1. Bullard and the bears
While the Federal Reserve has indicated it would raise interest rates by smaller increments, officials at the central bank have been firm in their insistence that there’s still a long way to go to put inflation in check. That’s been a wet blanket for stocks this week. The latest comments to weigh on the market came from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. “Thus far, the change in the monetary policy stance appears to have had only limited effects on observed inflation, but market pricing suggests disinflation is expected in 2023,” Bullard, a voting member of the Fed’s rate-setting committee, said Thursday. Stocks, in turn, slumped. Boston Fed President Susan Collins is slated to speak Friday. Read live market updates here.
2. FTX lowlights
“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here.” That’s what John Ray III, the new CEO of FTX, said about the fallen crypto exchange company in a bankruptcy filing Thursday. And he’s the guy who oversaw the Enron bankruptcy, so that quote alone should tell you a lot. But wait, there’s more. The Thursday filing also detailed some staggering issues, including sloppy and unreliable accounting that requires deeper, investigative analysis; examples of company funds being used to buy homes for employees; the use of emoji to approve expenses; and a much more intimate relationship between FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research and the crypto company than initially thought.
3. Flying the coop
Elon Musk wanted his Twitter employees to be more “hardcore.” And many responded in kind – by resigning and defying his commands. The flailing social media company was hit by a new wave of resignations Thursday after Musk, who had already slashed about half of the company’s workforce after taking it over weeks ago, told employees they had until 5 p.m. ET to decide whether they wanted to stay with the company and work “long hours at high intensity.” His ultimatum was met with hundreds of salute, or “thank you for your service,” emoji and dozens of goodbye messages in a company Slack channel. It’s not clear how many people resigned. “Entire teams representing critical infrastructure are voluntarily departing the company, leaving the company at serious risk of being able to recover,” an engineer who resigned Thursday told CNBC.
4. Bad blood
Taylor Swift fans aren’t shaking this off. The general public won’t be able to buy tickets to the superstar’s upcoming stadium tour Friday. Ticketmaster, which is part of Live Nation, said Thursday that the sale was canceled following a botched presale process that resulted in glitches, site failures and not enough tickets to meet demand. The company’s explanation? Essentially, “Look what you made me do.” Ticketmaster blamed record demand for all the problems. Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, the top Live Nation shareholder, told CNBC that Ticketmaster sold more than 2 million tickets Tuesday and that demand “could have filled 900 stadiums.” And while disappointed fans want Ticketmaster to admit, “I’m the problem, it’s me,” several lawmakers are pushing for Ticketmaster and Live Nation to be broken up: As a merged company, they control 70% of the ticketing and live event venues market.
5. Millions without power in Ukraine
An onslaught of Russian missiles has left 10 million people in Ukraine without power, according to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy. While Ukraine has made significant advances against Russia’s forces on the battlefield in the southern and eastern parts of the country, its cities are struggling after air attacks on critical infrastructure and civilian areas. The situation has prompted the United Nations to warn of an even greater humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as winter approaches. Read live war updates here.