The Week in Business: A Consumer Internet Deal
The Fed unveiling sweeping changes to its ethics practices. The government approved more coronavirus vaccine booster shots and is set to decide on vaccines for children 5 to 11.
The Week in Business: A Consumer Internet Deal
What’s Up? (Oct. 17-23)
The digital payment processor PayPal has offered to buy Pinterest, a social curation site, in a deal that values the site at $45 billion, according to people familiar with the discussions. If completed, it would be the largest consumer internet deal in a decade and would give PayPal a further foothold in e-commerce. Though Pinterest makes most of its money through ads, it allows customers to make purchases directly from its app through a feature called “buyable pins.” PayPal agreed in 2019 to acquire another company related to e-commerce, the coupon payment platform Honey, for $4 billion. Of course, e-commerce isn’t new terrain for PayPal. It was spun off from eBay in 2015 after being acquired by the online retailer 13 years earlier. Shares of PayPal dropped after reports of the potential acquisition.
The Fed’s New Ethics Rules
The Federal Reserve unveiled a sweeping set of changes to its ethics practices on Thursday. Among other changes, senior officials will not be allowed to hold individual stocks or other securities and will instead be limited to purchasing diversified investment funds like mutual funds. The announcement comes amid the fallout from trades made by two regional reserve bank officials in 2020 as the Fed took extraordinary steps to boost the economy — an ethics issue that could play a role in President Biden’s decision of whether to reappoint Jerome H. Powell as the head of the central bank.
WeWork Finally Goes Public
Two years after its aborted public offering, the co-working company WeWork began trading on the stock market on Thursday. Rather than through a traditional initial public offering, it entered the public markets by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Shares closed at $11.78 on the first day of trading, valuing the company at nearly $9.5 billion, much lower than the $47 billion valuation that private investors once placed on it. WeWork now faces an uncertain landscape for office space. If companies continue to embrace remote work, they could have a greater need for the flexible co-working spaces that WeWork provides. But less demand for permanent office space could also mean lower rents, which could reduce WeWork’s appeal and lower what it can charge.
What’s Next? (Oct. 24-30)
‘Make or Break’ Moment for Climate Change
COP26, the annual climate summit hosted by the United Nations, begins next Sunday in Glasgow. World governments will meet to work out new targets for cutting carbon emissions, with a goal of preventing the average global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from levels before the Industrial Revolution. That’s the threshold after which scientists believe the dangers of climate change would intensify. (Average global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees.) Alok Sharma, the COP26 president, has called this year’s conference a “make or break” moment for climate change response. China, Australia, Russia and India have yet to submit their new pledges for curbing their pollution.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots on Wednesday for some recipients of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine and for people who got the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine who are 18 and older. It also authorized a mix-and-match approach to booster shots, an update that could deal a blow to Johnson & Johnson if a large portion of the roughly 15 million people who have received its vaccine choose a different type of booster. In a recently released study, recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who received a Moderna booster experienced a 76-fold increase in antibodies after 15 days, compared with only a fourfold increase after an additional dose of Johnson & Johnson. On Tuesday, an advisory committee to the F.D.A. is expected to discuss emergency authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The White House has said it is ready to quickly roll out vaccines for children should they be authorized by the F.D.A. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Supply Chain Worries
Global supply shortages caused by the pandemic’s disruption of shipping and manufacturing have slowed down production of everything from cars to iPhones, leading to product shortages and contributing to inflation. As the holiday season approaches, company financial reports this week may offer an update on the severity of the disruptions. General Electric and Microsoft report on Tuesday. Coca-Cola and General Motors report on Wednesday. And Amazon, Apple, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Ford Motor report on Thursday. In the meantime, you may want to get an early start on buying gifts.
Snapchat blamed lower-than-expected revenue on Apple’s privacy changes that prevented tracking by some advertisers. Facebook was scolded by its Oversight Board for a lack of transparency. Former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company made a deal to merge with a SPAC. And the United States will report on Thursday how much the economy grew in the third quarter.