Boeing faces new questions on the development of its latest big plane.

Daily Business Briefing June 28, 2021 Updated  June 28, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ET June 28, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ET U.S. regulators have not...

Daily Business Briefing

June 28, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ET

June 28, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ET

U.S. regulators have notified Boeing that its newest wide-body plane, the 777X, will require more than two years of additional testing and analysis before it can be certified.
Credit…Jason Redmond/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Boeing has suffered a setback in its effort to win regulatory approval for the 777X, a large jet designed for long-range flights.

After nine months of deliberations, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a May 13 letter to Boeing that it was unconvinced that the company was ready to move ahead with “type inspection authorization.” Securing that authorization signifies that a plane is about three-fourths of the way to being certified and is necessary to move forward in that process.

The F.A.A. said that it would need to commit more agency resources to certifying the plane, that Boeing might need to conduct more test flights and that the 777X was unlikely to be certified before late 2023. Originally scheduled to enter service in 2020, the 777X has been delayed many times. Boeing’s chief executive said earlier this year that he did not expect certification until late 2023.

“Boeing remains fully focused on safety as our highest priority throughout 777X development,” the company said in a statement. “As we subject the airplane to a comprehensive test program to demonstrate its safety and reliability, we are working through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable requirements.”

News of the letter, reported Sunday by The Seattle Times, comes as Boeing struggles to overcome problems on several fronts. It also reflects frustration within the agency that Boeing continues to pursue approval for proposed fixes and certifications without fully meeting regulatory requirements, even after a crisis involving the 737 Max, the star of Boeing’s commercial airplane fleet.

The Max, which is designed for shorter flights, was banned worldwide in early 2019 after two fatal crashes. Airlines were able to start using the single-aisle plane again late last year, but some customers had to stop flying it in the spring as Boeing investigated a potential electrical concern. In May, the F.A.A. approved a fix for that problem, which affected only some Max jets.

In addition, Boeing has twice halted deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner, a jet designed for long-range flights. After suspending deliveries last year, the company started handing the plane over to customers again in March. Boeing shipped about a dozen before it stopped deliveries again last month as the F.A.A. sought more information about the company’s inspections of the plane.

As with the Dreamliner, the holdup with the 777X centers on a contention by the F.A.A. that Boeing must do more to satisfy the agency’s concerns. Specifically, the letter cited incomplete design reviews, insufficient data and concerns over a December test flight in which the nose of the aircraft suddenly shifted direction. Boeing said the December flight had continued without incident and landed safely. It plans to address the cause of the event in a software update.

At an investor conference this month, Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s chief executive, said he was pleased with the plane’s progress toward certification.

“I have lots of confidence in it,” he said at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. “We love it. We want to do it. We think it fills an important part of the marketplace. It’s an incredibly efficient airplane, and we think it flies on its own.”

The United Auto Workers on Monday chose a key finance official to take over as the union’s president until the next scheduled leadership election in June 2022.

Ray Currie, 55, the union’s secretary-treasurer, was named to the top position by the union’s board and will become president July 1. He will succeed Rory L. Gamble, who announced his retirement last week.

As secretary-treasurer, Mr. Currie helped put in place financial and ethics reforms after a series of corruption scandals that led to guilty pleas by two former U.A.W. presidents, a dozen other union officials and three Fiat Chrysler executives.

“I pledge to continue to build upon our commitment to a culture of transparency, reforms and checks and balances,” Mr. Currie said in a statement.

He will take over a union whose members won wage increases in 2019 contract talks and have enjoyed hefty profit-sharing bonuses from General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, which is now part of Stellantis after its merger with the French automaker Peugeot.

But the U.A.W. also faces many challenges as automakers shift to production of electric vehicles, which have fewer parts and require fewer factory workers to produce than internal-combustion vehicles.

The “industry is at a crossroads right now with massive changes in new innovative technologies,” Mr. Currie said. “It will be up to us to navigate through this monumental shift in mobility and manufacturing.”

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mr. Currie joined the U.A.W. when he was hired as an assembler at Freightliner Trucks. He moved to the U.A.W. staff in 2004, and later headed the union’s Region 8, a broad swath of mostly Southern states stretching from Virginia to California.

He was elected secretary-treasurer in 2018 in the midst of a federal corruption investigation. A year later, when the investigation targeted the union president at that time, Gary Jones, Mr. Gamble was named acting president.

Under Mr. Gamble, the union cooperated with the prosecutors, instituted new anti-corruption measures, and avoided being put under federal control.

Mr. Jones was recently sentenced to 28 months in prison. His predecessor, Dennis Williams, received a 21-month sentence. Both had been charged with using union funds for personal travel, cigars, liquor and other luxuries.

