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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Charles Duhigg has a wonderful profile of billionaire financier Chamath Palihapitiya in the New Yorker. His piece includes 31 instances of the word "story" or its cognates ("stories," "storytellers").

Why it matters: As financial markets have matured, the importance of old-fashioned storytelling has generally waned. The stock market is no longer governed by brokers phoning up clients and sweet-talking them into a certain company; instead it has increasingly rewarded lightning speed and brute computational power.

  • The current stock-market frenzy, however, has seen a significant spike in stocks that trade on the strength of their narrative — sometimes to the point at which the story-based valuation diverges wildly from anything you might learn at finance school.

How it works: "Having a great story, and knowing how to tell it, can be a quick way to get rich," writes Duhigg.

  • "When it seems that some improbable group has become fantastically rich overnight," he continues, "a few financial storytellers often rise to prominence: people you’ve never heard of who fill the media with sensational tales of wealth earned in bold, exciting ways."
  • Chamath is one such storyteller — one of the very best, a native speaker of both Twitter and CNBC.

Context: Chamath, alongside many of his followers, has lost a lot of money this year as his SPACs have imploded and the price of his beloved bitcoin has started to fall. But he's still happy to spin his own genius in a misleading and innumerate letter to his investors.

The big picture: In a sense, Chamath and Elon — the first-name-only lords of the Redditverse — are unnecessary. Many of today's most compelling investment stories are distributed across social media in a way that is largely authorless.

  • Satoshi hasn't published anything in years, but his crypto story still resonates; AMC stock might not have its own Roaring Kitty, but it's still headed to the moon, cheered on by TikTokers.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.