The coronavirus pandemic may not damage the global economy as badly as previously feared, an influential group says.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday that it now expects worldwide gross domestic product — a key measure of economic health — to drop by 4.5 percent this year, down from its June forecast for a 6 percent plunge.
The decline is still unprecedented as the world faces its worst downturn since World War II, but better-than-expected outcomes in the US and China should help soften the blow from the COVID-19 crisis that brought economic activity to a near-standstill, according to the Paris-based organization.
“The end is not yet in sight but there is still much policymakers can do to help build confidence,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said in a statement. “Without continued government support, bankruptcies and unemployment could rise faster than warranted and take a toll on people’s livelihoods for years to come.”
The OECD expects an economic rebound with GDP growing by 5 percent in 2021 — but output in many countries at the end of next year will still be below what it was at the end of 2019, the group said.
The new projections show the US’s GDP falling by 3.8 percent in 2020 and then growing 4 percent next year. The American economy fell into a recession in February and GDP plunged by an annual rate of 31.7 percent in the second quarter, according to federal data, marking the biggest quarterly contraction on record.
China is the only country on the OECD’s list where GDP is expected to rise this year. The group predicts a 1.8 percent increase in 2020 followed by 8 percent growth next year.
Target muscles in on Amazon’s Prime Day — again
Target has finally announced the date for its big annual shopping event — and it just so happens to coincide with Amazon’s Prime Day.
Target’s Deal Days event will take place on October 13 and 14 and “will feature digital deals on hundreds of thousands of items, more than double last year,” the company said in a statement on Monday.
Target did not address the fact that Amazon’s annual discounting event, also announced on Monday, will take place on the same two days. The giant retailers have overlapped and locked horns before over their competing sales events.
In launching its two-day shopping event in 2018, Target took a swipe at Amazon’s $119 Prime membership fee by pointing out that Target shoppers don’t need to be members to get its discounts.
The program’s debut, which offered up to 50 percent off home goods, apparel and national brands, ended up being one of the biggest days of the year for Target’s online sales, the company said at the time.
Amazon’s Prime Day is usually held in July, but it postponed the five-year-old shopping extravaganza this year due to the coronavirus, which strained Amazon’s ability to deliver and fulfill orders in the early days of the pandemic.
Now that its been moved to October, Prime Day is expected to be the largest shopping day of the fourth quarter, overshadowing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to a Retailmenot survey of retailers.
One reason is that other retailers are expected to jump on the Oct. 13-14 bandwagon, said Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert at Retailmenot, which tracks deals. Retailers are expected to offer the deepest discounts of the year at this time in part to appease shoppers looking to avoid the holiday crush as well as delivery delays caused by the coronavirus.
Forty-six percent of shoppers this year say they will start their holiday shopping earlier, up from 38 percent last year, Skirboll said. “We know that shoppers are looking to start shopping earlier than ever, because they are concerned about getting their items on time this year.”
Google gives Netflix, Spotify a year to start paying app store fees
Google is done playing Mr. Nice Guy.
The search giant on Monday said it will no longer give high-profile app developers a pass on its 30-percent app store fee starting next year. Google said it will start enforcing its policy requiring developers to use its payments system starting Sept. 2021.
The move comes as some developers, including Netflix and Spotify, have been getting around paying Google its steep cut of their revenue by asking users to enter their credit card information into their own apps.
The change will see the Play Store follow in the footsteps of Apple’s App Store, which has in recent months been criticized by some of tech’s biggest names for the steep fees it charges developers who want their apps to be available on iPhones and iPads.
Last week, Spotify, Tinder parent Match Group and “Fortnite” developer Epic Games — which over the summer got itself kicked out of Apple’s and Google’s stores when it implemented a new payments system in its ultra-popular game — announced they were joining a non-profit coalition with the goal of pressuring Apple to change its stance on fees.
Google had been turning a blind eye to this behavior until now, saying in a blog post that it wanted to “clarify” its rules, and added that 97 percent of the developers on its app store who sell digital goods abide by the rules.
“But for those who already have an app on Google Play that requires technical work to integrate our billing system, we do not want to unduly disrupt their roadmaps and are giving a year to complete any needed updates,” the company said.
United Airlines pilots reach deal to avert 2,850 furloughs
United Airlines’ pilots voted on Monday to accept a deal that would avert 2,850 furloughs set for Thursday, while thousands of other US airline employees are hoping Congress will extend federal aid to save their jobs.
An initial $25 billion government bailout that covered airlines’ payrolls and protected jobs for six months expires on Sept. 30, driving a fervent last-minute push by the industry for Congress to agree on a fresh stimulus package.
Chicago-based United has already put in motion steps to furlough around 12,000 frontline employees, excluding pilots, on Thursday, officials said.
Under the agreement with its pilots, United’s drastically reduced flying schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic will be spread across its entire pilot base, saving jobs and reducing the need for costly training once demand returns.
US airlines have argued that without support from Washington, they will not have a trained workforce in place once demand that is down about 70 percent from last year starts to recover.
American Airlines, which is lobbying hard for a fresh bailout, is preparing to furlough 19,000 workers on Oct. 1, though Chief Executive Doug Parker said on Sunday he was “confident” that proposed bills with airline relief could be passed before Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said on Sunday she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing, but it was unclear whether an agreement could emerge in such a short amount of time.
Last week Democratic lawmakers were starting to draft a bill totaling at least $2.2 trillion.
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