Stoppage time

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: The Fed's move to raise interest rates came as no surprise. Still, the major indexes finished down.
  • Fallout from the AT&T decision: Media companies like 21st Century Fox (+7.70%), CBS (+3.59%), and Discovery (+1.62%) all gained in anticipation of an M&A frenzy.

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SPORTS

Break Out the Vuvuzelas, the World Cup Is Coming Home

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The North American trio of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico was chosen to host the 2026 World Cup (sorry runner-up Morocco...not sure you ever stood a chance).

The art of the deal:

  • North America said it would bring FIFA $11 billion in profit, a record. It's also got the infrastructure to handle the expanded 48-team field (the current field is 32).
  • The U.S. is home to the world's largest media market. FIFA's partners (like Adidas, Coca-Cola, and broadcasters Fox and Telemundo) are dreaming of $$$$.
  • 60 of the 80 matches will be held in the U.S., while Canada and Mexico will split the remaining 20. No word yet on whether this'll factor into NAFTA negotiations.

Does this decision mean FIFA's finally playing by the rules?

You might have heard—soccer's international governing body has a piss-poor reputation.

By selecting host countries Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) in a secret process, FIFA drew criminal investigations for bribery and other sketchy behavior. It eventually led to Gianni Infantino replacing Sepp Blatter as president of the organization.

And Infantino put on his reformer pants right away, changing the voting rules so that all 200+ FIFA members—not just a select committee—could publicly vote on the host country.

Oh right, and this year's World Cup starts today in Russia

Even though the U.S. isn't competing...you should still pay attention. Here's what grabbed our attention:

  • For some reason, big banks think they can predict the winning team. UBS is going with Germany, Goldman's betting on Brazil, and ING is loco for Spain.
  • Here's a question: Is hosting the World Cup a good investment? Most economists agree it's not worth the headache.
  • Expect the markets to act funny. In 2014, trading volumes in a country's stock market plummeted as much as 48% when its team played during trading hours.

MEDIA

The Media Wars Have Officially Started

That didn't take long.

Only a day after a judge gave his blessing to the AT&T-Time Warner deal (opening the M&A floodgates), Comcast (-0.19%) burst through Rupert Murdoch's door and slammed an eye-popping bid on his desk: $65 billion for Fox assets...all cash.

Do you hear that heavy breathing? That's Disney's (+1.92%) CEO Bob Iger, whose $52 billion all-stock agreement for those same assets looks pretty lame in comparison.
Have a day, Rupert Murdoch:

  • Fox assets—like its stake in European pay TV operator Sky—are in high demand as telecom and media companies bulk up to compete with the Silicon Valley giants.
  • You may have heard that North America is hosting the 2026 World Cup. Well, Fox got those broadcasting rights at a $500 million discount.

Bottom line: The bidding war between Comcast and Disney is ON. Who has the edge? Tough to say, but here's one wrinkle: Fox activist investor Chris Hohn (7.4% stake) is leaning Comcast.

ECONOMY

The Fed Is Bullish on the Economy

What's the only thing more thrilling than watching a raccoon scale a 25-story office tower? The Federal Reserve hiking interest rates by a quarter percentage point, obviously.

But seriously, it's a big deal:

  • When the economy is flying high (like it is now), the Fed is responsible for making sure it doesn't get too close to the sun. So it's steadily increasing the cost of borrowing to keep growth and inflation from spiraling out of control.
  • After nearly a decade of artificially low rates to stimulate the economy post-recession, the Fed is taking its foot off the gas pedal.

Anything else happen?

  • According to the Fed's fancy "dot plot," we should probably expect four rate hikes in total this year (meaning two more).
  • Inflation is expected to run a little over the 2% target...which is A-ok with Fed chair Jerome Powell. Well, as long as it stays there.

RIDE-HAILING

Grab Gets a Lift

Sometimes ride-hailing companies need a lift of their own. Grab scored one from Japanese carmaker Toyota, which injected it with $1 billion at a $10 billion valuation.

Remember: This money comes at a critical time for Grab. It just ushered Uber out of the picture by buying the company's SE Asia business in March.

With money, the right guidance (a Toyota exec will join Grab's board), and the right vision (Grab is expanding into other services with GrabFood and GrabPay), it could monopolize a market with 640 million people (almost 2x the U.S. population). If it hasn't done so already...
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CRYPTO

We Got Our Hands on a New Bitcoin Study

What if we told you...Bitcoin was subject to serious price manipulation in 2017.
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We know, we know...it's a lot to take in. So let's digest this new study on Bitcoin price manipulation together.

  • It was released by University of Texas professor John Griffin—the same guy who alleged VIX manipulation in 2016.
  • And it reads *clears throat* Tether—the safe haven cryptocurrency that backs each coin with $1—was used to strategically maintain and inflate Bitcoin price levels during 2017's buying frenzy.

And how'd that work exactly? Griffin and his co-author put the microscope to Bitcoin's price dips and run-ups last year. As it turns out, when Bitcoin was falling, Tether was used to buy up the cryptocurrency and amplify demand.

Embracing debate: Griffin would bet all his crypto holdings on foul play, while Bitfinex (an exchange he blames for the mayhem) has one motto: deny, deny, deny. Either way, Bitcoin is down 70% since its $19,511 high in December.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Stryker (+2.50%), a medical device company, said it's actually not in merger talks with Boston Scientific (-6.24%).
  • WeWork is looking to raise money at a $35 billion valuation (paywall).
  • German authorities hit VW with a $1.2 billion fine over its diesel emissions scandal.
  • Opendoor, a real estate tech startup, raised $325 million at a valuation north of $2 billion.
  • Twitter (+1.33%) is aflutter with changes to its breaking news format and a new content hub for the World Cup.

BREAKROOM

WHAT THE CREW'S LISTENING TO
We all love tuning in to How I Built This with Guy Raz—the podcast highlighting founders and their unique stories. But if you haven't given this podcast a chance yet, you need to. Here are two episodes to start with:

  • Wayfair: Niraj Shah & Steve Conine—These two went from college roommates to successful e-commerce entrepreneurs.
  • Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich—How one founder turned a small bakery into a food empire.

BRAIN TEASER
A collector of antique lamps bought two lamps, and then, discovering she was short of money, immediately had to sell them again. She sold each lamp for $600. On one of the lamps she made 20% and on the other one she lost 20%. Did she make or lose money on the whole deal? How much?

(Answer located at bottom of newsletter)

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Breakroom Answers


Brain Teaser
She lost money. You can calculate that the one lamp cost $500 and the other one cost $750. That means she paid $1250 for them together and then sold them for $1200 losing $50.

 

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