The Finance 202: Sanders warns Biden could lose if he doesn’t step up economic focus

Christel Deskins

“We also have to give people a reason to vote for Joe Biden,” said Sanders (I-Vt.). “And Joe has some pretty strong positions on the economy, and I think we should be talking about that more than we have.” Democrats across the ideological spectrum — Biden’s campaign included — indicated […]

“We also have to give people a reason to vote for Joe Biden,” said Sanders (I-Vt.). “And Joe has some pretty strong positions on the economy, and I think we should be talking about that more than we have.”

Democrats across the ideological spectrum — Biden’s campaign included — indicated they agree. 

“We know that we have work to do,” Biden senior campaign adviser Symone Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” She said the campaign is “going to continue to do that work.”

The critique from the party’s far left also drew a cosign from its center. Former congressman John Delaney (D-Md.), arguably the only Democratic presidential contender more moderate than Biden, tweeted that Sanders is “right about this … We have to campaign on specific plans for jobs, pay, healthcare, education — the things that matter to working families.”

Sanders’s public warning — in a Friday interview with PBS, he said the former vice presidents bid is no “slam dunk” — comes after he privately reached out to the campaign, Sean Sullivan reports.

Per Sullivan, “The senator has identified several specific changes he’d like to see, saying that Biden should talk more about health care and about his economic plans and should campaign more with figures popular among young liberals, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).” Sanders also said Biden should spell out for voters “what he will do to raise the minimum wage, create jobs and expand health care and reach out ‘more aggressively to grass-roots Latino organizations.’”

The Democratic presidential nominee has detailed his economic agenda while leaving some mystery about how he would pursue it.  

It centers on raising $4 trillion through tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy and spending enormously on infrastructure, clean energy, housing support and universal preschool, among other initiatives. In accepting the Democratic nomination last month, he talked up his vision for “modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports and airports as a new foundation for economic growth” and “5 million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America.” He has touted his robust plan for his first day in office, including pushing to roll back Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

But Biden has also left plenty of room for interpretation about how aggressively he will advocate for the goals of the party’s increasingly assertive left flank. Biden aides privately have been reassuring Wall Street executives that if elected, he will not put the industry in his crosshairs, campaign rhetoric notwithstanding. And the campaign has distanced itself from recommendations made by task forces jointly staffed by policy hands from the Biden and Sanders camps.

At the same time, Biden is “seeding his advisory boards and transition team” with advisers whose profiles signal “if he wins in November, his administration may pivot away from the pro-Wall Street sentiment that pervades not just Trumps White House, but also permeated Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s administrations,” Axios’s Hans Nichols writes.

Per Nichols, Biden added two co-chairs to his economic council over the summer: Howard University economist William Spriggs and former Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas.

It’s unclear whether the economy will play its traditional role in this election.

Voters aren’t prioritizing economic issues as much as they typically have, with Trump’s character, the coronavirus pandemic and racial strife dividing their attention, the Wall Street Journal’s Jon Hilsenrath and Aaron Zitner write.

The dynamic carries some good news for Biden, they report. Voters who say Trump is a better economic leader “nonetheless say they don’t plan to vote to re-elect the president. In last month’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 48% of voters said Mr. Trump was the candidate better-suited to handling the economy, but only 41% of voters said they planned to vote for him. While some 38% said Mr. Biden would be better on the economy, 50% said they would vote for him.” 

Market movers

Futures point to a strong start to the week.

The market is coming off its first back-to-back weekly declines in months: Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 219 points, or 0.8%. The move implied a gain of more than 170 points at the open. S&P 500 futures were up 1%. Nasdaq-100 futures were up more than 1.4% as tech shares rebounded in premarket trading,” CNBC’s Fred Imbert reports.

“Sentiment was lifted in part by news of Nvidia buying chip maker Arm Holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion. Nvidia will finance the deal through a combination of cash and common stock.”

  • Goldman, Deutsche say sell-off may be near an end. “Its magnitude has matched a “typical” selloff in the S&P 500 since the financial crisis, albeit at a faster pace, wrote a team led by Goldman’s David Kostin in a note Friday. And options positioning — at the core of the weakness — has normalized, noted their counterparts at Deutsche including Srineel Jalagani the same day,” Bloomberg’s Joanna Ossinger reports. 

Trading shows the market swings are here to stay: “Investors are trading stock options and chasing fast-rising shares at record rates, activity that’s expected to jolt markets through the coming election,” the Wall Street Journals Gregory Zuckerman and Gunjan Banerji report.

