Axios Closer

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June 25, 2021

😎 Welcome back. Today's newsletter is 673 words ... 2 1/2 minutes.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 rose 0.3%.

  • Biggest gainer? Nike (+15%), after reporting record revenue in North America and forecasting better-than-expected sales this year.
  • Biggest decliner? FedEx (-4%). It beat Wall Street earnings expectations, though warned about a shortage of package handlers.

1 big thing: Reparations revolution brews online

Data: Keyhole; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

The online reparations movement is gaining pace on Twitter.

  • People are asking for and sending cash, putting two payment platforms at the center: Venmo and Cash App, Axios' Hope King reports.

By the numbers: There have been more than 91,000 tweets that mention “cashapp reparations,” “venmo reparations” or “venmo cashapp reparations,” according to Axios analysis of data by Keyhole, since the start of the year.

  • Nearly one-third were sent around Juneteenth last weekend. 
  • Peer-to-peer reparations requests also spiked during the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 and the start of Black History Month this year.

What they’re saying: “Black,” “Juneteenth,” “need,” “people” and “deserve” were words that appeared most frequently within the tweets.

  • Venmo and Cash App declined or did not respond to Axios’ request for data.

State of play: Forms of reparations from the federal government being discussed now include direct cash payments to descendants of former slaves, assisted repatriation programs, affordable housing, free college tuition and student loan forgiveness, small business grants and baby bonds.

  • Companies have started to acknowledge their ties to slavery and to work on their own forms of reparations, including Black CEOs who are speaking out about the concept and how it’s not enough of a solution on its own.

Go deeper.

2. Charted: Where the consumer stands

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumers are still faring better than pre-pandemic times — even as boosts from stimulus payments wear off, new data out today shows.

  • One example ... the savings rate pulled back in May, but remains higher than at any other point before the pandemic hit. (It peaked at 33% last April.)
  • That glut of cash — far from equally distributed across America — is expected to supercharge the economic recovery.

Personal income fell 2%, though strip out the effect of government transfers (like stimulus checks) and it actually rose 0.4% from the last month. It's above pre-pandemic levels.

3. What’s moving

🚪Toshiba's shareholders ousted its chairman after a series of corporate scandals — a landmark victory for activist investors in Japan. (Reuters)

4. 💉What to watch: Harder line on jab mandates

Pedestrians pass in front of Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York, U.S
Morgan Stanley headquarters. (Photo: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There's a new shift from prior thinking that companies could steer clear of mandating vaccines for their workers.

  • Morgan Stanley said this week it would ban unvaccinated people from offices, while JPMorgan warned a mandate could be on the way.

Why it matters: Wall Street isn't representative of the rest of corporate America — but its executives have been among the most outspoken about a swift return to in-person work.

  • How it plays out could set the stage for other companies sketching out a return-to-work plan for the fall.

The big picture: BlackRock will only allow inoculated workers to come back next month. Employees said they would feel more comfortable returning if everyone were vaccinated, Bloomberg reports.

  • JPMorgan says unvaxxed employees are expected to return for now, but they'll be subject to mask-wearing and a "daily health check."
  • Regardless, employees have to disclose vaccination status — or say whether they don't want to say.

Flashback: The federal government said last month it's legal for companies to require workers to be vaccinated.

5. 🚀 Space race update: Virgin Galactic gets OK

Sir Richard Branson in front of a model Virgin Galactic rocket and a globe
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson at the New York Stock Exchange in 2019. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic got federal approval to carry passengers on future spaceflights — one of the final hurdles for Richard Branson's company to launch tourists into space.

The backdrop: There's a who-can-get-to-space-first battle brewing between Branson and fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

  • Virgin Galactic has roughly 600 reservations for future flights, with tickets for as much as $250,000 a pop, CNBC reports.

But, but, but: The clearance isn’t a signoff on the safety of the space plane.

  • For now, Congress has blocked the Federal Aviation Administration "from regulating the safety of the crew or space flight participants," the agency said.

Shares of Virgin Galactic closed up 39% — its biggest one-day gain since it went public in 2019.

6. What they’re saying

[A]t least 9 million Americans thrown out of work by the pandemic ... didn’t receive any unemployment benefits despite the largest deployment of economic aid in U.S. history. ... That’s a hole in the safety net as big as the population of Virginia.
— Bloomberg Businessweek reporters on the workers who "fell through the cracks of the unemployment system." Read the story.

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