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!

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

The Blackstone Group is working to launch both venture capital and infrastructure investing programs, according to comments made during Thursday's Q1 earnings call. No specifics were disclosed.

Venture capital: The veteran firm has long avoided real venture, even while some of its peers got involved in the dotcom days. But it has been doing some growth equity investing out of its Tactical Opportunities platform, and recently added early Facebook backer Jim Breyer to its board of directors.

Infrastructure: This is a fairly obvious move, particularly given President Trump's ask for the private sector to match a $200 billion federal outlay on infrastructure by a 5:1 ratio over 10 years.

Blackstone (NYSE: BX) crushed Wall Street estimates, reporting 82 cents in economic net income vs. 68 cent consensus (via Thomson Reuters). This also is more than double Blackstone's 31 cent ENI in Q1 2016. Credit here goes to rising values and distributions. Total AUM was up 7% year-over-year while fee-earning AUM climbed 15%, while those numbers were 4% and 36%, respectively, in the private equity segment.

Two quotables from the earnings call:

  1. President Tony James: "I would say, in general, there's no pressure on fee structures."
  2. CEO Steve Schwarzman: "I've been racking my brain to make sense of this disconnect. If our shares were valued the same as the average S&P company based on dividend yield, the share price would be over $100 a share instead of the $30, where it now is. If we were valued using the average P multiple, the price would be over $50. That's just math. In any case, this disconnect remains a mystery to me. I leave it to you to figure it out."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
38 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.