From tech layoffs to Frank Ocean resurfacing – Here's your January 11 news briefing

It's no secret that COVID, among other things, has had a big impact on the job market.

From tech layoffs to Frank Ocean resurfacing – Here's your January 11 news briefing
Source: Pexels/ThisIsEngineering

To start off, we're looking into:

Trouble in tech-land

The backstory: It's no secret that COVID, among other things, has had a big impact on the job market. As the threat of a recession looms, many companies have resorted to layoffs to cut costs. 2022 saw a massive wave of layoffs in the tech industry, with tech giants like Amazon, Meta and Salesforce all making headlines for slashing jobs. In fact, it's still happening.

The development: According to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas report, cost-cutting was said to be the top reason for job squeezes, making up for over 82,000 of the announced cuts. The report shows that over 97,000 tech jobs were cut last year, a jaw-dropping 649% increase from the 13,000 tech job cuts in 2021.

Overall, employers across all industries announced plans to cut nearly 364,000 jobs in 2022, a 13% increase from the previous year. While this may sound pretty alarming, it's worth noting that there has been much worse historically. In fact, just for a bit of perspective, it's the second-lowest number of job cuts in a year recorded total since Challenger began tracking the numbers in 1993, and the lowest number was in 2021.

Qatar eyes investment in Premier League

Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - December 7, 2019 Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale in action REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The backstory: Qatar has a record of putting money into sports assets to boost its international profile and invest its wealth from natural resources. Since the oil-rich kingdom is done hosting the reportedly US$200 billion FIFA World Cup 2022, it's now turning its attention to some of the Premier League's top clubs.

More recently: Bloomberg reports the gulf nation is considering investing in the Premier League via Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). QSI has reportedly held talks with Tottenham Hotspur's chairman Daniel Levy about potentially purchasing a stake in the London club, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

The development: While a spokesperson for QSI declined to comment, a Tottenham spokesman said the meeting never took place. Liverpool's owners are also rumored to be weighing a sale. But it's no secret that the American Glazer family, which owns Manchester United, has been searching for an investor and may be open to selling a minority stake in the club. There's a growing trend of investing in multiple football clubs, with over 200 teams having owners that are invested in different teams.

Failed space mission

Virgin Orbit's 747-400 named Cosmic Girl/Sky News

The backstory: Believe it or not, the UK has never launched anything into Earth's orbit from English soil. It's only been able to launch things into space from places like the US and Australia.

More recently: On Monday, launch service company Virgin Orbit was ready to send up its first-ever rocket from the UK (and Europe). Virgin Orbit had only ever done launches from the US, where it's based. This new mission was called "Start Me Up," after a song by the Rolling Stones. Virgin Orbit used a converted Boeing 747-400 airplane named Cosmic Girl, which had a rocket called Launcher One attached to it loaded with nine satellites.

The development: The launch failed, and the rocket failed to reach orbit. The plane was in the air for about an hour before deploying Launcher One, and everything seemed good at first. But then the system experienced what Virgin Orbit called an "anomaly" when the rocket's second-stage engine was supposed to go off. So, the mission had to end without being completed.

To end, we'll look into:

Carbon emissions are still rising

Source: Pexels/Marcin Jozwiak

In the past couple of years, the US has been playing catch up when it comes to environmental protection and climate change policy. So far, things have been going okay – it recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark climate and tax law designed to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. This policy could lead to decarbonization at industrial plants and reduce emissions from certain industries, like cement and steel production.

But, at the same time, the US isn’t making much progress with its highest-emitting areas, transportation and industry. In 2022, industrial emissions rose by 1.5 %, and transportation emissions rose by 1.3%. On Tuesday, the research group Rhodium published carbon emissions estimates, and they say that US greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2022 by 1.3% from 2021.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the global carbon level increase from 2020 to 2021 was larger than the average annual growth rate over the last decade. Data from the WMO shows that these levels continued to rise worldwide in 2022.

But how is that even possible when renewable energy is only becoming more accessible?

CNBC reports that the rising availability of renewable energy still can’t match the rise in global energy demand. That gap just isn’t getting any narrower. And, as travel picks back up again all over the world post-pandemic, that gap could get even bigger.

In McKinsey’s Global Energy Perspective 2022, the group said, “Even if all countries deliver on their current net-zero commitments, global emissions remain far away from a 1.5ºC pathway.” If emissions keep on the same path, it looks like we’ll be seeing a temperature rise of 2.4ºC.

Daniel Yergin, author and vice chairman of S&P Global, explains the challenge of this energy transition: “The objective of this transition is not just to bring on new energy sources, but to entirely change the energy foundations of what today is a $100 trillion global economy—and do so in little more than a quarter century. It is a very big ambition, and nothing on this scale has ever been attempted up to now.”

In other news ...

📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is up 0.3% at 2671.20 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is up 0.56% to 33,704.10.
  • Nasdaq Composite rose 1.01% to 10,742.63.
  • S&P 500 gained 0.7% to 3,919.25.
  • Hang Seng Index lost 0.27% to 21,331.46.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • US stocks closed higher on Tuesday, with investors feeling optimistic that Thursday's consumer price index (CPI) data will show an easing of inflation.
  • Many are expecting the December CPI to show a decrease to 6.5% in December, compared to November's 7.1%.
  • And, if this is the case, many also anticipate that the Fed will likely slow their rate hikes to 25 basis points.
  • Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has emphasized the importance of the central bank remaining politically independent while it works to tackle inflation.
  • On the other hand, despite starting off the year with a rally, Chinese stocks closed lower on Tuesday in a rocky session, with investors worried about the potential impact of US interest rate hikes on China's economy., This is despite the optimistic outlooks for China's recovery as the country begins to reopen.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • "Price stability is the bedrock of a healthy economy and provides the public with immeasurable benefits over time. But restoring price stability when inflation is high can require measures that are not popular in the short term as we raise interest rates to slow the economy. The absence of direct political control over our decisions allows us to take these necessary measures without considering short-term political factors," said Jerome Powell in prepared comments at Sweden's Riksbank on Tuesday.

🛢Oil: Oil prices settled higher on Tuesday because, according to the US Energy Information Administration, global petroleum consumption of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel are expected to hit a new record high in 2024. But with this prediction comes concerns about the future of energy. US crude gained 0.6% to US$75.12, and Brent is up 0.6% to US$80.10 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin was up 1.46% at US$17,428.40.

💼China suspends issuing certain visas: As more countries put travel controls on arrivals from China because of its COVID outbreak, China has said it will retaliate. On Tuesday, it suspended issuing short-term visas for visitors from South Korea and Japan until those countries lift their "discriminatory" restrictions.

🤝North American Leaders Summit: The North American Leaders Summit has kicked off in Mexico City, with the leaders of Mexico, the US and Canada getting together to talk issues and policy. Already, they've agreed to boost the North American semiconductor industry. But they're still figuring out a dispute with Mexico's energy policy.

📢Deadly protests in Peru: Last month, Peru's former president, Pedro Castillo, was ousted from office and arrested on charges of rebellion after attempting to dissolve congress (which he denies), and since then, there have been massive protests all over the country. Demonstrators are calling for an early presidential election and Castillo's release. On Monday, clashes with police led to the deadliest day of protests yet, with 17 people killed.

🛳Iranian smuggling ship stopped by US Navy: Since 2014, when civil war broke out in Yemen, the UN has banned sending weapons to the Houthi rebel group in the country. On Tuesday, the US Navy said it seized more than 2,100 assault rifles from a ship bound for Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The US believes the smuggling ship came from Iran, and it was stopped in the Gulf of Oman.

🥋Lee family gym is closed: Victoria Lee was a rising MMA star who passed away on December 26 at only 18 years old. Her family owned a martial arts gym in Hawaii, and they've permanently closed its doors following Lee's death.

👩‍⚖️Andrew Tate appears in Romanian court: After being arrested on charges of rape, human trafficking and organized crime by Romanian police, "mens' rights" influencer Andrew Tate has now made his first court appearance. On Tuesday, a Romanian court ruled against him on the appeal of his 30-day arrest because he could be a flight risk.

🧓France plans to raise the retirement age: Right now, France's legal retirement age is 62. But, President Emmanuel Macron has been looking to revamp France's pension system. The government presented a new pension reform proposal on Tuesday, which included plans to raise France's retirement age to 64, which is expected to be met with backlash across the country.

👨‍💼Coinbase layoffs: The crypto market hasn't been doing too hot this past year, and the FTX collapse was a huge blow to the sector. On Tuesday, crypto-trading giant Coinbase announced it would be laying off 20% of its employees as the market continues to do badly. It also cut around a fifth of its workforce last June.

💲Microsoft and OpenAI: Semafor reported on Monday that Microsoft is in talks to invest US$10 billion in OpenAI, which owns Chat GPT. The firm would then be valued at US$29 billion. Neither of the companies has commented on the talks yet.

🤑Musk is the biggest loser: After buying Twitter and selling off a ton of his Tesla shares (which also lost more than half their value last year), Elon Musk has had a rocky year. Recently, Forbes said that Musk lost US$182 billion in about a year, and other sources say that it could be more like US$200 billion. Guinness is now reporting that Musk holds the record for the "largest loss of personal fortune in history."

🎤Frank Ocean at Coachella: The Coachella 2023 lineup has been released, and Frank Ocean is headlining alongside Bad Bunny and Blackpink. He was supposed to be a headliner at the 2020 festival, which was ultimately canceled because of COVID. The festival will be in April this year.

☄Rare green comet passing Earth: A bright green comet will be visible in the night sky for the first time in 50,000 years this week. On Thursday night, people in the Northern Hemisphere using telescopes and binoculars should look low on the northeastern horizon just before midnight to spot it.

Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz and Christine Dulion