Bloomberg Businessweek September 27, 2021

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2 min
◼ in brief

● Worldwide there have been 230 million cases of Covid-19, 4.7 million people have died, and more than 6b vaccine doses have been given. Pfizer and partner BioNTech said their vaccine was safe for children age 5 to 11 and produced strong antibody responses. ● The U.S. Federal Reserve on Sept. 22 signaled it’s ready to begin reducing its bond-buying program and indicated an increased willingness to start raising interest rates in 2022. ● About 14,000 Haitians are living in makeshift dwellings at a camp in Del Rio, Texas. U.S. border authorities have been broadly condemned after agents were spotted on Sept. 19 using horse reins to threaten the immigrants. ● China will stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, Xi Jinping announced at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21. At the moment,…

3 min
the last thing vulnerable kids need is their own instagram

Social media is a minefield of adolescent anxieties, as any parent can attest. Numerous studies have suggested a connection between excessive use of online platforms (and the devices used to gain access to them) and worrying trends in teenage mental health, including higher rates of depressive symptoms, reduced happiness, and an increase in suicidal thoughts. Even in this context, Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook Inc., stands out. Its star-studded milieu—glossy, hedonistic, relentlessly sexualized—seems finely tuned to destabilize the teenage mind. Studies have linked the service to eating disorders, reduced self-esteem, and more. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that an internal research effort at the company, recently leaked to the press, found that teens associate the service with a host of mental health problems. “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that…

1 min
▶ back in style

▶ On Sept. 29, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party decides on a new leader, who will then become prime minister. Four candidates are in the race, including two women. ▷ 35 ▶ The ECB Forum on Central Banking takes place Sept. 28-29. Usually held in person in Sintra, Portugal, the online panel will include delegates from Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. ▶ Dubai Expo 2020 begins on Oct. 1 and runs through March. The show, which was postponed for a year, features exhibits on climate, space, and urban development. ▶ In the U.K., the Conservatives hold their party conference in Manchester Oct. 3-6. Prime Minister Boris Johnson just sought to reassert his power by reshuffling the cabinet. ▶ Italy will host meetings in Milan from Sept. 30 to lay the groundwork for the…

6 min
more debt ceiling drama

Joe Biden has had to confront plenty of new problems since becoming president, from a Covid-19 pandemic that won’t go away to a botched Afghanistan withdrawal. Now he’s about to face an old one: The federal government is running out of money, and Republicans insist they’ll allow a debt default unless Biden abandons the $3.5 trillion spending bill that’s the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. “Let me be crystal clear about this,” Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, recently told reporters. “Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.” Democrats, unfazed, aren’t buying it and will try to force Republicans to join them in tending to a national debt that’s climbed above $28 trillion. No one doubts that the consequences of default would be severe. “Failing to raise the…

5 min
winning a wager on u.s. sports betting

Greg Bunnell has played fantasy football since he was a teenager. So when Indiana legalized sports betting two years ago, the 39-year-old project manager seamlessly switched from plotting his next player transfer to setting himself up to bet—all within the FanDuel app. Bunnell, who says he plans to wager as much as $100 a weekend, is one of a record 45 million Americans expected to legally bet on professional football this season, a 36% increase from last year. Thirty states are set to allow such wagering by the Super Bowl’s coin toss in February, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision three years ago to strike down a federal ban on sports betting. FanDuel Group Inc. has emerged as the top business in this new market, nabbing a 42% share of U.S.…

5 min
faux meat falters at the drive-thru

For some of the fast-food restaurants that peddled plant-based versions of their menus to appeal to meat-conscious consumers, the novelty is already wearing off. It could spell trouble for the makers of the products, who’ve hyped the partnerships as a major step to mainstream popularity. The biggest restaurant chains are backing off—or at least slowing down—faux-meat plans after the Covid‑19 pandemic and lockdowns upended dining and eating. Instead of trying new things, Americans have been eating at home or seeking familiar, comforting foods when they do venture out. Orders of plant-based burgers and sandwiches at fast-food restaurants were unchanged for the year ended in June, while beef burger orders climbed 12% over the same period, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc. “I don’t think that plant-based meat is at the…