Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of August 9, 2021.

A crypto bind. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced last week that it would begin regulating cryptocurrency to the maximum extent allowed by the regulatory agency’s existing authority. Saying that cryptocurrency is rife with fraud and abuse, SEC chairman Gary Gensler also called on Congress to set aside resources to more effectively oversee the crypto sector.  

  • The takeaway: Over the past decade, the cryptocurrency market has become large and formidable, worth approximately $2 trillion for the first time this spring. Federal officials are still trying to understand how to regulate the industry while allowing it to grow. However, some scandals centered around transactions made with cryptocurrency and the exchanges where cryptocurrency is bought and sold have raised concerns. For example, bitcoin was the currency used in many of the transactions on the now shut down Silk Road, a marketplace for drugs and other illegal items on the “dark web.” Gensler noted that investors have more recently poured billions of dollars into decentralized finance, or DeFI, entities which allow consumers to borrow, lend, earn interest and trade assets and derivatives. Such businesses might best be regulated by the SEC, which oversees securities, in addition to banking and commodity regulations from other federal agencies.

WSJ

Tall EV order. President Biden signed an executive order last week committing the U.S. to making half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. electric vehicles by 2030. Car companies General Motors, Ford Motor, and Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis NV reportedly threw their support behind the order, saying they hoped to reach a 40% to 50% rate of electric vehicle sales by 2030. Biden also reportedly outlined new vehicle emission standards aimed at cutting pollution by 2026. Carmakers have also said that this goal would require increased government funding and federal incentives including customer subsidies. President Biden has called on Congress to allocate $174 billion in electric vehicle spending, including $100 billion for consumer incentives. Currently, the Senate has passed a bill that includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, and nothing for new consumer incentives. 

  • The takeaway: Biden’s executive order is a step towards his larger climate change plan, while also encouraging competition with China’s electric vehicle market. Some critics, such as environmental group Safe Climate Transport Campaign, argued that the order doesn’t go far enough, since it’s not legally binding. Biden has stopped short of making legally binding promises due to pushback from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Increasingly, the government and companies are making commitments to fighting climate change. As of last week, gas producer Exxon Mobil is reportedly considering a promise to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Reuters and Wall Street Journal

Silicon Ally? Search giant Google will reportedly install its own microchips in its soon-to-be-released Android phones. Called the Tensor, the processors will reportedly be installed on the company’s higher-end Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones. The Tensor is known as a System on a Chip, or SoC, which essentially means it integrates the entire phone with the Android operating system, potentially taking up less space and resulting in less energy usage.

  • The takeaway: Google is reportedly hoping to distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded smartphone market. By installing its own chips, it’s reportedly leaving behind its supplier Qualcomm, one of the leading  microprocessor manufacturers, as well as following in Apple’s footsteps. In 2020, Apple announced it would begin installing its own microprocessors on Mac personal computers. 

TechCrunch 

The Outsider gets in. Facebook will host its first-ever movie premiere, allowing users to watch the documentary “The Outsider” on Facebook Live for $3.99. While Facebook has hosted streaming shows and live events in the past, this event will mark its first movie premiere. The documentary, which premieres on the platform on August 19, 2021, tells the story of the construction of the 9/11 museum, which commemorates the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers in New York. Museum managers have criticized the documentary for featuring interviewees who mention the “Disneyfication” of 9/11. 

  • The takeaway: Having films on Facebook could make those films more available to smaller markets, and could make it possible for smaller studios and filmmakers to get their films out there, according to Axios. The documentary’s distributor named the price for the premiere. Director Steve Rosenbaum said they hoped to keep the price low enough to entice a wide pool of viewers. 

Axios

Here’s what we covered in last week’s Scan

  • The U.S. economy returns to its pre-pandemic size.
  • Actress Scarlett Johannson sues Walt Disney for breach of contract.
  • The founder of electric truck company Nikola is indicted on fraud charges.

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