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Expand chart
Data: Defense News; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Like many human tragedies, 9/11 was great news for defense contractors. Over the course of the past 20 years, they've brought in a stunning $7.35 trillion in revenue, according to a Defense News database. The overwhelming majority of that money came from the Pentagon.

Why it matters: Gone are the days when most of the defense budget was spent directly on soldiers. Since 9/11, war has become "modernized" — which means it's fought with extremely expensive weapons bought from highly profitable private-sector companies.

Flashback: When the New York stock market finally reopened on 9/17, still surrounded by ash from the smoking Twin Towers, the S&P 500 fell by a sharp 5% from its closing level on 9/10 — and then kept on falling over the subsequent days.

  • America's biggest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, didn't follow suit. Instead, its stock rose by 15% on 9/17, to $43.95 per share. Today, it trades at $349.
  • By the numbers: In 2000, Lockheed Martin's defense revenue was $18 billion, or about 71% of its total revenues. By 2020, its defense revenue had soared to $63 billion, or 96% of the company's total income.

Be smart: The growth in private-sector outlays is unlikely to end any time soon. "What you are seeing is primarily funding for R&D and procurement of weapons," says Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • "The size of the military is actually about the same as it was prior to 9/11," Harrison tells Axios — and, he adds, "we still have many of the same modernization needs." Which means even more money flowing to defense contractors.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Oct 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Meme stonks lose their appeal to the world of crypto

Data: Cardify; Chart: Axios Visuals

That sucking sound you hear is the outflow of meme-chasing dollars from the stock market.

Why it matters: The caravan has moved on. The dream of getting rich quick still lives, but today it's more often found in the world of crypto, NFTs or even sports betting than it is in the stock market.

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.