April 18, 2021

The US Economy: Live Updates in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Credit…Charlotte Kesl for The New York Times

The plight of the entertainment industry deepened on Monday as the British company Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas in the United States, said it would temporarily close all 663 of its movie theaters in the United States and Britain. The move was expected to affect 40,000 employees in the United States and 5,000 in Britain.

The chain had reopened in parts of the United States and Europe over the summer, but about 200 theaters, mostly in California and New York, have been shut since the pandemic began in the spring.

The news sent Cineworld’s stock spiraling. It fell as much as 60 percent when the stock market opened in London on Monday. It was later trading about 38 percent lower on the day.

The company said it could not entice viewers back without a pipeline of new films. The news came after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced on Friday it would push back the release date of the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” to April from this fall — the second time its release date has been delayed because of the pandemic.

Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive of Cineworld, said on Sky News that delays in the opening of many films — including “Mulan,” “Black Widow,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” as well as the Bond movie — meant the company “didn’t have the goods” for customers.

“It’s the wrong decision from the studios to move the movies in such a way,” Mr. Greidinger said.

He added that he felt the company had been able to reopen with enough health and safety precautions to welcome back customers, and cited “Tenet,” the Christopher Nolan film that opened in August and September, as the most significant release this year. It has made more than $300 million in the box office globally but just $45 million of that was in the United States.

The delays by studios in releasing what would have been before the pandemic blockbuster movies, is hurting theaters all over the world. Tim Richards, the chief executive of Vue International, said that the studios were being too U.S.-centric by not acknowledging reopenings in Europe and China. “We are struggling. We are absolutely struggling,” he said on Sky News.

Mr. Greidinger did not specify when Cineworld and Regal theaters might reopen. That “might be in two months, it might even a little bit longer,” he said.

In September, Cineworld reported a pretax loss of $1.6 billion for the first half of 2020. In total, the company operates 780 cinemas and is leaving about 100 locations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania open. Last year, 90 percent of the company’s revenue was generated in the United States and Britain.

In a memo to staff in Britain, Mr. Greidinger said: “Unfortunately, we cannot operate without a proper flow of products and sadly, you, like I, have seen audience numbers dwindle to tiny and unsustainable levels and the delay of Bond has been a huge blow.”

He did not say what would happen to workers’ jobs. The British government has announced a new job support program, in which employers and the government would share the cost of topping up the wages of employees whose hours were reduced. It will replace a more generous furlough program that ends later this month. Echoing critics of the government’s new plan, Mr Greidinger told staff that because it places a greater financial burden on employers it “cannot work for us when we have almost no income.”

Anna Schaverien contributed reporting.

Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Do politics belong in retirement planning? Whether financial advisers like to address the topic or not, clients are bringing it up.

“I’ll get a phone call from one client thinking the world is falling apart, and then another thinking it’s the best time to get into the market — in the same day,” said Robert Schmansky, founder of Clear Financial Advisors in Livonia, Mich.

Financial advisers discourage people from letting political news cycles influence their retirement planning strategies. Political winds can shift in a short period, sometimes drastically, whereas saving and investing for retirement are a process that takes place over decades.

“Whenever a prospective client reaches out to me, I always ask how they found me, and what I’m getting told is they’re especially doing searches on trying to find a Black financial adviser,” said Zaneilia Harris, president of Harris & Harris Wealth Management Group in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. “I think the mere fact that they’re seeking out a Black adviser is political,” she said, adding that she observed an increase in prospective clients contacting her beginning in June.

But investors worried about their adviser’s political outlook can learn more — and hopefully set their mind at ease — with these suggestions.

  • If you think politics factor into your adviser’s strategy for your nest egg, ask for explanations. A good retirement planner will be able to articulate how the actions taken by politicians can — and can’t — affect your portfolio.

  • When emotions are running high, resist the urge to dismiss your adviser on the spot — a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to your retirement security isn’t a great idea.

  • Talk to your adviser about how specific economic policies affect your portfolio. Politics might be about people, but your investment decisions should be informed by the ramifications of, say, bond-buying or tax-code changes.

  • Try to keep an open mind. A different viewpoint from one you hold might give you valuable insight for your long-term savings goals.

  • If you want to integrate your political views more directly into your retirement planning, some advisers suggest working with someone who has knowledge and expertise in E.S.G. (environmental, social and governance) investing strategy.


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CreditCredit…Pablo Rochat

Most shoppers these days are able to routinely buy common household items like toilet paper, paper towels, pasta and beans that had been in short supply in the early weeks of the pandemic, when consumers were loading up their pantries.

But Clorox wipes remain stubbornly elusive, and for Clorox, meeting the heightened demand not only this year but well into next year will remain a challenge.

  • Only one of the five plants Clorox owns in the United States assembles the finished canisters of wipes; the company also contracts with third-party manufacturers to make the wipes. This summer, Clorox added a third shift to the plant it owns in Atlanta, running it around the clock, and increased the number of outside plants it used to make wipes.

  • The company also reduced the number of products it makes to focus on high-demand items like wipes. For instance, a new wipe that can be composted but doesn’t disinfect was sidelined.

  • Increased demand for disinfecting and cleaning products is hitting Clorox’s supply chain, making it difficult, at times, to obtain the individual pieces that make up a canister of wipes. These include the plastic container, the lid, the label, the fragrance, the five or so chemicals that are the disinfecting agents, and the substrate, or the clothlike fabric. They all come from different suppliers, most of them in the United States.

Credit…Stefano Ukmar for The New York Times

Despite hopes that New York’s real estate market would spring back to life over the summer after the coronavirus lockdown was lifted in June, sales continue to stagnate, according to a new report from the brokerage firm Douglas Elliman.

Among the findings:

  • The number of closed sales in Manhattan was down by 46 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2019.

  • Inventory was up by 27 percent — the highest gain since 2009 — and demand remains soft.

  • The median sales price for apartments, $1.1 million, was 7 percent higher than at the same time last year.

  • “The Manhattan market is crawling out of lockdown and has clearly been the outlier in the region in terms of coming back,” said Jonathan Miller, a New York appraiser and the author of the report.

  • Sales of higher-end properties, especially those in the resale market, remained flat in the second and third quarters, suggesting that sellers in the luxury sector aren’t as flexible on prices and don’t have the same sense of urgency to sell quickly. The number of condo and co-op sales in this sector dropped 47 percent this quarter compared with the same time last year.

  • One category of the market that strengthened was new development. Sales of new apartments in Manhattan represented 15.6 percent of all sales this quarter, and median prices jumped by 18 percent, to $2,886,098, from $2,449,020 in the third quarter of last year.

  • The month of September was the most active, by far. Shaun Osher, the founder and chief executive of CORE Real Estate, said two factors led to this shift: the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. As people returned to the city, the number of in-person showings skyrocketed. “If I had to guess, the number of showings are up 10 times what it was in August,” Mr. Osher said.

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