Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 14, 2022

The Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate on big companies, Navient agrees to cancel $1.7 billion in student debt, and more

1

Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate for large companies

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Biden's coronavirus vaccine-or-test mandate for workers at large companies, but let a similar requirement stand for health-care workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency measure, which applied to businesses with 100 or more employees and would affect 80 million workers, required workers to get vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test weekly. It also required non-vaccinated workers to wear masks at indoor workplaces. The court's conservative majority said Congress had "indisputably" given OSHA power to regulate occupational dangers, but not "to regulate public health more broadly." Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented, saying the majority was telling "the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so."

2

Navient Corp. agrees to cancel $1.7 billion in student debt

Navient Corp., a former unit of Sallie Mae, said Thursday it would cancel $1.7 billion in private student debt to settle allegations of deceptive lending practices. The agreement, which Navient reached with 40 state attorneys general, will affect about 66,000 borrowers. Nearly all the canceled loans originated at Sallie Mae from 2002 to 2010, when Navient serviced accounts at the student loan giant as student debt soared. Most of the affected loans, all of which were in default, were taken out by borrowers with poor credit who went to for-profit schools and other institutions with less-than-stellar records, according to a website run by the settlement administrator. Navient denied it hurt any borrowers. 

3

Biden picks 3 nominees for Fed board

President Biden has settled on three nominees for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, including former Fed official Sarah Bloom Raskin and Lisa Cook, who would be the first Black woman to serve on the central bank's board, The Associated Press reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the decision. Biden also will nominate economist Phillip Jefferson, dean of faculty at North Carolina's Davidson College and a former Fed researcher. The nominees, if confirmed by the Senate, will join the Fed as it tries to raise interest rates and taper its asset purchases to curb high inflation, without hampering the economic recovery from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic.

4

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter records

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack has subpoenaed Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook- and Instagram-parent Meta Platforms, Reddit, and Twitter, seeking records on the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, domestic extremism, and foreign meddling in the 2020 election. The select committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said in a statement that the panel was trying to determine "how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence." He said the committee had been seeking the documents for months. Meta said it had provided the requested documents and would continue to cooperate.

5

Stock futures edge higher after Thursday's tech-driven losses

U.S. stock futures rose slightly early Friday after technology stocks plunged on Thursday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET, as investors awaited earnings reports from big banks. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were flat. The Nasdaq plunged by 2.5 percent, snapping a three-day winning streak, and the S&P 500 fell by 1.4 percent on Thursday, as tech giants struggled. Microsoft lost more than 4 percent, and Apple, Amazon, Meta, Netflix, and Alphabet also closed down for the day as high-growth stocks continued to face pressure due to expectations that the Federal Reserve will speed up the pace of interest rate hikes to fight high inflation.

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