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Morning Brew


Good morning. Happy Holi, Happy International Women's Day, and Happy (belated) Purim. Whoever you run into today, just give them a thumbs up and a smile—odds are they're celebrating something.

Max Knoblauch, Sam Klebanov, Matty Merritt, Neal Freyman














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 3:00am ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Fed Chair Jerome Powell dropped Mentos into the market's Diet Coke yesterday. In testimony on Capitol Hill, he said that interest rates were probably going to go "higher than previously anticipated" in light of stronger economic data. After those comments, stocks sold off and the 2-year Treasury yield spiked to above 5% for the first time since 2007.


The DOJ is aiming to block JetBlue's Spirit takeover

A combination Spirit and JetBlue plane Photo Illustration: Dianna "Mick" McDougall, Source: Getty Images

The Biden administration is continuing its full-court press against airline consolidation. Yesterday, the Justice Department sued to block JetBlue's planned $3.8 billion takeover of Spirit Airlines, claiming that the acquisition would raise fares for consumers and decrease options in an industry already known for only offering pretzels or peanuts.

Spirit, with its no snacks, 28 inches of legroom, and no-recline seats, isn't exactly anyone's top choice for travel, but it is the nation's largest ultra-low-cost airline. And, according to the DOJ, Spirit getting scooped up would eliminate about half of all ultra-low-cost seats in the industry, sending ticket prices (which are already skyrocketing) up even further.

For the Biden administration's DOJ, with its hardline attitude against mergers it considers anti-competitive, that's unacceptable.

Why would prices go up?

According to internal company documents that the DOJ cites in its complaint, when Spirit starts flying a given route, average fares fall by 17%. Meanwhile, JetBlue estimates that when Spirit stops flying a route, average fares shoot up by 30%.

JetBlue has claimed that by increasing its size with the purchase of Spirit, it could better compete with the "big four" airlines: United, Delta, American, and Southwest. But according to the DOJ, JetBlue isn't the disruptive force it once was and has evolved into an "ally of the big four."

In response to the lawsuit, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes argued that the merger was not like Pepsi buying Coke and instead would make his company a "distant fifth-largest airline"—a Dr Pepper, you might say.

Zoom out: The last big merger in the airline industry happened in 2016 when Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America. According to airlines.org, there have been 21 completed US airline mergers since 2001. That consolidation has made it hard for new competition to enter. Between 2007 and 2021, not a single new airline startup was formed in the country.—MK



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Tour de headlines

National Guard and military vehicles take part in an operation to transfer two of the four US citizens kidnapped in Mexico's crime-ridden northeast STR/AFP via Getty Images

Two Americans found dead in Mexico kidnapping. Of the four Americans who had been kidnapped in Mexico last week, two were found dead and two were found alive, Mexican officials said. The Americans had traveled to Mexico because one of them was getting cosmetic surgery, and while driving in the city of Matamoros on Friday they were fired upon by gunmen and loaded into a pickup truck. US investigators suspect that a Mexican cartel mistook the Americans for drug smugglers, according to CNN.

GOP senators slam Tucker Carlson segment. Republican Senate leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, criticized the Fox News host for characterizing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as "mostly peaceful chaos." On Monday night, Carlson aired footage from that day after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave him access to 40,000+ hours of internal security footage. McConnell and others said that Fox News's depiction of the riot was misleading and at odds with the Capitol Police chief's assessment.

New nuclear reactor turns on. For the first time since 2016, a new nuclear reactor in the US has reached the stage where it's begun splitting atoms. The Vogtle Unit 3 reactor in Georgia hit the milestone on Monday, which puts it on track to become fully operational this summer. Including the Vogtle reactor, there are currently 93 nuclear reactors operating in the US that together generate 20% of the nation's electricity, per CNBC. New nuclear projects have slowed down dramatically since the accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in 1979.


Live look at AI typing your next Slack message

Robotic arm with foam head on it rolling on keyboard. Simone Giertz

Productivity win: Slack has finally found a way to automate a unique, personal birthday message to your coworker. The Salesforce-owned messaging app said yesterday it's introducing AI tools based on ChatGPT that will help you draft replies, find answers to questions, and summarize long threads or channels. There's currently a waitlist to pilot the program.

How it works: In a world with an AI Slack assist, a five-part question from your boss at 4:59pm could become a piece of cake to tackle. The app would create a reply in seconds that you could edit and send.

Salesforce touts the app's potential to make workers more productive, but just how productive is up for debate as the AI-generated messages may take longer to edit and fact check than just writing them yourself. Tools like Google's AI chatbot have made headlines for giving users incorrect information.

