🌎 The surging cost of health insurance

Plus: Inflation can’t stop people from snacking.
🌎 The surging cost of health insurance

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

US health insurance prices rose above inflation. The CPI index report showed a 28.2% increase in the year to September 2022—the highest yearly hike since records began in 2005.

Netflix unveiled the release date of its ad-supported budget option. The new subscription plan will launch in November, but some features won’t be available.

Harvard University reported the first endowment fund drop in six years. The fund, the academic world’s largest, posted a 1.8% loss in its investment.

The US has a shortage of adderall. Manufacturing delays have affected supply of the drug, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A US grocery store megamerger is reportedly in the works. Kroger is looking to acquire Albertsons in a deal that would take on Walmart and attract antitrust attention, Bloomberg first reported.

The WHO affirmed the importance of gender-affirming care. The guidelines also underscored the importance of recognizing transgender identity in official documents.

Jamaica’s broadcasting regulators banned music and TV perceived to be glorifying crime. Several artists criticized the crackdown as a form of censorship that will have little, if any, impact on crime rates.

What to watch for

Starting today, major US banks will begin posting their third quarter results. For institutions that get a greater share of their earnings from investment banking, the current market downturn is likely to rear its ugly head.

But earnings are only part of the story. Just as much attention will be devoted to the banks’ recession concerns. A major clue to banks’ outlooks is in their preparedness for loan defaults. While the US Federal Reserve’s rising interest rates give financial institutions a chance to make money, the higher cost of borrowing could also mean consumers and businesses will struggle to repay loans, increasing the risk of defaults.

The six biggest banks by assets (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) are expected to earmark about $4.5 billion in loan-loss reserves in their third-quarter earnings—the third consecutive increase in those provisions.

Snacks @ inflation: Sorry, do you even go here?

Image for article titled 🌎 The surging cost of health insurance
Photo: Mario Anzuoni (Reuters)

Food prices just can’t seem to catch a break from inflation. A trip to the grocery store is taking a serious bite out of shoppers’ wallets. But PepsiCo’s latest earnings make one thing clear—sticker shock just won’t stop people from eating Cheetos and chugging Mountain Dew.

Whether it’s an affordable luxury or a pick-me-up during stressful times, snacks are keeping Pepsi’s earnings bubbly. The drinks and snacks maker, which owns brands like Quaker Oats and Tropicana, expects its revenue for the year to be up by 12%, higher than the previously projected 10%.

On a conference call with investors his week, Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta put it pretty simply: “[O]ur brands are being stretched to higher price points and consumers are following us.” But how long can that last? For what it’s worth, Pepsi still has its recession scenario plans on the table, which include a cut in capital spending and labor automation.

Why good feedback is so hard to get

Free bags of chips and refreshments at the office might be a nice perk (for those that are in-person, anyways), but what workers really crave is something less tangible: feedback.

We need feedback to know how we’re doing at work, and also, well, because we’re human. Most managers are never trained on how to give feedback, and as one guest on our podcast Work Reconsidered explains, it’s also so hard to get because workplaces are “inherently psychologically unsafe.” But there are ways to fix that.

🎧 Listen to this week’s episode: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

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Surprising discoveries

Secret menu orders are running restaurant workers ragged. That “hacked” pumpkin spice latte might be cheaper, but making it probably took more work.

Frog numbers in Switzerland have leaped back. Conservationists dug more ponds and the amphibians sprang forth.

Lab-grown brain cells can play video games. We now know how many brain cells it takes to play the 1970s game Pong.

Jazzing up a PowerPoint minutes before your presentation just got a whole lot weirder. RIP Clippy, which would have stood no chance against Microsoft Office’s newest suite member, DALL-E.

Balenciaga made a Lay’s potato chip bag. At $1,800, or about the cost of 450 bags of actual Lay’s, it may be the snack pack that can’t beat inflation.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Pong stats, and DALL-E PowerPoint slides to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Ananya Bhattacharya, Morgan Haefner, and Julia Malleck.