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‘I could declare a national emergency’



SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, France — President Donald Trump said Sunday he could declare the escalating U.S.-China trade war as a national emergency if he wanted to.

“In many ways this is an emergency,” Trump said at the G-7 leaders meeting of the ongoing trade battle between the world’s top two economies.

“I could declare a national emergency, I think when they steal and take out and intellectual property theft anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year and when we have a total lost of almost a trillion dollars a year for many years,” Trump said, adding that he had no plan right now to call for a national emergency.

“Actually we are getting along very well with China right now, we are talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do. I’m getting a lot of money in tariffs its coming in by the billions. We’ve never gotten 10 cents from China, so we will see what happens.”

Trump’s comments come as he met with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicking off Group of 7 meetings in the French seaside town of Biarritz.

Clouding the G-7 gathering, which represents the world’s major industrial economies, are the tit-for-tat tariffs between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G7 summit on August 25, 2019 in Biarritz, France.

Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

On Friday, Trump said he would raise existing duties on $250 billion in Chinese products to 30% from 25% on Oct. 1. What’s more, tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods, which start to take effect on Sept. 1, will now be 15% instead of 10%.

When asked if Trump had second thoughts about Friday’s move to escalate the trade war with China, Trump said “Yup.” “I have second thoughts about everything,” he added.

Trump then dismissed concerns that leaders at the G-7 and other U.S. allies would pressure him in ending the trade war with China.

“I think they respect the trade war, it has to happen. China has been, well I can only speak for the United States, I can’t say what they are doing to the U.K. and other places, but from the standpoint of the United States what they’ve done is outrageous that presidents and administrations allowed them to get away with taking hundreds of billions of dollars out every year and putting it into China,” Trump said.

“Our country is doing really well, we had horrible trade deals and I’m straightening them out. The biggest one by far is China,” he added.

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Bezos’ Blue Origin says it is hiring, denies report of possible layoffs



Blue Origin’s manufacturing facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin told its workforce on Friday that it will not be laying off employees during the coronavirus crisis and instead plans to continue hiring.

Blue Origin management was quoted by The Verge on Thursday as saying workers in Texas may “lose their jobs … because of our actions” if employees in Washington state refused to travel to help conduct a test launch of the company’s space tourism rocket New Shepard.

The possibility of launching on April 10 was considered as the company is exempt from stay-at-home orders, due to the Pentagon declaring Blue Origin “mission essential” due to its national security contracts.

“What happens to the technicians down there that operate the vehicle who no longer then have jobs?” a Blue Origin senior director said according to The Verge.

But CEO Bob Smith said Friday in an email seen by CNBC that the company would not be letting employees go if New Shepard’s next flight is postponed. 

“Blue Origin is unique and in a very fortunate position. We will not be having layoffs, but in fact, we will be hiring. We will not be making budget, payroll or benefit cuts based on this crisis,” Smith wrote in the email.

Bezos, the company’s founder, has previously said that he sells about $1 billion of Amazon stock each year to fund Blue Origin – although he recently cashed out of nearly $4.1 billion worth, suggesting that annual amount has increased. Blue Origin had about 2,500 employees at the end of last year and plans to grow that workforce total by a third this year.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket booster lands after its eleventh successful mission.

Blue Origin

Smith noted in the email that, while the company had wanted to launch New Shepard in late January or early February, the quickly developing crisis means Blue Origin is no longer targeting a launch date. Smith has said previously that New Shepard will require about three or four more test flights before it launches people.

“We are still working through testing and flight rationale,” Smith said. “We, as usual, are conducting the same methodical approach to fly New Shepard and will only fly when we know it is safe.”

The company’s facility in West Texas continues to operate, Smith added in the email, as it is also nearly daily tests its BE-3 and BE-4 rocket engines. But, in addition to other travel restrictions, Blue Origin is “minimizing the number of people” needed to travel to the facility, Smith said.

Read the Verge’s full report here.

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Coronavirus could cause $1 billion loss for NBA, NHL and MLB broadcasters



LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 26: People sit on a hill overlooking Dodger Stadium on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s opening day, now postponed due to the coronavirus, on March 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Dodgers were slated to play against the San Francisco Giants at the stadium today. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said the league is “probably not gonna be able to” play a full 162 game regular season due to the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mario Tama

The coronavirus pandemic could cause roughly $1 billion in lost advertising for broadcasters of the top three U.S. pro sports leagues, according to ad firm MediaRadar.

The advertising information company released its findings showing how the virus would affect ad spend for the sports industry. The analysis found that combined, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball would generate a roughly $1 billion for broadcasters.

And that number could significantly increase if the National Football League experiences any delays due to coronavirus. The NFL’s season isn’t scheduled to start until September.

Todd Krizelman is the co-founder and CEO of MediaRadar. He said viewership is usually at its highest during this time, with the NBA playoffs taking up the bulk of ad spend.

