Axios Markets

A line of three blocks increasing in height.

February 22, 2023

Good Wednesday to you. It's the calm before the winter storm for much of the U.S. The markets are pretty quiet, too.

Today's newsletter is 1,018 words, 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Sneaky economics

Data: Altan Insights, compiled from StockX; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Altan Insights, compiled from StockX; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coveting a pair of Travis Scott Jordans or Panda Dunks? You just might be able to snag them for a reasonable price in the resale market — quite a turnaround from a year ago, Axios' Kate Marino writes.

Why it matters: Price declines are signaling that the froth has left the market, leading sneaker heads and analysts alike to wonder if the market is crashing — or just normalizing.

By the numbers: Altan Insights, a data and research provider, looked at price data from the resale platform StockX for over 100 popular sneaker releases from the last several years. It found that the average price return in 2022 was negative 7%.

  • In 2021, the same sample was up an average of 23% (excluding those released in 2021).
  • Take the Nike Dunk in the black and white "panda" colorway. They were fetching over $300 on StockX in 2021 — but are now typically $150 or lower. For an example at the higher end, check out the chart above.

The backstory: Sneaker resale was hailed an alternative asset class back in the mid-teens.

  • Then in the COVID era, the market got the same boost that a host of other speculative assets did (think crypto, NFTs, meme stocks), fueled by stimulus cash and the easy monetary policy that made it seem to speculators that markets could only go up.
  • Sneaker giants like Nike have long operated on a model of scarcity and hype in order to fan demand — but supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic upped the scarcity factor.

“People were seeing headlines about the huge sums of money that sneaker resellers were making in the market, and that drew more people in,” says Dylan Dittrich, Altan Insights' head of research, and author of the 2019 book "Sneakonomic Growth."

  • "It got to a point in 2020 and 2021 where basically every single sneaker that released on [Nike’s] SNKRS app was selling out and going higher on secondary markets. It barely mattered what it was."

Now: As with most other asset classes, the changing macro environment — rising rates and the general risk-off mode — has impacted the flows of money into the space.

  • And those pesky supply chain issues have largely abated: no more shortages.

The impact: Unremarkable shoes that shouldn’t be selling out and then popping to a 50% premium aren’t doing so anymore. "That's probably one of the healthier things to come out of this," says Dittrich.

The bottom line: Fashionable sneakers are still in high demand (just look around any time you're out), and the most sought-after pairs continue to command strong premiums on secondary platforms. So far, the data points to the market normalizing rather than cratering, says Dittrich.

  • Mike Sykes, writer of The Kicks You Wear blog, agrees. "The fever pitch that the market was once at is gone," Sykes says. Resellers, especially those with scale, can still turn a profit — but it's harder for the fringe reseller to make much, he adds.

2. Catch up quick

🏢 Amazon employees express dismay, anger about sudden return-to-office policy. (CNBC)

💸 Toyota and Honda offer workers biggest pay hikes in decades. (Automotive News)

🧐 Musk's Tesla pay package under scrutiny in Delaware court. (AP)

3. Charted: Down but not out

Data: The 30-day moving window shows the total for the prior 30 days at each date shown. Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: The 30-day moving window shows the total for the prior 30 days at each date shown. Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals; Chart: Axios Visuals

The NFT market certainly shrank over the last year — but it hasn't died, Axios Crypto's Brady Dale writes.

Catch up fast: NFTs are digital files built to be provably unique, that can be owned and traded.

  • Around 10,000 NFT sales are taking place on a daily basis — compared to over 60,000 at times last year, according to

NFT sales used to total billions of dollars a month in volume, and now they're in the mere hundreds of millions.

💭 Brady's thought bubble: That's still a lot of money.

4. Most workers are getting raises this year: survey

Data: Payscale’s 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Payscale’s 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Looks like a lot of folks may be getting raises this year, according to a Payscale survey out this morning, Emily writes.

Why it matters: Who doesn't love a salary increase? These numbers look big, but more employers are unsure about their plans in 2023 than last year. And with inflation running at around 6% in the U.S. year over year, some workers are barely keeping pace.

  • Bigger picture, wage growth helps drive up inflation. And the broad goal of the Federal Reserve right now is to cool that off.

By the numbers: 80% of employers said they plan on raising workers' base pay in 2023 — that's down considerably from 92% last year, but still more than in pre-pandemic times, says Amy Stewart, associate director of content and editorial at Payscale and author of the compensation report.

  • 15% of employers said they were unsure whether they’d offer raises — up from just 3% in 2022.
  • More striking: 56% of the compensation professionals surveyed said those raises would be greater than 3%.
  • Payscale surveyed close to 5,000 compensation professionals — 69% at companies headquartered in the U.S., 8% in Canada, and 17% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

What's happening: Employers are still having a hard time attracting talent, Stewart says. Turnover has fallen, but it's still too high for most employers' comfort.

  • And, of course, they're trying to keep up with inflation though most aren't quite there. Only 11% of respondents said they planned to give raises of more than 5%.

5. February jobs strength

Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of U.S. adults who say they lost their job or experienced a decline in income — had their hours cut, for example — hit new lows this month, according to a polling series conducted by Morning Consult since May 2020, Kate writes.

Why it matters: The January jobs report was something of a blockbuster surprise — 517,000 new jobs created even as the Federal Reserve tried its best to cool the economy. The latest polling data suggests the overall labor market strength is continuing into February.

🎹 1 last thought from Matt: Yesterday was Mardi Gras — also known as Shrove Tuesday — the traditional start of the Lenten season and a great time to be in New Orleans.

Thanks for reading! Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe here.

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