Welcome to This Week in Finance, your weekly roundup of the conversations trending among financial professionals on LinkedIn. Click Subscribe above to be notified of each edition. This week:

Mega-deal forms U.S. banking giant

In one of the largest banking deals since the 2008 financial crisis, PNC Financial Services Group agreed to buy the U.S. operations of Spain’s BBVA for $11.6 billion. With more than $550 billion in assets, the tie-up is slated to form the fifth-largest U.S. retail bank and “significantly accelerates PNC’s national expansion strategy,” wrote CNN. Pending regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in the middle of next year. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

Zombie companies drag down economy

Once American titans, many of the country’s most recognizable companies are becoming “zombies” — earning less than their interest expenses. Bloomberg reported that household names such as Macy’s, Boeing, Delta, and dozens of other publicly traded companies have racked up $1 trillion in debt amid the pandemic with no end in sight. The report noted that zombie companies have consequential downstream effects for investment and employment as they become less innovative and hire fewer workers. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

  • U.S. jobless claims rise again: Applications for unemployment benefits rose for the first time in five weeks, along with the number of Americans claiming extended aid after exhausting eligibility for the state jobless benefits.

Bitcoin makes a quiet comeback

Bitcoin has surged above $17,000 for the first time since January 2018 on the back of announcements from Square and PayPal. The digital currency is in the midst of a notable rally, reminiscent of its record 1,375% surge to nearly $20,000 in 2017, but has not captured the collective imagination as it did during that rally, reported Bloomberg. JPMorgan recently said that it could double or even triple in value as it becomes more established as an alternative currency. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

Aussie stock exchange under scrutiny

Australia’s corporate regulator questioned the competency of the ASX after the stock exchange was hobbled by a second day of outages. The ASX made international headlines Monday when an outage forced it to suspend all trading. After the ASX suffered another outage Tuesday, the nation’s corporate watchdog began to raise its ire. According to The Australian Financial Review, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission was alarmed by the “performance of the market’s main infrastructure” and is considering actions against the stock-market operator. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

More banks offer flexiwork forever

HSBC in Hong Kong will allow its 30,000 employees to work from home for up to four days a week if their duties allow them to do so. The move comes after employees expressed interest in hybrid working, with the bank to provide remote workers with an allowance to set up a home office. It’s the latest bank to move toward flexible working, with Southeast Asia’s DBS Bank allowing employees to work remotely up to 40% of the time and Standard Chartered planning to give flexible options to its workers over the next three years. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

  • Two bankers to one job?: In a move by Southeast Asia’s biggest bank to offer more flexible work arrangements, DBS Bank is launching a new scheme that allows two workers to share the duties of one full-time role.

Every day is pay day at PayPal

PayPal has become one of the first major companies to give workers access to their pay as soon as it’s earned rather than every two weeks. The move comes after the fintech giant looked at the compensation and spending habits of its lowest-paid workers, many of whom were living paycheck-to-paycheck and relying on expensive borrowing. PayPal also boosted salaries after the research, according to Bloomberg. The idea of getting paid daily has grown in popularity in recent years, with some startups promising to make it a reality. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

Americans are snapping up homes

U.S. home sales shot up to a 14-year high in October, as many Americans continue to work from home due to the pandemic and rethink their living situations — taking advantage of some of the lowest mortgage rates in 50 years and snapping up single-family homes across the country. It’s a “rare bright spot for the economy,” said The Wall Street Journal, and one of the best runs for the housing market in years. With demand outstripping supply, many would-be buyers are being priced out and bidding wars are on the rise. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

Cash is king

Canadians are hoarding cash like never before, with households and businesses sitting on more than $170 billion as they prepare to weather the pandemic. It’s the largest money reserve on record, according to a new CIBC report, and it’s expected to grow as consumer spending trails behind a rise in disposable income. While job earnings have taken a hit, government aid and pandemic emergency programs have buoyed overall income in what BNN Bloomberg described as “a very weird situation in which the economy is down, but the level of cash in the economy is rising.” 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

Toxic student-loan debt spikes

Toxic debt from the federal student-loan program is now projected to cost American taxpayers $435 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. That figure is far more than previous government estimates, including last year’s Congressional Budget Office projection of $31.5 billion over the next decade. The Journal’s analysis shows the losses are approaching the $535 billion in losses incurred by banks during 2008’s subprime-mortgage crisis. The government can borrow trillions of dollars at low rates to absorb toxic student-loan debt, but taxpayers will ultimately pay through a combination of taxes, budget cuts, and swelling deficits. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

LinkedIn’s Top Voices in finance & economy

LinkedIn News unveiled its sixth annual Top Voices list — a collection of hundreds of experts driving today’s professional conversation. Ten LinkedIn members in finance and economics were honored here, and more were featured as LinkedIn Influencers here and here. Click ‘Follow’ on the pages of Top Voices to join the conversation. 💲 Here’s what people are saying.

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With Jessica Hartogs, Alexander Besant, Cate Chapman, Kelli Nguyen, Andrew Murfett, Yunita Ong, Monica Fike, and Jake Perez.

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