Plus: the man behind digital money, how to spread the facts and a union in the most unlikely places.
Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus bill faced an unexpected hurdle in the US Senate on Friday after Joe Manchin, the centrist Democratic senator, confused his willingness to support a compromise on unemployment benefits in law.
Uncertainty over Manchin’s position meant that progress towards approval Biden’s plan in the upper house of Congress paused for hours in a disturbing development for the White House and Democratic leaders.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday began reviewing the stimulus package, Biden’s top legislative priority, and lawmakers began voting on amendments to the package on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, the centrist and liberal Democrats reached a White House-backed deal to include an extension of the top-up to unemployment benefits linked to the pandemic until October to $ 300 a week, raising hopes for a solution quick to one of the most controversial. elements of Biden’s plan.
But as Friday moved forward, Manchin still had not backed the deal, raising fears he would oppose the provision or even support a rival amendment pushed by Republican senators led by Rob Portman of Ohio that would end unemployment benefits in July.
If the unemployment benefit provisions are watered down significantly, it could prove problematic for the fate of the bill once it returns to the House of Representatives, where progressive Democratic lawmakers could withdraw their support.
“The president is backing a compromise so that we can pass the bailout and get relief, and he and his team are staying in close contact with senators to find a resolution that will meet the needs of Americans who need help the most. “said the White House an official said on Friday evening.
Last Saturday, the House passed its own version of Biden’s stimulus package with a $ 400-per-week extension of jobless benefits until the end of August. In both houses of Congress, Democrats hold a very narrow advantage, with barely any room for defections to the unanimous Republican opposition.
The need to maintain emergency unemployment benefits after they expire on March 14 has been one of the main catalysts for demand for additional stimulus from Biden, which wants to offer protection to millions of Americans who remain out of work in because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Senate Democrats are also offering a tax exemption for the first $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits.
Unemployment benefit changes mark second big change to the stimulus bill this week, after Democratic senators agreed restricted eligibility for direct payments of $ 1,400 from the plan.
The upper house is also split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and Kamala Harris, the vice president, throws everything decisive votes.
The strain on unemployment benefits has been hit as US Department of Labor data shows job growth rebounds out of its winter doldrums but still far from pre-pandemic levels, prompting Democrats to point out the need for more stimulus as Republicans said the economy would recover without it.
“The February Jobs Report shows progress, but much more is needed to deal with the daily reality of unemployment and financial insecurity faced by millions of Americans,” Nancy Pelosi said Friday, the Speaker of the House of Democrats.
Even though opinion polls show a large majority of Americans backing the stimulus, Republican lawmakers have mounted united opposition to the legislation, saying the aid is not sufficiently targeted to those who have it most. need and the overall price is excessive.
“[Democrats] are determined to fight their way into an ideological spending spree filled with non-Covid policies, ”said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, on Friday morning.
Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, responded to Republican criticism on Twitter: “If you think today’s jobs report is ‘good enough’, then take note of it at this rate. . . we would have to wait until April 2023 to return to where we were in February 2020. ”
From NASA Perseverance rover completed its first test drive since landing on the surface of Mars on February 18. On March 4, he took a short 33-minute ride that saw him travel 6.5 meters in and around his landing site, the agency announced Friday. This milestone is the first of many technical tests Perseverance must complete before it begins looking for signs of ancient microbial life in Jezero Crater, which once housed an ancient lake.
A quick test of my steering, and things are going well as I get ready to ride. My team and I can’t wait to get moving. One step after another. pic.twitter.com/XSYfT158AQ
– NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance (@NASAPersevere) March 5, 2021
“This was our first chance to ‘kick the tires’ and spin Perseverance,” said Anais Zarifian, mobility test bench engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. “The rover’s six-wheel drive has responded perfectly. We are now confident that our training system is ready to go, capable of taking us where science takes us over the next two years.
A test drive isn’t the only thing Perseverance has done since landing on Mars. On February 26, NASA updated the Perseverance software, replacing the program that had helped him land on Mars with a new one that will help him explore the planet instead. More recently, the agency first tested the rover’s 7-foot-long robotic arm. Going forward, the plan is to calibrate its other instruments, send it on longer drives, and most importantly, pilot the Ingenuity for the first time.
American Airlines flight with 95 passengers and 6 crew lands safely; 737 MAX aircraft have been the subject of close scrutiny for years.
