This is our last edition for 2019. It's 970 words — or a quick 3.6-minute read.
"We’re in a hell of a mess in every direction." — see who said it and why it matters at the bottom of the newsletter.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Americans are now spending nearly as much money remotely as they are in person.
Why it matters: It's a nod to the e-commerce boom, where corporate giants like Amazon and other businesses that bulked up online presence are cashing in like never before.
What's happening: For the first time, the value of purchases on debit and credit cards in 2018 nearly equaled that of in-person card spending, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve, which cites the latest data available.
What they're saying: The boom in remote buying is "driven by growing e-commerce and the use of cards for recurring bill payments," Fed researchers write.
The data doesn't include cash payments, which account for a bigger share of in-person transactions than cards do, per a separate Fed report.
Yes, but: While the gap in card spending in-person vs. remote has closed in dollar terms, the number of card transactions done in-person still far outpaces those done online.
By the numbers: 72% of purchases made with a card were done in-person, while just 28% of those transactions were made remotely.
Between the lines: That means that spending at brick-and-mortar stores isn't completely dead, though people are spending less money there.
The bottom line: Where consumers spend the bulk of their dollars is changing. But considering the vast number of card transactions still done in stores, American card spending habits haven't completely shifted to one side or the other yet.
From 2012 to 2018, the value of card payments done remotely jumped nearly four times more than the value of in-person card transactions.
The S&P 500 rose half a percent on Thursday to top the 3,200 level for the first time ever on Thursday.
The big picture: A year that saw equity prices whipsawed by trade war uncertainty and recession fears is ending (so far) on a relatively quiet note.
What's next: Turning to 2020, the same threats that worried Wall Street analysts this time last year haven't completely vanished. A re-escalation of U.S.-China trade tensions is among the caveats that could knock bullish year-end S&P price targets off-course, analysts say.
What they're saying: "The rivalry between the US and China hasn't gone away. Investors will be alert for any sign that tensions are re-emerging, or either side is dissatisfied with the implementation of the Phase 1 agreement," UBS analysts wrote in a note on Thursday.
Go deeper: Asset managers urge caution in 2020
Nike said tariffs trimmed the company's profit margins by 40 to 50 basis points in its most recent quarter. (Bloomberg)
Andrew Bailey, the head of the U.K.'s financial services regulator, will succeed Mark Carney as the governor of the Bank of England. (CNBC)
The Senate will vote on the USMCA next year after the House voted to pass the trade deal. (Axios)
What to watch: The final estimate of Q3 GDP is out at 8:30 am ET, while consumer confidence and inflation data come 90 minutes later.
Since 2009, more than $3 billion has been invested in companies building rockets to deliver small satellites to space, according to data provided to Axios by Space Angels.
The intrigue: With dozens of companies aiming to break into the small launcher business in the coming years, experts are concerned that a bubble is forming in that part of the market.
The bottom line: Vector’s troubles could signal that the small launcher bubble is bursting.
A trader on the first trading day of 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
I asked Axios reporters and editors who cover the business of technology, media, energy, transportation, health care and more about the stories and themes that mattered most in 2019.
Here's what they said:
Sign up for other Axios newsletters here.