Jul 15, 2021

Axios Closer

Today's newsletter is 643 words ... 2 minutes.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 0.3%.

  • Biggest gainer? AIG (+3%). It's selling a stake in its life insurance and retirement services business to private equity giant Blackstone.
  • Biggest decliner? Teleflex (-10%) after a proposal to cut Medicare payments for its prostate medical device.
1 big thing: The next wave of stimulus arrives

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Millions of Americans woke up to bigger bank account balances today, thanks to the first monthly payout of cash for parents and caretakers.

  • Economists say the installments — paid through December — will ease the burden on millions of families and fuel the spending boom already underway.

The big picture: The child tax credit is forecast to contribute to the single biggest drop in child poverty in history.

Before: As much as $2,000 was paid out in an annual, lump-sum refund for kids younger than 16.

After: That now bumps up to as much as $3,000 for chil­dren ages 6–17, or $3,600 for those under 6. Half of the payments will come upfront in monthly cash payouts.

  • And the poorest fam­i­lies — that don’t owe income taxes — are eligible for the full amount.

What they’re saying: “People have written to me to say they used the money to buy their kids new shoes and send them to summer camp or for after-school care,” President Biden told reporters today.

  • Bank of America says the tax credit alone will add over 1% to monthly disposable income, supplementing what some families lost after a number of states cut off topped up unemployment benefits.

What to watch: “[W]e expect consumer demand to continue to outpace supply, at least through the end of the year,” thanks in part to the child tax credit, JPMorgan Funds’ David Kelly wrote.

What’s next: Goldman Sachs expects the payouts to stick around beyond 2021.

  • Lawmakers are debating whether to extend the benefit — or make it permanent.

Go deeper.

Axios’ Oriana Gonzalez contributed reporting.

2. Charted: How the drought could hit pantries
Data: FactSet; Note: Shows MGEX spring wheat index; Chart: Axios Visuals

A tighter supply of an ingredient for bagels and pizza dough may be ahead.

  • Harsh drought conditions in the northern Plains could force farmers to have the smallest harvest of spring wheat crop in over 30 years.
  • Prices for spring wheat (shown above) are the highest in nine years.
3. What’s moving

👩‍⚕️ Mega-insurer UnitedHealth said patients venturing back into hospitals and doctors' offices eat into its profits. (Axios)

  • They're still raking in more than they did pre-pandemic. The stock closed up more than 1%.

📉 Two major medical centers won't administer the controversial new Alzheimer's drug approved by the FDA. (New York Times)

  • Shares of Biogen — the company behind the drug — dropped 7%.
4. Inside Twitter's employee groups

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

For the first time, Twitter is publicly revealing how its business resource groups — employee-run networks organized by interests and affinities —  are supported and run, Axios' Hope King reports.

  • All Twitter employees can incorporate their BRG work as part of annual performance reviews, and all managers are required to attend at least four BRG events a year.
  • Twitter has a full-time dedicated manager who oversees the company’s BRGs.

By the numbers: Twitter had more than 6,100 employees as of the end of the first quarter, up 20% year-over-year.

  • There are a total of more than 60 heads of its 11 groups, who began to be compensated in 2020 and serve limited terms.

Why it matters: Typically, the work these groups perform is divorced from larger company goals, making that work feel insignificant when in fact it's often key to shaping company culture and employee satisfaction.

Full story.

5. 🚀 The teen going to space with Jeff Bezos

Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule descending to Earth. Photo: Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin picked 18-year-0ld Oliver Daemen to fly to the edge of space next week, Axios' Miriam Kramer writes.

The intrigue: Daemen was not the winner of the auction staged for this seat.

  • The anonymous auction winner — who paid $28 million — has a scheduling conflict and plans to fly on a future flight, the company says.
  • Blue Origin hasn't disclosed how much Daemen paid for the seat or how he was selected.

🌌 Sign up for Miriam's weekly Space newsletter.

6. What they're saying
"There's a limit to Zoom technology."
— Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman — one of the most pro "back to the office" voices on Wall Street — during the company's earnings call today.

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