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The Daily Ten – Trump has Corona, Manhattan Office Space Vacancy Soars, Amazon launches Alexa for cars, Manhattan landlords offer free rent…

October 2, 2020by Steve NsonNews

The Daily Ten – Trump has Corona, Manhattan Office Space Vacancy Soars, Amazon launches Alexa for cars, Manhattan landlords offer free rent…

October 2, 2020 by Steve Nson
Friday, October 2nd, 2020

The Daily Ten

1. Trump Tests Positive for Covid-19, and the World Shudders | New York Times

The news of an American president contracting a potentially lethal virus carried global repercussions beyond that of any other world leader.

LONDON — Once again, the world shuddered at news about President Trump. This time, it wasn’t something he had said or done, but rather the announcement that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump is not the first world leader to be infected. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil both tested positive. Mr. Johnson ended up in an intensive-care unit where, he said later, “things could have gone either way.”

But Mr. Trump, 74, is older and at higher risk than either of those men. And the news of an American president contracting a potentially lethal virus carried global repercussions beyond that of any other world leader. Financial markets fell in Asia and looked set to open lower in Europe and the United States.

Expressions of concern and good wishes for Mr. Trump’s speedy recovery — as well as that of the first lady, Melania Trump, who was also infected — poured in from leaders in Russia, India, Britain and other countries.

“My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady,” Mr. Johnson said on Twitter. “Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus.”

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2. Consumer Spending Rose in August, but Incomes Pose Hurdle for U.S. Recovery | WSJ

Commerce Department report shows personal income fell 2.7% due to a drop in unemployment benefits

A drop in household income and persistently high layoffs are threatening to further slow the U.S. economic recovery, which already appears to be losing momentum as the pandemic continues.

Personal income—what households received from salaries, investments and government aid—fell 2.7% in August as enhanced unemployment checks shrank, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Meanwhile, another 837,000 workers filed for unemployment compensation last week after being recently laid off, the Labor Department said. In total, nearly…

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3. Manhattan Office Space Floods Market in Biggest Jump Since 2008 | Bloomberg

Office space is flooding the market in Manhattan, as companies look to cut costs during the pandemic.

Tenants put 2.5 million square feet (232,258 square meters) up for sublease in the third quarter, more than double the space a year earlier and the biggest quarterly increase since the end of 2008, according to a report by Savills.

Manhattan offices, which emptied out when the pandemic hit in March, are still largely vacant. And with workers staying home, employers in New York are rethinking how much space they need.

The sublease space added in the third quarter brought the supply to 16.1 million square feet, just 200,000 shy of the high from 2009, when the financial crisis battered New York City.

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4. Home Sales Surge in Resort Towns Even as Covid Looms Large Over Ski Season | WSJ

People fleeing big cities amid the pandemic are swarming mountain towns in search of more space and the great outdoors

Rob Turner is a big skier. But it wasn’t skiing that pushed him to make an all-cash, $1.3 million offer on a three-bedroom, four-bathroom, penthouse condo with ski-run views in Park City, Utah, in August.

The impetus to buy this summer was the town’s quality of life—a welcome respite from his home in San Francisco, where the pandemic and recent wildfires have made it unpleasant to go outside. Mr. Turner isn’t the least bit worried that coronavirus-related restrictions will limit skiing in Park City this year.

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5. New Layoffs Add to Worries Over U.S. Economic Slowdown | New York Times

A standoff over further federal aid and concern over the pandemic’s duration are pushing companies to eliminate jobs.

The American economy is being buffeted by a fresh round of corporate layoffs, signaling new anxiety about the course of the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about further legislative relief.

Companies including Disney, the insurance giant Allstate and two major airlines announced plans to fire or furlough more than 60,000 workers in recent days, and more cuts are expected without a new federal aid package to stimulate the economy.

With the election a month away, an agreement has proved elusive. The White House and congressional Democrats held talks on Thursday before the House narrowly approved a $2.2 trillion proposal without any Republican support. It was little more than a symbolic vote: The measure will not become law without a bipartisan deal.

After business shutdowns in the early spring threw 22 million people out of work, the economy rebounded in May and June with the help of stimulus money and rock-bottom interest rates. But the loss of momentum since then, coupled with fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases this fall, has left many experts uneasy about the months ahead.

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6. Amazon said nearly 20,000 workers got coronavirus | CNN Business

(CNN Business)Amazon said Thursday that 19,816 of its front-line US employees at Amazon and Whole Foods have tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus, shedding light for the first time on how its workforce has been impacted by Covid-19.

