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Today's issue is 1,222 — a 4 1/2-minute read. To start...
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
China's plan to dominate the 21st century hangs in the balance as the deadly coronavirus outbreak spreads.
The big picture: Coronavirus is stress-testing Chinese President Xi Jinping's industrial and economic vision for the future as factories, supply chains and companies navigate the crisis.
What's happening: The outbreak, which has already taken more than 700 lives around the world, is soaking up all of China's resources and attention. "It reinforces an inward-looking China," says Samm Sacks, a fellow at the New America foundation.
On top of commanding all government resources, the outbreak is upending China's industrial centers. "This will put a damper on China’s access to foreign technology and slow the transition to high-value-added high-technology manufacturing," says Eswar Prasad, a China and world trade expert at Cornell University.
The other side: As the outbreak spotlights China's reliance on the foreign technology and global supply chains, it "might also spur the government to further intensify its efforts to promote domestic innovation" and double down on its "Made in China 2025" plan, Prasad says.
The bottom line: The panic around the coronavirus outbreak could push Xi and the Chinese Communist Party to exert even greater control over all parts of the country — including the high-tech private sector, which has led China in the development of cutting-edge technologies and been afforded relative freedom by the Chinese Communist Party, says Sacks.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images
Tesla stock has been in Ludicrous Mode for the past few days. Given its bonkers gyrations, it's now easy to see why CEO Elon Musk might feel that he was right all along in wanting to take the company private back in 2018, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.
"As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders."
— Elon Musk, "Taking Tesla Private" blog post, August 2018
The stock market is failing at its primary role of price discovery, the determination of how much securities and companies are worth. There's no rational reason — and certainly no news — explaining why Tesla's value should have fluctuated by more than $20 billion per day.
Be smart: A stock that can melt up for no particular reason can just as easily melt down.
When the share price is as volatile as this, valuation feels more like a sugar high than the true wisdom of the crowds, and a buy-and-hold strategy feels like utter foolishness. Hedge fund manager Cliff Asness has argued that the price opacity of private markets has significant positive value. If that's the case, then Tesla in particular should probably be private.
Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance/Getty Images
Americans are buying fewer toys in the post-Toys "R" Us era.
The big picture: As we've reported, the demise of the toy giant kicked off a war among U.S. retail titans Amazon, Target and Walmart to vacuum up its toy sales. But the end of Toys "R" Us dealt the multibillion-dollar American toy market a blow that it still hasn't recovered from.
But all that wasn't enough to revive the toy market.
The bottom line: The American toy industry is likely to eventually bounce back, but it's a testament to the ubiquitousness of Toys "R" Us that it has temporarily dragged down the entire market.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Team Trump's 5G misfires (Kyle Daly, Margaret Harding McGill — Axios)
Facial recognition's new front: schools (Davey Alba — NYT)
How AI is tracking the coronavirus outbreak (Will Knight — Wired)
The neuroscience of picking a presidential candidate (Sue Halpern — New Yorker)
The lucrative, unregulated, misunderstood world of vaping (Amanda Chicago Lewis — California Sunday Magazine)
We safeguard our Facebook and Instagram accounts and limit our post visibility to our friends.
The latest example: Fans of ABC's "The Bachelor" are stalking Venmo payments to try to figure out who Peter, this season's bachelor, chooses at the end of the season, reports WSJ.
The bottom line: If you aren't super diligent about adjusting privacy settings for every aspect of your digital life, you're leaving behind breadcrumbs that you didn't even think about.
Thanks for reading!