Morning Brew - ☕ First half

SCOTUS breaks for the summer after history-making term...
July 01, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

The Motley Fool

Good morning and welcome to July. Hope you have fun holiday weekend plans. Us? We’re shotgunning a pint of macaroni salad every hour for the next three days to honor our country.

Max Knoblauch, Matty Merritt, Neal Freyman, Rohan Anthony

MARKETS

Nasdaq

11,028.74

S&P

3,785.38

Dow

30,775.43

10-Year

3.013%

Bitcoin

$18,835.31

Walgreens

$37.90

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 9:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: The stock market yesterday was emblematic of the entire first half of the year—red, red all over. Investors looking for refuge in bitcoin were also left out in the cold this spring. The world’s largest cryptocurrency posted its worst quarter in more than a decade, losing ~58% of its value.

GOVERNMENT

SCOTUS goes on summer break after hugely consequential term

A group portrait of the 2021-2022 Supreme Court ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court began its summer recess on Thursday, closing the books on a term filled with precedent-shattering decisions. Before it did, though, the court issued its two final rulings of this term—including one that profoundly limits the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

In the EPA case, the conservative-majority court voted 6–3 along ideological lines, saying that regulations created by agencies like the EPA cannot be “transformational” to the economy, since they lack congressional authorization.

For the dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the decision “strips the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,’” adding that the court has appointed itself an arbiter of climate policy, rather than Congress or experts. “I cannot think of many things more frightening,” Kagan wrote.

Thursday’s other SCOTUS case, Biden v. Texas, concerned the Trump administration’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy that required asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico until their asylum hearings were granted (which can take years). In that decision, the court rejected arguments by Republican-led states attempting to keep the policy, paving the way for the Biden administration to scrap it.

It’s been a term

Since its landmark decision to erode abortion rights by overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in May, polls have shown that the court may be facing a legitimacy crisis.

  • 25% of Americans—a historic low—reported having confidence in the court.
  • 56% of Americans disapprove of the court’s decision on abortion rights.
  • 79% of New Yorkers supported a state gun law that the court overturned last week.

As the court’s term ended on Thursday, Justice Stephen Breyer officially retired and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the court’s 116th justice, and the sixth woman and first Black woman to serve. Since she replaces Justice Breyer, Justice Jackson will not shake the court’s ideological makeup of six conservatives and three liberals.

Up next: Following strong urging from progressive Democrats, President Biden on Thursday condemned the court’s “outrageous behavior” and said he supported adopting an exception to the filibuster in order to codify Roe v. Wade into law. In the court’s next term, which will begin in October, SCOTUS will decide on another batch of landmark cases involving affirmative action, gay rights, environmental protections, and election law.—MK

        

TOGETHER WITH THE MOTLEY FOOL

Spotted: the knowledge you wish you had

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

Tobias Funke on Arrested Development saying we're having a fire sale Arrested Development/20th Century Fox Television via Tenor

Crypto M&A drama: Giant crypto exchange FTX is finalizing plans to buy crypto lender BlockFi for $25 million in a fire sale, according to CNBC. If true, that would represent a price 99% below BlockFi’s peak valuation of $4.8 billion and a staggering loss for investors. At least one person says it isn’t true, though, and that’s BlockFi CEO Zac Prince, who tweeted that he can “100% confirm” that the company isn’t being sold for $25 million and he’ll share more info when he can.

College sports shakeup: Two LA schools, UCLA and USC, will join the Big Ten in a major realignment of college athletics. The Big Ten used to be associated with just Midwestern universities, but the prospect of $$$ via broadcast deals has transformed it and the SEC into the two marquee conferences drawing teams from across the country. The two CA universities will link up with the Big Ten in 2024, right after the conference’s current TV deal expires. The new deal could be one of the richest in college sports history.

More state courts block abortion bans: A Florida judge temporarily blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban from going into effect, concluding that it violates the right of privacy enshrined in the state’s constitution. That law, which was set to kick in today and could still be enforced for a brief period of time on a technicality, would ban virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. In Kentucky, a judge also temporarily blocked the state’s law that would make nearly all abortions illegal from going into effect.

STOCKS

The stock market: First half analysis

Charles Barkley sleeping Inside the NBA/Warner Bros. Discovery via Giphy

The US stock market just put up a worse first-half performance than the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

The S&P’s drop of more than 21% was its biggest H1 plunge since 1970. Its second quarter was the worst since Q1 of 2020, when opera singers were giving rooftop concerts as Covid lockdowns canceled everything.

And while the S&P is floundering in the bear market, the Nasdaq, which is loaded with tech stocks, has taken an even bigger licking: It’s plunged more than 30% since its peak last November. Let’s highlight a few individual performances across the market…

  • Netflix: down 71% YTD (the worst performer in the S&P)
  • Coinbase: down 81%
  • Even megacaps like Meta (-52%), Amazon (-38%), and Apple (-25%) haven’t been spared.

How we got here: The Fed slamming the brakes on the economy to counter soaring inflation is the primary factor, while the war in Ukraine and certain Covid behaviors reverting back to normal played supporting roles.

Looking ahead…can the stock market mount a Patriots-style, second-half comeback? Possibly. An analysis by S&P Dow Jones Indices found that there’s minimal, if any, correlation between the S&P’s performance in its first half with its second half.—NF

GEOPOLITICS

Brittney Griner’s court date is here

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on June 27, 2022 Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

WNBA star Brittney Griner is set to stand trial in Russia today for illegal cannabis possession, and could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Despite assurances from Secretary of State Antony Blinken that his staff is working to bring Griner home, her wife told the AP that she’s frustrated about the US government’s handling of the case.

