👋 Welcome back. This morning we're looking at stock market inequality — and what the heck happened on the SEC's Twitter, er X, account. Today's newsletter is 1,132 words, 4.5 minutes.

1 big thing: The rich own a record share of stocks

Data: Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

About 93% of U.S. households' stock market wealth is held by the top 10%, Matt writes.

Why it matters: This stat — which we first spotted in the FT — is a crucial bit of context to keep in mind amid the heavily hyped surge of smaller retail investors who flocked to the stock market during and after the COVID crisis.

Details: While it's true that a record high 58% of American households do own stocks via mutual funds or as individual shares, in the aggregate the amount of stock most of these folks own is tiny.

The big picture: Despite the trauma of the last few years — the collapse of stocks in the early days of the pandemic, and the brutal bear market brought on by the Fed's rate hikes over the last couple of years — the stock market has soared over the long term.

  • In the last 10 years, the S&P 500 gained 155%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose a whopping 250%.

Between the lines: While bullish surges like those are welcome to pretty much all investors, the fact is that the majority of the gains go to the richest stockholders.

  • "Stock market booms primarily boost the wealth of households at the top of the wealth distribution, as their portfolios are dominated by listed and unlisted business equity," wrote three academics who studied long-term trends in wealth inequality in the U.S., in a 2020 article published in the Journal of Political Economy.

The bottom line: The U.S. market is simultaneously at its most unequal point on record — and the most democratized.

Editor's note: This story and chart were corrected to reflect that it is 93% of U.S. households' stock market wealth (not 93% of the stock market) that is held by the wealthiest 10% of those households.

2. Catch up quick

⚠️ Boeing CEO acknowledges "our mistake" in companywide address. (Bloomberg)

🚢 U.S. forces report shooting down a barrage of Houthi missiles and drones in the Red Sea. (Axios)

📱Walmart at CES announces partnership with Microsoft as it doubles down on AI. (Axios)

3. Execs still committed to DEI

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Executives remain committed to DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — despite a rising backlash against it, per a survey released today, Emily writes.

Why it matters: The survey's result comes as the anti-DEI noise is getting louder.

Zoom in: The employment law firm Littler surveyed 322 U.S. executives in November; 57% said their organizations had expanded DEI programs over the past year. And 36% said they'd maintained them.

  • At the same time, 59% of execs, a mix of chief legal officers, chief diversity officers, chief people officers, and other C-level folks, said they believed backlash toward these efforts had increased since the Supreme Court's June decision that race couldn't be used as an explicit factor in university admissions.

Catch up fast: The court's ruling wasn't about employers, but in its wake companies grew anxious that any programs that take race into account would be vulnerable to litigation.

What's happening: For the most part, instead of panicking and getting rid of programs, companies are auditing their initiatives to ensure there are no legal risks, said Jeanine Conley Daves, a shareholder at Littler.

Yes, but: 6% of respondents said they decreased their DEI efforts since 2022.

  • Asked why they cut back, half cited concerns about legal liability and litigation, including reverse discrimination lawsuits. And 44% pointed to reduced DEI budgets, while 28% cited the Supreme Court decision. (Respondents could cite multiple reasons.)

The bottom line: For now, corporate America still likes DEI. These programs have become an important part of employee relations and talent strategies for companies, Littler points out.

  • What to watch: The moniker DEI itself. For its part, Littler uses the term IE&D — inclusion, equity and diversity — to reflect its prioritization of inclusion. It wouldn't be surprising to see more companies move away from the old term, too.

4. New year, new bonds

Companies borrowing in the U.S. investment-grade bond market
Data: PitchBook LCD; Chart: Axios Visuals

The first week of the year was a busy one in the bond market, Axios' Kate Marino writes.

Driving the news: A total of 39 investment-grade companies placed bonds last week, part of a widely expected borrowing spree prompted by plunging yields.

  • It was the highest tally of borrowers in any given week in over two years, according to PitchBook LCD.

The big picture: Money got a lot less expensive over the last few months, especially after Federal Reserve officials in December hinted at rate cuts ahead. The average yield on IG bonds has dropped by almost a full percentage point since early November.

The impact: All of a sudden, refinancing looks a lot more attractive.

  • Companies that went for it after Jan. 1 include Ford, Toyota and John Deere.

Worth noting: The first-week spree wasn't as large as some had expected last month, wrote analysts from BofA Global Research.

  • That may be because of the mini sell-off to start the year for both stocks and bonds.
  • By dollar amount, the week produced $56 billion in bonds — that's pretty high, but three weeks last year had higher totals, LCD data shows.

What to watch: Whether this issuance spree will extend to the segment of the market where lower-credit quality companies borrow — the high-yield bond market. It got off to a slow start last week.

5. Fake-out

Screenshot: The since deleted, fake post on @SECGov on X.

The SEC said an "unknown party" briefly gained access to its official account on X — and posted a fake announcement yesterday afternoon saying the agency had approved the first bitcoin ETFs, Axios' Brady Dale writes.

Why it matters: The prospect that these ETFs will be approved has sent the price of bitcoin soaring over the last few months.

What happened: Shortly after the false tweet, the SEC sent out a statement saying that the "SEC's @SECGov X/Twitter account has been compromised. The unauthorized tweet regarding bitcoin ETFs was not made by the SEC or its staff."

  • The price of bitcoin spiked — and then fell back.
Bitcoin price
Data: CoinGecko; Chart: Axios Visuals

What they're saying: "The SEC has determined that there was unauthorized access to and activity on the @SECGov x.com account by an unknown party for a brief period of time shortly after 4 pm ET," an agency spokesperson said in a statement. "That unauthorized access has been terminated."

  • Last night, X confirmed that the SEC's account was compromised — not any of the social media's system. The agency "did not have two-factor authentication enabled," X said.

Meanwhile: Crypto folks couldn't wait to mock the agency that has long stymied the industry's efforts to go legit. This GIF is pretty funny, tbh.

Flashback: Last July, the agency put out cyber incident disclosure rules for regulated entities. The Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency declined to comment, referring Axios to the SEC's statement.

What we're watching: If this compromise screws up the widely expected approvals tomorrow.

Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe here.

Axios Markets is edited by Kate Marino and copy edited by Mickey Meece.