Most of us have seen these iconic landmarks one way or another, be it just pictures or the actual buildings in real life when visiting the popular landmarks ourselves. Many architects have spent hundreds of hours perfecting these landmarks so visitors like us could enjoy their view regardless of circumstances. But how many of us have actually seen what they actually look like from above?

Budget Direct decided to provide us with the answer by having their innovative insurance team take and render these six breathtaking pictures that they kindly shared with us in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. They portrayed the beautiful famous places by offering us a new perspective on even the most photographed tourist spots.

So, scroll down and see what iconic places such as the Eiffel Tower or Sydney Opera House look like from above.

More info: budgetdirect.com.au

Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)

Image credits: budgetdirect

“With Kronborg in mind,” wrote Sydney Opera House’s architect, Jørn Utzon, “I was convinced that a new building in such a position as to be seen from all sides, had to be a large sculptural building.” Utzon was keenly aware of how the structure would occupy Sydney Harbour since he lived near Kronberg Castle, which occupies a similar position beyond a steep drop, sandwiched by the coasts of Denmark and Sweden.

30 St. Mary Axe ‘The Gherkin’ (London, England)

Image credits: budgetdirect

You need to levitate 180m to reach the top of London’s second-tallest building. On the way up, you’ll notice that the building puffs outwards and then inwards again from its circular ground-level footprint. This leaves plenty of space for people to mill about like ants down on the ground while allowing for 47,000m2 of interior floor space.

Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

Image credits: budgetdirect

X marks the spot. Cuddled by kidney-shaped lawns at the tip of the Champ de Mars, it may take you a moment to identify the Eiffel Tower. The centre of the X is the meeting point of four iron lattice piers that begin on the ground 300m below.

Statue of Liberty (New York City, USA)

Image credits: budgetdirect

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty offers a clear look at the 11-pronged star on which it sits. The star may look like it was designed for the purpose, but it is actually a former fort, built a year before the War of 1812 to protect New York Harbor. Tour boats and commuter ferries pass there today.

The Colosseum (Rome, Italy)

Image credits: budgetdirect

This head-down view of the Colosseum looks pretty different to when it was first built for animal hunts, executions, and gladiator battles, nearly 2,000 years ago. Somewhere between 50-90,000 people of all classes would have gathered here, protected from the sun by enormous vela (canvas awnings) wrangled by hundreds of strong men, probably from the Roman navy.

Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon, Myanmar)

Image credits: budgetdirect

Legend has it Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist stupa is 2,600 years old, making it the world’s oldest Buddhist stupa and the oldest landmark on our list. Scholars estimate it’s a remarkable 11-15 centuries old. Either way, the building has been enhanced over the years. The golden roof has been replenished by devotees, including the 15th-century Queen Shin Sawbu (BinnyaThau), who donated her bodyweight in gold.

Original Source: boredpanda.com

Ciara McLaren on a day trip to Biarritz, a seaside town on the southwest coast of France.
Ciara McLaren on a day trip to Biarritz, a seaside town on the southwest coast of France.

After graduating with her master’s degree, Ciara McLaren moved from Florida to a small town in western France to work part-time as an assistant English instructor at a public school.She was paid roughly half the French minimum wage and lived in a dormitory for young workers.McLaren says the beginning of her stay in France had many challenges, from overcoming the language barrier and experiencing culture shock to learning how to work well with teenagers.Still, after two years in the program, McLaren says she would do it again “in a heartbeat,” and encourages others interested in teaching English abroad to go for it with “eyes and mind wide open.”Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For the past two years, I’ve taught English for 12 hours a week in small, idyllic French cities. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. 

Before you start playing the world’s tiniest violin, hear me out: I was an assistante de langue, a classroom aide for English teachers at French public schools. As nice as it may seem to work part-time in the land of baguettes, champagne, and bimonthly vacations, teaching is tough. It’s even tougher in a culture that is not your own. 

