Financial Daily Dose 7.23.2021 | Top Story: Amazon Abruptly Drops Mandatory Arbitration Requirement

July 23, 2021

In a major departure, Amazon announced to customers this week that “it would no longer require them to resolve their legal complaints involving the technology giant through arbitration.” Consumer advocates cheered the news based on a long-held belief that the “private and secretive arbitration process . . . puts consumers at a huge disadvantage.” Amazon offered no official explanation for the reversal, though the roughly 75k arbitration claims it’s received related to its Alexa assistant and alleged recording without consent likely played a role - NYTimes

Median U.S. home prices hit a new high in June, reaching $363,000 thanks to “[c]ontinued strong demand” and a still-tight supply of homes for sale - WSJ

After a steady-but-not-normal return to the air this spring, U.S. travelers are back in force this summer, and the “aviation recovery is gaining momentum.” Consumer spending in July “briefly exceeded 2019 levels on a weekly basis for the first time since the pandemic began,” and the TSA recently screened over 2.2 million passengers in a single day—the most since early 2020 - NYTimes

Twitter posted solid numbers on Thursday, revealing that its revenue rose 74% in Q2 on the back of “higher-than-anticipated advertising spending” - NYTimes

FINRA CEO Robert Cook put markets on notice that                                     the watchdog group is “planning a trio of regulatory sweeps to address the latest developments causing turbulence in financial markets.” SPACs and social media’s “finfluencers” are at the top of the list – Law360

Reporting this week that Beijing is considering even harsher measures against ride-hailing giant Didi over its U.S.-based IPO sent Didi shares tumbling further this week—down more than a quarter overall since their listing just a month ago - Bloomberg

Mercedes-Benz is the latest major automaker to announce a monumental shift in focus to electric vehicles. For Mercedes, that means plans to “sell nothing but electric cars by 2030” (depending on “market conditions,” of course) - NYTimes

Consumer-goods giant Unilever warned on Thursday that the higher costs for “ingredients, packaging and transportation” it’s facing these days will likely prompt it to accelerate its own “price increases across a range of products.” That news matched similar announcements this year from other packaged-goods manufacturers (like P&G and General Mills) over coming price hikes - WSJ

Tech firm Kaseya, the “Miami-based company at the center of a ransomware attack on hundreds of businesses over the Fourth of July weekend,” has managed to acquire “a key that would help customers unlock access to their data and networks.” Kaseya was tight-lipped about other details, including exactly how it got the key and from whom - NYTimes and WSJ

Dutch authorities have levied a 750k Euro fine against TikTok for “allegedly failing to clearly disclose how it collects and uses young children’s personal data.” Among its failings was not providing a version of its privacy statement in Dutch. The fine announcement came with hints of more EU regulatory action, potentially from Ireland’s Data Privacy Authority – Law360

Uber’s Freight unit, which focuses on delivery operations, is acquiring “technology-focused logistics services provider Transplace” for $2.25 billion as part of an effort to grow its freight-delivery business - WSJ

Well, the summer games of the XXXII Olympiad—already the weirdest that I can recall—are officially underway. Here’s hoping that the athletes can power through the fan-less silence and the pernicious Delta variant to make it a fortnight to remember (for the right reasons) - Bloomberg

Stay safe, get vaxxed, and go Team USA,