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This Week in Apps: Apple’s Sherlocks, Instagram’s ‘nudges’ and a TikTok-Oracle deal

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy….



Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending across iOS, Google Play and third-party Android app stores in China grew 19% in 2021 to reach $170 billion. Downloads of apps also grew by 5%, reaching 230 billion in 2021, and mobile ad spend grew 23% year over year to reach $295 billion.

Today’s consumers now spend more time in apps than ever before — even topping the time they spend watching TV, in some cases. The average American watches 3.1 hours of TV per day, for example, but in 2021, they spent 4.1 hours on their mobile device. And they’re not even the world’s heaviest mobile users. In markets like Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea, users surpassed five hours per day in mobile apps in 2021.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours, either. They can grow to become huge businesses. In 2021, 233 apps and games generated more than $100 million in consumer spend, and 13 topped $1 billion in revenue. This was up 20% from 2020, when 193 apps and games topped $100 million in annual consumer spend, and just eight apps topped $1 billion.

This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place, with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and suggestions about new apps to try, too.

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Top Stories

Instagram to “nudge” teens away from some negative content

Image Credits: Meta

Social apps are taking a closer look at how they’re being used by teens and minors as regulatory pressure increases.

Last week, TikTok improved its protections for minor users when adding a new feature that allows users to remind themselves to “take a break” after watching videos for a certain amount of time on the app. As a part of this, the company also said it would notify younger teens on the app that the new tool was available if they had spent more than 100 minutes on TikTok the prior day.

This week, Instagram said it’s rolling out its own set of improvements to the teen experience. It’s expanding access to its existing parental control features outside the U.S. to users in the U.K., Japan, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France and Germany starting this month, and plans to make them globally available by year end.

In addition, Instagram will now allow parents and guardians to send invitations to teens to initiate the setup of supervision tools. Once enabled, they’ll be able to limit their teen’s usage of the app during specific times of day and days of the week. They’ll also be able to see more information when the teen reports an account or a post, including who they reported and the type of report. For parents who were already using parental controls in the U.S., the feature will be updated to include these new features.

Notably, Meta is also now taking a cue from last fall’s congressional line of inquiry into how Instagram’s algorithms could be leading teens to develop eating disorders as searches for healthy recipes push them down rabbit holes to content that encourages disordered eating, over-exercise and other things that could trigger negative body image issues. Instagram says it will roll out “nudges” in the app that encourage teens to switch to a different topic if it sees them repeatedly looking at the same type of content on the Explore page. This feature aims to help direct them away to content they may be obsessing over to discover something new. It also won’t nudge users toward content that’s associated with “appearance comparison,” the company said.

Of course, by limiting nudges to the Explore page, Instagram isn’t fully addressing the problem as users could still encounter this content while browsing their Feed, Stories or Reels. But in that case, the content is there because the user explicitly chose to follow someone — which is why parental monitoring of the time spent on the app remains important.

Sherlocks from Apple’s WWDC

Image Credits: Apple

Apple introduced a number of new features and services across its platforms at this month’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but in doing so, the company appears to have once again pulled inspiration from the wider developer community. TechCrunch’s Ivan Mehta took a look at which apps got “sherlocked” during WWDC as a result. (The term refers to Apple’s old finder app called Sherlock which the company updated with features offered by a competitor, Watson. The move eventually put the latter out of business.)

This time around, Apple introduced a number of concepts popularized by other apps — like Continuity Camera, which seems to be inspired by companies like Camo, which had allowed users to use their iPhone as a computer webcam. This situation recalls how the makers of Duet Display and Luna had to refocus on serving a broader ecosystem after Apple introduced Sidecar in 2019 to offer a similar ability to use the iPad as a secondary display. Camo, too, will need to shift some of its focus to Windows and Android as Apple moves in on its market.

Other services that may see increased competition include: BNPL apps like Klarna and Afterpay, which will now go up against Apple Pay Later; apps for removing the background from photos, which is now a native iOS 16 feature; medication tracking apps, which will compete with a native Apple Health feature; Figjam and other collaboration tools, which will have a new first-party rival in the form of Apple’s Freeform; and sleep tracking apps, whose functionality has been added to Apple Health.

While this year was a particularly bad one for smaller startups that had seen an opportunity in the market, not everything Apple copies is a fully developed product. For instance, Camo saw the shift to online meetings in the wake of COVID was driving consumer demand for better webcams — and what better way to serve that market than to repurpose the excellent camera most people already carried as a smartphone? But, as Florian Mueller explained on the FOSS Patents blog this week, Camo was more of a feature than a product. And perhaps in those cases, developers should focus on patenting whatever feature it is they’ve come up with, rather than waiting for Apple to swoop in with an app or API that could significantly impact their business. At least then, some of their work could be compensated.

