Apr 9, 2021

Axios Closer

Welcome back — and hello! Hope King here with Axios Closer today, making my debut and giving Courtenay an overdue break. She'll be back Monday!

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.7% — the third consecutive record close.

  • Biggest decliner? Molson Coors (-3%), extending its losing streak.
  • Biggest gainer? Tommy Hilfiger parent PVH (+6%) amid a retail sector rally.

💰 Launching tomorrow: Axios Pro Rata weekend edition, authored by Kia Kokalitcheva. Sign up here

Today's newsletter is 681 words, or a 2½-minute read.

1 big thing: New York's global weed domination

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Despite being half the size of the legal cannabis market in California, New York is poised to impact the larger industry and culture beyond its state lines and U.S. borders.

Driving the news: New York is now one of 16 states that have passed legislation to legalize recreational use, with many aspects of the law taking effect immediately.

  • How it works: Retail cannabis sales are expected to begin in 2022, but smoking cannabis in public is now permitted wherever smoking tobacco is allowed locally, and adults can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for recreational use.
  • The New York Governor's Office expects the industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs and collect $350 million in annual tax revenue.

What they're saying: New York is one of the most visited destinations in the world, so the state can play “cultural cannabis ambassador that no other jurisdiction has played to date,” says John Kagia, chief knowledge officer of New Frontier Data, a marijuana market research firm.

In the long run, New York may aid the East Coast in becoming a bigger market with more lobbying power. But the West Coast — Washington, Oregon and California — wins on price thanks to supply gluts and unlimited licenses.

  • When Wall Street sees how the market develops on its own block, there’s some expectation that financial players will want the SAFE Banking Act passed so they can work with cannabis clients without federal penalties.
  • New York is expected to generate about $3.7 billion in sales by 2025, which is about half of what California is expected to generate that year, New Frontier Data says. 

Go deeper

2. By the numbers: Amazon's union win tallied

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon won the battle against a closely watched unionization effort in Alabama. Axios' Ina Fried writes that the company fought aggressively against workers who wanted to organize.

  • If the workers had prevailed, their success would have encouraged Amazon workers elsewhere and at other tech companies to pursue similar efforts.

By the numbers: Here are the tallies, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

What's next: The union had previously hinted that it would appeal to the NLRB, having repeatedly accused Amazon of interfering with a "free and fair election," and it repeated again on Friday that there would "very likely" be a rerun.

3. What's moving

✈️ U.S. airlines temporarily grounded some Boeing 737 MAX jets after warnings of an electrical power system issue. Shares of Boeing fell 1%. (Axios)

💲President Biden's $1.52 trillion 2022 budget proposal includes expanded spending on schools, renewable energy, health care and gun violence. Details

  • It also ups the IRS budget, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says will ensure "corporations actually pay what they owe.”

👀 Jessica Alba's beauty and baby goods brand Honest Company filed to go public. ... Robinhood says 9.5 million customers traded cryptocurrency on its platform last quarter — a sixfold jump from Q4 2020 ... 🤔 A lawyer for Citi says another big bank made an even larger payment oops than its own $900 million accidental transfer to Revlon creditors ... Coming Monday: Top execs — Ford, Intel, GM and more — will attend a chip shortage summit, the White House says.

4. BlackRock's new $1 billion ETF

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Riding the green wave: BlackRock has a new way to let people invest in possible winners of a low-carbon world, Axios' Felix Salmon reports.

Why it matters: Its "U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF" isn't just the biggest sustainability-focused fund ever — it's the biggest ever ETF launch. Big-time investors have already committed more than $1 billion.

The backdrop: Corporate America is increasingly trying to appeal to investors and consumers with growing interests in sustainability.

Felix's thought bubble: Individual investors who want broad exposure to a sustainability thesis now have a big-name ETF to consider — if they believe green companies will outperform the market (at least enough to cover the 0.3% annual fee).

Read more from Felix.

5. Burnout payout

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Global accounting firm PwC is giving employees $250 each time they take a full week’s vacation, as well as giving spot bonuses of a week’s pay as a way to thank employees for their work. 

Why it matters: Companies are trying to find creative incentives to improve employee well-being and reduce burnout, which has intensified during the pandemic across all fields, for long durations.

In good company: Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank said this week that they would give their employees an extra paid day off this year.

6. What they're saying
“I don’t think skinny jeans are ever going to go away completely. ... But clearly right now we are seeing a very strong demand for these looser fits.”
— Levi's CEO Chip Bergh telling CNBC that the pandemic has helped shift people into more ... forgiving ... attire, which explains why the company has something called the balloon jeans.

🙏 Thank you for reading this Friday edition! On a personal note, I'd like to recommend The New York Times' photo essay on what love looks like in a time of hate. "Little Fires Everywhere" author Celeste Ng sums up one of the key styles of the Chinese love language:

  • "In Chinese families, you greet someone by asking if they’ve eaten yet. It is love expressed as concern: Let me take care of you, let me tend to your most basic need. And the response — I’ve eaten already — is an expression of love, too. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m doing fine."

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I always end my days with this reminder: Take care of yourself tonight, so we can take care of one another tomorrow.

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