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Photo courtesy of Merle Hazard

Merle Hazard, the biggest name in country music about financial markets, debuted in New York on Thursday night, performing for a packed house at WNYC's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.

The big picture: The legendary crooner behind hits like "How Long (Will Interest Rates Stay Low)," "Dual Mandate" and "Inflation or Deflation" is unquestionably the economics world's biggest country music superstar. But Hazard, aka Jon Shayne, still has his day job.

Hazard is a native of New York who bills himself as the son of a coal miner daddy and a mama who was a compliance director at Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter. On Thursday he unleashed 2 new bangers, "That's Seigniorage" and "The Fed is Watching the Market," as well as a favorite from his 2018 opus "Tough Market" backed up by his son Merle Jr. (aka David Shayne) on guitar.

Behind the scenes: He's an asset manager, dealing mainly in U.S. equities at his firm Shayne & Co., LLC overseeing portfolios for around 100 client accounts.

  • "There's an audience for [my music]," Hazard said during a 1-on-1 exclusive with Axios, "but I'm not sure it's a sufficiently big, paying audience to really make this a career."

Background: He got his start in finance at brokerage firm Paine Webber as a "number-crunching analyst in the mergers group," but eventually moved to Nashville, where he was able to combine his love for country and finance.

  • "Everything I sing about in the songs ... they're all real issues to me."

Fun fact: Hazard now records at Compass Sound Studios on Nashville's Music Row, the former home of Glaser Brothers Production, aka Hillbilly Central, "where the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman and Tompall Glaser gave rise to country music’s 'Outlaw' movement," according to the studio's website.

The intrigue: While his songs generally focus on high-level macroeconomic themes like central banking, GDP growth and interest rate policy, his heart is in value investing — as a Warren Buffett devotee he specializes in company valuations and stock picking.

Go deeper: Who would’ve thought a bluegrass spoof of atonal music would take off on YouTube? (WashPost)

Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect the name of Shayne's firm, Shane & Co, LLC rather than Shayne & Co. Investment Management, and to state that only one song performed was from his "Tough Market" album.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

6 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.