American Airlines Co said Friday that a Boeing 737 MAX bound for New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport declared an emergency after the captain shut down an engine due to a possible mechanical problem.
U.S. Flight 2555 from Miami with 95 passengers and six crew members safely landed in Newark without incident, the airline said.
The possible issue was related to an engine oil pressure or volume indicator and not the result of anything MCAS related to two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that caused the engine to run aground. plane for 20 months, he said.
The 737 Max has been under intense scrutiny for some time. Aviation authorities around the world grounded 737 Max in March 2019 following fatal crashes involving the aircraft model in Ethiopia and off the coast of Indonesia, which occurred less than five months apart.
Boeing said he was aware of the US flight and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would investigate.
American was the first US carrier to take over the 737 MAX flights late last year, after the FAA approved Boeing’s safety updates.
When clearing the plane to fly again, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said he was confident the plane was safe, but warned that in-flight mechanical issues sometimes occur with all commercial aircraft.
“For this reason, it is inevitable that at some point in the future a Boeing 737 MAX will return to its home airport, divert or land at destination with an actual or suspected in-flight problem,” he said. -he declares.
The FAA assesses all occurrences involving an American airline, he said at the time, adding: “It is very important to differentiate between these routine occurrences that occur with any aircraft and the acute safety issues that led to the loss of life and the grounding of the MAX. . “
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Commenting on “Hahnassaince” is something that I have meditated on for a long time. The problem is, every time I started it came out just like “I said”, and it looked disgusting to me. I interviewed Kathryn Hahn in 2014 and at the time I called her comedy “secret weapon, “But like Katy Waldman highlighted in The New Yorker this week, every year, every time Hahn has a new project, someone new declares a Hahnassaince and “it’s a business where people act like they’ve personally discovered it.” When, frankly, she’s been doing incredible, emotionally savage work for decades.
It is therefore appropriate, even ironic, that the current Hahnassaince is the result of his work on WandaVision. (Also, really quick, spoiler alert: if you don’t get caught up on this show, stop reading.) For years, she’s either flexed her muscles as a comedy powerhouse in movies like Half brothers and Bad moms where she was the spiritual center of independent television as I like cock, Transparent, and Mrs. Fletcher. His role of voicing Doc Ock in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse notwithstanding, she was never a star of the comic book adaptation. Now, as former witch Agatha Harkness, she was able to infuse all that she does well – deadpan comedy, rampant intensity, fearlessness – in one performance. This might be the greatest thing she’s ever done.
In a way, Harkness and Hahn are on parallel tracks. In WandaVision, Agnes starts off as the friendly neighbor, the one who constantly flashes at the camera as Wanda and Vision struggle through suburban life. She is the public’s avatar, comic relief. This has been Hahn’s career, spending years playing best friends and supporting characters while invisibly uplifting every scene she finds herself in. Like Wanda herself, audiences don’t even realize that Hahn, uh, Harkness wowed them. Which is why, when the show premiered on Disney +, it was so easy to imagine that Hahn was simply called upon to produce another nuanced comedic performance – and why it was so nice to find that – voila – the driving force behind the show had been “Agatha throughout. ” That was all, Well Named, very meta.
Also, can we talk about this song? In case you haven’t heard it, at the top of the iTunes charts quite quickly after WandaVisionThe seventh episode aired. Although Hahn herself declared her victory in the charts “crazyIn many ways, this is not surprising. Some pockets of the internet – Twitter movie, people of taste – love to celebrate Hahn, and when you combine that with the overwhelming power of Marvel and the songwriting team behind it Frozen, it was sure to be a success. Still, it’s interesting, right now, to watch the Marvel fandom and Hahn fans (Hahniacs? Sthans?) Meet. It’s a Venn diagram intersection who is both wickedly feminist and loves a good costume. My social media filter bubble surely makes their ranks seem bigger than they actually are, but they are growing and I encourage you to join them.
Some of the hottest stocks and tech funds in recent months have fallen into bearish territory and investors are betting on further turbulence to come as rising bond yields undermine the case for holding high priced stocks .
Friday afternoon stock market rally Notably, it failed to include Tesla shares and exchange-traded funds managed by Cathie Wood, the fund manager who has become one of the electric carmaker’s most vocal backers.
Shares in You’re here fell 3.6 percent on Friday to close below $ 600 for the first time in more than three months, even though it had fallen 13 percent at one point. The stock is down 32% from its January high, wiping out $ 263 billion in market value.
