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Tribune News Service

Business Budget for Friday, September 11, 2020


Updated at 6 p.m. EDT (1800 UTC)



This budget is now available at, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^From speedier Wi-Fi to new bikes: As the pandemic drags on, companies paying for work-from-home perks beyond the basics<

^WRK-CORONAVIRUS-PERKS:TB—<Six months into the coronavirus pandemic and with no return to the office in sight, employers are realizing that working remotely through a global health crisis requires more than helping employees pay for a comfy office chair. They are investing in intangibles that can help with mental wellness, like exercise, online tutoring for kids, or sessions with a life coach.

Not every company is pouring money into their employees' remote work setups. In the midst of an economic downturn and an ongoing unemployment crisis, the investments are a luxury not all can afford.

1200 by Ally Marotti in Chicago. MOVED


^TikTok won't just disappear after Trump's deadline for a sale<

^CPT-TIKTOK-DEADLINE:BLO—<It's looking increasingly likely that TikTok won't be able to sell its U.S. operations by the mid-September deadline imposed in an executive order issued by President Donald Trump last month. That doesn't mean the video app beloved by tens of millions of teens will go dark overnight.

Unlike India, which recently banned the app and immediately severed users' access, the U.S. doesn't afford the president the authority to close down a social media site or require service providers to block access to an app. So TikTok could remain on people's phones and they'd still be able to create dance videos, at least for a while.

1250 by Shelly Banjo. MOVED



^Trump's payroll tax pause fizzles as employers spurn the move<

^TRUMP-PAYROLLTAX:BLO—<A month after President Donald Trump moved to shore up workers' incomes by giving employers the option of deferring payroll taxes, the effort has failed to energize a U.S. economy still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

No major private employer has stepped forward with plans to forgo withholding the levy from workers' paychecks — as Trump's action allowed from Sept. 1 through year-end. Costco Wholesale Corp., with 163,000 U.S. employees at latest count, isn't participating, and neither is United Parcel Service Inc. nor FedEx Corp.

That largely leaves the federal government largely on its own in proceeding, with its workers.

700 by Laura Davison and Steve Matthews. (Moved as a Washington story.) MOVED


^When wildfire smoke blotted out the sun, rooftop solar withered<

^CALIF-WILDFIRES-SOLARPOWER:BLO—<When deadly wildfires tinted Western skies a Martian hue this week, homeowners with their own rooftop solar systems were able to tell with great precision just how much useful sunlight reached them through the gloom: next to none.

Wednesday was "the worst generation day, ever," said Mary Holstege, a retired software engineer in Cupertino, California, who went solar a year ago. Her system, which puts out 40 kilowatt-hours a day in the summer, barely dribbled out 1.65 — maybe enough to dry a load of laundry.

750 by Eric Roston and Brian Eckhouse. (Moved as a national story.) MOVED


^Theranos founder Holmes to claim mental condition affecting 'issue of guilt'<

THERANOS-HOLMES-MENTAL-CONDITION:SJ — Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, charged with a dozen felony fraud counts over her defunct Palo Alto blood-testing startup, plans to introduce evidence of a mental condition that affects the issue of guilt, a blockbuster judge's order has revealed.

Federal prosecutors will be allowed to subject the Stanford University dropout to 14 hours of psychiatric testing and examination over two days, Judge Edward Davila said in a ruling this week.

Holmes in December notified prosecutors of her intent "to introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on the issue of guilt," according to Davila's order, released late Wednesday.

450 by Ethan Baron in San Jose, Calif. MOVED


^Medical device trade association says US companies can meet COVID needs<

CORONAVIRUS-MEDICAL-DEVICE:MS — The CEO of the country's most powerful medical device trade group says U.S. companies are meeting the demand for products to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Whitaker, who runs the U.S. Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, said during a virtual news conference Friday that he could not "think of any areas where we can't meet demand."

His comments came as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a list of 20 items in short supply.

500 by Jim Spencer in Washington. MOVED


^LA has a new COVID-19 contact tracing app, from a controversial source<

^CPT-CORONAVIRUS-CONTACT-TRACING-APP:LA—<Since the COVID-19 pandemic first came to Los Angeles in the spring, the county Department of Public Health has hired nearly 2,600 people to do the manual work of contact tracing: asking people who test positive for the coronavirus to list everywhere they've been and everyone they've seen in recent days, then tracking down anyone they've encountered and testing them before they spread the virus further.

But the rate of community spread in Los Angeles is overwhelming the county's capacity, said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. That's why she and other civic leaders gathered Wednesday night in a ballroom atop City Hall to encourage Angelenos to download an app called SafePass, developed by the tech company behind the popular but controversial safety-alert app Citizen.

1100 by Sam Dean. MOVED



^Nikola and Rivian's appetite for risk is real prize for GM, Ford<

^AUTO-NIKOLA-RIVIAN-2ND-LEDE:BLO—<Detroit automakers have long relied on in-house innovation for competitive advantages and bragging rights, but for next-generation electric and driverless technologies they are adopting a new strategy: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have plug-in electric vehicles and a dominant share of the U.S. pickup-truck market, but they have tapped outside expertise and companies lauded by investors as EV pioneers for some of their first battery-powered trucks.

