Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender… it’s a new week, and there’s new drama on Capitol Hill, surrounding chips and climate. Also—the world’s population is vastly declining; we explain how it may affect our economy. Plus—a look into the latest attacks in Eastern Europe. These stories and more are below in the latest edition of the Weekender. Thanks for joining us.
THE BIG FIVE
Congress Pulls an All-Nighter
In an all-night vote-a-rama this week, the United States Senate passed legislation aimed directly at inflation… and climate, healthcare, and taxes. The down-party line vote came to a tie—with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking it in the eleventh hour. The bill’s main target for funding is climate change, as it calls for more than $360 billion in funding for energy and climate change programs over the next decade. It also creates a 15% minimum tax on corporations, hires more than 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents and will produce up to $1 billion in tax profits for the government. The bill has yet to be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives but is likely to hit the floor in the upcoming days. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging members to pass the bill as-is to get it over to the President’s desk as soon as possible. Read more in The Washington Post.
Bye Bye Baby
In more fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s population number report is in—and the number of humans is decreasing. The world saw massive losses in population due to the pandemic, with more than 15 million excess deaths in 2020 and 2021. Fertility rates are also declining, bringing the world’s population numbers down. The recently-released UN report predicts the world population number will continue to decline until 2086—a stark departure from the previous report released in 2019 (the year before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic), which showed there was no peak within the forecast range. These predictions often are used when studying economic growth, which boils down to two components: gains in the number of people working and the productivity of those workers. The recent shift in working-age populations will become even more pronounced with future generations, shifting from one continent to another. The report reveals there are four times as many 15-to-59-year-olds in Asia as there are in Africa. As the Asian population ages, there will be a larger working-age demographic in Africa by the year 2100. Read more in Bloomberg.
Chips are (Maybe) the Answer
A deal has been made for something so important and yet, so often forgotten: semiconductors. Found in your car, electronics, and health care systems, semiconductors are everywhere. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic created a massive shortage of electronic chips, and the United States has had to rely on other countries for supplies. Currently, the U.S. produces only about 2% of the world’s semiconductors, leaving the nation vulnerable to supply shortages and putting its technological edge at risk. Luckily, after years of trying to fix the problem, U.S. Congress has finally passed a bill to address the issue, offering incentives to private companies to step up and invest in semiconductor manufacturing. These newly announced partnerships total more than $44 billion in manufacturing investments and 8,000 new jobs and are projected to boost the market share from a meager 2% to 10%. However, the demand for these chips is beginning to ease, despite lawmakers and U.S. President Joe Biden claiming this legislation as a win. Read more in CNBC.
The New Frontier: The Sunbelt
Between the pandemic and inflation (and everything else in between), Americans continue to move away from areas with high costs-of-living to states that have lower taxes and relatively cheaper housing. Rental payments are skyrocketing in bigger cities, including San Francisco and New York City, pushing people to relocate to Austin, Miami and Phoenix (to name a few) and plant roots. These newly popular destinations are also attracting buyers who are looking to purchase massive amounts of land— including the founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, who bought land the size of Manhattan (we’re not joking). These crazy buys are increasing the value of the land and impacting neighborhoods. Galveston, Texas, residents are among those who are being priced out of the communities they have called home for years due to out-of-town buyers who are contributing to soaring costs. Meanwhile, in Arizona, the overwhelming amount of people moving to the suburbs has caused the water supply to reach its limit. Other cities are also scrambling to keep up with the influx of new residents. However, some towns are turned on by the idea of new residents and are offering remote workers and interested buyers certain financial incentives to move and purchase properties, hoping in return to stimulate the local economy. Read more in The Wall Street Journal.
Serena Williams Pivots from Tennis
The G.O.A.T. of tennis Serena Williams has announced she is retiring at the end of this year’s U.S. Open. In a self-penned article in Vogue, Williams explained her decision in great depth, hoping to give closure to her fans and herself. Ranked one of the top players by the Women’s Tennis Association, Williams will make the transition from tennis star to mom and venture capitalist. Her venture capitalist firm is thriving with notable investments in companies, including MasterClass, Noom, and Tonal. Williams has called out the hypocrisy of having to choose between her family and her tennis career and has been a voice and inspiration for many. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, she is also considered one of the greatest professional athletes of all time—and has broken barriers for women in sports and black women everywhere. Read more in Vogue.
The Kremlin is causing more havoc in Eastern Europe… and Ukraine finally switched to the offensive. This week, Russian strikes have killed 13 people in Ukraine’s central region, coming dangerously close to the local nuclear power plant. The world has closely watched the site as many are concerned that the plant will be used in the war. Ukraine has called for the plant to become a nonmilitarized zone, essentially making the area off limits. However, Russia has yet to agree. In retaliation to the attack, Ukraine responded with a strike in a Russia-controlled territory—making it the first acknowledged offensive attack by Ukraine since the start of the war. Russia may want to re-think peace talks and end the conflict soon as they have already lost more troops than they did in WWI. Experts project that Russia has lost around 80,000 troops… but this number is hard to confirm as Russia will not comment. The number is likely to increase as the U.S. State Department approves another $89 million in assistance to Ukraine to combat Russian forces. Looking at the numbers: Russia is taking on huge losses, which begs the question: Why does Russian President Putin continue to push forward with the war? Is it his ego, or does he have something up his sleeve? Read more in Reuters.
- 12-15: The number of boxes of U.S. White House records that were recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI executed the search warrant as part of an investigation into the handling of presidential documents. Sources report some of the classified information relates to nuclear weapons.
- 60%: The percentage of land in the European Union and the United Kingdom currently under a drought. The data comes as parts of Europe endure wildfires and back-to-back heat waves in what is shaping to be one of the continent’s hottest summers on record.
- $45 million: The cost of punitive damages that Infowars host, Alex Jones, was ordered to pay to the parents of a 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim. The parents sued Jones for the suffering he put them through after he claimed the shooting was staged.
- 1.59 milliseconds: The time that Earth’s rotation fell short of on June 29, according to scientists. The time was short of the standard 24-hour day, making it the shortest day since the invention of the atomic clock in 1948.
- $23 billion: The amount that global tech investor SoftBank Group lost this quarter. Chief Executive Masayoshi Son described his investment spree as “delirious turned sour.”
- 28 million: The number of American kids ages five and older who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, which is nearly half the number of children in that age range.
- $525 million: The price tag of Axios’ sale of media company Cox Enterprises. The deal is structured to ensure investments will continue to flow into local news.
- 7.9 million: The number of Tesla shares that CEO Elon Musk sold recently. The sales raised $6.9 billion for the company after it lost nearly 20% of its value this year.