Good morning. A new AP-NORC poll found that about 70% of Americans believe in angels, while only 56% believe in the devil. 100% believe it’s not butter.
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By now, we’re all about as desensitized to recession talk as to the prophecies of a doomsday cult. And we may be right: Yesterday, Bank of America’s economists became the first at a major Wall Street Bank to reverse their earlier prediction, saying the US won’t have a recession in the next year.
Less than a year ago, just about everyone was forecasting an imminent recession. The Bloomberg Economics probability model suggested there was a 100% chance the US would be plunged into a recession in the next year. And back in June 2022, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told investors to brace for an impending economic “hurricane.”
But times have changed: BofA pointed to solid consumer spending and inflation cooling to 3% last month. And its economists noted that, despite the Fed’s string of interest rate hikes, the labor market has remained strong, with unemployment rates staying low (just 3.6% in June) and companies slowly hiring.
It’s not just BofA seeing clear skies ahead
Even as it raised interest rates again last week, the Federal Reserve said that it expects a recession-free 2023. And Goldman Sachs cut its estimation of the odds of a recession in the next year from 25% to 20%.
CEOs in Q2 earnings calls were also feeling hopeful. The phrase “soft landing,” the term for the Fed managing to tackle inflation without tanking the economy, has been mentioned during earnings calls 97% more this cycle than in the last one.
- Execs’ comments ranged from PNC CEO Bill Demchak’s “I think the soft landing feels right” to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “I don’t know what the hell was going on.”
- Even JPMorgan’s Dimon refrained from natural disaster metaphors and instead said the US consumer was currently in good shape.
Not everyone feels the same. The rosier predictions have made the timing of rating agency Fitch’s decision to downgrade the US’ credit rating this week over political polarization awkward (Dimon called it “ridiculous”). But, even so, the New York Times pointed out that economists also made high-profile soft landing predictions right before recessions in 1990, 2000, and 2008.
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Tree of Life Synagogue shooter will be sentenced to death. Yesterday, a federal jury concluded that Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people at the Pittsburgh synagogue during Sabbath morning services, should be given the death penalty. The 2018 shooting was the deadliest antisemitic attack ever perpetrated in the US. In May, the same jury convicted Bowers of 63 criminal counts, including obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. A judge will formally hand down the sentence today.
Warner Bros. apologized for Barbenheimer posts. The internet is so obsessed with mashing up the two big movies of summer that it helped boost ticket sales for both Barbie and Oppenheimer, but there’s one place people are not amused: Japan. After US social media accounts for the Warner Bros. doll movie acknowledged the memes, Japanese social media users expressed their displeasure with seeing their national tragedy of the atomic bomb as part of a joke. The company’s Japanese arm called on its US parent to take action. In response, the US company issued an apology and deleted its posts.
Privacy regulators have some questions about Sam Altman’s eye-scanning orb. Worldcoin, the OpenAI CEO’s project that involves giving away cryptocurrency in exchange for creating a unique digital ID by scanning your eyeballs, has received more than 2 million sign-ups. But it’s not a big hit with government privacy watchdogs: Kenya recently suspended scans, while regulators in France, Germany, and the UK have opened probes. Meanwhile, there are plans to let governments and businesses use Worldcoin’s ID verification tech. The project is not currently operating in the US due to the questionable legal status of crypto.
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Amazon has begun the largest overhaul of its grocery business since it planted a flag in a Whole Foods papaya six years ago.
The revamp comes after the tech giant has struggled to work its usual industry-reinventing magic on grocery sales.
Now, under the guidance of seasoned grocery executives, the online purveyor of every product ever is launching new strategies to beef up its in-person stores and grow its share of the $1.5 trillion US grocery market, which Walmart and Kroger dominate. The big changes:
- Amazon Fresh delivery is now available to non-Prime members in a dozen cities, with plans to expand nationwide by year’s end.
- To make Amazon Fresh stores feel more…human…the redesigned supermarkets will feature brighter colors, Krispy Kreme stands by the front door, and self-checkout lanes to supplement its E-ZPass-esque “Just Walk Out” system.
- Online, the shopping carts for Amazon Fresh, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods will merge into one, eliminating the need for separate checkouts.
