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Weekly Market Report - June 24, 2021


NYC’s office sublease surge slows as tenants move to reoccupy space

Apparel sales are surging. Subway ridership is at a 15-month high. Lines of customers are forming at Midtown salad shops during the lunch rush. For better or worse, New York City’s office workers are slowly returning to workplaces long abandoned. The city’s office market, battered during the pandemic, is similarly showing signs of a rebound, with companies yanking their spaces off the sublease market in anticipation of an earlier than expected return to the workplace. Rent the Runway, which rents out designer dresses and accessories to subscribers, recently pulled its 83,000-square-foot Dumbo office from the sublease market, where it had sat since September. Even companies that were not financially devastated by the health crisis — such as JPMorgan Chase, which placed 700,000 square feet of Lower Manhattan office space on the sublease market in March — jumped on the bandwagon, hoping to save some money by backfilling extra office space that they may not need.


Economy Is Showing Sustained Progress, Powell Says

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday that job growth should pick up in coming months and temporary inflation pressures should ease as the economy continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic. “The economy has shown sustained improvement,” Mr. Powell said in testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday on Capitol Hill, noting progress on vaccinations and vast stimulus efforts by Congress and the Fed. Mr. Powell is set to appear before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to discuss the Fed’s efforts to shore up the economy since the start of the pandemic. The hearing aims to focus on lessons learned by the Fed, which rolled out a blitz of extraordinary lending programs early in the health crisis. These included efforts to calm market turmoil, suppress borrowing costs and lend money directly to some businesses and local governments. The programs wound down at the end of 2020. Mr. Powell said the lending programs “helped unlock more than $2 trillion of funding” that reduced job losses at businesses, nonprofits and local governments. He also is likely to field questions on the Fed’s monetary policies, which aim to support the economic recovery.


With major financial choices to make, Newmark receives $850M infusion

What to do with $850 million? That’s the question Newmark is now asking itself. By virtue of some Wall Street wheeling and dealing, the commercial brokerage is set to receive a windfall in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of shares in Nasdaq Incorporated — the financial services firm that operates the eponymous stock exchange where Newmark went public in 2017. The hefty payout will fill Newmark’s coffers at a particularly pivotal time, when it’s got major financial decisions to make. The company is deciding on a trio of options, providing a peek into its potential strategy. For one, Newmark has a long-running problem with awarding too much stock, which has dragged down its stock price. The cash infusion could go a long way toward buying back stock and reducing the number of outstanding shares. Newmark also drew down heavily on its corporate credit line during the pandemic and observers expect the brokerage to pay down some of that debt. This money will hopefully be used to remedy some of these situations.


BlackRock to allow only vaccinated staff to return to office

BlackRock is adjusting its plans for U.S. employees to return to the office, allowing only fully vaccinated workers to come back to work starting next month. The world’s biggest asset manager said U.S.-based employees who have been inoculated against Covid-19 may resume in-person work next month or in August if they’d like to, according to a memo from the New York–based company. Unvaccinated staff members are not allowed in the office then, the memo said. All employees will be required to report their vaccination status by June 30, BlackRock said. The company said it will provide an update for unvaccinated employees during the summer. The company already had announced plans to bring employees back to the office in September while allowing some remote work. Firms across Wall Street are experimenting with how to bring back workers, with some companies—including Goldman Sachs—taking a more ambitious stance about employees coming back.


New York City must ease fines and fees on small businesses

As the city’s economy has slowly reopened, the media, thought leaders, elected officials and business owners have opined extensively on the plight of small businesses. It is widely agreed that small businesses suffered tremendously as a result of pandemic restrictions. Many positive steps were taken to attempt to offset both lost revenue and costs of doing business. But if we are truly serious about creating an environment in the city where entrepreneurs, new immigrants and people with individual passions can build a business that provides services to our communities and creates jobs for our neighbors, we really need to address another burden that businesses faced even before the pandemic-detrimental costs associated with fines and violations. Enforcement of codes and regulations is a critical role of government, especially when it comes to keeping communities healthy and safe. This is not a sweeping call to eliminate the work of investigators from city agencies; this isn’t a license for bad actors to avoid accountability. But there are too many petty nuisance citations that can be resolved without punitive financial measures against business owners.

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