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Policygenius

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Neal Freyman, Jamie Wilde, Max Knoblauch

MARKETS

Nasdaq

12,086.27

S&P

4,115.77

Dow

32,910.90

10-Year

3.022%

Bitcoin

$30,219.09

Exxon

$104.59

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 8:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: If it seems like the Markets section has been a little dull recently…sorry, we haven’t had much to play with. The S&P 500 has been more directionless than thought leaders locked out of LinkedIn, trading within a roughly 100-point range for the past two weeks. The only energy in the stock market seems to belong to the energy sector, which is loving life during this era of high gas prices. Exxon Mobil shares notched their first record close since 2014.
  • Government: On a day when an 11-year-old survivor of the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, described her horrifying experience in testimony to Congress, the House passed a gun reform bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21. It’s not expected to get enough votes in the Senate.

SPORTS

Golf’s civil war

Happy Gilmore scene Happy Gilmore/NBCUniversal via Giphy

Golfers are trading in their polo and khakis for boxing trunks in a brawl over a breakaway league that’s cleaved the sport in two.

The first event of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series tees off outside of London today with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Those players were stars on the PGA Tour, but were lured to play in LIV’s league by the promise of Joe Rogan → Spotify-level money.

  • Dustin Johnson, the former No. 1 player in the world, made $74 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour. LIV Golf will reportedly pay him $125 million before he even swings a club.
  • Phil Mickelson is getting even more from LIV for participating—a reported $200 million.
  • The purse for each of LIV’s eight events is $25 million. Compare that to $15 million paid out by the Masters, the most famous golf tournament in the world.

Why LIV is able to shell out these huge sums is also what makes it so controversial: It’s backed by the Saudi Arabian government, which has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Golfers who’ve joined LIV have had to face hard questions about their role in “sportswashing” a Saudi regime that curtails the rights of women, LGBTQ individuals, and migrant workers.

It’s been awkward. At a press conference this week, some golfers who joined LIV dodged questions about Saudi Arabia’s repressive government. Others acknowledged issues with the Saudis—but argued that their participation didn’t amount to an endorsement. “Take the Khashoggi situation. We all agree that’s reprehensible,” Northern Irish golfer Graeme McDowell said. But he added, “If Saudi Arabia wanted to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be and they have the resources to accelerate that experience, I think we are proud to help them on that journey…”

Looking ahead…LIV’s potential to disrupt professional golf will hinge on its ability to woo even more top players into its ranks. It got another boost yesterday, with reports that American golfing champs Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will join the series.—NF

        

TOGETHER WITH POLICYGENIUS

Peace of mind—it’s part of the policy

Policygenius

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They partner with top life insurance companies, like Prudential and AIG, to make sure you’re getting the right price by comparing personalized quotes in minutes. Their licensed agents work for you, not the insurers, so you can trust their advocacy. Plus, comparing quotes with Policygenius’s digital tools and expert help could save you 50% or more on coverage.

Make protection a certainty (like, right now) by heading to Policygenius.com.

WORLD

Tour de headlines

The US flag flies at half-staff. The US flag flies at half-staff. Image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

January 6 in prime time. Turn on any major news network tonight (outside of Fox News) and you’ll see the first public hearing held by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It’s one of a series of hearings that’ll be televised throughout June to show the public what investigators have uncovered about the insurrection—and the extent of former President Trump’s role in inciting it. Rep. Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the committee, recently called the attack an “extremely well-organized” conspiracy.

Nassar victims seek more than $1 billion from MBA. More than 90 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, including star gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, submitted claims to the FBI over its failures to investigate the USA Gymnastics doctor after the agency received the initial allegations against him in 2015. Nassar wasn’t charged until the next year.

Twitter grants Elon Musk’s wish. The company plans to unleash a “firehose” of data on Elon Musk after he requested it to examine whether Twitter’s claims about its bot numbers hold up, the Washington Post reported. He’s going to need a lot of coffee and perhaps something stronger, though: The data includes more than 500 million tweets posted each day, as well as information about the platform’s accounts and the devices they tweet from.

STOCKS

The SEC is still lurking on r/wallstreetbets

Gary Gensler Gary Gensler. Evelyn Hockstein/Getty Images

Over a year since Reddit traders sent meme stocks like GameStop to the moon, the SEC (Wall Street’s top cop) is making its first moves to overhaul the way individual trades are conducted.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler floated a number of ideas to revamp Wall Street’s plumbing network, but perhaps the most significant change would affect the “payment for order flow” model, which came under fire during the meme stock bonanza last year. It works like this:

  • Wholesalers like Citadel pay brokerages like Robinhood a small fee to execute individuals’ trades—and they make a small profit.
  • Those “small fees” accounted for over 70% of Robinhood’s net revenue in the first three months of this year.

