UBS-Credit Suisse deal puts Switzerland’s reputation on the line

Switzerland, a country heavily dependent on finance for its economy, is on track to see its two biggest and best-known banks merge into just one financial giant.

Fabrice Coffrini | Afp | Getty Images

The demise of banking giant Credit Suisse sent shockwaves through financial markets and appears to have dealt a blow to Switzerland’s reputation for stability, with one executive suggesting investors will now look at the mountainous central European country as “a financial banana republic.”

UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, agreed on Sunday to buy its embattled domestic rival Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.2 billion) as part of a government-backed, cut-price deal.

Swiss authorities and regulators helped to regulate the agreement, which came amid fears of contagion to the global banking system after two smaller U.S. banks collapsed in recent weeks.

The rescue deal means Switzerland, a country heavily dependent on finance for its economy, is on track to see its two biggest and best-known banks merge into just one financial giant.

“Switzerland’s standing as a financial centre is shattered,” Octavio Marenzi, CEO of Opimas, said in a research note. “The country will now be viewed as a financial banana republic.”

Switzerland's reputation for financial stability has been 'washed away,' Opimas CEO says

“The Credit Suisse debacle will have serious ramifications for other Swiss financial institutions. A country-wide reputation with prudent financial management, sound regulatory oversight, and, frankly, for being somewhat dour and boring regarding investments, has been wiped away,” Marenzi said.

Shares of UBS on Tuesday rose 4.4% by around 11 a.m. London time (7 a.m. ET), extending gains after closing higher in the previous session.

Credit Suisse, meanwhile, was trading 0.4% lower during morning deals after ending Monday’s session down a whopping 55%.

Credit Suisse bond wipeout

We need consolidation across Europe's banking sector, portfolio manager says

The extraordinary move is at odds with the typical practice of prioritizing bondholders over shareholders when a bank fails and prompted turmoil in the market for convertible bank bonds on Monday.

Vítor Constâncio, who served as the vice president of the ECB from 2010 to 2018, said via Twitter that FINMA’s announcement was a “mistake with consequences and potentially a host of court cases.”

The European Central Bank and Britain’s Bank of England both sought to distance themselves from FINMA’s decision.

European Union regulators, composed of the European Central Bank, the European Banking Authority and the Single Resolution Board, said Monday that they would continue to impose losses on shareholders before bondholders.

“This approach has been consistently applied in past cases and will continue to guide the actions of the SRB and ECB banking supervision in crisis interventions,” they said.

The Bank of England echoed this sentiment shortly thereafter. “Holders of such instruments should expect to be exposed to losses in resolution or insolvency in the order of their positions in this hierarchy,” the BOE said.

What about the Swiss franc as a safe haven?

“One feature of this whole banking pressure that we’ve seen over the last week or two is that actually yes we’ve seen major volatility in equity markets, major volatility in fixed income markets, and also commodity markets, but very little volatility in foreign exchange markets,” Bob Parker, senior advisor at International Capital Markets Association, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Tuesday.

Asked about how investors might now think about Switzerland’s reputation for stability, Parker replied, “When I was in Zurich last week, this subject actually was a hot topic.”

People are right to revise their opinions in some AT1s and 'CoCo' bonds: Financial services firm

Treasury Secretary Yellen says the government could backstop more deposits if necessary

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday the government is ready to provide further guarantees of deposits if the banking crisis worsens.

In remarks prepared for a speech to the American Bankers Association, the former Federal Reserve chair said authorities believe they have taken appropriate actions to stem liquidity problems in the sector, but will do more if needed.

“The steps we took were not focused on aiding specific banks or classes of banks. Our intervention was necessary to protect the broader U.S. banking system,” Yellen said. “And similar actions could be warranted if smaller institutions suffer deposit runs that pose the risk of contagion.”

The comments come in the wake of several bank failures, most notably Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Customers worried that liquidity problems caused by duration risk with the banks’ holdings could cause similar banks not to be able to meet deposit requirements.

In response, the Treasury, Fed and FDIC launched a two-pronged initiative that allowed banks to meet their short-term borrowing needs. One, called the Bank Term Funding Program, provided one-year loans against safe securities at full face value, while the other expanded the Fed’s discount window.