FOSS also noted, however, that there continues to be concern that apps delivering their software to users through Apple’s own App Store are inadvertently giving Apple access to valuable data about their customers and traction. Alternative app stores could help somewhat to alleviate this concern.

In fact, Apple’s “sherlocking” was a line of inquiry at last year’s antitrust hearing in the U.S. Senate, when a rep from Apple was asked whether there was a “strict firewall” or other internal policies in place that prevented them from leveraging the data from third-party businesses operating on their app stores to inform the development of their own competitive products. Apple had only offered vague responses as to whether or not it leveraged such App Store data for product development ideas.

“We don’t copy. We don’t kill. What we do is offer up a new choice and a new innovation,” Kyle Andeer, Apple’s chief compliance officer, had said at the time. He noted simply that Apple had “separate teams” and “controls in place” to avoid such issues.

TikTok relocates U.S. user data to Oracle

In a huge move, TikTok said it would move its U.S. users’ data to Oracle servers located in the U.S. at the same time BuzzFeed published a remarkable report indicating that TikTok’s U.S. data was regularly being shared with ByteDance colleagues in China. Concern over China’s access to TikTok had previously led the Trump administration to ban the app in the U.S. The ban was initially held up by the courts and the appeals were then put on pause when Biden came into office. All the while, TikTok had repeatedly said it would never hand over U.S. user data to anyone.

When the Trump ban was underway, TikTok had engaged in discussions with several tech companies to acquire its U.S. business if it was forced to spin it off. Oracle had been among the suitors, so it’s not surprising it was named in the new deal.

In recent days, TikTok had come under fire in media reports about its toxic workplace culture where employees were quitting because of being overworked — spending some 12 hours a day at their job due to requirements to align themselves with China’s business hours. The company was said to also reward the overworked and punish those who set more reasonable boundaries, as it seemed to enforce China’s 996 work schedule on non-Chinese employees. This dictates a schedule of working from 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days per week. A WSJ report also noted some U.S. employees said they had worked 85 hours per week on average, resulting in health concerns, stress, anxiety and emotional lows so severe they sought therapy.

More Reading

render of smartphone showing locket app

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

The next big social platform is the smartphone’s homescreen

This week, we took a deep dive into a new app trend involving social apps that are leveraging homescreen widgets to connect and engage with younger users who are looking for simpler, more private social networking apps that let them stay in touch with friends through casual photo-sharing. Read more here:

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

Image Credits: Apple

  • Apple announced new sessions of Apple Camp for children and families. The Apple Store program runs June 20-August 31 and will offer lessons about using Apple’s technology and apps to do things like make a digital comic book, take photos, use Apple Pencil to draw and more.
  • With Apple’s upcoming release of iOS 16, users will now be able to remove 30 stock apps from their Apple devices, including Contacts, FaceTime, Clock, Camera, Find My, Health and others.
  • Apple made a notable update to its Apple Developer Program that will now allow apps that use iCloud to be transferred to another developer without removing them from the App Store. This makes it easier for developers to sell apps or relocate them to another organization.
  • The focus may be on iOS 16, but Apple is still working on the next version of iOS 15, as well. This week, the company rolled out iOS 15.6 beta 3 and iPadOS 15.6 beta 3 to developers.

Platforms: Google

  • Google said it’s shutting down Google Assistant’s Conversational Actions in favor of App Actions for Android. Developers have 12 months to migrate to the Android-focused replacement for the older, voice-only features.


eBay live shopping

Image Credits: eBay

  • eBay launched livestream shopping. The company announced the debut of eBay Live, a live shopping platform that allows users to interact with sellers in the chat and through reaction buttons, then purchase any items they like during the livestream. The service is currently in beta and available on the website and mobile app. The first event will see eBay taking on Whatnot with a curated selection of rare trading cards offered by eBay seller Bleecker Trading.
  • Food delivery app JOKR is exiting the U.S. The company said it’s closing its New York and Boston locations by June 19 and leaving the U.S. market altogether in order to focus on Latin America.
  • Grocery delivery app Instacart renamed its subscription service Instacart+. The service will continue as usual, with $9.99/mo or $99/yr tiers, but will also now gain Family Accounts that allow multiple members of a household to add items to a shared Family Cart.


Samsung Wallet

Image Credits: Samsung

  • Samsung launched its new “Samsung Wallet.” The wallet app lets users store digital keys, boarding passes, identification cards and more, and combines Samsung Pay and Samsung Pass into one secure platform.
  • A report suggests Apple’s new Apple Pay BNPL service — Apple Pay Later, available in Apple Wallet — may be related to its privacy push, as it would not involve sharing personal data with third parties.
  • PayPal introduced another BNPL option called PayPal Pay Monthly, which lets shoppers split purchases of $199-$10,000 into monthly payments over a 6-24 month period, if they qualify. The company previously offered Pay in 4, which was for smaller purchases up to $1,500, split over four payments.


