Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of April 12, 2021.
China’s new cryptocurrency. China plans to issue a digital form of its currency, the yuan, which will be controlled by the country’s central bank. While cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been known for the anonymity they provide, China’s digital yuan will reportedly give the authoritarian government increased oversight into the Chinese economy, and how people are spending their money. China also plans to keep its digital currency separate from the global currency system, which the U.S. dollar dominates.
- The takeaway: The decision to adopt a national digital currency demonstrates the increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies across the globe. But the move could also expand the Chinese government’s authoritarian rule. Additionally, some experts have warned that the new cryptocurrency could threaten the U.S. dollar’s reign over other international currencies. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have both suggested that the U.S. is looking into eventually digitizing the dollar.
Not today, Satan. Nike reached a settlement with Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF, which will recall a line of modified Air Max 97s called “Satan Shoes” designed in collaboration with the rapper Lil Nas X. The shoes, which sold for $1,018 a pair, contain a drop of human blood in their soles. The company produced a symbolic 666 pairs of the shoes, shipping all but one pair to customers. The last pair was reportedly held by Lil Nas to ship to a customer of his choosing. MSCHF will reportedly issue refunds to everyone who returns the shoes. The suit and recall also included the previously released Jesus Shoes, modified Air Max 97s containing water from the Jordan River.
- The takeaway: In its lawsuit, Nike argued that Satan Shoes would cause trademark confusion with its customers, who might incorrectly think that Nike had produced the shoes. “MSCHF altered these shoes without Nike’s authorisation. Nike had nothing to do with the Satan Shoes or the Jesus Shoes,” Nike reportedly said in a statement. A federal judge sided with Nike, and issued a restraining order against MSCHF. Still, because the shoes are limited edition, collectors might not be quick to give them up to MSCHF.
Ketchup plays catch up. Restaurants and fast food spots across the country are reportedly experiencing a shortage of ketchup packets due to the pandemic. Fast-food chains have historically given out ketchup packets with orders. But as restaurants shifted their focus from dine-in eating to takeout, they’ve had to order ketchup packets, squeezing ketchup makers. In response to the increased demand, Heinz said it would increase its packet output by 25% to 12 billion per year. Heinz also reported a 15% increase in sales of ketchup bottles as consumers spend more time at home.
- The takeaway: Ketchup packets are the latest product to see a surge during the pandemic. With more people cooking at home, demand for meat shot up, leading to shortages at grocery stores and even fast-food restaurants like Wendy’s. And as more people have experimented with hobbies like baking, stores saw a scarcity of flour and yeast.
Kim Kardashian keeps up. For the first time, reality TV star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian West has made Forbes Magazine’s prestigious list of billionaires. Kardashian West’s estimated net worth increased to $1 billion in 2021 from $780 million during the previous year, according to Forbes. While Kardashian West earns income from reality television, endorsements, and investments, a great deal of her worth comes from her two businesses: cosmetics line KKW Beauty and shapewear company Skims. In 2020, Kardashian West sold 20% of her stake in KKW Beauty to multinational beauty company Coty for $200 million. Additionally, Kardashian West has an estimated $225 million stake in Skims, the shapewear company.
- The takeaway: Kardashian West has built her wealth significantly in recent years, leveraging her large following on social media to push her products. The influencer has 69.6 million followers on Twitter and 213 million followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner, Kardashian West’s younger sister, was kicked from Forbes’ list of billionaires after the magazine determined that she had inflated her net worth. Kim Kardashian West is # 2674 on the list.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.