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Photo: Interim Archives/Getty Images

This was a big week for financiers looking to make enormous profits from the empire-building ambitions of businesses with dubious business models.

Exhibit 1: WeWork is planning to go public next month, raising some $3.5 billion. But this is a world where Uber can lose $5.2 billion in a single quarter, and potential shareholders are worried that $3.5 billion still won't be enough. So WeWork is raising $6 billion in debt, too.

  • Leading both deals: JPMorgan Chase, whose CEO, Jamie Dimon, has been buttering up WeWork executives for years.
  • Be smart: WeWork (or just We, as it now wants to be known) is generally considered an office-rental company, even if its CEO likes to say that it's more about energy, spirituality and elevating the world's consciousness. In reality, WeWork is a creature of the international capital markets, upon which it is reliant and without which it could never have been born in the first place. As a vehicle for funneling fees to Wall Street, it has few equals. Hence the personal attention from Dimon.

Exhibit 2: The huge media merger of the week is the acquisition of newspaper chain Gannett by its smaller rival GateHouse. In order to get the deal done, GateHouse parent New Media Investment Group is borrowing $1.8 billion from Apollo at an eye-popping interest rate of 11.5%.

  • Between the lines: The interest rate worries GateHouse shareholders: It clearly reflects an extremely high probability of default, in which case their equity would go to zero and Apollo would end up owning the combined company.
  • It's possible Apollo wants GateHouse to default on its loan. The private-equity giant has already quietly accumulated a very large position in local TV and local radio; local newspapers could fill out the portfolio nicely.

The bottom line: Whether WeWork and GateHouse succeed or fail, JPMorgan and Apollo are likely to come out ahead. It's a nice position to be in.

Go deeper

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.

GOP research firm aims to hobble Biden nominees

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-aligned opposition research group America Rising is doing all it can to prevent President Biden from seating his top Cabinet picks.

Why it matters: After former President Trump inhibited the transition, Biden is hoping the Republican minority in Congress will cooperate with getting his team in place. Biden hadn't even been sworn in when America Rising began blasting opposition research to reporters targeting Janet Yellen and Alejandro Mayorkas.