Good Saturday morning. In light of the severe economic downturn we want to send a message directly to those who’ve been recently laid off or who are feeling insecure about their employment situation: We see you, we are thinking of you, and we will be your companion every single morning until you’re back on your feet.  

MARKETS

NASDAQ

6,879.52

– 3.79%

S&P

2,304.92

– 4.34%

DJIA

19,173.98

– 4.55%

GOLD

1,500.00

+ 1.40%

10-YR

0.857%

– 30.00 bps

OIL

19.84

– 21.33%

*As of market close

  • U.S. markets: Wall Street locked the door and threw away the key on its worst week since 2008. With stocks closing below where they were on Inauguration Day, the “Trump Bump” is officially over.
  • Stimulus: On Capitol Hill, the race is on to save the economy. Senate leaders were working on a $1+ trillion rescue packagethey hope to send to the House on Monday. There will be long nights ahead.

GROCERY

When the Milk Aisle Becomes a Minefield

Hospital-style shopping cart

Francis Scialabba

Yesterday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all “nonessential” businesses to institute mandatory work from home for 100% of their workforces. That means everyone from CPAs to “ nyc | content creators” will be joining the fun of no-pants all-hands.

But who counts as essential?The heroes working in healthcare, public transportation, and grocery stores—further evidence that the battlegrounds in the fight against this pandemic are first the hospitals…then the frozen food aisles.

Big picture: While those who’ve ransacked grocery stores can go home to their 124-pack of Charmin, the 2+ million Americans working in supermarkets must report to the frontlines daily. And the hardest part of their jobs aside from staying healthy while manning a revolving door of strangers? Keeping shelves stocked.

Read this before you buy that 12th can of beans

Empty aisles might make it seem like there’s a food shortage in the U.S. But America’s meat, vegetable, and pantry staples providers will be the first to tell you there isn’t—there’s just a logistics crunch.

Because COVID-19 took us by surprise. While the grocery supply chain is carefully calibrated to stock stores with just enough of what they need, not even Amazon’s algorithms could predict this unprecedented fear-fueled buying.

  • “We do not see a supply shock in the sense of the availability,” said one UN economist to Bloomberg. “But there could be a supply shockin terms of logistics, not being able to move it from point A to point B.”

The good news? Producers are already rejiggering strategies to solve for eggs.

  • Plants that once made items exclusively for (now-mostly closed) restaurants and school cafeterias have pivoted to supply grocery stores.
  • Many producers are rerouting trucking fleets, keeping plants open overtime and on weekends, and hiring temp workers.

Looking ahead…some retailers expect panic-buying to come in waves. Now that suppliers and grocers better understand how we’re mainlining packaged chicken breasts, they might be able to keep pace the next time around.

            

MEDIA 

ScarJo Is Still Made from Porcelain in Standard Def

TVs showing streaming platforms

Francis Scialabba

Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube are intentionally cutting streaming quality across Europe to make sure the internet doesn’t collapse under the pressure of tens of millions suddenly working from home, schooling from home, and vegging from home.

The rationale: Grainy Steve Harrington is bad, but no Steve Harrington is worse. Concerned the network infrastructure can’t handle the spike in traffic, EU officials have talked with streamers about taking things down a notch to avoid internet congestion.

  • Netflix is reducing bit rates for a month, which should reduce traffic on European networks by about 25%. Amazon is using a similar tack.
  • YouTube is putting all European traffic on standard definition by default for 30 days. That could cut the data required to stream video by over half.

Big picture: Not all users will need to experience lower streaming quality. But everyone needs the internet. Knowing most home connections are second-string JV compared to the enterprise-grade internet serviceat workplaces and schools, government officials are taking preemptive steps to make sure we don’t break the only thing keeping us sane during social distancing.

+ Want to know how else Big Tech is handling COVID-19?Listen to this episode of Morning Brew’s Business Casual podcast.

            

POLITICS

Senators Dismiss Criticism Over Stock Sales

Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr. Bill Clark / Getty

When you time the market right, you brag about it to your friends. When elected officials time the market right, people get suspicious.

Thursday night, ProPublica published an investigationshowing that Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock holdings on Feb. 13.

Why that looks sketchy:

  • The market began its downward spiral just a week later. And around that time the Trump administration was downplaying the threat of the coronavirus in the U.S. even as Burr reportedly raised the alarm in private.
  • Burr isn’t the only official under the microscope. Three other U.S. senators, including Republican Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, began selling hundreds of thousands in stocks in late January.

