Apologies to Ken Xie, the Chinese-born co-founder and CEO of Fortinet, who took his company public in 2009. Fortinet's market cap has now grown to $16 billion, which makes it the same size as recently listed Zoom. When I said last week that Zoom's Eric Yuan was the first Chinese CEO of a major U.S. publicly listed corporation, I totally missed that Xie had got there first.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
What should a Democratic presidential candidate's economic policy look like? The field is now up to 20 candidates, with Joe Biden the latest big name to declare that he's running. While Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have carved out a niche for themselves as the wonks of the race, most of the rest are light on detail, especially when it comes to fiscal policy.
Enter Joe Stiglitz, whose new book, "People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent," presents itself as "a platform that can serve as a consensus for a renewed Democratic Party." Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate who worked in the Clinton administration, has written a coherent manifesto that could quite easily be adopted by a majority of the Democratic candidates.
Why it matters: Stiglitz is a critic of what he sees as the incrementalist approach of Presidents Clinton and Obama. "Our polity has slid so far that we are now compelled to turn to fundamental issues in order to cure what ails us," he writes. "Minor tweaks of current arrangements won't get us to where we need to be." Whether or not his specific ideas are adopted, you can expect such maximalism to be a theme coming from most of the Democratic field.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Money needs to be able to buy stuff. That's always been a problem with cryptocurrency. The number of merchants who accept bitcoin directly is small, and converting bitcoin to cash dollars is nontrivial.
Background: The biggest cryptocurrency-to-dollars exchange in the early years of bitcoin was Mt. Gox, which imploded spectacularly in February 2014. Since then, the conversion problem has remained a very hard nut to crack, which is one reason why bitcoin derivatives were invented: You can now buy exposure to bitcoin without having to buy the currency itself.
Tether is the popular workaround for smaller traders, or people who want to trade non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies. Trading between cryptocurrencies has always been much easier than converting crypto to dollars. So Tether was invented as a cryptocurrency that would always be worth $1. Traders could easily use Tether instead of trading in and out of dollars — which is exactly what they did. Volume in Tether often exceeds volume in bitcoin itself.
The most interesting part of the story: In the wake of this week's revelations, the price of Tether basically didn't move. Even Tether itself no longer claims that all tokens are backed directly with dollars — but the price of one Tether is still $1.
The big picture: All currencies are ultimately based on faith — a largely unspoken and implicit agreement within a population that a certain token is a measure and store of value. Tether has clearly achieved that status within the crypto crowd. No one would ever convert their dollars into Tether for safekeeping. And yet, even after the latest revelations, Tether remains the terra firma of the crypto world, just because it's a highly liquid instrument and everybody agrees that it's worth $1.
Accepting his humanitarian award. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Where's Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock?
Fink gushed about the tightening spreads on Saudi Aramco's recent bond issue, and he said that when it comes to issues raised by journalists, "the power of the press allows most issues to be mitigated." That, he explained, is why he is optimistic about the region as a long-term investor. "The changes here in the kingdom in the last two years are pretty amazing," he declared.
The bottom line: Back in October, it wasn't clear whether Saudi Arabia would become a toxic destination for capitalists or whether the Jamal Khashoggi outrage would turn out to be a temporary blip. Now we know the answer.
This year marks a major milestone in terms of the cash flowing to low- and middle-income countries: Remittances are now significantly larger than any other source of funds.
Why it matters: Remittances are a form of decentralized, distributed power — and they amount to more than $700 billion per year, most of which goes to poor people in poor countries. By comparison, total World Bank disbursements in 2018 were $46 billion.
The global average cost of sending $200 from one country to another should not exceed $3, according to the UN. But it remains stubbornly close to $7, with no indication that it's going to fall dramatically anytime soon.
The bottom line: Regulators should start with the assumption that small remittances are not money laundering, says Ratha. So long as all transactions are presumptively suspicious, the $3 goal will never be achieved.
Deutsche Bank doesn't look like much of a national champion these days. It cut its revenue guidance this week, its investment bank is shrinking, and it has thrown in the towel on merger talks with Commerzbank.
What’s next? If Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing has a Plan B, he's keeping it close to his chest. The most likely outcome is that Deutsche will continue to shrink by cutting back on investment banking and possibly by selling off its asset-management arm, DWS.
Your must-read this weekend is Taffy Brodesser-Akner's 11,500-word NYT Magazine deep dive into working conditions at Sterling Jewelers. Not only did the company systematically underpay its female workers, according to the Times, it also forced them into well over a decade of arbitration proceedings, with no end in sight. And that's not even mentioning the rampant sexual harassment.
Why it matters: Sexual harassment and forced arbitration can appear anywhere, as is evidenced by this week's Bloomberg story about Lee Stowell's experience at Wall Street brokerage Cantor Fitzgerald. Still, the broadest and deepest harm is to women who can't afford expensive lawyers and publicists.
Go deeper: Taffy was my guest on Slate Money this week.
"Avengers: Endgame" is selling out movie theaters as fast as it can be scheduled — which isn't particularly fast, given that it runs over 3 hours. Still, no movie has ever come close to making this much money this quickly.
By the numbers: "Endgame" grossed more than $1.2 billion just in its opening weekend, bringing it to what's known as "cash breakeven" in record time. The U.S. opening-weekend gross came in at $350 million — more than the original "Iron Man" made in its entire run — while China accounted for another $330 million. Disney stock closed at an all-time high of $139.92 on Friday, up 28% so far this year.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The Fed will weigh in on the economy Wednesday after a two-day policy meeting this week as originally scheduled, writes Axios' Courtenay Brown.
Expectations are low for eurozone GDP data on Tuesday, which is expected to show the economy growing a modest 0.2% from the prior quarter.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will not be at the Milken conference this week as originally scheduled. Courtenay will be there, though, so say hi if you see her!
Two-thirds of public Chinese companies are waiting until the last minute to release their quarterly results, per Bloomberg, including the 13th most valuable stock in the world: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. The final deadline comes on Tuesday.
Beyond Meat will go public this week, aiming for as much as a $1.3 billion valuation.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
William Alexander Harvey built most of Bournville, a "model suburb" just outside Birmingham, England, for the employees of the Cadbury chocolate company. The Cadburys were Quakers, and Harvey designed this Meeting House for them in 1905. Meetings take place on Sundays at 10:30 am.