Financial Daily Dose 11.20.2019 | Top Story: Utility PG&E Struggles with Fires and Path Out of Bankruptcy


PG&E’s woes continue. Not only is the company still in the midst of a dangerous fire season, but it’s struggling to find a path out of bankruptcy while fending off a growing chorus of cities and state officials “threatening to take over California’s largest utility unless executives improve its safety record” – NYTimes and WSJ and Marketplace

The will-they/won’t they drama over a Sino-American trade deal appears to be back in the “they won’t” camp for the moment, with each side refusing to budge from key demands (ag purchases for the US and tariff removal for China) – WSJ and Bloomberg

Recent earnings reports from companies like Home Depot, Kohl’s, Target and TJ Maxx show a mixed bag for US retail heading into the holiday season, with some lowering forecasts while others report strong store traffic and sales – WSJ

The Fed’s October meeting minutes drop this afternoon, and central bank watchers will be looking for insight on just how long Chair Powell and his ilk will be comfortable with their current pause mode – Bloomberg and WSJ

We’ve spent some time in the past few months on a throwback version of worker uprisings in the form of the UAW v. GM strike. But what does that look like for gig workers who are without the broad protection of a union? Try the dustup at on for size, where one gig worker’s refusal to take it anymore led to something of a revolution, the latest in a recent trend of “gig-economy workers [rising] up in discontent” – NYTimes

SDNY Judge Gregory H. Woods ruled this week that plaintiff Royal Park Investments can’t use loan sampling data in its toxic RMBS case against trustee BNY Mellon “because the discovery method is not cost-effective”—a departure from the “loan-by-loan and trust-by-trust” basis other courts have used to deny sampling [though with the same result] – Law360

The FHFA has begun the process of raising capital for Fannie & Freddie that it hopes will be sufficient to return the mortgage-finance companies to private ownership – WSJ

A jury in Massachusetts state court found that auditing giant KPMG owed Merrimack College no damages after failing to catch a former employee’s student loan fraud during its years of auditing the school. The jury determined that Merrimack’s own negligence was a prime factor in allowing the scheme to continue – Law360

Attorneys general from California and New York both announced lawsuits against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs this week based on allegations that the company “deliberately marketed and sold vaping products to young people—and helped create a public health crisis in the process.” North Carolina’s AG filed a similar suit back in May – NYTimes

Despite its definite [and ironic] “up-in-the-air” status, Boeing and its troubled 737Max model scored a big win at the Dubai Air Show this week, with Kazakhstan’s Air Astana agreeing to purchase 30 Max jets, with an undisclosed buyer snapping up another 20 – WSJ

Can developers make the once-hot-but-now-mostly-jettisoned suburban office parks a prized destination again? Everything’s cyclical, but it’ll be an uphill battle in today’s increasingly urban-focused office space environment – NYTimes

As a late November darkness envelops us here in the North, a little splash of color—like this look at the thousand-year-old Japanese obsession with cherry blossoms—is a welcome departure – NYTimes


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