Glitches mar El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as an official currency.

Experts raised concerns in June about the hasty adoption of the new currency and the rapid execution of new technology on a national scale.,

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Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, has promoted the digital currency's adoption.
Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, has promoted the digital currency’s adoption.Credit…Jose Cabezas/Reuters

El Salvador faced a rocky transition in its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday as the country adjusted to new technology that will allow payment using cryptocurrency.

The country is the first to use Bitcoin as an official currency. Officials struggled to smooth out glitches in the new system, including with the country’s digital wallet, called Chivo, which is slang for “cool.”

President Nayib Bukele tweeted on Tuesday morning that the national digital wallet would be available to Salvadorans in the United States and almost anywhere in the world. But for a time it was not available to anyone, and the country slowed its rollout.

Mr. Bukele also announced on Twitter that servers were temporarily being taken offline as Chivo added capacity and acknowledged issues with downloads. “We prefer to correct it before reconnecting it,” he said.

Experts raised concerns in June about the hasty adoption of the new currency and the rapid execution of new technology on a national scale.

The bold move, largely celebrated by the international Bitcoin community, found a more skeptical reception at home and in the traditional financial world amid concerns that it could bring instability and unnecessary risk to the Central American country’s fragile economy.

Mr. Bukele, a tech-savvy millennial, has pitched the digital currency’s adoption as a way of bringing more Salvadorans, about 70 percent of whom don’t have bank accounts, into the formal economy. Using the cryptocurrency would make it faster and cheaper to get remittances from abroad, he has argued, and could free the indebted nation from the hold of the traditional global financial system.

Making Bitcoin legal tender — alongside the U.S. dollar, which the country has relied on since 2001 — is also part of Mr. Bukele’s charm offensive toward crypto entrepreneurs, who often seem like his primary audience. But the technical issues only highlight the practical worries of even avid crypto enthusiasts. The project also highlights philosophical questions about the national adoption of a currency that was designed to thwart total governmental control over money.

Some worry that the problems with the Salvadoran project could undermine wider adoption, but Bitcoin’s most vocal proponents are trying to generate excitement by lending their support to the effort.

Michael Saylor, the chief executive of the software intelligence firm MicroStrategy, which holds billions in Bitcoin, encouraged enthusiasts on Monday to buy $30 of the cryptocurrency in solidarity with Salvadorans, who have been promised that amount for downloading the national digital wallet.

Spurred in part by Mr. Bukele’s announcement that El Salvador had bought 200 Bitcoins and would be purchasing more, the price of Bitcoin rose over the weekend, breaking $52,000 before falling to around $50,000 on Tuesday morning.

Companies including Google, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks have said they will postpone their return dates to next year.
Companies including Google, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks have said they will postpone their return dates to next year. Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

In the nearly 18 months since the pandemic first forced companies to send their employees to work from home, the date companies have planned to bring workers back to offices has changed again and again. First it was January, a full year after the coronavirus first surfaced in China. January slipped to July, as tens of millions of people lined up across the country to be vaccinated.

But then the surge of vaccinations peaked, and the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus drove another surge in cases. For many companies, September became the new July.

Now September is out as an option, and it’s anybody’s guess when workers will return to their offices in large numbers, Kellen Browning, Lauren Hirsch and Coral Murphy-Marcos report for The New York Times.

Companies have new variables to consider, including:

  • Mask mandates that have been dropped and ordered back.

  • Evidence that the effectiveness of vaccines, while still strong, may be waning.

  • Booster shots.

  • Burned-out workers who are vaccinated at varying rates.

There are also the differing infection rates across the country and a shifting power dynamic between employers and employees.

“I’ve been in H.R. for 30 years, and this is probably the hardest crisis I’ve had to deal with,” said Laura Faith, the senior director of people experience and operations at Uber. “This really is about life or death and health and safety.”

In addition to Uber, companies including Google, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks have said they will postpone their return dates to next year. Executives say their rationale for the long delay is twofold: In addition to wanting to keep employees out of harm’s way, they are seeking an end to the roller coaster of anticipated return dates and further delays. The fits and starts make it difficult for employees to plan, and the hope is that a far-off return date will not need to be adjusted yet again.

Intel’s chief executive, Patrick Gelsinger, acknowledged in an interview that the new wave of Covid-19 cases had “definitely stretched things out.”

“It’s challenging for all of us,” he said. “We get our hopes up, we’re ready to return to our quote-unquote normal lives, and then we take a few steps back.”

Apple has delayed its return-to-office date until January.
Apple has delayed its return-to-office date until January.Credit…Stephen Lam/Reuters

The rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has disrupted back-to-office plans for many companies, while others have already ordered employees to be at their desks.

Here’s the latest from The New York Times’s Coral Murphy-Marcos on when companies have announced that they plan to return to the office, and whether they’ll require vaccines when they do:

  • Apple is encouraging employees to get vaccinated, but has not announced a mandate. The company delayed its return-to-office date until January from October.

