The economy needs an injection from Congress, stat

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Today's Agenda

No rush, guys.

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Don't Pull the Economy's Plug Just Yet

The U.S. economy is a relapsing patient about to flatline, and the doctors are still bickering over what medicine to give it.

The White House today said it had an agreement with Senate Republicans on another round of stimulus, which could include more checks in the mail. But there are still many details to be worked out, with earlier measures expiring soon. Hate to rush you, guys, but new unemployment claims, already at unthinkable levels, rose last week for the first time since March. The coronavirus is still out of control, and fear of that is hurting business across the country, even without fresh lockdowns.

More stimulus will depend on the cooperation of those Senate Republicans, and they may yet be convinced. But it has taken far too long to get to this place because, as Karl W. Smith explains, they've been pulled apart by philosophical disagreements.

One thing Republicans may never agree to is extending the $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits given to workers left jobless by the pandemic. They say this hurts the economy by encouraging people not to work. In fact, Noah Smith writes, the evidence shows nobody is struggling to hire right now because of it. This benefit has helped keep millions of Americans out of poverty in this crisis. Letting it expire will drastically worsen the economic outlook.

The pain is already affecting corporate profits. AT&T today said about 340,000 of its customers were behind on their bills in the second quarter, up from 40,000 in the first quarter, notes Tara Lachapelle. Boeing's plans to start selling the 737 Max again are being complicated by the fact that nobody wants to fly, writes Brooke Sutherland. And the bankruptcy of Ascena Retail Group, parent of Ann Taylor and other clothing brands, will spread pain to shopping centers and malls across the country, warns Sarah Halzack. Pick up the pace, doctors.

Further Economic Stimulus Reading: The Fed's not worried about inflation, so it may soon be time to worry about inflation. — Tim Duy

So You Want to Manage a Pandemic

Ignoring Covid-19 wasn't making Covid-19 go away, and now President Donald Trump is treating it seriously again, complete with daily briefings. But these updates are still not effective, writes Faye Flam, because they lack one key ingredient: information. To make these useful, Trump should offer relevant data on how the disease is spreading, what the government is doing to stop it, and what citizens need to know.

For an example of a country that managed its pandemic well and enjoyed an economic boost as a result, look to South Korea, writes Dan Moss. Yes, it's in a recession, but its second-quarter contraction was much shallower than that of the U.S. or the rest of the world. It used aggressive testing and contact tracing rather than the blunt approach of full-on lockdowns, which helped. Even more helpful? People not being afraid to catch the coronavirus when they go to work or the store.

Further Pandemic Reading:

Sportsball in the Time of Coronavirus

Today is the opening day of what will be a very weird baseball season in America. It will last 60 games instead of 162. Many star players have checked out. And there will be no fans in the stands. OK, that latter part isn't so unusual. (I kid, baseball, out of love.) Anyway, this is all terrible for the finances of teams and TV networks, and it's not even the worst headache for the sports world; as Joe Nocera writes, the pandemic is an existential crisis for every professional, college and little-league team in America. Some have already been scrapped. Now try to imagine no football this fall.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, was supposed to be the first day of the Tokyo Olympics. These have been postponed for a year, which is already a logistical nightmare. But it will seem like a rain-spoiled field day compared to the disaster that awaits in 2022, when the Winter Games are due to happen in Beijing, writes Adam Minter. The pandemic will hopefully be over by then, but the political drama will almost certainly not. Boycotts and protests could spoil the whole thing.

Telltale Charts

Tesla is priced like a growth company, but it sure isn't growing like one, notes Chris Bryant.

The pandemic has been so good to Netflix that it could soon get an investment-grade credit rating, write Brian Chappatta and Tara Lachapelle. But really, why would it need one?

Further Reading

The federal officers Trump deployed to Portland aren't wanted and aren't helping. — Bloomberg's editorial board

Ted Yoho was headed for obscurity before he insulted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her speech today drop-kicked him into oblivion. — Francis Wilkinson

Key parts of a Joe Biden economy wouldn't look much different from the Donald Trump economy. — Conor Sen and Noah Smith

Don't expect the GOP to change its playbook even if it gets blown out in November. — Jonathan Bernstein

We'll still need public transportation after the pandemic. Cities must make it cleaner and safer. — Lionel Laurent

You should keep giving to charity during a recession, but make sure you avoid your own financial crisis first. — Erin Lowry

ICYMI

Michael Cohen was ordered released from prison.

Washington's football team will be called the "Washington Football Team" for now.

Here's how to prepare for getting laid off.

Kickers

There's a haunted clown motel in the middle of nowhere.

Roman jars found in Spanish seafood shop. (h/t Scott Kominers for the first two kickers)

Feeding pigs alcohol makes them less stressed, better-tasting. (h/t Mike Smedley)

Why people started going to the beach for fun.

Note: Please send Spanish seafood and complaints to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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