WELCOME BACK TO CALIBRI FONT
Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender…where this week, Washington faces its first national debt crisis, and a stark warning is coming out of Davos. Plus, new data shows a generational divide on driver licenses and which states people are moving to retire. Also, 3D printed properties are all the rage in 2023—could it fix America’s housing problem? This and more in the latest edition of The Weekender. Thanks for being here.
|P.S. The Strategic Elements team welcomed two new members to its communication team, Hillary Beightel and Kyle Jones! As seen in Playbook and Influence, our latest additions and their newsworthy public affairs and communications experience. Check it out:
Debt Ceiling Showdown
In the first big showdown of the 118th Congress, Republicans and Democrats are battling over raising the debt ceiling – whether or not to do it and if so, under what terms. This week, the United States hit the debt ceiling, meaning the nation officially reached the current borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion (think credit card spending limit, but on a scale unmatched on Earth). To put this into perspective, the debt-to-gross domestic product is beyond which the U.S. rates other countries as economically unstable—forcing the U.S. into a tough spot. Congress now has two options—raise the debt ceiling and borrow more, or stop making payments it has already promised and possibly default… which has never happened before. The GOP historically resists raising the debt ceiling without tying it to spending cuts. The ceiling was increased under President Trump by about $2.2 trillion — with COVID spending driving a chunk of it. On the other hand, since 2021, the Democrats have authorized the borrowing of an additional $9.4 trillion, where the funds are tied to new spending (only a portion of which was COVID related). With a narrowly GOP-controlled House resisting the increase to debt limit without spending cuts, the negotiations are sure to be a knife fight and are likely to define the early portion of the new Congress. Read more in TIME.
Davos and the World’s Future
The world’s economic leaders are meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and their forecasts about the world’s financial future are not bright. In an annual gathering, 45% of chief economists believe a global recession is “somewhat likely.” Their reasoning includes, “synchronous policy tightening aimed at containing very high inflation, worsening financial conditions, and continued disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” Nearly 75% of experts also predict companies will need to lay off employees to make ends meet. It isn’t doom and gloom for everyone, however. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, to name a few) boasted about optimistic economic forecasts for the region. The association cites low unemployment rates and thriving trade relations with China as helping to boost their economy. Unfortunately, this positive outlook is not the global standard at this year’s summit. It is not just the CEOs in Davos either—the number of people who are optimistic about the economic future is shrinking. Here’s to hoping for a change in the forecast before a global recession sets in. Read more in Financial Times.
The Shifts in State Populations, Demographics, and Behaviors
A new data analysis takes a revealing look at Americans’ decisions on where to live by age. The study shows the differences in the ages from where people retire to who is driving on the roads. Florida remains a classic destination for retirees, with 89% of retirees coming from out of state. On the other hand, Puerto Rico has the highest share of retirees among its residents, but only 6% are from out of the territory. A happy medium is seen in Manie, where new retirees are heading and not too many are fleeing—experts call this “aging in place.” In other findings, folks in their fifties own the highest average number of cars per household, which they quickly sell in their sixties without replacement (smells like teen drivers). Wyoming has the most vehicles per household, averaging 1.2 cars, while West Virginia has the lowest at 0.96. Also, teenagers are getting their licenses at an older age—in 1997, 43% of 16-year-olds had their license, but now that has dropped to a mere 25%. Utah has the most people going abroad, which is likely due to the Church of Latter-Day Saints Missionary trips, while West Virginia sees less than 1% of the population go abroad. The most tracked groups who travel overseas for the trips are missionaries, study-abroad students, and active-duty military members. From boomers to zoomers, there is quite a shift in the norms for the nation. Read more in The Washington Post.
3D Printed Properties Popping Up in 2023
“My 3D Printed Property” may be the new hit HGTV show, with 3D properties and homes popping up worldwide and set to expand drastically in 2023. Some of the 3D homes printed include a luxury house with printed walls in Austin, Texas, a fully printed 400-square-foot concrete home in Denmark, and 3D-printed buildings across the United States, just to name a few. But in Houston, Texas, things are being taken to another level. A 3D printer weighing more than 12 tons is creating what is believed to be the first 3D-printed two-story home in the United States. Construction will take a total of 330 hours of printing to build the 4,000-square-foot home. The project’s head of structural engineering hopes the technique can one day help more quickly and cheaply build multifamily homes. It is not the easiest to create these buildings, but this is a start. Structural and logistical challenges occur in printing a second-story building along with the machine it requires. The concrete used to build the home is becoming more available and can withstand hurricanes, heavy storms, and other severe weather. Since 3D-printed houses are sustainable, affordable, and quick to build, their developments could turn into “cookie-cutter” communities because of the efficient process. Companies across the U.S. and worldwide are using this technology to create this new housing. This innovative way of building homes could make a massive difference in the housing crisis. Read more in Reuters.
