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April 07, 2021 View Online | Sign Up

Daily Brew

Policygenius

Good morning. Given the tragic news of the ketchup shortage sweeping the country, we Brew writers thought we'd offer our hottest ketchup takes. 

  • Jamie: "New Zealand's version is the best."
  • Neal: "I don't personally do it, but putting ketchup on eggs is nothing to be ashamed of."
  • Alex: "Companies could have stopped the bottle from making those noises years ago. They chose not to." 

MARKETS 1-DAY PERFORMANCE

 
NASDAQ
-0.05%
13,698.38
S&P
-0.10%
4,073.94
Dow
-0.29%
33,430.24
Bitcoin
-0.49%
$58,276.57
10-Year
-4.4 bps
1.658%
Chipotle
+2.44%
$1,487.48
 

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 5:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Covid: President Biden called on states to open up vaccine appointments to all adults by Monday, April 19 (most of them have already). And California Gov. Gavin Newsom said if hospitalizations remain stable, his state will fully reopen June 15.
  • Markets: The main indexes dipped a little from Monday's highs during the slowest trading day of the year so far. But Chipotle shares gained after Truist analysts upgraded the chain for raising its beef prices 4%. Bullish. 

JOBS

Anyone Know a Good Line Cook?

Hiring sign

Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

This may sound bizarre following an economic lockdown that caused more than 20 million jobs to evaporate, but many US companies can't find enough employees to fill their open positions.

First, the headline stat: US job openings surged to a two-year high in February, the Labor Department said yesterday. That number blew past economists' expectations and, when paired with last Friday's A+ jobs report, shows that employers are ready to hand out offer letters like Lyft discount codes. 

If only there were workers to accept them.

Which sectors are having recruitment trouble?  

Restaurants: On April 21, Taco Bell is holding interviews in thousands of parking lots, and candidates don't even have to get out of their cars to apply. The goal is to hire at least 5,000 people in a single day to keep up with demand for Quesalupas. 

  • Other restaurant execs are facing similar issues. The staffing situation is a "total nightmare," the CEO of Johnny Rockets owner FAT Brands told Reuters.

Airlines: Last week, United told staff it plans to hire hundreds of pilots to meet the growing itch to travel. Delta was forced to cancel almost 100 flights over Easter weekend due to a pilot shortage. 

Manufacturing: Factory activity in the US hit its highest level in 37 years in March, but it would've been higher had there been enough qualified workers to helm production lines. If anyone reading this is a trained welder, there's a good-paying job for you. 

What's going on? 

The speed and force of the economic recovery have surprised some employers that dramatically lowered their payrolls last year. 

Business owners also point to the extra unemployment benefits from the $1.9 trillion stimulus package for keeping would-be workers at home, although research from earlier in the pandemic concluded that the extra weekly benefits did not disincentivize work

Bottom line: When the job market tightens → salaries get a bump and HR departments start throwing around referral bonuses. Applebee's is paying $3,000 for manager referrals after the first six months.

        

FINANCE

Credit Suisse's Walk of Atonement

If showrunners for HBO's Industry are looking for Season 2 inspiration...may we present Credit Suisse?

After March's collapse of Archegos Capital Management cost Credit Suisse almost $4.7 billion, the bank announced yesterday it's pulling executive board bonuses, suspending buybacks, cutting its dividend, and letting its top investment banker and chief risk officer go.

A pattern or apophenia?

Switzerland's second-largest bank surely wants to sweep this under the "unprecedented" banner of the last year. But Archegos is its fourth high-profile slip-up in the last 18 months.

  • Also in March, Credit Suisse froze $10 billion in funds tied to collapsed financial firm Greensill Capital. It could face ~$1.5 billion in losses.
  • In April 2020, an accounting scandal imploded Luckin Coffee, whose IPO was underwritten by...Credit Suisse. The bank was on the hook for $100 million worth of defaulted loans.
  • And before that, then-CEO Tidjane Thiam stepped down after the bank admitted to spying on former employees.

Bottom line: While investors rewarded Credit Suisse for taking action yesterday, its shares are down over 25% since the start of March.

        

SPAC

Topps Finds Its SPAC Zone

Topps Goes Public

Francis Scialabba

Baseball card collectors: You can finally tell your parents those boxes in their basement are worth something.

Collectibles-and-more company Topps said it's going public via SPAC after growing sales 23% last year to a record $567 million. Topps is trying to capitalize on the wider mania in the collectibles market, as bored quarantiners buy cards, sneakers, and non-fungible tokens in Costco portions for Erewhon prices. 

But Topps's chairman, the former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, doesn't think the collecting craze will end when commuters stop wearing subway gloves. He told CNBC that Topps today "is in the exact same financial position that Disney was in 1984 when I went there, to the dollar. If we do a tenth as well as we did at Disney, I will be happy." 

