Jack Ma Quits SoftBank – The New York Times

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SoftBank posted today a $13 billion operating loss, and $9 billion overall loss, for its most recent fiscal year. It showed how much the Japanese company’s once-vaunted technology investment fund has dragged it down.

The company reported over $17 billion in unrealized losses on investments. Nearly $10 billion of that came from two companies: Uber and WeWork, both of which were struggling before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

It’s a major blow to Mr. Son, who created the $100 billion Vision Fund on the idea that he is, well, a visionary investor.

• SoftBank’s fund-raising efforts for a second Vision Fund were already faltering, and the investment losses are unlikely to help.

Jay Powell, the Fed chairman, went on “60 Minutes” on Sunday to deliver hard truths — and some reassurance — about the precarious state of the U.S. economy.

He warned that recovery may take more than a year. “It may take a period of time; it could stretch through the end of next year — we really don’t know,” he said.

Mr. Powell pressed Congress to do more “to avoid longer-run damage to the economy,” though he didn’t offer specifics. He said that stimulus efforts may be necessary for six more months.

• “We’ll get through this,” Mr. Powell added, stressing that the central bank was “not out of ammunition.”

It recalled prime-time appearances by the former Fed chair Ben Bernanke, who went on “60 Minutes” in early 2009 to talk about the Fed’s response to the 2008 financial meltdown. Mr. Bernanke returned 18 months later, justifying a new round of bond-buying stimulus by warning that high unemployment could last for years.

• The unemployment rate was then around 10 percent, half what it’s expected to reach in the coming months. Should Mr. Powell return to “60 Minutes” in early 2022, what message would he deliver?

Further reading: David McCormick, the C.E.O. of the hedge fund Bridgewater who was a Treasury under secretary during the 2008 crisis, writes in The Financial Times that “America must step up to retain its economic might.”

Companies that took out loans from the Paycheck Protection Program and want to return the money — because they did not qualify or because they want to avoid scrutiny — must do so by today.

🛍 It’s a big week for retail earnings, with Walmart and Kohl’s reporting on Tuesday, Target and Marks & Spencer on Wednesday, and Best Buy and TJX on Thursday. Amazon set a high bar a few weeks ago, reporting a 26 percent jump in first-quarter sales.

🏛 The Fed chairman, Jay Powell, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, are to testify on Tuesday at a virtual hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, giving updates on coronavirus stimulus measures.

🏘 During lockdowns, people are doing more repairs, remodeling and intense cleaning than before; Home Depot and Lowe’s quantify the impact of that in their latest earnings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Moving is tricky these days, and data on housing starts (Tuesday) and existing home sales (Wednesday) are expected to show steep declines for April.

Berkshire is still a big investor in banks, notes the analyst Mike Mayo, keeping large stakes in Bank of America and Wells Fargo (worth about $30 billion combined), and adding to its holding in PNC Financial.

Earnings season is near an end, and the discussion this quarter has been dominated by — what else? — the pandemic.

You don’t need an algorithm to see how companies are responding. The phrases that executives use often show how they’re managing the crisis.

The first priority is the “health of our employees” and executives are “humbled” by the response …

“I am humbled by the magnificent leadership stories I hear on a daily basis.” — Joseph Wolk, C.F.O. of Johnson & Johnson

“During this crisis, our first and foremost priority has been the security and health of our employees.” — Kasper Rorsted, C.E.O. of Adidas

… They are taking it “day by day” and following the advice of “local authorities” …

“We are still assessing this literally day by day as these patterns continue to evolve quite rapidly.” — Richard Allison, C.E
.O. of Domino’s Pizza

“Of course, we are following the advice of local authorities wherever our teams are based.” — Ben van Beurden, C.E.O. of Shell

… When things “return to normal,” their companies will emerge “stronger than ever.”

“A return to normal economic activity depends on how effectively societies manage the spread of the virus.” — Sundar Pichai, C.E.O. of Alphabet

“Together, we will face these unprecedented challenges and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.” — Stephen Schwarzman, C.E.O. of Blackstone


• Facebook agreed to buy Giphy, a repository for the internet’s favorite goofy images, for about $400 million. (Axios)

• Grubhub reportedly rebuffed Uber’s takeover bid, but talks are continuing. (WSJ)

Politics and policy

• Mail-forwarding requests show that the Hamptons, Philadelphia and Miami were among the top destinations of New Yorkers seeking to escape pandemic lockdowns. (NYT)

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