Randal K. Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision.
Credit…Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Randal K. Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, suggested on Monday that the global rush to research and develop central bank digital currencies — often called CBDCs — reminds him of another four letter acronym. Fear of missing out, or, as it is better known, FOMO.

Citing America’s “susceptibility to boosterism and the fear of missing out,” Mr. Quarles warned that the nation has a habit of falling victim to a “mass suspension of our critical thinking and to occasionally impetuous, deluded crazes or fads.” He invoked the parachute pants of the 1980s as a parallel to the current currency craze, noting that sometimes fads are just silly.

“But the consequences can also be more serious,” Mr. Quarles said, speaking from prepared remarks. “Which brings us to my topic today: central bank digital currencies.”

Mr. Quarles’ extremely skeptical take on the need for — and wisdom of — a possible digital version of the dollar made it clear that while Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s chair, announced in May that the central bank will research the possibility of issuing such a currency, that effort does not enjoy unanimous enthusiasm among his colleagues. The Fed is expected to release a paper on the potential for a digital currency this summer.

Mr. Quarles said he does not want to prejudge the process, but that he thinks there’s a “high bar” for central bank-issued digital money.

Presently, the Fed directly issues physical dollars and digital bank reserves, but the money you spend when you swipe a credit card or make a Venmo transaction traces back to the private banking sector. A digital currency would be like an electronic version of physical cash, in that it would trace straight back to the Fed. Proponents say it might improve financial inclusion and cross-border payments while protecting the dollar’s status as a leading currency. Opponents, including banks, warn that it could be a destabilizing development that would not bring about any benefits that the private sector could not achieve on its own.

His remarks come as other central banks, and notably China, are beginning to discuss or establish their own digital currencies. That has galvanized interest in a Fed version, as lawmakers and financial policy experts worry that America might fall behind.

Mr. Quarles said he would “have to be convinced” that the use case outweighed the risks. He said it “seems unlikely” that the dollar’s status as a dominant global currency will be threatened by a foreign central bank digital currency, since its power is grounded in trade linkages, deep financial markets, the rule of law in the United States and credible monetary policy from the Fed itself.

“None of these are likely to be threatened by a foreign currency, and certainly not because that foreign currency is a CBDC,” Mr. Quarles said.

Mr. Quarles also pushed back on the idea, held by some of his colleagues, that the Fed should be worried about by the advent of stablecoins, which are digital currencies that derive their value from a bundle of underlying commodities or currencies.

“In my judgment, we do not need to fear stablecoins,” Mr. Quarles said. He argued that the Fed has a history of fostering private sector innovation and “a global U.S. dollar stablecoin network could encourage use of the dollar by making cross-border payments faster and cheaper, and it potentially could be deployed much faster and with fewer downsides” than a central bank version.

That view comes in stark contrast to the concern some of his colleagues have expressed about stablecoins, which caught their attention after Facebook announced that it might try to introduce one through a project initially called Libra.

“If widely adopted, stablecoins could serve as the basis of an alternative payments system oriented around new private forms of money,” Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, said in a recent speech. She added that “there is a risk that the widespread use of private monies for consumer payments could fragment parts of the U.S. payment system in ways that impose burdens and raise costs for households and businesses.”

Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host, is the latest Trump ally to sign up at Newsmax.
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Eric Bolling, a pro-Trump pundit and former Fox News host, is set to return to live television next month on Newsmax, the right wing-leaning channel owned by Christopher Ruddy, a friend of former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Bolling is the latest Trump ally to sign up at Newsmax. The network said last week it had added a pair of on-air analysts with close ties to the former president: J. Hogan Gidley, a former press aide in the Trump White House, and Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump 2020 campaign.

Mr. Bolling left Fox News in 2017 after denying allegations that he had sent lewd messages to colleagues. He later became a prominent national activist about opioid abuse after the death of his son, who had taken a pill laced with fentanyl.

Mr. Bolling anchored a current-affairs program for the Sinclair Broadcast Group on which he regularly interviewed Mr. Trump; it aired in dozens of markets from 2019 until earlier this year. Sinclair edited an episode of the show last year to remove some of Mr. Bolling’s statements when he questioned the utility of face masks and lockdowns in combating the coronavirus.

Newsmax said on Monday that Mr. Bolling would begin hosting a new program in July, but it declined to elaborate on details. Until then, he will serve as a guest host.

“Like myself, Newsmax is concerned with the direction that Big Tech and Big Corporate Media have taken journalism and our nation,” Mr. Bolling said in a statement.

Twenty-six states will halt some or all emergency benefits created amid the pandemic’s devastating impact on workers, with many Republican state governors blaming the programs for a shortage of workers in many industries.

Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana ordered a cessation of the payments, but the state must continue to provide the benefits because of a pending lawsuit, a judge ruled.

