The Week in Business: The Election Made Markets Happy


The days ahead may bring more turmoil, but the worst uncertainty is behind us. (And at least you’re not a Danish mink.) Here’s how Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory affects business and tech, and what to know for the coming week.

Another thing to be less stressed about this week: Your stock portfolio. Markets made up for their losses in late October as President-elect Biden cemented his lead in the presidential election results and signs pointed to Republicans keeping their majority in the Senate. If Congress remains divided, Wall Street can expect few changes in tax or regulatory policies in the coming years. And if Democrats do wind up taking the Senate (which will be determined by two runoff elections in Georgia in January), a surge of government spending aimed at shoring up the economy could also bolster markets. But some analysts worry it’s too soon to celebrate, warning that postelection unrest could shake the country for weeks to come.

Ride-hailing companies have spent the past year battling a new California law that requires companies to give gig workers protections like minimum wage, overtime pay and other benefits. The rule would make operations more expensive for Uber, Lyft and delivery services like DoorDash, whose business models depend on their independent fleets of drivers. The issue wound up on the ballot again this month, and this time the companies won (notably, they also spent a record amount of money to court voters). The new measure, Proposition 22, says that app-based drivers will be classified as independent contractors, not employees, although it does include concessions like a wage floor. Labor groups say that it leaves thousands of gig workers without basic rights, and they worry that it will set a precedent for how other states shape labor laws in the future.

Americans seem to agree on at least one thing right now: Drugs are not so bad. On Tuesday, residents of New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota did the same for medical marijuana. And other states passed measures to loosen legal restrictions on psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms. That’s good news for the increasingly lucrative (and job-creating) cannabis industry, as well as those state governments that are struggling under pandemic-induced budget shortfalls and need the tax dollars that drug sales can bring in.

Oh yeah, and the pandemic is still raging. The United States broke its previous record for new infections several days in a row this past week. The resurgence of the virus also continued to hamper the economy’s recovery, with new unemployment claims remaining steady. But the election has renewed hope for a new stimulus bill before Christmas. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said that reaching a deal on aid legislation would be “Job 1” when lawmakers return for the lame-duck session, although the bill would probably be less comprehensive than what Democrats have been holding out for.

As baseless claims about election fraud continue to spread online (in some cases propagated by the sitting president), social media platforms are taking unprecedented steps to crack down on misinformation. Facebook is rolling out emergency measures to slow the transmission of live video and content that its algorithms flag as potentially false. This week, the platform took down the account of a day-old, rapidly growing group called “Stop the Steal” for trying to incite violence at vote-count protests around the country. (The group’s organizers have accused Facebook of silencing conservatives.) At Twitter, the company has labeled more than a third (and counting) of President Trump’s posts since Tuesday with warnings that they contained misleading claims about the electoral process.

And now, news from someplace else: The European Union’s target date for imposing tariffs on up to $4 billion of American goods, including frozen fish, chemicals and ketchup, is this Tuesday. The tariffs are a retaliation against the U.S. government for giving subsidies to Boeing, the American aircraft maker, in violation of international trade rules. But some E.U. countries, including Germany, have been hesitant to raise tariffs so close to the U.S. election. (Others, like France, are jonesing to increase them as soon as possible.) The outcome of the election may persuade the E.U. to hold off and try instead to settle the dispute through trade talks.

Denmark, one of the world’s top mink exporters, announced it would slaughter millions of the creatures after they contracted a mutation of the coronavirus that could interfere with the effectiveness of a vaccine for humans. On Wednesday, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will hold its annual Singles’ Day sale, the world’s largest shopping event, which has broken sales records since it began 11 years ago. And Ant Group, the Chinese financial technology company that challenged Beijing’s state-dominated banking system, was expected to set a record as the biggest initial public offering in history — until China’s government blocked its I.P.O. at the last minute.



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