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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just Washington that's burning in a seemingly perpetual cauldron of outrage. Global executives are still obsessing about how to get ahead of the next viral crisis, with mixed success. 

Why it matters: Some incidents, such as the furor after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this year, can force positive brand and societal change. Others are the corporate equivalent of WHCD hot takes: moments that would (and arguably should) have passed largely without comment are now occupying ever larger chunks of senior management's time. 

Just this week:

  • Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted was forced to distance himself from bizarre comments about slavery by brand collaborator Kanye West.
  • UK supermarket giant Sainsbury's boss was caught singing"We're in the Money" ahead of a planned mega-merger that could cost thousands of jobs.
  • Elon Musk wiped $2B off Tesla's market capitalization after cutting off analysts for the temerity of asking "boring, bonehead questions" such as how much cash the company is burning. (A lot)

Trump's early, scattershot twitter rants about specific industries and companies forced many to draft a better response plan in the event of a surprise presidential broadside. But many are proving much less adept at reining in public outrage — justified or not — once a crisis spirals.  

The big picture: Long-term corporate brand damage is still largely the result of deception (Volkswagen), greed (Facebook), incompetence (TSB) or bad product decisions (Snap).

Be smart: The strongest CEOs make sure a crisis doesn't define them, and remain ruthlessly focused on the basics. The weakest — and the most ill-advised — are still checking their Twitter feed on the way out the door. 

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.