Axios Closer

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⭐️ ⚔️ Welcome back! Was the 4th with you today? Seemed like it was with investors. And in other vastly more important news, Eminem, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Duran Duran will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year!

Today's newsletter, edited by Pete Gannon, is 687 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 3.0%, as Fed chair Jerome Powell played down the possibility of larger rate increases.

Biggest gainer? Paycom Software (+13.8%), after raising its full-year earnings outlook.

Biggest decliner? Akamai Technologies (-9.7%), after reporting concerns about inflation and reduced internet traffic.

1 big thing: Small biz needs a lifeline

Illustration of a roll of money in a life preserver.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New ADP data showed the U.S. private sector created nearly 250,000 new jobs last month, but employers with fewer than 50 workers actually shed jobs, underscoring the challenges facing small businesses as growth becomes less certain, Axios' Javier E. David writes.

Why it matters: For all the focus on big companies, small businesses account for over 40% of U.S. economic activity, according to Small Business Administration data.

  • And while big employers are falling all over themselves to offer higher pay and better benefits, small businesses have limited flexibility to do the same.
  • According to the latest NFIB’s Small Business survey, owners turned more pessimistic in March and cited inflation as “the single most important problem” they face.

Driving the news: It’s Small Business Week, which gives us the opportunity to spotlight a sector that’s been walloped by COVID and soaring prices, plus supply and worker shortages that have yet to let up.

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled a Small Business Bill of Rights this week, calling on Congress to help small biz “grow and thrive” as the economy enters uncharted waters. But some think they need more than that.
  • Small businesses “need government to stop treating them as nonessential entities,” Carol Roth, a former banker and author of "The War on Small Business,” tells Axios.
  • “They should receive the same perks and benefits that big businesses do (giving a tax break for an Amazon HQ? What about your local pizzeria?),” she said in an email.

Go deeper.

2. Charted: Uber tries to convince investors it’s different

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Despite starting out as similar businesses, Uber and Lyft have only grown further apart: Uber has expanded beyond giving people rides while Lyft has focused on it, Hope writes.

Why it matters: Diversification is something you hear a lot when it comes to investing because it can help to bring down risk. In Uber’s case, diversification of its business — including food and grocery delivery and freight — has helped it attract more drivers than its primary competitor, impacting revenue and spending.

State of play: Both platforms saw their U.S. and Canada rideshare volume last quarter climb back to about 70% to 80% of their pre-pandemic levels, the companies reported this week.

  • The main difference now is how enticing each platform is for drivers, and how much the companies must spend to attract them.

Keep reading.

3. What's happening

🆓 TurboTax owner Intuit is paying $141 million to settle a claim it deceived millions into paying for free tax services. (Axios)

📉 Hedge fund giant Tiger Global is down 44% for the year in its main fund and is headed toward its worst year ever. (Bloomberg)

4. Fed raises rates

A photo of the Fed building in Washington.
The Federal Reserve's policy committee met this week. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The Fed enacted a half-percentage-point interest rate increase, its steepest in more than 20 years, as it aims to slow the economy to bring inflation down, Axios' Neil Irwin writes.

Driving the news: The Fed also said it will begin shrinking its $9 trillion balance sheet of assets acquired as a form of pandemic-era stimulus.

  • The Fed's policy committee said it "anticipates that ongoing increases" in rates will be appropriate and that it is "highly attentive to inflation risks."

What they're saying: "Inflation is much too high and we understand the hardship it is causing," chair Jerome Powell said in a press conference, adding that the Fed is moving "expeditiously" to bring it down.

  • But he said steeper rate increases, such as a 0.75 percentage point rise, are not currently on the table.

Go deeper.

5. Women breaking baseball's glass ceiling

A photo of the back of Tampa Tarpons manager Rachel Balkovec holding a bat on her shoulder.
Tampa Tarpons manager Rachel Balkovec. Photo: New York Yankees/Getty Images.

A record 11 women currently hold on-field coaching and player development roles across the major and minor leagues. Four years ago, that number was zero, Axios Sports co-author Jeff Tracy writes.

Why it matters: Women can coach baseball just as well as men, but they haven't had the same opportunities to break into the sport.

  • That's changing, albeit gradually, with the hiring of coaches like Oakland A's catching instructor Veronica Alvarez, New York Yankees minor league manager Rachel Balkovec and San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken.

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6. What they're saying

“I feel quite good about the strength of the American economy. … Consumer spending and business investment remain very strong.”
— Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaking at a WSJ conference today.

Thanks to Sheryl Miller for copy editing today's (and every day's) newsletter.

💡 Join Axios Pro’s Tim Baysinger tomorrow at 2:30pm ET for a live discussion reflecting on the most tumultuous year for media and entertainment in recent memory, featuring NBCUniversal chair of global advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino. Register here