'High-Stakes Meetings'

Today's Daily Briefing

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The World

The Federal Reserve signaled it was ready to start reversing its pandemic stimulus programs in November and could raise interest rates next year amid risks of a lengthier-than-anticipated jump in inflation. The Fed’s rate-setting committee, at the end of a two-day gathering, indicated in its postmeeting statement Wednesday that it could start to reduce, or taper, its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases as soon as its next scheduled meeting, Nov. 2-3. (Wall Street Journal)

As the U.S. Supreme Court nears the start of a term that will pose fresh challenges to its institutional legitimacy, a new poll is showing declining confidence in the court and growing concern that it is driven by politics. The Marquette University Law School poll found nationwide approval falling to 49%, down from 60% in July and from 66% a year ago. The poll showed that 39% view the court as deciding cases mainly on politics, the highest percentage in the two years the survey has been conducted. (Bloomberg Law, Marquette University Law School poll)

President Biden met with warring Democrats in an urgent effort to rescue his first-term agenda from potential collapse. Biden’s three high-stakes meetings — with party leaders and top members of the Democrats’ liberal and moderate factions — came five days before the House planned to take up a package to improve the nation’s infrastructure that could be doomed unless Democrats of all stripes unify behind it.
The internal tussle between Democratic centrists and liberals is set to come to a head Monday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has promised to hold a vote on a bipartisan bill to improve the nation’s roads, highways, pipes, ports and Internet connections. The package is urgently advocated by Democratic centrists, who hope it will show swing voters that Democrats can deliver on nuts-and-bolts issues. The party’s liberals are equally passionate about a separate, $3.5 trillion spending bill that proposes sweeping overhauls to the country’s health care, education, immigration and climate laws, along with a slew of new programs to help low-income Americans. (Washington Post)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has tried to arrange a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron but has been unsuccessful so far, a week after his cancellation of a major submarine deal sparked a diplomatic row with Paris. Morrison said he would be patient in rebuilding ties with France. Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by telephone to smooth relations, and France said its ambassador would return to Washington next week. Meanwhile, UK prime minister Boris Johnson suggested Macron needed to “prenez un grip” and recognize that the deal would boost global security. Johnson said Macron should “donnez-moi un break” and get over his anger. (Reuters, Financial Times)

Taiwan submitted an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the cabinet said, in a move expected to trigger opposition from China. The bloc members now face a choice of supporting Beijing or Taipei.(Nikkei Asian Review)

  • The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China release a report that points to ‘troubling signs’ of China’s turning inwards. The country’s self-reliance strategy, rising nationalism and focus on national security are a challenge for EU companies, the chamber said, while warning that growth could be sacrificed in move towards tighter political control and calls for more conciliatory approach to diplomacy. (South China Morning Post)

Pandemic-driven discrimination: A new study found a disturbing increase in instances of racial discrimination, particularly among East and Southeast Asian Americans. (Stanford Medicine)

Ida is poised to join Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma on the list of the top five costliest hurricanes as measured by insured losses. Estimates of Ida’s damage have continued to climb as insurers disclose their costs. In one of the newest revisions, Risk Management Solutions Inc., a major catastrophe-risk modeling firm, last week estimated Ida’s U.S. insured losses at between $31 billion and $44 billion since its Aug. 29 landing in Louisiana. (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon will endorse two separate bills in Congress that aim to not only decriminalize pot smoking nationwide, but also expunge and reduce the criminal records and sentences of people who have been incarcerated for it. (Source Code)


Economy

The turbocharged housing market slowed in August as near record asking prices are giving buyers pause, easing some of the frenzy that gripped the market only a few months ago. August existing-home sales posted a 2% decline from July, the biggest monthly decline since April. Sales last month also slid 1.5% from a year earlier, the first year-over-year decrease since June 2020. (Wall Street Journal)

Jobless rates from 15 U.S. cities show racial gap is widening: Local unemployment rates by race and ethnicity for 15 major U.S. metro areas show a slow recovery and still painful economic reality for minority groups. (Bloomberg)

