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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Belgium-based payments system SWIFT — a linchpin of the global financial system that allows Iran to get paid for its oil, pay for its imports and finance its activities abroad — announced Monday it is "suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system," reports the Financial Times.

Why it matters: Ensuring that Iranian banks remain plugged into the SWIFT network was a key part of Europe's strategy to keep the Iran deal alive, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported in August. Now that SWIFT has announced it will comply with new U.S. sanctions, Europe could seek to activate a special payments system to maintain trade ties with Iran. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin warned Monday that such a move could trigger sanctions against any financial institution that engages in "certain significant transactions" with Iran.

Go deeper

56 mins ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools. 

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

GameStop as a metaphor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A half-forgotten and unprofitable videogame retailer is, bizarrely and incredibly, on the lips of the nation. That's because the GameStop story touches on economic and cultural forces that affect everyone, whether they own a single share of stock or not.

Why it matters: In most Wall Street fights, the broader public doesn't have a rooting interest. This one — where a group of small traders won a multi-billion-dollar bet against giant hedge funds by buying stock in GameStop — is different.

"Megacities" on the rise

Data: Macrotrends; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Places with more than 10 million residents — known as megacities — are becoming more common as people from rural areas migrate to urban ones.

Why it matters: The benefits of megacities — which include opportunities for upward mobility and higher wages — can be offset by their negatives, like the fact that they're breeding grounds for COVID-19.