Wood’s $ 21.5 billion flagship Ark Innovation ETF, 10% of which is invested in Tesla shares, also closed lower on Friday. It is now down 25% and in a bear market, defined as more than a fifth drop from the peak.
Clean energy funds managed by Invesco, which were the best performing funds last year, are also on the downside, along with some of the best performing stocks in the tech and biotech sectors.
“Bubble stocks and many aggressively priced US biotech stocks have been the hardest hit segments of the stock market,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank.
The high tech Nasdaq Composite Index fell into corrective territory – defined as a drop of more than 10% from the peak – earlier this week, but rebounded 1.6% on Friday as bond yields rose. stabilized.
The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries briefly exceeded 1.6% early in the day after a employment report for February boosted confidence in an economic recovery in the United States. Yields were below 1 percent at the start of the year.
Rising long-term bond yields reduce the relative value of companies’ future cash flows, especially hitting fast-growing companies.
These types of companies feature prominently in the thematic investment funds managed by Wood at Ark Investments. The performance of Ark’s exchange traded funds abruptly reversed after seeing huge inflows and strong gains for much of the past 12 months.
“Speculative tech trading is in various stages of recovery right now,” said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek, a research group.
RBC derivatives strategist Amy Wu Silverman said investors continue to put hedges in place in the event of a further decline in high-profile securities, including options it would pay off if Tesla and the Ark Innovation fund lost value.
The number of put options on the Ark fund hit an all-time high on Thursday, according to Bloomberg data. In contrast, demand for put options on ETFs such as State Street’s SPDR S&P 500 fund – which mirrors the broader stock market – has fallen as stocks have fallen.
Demand for options normally slips as a stock or ETF goes down, as there was “less to cover, since you’ve gone down,” Silverman said. The high put option activity on stocks and technology hedge funds “suggested to investors that there was more to do,” she said.
Even after the declines, shares in the Ark Innovation ETF remain highly valued, with a median price-to-sell ratio of 22 versus 2.5 for the overall stock market according to The morning star, the data provider.
Two of the fund’s other big holdings, streaming company Roku and payments group Square, also fell on Friday, extending recent declines.
Ark’s other major ETFs also fell sharply as the air came out of Tesla and other hot stocks. Tesla is Ark’s largest stake of $ 3.3 billion Autonomous technology and robotics fund and its $ 7.2 billion Next Generation Internet AND F.
Wood has also taken holdings concentrated in small innovative companies. Ark owns more than 10% stakes in 26 small companies through its five actively managed ETFs, according to The morning star.
“These important issues raise concerns about capacity and liquidity management,” said Ben Johnson, director of passive fund research at Morningstar. “The more the company owns a company, the more difficult it will be to increase or decrease its position without pushing prices against the shareholders of the fund.”
Ark did not respond to a request for comment. The Ark Innovation ETF is still sitting on a performance gain of 120 percent for the past year. He bought more Tesla shares when the automaker’s shares started falling last month.
It turns out by increasing the rate of isn’t the only change Google has planned for its web browser. In a tweet spotted by 9to5Google (via XDA Developers), Alex Ainslie, Chrome Design Manager, detailed a new feature that makes it easier to try out all of the experimental features Google is working on. Starting this week, the Canary version of the browser includes a beaker icon where you can enable experimental features and send feedback to the Chrome team.
?? We hope to collect more feedback on @Google Chrome updates as they develop. If you’re using Canary today (and soon Dev and Beta), you’ll notice a small beaker on the toolbar that makes it easy to try new things out and share suggestions on how they should evolve. pic.twitter.com/doPLzJbnRW
– Alex Ainslie (@alexainslie) March 5, 2021
In the past, trying experiments in Chrome meant turning on indicators. It made them difficult to access if you didn’t know what you were doing. It was also not easy to see at a glance which ones you had activated. Ainslie said Google is adding the menu to collect more feedback on updates as they develop. To that end, the beaker icon will also make its way to the developer and beta versions of Chrome. This means you won’t have to use the less stable version of Chrome to see what Google has in store for users.
The United States has said the world must be prepared to impose costs on Beijing for its crimes against minority Muslims in Xinjiang.
The United States on Friday said it was working to rally its allies and partners to speak with one voice in condemning China’s abuses against minority Muslims in Xinjiang and the ongoing “crackdown” in Hong Kong.