Big picture: Slack's new toy joins a flood of other AI apps and assistants that companies such as Microsoft, Meta, and Google are unleashing on the American workforce. ChatGPT generating an unhinged poem was funny, but to commercialize the tech meaningfully, companies will need to make it worthwhile for the average marketing associate to use in their job.—MM



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Study finds a popular sugar substitute might be bad for your heart

Sugar substitute gravestone Francis Scialabba

A recent study published in Nature Medicine found that the sugar alternative erythritol is associated with an increased risk of heart issues and strokes.

Our bodies naturally produce small amounts of the compound, but it's also increasingly found in many processed foods, especially "sugar-free" products and even some toothpastes.

What did the study find?

Scientists explored the link between levels of different chemicals in the blood and the risk of heart disease.

  • Patients with more erythritol in their system had a higher chance of having a stroke, suffering a heart attack, or dying within three years.
  • Erythritol was also tied to an increased risk of blood clots in mice and human blood samples.

While erythritol is linked to health issues, it does not necessarily cause them. It's also unclear how worried folks without medical conditions should be, as the study mostly followed a population already prone to heart disease (due to conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure).

Zoom out: The researchers recommend further investigation to better understand whether erythritol ought to be proclaimed unsafe. In the meantime, one of the study's authors, Dr. Stanley Hazen, is telling his patients to skip the sweetener and opt for a couple of drops of honey or a pinch of sugar instead.—SK



Key performance indicators

Liam Neeson saying I will have my revenge Clash of Clans/Supercell via Giphy

Stat: Americans who've had a bad experience with a product or service are increasingly airing their grievances like Frank Costanza. According to the National Customer Rage Survey, 9% of consumers who had a bone to pick with a company took "revenge" by publicly shaming them (on social media or IRL). That's up from 3% in 2020 but significantly lower than the 17% average during the revenge-seeking golden age of 2003–2017.

Quote: "We love Florida, we're growing in Florida left and right."

According to Jamie Dimon, the Financial District is no longer in Lower Manhattan—it's in the Lower United States. In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, the JPMorgan CEO hyped both Florida and Texas as major growth regions for the finance industry because those states "like business, they want you to come." Dimon revealed that JPMorgan now has more employees in Texas than New York: "It shouldn't have been that way but Texas loves you being there," he said.

Read: Why the recession is always six months away. (Wall Street Journal)


What else is brewing

  • The National Transportation Safety Board has opened a special investigation into the organization and safety culture at Norfolk Southern over its recent derailments.
  • President Biden will release a budget tomorrow that will reportedly propose a tax hike on Americans earning more than $400,000/year to help keep Medicare flush with cash.
  • Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will testify in a Senate hearing looking into the company's tactics against unionization efforts. A showdown between Schultz and Sen. Bernie Sanders is likely.
  • Everything is awesome for Lego, which is further distancing itself from rivals with a 17% rise in revenue in Q4 2022.
  • NYC Mayor Eric Adams urged retail store workers to make customers lower face masks upon entering in order to reduce robberies.


Wednesday to-do list

Reading list: In honor of International Women's Day, here are author Elena Ferrante's picks for the best books written by women.

Sign guys are taking over TikTok: Here's the art of making a road sign, and a way to improve street posters.

Travel tips: The 10 most visited national parks and memorials in 2022.

Mindless game: Land this spacecraft on the moon.

Get smart about marketing: Marketing Brew is the easiest way to digest today's industry news. Get the essential newsletter for the modern marketer—it's what all the CMOs are doing.

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Sharpen your predictive skills

Back to the Future scene where the kid is yelling Back to the Future/Universal Pictures via Giphy

Y2K meltdown: never materialized

Tarot readings: too vague

March Madness brackets: always end in heartbreak

It's time to give false predictions the boot. That's why the brainiacs at Morning Brew Learning created the Financial Forecasting course, a one-week sprint that gives you the tools to transform qualitative business goals into actionable metrics. Learn how to create an annual business budget that delivers, beginning on March 20.

Reserve your seat now.


The puzzle section

Word Search: If you enjoy looking at classic car models (and can maybe even identify them), today's Word Search is for you. Play it here.

Architecture trivia

Sir David Chipperfield was named the winner of the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize yesterday. Below is a picture of one of his buildings—the headquarters of beauty giant Amorepacific. In what world capital city is this building located?

Amorepacific headquartersNoshe/The Pritzker Architecture Prize


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Want in on how to keep others out? Tech Brew has you covered. Join us for a free virtual event with cybersecurity experts on March 23.


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✢ A Note From SmartAsset

1. "Journal of Retirement Study Winter" (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.


Written by Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, Matty Merritt, and Sam Klebanov

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