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S&P Global — 30 Aug, 2022 — Global

Daily Update: August 30, 2022

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By S&P Global

Start every business day with our analyses of the most pressing developments affecting markets today, alongside a curated selection of our latest and most important insights on the global economy.

Regulatory Risk Weighs on Big Tech

It’s been a grim year for large technology companies. After the sky-high valuations of the lockdown years, the market capitalization for tech companies has come back down to earth. Increased regulatory scrutiny and proposed changes to privacy and antitrust laws in the U.S. and Europe are forcing Big Tech to seek accommodations with regulators and reduce merger and acquisition activity.

In the first half of 2022, the U.S. technology, media and telecom industry slid into bear market territory. Initial public offering activity in the sector fell, and the aggregate market cap for large information technology companies lost over $5 trillion in value. For some, thin margins and a decline in discretionary consumer spending reduced earnings estimates and target share price.

Regulators in the U.S. and the EU have been taking a hard look at Big Tech from a privacy and an anticompetitive standpoint. Among the proposed legislation to restrict large tech companies in the U.S., the American Innovation and Choice Online Act would prevent platforms from giving preferential treatment to their own products over those of third-party competitors. Another proposed law, the Open App Markets Act, would prevent companies that operate app stores, like Google and Apple, from requiring developers to use their in-app payment systems.

In the EU, the proposed changes are even more sweeping. The EU's Digital Markets Act is scheduled to come into effect later in 2022. Under this set of antitrust and competition laws, tech companies will be forced to open their systems and platforms to outside competitors. The Digital Markets Act also requires tech companies to notify the European Commission of any pending M&A transactions.

With increased regulatory focus on M&A, large tech companies have limited their activity. Meta, formerly Facebook Inc., has announced only one acquisition in 2022. One of the acquisitions Meta undertook last year is the subject of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit that alleges Meta's $400 million purchase of virtual reality fitness company Within Unlimited Inc. would lessen competition in the market.

Amazon also appears to have retailored its M&A strategy to reduce its regulatory exposure. Amazon faces at least two dozen antitrust probes in the U.S. and globally. This year, Amazon seems to be pursuing acquisitions only in markets where it would not hold a dominant position. Many Big Tech firms, including Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Netflix, are expanding into gaming, though acquisitions have been modest to date.

Data privacy and commercial surveillance have also become areas of regulatory focus. This month, the Federal Trade Commission launched an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking centered on data collection, data use, algorithms, targeted advertising and young people’s use of technology, among other areas. While the new rules are almost certain to face legal challenges, restrictions on the use of customer data would be particularly painful for Big Tech.

Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2022, and here is today’s essential intelligence.

Written by Nathan Hunt. 


This Week In Credit: Uncertainty Ratchets Up (Aug. 29, 2022)

At Jackson Hole, the world's central bankers emphasized the battle to tame inflation is far from over. This suggests more challenging credit conditions may lie ahead. Market pricing indicators — already softening in recent weeks — certainly are signaling the same. Volatility will be a watchword this week as investors look for clues to central banks' future actions among European economic data releases and the U.S. jobs report.

—Read the report from S&P Global Ratings

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Capital Markets

Asia-Pacific Bank Bond Issuance To Remain Slow Even After July Spike

Asia-Pacific banks' bond issuance in July more than doubled over the prior month due to a few large deals, though the outlook remains weak amid rising interest rates. Banks in the region raised $11.61 billion from bond issuances in July, more than double the $5.56 billion raised in June, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. On the equity side, banks raised $430 million, taking the aggregate capital raised in July to $12.04 billion from $6.42 billion in June.

—Read the article from S&P Global Market Intelligence

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Global Trade

Battery-Makers Slash Cobalt Intensity In The Face Of Accelerating Demand

Electric vehicle battery-makers are reducing the amount of cobalt in their products in an effort to cut costs and avoid the stigma of buying a product fraught with troubling labor practices. But cobalt demand will soar anyway, thanks to the sheer volume of rising electric vehicle sales. EVs will be a key part of the global drive to decarbonize the economy, and battery-makers face increased scrutiny from customers and investors.

—Read the article from S&P Global Market Intelligence

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Listen: What Landmark New U.S. Climate Law Means For Emissions

On Aug. 16th, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA. The IRA is a comprehensive energy and climate law that allocates nearly $370 billion in federal spending to decarbonization efforts over the next decade. In this episode of ESG Insider, hosts Lindsey Hall and Esther Whieldon take a deep dive into those measures and explore the implications for the goal President Biden set to cut U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.

—Listen and subscribe to ESG Insider, a podcast from S&P Global Sustainable1

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Energy & Commodities

Listen: Oil Majors Come Out Ahead On Inflation Reduction Act; Outlook For Independents ‘Not As Rosy’

Oil and natural gas industry groups were not pleased with the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law Aug. 16, despite some positive elements for the sector, including provisions to ensure more oil and gas lease sales and expand carbon capture tax credits. Among their main objections are the new 15% corporate minimum tax, the expansion of Superfund excise taxes to crude oil and petroleum products, a methane fee and increased fees tied to federal oil and gas leasing.

—Listen and subscribe to Capitol Crude, a podcast from S&P Global Commodity Insights

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Technology & Media

Twitter Whistleblower Report Complicates Odds Of Legal Victory Over Musk

In the bitter fight over the disputed acquisition of Twitter Inc., a whistleblower report has Wall Street reevaluating the odds of a legal settlement. The report granted Twitter's reluctant buyer, Elon Musk, with an insider account alleging inaccurate information about fake accounts on the social media company's core platform. In his quest to terminate the deal, Musk has repeatedly sought vast amounts of data and documentation to verify the company's estimates of fake accounts.

—Read the article from S&P Global Market Intelligence

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