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19 hours ago

Axios Markets

😅 Rise and shine and "Shake it Off." Taylor Swift's 2014 song has a high positivity rating, according to the ranking we wrote about yesterday (thanks to those of you who wrote in about the good vibes on that one). Besides, the song kinda feels like an anthem considering the month we've been having.

🏝 Axios Markets is on vacation next week! We'll be back in your inbox on Monday, Feb. 7.

Today's newsletter is 1,027 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: 2022 is kind of a drag
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Reproduced from a Josh Bivens/EPI analysis of BEA data; Chart: Axios Visuals

This year might be a bit of a drag, technically speaking. The explosive economic growth that we saw in 2021 won't likely continue into 2022 because of "fiscal drag," where there's less money from the federal government going out to regular folks, Emily writes.

Why it matters: Less fiscal stimulus could mean less inflation, as Fed chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

  • But in human terms? Government spending was a safety net for folks who couldn't work because of the pandemic or faced COVID-era challenges.

State of play: As much as 22% of Americans' personal income last year came from government benefits, including Social Security, stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment insurance, and the child tax credits (CTCs) that ended in December.

  • The federal government sent out more than $93 billion to families in the second half of the year through CTCs.

Go deeper: Parents used the money for food, gasoline and housing.

  • "It was a blessing," Jasmin Roberts, a 35-year-old mother of two in New Jersey, tells Axios. The money helped her put a deposit down on an apartment and avoid public transportation when COVID risk was high.

Worth noting: Pandemic challenges aren't over, and the Omicron variant sent a lot of workers home sick.

  • 15% of low-wage earners experienced a loss of income in January, according to new polling by Morning Consult. That's the highest it's been in the monthly survey since May 2021.

Zoom out: The U.S. economy boomed last year. The Commerce Department said yesterday that Q4 2021 GDP grew at a 6.9% annualized rate, the highest since 1984. The consensus expectation for 2022 is 3.9%.

Yes, but: Some, like Brookings economist Wendy Edelberg, expect slower growth. She predicts GDP growth of about 2.5% in 2022, in line with Goldman Sachs' 2.4% forecast, which Matt wrote about yesterday.

  • The overall economy will be fine — and is improving — but "really abrupt cutoffs in benefits is never great policy," Edelberg says.
  • And if you top off the cutback in fiscal spending with aggressive rate increases from the Fed, we could cut short a promising recovery, says Josh Bivens, director of research at the progressive Economic Policy Institute.

What we're watching: Child poverty numbers are expected to spike this month, according to forecasts from the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

  • On the other hand, wages are up and the job market is healthy. Folks still have savings from last year and when they file taxes they can claim more child tax credit money.

The bottom line: The fiscal drag doesn't have to be such a drag — but a lot is riding on the pandemic subsiding.

2. Catch up quick

📉 Robinhood’s stock sank in extended trading after it reported a decline in monthly active users and disappointing Q1 revenue guidance. The newly public brokerage estimates it’ll hit profitability by 2023. (Reuters)

Heads-up: The U.S. employment-cost index is out later this morning and is expected to show labor costs at record high. (WSJ)

📈 Coal prices are pushing toward record highs, driven by worries about Russian gas. (Reuters)

🇨🇳 Chinese stocks are now in bear market territory. (Bloomberg)

3. Almost there...
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Reproduced from Renaissance Macro Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

The economy grew at a record rate last year, as Emily wrote above — but U.S. GDP is still about 1% shy of its pre-pandemic trend, according to Renaissance Macro Research.

The big picture: Fiscal stimulus is behind us now — and pandemic-era problems like supply chain snags are still holding back a full recovery, Axios’ Kate Marino writes.

  • “When the motor vehicle sector recovers, we will blow right through [the trend line],” says Neil Dutta, Renaissance Macro’s head of economics.

What to watch: Chips! The shortage continues to hold back vehicle production, with no clear end in sight.

4. 🛢 Crude reality
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Prices for crude oil have surged. Analysts now say global prices could hit $100 a barrel, with American benchmarks breaching $90, Matt writes.

Why it matters: The rise in oil prices is another reason inflation is set to stick around for a while.

The big picture: Since collapsing amid the worst of the COVID crisis, prices for oil have rebounded sharply. Here's why...

  • Demand is back. Global consumption is forecast to recover completely from the pandemic in 2022. (IEA)
  • OPEC and Russia have been relatively slow in boosting supplies, helping to keep prices up. (NYT)
  • Geopolitical risk has risen, especially given there's a chance that Russia — the world's third-largest producer — invades Ukraine and finds itself subject to sanctions. (Brookings)

What they're saying:

  • Goldman Sachs: "Robust fundamentals have reversed last year’s oil price melt-down, with the market remaining in a surprisingly large deficit."
  • Morgan Stanley: "We estimate that the oil market is heading for simultaneously low inventories, low spare capacity and still low investment — a triple deficit."
  • JPMorgan: "Any disruptions to oil flows from Russia in a context of low spare capacity in other regions could easily send oil prices to $120."

What's next: On Feb. 2, OPEC and Russia will meet and decide whether to boost production in order to ease pricing pressure. Don't hold your breath.

5. The aging music market

Neil Young in 2019. Photo: Gus Stewart/Getty Images

Spotify will remove Neil Young's music from its streaming platform, because the 76-year-old rock icon objected to the company's response to vaccine misinformation, Emily writes.

The big picture: This matters more than you'd think, given the popularity of old music.

  • 70% of the music streamed online is older than 18 months, according to MRC Data's 2021 year-end report. (H/T The Atlantic)

Yes, but: Many of the big new releases of 2021 were dropped because tour dates got COVID-canceled, Matt Yazge, vice president of research business for MRC Data, tells Axios.

  • 61% of U.S. music listeners say that they are interested in discovering new or emerging music artists, Yazge says.

Oldies are popular partly because more boomers and Gen Xers are using streaming services. But a big driver of this trend is TikTok.

  • Case in point: Remember the skateboard guy who turned Fleetwood Mac's 1977 hit "Dreams" into a 2020 chart topper?
  • A lot of the investment money flowing into the music industry right now is coming from big catalog deals where older artists sell the rights to their classic songs.

Go deeper: Music sounds like money to Wall Street