Image Credits: Instagram

  • Instagram said it’s begun testing a new version of its full-screen feed, similar to TikTok’s, which aims to improve upon the way photos appear in this new format. The company said it will also use this experiment to try out changes to the navigation bar at the bottom of the Instagram app, where it will soon add shortcuts for creating a post — a button removed from the nav bar in 2020 — and another for accessing messages. Instagram had been testing a different version of the full-screen feed before now, but had been met with negative feedback.
  • An internal memo provided to The Verge said Meta is planning to make Facebook more like TikTok, including by bringing Messenger back into the app and recommending posts from unconnected sources.
  • Snapchat is experimenting with a subscription service. The company is testing Snapchat+, which would give users early access to experimental features like pinning certain conversations and exclusive icons and badges.
  • TikTok is testing a feature that lets you see which followers have viewed your posts. People you follow will be able to see that you viewed their posts, too. The company has made the test available to a limited audience, but it may not be welcomed by all users.
  • Twitter is now allowing local businesses to display their location, operating hours and contact info on their Twitter Professional profiles.
  • Pinterest is turning Idea Pins into ads. The feature has allowed Pinterest creators to tell their stories using a combination of video, images, music and other editing tools, resulting in something that’s a cross between TikTok’s short videos and a Stories product with multiple pages of content. Now, Pinterest is opening up this new format to its advertisers with the launch of its new “Idea Ads.”


  • Apple and WhatsApp announced that Apple’s Move to iOS app will now allow users to transfer their WhatsApp chat history, photos, and voice messages from Android to iPhone when switching between devices, while keeping e2ee. Before, users could only transfer chats from iPhone to Android. The feature is rolling out in beta and will take a week or so to reach all users.
  • Messaging app Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov, writing on his Telegram channel, accused Apple of limiting competition by banning other browsers on iOS beyond those that are WebKit-based. The comments follow news that the U.K.’s CMA was looking into this area due to possible anti-competitive concerns. “I think it’s an accurate summary [by the CMA] and hope that regulatory action will follow soon,” Durov said. “It’s sad that, more than ten years after Steve Job’s death, a company that once revolutionized mobile web turned into its most significant roadblock.”


  • A ban on dating apps in Pakistan has sent users flocking to Facebook Groups. The country banned apps like Tinder, Grindr and Skout in September 2020, leading to local Facebook matchmaking groups gaining tens of thousands of members.
  • Dating app Bumble has been pushing for legislation across multiple U.S. states that would criminalize what it calls cyberflashing — the sending of unwanted sexual images to another person online. The company previously helped pass a bill in Texas that made sending lewd photos without the consent of the recipient a class-C misdemeanor, The NYT said.

Streaming & Entertainment

  • YouTube Music takes on Spotify’s Wrapped with a new feature called seasonal recaps — a culmination of your top artists, songs, albums and playlists. A “Spring Recap” will be the first recap that users can try. The streaming service had first introduced a Wrapped-like feature called Recap as a year-end review.
  • YouTube added a “corrections” feature that will allow creators to add a note to the video’s description or pin a comment with the correction after the video is uploaded.
  • Pirate streaming apps were spotted beating out traditional streamers like Netflix and Disney+ on the Top Charts in the Play Store in Brazil. The apps have a lot of traction. One app, Cine Vision V5, has more than 5 million downloads and 82,000 reviews.
  • Spotify said it would slow its hiring by 25% after adding 2,000+ staff from 2019-2021. The company’s total headcount is now 6,617.
  • Spotify also announced the formation of a Safety Advisory Council to help it make better decisions about content moderation. The effort follows the controversies that arose over its hosting of the Joe Rogan podcast which helped spread medical information related to COVID-19 vaccines, prompting a backlash.
  • Apple’s TV app will become the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match beginning in 2023 thanks to a new partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS).


Image Credits: Sensor Tower

  • Netflix’s venture into mobile gaming has generated 13 million downloads, according to a report from Sensor Tower. The company now has 24 mobile titles and is preparing to launch others, including The Queen’s Gambit Chess, Shadow and Bone: Destinies, and Too Hot To Handle, which tie into Netflix series. To date, the most popular game is Stranger Things 1984, which has close to 2 million downloads. Asphalt Xtreme ranks No. 2 with 1.8 million installs, and Stranger Things 3: The Game ranks No. 3 with 1.5 million. (These don’t include the games’ original release downloads before they were Netflix-owned.) Netflix games are now being downloaded at a rate of more than 1 million installs per month, the report found.

Health & Fitness

Image Credits: Sleep Reset

  • Sleep Reset is a new app from meditation app Simple Habit’s founder, Yunha Kim, which helps users improve their sleep. The app aims to bring the same treatment you’d otherwise receive in sleep clinics — such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) — to mobile devices.

