☕️ Apes gone

GM's 90-year reign is over...
January 05, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. The theme for today's issue: Being stuck—on interstates, in locked down cities, and in a world where JPEGs of apes sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

And now, you're stuck with us for the next five minutes.

Neal Freyman, Jamie Wilde, Max Knoblauch














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 6:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks did their best Two Face impression yesterday. The Dow, which is home to financials and industrials, climbed to a record, while the Nasdaq, home to many tech companies, took a dive. Bond yields gained thanks to bullish attitudes around economic growth.
  • Economy: The Great Resignation rolls on as a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. That's equivalent to 3% of the workforce.


Toyota Says, 'More Like Lieutenant Motors'

Toyota logo with a checkered flag and a No. 1 foam finger in the background Dianna "Mick" McDougall

Detroit-based General Motors has been the top-selling automaker in the US in every single year since 1931. But even Cadillacs lose their shine after a while.

Japan's Toyota dethroned GM as the No. 1 automaker in the country in 2021, marking the first time on record that a foreign car manufacturer has topped the list.

Run the numbers:

  • Japan sold 2.3 million vehicles in 2021, up 10% from the year before.
  • GM sold 2.2 million, down 13% from 2021.

What happened: All automakers have had to navigate that nasty chip shortage during the pandemic, but Toyota managed to do it better than GM thanks to a bigger stockpile of chips it had set aside.

  • And even if GM recaptures the title next year, 2021's results still show that the US auto winds have forever shifted. "The dominance of the US automakers of the US market is just over," University of Michigan biz professor Erik Gordon told the NYT.

No car manufacturer suffered from a lack of demand in 2021—limited production capacity is primarily to blame for the bottleneck. Average new vehicle prices surged 20% last month to a record $45,700 according to J.D. Power, which reflects ravenous consumer appetite for cars paired with a supply crunch.

Speaking of strong demand…

Ford's electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck is selling like hotcakes. The company, which itself was leapfrogged by GM in 1931 as the US' top automaker, is doubling production capacity for the vehicle thanks to "huge demand," according to CEO Jim Farley. It's the second time the company has raised its production target for the pickup truck.

Big picture: Sales of the electric F-150 are considered the bellwether for interest in electric vehicles in the US, considering the F-Series has been the top-selling vehicle in the country for decades.

Ford stock popped another 11.7% yesterday, continuing its fantastic run of form. The company's 137.5% gain in 2021 was among the best in the S&P 500, and its share price is now at its highest level in 20 years.—NF



Stranded Drivers Had the Worst Snow Day Ever

A screenshot of the I-95 traffic on Google Maps Google Maps

Hundreds of motorists were stuck in their cars for nearly 30 hours Monday night into Tuesday, after truck crashes during a snowstorm brought over 40 miles of I-95 in Virginia to a standstill.

Drivers posted on social media about running out of food, water, and gas; having to trek into the storm to relieve themselves; and worrying about passengers with medical needs. As of yesterday afternoon, the Virginia State Police hadn't reported any deaths or injuries tied to the gridlock.

Where was the help? State troopers went car-to-car to provide supplies, ambulances sheltered some children in need of warmth, and tow trucks hauled vehicles out of the snow and ice. Meanwhile, truck drivers and other good Samaritans shared extra supplies. But it's been a slow fix—way too slow for many. Virginia's governor rebuffed calls to deploy the national guard, saying that it wasn't required.

The Virginia Department of Transportation told the NYT they expected to clear the interstate of stuck vehicles by end-of-day Tuesday. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, for one, tweeted that he made it into Washington, DC, a mere 27 hours after he started his normally 2-hour trip from Richmond.—JW



Speaking of Being Stranded…

A worker delivers food in Xi'an VCG via Getty Images

Nearly all of the 13 million residents in the Chinese city of Xi'an have been quarantined in their homes since late December—and some have resorted to bartering due to shortages of food and supplies. A peek at how dire the situation is: One video circulating on Chinese social media shows a resident trading a Nintendo Switch for a packet of noodles and two buns.

How did Xi'an get here?

In late December, Xi'an households were forced to quarantine, but one family member was permitted to go on a grocery run every two days. The rules have since tightened: Now, residents must rely on government workers to provide daily necessities but have flocked to social media to complain they're not getting enough.

Big picture: Unlike most other governments, China has followed a "zero Covid" strategy since the pandemic began, an approach in which it cuts off movement to and from any area that reports even a single case (think Wuhan in winter 2020). Xi'an has reported over 1,600 cases in the last two weeks.