Gensler has said this monkey-in-the-middle process creates a conflict of interest, limits competition, and doesn’t incentivize Wall Street to offer the best stock prices to individual investors.

The proposed solution: Make brokers like Robinhood route investors’ trades to auctions, where Wall Street firms could compete to execute the trades—effectively, if not explicitly, ending the “payment for order flow” relationship.

Big picture: These proposals could be enacted as soon as this fall, but the opposition is already throwing banana peels in the SEC’s path to the finish line. Robinhood Chief Legal Officer Dan Gallagher said, “It is a really good climate for retail, so to go in and muck with it right now, to me, is a little worrisome.” Other Wall Street firms chimed in with similar criticisms.—JW

        

RETAIL

Honey, I shrinkflated the goods

A graphic showing different examples of shrinkflation Grant Thomas

Shrinkflation, or the phenomenon of companies shrinking the size of their products while keeping prices the same (or even increasing them), is on the rise worldwide. Items like toilet paper, Gatorade, and even serving sizes at restaurants are losing mass in waves due to inflation.

  • Gatorade ditched 32-ounce bottles for a 28-ounce version.
  • Kleenex shrunk the amount of tissues in a small box from 65 to 60.
  • Folgers downsized from 51-ounce to 43.5-ounce containers.

If you’re surprised, then you really haven’t been listening to the frugal uncle in your life. The bet behind shrinkflation is that consumers will prefer a slightly shrunken product over a slightly embiggened tab (or that they won’t notice altogether). While the practice is a time-tested method of dealing with wholesale price shifts, the recent rapid, widespread increase in the cost of raw materials, shipping, and food has caused a tidal wave of shrinkflation to hit the shelves, affecting many different products at the same time.

Other food bills reflect the trend: As restaurant costs have risen 7.2% over the last 12 months, Domino’s wings and Burger King’s nuggets have both shrunk from 10 pieces to eight.

Zoom out: The US Department of Agriculture forecasts a 5%–6% increase in retail food prices this year, so expect to see fewer chips in that party-sized bag.—MK

        

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

tequila Dc Johnson/Eyeem/Getty Images

Stat: Agave…so hot right now. According to new data from IWSR, tequila and mezcal sales in the US will be greater than American-made whiskey sales for the first time ever this year (which we suppose is also a bullish sign for lime and salt). Plus, the agave-based duo is projected to dethrone vodka next year as the most-purchased spirit by value in the US.

Quote: “In my state, the price of gas is so high that it would be cheaper to buy cocaine and just run everywhere.”

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy is one of many Republicans hammering the Biden administration for soaring gas prices—though his critique is a little more colorful than most. Biden’s economic officials say that broader geopolitical factors out of their control, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are to blame.

Read: How San Francisco became a failed city. (The Atlantic)

TOGETHER WITH TEACHABLE

Teachable

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WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • An armed man was arrested near the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after making threats against the justice. The man was charged with attempted murder.
  • A group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton acquired the Denver Broncos for a reported $4.65 billion—the most expensive purchase of a sports franchise ever.
  • Moderna said that its modified booster shot showed a stronger immune response against Omicron.
  • Employees at a Trader Joe’s in western Massachusetts (shoutout 413) have filed for a union, which could become the first unionized TJ’s in the country.
  • Beefalo: It’s what’s for dinner.

BREW'S BETS

Odd hobbies: Watch this 19 year old solve three Rubik’s cubes while juggling them.

What Bill Gates is reading: Here are the five books the billionaire suggests you read this summer.

Blast from the past: Next year most of these bangers will turn 10 years old.

Who holds the power in porn? On Hot Money, two Financial Times reporters find out. Follow along as they uncover the finance bros and tech geniuses behind the biggest online porn companies in the world. Listen here.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Flex your knowledge on nondairy milk options and The Matrix characters in today’s Mini crossword. Play it here.

Three headlines and a lie

Pride Month is always full of corporate cringe, which makes it a ripe topic for Three Headlines and a Lie. Three of these Pride-related headlines are real and one of them is faker than a drag show that starts before 11pm. Can you guess the odd one out?

  1. TikTokers actually like Best Western’s “Pride breakfast” with rainbow hard-boiled eggs
  2. Burger King has a “Pride Whopper” with “two equal buns”
  3. Cher and Donatella Versace team up to release a Pride collection called “Chersace”
  4. Ford gives Bronco a colorful makeover to celebrate Pride Month

If you love Three Headlines and a Lie, play along in audio form on The Refresh from Insider.

What is greenwashing and why do the feds care?

The CEO of Deutsche Bank’s asset management wing just resigned amid a probe into allegations of greenwashing. Watch here to find out more.

Don’t miss out on more from the Brew:

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ANSWER

Best Western’s “Pride breakfast” is not real.

         

Written by Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, and Jamie Wilde

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