The daily business briefing: June 16, 2020

The Supreme Court rules workers can't be fired for being gay or transgender, the Fed will start buying corporate bonds, and more

The Fed building
(Image credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Supreme Court: Civil Rights Act protects gay, transgender workers

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. The decision marked a major victory for LGBT rights. The Trump administration and employers accused of discrimination argued that Congress never intended Title VII to apply to gay and transgender people. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion that an employer who fires someone for being gay or transgender "fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."


2. Fed announces it will start buying corporate bonds

The Federal Reserve said Monday that it would start buying corporate bonds under a previously announced plan to pump money into the bond market to boost the economy during the coronavirus crisis. The Fed said it would amass a "broad and diversified" portfolio similar to a bond-market index. Economists expect the purchases by the U.S. central bank to bring down corporate bond yields, making it easier for companies to borrow money. Before the Fed announced the expansion of its bond-buying program in March, companies were having trouble issuing bonds, but new research found that merely announcing the plans to buy up to $750 billion worth of corporate bonds energized bond trading.

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The Associated Press

3. Stock futures surge ahead of Trump infrastructure spending proposal

U.S. stock index futures surged early Tuesday, adding to gains Wall Street made on Monday after recovering from an early dive. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq rose by more than 1 percent on the news that the Trump administration is preparing a proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure such as bridges, roads, 5G wireless networks, and rural broadband. All three of the main U.S. indexes closed higher on Monday, boosted by news of the Federal Reserve's plan to start buying corporate bonds. Stocks had fallen earlier in the session due to concerns that a second wave of coronavirus infections could slow the economic recovery as states eased lockdowns and allowed more businesses to reopen.


4. Hertz prepares to sell new stock but warns it could be 'worthless'

Hertz Global Holdings said in a government filing that it would sell up to $500 million in common stock, but warned that the shares could become "worthless." The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Friday said the car-rental company could sell up to $1 billion in shares. Such a stock offering is rare in bankruptcy proceedings, because investors are last in line to receive assets divvied up in court. Hertz said in the filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would not expect the common stock holders to receive anything under any bankruptcy plan unless everyone with "more senior claims" was paid in full, "which would require a significant and rapid and currently unanticipated improvement in business conditions" to pre-COVID-19 levels.

CNBC MarketWatch

5. Watchdog panel says Treasury impeding pandemic-stimulus oversight

A watchdog committee has warned Congress that the Trump administration is hindering oversight of more than $1 trillion in pandemic stimulus funds. Treasury Department officials have said they don't have to report key information to the Pandemic Response Accountability Commission, a panel of inspectors general overseeing the use of money allocated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In the June 11 letter, seen by news outlets on Monday, PRAC leaders said that the Treasury Department's legal opinion could impede the watchdog group's ability to review the use of money distributed to state and local governments, small businesses, and airlines.

Reuters CNN

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.