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Hospitals risk bankruptcy

Evening Briefing

A grim reality faces U.S. hospitals: The latest surge in Covid-19 infections has arrived just as many are recovering from the initial onslaught of spring and summer. For some, the coming wave of patients may be the last straw. With no additional help coming from Washington, and a host of other burdens, this winter may bring bankruptcy. —David E. Rovella

Bloomberg is mapping the pandemic globally and across America. For the latest news, sign up for our Covid-19 podcast and daily newsletter.

Here are today's top stories

States are scrambling to formulate plans to vaccinate millions of people with little or no help from the Trump administration, flying blind as they bet that a viable defense against the coronavirus will eventually appear. Safe storage and transportation requirements will differ vastly depending on which of the four frontrunner vaccines now in contention succeeds, assuming any do. Here is the latest on the pandemic.

Investors should focus on the U.S. Senate in the coming election since that contest will be key to the fiscal policy outlook, Morgan Stanley said, adding that a Democratic sweep may create a buying opportunity by sparking a temporary drop in stocks. Goldman Sachs joined other big U.S. banks in cashing in on continuing pandemic-induced volatility, as the firm's bond traders posted the biggest jump on Wall Street so far. But three times as many companies with a market valuation above $25 billion have posted cumulative losses over the trailing 12 months as compared with the beginning of 2020. Stocks fell on Wednesday.

The U.K. is likely to continue trade talks with the European Union beyond Boris Johnson's deadline of Oct. 15 as long as the bloc's leaders signal they are prepared to make a final push.

Countries are hoarding food as prices rise. Agricultural commodity buyers from Cairo to Islamabad have been on a shopping spree since the pandemic upended supply chains. Jordan has built up record wheat reserves while Egypt, the world's top wheat buyer, took the unusual step of tapping international markets during its local harvest and has boosted purchases by more than 50% since April. Taiwan said it will increase strategic food stockpiles and China has been buying to feed its growing hog herd.

Even a once-in-a-century global health catastrophe isn't enough to cool the Canadian housing market, with prices nationwide now forecast to end the year higher than where they started. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated he plans to keep Canada's borders closed as long as coronavirus cases remain elevated in the U.S.

When President Donald Trump backed out of a second debate, former Vice President Joe Biden scheduled a town hall instead. Now Trump is planning on having one, too—on the same day. Meanwhile, six states that successfully sued the U.S. Postal Service and its postmaster general, Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy, asked a federal judge to appoint a monitor to make sure DeJoy obeys orders to reverse cuts to postal capacity. The states contend DeJoy has ignored injunctions and service continues to decline, just as millions of ballots are about to flood the nation's post offices.

What's Joe Weisenthal thinking? The Bloomberg news director says that when it comes to the U.S. labor market, there are two distinct trends right now. Temporary unemployment is coming down as more parts of the economy reopen, while permanent unemployment continues to rise. What's worrisome about the permanent unemployment is not just that it's going up, Joe says, but that it's still going up at a pace faster than before the Great Recession. Meanwhile, a corollary to this can be observed in new inflation data. We had an extremely rapid plunge in the consumer price index right as the pandemic hit, and since then it's quickly rebounded to more normal levels. On a year-over-year basis, the index is still below the Fed's target, though generally around where it's been for years. But while the headline number has snapped back, there are signs of a long-term slump at play. When you look at categories such as rent and core services, we see a drop that has yet to abate. It's similar to the permanent component of the unemployment data. Taken together, they indicate a massive shock and then a surprisingly fast initial bounce back. But signs of ongoing, broad-based weakness in the economy persist and have yet to improve.

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