Good Thursday morning. Axios is 1 year old today. Jim VandeHei, Roy Schwartz and I started with a blank whiteboard and a theory of the case that became Axios — "worthy" — launching two days before President Trump's inauguration. Yesterday, all 93 of our colleagues were in one room for an all-staff launch of Year 2. Everyone got an Axios Smart Brevity™ jersey, numbered in the order each of us joined the company.
Thank you for reading us, advising us and believing in us. The first principle of the Axios Manifesto will always be: "Reader first."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
Stock markets are at record highs, and recession is nowhere in sight. Yet, the threat to all this exuberance — rising international tensions and instability — arguably looks greater than any years since last century's great wars, Axios future editor Steve Levine writes in his geopolitical forecast for 2018.
This is Steve's sixth year of making these forecasts — first for Quartz, and now for Axios. His mega-trends to watch in 2018:
1. The U.S. will opt to live with a nuclear North Korea
2. The Iran protests will soften the regime.
3. Elon Musk will have a great year.
4. The Big Tech uprising will go populist.
5. Why midterms matter: the future of Trumpism.
"President Trump’s chief of staff privately told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had not been 'fully informed' when promising voters a wall along the Mexican border last year," per N.Y. Times:
Be smart: Since this on the front page of The Times, Trump will surely read it in and stew.
"Bitter divisions in both parties threatened ... to derail Congress’s effort to keep the federal government fully operating past the end of the week," the WashPost reports in its lead story:
Former Senator Bob Dole, 94, of Kansas speaks with President Trump during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring Dole at the Capitol yesterday, along with House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell.
Shot, via Reuters: "Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly told Fox News ... the White House did not tell former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon to invoke executive privilege in closed testimony before Congress on its probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election."
Chaser — Bannon's lawyer, Bill Burck, tells Jonathan Swan: "We were told by White House lawyers that Mr. Bannon was not authorized to speak about his time on the transition or in the White House until the Committee and the White House agreed on the proper scope of questioning. ... Perhaps [Kelly is] saying that the White House did not ask Mr. Bannon to invoke executive privilege in the formal legal sense."
Why it matters, from Axios PM: Bannon instantly becomes Trump’s most dangerous man. Other campaign or White House alumni want to preserve access to Trump. But Bannon has already burned every bridge, and now has zero attachments to Trump’s inner circle. Bannon saw and knows a lot, and his team has signaled he'll Mueller anything he's asked.
"Apple Inc. said it would pay a one-time tax of $38 billion on its overseas cash holdings and ramp up spending in the U.S., as it seeks to emphasize its contributions to the American economy after years of taking criticism for outsourcing manufacturing to China," the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription):
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, on the announcement that North and South Koreans will march under one flag at the Winter Olympics next month:
To reset your mind amid all the crazy Bitcoin coverage, the new N.Y. Times Magazine cover story walks through where the cryptocurrency conversation began, and where it's going ...
"Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble ... Yes, it’s driven by greed — but the mania for cryptocurrency could wind up building something much more important than wealth," by Steven Johnson:
"Sundance fest, in the moment: Screenings in Utah match an era of tumult and outspokenness ... This year’s fest has unusually strong films," per L.A. Times' Mark Olsen:
Thank you for reading, See you all day in the Axios stream ...