☕ Romantasy

Power shift in Britain after landmark vote...
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July 05, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

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Good morning. Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and have retained all your limbs and digits after setting off fireworks.

What day is it again? No clue, but we do have a fresh newsletter so you can catch up on everything you missed over the holiday.

—Cassandra Cassidy, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

Nasdaq

18,188.30

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Dow

39,308.00

10-Year

4.355%

Bitcoin

$57,938.35

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*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 12:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Wednesday's trading was short but sweet—the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at records in a half-day session. The stock market was closed yesterday for the Fourth of July, but will reopen today with all eyes on the June jobs report to be released this morning. It's expected to show more cooling in the labor market, which would reinforce the Fed's likely plan to cut interest rates this fall.
 

POLITICS

Labour Party boots Conservatives in landmark election

Big Ben Peter Nicholls/Getty Images

On July Fourth, voters in the UK declared their independence from government leaders they felt weren't working for them. After 14 years at the helm, the Conservative Party has been kicked out of power.

Voters handed the Labour Party its biggest majority in history—it won 410 seats out of 650 in the House of Commons—while incumbent PM Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party got 131, the fewest in the party's history. That means former government prosecutor Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, is the new prime minister, tasked with turning around a reeling economy.

How bad is this economy?

Don't be fooled by the purple hydrangeas and the abundance of Pimm's Cups at Wimbledon—the UK is in a rut, and it's a rut that did not just fall out of a coconut tree. As a result of years of reduced government spending, the decision to leave the European Union in 2016, and general political uncertainty (there have been five prime ministers in eight years)​​, the UK has experienced little to no economic growth:

  • Productivity, or GDP per hour, grew 0.5% annually since 2010, compared to 2% per year during the decade prior.
  • Income is stagnant, with wages roughly staying the same since 2010.
  • The British pound is 14% weaker than it was in 2010.

Despite some of the highest taxes in 70 years, public services—especially the overworked and underfunded National Health Service (NHS)—are also crumbling.

Good luck, babe. Starmer has pledged to "rebuild Britain" by boosting economic growth and wealth creation. His manifesto also includes policies aimed at fixing the NHS, the overburdened court system, and other government services that were gutted in the 2000s.

Looking ahead: While Brits voted to pull away from the right, France's elections on Sunday will show how much they'll embrace it. Despite the fact that her party trounced the competition in a first-round election last week, Marine Le Pen's ultranationalist, far-right party will likely not win a majority of seats in the election on Sunday, new polls show.—CC

   

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

Kamala Harris Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Harris memes go viral as Biden pledges to stay in race. As speculation mounts around President Biden's candidacy post-debate, he vowed to stay in the race in a fundraising email on Wednesday. "I'm the Democratic Party's nominee. No one is pushing me out. I'm not leaving," he wrote. But that's not stopping supporters of VP Kamala Harris (known as the #KHive) from flooding social media with memes about her. Should Biden step aside, Harris would be a shoo-in to replace him at the head of the ticket, Axios reports. Biden's first TV interview since the debate will air on ABC tonight at 8pm ET.

The noncompete ban is on hold. A federal court temporarily paused a ban on noncompetes from taking effect in September, ruling that the FTC overstepped its authority in April when it ordered a halt to the clauses affecting 30 million Americans. The ban on noncompetes was intended to allow workers to move jobs more easily and boost wages in the process, but businesses opposed it on the grounds that competitors could poach their employees and they'd lose valuable trade secrets. A tax services firm sued the government after the ban was announced, which resulted in the court's pause. The judge presiding over the case said she'd make a final ruling before Aug. 30.

Bertoletti, Sudo win Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. For the first time since 2005, Joey Chestnut did not compete over a contract dispute, but victory still tasted like beef trimmings for Patrick Bertoletti, who inhaled 58 glizzys in 10 minutes to win the men's title. Miki Sudo set a women's world record, crushing 51 hot dogs to win her 10th pink belt. History wasn't just made in the solid foods department—Eric "Badlands" Booker won the lemonade chugging contest and set a new world record, downing a gallon of lemonade in 21 seconds.