The Teaching Assistant Program in France recruits Americans ages 20-35 to work part-time providing English instruction in French public schools for €785 per month, plus health insurance. I was fresh out of a rigorous graduate program and having conversations in English  for 12 hours a week seemed like a vacation in comparison — I applied, got in, and made plans to move to France. 

Lesson learned: Moving to a foreign country is not a vacation. 

By the time I applied to TAPIF, it had been three years since I’d spoken a word of my intermediate college French. I tried my best to prepare by watching every French movie on Netflix, but with the school year rapidly approaching, I could still barely string a sentence together.

Immediately upon arrival in Paris, it became clear that this would be a problem. It’s one thing to be an English-speaking tourist, and quite another to be an English-speaking resident. I did my best to express myself using an expansive English vocabulary, my best French accent, and elaborate hand gestures. The result of these attempts was usually tears: tears at the bank, tears at the train station, tears at the phone shop, etc. 

Once I had cried my way to a French phone number and rail card, I traveled south to the city where I was assigned: Niort. The small city has two main claims to fame: One, it contains the headquarters of several insurance companies, and two, the great writer Michel Houellebecq called it one of the “one of the ugliest cities” ever. (For what it’s worth, I actually thought Niort was quite charming.)

The view from the Donjon de Niort, a medieval castle in the downtown area of Niort. Ciara McLaren
The view from the Donjon de Niort, a medieval castle in the downtown area of Niort.

To make ends meet on my minimal salary (half the French minimum wage), I lived in a foyer des jeunes travailleurs, a dormitory for young workers. With CAF, a government housing supplement, I paid just over 50 euros a month in rent for a small room next to a shared toilet. Not exactly Versailles, mais bon. 

My first day on the job, the culture shock hit me before I walked through the door. 

Outside of the school gate, dozens upon dozens of teachers and students alike were chain-smoking cigarettes. 

The school where I would be working was a lycee professionnel, a vocational school, with students ages 15-18 (with some older and younger outliers).  It specializes in automobile repair and bodywork (which I knew nothing about), and the student body was made up of about 95% boys. 

This turned out not to be much of an issue. Most of my students, regardless of age, gender, or career path, asked me the same questions during class time. “Do you have a gun?” “Do you like Trump?” “Have you met XXXTentacion?” No, no, and no. 

I turned their questions back on them. Do you have a gun? Do you like France? Have you met Macron? Also no, no, and no. But it provoked a conversation, in English, which was really my only job. And I liked my job, most of the time.

ciara mclaren Good bread, jambon cru, and courgette salad from the local market of Pau, France.
Good bread, jambon cru, and courgette salad from the local market in Pau, France.

Speaking English with students was simple, but not easy. 

Teenagers are teenagers wherever you go, and discipline was a constant issue. I sent students to the principal’s office for everything from sexual harassment to physical fights. Despite my part-time hours, I always looked forward to school vacations. 

On a hike in the Pyrenees (don’t look too closely as the sheep). Ciara McLaren
On a hike in the Pyrenees (don't look too closely at the sheep).

Many weeks, I didn’t even work my full 12 hours. Shortly after I arrived, the gilets jaunes protests erupted across the country, and more manifestations against austerity and school reform followed throughout the year. Daily life was so disrupted that some days I couldn’t get to school, or would arrive to find the gate locked and nobody there. 

In those moments, I turned to my profs référents, the teachers assigned to look after me. They answered my questions, invited me to their homes, and included me in conversation in the break room. Sometimes, they’d forget to tell me there was a strike going on, but they were always very apologetic afterward. 

Fresh pastries from Le Pain Pascale in Pau, France. Ciara McLaren
Fresh pastries from Le Pain Pascale in Pau, France.

Looking back on my two years spent teaching English in France, I feel both privileged and exploited. 

On the one hand, I worked 12 hours or fewer a week, with frequent vacations, in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. On the other hand, the job combined two very difficult things: being a foreigner and working with teenagers. 