The backstory: The 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist was detained in Moscow in February after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. (Griner has played for a Russian team during the US offseason since 2014.)

The 10-year sentence is associated with “large-scale transportation of drugs,” leading experts to believe that the Russians are using Griner as a bargaining chip to receive a prisoner of their own through a swap. One name that keeps coming up: notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the Merchant of Death.”

Big picture: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was initially instructed by the US government to keep a low profile around this case. Given Griner’s extended detainment, though, Silver said earlier this month, “We have to bring as much attention to her case as possible.”—RA

        

AUTO

Apple is officially anti-gas station smell

Gas pump taps gas app on screen in car. Francis Scialabba

Finally, Apple wants to save you the embarrassment of forgetting your PIN in front of the Subaru hottie. The company said earlier this month that the newest update to its CarPlay software will allow drivers to purchase gas directly from their car.

How it works: You’ll be able to save payment info into the gas company’s apps ahead of time and pay from the comfort of the driver’s seat. Apple said the software update should be available by the fall, with one gas manufacturer, HF Sinclair, confirming that it would be using the new tech. 98% of new cars already have CarPlay, according to Apple.

Big picture: It’s revolutionized music, phones, and loseable headphones—now Apple has its sights set on your dashboard. CarPlay is currently compatible with commerce apps in parking and EV charging, but is pretty limited in controlling anything about your actual car. This is partly because to do so, automakers would have to share data and also likely let Apple have a say in design decisions.

Apple’s secretive push to build a physical car gets all the headlines, but experts say its auto software play could be more impactful. Horace Dediu, an auto analyst and the founder of Micromobility Industries, told Reuters, “Forget about Apple Car—Apple CarPlay is a bigger deal.”—MM

        

TOGETHER WITH WORKDAY

Workday

Peep key deets on employee engagement. Workday’s State of Engagement 2022 report digs into why employee engagement is taking a dip—and what it means for your biz. Learn which areas can strengthen engagement, like reducing burnout through ongoing convos, adapting to new work models, and using employee-sentiment analysis to retain top talent. Read more here.

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

Key performance indicators

Stat: The FBI just added a new fugitive to their Top 10 Most Wanted List—Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed “CryptoQueen” who allegedly fleeced people out of $4 billion through a scam cryptocurrency called OneCoin. Then, she pulled a Saul Goodman and completely vanished. Of her addition to the Top 10 list, the US attorney for the Southern District of NY said, “Now she sits side by side...with cartel leaders, murderers, and terrorists. That’s no accident.”

Quote: “Our focus isn’t about assigning blame. It isn’t about getting caught up in guilt. It’s about fixing a problem.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a $1 billion initiative to provide funds to communities that have suffered from racist infrastructure projects of previous US administrations, such as the construction of federal highways through Black and other minority communities, which effectively destroyed their neighborhood fabric. Progressive advocates say the $1 billion is small potatoes compared to the egregious harms done, while some Republicans are calling the plan the “woke-ification” of the government.

Read: How football shirts chart the rise and fall of tech giants. (Rest of World)

QUIZ

Yankee Doodle Quiz

Weekly news quiz

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew’s Weekly News Quiz has been compared to when a website correctly autofills your address.

It’s that satisfying. Ace the quiz.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Lol Brooklyn: NBA superstar Kevin Durant has reportedly requested a trade from the Nets. The Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat top Durant’s wish list for a future destination, according to ESPN.
  • How RadioShack went viral tweeting some horny stuff.
  • Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, explained.
  • Spotify released a karaoke mode.

BREW'S BETS

Calling all dirtwads and buttfaces: Here’s a detailed analysis of the use of compound pejoratives on Reddit, a site known for its uninhibited profanity.

Not everyone is awed by national parks. Here are some one-star national park reviews, illustrated.

Going viral: The Brew’s new social media-focused newsletter, Future Social, is catching fire. Every week social media expert Jack Appleby dishes out the latest in social strategy, the creator economy, and more for marketers everywhere. Check it out.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Jeopardy image

Play Jeopardy!: Fittingly, our fourth time partnering with The Training Arcade is for a special July Fourth Jeopardy! Test your knowledge of fourths, Americana, and hot dogs before you head off to your holiday party. Play the game here.

Friday puzzle

Take the given words, and by moving a single letter from one word to the other (can be left → right or right → left), make a pair of synonyms, or near-synonyms.

For example: Given Hip - Boast, move the “s” from “Boast” to “Hip,” which creates Ship - Boat.

1. Open - Cop

2. Cave - Curt

3. Cares - Pest

4. Salve - Savage

5. Whiled - Spurn

Check out more from the Brew

Interested in how Vita Coco out-hustled the competition? Listen to or watch the latest Business Casual episode.

Celebrate red, white, and BREW with the Morning Brew Store. Select items 30% off for a limited time only! Shop now.

🏙 Calling all innovators! Join us at the first-ever Emerging Tech Brew Summit on September 29 in NYC. Secure your early bird ticket today and save.

ANSWER

1. Pen - Coop

2. Carve - Cut

3. Caress - Pet

4. Save - Salvage

5. Whirled - Spun

Source

         

Written by Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, Max Knoblauch, and Rohan Anthony

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