News Roundups

BP slashes jobs, clock ticking on stimulus, and more

Daily news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from October 19, 2020.

Only a quarter of BP's 10,000 job cuts to be voluntary

BP is set to make around 7,500 compulsory redundancies after roughly 2,500 staff - or just over one in ten of those eligible - applied for voluntary severance, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters and company sources.

The oil major announced plans in June to lay off almost 15% its 70,000-strong workforce as part of Chief Executive Bernard Looney’s plan to cut costs and “reinvent” the business for a low carbon future.

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As Oil Bankruptcies Surge, Vulture Investors Start Their Long Feast

Bankruptcies abound in America’s oilpatch. So far this year 40 oil exploration and production companies have gone under, according to analysis from lawfirm Haynes & Boone, involving $54 billion in debt. The biggest failure so far, with $11.8 billion in debt remains Chesapeake Energy CHK +2.3%. More Chapter 11s are coming, says corporate restructuring attorney Ken Coleman at Allen & Overy, and “that’s a good thing,” he says, because it will mean that management teams are finally accepting of the new reality of oil prices stuck at $40/bbl amid a continuing supply glut and pandemic-weakened demand. The world has changed, the debt-fueled fracking binge has come to an end. Many zombie oil companies cannot survive in their current form. “They have to rationalize the balance sheet, convert debt to equity, and sort out the right capital structure,” says Coleman. “That’s what the Chapter 11 system is for.”

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BlackRock Supports Fewer Shareholder Requests for Climate Risk Disclosures

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink eloquently talks the talk about fighting climate change, but does his company walk the walk? A recent report by fund tracker Morningstar on climate change related shareholder proposals seems to indicate it doesn’t.

This past January, Fink made headlines with his annual letter to CEOs in which he stated: “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects…. Given the groundwork we have already laid engaging on disclosure, and the growing investment risks surrounding sustainability, we will be increasingly disposed to vote against management and board directors when companies are not making sufficient progress on sustainability-related disclosures and the business practices and plans underlying them.”

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Federal deficit triples to $3.1T, Treasury data shows

The federal deficit tripled to a record $3.1 trillion in fiscal year 2020, with the budget gap ballooning to a share of economic output unseen since World War II, the Treasury Department said on Friday.

Government spending exceeded more than $6.5 trillion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, up from $4.4 trillion in fiscal 2019, due in no small part to coronavirus relief measures. The debt has soared to $21 trillion, which the fiscally minded Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said exceeds more than a year’s worth of economic output.

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Pelosi sets Tuesday deadline for reaching stimulus deal with White House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that an economic stimulus deal must be struck within 48 hours in order for Congress to pass legislation before Election Day, but she noted that significant differences still divide her and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Well that depends on the [Trump] administration,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” when asked if it was still possible to get relief to Americans ahead of the election barely two weeks from now.

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McConnell Sets Stimulus Votes in Senate Beginning Tuesday

The Senate will vote on Republican proposals for a roughly $500 billion economic recovery bill and additional funding to aid small businesses starting Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

The votes, essentially one-chamber messaging, will underscore the continued deep differences after months of talks on another stimulus bill that have failed to bridge gaps between President Donald Trump’s administration, House Democrats, and Senate Republicans.

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