In testimonials on the TAPIF website, former assistants describe freedom, friendship, and growth. They don’t mention the long hours spent fighting with French bureaucracy to accomplish basically anything, from getting an apartment to validating your visa. They don’t mention how hard it is to control your temper when your students won’t stop asking you whether you prefer “French fry or French kiss.” In Facebook groups and local assistant meet-ups, we would commiserate over our difficulties and celebrate our triumphs. 

In quarantine in Pau, France, in March 2020. Ciara McLaren
In quarantine in Pau, France, March 2020.

Despite some challenging moments, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Two years working part-time hours in France gave me the time and space I needed to become a freelance writer. My contract ended earlier this year, and after months of quarantine in France, I returned to the US in early July. (Despite everything, it’s home.)

On a balcony overlooking the Pyrenees, January 2020. Ciara McLaren
On a balcony overlooking the Pyrenees, in January 2020.

Still, I would tell anyone considering teaching English abroad to go for it — with eyes and mind wide open. 

Being an assistant de langue may seem like a dream job, but it’s really just like any job, with one big difference. Some days it’s great, other days it’s awful, but either way, you’re in France.

Ciara McLaren is a freelance writer with bylines in HuffPost, Gastronomica, and elsewhere. You can read more of her work on Substack. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Original Source: feedproxy.google.com

Heads up! We share savvy shopping and personal finance tips to put extra cash in your wallet. Android Central may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network. Please note that the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are two of the most talked-about travel credit cards, thanks to the valuable Ultimate Rewards program, top-notch benefits and valuable travel protections.

You might assume that the Chase Sapphire Reserve — which comes with a higher annual fee and more luxury benefits — is always the better choice. It is the higher-tier card, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the better card for you. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred offering a higher sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months and travel understandably on the back burner for many cardholders, there are plenty of reasons why it could be the more attractive option for your wallet.

Before we get into the benefits of these two cards, note that you can’t hold the CSP and the CSR at the same time, and you need to wait at least 48 months between earning the sign-up bonus on one card before you can earn it on the other. Also, make sure you don’t bump up against Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule.

Travel coverage and purchase protection

It’s also worth comparing the coverage offered by these two cards for things like travel delays, trip cancellation and purchase protection.

An argument for the Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is obviously the more premium of the two cards. If you’re a frequent traveler, the Reserve will likely give you more long-term value.

Premium travel benefits

If you’re looking for premium perks, the Reserve is the way to go. You’ll get a $300 travel credit each year with the Reserve, a $100 credit for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years and a Priority Pass Select membership that gives you entry into airport lounges around the world. Plus, the card just added new benefits.

As part of a new partnership with food delivery service DoorDash, cardholders receive a $60 annual DoorDash credit to use on food delivery each year in 2020 and 2021 and a one-year complimentary subscription to DashPass (which waives the delivery fee at eligible restaurants and discounts service fees on orders of more than $12). Cardholders will also get a free one-year Lyft Pink membership, which includes a 15% discount on all rides and free bike and scooter rentals each month.

While some of these perks can’t be used right now, if you take advantage of these perks later on in 2020 and into 2021, you’ll more than offset the cost of the Sapphire Reserve’s $550 annual fee each year.

Higher earning rates

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a higher earning rate than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Those who spend a lot on Lyft, travel and dining will find the added points per dollar on those purchases rewarding. For example, if you know you’ll spend $50 per month on Lyft and $1,000 a month on travel and dining

You can see that there is potentially a huge difference in earnings over the course of a year. Even though TPG values all Ultimate Rewards (no matter which card earns them) at 2 cents each, the Reserve provides $300 more in annual rewards value in the above example. The more you plan to spend in those bonus categories, the bigger the difference in rewards. Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on travel and dining and the same $50 on Lyft. That would bring your Reserve earnings up to 78,000 points annually ($1,560 in value) versus 51,000 points with the Preferred ($1,020).

Keep in mind, though, that you won’t earn 3x on travel until you have used up your $300 travel credit.