Travel & Transportation

  • Google Maps introduced a new feature for Android users that now shows live traffic around you not just in the app but in a widget you can access on your lock screen. The feature follows Apple’s introduction of Live Activities on the iOS 16 Lock Screen. It also rolled out a new feature that shows the total toll prices for a trip.
  • London-based Waymap is introducing an app to help visually impaired people to navigate their surroundings, starting with public transit. The company wrapped trials of its navigation app at three stops within Washington, D.C.’s Metro, and hopes to begin a public trial at 25 Metro stations and 1,000 bus stops by September.


Image Credits: Readdle

  • Readdle now offers its popular iOS Calendars app for the Mac. The app includes other useful features, like to-dos, weather, meeting integrations (e.g. Zoom, Meet, GoToMeeting), color-coding, natural language event creation and more. It works with calendar providers like Google, Outlook, iCloud and others. The Pro plan is $19.99/year and unlocks all the features across Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch.
  • Google officially shuts down Google Talk. After June 16, anyone trying to use the app will get an error message. Users are being pushed to Google Chat instead, which is available on web and mobile.

Government & Policy

  • Social app makers and big tech co’s, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Google and others, have agreed to new EU rules focused on fighting disinformation on their platforms. Among the 44 commitments they’ve agreed to are those focused on creating libraries for political ads, demonetizing fake news sites, reducing bots/fake accounts, offering more tools for flagging disinformation and accessing authoritative sources, giving researchers more access to platforms’ data, and more.
  • Meta (then Facebook)’s acquisition of GIF startup Giphy may be revisited. The U.K.’s competition authority may have to look again at the decision to approve the merger after the country’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) endorsed the regulator’s finding that the deal could harm competition, Reuters said.
  • Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO), its antitrust watchdog, announced it’s investigating Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework over concerns that the company could be breaching competition rules by self-preferencing or creating unfair barriers for other companies.
  • The Netherlands’ competition regulator said Apple’s latest changes to its App Store Rules, which now allow dating app makers to choose alternative payment methods, now meet local and EU competition requirements.

Funding and M&A

Indian esports fantasy app FanClash raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Alpha Wave Global, formerly known as Falcon Edge Capital. Users compete across several titles, including Counter Strike: Go, FreeFire and League of Legends. The company is now experimenting with expanding in the Philippines.

Mobile gaming platform VersusGame raised $25 million in a new funding round with a number of investors, including Apex Capital, Brightstone Capital Partners, Feld Ventures and others. The startup has content creators pose “prediction contests” to viewers, who can win cash and prizes. It has previously worked with BuzzFeed, Billboard, ESPN, UFC and others.

Reddit is acquiring machine learning startup Spell for an undisclosed sum. The startup was founded by former Facebook engineers to provide a cloud computing solution that allows anyone to run resource-intensive ML experiments without the high-end hardware that would normally be necessary. Reddit could use the ML to improve its personalized recommendations and its Discover tab.

Spotify closed its acquisition of audiobook company Findaway, announced last November. The company cited the potential for its expansion into audiobooks, noting the market is expected to grow from $3.3 billion to $15 billion by 2027.

Food delivery app Wonder, led by Marc Lore, raised $350 million in a new round led by Bain Capital Ventures at a $3.5 billion valuation, bringing its total raise in equity and debt to $900 million. Lore previously sold Quidsi ( to Amazon, then to Walmart, where he stayed to lead its U.S. e-commerce business for years. Wonder is now looking to bring local restaurants and food truck deliveries to consumers’ homes.

Edtech company Pok Pok, which spun out of Snowman (Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey) raised $3 million in seed funding led by Konvoy to expand its play-based learning experiences for kids. The company’s Pok Pok Playroom app is designed to help kids learn through digital play using open-ended toys which, unlike mobile games, don’t have a goal to achieve, points or other gaming elements.

Indonesian consumer payments app Flip raised $55 million in Series B funding in a round led by Tencent, with participation from Block (formerly Square) and existing investor Insight Partners. The company has helped more than 10 million people in Indonesia as of May this year, up from more than 7 million users in December 2021. Its app lets users perform interbank transfers to more than 100 domestic banks, use an e-wallet, and create international remittances.

Onymos, a “feature-as-a-service” platform for app development, raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Great Point Ventures. The startup offers off-the-shelf features that can be added to apps like login, biometrics, chat, data storage, location services, notification modules, underlying logic and server-side functions needed to process data in the cloud.


Image Credits: Grace

A new startup called Grace launched an app to make it easier for parents to monitor and manage their kids’ screen time and app usage on iOS devices. Although Apple offers built-in parental controls, many parents would prefer an app-based solution as opposed to having to dig around in the settings for Apple’s tools. In addition, Grace offers more customization over kids’ screen time schedules. With Apple’s controls, parents can only configure start and stop times for “Downtime,” for instance, as opposed to being able to set other times when app usage should be limited, like school hours, family dinner time, homework time and more.