On Monday, a second large Chinese city, Yuzhou, was locked down after three cases were reported.

Zoom out: China is frantically trying to contain Covid-19 ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Lunar New Year; both are happening next month.—JW



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Key Performance Indicators

Shoes are placed at Ryerson Univerisity to mourn 215 indigenous children whose remains were discovered at a former residential school Yu Ruidong/China News Service via Getty Images

Stat: Canada reached a $31.5 billion deal to reform the country's discriminatory child welfare system and compensate Indigenous children who were removed from their families and put into the system. It's the largest settlement in Canadian history, according to the government.

Quote: "The last time agriculture was on the precipice of this much change was when we were on the cusp of replacing the horse and plow."

John Deere CTO Jahmy Hindman spoke to Axios about the company's new 8R tractor. What's so revolutionary about it? The 8R is the world's first autonomous tractor, and it'll be available for sale later this year.

Read: What money could look like in the metaverse. (The New Yorker)



All My Apes Bored and Rich

Eminem's Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club

The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), a collection of 10,000 ape avatars that individually act as tickets to an online social club, has become one of the most prominent brands in the NFT space. And now, the NFTs have generated more than $1 billion in total sales.

You've likely seen a Bored Ape—like the botched restoration of the Jesus Christ fresco, they're somewhat…unforgettable to look at. They're also highly sought after: Eminem bought one for ~$462,000 on Dec. 31, joining the ranks of other celebrity buyers like Jimmy Fallon and Steph Curry.

But if you're as bored of looking at the apes as they are of existing, you aren't alone. Critics have called the BAYC project cynical, accusing it of being more about showcasing wealth than art. The current minimum cost for a BAYC NFT is about 70 ether, or around $266,000.

And then there's the crime aspect: The NFT space has faced ridicule for its security issues, and the BAYC has had some notable recent thefts. One collector fell prey to a phishing scam and lost his collection, including many BAYC NFTs, worth $2.28 million. In a now-iconic tweet, he wrote, "I been hacked. All my apes gone."

OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, has reportedly "frozen" the stolen NFTs, raising even more questions from the crypto community about how a decentralized platform can freeze assets in the first place.—MK



  • The CDC further explained its decision for a shorter Covid isolation period and reiterated that testing isn't needed to emerge from quarantine.
  • Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith and NYT columnist Ben Smith (no relation) are launching a new global media company.
  • Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, will compete in the Australian Open later this month after being granted a medical exemption to play. He has previously said he didn't want to be vaccinated.
  • Airbnb announced it would block hosts from seeing the full names of guests in Oregon in an effort to curb racial discrimination.
  • The Washington Football Team said it'll announce a new name and logo on February 2. So if it's anything other than the Groundhogs this is a fail.


The World Ahead 2022. What better way to start the year than by knowing what's going to (probably) happen? With "The World Ahead," The Economist's annual predictive report, you'll read insights about everything from the midterms and US-China rivalry to space travel and the future of work. Read it here.*

Eating healthy shouldn't be so hard. Daily Harvest agrees. They deliver delicious Smoothies, Bowls, Flatbreads, and more made with sustainably sourced whole fruits and veggies. Everything is delivered to your door and ready to enjoy in minutes. Get up to $40 off your first box here.*

Level up this year: To help you become a better you in 2022, the Brew launched the Work Life Challenge. Complete 12 easy tasks over the next two weeks, post about it on social, and you'll be entered to win a fun prize to spruce up your WFH setup. Check out the details. (Terms and Conditions here.)

The game sweeping the internet: Wordle is a daily word game that is truly addicting. Play it here.

Arial? Comic Sans? Not quite. Here's a thread of all the fonts used by big brands.

*This is sponsored advertising content


The Puzzle Section

Word Search: Ireland's government may not want you to play today's Word Search, but you should anyway. See if you can find the beer logos.

For the Gram

Here are four sentences picked out by the WSJ editors that contain grammar/style errors. Can you spot them?

  1. And neither state judges nor clerks are adverse to providers' interest.
  2. The maximum size of home-mortgage loans eligible for backing by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to jump sharply in 2022.
  3. They arrested Sgt. Webb, who they found trying to hide his weapon, which police didn't describe.
  4. Shortly after entering the London market, city regulators began accusing the company of safety and regulatory shortfalls.


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  1. The word should be averse not adverse
  2. The size is expected to jump, not are
  3. Whom not who
  4. This is called a dangling gerund. It should read: "Shortly after the company entered the London market, city regulators began…"

Written by Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, and Jamie Wilde

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