“There is a lot of lost revenue as a result because there is so much spend concentrated because audiences levels are expected to be much higher in the last quarter of the season,” Krizelman said.

Projecting leagues would resume in June at the earliest, MediaRadar used ad spend data from March 2019 to May 2019 to determine its recent forecast. The data revealed the partial regular season and playoffs of NBA telecasts generated more than $800 million in ad revenue during that period, while the NHL brought in more than $120 million.

The MLB generated roughly $60 million in ad revenue for its first three months of the season in 2019. Krizelman said the estimated total is a result of data showing cheaper price points for the MLB from March to May as ratings aren’t high.

To calculate its totals, MediaRadar records every minute of advertising for sports broadcast and estimates price points of ad spots.

“We literally added up what all those advertisers were doing for specifically those three sports, and basically it’s a little over a billion dollars over that short period time,” Krizelman said.

If the NFL season is delayed or canceled later this year, MediaRadar’s data shows losses of up to $6 billion from 3,000 advertisers.

MediaRadar ran data from March 2019 to December 31, 2019, and included the MLB postseason, the World Series, the NFL season and additional revenue from new NBA and NHL seasons.

“As difficult as March through June is, a whole other scale of it continues for the fall,” Krizelman said.

Though the country is in an economic downtown, Krizelman said advertisers are still actively marketing products like breakfast food with stay-at-home orders in place across the U.S.

“We’re finding that many types of advertisers are actively marketing because they’re looking to sell stuff right now at a point where they want to make money; when they are trying to preserve jobs and corporate liquidity,” Krizelman said.

Krizelman concluded broadcasters should make up the ;lost revenue should sports return, even in empty arenas. 

“Looking at all the drop off of live sports and live events, I think there will be significant demand [when sports returns],” Krizelman said. 

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Which states are doing the most COVID-19 screening



A health care professional swab tests a patient for coronavirus at drive-through testing outside the Emergency Room entrance at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Milton, MA on March 30, 2020.

Matthew J. Lee | The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The U.S. hit a milestone this week — albeit one that came much later than promised: More than 1 million Americans have been tested for the novel coronavirus. More than 200,000 have tested positive.

And though capacity is, finally, increasing after a much-criticized government rollout of the tests, states are still reporting major backlogs in getting results. Federal guidelines prioritize hospitalized patients, health-care workers and first responders with COVID-19 symptoms because of testing’s scarcity.

Here’s a look, in charts, at where the U.S. stands in testing for the coronavirus.

New York is out front, with more than 230,000 people tested, and it’s also way ahead on a per capita basis, too, testing more than 1,200 per 100,000 people. So is Louisiana, at more than 51,000 total tests, or nearly 1,100 per 100,000 people. That’s as New Orleans’ case numbers are some of the fastest rising in the country, doubling every 1.4 days, according to Evercore ISI.

Third is Washington state, home of the first COVID-19 case detected in the U.S., at more than 1,000 test results per 100,000.

Processing chemicals in short supply

Lagging on the testing front: Texas, South Carolina, California and Oklahoma. While Texas has tested more than 50,000 people, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, that’s only 174 per 100,000 of its residents.

California’s issue lies in a massive logjam of pending tests: more than 59,000. But it’s not the only state facing backlogs; South Carolina’s state epidemiologist last week cited a shortage in the chemicals needed to process the tests to explain that state’s lag.

It may be true, as President Donald Trump said, that the U.S. has tested the most people in the world (though it’s not clear how many people China tested). But that doesn’t tell the whole story; the U.S. is also a larger country than others doing a lot of testing, namely Italy and South Korea.

Based on Thursday’s totals, the U.S. had tested 1,267,658 people, according to the COVID Tracking Project, which aggregates state-reported data. Italy had tested more than 580,000, and South Korea, more than 430,000.

But on a per capita basis, the U.S. lags them both.

Snags in testing

What’s the issue? A shortage of the materials needed to run the tests, including the chemicals, as South Carolina’s state epidemiologist noted, but also of swabs and other basic supplies. Also a shortage of personal protective equipment needed to shield people taking the samples, which require sticking a swab very far up the nose.

There’s also the fact that samples started pouring in before capacity really ramped up, creating a backlog from the start that the testing companies are still working to process.

Finally, as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx explained at Tuesday’s briefing, there’s a reluctance to switch to different platforms as they become available.

“When you put a platform out … people get dependent on it and then people don’t see there’s an availability of tests,” Birx said, noting there is a capacity of 500,000 Abbott tests available that states aren’t using, because a Roche platform had become available first.

Abbott is now releasing a new, point-of-care test that can provide results in five to 15 minutes; it had previously launched COVID-19 testing on another platform that processes samples in hospital and academic medical center labs.

Hospital labs are in the process of getting up and running to handle high volumes of those tests, “and we expect to see increased consumption of these tests very soon,” a company spokeswoman said.

“We have to figure out how do we create awareness,” Birx said. “Right now there’s over half a million tests that are not being utilized.”

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