Apr 7, 2021

Axios AM

🐫 Happy Wednesday! Smart Brevity™ count: 984 words ... 4 minutes.

💻 Please join Axios' Niala Boodhoo, Sara Goo and Hope King tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET for a virtual event on Asian American identity and politics, featuring activists Linh Nguyen and Amanda Nguyen, and Michigan state Sen. Stephanie Chang. Sign up here.

1 big thing: Dimon calls on companies to be policymakers

Jamie Dimon (right) in the Oval Office on Feb. 9. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon uses his annual shareholders letter, out today, to urge companies to play a bigger role in fixing the world’s problems, Axios Closer author Courtenay Brown writes.

  • Dimon says the nation's policy design and implementation have been "hampered by short-term thinking," and few institutions are blameless.
  • "We are bogged down, sometimes crippling our nation, because of self-interest and the associated bureaucracy and bad thinking that follow."

Dimon told Axios in an interview: "I think America has a bright future. I don't know if we're at a crossroads or not, but I think the better strategy is to assume we are and to fix it. It's a bad idea to not fix it and hope that it really wasn't that important."

Dimon's letter — widely read for insights on the economy, the financial system and politics — dedicates an entire section to public policy:

  • Dimon says America's competitiveness and leadership were challenged by "China, Covid-19 and our own competence."

On the stock market: "While equity valuations are quite high (by almost all measures, except against interest rates), historically, a multi-year booming economy could justify their current price."

On the lasting effects of remote work: "For every 100 employees, [JPMorgan] may need seats for only 60 on average. This will significantly reduce our need for real estate." But the bank is still planning to build a new New York City headquarters.

2. New trend: Vaccine shopping
Expand chart
Reproduced from KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. Chart: Axios Visuals

Many COVID vaccination sites are making it easy to shop among different vaccine brands, Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens writes.

  • Why it matters: Public health officials have advised for months that the best vaccine to get is the one that's first available. But giving people a choice about which shot to get could help improve overall vaccination rates, especially among more hesitant Americans.

Keep reading.

3. VCs plow money into creator economy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Venture capitalists are plowing money into startups that help content creators to directly monetize their work, writes Dan Primack, author of Axios Pro Rata and host of Axios Re:Cap, our afternoon podcast.

  • Patreon, a platform that connects creators with fans, today will announce $155 million in fresh funding at a $4 billion valuation.
  • Last week: Newsletter platform Substack snared $65 million at a $650 million valuation, celeb messaging app Cameo added $100 million at a valuation north of $1 billion, and music distribution startup UnitedMasters secured $50 million in an Apple-led round.
  • Roblox, which paid more than $300 million to game creators last year, raised $520 million from VCs in January before going public.

What's next: This trend is accelerating into burgeoning areas like NFTs.

4. Pictures of America: Playing amid pandemic

Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

After four games were postponed for virus delays, and with two starting pitchers on COVID reserve after four players tested positive, the Washington Nationals' Opening Day came five days late.

  • Nationals Park hosted 4,801 fans — 12% of capacity — and more than a third of what was supposed to be the Nats' 26-man roster was absent as they beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5. (AP)
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Above: Michael Hoffman of Washington locks up his bike as he and his sons Evan, 6, and Andrew, 4, arrive for the Nats' Opening Day.

5. Where the world is bouncing, lagging
Data: IMF World Economic Outlook; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The global economy will end 2021 2.5% larger than it was at the end of 2019, Felix Salmon writes in Axios Closer, from a new IMF forecast.

  • Europe will end 2021 with a smaller economy than at the end of 2019.
  • Asia is seeing booming growth, led by both China and India.
  • The U.S. is doing extremely well, with tailwinds from vaccines and stimulus.

Share this graphic.

6. Inside America's religion recession

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We told you last week that Gallup had found U.S. membership in houses of worship had fallen below 50% for the first time in 83 years of polling.

Axios Future editor Bryan Walsh unpacks the trend:

  • Membership in houses of worship correlates with age: The oldest Americans are much more likely to be church members.
  • The dropoff is particularly stark among millennials and Gen Z, who are about 30 points lower than Americans born before 1946, compared to 8 points and 16 points lower for Baby Boomers and Gen X, respectively.

What's next: Children who grow up without organized religion are less likely to worship as adults. So look for secularization to continue.

7. Signs of severe fire season in West
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Reproduced from U.S. Drought Monitor. Chart: Sara Wise

Parts of the West are already at mid-July levels of dryness, pointing to a destructive upcoming fire season, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

8. Clubhouse valued at $4 billion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-based social network, is in talks to raise funding from investors in a round valuing the business at about $4 billion." Bloomberg

9. 2024 watch: Pence to speak in S.C.
Mike Pence departs the Biden inauguration. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence today launches Advancing American Freedom, a policy and advocacy organization "to promote the pro-freedom policies of the last four years."

  • After lying low since the inauguration 77 days ago, Pence said the 501(c)(4)'s goals include "promoting traditional conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump administration."
  • The group also will "oppose the expansion of government" under the Biden administration.

Why it matters: Pence, 61, is automatically part of 2024's opening top tier, and is giving a sense of his early message as he reengages in public life.

  • His first major open-press speech will be April 29, to the Palmetto Family Council in Columbia, S.C.

The advisory board includes Kellyanne Conway, Jim DeMint, Ed Feulner, former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Newt and Callista Gingrich, Heritage Foundation President Kay James, Larry Kudlow, Robert Lighthizer, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, Ed Meese, Rick Santorum, Seema Verma, Russ Vought and Scott Walker.

10. 🎞️ 1 film thing: "This Is a Robbery"

FBI photo of the crime scene after the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. Photo via Netflix

Premiering today on Netflix ... "This Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist," a four-part documentary series from director Colin Barnicle, taking viewers back 30 years to St. Patrick's Day weekend in 1990.

  • "[L]egendary works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and others worth over half a billion dollars today were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston."

The series covers "the leads, dead ends, lucky breaks and speculations that characterized the investigation of this still unsolved mystery."

  • The Guardian writes: "Barnicle and his brother, Nick, Boston-area natives long fascinated by the case, began investigating in 2014 and shooting in 2015, a process which involved years of combing the local web of investigators."
Missing for 30 years: Rembrandt’s "Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee." Graphic design (background and framing): Ellie Sisler. Photo courtesy Barnicle Brothers

Go deeper: "Have you seen these paintings?" Watch the trailer.

  • All 13 missing pieces of art are featured on @barniclebrothers Instagram, with the story behind each work.

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