What works? (11-17 Dec)
Criminal charges against Sam Bankman-Fried
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Financial Services last Tuesday in one of many efforts to probe the exchange’s collapse. But the day before, he was arrested in the Bahamas after US prosecutors filed criminal charges. He faces eight counts, including multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating campaign finance laws. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit, charging Mr. Bankman-Fried with misleading investors who, among other things, pegged approximately $2 billion to FTX. It wasn’t long ago that the talkative crypto mogul discussed his role in FTX’s downfall with reporters from The New York Times and elsewhere.
Musk and Twitter
It started with private planes. Last week, Elon Musk suspended 25 accounts on Twitter dedicated to monitoring the planes of government agencies, billionaires and other prominent figures, including Mr Musk. (His flights were tracked by the @ElonJet account using public data.) Shortly after completing his Twitter purchase in October, Mr Musk said he would allow the account to remain on the platform and held the move for good the apotheosis of free speech. But on Wednesday, Mr. Musk suspended not only @ElonJet but two dozen similar accounts. Soon after, he suspended the accounts of half a dozen journalists who wrote about the suspension of private plane trackers or who were critical of Mr. Musk’s ownership of Twitter. But early Saturday he said he was restoring the accounts of several journalists.
Inflation is falling, but the Fed remains stable
November inflation data brought good news for Federal Reserve policymakers, but it was not enough to change the central bank’s plans to continue its campaign to raise interest rates. The consumer price index fell to 7.1 percent last month, down from 7.7 percent in October and a far cry from its recent peak of 9.1 percent in June. Still, the day after the release of this data, the Fed made it clear that it intends to continue its campaign to cool an overheated economy. While officials slowed the pace of rate hikes – raising rates by half a percentage point instead of three-quarters, the magnitude of the last four consecutive hikes – they signaled that rates would continue to rise in the new year. The Fed is still aiming to meet its 2 percent inflation target, and Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said the plan included “probably high interest rates that are likely to be sustained for longer.”
What’s next? (December 18-24)
Holiday cheer, greatly reduced
While inflation is beginning to ease, the inflationary mindset persists. For holiday shoppers, this could mean continuing to be more conscious about spending, as recent retail sales data in November seemed to predict. US retail sales have declined 0.6 percent since October, even with the Thanksgiving rush when nearly 200 million Americans shopped over a five-day period including Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some analysts suggested customers may now be spending more on travel, entertainment and other personal experiences and less on traditionally popular gift categories like clothing and sporting goods. For example, some gifts under the tree could be replaced with gift cards or event tickets. And many consumers will likely continue to look for deep discounts when shopping for loved ones, as they are responsible for tighter budgets than in recent years.