  • CVS will require its pharmacists to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30, while others who interact with patients, and all corporate staff, have until Oct. 31. The company announced to employees that most of its office sites would reopen on Tuesday.

  • Goldman Sachs required its employees to return to the office in June, and it is requiring them to be fully vaccinated to enter its U.S. offices starting on Tuesday.

  • Google said in July that it would require employees who returned to the company’s offices to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. It said on Aug. 31 that it would push back its return-to-office date to Jan. 10, from mid-October.

  • Starbucks is “encouraging” employees to be vaccinated. The company pushed its back-to-office date to January 2022, from October.

A barber shop that accepts Bitcoin in San Salvador, El Salvador. The country will make the cryptocurrency legal tender starting on Tuesday.
A barber shop that accepts Bitcoin in San Salvador, El Salvador. The country will make the cryptocurrency legal tender starting on Tuesday.Credit…Marvin Recinos/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • End of pandemic benefits: The federal emergency unemployment benefits of $300 a week and other aid for unemployed workers will expire. The cutoff could have long-term consequences for both families and the economy, as data showed a hiring slowdown in August.

  • Job openings: Data from the Labor Department will show whether job openings in the United States continued to rise in July. Economists are on the lookout for evidence of the Delta variant’s effect on the economy.

  • E.C.B. meeting: The European Central Bank is scheduled to meet and discuss the outlook of its asset purchase program. Officials will consider new forecasts for gross domestic product and inflation and may signal a path to raising rates.

  • Affirm earnings: Affirm, the buy now, pay later provider, is set to release its quarterly financial report after the bell. The company’s services have become an increasingly popular option among consumers, leading to a recent partnership with Amazon to allow customers to pay in installments.

  • Kroger earnings: The grocery chain is scheduled to report its financial performance. Kroger’s stock has risen more than 47 percent in 2021, but supply-chain and freight costs continue to weigh on suppliers.

An employee sorted items at a Staten Island warehouse in May. Workers have complained that supervisors push them to work at speeds that wear them down.
An employee sorted items at a Staten Island warehouse in May. Workers have complained that supervisors push them to work at speeds that wear them down.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

A California bill would require warehouse employers like Amazon to disclose productivity quotas for workers and would prohibit any quota that prevents workers from taking state-mandated breaks or using the bathroom when needed, or that keeps employers from complying with health and safety laws.

The legislation has drawn intense opposition from business groups, which argue that it would lead to an explosion of costly litigation and that it punishes a whole industry for the perceived excesses of a single employer.

“They’re going after one company, but at the same time they’re pulling everyone else in the supply chain under this umbrella,” said Rachel Michelin, the president of the California Retailers Association, on whose board Amazon sits.

California plays an outsize role in the e-commerce and distribution industry, both because of its huge economy and status as a tech hub and because it is home to the ports through which much of Amazon’s imported inventory arrives. The Inland Empire region, east of Los Angeles, has one of the highest concentrations of Amazon fulfillment centers in the country.

Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, declined to comment on the bill but said in a statement that “performance targets are determined based on actual employee performance over a period of time” and that they take into account the employee’s experience as well as health and safety considerations.

A protest near the offices of News Corp Australia in Sydney last year.
A protest near the offices of News Corp Australia in Sydney last year.Credit…Jenny Evans/Getty Images
  • After years of casting doubt on climate change and attacking politicians who favored corrective action, Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets in his native Australia are planning an editorial campaign next month advocating a carbon-neutral future.

    Depending on its content, the project, described by executives at Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp on Monday, could be a breakthrough that provides political cover for Australia’s conservative government to end its refusal to set ambitious emission targets. But critics, including scientists who have been a target of News Corp’s climate combat, warned that the effort could be little more than window dressing that leaves decades of damage intact.

  • Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, suspended 22 K-pop fan accounts after receiving complaints. It accused one of the accounts of “illegal fund-raising”; it was not immediately clear what crimes some of the others were deemed to have committed, but the move by Weibo came amid the backdrop of a broader government crackdown on celebrity worship and online fan culture in China.

    Weibo said in a statement that stricter oversight of the fan groups would “purify” the online atmosphere and fulfill the platform’s responsibilities to society. It said that it would remove related blog posts that violated regulations and stressed that it “firmly opposes such irrational celebrity-chasing behavior and will deal with it seriously.”

  • U.S. stocks fell in early trading Tuesday, with the S&P retreating further from record highs, a day after the federal emergency unemployment benefits of $300 a week and other aid for unemployed workers expired.

  • Evidence so far suggests the programs are playing at most a limited role in keeping people out of the work force. States that cut benefits experienced job growth similar to growth in states that retained the benefits.

  • The S&P fell 0.3 percent after steady gains last week. The index closed slightly lower on Friday after the Labor Department reported that employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, much lower than economists had projected.

  • The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose to 1.37 percent from 1.33 percent.

  • Markets in Europe fell, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.4 percent. Asian markets closed higher.

  • Shares for Match Group rose 7 percent in early trading on Tuesday after the S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Friday that the dating-app company was joining the S&P 500.

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