Apr 16, 2021

Axios AM

Hello, Friday! Smart Brevity™ count: 985 words ... < 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Inflation will rise. Don't panic
Data: BLS via FRED. Chart: Axios Visuals

It's been 40 years since America last saw a damaging level of inflation. Despite that — or perhaps because of it — inflation fears are widespread, and could even become self-fulfilling, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.

  • Why it matters: The government's strategy for bringing back jobs and widespread prosperity involves a necessary — yet temporary — increase in inflation. When an entire generation has never experienced an inflation-driven rise in prices, that's disconcerting.

Between the lines: It might be temporary inflation. Lots of people are likely to blow lots of money fast, then ease into more normal and manageable spending.

The government is telling us to get ready:

  • The Federal Reserve — whose job is to worry about inflation — isn't worried. "We do expect that inflation will move up over the course of this year," said Fed Chair Jay Powell in congressional testimony last month. "Our best view is that the effect on inflation will be neither particularly large nor persistent."
  • The White House agrees. "In the next several months we expect measured inflation to increase somewhat," economists Jared Bernstein and Ernie Tedeschi wrote this week. That inflation, they said, "will likely be transitory," and "should fade over time as the economy recovers from the pandemic."

The bottom line: When inflation expectations rise significantly, that can itself cause inflation, as vendors raise prices to try to get in front of it.

2. Overnight mass killing in Indy

People hug after learning a loved one is safe. Photo: Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via Reuters

A gunman opened fire at a FedEx warehouse facility in Indianapolis late last night, killing at least eight people and wounding others.

  • Police said the shooter killed himself. He's believed to have acted alone, The Indianapolis Star reports.

The context: A string of mass shootings has plagued the U.S. in what was supposed to be a better year. Last month, eight people were fatally shot in the Atlanta area, and 10 died in gunfire at a supermarket in Boulder.

3. The new corporate agenda

Cover: Brett Ryder/The Economist

The Economist points to "underappreciated risks" of CEOs' growing voice on voting restrictions and other major issues (subscription):

To want to defend voting rights, which are central to democracy, is only natural. But that leads ineluctably to the next test — over support for, say, new federal voting laws, reform of the Supreme Court and boycotts of China over human-rights abuses in Xinjiang. If CEOs claim that their companies are moral actors, will they be consistent?

Go deeper ... Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman, "Why I Signed": "In this period of information bankruptcy and instability, business has to be a primary source of objective facts, a catalyst for change and a standard-bearer for universal values."

4. Russian "bounties" reports undermined

Entrance to the Russian Embassy in Washington. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

The White House says the intelligence community doesn't have conclusive evidence that Russian intelligence operatives encouraged the Taliban to attack American troops in Afghanistan, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: The assessment undermines one of the sharpest attacks Democrats leveled against former President Trump.

The intelligence community determined it has only "low to moderate confidence" in the reports' authenticity.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that was due in part to the ways in which the intelligence was obtained, including from interrogations of Afghan detainees.

Former Trump national security adviser Robert O'Brien tweeted:

This briefing held up well ... I credit the IC for releasing this important analysis & confirming that what the Admin said at the time was 100% accurate.
5. Police shooting of 13-year-old rocks Chicago

Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via Reuters

Bodycam video, released more than two weeks after the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago, shows the young boy ditching a handgun during an alley chase before turning toward the officer with his empty hands raised.

  • "[T]he city’s focus inevitably turned toward the crucial split second showing the shooting itself — the grainy, graphic end to the life of the youngest person fatally shot by Chicago police in years," the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot described the footage as "excruciating," and urged the public to remain calm.

6. The silliest bubble
Data: Coindesk; Chart: Axios Visuals

Unlike Bitcoin, dogecoin (pronounced "d'oh-zh coin") — a literal joke of a cryptocurrency — is not supply-constrained. If you want more of it, you can mine it — and then, presumably, sell it, given the profit margin of about 57%, Felix Salmon writes in Axios Capital.

  • The bottom line: This is like GameStop but dumber.

Keep reading.

7. Local-news revival

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Local news is moving into the digital era, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer reports:

  • Substack Local will launch with a $1 million initiative to help 30 independent writers build local news publications using Substack's subscription model.
  • Facebook plans to dedicate a large part of its new newsletter publishing platform to supporting independent local journalists covering communities solo, sources tell Axios.
  • 6am city, a local newsletter company that launched in the Southeast, expects to be in at least 15 markets by the end of the year.
  • Patch, the hyperlocal digital news company, last year launched a program called Patch Labs that lets local reporters publish their own newsletters and monetize them.
  • Axios bought the Charlotte Agenda last year as a part of a new local news push. Axios now publishes local newsletters in five markets — Tampa Bay, Des Moines, Charlotte, Denver and the Twin Cities — and plan to launch next in NW Arkansas.

Take the Local: Sign up for Axios in six areas, and learn about new ones.

8. "Burnout denialism" — for us and the planet
Photos: Westend61 and Lucas Ninno via Getty Images. Graphic: Thrive Global. Used by permission

Arianna Huffington writes on Thrive Global that there's a scientific connection between climate change and our own fraying mental health:

When we’re burned out, exhausted and depleted, we operate on short-termism and day-to-day survival ... We’re much less likely to spot the iceberg before it hits the Titanic. ...
In our always-on and screen-saturated world, we have a hard time looking up, looking out, looking forward and being part of the solution.

Keep reading.

9. Prince Philip's last ride

Photo: Steve Parsons/Press Association via Reuters

During Saturday's funeral at Windsor Castle, Prince Philip's coffin will be borne by a bespoke Land Rover Defender that the World War II veteran and sporty outdoorsman helped design:

  • Buckingham Palace said the prince, who died at 99, started on the project with Land Rover 18 years ago, Reuters reports.

It's painted Dark Bronze Green — the color for many military Land Rovers.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament: "That vehicle's unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was, above all, a practical man."
10. 1 smile to go: Having a great '21

Cover: Viking Press

Amanda Gorman, 23 — whose inauguration poem went viral, and is now out with "The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country" — tweets:

Wow second week atop the NYT best-seller list! So much gratitude as I look back on how I first started performing poetry years ago despite my speech impediment. All I can say is to any young writer, keep writing. Keep going. Your day will come.
Via Twitter

💡 Axios AM is written in Smart Brevity®. Learn how your team can communicate in the same smart, clear style with Axios HQ.