Grace is also notable for being one of the first to arrive that’s built with Apple’s Screen Time API, introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference last year. The new API allows developers to create an interface that works with Apple’s built-in tools in order to expand their functionality.

You can read more about Grace here:



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“We Are Headed For Another Train Wreck”: Bill Ackman Blames Janet Yellen For Restarting The Bank Run

"We Are Headed For Another Train Wreck": Bill Ackman Blames Janet Yellen For Restarting The Bank Run

Yesterday morning we joked that every…



"We Are Headed For Another Train Wreck": Bill Ackman Blames Janet Yellen For Restarting The Bank Run

Yesterday morning we joked that every time Janet Yellen opens her mouth, stocks dump.

Well, it wasn't a joke, and as we repeatedly noted today, while Jerome Powell was busting his ass to prevent a violent market reaction - in either direction - to his "most important Fed decision and presser of 2023", the Treasury Secretary, with all the grace of a senile 76-year-old elephant in a China market, uttered the phrase...


... and the rest was silence... or rather selling.

Commenting on our chart, Bloomberg's Mark Cudmore noted it was Yellen who was "to blame for the stock slump", pointing out that "the pessimistic turn in US stocks began within a minute of Janet Yellen starting to speak."

The S&P 500 rose almost 1% in the first 47 minutes after the Fed decision. Powell wasn’t the problem either: the index was 0.6% higher in the first 17 minutes after his press conference started.

Why am I picking that exact timing of 2:47pm NY time? Because that is the minute Yellen started speaking at the Senate panel hearing. The high for the S&P 500 was 2:48pm NY time and it fell more than 2.5% over the subsequent 72 minutes. Good effort.

Picking up on this, Bloomberg's Mark Cranfield writes that banking stocks globally are set to underperform for longer after Janet Yellen pushed back against giving deposit insurance without working with lawmakers. He adds that "to an aggressive trader this sounds like an invitation to keep shorting bank stocks -- at least until the tone changes into broader support and is less focused on specific bank situations." Earlier, we addressed that too:

Looking ahead, Cranfield warns that US financials are likely to be the most vulnerable as they are the epicenter of the debate. Although European or Asian banking names may outperform US peers, that won’t be much consolation for investors as most financial sector indexes may be on a downward path.

The KBW bank index has tumbled from its highs seen in early February, but still has a way to go before it reaches the pandemic-nadir in 2020. Traders smell an opening for a big trade and that will fuel more downside. Probably until Yellen blinks.

And if Bill Ackman is right, she will be doing a whole lot of blinking in days if not hours.

Ackman crying in public

While we generally make fun of Ackman's self-serving hot takes on twitter, today he was right when he accused Yellen of effectively restarting the small bank depositor run which according to JPMorgan has already seen $1.1 trillion in assets withdrawn from "vulnerable" banks. This is what Ackman tweeted:

Yesterday, @SecYellen  made reassuring comments that led the market and depositors to believe that all deposits were now implicitly guaranteed. That coupled with a leak suggesting that @USTreasury, @FDICgov and @SecYellen  were looking for a way to guarantee all deposits reassured the banking sector and depositors.

This afternoon, @SecYellen walked back yesterday’s implicit support for small banks and depositors, while making it explicit that systemwide deposit guarantees were not being considered.

We have gone from implicit support for depositors to @SecYellen explicit statement today that no guarantee is being considered with rates now being raised to 5%. 5% is a threshold that makes bank deposits that much less attractive. I would be surprised if deposit outflows don’t accelerate effective immediately.

Ackman concluded by repeating his ask: a comprehensive deposit guarantee on America's $18 trillion in assets...

A temporary systemwide deposit guarantee is needed to stop the bleeding. The longer the uncertainty continues, the more permanent the damage is to the smaller banks, and the more difficult it will be to bring their customers back.

... but as we noted previously pointing out, you know, the math...

... absent bipartisan Congressional intervention - which is very much unlikely until the bank crisis gets much, much worse - this won't happen and instead the Fed will continue putting out bank fire after bank fire - even as it keeps hiking to overcompensate for its "transitory inflation" idiocy from 2021, until the entire system burns down, something which Ackman's follow-up tweet was also right about:

Consider recent events impact on the long-term cost of equity capital for non-systemically important banks where you can wake up one day as a shareholder or bondholder and your investment instantly goes to zero. When combined with the higher cost of debt and deposits due to rising rates, consider what the impact will be on lending rates and our economy.

The longer this banking crisis is allowed to continue, the greater the damage to smaller banks and their ability to access low-cost capital.

Trust and confidence are earned over many years, but can be wiped out in a few days. I fear we are heading for another a train wreck. Hopefully, our regulators will get this right.