PUBLISHING

Is this the real life? Is this romantasy?

Fourth Wing book display Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If someone at your Fourth of July barbecue seemed oddly antisocial, it's probably because they were buried in a novel about a huntress finding true love in the faerie realm.

"Romantasy"—a genre that blends romance and fantasy, with plenty of steamy sex scenes—is the publishing phenomenon of the moment. Sales of romantasy novels hit a record $454 million in 2023 and are projected to soar to $610 million this year, according to Circana. The number of romantasy books sold in the first five months of this year is double the amount last year.

Two authors dominate the faerie publishing realm: Sarah J. Maas, who wrote the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and Rebecca Yarros, who explores the adventures of dragon riders in her Fourth Wing series. Even as US book sales dropped 2.6% last year, Maas, Yarros, and other authors in the genre sold 45% more, per the WSJ.

#BookTok is fueling the craze. People reviewing these books and explaining how to pronounce the dragon names have gone viral on TikTok, spurring the genre's rise to the top of bestseller lists. More than 1.4 million TikTok posts discuss A Court of Thorns and Roses alone, per Bloomberg.

Big picture: Not implying the two are related (maybe we are), but the rise in books you might feel awkward reading in public has coincided with a surge in Kindle sales, which are growing at double-digit percentages.—NF

   

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Q&A

Two interviews for your road trip

George Shea announcing the hot dog eating contest Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Need some time to kill during a long drive? Want to actually learn something while on the beach?

Two interviews just dropped on Morning Brew Daily that are absolutely worth your time this holiday weekend.

George Shea, CEO of Major League Eating. If you want to learn how the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest became the phenomenon it is today, the bombastic host of the competition, George Shea, is your guy. In the interview, he gives the inside scoop on the Joey Chestnut controversy and tells you what food he would never sanction for an eating contest.

Listen here.

Cathy Engelbert, WNBA Commissioner. Perhaps no business finds itself at more of an inflection point than the WNBA. With a star-studded rookie class headlined by Caitlin Clark, the league is smashing attendance and viewership records this season. But how do you capitalize on that momentum? Engelbert explains her strategy, which is informed by her previous job as CEO of Deloitte. Plus: her take on Clark's shockingly low salary.

Listen here.

STAT

Prime number

Floppy disks Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Japan has declared victory in its war against floppy disks. Digital Minister Taro Kono said the government had finally moved on from the prehistoric technology, which it was still using in its systems as recently as last month. More than 1,000 regulations around floppy disks have now been discarded, except for one concerning vehicle recycling.

At 53 years old, the floppy disk remains more prevalent than you'd expect, Ars Technica reports. San Francisco's light rail system plans to use software that runs on floppy disks until 2030, and Chuck. E. Cheese's animatronics were floppy disk-dependent as of January 2023.

QUIZ

Declaration of Quizdependence

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The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to when there are two Slack messages waiting for you and the second one is "disregard above."

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • The parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue is buying Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion.
  • Delta switched to an only-pasta menu for roughly 75 international flights on Wednesday after reports of "spoiled food" forced a plane on its way to Amsterdam to divert to New York.
  • A 16th-century masterpiece artwork that had been found at a bus stop sold for $22 million at auction.
  • The Welsh government pledged to pass a law that would make lying in politics illegal.

RECS

Friday to-do list

Get situated: Why GPS is under attack.

Travel tip: Here's how to get your passport renewed faster than ever before.

Weekend long read: "The Last Rave."

Geoquestions: Why is Chile so long?

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GAMES

The puzzle section

Jigsaw: If you missed the fireworks last night, here's a chance to see them in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. Play it here.

Friday puzzle

There are fewer than 30 students in a class. Half of the students play chess, one quarter play basketball, and one-seventh read comics. How many of the students play basketball?

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ANSWER

Seven students play basketball. Here's how to find the answer.

Word of the Day

Today's Word of the Day is: glizzy, which is slang for a hot dog. Thanks to Joey in Texas for the inspiration. Submit another Word of the Day here.

         
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