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Today in the Market (1/24/2022)

GEOPOLITICS

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After an unusually turbulent week of trading, stocks clawed back losses on Monday as investors looked ahead to a busy week of corporate earnings results, economic data, and a Federal Reserve monetary policy-setting meeting.

Western leaders are trying to build a coordinated response ahead of what they believe will be a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions—financial penalties that governments apply against one another, similar to a parent grounding a rebellious child—could be one possible reaction. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rebuffed calls to impose penalties on Russia before an invasion.

  • “When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression,” Blinken said on CNN. “If they’re triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect.”
  • Some US lawmakers disagree. Sen. Joni Ernst said that sanctions need to be introduced now: “Once an invasion happens, lives are lost, you can’t go back from that,” she said.

Some background: The US has previously penalized Russia with a series of sanctions dating back to 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine for the last time. More than 80% of Russian businesses polled for research by Aalto University in Finland said sanctions implemented between 2014 and 2017 had harmed their operations.

Zoom out: On Saturday, the UK raised the stakes even higher by accusing Russia of planning a conspiracy to install a pro-Russian government in Ukraine if it invades (Russia dismissed the charges as “nonsense”). The US State Department also ordered family members at the US embassy to leave the country.

DATA PRIVACY

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Some states are fed up with Google’s persistent corporate campaign to control the National Geography Bee. Texas, Indiana, Washington state, and Washington, DC sued Google on Monday, alleging in separate lawsuits that the corporation misled customers about when it tracked their location from at least 2014 to 2019.

Although users may “turn off” their location history, the claims allege that Google continued to track their movements through other means and used a variety of tactics to persuade them to give the firm further access. “In reality, consumers who use Google products cannot prevent Google from collecting, storing, and profiting from their location” according to DC’s complaint.

  • How does it earn profits? Google uses location data from its customers to create more detailed profiles that it may use to entice advertising. Advertisers can also use the data to determine how effective their advertisements are at generating foot traffic.

The lawsuits stem from a three-year investigation into Google’s storage of user location data notwithstanding privacy settings, as revealed by a story by the Associated Press. The lawsuits aim to prevent Google from collecting location data from individuals who have tried to opt-out, as well as levy a cost on the firm.

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