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Ross and Trump in 2010. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Billionaire New York real estate developer Stephen Ross privately expressed qualms about going ahead with his Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump today.

The state of play: Liberal customers had threatened to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle, the high-end fitness brands owned by a parent company that Ross chairs. Ross, who also owns the NFL's Miami Dolphins, "freaked out" at the backlash, a source said, adding that Trump associates persuaded him to go ahead with the event at his Southampton mansion.

  • "Stay strong, it's not going to be that bad. Not that many people are going to boycott the gym," was another source's paraphrasing of what Trump's associates conveyed to Ross.

Ross describes himself as a "champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability."

  • The WashPost obtained an invitation to today's event, and reported: "Tickets are priced at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and $250,000 for the package that includes the roundtable discussion."

The big picture: Trump is so toxic to blue-state-favorite brands that their CEOs often try to stiff-arm him.

  • After his response to the Charlottesville white supremacist violence, a number of CEOs quit two White House business advisory councils. Trump then disbanded the councils before they could fully dissolve.
  • On Wednesday, Equinox and SoulCycle issued a statement saying they do not support the Trump fundraiser.

Ross responded to the criticism in a statement Wednesday, saying he has always been "an active participant in the democratic process," per CNBC:

  • "I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”

Go deeper: SoulCycle faces backlash over investor plans to fundraise for Trump

Go deeper

Trading platforms curb trading on high-flying Reddit stocks

Major trading platforms including Robinhood, TDAmeritrade and Interactive Brokers are restricting — or cutting off entirely — trading on high-flying stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.

Why it matters: It limits access to the traders that have contributed to the wild Reddit-driven activity of the past few days — a phenomenon that has gripped Wall Street and the country.

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

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