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I didn't catch the news before I finished Monday's newsletter, but I was shocked beyond words to hear about the death of Ermias Asghedom aka Nipsey Hussle. He was an entrepreneur, a father, a philanthropist, a community leader, an icon. He wasn't a businessman, he was a business, man (to quote Jay Z, who purchased 100 of Nipsey's mixtapes for $100 each in 2013).

Nip was a legendary rapper, but he was also much more. He was an independent artist who pioneered and perfected a new music industry business model for the 21st century. He wasn't the first rapper to make his own way, but he showed a new generation how to succeed without record labels or assorted industry interlopers.

He invested his music earnings in brick-and-mortar stores and direct-to-consumer apparel and clothing lines based in South Central Los Angeles that employed and offered opportunity to many who otherwise had none. His greatest legacy will be the knowledge and wisdom in his words and what he passed on to those who were willing to listen.

#RIPNipseyHussle

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Situational awareness:

  • The U.K.'s "national living wage” rose to £8.21 on Monday. While increases have been particularly quick since 2015, so far there is little evidence of negative effects on jobs, according to the Low Pay Commission. (FT)
  • Over the past 10 years, nearly a quarter of U.S. rural counties have seen a significant increase in households spending half of their income or more on housing. (CSMonitor)
  • Global trade shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the World Trade Organization predicted trade would grow by 2.6% this year, slower than 3% growth in 2018. (Reuters)
  • Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance fell as much as 4% after it missed earnings expectations and cut full-year guidance. CEO Stefano Pessina said it was the "most difficult" quarter in 5 years. (CNBC)

Editor's note: In yesterday's Markets, the second story was updated with new details from S&P, which now says its report shows Murray Electric was in default at the time but now has a forward-looking rating of CCC+. It also corrects the use of the word "corporate failures" with "defaults."