Jun 22, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🎧 The first episode of our new podcast, "Axios Today," hosted by Niala Boodhoo, is here! Listen.

🎬 Tonight, on "Axios on HBO," at 11 p.m. ET/PT ... Stacey Abrams tells Axios' Alexi McCammond that President Trump’s executive order on police reform is the “least he could do." See a clip.

  • And Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian tells Axios CEO Jim VandeHei that the airline won’t forcibly remove someone from a plane if they take their mask off. See a clip.

🗽 Situational awareness: New York City today begins Phase 2 of reopening, with outdoor dining, shopping, playground, haircuts and a few offices.

1 big thing: How rookie investors are beating pros

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Call it the Robinhood effect. In a tectonic shift that shows how the coronavirus pandemic has upended seemingly every part of our reality, millennials and Gen Zers have started to abandon video games and sports betting in favor of a new craze: the stock market, Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin writes.

  • Why it matters: While many have wagged their fingers at what they see as overconfident and underprepared youngsters day trading on their smartphones, the stock market's new school — a collection of sports bettors, the newly unemployed, Reddit aficionados and eager young investors — is growing into a force on Wall Street.
  • In fact, many of them are beating professional money managers so far this year. By a sizable margin.

What we're hearing: A top strategist at a major Wall Street investment bank tells Axios that it closely tracks a basket of securities most commonly traded by hedge funds, a basket for institutional asset managers, and one for retail day traders — and is seeing clear outperformance from retail.

  • "I’m just looking at the scoreboard on the year," he says. "And the work-from-home trader has been a pretty good performer."

Between the lines: Those who follow the markets say stock trading's booming popularity makes perfect sense given the actions of the Federal Reserve.

  • The new Robinhood cohort is simply following the advice of sophisticated investors over the past decade: "Don't fight the Fed" and always #BTFD — "Buy the f---ing dip," meaning buy stocks whenever prices fall.

The backstory: When the S&P 500 fell by 34% in March, traditional money managers pulled funds out of stocks and even safe-haven U.S. government debt and went into money market funds, or savings accounts.

  • The new crop of retail investors saw opportunity and signed up in record numbers to buy stocks.

The bottom line: The Robinhood cohort is winning right now, not by ignoring the lessons of the past but by embracing them.

2. What swing voters want from Biden

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some swing voters in Erie, Pa., who are gravitating to Joe Biden say they see him less as a change agent than as a path back to stability, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes.

  • Most who were for Biden said they haven't heard much from him — and couldn't think of anything specific that he's said or done lately.
  • So they see the election as a referendum on President Trump.

Participants in the Engagious/Schlesinger focus group described feeling "annoyed," "irritated," and "frustrated" to see the president out and about without a mask.

  • By contrast, participants described Biden as a "role model" for wearing a mask, calling him "informed," "educated," and "responsible."
  • Several said Biden would bring "respect" back to the presidency and the country.

The big picture: An Axios/SurveyMonkey poll last week found that nine in 10 Trump 2016 voters plan to stick with him.

3. Exclusive: Sarah Sanders says John Bolton was "drunk on power"
At his office in Washington, John Bolton mimics President Trump holding a Bible. Photo: USA Today via Reuters

So just what did fellow West Wing aides think of national security adviser John Bolton in real time?

  • One former top official tells me that Bolton was unpopular even before the leaks from his tell-all, "The Room Where It Happened," which is out tomorrow.

Axios AM has a first look for you at a fiery passage from a book that's coming this fall from former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "Speaking for Myself."

  • Here's Sanders' description of President Trump's state visit to London last year:

"Bolton apparently felt too important to travel with the rest of us," Sanders writes. "As we were ready to depart for the Winfield House," the U.S. ambassador's residence in London, "we loaded onto a small black bus."

  • "We waited and watched as Bolton sped by and left us in the dust. The discussion on the bus quickly moved ... to how arrogant and selfish Bolton could be, not just in this moment but on a regular basis."
  • "If anyone on the team should have merited a motorcade it was [Treasury Secretary] Mnuchin, but he was a team player and didn’t seem to mind traveling with the rest of us."

