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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In filing its paperwork for a possible IPO, iHeartMedia argued that broadcast radio is still relevant. That may be surprising but it's true.
Details: According to its findings, 92% of all adults in the U.S. listen to the radio, and 94% of radio listeners listen to a network radio station every week.
IHeartMedia counts 275 million listeners per month in the U.S. By contrast, Spotify said it had 207 million monthly active users, with just 30% in North America.
Further, and perhaps more important to potential share holders, radio is still making money.
What's next? Radio is diversifying. While traditional over-the-air ads still account for most revenue, radio's digital revenues grew 15% in 2018.
IHeartMedia, which still owes about $5.8 billion in debt on its defaulted bonds after a bankruptcy filing (another leveraged buyout horror story), controls a massive share of the radio market and has other revenue streams including billboards and live events.
Yes, but: The future isn't all blue skies for radio. To quote the 1990s ska band Reel Big Fish, "The kids don't like it."
While radio's reach has been remarkably consistent, holding above 90%, Gen Z is changing things. In 2005, 89% of 13–17-year-olds listened to AM/FM radio. In 2018, just 31% did, according to data shared with Axios by MusicWatch.
Overall satisfaction with radio also is declining. MusicWatch's 2017 study (the most recently released) found just 53% of total respondents said that they felt "very satisfied" using the radio in the car and just 13% felt satisfied with radio's integration with social media.
After falling by nearly 10% in 2017, currency analysts and fund managers were expecting the dollar to continue to weaken in 2018 and 2019, but that hasn't happened.
Why it matters: The Fed's worries are reflecting weakness overseas, Yvette Klevan, managing director and portfolio manager at Lazard Asset Management, says.
The big picture: The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against 6 other major world currencies, including the euro and Japanese yen, has risen about 7% in value from its level a year ago.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Getty Images
There was more bad news for the eurozone yesterday as German factory orders fell by 4.2%, the biggest year-over-year drop since 2009, and Italy looked poised to cut growth its growth projections for 2019 from 1% to 0.1%
Why it matters: Both headlines signal that bad economic trends in Europe are getting worse, not better, and Europe could be headed for recession.
What's happening: After what looked like a rebound in 2017 and optimism about 2018, this year she says she is expecting the region to "struggle to register" 1% growth — and even that outlook is based on a recovery in demand from China and emerging markets, and a soft Brexit.
The weakness in Italy and its impact on Italian banks could be even more troublesome, Akoner said, bringing back memories of the Greek debt crisis — but much worse given Italy's size.
Be smart: Italian banks, which are already burdened with a significant amount of non-performing loans, hold more than 10% of domestic sovereign debt as a percentage of total assets, Akoner noted.
Since the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted Americans have been searching terms "recession" and "economic slowdown" (not to mention "yield curve") at a high rate. Yesterday, both Moody's and S&P released notes from their economic teams announcing they do not see a recession on the horizon.
What they're saying: "Slow but steady growth, coupled with a lack of wage inflation, has kept the U.S. expansion going for a decade without developing significant internal imbalances," Moody's senior credit officer Madhavi Bokil said in a release.
S&P meanwhile reiterated that it pegs the odds of a recession in the next 12 months at just 20–25%, adding, however, that "recent financial market turmoil adds headwinds to this assessment."
The U.S. saw its highest level of layoffs in a first quarter since 2009, data from staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas released Thursday showed.
Employers cut 190,410 jobs in the first 3 months of the year — 10.3% higher than the number of layoffs announced in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 35.6% higher than job cuts announced in the same quarter of 2018.
Details: The financial industry saw the third highest number of layoffs and the year-to-date total was 239% higher than it was in 2018.
The bottom line: The report said worry about an economic slowdown was the main driver of companies' layoff intentions.