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Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched into a mini-tirade about government stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, calling them "fascist" and "an outrage" on an earnings call Wednesday.

What he said: [T]he extension of the shelter-in-place or, frankly, I would call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights — in my opinion — breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country What the f--k?"

  • "Excuse me. Outrage. It's an outrage. It will cause great harm, not just to Tesla, but to many companies. And while Tesla will weather the storm. there are many small companies that will not. Everything people worked for their entire life are being destroyed in real time."
  • "They should be allowed to stay in the house, and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom."

The big picture: Tesla posted its third straight quarterly profit, on strong sales of its Model 3 and Y, but said business disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic were clouding its outlook for the rest of the year.

Why it matters: It's difficult for any company to forecast the future at this moment, but having raised $2.3 billion in February, Tesla said it has enough liquidity to keep investing in future products and long-term factory expansion.

  • That could give Tesla extra momentum when the crisis finally passes.

Yes, but: There are many uncertainties, and Tesla's success will depend, to a large extent, on factors outside of its control.

  • The most important is the reopening of its Fremont, California, assembly plant, where Model Y production had recently begun alongside Model 3. It is currently idled because of a Bay Area stay-at-home order.
  • Tesla's new Shanghai factory has resumed production after coronavirus disruptions in China, and a new factory is planned for Germany.
  • Tesla said it would delay its Semi truck until 2021. There's no word yet on the fate of its electric Cybertruck pickup.

What they're saying: The timing of the coronavirus couldn’t have been worse for Tesla, as it was launching Model Y and ramping production in China, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book.

  • Yes, but: "As brands go, Tesla's is one of the strongest in the automotive industry. And that kind of brand equity is a company’s best defense during economic turmoil," Brauer added.

By the numbers: Tesla's first quarter was better than analysts had expected.

  • The company eked out a $16 million net profit in the first quarter on $5.1 billion in revenue.
  • Its $283 million pre-tax operating income represented a 4.7% operating margin.
  • The company was on track for its strongest quarterly deliveries before the pandemic, so it remains confident after production resumes.
  • "At the same time, we are diligently managing working capital, reducing noncritical spend, and driving productivity improvements. We believe we are well-positioned to manage near-term uncertainty while achieving our long-term plans," Tesla said.

Go deeper: Report: Tesla to cut employees' pay up to 30% and furlough workers

Go deeper

Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

What we're driving: 2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

2020 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

This week I'm driving the all-electric Nissan Leaf SL Plus, with a sticker price of $46,045.

The big picture: The Leaf has been around since 2010, but has long since been eclipsed by the Tesla Model 3, and other battery powered entries like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Ioniq.

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to announce details of a plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.