The response from the senators: We did absolutely nothing wrong. Yesterday, Burr invited an ethics probe and Loeffler said her investment decisions are made by “multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement.” Loeffler’s husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

            

SPONSORED BY CARIUMA

Let a Little Sneaker Sunshine in

Cariuma

Just ’cause you’re indoors doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little sunshine in with you. A simple way to do that is with a pair of bright yellow sneaks. Lots of people agree, because last spring and summer CARIUMA could barely keep their yellow OCA lows in stock.

CARIUMA’s vibrantly colored canvas kicks add some spark to your daily routine—even if that routine is taking place all at home. These comfy sneakers are a spunky way to get from your work desk to your snack cabinet.

They’re ridiculously comfy—comfy enough to serve as a pair of better-looking slippers. They’re eco-friendly—some of their sneakers are fully vegan, while all their shoes are sustainably sourced. And the vibrant colorswill provide a much-needed splash of positivity.

Score these shoes before they sell out again. Here’s an exclusive 15% off for a limited time.

APPS 

Sign of the Times

The top free apps in the App Store yesterday.

top apps in App Store

Neal Freyman’s phone. Please call him, he’s lonely.

            

OPTIMISM 

People Are Good Pt. 3,143

All week, Brew readers have been writing in with inspiring stories of people working together to help those affected by the pandemic. We compiled this list to a) make you smile and b) give you ideas about ways to mobilize your own community. 

Stephanie: “To keep a local florist afloat, members of my community are sending each other bouquets. Once you have a bouquet sent to you, you send a bouquet to another friend, and then they send a bouquet to someone else, and on and on.”

Riley in NYC: “Sauce Pizzeria is delivering free pizzas to hospitals every day, giving you the opportunity to donate a pizza and they’ll match it.”

Perry in Reunion, CO: “A Facebook page was started in our community called ‘I Need This!’ It’s a place for community members to connect and help each other. Some people reached out because they need groceries, so there are others that go deliver what they need.”

Bridget in Portland, OR: “I want to give a shout out to Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle. If you order cupcakes for delivery to non-profits, underserved communities and others in need, they’ll pay it forward when they’re back on their feet.”

Pat in CA: “A neighbor printed a flyer and offered to bring food and supplies to seniors in the neighborhood. She put her two small children in a wagon and put the flyers in the mailboxes of her neighbors.”

Brew Crew: We put together a comprehensive list of ways you can volunteer and donate to help people affected by COVID-19. Please read and share.

And let’s keep the positive stories comin’ by clicking here.

            

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Illinois has instituted a stay-at-home order from 5pm today through April 7. More than 20% of Americans will now be instructed to stay indoors.  
  • Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15. 
  • Disney made the Pixar movie Onward available for digital purchase last night. It came out in theaters just two weeks ago. 
  • Bank of America has hired 1,700 people this month in critical support roles at its consumer division. It’s also boosting pay for frontline workers at branches and call centers.
  • Airbnb, confronting significant losses, is considering raising capital from new investors, reports the WSJ.

BREW’S BETS

  • They revolutionized the office furniture game. Now, Herman Miller turns their revolutionary furniture capabilities towards work-from-home. Whatever you need to make your newfound professional existence comfortable and productive—from office chairs to lighting—they’ve got you covered. Check out their iconic array of WFH furniture here.*
  • Keep tabs on the world of e-commerce. WITHIN is monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on e-commerce verticals. Using data across their clients, they are tracking year-over-year trends to the pre-COVID benchmark in real-time. Check out their COVID-19 Retail Pulse dashboard here.*
  • Weekend conversation starters: for when you need something to talk about during your virtual happy hour…
    • How much toilet paper do you really need to last you through quarantine? 
    • Come up with creative ways to walk the dog, without going outside
    • Xbox One X vs. PlayStation 5 (Bonus: Animal Crossing vs. Sims)

SATURDAY HEADLINES 

We know, everything you read in the news these days seems like a Saturday Headline. But there were some uniquely bizarre stories that came out this week. See if you can spot the one we made up. 

  1. “OKZoomer is a new dating service for quarantined college kids”
  2. “TV medical dramas give their masks to hospitals to help fight the coronavirus”
  3. “Baltimore mayor begs residents to stop shooting each other so hospital beds can be used for coronavirus patients”
  4. “Astronauts on the International Space Station delay return to Earth: ‘Our quarantine has a better view'” 

POEM 

Cherry blossoms in D.C.

Getty Images

To celebrate World Poetry Day, we wanted to leave you this Saturday with a message of hope. 

“Today” by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

For more USA Business News & Global Business News or Coronavirus News, please follow the links.