With Lobster Deal, U.S. and E.U. Trade Talks Advance: Live Updates

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Here’s what you need to know: Socially distanced guests at AMC in Las Vegas on Thursday. The nation’s largest theater chains hope to convince Americans that moviegoing is safe.Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images LOS ANGELES — “Some people go to the gym. Some people go to church,” Megan Colligan, the president of […]

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — “Some people go to the gym. Some people go to church,” Megan Colligan, the president of Imax Entertainment, said at a news conference on Friday to mark the reopening of theaters in much of the United States. “And some people really do need to go to the movies.”

The film industry is holding its breath that she is right.

For the first time since March, when the pandemic brought much of American life to a halt, the nation’s major multiplex chains are selling tickets and serving popcorn again — although not in six states (New York, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and New Mexico) where government officials say it remains too dangerous.

To help convince the rest of the country that moviegoing is safe, Ms. Colligan and the chief executives of the four largest theater chains in the United States — AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Marcus Theaters and Regal Cinemas — appeared together via Zoom on Friday to announce uniform health protocols: masks requirements, limited capacity, no condiment stations, plexiglass partitions and enhanced air-filtration systems (or at least in top working order).

Most of the protocols, including limiting capacity to 40 percent or 50 percent (depending on the chain), had already been announced piecemeal by the companies. But consumer research, they said, indicated that moviegoers wanted to know that standards were uniform.

So they unveiled a campaign called CinemaSafe. More than 2,600 theaters operating more than 30,000 screens in the United States have signed on, according to the executives.

The group also sought to position moviegoing as no different from other public activities to which many people had returned, like eating in restaurants. Dr. Joyce L. Sanchez, an infectious disease expert at the Medical College of Wisconsin, noted that most films run about 90 minutes to two hours.

“It’s pretty similar to the time on a short-distance flight, which a lot of America is doing at this point,” she said at the news conference, which was organized by the National Association of Theater Owners, a trade group. Dr. Sanchez was not paid by the theater association to give her assessment of CinemaSafe.

Credit…Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

The United States and the European Union announced on Friday a small but significant breakthrough in trade negotiations that would lead to elimination of tariffs on American exports of lobster. The agreement will also reduce U.S. duties on a range of European products such as glass crystal and cigarette lighters.

The broad economic impact of the agreement is small, but it may provide relief to the Maine lobster industry, which has suffered from a steep decline in prices because of the collapse of tourism.

The pact, the first reduction in tariffs in more than 20 years, also signals a slight warming of trade relations between the United States and Europe, which have been tense since the Trump administration imposed tariffs on European steel and aluminum in 2018. Those tariffs remain in force.

“We intend for this package of tariff reductions to mark just the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements that create more free, fair, and reciprocal transatlantic trade,” Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, and Phil Hogan, the European Union trade commissioner, said in a joint statement.

Credit…Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions

Antonio Lucio, the chief marketing officer of Facebook, announced internally on Friday that he planned to leave the company, two years after he arrived from Hewlett-Packard.

Mr. Lucio had been tasked with unifying all of Facebook’s sub-brands — including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger — and bringing them under the Facebook umbrella. Under Mr. Lucio, the company made it clearer to users that all of its apps were owned and operated by its parent entity.

Mr. Lucio was also responsible for cleaning up Facebook’s brand, which in recent years has become tied to the distribution of false information, election meddling and other toxic forms of digital discourse. He backed a number of national media campaigns to improve Facebook’s brand across television, print and billboards — including the company’s first-ever 60 second spot during this year’s Super Bowl.

Mr. Lucio said he was leaving to work on social justice issues in the field of marketing. “Given the historical inflection point we are in as a country regarding racial justice, I have decided to dedicate 100 percent of my time to diversity, inclusion and equity,” he said in a post to his Facebook page on Friday. “It is a time for reckoning for the nation and my industry, and it is time for me to play a more active part in accelerating change.”

Facebook confirmed Mr. Lucio’s departure, saying, “Antonio did incredible work telling our story during a transformative period for the company.”

Facebook said it was looking for a replacement for Mr. Lucio, whose last day at the company is Sept. 18.

Credit…Jordan Stead/EPA, via Shutterstock

Jeff Wilke, the chief executive of Amazon’s vast consumer business, said on Friday that he planned to retire early next year after more than two decades with the company, in a rare changing of the guard at the top of the e-commerce giant.

Mr. Wilke, 53, has been one of two chiefs of specific businesses at Amazon who report to Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and chief executive. (The other chief of a business is Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon’s cloud computing business.) Mr. Wilke is the most senior executive to leave Amazon amid a wave of departures from Mr. Bezos’s leadership team in recent years, with the men who built the company retiring or turning to other ventures.

