Axios Closer

Picture of a golden bell on a white background.

October 06, 2021

Today's newsletter is 608 words, a 2-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.4%.

  • Biggest gainer? Solar power firm Enphase Energy (+4%), continuing the stock's roller-coaster ride this week.
  • Biggest decliner? Moderna (-9%). Use of its vaccine for younger groups was paused in Sweden and Denmark.

1 big thing: Workers strike back

Illustration of Tony the Tiger's fist.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pace of strikes slowed when the pandemic hit. Now there are signs picket lines are bouncing back amid fresh worker angst.

  • What's new: Production has been halted at Kellogg cereal plants across America after 1,400 workers walked off the job in a bid for better benefits (and worries about job outsourcing).
  • The last time a cereal workers strike hit the company was nearly 50 years ago.

Also this week: Hollywood production workers signed off to authorize a strike over better labor conditions and higher pay.

  • There's no strike now, but the move — the first in its 128-year history — means they can call one at any time.
Work stoppages in the U.S.
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: 2021 data year-to-date, includes Kellogg strike; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The big picture: Workers are harder to come by, possibly giving employees more leverage for demands. That could be one reason why strikes are well below pre-pandemic levels.

  • Still, employers aren't bending all the way, causing enough of a stalemate for strikes in the first place.

What to watch: From Hollywood studios to factories, the work stoppages could threaten America’s recovery — already plagued by a shortage of stuff.

  • "My guess is Kellogg will try to bring in outside workers to start some of our lines up to keep food in their network," says Daniel Osborn, a maintenance planner at Kellogg's Omaha, Nebraska, plant, adding that might be difficult for the company. (That worker shortage again.)
  • Osborn is the local head of the national union behind the weekslong strike at Nabisco factories that ended last month.

2. The chart the internet is talking about

Data: FactSet; Note: Shows Dutch TTF Gas Monthly Index; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Note: Shows Dutch TTF Gas Monthly Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

The stunning rise in European natural gas and power prices is walloping energy-hungry industries and consumers, Axios' Ben Geman reports.

  • There are many causes, but cold weather early this year, the summer heat and the global economic rebound from COVID-19 drove up demand and left European storage below normal.
  • Limits on supply levels from Russia also aren't helping.

The intrigue: Russian President Vladimir Putin said today more supply is coming, comments that broke the price fever somewhat.

3. What’s happening

🚗 General Motors says revenue will double over the next decade as it transitions to an all-electric future. (Axios)

  • It's an extraordinary target for a lumbering industrial giant that is trying to transform itself from automaker to "platform innovator," Axios' Joann Muller writes.

👖Levi Strauss said demand for jeans picked up during back-to-school season. (CNBC)

Closing arguments ended in the college admissions cheating case ("Varsity Blues"). Now it's heading to the jury. (AP)

4. What they're saying: CEOs sound the alarm

President Biden hosts a White House meeting with business leaders and CEOs today. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden is ramping up pressure to end the debt ceiling standoff. Today he enlisted CEOs — who warned about the chaos that could ensue should America default on its debt.

What they said ...

  • Citi's Jane Fraser: "We just can't wait till the last minute to resolve this. We are simply playing with fire right now."
  • Nasdaq's Adena Friedman: "We would expect that the markets will react very, very negatively" if America defaults on its debt.
  • JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon: "[T]he cascading effects and the ensuing weeks could go anywhere from a recession to a complete catastrophe for the global economy."

5. Why you might see this symbol less frequently

Illustration of melted recycling bin

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Axios' Hope King writes: Company misuse of the recycling symbol on their products just got harder in California.

  • A new law sets what advocates say are the strictest rules for which products businesses can tack the “chasing arrows" onto.

Why it matters: Recycling is still confusing, and the recycling symbol has become almost meaningless because it can be placed on any product.

  • What’s next: The state will publish a study defining what's recyclable. Part of the new rules will require companies to prove materials can be used to make new products.