Pulling the rug out

Evening Briefing
Bloomberg

He denies it was a political torpedo aimed at the next administration, and President-elect Joe Biden could try to reverse the decision, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has nevertheless come under attack since announcing he was shutting the spigot on some programs credited with keeping the U.S. economy afloat. With the Fed strongly opposed to his move, new unemployment claims climbing again, long-term unemployed facing a fiscal cliff and JPMorgan warning of more bad news ahead, it seemed to some like a curious moment to pull the rug out from under a teetering nation. On Friday, the central bank folded. But whatever the reason for Mnuchin's bombshell, one famous investor warns that this latest blowup signals a much larger problem. —David E. Rovella 

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A Trump administration agency facing scrutiny over how it doled out $212 billion in pandemic relief secretly told employees not to write the word "fraud" when they spot suspicious applications. Why? Because the documents could be subject to public records requests.

After a year of sorrow with more than a million dead, the relief with which Big Pharma press releases are met is understandable. But as Timothy L. O'Brien explains in Bloomberg Opinion, there's a long way to go until any drug is shown to be effective against the coronavirus. O'Brien cites remdesivir, a medicine made by Gilead that was quickly approved by the Trump administration to treat patients. On Thursday, the World Health Organization said doctors should avoid using it altogether. Right now, Covid-19 is overwhelming hospitals in the U.S. and all over the world. Here is the latest on the pandemic.

Nomura Holdings plans to introduce flexible work on a permanent basis for its overseas staff, the latest global financial firm to consider such a move as the pandemic reshapes office life.

Goldman Sachs' electronic stock trading chief says the "Flash Boys" era may be giving ground to one more focused on customization.

Despite a global pandemic and a constitutional crisis, exchange-traded funds focused on U.S. stocks attracted almost $53 billion in November, one of the biggest deluges of cash ever recorded. 

Shopify said it expects a banner holiday season as the global health crisis encourages more consumers to shop online.

What's Emily Barrett thinking about? The Bloomberg rates editor is thinking about Jerome Powell. The Fed chief says it's too soon put away its emergency tools, as Mnuchin is forcing it to do. Powell looked set this week to extend key lending facilities that were due to expire at the end of the year when Mnuchin sent the central bank a list of funds to be repaid, cutting off the Main Street lending facility and backstops for the municipal- and corporate bond markets. The action, Barrett notes, knocks out a safety net at a time when lawmakers have no clear plan, insofar as a second coronavirus bailout is concerned. Moreover, terminating the programs on Dec. 31 means they may be tougher to restart under the new Biden Administration. Evercore's Krishna Guha remarked on the "politicization of market stabilization policy," which he expects will force the Fed to more action at its Dec.16-17 meeting. That probably means laying out a more-detailed bond-buying plan, shifting its purchases to longer-dated Treasuries, and if needed, speeding up the pace. "However, [quantitative easing] is a very imperfect substitute for a credit market backstop," Guha wrote.

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When Yoyo Chang first told his parents that he wanted to start his own technology venture, they were alarmed: This was not part of the plan. Paul and Pauline Chang had emigrated to the U.K. from Taiwan in 2003 so their son could eventually pursue an international business career, preferably at a global investment bank. Sure enough, Chang fell in love with the stock market, raking in $326,650 in trading profits for his family by the time he went to college in 2018. But he still wanted his own startup

Yoyo Chang 

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