Axios Closer

Picture of a golden bell on a white background.

💩, 👽 and 🦖 — just a few things Elon Musk has been talking about today, but not us.

Today's newsletter, edited by Pete Gannon, is 596 words, a 2-minute read.

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

  • Biggest gainer? Occidental Petroleum (+5.7%), as the European Union inched closer to banning imports of Russian oil.
  • Biggest decliner? Twitter (-8.2%), as Elon Musk continued to confuse investors about whether he would complete the Twitter deal, and at what price.

1 big thing: Formula shortage raises import questions

Illustration of a baby bottle with red battery bars decreasing.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The baby formula shortage has cast a spotlight on the heavily concentrated industry that manufactures the product, sparking a debate over whether import restrictions, “big bottle” or both set the stage for this crisis, Nathan writes.

Details: Four companies — Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson, Perrigo and Nestlé — account for more than 87% of the market, according to IBISWorld.

  • The product is expensive to make because it's medically sensitive and it's tightly regulated by the FDA. "It’s almost medical food in a sense," former FDA associate commissioner Peter Pitts tells Axios.
  • The difficulty of shipping dairy-based products overseas has historically limited imports, according to IBISWorld.
  • Plus, European Union imports are largely prohibited since it's harder to oversee those factories.
  • Yes, but: Such imports still occur on the black market, and free-market advocates say they can be imported safely, according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Catch up quick: Parents are scrambling to track down formula following the collision of supply chain issues and a massive recall at an Abbott plant.

  • Republicans have criticized the FDA for cracking down too hard on Abbott, while Democrats have blasted the industry for lacking competition.
  • The FDA says it’s moving quickly to lift restrictions on imports to help parents who are struggling to find adequate replacements for their babies.

What’s next: Abbott said late Monday afternoon that it had reached a consent decree with the FDA that would allow it to reopen its plant within two weeks after it takes certain initial steps to ensure it can safely operate the site.

  • It estimates 8–10 weeks in total from that point before products could hit shelves.

Go deeper.

2. Charted: Domestic manufacturing dominates market

Data: IBISWorld; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

3. What's happening

✈️ JetBlue launched a hostile takeover bid for Spirit Airlines. (CNBC)

⚖️ A California judge struck down the state's 2018 law requiring women on company boards. (WSJ)

🤷‍♂️ A JPMorgan strategist said stock markets are overpricing recession risk. (Bloomberg)

4. Musk says deal for Twitter possible at lower price

Elon Musk

Photo: Theo Wargo, WireImage

A Twitter deal is "not out of the question" at a lower price, Elon Musk said at the 2022 All-In Summit Monday, as he continued to express skepticism about the company's estimate of spam and fake accounts, Axios' Herb Scribner writes.

Driving the news: In a series of tweets Monday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal defended the company's estimate of "well under 5%" fake accounts and bots and laid out how it arrived at the figure.

  • Musk replied to Agrawal's tweet with the poop emoji.

Musk went further at the All-In Summit, saying without providing evidence that it "seems beyond unreasonable" that Twitter's number of human accounts is at over 95%.

Go deeper.

5. Pizza? You read my mind

A dominos pizza in a smart phone screen.

Photo: Domino's Pizza

There aren't many stranger things than an app that allows you to order pizza with your mind, Nathan writes.

What's happening: Domino's on Monday announced an app that allows you to order pizza using facial expressions and eye movements.

  • The app was developed in partnership with Netflix to promote the season four premiere of "Stranger Things" next week.

How it works: "Users can explore the lab" — that is the Hawkins National Lab depicted on the show — as well as "uncover Easter eggs, use their telekinetic powers to gain control of certain objects and place a Domino's Easy Order," Domino's says.

  • Domino's says the app came about when "scientists at Hawkins National Lab made a mind-bending discovery, and things didn't go exactly as planned."

💬 Nathan's thought bubble: Now I need to watch "Stranger Things" to understand what this is all about.

6. What they're saying

"I think in retrospect, yes, it was a mistake."
— Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke to CNBC when asked if the current Fed delayed their response to fighting inflation.

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