Nov 9, 2019

Axios AM

📷 As a test, Instagram will begin hiding "like" counts next week for a limited number of U.S. accounts, CEO Adam Mosseri announced at a WIRED conference.

  • This follows similar tests in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Italy and Brazil.

🎬 Sneak peek at tomorrow's "Axios on HBO" (6 p.m. ET/PT): Dan Primack and I interview Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi about his view of drivers, and his big worry.

1 big thing: The economic toll of climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top economists say the economic effects of climate change are just beginning to be felt — and they're likely to start snowballing, Courtenay Brown reports.

  • Why it matters: Wildfires, floods and other natural disasters could harm the nation's financial backbone, damaging electronic payment systems, causing bank failures, and disrupting the economy in myriad unanticipated ways.

The Federal Reserve — arguably the most influential economic body in the world — held its first-ever climate change research conference yesterday at the San Francisco Fed, where economists sounded the alarm:

  • Global GDP per capita could fall 7% by 2100 in the absence of climate change mitigation effects, according to a paper presented by Hashem Pesaran, a USC economist.
  • If countries abide by the Paris Accord, that would bring that loss down to 1%.
  • Extreme heat impacts the productivity of workers. For each degree the temperature rises above a daily average temperature of 59°F, productivity declines by 1.7% — a figure that Sandra Batten, a senior research economist at the Bank of England, cited in research presented yesterday.

The big picture, from Axios' Amy Harder: The Fed's attention to the problem stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration.

  • President Trump started the formal process to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement this week, and is working to repeal virtually every climate-related policy his predecessor pushed.

The Fed event took place in California, where increasingly destructive wildfires have pushed the state's top utility, PG&E, into bankruptcy. And it provided some of the firmest evidence to date that global warming could finally become a core issue in monetary policy, potentially influencing Fed decisions on interest rates.

  • "Early research suggests that increased warming has already started to reduce average output growth in the United States," San Francisco Fed president Mary Daly said.
  • "And future growth may be curtailed even further as temperatures rise."

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2. ⚖️ House GOP wants to call Hunter, whistleblower
President Trump talks to reporters before boarding Marine One yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower," the WashPost's Colby Itkowitz reports.

  • 🥊 "Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list."

Quick catch-up ... "There was no hinting around, it was a straight-out trade, two key White House officials told impeachment investigators" in transcripts released yesterday, per AP:

  • "If Ukraine's new leader wanted an Oval Office welcome from President Donald Trump — and he did — he would have to open a public probe" into Biden and his son.

"There was no ambiguity," said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council.

  • Why it matters: "Vindman and Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, both gave firsthand descriptions of scenes central to the congressional probe."
3. Women's Trump-era power surge
Juli Briskman, elected in Virginia this week, got her start in politics on Oct. 28, 2017, in Sterling, Va. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

A surge of female winners in this week's state elections — most of them Democrats, and many of them women of color — reflected women's rising power since the 2016 election, AP's Sarah Rankin and Sara Burnett report.

  • Why it matters: Tuesday's results mean women will hold majorities in places like the Boston City Council, long seen by many as a "boys' club," and lead communities such as Scranton, Pa., where voters elected the city's first female mayor just weeks before she's due to give birth.

In Virginia, Juli Briskman, a cyclist who was fired after she flipped off President Trump's motorcade, was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, representing an area that's home to one of his golf courses.

  • Briskman said her run-in with Trump inspired her to get involved in politics.
  • "I think this administration has done that for a lot of women," Briskman, a single mom, told AP. "They've just decided, 'OK, if someone like this can get elected, ... we need to start speaking up and changing it.'"

In Maine, a 23-year-old Somali American woman was elected to the Lewiston City Council, defeating another Democrat and what she described as "internet trolls" who lobbed racist and sexist attacks via social media.

  • GOP women were behind record wins in Mississippi, where 12 women — eight Republicans and four Democrats — won seats in the state Senate. The previous record was nine, set in 2016.
🇩🇪 30 years of freedom: "East Germany opens borders"
Young people stick flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony today. Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP

Germany today celebrated "the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanking Eastern European neighbors for spurring on the peaceful revolution," Reuters reports.

  • Why it matters: "The toppling of the wall, which separated the Communist-ruled East from the capitalist West in Berlin for nearly three decades and became a potent symbol of the Cold War, was followed a year later by the reunification of Germany in 1990."
Photo: Peter Zimmermann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

How it unfolded: Frieder Reimold of The Associated Press "settled in on Nov. 9, 1989, to watch a televised evening briefing by Guenter Schabowski, a member of the Communist country’s Politburo," AP recalls in a reminiscence.

  • "About an hour into the rambling news conference, Schabowski mentioned that East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border into West Germany."
  • "Pressed on when the new regulations would take effect, he looked at his notes and stammered, 'As far as I know, this enters into force ... this is immediately, without delay.'"

"It was so offhanded that it took Reimold a little time to recognize the implications..."

  • Reimold, then the Berlin bureau chief of AP's German service, "typed out what has become his iconic alert: 'DDR oeffnet Grenzen' — 'East Germany opens borders.'"

Go deeper: Read AP's story from 30 years ago today.

4. "A $45,000 Loan for a $27,000 Ride"

"More Borrowers Are Going Underwater on Car Loans," The Wall Street Journal's AnnaMaria Andriotis and Ben Eisen report (subscription):

  • "Consumers, salespeople and lenders are treating cars a lot like houses during the last financial crisis: by piling on debt to such a degree that it often exceeds the car’s value."
  • "This phenomenon — referred to as negative equity, or being underwater — can leave car owners trapped."

What's happening: "Rising car prices have exacerbated an affordability gap that is increasingly getting filled with auto debt."

  • "Easy lending standards are perpetuating the cycle, with lenders routinely making car loans with low or no down payments that can last seven years or longer."
5. 🎥 Collision of Hollywood, D.C.

"Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. is buying Harry Walker Agency, bringing the speaking agency of former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton under the control of the owner of one of Hollywood’s biggest talent representatives," Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw reports.

  • Why it matters: "Hollywood’s top talent agencies have been moving aggressively into the speaking circuit over the past few years, challenging established firms based in New York and Washington, as they sense new opportunities to boost their revenue."

"Both ICM Partners and United Talent Agency acquired speaking agencies in 2017."

6. Mural du jour
Photo: Ben Margot/AP

A massive mural of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, is staring down at pedestrians in San Francisco's Union Square, AP reports.

  • Argentine muralist Andres Iglesias (in photo above), who signs his art with the pseudonym Cobre, is set to finish the artwork by next week.

Iglesias also painted a since-demolished mural of Robin Williams in downtown San Francisco.

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