Good morning and good sunday. Here’s what you need to know in the business and technical news for the week ahead. – Charlotte Cowles
What’s happening? (May 16-22)
The crypto market has had a tough week. There have been several ugly crashes with digital currencies. Bitcoin ended up nearly 30 percent below its price a week earlier on Friday. The slump followed an announcement from China that effectively banned its financial institutions from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions. (Elon Musk’s sudden U-turn on Bitcoin probably didn’t help either.) The volatility shook some investors’ confidence in crypto, which has sparked a seemingly unstoppable surge in popularity and gaining traction with mainstream investors over the past year.
Texas, Oklahoma, and Indiana have joined more than a dozen other states prematurely ending pandemic unemployment benefits, citing the need to motivate people to get back to work. The decision abolishes the weekly $ 300 supplement that unemployed beneficiaries have been receiving since March and which is expected to continue until September. It will also end all the benefits for freelancers, part-time workers, and those who have been unemployed for more than six months. Some lawmakers believe that cutting benefits will encourage more people to apply for jobs, but that’s not always the case – a persistent lack of childcare has also prevented many parents from returning to work.
Time to log out
That bad habit of dribbling business emails into your nights and weekends? It could actually kill you. Working more than 55 hours a week can lead to premature death, according to a new study by the World Health Organization. Long hours – also known as overwork – are on the rise and are associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of stroke and 17 percent higher risk of heart disease, compared to 35 to 40 hours a week.
What’s next? (May 23-29)
To boost federal tax revenue to fund infrastructure, the Biden government plans to give the Internal Revenue Service more money to hunt down wealthy individuals and businesses who cheat their taxes. In the same effort to close tax loopholes, the US Treasury Department is trying to convince other countries to support a global minimum tax rate of 15 percent for large companies. The policy is designed to discourage companies from protecting their activities in tax havens like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. However, some governments were reluctant to sign up because they feared it would deter companies.
Keep an eye on the competition
Congress wants to strengthen the United States’ ability to compete with China and stands ready to throw money on the problem. The Senate is working on a bill that will invest $ 120 billion in the development of cutting-edge technology and manufacturing in the nation. Known as the Endless Frontier Act, the legislation would fund new research to an extent that its proponents say has not been seen since the Cold War. In similar news, the European Union blocked an investment deal with China on Thursday, citing concerns about the country’s miserable human rights record.
CEOs on the hot seat
Executives at major U.S. banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs, will testify before lawmakers this week about their actions (or lack of) to help struggling Americans and small businesses during the pandemic. Democrats in the Senate Banking and Financial Services Committees organized the hearings to examine banks’ role in lending and ease financial pressures over the past 15 months. The testimony could affect how lawmakers intend to regulate Wall Street in the years to come.
The biggest trend on Wall Street right now? Oat milk. Shares in Oatly, a company that makes plant-based dairy alternatives, rose 30 percent on Wednesday when it went public. Amazon has extended the ban on police use of its facial recognition software, which has been subject to ethical criticism, indefinitely. And New York City lifted almost all of its pandemic restrictions, allowing companies to once again welcome customers at full capacity.