From new COVID measures in China to quiet quitting in the workplace – Here’s your August 31 news briefing

From new COVID measures in China to quiet quitting in the workplace – Here’s your August 31 news briefing
A medical worker collects a swab from a resident at a nucleic acid testing site following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China August 30, 2022. REUTERS/David Kirton

To start off, we’re looking into:

New lockdowns are hurting the Chinese economy

China’s zero-COVID policy has been putting a damper on its economy for a while now. Entire cities have been looking at lockdowns, like Hainan Island.

Yesterday, a few of China’s bigger cities announced new measures to curb COVID, threatening the already COVID-beaten economy even more. Some areas introducing new policies include major tech hub Shenzhen, Chengdu and Dalian – major port cities. The cities are imposing lockdowns, closing businesses and delaying the school year from some throughout entire districts because of a new wave of cases. Now, millions of people have been placed under strict lockdown, and large events and marketplaces have been suspended.

Mainland China reported 1,717 cases of COVID on Tuesday.

Elon Musk’s Twitter troubles have changed course

Elon Musk Twitter
FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

You may remember that Elon Musk (super-rich guy, CEO of Tesla, internet troll) made a US$44 billion deal to buy Twitter earlier this year. And then he tried to back out of that agreement, stirring up legal trouble. Twitter sued him for the failed deal, and we’re still waiting to see how all of that turns out.

In a new development, a whistleblower named Peiter “Mudge” Zatko made a lot of claims against Twitter, including that he had raised concerns over spam accounts but had been ignored. The company’s former head of security, Zatko disclosed troubling info – from confusing bot measurements to executive misconduct and even that the Indian government had successfully infiltrated Twitter.

With this information, Musk asked a Delaware judge to let him amend his counterclaims against Twitter. Zatko’s claims add to Musk’s argument to walk away from the deal without repercussions.

Mikhail Gorbachev has died

FILE PHOTO: Moscow – Russia – 09/05/2017 – Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev attends the parade marking the World War II anniversary in Moscow. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union before its collapse, has died at the age of 92, according to state media.

Gorbachev was born in Privolnoye, just east of modern-day Ukraine, and he grew up as a committed communist during World War II. He climbed through the party’s ranks in his career before becoming its General Secretary (and leader) in 1985. Unlike some of his predecessors, though, he more or less embraced some of the ideas of liberalism, including things like free speech.

There are mixed feelings about him now. Many people in the West think of him fondly as the person who ushered liberalism into the Soviet Union and Russia. But many in Russia, including Vladimir Putin, see the fall of the Soviet Union as a great tragedy, and they see his reign as a particularly bleak spot in that history. Apparently, Gorbachev wasn’t a huge fan of Putin, either, and some close to him say he was critical of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that it was killing his legacy.

To end, we’ll look into:

Is quiet quitting the new workplace trend?

In the past few weeks, the term “quiet quitting” has appeared out of nowhere. Although the concept isn’t entirely new, the phrase started trending after a TikTok video, which now has 3.5 million views, went viral earlier this year. So what is quiet quitting, and why is it so popular?

Quiet quitting means doing the minimum at work for what you’re paid for and not letting work stress you out or invade the other parts of your life. The idea is to abandon hustle culture. But it doesn’t mean not doing a good job at work; it just means you aren’t going above and beyond anymore. As a quiet quitter, when you’re done with work, you’re done thinking and worrying about it so much. It’s giving Stanley Hudson from the US version of “The Office.”

The practice of quiet quitting isn’t totally new – we’ve called it “coasting” in the past or “phoning it in.” But people have been clocking in and clocking out of their jobs only for the paycheck for as long as people can remember.

That said, quiet quitting is trending in the workplace. See, COVID blurred a lot of those boundaries we used to have between our work and our everyday life as more people started working from home. And especially for those people who were just entering the workforce at that time who are now looking at a labor market where they’re unlikely to be replaced; it isn’t totally shocking that they’re less interested in climbing the corporate ladder and more interested in just scooping up that paycheck doing the bare minimum.