“A surge in options trading targeted at giant tech stocks by both small and large investors is magnifying the market’s ups and downs. Investors are also simply buying shares that are going up, a strategy that can create its own wild swings in the market. … Taken together, they will likely continue boosting volatility in markets already grappling with an uncertain economy, the pandemic and a presidential election that may not have a conclusive result for days or even weeks.”

Coronavirus fallout

From the U.S.:

  • At least 6,488,000 cases have been reported; at least 190,000 have died.
  • Midwest experiences record surge in cases: “Through Friday, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa had added more recent cases per capita than all other states … The rise of infection in the Midwest is different from what New York experienced in March or South Texas in July. So far, hospitalizations have not spiked. Morgues have not been overrun. Lockdowns have not been ordered,” the New York Times reports.

From former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb: 

  • Trump holds first indoor rally in months: “In open defiance of state regulations and his own administration’s pandemic health guidelines, Trump hosted his first indoor rally since June, telling a packed, nearly mask-less Nevada crowd that the nation was ‘making the last turn’ in defeating the virus,” the Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire and Ken Ritter report. The event drew a fiery response from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). 
  • Pandemic job market has some bright spots for recent high school grads: “Teenage workers were among the hardest hit by the pandemic this spring because they are concentrated in fields that suffered the most from coronavirus-induced shutdowns and restrictions: low-wage, in-person service jobs in locations such as restaurants and retail stores. But since April, teen employment has grown much faster than that of the overall workforce, in part because some older workers are reluctant to take entry-level jobs,” WSJ’s Kim Mackrael reports.
  • Five deaths now linked to Maine “super spreader” wedding: “At least four of the deaths have taken place at a nursing home more than 200 miles away from the Mount Katahdin region, where the August reception took place,” Antonia Farzan reports. State health officials are also investigating an outbreak linked Todd Bell’s church, the pastor who officiated the ceremony and later went on to downplay the importance of masks.

From the corporate front:

  • Pfizer CEO says vaccine could be administered in the U.S. before the end of the year: “The drugmaker should have key data from its late-stage trial for the Food and Drug Administration by the end of October, Albert Bourla said during an interview on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ If the FDA approves the vaccine, the company is prepared to distribute ‘hundreds of thousands of doses,’ he said,” CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. reports.
  • United CEO says travel demand unlikely to return until a vaccine is widely available: “Scott Kirby said that barring new federal legislation, United will be forced to lay off 16,000 workers as soon as next month, after the existing funds that were allocated in March dry up. He said that the company continues to burn through $25 million per day amid a decline in revenue of 85 percent,” CNBC’s Tucker Higgins reports.
  • Amazon to hire 100,000 in U.S. and Canada: “The e-commerce giant said Monday that the new full- and part-time positions would pay at least $15 an hour and include benefits and signing bonuses of up to $1,000 in some cities. Amazon added that hiring for the jobs has begun,” WSJ’s Ben Otto reports. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Around the world:

  • Israel to shut down again as cases surge: “Israel on Friday is to become the first developed country to impose a second nationwide lockdown, as its government struggles to contain a fresh outbreak that has hammered the economy and divided the nation,” WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber report. “The lockdown, which will last at least through early October, aims to prevent mass gatherings during the Jewish holidays that begin at sundown Friday.”
  • Vaccine trial to resume in Britannia after week-long pause: “The recommendation to resume human testing of the vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was made by an independent safety review committee and by the U.K. health regulator,” Carolyn Y. Johnson reports.
  • Saudi Arabia partially lifts travel restrictions: “Beginning Tuesday, international travel will once again be allowed to and from Saudi Arabia for certain categories of people six months after links were cut,” Paul Schemm reports from Dubai. Full restrictions will not be lifted until January.

When superpowers collide

TikTok picks Oracle over Microsoft.

It’s still unclear if the Trump administration will sign off on the unlikely victor: “Oracle emerged late Sunday as the surprise victor in wooing short-term video app TikTok, which is proposing a compromise to the Trump administration that would allow it to potentially keep its current ownership,” Rachel Lerman, Ellen Nakashima and Jay Greene report.

“TikTok recently put forward a proposal to the U.S. government that would allow its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to retain ownership but outsource cloud management of the data … TikTok chose Oracle as its U.S. ‘technology partner’ Sunday afternoon and that the companies brokered the deal in an attempt to satisfy regulator concerns.”

