Considering a Pow-se? (Liu Jie/Getty Images)
Considering a Pow-se? (Liu Jie/Getty Images)
In search of a real-life Q: the CIA traveled to Texas this week for the annual SXSW tech conference. The intelligence agency issued an open call to the techy innovators gathered there: help it create "supercharged spies."
Stocks popped yesterday after news that inflation cooled last month (as expected). Plus, the government's speedy response to Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse calmed market nerves.
J. Powell may need an energy drink… or some chamomile. It’s only Wednesday, but it already feels like next Wednesday. A lot’s happened in the past week that could influence the Fed’s rate-hike decision on March 22. Three banks collapsed (including the second-biggest bank failure in US history) and the February inflation report came out yesterday.
Top line: The pace of inflation cooled for the eighth straight month (good), but it’s not slowing as fast as the Fed would like (not so good).
No surprises: US consumer prices were up 0.4% for the month and 6% for the year, as expected. Energy dropped, but housing costs soared.
Reaction: Stocks popped after the release, and traders priced in an 85% chance that the Fed will hike rates by 25 basis points (down from 50 last week).
Seeing the vault half full… Silvergate, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank all collapsed this month. US regulators swooped in with extraordinary measures to guarantee that depositors at SVB and Signature would have access to their funds. Three bank failures in one week may not seem amazing from an economic perspective, but some investors think it could actually be bullish for markets.
Panic could force the Fed’s hand… to cool its hiking crusade. The Biden admin and US regulators seem willing to do just about anything to prevent a banking crisis. And while the Fed wants to temper sticky inflation and the hot labor market, it really wants to avoid a crisis. The aggressive interest-rate environment contributed to bank failures and has been one of the main causes of the stock market’s woes.
The Prop 22 saga… could be reaching its finale. On Monday, a California court ruled that gig companies can continue to treat their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees under Prop 22. Refresher: in 2021, a CA judge ruled that Prop 22 was unconstitutional and unenforceable, even after CA voters passed the bill. This new decision reverses that.
Uber by day… DoorDash by moonlight. Workers are increasingly joining the gig economy to earn extra $$. Estimates vary, but at least a tenth of the US workforce is made up of gig workers, and analysts predict hundreds of thousands more will join as inflation continues. Meanwhile, Europe expects its 28M gig workers to nearly double by 2025.
The gig model lets people work flexible hours and drive for several companies, but doesn’t offer full-time benefits (think: healthcare and PTO).
As the most populous US state, CA is a critical market for gig companies, and its latest ruling could influence gig law across the country and abroad.
The big gig debate isn’t over… Critics still don’t think Prop 22 provides critical labor protections (like: minimum wage, overtime, and health insurance). Now, many expect that the Service Employees International Union will appeal the ruling to the California Supreme Court. Meanwhile, EU lawmakers are drafting strict new gig-labor laws, which could go into effect next year.
🤝 Like a banking superapp… without the bank
Decentralized finance, aka DeFi, describes peer-to-peer financial services done on the blockchain through smart contracts. Think: borrowing or lending crypto, earning interest, or trading digital assets like NFTs, all without the involvement of a third party like a bank or crypto exchange. This week, the Euler Finance DeFi protocol lost $197M worth of crypto in a flash loan attack.
SVestigate: The Justice Department and SEC are reportedly investigating Silicon Valley Bank's collapse, including stock sales made by SVB execs shortly before the bank went under last week.
Techession: Meta said it’s laying off 10K additional employees after axing 11K in November, in the biggest corporate cut of the year so far. Like other techies, Meta has ushered in “the year of efficiency.”
Meds: Pharma giant Novo Nordisk said it’s slashing US insulin prices by up to 75% after a similar move by Eli Lilly. The news follows public pressure and legislation aimed at cutting costs for diabetes treatments.
Volk$: Watch out, Tesla: Volkswagen said it’s going to spend nearly $200B on "electrification and digitization" over the next five years, including plans for a Canadian battery plant and $26K EVs by 2025.
Spray: The FDA approved Pfizer’s new fast-acting nasal spray for treating migraines. The drug’s expected to hit pharmacies by July. FYI: 40M Americans experience migraines each year.
Earnings expected from Adobe and Five Below
Authors of this Snacks own shares: of Tesla and Uber