The Twitter CEO on Trial for Tweeting… Oh, the Irony
What goes around comes around, especially for Twitter’s CEO Elon Musk. A trial started Tuesday involving a series of tweets in 2018 from Elon about a possible $72-billion Tesla buyout that never happened, which got him in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC said the billionaire knew the deal was not going to happen, but Elon said he really believed he had the funding. The trial stems from a class-action lawsuit brought by investors who owned Tesla stock during a 10-day period that began the same day as Elon’s Telsa-buyout tweets. During the 10 days, Tesla’s stock prices swung by roughly $14 billion. District Judge Edward Chen already ruled that Elon’s initial tweets were knowingly false and misleading. A jury will now decide whether Elon acted recklessly by posting them and whether he caused financial harm to Tesla shareholders. As for the future of Elon and Tesla, depending on the trial’s outcome, shareholders say Elon should pay damages for the financial risk he put them in. Tesla stock lost 65% of its value in 2022 alone, experts say partly because of widespread disapproval of Elon’s Twitter takeover and the automobile industry. Estimates suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their Twitter accounts after Elon took over, while half a million more were suspended. The trial has already hit his image and fortune; who’s to say what’s next? Read more at NPR.
A Week of Devastation for Ukraine
The Interior Minister, who oversaw Ukraine’s police and emergency services, was killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday. The helicopter crashed into a kindergarten, killing Denys Monastyrskyi and about a dozen other people, including a child, on the ground. The minister’s death, along with the rest of his ministry’s leadership and the entire helicopter crew, was the second major catastrophe in four days in Ukraine after a Russian missile struck an apartment building, killing dozens of civilians. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Moscow’s actions, Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected Russia’s justification arguments, saying that Kyiv posed no threat to Moscow, and the attack was unprovoked. Whether the crash was an accident or related to the war is still unknown but is under investigation. The Ukrainian Interior Minister is the most senior official killed since Russia invaded almost one year ago. The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council told Ukrainian television that Kyiv expects Moscow’s troops “to attempt to make a so-called final push,” which may take place on Russia’s one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. With the possibility of a “final push,” the war’s end looks to be on the horizon. Read more on AP News.
- 25%: The percentage that Bitcoin is up over the past month, hovering above $20,000 for the first time since November of 2022.
- $42 trillion: The amount of new wealth the world has created since 2020. However, 63% of that wealth is in the hands of the wealthiest 1% of the population.
- 30 years: The amount of time that mafia boss and Italy’s most wanted man, Matteo Messina Denaro, has been on the run. He was found and arrested this week in Sicily.
- $2,756: The amount that a Canadian woman was ordered to repay her former employer after software installed on her laptop revealed she misrepresented more than 50 hours at work.
- $7 million: The amount that Kobe Bryant’s iconic Lakers jersey is expected to sell at an auction. The signed jersey was worn by the five-time NBA champion more than 25 times during the 2007-2008 season.
- 4 million: The number of federal devices that President Biden banned from using TikTok last month after Maryland, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska banned the use of the app on state-owned devices.
- $25 million: The funds that Ukrainian Professional Football Club Shakhtar Donetsk donated to soldiers and their families to cover various needs during the war, including medical treatment and psychological support.
- $3.9 million: The total value of a trove of luxury cars, watches, and cash that Romanian authorities confiscated as part of an ongoing sex trafficking investigation involving British-American male dominance influencer Andrew Tate.
big news for font freaks: Times New Roman is being phased out at the State Department & replaced by Calibri. Secretary Blinken sent a cable to all embassies today directing staff not to send him any more papers with Times New Roman. Subject: "The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin" pic.twitter.com/HENLbRH3UQ
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 17, 2023