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GameStop hearing puts Silicon Valley as public enemy #1

Congress yesterday lived down to its reputation, uncovering little new information about the GameStop stock surge. But it did illustrate how Silicon Valley has overtaken Wall Street as public enemy number one, particularly among Democrats.

What happened: No one received more questions, and more rhetorical brickbats, than Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, despite the presence of hedge fund titans Ken Griffin and Gabe Plotkin.


  • Tenev was partially a victim of Robinhood's own ham-handed communications last month — for days refusing to acknowledge that it stopped trading in GameStop and other "meme stocks" because of unprecedented collateral requirements from their clearinghouse. And his continued insistence that Robinhood didn't have a liquidity problem, even though that's precisely what it had.
  • But he mostly seemed to be an avatar for anger at Big Tech, even if that anger wasn't particularly focused.
  • In some cases, Robinhood was hammered for stopping retail investors from buying GameStop shares. In other cases, it was hammered for not warning people about the dangers of buying GameStop shares. In one case he was challenged to disclose information the company already discloses.

Griffin and Plotkin, by comparison, were bit players. They were pressed a bit on short-selling, including the fact that more GameStop shares were floated than are outstanding, and Griffin was once asked to confirm that no one at Citadel (the hedge fund) discussed GameStop with Robinhood (which does business with Citadel Securities, the market-maker).

  • In past eras, it's the hedge fund managers that would have felt most of Congress' ire.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman received even less questions than did Griffin and Plotkin, which complicates my Silicon Valley narrative a bit. But it really just felt like none of the representatives really knew what to do with him at this particular hearing. Plus, Tenev was the easier target to hit in five-minute questioning sessions.

The bottom line: Where you find D.C. scrutiny, some sort of regulation is likely to follow. Even if the path isn't direct.

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The state of play: Johnson's procedural move will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate, during which Republicans will propose amendments to force uncomfortable votes for Democrats. Schumer promised that the Senate will stay in session "no matter how long it takes" to finish voting on the $1.7 trillion rescue package.

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Data: EIA and FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gas prices are hitting new post-pandemic highs across the country, but this isn't a story of America reopening. It's really just a function of the price of oil going up.

By the numbers: Gasoline cost $2.71 on average as of Monday, per the Energy Information Administration. The highest average price was $3.59 in Los Angeles, while the lowest was $2.33 in Houston.

  • All of these prices represent the highest level seen since 2019.

The big picture: The price of crude oil reflects more than half of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. (The rest is refinery costs, distribution costs, and taxes.)

  • Demand for oil has actually been declining, per the New York Fed, but supply has been falling even faster, with the result that prices have now topped $64 for a barrel of Brent crude.

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Why it matters: Crypto-evangelists often talk about CBDCs in awed terms. But it's far from clear that the bitcoin-and-ethereum crowd would ultimately benefit from money going digital.

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Why it matters: While many lawmakers are eager for security measures surrounding the Capitol — including fencing and an increased law enforcement presence — to be lightened, the request by Capitol Police reflects concerns about ongoing threats.

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Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

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Researchers keep finding new ways to reveal that nations are together showing very few signs of getting on track to meet the Paris Agreement's goals.

One big question: That's whether a spate of recent analyses to that effect, and scientific reports coming later this year, will move the needle on meaningful new policies (not just targets).

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Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

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