Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here. (Today's Smart Brevity: 1,136 words, ~ 4 minutes.)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The OECD became the latest international economic organization to cut its global growth forecast, announcing Thursday that it's dropping expected growth to 2.9% this year, the slowest since the financial crisis.
Why it matters: The designation follows similar moves from the IMF, World Bank and a slew of central banks and ratings agencies that slashed their estimations for the world's economic growth this year as data continues to worsen.
Yes, but: While the direction of economic growth has been clearly negative, none of the organizations are expecting a recession, this year or next.
What they're saying: Even projections by mainstream economists on the low-end of the spectrum show the U.S. "comfortably" avoiding a recession and China continuing to see GDP growth around 6%.
Between the lines: The key, Stringer said, is consumption and U.S. consumers have shown it in droves over the last few months. Retail sales, consumer confidence and jobs data metrics remained at high levels, even as manufacturing, investment and CEO confidence stumbled.
Some economists are even bullish on the state of things.
Be smart: Economists almost never see recessions coming. Ahead of the global financial crisis, economic leaders from the Fed, Treasury Department and major ratings agencies gave no warning of what was to come.
The British pound rose to a 2-month high against the dollar Thursday as hopes are again rising that the U.K. will avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Driving the news: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview yesterday he expects Brussels to reach a deal with Britain to leave the EU with a deal in place to avert a messy break-up.
Background: Sterling had fallen to its lowest since 1985 against the dollar in August as Boris Johnson took over as prime minister, but has since risen more than 5 cents against the greenback.
Altria's $12.8 billion investment for a 35% stake in Juul is at risk of becoming one of the worst corporate investments of all time.
Driving the news: So far, vaping is suspected or confirmed as the cause of death for 8 people and 530 cases of pulmonary illness across 38 states, the CDC said, with a federal official saying that a criminal probe has begun.
Sens. Mitt Romney and Jeff Merkley proposed a bill late Thursday that would:
“With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, we must take decisive action to prevent a new generation from addiction and serious health risks,” Romney said.
Between the lines: "Sometimes it's darkest before the light, but right now it looks like Altria got smoked," Axios' Dan Primack writes.
The big picture: Juul keeps getting hit left and right — particularly after the recent spate of vaping-related lung diseases. The company is also facing a possible congressional subpoena after failing to provide documents in July.
In the market: Altria's stock has been falling for much of this year and has been on a clear downward path over the past 6 months.
Go deeper: The global anti-vaping tipping point
Merle Hazard, the biggest name in country music about financial markets, played his first ever show in New York on Thursday night, performing for a packed house at WNYC's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.
The big picture: The legendary crooner behind hits like "How Long (Will Interest Rates Stay Low)," "Dual Mandate" and "Inflation or Deflation" is unquestionably the economics world's biggest country music superstar. But Hazard, aka Jon Shayne, still has his day job.
Behind the scenes: He's an asset manager, dealing mainly in U.S. equities at his firm Shayne & Co. Investment Management overseeing portfolios for around 100 client accounts.
Background: He got his start in finance at brokerage firm Paine Webber as a "number-crunching analyst in the mergers group," but eventually moved to Nashville, where he was able to combine his love for country and finance.
Fun fact: Hazard now records at Compass Sound studios on Nashville's Music Row, the former home of Glaser Brothers Productions aka Hillbilly Central "where the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman and Tompall Glaser gave rise to country music’s 'Outlaw' movement," according to the studio's website.
The intrigue: While his songs generally focus on high-level macroeconomic themes like central banking, GDP growth and interest rate policy, his heart is in value investing — as a Warren Buffett devotee he specializes in company valuations and stock picking.
Go deeper: Who would’ve thought a bluegrass spoof of atonal music would take off on YouTube? (WashPost)