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Energy companies are making so much money...
July 30, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Kalshi

Good morning. Tomorrow, someone will give birth to George Jetson.

When The Jetsons debuted in 1962, George was 40 years old. Given that the show was set 100 years in the future, one can extrapolate that George was born in 2022, and, according to Warner Bros. Wiki, his exact birthdate is July 31.

The implications are pretty staggering.

  • His first kiss will happen in Roblox.
  • His favorite classic rock album will be Machine Gun Kelly's Mainstream Sellout.
  • His first words will be, "Like for part two."

Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, Jamie Wilde, Joe Abrams, Max Knoblauch

MARKETS

Nasdaq

12,390.69

S&P

4,130.29

Dow

32,845.13

10-Year

2.651%

Bitcoin

$23,785.45

Roku

$65.52

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 11:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Whichever side of the "are we in a recession?" debate you fall on, we can all agree that the stock market just had its best month since 2020. This week's earnings show that corporate profits are holding up despite two straight quarters of declining GDP. Well, most profits—nearly a quarter of Roku's market value evaporated yesterday after it said it was bracing for a major downturn in the advertising market.

ENERGY

Energy companies enable God Mode

oil rig Getty Images

In June, President Biden proclaimed, "Exxon made more money than God this year."

And while God isn't required by the SEC to release financial statements, Exxon is—and its profits were truly almighty.

The energy giant brought in $17.9 billion in income in Q2—more than triple the amount from last year and an all-time record. The other two leading Western energy companies, Chevron and Shell, also reported record profits for the quarter. Collectively, the three companies banked $46 billion in profit in just three months; Exxon made the equivalent of $2,245.62 per second during that stretch, CNN Business calculated.

The energy sector has benefited greatly from the surge in oil prices as the world reopened from Covid and Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparked concerns of a supply shortage. Energy stocks are by far the best performing of any sector in 2022, having gained 35% this year compared to the ~14% drop of the broader S&P.

It's a shocking turnaround

Remember, a little over two years ago oil prices briefly went negative as Covid lockdowns prevented anyone from traveling. Many energy companies filed for bankruptcy, and Exxon was even excommunicated from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

But, as people dumped their Pelotons and hopped in their cars, oil prices surged above $120 a barrel, driving gas prices to record levels and creating a sticky political situation for the Biden administration. This summer, as inflation soared to 40-year highs, the White House accused energy companies of exploiting Americans to pad their profits and urged them to produce more oil to bring down prices.

Bottom line: While the energy sector crushed it in Q2, the good times probably won't last. The Fed's interest rate hikes have slowed down the economy dramatically, causing oil prices (and prices at the pump) to fall from their peak. Since touching multiyear highs in June, energy stocks have fallen 18%.—NF

        

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

A man wades through flooding in Kentucky Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Flash floods devastate Appalachia. Historic flooding in eastern Kentucky has killed 25 people, including at least six children, and the death toll will continue to climb, KY Gov. Andy Beshear warned. The intense rainfall—with some areas receiving more than eight inches in 24 hours—left 23,000+ Kentuckians without power and destroyed hundreds of homes. This disaster comes only seven months after Kentucky suffered the deadliest tornadoes in its history, killing more than 70 people.

Boosters 2.0. Reformulated booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna should be lining pharmacy shelves by September, a Biden administration official told NBC News, meaning a campaign to release second boosters to a broader swath of the population this summer is being scrapped. These retooled shots are intended to provide better protection against the BA5 and BA4 subvariants, which accounted for more than 90% of new cases in the US last week.

Honk if you're tired of bad inflation news. Two closely watched inflation reports came in scorching hot yesterday, showing that the upward pressure on prices is not letting up. The amount employers are paying employees in wages and benefits continued to increase (good for workers, bad for inflation). Plus, the personal consumption expenditures price index, which the Fed uses to measure inflation, rose in June at the fastest pace since 2005. Speaking of the Fed, these reports indicate it still has a lot of work on its plate to curb inflation.

INTERNATIONAL

Germany switches to Low Power Mode

Low power mode over Germany Francis Scialabba

Hanover, Germany, is trying out cold showers, but not because of something it read in a GQ article. It's part of an all-out effort to conserve depleted energy supplies ahead of the winter.

On Wednesday, the city of more than 500,000 people became the first major European metro area to turn off hot water in public buildings in a bid to stave off an energy crisis. But it's also going further than that: Hanover is cutting hot water to swimming pools, letting public fountains run dry, and turning off exterior lights for museums and other public buildings.

