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Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios
As rural America gets left behind by the rise of coastal superstar cities and as the chasm between the richest and the rest widens, one entity is heavily profiting from the blight: the dollar store.
Why it matters: Economic signs point to a coming recession, and U.S. discount stores, which have boomed even in the strong recent economy, will only grow more — becoming the sole retail option for a rising share of Americans.
Axios' Erica Pandey reports that the face of retail is changing:
"This is a climate in which the dollar stores have been able to multiply like a virus."— Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Today, there are more than 30,000 dollar stores in the U.S., up from around 18,000 a decade ago, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Investors love the dollar chains because, even among budget retailers, their stock prices are rising.
Dollar joints sell more than high-end stores, too — dollar stores had sold about $24 billion worth of groceries as of the third quarter of the year, while Whole Foods had rung up $15 billion.
The stakes: Those who rely on dollar stores for food are exposed to overwhelmingly unhealthy diets, with choices that rarely go beyond processed and packaged snacks. At a Dollar Tree in Alexandria, Virginia, this afternoon, I saw that the shelves were stocked with Cheese Nips and Fudge Stripes, and that sodas were the only items in the refrigerators.
The president of Austria boops a robot on the nose. Photo: Marjian Murat/AFP/Getty
While researchers and business leaders barrel ahead to invent and apply artificial intelligence, a small, vocal minority has been sounding the alarm, urging the field to temper the technology’s dangers before widely deploying it.
Driving the news: In a new Pew survey of nearly 1,000 tech experts, fewer than two-thirds expect technology to make most people better off in 2030 than today. And many express a fundamental concern that AI will specifically be harmful.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports: The experts say AI may make unfair decisions, displace an enormous number of human workers, and lead to geopolitical upheaval — themes we have covered in this newsletter.
What they're saying: Some of those surveyed say people may abdicate an essential element of our humanity and start to accept whatever AI tells us. "We won’t be more autonomous; we will be more automated as we follow the metaphorical GPS line through daily interactions," said Baratunde Thurston, a futurist.
These dark futures were balanced by experts saying dystopia is not inevitable.
One way to get your arms around the enormity of the Chinese juggernaut is to ignore the big picture and telescope down to the regions. When you do that, you see that each of them has about the same population as a large or reasonably large country, reports Visual Capitalist.
Take a look at the map: Anhui's 62 million people, for instance, compares with France's 64.5 million. And Beijing's 21.7 million is similar to Finland, Norway and Sweden, all of which combined are about 20.7 million people.
Screenshot: Becky Quick/CNBC
One belt, one road, one mistake (Tanner Greer — Foreign Policy)
Retailers: Here today, gone tomorrow (Mike Allen — Axios)
A new world order, or none at all? (James Kynge — FT)
For-Profit Japanese Crying Sessions (Darryl Thoms — The Atlantic)
Trump's team was an inside player at the OPEC summit (Amy Jaffe — CFR)
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty
The girl that stared down Wall Street’s raging bull has set her sights on a new target: The New York Stock Exchange.
Fearless Girl, the statue pictured above, was first installed opposite the financial district's famous bull last March.