December 08, 2023

We made it to Friday β€” and the final Jobs Day of 2023. Buckle up.

Today's newsletter is 988 words, 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Distinctly disinflationary

Expected annual inflation over the next five years
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global markets think the war against inflation is over. And the Fed won, Matt writes.

Why it matters: Reading the tea leaves from bond, stock and currency markets sheds light on how investors believe the economy will develop next year.

  • It also helps explain the rip-roaring rally in stocks.

The big picture: The overwhelming signal markets are sending right now is that inflation will fall back to the snail's pace of 2% that prevailed before COVID.

  • This is most clear in the market-based reading of inflation expectations β€” charted above, and often referred to as a "five-year breakeven" β€” which is now nearly back to 2%.
  • That's the lowest it's been since the pandemic-era inflation issues flared up in 2021.

Zoom out: Participants in some other key markets are singing the same tune.

  • Yields on U.S. government bonds have plunged since the end of September, as investors priced in slowing growth and falling inflation.
  • In the market for Fed funds futures, traders are putting 60% odds that the Fed will declare victory on inflation and cut interest rates in March.
  • Expectations of rate cuts weaken the dollar in foreign exchange markets. The U.S. dollar index is down roughly 2.5% since the end of September.

Between the lines: Those big bets on falling inflation and coming rate cuts have been great for stocks, and help explain much of the S&P 500's nearly 20% gain this year.

  • The benchmark index is up more than 10% since the end of October.
  • The Nasdaq composite β€” typically more sensitive to rate cuts β€” is up a tidy 13% over the same period.

Yes, but: Some of the recent certainty about falling inflation may merely reflect the sharp tumble in oil prices over the last couple of months.

  • Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures are down more than 20% since the end of September and have slipped under $70 a barrel, as American production surged and the market shrugged off Saudi Arabia and Russia's efforts to keep prices propped up.
  • Academic studies have found that oil price movements have an outsized impact on inflation expectations, so if oil prices bounce back, some of the disinflationary vibes of the moment could go away.

What to watch: The close collaboration between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are driving the effort to try to prop up oil prices. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Middle East this week amid concerns that the oil price cartel's ability to influence prices is weakening.

2. Charted: T-note yields tumbled

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

3. Catch up quick

🏫 Wharton board calls on Penn president to resign. (Axios)

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ China to boost fiscal support to strengthen its economy. (Bloomberg)

✈️ How the "big five" airlines came to dominate the skies. (Axios)

4. Wrapped envy

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

If your apps have been bombarding you with stats about your year in music, food, books, or even language learning, there's a simple explanation β€” they're trying to capture a little bit of Spotify's marketing magic, Emily writes.

Why it matters: Spotify Wrapped β€” a year-end analysis of your listening habits β€” is the Holy Grail of digital advertising, marketing experts say. Some other companies are trying to mimic its success, but few have come close.

"It's definitely one of the classics β€”Β should be taught in every business school," said Jon Carden, chief marketing officer at Fundrise, a real estate fintech.

  • "It's certainly one of the most admired tactics, probably, in the digital space," Carden said.

Catch up quick: Spotify wasn't the first to do a year-end wrap-up. Strava, the running app, launched Year in Sport a decade ago.

  • Spotify got in the game in 2015. Wrapped didn't go viral until 2019 after the company optimized it for sharing.
  • That same year, Apple Music launched its Replay feature. So did PlayStation, Nintendo, and even Duolingo. But none of their efforts are as robust β€” no in-app versions back then β€” or as popular, as the Spotify version.
  • Now seemingly everyone is doing it: Aldi β€” yes, the grocery store β€” tried something a few days ago. (Dating Wrapped is a thing, too.)

Wrapped is essentially, for companies, a best-case scenario ad campaign since the customers are creating the ads.

  • The ads come in the form of sharable, customizable posts β€” where you can show off to friends and family your top artists, songs, and just how big of a fan of Taylor Swift you are.
  • The company typically sees a jump in app store rankings after the campaign.

Reality check: Not every company can pull this off. While Wrapped delights people,Β these kinds of look-backs are also a bracing example of the sheer amount of data digital companies collect on their customers.

  • It would be much less delightful to get a Wrapped on your DoorDash deliveries or, say, your credit card statements.

The bottom line: Once upon a time, if you wanted to reflect on the past year, you'd need to think, maybe look at some photos or talk to friends. Now, a year in your life is a marketing event for brands.

Go deeper

5. The "pink tax" is alive and well

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. tariffs on women's clothing are higher than on men's clothing, finds a new analysis from a former U.S. trade official, Emily writes.

Why it matters: It's an illustration of how gender discrimination can get embedded into policy β€”Β in this case in the taxes the federal government tacks on to imported goods.

By the numbers: The report, by Ed Gresser, a vice president at the Progressive Policy Institute, finds the average U.S. tariff rate for men's clothing is 13.6%, compared with 16.7% for women's.

  • The tariff burden on women's apparel was $2.77 billion more than on men's clothing in 2015, according to a paper from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Gresser says it's likely grown since then.

Zoom out: Gresser's analysis follows his earlier report that focused on women's underwear β€” tariff rates there are 15% compared to 11.5% for men.

Go deeper: The "pink tax" on underwear

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