Overnight Finance

On The Money: 12 million to lose federal unemployment benefits after Christmas | Warren urges Biden to cancel student debt | Stocks close with losses as states, cities reimpose COVID-19 restrictions

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL-12 million to lose federal unemployment benefits after Christmas: Twelve million people would lose federal benefits the day after Christmas if Congress does not pass extensions for key unemployment programs, according to a study by The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

"Absent congressional action to extend CARES Act benefits, December 26 will mark the end of one of the last lifelines available to millions of Americans in desperate need," said Andrew Stettner, who co-authored the study with Elizabeth Pancotti. "It will be a crippling end to one of our darkest years."

Congress passed a slew of expanded benefits programs in the CARES Act, March's emergency COVID-19 relief bill. 

  • One program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, expanded eligibility to the self-employed and gig economy workers, a group that normally is not eligible for unemployment benefits. The program will have 7.3 million people on it when it expires the last week of December, with 945,000 people losing the support earlier.
  • Another program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, provided an extension of benefits after the 26 weeks most states offer ran out. If that program expires at year's end, 4.6 million workers would lose benefits. Another 3.5 million will have already used up the benefits before that point.

The Hill's Niv Elis breaks it down here.

No progress in sight: The prospects of Congress moving to extend the programs remain murky. While both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have called for some level of relief, the two remain hundreds of billions of dollars apart on how large the bill should be. They have yet to schedule or sit down for any formal negotiations.

LEADING THE DAY

Warren urges Biden to cancel student debt: 'Single biggest stimulus we could add' Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday urged President-elect Joe Biden to cancel student debt, calling it the "single biggest stimulus" for the ailing economy, a claim economists dispute.

Speaking at The New York Times's Dealbook Summit, Warren said that student debt cancellation was part of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's election mandate.

"For me it is a mandate to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to do the things we can do, to cancel student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans, [the] single biggest stimulus we could add to the economy," she said.

Niv Elis has more here.

Stocks close with losses as states, cities reimpose COVID-19 restrictions: The stock market closed with losses Wednesday after reversing from earlier gains, closing in the red for the second consecutive day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a loss of 345 points, falling 1.2 percent after rising by more than 140 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 also closed with a loss of 1.2 percent, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.8 percent.

Stocks have whipsawed over the past two weeks as investors see encouraging progress toward two COVID-19 vaccines amid severely rising coronavirus cases. 

  • More than 250,000 Americans have died from complications of COVID-19, and the U.S. has recorded more than 100,000 new cases every day since the Nov. 3 election. 
  • And while vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer could be available to front-line workers and high-risk individuals as soon as next month, it could take until April for vaccines to be widely available to the general public.

I have more here.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon poured cold water on a column suggesting that he join President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet as Treasury secretary, saying he is content in his current role in the private sector.
  • CNBC's Jim Cramer said on Wednesday that Congress and President Trump "doomed so many companies" with their failure to pass a COVID-19 stimulus deal in the fall after months of negotiations. 
  • Apple will pay $113 million to settle allegations from a coalition of nearly three dozen states that the company concealed battery issues with its iPhone products to prompt users to buy new devices, state officials announced Wednesday. 
  • New York City hotel owners will have to pay more than $500 million to employees displaced by the coronavirus pandemic following a recent arbitration ruling, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • President-elect Joe Biden is eyeing the departments of Agriculture and Transportation as key partners for achieving his climate goals, exciting progressives by broadening efforts beyond traditional environmental agencies.
  • Op-Ed: Former Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) argues why "The future of 'fintech' is at stake for Biden and the Senate"
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