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Netflix recently suspended three employees, including a transgender employee who posted a Twitter thread last week criticizing a new Dave Chappelle stand-up special on the streaming service as being transphobic.
The employees were suspended after they attended a virtual business meeting among top executives at the company that they had not been invited to, a person familiar with the decision said on Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. Netflix said in a statement that the transgender employee, Terra Field, was not suspended because of the tweets critical of Mr. Chappelle’s show.
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly, and we support their right to do so.”
Mr. Chappelle’s comedy special, “The Closer,” debuted on Netflix on Tuesday, and was quickly criticized by several organizations, including GLAAD, for “ridiculing trans people.” Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer for the Netflix series “Dear White People,” said last week that she would not work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
Ms. Field, who is a software engineer at Netflix, tweeted last week that the special “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.”
On Monday, after news of her suspension went public following a report by The Verge, she tweeted: “I just want to say I appreciate everyone’s support. You’re all the best, especially when things are difficult.”
As criticism of Mr. Chappelle’s special began last week, Netflix’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos sent a memo to employees defending the comedian.
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” Mr. Sarandos wrote in the memo. “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be meanspirited, but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Mr. Sarandos also cited Netflix’s “longstanding deal” with Mr. Chappelle and said the comedian’s 2019 special, “Sticks & Stones,” was also “controversial” and was “our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date.”
In 2019, Netflix was criticized when it blocked an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s topical show, “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj,” in Saudi Arabia after the kingdom’s government made a request for it to do so. In the episode, Mr. Minaj criticized the Saudi Arabian government and questioned the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“We’re not in the news business,” Netflix’s co-chief executive Reed Hastings said in 2019, explaining the decision. “We’re not trying to do ‘truth to power.’ We’re trying to entertain.”
Amazon told employees on Monday that it was loosening its plans to force workers to return to their offices, further retreating from a more rigid approach it had taken earlier this year.
In March, Amazon told employees that it wanted to return to an “office centric” culture. It backtracked this summer, saying most corporate employees would need to be in an office at least three days a week. A plan to return to the office by September was pushed to January as the Delta variant of the coronavirus took hold.
Now Amazon is adding more flexibility to its return-to-office plans. “Instead of specifying that people work a baseline of three days a week in the office, we’re going to leave this decision up to individual teams,” Andy Jassy, the company’s chief executive, told employees in a message that the company also posted online.
The director of each team will decide when and how frequently employees would need to be in the office, if at all. “We’re going to be in a stage of experimenting, learning and adjusting for a while as we emerge from this pandemic,” Mr. Jassy wrote.
Employees who primarily work from home won’t be able to live just anywhere. “We want most of our people close enough to their core team that they can easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice,” Mr. Jassy said.
Many large tech employers have delayed their return-to-office dates until 2022, often embracing hybrid approaches to work that encourage the use of the remote technologies they produce. Flexibility has become a perk for in-demand tech workers. Amazon’s change comes as it is hiring voraciously, looking to fill 40,000 corporate and tech jobs in the United States alone.
Microsoft, which has indefinitely delayed its return-to-office dates given the uncertain path of the pandemic, has said it expected it to be “standard” for employees to work from home up to half time, and Google has been rethinking its office design to accommodate employees who come in only occasionally.
Facebook, which delayed its reopening to January, said this summer that employees at all levels can apply to be fully remote, though they may take a pay cut to do so. Otherwise, they must spend at least half of their time in the office.
U.S. stocks fell again on Monday, as concerns about inflation and a slowing economic recovery kept investors on edge.
The S&P 500 dropped in afternoon trading to end the day down 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq fell 0.6 percent.
“The U.S. economy has lost some luster, but demand appears resilient in the face of lingering supply-chain disruptions,” Gregory Daco, the chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note on Monday. “Still, there is no escaping the fact that limited supply and persistent inflation is weighing on activity.”
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had dropped on Friday after the government reported that U.S. employers added far fewer jobs in September than expected.
Oil prices rose on Monday, with West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, gaining 1.2 percent, to $80.52 a barrel. Crude futures have been near their highest price since October 2014.
“Surging commodity prices amid the ongoing energy crisis, labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks mean costs pressures are rising,” Fiona Cincotta, a senior analyst at Forex.com, wrote in a note. “Investors are fretting over how this will feed into the inflation outlook.”
Investors are also bracing for a string of quarterly earnings reports this week and will watch them closely for executives’ outlooks on the economy and signs that higher prices will lead to longer-lasting inflation. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are scheduled to report their financial performance on Wednesday, and Morgan Stanley and Citigroup will release their third quarter results on Thursday. Morgan Stanley was one of the worst performers in the S&P 500 on Monday, falling 2.8 percent. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs fell about 2 percent.