“The situation is stabilizing. And the U.S. banking system remains sound,” Yellen said. “The Fed facility and discount window lending are working as intended to provide liquidity to the banking system. Aggregate deposit outflows from regional banks have stabilized.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

FRC, UBS, FLT, DELL and more

A person walks past a First Republic Bank branch in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., March 13, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Check out the companies making the biggest moves midday:

First Republic — Shares tanked 47.11% after Standard & Poor’s cut First Republic’s credit rating to B+ from BB+. S&P first lowered the bank’s rating to junk status just last week. The rating remains on CreditWatch Negative.

New York Community Bancorp — New York Community Bancorp jumped 31.65% after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced over the weekend that the bank’s subsidiary, Flagstar Bank, will assume nearly all of Signature Bank’s deposits and some of its loan portfolios, as well as all 40 of its former branches.

UBS, Credit Suisse — U.S.-listed shares of Credit Suisse nosedived 52.99% after UBS agreed to buy Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs, or $3.2 billion. UBS’s “emergency rescue” deal is an attempt to stem the risk of contagion in the global banking system. UBS shares gained 3.3%.

US Bancorp — The stock popped 4.55% following an upgrade by Baird to outperform from neutral. The Wall Street firm said US Bancorp could be a beneficiary as the bank crisis pushes depositors to move holdings to larger regional banks.

Regional banks — While First Republic’s stock tumbled, other regional banks rallied as investors appraised the likelihood of expanded deposit insurance. PacWest’s stock jumped 10.78%, while Fifth Third Bancorp gained 5.05%%. KeyCorp advanced 1.21%

Virgin Orbit— The stock fell 19.5% as the the rocket builder scrambled to secure funding and avoid bankruptcy, which could come as early as this week without a deal, according to people familiar with the matter. The company paused operations last week and furloughed most of the company, CNBC first reported on Wednesday.

Dell — The PC maker added 3.57% after Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of the stock with a buy rating. The Wall Street firm said it expects the headwinds created by personal computer demand trends to subside soon.

Enphase — Shares advanced 4.83% after Raymond James upgraded the stock to outperform from market perform, noting that there were technical and thematic arguments for liking the stock.

TreeHouse Foods — Shares jumped 5.98% after UBS initiated coverage of TreeHouse Foods with a buy rating. The Wall Street firm said the food processing company, which has a wide-ranging portfolio of store brand items, is in the “early innings of a beat and raise cycle.”

Foot Locker — Shares of the footwear retailer fell 5.68% even after the company’s earnings and revenue beat analysts’ estimates. Foot Locker said its comparable store sales increased 4.2% from a year ago, but it provided full-year guidance that missed expectations.

Bed Bath & Beyond — The meme stock tumbled 21.12% after the retailer said Friday it was seeking shareholder approval for a reverse stock split. Bed Bath & Beyond said the move would enable it to rebuild liquidity, which would help it execute turnaround plans.

Exelixis — The stock gained 4.44% after the biotech company announced a $550 million share repurchase program to run through the end of 2023.

Fleetcor Technologies — The stock gained 6.35% after the global business payments company said it will undertake a review of its portfolio and business configuration and consider various strategic alternatives, which may increase the possible separation of one or more of its businesses.

Amazon — Amazon’s stock slipped 1.25% after the e-commerce giant said it plans to cut 9,000 more jobs over the next few weeks. Amazon previously announced a round of layoffs in November that affected more than 18,000 positions.

— CNBC’s Michael Sheetz, Sam Subin, Alex Harring, Pia Singh, Yun Li and Sarah Min contributed reporting.

How Crispy Cones ice cream got ‘Shark Tank’ deal with Barbara Corcoran

When Jeremy Carlson was a college freshman, he started selling ice cream cones from a tent by the side of the road.

