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Data: FactSet, Axios research; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The McRib from McDonald's is a rare beast indeed. U.S. fast-food chains tend to avoid pork, outside of breakfast items, and the McRib hasn't been available nationwide since 2012.

Why it matters: A popular theory holds that the McRib only appears when hog prices hit a low point.

The McRib’s unique aspects and impermanence, many of us believe, make it seem a likely candidate for being a sort of arbitrage strategy .... In this equation, the undervalued good in question is hog meat.
— Willy Staley, The Awl, 2011

Between the lines: The McRib seems to have been consistently introduced at low points in the price of pork — until this year, when the low point came in late June.

  • Note how long it's been, however, since the last McRib rollout. Perhaps it was precisely those low June prices that finally tempted McDonald's back into the pork business.
  • Given the sophistication of commodity markets, it would have been easy for the company to buy pork in June for delivery in December. In which case the company would be entirely agnostic as to the market price today.

Go deeper

Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The Biden team

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
18 mins ago - World

WHO revises air quality guidelines to reduce deaths from pollution

Smoke from California wildfires over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in August 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday updated air quality guidelines it set roughly 15 years ago, saying that negative health effects from air pollutants can begin at lower levels than it previously thought.

Why it matters: The changes are meant to reduce deaths from pollutants that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and prematurely kill an estimated 7 million people around the world annually, according to the WHO.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.