Why it's taking these steps: The European Commission has urged countries to lower their reliance on Russian natural gas to 15% in case of a drastic Putin pullback as retaliation for Western sanctions. Russian state-run energy company Gazprom already limited the flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity this week, citing "technical difficulties" (the EU doesn't buy it).

And Germany is especially nervous since it relied on Russia for 55% of its natural gas needs prior to the Ukraine invasion—and about 50% of all homes in Germany are heated with gas.

The nuclear option: Some politicians have proposed closing down historic-but-energy sucking Bavarian breweries or canceling Oktoberfest, which has been on a Covid hiatus for the last two years.—MM

        

WORK

1 oat latte with a shot of desperation, please

A latte that says Please Come Back on it Francis Scialabba

The mass exodus of workers from office → couch is having ripple effects beyond warping workers' spines. For one: Coffee shop sales have topped off at about 75% of their pre-pandemic levels, according to new research from Bank of America.

2.5 years after the pandemic shut down offices nationwide, employees are still spending about a third of their paid work time at home, per the recent Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes. And without morning commutes and "hey, wanna grab coffee?" networking chats, BofA said workers are frequenting shops less often.

But the impact has been unequal across the country, reflecting broader demographic changes.

  • Coffee shops in Florida and New York are struggling the most to recover sales.
  • Meanwhile, sales volume in California, Texas, and North Carolina is higher now than it was before the pandemic. All three states have increased their populations since 2020.

Bottom line: Remote work hasn't disappeared like latte foam, and it's continuing to transform urban economies in ways we haven't fully grappled with yet. For example, WFH has wiped out a third of all office real estate value in NYC, about $58 billion worth, according to a working paper from the Social Science Research Network.—JW

        

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

England's women's national team celebrating in front of fans Harriet Lander/Getty Images

Stat: As if you needed any more evidence that women's soccer is exploding, attendance at the Women's Euro 2022 tournament has shattered records. 487,683 fans have attended matches so far in the tourney, which is more than double the previous record of 240,055 from 2017. And it's not over yet—England and Germany will face off in the final tomorrow in front of a sold-out crowd at London's Wembley Stadium: capacity 87,200.

Quote: "We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express!"

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, one Chick-fil-A location in North Carolina tried a creative approach to recruit employees: You "volunteer" for us, and we give you chicken as compensation. But because this is a fast-food restaurant and not Burning Man, the store was criticized for apparently ignoring a federal law that outlines how employees should be paid for their time spent working. The post has been removed and Chick-fil-A corporate said the location "decided to end this program."

Read: Is everything getting old? (The Diff)

CARTOON

Saturday sketch

Instagram brainstorming ways to improve the app and a clown raises his hand Max Knoblauch

        

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WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Trader Joe's workers in Hadley, MA, became the first of the company's locations to form a union.
  • Will Smith released a nearly six-minute video apologizing to Chris Rock for slapping him at the Oscars in March.
  • Coleen Rooney was cleared of libeling Rebekah Vardy in the "Wagatha Christie" case that caused a media sensation in the US.
  • This week in science: from infant poop to trance music, a play-by-play of a CRISPR experiment, and DeepMind's latest breakthrough in mapping nearly all known proteins.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Crossword: You're gonna need a bigger boat for today's 15x15 crossword. Play it here.

Open House

Welcome to Open House, the only newsletter section that will catch Dua Lipa's set from the private rooftop. We'll give you a few facts about a listing and you try to guess the price.

Chicago penthouse on printer's rowZillow

Today's listing is in downtown Chicago, just steps from where hundreds of thousands of suburban teens (and a few dads for Green Day) will attend Lollapalooza this weekend. This 3,500 square-foot penthouse will make it easy to avoid the crowds, because it has just about everything you need—minus the food on sticks. Amenities include:

  • 3 beds, 3 baths
  • Giant domed and vaulted skylight
  • More built-in bookshelves than you can count
  • Fancy li'l sculpture room

How much to live on Printer's Row?

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Turning a profit on $25

Turning a profit on $25

We gave three Brew employees $25 with the challenge of flipping it into as much money as possible in five days. Find out how they fared on this episode of Can Brew Do It? Watch now.

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ANSWER

$1.08 million

         

Written by Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, Jamie Wilde, Max Knoblauch, and Joseph Abrams

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