Both cards have received temporary benefits from Chase to help cardholders maximize their cards while travel may not be in everyone’s 2020 plans, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve has understandably gotten higher temporary earning rates as well — 10x on select streaming services (on up to $1,500), 5x at gas stations (on up to $1,500) and 5x on Instacart (up to $3,000) through Sept. 30, 2020.

50% redemption bonus

In addition to a higher earning rate, the Reserve also comes with a higher redemption rate when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to redeem each point at 1.5 cents each, compared to 1.25 cents each with the Preferred.

I don’t typically suggest booking hotels through a third-party portal unless you find a great deal, because you typically won’t earn hotel points, elite credits or have your elite status recognized (though that isn’t always the case). But if you are regularly booking airfare through the portal, it’s worth having the Reserve for the higher redemption rate. A $600 plane ticket will cost you 48,000 points with the Preferred but only 40,000 points with the Reserve.

Through Sept. 30, this 50% redemption bonus also extends to grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishment purchases that can be erased through Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature.

Better trip insurance coverage

With more cards cutting trip insurance, premium coverage is harder to come by. Both the Preferred and the Reserve offer a great selection of travel insurance benefits but you get better coverage with the Reserve — almost double the coverage amount on some benefits like travel accident insurance and purchase protection. On its own, this may not be a reason to choose the Reserve over the Preferred, but when combined with the other additional benefits the Reserve offers, it could be a deciding factor.

An argument for choosing the Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred can’t compete with the Reserve when it comes to perks such as the annual travel credit and the return on bonus-category spending, but this card still could make more sense for you.

Lower annual fee

The first advantage of the Sapphire Preferred is the most obvious: a significantly lower annual fee. The Sapphire Reserve costs $550 per year while the Preferred costs only $95. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit, which effectively lowers the cost to just $250 per year — a $155 premium over the Sapphire Preferred.

If you’ll be spending at least $300 on travel in a year anyway, it could be worth paying more for the Reserve. If that fee doesn’t seem manageable, the Sapphire Preferred Card is a very worthwhile alternative. In fact, I’ve held off on upgrading my own Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic and my limited travel spending in 2020.

The Preferred’s elevated sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently wins out over the Chase Sapphire Reserve by offering a higher sign-up bonus. Right now, you’ll earn 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth up to $1,600. By comparison, the Reserve is offering 50,000 points after you hit $4,000 in spend within the first three months, which is worth only $1,000.

Here’s the caveat: you can only receive one bonus from a Chase Sapphire card within 48 months, which means you need to choose carefully. The additional $600 in value you’ll get with the Preferred’s sign-up bonus is a compelling reason to apply for it over the Reserve. If you decide that you would get more value with the Reserve card’s features, you can always request an upgrade later down the line.

Same access to Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Even though it doesn’t offer all the same premium benefits, the Sapphire Preferred Card offers identical transfer benefits to the Reserve card. No matter which card you choose, you’ll be able to move your Ultimate Rewards points (earned both through the sign-up bonus and through spending) to the program’s airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Chase’s airline partners give you access to all three of the top alliances (Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam), so you’ll have a strong variety of options for putting your points to use.

The two cards do, however, differ when it comes to redeeming points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. With the Preferred, you’ll get 1.25 cents in value per point, while with the Reserve you’ll get a higher value of 1.5 cents per point.

Check out our guide on maximizing Chase’s transfer partners

You still get primary rental car insurance

Long before Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve, award travelers sang the praises of the Sapphire Preferred card’s auto collision damage waiver (CDW) benefit. This perk provides reimbursement for damage as a result of collision or theft for rentals of 31 days or less when you decline the rental agency’s CDW. If you’re eligible, you’ll be reimbursed up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the terms and conditions actually cap reimbursement at $75,000. (It’s unlikely you’d need more reimbursement from either card, since most rental cars are worth far less.) It’s worth noting that the Preferred’s coverage excludes “expensive, exotic and antique automobiles.”

