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Irrespective of the place the U.S. financial system goes this yr, it appears to have had a working begin.


The financial system appeared sturdy on the finish of the yr. And knowledge out this morning will measure development within the fourth quarter. The bigger query is the place the financial system heads subsequent.

INSKEEP: So NPR’s Scott Horsley is right here. Hey there, Scott.


INSKEEP: What is the full image of 2022?

HORSLEY: The financial system shrank within the first six months of final yr. However by late summer season and early fall, it had begun to rebound. GDP truly grew at an annual fee above 3% in July, August and September. And we’ll get that fourth quarter studying this morning. All in all, it appears as if the financial system managed to remain on its ft final yr, regardless of all of the challenges posed by the warfare in Ukraine and the lingering results of the pandemic. You already know, shoppers managed to maintain spending cash even when they needed to dip into financial savings or use bank cards to maintain up with rising costs. However forecasters do not anticipate that to proceed indefinitely. Individuals like Nikki Moore (ph), a married mom of two in Florida, are beginning to get just a little extra cautious of their spending as cash will get tight.

NIKKI MOORE: On a regular basis stuff is simply costing extra. We take pleasure in going to the films. However, like, the 4 of us going to the films – we’re simply speaking nothing tremendous, not 3-D, simply the 4 of us for tickets and concessions – that is, like, $100 only for a film night time.

HORSLEY: Final yr, Moore and her husband splurged on a tenth anniversary journey to Canada. However looking forward to her son’s upcoming spring break, she’s planning to remain near dwelling. Possibly, she says, she’ll simply make a journey to the native zoo. Now, that can imply a smaller bank card invoice. However you multiply that by households throughout the nation and it additionally places a dent in financial development, as a result of, in fact, shopper spending is such a giant driver of the financial system.

INSKEEP: Effectively, is there already widespread proof of that type of cautious spending?

HORSLEY: It’s beginning to present up in a number of the knowledge. Retail gross sales, for instance, have been down in November and December through the usually busy vacation season. We’ll get a extra full image of shopper spending tomorrow. However there are undoubtedly indicators that top costs are beginning to affect individuals’s purchasing habits. Dan Usher (ph) works for a corporation in Iowa that makes low cost cereal. And his total cereal costs surged nearly 16% final yr. Usher says that enterprise was fairly good.

DAN USHER: Final yr was very wild. Due to inflation, lots of shoppers determined to change to non-public label, which is the shop model, which is what we make. In occasions of financial hardship, we see fairly important booms in enterprise. So I am type of fortunate in that regard.

HORSLEY: Usher is hoping to get a pay increase later this yr. However within the meantime, he is additionally feeling the burden of rising costs. He had some surprising bills final yr when each his water heater and his dishwasher conked out. So he is additionally pinching pennies. He says he plans to chop again on restaurant meals and perhaps journey just a little bit much less.

INSKEEP: Scott, I do know lots of people are speaking a couple of recession. However Leila spoke with the economist Mark Zandi on NPR the opposite day. And he stated he thought a recession was not very seemingly anymore this yr as a result of inflation is easing – perhaps a tough yr, however not a recession. What do different consultants assume?

HORSLEY: Yeah, a latest survey discovered a majority of enterprise forecasters assume a recession is probably going this yr. However some analysts, like Zandi, assume we’ll limp alongside, that the financial system will sluggish however not truly back down. We’re undoubtedly seeing a slowdown in some elements of the financial system, notably manufacturing and housing. Doug Duncan is chief economist for the mortgage big Fannie Mae. He says the housing market is already in a recession because of rising mortgage charges.

DOUG DUNCAN: It is going to be a troublesome yr. Someday in ’24 could be our anticipation that you simply’d begin to see the pickup.

HORSLEY: In fact, the Federal Reserve has been elevating charges aggressively in an effort to chop inflation. And we anticipate one other fee hike subsequent week.

INSKEEP: NPR’s Scott Horsley. Thanks a lot.

HORSLEY: You are welcome.


INSKEEP: OK. The following time Donald Trump takes a selfie, he might, if he chooses, submit it on Instagram.

FADEL: Yeah, he can even use Fb if he likes to, you already know, remark in your mother-in-law’s household information. Meta, the corporate that owns each platforms, says he might come again. They lifted the suspension imposed two years in the past when Trump tried to overturn a democratic election.

INSKEEP: We have no idea if the previous president will come again to these platforms. However NPR’s Shannon Bond has been asking why he’s allowed. Shannon, good morning.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What’s Meta’s reasoning?

BOND: Effectively, primarily, it says time has handed. Issues are completely different. Instantly after the Capitol rebel, Meta thought the chance that Trump would incite extra violence was simply too excessive to let him preserve posting. And keep in mind, this wasn’t only a transfer from Fb and Instagram. He was additionally kicked off of Twitter and YouTube and Snapchat. It was actually this unprecedented and controversial wave.

However then Fb stated it will rethink its ban after two years. And that point is up. The corporate says it is gone by means of this course of, reviewing its personal insurance policies and the bigger surroundings, together with how the midterm elections went. And it says it thinks the chance to public security has, quote, sufficiently receded. Fb says it believes individuals ought to be capable to hear what politicians should say. But it surely additionally says Trump does should observe its guidelines. And so it will put guardrails in place.

INSKEEP: What sort of guardrails do they imply?

BOND: Effectively, due to what occurred largely on January 6, Fb has created a brand new set of insurance policies particularly for public figures in occasions of civil unrest and violence. And meaning if Trump continues to interrupt the principles, he may resist one other two-year suspension. And given simply how high-profile he’s, these earlier violations, Meta says they will watch very intently what he posts, even content material that could be, you already know, borderline.