We’ll see if it works this time…Amazon’s past attempts to master the grocery space have resulted in four lawsuits over stalled Amazon Fresh store openings and, last week, layoffs of hundreds of store workers. One ex-employee told the Washington Post this year could “make or break” Amazon Fresh.
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Yesterday, the Jamaican women’s national team danced to “One Love” to celebrate what seemed an unlikely achievement just months ago: drawing with Brazil to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Throw it back to April: To get the resources they needed to make it to the tournament, the self-styled Reggae Girlz were forced to rely on their fans with crowdfunding campaigns.
In an Instagram post, players complained that the Jamaica Football Federation, which was struggling to finance their trip to the World Cup, was providing “subpar planning, transportation, accommodations, training conditions,” and more. But the lack of support from the JFF led to a flood of support from elsewhere: A pair of crowdfunding campaigns collectively raised over $100,000 for travel expenses, training, and the team’s staff.
One notable supporter is Cedella Marley—Bob Marley’s daughter—who helped to keep the team afloat in the past after JFF disbanded it for…lack of funding.
The Reggae Girlz’ struggle is a familiar one. Women’s soccer is historically underfunded compared to men’s: The US reached a historic equal pay settlement last year, and just last week, the Canadian women’s national team struck an interim deal with Canada Soccer that ensures equal pay for the women’s and men’s teams.
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Stat: We’ve got a story for you to tell around your campfire: the tale of Georgia’s haunted lake. Lake Sidney Lanier, about an hour outside Atlanta, supplies drinking water for ~5 million people, but it also seems cursed. Between 1994 and 2022, 216 people died in incidents on the lake, while a nearby lake has just as many annual visitors and a third of the deaths, per the Washington Post. It could be because the lake was built over an old burial ground—it was cheaper to fill the artificial lake on top of the roads, homes, and, yes, cemeteries in the area than to demolish them first, according to Oxford American.
Quote: “The Biden Justice Department has had three years to investigate this. To take President Trump to trial in 90 days, of course, is absurd.”
The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a speedy trial, but in response to the indictment accusing former President Donald Trump of conspiring to subvert the 2020 election, his lawyer is saying no thanks to that. Attorney John Lauro noted that the quick trial the government is pushing for would land solidly during election season and said that the 2024 hopeful shouldn’t be sitting in a courtroom “instead of debating the issues against Joe Biden.” Trump is expected in court today for an arraignment.
Read: Are weather apps lying? The truth is in the dew point. (Vox)
- The union representing Hollywood’s striking writers plans to meet with studios on Friday for the first time since breaking off negotiations in May.
- Toyota is bringing back the Land Cruiser just three years after pulling it from the US market.
- Dua Lipa was hit with a copyright lawsuit by musician Bosko Kante, whose recording was used in the song “Levitating,” which claims he didn’t agree to its use in remixes. It’s the third copyright suit over the song.
- The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $1.25 billion. You won’t win, but here’s our advice on what to do if you do.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has separated from his wife, Sophie, in case you were looking for your proverbial significant other in Canada.
For your next Goodreads post: The longlist for a prestigious English book prize is out.
Soda, pop, or coke? This quiz can guess where in the US you’re from based on how you talk.
Film 101: Check out this helpful thread on why some camera shots feel the way they do.
In case you want the bird back: Here’s how to change app icons on an iPhone (YouTube).
Rub virtual elbows: The best, brightest minds in the e-commerce biz are gathering at the OWN IT summit, presented by Klaviyo. Spend 3 days learning and collecting actionable insights—for free.*
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Brew Mini: Today’s Mini requires you to do some light math. So, dust off the TI-83 and play it here.
Three headlines and a lie
Three of these headlines are real and one is faker than whatever a horror movie victim trips over when they’re being chased by the murderer. Can you spot the odd one out?
- Denver aquarium spends $80,000 monthly on ‘shark therapist’
- US woman, 87, fights off teenage home intruder and then gives him snacks
- Canada launches warning labels on each cigarette
- Post Malone buys historic One Ring Magic The Gathering card valued at a whopping $2m
|We made up the one about the shark therapist. |