No authorized user fee

There are various reasons to consider an authorized user. You could be looking to help someone build up his or her credit history; you might want to provide employees with cards for a business account or maybe you’re looking to earn bonus rewards for adding additional users. With the Preferred, there’s no cost to add additional users. With the Reserve card, on the other hand, it costs $75 per year for each authorized user (most likely because each gets his or her own Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access).

Easier to get approved

A final reason to consider the Sapphire Preferred Card over the Sapphire Reserve Card is that it could be easier to be approved for the Preferred. As an ultra-premium card, the Reserve requires a top-notch credit score. You’ll still need a solid score for the Sapphire Preferred (typically somewhere in the high 600s to the 700s), but you might have an easier time getting approved for that card if your score is on the low end of the optimal range.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has long been a TPG favorite. When the Reserve launched, however, it quickly became a go-to for luxury perks such as a Priority Pass Select membership and the annual $300 travel credit. You really can’t go wrong with either card; each has a lot to offer both beginners and veterans in the points-and-miles game.

If you’re looking at applying for one or the other right now, it’s important to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s elevated sign-up bonus. It’s worth hundreds of dollars more without the Reserve’s $550 annual fee. You can always request an upgrade later on if you decide the Reserve will better serve your travel needs.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 80,000-point sign-up bonus.

Featured photo John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Original Source: androidcentral.com

MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra

MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra

Battered by the coronavirus pandemic that crashed its revenues to zero, India’s largest online travel booking company MakeMyTrip was forced to let go of 350 people, which is nearly 10 percent of its staff, in June.

Initially, around March-end when the country entered into the first phase of the lockdown, the company had hoped it would not have to fire any of its employees, having affected pay cuts across the board.

“But then, two months into the pandemic we realised this is going to take longer and we had to take a very tough decision. I think it's fair to say the toughest decision we have ever taken, which was a large scale retrenchment — almost 10 percent of our staff, which was 350 people — we had to ask to go,” MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra said during a recent chat with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma. The company has around 3,200 employees on its rolls.

The layoffs were from businesses which the company thought would not come back in a long time or at least would not be done the same way. These were primarily the retail businesses, which the Nasdaq-listed Gurugram company is in the process of converting into franchises and hopes people will still have gainful employment in these functions when the stores come back in their new avatars.

“But I don’t think we want those (jobs) on our rolls, we were anyway talking about restructuring this (retail business). But it was a tough time. I know for Rajesh (Magow, MakeMyTrip Co-founder and CEO) and myself, we had many sleepless nights. As did our HR, as did every leader, actually. It’s very hard." 

“I think for us, the way we are wired — we are Indian, we don’t have that hire-fire mentality — at least, we certainly don’t. Asking one person to go for (a) reason (that’s) not his or her fault is hard and when you do it mass-scale, it’s very hard,” Deep said.

In March, the World Travel and Tourism Council had warned that 50 million jobs in the travel and tourism industry could be lost worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. It projected Asia as being the worst affected with the possibility of 30 million job losses in the continent.

deep-kalra-founder-and-ceo-makemytrip

Deep Kalra started MakeMyTrip at the age of 30 in 2000

The 50-year-old founder of one of India’s early internet successes who went on to become a poster boy for the Indian startup ecosystem and the online travel industry, said, the company wanted to ensure the separation process, albeit painful, was made as easy as possible.

“It’s the right thing to do. So we did extend the benefits and perks, whether it was medical insurance till a whole year, we did let them keep the laptops [sic]. For people who had done long service, we did even more, like linked to how long they had served us." 

“And then, even on a personal front, both Rajesh and I wanted to help anyone who had done a long time with us, more than 10 years, which we did. But it’s the worst thing to do and hopefully we never ever have to do that again,” he said.

At the peak of the pandemic, as travelling came to a standstill, MakeMyTrip’s revenues plummeted from $500 million a month revenue run rate to zero. “We did $6 billion gross booking (in) the last year, the last fiscal that we reported and we were suddenly down to zero,” Deep said.