The administration of President Joe Biden, which took office in January, endorsed a determination by the previous Donald Trump administration that China is committed. genocide in Xinjiang and said the United States must be prepared to impose costs on Beijing for its actions there, its crackdown in Hong Kong, and threats to Taiwan.
“I don’t think anyone is still happy with the international response to what happened in Xinjiang,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.
“And that is precisely why we are galvanizing the world in so many ways, galvanizing collective action, to make it clear that this kind of human rights abuse in Xinjiang and elsewhere will not be tolerated,” a- he declared.
Last week, Human Rights Watch said in a report that China is cracking down on Muslims in Xinjiang by imposing long prison terms on questionable charges.
Michelle Bachelet, head of human rights at the United Nations last week struck down reports of arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment of Uyghurs, which include sexual violence and forced labor, and called for an independent investigation into the situation.
The US State Department mentionned the Chinese government has committed crimes against humanity and continues to arbitrarily detain over one million civilians in detention camps. Crimes also include torture, forced labor, as well as draconian restrictions on freedom of religion, expression and movement.
During Friday’s press conference, the United States also called on China to change Hong Kong’s electoral system by directly attacking its autonomy and democratic processes.
Earlier Friday, Beijing proposed legislation that would tighten its increasingly authoritarian grip on Hong Kong by making changes to the electoral committee that chooses the city’s leader, giving it new power to nominate candidates for the legislature.
The measure, which is expected to be approved in a week-long session of the Chinese parliament, would further marginalize a democratic opposition decimated after Beijing imposed national security legislation in the wake of anti-government protests that have rocked Hong Kong in 2019.
The United States condemned “China’s continued assault on Hong Kong’s democratic institutions,” Price said.
Price called Beijing’s actions “direct attacks on Hong Kong autonomy … freedoms and democratic processes.”
“If implemented, these measures would significantly undermine Hong Kong’s democratic institutions,” he said.
The evening On December 20, 2017, controversial cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee tweeted that he would be embarking on some sort of educational blitz. “Starting tomorrow, I will be talking about a single altcoin every day,” McAfee wrote. “Most of the 2,000 pieces are garbage or scams. I have read all the white papers. The few people I’m connected with, I’ll tell you. The rest, I have no position. It was this last element that caught the attention of the Department of Justice.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indicted McAfee and his executive assistant Jimmy Watson with several counts that encompass two alleged cryptocurrency schemes. (McAfee was previously indicted in October on separate tax evasion charges.) According to search documents, McAfee and his associates raised a combined $ 13 million between the two efforts, both of which relied on using McAfee’s popular Twitter account to promote niche cryptocurrencies or promote initial coin offerings without revealing that he made a profit from it, whether through investment gains or promotional costs. .
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson have exploited a widely used social media platform and the enthusiasm of investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to earn millions through lies and deception,” the American Manhattan lawyer Audrey Strauss in a press release. “The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to post messages to hundreds of thousands of its Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to cover up their true personal motives.”
The altcoin talks that McAfee promoted were one of the alleged legs of this deception. In mid-December 2017, he allegedly ordered an associate to buy around $ 5,000 worth of tokens in XVG, also known as Verge. The same day on Twitter, McAfee described XVG – with more established tokens like Monero and Zcash – as a coin that “cannot lose”. Two days later, when a Twitter user suggested that McAfee had “pumped” XVG, artificially inflating its value in order to sell high, McAfee responded indignantly. “I do not have an XVG”, he wrote. “I live [sic] how superficial people can’t distinguish between someone who shamelessly says what he thinks – because it’s true – and someone with an ulterior motive. You know absolutely nothing about me if you think I have time to waste garbage.
XVR rose 500% within four days of McAfee’s initial tweet. McAfee, according to prosecutors, sold near the top, making a net profit of $ 30,000.
This success seems to have inspired what McAfee would call his “Piece of the Week” series. On the same day he announced his trip to “unique altcoins” on Twitter, McAfee allegedly asked an associate to put $ 100,000 worth of bitcoins into Electroneum tokens. On December 21, 2017, he tweeted a laudatory and bulleted report on ETN, including a claim that he had “more than one DM calling Electroneum the holy grail of cryptocurrency.” (This is quite a contrast to what McAfee had tweeted a week earlier, on December 15: “Personally, I can’t find anything on Electroneum that I would like to talk about. Not that it’s bad, but not special to me. “) He again claims that he did not have one.
