The Weekender: Gas Prices, Baby Formula, and the Midterm Election

Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender… where we’re breaking down the latest on inflation and what to expect in the upcoming midterm elections. Plus—parents are desperate for baby formula, and tech companies are bracing for a recession. And finally—the United States Senate has a message for the world… don’t be like Putin. This week’s Tweet of the Week is out of this world. Thank you for joining us for a new edition of The Weekender.  

THE BIG FIVE

Prices are Up, and Approval is Down 

Inflation is on the rise, and U.S. President Joe Biden’s approval is on the fall. Prices at the pump continue to soar. The highest? California at $5.84 per gallon on average. Georgia has the cheapest gas at $3.93 (though, relatively, that’s not cheap). Consumer prices rose 8.1% over the last year, which is a problem. Even with wages increasing 5.5 percent, it doesn’t feel like that due to inflation, which is important because it not only affects how much we pay for gas and what we can afford at the grocery store, but it also impacts the economy more broadly. President Biden is trying to take control of the inflation narrative and blames the pandemic and war in Ukraine for the price surge, saying the federal reserve has the tools to tackle inflation. However, this strategy is not sitting well with many Americans. A new survey finds eight out of ten voters are unhappy with the President and fear a recession is coming soon. To add to the Democrats’ challenges—the Americans’ disapproval is playing a major part in the upcoming midterm elections. Newer House members are speaking up to save face, including California Representative Katie Porter, who told a story about recently putting back food at the store due to its price increase. It is only a matter of time before we see how inflation plays out on the political national level. Read more on CNN. 

 
How a Recession Would Hurt Tech 

An impending recession draws closer and closer as inflation rises and interest rates skyrocket—but what can we expect in the next recession? Experts say this recession (whenever it does come) will look different than the ones of the past, with the tech industry seeing some massive changes to the way they do business and pivoting back to its roots. Experts claim the smaller tech startups relying on hefty investments will get hurt the most. Plus, experts predict stock investments in non-traditional stocks will take a backseat to safer investments… and the NFT phase will also take a drastic pause. There is also an expected change in the job market, but with the Great Resignation, the industry may not feel the total impacts. Read more in Axios. 

 
Trump’s Winning Streak Ends in Nebraska  
Former President Donald Trump’s influence was tested this week with two key gubernatorial races in which he won one and lost the other. In Nebraska, Trump endorsed Republican agribusinessman Charles Herbster, a long-time Trump ally and former political appointee, whose loss for governor ends the former President’s primary endorsement winning streak after 55 winsThe downfall of Herbster? His alleged serial groping problem—which had turned off many GOP voters. On the other hand, in West Virginia, Trump-backed Republican candidate Congressman Alex Mooney defeated fellow Congressman David McKinley as the GOP’s nominee in a district where the two incumbents were thrown in together (WV lost a seat due to reapportionment). How will Trump continue to feature in the midterm elections? Some experts are projecting a red wave taking over the House side of Congress, but whether the wave will be traditional Republicans (and what Trump is calling RINOs) or “ultra-MAGA” (as New York Representative Elise Stefanick called herself in a press conference this week), it is still up for debate. Read more on The Hill
 
Not-So Stablecoin
Cryptocurrency is having a bad week—starting with the fall of TerraUSD. Known for being one of the most stable cryptocurrencies, TerraUSD normally stays within a penny of its intended price of $1 and is the go-to for investors who want to put their money into a safe cryptocurrency surrounding larger, riskier deals. The good fortune all changed when the coin lost a third of its value—sending shockwaves throughout the banking system. For the first time, the market’s volatility massively affected the crypto industry, which is a newer player in the financial system, and the outcome is still unknown. The coin’s recent volatility prompted Treasury Secretary Yellen to vow for regulation on stablecoins, which are barely regulated due to their “stable” prices. The rollercoaster of cryptocurrency and stable currency this week will have a lasting impact on those who use it, regulate it, and promote it. Read more in Reuters.
 
A Formula For Parental Anxiety

Oh, baby! Data shows more than 40 percent of baby formula is out of stock nationwide— twenty-fold of what it was at the beginning of the year when it was nearly just an inconvenience that your go-to store did not have it on the shelf. Many parents across the U.S. are searching high and low for their newborn’s food source. As a result, most stores have been forced to limit purchases to fight against stockpiling. So why is this happening? One suggested reason is a recall the Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this year, forcing a portion of the stock to become unusable. The other factor is the dreaded supply chain issues tied to the pandemic. Republicans are making this argument their number one issue for the foreseeable future, demanding Biden’s administration do something. The President has vowed to meet with suppliers and announce a plan to combat the shortage—but it is too late for many families who are desperate for food for their babies. Read more in The Atlantic. 

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

What Happens When You’re Labeled a State Sponsor of Terrorism 

Russia’s action of starting the current Eastern European war may have some consequences stateside as the U.S. Senate looks to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. In a resolution brought to the Senate by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, Russia would join the likes of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria. A passage of this resolution would trigger punishments such as severe economic sanctions and embargoes of Russians coming into America. These punishments are already being implemented but only to an extent—and Senator Graham argues this resolution is equally important to send a message to other countries that behavior like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s will not be tolerated. Read more in CNBC

DATA POINTS

  • 318: The number of solar energy projects nationwide that have been canceled or delayed due to an ongoing investigation by the Department of Commerce looking to determine whether manufacturers in China are evading an Obama-era tariff on solar imports by funneling materials through four nearby countries — Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. 
  • 92.5 million: The number of followers that Elon Musk has on Twitter, with Time reporting that close to half of those followers are fake. According to SparkToro, Musk has nearly 7 percent more fake followers than the median 41 percent of accounts with a similar size following have. 
  • 30: The U.S. median age for giving birth, the highest on record. Over the past three decades, birth rates among women in their 20s have declined and have jumped for women in their late 30s and 40s. 
  • 60: The number of casualties from a bomb hitting a school sheltering civilians in east Ukraine on Saturday. The Russian air strike was dropped in the late afternoon, causing a fire that took hours to extinguish. 
  • $35,000: The amount that Bitcoin stock is down from last weekend. The company’s value has dropped nearly 50 percent from its all-time high of $69,000 in November. Cryptocurrencies and traditional stocks have been falling in tandem this month, with concerns over how the Fed’s interest-rate increases will affect the market. 
  • 1,000: The number of songs that the original Apple iPod could hold. Apple announced this week that the company will be retiring the iPod after more than 20 years of production. Apple’s iPhone 13 can hold up to 100,000 songs. 
  • 60%: The percentage of suicide rates that grew from 2007 to 2018. Mental health disorders are surging among adolescents, with 13% of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode.  
  • 57.4%: The percentage of women in the U.S. labor force. 

FEATURED TWEET

Credit: CNN Politics on Twitter. 

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