He reflected on the irony that 20 years after the travel company was launched on April 1, 2000, it found itself in a position where on its anniversary there was virtually no travel happening, with everyone locked down inside their homes.

“We had our earnings call for the worst hit quarter, which is April, May and June, which is the first quarter of our fiscal and it’s open knowledge, since we are a public company, we were 95-96 percent down on revenues. So I was half jokingly saying, this should be called a lack of earnings call not an earnings call,” Deep said.

Also ReadFrom humble village boy to billionaire: Byju’s success mantra revealed

After assessing the initial damage to the business, the MakeMyTrip management got down to figuring out the things they could control to salvage the situation. “We are in travel, not really diversified. So it’s been great for us for so long. We can sit and mope or fret and get into a panic, but neither of those are going to solve our problems,” Deep said.

The management figured the “only thing” it could do was act on two fronts — cutting costs and keeping employees’ motivation levels up, which became even more critical in the backdrop of the job cuts.

Deep elaborated: “How could we be completely maniacal about cutting down on cost wherever possible? So variable costs were (a) little easier, most of them were related to marketing and sales promotion. Semi-fixed cost, which was outsourced partners for post-sales service, call centres was a little harder, but again we gave notices, we negotiated, and we cut back. And the toughest of all, of course, was when it came down to people-cost.” 

According to the company, it tried to do everything possible to avoid the layoffs, especially through the deep pay cuts at the top, but eventually had to take the tough call of letting people go after an extended phase of little or no business.

 

“So, we took cuts, personal cuts in salaries at all levels, literally starting with managerial level at 10 percent, going all the way up to the top where Rajesh and I are still basically going 100 percent cut [sic] because it was not only symbolic but it was the right thing to do. "

“Our entire leadership team, I think it was creditable (that) they took a 50 percent cut and they continue to do so. And even though travel is coming back and now we have started restoring, it’s been (a) good four-five months of being like that,” Deep said.

Also ReadStarting Apollo Hospitals at the age of 50, Dr Prathap Reddy was called a ‘fool’

MakeMyTrip started restoring salaries of employees till the senior manager level by July end, once the business started to come back. “Some of our lines of business have definitely started like domestic flights, I think we are back now at 15-20 percent capacity, which is a start,” Deep said. For hotel bookings, demand is at 10-12 percent of the capacity, as is the demand for bus and other inter-city travel modes, he added.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

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Original Source: yourstory.com

This is the web version of the WSJ’s newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here.

Boom!

U.S. stocks wrapped up their best quarter in more than 20 years, a remarkable rally after the coronavirus pandemic brought business around the world to a virtual standstill. Just three months ago, investors were lamenting the end of the bull market—and the longest economic expansion on record—after major U.S. stock indexes lost about 35% of their value in less than six weeks. The subsequent rebound has been nearly as brisk. Partly thanks to an unprecedented $1.6 trillion stimulus package from the Federal Reserve and Congress and a surge in trading among individual investors, the rally has lifted everything from beaten-down energy stocks to apparel retailers to big technology firms, Michael Wursthorn reports.

The stock market rally stands in sharp contrast to economic output. The second quarter is expected to be the worst post-World War II period on record. There are signs that April was the worst month for the economy and a recovery is already under way. But a resurgence of coronavirus cases could threaten the pace of growth, leaving output and employment well below prepandemic levels for an extended period.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY

The ADP employment report for June is expected to show a monthly gain of 2.5 million jobs. (8:15 a.m. ET)

IHS Markit’s U.S. manufacturing index for June is expected to tick up to 49.7 from a preliminary reading of 49.6. (9:45 a.m. ET)

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index for June is expected to rise to 49.5 from 43.1 a month earlier. (10 a.m. ET)

U.S. construction spending for May is expected to rise 0.6% from a month earlier. (10 a.m. ET)

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks at a Chicago community forum at 10 a.m. ET.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its June 9-10 meeting at 2 p.m. ET.