In an email to staff, Mr. Wilke wrote, “So why leave? It’s just time.” He said he did not have another job lined up and has been “as happy with and proud of Amazon as ever.” He added that he was ready to have “time to explore personal interests that have taken a back seat for over two decades.”

Mr. Bezos, also in an email to the company, said Mr. Wilke “is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.”

Dave Clark, the senior vice president who has run Amazon’s operations, including its logistics and supply chain, will take over Mr. Wilke’s role of chief executive of the consumer business.

Credit…Turkish Finance Ministry, via Reuters

A Turkish drilling ship has discovered a major gas field in the Black Sea, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, potentially reducing the country’s dependence on imported energy and providing relief to the beleaguered economy.

But analysts cautioned that it would take several years before the field begins producing, and warned that the project could run into the same technical problems that have hampered other attempts to exploit reserves in the area.

“This is Turkey’s biggest-ever find — by a wide margin — and one of the largest global discoveries of 2020,” Thomas Purdie, an analyst at the consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said in a note. Mr. Erdogan put the size of the field at 320 billion cubic meters, a figure Mr. Purdie said would need to be confirmed by further drilling.

Mr. Purdie noted that a Romanian project only 60 miles away has been bedeviled by logistical problems. Mr. Erdogan’s claim that the newly discovered Turkish field would begin producing in 2023 is “ambitious,” Mr. Purdie said.

The Turkish lira rallied briefly this week amid reports of the discovery, but declined after the announcement Friday afternoon, a sign investors were underwhelmed. The lira has lost a quarter of its value this year, causing severe economic distress in part because imported energy becomes more expensive for people paying with local currency.

  • Stocks on Wall Street inched up again on Friday to end the week higher. The S&P 500 broke through its February high earlier in the week. It is now on track for its fifth consecutive month of gains.

  • Big technology stocks have played a big role in that rally. On Friday, Apple rose nearly 6 percent. It now has a market value of more than $2.1 trillion.

  • Stocks in Europe had ended lower after a new round of data from Purchasing Managers’ Indexes cast doubt on the strength of the European economy’s recovery. “The eurozone’s rebound lost momentum in August, highlighting the inherent demand weaknesses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Andrew Harker of IHS Markit.

  • The Labor Department’s report on the health of the job market on Thursday served as a reminder of the fragility of the economic recovery: The tally of new claims for state unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose to more than 1.1 million.

Government debt in Britain has exceeded 2 trillion pounds ($2.6 trillion) for the first time, according to official statistics published on Friday.

Debt reached 100.5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of July, as the government spent heavily to combat the severe economic shock of the pandemic and dealt with falling tax receipts. It’s the first time national government debt has been larger than the size of the economy since 1961, the Office for National Statistics said. In the United States, debt outgrew the size of the economy in June.

Even as the debt levels climb, it’s costing the government less to make interest payments because of incredibly low and even negative interest rates.

Though the pandemic has had an “unprecedented” impact on Britain’s public finances, the government statisticians reduced their estimates for how much borrowing was necessary between April and June, the months of lockdown, because of higher-than-expected tax receipts.

Separate data showed more evidence that Britain’s economic recovery, which began tentatively in May, was still underway.

In July, the volume of retail sales was 3 percent larger than in February, before the pandemic, as the vast majority of businesses resumed trading. Online and food sales remained at untypically high levels, but the data showed a pickup in spending on fuel and clothing, two items that had been particularly hard hit during the shutdown. And a survey of business activity recorded a second month of expansion for August.

Credit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times

Economists and deficit hawks have warned for decades that the United States was borrowing too much money. The federal debt was ballooning so fast, they said, that economic ruin was inevitable: Interest rates would skyrocket, taxes would rise and inflation would probably run wild.

The death spiral could be set off once the debt surpassed the size of the U.S. economy — a turning point that was probably still years in the future.

It actually happened much sooner: sometime before the end of June.

The coronavirus pandemic, and the economic collapse that followed, unleashed a historic run of government borrowing: trillions of dollars for stimulus payments, unemployment insurance expansions, and loans to prop up small businesses and to keep big companies afloat.

But the economy hasn’t drowned in the flood of red ink — and there’s a growing sense that the country could take on even more without any serious consequences.

“At this stage, I think, nobody is very worried about debt,” said Olivier Blanchard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. “It’s clear that we can probably go where we are going, which is debt ratios above 100 percent in many countries. And that’s not the end of the world.”

That nonchalant attitude toward what were once thought to be major breaking points reflects an evolution in the way investors, economists and central bankers think about government debt.

As levels of debt among rich nations like the United States and Japan have climbed relentlessly in recent decades, the cost of carrying that debt — reflected in interest rates — has tumbled, leaving little indication that markets were losing confidence in the willingness and ability of these countries to carry their financial burdens.

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