• Market Crumbs

American Industry Pivots

Image via Dominik Dancs on Unsplash

During World War II, many American industries pivoted from their normal production to producing materials that were used in the war. Ford produced B-24 Liberators, Chrysler built army tanks and General Motors even built shell casings. At the time of Pearl Harbor, GM had become the world's largest military contractor.

"There was no sight in the war that so impressed me with the industrial might of America as the wreckage on the landing beaches," Dwight Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs of the wartime production by American industries.

With the coronavirus spreading across the U.S., creating shortages of many vital supplies, American industry is once again pivoting to produce whatever is needed to save lives as U.S. factories see the highest number of shutdowns since World War II.

Ford, General Motors and Tesla have each been given approval to switch from producing automobiles to machines medical professionals are in shortage of. GM is partnering with Ventec Life Systems to build its respirators, while Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk confirmed he's been in discussion with Medtronic about ventilators.

"We stand ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment," Ford said. "We have had preliminary discussions with the U.S. governments and are looking into the feasibility. It’s vital that we all pull together to help the country weather this crisis and come out the other side stronger than ever."

There's even a place for alcohol manufacturers to contribute. Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewery, is using its resources to produce hand sanitizer. The company will work with the Red Cross to determine where hand sanitizer "will be needed most."

"We have a long history of supporting our communities and employees – this time is no different," Anheuser-Busch said. "That’s why we are using our supply and logistics network to begin producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to accommodate the growing needs across the United States."

Even smaller distilleries are chipping in to produce hand sanitizer. Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths, Williamsburg’s New York Distilling Company and St. Agrestis Spirits are just some of the smaller companies rushing to produce hand sanitizer.

Fashion designer Christian Siriano answered New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's plea to help by offering to sew face masks.

"If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help," Siriano tweeted.

Even Facebook, which is often the center of criticism, is contributing. The social network is contributing its emergency stockpile of 720,000 masks to health workers.

"To help, Facebook donated our emergency reserve of 720,000 masks that we had bought in case the wildfires continued," Facebook co-founder and CEO Market Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg added the company is working on "sourcing a lot more to donate."

With so many critical supplies in short demand, it's good to see so many industries pivoting from their normal operations to manufacture products that could end up saving lives.

Leftover Crumbs

  • Coronavirus cases top 300,000. The number of coronavirus cases globally has surpassed 300,000, with more than 13,000 deaths. The U.S. has seen cases surge to more than 25,000, making it one of the worst hit countries following China, Italy and Spain. Italy saw its worst single day over the weekend, with 793 confirmed deaths. 340 people have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus, mostly in Washington and New York, which have been the worst hit.

  • Better late than never. While there's been a struggle to produce enough test kits for the coronavirus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Cepheid emergency authorization to use its rapid molecular test that can provide results in less than an hour. The test, which is the first to be provide results at the point-of-care, will be shipped this Friday. "We are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.

  • Maybe the computers can help. The Trump administration is seeking the help of computers to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy have put together a consortium that will use supercomputers to help model the spread of the coronavirus, as well as find therapies or a vaccine. Partners in the consortium include IBM, NASA, MIT, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and the National Science Foundation.

  • Walmart and Amazon are hiring. Due to increased demand, Walmart and Amazon are looking to hire a combined 250,000 employees between them. Walmart is looking to hire 150,000 hourly workers, while also paying a special cash bonus of $300 to full-time hourly employees and $150 to part-time associates. Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 employees for its warehouse and delivery operations. Amazon also announced it will increase pay for warehouse and delivery employees by $2 per hour through the end of April.

  • Questionable timing. While many lose their jobs, Goldman Sachs announced a pay raise for CEO David Solomon. Solomon will receive a 20% pay raise to $27.5 million, consisting of a $2 million salary, $7.65 million cash bonus and $17.85 million in performance-linked stock units. "He led our development of the firm’s three-year business plan and a clear long-term strategy that leverages our foundational advantages, enhances the firm’s long-term mindset and instills a culture of innovation," Goldman Sachs said.