Friday's economy & business stories

Jul 23, 2021 - Sports

Sports reporter Maria Taylor joins NBC after exiting ESPN

Maria Taylor in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 17. Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

NBC has hired sports reporter Maria Taylor after her ESPN contract expired this week and negotiations failed, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Why it matters: The journalist, who worked for ESPN since 2014, had been renegotiating her contract for serval months when the New York Times published leaked audio of basketball reporter Rachel Nichols suggesting Taylor, who is Black, had been promoted because ESPN was "feeling pressure" on diversity.

Chip relief on the horizon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Good news: The worst of the chip supply crunch might be near.

The other side: Here's the bad news... CEOs say chips totally flowing like normal is still a ways out.

Jul 23, 2021 - Podcasts

U.S. Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo on the global chip shortage

The world is suffering from a shortage of silicon chips, making it harder to make and buy everything from cars to home appliances.

Axios Re:Cap talks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about efforts to improve domestic manufacturing, why it’s taking so long to pass the CHIPS Act and what can be done to help in the short-term. Plus, an important message from Dan.

Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich to pay $600K in sexual harassment case

Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Chef Mario Batali and his former business partner Joe Bastianich reached a settlement and will pay $600,000 to at least 20 former employees following an investigation into allegations of sex assault and harassment.

The big picture: New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigation found that "Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting,” James said, per the New York Times. “Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law.”

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

Lucid Motors' SPAC merger fails to win shareholder approval

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lucid Motors, a Newark, Calif.-based electric car maker, on Thursday failed to secure investor approval for its $24 billion acquisition by Churchill Capital Corp IV, a SPAC led by Michael Klein.

Why it matters: This is the downside of having a meme SPAC, as not enough retail investors showed up to cast votes. Churchill and Lucid seemed to know this might be coming, as they flooded Reddit and other online message boards with "get out the vote" messages.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

Infrastructure private equity fund exec optimistic on legislation

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A top executive with the world's largest infrastructure private equity fund is optimistic that "tailwinds" will be created by U.S. infrastructure legislation, but remains frustrated by what he views as a lack of strategic vision.

Why it matters: Public investment will be married with private investment, even if the ultimate bills don't explicitly include public-private partnerships (which is something generally favored more by Republicans than by Democrats).

One homebuilding giant is turning down orders due to red-hot demand

Illustration: Trent Joaquin/Axios

Red-hot demand for houses sounds like great news for homebuilders. But builders aren’t as thrilled as you might expect, and one builder is actually turning down orders.

Why it matters: Home prices have surged as low mortgage rates and the pandemic-era demand for more space sent buyers flooding a market that had limited supply.

Your Cheerios box is shrinking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One way companies are raising prices is by reducing the package sizes — without lowering the cost, what's known as "shrinkflation."

Why it matters: Analysts expect the practice to impact more products as companies pass down their higher costs, a consequence of pandemic-driven supply and logistics constraints.

Jul 23, 2021 - Technology

Social media powerhouses cash in post-pandemic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Snapchat and Twitter on Thursday both reported record revenue growth for the second quarter of 2021 — an important indicator that as the ad market booms, social media companies are poised to reap the benefits of its growth.

Details: Snapchat reported its highest revenue and user growth numbers since 2018. Twitter's revenue grew 74% year-over-year for the quarter, its highest year-over-year growth period in seven years.

Jul 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

The return of superstar cities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic emptied out Main Streets and normalized telework, many experts speculated that it would loosen superstar coastal cities' grip on the economy.

  • Far from it.

The big picture: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the like are coming back even stronger, solidifying their economic dominance for the future.

The U.S. corporate debt market is at an inflection point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The $10.6 trillion U.S. corporate debt markets are at an inflection point. Last year's turmoil is in the rearview mirror, and companies are ramping up all the shareholder-friendly activities they couldn’t do during the pandemic — and looking to fund some of it with debt.

Why it matters: The economy is built on a foundation of credit — and what happens next will determine how soon and how bad the next default cycle will be.

Jul 23, 2021 - Health

Biogen's mad there's no hype for its Alzheimer's drug

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Biogen executives used their earnings day to take aim at critics and the media, saying the federal approval of the company's new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, "has been the subject of extensive misinformation and misunderstanding."

Why it matters: Biogen has billions of dollars on the line with this drug, and uptake has been very slow so far due in part to the blowback. But the company's grievances don't change the fact that Aduhelm failed to slow the progression of Alzheimer's in late-stage clinical trials.