It’s been almost a week since the $600 federal unemployment benefits expired. The lawmakers, however, are yet to reach a deal on the next coronavirus package. But, if the recent comments from the negotiators are anything to go by, then we may have a coronavirus stimulus deal this week.
Coronavirus stimulus deal this week?
After more than a week of negotiations, Democrats and the White House negotiators are now suggesting a coronavirus stimulus deal by the end of the week. If the deal is reached this week, then the package could be approved as early as next week.
This would come as good news for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is important that a coronavirus stimulus deal is reached this week. The Senate is scheduled to go on a month-long break after August 7.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have been meeting almost daily since the introduction of the HEALS Act last week.
Both sides now agree on a series of concessions and progress on the deal. However, they also acknowledge that there are still a few differences between the two sides.
“They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions, which they appreciated. We're still far away on a lot of the important issues," Schumer told reporters after the meeting yesterday.
Negotiators agree on a timeline
Mnuchin and Meadows said they had made new proposals to Democrats on extending eviction protections and the unemployment benefits. Both – eviction protections and unemployment benefits – have been the sticking points in the negotiations so far. The $600 per week in unemployment benefit officially expired on Friday.
Meadows said that though there are many unresolved issues, they are moving in the right direction. "Probably the most productive meeting we've had,” Meadows said after the meeting.
Mnuchin sounded more optimistic and suggested that a coronavirus deal could be passed next week. He also admitted that both sides differ on several points, but "we did try to agree to set a timeline that we're going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week, so that the legislation could be then passed next week."
Pelosi made similar comments yesterday as well. In a PBS interview, she said their plan is to reach an agreement by the end of this week. "We have to have an agreement, and we will have an agreement," Pelosi said.
President Donald Trump has also shown urgency to finalize the next coronavirus stimulus bill. Recently, Trump said he is considering executive action if no deal is reached with Congress. Trump told reports that he might act unilaterally on the housing evictions and a payroll tax cut. However, it is not clear if Trump has the authority to take such actions.
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A pullback in Treasury yields has stocks moving higher Monday heading into a busy earnings week and a key 2-year bond auction later on Tuesday.
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Forget Ron DeSantis: Walt Disney has a much bigger problem
The company’s political woes are a sideshow to the one key issue Bob Iger has to solve.
Walt Disney has a massive, but solvable, problem.
The company's current skirmishes with Florida Gov. DeSantis get a lot of headlines, but they're not having a major impact on the company's bottom line.
DeSantis has made Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report a target in what he calls his war on woke, an effort to win right-wing support as he tries to secure the Republican Party nomination for president.
That effort has generated plenty of press and multiple lawsuits tied to the governor's takeover of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney's legislated self-governance operation. But it has not hurt revenue at the company's massive Florida theme-park complex.
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger addressed the matter during the company's third-quarter-earnings call, without directly mentioning DeSantis.
"Walt Disney World is still performing well above precovid levels: 21% higher in revenue and 29% higher in operating income compared to fiscal 2019," he said.
And "following a number of recent changes we've implemented, we continue to see positive guest-experience ratings in our theme parks, including Walt Disney World, and positive indicators for guests looking to book future visits."
The theme parks are not Disney's problem. The death of the movie business is, however, a hurdle that Iger has yet to show that the company has a plan to clear.
Disney needs a plan to monetize content
In 2019 Walt Disney drew in more $11 billion in global box office, or $13 billion when you add in the former Fox properties it also owns. In that year seven Mouse House films crossed the billion-dollar threshold in theaters, according to data from Box Office Mojo.
This year, the company will struggle to reach half that and it has no billion-dollar films, with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" closing its theatrical run at $845 million globally.
(That's actually good for third place this year, as only "Barbie" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" have broken the billion-dollar mark and they may be the only two films to do that this year.)
In the precovid world Disney could release two Pixar movies, three Marvel films, a live-action remake of an animated classic, and maybe one other film that each would be nearly guaranteed to earn $1 billion at the box office.
That's simply not how the movie business works anymore. While theaters may remain part of Disney's plan to monetize its content, the past isn't coming back. Theaters may remain a piece of the movie-release puzzle, but 2023 isn't an anomaly or a bad release schedule.
Consumers have big TVs at home and they're more than happy to watch most films on them.
Disney owns the IP but charges too little
People aren't less interested in Marvel and Star Wars; they're just getting their fix from Disney+ at an absurdly low price.
Over the past couple of months through the next few weeks, I will have watched about seven hours of premium Star Wars content and five hours of top-tier Marvel content with "Ahsoka" and "Loki" respectively.
Before the covid pandemic, I gladly would have paid theater prices for each movie in those respective universes. Now, I have consumed about six movies worth of premium content for less than the price of two movie tickets.
By making its premium content television shows available on a service that people can buy for $7.99 a month Disney has devalued its most valuable asset, its intellectual property.
Consumers have shown that they will pay the $10 to $15 cost of a movie ticket to see what happens next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars galaxy. But the company has offered top-tier content from those franchises at a lower price.
Iger needs to find a way to replace billions of dollars in lost box office, but charging less for the company's content makes no sense.
Now, some fans likely won't pay triple the price for Disney+. But if it were to bundle a direct-to-consumer ESPN along with content that currently gets released to movie theaters, Disney might create a package that it can price in a way that reflects the value of its IP.
Consumers want Disney's content and they will likely pay more for it. Iger simply has to find a way to make that happen.
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