These weren’t normal cones: Unlike the normal wafers, Carlson rotisserie-grilled his dough to create fluffy, soft cones. The cooking style, which he discovered during a mission trip to the Czech Republic, ultimately led to two brick-and-mortar ice cream shops called Crispy Cones — and a $200,000 investment deal with Barbara Corcoran on Friday’s episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The offer was somewhat surprising: Carlson, 26, and his wife Kaitlyn, weren’t exactly making money at their shops in Logan, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho.

Carlson’s earnings as an Uber and Lyft driver, along with a Small Business Administration loan and $190,000 credit line, helped Crispy Cones move from a tent to a trailer to the two storefronts. But the company only brought in $743,000 in revenue between its launch in 2018 and the end of 2022, Carlson tells CNBC Make It.

And the second location hadn’t made any profits since opening in August 2021, despite grossing $290,000 in its first year, he said on the show.

“That is industry standard, especially in the food industry,” Carlson said.

Together, the couple asked for a $200,000 investment in exchange for 10% of Crispy Cones. Their goal: Turn the company into a successful franchise, with 11 new stores over the following year and a half.

The request shocked the Sharks, most of whom told the duo that their existing stores needed to make more money before even considering such an ambitious expansion. Mark Cuban said they should “still develop and grow into their own stores,” and Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, and Lori Greiner all agreed, passing on the company.

Corcoran, the final Shark standing, took a different approach.

“I’m very interested in this business, and I am the person who knows more about franchise and food than anybody here,” she said.

She referenced Cousins Maine Lobster, a food truck in which she invested during a 2019 “Shark Tank” episode. That deal was relatively small: $55,000 for 15% equity.

Cousins Maine Lobster has now brought in more than $50 million in lifetime sales, selling food from 40 food trucks and nine restaurants — including 21 franchise locations, between the trucks and restaurants — CNBC reported last year.

Corcoran offered the Carlsons a more lucrative deal: $200,000 for 20% of Crispy Cones’ equity. “I should really charge you 50%, because I know so much about it,” she said.

O’Leary encouraged the couple to take the deal. Instead, they countered with 17%, and Corcoran rejected it.

Together, the Sharks gave the duo a deadline of one minute to make their decision. They eventually accepted the deal on the table, embracing each other and then Corcoran.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

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Russia and China are becoming ever closer and the West should worry

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as leaders gather for a family photo during the Belt and Road Forum on Yanqi Lake, outside Beijing, China, May 15, 2017.

Damir Sagolj | Reuters

China and Russia are taking center stage this week as both countries look to deepen ties just as a chasm with the West, on a geopolitical and economic as well as military front, appears to be getting deeper, according to analysts.

A three-day state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow this week, which began Monday, was hailed by China and Russia’s presidents as the result of solid and cooperative relations between the two leaders and their respective nations, and comes after a determined drive over the last decade to strengthen diplomatic, defense and trade ties.

Ahead of the visit, President Vladimir Putin said in an article that “unlike some countries claiming hegemony and bringing discord to the global harmony, Russia and China are literally and figuratively building bridges” while his Chinese counterpart returned the favor, telling AFP he is “confident the visit will be fruitful and give new momentum to the healthy and stable development of Chinese-Russian relations.”

Xi’s visit to Moscow is something of a political coup for Russia given that it comes at a time when Russia has few high-powered friends left on the international stage, and little to show for its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian forces have made little tangible progress despite a year of fighting, and a largely isolated Moscow continues to labor under the weight of international sanctions. To add insult to injury, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on Friday, alleging that he is responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine during the war.

Nonetheless, China and Russia have long shared similar geopolitical aims, such as a desire to see what they call a “multi-polar world” and the curbing of NATO’s military might, that unite them. And perhaps the most significant shared viewpoint of all is their mutual, long-standing distrust of the West.

A confluence of recent events — from the war in Ukraine to Western restrictions on semiconductor tech exports to China and, lately, a nuclear submarines deal between the U.S., U.K. and Australia that irked Beijing — has only served to bring the countries even closer together, according to analysts.

“If you look at the trajectory of China-Russia relations within the last decade, bilateral ties between the two countries have really developed tremendously,” Alicja Bachulska, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) told CNBC, saying that the process of developing ties had begun back in the 1990s.

