The daily business briefing: June 22, 2021
Netflix signs Spielberg to a multi-year movie deal, Medicaid enrollment rose to record high in pandemic, and more
Netflix signs Spielberg to multi-year deal
Steven Spielberg, the filmmaker whose blockbusters include Jaws, E.T., and Saving Private Ryan, has reached a deal to make movies for Netflix. The multi-year agreement marks a huge victory for the streaming giant in its effort to boost its already prolific content production as it battles with Walt Disney Co., Amazon, and other rivals. Netflix is the most popular streaming service worldwide by far, but several competitors have made gains recently with new streaming services and content production deals. Disney has won over millions of viewers with its Disney+ streaming service, and Amazon has acquired the MGM movie and TV studio in an $8.5 billion deal. The new HBO Max streaming service has boosted its content, as has Comcast's Peacock.
Medicaid enrollment rose to record high during pandemic
Medicaid enrollment increased by 9.7 million during the coronavirus pandemic to an all-time high of nearly 74 million, according to new federal figures released Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Some of the people who signed up from February 2020 to January 2021 did so because they lost work, income, and health benefits. Others benefited from a rule change that expanded eligibility under the first coronavirus relief package Congress approved last year. The surge pushed enrollment in Medicaid, which covers low-income Americans, past that of Medicare, which covers nearly 63 million older Americans. "We've really seen how important Medicaid is to ensuring the overall health of our country and have seen this through the pandemic," said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who became CMS administrator late last month.
U.S. stocks bounce back after last week's selloff
Wall Street rebounded strongly Monday after last week's sharp losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by 586.9 points, nearly 1.8 percent, regaining some of what it lost in its worst week since October. The S&P 500 rose by 1.4 percent, returning to within 1 percent of its record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.8 percent. The U.S. gains came despite steep declines for markets in Asia. Investors there were alarmed by the U.S. selloff that started when the Federal Reserve signaled it would probably raise interest rates twice in 2023, sooner than previously expected, due to rising inflation. "The Fed-inspired selloff looks like it was overdone," said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at City Index. U.S. futures edged down early Tuesday.
Nursing home Medicare patient deaths jumped by 32 percent in 2020
Nursing homes reported a 32 percent increase in deaths of Medicare patients last year, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday. The excess deaths came in two surges eight months apart. The nursing home industry was considered among the earliest and hardest pandemic-hit sectors in the United States, but the new report provided the most comprehensive analysis yet of the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable group. The watchdog found that 4 in 10 Medicare recipients in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 last year. "We knew this was going to be bad, but I don't think even those of us who work in this area thought it was going to be this bad," said Harvard health policy professor David Grabowski, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care. "This was not individuals who were going to die anyway."
China crackdown fuels cryptocurrency losses
Bitcoin fell by about 2 percent early Tuesday, adding to massive losses since China renewed its crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Digital currency markets have seen $300 billion in value vanish since Friday, when officials in China's Sichuan province, a major bitcoin mining center, ordered cryptocurrency miners to halt operations. The move in Sichuan followed shutdowns in other provinces with intensive bitcoin mining, including Inner Mongolia. Beijing called for restricting bitcoin mining in May. On Monday, the People's Bank of China urged Alipay, the payments service run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Group, and other financial institutions not to provide cryptocurrency-related services. China banned cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017.