The daily business briefing: May 30, 2023

Elizabeth Holmes heads to prison for Theranos fraud, hard-right Republicans oppose debt ceiling deal but Biden remains optimistic, and more

Elizabeth Holmes, convicted founder Theranos
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

1. Elizabeth Holmes to start prison sentence for Theranos fraud

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the now-defunct blood testing startup Theranos, reports to prison Tuesday in Bryan, Texas, to start serving her 11-year prison sentence for fraud. Holmes, 39, has two children, and U.S. District Judge Edward Davila recommended she serve her time at the Bryan prison camp to make family visits easier. The minimum security, all-female prison is about 100 miles northwest of Houston. It houses as many as 720 inmates, most of them serving sentences for white-collar crimes and low-level drug offenses. Holmes was convicted in January 2022 on four of 11 fraud and conspiracy charges relating to the misleading of customers and investors about the capabilities of Theranos' technology. She lost a bid to remain free pending her appeal.


2. Hard-liners oppose debt ceiling deal but Biden optimistic

Several hard-right Republicans on Monday vowed to oppose the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling as a catastrophic default looms. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who last week launched a campaign for the 2024 presidential nomination, echoed their complaints, claiming "our country will still be careening toward bankruptcy" after this deal. The opposition was expected, although it underscored the obstacles President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) face as they rush to get the agreement passed before the government starts running short of money to pay its bills next week. Biden and leading Republicans expressed optimism ahead of an early test vote Tuesday in the House Rules Committee. "I feel very good about it," Biden said.

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3. Russia crude exports remain high, angering Saudi Arabia

Russian crude oil exports remained more than 1.4 million barrels a day higher than they were at the end of last year, and 270,000 barrels per day higher than they were in February, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Moscow pledged to cut its output by 500,000 barrels a day starting in March in retaliation for Western sanctions and price caps on Russian oil imposed over Moscow's Ukraine invasion. Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has expressed anger to Russia over its failure to follow through on a promise to cut production under an OPEC+ deal to boost oil prices, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg The Wall Street Journal

4. Stock futures rise as Congress moves toward vote on debt ceiling deal

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday as President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rallied support for their proposed deal on raising the debt ceiling to prevent a default that would devastate the economy. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. Nasdaq futures were up 1.1 percent. Biden and McCarthy reached the deal over the weekend and the House could vote on it as soon as Wednesday. The Treasury Department has warned that the U.S. will run short of money to pay all its bills as soon as June 5. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

The Wall Street Journal

5. 'The Little Mermaid' leads weekend box office

Disney's "The Little Mermaid" dominated the domestic box office over the Memorial Day weekend, bringing out family audiences and earning $117.5 million over the four-day weekend. The live-action remake of the 1988 animated film posted the fifth largest Memorial Day debut ever, although it was far behind Top Gun: Maverick's record $160.5 million launch last year. The "Little Mermaid" haul — it made $95.5 million in its first three days — was the latest success for Disney's strategy of rebooting beloved animated titles as live-action movies. "The Little Mermaid" beat "Aladdin"'s three-day domestic debut of $91.5 million, but trailed the launches of "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast."


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.