Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook is pushing forward with its Libra digital currency despite recent public departures by a quarter of the members of the currency's governing body.

The state of play: It expects to launch with more than 100 members, including some banks, which have been noticeably absent from the list of current partners, Libra co-creator David Marcus said Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We absolutely need banks, and I believe that banks will ultimately join," Marcus said in remarks at the IMF's fall meetings.

  • "It’s harder for very large, regulated entities to take an active part in this fight right now, in light of the pressures."

Those pressures include pushback from lawmakers around the globe — in particular in the U.S. and eurozone — who say Libra could endanger the health of the global economy.

  • Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) have sent letters to companies in Libra's governing counsel urging them to "carefully consider" their decision.
  • France and Germany have already agreed to pre-emptively block Libra in their countries.

Why it matters: Libra is an attempt to provide fast international and cross-border payment options for Facebook's 2.7 billion users at a lower cost than is currently available.

  • However, it has faced significant opposition from central banks and legislators to the point that some of its initial partners, including Paypal, Visa, Stripe and Mastercard have dropped out of the project, endangering its future.

The big picture: Because of Facebook's ubiquity, bolstered by its acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp, Libra could launch immediately to billions of people, potentially displacing the currencies of some sovereign nations —  even large ones. That could put a private company in charge of controlling the money supply for many of the world's citizens.

  • Facebook would then be in the unique and potentially dangerous position of being a systemically important entity to the entire world's financial system.

Driving the news: Marcus defended Libra and made a case for its necessity on Wednesday.

  • "The status quo is not an option. Whether it’s Libra or something else, the world is going to change in a profound way," he said.
  • His latest comments came during a panel discussion that included Bank of England governor Mark Carney, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman, and Nandan Nilekani, cofounder and chair of Infosys Technologies Limited, which helped create India's digital payments system.

Where it stands: The Libra project is alive, but it's unclear how healthy it is. Marcus said Wednesday the Libra Association now has 21 members and there are 1,600 companies that have expressed interest in being a part of the project.

  • Carney, the lone central banker on the panel, said Libra still has a long way to go and a number of questions to answer, including how the currency would be backed, what it's backed by and how revenues would be created to cover the cost of the system.
  • There are also a host of privacy and operations issues that will need to be stress tested, he said.

The bottom line: Furman, who served in the Obama administration, summarized the general feeling of unease among regulators about Facebook leading the way, making light of the company's previous motto to "move fast and break things."

  • "When a lot of these companies [in the digital currency space] first started they were small and this world was like the Wild West, so they could be forgiven when they break things."
  • "But we can’t have a break-things-and-fix-it-later ethos in the global financial system."

Go deeper: Ahead of Zuckerberg testimony, new setbacks for Libra

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.