The Week in Business: A Ransom for Fuel

Good morning and good sunday. Here’s what you need to know in the business and technical news for the week ahead. – Charlotte Cowles

A cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel arteries in the US, resulted in an average gasoline price of over $ 3 per gallon for the first time since 2014. Panicked buyers lined up at the pump for fear of a shortage, which of course made the problem worse. To appease the hackers believed to be part of a foreign organized crime group, Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $ 5 million in ransom – a surrender that could encourage other criminals to take American companies hostage . Operators of the pipeline restored service late last week, but said the supply chain would take several days to get back to normal.

A new report from the Department of Labor confirmed what you may have noticed: the prices of consumer goods such as clothing, groceries and other housewares rose 4 percent in April year over year, beating past forecasts. Economists attribute the surge to pandemic-related issues such as higher shipping and fuel costs, disruptions in supplies, rising demand and staff shortages in factories and distribution centers. The Federal Reserve tried to allay inflation fears by insisting that the surge was temporary. Even so, the news frightened the stock market. Retail sales in April fell short of expectations and remained stable, but showed a slowdown in growth after a blockbuster March.

Still looking to break into some of the cryptocurrency market, Facebook is currently revising its digital currency project (formerly known as Libra, now called Diem) to address concerns from US officials that it is being used for money laundering and other illegal purposes could. The company is also moving the project from Switzerland to the US after trying to get approval from Swiss regulators. In other crypto news, Tesla CEO Elon Musk abruptly returned his support for Bitcoin and tweeted that his company would no longer accept the cryptocurrency as payment due to the fossil fuels used for mining and transactions. After his tweet, the price of Bitcoin fell more than 10 percent.

To get 70 percent of American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4th, the federal and state governments are adding additional incentives. (In case you and others are safe and the ability to go maskless wasn’t a good reason.) The Biden administration has partnered with hail shipping companies Uber and Lyft to offer free transportation starting May 24th Offering Vaccination Centers Across the Country West Virginia is working on a plan to offer $ 100 savings bonds to people aged 16 to 35 who get their shots. And those who receive the vaccine in Ohio will be entered into a lottery that will award $ 1 million in prize money every week for five weeks starting May 26th.

Ellen DeGeneres will end her talk show next year after nearly two decades on the air. Her program saw a sharp drop in ratings after employees complained about a toxic workplace and accused producers of sexual harassment. The allegations looked particularly dire given Ms. DeGeneres’ slogan, “Be Kind,” which has become a branded juggernaut used to market goods to her fans. Although Ms. DeGeneres publicly apologized for the incidents in September, the show has lost more than a million viewers since then, a 43 percent decline from about 2.6 million last season. From September to February, advertising revenue fell by 20 percent year-on-year.

Fighting to recruit workers in a tight labor market, McDonald’s is the latest fast food company to raise hourly wages after recently gaining a foothold in chain restaurants like Chipotle and Olive Garden. However, McDonald’s raise only applies to company-owned restaurants, which are a small part of the business. About 95 percent of US restaurants are independently owned and set their own wages.

Low-income households can now apply for a $ 50 monthly discount for high-speed internet services. Hearst Magazines sold the American edition of Marie Claire to a British publisher. And after more than a year trying to figure out what to do with the competitive retailer Victoria’s Secret, the brand’s parent company decided to split into two independent, publicly traded companies: Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.

With The Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, speaking with Dame Ellen MacArthur and other economists, discuss what it takes to transform the economy to fight climate change. May 20th at 1:30 p.m. ET RSVP here.

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