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Business leaders call for ‘patience and civility’ ahead of US election, tying economic health to democracy

Business leaders call for ‘patience and civility’ ahead of US election, tying economic health to democracy

Business leaders are calling on Americans to be patient and civil ahead of the 2020 presidential election, citing the importance of maintaining confidence in democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael E. Porter wearing a suit and tie: Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.

© David De La Paz
Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.

More than 50 executives across the fields of tech, finance, retail, and real estate signed onto a statement released Wednesday by the Leadership Now Project, a group founded by Harvard Business School alumni focused on protecting democracy.

“America has successfully held elections through previous challenges, like the Civil War, World Wars l and ll, and the 1918 flu pandemic… we can and must do so again,” the group said in the statement. “As business leaders, we know firsthand that the health of America’s economy and markets rests on the founding principle of our democracy: elections where everyone’s vote is counted.”

The statement was backed by big names in business, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, former Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, and General Assembly chief executive Lisa Lewin. Massachusetts executives on the list include Seth Klarman of Baupost Group, Tricia Glynn of Advent International, Trinidad Grange-Kyner from Tufts Health Plan, and Eric Spindt from Commonwealth Financial Group.

The group emphasized that it could take weeks or more until election results are confirmed because of the number of citizens voting by mail this year. They asked Americans to stay calm, “making it clear that they will refuse to accept any results called too early or based on insufficient data.”

The statement also called on journalists to “avoid calling the election before sufficient data are available,” and asked business leaders to “promote patience and civility among employees, communities, and the American people.”

LinkedIn’s Hoffman wrote that “election results inaccurately or prematurely reported by journalists, elected officials

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Trump’s Economic Record Is Divided: Before Covid and After

Trump’s Economic Record Is Divided: Before Covid and After

Donald Trump has presided over two economies during his time in office.

In the first, which lasted until March, the economy reached historic milestones for jobs, income and stock prices. While it’s debatable whether it was the best U.S. economy ever, as the president has said, it was without question good and getting better for millions of Americans.

The second part, which arrived with Covid-19, was historically bad. It sent unemployment to depths unseen in post-Depression records before reversing itself quickly but only partially, leaving the U.S. with an outlook that’s especially hard to forecast.

The two economies will be factors driving the choices voters make in November. The reality for Mr. Trump: Many achievements of his first economy have been wiped out by the second.

The president’s economic record never fully fit the black and white story told by either his ardent fans or his furious foes. His detractors said his tax policies catered to the rich, yet poverty and inequality fell. Minorities were big beneficiaries during his first three years, though they have also been big casualties in the past seven months.

His backers note that the growth rate accelerated as Mr. Trump said it would, but it didn’t speed up as much or in the ways he projected. Blue-collar towns reaped some of the revival his trade policy aimed for, but that revival was far from complete when it was set back by the pandemic.

A lesson that became clear after a health crisis knocked the economy off the rails: One of the best ways to advance broad-based prosperity is to keep an expansion going. Good things tend to happen, especially to those typically left behind, in the late stages of long expansions. The one that ended in March was the longest recorded in U.S. history, an

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Gold gains on U.S. election uncertainty, economic worries

Gold gains on U.S. election uncertainty, economic worries

An employee arranges gold bars for a photograph at the YLG Bullion International headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold firmed on Wednesday after last session’s sharp drop spurred demand for the safe-haven metal from investors worried about global economic recovery and uncertainty surrounding next month’s U.S. presidential election.

Spot gold was up 0.2% to $1,895.41 per ounce by 0947 GMT, after shedding as much as 1.9% on Tuesday in reaction to the dollar’s jump. U.S. gold futures gained 0.2% to $1,899.20.

“We’re seeing some price recovery as lower prices generated buying interest by investors since the general backdrop of gold is still positive,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch. “Low interest rates, expansion of monetary policy, ballooning public debt, uncertainty regarding U.S. elections; all these factors are supportive for gold prices,” he added.

Gold is considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement amid the unprecedented levels of global stimulus to ease the economic blow from the pandemic. But investors who trim risk assets also tend to shift into the dollar and fading hopes for a new coronavirus relief package in the United States and a pause in key COVID-19 vaccine trials boosted the U.S. currency’s appeal, limiting gold’s advance.

The dollar hit a near one-week high against major currencies.

“In the near term, the dollar could continue to rise both because of risk aversion because stimulus seems to be stuck and also because of (company) earnings forward guidance,” said DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak.

Investors also kept an eye on the U.S. presidential campaign, with polls showing Democrat rival Joe Biden leading the race.

On the technical side, “bullion will need to break through $1,920 to have the chance to once again challenge the psychological threshold of $2,000,” ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De

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UK risks lasting economic scars from Covid and Brexit, OECD warns

UK risks lasting economic scars from Covid and Brexit, OECD warns

The UK will need to invest heavily in digital infrastructure and drive through reforms to raise productivity if it is to repair long-term economic damage left by the Covid-19 crisis and the effects of Brexit, the OECD said on Wednesday.

Britain’s economy is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic among the 37 tracked by the international organisation, which said UK gross domestic product was set to be 10.1 per cent smaller at the end of 2020 than it was a year earlier and to recover only some of the ground in 2021, with growth of 7.6 per cent.

These forecasts are contingent on the course of the virus, and the extent of restrictions needed to contain it, but the UK’s prospects are even more uncertain because of the risk of a disorderly exit from the EU single market, which the OECD said could depress GDP by 5 per cent over two years.

Further public investment would be needed in digital infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband in deprived or rural areas, and the government could do more to push the transition to green technology, for example by making support to businesses in polluting industries conditional on switching to cleaner processes.

“Actions taken to address the pandemic and decisions made on future trading relationships will have a lasting impact on the UK’s economic trajectory for years to come, so they should be in line with long-term objectives,” said Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist. “Productivity growth in service sectors will have to accelerate significantly for the recovery to be long-lasting and sustainable,” she said.

The immediate challenge is to support low-income households and get people back into good jobs, it found. Alvaro Santos Pereira, the OECD’s director of country studies, said higher unemployment would have “a massive impact” if it

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Bank of America joins peers in improving economic outlook

Bank of America joins peers in improving economic outlook

A stabilising US economy helped Bank of America report a bounce in third-quarter earnings, as credit costs fell towards pre-pandemic levels.

Net income of $4.9bn, or 51 cents per share, compared with $3.5bn in the second quarter, and $5.8bn in the same period in 2019. Wall Street analysts had expected 49 cents a share.

The key factor in the rebound was a big decline in provision for bad loans, at $1.4bn, down from $5.1bn the quarter before, following a trend set by JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup when they reported results on Tuesday.

Total revenue at the bank, at $20.3bn, was slightly short of what analysts had expected, and reflected continued pressure on margins as a result of falling interest rates. Net interest margin — the difference between the bank’s funding costs and its lending yields — was 1.7 per cent in the quarter, down from 2.4 per cent the year before.

The bank’s capital markets operations showed softer growth than JPMorgan and Citigroup, with fixed-income trading revenues increasing slightly from the year before and equities trading rising by 6 per cent. Investment banking fees were up 15 per cent from the year before.

BofA shares have fallen by 29 per cent year to date, slightly outperforming US banking indices.

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