June 17, 2023

๐Ÿณ Happy Saturday! Erica Pandey โ€” @erica_pandey โ€” is your host.

  • Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,101 words ... 4 mins. Edited by TuAnh Dam.

1 big thing: The manufacturing supercycle

Data: Census Bureau. Chart: Axios Visuals

It's easy to get so caught up in month-to-month economic data that we miss a longer-term trend emerging before our eyes:

  • Massive new investment is pouring into U.S. heavy industry, shaping the economic landscape for years to come, Axios chief economic correspondent Neil Irwin writes for Axios Macro.

Why it matters: The 2010s were a period of chronic underinvestment. Now, billions are flooding into big, expensive megaprojects to make batteries, solar cells, semiconductors and much more.

  • This boom is fueled by hundreds of billions of dollars from President Biden's signature legislation โ€” the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS and Science Act โ€” as well as pent-up demand.
  • It signals sustained upward pressure on demand for workers and raw materials for years to come.

๐Ÿ’ฌ "We believe the U.S. is in the early stages of a manufacturing supercycle," Joseph Quinlan, head of CIO Market Strategy at Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, in a report this week.

  • He emphasizes the role of foreign direct investment in the surge, as global companies rush to build large-scale facilities in the U.S. He sees the trend extending well into the second half of the 2020s.
  • ๐Ÿ‘€ "It's really gotten the attention of the world," Quinlan tells Axios. "When you talk to companies in South Korea, Japan, Europe, all they want to talk about is building out a presence in the U.S."

๐Ÿงฎ By the numbers: As of April, spending on manufacturing construction โ€” new factories โ€” is tracking at a $189 billion annual rate, triple the average rate in the 2010s ($63 billion).

  • That helps explain some of the underlying strength in the U.S. economy, even amid elevated recession fears. For example, the construction sector has added 192,000 jobs over the last year, despite higher rates hammering the housing sector.

๐Ÿ”Ž Between the lines: The types of investment in this boom tend to involve much larger capital outlays than were seen in the 2010s.

  • For example, two European companies announced this month they will invest $2 billion in Texas for a plant to make synthetic natural gas.

๐Ÿ”ฎ What we're watching: This sustained surge in investment will form the economic backdrop for the rest of the 2020s.

  1. Recessions should be less likely, and milder if they do happen. It's usually manufacturing and construction that pull the economy into downturns. Those sectors now have a floor under them.
  2. It means more demand for capital, which should keep interest rates higher, rather than returning to their ultra-low pre-2022 levels.
  3. These industrial facilities tend to create high-wage jobs, which could put sustained upward pressure on wages (but also could induce inflation).
  4. This supercycle changes the geography of growth in the U.S.: Much of the investment is happening in exurban and rural areas โ€” not the major coastal metropolises that were the winners of the 2010s economy.

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2. โš–๏ธ Jack Smith fan club

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tom Brenner for The Washington Post via Getty Images

First there was Robert Mueller. Then Anthony Fauci. Now Democrats are embracing a new folk hero: special counsel Jack Smith.

  • E-commerce shops are filling up with Smith-themed merchandise โ€” T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, stickers, even a baby blanket โ€” celebrating the prosecutor in the Donald Trump classified documents case, Axios' Alex Thompson writes.

๐Ÿ’ก Why it matters: It's the latest example of the cults of personality that spring up, on both left and right, in this polarized era of American politics.

  • A similar phenomenon has long surrounded Trump himself. Sites backing him sell every sort of paraphernalia โ€” even items with a fake mug shot and: "Not Guilty."

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3. ๐Ÿ’ป Remote work's boom cities

Illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios

1 in 6 remote workers moved in 2021 โ€” many of them to new cities in new states.

  • Of the metros that had the highest share of remote workers moving in or out, the bigger, pricier cities saw a net loss of people โ€” and smaller metros saw a net gain, the N.Y. Times reports in a new analysis of census data.

Winners:

  1. Austin, up a net 28,000 residents
  2. Denver, +23,000
  3. Dallas, +10,000
  4. Nashville, +10,000
  5. Portland, Ore., +9,000

Losers:

  1. New York City, down a net 116,000 people
  2. L.A., -53,000
  3. San Francisco, -32,000
  4. Chicago, -29,000
  5. San Jose, Calif., -27,000

Get Axios Local โ€” now in 30 cities, including all 5 of those winners.

4. ๐Ÿš˜ Robotaxi rise

Data: McKinsey Center for Future Mobility. Chart: Axios Visuals

Privately owned vehicles will make up a smaller and smaller share of global transportation, as autonomous vehicles become more feasible and cities fight overcrowding, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes from new research by the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility.

  • By the numbers: Private cars will account for 29% of transportation in 2035, down from 45% in 2022, McKinsey projects.

๐Ÿค– New modes of mobility โ€” namely robotaxis โ€” will increase from virtually zero today to 8% of global transportation in that same time span.

  • Micromobility services โ€” such as scooters and bicycles โ€” will rise from 16% of transportation in 2022 to 19% in 2035.

๐Ÿง  Reality check: Europe will shed private cars faster than the U.S., as privately owned vehicles make up a much higher share of America's transportation at about 80%, says Timo Mรถller of McKinsey.

5. ๐Ÿ”Ž Tilted Earth

True color satellite image of the Earth. Photo: Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Humans have pumped so much groundwater out of the Earth in the last couple of decades that the planet has tilted 31.5 inches to the east, Axios managing editor Alison Snyder writes.

  • Researchers at Seoul National University found that groundwater removal had the biggest impact on the Earth's drift, even compared with large amounts moving due to melting glaciers.

Go deeper.

6. ๐ŸŽฎ Gamerโ€™s $100 million deal

Lengyel at the 2022 YouTube Streamy Awards in Los Angeles. Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

One of the biggest stars on Twitch, the video-game streaming platform, signed a megadeal with its rival, Kick.

Why it matters: The contract for gamer Fรฉlix Lengyel โ€” which pays $70 million over two years, and could climb to $100 million with extra incentives โ€” mirrors blockbuster deals signed by NFL and NBA athletes, the N.Y. Times' Kellen Browning writes (subscription).

  • It's roughly the size of the two-year contract extension LeBron James signed with the Lakers last year.

The deal is a blow to Amazon-owned Twitch โ€” which is losing a creator who has 12 million followers, and who can attract tens of thousands of viewers at a given time, Browning notes.

7. ๐Ÿฆ Tweet of the week

Screenshot via @AnthonyColey

Anthony Coley โ€” former Justice Department spokesman, and now a contributor to NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC โ€” shared this pic from his mom in North Carolina.

8. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Parting shot

Photo: Thibault Camus/AP

A diver sails through the air into the Seine river yesterday during a training session for a Red Bull Cliff Diving event in Paris tomorrow.

  • The women will jump off a 69-foot-high platform, while the men will dive from nearly 89 feet in the air.