Wednesday's economy & business stories

Three bitcoin bulls in a (virtual) room

From top left, clockwise: Steve Lee, lead for Square Crypto, moderates a live conversation with Cathie Wood, Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk. Credit: The B Word

For a little over an hour on Wednesday, ARK Invest CEO and CIO Cathie Wood, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk laid out their main hopes for decentralized cryptocurrencies: world peace and improving individual lives.

Why it matters: Global scrutiny toward cryptocurrency exchanges and mining has grown. Proponents are trying to draw strength in numbers.

Poll: The kids are in financial trouble

Photo: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Americans are more pessimistic than ever before about their kids' financial future, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

The big picture: It's not just America. A majority in almost all of the 17 countries surveyed by Pew thinks kids will be worse off financially. It's been that way since at least 2013.

Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Some Spider Studios to be acquired by BDG Media

Vinit Bharara, founder/CEO of Some Spider Studios. Photo: Some Spider Studios

BDG Media (formerly Bustle Digital Group) is acquiring Some Spider Studios, the media company home to parenting brands Fatherly, Scary Mommy and The Dad, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The deal will give BDG Media the scale it needs before exploring an IPO later this year via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company.)

Jul 21, 2021 - Health

Drug distributors, J&J reach $26 billion opioids settlement

Four key opioid companies have reached a near-global settlement. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The three dominant prescription drug distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay a combined amount of $26 billion to settle allegations that they fueled the country's opioid crisis.

Why it matters: The companies, which have admitted no wrongdoing, are paying a sum of money that equates to 4% of their combined annual revenue. Meanwhile, a record 70,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses during the pandemic in 2020.

Jul 21, 2021 - Health

Anthem still determining what to do with Aduhelm

Anthem's profits dropped in Q2, but still tallied $1.8 billion. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Anthem is "going to continue to evaluate" the data around Aduhelm, the controversial Alzheimer's drug, before making final insurance coverage decisions, CEO Gail Boudreaux told investors Wednesday.

Why it matters: Several other Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers have said they will not cover Aduhelm, but Anthem is still weighing the options like its competitor UnitedHealth, which also wants to wait and see what the federal government says.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

FTX raises largest-ever VC round for a crypto company

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

FTX, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange that launched in 2019, raised $900 million in Series B funding at an $18 billion valuation.

Why it matters: It's the largest-ever VC round for a crypto company, let alone for an exchange that prohibits Americans from trading on its primary marketplace.

Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Virtual horse racing startup raises $20 million from TCG, a16z

Virtually Human Studio

Virtually Human Studio (VHS), a platform used to virtually race horses using NFTs, has raised a $20 million Series A round from The Chernin Group, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures.

Why it matters: The company's virtual horse racing platform, called "ZED RUN," has created a new model for horse racing that enables participants to not only bet on their horses 24/7, but also own the horses as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or put more simply — digital assets.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Nasdaq gets serious about private-company share trading

Photo: Pablo Monsalve/VIEWpress via Getty

It's one of the biggest competitions out there: Who will be the go-to platform for buying and selling stock in private companies? A consortium of giant banks is now teaming up with Nasdaq to try to ensure that the answer is to be found on Wall Street, rather than in Silicon Valley.

Why it matters: No matter how many companies go public, the total valuation of private companies only ever seems to go up rather than down. Which means there's big money to be made in trading stakes in those companies.

Deloitte U.S. CEO: Employees don’t realize how much power they have

Joe Ucuzoglu; Photo: Deloitte

As CEO of a firm that advises thousands of the biggest U.S. companies, Joe Ucuzoglu knows all about the Great Resignation.

What he's saying: "'The Great Resignation' is really an appropriate descriptor," he says, attributing the phenomenon in part to the very real pent-up demand to change jobs — or even careers — that’s been simmering over the last year.

Stocks and bonds tell similar stories

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Treasury yields have been falling, and yet stock prices remain near record highs. On the surface, this seems like conflicting attitudes toward risk. But a closer look at these markets reveals a much more consistent narrative.

Why it matters: Since March, long-term Treasury yields have been sliding, with the 10-year yield falling from 1.74% in late March to as low as 1.13% on Monday.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jul 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Top Moody’s economist: Infrastructure and budget deals will help economy

Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday will release a report by Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi to push back on GOP attacks, arguing that the bipartisan infrastructure deal and Democrat-only social-spending package would help the economy.

Zandi writes, in excerpts provided to Axios: "Greater investments in public infrastruc­ture and social programs will lift productivity and labor force growth, and the attention on climate change will help forestall its increas­ingly corrosive economic effects."

Canadians are ready to come back to Tampa

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Canadians are ready to return to Florida as their government eases COVID-19 travel restrictions — and nonstop flights between Toronto and Tampa International Airport have resumed.

  • And Florida responds: It's aboot time!

Why it matters: Canada is the number one international visitor market for Tampa Bay.

Jul 21, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Amazon's "Tampa Baes" to focus on the area's "young lesbian it-crowd"

Photo: Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios announced this week that it green-lighted "Tampa Baes," an 8-episode docuseries centered on the area's "young lesbian it-crowd" to be released this fall.

Why it matters: While TV's LGBTQ representation has progressed significantly over the years, mainstream reality shows like "Queer Eye" and "RuPaul's Drag Race" are mostly centered around queer men.

Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Vegetarians beat inflation

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

America's vegetarians and vegans are winning the inflation fight as meat prices go up while veggies get cheaper.

By the numbers: In June, Americans shelled out 6% and 5% more for beef steaks and roasts respectively. And they paid 5% more for pork chops, according to Consumer Price Index data reported by MarketWatch.

  • Meanwhile, canned vegetable prices dropped by 1.2% and frozen by 0.7%.
  • Another headache for meat lovers: Fast food chains are dealing with a fried chicken shortage as the country continues to feel the repercussions of the pandemic's disruption of meat-packing plants.

The big picture: About 5% of Americans are vegetarian and 3% are vegan, per Gallup. Despite greater attention to meat alternatives, that rate hasn't changed much in the last couple of decades.

Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

The C-suite job of the future: Chief purpose officer

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

To appease employees, customers and shareholders alike, companies are spending time and money grappling with huge social problems like systemic racism, income inequality and climate change.

What's happening: More and more firms are dedicating entire departments to tackle societal issues and even hiring a purpose-focused executive — chief purpose officer — to lead the efforts.

Jul 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Netflix tries new tricks amid subscriber slowdown

Data: FactSet, company filings; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Netflix on Tuesday officially opened up about its new gaming efforts, telling shareholders it plans to include games in members’ Netflix subscription plans at no additional cost in the near future.

Why it matters: The announcement came after Netflix reported its weakest quarter for subscriber additions in many years. Netflix actually lost subscribers in North America for the second time in company history.

Jul 21, 2021 - Health

The great patient influx

HCA's Medical Center of Trinity in Florida. Photo: Eve Edelheit/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If HCA Healthcare's second-quarter earnings are any kind of bellwether for hospital systems, then it's clear patients came back in droves to get emergency care or elective care that had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: "Our volume, as indicated in the second quarter, will return to 2019 levels and perhaps moderately above that," HCA's CFO Bill Rutherford told investors.