What’s Up? (April 24-30)
Elon Musk to Buy Twitter
Elon Musk reached an agreement on Monday to buy Twitter for about $44 billion, a deal that was unanimously approved by Twitter’s board. The price works out to $54.20 a share, a 38 percent premium over the company’s share price in April, before Mr. Musk revealed he had purchased a 9 percent stake in Twitter. In a matter of weeks, Mr. Musk, the richest person in the world, took his bid from something that investors shrugged off to a serious proposal. The turning point came when he filed documents showing he had the financing to back up his offer. Now, it could be the largest deal to take a company private in at least 20 years, according to data from Dealogic. Still, much remains uncertain as to how the mercurial billionaire will carry out his vision for a platform with less moderation.
Charges of Stock Manipulation
The latest chapter of one of the most high-profile Wall Street investigations in years unfolded on Wednesday, when federal agents arrested Bill Hwang, the owner of the investment firm Archegos Capital Management, and its former chief financial officer, Patrick Halligan, at their homes. The two were charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud, all in connection with a scheme, according to a 59-page indictment, that involved deliberately misleading banks and manipulating stock prices. Initially, they were able to evade scrutiny because of the loose regulations around “family offices” like Archegos — firms that manage investments for the ultrawealthy. But the company imploded last year, and $100 billion in shareholder value vanished almost overnight. Through their lawyers, the men entered not guilty pleas.
Economy Shrinks Yet Remains Resilient
The U.S. economy contracted in the first three months of the year, with the gross domestic product declining 0.4 percent in the first quarter when adjusted for inflation, or 1.4 percent on an annualized basis. The decline had to do largely with slower growth in inventories and a growing trade deficit, as U.S. exports were far outpaced by imports. Absent these, a measure of underlying growth rose 0.6 percent in the first quarter, and the White House preferred to focus on the data without what President Biden called the “technical factors” of inventories and trade. Mr. Biden also pointed to bright spots in the G.D.P. report on Thursday that showed strong consumer spending and continued business investment — signs that the economic recovery is still resilient.
What’s Next? (May 1-7)
A Jobs Report That May Look Familiar
The job numbers for April will be released on Friday, and they are expected to look similar to those from March. Analysts expect a gain of about 385,000 jobs — U.S. employers added 431,000 in March — and an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. Last month, some economists suggested that jobs “might be approaching their as-good-as-it-gets moment” and that factors like rapid inflation and higher interest rates could soon slow the labor market. The economy has recovered more than 90 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the peak of pandemic lockdowns in the spring of 2020, but the Federal Reserve’s interventions and other forces threaten to cut into those gains.