Nov 10, 2021

Axios Closer

Today's newsletter is 660 words, a 2Β½-minute read.

πŸ”” The dashboard: The S&P 500 fell 0.8%.

  • Biggest gainer? Tesla (+4%). What goes down ... goes back up. Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―
  • Biggest decliner? E-commerce company MercadoLibre (-7%) after five days of gains.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ We're taking a break for Veterans Day. We'll be back in your inbox on Friday.

1 big thing: America's new auto giant
Data: Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new automaker just hit Wall Street: It's delivered just 156 cars β€” yet it's worth more than Ford and General Motors, which sell hundreds of thousands of vehicles per month.

  • What's new: Electric truck maker Rivian made its public market debut today in one of the biggest IPOs this country has ever seen.

Why it matters: Rivian is the latest to notch a valuation that rivals that of legacy counterparts β€” even though it's unclear if its business is sustainable (or if there's long-lasting demand for its cars).

  • Like EV startup Nikola, Rivian has no revenue. It says it has over 55,000 pre-orders for trucks and SUVs that start at $67,500.

What's happening: Investors have funneled billions of dollars into EV companies, with the hope that one will break off a piece of Tesla's success. That hasn't happened so far β€” and the environment is rough for automakers (see: shortages).

The intrigue: A win for Rivian is a win for one legacy automaker: Ford, one of Rivian's investors.

  • Ford's 12% stake is worth about $10 billion. Fellow backer Amazon β€” which has a large contract with Rivian β€” has a roughly 20% stake that's now worth $17 billion.
2. Charted: Hot inflation gets hotter
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Prices are rising at the fastest pace in 31 years. Wild pandemic dynamics are still at work here. That explains, for one, the rise and rise of used (and new) car prices.

But the price pressure is hitting other areas, like rent. That's a sign the higher inflation might not be as temporary as the Federal Reserve β€” or the Biden administration β€” thought.

  • The only things to get cheaper last month: alcoholic beverages and airline fares. (Auto insurance and apparel were unchanged.)

Go deeper.

3. What's happening

🐭 Disney said its streaming platform saw a slowdown in subscriber growth, reporting the smallest quarterly gain in Disney+ subscribers (2.1 million) since the platform's launch. (Axios)

πŸš— DOJ is suing Uber for allegedly charging "wait time" fees to passengers with disabilities who need more time to get into vehicles. (Axios)

πŸ“’ Inflation side effect: The IRS said tax bracket thresholds β€” and other parameters β€” will see the biggest increase in four years in 2022. (WSJ)

  • The top tax bracket for single filers will start at $539,900 (3% above the current level).
4. Who's feeling the crypto burn

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

Crypto trading is stalling. Both Coinbase and Robinhood are facing the brunt of it, Axios' Hope King reports.

What's new: Despite rising crypto prices, fewer people traded during the third quarter, shrinking trading volume, Coinbase said.

  • Robinhood said its crypto trading revenue fell 78% from the second quarter to $51 million.

What they’re saying: β€œIn low-volatility periods, we see our low-dollar-volume traders become less active,” Coinbase CFO Alesia Haas said on the earnings call.Β 

What to watch: Whether the frenzy of trading activity at the height of the pandemic was a one-time boon to new retail trading platforms.

5. 🍺 A blow to independent craft beer

Bell's iconic Oberon wheat beer. Courtesy of Bell's Brewery

Bell's Brewery, the maker of America's best beer, will sell itself to a global beverage conglomerate β€” a deal that will jolt the craft brewing industry, Axios Denver co-author John Frank reports.

  • Australia-based Lion, a subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin Group, is acquiring the Michigan brewery for an undisclosed sum.

Why it matters: It's the latest prominent independent craft brewer to sell to once-reviled "big beer" companies, a surprising move given the brand's fiercely independent reputation.

The intrigue: Bell's will no longer be considered a craft brewer under the strict definition set by the Brewers Association, which differs from other industry observers.

6. What they're saying
"This transaction, as originally proposed, would have led to higher-priced and lower-quality feta and ricotta. ... Today’s settlement will maintain the competition in the sale of feta and ricotta cheeses that would have been lost."
β€” A Department of Justice release, explaining why Kraft Heinz is required to sell off its Athenos and Polly-O brands before its cheese business merges with France-based dairy giant Lactalis.