Your Thursday Briefing
Market turmoil over banks
Fear about risks to the financial system rippled around the globe yesterday, deepening worries of a banking crisis. The turmoil was set off by a panic over the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, which this week warned of problems in its accounting practices.
Though the Swiss bank’s difficulties differ from those of the American banks that have collapsed in recent days, concern about Credit Suisse added to a sense of dread about the economy in general. Markets ended slightly down, and trading in bond and commodities markets signaled that investors were worried about the economy.
The moves dumbfounded some investors, who attributed the chaotic trading to jittery investors in an unpredictable year. Wall Street has been on edge ever since Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were seized by regulators after suffering devastating runs on deposits.
The latest news: Credit Suisse said it would borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs, or about $54 billion, from the Swiss National Bank to ward off concerns about its financial health. The bank also said it would seek to buy back debt of up to 3 billion francs.
More weapons promised for Ukraine
The U.S. said it would “fully and quickly” give Ukraine the weapons required for a spring counteroffensive against Russia, addressing one of the most critical needs amid a global shortage of ammunition caused in part by the yearlong conflict.
Both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have complained that they do not have enough ammunition to keep up with the pace of fighting. Given the vast expenditure of ammunition by both armies on a daily basis, military analysts say that the side that wins the race to rearm in the coming months will have an advantage on the battlefield in the next phases of the war.
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary, speaking during a virtual meeting with defense officials from more than 50 countries supporting Kyiv, said the allies “must provide Ukraine with the full capabilities for the fight ahead.” He added, “I’m confident that we will continue to step up to meet Ukraine’s needs into the spring and well beyond.”
Russia: Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, announced this week that certain specialist workers would be able to defer military service. Experts say this step may suggest that the Kremlin is prioritizing the skilled manufacturing of Russian weapons over having more soldiers for its military.
In other news from the war:
The U.S. said it would continue to conduct surveillance flights, despite the Russian downing of an American drone in the Black Sea.
The Pentagon chief said he had a rare phone call with his Russian counterpart after the collision.
A hacking group with ties to the Russian government appears to be preparing cyberattacks on Ukraine, Microsoft said in a report.
A final push by French protesters
Hundreds of thousands of French protesters swarmed cities across the country, and striking workers disrupted rail lines and closed schools to protest the government’s plan to raise the legal retirement age, a final show of force before the contested bill comes to a vote today.
The march and the strikes embodied the showdown between President Emmanuel Macron, who has been unwavering in his resolve to overhaul pensions, and large crowds of protesters who have vowed to continue the fight even if the bill to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62 passes Parliament — which many believe it will.
It remains unclear what shape the protest movement will take from here, with plenty of room for it to either turn into the kind of unbridled social unrest that France has experienced before or slowly die out.
Alternative plans: If Macron cannot gather enough support from outside his centrist political party to secure the vote, the government could use a special constitutional power to push the bill through without a ballot.
Trash city: Garbage workers in parts of Paris and other metropolitan areas have been on strike over the plans for more than a week.
Across the Channel: In England, a two-day strike by educators coincided with walkouts by doctors and transit personnel, as well as the release of the government’s new budget.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
A $7.8 billion electric battery factory, planned by a Chinese company, is dividing Hungary.
The Israeli security forces killed a man accused of planting a bomb and who officials said had possibly entered from southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold.
An Italian court ordered a retrial for two Americans who are serving time for the killing of an Italian police officer in Rome in July 2019.
In the first such visit in 12 years, Yoon Suk Yeol, the president of South Korea, traveled to Tokyo to meet with Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister.
Other Big Stories
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, rejected a framework proposed by the country’s president to soften a divisive government plan to overhaul the judiciary.
The Biden administration demanded that the Chinese company that owns TikTok sell the app or face a nationwide ban.
Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, called for “accountability” for atrocities committed in Ethiopia’s civil war — but did not single out Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister.
What Else Is Happening
Stormy Daniels, the porn star paid to keep quiet about an affair with Donald Trump, met with prosecutors investigating the former U.S. president’s role in the payment.
Seaweed is beginning to boom as a greener alternative to plastic and livestock feed.
A 1,600-year-old coffin found in northern England could offer clues about the area’s transition from the Roman Empire to its Anglo-Saxon period.
A Morning Read
In the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Rabbit. But elsewhere, it might just be the Year of the Donkey. The hero of the Oscar-nominated film “EO” is a soulful, barbarously misused donkey. And donkeys star in a major new genetic study that reveals the ancient origins of the first beast of burden’s family tree.
Phyllida Barlow, a British sculptor who found fame as an artist late in life, has died at 78.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
A new World Cup format might be a good idea: An expanded 48-team tournament featuring 104 games might not necessarily dial down the drama in 2026. It could be an enhancement.
This could be the closest Premier League relegation battle in years: Analyzing one of the great relegation battles and why it might be too late for some clubs to fire their manager.
From The Times: Golf officials said that professionals should be barred from using the most high-tech balls, which fly much farther than standard balls when struck at the same speed.
ARTS AND IDEAS
In space, moon suits are the height of fashion, and NASA officials yesterday unveiled what astronauts will wear when they return to the moon with the Artemis program. Made by Axiom, the spacesuits have orange and blue highlights and are designed for easy squatting and movement.
A bubble around the head provides visibility as well as lighting to help astronauts step into shadowed craters near the lunar south pole, where NASA hopes to study water ice. It also has a mount for a high-definition camera. Astronauts will get into and out of the spacesuit via a hatch in the backside.
Outsourcing the development of spacesuits is a major course correction for NASA, which spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing its own.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Ramadan starts next week. These potato samosas are an excellent iftar option.
What to Read
Take a literary tour through Miami with the writer Jonathan Escoffery.
Belgrade is becoming one of the best bar destinations in Europe.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Pasta, bread, etc. (five 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. How do you celebrate spring in your community? To share your story, fill out this form. We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter.
“The Daily” is on the lab leak theory.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].
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