🚨🧳 I'll be taking the next couple weeks off, but I leave you in the hands of Courtenay Brown and managing editor Jennifer Kingson. They'll be handling all your Axios Markets needs until I'm back on Dec. 2.
What's happening: I'm headed to Lisbon for a bit to escape this frigid New York City air. Wish me luck and send me all your Portugal tips - Dion@Axios.com. (Note: I speak Portuguese fluently, but it's Brazilian Portuguese; I once tried talking to a Portuguese woman and ... as coisas não deram certo.)
Situational awareness: The U.S. retail sales report for October will be released at 8:30, with economists expecting 0.2% growth after a negative reading in September. (CNBC)
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The world's debt is rising to unprecedented levels. While politicians and the general public have seemingly lost interest, capital markets are beginning to show signs of strain, financial experts say.
Driving the news: Global debt surged by $7.5 trillion in the first half of the year, hitting a new record of more than $250 trillion, according to data released Thursday from the Institute of International Finance.
What's happening: It’s all starting to add up, experts say.
Threat level: While these are hardly mainstream economic indicators, the recent troubles in U.S. capital markets "may be an early warning of a digestion problem," Catherine L. Mann, global chief economist at Citi, said during last month's National Association for Business Economics meeting.
The big picture: "This is the longest expansion in history, but it is also the weakest and part of that is the extremely high debt," Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, tells Axios.
Be smart: Even Fed chair Jerome Powell, who has been consistently upbeat and focused almost exclusively on the strengths of the U.S. economy, was dour in his assessment of current U.S. debt levels.
As I wrote back in February, the main reason the debt has been such a non-issue is that inflation in the U.S. and most industrialized countries has stayed persistently low.
However, more fund managers and economists are increasingly saying they're worried that may not hold.
What they're saying: The main factors holding down inflation, at least in the U.S., are technology and income inequality, says David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. That's been helped by the U.S.-China trade war, which has damaged business sentiment and investment, holding down demand.
What to watch: Kelly also sees the unequal growth of assets in relation to the growth of the real economy as keeping inflation contained. But that could change.
Hong Kong's government expects the city's economy will shrink by 1.3% this year, the first contraction since the global financial crisis. (Bloomberg)
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said negotiations with China for a "phase one" trade agreement were coming down to the final stages, but were "not done yet." (Bloomberg)
Amazon said the Pentagon's decision to award a potential $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft "contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias." (CNBC)
Ousted CEO and Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick has dumped almost a third of his shares, more than $700 million worth, since last week. (MarketWatch)
Investors took profits on Walmart's stock after its stronger-than-expected earnings report Thursday, but the outlook remains bright as the world's largest retailer again showed growth in sales as it has in every quarter for five years straight.
The big picture: "A 41% gain in e-commerce sales, up from the second-quarter’s 37%, was especially notable," WSJ's Justin Lahart writes.
Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy this week, bringing the total number of global corporate defaults this year to 100.
The big picture: Despite having one of the fastest growing economies in the industrialized world, the U.S. has accounted for 70% of companies defaulting or seeking bankruptcy protection in 2019, according to the latest corporate default tally from ratings agency S&P.
What they're saying: "The U.S. makes up the overwhelmingly largest percentage of this year's default tally," says Sudeep Kesh, head of S&P Global Credit Markets Research.
Of note: Bankruptcy-related defaults have increased this year, reaching a global total of 28 — already the second-highest number of bankruptcy-related defaults since 2009.
The multistate antitrust probe into Google will expand beyond the advertising sector to its search and Android businesses, CNBC reports.
Why it matters: Google is already facing investigations into potentially monopolistic behavior on many fronts, and the expansion of the states' probe will further widen the scrutiny, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.
Driving the news: The states investigating Google plan to write up civil investigative demands for information on search and Android, according to the CNBC report.
Flashback: Google disclosed in September that the Justice Department has requested information on prior antitrust investigations in the U.S. and elsewhere.