Narrator: no, they won't.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/22/2023 - 21:20

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China’s Auto Industry Association Urges “Cooling” Of Price War, As Major Manufacturers Slash Prices

China’s Auto Industry Association Urges "Cooling" Of Price War, As Major Manufacturers Slash Prices

Just hours after we wrote about maniacal…



China's Auto Industry Association Urges "Cooling" Of Price War, As Major Manufacturers Slash Prices

Just hours after we wrote about maniacal price cutting in the automotive industry in China, China's auto industry association is urging automakers to "cool" the hype behind price cuts.

The statement was made in order to "ensure the stable development of the industry", Automotive News Europe reported on Tuesday. 

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers even went so far as to put out a message on its official WeChat account, stating that "A price war is not a long-term solution". Instead "automakers should work harder on technology and branding," it said. 

The consumer disagrees...

Recall we wrote earlier this week that most major automakers were slashing prices in China. The move is coming after lifting pandemic controls failed to spur significant demand in China, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Ford and GM will be joined by BMW and Volkswagen in offering the discounts and promotions on EVs, the report says. 

Retail auto sales plunged the first two months of the year and automakers are facing additional challenges in trying to transition their business models to prioritize EVs over conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. 

Ford is offering $6,000 off its Mustang Mach-E, putting the standard version of its EV at just $31,000. Last month, only 84 of the vehicles were sold, compared to 1,500 sales in December. There was some pulling forward of demand due to the phasing out of subsidies heading into the new year, and Ford had also cut prices by about 9% in December. 

A spokesperson for Ford called it a "stock clearance". 

Discounts at Volkswagen are ranging from around $2,200 to $7,300 a car. The cuts will affect 20 gas powered and electric models. Its electric ID series is seeing price cuts of almost $6,000. The company called the cuts "temporary promotions due to general reluctance among car buyers, the new emissions rule and discounts offered by competitors."

Even more shocking is Citroën-maker Dongfeng Motor Group, who is offering a 40% discount on its C6 gas-powered sedan, now priced at $18,000. 

Kelvin Lau, an analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets, told the Journal that automakers are also trying to get rid of 500,000 vehicles collectively stored in their inventory, most of which are older vehicles that won't meet new emissions standards.

David Zhang, a Shanghai-based independent automobile analyst, added: “Some car makers have been seeing very few sales. At this rate, the manufacturers’ production and dealership networks will collapse.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/22/2023 - 18:00

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How Fauci’s Wife Used NIH Position To Backstop Her Husband’s Pandemic Health Directives

How Fauci’s Wife Used NIH Position To Backstop Her Husband’s Pandemic Health Directives

Authored by Adam Andrzejewski via OpenTheBooks,




How Fauci's Wife Used NIH Position To Backstop Her Husband’s Pandemic Health Directives

Authored by Adam Andrzejewski via OpenTheBooks,

It's the Washington, D.C. power couple that cost taxpayers nearly $1 million per year.

While Dr. Anthony Fauci gave the nation its pandemic public policy prescriptions, his wife, Dr. Christine Grady, the Chief Bioethicist at Fauci’s employer, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided the moral framework.

The Faucis are important to the center-left, because they represent the pinnacle moment of the administrative state – top-down public policy run by an elite group of government scientists.

Conversely, to the center-right, the Faucis represent “the fatal conceit of the elites.” As Noble Laureate economist Friedrich Hayek theorized, the elites are no match for billions of free people acting in their own best interests.


While Tony Fauci was the top paid federal bureaucrat and out-earned the U.S. President at $480,654 per year, Christine Grady, as the chief bioethicist at NIH out-earned the U.S. Vice President ($243,749). When adding 35-percent in benefits, the couple cost taxpayers an estimated nearly $1 million per year.

CHART: Tracking the Fauci household net worth which increased from $7.6 million to $12.6 million between the start of 2020 and the end of 2021. Source: lawsuit production from NIH on Fauci’s financial disclosures.

It’s difficult to know where Anthony Fauci ends and Christine Grady begins. Here’s how Tony Fauci described Grady’s influence on his public policy decisions:

I've benefited greatly from this partnership of overlapping interest and common interest. So, a lot of the things that I do with regard to the development of vaccines, the development of therapies, being involved with outbreaks and pandemics, have ethical overtones to them. I can say that I am very blessed to be living with someone who is very likely, most people think, one of the most outstanding ethicists in the world. To have her in the house -- you know, as a consultant on ethical issues—is pretty advantageous.

So, the Faucis lived a conflict of interest at the breakfast table, the office, and back home around the dinner table. However, NIH has never acknowledged this.

In fact, NIH forced our organization to file two federal lawsuits with the public-interest law firm Judicial Watch as our lawyers to finally bring transparency to the Fauci/Grady job descriptions, conflict of interest documents, financial and ethics disclosures, contracts, and other documents.

Then, NIH slow-walked thousands of pages of production. Yet, no nepotism waivers were produced, no acknowledgement of conflicting interests, and no records documenting violations of federal ethics policy.

