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business forward

Financial Daily Dose 8.18.2021 | Top Story: Investors Sue Ackman in Action that Could Affect Entire SPAC Landscape - JD Supra

Bill Ackman and his Pershing Square SPAC were on the receiving end of a “novel” lawsuit on Tuesday “that could have far-reaching implications for the SPAC industry.” The action argues that Ackman’s SPAC “isn’t an operating company, but is actually an investment company like Ackman’s funds, which should be regulated by the Investment Company Act of 1940.” As the deal underlying the suit—Ackman’s quest to take Universal Music public—is no more, expect defense efforts to focus on mootness - NYTimes and Bloomberg and Law360

Amazon hit a big milestone this week, becoming the “world’s largest retail seller outside China” and unseating Walmart in the process as online shopping’s ascendance only continues.  Covid only helped the cause, with consumer spending over $610 billion on Amazon in 12 months ending in June compared to $566 billion at Walmart for nearly the same period - NYTimes

Those eye-popping numbers aside, other retail sales fell 1.1% in July—“faster than economists had expected,” due in part to dramatically slower car sales “amid a shortage of vehicles”—which pushed markets lower to end trading on Tuesday - NYTimes and WSJ and MarketWatch

New research suggests that 15%--that’s a staggering $76 billion—of the Paycheck Protection Program’s $800 billion in loans “had at least one indication of potential fraud.” The study “pins blame for many of the questionable loans on one particular group of lenders: financial technology firms, known as ‘fintechs,’ which focus on digital lending” - NYTimes and Law360

Speaking at a virtual event for students and educators this week, Fed Chair Powell admitted that the impact of the Delta variant on the U.S. economy “retains to be seen” and noted that the pandemic “is still casting a shadow on economic activity” - WSJ and Bloomberg

Real-estate billionaire Hui Ka Yan is leaving his role as chair of China Evergrande Group’s “flagship property business, months after the unit dropped plans for a multibillion-dollar listing” in mainland China. Evergrande described the departure as “normal changes,” though investors “in recent months have become nervous about a default by Evergrande, which is China’s largest junk-bond issuer” - WSJ

Elsewhere in Chinese debt news, the latest figures on local government’s finances suggest that Beijing may be “making inroads in a long-standing battle to deal with local governments’ so-called ‘hidden-debt’”—that is, funds “raised by government-related entities, like local-government financing vehicles, to pay for infrastructure spending and other public projects.” Such debt is kept off of local government balance sheets but “carries an implicit government guarantee of repayment” - Bloomberg

Apple managed to ignite a firestorm of anger and backlash to its recent announcement that it plans to use software that scans users’ photos to “[r]oot out images of child sexual abuse from iPhones.” The company’s intentions were undeniably good, but its proposed methods raised uncomfortable questions about Big Brother surveillance and eroding privacy - NYTimes

Buildings as a “storage bank for useful materials,” — an intriguing idea for an actually circular economy at a time when we need every good idea we can get - ArchDaily

Stay safe, and get vaxxed,

MDR