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Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Tesla's first-quarter earnings call in a couple weeks just got even more interesting. On Friday Musk shot back via Twitter at The Economist over their story headlined "Tesla is heading for a cash crunch," which cited analyst predictions that Tesla will need to raise more money from capital markets: "Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money," Musk tweeted.

Why this matters: It's a bold claim because profitable quarters have been extraordinarily rare in the company's history.

Production pledge: Musk's widely circulated CBS News interview Friday included this claim: "We'll probably have, I don't know, a three or four-fold increase in Model 3 output in the second quarter."

  • The big picture: Musk's comment signals confidence that the recent increase in production — which cracked 2,000 per week at the end of the second quarter — can be maintained and significantly improved. It comes after Goldman Sachs analysts argued that the rate is not sustainable.
  • Oops: Musk admitted to CBS that automated production fueled Model 3 delays, and he was more direct on Twitter, stating, "Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake... my mistake. Humans are underrated."

The bottom line: Musk isn’t letting a string of setbacks temper his bold promises, even though more failures to deliver could shake investor confidence.

Go deeper: Via the Wall Street Journal, "How Tesla’s Elon Musk Makes a Strategy Out of Defiance."

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
33 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

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