FirstFT: Biden orders vaccine mandates for US companies


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Joe Biden’s administration will demand that US companies force their employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to weekly testing as part of a new plan that will also result in government workers being fired if they refuse to take the jab.

The US president will announce the new measures on Thursday evening as part of a wider effort to boost flagging vaccination rates and curb the rapid spread of the Delta variant. Under a plan to be finalised by the Department of Labor, medium and large companies with 100 workers or more will be told to force their employees either to get vaccinated or to make them test at least once a week before coming to work.

This rule will affect around 80m people in the private sector, White House officials said — roughly half of the US workforce. A separate executive order signed by Biden will direct federal government employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and workers will no longer be able to avoid that requirement by submitting to regular testing and wearing a mask.

Do you think employers should mandate that their employees get Covid-19 vaccines? Let me know what you think at — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. ECB to slow bond-buying as Europe’s economy improves European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said “the lady isn’t tapering”, reassuring bond investors even as the ECB said it would buy fewer bonds in a sign of confidence in the eurozone’s economic recovery.

Line chart of Harmonised index of consumer prices (annual % change) showing ECB expects inflation to fade

2. Mastercard to buy CipherTrace as bet on crypto deepens Mastercard has agreed to buy blockchain analytics company CipherTrace, which sells cryptocurrency anti-money laundering services, as the payments company deepens its bet on digital assets.

3. First flight carrying passengers leaves Kabul since US pullout A Qatar Airways flight took off from the Afghan capital after Qatar and Turkey reached an agreement with the Taliban to help provide security at Kabul airport. One person briefed on the talks thought there were about 200 people on the flight, which included Americans and British.

4. Cathie Wood’s Ark cuts China positions Cathie Wood, one of the world’s most closely watched investors, said her fund had “dramatically” reduced its exposure to China. Meanwhile, shares in Tencent and NetEase, two of China’s leading gaming companies, fell heavily today after authorities said approval for new games had been suspended.

5. China to sell oil from state reserves China has announced it will sell oil from its state petroleum reserves for the first time, as Beijing steps up efforts to rein in inflationary pressures stemming from commodity markets.

Coronavirus digest

  • Royal Dutch Shell is considering whether to mandate jabs for employees and fire those who refuse to comply, according to an internal memo.

  • The Chinese foreign minister said his country would donate 3m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

  • Microsoft has indefinitely postponed plans to bring workers back to its US offices owing to uncertainties created by the spread of Covid-19.

  • An Oxford start-up has secured funding to develop artificial intelligence to design antiviral pills that could stop potential pandemics in their tracks.

Follow our live coverage and sign up to our Coronavirus Business Update for a regular briefing on how the pandemic is affecting the global economy.

Plus, the FT is hosting a special event on the future of American healthcare on September 14. You can register for the digital conference here.

The days ahead

Industrial production figures Both India and Malaysia will today release industrial production data for July.

20th anniversary of 9/11 Saturday marks 20 years since the terror attack on US soil that killed nearly 3,000 people. Since then Larry Silverstein, who owned the Twin Towers, has become the unlikely embodiment of downtown New York’s transformation, writes FT’s Joshua Chaffin.

If you have any 9/11 memories you would like to share, email them to me at and they may be featured in Monday’s newsletter.

What else we’re reading

Wall Street’s crypto whisperer Joseph “Joe” Lubin is not only an expert in blockchain technology — the databases underlying nearly all cryptocurrencies — but also an ardent proponent of decentralised finance. Gillian Tett meets ethereum’s co-founder, an increasingly powerful influence in the development of digital money.

Thanks to readers who voted in yesterday’s poll. Most of you — 77 per cent — thought El Salvador was making the wrong decision adopting bitcoin as legal tender.

Explainer: Why Evergrande faces risk of default As China’s most indebted real estate company struggles to escape a vicious cycle of debt
Thomas Hale and Hudson Lockett break down how Evergrande found itself in this position, and why a default would have implications across global markets.

Hedge funds muscle in to Silicon Valley with private deals Hedge funds are elbowing their way into Silicon Valley at an unprecedented rate, with a record $153bn worth of investments in private companies in the first six months of 2021.

Line chart of Hedge funds in 2021 have already broken the record for private investments in a single year showing Hedge funds make more investments in private companies

This is just the start of Apple and Google’s app store wars Why has the issue of Big Tech abusing power in their app stores caught fire recently? Part of it, writes Brooke Masters, is about money. Powerful, well-funded opponents, like Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney and Spotify, are helping make the case for change.

Views from on high If the impact of any business executive’s words is a combination of tone, content and the height of the pulpit from which they are delivered, then Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos set new standards in their space race. It is all too easy to dismiss CEO-speak as flannel or hype. It is often all that. But you ignore it at your peril, writes Andrew Hill.


A riveting documentary about the remarkable story behind the discovery and sale of “Salvator Mundi” and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect are two of this week’s film releases.

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