What’s Up? (Sept. 5-11)
Powering Up Solar
The Biden administration released a blueprint for how solar energy, which contributed less than 4 percent of the country’s electricity last year, could move toward producing almost half of the country’s electricity by 2050. This is in line with what most climate scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst effects of global warming, but it would require vast upgrades to the electric grid. Though the cost of solar panels has fallen steeply over the last decade, the plan would require trillions of dollars in investments by homeowners, businesses and the government to remake an energy infrastructure built for coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants.
A Blow to Apple
A federal judge ruled that Apple can no longer prohibit app developers from directing their users to pay elsewhere, a move that will allow them to avoid Apple’s commission of up to 30 percent on in-app purchases. The order came as part of a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. While the decision is a blow to Apple that could affect the dynamics of its App Store business, the judge ruled in its favor on other counts, such as that Epic breached its contract with the company when it accepted payments directly from Fortnite users inside its iPhone app. The judge’s order takes effect in 90 days, and Apple could seek to block it before then.
The Start of the Elizabeth Holmes Trial
The long-delayed trial of the disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes began on Wednesday. Along with her former business and romantic partner, Ramesh Balwani, Ms. Holmes was indicted on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2018. Both have pleaded not guilty. Theranos, which at its peak had a $9 billion valuation and a partnership with Walgreens, claimed it had found a revolutionary way to conduct blood tests to detect myriad diseases, all with a single finger prick. The company shut down shortly after the indictments. In opening statements, the prosecution argued that Ms. Holmes had lied about the technology’s capabilities and exaggerated revenue projections. The defense argued that Ms. Holmes was a naïve and hardworking entrepreneur who simply failed.
What’s Next? (Sept. 12-18)
Getting Tough on Vaccinations
As part of a wide-ranging plan to tackle the pandemic, President Biden said that all businesses with more than 100 employees will have to require their workers to get vaccinated or face weekly testing, instructing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to put the new rule in place. While many companies already have vaccine requirements, a mandate to mandate may provide cover for companies that had been afraid a requirement would make hiring more difficult. “It levels the playing field,” Ian Schaefer, a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb, told The New York Times. It isn’t yet clear when the new rules will take effect, how the government will track information about vaccines or what penalties companies will face if they do not to follow the new requirement.
Taxing Stock Buybacks
Proponents of former President Donald J. Trump’s corporate tax cut in 2017 argued that companies would use the savings to grow their businesses and the economy. Instead, many companies bought their own stock in an effort to boost the share price and project confidence. Now, Democrats are coalescing around a plan to tax those stock buybacks, which is likely to be included in the Senate’s budget bill. The proposal would tax buybacks at 2 percent, which Democrats say would bring in about $270 billion over 10 years, while pushing companies to invest more in their workers and their businesses. Proponents of buybacks say there’s little evidence that taxing them would encourage companies to spend elsewhere.
How Much Did Prices Go Up?
The Labor Department will give its latest report on rising prices on Tuesday. And investors will be looking at the August data for the Consumer Price Index for clues on whether the increasing prices in the pandemic are temporary. Some of the higher price are in categories where prices dropped as lockdown orders took effect last year, such as airline tickets, or for items like as cars that have been affected by shortages of computer chips. Both of those circumstances are tied to the pandemic. Another sign that inflation may be temporary? Prices have also popped in advanced economies around the world — despite vastly different policy approaches to cushioning the economic blow of the pandemic.
Unfilled jobs reached another record high. El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin got off to a rocky start. Maybe a week off will convince you not to quit? And the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is back on (with a requirement for participants to be masked and vaccinated).