What’s Up? (Dec. 11-17)
Criminal Charges for Sam Bankman-Fried
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was expected to appear before the House Committee on Financial Services last Tuesday — one of the many efforts to investigate the exchange’s collapse. But the day before, he was arrested in the Bahamas after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges. He faces eight counts, which include several fraud charges and conspiring to defraud the United States and violate campaign finance laws. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges, accusing Mr. Bankman-Fried of misleading investors who committed some $2 billion to FTX, among other charges. It was not long ago that the voluble crypto mogul was discussing his role in the downfall of FTX with reporters at The New York Times and elsewhere.
Musk and Twitter
It began with private planes. Last week, Elon Musk suspended 25 accounts on Twitter that were dedicated to keeping tabs on the planes of government agencies, billionaires and other prominent figures, including Mr. Musk. (His flights were tracked by the account @ElonJet using public data.) Shortly after completing his purchase of Twitter in October, Mr. Musk said he would allow the account to remain on the platform, holding up this move as the apotheosis of free speech. But on Wednesday, Mr. Musk suspended not only @ElonJet but two dozen similar accounts. Soon after, he suspended the accounts of half a dozen journalists who wrote about the suspension of the private-plane trackers or who had written critically about Mr. Musk’s ownership of Twitter. But early Saturday, he said he was reinstating the accounts of several journalists.
Inflation Eases, but the Fed Holds Steady
Inflation data for November brought good news for policymakers at the Federal Reserve, but it wasn’t enough to alter the central bank’s plans to press on with its campaign to raise interest rates. The Consumer Price Index fell to 7.1 percent last month, down from 7.7 in October and far from its most recent peak of 9.1 percent in June. Nonetheless, the day after the release of that data, the Fed made clear that it intended to continue its campaign to cool an overheated economy. Officials did slow the pace of interest rate increases — raising rates by half a percent point instead of three-quarters, the size of the last four consecutive increases — but they signaled that rates would continue to rise in the new year. The Fed is still intent on hitting its target of 2 percent inflation, and Jerome H. Powell, the central bank’s chair, said the plan included “probably high rates, probably held for longer.”
What’s Next? (Dec. 18-24)
Holiday Cheer, Deeply Discounted
Inflation may be beginning to moderate, but the inflationary mind-set persists. For holiday shoppers, that could mean continuing to be more conscious about spending, as recent data about retail sales in November seemed to foretell. U.S. retail sales fell 0.6 percent from October, even with the Thanksgiving rush, when nearly 200 million Americans shopped over a five-day period that included Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some analysts suggested that customers might be spending more now on travel, entertainment and other in-person experiences and less on traditionally popular gift categories like clothing and sporting goods. Some presents under the tree could be replaced with gift cards or tickets to events, for example. And many consumers will probably continue to seek deep discounts when shopping for loved ones, as they account for tighter budgets than in recent years.