  • Is this a cave?: “A former U.S. official said that while such an approach might address some of the security concerns, ‘it’s well short of a U.S. company taking over the asset and the algorithm, and politically, it would be a massive climb-down from what the president said he was going to accomplish with this.’” A current senior administration official rejected this view.

Stephen K. Bannon has worked with a Chinese billionaire who has divided Trump allies.

Federal investigators are scrutinizing a company linked to both men: Guo Wengui, who fled China after he was accused of bribery and other crimes there, forged a relationship with Bannon after he left the White House in 2017. About the same time, Guo began a vociferous campaign attacking corruption in Beijing and what he says is a politically motivated prosecution against him,” Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Gerry Shih and Matt Zapotosky report.

“Meanwhile, another long-running federal investigation involving Guo is gaining steam. In that case, the billionaire has been described as the target of a failed attempt to lobby the Trump administration to extradite him to China, a complex campaign that allegedly involved two prominent GOP fundraisers, a former member of the Fugees hip-hop group and a fugitive Malaysian financier … Prosecutors are also prepared to file charges against investor Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for the Republican National Committee, accusing him of taking part in the effort.”

Canada looks set for a fight over nearly $1 billion in Huawei gear: “Canada, under pressure from the United States to ban Huawei Technologies Co Ltd gear on security grounds, is studying whether to allow the firm into the country’s next-generation 5G networks,” Reuters reports.

“If Ottawa does announce a formal ban, the affected companies have made clear they want compensation for tearing out their existing Huawei gear. … But the Liberal government, already pressing wireless providers to cut what it says are excessively high bills, seems less convinced.” 

Pocket change

Boeing executives defend decisions on 737 Max development.

Congressional investigators continue to probe the two fatal crashes: “Two senior Boeing executives who oversaw the development of the 737 Max defended the company’s decisions on a key cockpit system later tied to two fatal crashes,” Reuters reports.

“Michael Teal, then 737 Max chief product engineer, and Keith Leverkuhn, who was vice president and general manager of the 737 Max program, were questioned separately by investigators for the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May. … Congressional investigators also questioned testimony that Boeing had never conducted an internal financial analysis to determine the impact of whether the Federal Aviation Administration would require more expensive simulator training.”

  • A key test in the plane’s future begins today: The FAA said the Joint Operations Evaluation Board for the Boeing 737 Max will take place at London Gatwick Airport and meet for approximately nine days ‘to review Boeing’s proposed training for 737 Max flight crews’ and will include civil aviation authorities and airline flight crews from the United States, Canada, Brazil and the European Union,” Reuters reported last week.

SoftBank nears $40 billion sale of chip designer Arm Holdings to Nvidia: “The cash-and-stock deal being discussed would value Arm in the low $40 billions … The terms under discussion would mark a big win for SoftBank, which bought Arm four years ago for $32 billion and had struggled to jump-start growth in the business,” WSJs Cara Lombardo and Maureen Farrell report.

“Arm and Nvidia have been in exclusive talks for several weeks and a deal could be sealed early next week … assuming it isn’t derailed at the last minute. Arm designs microprocessors that power most of the world’s smartphones. By joining forces with Nvidia, the combined company would be a powerhouse in the chip industry.”

Gilead ramps up cancer focus with $21 billion deal: “Gilead  agreed to acquire Immunomedics Inc. … a substantial premium for the maker of a promising breast-cancer therapy, in another big bet by the drug giant that an innovative tumor fighter can boost its fortunes,” Bloomberg Newss Timothy Annett and Robert Langreth report.

“The proposed $88-a-share deal values Immunomedics at more than twice its closing price of $42.25 on Friday. The company makes a breast-cancer treatment called Trodelvy that gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April. Since then, its stock has soared on bets that the clearance could make Immunomedics an attractive takeover target.” 

Campaign 2020

Bloomberg pledges to spend $100 million in Florida for Biden. 

The state is critical to Trump’s reelection hopes. “Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said,” Michael Scherer reports. “Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.”

Trump responded to the news by attacking Bloomberg: 

Bloomberg aides responded with this Caddyshack-themed video:



  • Lennar is among the notable companies reporting its earnings, per Kiplinger
  • The Feds Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins its two-day August meeting
  • FedEx, Adobe and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store are among the notable companies reporting their earnings
  • Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell is expected to meet the press after the FOMC meeting
  • The Labor Department reports the latest weekly jobless claims

The funnies

Bull session

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