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The floodgates opened on April 3, just before 9 a.m. on the East Coast, as applications for Bank of America’s small business loans started pouring into its new online portal.

So starts a story from Alex Morrell, Dominick Reuter, Jennifer Ortakales and Rebecca Ungarino on how big banks decided the futures of America’s small businesses.

Their story provides fresh insight into how almost $350 billion of government money was divvied up by banks as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in a process that’s drawn a bunch of scrutiny. Specifically:

As Alex, Dominick, Jennifer, and Rebecca report in their story on how it all went down:

The launch, rollout, and exhaustion of the first round of the PPP was as high stakes as it was complicated.

Banks had to reconfigure how they worked and contend with antiquated government tech.

Larger customers often got hands-on treatment from bankers, while the smallest businesses had to go through online portals.

You can read the full story here:

The inside story of how $349 billion in government cash was doled out in just 12 days, leaving thousands of entrepreneurs without relief

On Friday, President Trump signed another coronavirus relief bill into law, including almost $500 billion of fresh funds to support small businesses and the healthcare system. Kimberly Leonard and Dominick break down what’s in it for small businesses, hospitals, and the public here

The package specifically includes $320 billion for PPP. Rebecca got her hands on a memo showing Bank of America’s talking points for staffers on how to handle this next round of PPP loans. It warned that funds likely won’t meet “extreme need and demand.”

whole foods heat map tracking unions amazon 4x3Whole Foods’ heat map

Hayley Peterson reported this week that Amazon-owned Whole Foods is keeping an eye on stores at risk of unionizing through an interactive heat map. From her story:

The heat map is powered by an elaborate scoring system, which assigns a rating to each of Whole Foods’ 510 stores based on the likelihood that their employees might form or join a union.

The stores’ individual risk scores are calculated from more than two dozen metrics, including employee “loyalty,” turnover, and racial diversity; “tipline” calls to human resources; proximity to a union office; and violations recorded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

You can read the story in full here:

Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing

Elsewhere in the retail industry:

FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen in an aerial photograph at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, U.S. April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Drone Base/File Photo

What’s next for oil?

The oil industry had a week. 

As Benji Jones reported, near-term contracts for US crude oil traded negative on Monday for the first time, settling at about minus $38 a barrel. If you’re wondering how that’s even possible, I’d recommend a couple of stories from Benji:

The price of US crude oil just went negative for the first time. Here’s what that really means and why it’s not free to fill up your car.


Why the price of oil is continuing to free-fall after a historic supply cut — and when experts think it may finally reach rock bottom

In related news:

Below are headlines on some of the stories you might have missed from the past week. Stay safe, everyone.

— Matt

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