What’s Up? (May 14-20)
Targeting a Social Media Juggernaut
The backlash against TikTok, the video app that has come under scrutiny largely because of its Chinese ownership, reached a new level on Wednesday, when Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana signed a bill banning the app in the state. The legislation seeks to cut off access by targeting mobile app stores, like the Apple Store and Google Play, and prohibit them from offering TikTok in Montana. If the stores continue allowing people to download the app, the companies could face fines, as could TikTok. The ban is set to take effect on Jan. 1, but it is already facing a legal challenge. On Thursday, a group of TikTok users filed a lawsuit contending that the law violated their First Amendment rights and that the ban outstripped Montana’s legal authority as a state.
A ‘Truly Sorry’ C.E.O.
In his first public remarks since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the bank’s former chief executive, Gregory Becker, told lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that he was “truly sorry” for what happened. But even when pressed, he would not allow that any of his own actions had contributed to the bank’s demise. Instead, he blamed the news media for raising questions about SVB’s financial disclosures, government officials for letting inflation spike to the point where rapid interest rate increases were necessary, and the bank’s board for not taking steps that some analysts said would have reduced risk. Members of the Senate Banking Committee, which has held multiple hearings now examining the factors that have played a role in the banking crisis, were not persuaded by Mr. Becker’s testimony. “It sounds a lot like ‘my dog ate my homework,’” said Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio who is the chairman of the committee.
Disney v. DeSantis, Continued
The road to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida’s likely bid for president is paved with culture clashes that he believes will appeal to a large Republican base and propel him to the White House. The most prominent of these battles has been with Disney, which the governor has been widely seen as retaliating against for the company’s opposition to the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation its critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” On Thursday, Disney struck back: Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, and Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, pulled the plug on an office complex it planned to build in Orlando that would have brought more than 2,000 high-paying Disney jobs to the region. Though there was no explicit mention of Mr. DeSantis in the memo announcing the decision, Mr. D’Amaro noted “changing business conditions.”
What’s Next? (May 21-27)
A Looming X-Date
No one can say for sure when the United States will deplete its cash reserves and default on its debt. It could be as soon as June 1, according to the Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen. Or if Treasury can find enough money to pay its bills until June 15, when third-quarter payments are due from corporations and people who are required to, or choose to, pay their tax bills on a quarterly basis, the government could have a bit of breathing room. But while it may be hard to pin down the exact date, known as the X-date, policymakers in Washington know it’s creeping closer. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden were initially optimistic about quickly reaching a deal to raise the debt ceiling. But the two sides remain far apart on discussions over spending cuts and policy proposals.
Bumpy Times for Businesses
A spate of bankruptcies so far this year could continue, as interest rates stay high and banks cut back on lending, according to analysts on Wall Street. The last month alone has seen industry giants like the home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond and the one-time digital publishing titan Vice Media file for Chapter 11 — and they are not even included in recent S&P Global data, which shows that more than 230 American companies filed for bankruptcy through April. Though many companies can survive bankruptcy, those numbers capture the stress many businesses are facing. Those that can weather these conditions may stand to profit from their competitors’ troubles: In the wake of Bed Bath & Beyond’s filing, rivals like Babylist, an online registry business, have seen a spike in business.
On Wednesday, officials at the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from their meeting on May 2 and 3, at which they raised interest rates a quarter-point, and offer a window into their thinking. And that thinking appears to have changed significantly in the last couple months. The idea that the Fed might pause its aggressive pace of rate increases was largely inconceivable until only very recently, when Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said that central bankers would “approach” the question at its next meeting in June. In the statement that accompanied the May rate decision, Fed officials had said that they were keeping their options open.
CNN tapped Kaitlan Collins to host a new weeknight show at 9 p.m., a week after she moderated the network’s town-hall event with former President Donald J. Trump. Walmart beat expectations with its quarterly earnings on Thursday and said it expected net sales to rise throughout the year as inflation-conscious shoppers sought bargains. Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, must report to prison on May 30 after a court blocked her efforts to remain free on bail while she appeals her fraud conviction.
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