It's more than a bet on baseball cards

Topps has its hands in other pockets, and it's pulling up more gold than lint. It owns Bazooka candy and a gift cards business, and it recently announced it's expanding into NFTs. Eisner calls adding this digital collectible component to its physical offerings "the icing on the cake."

        

SPONSORED BY POLICYGENIUS

A Fresh Repaint with Insurance Green

Hallelujah, spring is finally here! Which means it's a great time for a fresh paint job. How about slathering a nice layer of insurance green onto your home and your car?

Other hues of green get all the airtime, but listen: Does "lime green" come with savings of up to $1,055 per year? We didn't think so.

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Even if you're already covered, re-shopping your current home and auto rates with Policygenius could result in saving more than a few pretty pennies

Policygenius helps you find the lowest rates from their marketplace of insurers, narrowing down what you do and don't need and looking at all the ways to maximize your savings.

Hit up Policygenius's team of licensed experts and get that insurance green today.

GRAB BAG

Key Performance Indicators

Rangers baseball stadium

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Stat: On Monday, the Texas Rangers said that 38,238 people attended their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays—that's 94.8% of Globe Life Field's capacity. It's also the largest crowd at a US sporting event since the pandemic began, topping the Daytona 500 and the Super Bowl. 

Quote: "It says Covid on the death certificate, but the underlying condition was Amazon." 

That's how one bookseller described the many challenges facing small businesses today. Now, they're fighting back: Yesterday, small biz organizations introduced Small Business Rising, a coalition that's calling on lawmakers to break up Amazon's retail business from its marketplace business.

Read: Yesterday, the State Department said the US may join allies in boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. Here's why the games are controversial and what a boycott might look like. (Morning Brew)

        

Q&A

Reader Q&A: The TL;DR of Georgia's Voting Law

Georgia peach

Francis Scialabba

Bradley in St. Louis: What's actually in the Georgia voting law that everyone is arguing about? 

Morning Brew: Many readers had questions about the specifics of this law, so let's dive in. High level, this GOP bill has been criticized by voting rights activists for placing new curbs on voting, while Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp insists it expands access.

Here are some of the main changes:

  • Limits on absentee ballots: The law shrinks the window for voters to request mail-in ballots, allows officials to send ballots only to voters who request them, and introduces ID requirements in place of signature matching.  
  • Power to the state government: Power over local elections is being stripped from the secretary of state, an elected position, and transferred to a newly created position that's appointed. Critics say this removes the nonpartisan flavor of election governance.
  • No food in line: The law bans handing out food or drink within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter.
  • More access in some cases: The GA law guarantees a minimum # of drop boxes for mail ballots per county, expands early voting in most small counties, and adds more resources to polling places where lines get long.

The context is crucial. The US has a long history of suppressing voting access for Black and minority populations, and critics say this law continues that practice. It was also drafted after some GOP lawmakers lobbed baseless allegations of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

Republican supporters of the law say Democrats are spinning false narratives to score political points.

Have another question? Ask us here.

        

COVID

Will.u.wear This Mask?

Honeywell will.i.am xupermask

Honeywell.com

Behold—Honeywell x Will.i.am's "Xupermask," a collab that came about after Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff saw the former Black Eyed Peas member wearing a similar mask at last year's MTV Video Music Awards. 

This new-and-improved version launches tomorrow, and it's much more than a rave accessory. Here are some specs: 

  • HEPA-certified filtration vents
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Dual-speed fans
  • LED lights
  • Bluetooth-enabled

Zoom out: The release comes during a broader discussion of how often we'll wear masks once the pandemic winds down. 

But more importantly...would you rock this $299 Daft Punk x Blade Runner look? We asked on Twitter.

        

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Coinbase released more financial data ahead of its direct listing next week. It estimates it did $1.8 billion in revenue last quarter. 
  • GM confirmed rumors that it's making an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup, sending shares to a new intraday record yesterday.
  • Forbes's annual billionaires list dropped, and it's bigger than ever: A record 2,755 people are on the list, and their cumulative wealth has grown $5 trillion since the start of the pandemic to $13+ trillion.
  • Discord removed over 2,200 extremist groups from its group-chat app in the latter half of 2020.
  • European regulators believe there is a link between AstraZeneca's vaccine and blood clots, but say the benefits of its protection against Covid far outweigh the risks. 
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have landed on their first project for Netflix: a docuseries on the Invictus Games.

SPONSORED BY H&R BLOCK

H&R Block

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BREW'S BETS

They're coming: 14 facts about cicadas, which will soon make a loud entrance in more than a dozen states.

Write for the Brew: If you read this newsletter and think, "Wow, writing this would be my dream job," we are hiring people just like you! Apply to be a writer at the Brew

People map: Explore the US through the lens of each place's most Wikipedia-ed resident.

GAMES

One song has spent 260 consecutive weeks (five years) on the UK's Top 100 list, setting a new chart record. What's the song? 

Hint: It was first released in 2004.

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ANSWER

"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers

              

Written by Alex Hickey, Jamie Wilde, and Neal Freyman

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