Jan 26, 2017

Verizon reportedly exploring Charter merger

WSJ reports this morning that Verizon is exploring a combination with Charter Communications. Details are sparse.

Big if true: This kind of merger would bring together the largest U.S. wireless company (not to mention a major broadband provider) with the country's second-largest broadband provider. Charter Communications last year merged with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, making it a powerhouse provider of TV and internet.

What will Trump say? This type of deal would need to be reviewed by antitrust enforcers at both the FCC and DOJ. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai generally favors a hands-off approach to merger reviews if the companies can show how deals serve the "public interest." Trump Attorney General pick Sen. Jeff Sessions indicated the DOJ should weigh big mergers on antitrust grounds rather than "some other discreet agenda that's not reasonably connected to the merger itself."

Still: Trump has said he's wary of consolidation in the media and telecom industries, and still opposes AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc. In interview with Axios last week, Trump said:

I think we need all the competition we can have in that industry. It's a very important industry. — Donald Trump

Verizon and Charter Communications declined to comment.

Go deeper

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health