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Greenhouse gas emissions jumped in 2021...
January 11, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Droplette

Good morning. As you're probably aware, we're big Jeopardy! fans here at the Brew, which is why today's intro is dedicated to current champion Amy Schneider. Last Friday, Schneider became the first woman in the show's history—and only the fourth person ever—to surpass $1 million in winnings. As of last night, she's won 29 straight games.

What's her secret sauce? To be good at Jeopardy!, Schneider told the NYT, "You just have to live a life where you're learning stuff all the time." Probably good advice in general.

Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, Matty Merritt

MARKETS

Nasdaq

14,942.83

S&P

4,670.29

Dow

36,068.87

10-Year

1.766%

Bitcoin

$41,648.73

Moderna

$233.70

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

  • Markets: Down more than 2% with its back against the wall, the Nasdaq staged a huge comeback yesterday afternoon to close in the green and snap a 4-day losing streak. Moderna was the S&P 500's top performer after its CEO said that a booster shot targeting Omicron would soon enter clinical trials. Pfizer also said its Omicron booster would be ready by March.
  • Economy: A growing number of finance experts are taking the over when it comes to the number of interest rate hikes this year. Goldman Sachs now predicts the Fed will raise rates four times in 2022 (more than previously forecast) and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he'd be surprised if it were only four hikes.

CLIMATE

Emissions Were the Cinderella Story of 2021

A smokestack with an "on" switch Francis Scialabba

Much like in-person happy hours, greenhouse gases rebounded in a big way last year.

As Covid restrictions eased in 2021, US greenhouse gas emissions jumped 6.2%, according to a report from the Rhodium Group. That represents a sharp U-turn from the I Am Legend days of 2020, when emissions plunged 10% for their largest yearly drop on record.

While analysts were anticipating a bounce back in emissions in 2021, the data provides a stark reminder that the US is falling behind its climate targets.

A coal renaissance

The lead singer of the fossil fuel band, coal, was a major contributor to the spike in greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. Coal burned for electricity spiked 17% for its first annual increase since 2014.

  • This doesn't reflect a newfound appreciation for the sedimentary rock, just simple market dynamics. Natural gas prices nearly doubled in 2021, so utilities revved up their coal plants instead to save money.
  • Coal, which now accounts for only 19% of US electricity generation, is expected to resume its decline in the years ahead.

Big picture: Despite their rebound, emissions levels are considerably below 2019 levels, Rhodium Group said, partially because of ongoing pandemic disruptions. Still, the US is not on track to hit President Biden's climate targets, which would require a ~5% reduction in emissions every year through 2030. The president's Build Back Better Act planned to funnel $555 billion into a variety of climate programs, but it hit a brick wall in Congress due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin.

Meanwhile, the world was sweating through another scorcher in 2021. Last year was the fifth warmest year on record, according to a new report from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service. And the past seven years have been the hottest seven years since tracking began.—NF

        

GAMING

Crime Is Coming to 'FarmVille'

Farmville 3, by Zynga. Zynga

Plant crops, feed animals, take your neighbor's tractor on a high-speed chase on the interstate—the next FarmVille update might get wild. Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, known for Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and other popular titles, agreed to buy Zynga (FarmVille, Words With Friends) in a $12.7 billion deal on Monday.

In Zynga, Take-Two hopes it's found the LB to its RB: Take-Two is a console and PC powerhouse, while Zynga is a major player in mobile and social gaming.

  • Take-Two is bullish on mobile, which it says is the fastest growing segment of the video game industry, expanding 8% annually.

If the deal goes through (it's expected to close later this year), it will also mark the biggest sale in video game history—until Wordle gets acquired, probably.

Zoom out: The merger would create a company projected to generate $7 billion in net bookings, bringing Take-Two closer to its biggest industry rivals, Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts.—MK

        

TAXES

The IRS's Sunday Scaries

A Simpsons GIF in which Homer asks "Hey Marge, what were your gambling losses last year?" FOX/The Simpsons

Even though tax filing season is just around the corner (opening January 24 with an April 18 deadline), the typically joyful and charismatic IRS has a case of the blues. On Monday, the Treasury Department warned that the agency has had a rough year and taxpayers should expect delays as returns are processed.

According to Treasury officials, budget cuts and pandemic-related staffing shortages have created a towering backlog at the agency, and a "frustrating season" is on the horizon. While the IRS typically enters filing season with about 1 million unaddressed returns, the number stood at around 8.6 million in mid-Nov. 2021.

What happened?

  • The pandemic forced many in-person processing centers to close.
  • Pre-pandemic budget cuts to the IRS led to a roughly 25% reduction in its staff.
  • Federal Covid relief, like stimulus payments and the expanded Child Tax Credit, added more work to the IRS's plate.

Resources are so strained that, in the first half of last year, there was one IRS staffer to handle every 16,000 calls to the agency.

What can you do? Those seeking a speedier turnaround should file early, file online, and request their refund via direct deposit, the Treasury said.—MK

        

TOGETHER WITH DROPLETTE

The Only Skincare Hack You'll Need, Like Ever

Droplette

You may be merrily chugging along with your skincare routine, applying lotions and feelin' pretty good about it. But did you know that 90% of traditional skincare products never actually absorb into the skin?

