The daily business briefing: September 8, 2023

Former FTX executive Ryan Salame pleads guilty, Walmart cuts starting pay for some workers, and more

Walmart employee in Ohio
(Image credit: Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

1. 4th former FTX executive pleads guilty

Former FTX executive Ryan Salame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to the fraud case against the failed cryptocurrency exchange's founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Salame admitted to making millions of dollars in political contributions at Bankman-Fried's direction, in violation of campaign finance laws. He also pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Salame is the fourth former top FTX executive to admit crimes since the exchange went bankrupt in November. His guilty plea intensified pressure on Bankman-Fried ahead of his trial, scheduled for next month. Salame will pay $5 million in restitution to FTX and a $6 million fine. He will also forfeit two Massachusetts properties and a Porsche, and could face up to 10 years in prison.

The New York Times

2. Walmart reduces starting pay for many store employees

Walmart has started reducing starting pay for some store workers, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing company documents and employees. Under a wage structure imposed by the nation's largest private employer in mid-July, most new hourly employees receive the lowest wage on the pay scale. Previously, some employees, such as those collecting items for online orders, received slightly higher pay than cashiers and others workers. Walmart and other major employers have hiked wages and benefits in recent years to compete for workers. The change suggests that major employers are "seeking to cut labor costs as the once-hot market for hourly staff cools," according to the Journal.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Biden seeks to counter China's influence at G-20 summit

President Biden is scheduled to arrive in India on Friday for this weekend's Group of 20 summit. With Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin skipping the meeting, Biden will have "an opening to re-establish the U.S. as the polestar of the international system," and counter aggression from Beijing and Moscow, Bloomberg reported. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said this week that the United States hopes the gathering will show that the G-20 remains "a forum that can actually deliver" meaningful initiatives to help developing countries and make "progress on key priorities for the American people, from climate to technology."

Bloomberg CNN

4. Stock futures fall after lower-than-expected jobless claims

U.S. stock futures slipped early Friday after new jobless claims came in lower than expected, increasing concerns that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates further to cool the economy and bring down inflation. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down about 0.2% at 6:30 a.m. ET. The federal government reported 216,000 new jobless claims, falling short of the 230,000 forecast by economists polled by Dow Jones. The CME Fed Watch tool now indicates 1 in 2 odds the Fed will raise rates in November. The Dow gained 0.2% on Thursday, but the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively. It was the Nasdaq's fourth straight losing session.


5. Hawaii officials urge tourists to return

Hawaii tourism officials have started urging tourists to return to Maui after begging them to stay away in the immediate aftermath of wildfires that killed 115 people in the historic town of Lahaina, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Airlines have started offering discounted fares, and some resorts are offering a fifth night free. "I know what a terrible disaster that was. But now we're in crisis mode," said Richie Olsten, who has worked in Maui's helicopter tour business for 50 years. "If we can't keep the people that have jobs employed, how are they going to help family members and friends that lost everything?"

The Associated Press

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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.