CORONAVIRUS-CRUISE-RESUME:MI — Five months after South Florida became a hotbed for COVID-19 cruise outbreaks, Miami-Dade commissioners and cruise executives are urging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give the cruise industry the OK to restart sailings as soon as possible.

At a virtual tourism and ports committee meeting Thursday, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa scolded the federal health agency charged with the country’s public health response to COVID-19, saying it has been too slow to communicate with the industry and must work quickly to get cruising up and running again. The deadly virus continues to claim thousands of American lives every week.

1200 by Taylor Dolven in Miami. MOVED



^US jobless claims failed to decline as expected last week<

^CORONAVIRUS-JOBS:BLO—<Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits failed to decline as expected last week, a sign extensive job losses are persisting as the nation continues to struggle to control the coronavirus.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs were unchanged at 884,000 in the week ended Sept. 5, Labor Department data showed Thursday.

The unexpectedly high levels of claims underscore the uneven nature of the labor market’s recovery. Many businesses are hiring or bringing back workers, yet millions remain unemployed and others are on the chopping block as more companies announce job cuts and small-business aid runs dry.

200 by Reade Pickert. (Moved as a national story.) MOVED


^Amazon raised prices on essentials amid pandemic, watchdog says<

^CORONAVIRUS-AMAZON-GOUGING:BLO—<Amazon.com Inc. charged inflated prices for hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and other essentials months after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a consumer watchdog said in a report accusing the world’s largest online retailer of price gouging.

The report, released Thursday by Public Citizen, examines roughly two dozen products on Amazon’s site. Relying on its own observations and data from price-tracking sites, the nonprofit public interest group documented price increases of as much as 1,000% when compared with pre-pandemic levels or prices at other large retailers.

550 by Matt Day and Spencer Soper. MOVED


^Citi names Fraser as first female CEO of Wall Street bank<

^CITIGROUP-CEO:BLO—<Citigroup Inc. picked Jane Fraser as its next chief executive officer, placing the first woman atop a major Wall Street bank.

Fraser will succeed Mike Corbat, who is retiring in February after more than eight years in the top job. Fraser, who was named the company’s president last year in a move that marked her as the heir apparent, has run the bank’s consumer unit, private bank and Latin American operations in her 16-year tenure.

550 by Jenny Surane. MOVED


^Target pledges to increase number of Black employees by 20%<

TARGET-DIVERSITY:MS — Target Corp. plans to increase its number of Black employees by 20% over the next three years as part of its growing efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive company, executives said.

The retailer on Thursday announced its latest commitment to racial equity as it also made public more detailed information about the ethnic and gender makeup of its employees and leaders.

Target’s total workforce last year was 360,000, with 25% of employees Latino, 15% Black, 5% Asian and 5% people who identified as mixed race, American Indian or other underrepresented groups.

600 by Nicole Norfleet in Minneapolis. MOVED


^La Nina upheaval to roil global food production, prices<

^FARM-WEATHER-UPHEAVAL:BLO—<The La Nina weather system could roil global food production, sending prices higher, as potential droughts and floods bring upheaval to a suite of key agricultural commodities from Southeast Asia to South America.

The highly anticipated phenomenon has officially formed, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday, after the last significant La Nina event occurred in 2011.

During that period, upheaval in commodity production led to steep increase in world food prices, with the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture World Food Price Index surging to a record in February 2011, up 37% from the end of 2009.

900 by Ainslie Chandler. MOVED


^Ben Affleck movie sues insurer over dispute over COVID-19 insurance<

^CORONAVIRUS-AFFLECK-INSURER:LA—<The Los Angeles-based production company behind a Ben Affleck heist movie sued its insurer after it refused to extend coverage without excluding losses linked to COVID-19.

The suit for breach of contract and fraud filed in Los Angeles district court on Thursday alleged Chubb National Insurance, which provided Hoosegow Productions Inc. with a multi-million-dollar film producers risk policy, reneged on an agreement after it refused to extend cover after the shoot was delayed.

After the April production start date was derailed by the health crisis, the insurer said it would renew the policy only without covering losses linked to COVID-19, the producers alleged.

700 by Anousha Sakoui. MOVED


^Trump team eyes giving TikTok’s owners more time to line up sale<

^CPT-TIKTOK-TRUMP:BLO—<The Trump administration is considering whether to give more time to TikTok’s Chinese owners to arrange a sale of the popular video-sharing app’s U.S. operations to an American buyer, according to people familiar with the matter.

