Economy & Business

Why it matters: After a record economic expansion, the coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy into a recession as unemployment soared to staggering heights. The country now faces urgent questions about how much stimulus is needed for reeling consumers and businesses, and what a recovery might look like.

All economy & business stories

Fed vice chair Richard Clarida talks rate hikes

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve vice chairman Richard Clarida made waves on Wednesday with his decidedly hawkish tone.

Why it matters: All eyes have been on Fed officials as they telegraph their views on the economy and monetary policy.

American services overcome constraints

The U.S. services sector is growing at a record pace.

Why it matters: Labor shortages and supply chain issues have hindered business activity across sectors, but not so much that businesses aren’t able to grow at a high clip.

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

Why investors should ignore economists

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What kind of investor would ignore economics? A successful one, says legendary hedge fund manager Howard Marks in the memo we wrote about on Monday.

Why it matters: Nearly all investors — Marks included — have views on the economy, how it works, and where it's headed. Many of them go to great lengths to disseminate and popularize those views. (Looking at you, Ray Dalio.) But that's all marketing, not investing.

The post-pandemic economy has already arrived

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With the recession officially ending in April 2020, we're now 16 months into the recovery and the contours of the post-pandemic economy have taken shape.

Why it matters: While the coronavirus continues to infect 100,000 new Americans every week, it's no longer driving the course of the economy.

The stock market has gotten cheaper over the past year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

A widely followed valuation metric suggests stocks have been getting cheaper over the past year, even as prices have surged to new highs.

Why it matters: When stocks rise and company market caps balloon, it’s tempting to think that the shares must eventually fall in order to get to more reasonable levels.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden, top automakers aim for 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House on Thursday is unveiling draft mandates and aspirational targets aimed at drastically cutting vehicle carbon emissions and accelerating the shift to electric models.

Why it matters: Transportation is the largest source of U.S. emissions.

4 hours ago - Health

The pandemic is now a "negative" for CVS

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Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

For every premium dollar that CVS Health's insurance arm, Aetna, collected in the second quarter, it paid a little more than 84 cents to medical providers — a "medical loss ratio" that was a lot higher than Wall Street expected.

The big picture: Health insurers were the main beneficiaries of the pandemic last year, as the widespread delay of doctor visits and procedures greatly offset what they had to pay for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Now that routine care is back, and COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise again, CVS executives said the pandemic is a "modest negative" for the rest of 2021.

Landlords mount legal challenge to Biden admin's new eviction moratorium

President Biden at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.

Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.

Uber beats Q2 expectations and turns a rare profit

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Uber posted an unexpected profit for the second quarter, and beat analyst expectations with revenue of $3.9 billion and earnings per share of $0.58.

Why it matters: Uber benefited from unrealized gains of $1.4 billion and $471 million from its stakes in Didi and Aurora, respectively—just two of the ride-hailing company's portfolio of such investments.

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

The downside of Robinhood's upside

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Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

One definition of a meme stock: Any publicly listed company whose stock becomes a speculative vehicle beloved of retail investors armed with small-dollar Robinhood accounts. To no surprise, Robinhood itself has now become one of those stocks, just a few days after going public last week.

Why it matters: Robinhood is one of the most high-profile disruptive fintechs to have gone public. There's irony and symbolism to its stock price ceasing to be a reflection of corporate fundamentals and instead becoming a short-term gambling mechanism. But that transformation effectively removes an important valuation signal that investors might otherwise have found very helpful.

Target to offer debt-free education aid for over 340,000 workers

Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Target announced Wednesday plans to offer debt-free education assistance to more than 340,000 of its front-line workers.

Why it matters: Americans owe $1.6 trillion in student loans.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Massachusetts to mandate COVID vaccination for long-term care staff — CVS, Walgreens see uptick of people getting COVID vaccines — WHO calls for moratorium on booster shots through September.
  2. Health: Fauci fears a COVID variant worse than Delta could be coming — America's pandemic pessimism returns — Florida counties hold off on adding more testing despite Delta surge.
  3. Politics: Arkansas governor says he regrets banning mask mandatesBiden tells GOP governors who resist COVID rules to "get out of the way" — Florida school district reverses mask mandate after DeSantis' funding threat.
  4. Business: Biden voices support for private sector vaccine requirements — More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated.
  5. World: Israel reinstates restrictions as cases surge— Wuhan to test all residents for COVID-19 amid Delta variant concerns.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
19 hours ago - Health

CVS, Walgreens see uptick of people getting COVID vaccines

CVS has administered 30 million COVID-19 shots as of June 30. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Demand for COVID-19 vaccines has increased at Walgreens and CVS stores in the past month after slow uptake in May and June.

Why it matters: Vaccinations are vital to slow the spread of the Delta variant, and the amount of rising coronavirus cases appears to be nudging some unvaccinated people into a pharmacy.

20 hours ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Buzzy media startup Puck launches in beta

Puck.news

Puck, a splashy new digital media company, is coming out of stealth mode, Axios has learned. The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September.

Why it matters: The company has been quietly building a roster of top talent, but hadn't confirmed its branding or exact business plans up until now.