Shares of Southwest Airlines fell 4.2 percent after the company canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend. The airline said the cancellations were because of weather challenges in Florida and unexpected air traffic control issues.
Southwest Airlines canceled several hundred flights on Monday as it worked to resolve the problems that led it to strike more than a quarter of its scheduled flights over the weekend.
Over 1,800 Southwest flights were canceled on Saturday and Sunday, accounting for more than 28 percent of its weekend schedule, according to FlightAware, a tracking service. By late afternoon on Monday, Southwest had canceled about 10 percent of the flights scheduled for the day, just over 360 flights. About a third of its flights were delayed 15 minutes or more.
The cancellations wreaked havoc on travel plans for thousands of passengers, many of whom vented their frustrations on social media. At least some were trying to make it to the Boston Marathon, which was canceled last year and delayed by six months this year.
Southwest blamed the cancellations on several causes, including problems with the weather and air traffic control on Friday and an inability to get flight crews and planes to where they were needed.
Cancellations on Friday, primarily caused by severe weather, prevented planes and crews from being where they needed to be on Saturday, a cascading problem that led to cancellations and delays throughout the weekend and into Monday, the airline said.
“We hope to restore our full schedule as soon as possible,” Southwest said in a statement. “To every customer that experienced a cancellation or delay, Southwest offers our sincerest regret regarding disrupted travel plans.” The airline’s share price fell more than 4 percent Monday.
The airline and the union that represents its pilots took pains throughout the weekend and on Monday to say that the disruption was not caused by protests over the airline’s recently announced vaccination mandate, denying an idea, fueled by some early news reports, that had gained traction online among conservatives and anti-vaccination activists. Conservative lawmakers pointed to Southwest’s cancellations as evidence that vaccine requirements could harm the economy.
“Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate at work!” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said Sunday night on Twitter. “Suddenly, we’re short on pilots & air traffic controllers.” Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, echoed those comments on Monday.
The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged that flights were delayed or canceled on Friday because of severe weather, military training exercises and a brief staffing shortage at one air traffic control center, but said that the disruption lasted only a few hours.
“Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place,” the agency said in a statement over the weekend.
Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, dismissed the idea that pilots had called in sick to protest the company’s vaccine mandate, though the union has asked a court to prevent Southwest from enforcing that requirement. Pilots called in sick at a normal rate this weekend, he said.
Instead, Mr. Murray said, the widespread cancellations were caused by technological issues and problems with how pilots are reassigned and rerouted during disruptions, a process complicated by Southwest’s uniquely large, point-to-point network. In a typical day, about 10 percent of pilots are reassigned from the flights they were scheduled to operate. That figure was 71 percent on Saturday and 85 percent on Sunday, according to Mr. Murray.
“That is unsustainable,” he said. “The domino effect continues, and what we see, due to some internal failures, is it’s happening so many times that they just can’t move everyone.”
The airline suffered a similar string of cancellations in June, which its incoming chief executive, Robert Jordan, recently blamed partly on overly rosy assumptions about how easily the airline could meet surging summer demand after the doldrums of the pandemic.
“I think we could have been less optimistic about how quickly we could get folks back off of leave and trained and all that,” Mr. Jordan said at a September conference hosted by Cowen, an investment bank.
Thousands of employees volunteered for buyouts, early retirement or long-term leave during the pandemic. And the airline has had to bring on new employees to replace those departed workers to meet the demand, Mr. Jordan added.
“I’ve been at the airline for 33 years,” he said. “Constraints have always been, can you get aircraft, can you get airports, facilities, gates? This is the first time where the constraint is staff.”
The union also said in a statement on Sunday that its members are barred by federal law from using a strike to resolve a labor dispute without exhausting other options first.
While the union, which says it does not oppose vaccination, denied that its members were calling in sick to protest the mandate, it did ask a judge on Friday to stop the airline from enacting the vaccine mandate and other policies. The request is part of a broader lawsuit that predates the mandate and centers on the union’s assertion that Southwest has taken a number of “unilateral actions” in violation of labor law.
Southwest isn’t alone in seeing pushback from employees over a vaccine mandate. Last week, hundreds of American Airlines’ workers and their supporters protested its new mandate outside the company’s Fort Worth headquarters, according to The Dallas Morning News.