In fact, a Gallup poll showed that younger generations like Gen-Z and the younger half of millennials are the least likely to be engaged with their workplace, with only 31% being engaged with their work.

“I think a lot of people are fed up,” said a quiet quitter named Gemma in a BBC interview. “They’re realizing they’ve put in a lot more effort than their salary shows: no one should be driving themselves to burnout for a wage that causes personal stress or worry.”

In other news …

📉Stocks: MSCI’s gauge of stocks around the world dipped 0.88% to 2,645.37.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 dropped 1.10% to 3,986.16.
  • Nasdaq is at 11,883.14, down 1.12%.
  • Dow Jones is down 0.96% to 31,790.87.
  • Hang Seng Index dipped by 0.37% to 19,949.03.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • Investors are now betting on a 75-basis-point rate hike by the US Fed.
  • In the meantime, everyone is looking toward the Friday jobs report, but those numbers might not even matter to the Fed in its commitment to lowering inflation.
  • Looking East, reports that Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone for the first time ever have affected the already-fragile Chinese market.
  • On top of that, new COVID lockdowns in major industrial cities like Shenzhen are another blow to the struggling economy.
  • Reportedly, manufacturing in China will likely contract again in August, rising only 49.2 from July’s 49.0 and staying below the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth.

👄Some comments and chatter:

“I do think with demand far exceeding supply, we do need to get real interest rates … above zero. We need to have somewhat restrictive policy to slow demand, and we’re not there yet,” New York Fed President John Williams told The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

“In 2022, the property sector faced myriad challenges, including the market’s weakening expectations, sluggish demand and a fall in property prices. All these exert mounting pressure on all participants in the property market, which has slid rapidly into severe depression. The harsh business environment in which only the fittest can survive means even higher requirements for businesses’ competitive strength,” said a statement from China’s biggest property developer, Country Garden Holdings.

🛢Oil: Oil prices dipped significantly because of worries about less fuel demand due to a tighter monetary policy’s effect on the global economy. The price of Brent crude fell 4.9% to US$97.84. US West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 5.5% to US$91.64.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is down 2% at US$19,879.30.

💪The battle for Kherson is ready to go: On Monday, Ukraine announced its intention to take back the Russian-occupied territory of Kherson. Fighting has begun in the region, but it could take a while before anyone gets a read on where this is going.

💣The US is sending weapons to Taiwan: Off the heels of Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan, which royally pissed off China, the US is now preparing a US$1.1 billion weapons package for Taiwan, which will supply missiles and radar support to the island. China’s not happy about it, of course.

Pakistan needs help: With a third of Pakistan underwater due to crazy monsoons, the UN is calling for emergency funds to help. There’s already about US$10 billion in damage from the flooding, and the UN is requesting US$160 million in aid. “Pakistan is awash in suffering," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

😯There’s no turning back from a sea-level rise: Based on new research, scientists can now see exactly how climate change has damaged the balance of snowfall and ice loss. So, we now know that a sea-level rise of 27 centimeters (just over 10 inches) is inevitable no matter how much we limit carbon emissions from here on out. Way to go, Earthlings.

🚀Beijing criticizes NASA: Both the US and China are set on exploring the same area of the moon in upcoming years. And, with NASA’s recent trouble launching Artemis I, China’s state-backed outlet The Global Times put NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on blast regarding some comments he had made about China’s approach to its space program.

🤖New AI development in Shanghai: Economic troubles in China have motivated creative solutions, like Shanghai’s new AI plan. The plan includes financial support and other measures to drive up development in its AI industry. Right now, Shanghai’s Congress is running this idea by the public first.

🍾Cannabis drinks are at a new high: As legal marijuana really finds its footing in the US, major drink makers like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Constellation are dipping their toes into the pot-infused pool with weed drinks marketed as an alternative to alcohol. Unlike CBD drinks, these will actually get you high, man.

🎾Serena Williams’s daughter steals the show: When Serena Williams won the Australian Open in 2017, she was pregnant with her daughter, Olympia. Recently, Olympia cheered her mom on while wearing her hair in braids with white beads – just how Williams styled her hair when she won her first US Open in 1999. Awww.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai