Economy & Business

Why it matters: Despite murmurs of an impending economic crash, the U.S. has seen strong job growth and record low unemployment as trade wars, sweeping technological change and new media consumption habits are changing the American economy.

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The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

Apple's market value has risen by nearly $1 trillion since September

Data: FactSet; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Apple's market cap is screeching toward $2 trillion, less than a year after rising above the $1 trillion mark again in September 2019.

What happened: The company first gained 13-figure status in early August 2018 but saw its valuation sink to a mere $709 billion following the market downturn of late 2018.

July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the coronavirus recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if Friday's jobs report shows a big number, it is becoming clear hiring slowed and likely even reversed course in July and real-time indicators suggest the employment situation worsened into August.

Driving the news: Payroll processor ADP's monthly jobs report showed private companies added 167,000 jobs last month, well below the 1.2 million expected by economists and far below June's 4.8 million jobs added.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.

6 hours ago - Health

Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant

The coronavirus has increased demand for remote care. Photo: Teladoc Health

Teladoc's $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo creates the health care industry's largest company devoted to multiple forms of digital care.

The big picture: The coronavirus has accelerated the shift toward virtual doctors' visits.

Uber to acquire U.K. taxi technology company Autocab

Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Uber has agreed to acquire U.K.-based taxi and private for-hire car technology company Autocab, the two said Thursday.

Why it matters: The acquisition should help Uber expand to U.K. markets where it doesn't currently operate by enabling its customers to book cars available through Autocab, though the latter will remain largely independent.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 18,837,392 — Total deaths: 708,316— Total recoveries — 11,384,444Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,824,230 — Total deaths: 158,268 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  4. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  5. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.

Phin Barnes to step back from First Round Capital

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Phin Barnes, a general partner at First Round Capital, is leaving the firm. There's no word yet on his next professional move, though he will remain a board partner at First Round.

Why it matters: Barnes is the latest partner at the firm, known for seeding companies like Uber and Square, to step back. Rob Hayes and Chris Fralic made similar moves in 2018. Barnes joined the firm in 2008 as a summer apprentice.

White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks

Meadows and Mnuchin. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration and Democrats have not agreed to any "top-line numbers" and remain "trillions of dollars apart" on coronavirus stimulus negotiations, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday.

The state of play: Meadows told reporters, "At this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or — I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”

Electric vehicle startup Nikola claims progress but stock plunges

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nikola Corp., a company planning to build electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, posted an $86.6 million quarterly net loss Tuesday in what was its first earnings report after going public in June.

Why it matters: Nikola is attracting lots of attention for plans to build a line of semi-trucks, as well as a pickup, in the coming years as it tries to break through in those fledgling markets.

Why the employee retention credit is an overlooked stimulus issue

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.

Scooter maker Unagi bets people want to rent rather than share

Photo: Courtesy of Unagi

E-scooter company Unagi on Wednesday debuted a personal scooter subscription service in Los Angeles and New York that allows people to lease their own scooter rather than take their chances with a shared one on the sidewalk.

Why it matters: In the COVID-19 era, people are wary of mass transit and shared vehicles, instead opting for personal cars, bikes and scooters that are seen as safer.

New York Times digital revenue surpasses print revenue for first time

Data: NYT earnings reports; Chart: Axios Visuals

For the first time in its nearly 170-year history, the New York Times made more money from digital products than it did from its print newspaper during a three-month quarterly earnings period, the Times announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's a huge milestone for The Gray Lady, which six years ago published a digital "Innovation Report" that detailed the paper's shortcomings in adjusting its business to embrace the digital world.

Gold prices pass $2,000 and Bank of America sees $3,000 on the horizon

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gold prices closed at a record high, above $2,000 an ounce, on Tuesday and investors are getting even more bullish.

What happened: Bank of America released the summary of a call between its chief investment strategist and heads of its commodities, rates and technical strategy teams Tuesday that concluded gold was very well supported and could rise as high as $3,000 per ounce in the next 18 months.

TikTok users are rising but time spent on the app is falling

Reproduced from CivicScience; Note: ±3.0% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

TikTok has been all over the news in recent days, as President Trump has put the app squarely in his sights.

The state of play: New CivicScience data provided first to Axios show continued growth in TikTok’s user base since the beginning of the year, with 14% of those surveyed saying they use the app.

New York Fed weekly economic index reverses again

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Fed's Weekly Economic Index turned lower for the week ending Aug. 1, showing real-time, high-frequency economic data again weakening in the last week of July.

Why it matters: The index turned negative again after an upwardly revised previous week. It supports other recent real-time economic data that show U.S. growth reversing.

Auto sales may have turned a corner

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. auto sales have bounced back in recent months despite the coronavirus pandemic, with some brands even seeing their sales increase over 2019's numbers at this point in the year.

Why it matters: Cars and trucks were seen as one of the sectors that would be hardest hit as Americans were called to stay home from work and entertainment destinations were shuttered.

Aug 5, 2020 - Health

Moderna skirts disclosures of coronavirus vaccine costs

Photo: Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Moderna has not been living up to contractual obligations to disclose the percentage of taxpayer dollars that are funding its coronavirus vaccine project, but the pharmaceutical company tells Axios that federal money makes up "100% funding of the program."

Why it matters: Moderna has received almost $1 billion in taxpayer grants to get its vaccine through clinical trials and is considering setting the highest price of all coronavirus vaccine candidates.

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