Economy

Financial and business news

Congress ordered home lenders to let homeowners who lost income skip mortgage payments, but some say lenders are demanding big lump sum payments just months from now, even if they've lost their jobs.

From produce clerks to personal shoppers to warehouse stockers, millions of grocery workers across the U.S. are keeping food on the shelves throughout this pandemic for those of us hunkering at home. Their work is essential — needed and valued — and yet, many say they don't feel safe.

Mexican authorities ordered the shutdown of all nonessential businesses and industries for the entire month of April in hopes of stemming the spread of the coronavirus. To the shock of many, added to the list of nonessential industries was all alcoholic beverage production. Within days a whole new set of panic buying was taking place. Forget the run on toilet paper, beer hoarding was on in cities and towns throughout Mexico.

It appears most, if not all of the nation's major airlines have applied for a share of $50 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue, among others, met a 5 p.m. ET deadline to apply to the Treasury Department for payroll grants, loans or both.

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It seems like such an obvious and powerful idea: airlines that laid off thousands of workers over the past few weeks are retraining some employees to assist in hospitals and nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Flight attendants, after all, are already skilled in handling minor medical emergencies and by the very nature of their job, know how to remain coolly capable amid chaos.

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A powerful Senate Democrat is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zoom for deceptive practices, adding to the growing chorus of concerns over the popular video chat software's privacy and security flaws.

Several state attorneys general are also probing Zoom, after users, including government officials, reported harassment, known as "Zoombombing," on the platform.

Walmart on Saturday will begin limiting how many people are allowed inside its stores at one time, reducing its capacity to roughly 20%, as a way to enforce social distancing.

The retail giant joins Target, Costo and other supermarket chains in deciding to count and restrict the number of visitors to keep shoppers at least six feet apart — from each other and from the workers — hoping to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Yeast, baking powder and spiral hams were big hits in America's shopping carts last week.

As the country settles in — possibly for the long haul — under stay-at-home orders, baking projects appear to be a common distraction, while panic purchasing of some products seems to be subsiding.

Sales are still up significantly compared to a normal week. And shelf-stable foods, meats, produce and snacks are all flying off shelves at unusual rates.

But for many products, the remarkable sales spikes from early March have started to subside.

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Since early February, stories of toilet paper shortages in stores have traveled around the world basically in step with the coronavirus. Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi of our Planet Money team has a few reasons why.

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