The Weekender

The Weekender: Is the Economy Stop or Go? Maybe Both

The Weekender


  • 7: The number of states considering or enacting social media regulations for minors
  • 2,000: The number of migrants set to arrive in El Paso-Juarez in the coming days
  • 20: The number of seconds the Baltimore Bridge stood after being impacted by a cargo ship
  • 40,000: The number of people expected at this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll
  • 27: The number of songs on Beyonce’s new country album Cowboy Carter – released today
  • $4.5M: The amount of money allegedly embezzled by Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter

The Big 5 News Updates

Can RFK Play All the Way?

Polling continues to show something that should not come as a surprise: Americans are not thrilled about the Biden-Trump rematch. This leaves a glaring question: is 2024 the year of the third-party independent? While the new centrist coalition “No Labels” is searching for its Prince or Princess Charming, RFK Jr. hopes to seize the gap for himself. As filing deadlines for independents to appear on the ballot are quickly approaching, RFK announced his running mate. The announcement came just in time for him to qualify for the ballot in 50 states and D.C. (so far, he is only on Utah’s ballot).

While his team toyed with picking the caricatured personalities of NFL superstar Aaron Rogers or former wrestler and former MN Governor Jesse Ventura, they opted for someone to balance RFK’s own eccentricity. His pick, Nicole Shanahan, is a wealthy attorney and entrepreneur from Oakland, California.

Shanahan, like Kennedy, has never run for political office. She is deeply connected to Silicon Valley and tech leaders across the U.S. She’s quickly picked up on his criticism of both political parties, concerns of domestic food supply, skepticism of vaccines, and the to-be-proven health impacts of 5G. Despite some potentially fringe ideas, the RFK-Shanahan duo is not standing flat-footed. A Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll shows RFK has double-digit support in Arizona while a Marist College poll corroborates with 11% support in North Carolina. He is polling better than any independent since Ross Perot in 1992. Nationally, he sits just shy of 10%.

RFK fully understands that his campaign is serving as a spoiler to both the Trump and Biden operations – something with which he is fully comfortable. Of course, the Trump campaign was quick to lash out regarding RFK’s running mate announcement. Alex Pfeiffer, who speaks on behalf of PAC MAGA Inc., called Shanahan a “far-left radical” and that it is “no surprise he would pick a Biden donor leftist.” Shanahan, who formally left the Democratic Party by denouncing it in her acceptance address, was likely to catch flak from the Trump camp given her California roots. President Biden’s team, while not using Trump-level rhetoric, is building out strategies to overcome the RFK hurdle.

Read More at NBC News

The Two Speed Economy – and the Psychology Behind It

As post-pandemic spending cools, consumer demographics are taking different approaches. Low- and middle-income buyers are returning to penny-pinching, while wealthy consumers are spending more. For small business owners who hoped to see an early 2024 boon, February was a disappointment. Retail rates did not rise as much as expected – only a 0.6% rise in February compared to the previous month.

After the pandemic, spending increased in a phenomenon known as revenge spending – a phrase coined as consumers sought to “get revenge” on items, activities, and travel off the table during the pandemic. Buyers focused mainly on spending their dollars on experiences, such as vacations and concerts. (Have you heard of the Eras Tour?) Current inflation has curbed some consumers’ spending, but others have shifted revenge spending into doom spending, shrugging off the possibility of buying a home or saving for retirement.

All in all, the current spending environment is still favorable, but many consumers express concern that this is fleeting. Why? For one, people feel fragile in the face of unpredictable global, social, and political threats. Interviews with people spanning political parties, affluence, and levels of education show people are afraid. The Wall Street Journal writes: “They are weighed down by fears of an unpredictable world in which no one in government or business is competent to steer the nation through precarious times.”

Read More at Axios

Social Media and Minors

Florida pre-teens practicing TikTok dances will have to wait a few years before showing their skills to the world. Effective Jan. 1, 2025, Florida legislation will mandate closure of all social media accounts owned by youth under 14 – regardless of parental consent. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds will also need a parent’s permission to open or keep their accounts. Why? The law intends to prevent exposure to inappropriate and violent content. Governor DeSantis says being buried in a device is no way to grow up.

Florida enacted its social media legislation after 41 states, including Florida, sued Meta. In the lawsuit, the states claimed Meta hid from the public that its social media apps, Facebook and Instagram, are harmful and intentionally addictive. Florida will likely receive pushback for its social media ban for children, as similar legislation in other states has promptly received temporary blocks. The technology trade association NetChoice sued Arkansas over its legislation, citing concerns over free speech and privacy.  

Read More at The Wall Street Journal

Relief May Be on the Way for Small Businesses

If you talk to a small business owner about expenses, they’ll likely bemoan the costs of credit card fees – can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ’em. Last September, Shawn Danko, a Tennessee restaurant owner, wrote in USA Today that his “largest uncontrollable burden comes from credit card swipe fees.” He’s not alone. In 2023, U.S. businesses paid over $100.8 billion in credit card fees – a $7.5 billion increase from 2022, according to the Merchant Payments Coalition.

But good news may be on the horizon: Visa and Mastercard – who have a lock on over 80% of the credit card market – recently agreed to a landmark $30 billion settlement aimed at limiting credit and debit card fees for merchants, potentially leading to lower prices for consumers. As part of the agreement, the credit card giants will reduce fees and remove restrictions previously enacted that steered customers toward cheaper payment methods. The settlement is estimated to benefit primarily small businesses and could result in significant cost savings for merchants. 

Read More at CNBC

US Abstains in UN Vote Calling for Israel Ceasefire

The United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid Israel’s offense in the territory. The United States, who consistently voted in favor of Israel during the past attempts to establish a ceasefire, this time abstained from voting. The decision was a shock to Israel, who relies heavily on allied support from the United States. Israel released they have no intention of adhering to the ceasefire given it does not call for Israeli hostages held by Hamas to be released. While the United States asserts the resolution is non-binding, China (another member of the security council) and Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq insist the resolution is binding.

Immediately following the October 7 Hamas-led raid that left 1,200 Israelis dead and 250 taken hostage, the international community supported Israel’s self-defense. That backing seems to be dwindling though as the military response has taken a heavy toll on life and infrastructure in the region. Over the past few months, the United States was Israel’s sole supporter at the UN. Israeli-U.S. relations have been shaken as Israel told press it was committed to invading Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinian civilians are sheltering from Israeli airstrikes and ground forces.

Read more at CNN

Featured X

See you next week!

Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn for more news and industry updates. To receive a copy of The Weekender in your inbox, sign up here.