🌍 US makes a big pledge to Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., April…
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., April…
Image: Reuters/Al Drago

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Here’s what you need to know

The US pledged $800 million in new support to Ukraine. US president Joe Biden announced a new assistance package of weapons and other security measures.

JPMorgan’s chief executive warns “powerful forces” threaten the US economy. The bank’s profits dropped 42%, and the Russia-Ukraine war and rising inflation could make things worse. (See more below.)

China’s oil giant is pulling out of the West. CNOOC is preparing to sell off operations in Britain, Canada, and the US, out of concerns that they could be subject to sanctions related to Russia.

BlackRock is getting into China’s ETF market. The US-based investment behemoth is launching its first product into China’s $220 billion exchange traded fund market later this year.

Delta reported a quarterly loss, but says it’s already profitable again. The US-based airline said it expects growing travel demand to offset increases in fuel prices. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s travel industry has also begun to bounce back, albeit more slowly.

Chinese gamers are losing access to Grand Theft Auto and Animal Crossing. Gaming giant Tencent is shutting down a service that allowed these players to play unapproved foreign games.

What to watch for

The season of US bank earnings began badly. JPMorgan Chase announced a 42% drop in first-quarter profits—partly because the same quarter last year witnessed a rebound from the pandemic, but also because of Ukraine and persistent inflation.

Inflation and Ukraine are likely to be cited again and again as other banks report their earnings this week, among them Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup. The latter’s filings reveal it has nearly $10 billion in assets in Russia—more exposure than many of its peers. But the industry overall is prepared for pain.

US bank earnings, in aggregate, are expected to fall by 8.4%. And even if, like Jamie Dimon, executives are optimistic about the economy, they cannot help but worry—about the war dragging on, inflation remaining stubborn, or the Fed’s efforts to tackle inflation tipping the US into a recession.


Should you switch banks for the environment’s sake?

Most major US and European banks have set long-term goals to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from their lending portfolios, yet remain tied to fossil fuel companies, which make up a big share of their business.

As an average customer of one of these banks, a portion of your deposit is destined to make its way into the ledgers of fossil fuel companies, and support the production of climate-busting emissions. Switching to a less fossil-intensive bank—that is, one in which a smaller share of total financing is dedicated to fossil fuels—could be a way to limit your contribution to that process.

If you’re considering a switch, use our tool to compare banks’ fossil-fuel intensity including a breakdown of the sub-sectors they finance.


Putin’s Great Firewall envy

The Iron Curtain of the Cold War allowed the Soviet regime to control what information reached its citizens. Now, Russian president Vladimir Putin is cracking down on independent media and turning what’s left into state propaganda. But there’s still the internet to consider.

If Russia succeeds in building what some call a “digital iron curtain,” the country can only hope to emulate China’s Great Firewall, a largely impermeable, censored, and monitored internet that operates at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. Can Putin slap together a digital blockade that resembles the one China spent decades carefully cultivating? It won’t be easy.

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