March 20, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning! UBS and Credit Suisse aren't the only ones getting hitched — media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced he is set to marry for the fifth time, aged 92. Today we're exploring:

  • A tale of 2 Swiss banks: A marriage of (regulatory) convenience.
  • Do more, with less: News publishers are trying to drive more traffic.
  • Priorities: Exploring the generational differences around pay and job satisfaction.
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A marriage of convenience

Credit Suisse, an institution since 1856, is set to be taken over by bitter rival UBS in a deal worth ~$3bn, after a chaotic weekend of offers, counter-offers and matchmaking from Swiss regulators.

The deal crystallizes an enormous loss for any Credit Suisse shareholders and marks the end of intense competition between the two pillars of Swiss finance — a one-sided rivalry in recent years, as Credit Suisse rocked from crisis to crisis.

Credit sus

A string of recent controversies turned Credit Suisse from an underperforming bank into a ticking time bomb, starting with a 2019 spying scandal in which the bank admitted to hiring private detectives to follow former staff, shaking confidence in the usually oh-so-discreet Swiss banking sector.

If that predominantly harmed Credit Suisse's reputation, other scandals hurt its bottom line as the firm was found to be deep in both the Greensill Capital and Archegos Capital blow-ups. The latter turned out to be a $5bn+ mistake, essentially wiping out a decade’s worth of net profits at the bank.

Scandals followed over the CEO's breach of COVID rules, a leak of data that reportedly showed the firm served human rights abusers and corrupt politicians, and a guilty verdict in a cocaine cash laundering case.

With trading losses, mounting litigation costs and clients of the firm leaving in droves, Credit Suisse reported its largest ever annual loss — leaving it more exposed than ever to a crisis like that of the last month.

It has been 0 days since the last bank blow-up

This is the largest tie-up of systemically important banks since the Global Financial Crisis, and comes less than 2 weeks after the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank in the US, prompting coordinated action from global central banks this morning.

Do more, with less

BuzzFeed News editors have told its journalists to do more with less, encouraging writers to publish more articles in an effort to drive extra traffic to the news site. A tall order for a newsroom that’s been gutted over the last year, with ~40% of employees let go, including the entire investigative team.

The company said it published 404 articles in February, a 24% increase from the same period the year before, and is even trying its hand with AI-generated content. However, the scope of its journalistic ambitions has narrowed, with the company now focused on “internet culture, celebrity news and the biggest news of the day”.

The directive comes with BuzzFeed in a difficult spot. Digital advertisers are pulling back, publisher relationships with social media remain volatile and BuzzFeed's time as a public company has been a disaster, with shares down 89% since November 2021.


Although more acute at BuzzFeed, the problems facing the company are not unique — many of America’s largest online news publishers are struggling to pull in traffic. The latest data from Similarweb, via Press Gazette, reveals that 35 of the top 50 sites have seen monthly traffic for Feb ‘23 fall compared to Feb ‘22. The two biggest publishers, the NYTimes and CNN, both racked up more than 400 million visits in Feb — a drop of 21% and 22% on last year’s figures, respectively. Not all have been struggling though; entertainment sites like Variety and People have been booming, and The Sun's US launch continues to go well.

N.B. BuzzFeed News doesn't rank in the top 50 and is therefore not shown on this chart, but BuzzFeed's main site does.

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It’ll be worth it, one day

Our friends at YouGov have released the results of a fascinating survey run in March which asked more than 33,000 American adults whether they would rather have a low-paying job that they loved, or a high-paying job that they hated.

Interestingly, nearly twice as many people said they would prefer to enjoy the work they did, even if it didn’t pay well, rather than the other way around — though not every generation agreed.

Youth, wasted on the young?

Across the age groups a clear trend emerged. Younger generations were more evenly split than their older counterparts — a whopping 39% of 18-25 year-olds surveyed said they would suffer along in a job they hated, as long as it paid enough. Older respondents, particularly those at or near retirement ages, were 4-5x as likely to say they would rather enjoy their work, irrespective of pay.

More Data

Amazon has confirmed another round of layoffs, with 9,000 jobs set to go.

• Fascinating exploration of YouTube's "hustle" gurus.

Netflix has revealed plans to add 40 more games to its library this year as the streaming giant continues to push into gaming.


March Madness is in full swing... and the upsets just keep coming. Great visual from Axios on the most unlikely victories since 1985.
• It's officially 20 years since the US-led coalition invaded Iraq — NPR have marked the date with a series of photos from the operation.
• Ranking the happiest colleges in the US using an AI facial recognition tool.

Off the charts: Which company were we charting about below? Hint: This week they gave up on selling eggs because they had become too expensive. [Answer below].

Answer here.

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