“It’s basically about certain strategic interests, that are very close to both Beijing and Moscow at this point,” she added. “For both Russia and China, the main interest is to weaken the U.S.-led international order, that’s their primary goal, long term and short term.”

The Ukraine factor

China’s President Xi Jinping waves as he disembarks off his aircraft upon arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on March 20, 2023.

Anatoliy Zhdanov | Afp | Getty Images

China has denied it is planning to help Moscow militarily but analysts say Beijing is concerned over the war in Ukraine, noting that China views a Russian failure in Ukraine as a threat, given that it carries the risk of a potentially seismic political fallout back in Russia that in turn could harm Beijing.

“The worst case scenario for Beijing now is Russia’s complete failure in this war,” the ECFR’s Bachulska said.

“If they begin to think that Russia might fail — and that in the really worst-case nightmare scenario that there [could be then] a pro-democratic government in Moscow — for China, this would be a very threatening scenario,” she noted, seen as both a “direct threat to Beijing, and the stability of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party].”

This fear, she said, could sway China when it considers whether to offer Putin help in Ukraine. “They will probably be able to provide more support if they realize that the balance of power on the battlefield is against Russia,” Bachulska noted.

China has 'doubled down' on its support for Russia, says research organization

It’s highly likely that, should China help Russia in terms of weaponry or military technology, however, it will look to do it in a very covert way, analysts including Bachulska and those at the Institute for the Study of War have noted, such as using Belarus or other countries.

“Xi likely plans to discuss sanctions evasion schemes with Putin and Russian officials to support the sale and provision of Chinese equipment to Russia,” the ISW said in analysis ahead of the Xi-Putin summit, noting that it had previously assessed that during a recent meeting between the presidents of Belarus and China, agreements may have been signed that “facilitate Russian sanctions evasion by channeling Chinese products through Belarus.”

The ISW said Xi and Putin are “likely to discuss sanctions evasion schemes and Chinese interest in mediating a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine.”  CNBC contacted China’s Foreign Ministry for a response to the comments and is yet to receive a response.

Tech and trade wars

While possible military aid for China is something the West needs to watch closely, the depth and breadth of China’s loyalty toward Moscow is seen to be finite, with Beijing likely reluctant to risk major sanctions on its own economy just to help Russia.

On the other hand, analysts note that China, like Russia, has a vested interested in seeing the U.S. and wider West weakened, both geopolitically and diplomatically — for instance, if China can step in as a mediator in the conflict in Ukraine — and on an economic level, if the two nations can forge closer trade ties. This would come as the U.S. and Europe challenge China’s economic power, most recently with the introduction of sweeping export control rules aimed at restricting China’s ability to access advanced computing chips.

“Export controls on Chinese high tech — which reflect a policy of targeted containment — brings Xi closer to Putin in worldview and orientation,” Ian Bremmer,  founder and president of the Eurasia Group, told CNBC, adding: “I think that’s likely to be reflected in Xi’s statements when he … visits Putin in Moscow, and that’s going to be a big deal geopolitically,” Bremmer noted.

How Biden’s chip export restrictions hit chip stocks

While Russia might offer China a convenient trading and diplomatic partnership as other routes to Western markets look increasingly vulnerable, analysts note that the relationship between China and Russia is an imbalanced one.

“China doesn’t really need Russia,” Christopher Granville, managing director of global political research at TS Lombard, told CNBC. “Russia is a very tiny economy compared to China’s with the exception of some very specific things, such as its hydrocarbon exports and some aspects of its military industries,” he noted.

“What I would say though is that the U.S. pressing on China, especially in these trade wars and now tech wars, is a clear zero-sum project by the U.S. government to prevent China from reaching the frontier of key technologies, notably semiconductors,” he noted.

“It seems to me that as a result of the U.S. government’s zero-sum campaign to pull back China, to stop it getting ahead and keep it behind, is that suddenly the relationship with Russia becomes more valuable to China.”

