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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tuesday's stock market record proves the definitive triumph of capital over labor in the era of COVID-19.

Why it matters: The recession has caused the size of the American economic pie to shrink substantially. But the share of that pie going to capital rather than labor has continued to rise.

Driving the news: The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 3,390 on Tuesday, a gain of 55% from its March low point in the space of just 105 trading sessions.

The big picture: It's easy to view the stock-market rally as happening despite the fact that more than 28 million Americans are claiming unemployment benefits. But perhaps the stock market is soaring in large part because of the continued unemployment crisis.

How it works: Historically, about two thirds of economic output went to workers in exchange for their labor, with the other third being retained by owners. But since 2000, that ratio has been plunging.

  • Now that America's workforce has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the share of national income being kept by workers could hit a new record low.

The bottom line: It's unclear how or whether workers will be able to regroup and reclaim more of the fruits of their labor. So long as capital retains the upper hand, an increasing share of corporate revenues will show up as profits. Which is good news for anybody owning stocks.

Go deeper

Wall Street bets it all on a vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's the time of year when Wall Street shops are rolling out predictions for where they see the stock market headed in the coming year. There's one common theme: Widespread distribution of a vaccine is the reason to be bullish.

Why it matters: Analysts say vaccines will help the economy heal, corporate profits rebound and stock market continue its upward trajectory.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.