But many others have voiced support for such requirements. United Airlines, the first large U.S. airline to impose a mandate, has said nearly all of its 67,000 employees were vaccinated, with the exception of about 2,000 who applied for religious or medical exemptions. United said it expected to have to fire fewer than 250 employees for failing to comply. The airline’s executives had expected some blowback but were surprised by the positive reaction, noting that it had received many more applicants for open flight attendant positions than it used to before the pandemic.
“I did not appreciate the intensity of support for a vaccine mandate that existed, because you hear that loud anti-vax voice a lot more than you hear the people that want it,” United’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, told The New York Times this month. “But there are more of them. And they’re just as intense.”
Delta Air Lines has not imposed a vaccination requirement, but it said it would charge unvaccinated employees $200 more a month for health insurance.
One of Hollywood’s senior statesmen announced his retirement on Monday, adding to a startling changing of the guard at the Walt Disney Company.
Alan F. Horn, 78, will step down on Dec. 31 as chief creative officer of Disney Studios Content, a division that includes Marvel, Lucasfilm, Searchlight Pictures, Pixar, 20th Century Studios and Disney’s traditional animation and live-action movie operations. His position is not expected to be filled.
“It’s never easy to say goodbye to a place you love, which is why I’ve done it slowly,” Mr. Horn said in a statement. “But with Alan Bergman leading the way, I’m confident the incredible Studios team will keep putting magic out there for years to come.” Mr. Bergman, a steady hand at Disney’s movie division since 1996, succeeded Mr. Horn as chairman of Disney Studios Content last year.
Mr. Bergman, 55, called Mr. Horn “one of the most important mentors I’ve ever had.”
Mr. Horn’s retirement adds to brain drain at the world’s largest entertainment company as a new generation of executives rise to power — led by Bob Chapek, who became chief executive last year. While not unexpected, the parade of retirements has contributed to an unsettled feeling inside the conglomerate, which is still recovering from an almost complete shutdown during the early part of the pandemic.
Robert A. Iger, the executive chairman, is decamping in December. Alan N. Braverman, Disney’s top lawyer, and Zenia B. Mucha, its chief communications officer, plan to leave around the same time. Other departures have included Jayne Parker, who led human resources; Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley, who ran Searchlight, Disney’s art film studio; and Gary Marsh, a longtime Disney-branded television executive.
Mr. Horn’s entertainment career has spanned nearly 50 years. He joined Disney in 2012 after being squeezed out of a senior role at Warner Bros. to make room for a new generation of managers. At Warner, where he expertly steered the Harry Potter and Batman franchises, he forged a strategy that ultimately swept through Hollywood — focusing on effects-filled franchise pictures, or “tent poles,” that resonate overseas.
The growth at Disney’s movie division under his tenure was jaw-dropping. In 2012, Disney-distributed movies collected about $3.3 billion at the global box office. In 2019, the studio generated $9 billion in ticket sales.
Evergrande, the teetering Chinese real estate developer, has three more payments due Monday on its dollar bonds. It’s been about two weeks since the company, which has $300 billion in liabilities, missed a Sept. 23 bond payment, starting the clock on the 30-day grace period before it formally defaults.
Cracks are beginning to appear across China’s real estate industry, as the government weighs bailouts of over-indebted developers against a push to curb speculation. Developers have amassed more than $5 trillion in debt, and buyers are wary of high prices, denting sales and forcing sellers to cut prices. Evergrande isn’t the only developer struggling with its debts, including those owed to international creditors; collectively, Chinese real estate companies have more than $28 billion in dollar bond payments due in 2022.
Evergrande’s offshore creditors are beginning to make noise, amid fears that China will prioritize onshore creditors in any potential restructuring. Last week, Moelis and Kirkland & Ellis, the advisers representing a number of offshore bondholders, said they were concerned about a lack of information from China, including details about Evergrande’s potential sale of a stake in one of its divisions. (Trading in the company’s shares has been halted since Oct. 4.)
Creditors also questioned whether a deal announced by Evergrande last month to sell a $1.5 billion stake in a bank to help settle debts amounted to preferential treatment that kept offshore creditors out of the loop. Creditors are looking for recourse in Cayman law, which governs Evergrande’s offshore bonds. On Saturday, Evergrande said it had punished six executives who redeemed company investment products early, forcing them to return the funds.
David Card has made a career of studying unintended experiments to examine economic questions — like whether raising the minimum wage causes people to lose jobs.
Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens have developed research tools that help economists use real-life situations to test big theories, like how additional education affects earnings.
