The debt limit, Peloton stock and TIME’s Person of the Year

Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender…where we bring you the latest with the debt limit and how one show drastically affected Peloton stock. Also, how the next tool in fighting COVID-19 may not be a vaccine shot. Finally, Telsa will now accept cryptocurrency for some products, and they are indirectly involved in a ransomware attack affecting thousands. We have quite the spread this week, but first, a programming note: This will be the last Weekender of 2021. See you in 2022! Thanks for joining us. 

THE BIG FIVE

Debt Limit Agreement, Default Avoided Until 2023 

After months of partisan fighting and warnings of dire outcomes from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the debt limit has finally been settled. The vote stuck to party lines, especially in the Senate, where no Senator swayed from their party’s recommendation. The limit was raised by $2.5 trillion, which is the largest increase of the debt limit in the history of the United States. If the debt limit was not agreed to by Thursday morning, the United States government would be forced to do something many American families have been forced to do: pick which financial obligations to meet and which ones to ignore. Luckily, the government is no longer forced to face this harsh reality… at least until 2023, which is conveniently after the next midterm election. Read more in The New York Times. 

Big Drops to Peloton Stock Due to Sex and the City Reboot…and Their Ad Clapback 

Sex and the City’s reboot hit small screens across the country this week, and the show had more of an impact than just high viewership—it had a dramatic effect on one company’s stock. (Don’t worry — this is a spoiler-free zone.) A shocking twist in the reboot’s first episode involving a Peloton bike had fans’ jaws dropping and investors selling their stock—resulting in a 10% drop overnight. Even more jarring to business analysts is the fact that Peloton claimed it had agreed to the product placement without knowing it would be involved in this twist—they found out when the rest of the world did. Was it a bad business decision to forgo final approval? Or did HBO keep this spoiler close to their chest? This twist is not the first-time fictional storylines drove product uncertainty. When “This Is Us” fans declared war on Crock-Pots after a particularly heart-wrenching episode of the NBC show, Crock-Pot was forced to do a full-fledged public relations campaign to fight the negative press. Peloton took a page right out of their book and quickly assembled an ad (even bringing in everyone’s favorite voiceover actor: Ryan Reynolds) to combat the falling stock. Luckily, it worked because the ad is on track to get more viewers than the initial episode. Read more in the Wall Street Journal. 

Not a fan of the jab? The Newest Defense Against COVID-19 May Be a Pill  

The fight against COVID-19 may have just taken a new turn: a pill. This week, Pfizer has released that its experimental COVID-19 pill could help fight against the omicron variant. While still experimental and not quite ready to hit the market yet, this is an encouraging sign for those who are not willing to take a shot to get the vaccine. The pill is said not to prevent coronavirus but instead helps keep symptoms manageable and patients away from hospitalization and death. The news shines hope as it broke while the United States also officially hit 800,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The U.S. is approaching two years of fighting the virus, but the new variants have proven we are far from controlling it. The news around COVID-19 is everchanging, but we promise always to give you the latest—right here. Read more in Reuters. 

Cash, Credit, or Dogecoin: Tesla’s move to accept crypto

Cryptocurrency is making a big splash in the market, with Telsa announcing consumers will soon be able to buy some products with Dogecoin. In an interview with Time Magazine after being named Person of the Year, Elon Musk said that even though Dogecoin started as a joke, it is more suitable for transactions than the more popular Bitcoin. This interview prompted the price of Dogecoin to soar just over 20% on Tuesday alone. While not all products will be available for purchase through Dogecoin, this is a monumental step in cryptocurrency, which has struggled reputationally. Musk said this would be a trial run in his very nonchalant but respected attitude that has become well known. Read more in CNBC

Show Me The Money – Thanks to Kronos Ransomware Paychecks May Be Delayed 

Human relations company, Ultimate Kronos Group, was hit with a massive ransomware attack, affecting thousands. Kronos helps businesses with payroll, timesheets, and overall management of employees. Some high-profile clients of Kronos are Telsa, Puma, and even the YMCA. With these companies having thousands of employees themselves, the breach will disrupt the workforce. The company has yet to announce solutions to the attack’s outcomes, with its official statement encouraging companies to find alternative solutions. The impact of ransomware attacks is increasing, with episodes becoming more sophisticated and having a more significant impact than in the past. We must not forget the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack in June, which forced gas prices to skyrocket and caused some areas to run out of gas for consumers. The root of these attacks is not widely known, and businesses are pushing for government intervention. While the Biden Administration has made some moves to fight against these attacks, experts say it’s already too late once the attack has hit the business. Read more in Fast Company

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

Stalled Weapons Deal Amidst US-China Showdown  

The world is always watching the United States, and this time, foreign relations have cost a weapons deal to stall out. The United Arab Emirates has officially suspended its deal with the United States to buy 35 F-35 fighter jets. The reason? The U.S.’s actions with China. The U.S. has repeatedly warned the UAE about using Chinese company Huawei Technologies in their aircraft, citing security concerns. This argument fell under scrutiny from the UAE, which says they are now in the middle of the “New Cold War.” This all begs the question, will other countries who routinely purchase from the two countries follow suit? Only time will tell. Read more in Defence News. 

DATA POINTS

1/2: The fraction of unemployed Americans who say health issues are the primary reason they’re not working, many citing mental health. Since COVID-19, experts say that mental health problems have reached epidemic proportions
 

75%: The percentage of Dawson Spring, Kentucky that officials are estimating got destroyed by last weekend’s devastating tornado sweep through parts of the Midwest. Scientists find that climate change is altering tornado outbreaks, making them bigger and more damaging

2021: The year Elon Musk was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. The magazine writes, “Musk has spent a lifetime defying haters; now, it seems he’s finally in a position to put them in their place.” 

$380 million: The settlement that the USA Gymnastics and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee reached with hundreds of U.S. gymnasts abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

26 years: The number of years NBC has been broadcasting the Golden Globes Awards, but the annual showing will be canceled this year following the extreme backlash against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and their failure to embrace diversity.

$3 trillion: The market value of Apple, becoming the world’s first company to cross the $3 trillion threshold.

40%: The percent price increase of cryptocurrency dogecoin after Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla will accept some payments in the digital token. It traded at 22 cents on Tuesday compared with 16 cents the day before.

49: The age that Keechant Sewell is named as New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ NYPD commissioner, becoming the first woman and third Black commissioner in the New York City Police Department’s history.

2 billion: The number of active Instagram users worldwide. Instagram joins an exclusive club of just four social apps that have hit that milestone. Meta owns three of the four 

FEATURED TWEET

Credit: Tom Hunsicker on Twitter. 

Due to the holidays, we’ll return with a new edition of The Weekender on Friday, January 7. Until then, Happy Holidays from all of us here at Strategic Elements! 

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