Nelson Peltz says government should insure all bank deposits—for a price

Money is leaving small banks and that's a very dangerous situation, says Trian's Nelson Peltz

The federal government should expand its guarantee to all bank deposits regardless of size in order to slow bank runs, but it should charge customers for that insurance, hedge-fund manager Nelson Peltz said Monday.

The Trian Fund Management founding partner told CNBC that customers pulling money out of smaller banks is a “dangerous situation” and that he has talked to elected officials about expanding the deposit insurance program that is currently capped at $250,000 per account. The change would involve paying insurance premiums to the Federal Reserve.

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“I would put together a plan that applies only to U.S. banks in that the Fed gets an insurance premium for any money you leave in a U.S.-accredited bank over $250,000. So you’re creating income for the Fed, and in exchange for that they insure the overage,” Peltz said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

Peltz’s idea comes in the aftermath of massive deposit outflows from U.S. regional banks in recent weeks. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank appeared to be caused by a bank run after customers with large accounts noticed issues with the bank’s balance sheet. Banks have been tapping the Fed’s crisis lending programs to handle those outflows.

The additional insurance premium could, for example, come out of the CD interest payments on large deposits, Peltz said. He added that he thinks it would be better if the fees were consciously paid by the consumers rather than just being built into the interest rates by banks. There could also be limits for how much deposits certain banks could take.

“You would have money flowing in here from all over the world. People would feel safe,” Peltz said.

Federal regulators did step in and guarantee uninsured deposits at SVB and Signature Bank after they failed earlier this month, though federal officials have said that protection does not extend to other banks. Peltz argued that this implicit guarantee for deposits should be made official.

“They do it anyway. Let’s create some income for them; let’s have the system smoothed out and give people peace of mind,” Peltz said.

The hedge-fund manager is not the only person calling for raising the insurance threshold. Former Goldman Sachs executive and Trump administration advisor Gary Cohn said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that regulators should consider raising the insurance cap dramatically and implementing a tiered pricing system to pay for it.

Regional bank stocks were largely rebounding Monday, though First Republic was still under pressure despite receiving $30 billion in deposits from other banks.

Peltz said it was important to make changes to the deposit insurance program even if the current situation stabilizes.

“The peak of the panic is probably behind us, but that doesn’t stop the next one from coming,” Peltz said.

UN scientists call for course correction

A local reacts to watching a wildfire advancing in Orjais, Covilha council in central Portugal, on August 16, 2022.

Patricia De Melo Moreira | Afp | Getty Images

A landmark U.N. report published Monday urged governments across the globe to embark on an urgent course correction to tackle the climate emergency, warning current plans were insufficient to prevent the worst of what the crisis has in store.

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the unprecedented challenge of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels had become even greater in recent years due to the relentless increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

This has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world, the report said.

Deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emission reductions across all sectors will be necessary if warming is to be limited by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report says, noting that global emissions should already be decreasing and will need to be slashed almost in half by 2030.

The 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature threshold is widely recognized as crucial because so-called tipping points become more likely beyond this level. Tipping points are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic shifts in Earth’s entire life support system.

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said in a statement.

“This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.

António Guterres

U.N. Secretary-General

The IPCC’s Synthesis Report, approved during a week-long session in Interlaken, Switzerland, provides world leaders with a gold-standard summation of modern climate science. It is the first comprehensive report from the U.N. climate panel since the 2015 Paris Agreement and marks the closing chapter of the group’s sixth assessment cycle.

The findings, distilled from over 10,000 pages of research from six assessment reports, are expected to serve as a manual for tackling the climate emergency.

Mortgage industry to factor climate risks before lending

“The climate time bomb is ticking. But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday.

“As it shows, the 1.5-degree limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action.” Guterres described the report as a “clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe.”

He added, “In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Speaking at a news conference, the U.N. chief announced a plan to “super-charge” climate efforts through an “all-hands-on-deck Acceleration Agenda.”

This initiative must see governments “hitting the fast-forward button” on their net zero deadlines, Guterres said, with rich countries urged to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040 and emerging economies called on to reach net zero by 2050.

COP28 climate summit

The IPCC said Monday that there is more than enough global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are removed.