On Monday, their work earned them the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
All three winners are based in the United States. Mr. Card, who was born in Canada, works at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Angrist, born in the United States, is at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Mr. Imbens, born in the Netherlands, is at Stanford University.
“Sometimes, nature, or policy changes, provide situations that resemble randomized experiments,” said Peter Fredriksson, chairman of the prize committee. “This year’s laureates have shown that such natural experiments help answer important questions for society.”
The recognition was bittersweet, many economists noted, because much of the research featured in the prize announcement was co-written by Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton University economist and former White House adviser who died in 2019. The Nobels are not typically awarded posthumously. Despite that note of sadness, the economics profession celebrated the news, crediting the winners for their work in changing the way that labor markets in particular are studied.
“They ushered in a new phase in labor economics that has now reached all fields of the profession,” Trevon D. Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State, wrote on Twitter shortly after the prize was announced.
Mr. Card’s work has challenged conventional wisdom in labor economics — including the idea that higher minimum wages led to lower employment. He was a co-author of influential studies on that topic with Mr. Krueger, including one that used the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania to test the effect of a minimum wage change. Comparing outcomes between the states, the research found that employment at fast food restaurants was not negatively affected by an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage.
Mr. Card has also researched the effect of an influx of immigrants on employment levels among local workers with low education levels — again finding the impact to be minimal — and the effect of school resource levels on student education, which was larger than expected.
“I’m sure that if Alan were still with us, that he would be sharing this prize with me,” Mr. Card said in a news conference, after recognizing Mr. Krueger’s contributions. He also noted that initially, when it came to the minimum wage study, “quite a few economists were quite skeptical of our results.”
David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who co-wrote a paper contesting Mr. Card and Mr. Krueger’s findings in the minimum wage study, said he still thought the work had data issues — but added that there was no doubt that the methodology was important.
“They’ve all done great work — they’ve changed the way that labor economists do research,” Mr. Neumark said of the three winners.
Mr. Angrist and Mr. Krueger tried in the early 1990s to gauge how much benefit people derive from extra years of education. To figure it out, they took advantage of the fact that students born earlier in the year can legally leave school earlier than those born later in the year. Those born earlier tended to get less education and also earned less later on. The effect of an additional year of education, they estimated, was a 9 percent increase in income.
That study helped spur the additional work on research methods that Mr. Angrist and Mr. Imbens later carried out. That contribution has reshaped the way researchers think about and analyze natural experiments, according to the Nobel committee.
The pair showed that it was possible to identify a clear effect from an intervention in people’s behavior — like a subsidy that might encourage people to ride bicycles to work — even if a researcher could not control who took part in the experiment, and even if the impact varied across individuals. They also came up with a transparent framework for such research that has increased trust in it.
“The challenge, for me, has always been trying to understand, when people do empirical work, what exactly the methodological challenges are,” Mr. Imbens said via telephone in a news conference for the announcement.
Two American economists affiliated with Stanford, Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, won the 2020 Nobel in economics for improvements to auction theory. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of M.I.T. and Michael Kremer of Harvard University won in 2019 for their experiment-based research in development economics.
The award, formally called the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, has been given out since 1969.
Because the award is announced in the middle of the night on the United States’ West Coast, two of this year’s recipients were woken up by phone calls from Sweden informing them of their prize.
Mr. Imbens said he was asleep when he received the call from the prize committee — around 2 a.m. — and was “absolutely stunned” to hear the news. He said he was pleased to win it alongside friends, noting that Mr. Angrist was the best man at his wedding.
Mr. Card thought that a friend of his — whom he identified only as Tim — was pulling a prank on him, he said.
“But then the phone number actually was a Swedish phone number,” he said.
Henry Kravis and George Roberts, the private equity titans who founded KKR with Jerome Kohlberg Jr. in 1976, are handing over the keys. They defined the 1980s leverage buyout boom with the firm’s acquisition of RJR Nabisco.
Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall are taking over as co-chief executives, effective immediately, the firm announced on Monday. Mr. Kravis and Mr. Roberts will remain “actively involved” as executive co-chairmen of the board.
The private equity firm has about $430 billion in assets under management, with operations that span the globe. KKR’s shares are up 65 percent this year.
The succession plan was set in motion in 2017 when KKR named Mr. Bae and Mr. Nutall co-presidents and chief operation officers. Both joined the firm in 1996. Mr. Bae helped oversee its expansion in Asia and its private markets business, while Mr. Nutall guided the firm’s initial public offering in 2010 and its public markets business. They played a significant role in “shaping the firm, its culture and our market-leading businesses into what they are today,” Mr. Kravis and Mr. Roberts said in a statement.
