Steamy Weather and a Too-Hot Economy: Your US Sunday Briefing

Get ready for the new week.

(Bloomberg) — Hello from Washington, where we’re getting our Monopoly man monocles out in preparation for the US et al v. Google trial this week. Google is accused of over-reaching its power on online search, and the lawsuit marks a monumental first in the internet era where Big Tech has a mind-boggling amount of influence. Here’s what you need to know for the week ahead.The big fuel threat:  Searing summer temperatures are the latest reminder of a strain on the global energy system. Electricity demand climbed due to an increase in air conditioner use at the same time scorching temperatures led to disruptions at oil refineries. The record-breaking heat meant refiners had to cut oil processing by at least 2% globally over June and July while already stretched by years of under-investment and tight oil product markets. Climate change will continue to cause extreme weather patterns — and further strain the global fuel supply. The big market worry: A recession seems less and less likely, at least when looking at what Wall Street has priced into the markets. Of course, a sudden flurry of bad economic data has the potential to cause global volatility, but for now, good news may be the bigger risk.  A too-hot economy, and the data that comes with it, would signal inflation and higher policy rates that would hurt corporate earnings, crimp business investment and threaten consumers with high debt loads.The big summit:  The Group of 20 leaders gathered in India over the weekend and agreed on a joint statement that included compromise language on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that won praise from the US and its allies but drew bitter criticism from Kyiv. The US is expected to host the Group of 20 nations in 2026, but China has raised objections. The opposition is mostly symbolic, since it’s unlikely the decision will be reversed. But it reflects China’s standoff with the US over a range issues from Taiwan to chip export controls. 

The big launch:  The US Space Force conducted the first launch of a new constellation of early warning satellites designed to track Chinese or Russian spacecraft that could potentially disable or damage orbiting American systems. The network, dubbed “Silent Barker,” is the latest step in the burgeoning extraterrestrial contest between superpowers.The big diversity question: After sweeping promises to reform workplace diversity on the heels of the death of George Floyd, US executives are  cutting back on public discussions on the topic. This quarter marks the first earnings season since the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action, signaling that corporate boardrooms may chill on diversity efforts as a result of the decision.The big payoff:   For Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Mike Pence, frugality has been a point of pride — and a way to distinguish themselves. Sparse spending and low-budget campaigns may be paying off, as the two climb in the polls. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who began the race with the most money, is slowly losing his second-place position in the polls. 

The big launch: Apple’s biggest product unveiling of the year will be on Tuesday, and the stakes are high. The iPhone 15, new smartwatches and AirPods could be Apple’s lifesaver as it faces a sales slump. Among challenges, the Chinese government-backed agencies and state companies have expanded iPhone bans. And Apple is switching up the phone’s charging port once again — a move which could irk consumers, but improve performance.

The big bet: Bond traders have been ratcheting up bets that the Federal Reserve isn’t done with its interest-rate hikes just yet. Next week, the monthly consumer-price index report will provide the latest insight into how much further the central bank may need to go to pull inflation back toward its target. The figures could deliver a fresh jolt to the whipsawed Treasury market. ICYM our Big Take:  US retail workers are fed up.  Low pay and unpredictable schedules are among the challenges for the nearly 8 million Americans working in retail. On top of that the pandemic years have added a host of taxing new duties incluiding shoplifting and customer tempers. Part-time retail employee turnover has shot up to 95%, which has led to some understaffed stores.

–With assistance from Shiyin Chen.

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