INSKEEP: There could be lots of people posting opinions about this resolution concerning Donald Trump.

BOND: Sure. I imply, this can be a resolution that, like the choice to droop him within the first place, may be very controversial. He has been – since being kicked off of mainstream social media, he is been posting on his personal web site, Reality Social – posts false claims of election fraud, Qanon conspiracy theories. And so Democratic politicians and civil rights organizations and advocacy teams are pointing to that and saying it reveals he’s nonetheless a giant threat to public security.

Some additionally say this units a harmful precedent all over the world. You already know, there are far-right, authoritarian leaders who look to Trump and the way he makes use of social media as a mannequin. Trump, in the meantime, is taking a victory lap on Reality Social. He says this could by no means occur once more to a sitting president. However the subsequent query is, will he truly use Fb once more as soon as he will get his account again within the coming weeks, you already know? He was allowed again on Twitter again in November. However he has not been posting there. He is caught to Reality Social.

INSKEEP: Effectively, assist me perceive – on this altering social media panorama, is it a robust device for a politician to be on Fb at this level or to be denied it, for that matter?

BOND: Yeah, I imply, Fb doesn’t most likely have the clout it did when Trump was banned. You already know, issues have modified. However what it is essential for is fundraising. And – proper? – Trump is working for president once more in 2024. That’s going to be a very important channel. In actual fact, his marketing campaign formally petitioned Fb to let him again on. You already know, and I believe, regardless of how a lot he talks up Reality Social, which he helped create and financially again, there, he has only a fraction of the attain he has on Fb and Twitter. So it is laborious to think about there would not be a really sturdy pull for him to return to those greater platforms.

INSKEEP: NPR’s Shannon Bond has monumental attain right here on this platform. Shannon, thanks a lot.

BOND: Thanks, Steve.


INSKEEP: Fentanyl deaths are rising quick amongst youngsters and youths in the US.

FADEL: And a giant a part of the issue is social media. Drug sellers are utilizing platforms like Snapchat to promote fentanyl-laced capsules to younger individuals. And now a rising variety of lawmakers need tech firms held liable.

INSKEEP: NPR habit correspondent Brian Mann joins us. Brian, good morning.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How do sellers use social media?

MANN: You already know, there was a listening to about this earlier than a Home panel yesterday in Washington. And Amy Neville informed lawmakers concerning the expertise of her 14-year-old son, Alex.


AMY NEVILLE: It was on Snapchat that Alex was capable of go to with sellers and different customers. It was on Snapchat that he arrange a deal to get capsules. It was on Snapchat that he made plans to have the vendor drive as much as our home so Alex may sneak out for a few minutes one night time and get something he wished.

MANN: And in 2020, Steve, a web-based drug vendor bought Alex fentanyl-laced tablet. And he died. That vendor was by no means caught or prosecuted. And one latest research discovered that fentanyl deaths amongst youngsters age 14 and youthful have skyrocketed. So this can be a massive downside.

INSKEEP: Wow. What are social media firms doing?

MANN: Effectively, critics yesterday stated they are not doing almost sufficient. Witnesses testified that firms aren’t working quick sufficient to determine social media accounts opened by drug sellers. They are saying they are not working with mother and father who see issues. Laura Marquez-Garrett is an legal professional with a bunch known as the Social Media Victims Legislation Middle that is suing Snapchat.


LAURA MARQUEZ-GARRETT: We now have a shopper who actually drove to Snap’s bodily handle as a result of she was attempting to report a vendor who killed her son. She couldn’t get by means of to anybody. She couldn’t discover a 1-800 quantity.

MANN: And witnesses have additionally testified that tech firms have been sluggish to cooperate with legislation enforcement.

INSKEEP: Effectively, what does Snapchat say about all this?

MANN: Yeah. I spoke yesterday with Jennifer Stout. She’s Snapchat’s vp for world coverage. And she or he acknowledged drug sellers are focusing on youngsters on their platform. She says it is taking place for one motive.

JENNIFER STOUT: That is the place younger individuals are, proper? That is the place teenagers come to speak and to attach with their buddies.

MANN: So Stout informed me that Snapchat is working to develop higher expertise to determine drug sellers and shut down their accounts, additionally getting higher cooperating with legislation enforcement.

STOUT: In latest months, we’ve got solely elevated our investments right here to assist us strengthen our capability to satisfy legislation enforcement requests for info. We reply to emergency disclosure requests, typically in lower than half-hour.

MANN: And different social media firms, I ought to say, that attempt to entice youngsters to their platforms, they’re additionally scrambling now to enhance security.

INSKEEP: Effectively, Brian, assist me perceive one thing right here. If social media platforms are getting used on this manner and other people really feel that the businesses themselves are in a roundabout way accountable, cannot they only sue these firms and demand that they be held accountable?

MANN: Individuals have tried to carry these lawsuits, nevertheless it’s actually troublesome. And that is due to one provision of federal legislation referred to as Part 230 that principally shelters social media firms from most civil lawsuits linked to exercise posted by customers. Free speech advocates say that is an essential provision as a result of it protects conversations on-line. Critics, although, say Part 230 is permitting many of those drug sellers to function. And it protects firms that permit that to occur. So what we heard Wednesday is that this rising stress on tech firms to make youngsters safer once they do go browsing.

INSKEEP: NPR habit correspondent Brian Mann. Thanks a lot.

MANN: Thanks.

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