The changes affect four programs:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides eligible individuals with $300 a week on top of their regular benefits.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers freelancers, part-time hires, seasonal workers and others who do not normally qualify for state unemployment benefits.

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends benefits for workers who have exhausted their state allotment.

  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, which offers additional assistance for people who make their income by combining a salaried job with freelance gigs.

The following is the list of states that will stop participating in the federal supplemental unemployment assistance.

Marco Gobbetti at a fashion show in Paris in 2011. Under his leadership, Burberry expanded in China, and its runway shows were infused with gender fluidity and streetwear.
Credit…Michel Dufour/WireImage

Marco Gobbetti, who was tasked with turning Burberry into more of an upmarket luxury brand when he was appointed chief executive in 2017, is quitting after five years in the role.

Shares in the British fashion house fell 8 percent on Monday after news broke that Mr. Gobbetti, who previously ran brands including Céline and Givenchy, would leave Burberry at the end of the year to become chief executive of Salvatore Ferragamo in Italy.

Burberry said Mr. Gobbetti had notified the board that he would be leaving “to take up another opportunity that will enable him to return to Italy and be closer to his family.” Burberry’s chairman, Gerry Murphy, said he was “naturally disappointed” but fully respected Mr. Gobbetti’s decision “to return to Italy after nearly 20 years abroad.”

Mr. Gobbetti oversaw a broad overhaul at Burberry that included raising prices and cutting discounts as well as increasing the brand’s exposure in areas like handbags, where its offerings were seen as weak and where profit margins are higher.

He also focused on expansion in Asia, particularly in China, the world’s fastest-growing luxury market. In 2018, Mr. Gobbetti hired Riccardo Tisci, whom he had worked with at Givenchy, to be Burberry’s chief creative officer. Mr. Tisci has remade the company’s logo and infused its runway collections, once staid and traditional, with gender fluidity and streetwear.

There have been bumps in the road, including a scandal in 2018 over the burning of unsold stock (Burberry said the practice was aimed at preserving “brand value,” but it stopped after outcries), and another this year when it was among the first luxury brands to be assailed by a Chinese social-media backlash to Western accusations of abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.

Although Burberry’s share price has doubled in the past five years, it has underperformed those of global luxury peers such as LVMH and Kering.

“The departure of Marco Gobbetti seems the seal on a partially successful brand turnaround,” said Luca Solca, an analyst at Bernstein, in a note published for investors on Monday. “In reality, Burberry is in a far better position today than when Marco took responsibility for it. Yet, the magnitude of the issues at hand didn’t offer a chance for the runway success that some had hoped for.”

A search for a successor for Mr. Gobbetti is underway.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond said on Wednesday that it would offer parental leave and other benefits for its employees starting July 1, an announcement that comes as companies around the nation are struggling to fill open positions even as unemployment benefits expire. Full-time employees are eligible to apply for parental leave and company-paid short-term disability, and both full-time and part-time employees will be able to apply for relief funds. The company also said it would be closed on Thanksgiving Day. The retailer will announce its fiscal first-quarter earnings results on Wednesday.

  • United Airlines said that it expected to earn a pretax profit next month, the first time it will achieve that milestone since January 2020. The news, announced in a securities filing, comes as airlines enjoy a travel boom this summer. Sunday was the busiest day at the nation’s airports since the pandemic began, according to Transportation Security Administration security screening data.

  • ICP, a cryptocurrency token created to help operate the Internet Computer, a complex project that has generated a lot of buzz, has tanked in value by about 95 percent since its initial coin offering last month. After a strong market debut, the market value of ICP was tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the 10 most valuable cryptocurrencies at the time. Even in the famously volatile crypto market, ICP stands out. The stunning climb and crash has market watchers puzzling about what happened — and who may have profited.

The search for higher pay and better conditions attracted people to a job fair held by the Element Hotel in St. Louis.
Credit…Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s a question that has generated lots of speculation but little hard evidence: Why are businesses having trouble hiring when so many workers — 9.3 million in May — remain unemployed?

Many Republican governors have said they believe that enhanced federal jobless benefits, set to run through the end of September, are giving workers an incentive to remain on the sideline. All told, 26 states have said they will cut off the $300 weekly payments early.

But many economists are skeptical that the extra payments have played an outsize role in the hiring squeeze, Patricia Cohen reports for The New York Times. In Missouri, which terminated the benefits on June 12, work force development officials said they had seen virtually no uptick in job applicants since the governor’s announcement.

Economists pointed to other factors they believe were the more likely reasons for workers’ hesitancy. Among them: child care and continuing health fears with less than half the population fully vaccinated.

