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Market Endures Taliban’s Return to Power: While no one could predict the 11-day disastrous collapse of the Afghan government when U.S. troops withdrew, financial markets remained relatively stable amidst the instability. During the week leading up to the fall of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, U.S. stock markets hit record highs. However, there were dips related to the disappointing news on consumer confidence and retail sales.

Taking the Recovery Temp: We’re keeping our eyes on how the recovery tracker is doing across many areas: production, consumer habits, travel, and health, to name a few. The end of July revealed that economic momentum remained strong, but a few problem areas signal those gains will be harder to maintain. The recent recovery tracker decline was primarily due to moderating demand overall and lower mobility as coronavirus cases ticked higher of late.

Jobless Claims Go Low: By week’s end, jobless claims fell 29,000 to 348,000—a pandemic low. Even with the threat of the delta variant, businesses are confident the U.S. economy will weather this latest outbreak. Most companies are trying to avoid layoffs because of a nationwide shortage of laborers. The big, unanswered question is whether more people will return to the labor force in the fall as expected when schools reopen and federal unemployment benefits run out.  Our sense is that we should see continued gains in the employment market.

No Honor among Thieves?: A hacker who stole $600 million worth of cryptocurrency from a trading site was offered a job as the Chief Security Advisor at that same company. Known online as Mr. White Hat, he exploited a flaw in the Poly Network system and, after garnering the $600 million, had a change of heart and is in the process of returning it. He was even offered $500,000 to identify the flaw which allowed him to breach the network’s security. He turned the reward down before returning the cryptocurrency. I would have enjoyed seeing the transcript of this email exchange, namely when the offer of the return of funds was given.