Don't panic

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: Today in facts you can use to impress your coworkers—March is typically the second-strongest month for stocks. We’re heading into this week with plenty of momentum from the month's first day of trading.
  • Speaking of momentum...the U.S. and China are in the "final stage" of working out a trade deal, per the WSJ. The speculation is that most (if not all) U.S. tariffs would be lifted, and a formal agreement could be signed at a Trump-Xi Jinping summit at the end of the month.

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MEDIA

For AT&T, Time Warner Is a Fixer Upper

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Now that AT&T has finally taken Time Warner into its warm, wireless embrace, we’re watching all the executive reshuffling, reorganizations, and other things “re-” happen in real time. Let’s take a closer look.
Do the c-suite shuffle

HBO CEO Richard Plepler? Resigned. Turner President David Levy? See ya. Former NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt? Looks to be on his way in.

Plepler’s exit is the most significant. Per NBC’s Dylan Byers, he “was not just HBO's chief executive. He was its head of state, its chief diplomat and its chief propagandist.” He can take most of the credit for making your Sunday nights more enjoyable with hits like The Sopranos and Sex and the City.

So what do the changes mean?

A reorg is coming

John Stankey, the man in charge of what’s now called WarnerMedia, has a message for its various units: Despite what your eyes tell you, there’s no “I” in WarnerMedia.

There was an “I” in Time Warner. Under its old parent, HBO had been an autonomous business happy to do its own thing. The same went for Warner Bros. and Turner (whose networks include CNN, TBS, and TNT).

But under new parent AT&T, these walls are going to be broken down.

  • “By combining HBO and Turner,” the WSJ writes, “AT&T is taking a page from Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., where production studios work much more closely with their channels and platforms than the units of the old Time Warner.”
  • Recode focuses on the packages. “You’ll get your HBO, and maybe your CNN and TNT (if you like NBA basketball), and you’ll pay AT&T directly for it. Just like Netflix or Spotify or the Disney service launching later this year.”

Zoom out: It’s going to be fascinating to watch how AT&T, a telecom company, positions itself to compete in the wild world of content.

SPACE

One Giant Leap for Elon Musk

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station over the weekend in what’s likely the biggest connection in space history since Han and Leia.

This was Crew Dragon’s first test flight—and a major hurdle for NASA’s commercial crew program. The public-private partnership awarded both SpaceX and Boeing a combined $6.8 billion in contracts to build spacecraft to shuttle NASA astronauts.

  • For the last eight years, NASA has paid for rides on Russian spacecraft to get to the Space Station (and they said there was no collusion...)

Still, SpaceX hasn’t yet flown living astronauts into the great beyond. This weekend’s launch was a dress rehearsal for a manned SpaceX mission set for July at the earliest.

And humans or not, there was a lot riding on this mission. Musk has been gunning to prove his SpaceX can safely fly humans—and that space tourism and a Mars colony aren’t all that far out, either. He said the launch left him “emotionally exhausted.” Yeah, Sundays can be hard.

DEBT

Please Fiscal Responsibly

It’s the question everyone’s talking about: How much should we worry about the national debt? The debate has taken on more urgency given recent tax cuts, increased government spending, and projections that annual deficits will begin exceeding $1 trillion in 2022.

So who thinks what?

The sky is falling

  • Conventional wisdom
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell: "It is widely agreed that federal government debt is on an unsustainable path," and addressing it could "contribute greatly to the longer-run health and vitality of the U.S. economy."

Take a chill pill

  • Former IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard: "We clearly can afford more debt if there is a good reason to do it. There’s no reason to panic."
  • Warren Buffett: "Those who regularly preach doom because of government budget deficits…" are overreacting.
  • Many others (on the political right and left), who argue that fears are overblown because borrowing is cheap and easy. Not to mention, inflation is low.

Zoom out: A long-held principle of macroeconomics is being challenged by armchair and professional economists alike.

FOOD

We See Right Through Your Fresco Burrito, Taco Bell

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A new study from researchers at Boston University and Tufts confirmed an inconvenient truth—fast food is really bad for you.

But it also found that it’s getting worse, despite the billions of dollars chains have spent on wooing health conscious eaters with salads, bunless burgers, and Lite options.

You won’t be hungry after reading this. From 1986 to 2016, the number of entrees, sides, and desserts at the country’s biggest fast food chains has swelled 226%. But per a NYT summary...

  • The average entree weighed 39 grams more and had 90 more calories in 2016 than it did in
  • A 2016 meal had 41.6% the recommended daily allotment of sodium, up from 27.8%.
  • The average 2016 entree and side accounted for close to 40% of a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

The study is more fodder for public health warriors’ crusade against fast food. This doesn’t bode well for the McDonald’s crew, which has been blamed for pushing the U.S. obesity rate among adults to 40% in 2016. Back in the early 1960s, it was only 13%.

CALENDAR

The Week Ahead

Can’t decide what we’re looking forward to more: Mardi Gras or the jobs report.

Monday: Earnings (Salesforce)

Tuesday: New home sales; Mardi Gras; earnings (Target, Ross Stores, Kohl’s, Urban Outfitters)

Wednesday: ADP employment report; international trade; earnings (Dollar Tree, American Eagle, BJ’s); Ash Wednesday; National Oreo Day

Thursday: Jobless claims; earnings (Costco, Kroger, GNC, H&R Block); ECB meeting; Geneva Motor Show

Friday: Jobs report; housing starts; International Women’s Day

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Elon Musk said Tesla will unveil the Model Y, a crossover SUV, at a March 14 event.
  • Executives at Vale, the Brazilian iron ore miner whose dam burst and killed hundreds in January, are stepping down temporarily.
  • France plans to tax large internet companies that meet certain revenue criteria. The levy could raise close to $570 million per year.
  • Gymboree Group has a lot going on after an appearance in bankruptcy court: Children’s Place will buy its brand name, and Gap will take its Janie and Jack chain.
  • Square co-founder Tristan O’Tierney died on Feb. 23, his family said over the weekend. He was 35.

BREAKROOM

Guess the Stock Chart
Industry: Beverage
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