GM grabbed a $2 billion stake on Sept. 8 in recently listed Nikola Corp. to build that startup's Badger pickup a little over a year after Ford plowed $500 million into Rivian Automotive Inc. for access to its truck-sized electric "skateboard" platform.

1250 by David Welch and Keith Naughton. MOVED


^Mark Phelan: LA auto show move 'a declaration of war' on shows in Detroit, New York<

^AUTO-PHELAN-COLUMN:DE—<The competition among leading auto shows has always been tough but civilized, a 100-year tradition that ended this month when the Los Angeles auto show added a major headache to the Detroit and New York shows' long-announced plans to sit out 2020 and resume business as usual in 2021 — assuming the COVID-19 crisis is resolved enough for large groups to gather, of course.

950 by Mark Phelan. MOVED


^Carla Fried: Interest rates and gas prices are low — voila, car loan binge<

^PFP-RATE-AUTO:GRA—<The average new car loan in the second quarter of this year was $36,072, according to Experian Automotive, nearly $4,000 more than the typical loan a year earlier.

That would be a startling jump in a booming economy where jobs are secure, but in the midst of a recession expected to have long-lasting effects on job security, it's remarkable.

And it represents a major risk to many households. What's likely driving the auto borrowing binge is that interest rates are so low; the monthly cost to finance that extra $4,000 only adds about $18 to a monthly payment. And low gas prices are adding to the faulty judgment, as it encourages some buyers to go for the bigger (less fuel efficient) car.

650 by Carla Fried. MOVED



^Auto review: Encore GX ST brings Buick manners to small SUVs<

^AUTO-ENCORE-REVIEW:DTN—<If you've been on Mars for the last few years, you may be disoriented when you see what's happened to America. No, I'm not talking about the coronavirus pandemic and urban riots; I'm talking about Buick's lineup.

America's once-stodgy sedan brand has been transformed into a stable of hip SUVs.

Buick's "mistaken identity" ads featuring utes like the Envision and Enclave were the most watched car ads of 2019, and "That's not a Buick!" has become an American catchphrase. I'm not making this up.

To convince you the world has gone mad, let's unpack the name of this week's tester, the 2020 Buick Encore GX ST.

1300 by Henry Payne. MOVED


^Auto review: Volvo blazes hybrid trail with 2020 S60 e-AWD<

^AUTO-VOLVO-S60-REVIEW:MCT—<While Volvo has always been a step ahead of the crowd when it comes to safety, the Swedish carmaker these days is carving a new trail with hybrids and plug-ins, too.

Volvo sold nearly 23% more plug-in hybrids last year than the previous one. This year it expects plug-in hybrid cars to make up 20% of its total sales, according to Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson. And, know this: Volvo is the only carmaker in the world to offer a plug-in variant of every model in its lineup.

The 2020 S60 T8 E-AWD Inscription proves another point: Volvo isn't shy about packing plenty of punch into these fuel-efficient creatures.

1000 by Barry Spyker. MOVED


^Auto review: 2020 Ford Super Duty proves that popularity doesn't always mean mediocrity<

^AUTO-SUPERDUTY-REVIEW:MCT—<Ford's F-Series Super Duty medium-duty pickup commands more than 62% vehicle market share in mining, 60% of the government fleet, 50% of emergency vehicles, 50% share in the petroleum industry, 47% of the construction industry, and 45% share in utility services according to IHS Markit U.S. registration data. And it does so with good reason.

How does Ford engender such loyalty?

It starts under the hood, with a standard 6.2-liter V-8 that generates 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission, although most Super Dutys have a new 10-speed automatic transmission with normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery, deep sand, and snow drive modes.

950 by Larry Printz. MOVED




Find here a daily Wall Street roundup graphic featuring Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq data.

The 1-column x 4-inch graphic, Wall Street, will be posted by 6:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday.

To find the graphic, visit the Graphics section of

Those with questions regarding the graphic should contact the graphics team at 312-222-4131 or



These features regularly move on Friday:

^Under the Hood<

By Brad Bergholdt.

Not moving this week.

^Motormouth: Worried about capless gas system<

^AUTO-MOTORMOUTH-QA:MCT—<Q: I recently purchased a 2020 Chevy Colorado pickup truck. This is the first vehicle I have owned that came with no gas filler cap. As I live on the east coast of Florida where we have hurricanes and rainy seasons, I am concerned about getting moisture in the fuel tank. The owner's manual does not cover this concern. Do I need to worry about this?

650 by Bob Weber. MOVED


^The Week Ahead: Keep paddling while keeping calm<

^WEEKAHEAD:MI—<The Federal Reserve is like a duck: calm on the surface but working furiously just out of plain sight.

The central bank needs to project composure in the week ahead, as undercurrents pick up. The Fed's interest rate setting committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is no question the group will keep interest rates near zero. After all, it has pledged to do so "until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events," as it said in April.

350 by Tom Hudson. MOVED



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