Happy Friday! You made it through what feels like the 8,000th week of January. If you’ve been too slammed sticking to (or abandoning) your well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions in the run-up to February 1, don’t sweat it.
We’ve rounded up the biggest economic and business news stories of the week to keep you up to date – and give you something to read over that weekend cup of coffee.
The crazy high price that electronic retailer GameStop’s stock hit this week. Last week, the price per share was literally a tenth of that — $42.59 — and the brick-and-mortar video games store was struggling through the pandemic like the rest of the retail sector.
But in a bizarre turn of events, GameStop’s stock has become ground zero in an epic battle between professional Wall Street hedge funds that had bet its price would go down, and upstart, Reddit-fuelled day trader bros who drove up the value of GameStop’s shares, burning the pros big time.
The GameStop turmoil is now also likely to be the subject of US lawmakers’ scrutiny after Robinhood and other trading platforms on Thursday placed restrictions that stopped small retail investors from buying shares of the video-game retailer- a move that United States Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called “unacceptable”.
(Psst … if you’re thinking Robinhood belongs in Sherwood Forest and have no idea what’s going on, we’ve got you covered here.)
Less than 50 percent
There’s no doubt Americans are divided when it comes to politics. But they’re also increasingly polarised when it comes to where they get their news. A 2020 study by the Pew Research Center asked Republicans and Democrats about their trust or distrust in 30 different news sources including TV channels, newspapers, websites and talk radio shows.
The Democrats who were polled said they trusted 22 of the 30 news sources, while Republicans distrusted more than 20 of those same news sources. Tellingly, “none of the 30 sources is trusted by more than 50 percent of all US adults”, researchers found.
US President Joe Biden has promised to bring healing and unity to the country’s fractured partisan landscape. He’s already demonstrated he won’t be the middle-of-the-night tweeter his predecessor was, and his announcements so far have been more policy heavy than scandal heavy.
So what will his administration mean for the media outlets that profit from political news — and is there any hope of bridging the US’s media divide? Check out our deep dive here.
The number of people who weighed in on a cutting-edge United Nations survey about climate change — while they were playing Angry Birds. No, seriously. UN researchers used ads in mobile gaming apps to get 1.2 million people to share their views on climate change in 17 languages.
The People’s Climate Vote revealed that a whopping 64 percent of people believe that climate change is an “emergency” and must be addressed urgently, but just 10 percent believe world leaders are doing enough. Ahem, heads of state who are reading this — take note.
Three major European banks seem to be doing just that. BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and ING announced they were halting the financing of the trade of oil from the Amazon region of Ecuador after pressure from environmental groups Amazon Watch and Stand.earth.
The banks’ decisions come several months after a critical report published last August by those two groups exposed how a handful of European financial institutions have provided $10bn in financing for over 155 million barrels of oil exported from South America to the US.
In total, that fuel has produced an estimated 66 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions from 17 coal-fired power plants. It’s also put the Indigenous communities and wildlife that call the Amazon home at major risk.
If Earth as a whole has got you down, why not blast off into outer space? It will cost you a cool $55m, but you just might be able to make the trek.
Axiom Space announced the lineup for its first private space crew this week. The team will be led by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and include an American real estate and tech entrepreneur, a Canadian financier and an Israeli businessman. All three men will shell out $55m each to venture to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket next year.
While Lopez-Alegria is a veteran space traveller, “the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we’re providing that opportunity,” Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini told The Associated Press.
Take lots of pictures, guys!