🌎 Big Oil's record profits

Plus: Wage growth is falling in the US
🌎 Big Oil's record profits

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

The White House called ExxonMobil’s record results “outrageous.” The American oil and gas company reported $55.7 billion in profits, beating its 2008 record.

More tech giants announced cost cuts. Payments company Paypal is laying off 7% of its workforce while chips manufacturer Intel slashed executive pay after posting disappointing earnings.

The company behind ChatGPT proposed a solution to identify AI-generated text. The tool is not fully reliable yet, but OpenAI wants to know whether it can be useful even while imperfect.

Mukesh Ambani is now Asia’s richest person. The Reliance Industries chairman replaces fellow Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.

Boeing delivered its last-ever 747 plane. A ceremony to honor the “queen of the skies” marked the end of an era that saw big changes to aviation.

Australian authorities found a tiny missing radioactive capsule. The device was lost while being transported from a Rio Tinto mine to a storage facility in western Australia.

Four suspects in the killing of Haiti president Jovenel Moïse were brought to the US. The masterminds behind the assassination remain unidentified.


What to watch for

Workers from across the UK’s public sector will walk out en masse today (Feb. 1) to protest a labor law passed by the House of Commons on Jan. 31. The controversial policy prohibits some emergency workers and rail employees from participating in strikes.

It will be the latest in a series of walk-outs that have rocked the UK in recent months, including large-scale actions by nurses, teachers, and postal workers in response to stagnant wages. Critics say the new law allows the government to exert excessive power over employees, while its proponents argue it’s essential for public safety.

In tandem with the strike, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the association of organized labor for England and Wales, has planned demonstrations in major cities to protest the new policy, as well as the government’s refusal to negotiate pay raises for public employees.


Good luck getting that raise

Something is happening with American wages that’ll likely satisfy the Federal Reserve much more than the average worker: Employers aren’t spending as much on employee pay.

In fact, wage growth is falling back to around where it was before the pandemic started. The Fed will be happy with this because it shows that employer costs are falling, giving them fewer reasons to raise prices. But while inflation could cool because of this, workers now have less leverage to negotiate higher wages for themselves.

Image for article titled 🌎 Big Oil's record profits
Graphic: Nate DiCamillo

It’s not just pay that’s getting a tighter budget. Companies are slashing benefits and free lunches in an attempt to rein in spending—another sign that in the battle between workers and employers, workers are losing.


Pop goes the potential Ponzi scheme

There’s no denying that bitcoin’s fall to Earth last year brought substantial losses with it. But the fate of Celsius Network, the collapsed cryptocurrency lender that promised customers 17% annual yields on their deposits, was probably doomed from the start.

The reason why lies in the way the company operated. A court-ordered investigation into the company found that Celsius’s failure was, in fact, intrinsic to its business model… and may have involved a Ponzi scheme. As in, no real product, and early investors were potentially paid out with deposits from later investors.

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Surprising discoveries

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A bunch of gemstones were found at a swimming pool. Ancient Romans dropped them down the drain some 2,000 years ago.

Old-school calculators have transcended their plasticine forms. Now you can conduct your 8008135 calculations on the Internet Archive.

AI unearthed La francesa Laura. The previously unknown play was written by Félix Lope de Vega in the early 17th century.

A company is trying to “de-extinct” the dodo. Something tells us this is a don’t-don’t, but at least the birds were (mostly) vegetarian.


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