The role of policymakers across the globe, the report’s authors say, is crucial in reducing these barriers, while investors, central banks and financial regulators can also “play their part.”

“Today’s message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report is abundantly clear: we are making progress, but not enough,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said in a statement.

“We have the tools to stave off and reduce the risks of the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but we must take advantage of this moment to act now,” Kerry said.

The report’s findings also highlight the losses and damages the world is already experiencing — and will likely continue to face in the absence of effective climate action.

“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of this Synthesis Report.

“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,” she added.

A vehicle drives past a dry, cracked lake bed on its way to Boulder Harbour in drought-stricken Lake Mead on September 15, 2022 in Boulder City, Nevada.

Frederic J. Brown | Afp | Getty Images

‘Now or never’ territory

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon resurrected for final year of muscle cars

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170


DETROIT — Dodge is resurrecting its controversial muscle car model, the Challenger SRT Demon, as a final special edition of the vehicle before production of the brand’s current V8 engine cars ends later this year.

The limited-edition drag racing car will be the fastest, most powerful version of the Dodge Challenger ever produced by the automaker. It builds upon a 2018 Challenger SRT Demon model that some criticized for being too powerful and barely street legal.

Dodge says the new car will deliver 1,025 horsepower and 945 foot-pounds of torque on E85 ethanol blend fuel. It can achieve 60 mph from a rolling start in 1.66 seconds. The vehicle’s performance falls slightly when using fuel with lower amounts of ethanol, but even on common E10 fuel it boasts 900 horsepower and 810 foot-pounds of torque.

The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 will start at the diabolically evocative price of $96,666 — the last three figures are a reference to the devil — but it can top $120,000 or more with fees, options and accessories, according to Dodge. Ordering for the vehicle opens on March 27.

Dodge, owned by Stellantis, only plans to build as many as 3,000 of the vehicles for the U.S. and 300 for Canada, pending the availability of parts and supply chain problems. That would be similar to production of the 2018 model.

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170


Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis declined to disclose the capital investment for the vehicle, which was revealed Monday, or its expected profit margins.

“These cars are ending on a high,” Kuniskis said. He referred to the Demon 170 as “the new pinnacle of factory crazy.”

When asked about the vehicle’s fuel economy, he said “it’s horrible,” but later called the car “eco-friendly” because fuel with high ethanol levels runs cleaner than traditional gasoline while also burning more quickly. The car will be subject to a $2,100 mandatory gas-guzzler tax.   

The “170” moniker is in reference to a high proof of alcohol, as the car can run on ethanol fuel. Each owner will also receive a special glass decanter with their vehicle purchase.

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170


The new car will be capable of popping wheelies, where the vehicle’s front tires lift off the ground due to the amount of power coming from the rear wheels.

Dodge was expected to reveal the car earlier this year, but engineers were “blowing up” engines attempting to get as much performance as possible out of the car, Kuniskis said. The problems led engineers to develop a new supercharged engine for the vehicle.

The 2023 Demon SRT is the seventh special-edition muscle car for Dodge as it celebrates the upcoming end of production of the current Challenger and Charger muscle cars. Dodge has sold more than 2 million of those vehicles since their introductions more than a decade ago.

“You have to celebrate this end,” Kuniskis told CNBC, adding the Challenger serves as a “halo” model for the brand, attracting the attention of customers who go on to buy other vehicles. “We do crazy better than anybody.”

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 


This pair biked from Finland to Singapore

Valtteri Heinila was working in a startup when he realized he needed a break.

“I started noticing time really accelerating,” said Valtteri, 26. The days started to blur, and then so did the months, he said.

He didn’t settle for a regular holiday. Instead, he traveled 15,400 kilometers (9,600 miles) along a route from Finland to Singapore — on a bicycle.

With his friend Alvari Poikola, Heinila cycled through 21 countries in eight months, he told CNBC. The men chose Singapore as their goal because it was the farthest point they could cycle to, Heinila said.

The pair biked most of the way but took several flights “when we were unable to cross by bike,” he said. For example, land borders at Azerbaijan and Myanmar were closed, he said.

