What’s Up? (Aug. 15-21)
Tesla Under Investigation
The country’s top auto-safety agency announced the broadest investigation yet into Tesla’s assisted-driving technology, which it calls Autopilot, prompted by at least 11 accidents in which Teslas crashed into parked emergency vehicles. The agency is investigating more than two dozen crashes that occurred with Autopilot in use, which resulted in at least 10 deaths. Despite its name, the feature does not make Teslas autonomous. Safety experts say it may encourage distracted driving by giving a false impression about its capabilities.
Amazon > Walmart
Twenty-six years after Amazon sold its first book, it surpassed Walmart in total sales. The value of all things sold on Amazon, by it and its third-party sellers, surpassed $610 billion in the 12 months through June, according to estimates compiled by FactSet. Walmart on Tuesday reported $566 billion in sales over a similar period. A pandemic-driven surge in online shopping accelerated the timeline for what many saw as an inevitable milestone. Even so, online sales still represent just 14 percent of overall retail spending.
Facebook Trust Issues
The Federal Trade Commission refiled its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook on Thursday. The new complaint is more detailed and almost twice as long as the original, but the claim is the same: Facebook holds a monopoly on social networking that it has tried to maintain through acquisitions. In the past, monopoly power has often been gauged by impact on prices. A federal judge threw out the F.T.C.’s initial Facebook case in June, highlighting the challenge of defining a monopoly when the product is free.
What’s Next? (Aug. 22-28)
Central bankers meet for their annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo., starting on Thursday. The Federal Reserve has made important announcements at the event in the past, and many expect Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, to reveal details about how and when the bank plans to begin winding down its bond-buying program, one of several policies it created to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic. Minutes from the Fed’s last meeting showed that officials generally agreed that they would soon meet their standards for slowing bond-buying, but they were still debating exactly when to begin the so-called taper.
U.K. Travel Restrictions
The U.K. will make updates to its much-criticized “traffic light” system of pandemic travel restrictions. Under the system, residents traveling to “green list” countries do not need to quarantine upon return but are required to take coronavirus tests. Those returning from countries on the “amber list,” which includes the United States, must be tested and, unless they are fully immunized with an approved vaccine, isolate for 10 days. People returning from “red list” countries may only enter Britain if they have residence rights, and then must quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel.
Tokyo is still grappling with a high level of coronavirus infections and a low rate of vaccination while preparing for the Paralympics to start on Tuesday. As with the Olympics, no spectators will be allowed at the games.
Retail sales fell in July, but the Delta variant is not to blame. Facebook is betting you’ll want to attend meetings in virtual reality. “Jeopardy!” is looking for a permanent host once again. And Pope Francis called getting vaccinated “an act of love.”