Crash and Burn
WHAT’S THIS? The Stringer publishes a semi-regular news roundup.
*Catching up over the last couple of weeks.
Bank Runs Go Digital
A pair of massive bank failures has the American financial establishment on edge.
Silicon Valley Bank, a prolific startup investor, shuttered after a $42 billion digital bank run on Friday. It was the first such run caused by social media and the second-largest run in U.S. history. And then, on Sunday, the government took over Signature Bank to prevent instability after another historic run.
The early economic analysis points to risk around interest rates and liquidity. Senator Elizabeth Warren also blamed the loosening of financial rules, which banks like SVB pushed for. But it seems unlikely that Congress will stiffen those rules.
Regulators are eager to project stability. The U.S. Federal Reserve says that everything’s fine. The Biden Administration, for its part, has pledged to cover deposits. And both U.S. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have vowed that there won’t be a bailout.
Meanwhile, private equity is circling SVB’s still-warm carcass.
POLITICS and WORLD
J’ACCUSE: The International Court will open a case into whether Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, according to unnamed sources cited by The New York Times. This follows a formal accusation by the U.S. a couple of weeks back.
PICKING SIDES: Russia and China have condemned the U.S.’ decision to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. The sale is part of AUKUS, the trilateral security pact between the U.S., the UK and Australia.
CRASH AND BURN: Russian jets downed a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
ELECTION BLUES: A contentious presidential election, which some are saying was rigged, led Nigeria to postpone state elections.
FAMILY TIES: The Biden family’s business practices face Congressional scrutiny, with House Republicans getting their hands on financial records related to Hunter Biden’s dealings.
TENUOUS GRIP: Google’s stranglehold on digital advertising — as lucrative as any oilfield — is the subject of a widely covered U.S. Supreme Court case. If Big Tech loses, it could change the legal structure underneath the internet. I, for one, am glad that nine definitely internet-savvy justices have the last word here.
MORE CUTS: Tech giant Meta hasn’t been able to staunch the bleeding and is cutting another 10,000 employees.
BIG VAPE: Big Tobacco firm Altria spent a cool $2.75 billion to acquire NJOY, one of the largest American independent vaping companies. The deal makes NJOY the replacement for Juul, the poster child of bad press in the vaping world, which has become a target for regulators.
CORPORATE KINGDOM COUP: About two weeks ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave his cronies control of Walt Disney World’s special zone. So this is how a corporate fief ends? Huh.
DROP OUT: The number of students dropping out of American schools is rising.
NEW RULES: The U.S. Department of Education is trying to alter relationships between universities and the private companies that run their online programs. These couplings have drawn fire for contributing to the student debt crisis through dubious advertising. And under pressure from Senate Democrats, the department put out a far-reaching set of new rules meant to shake things up. But those rules have been delayed.
HEALTH and SCIENCE
LAB LEAK REVISITED: The theory that COVID-19 leaked from a lab in China is still making the rounds. But the evidence is thin, and opinions vary. The origins of COVID-19 are still unproven.
AT ‘LONG’ LAST: There’s some movement, though. Evidence is mounting that “long COVID” — the effects that linger after infection with COVID-19, which may impact about 43 percent of people who get the disease — is mainly neurological. Pinpointing the nature of the disease, researchers hope, will lead to effective treatments.
JUNK SCIENCE: Friendly reminder that the concept of an “alpha” — an aggressive male who dominates the pack — is pseudoscience. The idea became popular after studies of wolves in captivity, becoming a general metaphor for manhood in some circles. But, according to new scientific studies of the animals in the wild, wolf packs usually act more like families. It’s like the difference between you in prison and you at Thanksgiving dinner… The idea of alpha being a myth? So sigma.
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