Not trying to burst your bubble, swear. But because skin works as a barrier, it's difficult to get active ingredients, even water, through. That's why the smarty-pants scientists at MIT invented Droplette: a medical device turned skincare phenomenon that actually gets healthy serums into your skin—20x deeper than traditional skincare.

Droplette's tech uses proven ingredients, turning them into fast, tiny droplets (100x smaller than the width of human hair), to painlessly mist them into your skin. This means ingredients like collagen, often notoriously too large for absorption, can topically absorb into skin successfully.

Sound skinsational? Rightfully so. This NASA-backed, award-winning tech is being called the future of skincare.

Get 20% off yours today.

GRAB BAG

Key Performance Indicators

San Francisco Dianebentleyraymond/Getty Images

Stat: Patrick Collison, the CEO of US tech giant Stripe, shared an interesting workforce tidbit on Twitter: In Q1 2019, 39% of the company's hiring was outside of the Bay Area and Seattle. Last quarter it was 74%. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky chimed in, "Yup, the place to be was Silicon Valley. It feels like now the place to be is the internet (which is everywhere)."

Quote: "Quite a lot of people witnessed people in their community dying from Covid, that makes them think life can be short, and you'd better live now than postpone it to a later date."

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös attributed his company's record-breaking sales in 2021 to the YOLO mentality during the pandemic. Fellow luxury automaker Bentley also posted record sales for the second year running.

Read: 52 places to travel in 2022. (New York Times)

        

RETAIL

Lulu's Q4 Likely to Sag Like Cheap Leggings

Lululemon can relate to that feeling of opening up the ugliest sweater you've ever seen, because it didn't get what it wanted for Christmas, either. The activewear brand warned that Q4 revenue would be on the lower end of its initial projections.

It's all thanks to Omicron. The fancy pants maker said the most recent Covid wave rattled staffing availability, store hours, and capacity during the crucial holiday shopping season. Lululemon has also had to brace for the shift to consumers wearing pants with zippers and the relatively disappointing performance of its recent acquisition, home gym platform Mirror.

Big picture: Even with lackluster revenue during the holiday quarter, Lululemon could post a 23% sales increase over last year, which would build on its impressive growth throughout the pandemic.

Still, Lulu's warning is a sign that its fellow retailers could also be getting crunched by the 'cron. Macy's, Walmart, Nike, Starbucks, and more have trimmed store hours or temporarily closed locations recently due to Covid disruptions.—MM

For more in-depth retail analysis, check out Retail Brew.

        

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Georgia beat Alabama for its first college football championship since 1980. Go Dawgs.
  • Private health insurers will need to cover up to eight home Covid-19 tests per month for their customers starting Saturday.
  • A man with a life-threatening heart disease received a heart implant from a genetically modified pig in the first ever procedure of its type.
  • Novak Djokovic was released from quarantine and has begun to train for the Australian Open after his visa was reinstated by a judge. But immigration officials in the country could still send him packing.
  • Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida is stepping down on Friday, weeks before his term expires. He's been scrutinized for stock trades he made at the beginning of the pandemic.

INVESTING

Retail Traders Talk About Their Wild 2021

One year ago, the faltering video game retailer GameStop was hovering around $20/share. You know what happened next: Retail traders attempted a short squeeze and contributed to a frenzy that at one point sent GameStop's share price over $400.

In many ways, meme stock mania reflected the broader surge of retail trading during the pandemic:

  • 15% of retail investors in the US started trading in 2020, according to a recent survey by Charles Schwab. And Credit Suisse estimates that retail traders may have accounted for one-third of all US stock market trading in 2021.

We spoke with a few individual traders about their ride of a lifetime last year and what the future holds.

Read their stories

BREW'S BETS

Better medicine for mental health. Nearly a billion people struggle with mental illness, but expensive pharmaceuticals pose a problem. Mycotopia and Ei.Ventures are joining together to give people the choice of plant-based treatments. Invest in this new partnership before it hits NASDAQ here.*

Save up to $2k on your 2022 getaway. For the next 12 hours, try Dollar Flight Club for just $1. We're talkin' Economy Class to Hawaii from $121, or summer '22 round trip in Business Class to Greece from $989—on airlines with flexible change policies. Join today for $1.*

Let's settle this: Weigh in on the internet's hottest debates.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Whether it's for a class project or a presentation at work, you should be aware of the best free video editing software.

Embrace your least favorite emotions. This year, instead of suppressing emotions like stress and anger, could we put them to good use? On The Happiness Lab podcast, friend of the Brew Dr. Laurie Santos reveals science-backed strategies from thinkers like Brené Brown to improve our well-being in 2022. Listen here.

*This is sponsored advertising content

GAMES

The Puzzle Section

Brew Mini: Sushi staple (4 letters). Think you know it? Confirm by playing the Mini here.

Got milk?

On National Milk Day, can you name the five animal species responsible for the most global milk production?

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ANSWER

  1. Cattle (81%)
  2. Buffaloes (15%)
  3. Goats (2%)
  4. Sheep (1%)
  5. Camels (0.4%)
         

Written by Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, and Max Knoblauch

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