The daily business briefing: July 14, 2021
Senate Democrats announce budget package, Venice bans cruise ships, and more
Senate Democrats announce $3.5 trillion budget package
Senate Democrats on Tuesday night announced they had reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that would fight climate change and boost health care and family service programs over the next decade. These measures have been sought by President Biden, and the budget could be pushed through without Republican support by using the reconciliation process — this sidesteps the 60 votes needed to advance, but every Democrat would have to vote for it. The Democrats spent the last several weeks working together and with the White House to reach the agreement, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters they are "very proud of this plan." Schumer said the agreement will finance Biden's priorities "in a robust way," and will expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing services, something that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives have requested.
Italy bans cruise ships from Venice lagoon
Italy will ban cruise ships from the Venice lagoon starting Aug. 1 in a move to preserve the site from throngs of tourists expected to return this summer. The Venice lagoon gives access to the city's historic city center, but critics have argued for decades that large vessels erode the city's foundation and contribute to pollution. Recently U.N.'s UNESCO threatened to put the city on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites. The ban means cruise companies will have to nix Venice from their itineraries until another port is available, but the industry welcomed the decision, The Wall Street Journal reports. "The cruise industry has been supportive of a new approach for many years, so this is a major step forward," said the Cruise Lines International Association. Venice usually sees 20 million tourists a year, but lost some $237 million in revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Ransomware gang that targeted JBS vanishes from the internet
REvil, a Russian-linked ransomware gang that has hacked more than 360 U.S. targets this year, vanished from the dark web Tuesday without explanation. The group's blog and payment-processing infrastructure are both offline, and it's unclear if REvil did this itself. REvil encrypts computers and then demands that its victims pay up, threatening to release sensitive files to the dark web if they don't. The group recently targeted global meat supplier JBS, which paid $11 million in May to keep REvil from leaking its confidential files. President Biden on Friday said there would be consequences to REvil's actions, and the U.S. may conduct an operation against the servers used to carry out its attacks, NBC News reports. He also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to do something about cyber criminals operating in Russia. There are cases of ransomware gangs disbanding, but then coming back under a new name, NBC News reports.
Futures steady ahead of Powell testimony on monetary policy
U.S. stock futures were steady in premarket trading on Wednesday. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.1 percent. Those for the Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent while the Dow was flat. Investors are watching two developments today, the first being additional earnings reports from financial institutions, and the second being Fed chair Jerome Powell's testimony on the central bank's monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee. The big question is when and how the Fed will wind down its bond-buying program. Money managers also want to know how willing the central bank is to let inflation overshoot its 2 percent goal.
Acquisition talks between Broadcom and SAS Institute collapse
Acquisition talks between chip and software company Broadcom Inc. and software firm SAS Institute Inc. have collapsed, sources told The Wall Street Journal. A deal could have valued SAS somewhere between $15 billion and $20 billion, and would have been a boon to Broadcom as it looks to expand its presence in the corporate-software market, the Journal says. But the cofounders of SAS reportedly changed their minds about a sale after news of the talks emerged Monday. Broadcom shares were down 0.36 percent in premarket trading.