What’s Up? (April 3-9)
A Stake in Twitter and a Seat on Its Board
Twitter announced last week that Elon Musk would join its board after he bought a 9.2 percent stake in the company, making him its largest shareholder. Mr. Musk had reached out to Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, before buying the company shares to tell Mr. Agrawal that he wanted to discuss improvements to Twitter, people with knowledge of the discussions said. Mr. Musk’s board seat expires in 2024, and he has agreed not to buy more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock. But unlike some other members of Twitter’s board, he did not sign an agreement barring him from influencing the company’s policies. Mr. Musk, who has gotten into trouble for his own tweets, has publicly criticized Twitter for its content moderation policies and advocated open-source algorithms on the platform. He asked his more than 80 million followers of him last month if they wanted the capacity to edit tweets.
Europe Bans Russian Coal
Leaders in the European Union on Thursday announced a fifth round of sanctions on Russia, targeting the country’s energy for the first time. The new measures would cut off Russian coal over four months, a month longer than was initially proposed. The extended timeline for the withdrawal – as well as the delay in the bloc’s decision, which had been expected on Wednesday – revealed something of the difficulty of reaching an agreement among all 27 member nations and the compromises that may have been necessary for countries like Germany that rely more on Russia for coal. And many have warned EU leaders that the ban could harm Europe more than Russia, sending energy prices soaring and hurting industry: Russia supplies almost half of the bloc’s coal. Even so, coal may be the energy source that’s easiest to replace, with the United States, Colombia and South Africa potentially able to help fill the gaps in supplies.
A Verdict in a Fraud Scandal
Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was convicted on bribery and money laundering charges on Friday. He is most likely the only person who will face trial in the United States in connection with a scheme to loot more than $ 4 billion from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad. During the two-month trial, Mr. Ng’s lawyers tried to portray the government’s key witness, Tim Leissner, as a liar. Mr. Leissner is another former Goldman banker who pleaded guilty to charges related to his role di lui in the scheme. And Mr. Leissner himself admitted during questioning that he had “lied a lot” about his personal life di lui and to his co-workers as well as investigators. But the jury on Friday found Mr. Ng guilty on all charges, which together carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. The architect of the scheme, Jho Low, is a fugitive and is believed to be living in China.
What’s Next? (April 10-16)
And You Thought Inflation Was High
The Consumer Price Index for March, scheduled to be released on Tuesday, may show inflation – already climbing at its fastest pace in 40 years – moving even faster. Prices rose 7.9 percent through February, driven largely by higher food costs and rents. Because the March report will capture the soaring gas prices that shocked drivers at the pump, inflation is expected to rise even higher, to above 8 percent. That figure is bad news for the Federal Reserve, which will probably move more aggressively to curb inflation, and for President Biden, whose approval ratings have been dented by high prices.