By Yihan (Bradley) Tian
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced today that it will be permanently closing all of its physical retail units all around the world. This transformation will result in a pre-tax charge of 450 million USD, or $0.05 per share, to cover asset write-offs and impairments. Microsoft has confirmed that this transaction will be displayed in its Q2 earnings report.
Microsoft is planning to transform its operational platforms online to provide more comprehensive, frictionless customer service. According to David Porter, Vice President of Microsoft Corp., "Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location." Microsoft’s physical storefronts have been closed since the beginning of the COVID lockdown; during this period, a considerable portion of its employees have shifted towards remote work, and the company began to employ greater focus on its online sales platforms and virtual workshops.
“Retail team members will continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support,” Porter stated in Microsoft’s latest blog release. Currently, Microsoft has stated that all employees will have the opportunity to continue their work online.
Sources: CNBC, Financial Times, Seattle Times
By Shivam Shah
Today was a historic day among the several days that have turned into months that people have been lounging on their couches at their homes, waiting for this current Covid-19 pandemic to pass. Just recently, Washington’s very own Whitman County was approved to move to stage 3 of the opening. This was the first county in the United States to take the risk to open up to stage 3, implying that residents can gather in large crowds of “up to 50 people” and restaurants can operate freely at “75% capacity”.
However, many people have and still are wondering if this historic transition is safe or even warranted. Among growing protests and higher risks of transmission of this airborne disease, people fear that the entire cycle may repeat itself, and rather than progressing forward, we will be progressing backward to stage 2. Fortunately, this move was confirmed and justified by Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Governor Jay Inslee. We will continue to monitor the situation as cases in this county remain stagnating at an astounding low of 20 cases and no deaths.
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By Andrew Shi
Critical to many agrarian communities, the influx of migrant workers have become the backbone of many European states, and a foundation to the spring harvest. These individuals, however, are now finding themselves between the difficult choice of either returning home without work or staying and facing dangerous conditions.
On of the strongest EU economies, Germany has found itself in this position. For decades, Germany has invited individuals from across Europe into its agrarian countryside during harvest. With its aging population, there are significantly fewer young workers who are willing to opt into backbreaking labor in agriculture. To meet these labor demands, an expected 260,000 people need to relocate to Germany.
For every laborer who has relocated for the spring harvest, they are now forced to chose between the safety and health of themselves and their family, in comparison to the economic needs that the farms provide. Often coming from less economically prosperous states, and in such uncertain times, many workers find themselves forced to chose to work despite inadequate labor and safety conditions. As the reopening of the economy continues, policies that would protect migrant workers are highly needed to protect the most vulnerable individuals.
Source: Reuters, The New York Times
By Eric Liu
Since February, a total of 17 airlines worldwide have filed for bankruptcy, covering all continents. More airlines are still struggling to maintain business by saving money and reducing operations.
It is difficult for aviation companies to protect themselves in this unprecedented crisis - no matter for the giants or the small airlines. On May 27, a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that by the end of 2020, the global aviation industry debt will be about $550 billion, an increase of $120 billion from the beginning of the year. According to the agency's statistics, the scale of financial assistance that governments have promised to provide to airlines has reached $123 billion. However, not all airlines were able to wait for government funding. Even if the government agrees to help, it may not be a free lunch. In the tug of war with the government, airlines need to consider whether they can accept some harsh terms, such as losing some control, giving up part of the aviation market share, or carrying more debt.
In the context of weak global economic performance and fierce industry competition, the global aviation industry is already in trouble since 2019. Some even called it the fastest bankruptcy year in global aviation history. A number of airlines such as Indian Airline Jet Airways, British Thomas Cook Group, Avianca Brasil S.A., and French Aigle Azur all went bankrupt.
The “Black Swan” of the global epidemic in 2020 has made the industry even worse. At the beginning of February, European airlines went bankrupt or liquidated. On February 11, Air Italy, the second-largest airline in Italy, decided to suspend operations and liquidate. Two days later, Turkish airline AtlasGlobal suspended operations and filed for bankruptcy.
Less than a month later, the UK’s largest regional airline, Flybe Airlines, declared bankruptcy takeover procedures. On April 6, the Swedish regional airline Braathens Regional Airlines announced that the demand has dropped sharply, and the company has to apply for bankruptcy and reorganization due to difficulties in operating the company. Two days later, Germanwings, a low-cost airline and subsidiary of Lufthansa, permanently closed. Norwegian Air Shuttle also stated that its four subsidiaries in Sweden and Denmark had filed for bankruptcy. On April 22, Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter, a German regional airline, declared bankruptcy.
The pause button of the European airline industry was pressed due to the coronavirus and the industry has been hit destructively. The American airlines also couldn’t escape from the wave of bankruptcy.
In mid-March, US regional airline Trans States Airlines announced that it would suspend operations on April 1st, becoming the first US airline to suspend operations during the coronavirus crisis. Other Airlines like Compass Airlines, RavnAir Group, and more also applied for bankruptcy protection.
Source: BusinessInsider, BBC
By Luca Adamo
On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump issued a roughly seven-minute statement in the White House Rose Garden. The remarks came on the 7th day of widespread protest across the United States in response to the May 25th death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Below is a chronological summary of some President Trump's statements made in his speech. The full transcript can be viewed by following the link at the end of this update.
It was expressed that the Trump administration will “uphold the laws of [The United States], and are “fully committed that for George [Floyd] and his family, justice will be served.”
Trump expressed he was an “ally of all peaceful protesters”, and that “ we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob”, who is cited as “professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.”
“A number of state and local governors have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residence.”
Specific instances of violence are cited. Vandalism and destruction of historic sites, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the WW2 Memorial, and St. John's Church is mentioned. President Trump stated that “These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror.”
It is stated that the above mentioned violence is why “immediate action”, with the mobilization of “all federal resources, civilian and military to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights.”
This action is composed of the following:
Recommendation to “every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.” If “a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” This action is in accordance with rights provided to the POTUS in The Insurrection Act of 1807 (Link at the end of the post to learn more about the act).
Protection of Washington DC from “rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the … destruction of property”, which will be done through the “dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers”,“strict” enforcement of the seven o’clock curfew, and the arrest and detainment and prosecution of those committing acts of violence.
“Severe criminal penalties and lengthy jail sentences” for “Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.”
The address ended with Trump stating that he is “going to pay [his] respects to a very, very special place”, being the aforementioned St. John’s Church.
Insurrection Act of 1807: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurrection_Act#:~:text=March%203%2C%201807.&text=The%20Insurrection%20Act%20of%201807,disorder%2C%20insurrection%2C%20and%20rebellion.\
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