AT&T CEO John Stankey says he’s not satisfied with his own company’s brand. (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve is pushing ahead with its study into whether to implement its own digital currency and will be releasing a paper on the issue shortly, Chairman Jerome Powell said. Meanwhile, the Biden administration intends to nominate crypto critic Cornell University Professor Saule Omarova to be the next Comptroller of the Currency. In a 2019 paper called New Tech v. New Deal: Fintech as a Systemic Phenomenon, Omarova wrote that fintech, including cryptocurrencies, is changing how financial transactions and services in the U.S. operate, but took a critical tone to the idea that cryptocurrencies or fintech at large may “‘revolutionize’ the provision of financial services.” (CNBC, Coindesk)

  • Robinhood Markets plans to begin testing cryptocurrency wallets next month, with a broader rollout in early 2022, allowing its users to move supported digital currencies in and out of their brokerage accounts. (Reuters)

  • Sports fans are into cryptocurrency, and brands are capitalizing: At the league level, MLB signed a multiyear deal with FTX that placed the crypto exchange’s logo on umpires’ uniforms. UFC and Formula 1 each secured sponsorship agreements with Crypto.com, reportedly worth $17.5 million and $20 million per year, respectively. Individual teams with new partners in the space include the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens (Crypto.com), NBA’s Miami Heat (FTX) and Portland Trail Blazers (StormX) and MLS’ Inter Miami CF (XBTO). High-profile athletes endorsing crypto-related companies include Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (FTX), Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (FTX) and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (Blockfolio), the top pick in the 2021 NFL draft. 47% of sports fans said they are familiar with cryptocurrency; 27% said they currently own some. 66% of self-proclaimed “avid” sports fans and 72% of sports bettors said they’re familiar with cryptocurrency. (Morning Consult)


Technology

A quantum computer made by researchers in China has solved a calculation in 4.2 hours that would take a classical computer thousands of years. This demonstration of what the researchers call “quantum computational advantage” was made using six more qubits – quantum bits – than the computer used by the Google team that first demonstrated the feat in 2019. (New Scientist)

MIT study finds Tesla drivers become inattentive when Autopilot is activated. (TechCrunch)

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer will be stepping down from his role. He will be replaced as CTO by Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who is currently the head of Facebook’s hardware division. The elevation of Bosworth to CTO is an indication of the growing priority of hardware among Facebook’s future plans. Earlier this year the company indicated that the metaverse, which is a space in virtual reality where people can meet, will be a major focus for its Oculus division. This month, the company announced new smart glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban and a new generation of Portal video-calling devices. (CNBC)

  • Facebook’s business may be immune to the constant criticism the company gets in the news media and from politicians. But we learned today that it is far more vulnerable to Apple, whose measures to stop digital ad tracking in iOS are having an impact. The social media giant’s stock fell 4% after a product marketing vice president published a blog post acknowledging that the targeting restrictions were making it harder for advertisers to tell whether ads on Facebook worked. Facebook estimates that it is “underreporting” by 15% the frequency with which iPhone users are clicking on ads to buy products or sign up for apps. (The Information)

The Epic v. Apple ruling shows gaming apps account for ~70% of App Store revenue; in 3Q17, <0.5% of Apple accounts made up 53.7% of all App Store billings. (Mobile Dev Memo)

  • Epic won't be able to bring Fortnite back to the iPhone, even if it agrees to play by Apple's standard developer rules and restrictions, according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The reason: Apple has "exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time," according to an email sent by Apple counsel to Sweeney that the chief executive has since posted to Twitter. (Protocol)

31% of consumer media consumption is now audio - but only 8.8% of the average media advertising budget is allocated to audio, says new research from WARC and iHeartMedia. 25% of advertisers do not invest in audio at all, according to the data, which was presented at AudioCon; the report also suggests that ad-spend for podcasting is growing. (PodNews)

  • Spotify poised to overtake Apple Podcasts this year. (eMarketer)

  • YouTube is testing letting Premium subscribers download videos from its desktop site through October 19. (Android Police)

  • Netflix snaps up entire works of Roald Dahl for over £500m. (Financial Times)


Smart Links

AHA-backed study predicts hospitals could lose $54B in profit this year. (Healthcare Dive)

TikTokers are trading stocks by copying what members of Congress do. (WBUR)

The Athletic hires LionTree to find buyer at price of more than $750 million. (The Information)

As investors pivot to seed and growth, who is left leading Series A? (Crunchbase)

Worker surveillance is making employees miserable. (Protocol)

As workers age, robots take on more jobs - study. (Reuters)

Rare whisky market set to break records this year. (Penta)