“Russia … is a warzone,” he added. “Afghanistan is under Taliban rule, China [was] not issuing tourist visas.”

Valtteri Heinila (left) and Alvari Poikola at the Imperial City of Hue in Vietnam.

Valtteri Heinila

Cycling long distances helped Heinila escape from “society’s noise,” he said. “It helps you get into your own head [and] learn about yourself ten hours a day on the saddle,” he added.

Heinila said he had no experience with long distance cycling before the trip, but he was adventurous and enjoyed the outdoors, he said. “I liked doing things that caused me discomfort because I noticed those made me feel alive.”

No training, no meal plan

Operating without a training or meal plan, Heinila said he gained physical strength in the first leg of his journey. “We realized that Eastern Europe is pretty flat. That [was] our training … before we reached the mountains of Georgia and Tajikistan,” he added.

Heinila in Kyrgyzstan, along the border with Tajikistan.

Valtteri Heinila

Heinila cycled through central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan before he reached Southeast Asia, where his route wound through countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, he said. It was a chance to see how “most of the world” lives, he added.

“We’re extremely privileged in Finland. We wanted to get a peek into reality,” Heinila said.

The pair typically cooked porridge for breakfast, making banana pancakes on rare occasions, said Heinila. After pedaling for a few hours, the two would stop to cook lunch in the shade, he added.

“Our budget was $20 per day. We just went with the bare minimum,” said Heinila. On one occasion, when the two ran out of gas to cook, they snacked on raw eggs from a store, he added.

Heinila and Poikola on the Mardi Himal peak in Nepal.

Valtteri Heinila

Heinila said he kept his focus on securing basic needs like food, water, toilet paper and a place to pitch his tent for the night.

“You don’t have time to think about nonsense like the past or the future. You’re focused on survival, and I think that’s the best feeling ever,” he said.

Challenges on the road

By the time Heinila had traveled 10,000 kilometers, he had punctured his bicycle tire 37 times, according to a post on his Instagram account. Aside from tires, he said he also learned to fix and rebuild other bicycle parts like racks and panniers.

Heinila holding tools in Romania.

“When you have a need, you just figure it out,” he said.

Living on the road could be “dangerous,” such as when the two men ran out of water while traveling through Tajikistan, said Heinila.

Heinila trekked more than 20 kilometers to a road to buy water from a passing truck, all while fighting a days-long bout of diarrhea and dizziness, he said. “Your body goes into survival mode, and you just cope with the challenges,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Heinila said he didn’t feel like giving up “for one moment.” When his grandfather died during his trip, Heinila considered returning to Finland to attend the funeral, but decided to hold his own ceremony, he said.

Heinila’s tent in Turkey.

Valtteri Heinila

“I climbed on this little hill and right under the starry sky, lit a candle for him. And it was equally beautiful as I imagined the funeral service to be,” he said.

The difficulties were worth it for the “ten years’ worth” of memories that Heinila made in a few months, he said. Cycling through the mountain valleys of Tajikistan and viewing its “remarkable” cultural heritage was the most memorable for him, he added.

Heinila said he was also struck by the hospitality of the Tajikistan people. “They were feeding us, taking care of us like their own children,” he said. “Everybody felt almost like family because the communities were so small.”

Arriving in Singapore

The first thing that Heinila and Poikola did upon reaching Singapore was visit the Finnish ambassador’s residence, where they had a small celebration with other Finnish people, he said. Later that night, the men reminisced about their journey while enjoying the view from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, where they downed Singapore Slings, he added.

Heinila and Poikola in front of Marina Bay in Singapore.

Valtteri Heinila

When Heinila first set out on his journey, he was afraid of the consequences it would have on his career path, he said.

“Now it feels like I can get whatever job I want. I have this incredible confidence,” he said.

But going back to a desk job after “tasting freedom for so long” will be an adjustment, Heinila added. “It’s a struggle to keep this sense of freedom, while contributing to society in the most meaningful way I can,” he said.

Heinila has ideas for more adventures in the future, such as crossing the Baltic Sea on a paddleboard, he said. It is important for people to embrace discomfort instead of being “locked into planning for the future,” he added.

