Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 8, 2021

Biden demands money for disasters, refugees in deal to avert shutdown, bitcoin falls during bumpy El Salvador rollout, and more

1

White House seeks money for disasters, refugees in deal to avert shutdown

The White House on Tuesday asked Congress to add money for disaster relief and Afghan refugee resettlement into a deal to prevent a partial government shutdown later this month. Democratic leaders also are considering including a debt-limit hike in the package. The three elements could "present a triple threat, daring GOP lawmakers to go on record in opposition to aid for disaster-hit communities," Politico said. President Biden's budget office is calling for more than $14 billion for disaster-aid needs that preceded Hurricane Ida, with at least $10 billion in disaster funding for Ida alone. The administration wants $6.4 billion for the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services to help them accommodate Afghan allies and partners evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country last month. 

2

Bitcoin price falls as El Salvador rollout faces glitches

Bitcoin's price dropped by as much as 17 percent on Tuesday during El Salvador's bumpy first day as the first country to accept the largest cryptocurrency as legal tender. Technical problems marred the launch of the Central American nation's official digital wallet, known as Chivo, although the glitches appeared to have been resolved by Wednesday. The selloff was the biggest interruption of a bitcoin surge of nearly 75 percent since late July. In El Salvador, Starbucks, McDonald's, and other businesses started accepting the cryptocurrency. The government gave every Salvadoran $30 in bitcoin to encourage them to use it, saying adopting the cryptocurrency could save the country $400 million annually in transaction fees on funds sent in from abroad.

3

Howard University classes canceled after ransomware attack

Howard University canceled Tuesday classes and closed its campus to non-essential employees after a ransomware attack. The historically black Washington, D.C., university said that on Sept. 3, its information technology team detected unusual activity on the university's network. The school said the investigation was ongoing, but it was already clear "the university has experienced a ransomware cyberattack." In addition to canceling classes, Howard "intentionally shut down" its computer network and campus WiFi as the attack was investigated, the university said in a statement. Howard said there was no evidence that personal information was accessed in the attack. The FBI and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency last week warned companies of possible ransomware attacks over Labor Day weekend.

4

PayPal to buy Japan's Paidy for $2.7 billion

PayPal has agreed to buy Japanese "buy now, pay later" company Paidy for $2.7 billion. "The acquisition will expand PayPal's capabilities, distribution, and relevance in the domestic payments market in Japan, the third largest ecommerce market in the world," PayPal said in a statement on Tuesday. The largely cash deal marks an escalation in the battle for leadership among companies offering ways for people to pay for purchases in installments, a sector that has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, rival Square agreed to buy Australia's Afterpay for $29 billion. Analysts said then that they expected that deal to launch a period of consolidation. PayPal also pushed into Australia last year.

5

Stock futures fall as coronavirus, Fed questions continue

Stock futures fell early Wednesday as investors continued to express concerns about economic fallout from the Delta-variant-fueled coronavirus surge. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures fell by about 0.1 percent. The Dow dropped by 0.8 percent on Tuesday as trading resumed after the three-day Labor Day weekend. The S&P 500 fell by 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged up by less than 0.1 percent. Analysts expect a volatile September as expectations rise for an overdue market correction, and uncertainty continues over when the Federal Reserve will start reducing the asset purchases it has been using to boost the recovery.

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