Electoneum jumped 40% that day. McAfee’s partner cashed in at a profit, prosecutors said.
Court documents allege that foaming, rinsing, repetition of this basic pattern took place until January 28 of the following year. McAfee would ask his associate to buy “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tokens” in the altcoin presented this week less than 10 days before presenting it. McAfee extolled the virtues of BURST, DGB, RDD, HMQ, TRX, FCT, DOGE, XLM, SYS and RCN. His partner, prosectors say, would close the position soon after to take advantage of the usual bump. In all, they would have pocketed $ 2 million from the pump and dump system, including hundreds of thousands of Dogecoin alone.
The EU and the United States have agreed to suspend punitive tariffs linked to their long-standing dispute over aircraft subsidies, in the first breakthrough in trade relations since President Joe Biden took office.
The two sides reached a deal after intensive talks, people familiar with the talks said, a sign that the 16-year-old transatlantic trade battle over state aid to Airbus and Boeing may be drawing to a close.
The deal, announced by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, means the two sides will suspend tariffs linked to the dispute for four months. The duties hit products far beyond airplanes, encompassing an eclectic range of products such as American self-propelled backhoe loaders, French wine, and even American ornamental fish.
In a statement released after a call with Biden, von der Leyen said: “President Biden and I have agreed to suspend all of our tariffs imposed in the Airbus-Boeing disputes, both on aeronautical and non-aeronautical products, for an initial period. four months.
“We are both committed to focusing on resolving our air disputes, based on the work of our respective trade representatives,” she said.
The goodwill gesture aims to prepare the ground for negotiations on a permanent solution to the dispute by setting common rules on authorized aeronautical subsidies.
The US trade representative’s office said a regulation was needed to address the challenges posed by newcomers to the aviation industry from China. Beijing has made it a priority to break the global duopoly that has dominated for decades.
He added that limits on future subsidies and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms would be part of an agreement between the EU and the United States.
An EU official said the announcement came “sooner than expected” as Biden-appointed sales representative Katherine Tai has yet to be confirmed. Countering China and setting transatlantic standards for the aviation industry were key goals, the official said.
A European diplomat said four months would be “enough time to focus minds while still being very doable”.
The agreement came about a day after the United Kingdom and United States came to their own arrangement whereby Washington also agreed to suspend punitive tariffs related to the dispute for four months.
The UK had already unilaterally stopped imposing its own tariffs earlier this year. EU officials and other trade experts have questioned whether the UK would have had the right to continue to impose them anyway, given its exit from the bloc’s customs union.
Brussels imposed additional rates over $ 4 billion in US merchandise in November, covering a wide range of products, including cane molasses, casino tables and fitness equipment.
By then, the United States had already imposed additional duties on $ 7.5 billion in European exports – the result of Washington’s victory at the World Trade Organization over aid to Airbus.
Brussels sees today’s step as a breakthrough that may pave the way for broader trade cooperation after the tensions of the Trump era – tensions that sometimes threatened to lead to a large-scale trade war. ladder.
The dispute over aircraft subsidies between the US and the EU is one of the oldest cases in WTO history. It has been found over the years that both sides have failed to properly implement the rulings of WTO panels on illegal subsidies.
The battle dates back to 2004, the year after Airbus first overtook its American rival in terms of deliveries. After negotiating an agreement with the EU on state aid in 1992, the United States launched an action against subsidies for the European group dating back to the 1970s. Initially, the United States claimed that 22 billions of dollars in illegal financing had been granted to Airbus.
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A few months later, the EU issued its own challenge, originally claiming that $ 23 billion in illegal aid had been offered to Boeing.
The two sides have long remained very distant on the terms of any agreement on how to finance the development of new aircraft. But with Airbus and Boeing focused on recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and a hiatus in the development of new commercial aircraft, industry experts have said the time is right.
The deal will come as a relief for aircraft manufacturers and other companies on both sides of the Atlantic. French wine producers and Italian cheese makers were among those at the forefront of calls for an end to the dispute. The spirits industry is also one of the US sectors that is calling for a solution.
Airbus welcomed the decision to suspend tariffs. The company said it supports “all actions necessary to create a level playing field and continues to support a negotiated settlement of this long-standing dispute to avoid losing tariffs.”
Boeing said it hoped the deal would allow talks to “level the playing field in this industry.”