Your Friday Briefing
A private-sector bank rescue mission
Eleven U.S. banks came together yesterday to inject $30 billion into First Republic Bank, a smaller peer on the brink of collapse after the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank last week. The arrangement, in which each will deposit at least $1 billion into First Republic, is meant as a show of support and a signal that the San Francisco lender’s woes do not reflect deeper trouble.
The arrangement was without precedent in decades, and an indication of how dire the banking sector’s predicament had become within a week. With their echoes of the 2008 financial crisis, the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday and Signature Bank on Sunday set off a panic that appears unlikely to subside immediately.
Shares of First Republic, which had lost three-quarters of their value in recent days, rallied on the announcement. But numerous other bank stocks continued to be pummeled. The banking sector has also been under pressure as a result of trouble at Credit Suisse, which was fighting for its life before Switzerland’s central bank stepped in to provide a backstop.
Details: Four of the country’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — agreed to contribute $5 billion each. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will contribute $2.5 billion each.
Europe: The European Central Bank raised interest rates by half a percentage point to 3 percent, the highest since October 2008, sticking to its inflation-fighting plan.
Backlash as Macron rams through retirement change
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, opted to push through legislation to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62 without a full parliamentary vote, a decision certain to inflame an already tense confrontation over the measure. Opponents across the political spectrum burst into rounds of the “Marseillaise” and pounded on their desks in response.
For some, Macron’s decision smacks of the kind of contempt and aloofness of which he has sometimes been accused. During his second term, he has tried hard to project a milder image — more ready to listen and less inclined to rule alone. But the confrontation over his pension plan has revealed a more isolated president, with fewer allies.
The decision to avoid a National Assembly vote, which will be regarded by Macron’s political opponents as antidemocratic even though it is legal, came after two months of major demonstrations and intermittent strikes. Millions of French people have said they see the changes as an assault on their way of life.
Background: The Senate, or upper house, approved the bill early Thursday. But disarray in the lower house occurred because Macron’s Renaissance party does not hold a parliamentary majority. Even the center-right Republicans, who once pushed for raising the retirement age to 65, were hesitant to support Macron as nationwide protests against the measure grew.
Poland plans to arm Ukraine with warplanes
Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, said that his country would transfer four Soviet-designed MiG fighters to Ukraine “literally in the next few days,” potentially pushing Western military aid to the embattled country over a significant threshold. The warplanes would be the first sent to Ukraine by a NATO country since Russia invaded last year.
Poland first pledged such fighters a year ago but has so far sent none. Officials had previously indicated that they would send warplanes to Ukraine only alongside other countries. It was not immediately clear which allies were ready to join or whether Poland was going it alone. And there was skepticism over whether Warsaw could move as quickly as it hoped.
Some of Ukraine’s allies have appeared far more reluctant when it comes to warplanes, and the U.S. has said that sending them is not currently on the table. The debate over fighter jets came as Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country remained enmeshed in battle around Bakhmut, where both sides have sustained heavy losses.
In other news from the war:
The Pentagon released the first declassified video images of the events leading up to a Russian fighter jet’s collision with an unarmed U.S. reconnaissance drone on Tuesday.
Ukraine is using ammunition faster than its allies can resupply it, putting future battles at risk.
How do you celebrate spring?
Spring starts on Monday, ushering in warmer weather and an array of festivals celebrating the new season across Europe. Some are hyperlocal affairs that are deeply rooted in tradition, and others are sprawling events that welcome people from all over the world. They run the gamut from mainstream to decidedly quirky.
We’re asking readers about local spring festivals and traditions where they live. How does your community mark the arrival of spring? And what does participating in this event mean to you?
To share your story, fill out this form. We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
More than 2.5 tons of uranium is missing from a site in war-torn Libya, Rafael Grossi, above, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said. The agency is searching for the material.
In southern Italy, where migrants have perished while seeking a better life, locals pay homage to those lost to the sea.
HelloFresh, the German meal kit company, announced it would stop using coconut milk from Thailand after allegations surfaced of monkey labor in the coconut industry.
Three dogs died after eating poisoned meatballs during a canine cross-country race in southern France, prompting a police investigation.
Australia’s winemakers are suffering after two years of Chinese tariffs.
Other Big Stories
The Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners sell the app or face a possible ban. Britain has prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices, and Canada, India and the E.U. have also cracked down on the app.
The police and the military in Peru used lethal force on antigovernment protesters, a Times investigation found.
A small pro-farmer party has swept provincial elections in the Netherlands to become the biggest in the Senate by channeling dissatisfaction with the Dutch government.
In 2021, the deaths of pregnant women in the U.S. soared by 40 percent, according to government figures.
The Week in Culture
A major exhibition of Gerhard Richter’s paintings is on show in Manhattan. The German artist, 91, has said the works will be among his last.
Jewelers throughout Britain have been creating tiaras in anticipation of King Charles’s coronation in May.
Stephen Sondheim’s Luis Buñuel musical, which he described as unfinished days before his death, will be staged in New York this fall.
Paris Hilton discusses her life as a world-famous “it girl” in a her memoir.
Scientists and musicians are recording the sounds of unfreezing water to document and predict the effects of climate change.
A Morning Read
Thomas Midgley Jr. was a brilliant inventor who, a century ago, was responsible for two phenomenally destructive innovations. What can we learn from them today?
The ballerina Lynn Seymour was a radically original dancer and a star in both Britain and the U.S. She died at 83.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
The Manchester tug of war over Hollywood royalty: Julia Roberts visiting Old Trafford in 2016 was not to the liking of Pep Guardiola — here’s how it came about.
After drama with ex-coach, Reyna returns to U.S. soccer roster: The U.S. men’s team is back in competitive action with European-based players for the first time since the 2022 World Cup.
Chelsea delighted with U.S. goalkeeper: Gabriel Slonina has impressed with the under-21s since arriving at Chelsea in January and is learning from his brushes with the seniors in training.
From The Times: The N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament began with major upsets, as No. 15 Princeton toppled Arizona, a No. 2 seed, while the No. 13 seed Furman knocked down No. 4 Virginia.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A sober St. Patrick’s Day
Especially in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day has often been associated with drinking. This year, more demand for sober revelry has led some bars and restaurants to offer teetotaling alternatives to the festivities, as well as a greater focus on Irish food and music.
More alcohol-free products, including Guinness 0, an alcohol-free version of the stout, have helped bar owners in New York City get creative. (Samples of the Guinness drink will be distributed on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange this afternoon after the ringing of the closing bell.)
Others say the holiday should always have been about food and culture — rather than simply getting drunk. “In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is less centered on a drinking occasion and more of a celebration for the whole family,” said Moira Breslin, the founder of New York City’s Irish Whiskey Festival.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
For St. Patrick’s Day, a simple but deeply pleasurable chocolate Guinness cake.
Spend 36 hours in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
What to Watch
Keira Knightley plays a dogged journalist in the true-crime drama “Boston Strangler.”
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Comedian Poehler (three letters).
And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. Henry Fountain, a climate reporter whose name once appeared in a “Jeopardy!” clue, is retiring after 28 years at The Times. Today is his last day.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on French protests over the retirement age.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].
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