Economics/Class Relations

Vice is just the beginning

May 16, 2023
Hello, Insiders. This is Joe Ciolli, a deputy executive editor in Insider’s business division. By one measure we’re seeing the most corporate bankruptcies since 2008. Vice Media is the most recent high-profile example.


The culprit is clear: a toxic combination of exorbitant debt liabilities and higher interest rates. It’s getting increasingly difficult to refinance that debt, and credit availability has broadly evaporated.


While bankruptcy isn’t always a death knell for a company, recent data suggests considerable economic stress and more filings lie ahead.


In today’s edition: 

  • America is behind China in one key area of the Tech Cold War.
  • Where Taylor Swift puts her money, according to an elite investor.
  • OpenAI is rolling out a game-changing feature to ChatGPT.
— Joe Ciolli


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Trump, Musk, & Giuliani

  • Trump says he’s “amazed” that CNN staffers were “traumatized” by his town-hall appearance. More here.
  • Elon Musk told Tesla staff that he must approve all hiring. “No one can join Tesla, even as a contractor, until you receive my email approval.” Read Musk’s full email.
  • Rudy Giuliani is being sued over alleged sexual assault. A former staffer says Giuliani demanded oral sex while he took calls from Trump. Read more.

Bankruptcy surge

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VICE Media


Big firms are filing for bankruptcy left and right — and it’s just the beginning.

On Monday, Vice Media — once valued at nearly $6 billion — filed for bankruptcy. But it wasn’t alone. In the space of just 48 hours, six other large companies threw in the towel, which by one measure marked the most active period for bankruptcies since 2008.

Why are so many companies filing for bankruptcy? The reason is relatively simple: the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes, which were designed to rein in inflation, have laid bare the market’s weak hands.

A credit crunch is here, and it’s spreading quickly, crippling companies with large, cumbersome debt loads — and data suggests the pain could just be getting underway.


China, Taylor Swift, & more

Robyn Phelps/Insider


  • The one crucial industry where China is crushing America. The US and China are locked in a battle to control the future of tech — and there is one big spot where Beijing dominates: electric batteries. The winner of the battery war will control not only the electric-vehicle market, but also dictate how the West can transition to green energy. More here.
  • The best places to live in the US, based on cost of living, good weather, and jobs. U.S. News and World Report released its annual rankings — with Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Huntsville, Alabama, coming out on top. See the full list of 12 spots.
  • Young Robert De Niro v. young Al Pacino: A Twitter poll is going viral over which actor was hotter when they were younger — and people are very invested in the debate. Check it out.
  • TruePill built a business dispensing medications for digital-health companies. Now, it’s trying to reinvent itself. Starting in 2022, Truepill has closed pharmacies, laid off employees, and cut its cash burn. So the company is remaking itself — to survive.
  • Where Taylor Swift invests her money. Unlike some celebrities, she successfully dodged investing with the now-imploded crypto exchange FTX. An elite investor told Insider that Swift prefers to invest in a niche type of fund. More on that here.
  • A new ChatGPT feature could revolutionize how you use the internet. The buzzy chatbot is launching a web-browsing feature this week— that is set to allow ChatGPT-Plus users to get real-time information. It has the potential to be a major game changer.
  • Parents are returning worn-out children’s clothing to Target. The retailer has a policy that allows customers to return clothes from Target’s own brands within one year of purchase. Some customers said they used the policy to get refunds or entirely new outfits.

3 Italian houses for $3.30

Rubia Daniels
A California-based woman bought three abandoned houses in a Sicilian village — cashing in on Italy’s desperation to repopulate its fast-emptying ghost towns.

So Expensive

Around the world, craftspeople have devoted themselves to the pursuit of perfection — like a historical enthusiast in Tunisia who painstakingly revived an extinct purple dye. See 12 jobs that take a lifetime to master.

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This edition was curated by Joe Ciolli, and edited by Hallam Bullock, Lisa Ryan, Diamond Naga Siu, and J.R. Stacey. Get in touch:

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