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Few bets have been smarter this year than wagering on Amazon's success, and against its top competitors. And now short-selling by investors suggests an increasing consensus that Amazon will not only continue to weaken its retail rivals, but soon dominate markets for fresh groceries and auto parts, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky of financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

Expand chart
Data: S3 Partners; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

What this chart shows: "Short interest" measures the total bet against a company through short selling, a tactic in which investors bet that the share price of a company will drop. These data can also suggest what Wall Street's most sophisticated minds, like hedge fund investors, think about the economy, since it's unusual for average retail investors to use such instruments.

  • Look at a colossal one-way bet on Amazon and its top 10 retail rivals: "If a trader went long an equal amount of Amazon.com and shorted these ten securities, they would have been up 40% for the year," Dusaniwsky tells Axios. "A $100 million long Amazon position coupled with an equal weighted portfolio of the top ten Retail Sector shorts would have made $40 million in mark-to-market profits."
  • And a specific bet against one rival: Auto-parts stocks are another good example of investor faith in Amazon's ability to dominate any market it enters. A short position on the three most-shorted auto-parts stocks, paired with a bet on Amazon, would have returned 84% so far this year, Dusaniwsky says. This is after reports this summer that Amazon would begin selling car parts.

Go deeper

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

How smartphone cameras became the best cameras

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For years, the smartphone has been the most convenient camera, and in recent years it has also become the easiest and most versatile camera. But this year's high-end smartphones have taken things to a new level — capturing images that would be either tough or impossible even with a high-end digital camera.

Between the lines: Traditional cameras have the advantage of bigger sensors and better lenses, but smartphone cameras are rivaling and even surpassing them by tapping computational power.