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Omicron Pushes Wall Street Toward Work-From-Home Future

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As the new year begins, Wall Street bankers find themselves in a familiar spot: working at home.

The banks are hoping that the Omicron pause is short-lived. But even after Omicron subsides, the companies could find themselves facing a more deep-seated problem. Many of their employees have grown used to more flexible working arrangements and aren’t willing to go back into the office full time. How their return-to-work experiment plays out could set the stage for other white-collar industries.

Wall Street firms, particularly JPMorgan and Goldman, were aggressive last year about bringing workers back to the office, with JPMorgan Chief Executive

Jamie Dimon

and Goldman CEO

David Solomon

arguing that it was the best way to maintain culture and train new workers. Many employees, including traders and high-level executives, have worked from the office regularly throughout the pandemic.

But the banks are confronting the reality of a tight labor market and emboldened employees. Managers tasked with making sure employees are in the office are reluctant to go through the logistical trouble of firing and replacing hordes of workers. Companies such as

Citigroup Inc.

that have more flexible work-from-home policies are touting them as a way of attracting people from other banks.

Many JPMorgan employees have worked regularly from their New York offices throughout the pandemic.



Photo:

Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg News

Keeping employees happy brings other complications.

Eric Adams,

who took office as New York City mayor on Saturday, is calling for large employers to return to in-person work as soon as possible, since their employees support restaurants, hotels and other businesses when they are in the office.

“You can’t run New York City from home,” Mr. Adams said during a Bloomberg TV interview on Monday. “We must have everyone participate in our financial ecosystem.”

Scientists are using automation, real-time analysis and pooling data from around the world to rapidly identify and understand new coronavirus variants before the next one spreads widely. Photo Illustration: Sharon Shi

Goldman is allowing employees to stay home until at least Jan. 18, the bank told employees in an email on Sunday. In December, the bank canceled some holiday parties for staff.

Morgan Stanley CEO

James Gorman

said in a CNBC interview in December that he had underestimated the length of the pandemic: “I was wrong on this. I thought we would have been out of it by Labor Day.”

Last summer, Mr. Gorman said he would be “very disappointed” if people hadn’t returned to the office by then.

‘I think it would be shameful if we didn’t take the lessons we’ve learned and apply it to the future of working.’


— HSBC executive Jaron Campbell

About 65% of Morgan Stanley staffers were in the New York offices on a given day before the Omicron surge, the bank said. That number fell sharply during the holidays, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Last summer, when JPMorgan tried to bring staff back to at least 50% capacity, managers saw a divergence, said people familiar with the bank. Some were in five days a week, some hit 50% and some weren’t showing up at all. Executives sought a list of who hadn’t been checking in enough, particularly managing directors, the people said. Managers were told to find out why their employees hadn’t been in the office.

In meetings, Mr. Dimon has questioned those executives who are logging in remotely about why they are home, some of the people said. But he accepts that some staff won’t work five days in the office going forward, one person said.

Companies taking a more flexible approach with employees say it is working.

At

HSBC Holdings

PLC, which has about 7,000 employees in the U.S., nearly 90% of staffers were working on a hybrid basis before case counts surged in December. Employees who don’t directly face customers are encouraged to work from home and use the office for tasks such as training new hires.

Staffers prefer the flexibility, and the arrangement held up well during a busy year on Wall Street, said

Jaron Campbell,

HSBC’s head of U.S. corporate banking. Mr. Campbell moved from New Jersey to Charlotte, N.C., last winter and encouraged his team of 250 to rethink where they want to live.

“I think it would be shameful if we didn’t take the lessons we’ve learned and apply it to the future of working,” Mr. Campbell said.

Jefferies President

Brian Friedman

said employees are more mentally healthy when in control of their own schedules. He said he finds days in the office stimulating and days at home productive.

Still, the bank canceled its holiday parties and other large gatherings, and it is trying to figure out how to encourage employees to disconnect from work when the lines between work and home are so blurry.

“We are constantly adjusting,” Mr. Friedman said.

Write to David Benoit at david.benoit@wsj.com and Charley Grant at charles.grant@wsj.com

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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