TOP STORIES

Down on Main Street

Workplace scheduling-software company Homebase has a warning about Thursday’s U.S. employment report: It might overstate the economic health of Main Street businesses. Yes, employers probably added millions of jobs last month. But the pace of improvement at Homebase’s clients—smaller companies with a heavy dose of leisure and hospitality—was slower in June than in May. Notably, the real-time data shows activity fading in the second half of the month as coronavirus cases piled up in Texas, Arizona and elsewhere. The Labor Department conducted its surveys earlier in June, potentially leaving its report a poor barometer of more recent developments.

Economists are increasingly turning to alternative sources for a read on a fast-changing economy. Drexel University’s Andre Kurmann and colleagues developed a model using Homebase data that is meant to be comparable to the Labor Department’s monthly estimates. “Big takeaway is that recovery of small business employment has almost completely stalled in the last two weeks,” Mr. Kurmann said.

How can the U.S. slow the spread of Covid-19? A growing chorus of Republican officeholders and conservative media figures are calling for people to wear masks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Fox host Sean Hannity are among the latest. There is widespread scientific and medical consensus that face masks are a key part of the public policy response for tackling the pandemic, Catherine Lucey reports.

There’s also a robust economic argument. Economists at Goldman Sachs find a national mask mandate would increase usage substantially and cut the daily growth rate of confirmed Covid-19 cases by a full percentage point, to 0.6%. Weighed against other potential actions to reduce the infection rate, Goldman concludes: “A face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP.”

Yankee Stay Home

The European Union is starting to open its borders to travelers from as many as 15 countries. The U.S. isn’t one. The decision comes after days of wrangling between the bloc’s member states, which were divided over the economic benefits of opening up ahead of the summer tourist season amid concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus, Laurence Norman reports.

U.S. consumers weren’t going anyway: In June, the share of households planning to vacation in a foreign country fell to the lowest level since 1986, according to a Conference Board survey.

One consequence of falling air traffic: Airbus said it would cut 15,000 jobs across its commercial aircraft division, citing what it expects to be the Covid-19 pandemic’s yearslong impact on the aviation sector. The majority of the cuts, which amount to about 11% of the company’s total workforce, will be in France and Germany. Airbus doesn’t expect a recovery in air traffic to prepandemic levels before 2023, Benjamin Katz reports.

Pandemic Demand

FedEx said Christmas-like levels of online shopping boosted its business, and it is seeing tentative signs that the global economy is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. The company said that 72% of shipments in the U.S. went to residences in the latest quarter, compared with 56% a year ago, Paul Ziobro and Allison Prang report.

Conagra Brands said it is investing in more manufacturing capacity as demand for its packaged foods remains strong this summer. The maker of Hunt’s tomatoes, Healthy Choice meals and Birds Eye frozen vegetables said its comparable sales jumped 22% in the quarter that ended May 31 and have continued to increase since then. Retailers and food makers want to be prepared for a surge in grocery shopping, which is likely if a second wave of Covid-19 cases occurs as forecast, Annie Gasparro reports.

Gold prices extended a recent rally Tuesday with uncertainty about the economic recovery and ultralow interest rates lifting demand for the haven metal. Prices ended the second quarter up 13%, their biggest quarterly advance since early in 2016. Tuesday’s close marked gold’s first close above $1,800 since September 2011, and prices are within about 5% of their all-time high of $1,891.90 from August of that year, Amrith Ramkumar reports.

WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING

The Covid-19 recession isn’t like other downturns. “Traditional macroeconomic tools–stimulating aggregate demand or providing liquidity to businesses–may have diminished capacity to restore employment when consumer spending is constrained by health concerns. During a pandemic, it may be more fruitful to mitigate economic hardship through social insurance. More broadly, this analysis illustrates how real-time economic tracking using private sector data can help rapidly identify the origins of economic crises and facilitate ongoing evaluation of policy impacts,” Harvard’s Raj Chetty and colleagues write in a new working paper.

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Original Source: blogs.wsj.com