What’s Up? (March 5-11)
Tucker Carlson’s Private Texts
New documents released last week revealed the disconnect between the Fox News anchors’ privately held opinions and those they espoused publicly — and shared with millions of viewers — on their television programs. In particular, Tucker Carlson’s views on Donald J. Trump and the outcome of the 2020 presidential race have been shown to contrast sharply with the messaging of his show, which supported Mr. Trump and promoted his unfounded belief that the election had been stolen. Yet at the same time, Mr. Carlson was sending texts to members of his staff about Mr. Trump like “I hate him passionately.” He is not the only Fox employee to be featured in the documents, which are part of the $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News by the voting technology company Dominion Voting Systems and include the messages of other network stars like Laura Ingraham. But Mr. Carlson’s texts include some of the starkest language about the former president and drew special attention from the White House in a statement on Wednesday criticizing Mr. Carlson for his on-air portrayal of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack as a largely peaceful event.
Biden’s Budget Proposal
President Biden on Thursday unveiled a $6.8 trillion budget that sought to increase spending on the military and a wide range of new social programs while also reducing budget deficits by nearly $3 trillion over a decade. The proposal was meant to address a partisan fight over the country’s national debt. Mr. Biden’s proposal provides for funding for an array of new programs, including billions on guaranteed paid leave for workers, free community college and an expanded child tax credit. The budget plan — which also calls for a new 25 percent minimum tax on billionaires — is widely considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House. Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Mr. Biden’s proposals were “completely unserious.”
Job Growth Holds Strong
The Labor Department reported on Friday that U.S. employers added 311,000 jobs in February. Forecasters had expected to see a figure around 215,000, which would have been more in line with jobs reports from the second half of 2022. But the general downward trajectory of those jobs numbers took an unexpected turn in January, when new jobs surged to 517,000. So while job growth has eased somewhat in the last month, it remains resilient in the face of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow the economy. This latest jobs data also suggests that employer confidence is still relatively high, even as layoffs begin to rise.
What’s Next? (March 12-18)
Next on the Economic Calendar
When Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, spoke to Congress last week, he largely avoided committing to a strategy for taming inflation. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Mr. Powell said he and his colleagues were prepared to take a more aggressive tack and raise rates more quickly, if needed. But much of the Fed’s decision-making depended on the inflation and jobs reports. So Fed officials will be paying close attention (as they always do) to the Consumer Price Index data that will arrive on Tuesday. The last reading showed that while overall inflation had cooled, it was only a slight change, and core inflation — which strips out volatile food and fuel costs — remained fast.
Shockwaves From a Bank Run
In an ominous sign for global banking, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation last week seized Silicon Valley Bank, a prominent investor in tech start-ups. The bank touched off investor panic when it announced on Wednesday that it had sold off $21 billion of its most liquid investments, borrowed $15 billion and organized an emergency sale of its stock to raise cash. These were urgent and extraordinary measures that banks go to great lengths to avoid. Investors at some venture capital firms urged their clients to move their money from the bank over concerns about its financial solvency. Less than two days later, the F.D.I.C. took control of the bank and created a new one, the National Bank of Santa Clara, to hold customers’ deposits and assets.
A Ruling on Gig Work
A court is expected to hand down its ruling this week on Proposition 22, a ballot measure in California that would allow gig economy companies like Lyft and Uber to continue treating drivers as independent contractors. The battle over the status of these workers in the state — who number at least one million — ramped up in 2019, when California legislators passed a law requiring these companies to give their drivers the full protections of employment. But after the ride-hail apps threatened to suspend operations in the state, an appeals court granted them a temporary reprieve and the companies poured millions into getting Prop. 22 on voters’ ballots. A majority of voters approved the measure in November 2020, but it was swiftly challenged by a coalition of ride-hail drivers and labor groups, ruled unconstitutional by a California judge and appealed through the courts.
Walgreens is facing blowback after announcing that it would not dispense abortion pills in 21 states where Republican attorneys general are threatening legal action against pharmacies that distribute the medication. Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker convicted last year for his role in a money-laundering scheme known as the 1MDB scandal, was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years in prison. And JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday sued James E. Staley, a former top executive, accusing him of failing to fully inform the bank about what he knew about the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.