"Bolton was a classic case of a senior White House official drunk on power, who had forgotten that nobody elected him to anything," Sanders continues.

  • "Often Bolton acted like he was the president, pushing an agenda contrary to President Trump's."
  • "When we finally arrived at the Winfield House, [chief of staff] Mick Mulvaney, typically laid-back and not one to get caught up in titles or seniority, confronted Bolton and unleashed a full Irish explosion on him."

"Let’s face it, John," Mulvaney said, according to Sanders. "You’re a f—— self-righteous, self-centered son of a b——!'"

  • "That epithet ... was the culmination of months of Bolton thinking he was more important and could play by a different set of rules than the rest of the team. ... Bolton backed down and stormed off."

The response ... Sarah Tinsley, longtime senior adviser to Bolton, told me:

All logistical arrangements for travel of this sort were handled by the Secret Service, without any input from Ambassador Bolton. It is impossible to believe that his assigned Secret Service agents acted other than in a completely professional manner, fully coordinated with the Secret Service details assigned to Messrs. Mnuchin and Mulvaney.

Share this story.

4. Pic du jour
Circa 1950. Photo: Lawrence Thornton/Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the American Museum of Natural History will remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination, AP reports.

  • The bronze statue has stood at the museum’s Central Park West entrance since 1940. It depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing next to the horse.
5. Coronavirus cases are up but deaths are down
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is rising again, but the number of daily deaths is still dropping from the mid-April peak, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Why it matters: Younger people, for now, are accounting for a larger share of new infections.

The catch: Young people don't exist in social silos; they visit older family members and interact with older or sicker coworkers. That means that as these more vulnerable groups get the virus, the death rate may shoot back up.

  • "The death rate always lags several weeks behind the infection rate," Dr. Anthony Fauci told Axios.
  • The high number of cases in young people is "not surprising," Fauci added, as younger people are more likely to engage in riskier behavior: "They get infected first, then they come home, and then they infect the older people. The older people get the complications, and then they go to the hospitals."

Share this graphic.

6. Supreme Court's pipeline power

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A decade of battles against pipelines proposed to crisscross the country is arriving at the Supreme Court, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • The big picture: These court battles represent the culmination of fights over fossil-fuel infrastructure of all kinds — beginning with the Keystone XL pipeline — as a proxy for a larger debate about climate change and energy.

The bottom line: If President Trump loses re-election, expect Joe Biden to be increasingly hostile to fossil-fuel projects. But ultimately, it's still a fight that'll play out in the courts.

7. 🏁 NASCAR investigating noose found in black driver's garage

A noose was discovered yesterday in the garage stall of NASCAR's Bubba Wallace, its only black driver, at Talladega Superspeedway, ESPN reports.

  • The racing series said it "cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," and said it would launch an immediate investigation.
  • Wallace had been a driving force behind the push to ban the Confederate flag from NASCAR events.

Wallace tweeted a statement in response to the event:

  • "This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."
8. June's emotional rollercoaster
Graphic: Gallup. Used by permission.

Negative emotions in the U.S. surged during the first week of June, as millions protested racial injustice after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, Gallup reports.

  • The surge-and-decline pattern was seen across all parties, ages, races and education subgroups.
9. Scoop: Hassett to leave White House this summer

Kevin Hassett speaks to reporters at the White House last year. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

White House adviser Kevin Hassett will leave the administration this summer, after returning in March to help the president respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

  • Why it matters: Hassett has shown an ability to translate economic numbers into tangible terms for the president, steering President Trump to support more stimulus and relief. His departure could cede power to administration officials who oppose a $2 trillion stimulus package and worry about the deficit.

What's next: Hassett will return to his posts as a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and vice president and managing director of The Lindsey Group.

10. 1 sun thing: "Ring of fire" eclipse
Photos: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

This combination of pictures shows the moon moving in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, as seen from New Delhi yesterday.

  • The partial eclipse was a "ring of fire" because the moon covered most, but not all, of the sun.

The spectacle was visible in Africa, Asia and parts of the Middle East.

  • Millions watched from Dubai to Taiwan to Japan to India. (AP)
Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

The eclipse, as seen from Taiwan.

Mike Allen

📬 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.