21 hours ago - Economy & Business

Instacart hires former Facebook ads exec Carolyn Everson as president

Instacart

Carolyn Everson, Facebook's former head of global ad sales, has joined Instacart as president, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: She joins a growing list of former Facebook employees joining Instacart. Everson will report to the company's new CEO Fidji Simo, who was previously head of the Facebook app.

21 hours ago - Sports

Top Spanish soccer league strikes $3 billion deal with private equity firm

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spanish soccer league La Liga has agreed to sell 10% of its commercial business to CVC Capital Partners for around $3 billion.

The bottom line: "If approved by the league's clubs, the deal could help the league’s cash-strapped teams, including giant ones like F.C. Barcelona, repair their finances and ease a cash crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic," the New York Times writes.

SEC chair Gary Gensler turns his eyes on crypto

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What a week for cryptocurrencies in Washington. SEC chairman Gary Gensler spent Tuesday in the spotlight when he said at the Aspen Security Forum that not only does he believe virtually all initial coin offerings are securities, but that token exchanges are very likely facilitating trading of unregistered securities.

What they're saying: "While each token's legal status depends on its own facts and circumstances, the probability is quite remote that, with 50 or 100 tokens, any given platform has zero securities," said Gensler.

22 hours ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Politico staffers mount unionization effort

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

Members of Politico's newsroom are actively mounting an effort to unionize with the NewsGuild, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Politico's newsroom is one of the largest newsrooms to have resisted organizing efforts in the past. A successful unionization drive would be a major win for newsroom labor groups.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
24 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Big Oil has big problems despite rising profits

The just-concluded Big Oil earnings season highlighted two things at once: The sector's on far more solid footing than last year, but still faces big headwinds.

Driving the news: BP's stock rose 7% Tuesday after it reported a $2.8 billion Q2 profit after losing $6.7 billion that period last year, and announced higher dividends and new share buybacks.

New York Times subscriptions continue to trend toward non-news products

Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The New York Times on Wednesday said it added 142,000 paid digital-only subscriptions last quarter, 65,000 of which were for its non-core news products, like cooking, games and audio.

Why it matters: It's the highest percentage of non-core news subscriptions that The Times has added in its history. The Gray Lady has leaned more heavily into non-news products in recent years to offset news cycle turbulence.

Americans are charging more than it seems

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

Credit card balances recently ticked higher, but remain well below pre-pandemic levels. However, consumers are charging much more than those balances might suggest.

Why it matters: Higher credit card balances are considered a rough proxy for spending activity and consumer confidence.

The FTC's merger mayhem

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Data: FTC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission can't keep up with the "tidal wave" of mergers that need its careful scrutiny.

Driving the news: The FTC said Tuesday in a blog post that it won't be able to finish reviewing all the deals on its plate within its standard 30-day period — and that it will notify companies via form letter if a review remains open longer than 30 days.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Aug 4, 2021 - Economy & Business

Vax mandates to arrive in small businesses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Half of America's small businesses are likely or certain to require their on-premise employees to be vaccinated, according to a Morning Consult poll of small businesses commissioned by American Express. That compares to 31% who say that such a mandate is unlikely or that they certainly won't impose one.

Why it matters: Many large businesses, from Facebook to Morgan Stanley, have announced vaccine mandates. New York City restaurants and gyms are also going to be fully vaxxed as of next month.

An e-scooter that drives like a motorcycle for city commuters

The sleek and simple Zapp i300 is designed for urban commuters. Photo: Zapp

A new high-performance electric scooter is being billed as the transportation solution for urban residents who want an EV but don't have dedicated parking and can't exactly hang a charging cable out their apartment window.

What's happening: The $7,495 Zapp i300 is positioned as a daily commuter vehicle for urban dwellers — offering the convenience of a scooter and the performance of a motorcycle. Debuting this month in Paris, it's headed to Asia and the United States next year.

Return-to-work plans keep getting foiled by the Delta variant

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Companies that were eager to call employees back to the office are delaying those return dates as coronavirus infections keep rising.

The big picture: The Delta variant is throwing us back into the thick of pandemic-era living, with new restrictions at restaurants and gyms and complications to return-to-work plans.

Debt investors retreat from funding dirty energy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Banks are coming under fire from all sides for their role in funding fossil fuel companies, even though most have pledged to pull back over the coming decades.

What's happening: Despite pressure from activists, shareholders and Democratic politicians to finally divest from carbon-spewing businesses as the planet warms, the biggest American banks are still energetically backing dirty energy.

Aug 4, 2021 - Health

AbbVie's blockade of cheaper Humira options

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sales of AbbVie's blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira have declined internationally, as cheaper copycats known as biosimilars gain more traction in Europe. But Humira sales continued to rise in the U.S. last quarter because Humira biosimilars are locked out of the country until 2023.

Why it matters: Cheaper versions of Humira exist, but Americans don't have access to them due entirely to AbbVie's "legal strategy" of delaying entry.

Frontier passenger taped to seat after allegedly assaulting 3 flight attendants

Photo: Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

A Frontier Airlines passenger was arrested for allegedly groping the breasts of two attendants and punching a third before being taped to his seat for the remainder of his flight from Philadelphia to Miami, per multiple reports.

The big picture: It's been an unprecedented year for reports of unruly and violent airline passengers, with the Federal Aviation Administration dealing with hundreds of cases despite announcing in January a new "zero tolerance" policy.

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