WELCOME BACK TO LOOKING FOR LITHIUM
Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender… where people will soon restart student loan payments after a three-year hiatus, lithium is feeling the love, and Musk sheds his (CEO) husk. Also, economists answer the question that has been around for centuries: to snack or not to snack? Grab a bag of chips, kick your feet up, and put on your favorite playlist. Let us handle the rest. The Weekender has you covered.
You’re Not Alone With Your Student Loans
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona informed a Senate panel late last week that student loan payments would officially resume this summer, more than three years after the Trump Administration originally suspended payments in its pandemic emergency package. The move may come at a cost for President Biden’s re-election efforts, though, given the student-loan-paying demographic is typically comprised of strong Democratic voters. Though criticizing loan repayment has become a Republican applause-point, the move may not be as partisan as it appears. President Trump initially paused payments, and President Biden extended the pause period six times between January 2021 and December 2022. But there’s no such thing as free lunch – or free school. The total cost of the loan payment suspension since Spring 2020 has cost an estimated $195 billion. House Republicans are pushing back with a plan that would reverse President Biden’ signature student debt relief program, amplifying pre-existing with Democrats as debt ceiling negotiations underpin the entire discussion.Read More at The Hill
From Nirvana to Carvana: Lithium is Essential
As automakers transition to manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs) rather than internal combustion engines, many face a roadblock forcing them to pump the brakes. The strategic minerals required to construct EV batteries are still underground and, to some degree, in limited supply. The starting flag has been waved; the mineral marathon has begun. While the unforeseen marriage between car makers and global mining operations could be fruitful for both industries, palpable risks and workflow differences will drive negotiations. The auto industry is famous for its rigid production schedules and fine-tuned navigation of its global supply chain. In contrast, the mining industry is known for government-imposed delays and uncertainty about breaking ground in the search for elements. To reach EV goals, however, automakers will be forced to resolve their differences. Demand for lithium, which does the heavy lifting for EV batteries, is expected to far outweigh supply within the decade, so the auto industry must keep its tires warm to beat the competition to the precious soft white metal.Read More at The Wall Street Journal
Musk Sheds His (Twitter CEO) Husk
Elon Musk announced via tweet that Linda Yaccarino, former head of advertising for NBCUniversal, will take the Twitter throne as his replacement for CEO. Musk, who purchased the social media site for $44 billion last fall, will remain onboard as the executive chairman and chief technology officer. Twitter holds high hopes for Yaccarino’s advertising expertise as 625 of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Jeep, and Wells Fargo have stopped paid advertising on the site. Yaccarino served as chair of global advertising and partnership at NBCUniversal, effectively monetizing the conglomerate’s networks, streaming platforms, commercial partnerships, and client relationships for its entire global, national, and local ad sales. She resided over a 2,000-member team generating over $100 billion in ad sales and helped launch the ad-supported Peacock streaming service. In 2021 (prior to Musk’s purchase), 90% of Twitter’s revenue came from advertising, but their revenues fell by about 40% year-over-year last December. While Yaccarino, known as the ‘Velvet Hammer,’ has her work cut out for her in the new role, she brings decades of advertising experience and one of the broadest rolodexes of relationships in the industry to help get the Twitter bird back in the air.
Could Filing Tax Returns Soon Be… Easy?
The IRS plans to launch an online program that allows people to file tax returns electronically. While the tax prep industry will inevitably push back on this proposal, this is not the agency’s first bid for e-filing. In 2021, it set up a portal to allow people to enroll in monthly Child Tax Credit payments, but the White House was so disappointed by its performance that it instructed people to use an alternate website from an outside group. Republicans are already assembling their defense against this plan on two main points. First, the program will be born from the one-time $80 billion cash infusion Democrats provided to the IRS to fuel an agency overhaul. Secondly, Republicans fear the new portal would lead to a process where the IRS fills out returns for people, which the GOP claims would be a conflict of interest given the agency also enforces tax laws. This news comes amidst Pew Research’s reporting that only 19% of the American public trusts the government to do what is right most of the time. There’s no denying that doing taxes is tedious and expensive, but it will be difficult for the IRS to find the correct way to remediate the tax struggles without amassing boisterous opposition to their plans.Read More at POLITICO
Savory Snacks Seeing Sweet Success
Over the coming decade, the phrases “you are what you eat” and “you vote with your dollar” will be more intertwined than ever as the savory snacks market expects to grow by $32.17 billion before 2027. According to Technavio’s latest market research, there is a growing global demand for convenient, ready-to-eat foods as urbanization rises and people lead busier lives. People who live in cities have less access to whole foods such as fresh produce, so packaged morsels are the alternative to fruits and vegetables as the go-to midday snack. But can people afford this? Well… for many, yes. A household’s disposable income has steadily grown from bite-sized to mouthful over the past few years with an increase in dual-income households, higher per capita income, and rapid growth in employment rates. This news is great for the casual chip-cruncher, but for snacks’ best friend, the sandwich, there’s a gloomier forecast. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University, says eating a serving of processed meats per day is associated with about 20% higher risk of diabetes . . . and about a 40% higher risk of heart disease. He calls the iconic sandwich a “heart bomb.” While the savory snacks see a sweet future for themselves, a sandwich a day keeps the doctor afraid.Read More at Yahoo Finance
Crisis Meets Crisis in Italy
Known for its beautiful medieval cities, heavenly Adriatic beaches, and cuisine worth waiting a lifetime, the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is experiencing horrific floods. The risen waters, caused by 21 rivers bursting at their banks following heavy storms, have already claimed the lives of nine people while more than 13,000 people have been forced from their homes. Entire towns were submerged as the Italian government and emergency services rushed to help those stranded on their roofs seeking aid. The flooding compounds the economic issues already straining the Italian people, including a surge in pasta prices which forced the government to convene crisis talks with food producers, and a dramatic influx of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine and other surrounding countries. This week, crisis met crisis as Ukrainian President Zelensky made his first visit to Rome since the beginning of the Russian invasion, part of a trip through Europe where he successfully generated additional support for the country’s defense efforts.Read More in BBC
Every four years, when there’s still snow on the ground, Iowans gather in school gyms, community centers, churches, and post offices to decide who in their party they support for president. Since the 1970s, The Hawkeye State has boasted the leading fight for the primaries – a battle that begins long before snow ever hits the ground. This week, Iowans found themselves again in the national spotlight as former President Donald Trump and oft-considered frontrunner Governor Ron DeSantis visited the state to tout their 2024 intentions. The headlines they created weren’t about economic ideas, though. Instead, uncertain weather and the threats of a tornado caused Team Trump to cancel a rally, while Governor DeSantis stood atop a picnic table, championing his down-south leadership to 150+ supporters. “It’s a beautiful night,” he said, taking a jab at the former president. To some Iowans, Trump’s move was the smart choice. Others gave accolades to DeSantis – Iowans like grit. Politico wrote, “The weather gave Trump lemons. And DeSantis made lemonade.”Read More on Fox News
- 13: The number of federal felony charges Rep. George Santos (R., N.Y.) is facing.
- 45%: The share of Americans who oppose Congress lifting the debt ceiling.
- 62.3%: The share of U.S. workers who said they were satisfied with their jobs – a 36-year high.
- 8.8: The average hours per week Microsoft business software’s most active users spend reading and writing emails.
- 6: The percentage points President Biden leads former President Trump in a Reuters/Ipsos hypothetical match-up poll.
- $215 million: The amount Goldman Sachs agreed to pay to settle a class-action lawsuit from 2,800 former and current employees who alleged the bank systematically discriminated against women.