The Weekender: Heated Midterm Primaries and Summer Inflation

Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender… We dive into this week’s election shakeups and what to look for in the upcoming months. Inflation is ascending in just about every aspect of Americans’ lives, and summer travel plans are affected. Plus, a look into Gen Z’s new favorite social media apps; meanwhile, start-ups face a huge reality check after decades of riding high. And finally, you don’t want to miss this week’s tweet of the week. Thank you for starting your weekend with us.

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THE BIG FIVE

Midterm Watch: PA’s Senate Race

In the land of Four Seasons Landscaping and where all eyes were on during the fall of 2020, Pennsylvania had its first major election since being the center of last election’s alleged voter fraud—and it was messy. In the U.S. Senate race, the GOP nomination remains too close to call—with none other than Dr. Oz (yes, the Dr. Oz from TV) remaining slightly in the lead. Dr. Oz received former President Trump’s endorsement (Trump has voiced that Oz should go ahead and claim victory… even if the results aren’t entirely in, and an automatic recount will be triggered as the count is currently under .5%, and 0.1% as of Friday morning). On the other side of the aisle, PA Senate Democrat candidate John Fetterman secured the nomination. Experts are saying the people of Pennsylvania chose Fetterman because both progressives and moderates liked his populist persona and how he stayed out of the typical mudslinging approach. His logical and sensible approach may be a new move in the future, with other candidates taking a page out of Fetterman’s victory book. Meanwhile, GOP headache and North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost his bid for reelection to a primary challenger — signaling that voters do not want to elect candidates who cause a party stir. Is a more civilized tone the new trend for successful candidates? Stay tuned. Read more in Reuters.

 
Powell’s Recession Denial

With inflation continuing to rise, Americans wonder if and when a recession will hit. Many Wall Street titans are warning a recession may be imminent, pointing to some red flags and warning signs seen in financial data. Though, not all financial experts have such a bleak view. This week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell spoke about inflation, saying that “no one should doubt” the Federal Reserve’s dedication to quell rising costs. “What we need to see is inflation coming down clearly and convincingly, and we are going to keep pushing until we see that,” he told the Wall Street Journal. However, the market is seeing massive selloffs after retailers like Target and Walmart show company losses due to inflation. Some major banks also predict a recession will hit in the next year—adding to the nation’s anxiety. Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s inflation hit 9 percent—the highest in the country’s history. The pandemic’s impacts continue worldwide in more ways than one. Read more in Business Insider.

 
#NoFilter: Authenticity Driving Social Media Apps
Photo-sharing apps and social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have recently been under fire for concerns related to teens’ safety and mental health, allowing new apps to enter the arena. LiveIn, an app that allows users to send photos and drawings straight to their friends’ home screens topped both the free app chart and the social networking chart in the Apple Store in April. A similar widget app, Locket, has also gained popularity among teenagers. However, the apps do not disclose their privacy trade-off policy, which is highly scrutinized for data sharing and location tracking on users’ phones. Personal messaging apps continue to climb in popularity among teenagers despite the concern. Meanwhile, BeReal—an app that randomly prompts a user to take a picture—is gaining popularity for its “authenticity” and is establishing a loyal user base among Gen Z. Be right back… we have a few apps to download. Read more in The Washington Post
 
On the Road Again: America’s Summer Plans
National gas prices are hitting an all-time high… again. This week, gas prices top $4 in every single state—breaking a record that no American wanted to see. California still has the highest gas prices—and a new tax is slated to hit gas pumps in July, which will push that number even higher. However, pain at the pump will not stop Americans from traveling this summer. Americans are projected to spend $1.1 trillion on domestic travel in 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by about 11 percent. So where are people going? Stateside trends are leaning towards sunny beaches, with Florida, California, and New York coasts seeing the highest booking rates. Global trends show Americans are choosing Italy, Mexico, and the Bahamas as their summer vacation destinations. Also increasingly popular this summer? Travel insurance. With policies covering cancellations, quarantine expenses, and other unknowns, travelers are opting for travel insurance as a safety net to the unknown. Read more in CBS News. 
 
Tech and an Overdue Reality Check

Once seemingly untouchable and exciting, tech start-ups are in a pinch. Inflation and a declining economy are forcing investors to stop taking risks on new start-up companies, pushing their progress to a halt. Investors choose to put their money in safer bets, foregoing the big-risk-big-reward investments (like startups). Last year, many saw growth; now, startup founders worry about making payroll, leaving their teams to wonder how they will be able to survive. According to Bloomberg, one start-up company was no longer valued at a billion dollars after years of 10-digit valuation. Reality checks are hitting these startups hard, and many seem to be processing the five stages of grief. Read more in Bloomberg. 

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

A Game of Russian Roulette

This week, another twist in the Russia-Ukraine war: Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO, which is a significant step away from both countries’ stronghold neutrality policies. Meanwhile, Turkey (also a NATO member) was quick to tell allies that it would reject both nations’ requests to join. Amid western political allies turning their backs, Russia’s economy continues to suffer, with McDonald’s recently announcing it was selling its Russian stores after 32 years. The move includes closing 850 stores across Russia, impacting approximately 62,000 employees. BBC reports that the chain’s decision to open in Russia in the mid-1990s was symbolic of thawing Cold War tensions. Now, around 30 years later, tensions between the West and Russia become more frigid by the day. Read more in CNBC

DATA POINTS

  • 13: The number of people killed in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. Police have found strong evidence that the shooting was racially motivated after discovering a 180-page “racist manifesto” written by the 18-year-old suspect.
  • 1 million: The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The Associated Press reports that the confirmed death count is “equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days” and is “roughly equal” to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined.
  • 1 in 25: The number of people in Uyghur County, China, who have been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges, the highest-known imprisonment rate in the world. Global leaders have condemned Chinese officials for the nation’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, with some calling it genocide.
  • 200: The number of years Sweden’s non-alignment agreement has been in place — a long-term policy of neutrality regarding foreign affairs with western European allies and Russia. Sweden and Finland both recently announced that they are seeking NATO membership amid the Russian-Ukraine conflict, which would end the non-alignment movement in Sweden.
  • $142 million: The price a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé was sold at a secret auction in early May. The new record sale price beat out the $48.4 million paid in 2018 for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.
  • 30,000 pounds: The number of eggs that ended up on a Dallas highway after the driver of an 18-wheeler struck an overpass, scattering eggs across the freeway. The company estimates the crash destroyed $90,000 of product.
  • 0: The number of baseball hits made by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a recent game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates won the game with a score of 1-0.
  • 80 million: The number of homes in the United States deemed to be at risk for wildfires over the next 30 years. California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Oklahoma are the states with the most at-risk homes for wildfires.

FEATURED TWEET

Credit: Shannon Bond on Twitter. 

 

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