Happy Friday! Bracket already demolished? You’re not alone:
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Eleven of the largest U.S. banks—including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo—announced Thursday they were depositing a combined $30 billion in the San Francisco-based First Republic Bank in an effort to instill confidence in the nation’s mid-sized banks and assuage fears of a bank run like the one that caused Silicon Valley Bank to fail last week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, and FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg welcomed the move, saying it “demonstrates the resilience of the banking system.” The Federal Reserve reported Thursday banks borrowed a record amount of money from the central bank over the past week as they seek to shore up liquidity concerns.
- The European Central Bank’s governing council announced Thursday it would move forward with 50-basis-point hikes to three key interest rates despite the turbulence in financial markets over the past week. The central bankers said they were “monitoring current market tensions closely” and that they stand “ready to respond as necessary to preserve price stability and financial stability in the euro area.”
- Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Thursday Poland plans to become the first NATO member to answer Ukraine’s request for warplanes, providing Kyiv with about a dozen Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets—including four within the next few days. Also Thursday, Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński told reporters the government had arrested nine foreign nationals suspected of spying for Russia by surveilling transport routes as part of a scheme to sabotage weapons shipments to Ukraine.
- The Pentagon on Thursday released footage of a Russian fighter jet colliding with an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea earlier this week, seeming to dispel Russia’s claims that the drone’s operators were responsible for its crash. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday the incident will not dissuade the U.S. from conducting surveillance flights “wherever international law allows,” and both Russian and American forces are reportedly racing to recover the drone from the Black Sea near Crimea.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss “deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation in the international arena” during a three-day visit to Russia early next week, the Kremlin announced this morning, adding “a number of important bilateral documents will be signed.”
- The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Thursday that as part of the AUKUS agreement the State Department had approved the potential sale of up to 220 Tomahawk missiles to Australia for an estimated $895 million. “The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to interoperate with U.S. maritime forces and other allied forces as well as its ability to contribute to missions of mutual interest,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
- The Salvadoran government’s crackdown on crime continued apace this week, with law enforcement officials sending 2,000 more suspects to a mass prison intended to house gang members. More than 60,000 people have been captured in El Salvador’s anti-gang campaign over the past year, leading human rights groups to express concerns some innocent people are being swept up in the police raids.
- Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, confirmed Thursday he plans to sign into law legislation that would require social media platforms to verify the age of Utah residents attempting to open an account and obtain parental consent for would-be users under the age of 18. “Will there be legal challenges? Absolutely there’s going to be legal challenges,” Cox told reporters. “I’m not going to back down from a potential legal challenge when these companies are killing our kids.”
- The Department of Labor reported Thursday initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—fell by 20,000 week-over-week to a seasonally-adjusted 192,000, remaining near historic lows.
Macron Does It His Way
The Senate took advantage of a parliamentary workaround yesterday to muscle controversial legislation through the narrowly divided legislative body. Don’t worry, you haven’t been transported back in time to last August, we’re not talking about the Inflation Reduction Act. But something eerily similar transpired in France on Thursday.
When we last wrote to you about France’s efforts to reform its pension system in early February, President Emmanuel Macron was facing an uphill battle trying to muster enough support for his deeply unpopular plan to raise the retirement age by two years. However fiscally prudent the plan was—Macron’s government and basic math would argue very—the French people were not interested, and their opposition has only hardened in the six weeks since. The question was whether Macron would be able to gin up enough support for the proposal in parliament to squeak it through into law.