“There’s this whole world out there.”

Amazon’s post-Bezos experiment hasn’t gone exactly as planned

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks during an Action on Forests and Land Use event on day three of COP26 at SECC on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Paul Ellis | Getty Images

When Amazon announced just over two years ago that founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos would turn the helm over to former cloud boss Andy Jassy, few investors or analysts reacted with much concern.

Jassy, a close confidant of Bezos, was known as an Amazon lifer and a celebrated figure inside the company and across the industry because he launched Amazon Web Services, which became one of the most valuable businesses in the world. Analysts at Wedbush practically yawned at the move, saying the transition would likely be “seamless and largely inconsequential.”

Unfortunately for Jassy, his short tenure at the helm has been all too eventful.

Since Jassy officially succeeded Bezos in July 2021, Amazon has experienced its most turbulent period since the dot-com crash. Last year marked its slowest year for revenue growth as a public company, and Jassy has been forced to guide Amazon through a series of cost-cutting measures that nobody predicted would be necessary when business was booming through the Covid pandemic.

Amazon shares have plunged by 44% since July 5, 2021, Jassy’s first day as CEO. And on Monday, Jassy said the company is cutting another 9,000 jobs, adding to the 18,000 layoffs that were announced in January. While the cuts represent a small percentage of Amazon’s corporate workforce, they still represent a shocking turn for a company that was in non-stop growth phase for the better part of 25 years.

“Given the uncertain economy in which we reside, and the uncertainty that exists in the near future, we have chosen to be more streamlined in our costs and headcount,” Jassy wrote in an email to employees.

Much of the Jassy’s unfortunate circumstance can be attributed to bad timing — historically high inflation pushed the Federal Reserve to raise rates, crippling growth across the U.S. tech sector. But whether it’s bad luck, his own missteps or some combination of the two, Jassy is an unenviable position as only the second CEO in Amazon’s history.

Bezos, his predecessor, transformed Amazon from a bookseller into a retail, cloud computing and advertising giant that became known for an inventive, startup-like atmosphere. On Bezos’ watch, the company turned out groundbreaking inventions like the Kindle e-reader and the Echo smart speaker, and invested in new verticals like original content, health care and brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

So far, the Jassy era has been all about belt tightening and retrenchment from some of Amazon’s more experimental pursuits.

For the past year, Jassy has been trimming expenses across the company. Many unproven bets, like Amazon’s Scout delivery robot, a virtual tours service, Care telehealth program, and a video-calling device for kids were axed. He made the decision to shutter all of its 4-star, Pop Up and Books stores and, earlier this year, announced Amazon would close some Fresh supermarkets and Go cashierless convenience marts. Drone delivery, one of Bezos’ pet projects, is struggling mightily to get off the ground as it, too, faces cost cuts.

The pandemic-driven e-commerce boom pushed Amazon to double its physical footprint between 2020 and 2022. The stock soared, along with head count. But as the economy reopened and online sales stalled, Amazon found itself saddled with more facilities than it could efficiently put to use and eventually moved to close, cancel or delay the opening of many new warehouses.

Amazon to expand Amazon Care nationally for its workers, other employers

Earlier this month, Amazon paused construction of the second phase of its sprawling new campus in Arlington, Virginia, dubbed HQ2. Other construction projects in Nashville, Tennessee, and Bellevue, Washington, have also been put on hold, in part because much of Amazon’s corporate workforce has been working remotely since the pandemic.

Jassy is under immense pressure to prove he can get expenses under control. But in order to revive the enthusiasm that Bezos drove into Amazon’s culture, he’s eventually got to find new engines for growth.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report, Amazon barely eked out a profit, and the company issued disappointing guidance for the first quarter, with revenue growth expected to be stuck in the mid-single digits.

It’s not exactly what Bezos had in mind, when he told employees in early 2021 about the coming CEO transition.

“Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future,” Bezos wrote at the time in a letter to staffers. “We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish.”

WATCH: Amazon cutting 9,000 more jobs

Amazon cuts 9,000 more jobs in addition to 18,000 announced in January