In the St. Louis area, The Times found, employers who are hunting for workers and people who are hunting for jobs have starkly different expectations and assumptions about what a day’s work is worth.

“Clearly part of the problem now is that what employers and what workers think is out of whack,” said Katharine G. Abraham, an economist at the University of Maryland.

Experts say many women leave considerable amounts of Social Security benefits on the table.
Credit…Hyungwon Kang/Reuters

For many single women, as well as for divorced women and widows, getting the most out of Social Security is crucial. Women tend to live longer than men, and they depend more on Social Security as a primary source of retirement income. Their benefits, on average, are smaller, in part because of lost earnings or part-time work during years caring for children and older relatives.

Even so, experts say, many women leave considerable amounts of this guaranteed source of inflation-adjusted money on the table.

“This safety net is incredibly important in old age,” said Marcia Mantell, a retirement consultant in Plymouth, Mass. “Yet most women don’t understand how to fully maximize this benefit.”

In an article for The New York Times, Susan B. Garland explains how women can maximize their Social Security benefits:

  • A single woman, either one who never married or one whose marriage lasted for a short time, should delay claiming benefits for as long as possible, experts say.

  • A single woman may also be able to boost her benefits by delaying retirement.

  • Women generally fare worse financially than men after a divorce, but an ex-wife may be able to ease the hit by claiming a spousal or a survivor benefit on her former husband’s work record.

  • A widow who claims the survivor benefit at her full retirement age is eligible for 100 percent of the benefit her late spouse was receiving, or was eligible to receive.

  • A widow can claim as early as age 60 (50 if she is disabled), but her benefit will be reduced permanently for each month she claims before her full retirement age.

U.S. stocks rose slightly on Monday after the S&P 500 closed on Friday with its largest gain since February. Investors will keep a close watch on the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, expected to be released on Friday, as coronavirus infections abate and businesses reopen. Last month, U.S. businesses added 559,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent.

  • The S&P 500 was up 0.2 percent on Monday, while the Nasdaq composite was up nearly 1 percent.

  • The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell five basis points, or 0.05 percentage points, to 1.47 percent.

  • European stocks were lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 closing with a 0.6 percent loss.

  • Bitcoin climbed 4.5 percent to $34,320, according to CoinDesk. Ethereum rose 15.8 percent to $2,108.

  • Oil prices declined. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, fell 1.6 percent to $72.83 a barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, dropped 9 percent to $74.69.

  • Shares of Facebook jumped 4 percent after a judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against the tech giant by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states. The judge ruled that, in the states’ case, too much time had elapsed since the alleged offenses took place. In a separate ruling, he said the F.T.C. complaint failed to provide enough facts to back its claims that Facebook had a monopoly over personal social networking, and he gave the agency 30 days to refile its complaint.

  • Britain’s financial watchdog said Binance, a large cryptocurrency exchange, was banned in the country. The Financial Conduct Authority said on Saturday that Binance was “not permitted to undertake any regulated activity” in Britain and warned consumers against advertisements promising high returns on crypto investments. Binance has also run afoul of regulators in Japan and Canada recently.

  • Burberry’s shares dropped as much as 10 percent on Monday morning after the British luxury brand announced that its chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, was quitting after five years to go to a rival fashion house, Salvatore Ferragamo in Italy.

Dan Bourque, an Uber driver in San Francisco, saw Womply’s ads and applied for a loan in mid-April. Seventeen days later, he had a $10,477 deposit in his bank account.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Though Congress approved billions in aid for small companies to help them keep paying their employees during the pandemic, it wasn’t reaching the tiniest and neediest businesses.

Then two small companies came out of nowhere and found a way to help those businesses.

They also helped themselves. For their work, the companies stand to collect more than $3 billion in fees, according to a New York Times analysis — far more than any of the 5,200 participating lenders.

One of the companies, Blueacorn, didn’t exist before the pandemic. The other, Womply, founded a decade ago, sold marketing software. But this year, they became the breakout stars of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Blueacorn and Womply aren’t banks, so they couldn’t actually lend any money. Rather, they acted as middlemen, charging into a gap between what big banks wouldn’t do and what small banks couldn’t do.

From late February to May 31, when the program ended, the companies processed 2.3 million loans. Most were for less than $17,000, and the vast majority went to solo ventures, which are more likely to be run by women and people of color.

All that hustle had downsides, however, including widespread customer service failures. And some lenders now have regrets about signing rushed deals that delivered most of the profit to their partners.


CreditCredit…By Aljoscha Höhborn

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that bringing the rest of the world online requires a million different tactics and some big-picture — and often boring — strategies. Here’s Facebook’s approach.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Boeing faces new questions on the development of its latest big plane.
Boeing faces new questions on the development of its latest big plane.
Newsrust - US Top News
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