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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
Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Ransomware attack forces shutdown of major U.S. fuel pipeline

A police officer stands guard inside the gate to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama, in 2016. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A major U.S. fuel pipeline running from Texas to New York has been taken offline by its operator because of a ransomware attack, Colonial Pipeline said Saturday.

Why it matters: It's a significant breach of critical infrastructure and comes on the heels of multiple other major cyberattacks on both U.S. companies and the federal government.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The wealthy exodus from superstar cities

Pandemic-induced remote work is chipping away at a recent trend of Americans staying put — but only for the well-off.

Why it matters: Telework has been lauded as a geographic equalizer, allowing talented people from all over the country to go for jobs in superstar coastal metros. But the benefits have largely been limited to wealthier workers — so far.