TikTok’s owner ByteDance Ltd. is likely to miss President Donald Trump’s publicly stated deadline of Sept. 15 for the company to strike a deal to divest its U.S. operations after new Chinese regulations complicated negotiations with bidders Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp., Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

500 by Saleha Mohsin. MOVED



^What will happen to Seattle’s empty office towers when COVID-19 ends?<

REAL-POSTCOVID-OFFICE:SE — As many white-collar employers extend into next year the work-from-home policies they instituted in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a vast amount of vertical space in downtown Seattle is leased but empty.

The vacant space amounts to more than 700 football fields, by one estimate — acres of desks, with knickknacks and mementos that few but cleaning staff, maintenance crews and interior landscapers have seen for nigh on six months.

It’s not clear when workers might begin trickling back into that space or what could become of it in the meantime. “If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they’re fibbing,” said Rod Kauffman, president of the local Building Owners and Managers Association.

1750 by Katherine Khashimova Long in Seattle. MOVED


^From free rent to gift cards, landlords are trying to entice renters with bargains<

REAL-RENT-CONCESSIONS:PH — Touted as a boutique luxury apartment building in the nexus of a tony suburb just outside Philadelphia, the Delwyn in Bala Cynwyd planned to open in the spring and charge as much as $2,430 a month for its biggest units.

After the pandemic delayed construction, the Delwyn was ready to open in September. And with a concession: no rent for the rest of the year for the 87 unoccupied units in the building, which was developed by Federal Realty Investment Trust and is managed by Greystar.

In return, he said, it could be expected that property managers would ask tenants to sign longer leases.

850 by Katie Park in Philadelphia. MOVED


^Erik J. Martin: What is a title search? How this important step can make or break your closing <

^REAL-BANKRATE-TITLE:MCT—<There are a lot of hurdles to clear when purchasing a home. You need to obtain the necessary financing, the property needs to be professionally appraised and inspected, and you need a title search to ensure you can legally own the property free and clear.

1250 by Erik J. Martin. MOVED


^Lee Nelson: Here’s exactly how much home staging costs — and when it’s worth it<

^REAL-BANKRATE-STAGING:MCT—<If you’re selling your home, you know it should be clean and clutter-free, along with photogenic.

Home staging can help accomplish this, and has been proven to bring in more interested buyers and sell your home quicker and for more money. In fact, 85% of staged homes sell for 5 percent-23% over list price, and a staged home can stay on the market for just 23 days, according to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

1000 by Lee Nelson. MOVED


^Manhattan apartment listings soar, pushing vacancies to a record<

^REAL-MANHATTAN-VACANCIES:BLO—<Manhattan apartments are piling up on the market — and it’s getting harder to fill them.

Rental listings jumped to a record 15,025 at the end of August, more then double the inventory from a year earlier, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The borough’s vacancy rate reached a new high of 5.1%. Last August, it was under 2%.

250 by Oshrat Carmiel. MOVED


^As homes become offices, gyms and more, COVID-19 has upended how we think our living spaces should work<

REAL-CORONAVIRUS-LIVING-SPACES:TB — Your home is working overtime during the pandemic. For many, what was once just a dwelling has become classroom, office, restaurant, gym, movie theater and more. COVID-19 has not only kept most of us confined to our quarters for the past six months — it has also altered the very definition of home.

As homebuyers increasingly seek out pandemic-friendly features like home offices and expansive outdoor space, Chicago-area real estate developers, designers and agents are helping them find the features they need to live in this new normal.

In a survey of 1,000 respondents who have bought a home during the COVID-19 pandemic, or plan to by the end of 2020, 40% said the pandemic changed what features they look for in a new house, according to the home listing site Homes.com.

1100 by Lauren Leazenby in Chicago. MOVED



Find here a daily Wall Street roundup graphic featuring Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq data.

The 1-column x 4-inch graphic, Wall Street, will be posted by 6:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday.

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^Real estate Q&A: Can my partner’s children break my lease after he dies?<

^REAL-REALESTATE-QA:FL—<My partner and I live together in his house. He wants to leave the house to his children but gave me a lease agreement that allows me to continue living here if he passes away. If this happens, can his children sell the property and break the lease?

400 by Gary M. Singer. MOVED



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