Over a third of executives still have no timeline for reopening their offices

September 4, 2020, 10:26 AM UTC

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Good morning.

The Conference Board polled business executives across the U.S. and found that only 27% of U.S. workplaces in America’s 20 largest metro areas will be reopened by the end of the month. And more than a third of the executives surveyed—35%—still have no timeline to reopen their offices. A slightly larger group—39%—are targeting reopening in the first quarter of 2021.

Interestingly, the survey found that wide availability of a vaccine would be the deciding factor for only 5% of respondents.

Meanwhile, Fortune’s own research shows a large number of Americans—8% of those surveyed—may consider moving as a result of the pandemic. If they follow through on that intention, that would be a massive migration, and bad news for cities. But this isn’t the first time big cities have been declared dead, and I wouldn’t write them off. There’s a not easily quantifiable advantage to putting lots of creative people in close proximity.

Separately, I talked yesterday with Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos. His company focuses on neurological diseases, so hasn’t gotten as caught in the hubbub over COVID as other biopharma companies. (Although it’s gotten lots of attention for the unfortunate fact that its February conference became a super spreader event.)

Vounatsos says the kind of cooperation that’s been sparked by the pandemic also will be necessary to deal with the Alzheimer’s epidemic. The FDA last month agreed to review Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab for clinical use by March 7 next year. If approved, that would be a significant step forward, but far from a silver bullet. “One company alone won’t be able to solve this,” Vounatsos told me. Moreover, “the infrastructure is not ready.” There are too few medical specialists to diagnose early Alzheimer’s, too few of the necessary diagnostic scanners, and too few infusion centers to deliver treatment. Collaboration of the sort springing up around COVID will be critical.

Vounatsos will be joining me on September 16 for a conversation on climate, health & equity. If you are interested, register here.

More news below.

Alan Murray



After the storm

Yesterday's tech-led selloff on U.S. markets (the S&P 500 fell 3.5%) was followed by more modest drops in Asia (Hang Seng down 1.3%, Nikkei 225 down 1.1%), but things picked up in Europe this morning, with the Stoxx 600 up 0.7% at the time of writing. U.S. futures also look modestly positive. The development suggests yesterday was really just a demonstration of profit-taking by tech investors. Financial Times

Tesla shares

Tesla's share price has fallen 18% since Monday's close, including a 9% drop during the aforementioned tech selloff. It's not quite clear why Tesla's zippy stock-price ascent has taken a hit—could be gravity, could be to do with Tesla's plan to sell up to $5 billion in shares. Fortune

Google antitrust

More rumblings about the potential antitrust case apparently being readied against Google in the U.S. According to the New York Times, the Justice Department is weeks away from unveiling a case, against the objections of career lawyers who say more time is needed to build the case first. The paper's sources say Justice officials told lawyers involved in the Alphabet inquiry to wrap up their work by the end of the month. NYT

Apple antitrust

Japan's antitrust regulator is taking a look at Apple's App Store practices following the clash between Epic Games and the iPhone maker, over the app store's 30% revenue cut. Japanese gaming executives are also starting to talk openly about how they hope Epic, maker of the smash hit Fortnite, will win the fight. Fortune


Trump and soldiers

President Trump has strongly denied multiple reports saying he called veterans and dead or missing soldiers "losers". The initial report, from the Atlantic, specifically referred to Trump's cancellation of a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, claiming he didn't want his hair to become disheveled in the rain, and that he said the American marines buried there were "suckers" and "losers". Trump called the reports a "disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 election." Politico

NSA surveillance

The phone surveillance program exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as the first of his 2013 revelations was in fact unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday. Snowden: "I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them." Guardian

Data transfers

After the demolition of the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield by the EU's top court in July—largely due to Snowden's other surveillance revelations—there will be "no quick fix" for a replacement, the EU's justice commissioner warned Thursday. Didier Reynders also told members of the European Parliament that the European Commission wants to "modernize" the standard contractual clauses that many companies use for transatlantic data transfers, again due to the same ruling. Euractiv

Eviction moratorium

The U.S.'s newly-expanded eviction moratorium kicks in today, and Fortune's Aric Jenkins is on hand to explain what's happening: who's eligible, what it means for landlords, and when that rent will be due. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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