Slide developed by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and presented by Dr. Christine Grady during her NIH presentation COVID Vaccines: Approaches to Vaccine Trial Design November 4 2020. Many of the prescriptions on this slide showed little efficacy in after-action studies. Source: FOIA

While Grady’s work during the pandemic was described as “invaluable” by then-NIH director Francis Collins, the general public knows little about her day-to-day responsibilities. 

An open records request for Grady’s job description reveals she, too, is meant to use her position to influence policy.

Screenshot from Christine Grady’s job description, received. Source: FOIA

Advocating Lockdowns

Dr. Fauci knew that his “draconian policies” on social isolation and economic lockdowns would have “collateral negative consequences,” and admitted Christine Grady was a driving force behind his hardline approach.

In a November 2021 interview with the couple, Fauci said that he gained strength from his wife’s support saying, “background and her experience in really core ethical principles [helped] me to really feel much more comfortable in what I was saying.”

In the interview, Christine Grady described how she mind-mapped national policy with her husband:

"But we've had conversations about the sort of consequences of telling people to stay home and what it would do for the economy. And there were a lot of people in those days that, and still who said, it's ruining the economy. It's much more important to just keep things going and not worry about transmitting virus…I said, that one of the messages should be, how many lives are you willing to sacrifice? And that message would be pretty stark and pretty brutal, but that's really what the trade-off was…And so we've had that kind of conversation over dinner more than once, actually.”

Fauci replied that these conversations “sharpened [his] resolve” to move forward with lockdown policies.

Social isolation was one of the individual sacrifices Grady and Fauci thought were necessary to make on behalf of “public health.”

Vaccine Development & Public Safety

Like her husband, Grady exclusively focused her attention and remarks on vaccine development rather than other potential ways to treat and combat the spread of COVID-19.

One major paper she co-authored in 2020 advocated for vaccines to be distributed under emergency use authorization (EUA), which is how the federal government ultimately proceeded.

In this paper, Grady’s advocacy for vaccines came with a troubling acknowledgement:

 “even with mandated safety monitoring after EUA distribution, it would be difficult or impossible to ascertain vaccine-induced adverse events.”

However, during most of her public presentations, she asserted that vaccines were developed in a fast, but “safe and rigorous” manner. Just one of many examples can be found here.

By November 2021, she said the risk of unknown long-term effects were “not zero” but that “there is a balance between benefiting the public health now versus waiting for all the information we might get.”

Despite these admissions, Grady often said she was “disturbed” by vaccine hesitancy, implying that safety concerns were somehow unreasonable.

Vaccine Mandates

Grady’s stance on vaccine mandates changed radically throughout the pandemic.

In June 2020, a presentation she gave suggested “immunity passports” could cause “discrimination without much overall gain.” A passport system would allow businesses to limit or deny access to those who remained unvaccinated.

Six months later, in January 2021, Grady said, “I do believe that healthcare providers, like everyone else, should have the choice” whether to take the vaccine or not.

But by early October 2021, Grady had decided the choice facing health care workers was a drastically different one: whether to get the vaccine or lose their jobs.

Later that month, she also flipped her position on vaccine passports. What once was a potential source of discrimination was recast as a way to access “social benefits” like restaurants and movie theaters.

It’s a disturbing way to describe Americans free association of movement.   

Grady went on to co-author a March 2022 report approving of social ostracization for the vaccine-hesitant and encouraging employers to pressure their workers:

“While some employers might understandably feel hesitant to pressure employees to get vaccinated, our analysis suggests that it is often ethically acceptable to inform, encourage, strongly encourage, incentivize, and subtly pressure unvaccinated people to benefit them, the organization, and other employees.”

In fewer than two years, Grady had completely altered her assessment of vaccine mandates and widespread restrictions on the behavior of unvaccinated Americans. Gone were concerns about discrimination and freedom of choice.

As Dr. Fauci pushed and pressured the public to get vaccinated for the sake of their neighbors and family members, Grady began considering it ethical to fire workers who did not comply.

Likewise, it became a “social benefit” to get a vaccine passport that would allow people to avoid government restrictions on their free movements.

Screenshot of Tweet – Dr. Fauci and Dr. Grady maskless at the Washington National baseball game in summer 2020 after Fauci threw out the first pitch.

Mask Mandates

While her husband advocated masking and double masking—even when “fully vaccinated”—Dr. Grady consistently backed his position.

In July 2020, during an InStyle interview, Grady answered questions about masking:

Interviewer: Let me ask you, Chris, as a bioethicist, what do you make of this moment we're in, when even a mask has become more of a divisive issue?

Grady: Well, I would say that masks shouldn't be divisive. It's a relatively easy way to protect one's self and others. And so for public health reasons, I think everybody should do it. From an ethical perspective there is always this tension between what you ask people to do that feels like a restriction of their liberty and what is required for public health. And in this case, it seems like a slam dunk. It's not restricting liberty much, and it's very helpful for public health.

