🌍 US stalls Russian debt payments

A covid lockdown continues in Shanghai

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Here’s what you need to know

The US stalled Russian debt payments. Russia can no longer access $600 million of reserves held in American banks, and will have to eat into its own dollar holdings.

US president Joe Biden called for war-crime trials in Ukraine. The fallout from the Bucha atrocity continues, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the UN Security Council today.

A UN climate report called for rapid fossil fuel cuts. Although climate scientists say the world must reduce oil and gas production, the war in Ukraine has prompted governments to do the opposite.

All 26 million Shanghai residents are now in lockdown. Restrictions have been extended even further in China’s financial hub, following a fresh covid surge.

The US Senate dropped funding for fighting covid overseas. Senators reached a US-only $10 billion deal that’s less than half of what president Joe Biden wanted.

Elon Musk bought a 9% stake in Twitter. The extremely online CEO, whose erratic, market-moving tweets have prompted investigations by financial regulators, is now Twitter’s biggest shareholder.

What to watch for

A person holds a battery over an electric scooter. There is a wall of green-handled batteries behind them.
Scoot over
Image: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Gogoro, the Taiwanese “Tesla of scooters,” begins trading on the Nasdaq today. The company operates its own fleet of electric scooters in Taiwan, but it also sells batteries and charging systems to other ride-share networks. Gogoro’s stock listing comes just months after the company inked deals to sell its batteries to big scooter manufacturers in China and India.

Gogoro went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which valued it at $2.35 billion, and raised $335 million to fund its expansion. Its initial investors include GoTo Group, Indonesia’s biggest tech company, which may partner with Gogoro to help it expand in southeast Asia.

Are sanctions not working?

Barely a month after the West imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, the ruble has bounded back up against the US dollar, to levels last seen before the invasion of Ukraine. Why isn’t the ruble feeling the pain?

A line graph show the Russian ruble to the US dollar. It was about $0.014 before Russia invaded Ukraine, then it dipped to $0.007 in early March, and increased to $0.012 in April.

Internal manipulation of the currency and soaring oil and gas prices are driving its rise. Increased pressure to buy Russian gas in rubles could boost it even more, if big European buyers actually bent to those demands.

Ultimately, though, the ruble isn’t the best indicator of sanctions’ success. “Irrespective of the moves in the ruble, the sanctions are hurting Russia’s economy hard,” economist William Jackson said. “Inflation is already surging, the banks are under strain, and financial conditions have tightened dramatically.”

Reigning in big tech

The European Union is taking a hammer to American tech giants with new antitrust legislation, and is leaving similar US efforts in the dust. ✦ Quartz members got an exclusive look at how the EU is reigning in big tech in our latest Forecast email. Subscribe today to support journalism that seeks solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

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Surprising discoveries

The UK has its first World Surfing Reserve. The beaches of North Devon join a list of internationally protected surf spots that includes Malibu, California, and Australia’s Gold Coast.

Bad supply chain news for birds. Chipotle is delaying plans to buy humanely raised chickens because of logistical challenges.

Cartier is selling squishy, diamond-encrusted watches. Dubbed the “cushion” collection, the timepieces are encased in a flexible mesh of white gold studded with gems.

NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back eerie recordings from Mars. There are two different speeds of sound for high-pitched and low-pitched notes on the red planet.

Google hopes electric scooters can entice workers back to the office. The company offered employees a free scooter subscription to commute to work three days a week.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, squishy watches, and alien musings to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah, Nicolás Rivero, Samanth Subramanian, and Morgan Haefner.