The Week in Business: Heading Out the Door
What’s Up? (Dec. 5-11)
The Great Resignation Continues
About 4.2 million people quit their jobs in October, according to data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. That is a decline from the number of people who quit their jobs in September, but still close to a record high. Job openings also remained near a record high, as unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent. All of this has given workers more leverage in the labor market, and wages are rising, especially among low earners. But those raises are not keeping pace with rapidly rising prices.
Instagram Goes to Congress
At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers from both parties grilled Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, about internal research leaked by a whistle-blower that showed Instagram had a toxic effect on some teenagers. They also asked him to support legislation for stronger privacy rules to protect children online, and to commit to sharing data with independent researchers. Mr. Mosseri said that many of the concerns raised by the senators were industrywide problems, and that Instagram played a largely positive role in the lives of teenagers. A day before the hearing, Instagram had announced that it was developing its first parental controls, which would allow parents to see and limit how long their teenage children spend on the app. But the plan seemed to do little to appease lawmakers at the hearing. “We can’t rely on self-policing,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.
Proposed New Rules for E.U. Gig Workers
The European Commission proposed new rules on Thursday that would require ride-hailing and delivery companies like Uber to treat their workers as employees entitled to a minimum wage and other legal protections. If the rules clear several more legislative hurdles required before they become law, they would also apply to home cleaners, fitness coaches and an estimated 28 million workers who find gigs using digital apps. For those who remain self-employed, companies would be required to disclose more about how their apps make decisions that affect workers, and to give the workers more autonomy in how they complete their jobs. As with legislation elsewhere that has required such workers to be treated as employees, gig economy companies are expected to lobby against the proposed rules.
What’s Next? (Dec. 12-18)
The Holmes Trial Winds Down
Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, concluded their defense on Wednesday, marking the last phase of a trial that has stretched over four months. Ms. Holmes has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of defrauding patients, doctors and investors by lying about her company’s business relationships and the efficacy of its blood testing technology. During seven days of testimony, she largely blamed others for the company’s shortcomings, saying she believed that the Theranos technology worked and accusing her former boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh Balwani, of physical and emotional abuse. Closing arguments in the trial will begin this coming Thursday.
The Fed and Inflation
At its policy meeting this week, the Federal Reserve is expected to discuss speeding its plans to cut back on its support of the economy. In November, the central bank began winding down the large-scale bond purchases it has made since early in the pandemic to keep money flowing through financial markets. At its next meeting, it may also discuss when it will start using its more powerful lever, raising interest rates, to respond to persistently high inflation. Data released on Friday showed that consumer prices are rising at their fastest pace since 1982, with a key measure of inflation climbing by 6.8 percent in the year through November. President Biden said in a statement that the number didn’t reflect current reality, pointing to decreasing prices for cars and gasoline. “Developments in the weeks after these data were collected last month show that price and cost increase are slowing, although not as quickly as we’d like,” he said.
More Details on Vaccine Mandates
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York on Monday announced a sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate for all private companies in the city. Set to go in effect on Dec. 27, it could be the broadest corporate vaccine mandate yet. (A federal mandate for large private companies has been held up in court.) But many questions about New York’s mandate remain unanswered, including whether it will stand up to legal challenges and how it will be enforced. City Hall plans to release additional details on Wednesday.
Buzzfeed went public but had a bad first week of trading. Starbucks got its first union. Donald J. Trump’s SPAC deal is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The star anchor Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN. And most members of the “Birds Aren’t Real” movement know that birds are, in fact, real.