Amazon had repeatedly resisted sharing comprehensive data with the public and with its own workers about the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases at its warehouses, which have become crucial hubs for household supplies during the pandemic. Despite numerous confirmed cases at Amazon warehouses across the country, and around the world, the e-commerce giant has downplayed the significance of releasing site or aggregate data, making it difficult to get a clear picture of overall infections at its sites.

In a blog post, the company said it did a “thorough analysis of data on all 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the US employed at any time from March 1 to September 19, 2020.”

Amazon said it then compared its case rates to the general population during the same period, using reporting from Johns Hopkins University. It claimed that the number of its employees that tested, or were presumed to be, positive was 42% lower than expected based by that comparison.

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7. Ex-Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff jumps back into real estate, launches startup with former colleagues to help people buy second homes | GeekWire

Former Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff and dotloop founder Austin Allison are teaming up on a new startup called Pacaso that aims to make it easier for more people to own a vacation home.

“This is an entirely new category of second home ownership,” said Allison, who sold his real estate startup to Zillow in 2015.

The company came out of stealth mode today, announcing a $17 million seed round led by Seattle venture capital firm Maveron, with participation from Crosscut, Global Founders Capital, and individual investors such as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, real estate coach Tom Ferry, former Zillow executive Greg Schwartz, and Amazon CEO of Consumer Worldwide Jeff Wilke. Pacaso also raised $250 million in debt financing to purchase homes.

People have owned second homes for decades. But it can be expensive to purchase and maintain a property that often goes mostly unused throughout the year. There are 30 million second homes across the U.S. and Europe, but they are only occupied 4-to-6 weeks per year on average, Allison said.

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8. Amazon launches Alexa smartphone app features for car commuters | Venture Beat

In a blog post this morning, Amazon unveiled two new car-focused features for its Alexa voice assistant. Auto Mode turns the Alexa smartphone app into a responsive, driver-friendly display, while Start My Commute provides on-demand weather, traffic updates, and a choice of entertainment. Auto Mode will be rolling out to iOS and Android customers in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand in the coming weeks. Start My Commute will initially only be available in the U.S. when it launches in the same time frame.

The new capabilities come as used car sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic. As the New York Times reports, buyers are snatching up used vehicles as second or third cars so they can avoid trains, buses, taxis, and other potentially high-risk infection vectors. Others are purchasing used rather than new to save cash in an uncertain economy. In June, franchised car dealers sold 1.2 million used cars and trucks, according to Edmunds — up 22% from a year earlier.

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9. Manhattan Landlords’ Latest Lure: Free Rent Until Next Year | WSJ

“Don’t pay rent until 2021,” is the message blaring from a web page of New York apartment listings by Related Cos.

Manhattan landlord Stonehenge says you can “Live free for 3” in some of its units. That’s in addition to the Citi Bike membership and American Express gift cards the company is offering students and recent graduates who sign leases.

Landlords are growing more desperate as they struggle to fill apartments amid an urban exodus. And they’re no longer reluctant to show their hand: Generous giveaways that just months ago were hashed out behind the scenes are now advertised boldly for anyone browsing online.

“You can’t hide it anymore,” said Gary Malin, chief operating officer of brokerage Corcoran Group, which represents landlords. “Owners are saying to themselves, ‘I’d rather be honest from the beginning, rather than play a game back and forth, and otherwise lose a tenant.’”

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10. Workers are quietly trickling back to Los Angeles offices | Los Angeles Times

The number of people working in Southern California office buildings has more than doubled in recent weeks, according to one real estate expert, as some companies begin to return from the great business shutdown enacted in March to cope with the pandemic.

Building operators are gearing up for a phased return as some companies — especially those in creative fields such as entertainment — ease back into offices that are being prepped to provide more elbow room for rotating teams of workers, as COVID-19 remains a persistent health threat.

“The newness of remote working has worn off for people and settled into fatigue,” said Bob Nowak, a property manager at JLL who oversees 20 million square feet of offices for different landlords. “People want to return to their working business centers and collaborative cultures as quick as they can.”

Nowak estimates that occupancy of office workers has grown from 10% of building capacity after the shutdown to as much as 25%. That still leaves office enclaves such as downtown Los Angeles’ financial district barren of life compared with pre-pandemic days, but marks a trend toward partial reoccupancy.

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