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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

On Our Virtual Route 66 With Some Final #RandomThoughts For the Month

 As the Month Draws to a Close, we present the following #RandomThoughts as we look forward to the continued privilege to serve: 

The Candy Crush Saga continues (Hakan Nural/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
33,045 (-0.26%)
S&P 500
3,991 (-0.16%)
11,507 (+0.13%)
$24,170 (-0.08%)

Hey Snackers,

Would you like your cold brew with a splash of EVOO? Starbucks has launched a line of olive-oil-infused coffee drinks, including oat milk and oil lattes. The roll-out kicked off this week in Italy (as if Starbucks weren’t unpopular enough in the land of espressos that frowns on to-go culture).

US indexes barely budged yesterday after notes from the Fed’s meeting showed that most officials supported slowing the pace of rate hikes. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield soared near 4%.


Microsoft plans to share top games like C.O.D. with rivals to save its Activision-quisition

Multiplayer mode on Microsoft is trying to win friends and influence people. The Xbox maker struck deals to share its gaming treasures with some of its biggest rivals in hopes of pushing its $69B Activision Blizzard acquisition across the finish line. Microsoft’s bid to buy the “Call of Duty” maker (which would be the largest tech deal ever) has been on ice as regulators and gaming rivals worry the merger would hurt competition. Yesterday Microsoft announced moves to soothe their concerns:

  • Chipper: Microsoft said it struck a 10-year partnership with Nvidia to make its Xbox PC games available on Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. Microsoft said Nvidia is now “offering its full support” for the Activision acquisition.
  • Switch’d on: Microsoft also sealed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to make the newest “Call of Duty” available on its devices at the same time it drops on Xbox (if the acquisition gets approved).

Thinking outside the Xbox… and getting “Minecraft”-y. Microsoft said the Nvidia and Nintendo deals will bring C.O.D. to 150M more people, addressing concerns that the popular game would be less available post-acquisition. But one mega-rival remains: Sony. Microsoft’s trying to convince the PlayStation maker that it’ll keep C.O.D. on PlayStation if the deal goes through, but Sony hadn’t accepted a deal as of yesterday. Microsoft said Sony makes up 70% of the global console market.


Sharing the treasure can win you the chest... While it’s not ideal for Microsoft to share its blockbuster-game trove, it could be a small price to pay to own Activision’s franchise treasure. With console sales slumping, Microsoft wants to stack its cloud gaming service, Xbox Game, with top titles to lure subscribers. And in the gaming wars, a hit title like C.O.D. could be worth the battle.


Coinbase leans into stablecoins as regulators set their sights on the crypto asset class

New coin, who dis?… Coinbase said it plans to list a new stablecoin next week amid a flurry of regulatory attention directed at the crypto asset class. Dubbed Euro Coin (EUROC), the Circle-issued crypto is pegged to the euro — aka: it’s designed to = 1 euro. Circle says EUROC is fully backed by euros held in reserve, similar to its US-dollar-pegged stablecoin, USDC, the second-largest stablecoin by market cap.

Stables get the shake-up… The SEC is investigating whether stablecoins violate investor-protection laws. It’s looking into Coinbase’s and Circle’s stablecoin businesses, though Coinbase says USDC is “not a security.” Meanwhile, the SEC reportedly plans to sue crypto-services company Paxos, arguing that its Binance-branded BUSD stablecoin is an unregistered security. The scrutiny is problematic for crypto exchanges as stablecoins are increasingly important to their bottom lines:

  • Interest-ed: In its earnings report this week, Coinbase said it had earned $146M in interest income from USDC — nearly one-fourth of its total quarterly revenue.
  • Fi-nanced: Last month (before its market cap nosedived) BUSD stablecoin transactions made up 40% of Binance's trading volume.

The road to diversification can be bumpy… As crypto winter scared off investors, exchanges reliant on transaction fees saw their revenue plummet. Coinbase's trading volume sank 50% last year, making $$ earned from stablecoins (and staking) more important than ever. Now regulatory scrutiny could threaten that #diversification. While Coinbase said its "regulatory focus" will position it for success, this week it also said it might decide not to pull a crypto off its exchange — even if the SEC says it's a security.


Heard on the Block: "golden cross"

⚽ Like when a team pulls ahead after being down the entire first half…

In the world of technical analysis, when a stock's 50-day moving average crosses above its 200-day moving average, it makes a cross-like pattern on price charts that’s referred to as a "golden cross." Some investors consider it a bullish signal. Bitcoin just had a golden cross moment last weekend — its first since August 2021.

What else we're Snackin'
  • PriMed: Amazon closed its $3.9B acquisition of OneMedical, the swanky membership-based clinic chain that could help it Prime-ify healthcare. But regulators are still eyeing issues with the deal.
  • OOTD: Chinese fast-fashion titan Shein is building hype for a potential blockbuster IPO this year. The affordable online retailer projected that its sales would more than double to $60B by 2025.
  • Meds: Diabetes drugs like Ozempic are gaining popularity with people who don’t have diabetes but are looking to lose weight. Now these drugs are in short supply for the diabetes patients who depend on them.
  • Sus: Microsoft lifted some limits on its ChatGPT-fueled Bing search, which it imposed after disturbing responses from the AI tool went viral. Think: telling a journalist to leave his wife to be with it.
  • Tarjay: Target said it’ll spend $100M to expand its package hubs and improve next-day delivery. The retailer is investing in e-comm to compete with Amazon and Walmart, even as online shopping slows.


Consumer Price Changes, by Good or Service

We think of inflation as a single number, but in reality price changes happen differently across goods and services.

Some prices increase dramatically, and others fall over time. Here's how that looks in the U.S. since 2000.

View the Infographic
 Can Hochul Offset New York’s ‘Age of Austerity’?

Since taking office, Governor Kathy Hochul has championed public higher ed and boosted its funding. For many long-suffering SUNY and CUNY campuses, her support won’t make up for a decade of disinvestment. »

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OCR Complaints Show Pandemic’s Effects

Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating more claims about disability discrimination on college campuses as well as allegations of antisemitism as more individuals seek out the office for help. »

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Stanford Raises Tuition Sharply but Expands Aid

Stanford cited inflation as the cause for a 7 percent tuition hike, which will be offset by increased aid for many students. Experts expect less severe increases at other institutions. »

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Biden Administration to Rescind Part of Religious Freedom Rule

But the administration says it is standing firm on religious freedom in higher education. »

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How One of the Largest Universities in the U.S. Became a Sustainability Pioneer

Content sponsored and provided by ENGIE North America

Through an innovative long-term partnership with ENGIE, the university improved energy efficiency by 12% within four years, while also receiving $150 million up front to support academic, research, and community programs. Learn more in this case study. »

An Expanded Faculty Role in the Presidential Search

Pitzer College significantly widens participation for faculty, staff and students in its hunt for a new leader, overcoming concerns about candidate privacy and strengthening buy-in for the eventual choice. »

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Marijuana Use on Campus Grew as Legalization Spread

A study finds that increased cannabis use among students, including vaping, is common on college campuses. »

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Live UpdatesLatest News on Higher Education

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