Mr. Kravis and Mr. Roberts are also ceding voting control. Alongside the management moves, KKR is simplifying its corporate governance and will eliminate preferred shares for Mr. Kravis and Mr. Roberts, moving to one-vote-per-share on all matters — including board elections — at the end of 2026. That is in contrast to rivals like Blackstone, where its founder, Steve Schwarzman, maintains significant control. Apollo said this year that it would move to a one-share-one-vote structure after revelations about ties that its founder, Leon Black, had to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, which led Mr. Black to step down earlier than expected.
Other leadership transitions are afoot at buyout groups. Carlyle’s co-founders, David Rubenstein and William Conway, appointed Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee as co-chief executives in 2017. (Mr. Youngkin resigned last year and is running for governor of Virginia.) Mr. Schwarzman is still at the helm of Blackstone, with an heir apparent, Jonathan Gray, serving as chief operating officer. TPG has been reshuffling its ranks in advance of an expected I.P.O.
HOUSTON — Chevron on Monday announced an “aspiration” to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 for its operations in a response to growing public and investor concern about climate change.
The goal covers only the direct emissions of its oil and natural gas businesses and not the emissions that are caused when Chevron’s products are used by drivers, businesses and other customers, which are far larger.
Chevron’s announcement is unlikely to assuage environmentalists who have for years been calling on oil and gas companies to commit to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from their operations and the use of their fuel. U.S. companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil have been much more reluctant to make firm commitments to reduce emissions than European energy companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which have done a lot more to make a business transition away from fossil fuels and toward areas like renewable energy and electric vehicle charging stations.
Chevron, which is based in San Ramon, Calif., is the second-largest U.S. oil and gas producer after Exxon. On Monday, it also set a goal of reducing the carbon emissions intensity for the entire life cycle of its products by 5 percent by 2028 from its 2016 levels.
“Solutions start with problem solving, which is exactly what the people of Chevron do,” Michael Wirth, Chevron’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
I.M.F. and World Bank meetings: Finance ministers and central bank governors are set to gather for International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington D.C. to discuss the global economic outlook. The event, which runs through Oct. 17, will include the release of the I.M.F.’s global growth forecast in its latest World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday.
Consumer Price Index: The Labor Department is set to publish its report on prices in September. In August, the Consumer Price Index dipped slightly from the month before.
G-20 meeting: Finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations are set to meet in Washington to discuss how to continue to sustain the economic recovery. Ministers and governors are expected to endorse an agreement for a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.
Fed meeting minutes: The Federal Reserve will publish minutes from the September meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. Investors will be looking for indications of policymakers’ thinking about when the central bank should begin winding down some of its efforts to support the economy.
Bank earnings: Wall Street’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, will release quarterly financial reports starting on Wednesday. Analysts are forecasting strong profits growth and will be listening for executives’ outlook on the economy amid the deteriorating market sentiment. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup will release their earnings reports on Thursday.
Delta Air Lines earnings: The airline is expected to publish its financial performance report for the three months ending in September, a period during which a surge in coronavirus cases stifled momentum for the travel industry.
Retail sales: The Commerce Department will publish data on spending for the month of September. In August, retail sales rose slightly, highlighting the uneven pace of the economic recovery.
Conventions are facing smaller crowds and stricter safety protocols, and the president of the company that produces New York Comic Con noted that “it’s going to look a little different this year.”
The mask mandate game some fans, eager to strut around dressed as favorite characters, pause. Most simply wore a medical mask, but a creative few found ways to use masks to complement their cosplay. SEE THE PHOTO ESSAY →
The latest James Bond spectacle, “No Time to Die,” gave Hollywood its third box office success in the span of a month.
But the pandemic-era box office is still extremely fragile, analysts say, and the only movies attracting sizable attention in cinemas are big-budget franchise films, Brooks Barnes reports in The New York Times. The audience for smaller dramas and comedies seems — at least for now — to be satisfied with home viewing, either buying films through video on demand or watching them on streaming services.
“Superhero, action and horror movies are performing well in theaters, particularly when they are offered exclusively and not simultaneously available to stream,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consultancy.
“No Time to Die” gave Hollywood hope that the worst times of the pandemic are in the past. Billed as the 25th installment in the Bond franchise and with Daniel Craig in his fifth and final turn as 007, “No Time to Die” took in an estimated $56 million from 4,407 theaters in the United States and Canada, according to Comscore. In partial release overseas, the Bond film collected an additional $257 million, according to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and its overseas distribution partner, Universal Pictures International.