Grady was consistent and in November 2021 spoke to the ethical balancing test of public safety versus individual freedom and never viewed mask wearing to be much of an infringement on individual rights:

“There's a classic tension between public health, and individual interests and freedoms. Where there seems to be this conflict to the things that we do to protect the public health, and to protect the population for the common good. Sometimes they are perceived to be, and sometimes they do in small ways, infringe on people's freedoms. There are principles of public health ethics that help you sort out the kinds of interventions that we should use: Things that are effective, that are proportional, where the benefits outweigh the risks that are necessary, that are least infringement possible, that are transparent, that we can publicly justify.

…What's striking to me is that, the kinds of burdens that we've asked people to undertake, like putting on a mask, don't really infringe on one's freedoms very much. They're low burden and they have an effect. They do protect the person who's wearing the mask, as well as the people that are around them.”

A recent credible study on mask wearing during the pandemic argued there is no clear impact of masking on Covid-19 infection rates.

Patients Dying in Isolation

During the pandemic, Grady revealed a default preference for government control over individual rights and responsibilities. Grady was an early proponent of one of the most heinous pandemic polices: patients dying in isolation.

For example, while uncritically accepting dying in isolation as a fact of the pandemic, Grady’s primary solution was to expand funding for health care workers to have access to therapy and other resources to heal from their “moral distress.”

As early as April 2020 Grady said:  

“Because of visiting policies and fear of contagion sometimes when somebody is really sick their family cannot visit them, they can't see them…the stress and the sadness and the isolation on families is and is going to be great.” 

In a November 2020 NIH presentation she called these “lonely” deaths “understandable:”  

"It’s a lonely kind of death, many institutions, understandably have visitor policies which either restrict the number of visitors to one or zero so sometimes people are dying without having their family nearby and that puts an additional burden on the healthcare staff.” 

In one co-authored paper urging healthcare workers to “temper these potentially dehumanizing scenarios with imaginative solutions that do not sacrifice compassion and equal respect on the altars of safety and efficiency.” 

She interrogates the tension between individual freedom and community safety in a book published April 26, 2022, as a co-author proposing a radical “solidarity model” for ethics in healthcare, stating that rather than emphasizing a respect for individuals to make decisions in their own interest:  

“We should recognize that there are times when solidarity takes precedence over individual liberties, and broadening our concept of “respect for persons” means uniting as a profession to protect all those who expect to receive care from nurses in whatever healthcare setting they find themselves.” 

She co-edited a section in the same book arguing this extends to dying in insolation: 

“The solidarity model may apply to restricted family visitation, which generated moral distress for nurses, particularly when patients died without loved ones present…”


As demonstrated by her own words, Grady’s record evinces an understanding of ethics that begs fundamental moral questions, regularly subordinates individuals beneath an amorphous “public health,” and relies on subtle but unacknowledged shifts to retain an alleged moral high ground.

While some of her observations early in the pandemic did show an interest in providing nuance to policymaking—questioning the usefulness of immunity passports and highlighting issues with long-term vaccine effects under a EUA rollout—this quickly gave way to conformity to broader political zeitgeist, painting pushback as ignorant, uncaring, and simply wrong.

By 2021 her public statements never suggested a limit to sacrifices the individual should ethically make on behalf of “public health,” from masking, to taking vaccines, to foregoing family gatherings even at the point of one’s own death.

Both Fauci and Grady made clear that they wish for ethicists like Grady to have more power and more influence over political decision-making.

As Grady remains the chief NIH bioethicist, Americans should ponder: does Grady’s philosophy advance what is “fair” and “just” in public health policy? What does her continued leadership mean for the future of American policy.

Taxpayers compensate Grady generously, and they’re owed full transparency about her role, responsibilities and influence – during the pandemic and into the future.

Note: We reached out to Dr. Christine Grady and NIH for comment. While acknowledging our requests, no statement or comment was received before publication.


Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Highest Paid Employee In The Entire U.S. Federal Government Published January 21, 2021 | Forbes

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Little Known Biodefense Work. It’s How He Became The Highest Paid Federal Employee. Published October 20, 2021 | Forbes

No, Fauci’s Records Aren’t Available. Why Won’t NIH Immediately Release Them? Published January 12, 2022 | Forbes

Breaking: Fauci’s Net Worth Soared To $12.6 Million During The Pandemic – Up $5 Million (2019-2021). Published September 28, 2022 |

HISTORIC RELEASE: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Official Work Calendar (November 2019 – March 2020) | Published October 20, 2022 |

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In the years 2021 and 2022, we filed 100,000+ FOIA requests and successfully captured $19 trillion government expenditures: nearly all federal spending; 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

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Tyler Durden Wed, 03/22/2023 - 21:00

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