- Trade: "If we don't make a deal with China, I'll just raise the tariffs even higher," President Trump said yesterday.
- Housing: New home construction rose 3.8% last month. It goes to show you how the Fed's interest rate cuts-which have pushed down mortgage rates-trickle into the housing sector.
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EasyJet Offers a Mini Green New Deal
Zoom out: The aviation industry is confronting its impact on climate change-not because the last book club pick was Naomi Klein, but because some travelers are opting for literal torture (24-hour train rides) over flying.
Those people have been overcome with flygskam, a Swedish term that means "flight shame." Citi defines flight shame as "the inherent guilt that an individual feels as a result of one's aviation-related carbon footprint."
- Flygskam is a widespread condition. A UBS survey of Western travelers found that 21% of respondents reduced the number of flights they took in the last year out of concern for the climate.
- Aviation contributes close to 5% of human-caused warming, reports the FT.
But will offsets help flygskam be flygsgone?
Bravo on that transition to the growing market for carbon offsets, a process by which polluters (like EasyJet) fund projects that reduce carbon emissions to "offset" their own. Those projects can include planting a whole lot of trees or spearheading renewable energy initiatives.
Offsets are an increasingly popular tool in the aviation industry:
- Citi projects the cost of carbon offsetting for economy flights will reach $3.8 billion over the next five years. It estimated corporate travel will cost $2.4 billion more.
- At least 10 other airlines offer carbon offsetting to passengers, per the Guardian. British Airways will offset carbon from domestic flights in 2020.
Looking ahead...environmental activists downplayed EasyJet's plan, calling it a "jumbo-size greenwash." It could be. For EasyJet and other airlines hoping to become more environmentally friendly, offsets obscure the bigger problem: There currently aren't any ways to engineer planes to emit less carbon in the first place.
Looking ahead x2...if you don't think flygskam will be on the Friday Quiz you're fooling yourself.
Live Look at Retail Stocks
Yesterday, shares in retail companies dropped more than Nelson Agholor-not exactly the confidence booster the industry wanted heading into the holidays.
Kohl's stock fell as much as 18% after it missed Q3 earnings and slashed its fiscal 2019 profit outlook. CEO Michelle Gass blamed a race to the bottom for promotions and warmer weather in September.
Home Depot is struggling to sell 3,000 square feet of drywall online. After missing comparable sales numbers for the quarter and admitting its digital overhaul is taking longer than expected, shares dropped more than 5%.
Macy's stock dropped more than 10%...and it didn't even report earnings. It did disclose a data breach that affected a small number of customers.
TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx and HomeGoods, was the exception. Shares climbed after it raised its profit forecast for the year.
Bottom line: It's going to be a nervy holiday season for retailers. Not only do they have tariffs to worry about, but the late Thanksgiving means there are only 26 days from Black Friday through Christmas Eve.
If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say About Stadia...
Well, that didn't stop reviewers from talking about Google's new cloud-based gaming service. The console-less Stadia needed consolation after its rough launch yesterday.
- "Here's a four-word review on the Premiere Edition in 2019: It's not worth it"-WaPo's Gene Park. Park acknowledged Stadia is likely to improve...but users should wait until that happens.
- "It's effectively a beta that Google is charging real money for"-The Verge's Sean Hollister.
- "Google Stadia wants you to replace your video game console. Don't."-NYT's Brian Chen.
Early reviewers said that even with strong internet connections, performance was inconsistent across devices.
- Gamers used to high-quality performance on Xbox or PlayStation consoles may be reluctant to move to Stadia, especially given a $130 initial price tag that doesn't cover premium games or 4K streaming.
Bottom line: The gaming industry may be moving to streaming, but Stadia isn't likely to sway gamers used to their consoles and/or PCs.
Call It Spodify
What's the quickest way to get people to leave your house party? Blast "Your Daily Podcasts," a new playlist from Spotify that curates audio content based on your podcast listening history.
Spotify's algorithms will suggest episodes from shows users already listen to and new ones they might enjoy. The company said it won't prioritize its original podcasts, like Bill Simmons's The Hottest Take, over others. The feature is available to users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, the U.K., and a few other countries.
Zoom out: The Swedish company's spent 2019 ramping up its pod game to challenge Apple. That's included acquiring three podcasting companies (Gimlet and Anchor for close to $340 million; Parcast for $56 million) and testing curated pod playlists this June.
Something's working. In Q3, Spotify reported:
- 39% quarter-over-quarter growth in podcast hours streamed
- "Almost too good to be true" conversion of podcast listeners to paying subscribers (it's got 113 million of those now)
- 500,000+ podcast titles, including the launch of 22 Spotify Studios originals
Heliogen Makes Cement Manufacturing Fun
If by "fun" you mean "sustainable," which we do. Heliogen, a startup backed by Bill Gates, has come out of stealth to announce it's successfully concentrated solar energy past a balmy 1,000° Celsius for the first time commercially.
What that has to do with cement: The industrial processes that make cement, steel, and glass require extreme temperatures that renewable energy hasn't yet been able to muster. Fossil fuels like coal have picked up the slack.
How Heliogen cracked it: Using the same tech that brought down Snow White's Evil Queen. Heliogen said it controls an array of mirrors using advanced computer vision software. Those mirrors create a concentrated solar beam that generates the heat required to power industrial processes.
- Heliogen said its tech could even be used to generate loads of clean hydrogen, which could change the energy game.
Zoom out: Industrial processes are responsible for over a fifth of all carbon emissions, per Gates. If Heliogen can pave the way for renewables in the sector, it could help the world reach the targets set by the Paris agreement.
WHAT ELSE IS BREWING
- Warby Parker, the disruptive eyeglass retailer, launched a line of contact lenses.
- Boeing can breathe a sigh of relief-it received bids for 60 737 Max planes at the Dubai Air Show.
- Stolen Disney+ accounts are being given away for free or at huge markdowns on hacking forums, a ZDNet investigation found.
- Microsoft said its Teams messaging software hit 20 million users. Shares of rival Slack closed down over 9%.
FOR THE GRAM
Wednesday morning quarterback: See if you can find the grammar or stylistic errors in these sentences about football from the WSJ editors.
- Adults who report following the NFL closely has dropped 9% since 2014, the poll finds.
- The most telling drop-off: Wentz averaged 8.3 yards per attempt this season; Foles has averaged more than 2 yards fewer.
- Long a staple of football or soccer practice, coaches for other sports are adding reverse, or retro, racing to training regimes.
- The NBA has shown it's possible to run a large-scale professional operation-and grow a fan base-by putting trust in athletes, as opposed to policing them with draconian policies.
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FOR THE GRAM ANSWERS
- Some subject/verb agreement problems in this one (the adults didn't drop). This can be written through as "The category of adults who…"
- Back to the fewer vs. less distinction. Use fewer for whole, countable units; since yards (and other units of measurement) aren't experienced as whole chunks, this should be "less."
- In the context of this sentence, coaches should not be the staple of football and soccer practice.
- This was a hard one. The WSJ editors note that the use of "grow" as a transitive verb, applied to things like the economy or a fan base, is rather cliche. They recommend using "enlarge" or "expand" instead.