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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The Green New Deal resolution came out this week, featuring a list of ills afflicting America and the world, as well as proposed solutions.
The big picture: To tackle the problems of declining life expectancy, increased economic inequality and stagnant middle-class incomes — not to mention saving the planet — the bill attempts to "create millions of good, high-wage jobs" and "provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States."
An accompanying FAQ explains:
The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit. There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment. At the end of the day, this is an investment in our economy that should grow our wealth as a nation, so the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.
Fiscally, the idea is to use the existing tools of finance — banks, credit, equity — to turbocharge a level of investment that the market could never muster if left to its own devices. "The level of investment required is massive," says the FAQ. "Even if every billionaire and company came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient."
This idea is not new, although it is of unprecedented size. The International Financing Facility for Immunization was launched in 2006 and raised $5.7 billion for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. That money, in turn, saw an impressive return on investment, averting more than 4 million deaths. Those living individuals will contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy over the course of their lifetimes.
The bottom line: Anthropogenic global warming is a function of industrialization and, ultimately, capitalism. The only force powerful enough to change the planet's climate is also the only force powerful enough to stop us from destroying it entirely.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Spotify is buying two major podcasting companies, Gimlet and Anchor. Terms were not announced, but the Gimlet acquisition was reported to be worth some $230 million. In total, Spotify intends to spend as much as $500 million on acquisitions this year, to help it expand into "audio — not just music."
Winners: Both Gimlet and Anchor were VC-backed companies. The influx of Spotify money into the podcasting space means attractive financial returns for big-name backers like Google Ventures, Accel, Betaworks and Lowercase Capital.
Media acquisitions often end in tears. But there are two precedents that suggest this week's announcement could be transformative for Spotify in a positive way, and that Spotify could be an excellent home for its new acquisitions.
The bottom line: Music streaming services are commodities; they all do more or less the same thing. Amazon has audiobooks sewn up, which means that podcasting is the natural area for Spotify to try to differentiate itself from its competitors. And while Apple dominates the podcasting market today, Spotify is growing fast — and has the advantage of being available on any non-Apple device.
The big M&A deal of the week was the announced merger of BB&T with SunTrust, two large regional banks who between them cover most of the southern and eastern USA. The deal even arrived with its own bespoke website, thepremierfinancialinstitution.com. (The actual name of the combined bank is still TBD.)
The deal doesn't really change the American banking landscape, however, which remains dominated by the Big Four universal banks.
Context: Size isn't always a good thing. Germany's Deutsche Bank, for instance, has assets of $1.78 trillion. That makes it more than four times the size of BB&T and SunTrust combined. Its market capitalization, however, is just $17.3 billion, which is significantly lower than either of those U.S. banks on their own.
How unpopular are America's biggest banks? Here's a good indication: Fully half of the 10 biggest bank mergers in American history ended up with the acquirer giving up its name.
Now, BB&T is changing its name as well, probably to something cheerful, "consumer-facing" and focus-grouped to within an inch of its life by a New York branding consultancy. I'm guessing there will be a rounded typeface.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The most powerful actors in the financial world might well be the index providers. They essentially compel all passive investors when it comes to their asset allocation. They also create the benchmarks against which nearly all active investors are measured.
The bottom line: Everything is susceptible to human biases, even supposedly objective indices. People think that the S&P 500 includes the 500 biggest stocks in America, for instance, but it doesn't: Tesla has never been included. If you can influence the people who determine what gets into the index and what doesn't, that's real power.
If Donald Trump is feeling embattled, perhaps he can take solace by looking across the pond.
Sovereign debt restructuring is almost unthinkable without Lee Buchheit. Fortunately, he says he is merely retiring from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, where he is a senior partner. He'll still weigh in on sovereign-debt matters, probably from academe.
First line of the first paragraph: "Male pattern baldness is a hairy issue."
First line of the last paragraph: "This research suggests an infinite number of layers and extensions."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
U.S. and China will continue to try to hammer out a trade deal, writes Axios' Courtenay Brown, with negotiations taking place in Beijing throughout the week.
The government could shut down again if Trump and congressional leaders don't reach a budget deal by Friday. The real deadline is much earlier in the week if legislation needs to get passed by week's end.
In Europe, Theresa May is expected to address parliament for an update on Brexit on Thursday. Expect more chaos, more amendments and more uncertainty about whether Brexit is even going to happen on March 29.
Donald Trump's first Manhattan development involved revamping the handsome Beaux Arts Commodore Hotel, next door to Grand Central Terminal, which dated back to 1919. He covered it in shiny glass panels, thereby turning it into the Grand Hyatt.