American companies wanted to appear progressive. Roe showed us his limits

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the predicament that corporations find themselves in, especially over the past two years, when political and cultural fissures in America compel virtually every public figure to take a moral stand. Why should every CEO weigh in on every hashtag and trending moment on Twitter? Can’t we just let Coca-Cola be Coca-Cola?

There was a time when the answer was yes – in the pre-social media era, it didn’t matter that your grocery store CEO didn’t issue a public statement about a Supreme Court decision. There were alleys, and we stayed there most of the time.

But two things have happened to blur the lines between companies and their consumers:

  • First of all, Corporate America has gotten much, much bigger. Your local store has become a Walmart or Target, or a chain owned by one of the few national grocers. Market consolidation, baby.
  • Then social media gave these brands a whole new way to target us with their ads.
  • In exchange, we the people got free two-day shipping and a virtually unlimited inventory of merchandise to choose from.
  • The more we put our lives on the Internet, the more companies have access to us, to understand what we want and better respond to those desires.

Corporate America has awkwardly crashed onto the social media scene, much like the days when all of our parents decided to join Facebook and turn that site into, well, modern-day Facebook. Companies have rushed to hire young social media managers who can “engage” with people. They wanted to come in. And we couldn’t really stop them.

It’s no surprise, then, that some of us wonder where the voice of Corporate America is when the conversation turns to darker and more complicated matters.

As The Times reported over the weekend, companies had more than one month to craft a response to Roe’s overthrow. Most of them, including some who have aligned themselves with Black Lives Matter or championed LGBTQ rights, haven’t said a word about dissolving federal abortion rights.
At most, some companies say they will fund abortions for their own employees if they have to travel out of state for the procedure. It’s not trivial, but it also misses the point: the people most affected by Roe’s end won’t be those who work for a Wall Street bank or a tech startup.

Maybe the issue is just too polarizing, not worth the risk of offending customers on one side or the other. I mean, just look at poor Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney who spoke out (albeit coyly) for LGBTQ rights and steered this $175 billion global media giant through the mud…

Oh wait. It turns out that Disney is still a $175 billion global media giant and home to beloved franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and ESPN. Did Chapek’s feuds with the Governor of Florida drive up Disney’s legal bill and annoy the crap out of its PR team? Sure. It was also the right thing to do – whether you define “just” as a good idea for the world or good for business, Disney fans and employees have made it clear they want the company to take a stand. . .

So here’s my suggestion for Corporate America executives concerned with defending the reproductive rights of half the population in the United States: try it?

Like, take the concept of moral leadership for a test drive and see how it feels? Because you told us you wanted to be involved, and the rainbow flag profile picture is starting to make me think you just wanted to be involved, I don’t know, claiming to stand up for human rights when you thought the battle was already won and your stock price was inflated by monetary policies designed to prevent the economy from collapsing under the pressure of a pandemic that only happens once per generation? And maybe now that inflation is weighing on earnings and we’re in a bear market, that risk to the bottom line seems like a little scarier than in 2020?

Just a thought.

NUMBER OF DAYS: 10%

In these uncertain times, any number of things could torpedo a merger – the bear market, fears of a recession or, you know, the company and every member of its board being subpoenaed in a criminal investigation. federal.

Or at least that is the case with Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank check company that plans to merge with Donald Trump’s media company. On Monday, DWAC revealed in a regulatory filing that a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York issued the subpoenas related to due diligence around the merger.

Shares fell 10% on the news. The stock has lost more than half its value this year as regulatory scrutiny has intensified.

DEFECTS RUSSIA

Russia has just defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago. And it’s not for lack of resources.

Here’s the thing: Moscow failed to pay $100 million in interest on two bonds that matured last month. A 30-day grace period expired on Sunday, officially putting the country in delinquency. It wasn’t unexpected, although it did take longer than most people thought (more on that in a minute).

Russia, as you would expect, has denied being at fault. And in all honesty, it looks like Moscow sent money, but rather than those funds ending up in bondholders’ accounts, they’re stuck in the plumbing of international finance thanks to far-reaching sanctions that prevent clearinghouses in Europe from doing business with Russia. entities.

So Russia is basically saying, listen, we’ve done our part – if the money can’t get out of the clearinghouse because of the sanctions, that sounds like a “you” problem, friend-o.

BIG PICTURE

Defaults are murky territory, and Russia is basically arguing over semantics here. Being in “default” is a problem because it makes other countries reluctant to lend you money for big-ticket items like infrastructure you might want to build.

Solvency might be the least of Russia’s problems right now. It’s like, imagine reading the news and seeing a headline about a mass-murdering sociopath who also had a subprime credit score and didn’t rewind his videos before sending them back to Blockbuster (or whatever modern equivalent to violate the “be kind rewind” ethos).

The fact is, no one will be caught dead loaning to an international pariah like Russia anytime soon.

But it gives the White House and European leaders something to congratulate themselves on while largely ignoring the fact that the Russian economy is doing much better than it should be.

The sanctions have largely failed to cripple the Russian economy as the West intended. Because even as an outcast, it’s still an oil state at a time when oil supplies are tight and prices are skyrocketing.

Even though the Europeans have drastically reduced Russian energy imports, other countries such as China and India enjoy deep discounts on Russian oil, which keeps Moscow flush. Meanwhile, the Russian currency, which crashed at the start of the war four months ago, rebounded to a seven-year high against the US dollar.

So what happens to bondholders who need to be healed? To be honest, nobody seems to know. They have three years to sue the Russian government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“This is the most messy and legally uncertain sovereign default case I can think of,” one sovereign debt analyst told the WSJ. “That must be one of the many things that make investors nervous when they think about the prospect of suing the Russian government.”

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