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Why gas prices are so important to elections...
November 07, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Fundrise

Good morning. Recession = averted. The Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series Saturday night, pushing the most reliable recession indicator we have (a Philly-based team won in ’29, ’30, ’80, and ’08) off for at least a year.

For us Philly fans, it’s a tough loss after a magical playoff run, but let’s look on the bright side: The Eagles are 8–0. And we also have Alexander Tominsky, a server at a Philly steakhouse who went viral this weekend after he ate a rotisserie chicken for the 40th consecutive day.

Neal Freyman

MARKETS: YEAR-TO-DATE

Nasdaq

10,475.26

S&P

3,770.55

Dow

32,403.22

10-Year

4.164%

Bitcoin

$21,102.38

Berkshire

$432,000.00

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

  • Markets: Last week was a rough one in the stock market, and this week could be even more unpredictable. The midterms on Tuesday, an inflation report Thursday, and another batch of earnings will give investors plenty of new information to absorb. We have to give Berkshire Hathaway a shoutout, because Warren Buffett works overtime and reported his company’s earnings over the weekend. Berkshire’s $109 billion cash pile has ballooned thanks to rising interest rates.
 

MIDTERMS

This sign could determine the election

A gas station Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The outcome of tomorrow’s midterm elections could be influenced by something the government has little control over: the cost of filling up your car with gas.

Since the 1970s, presidential approval ratings have tended to sag when gas prices rise. And that correlation has been especially pronounced this year as inflation has run rampant and gas prices have spiked.

  • The Washington Post found that the share of Americans who said the country was on the right track has moved remarkably in sync with gas prices.
  • Since gas prices peaked in June, the correlation between Democratic generic-ballot polling and the price of gas clocked in at minus-.91, nearly a perfect inverse correlation (which is minus-1).

Why are gas prices so powerful?

Because it’s the only consumer good whose price we’re reminded of virtually every time we leave the house, experts say. Unlike tuna fish or patio furniture or sneakers, the price of gas is advertised in size-500 font on huge signs that you can’t help but notice.

Gas prices have been so beaten into us that they can change our behavior over decades. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that people who experienced raging gas prices in their formative driving years in the 1970s seemed less likely to drive to work 20 years later than other age cohorts.

The curious part about the link between voter sentiment and gas prices is that gas prices have very little to do with whoever’s occupying the White House. Gas prices are largely influenced by the price of crude oil, which is a globally traded commodity. That commodity has been dealt a shock this year by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, technical snags with refineries in the US, and OPEC+’s production cuts.

Still, President Biden’s team is fully aware of the importance of gas prices, which explains his incessant attacks on oil companies’ windfall profits, his releasing of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and his visit to Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer.

Price check: The current national average for a gallon of unleaded gas is $3.80, per AAA. That’s roughly the same as a month ago, down significantly from the record of more than $5, but about 38 cents more than a year ago.

        

TOGETHER WITH FUNDRISE

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

Powerball ticket Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Powerball jackpot surges to $1.9 billion. There was no lucky winner in Saturday night’s drawing for the record-breaking Powerball jackpot, so the prize has swelled ahead of tonight’s drawing. If no one wins tonight, it will set the record for the most consecutive Powerball drawings without a grand prize winner (41). If you win and choose the cash option, you’ll get $929.1 million. Unfortunately, you’re not going to win.

Elon Musk pulls a Jackson 5. He wants you back. Just days after cutting half of its workforce, Twitter has been asking some employees who were laid off to come back to work, according to Bloomberg. Some were reportedly laid off mistakenly, while leaders realized that other employees who were cut are needed to create some new features Musk wants to launch. Speaking of those new features, Twitter has reportedly delayed the rollout of its $8 per month verification program until after the midterms.

RIP Aaron Carter. The singer and actor died at 34. Carter was a teen sensation in the early 2000s, singing about how he beat Shaq in a game of HORSE and releasing the hit “I Want Candy.” His 2000 album, Aaron’s Party, sold 3 million copies. Carter had spoken publicly about his mental health challenges, but in a recent podcast episode expressed hope that he could revive his career and fix his tumultuous family life.

MIDTERMS

The 3-comma club is a midterms force

Ronald Lauder Ronald Lauder, Republican megadonor. Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Billionaires have poured more money than ever into the midterms, and they’re giving the GOP a boost in races Dems thought they had on lock.

First, the numbers: American billionaires have funneled $880 million into the elections as of last week, accounting for 7.4% of all money raised by federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs), according to Americans for Tax Fairness, which analyzed data compiled by the campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets.

Most of that spending has come from Republican billionaires. 18 of the top 25 largest donors for the upcoming elections have backed GOP candidates, and those ultra-wealthy Republicans have outspent Democrats by $200 million. (Still, Democrat George Soros is the No. 1 donor this election cycle.)

This cash infusion has given Republicans hope in some gubernatorial races where they didn’t think they could compete.

  • New York: Through more than $11 million in donations, the cosmetics heir and philanthropist Ronald Lauder has nearly single-handedly helped Republican Lee Zeldin narrow the race for New York governor against Democrat incumbent Kathy Hochul, per the NYT.
  • Oregon: Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s support of an independent gubernatorial candidate in Oregon could fuel a historic GOP victory by capturing a chunk of Democratic votes. Oregon hasn’t had a non-Democratic governor in 40 years.

Final stat to go: The top 1% of donors as measured by income have accounted for 38% of the total amount spent on federal races this election.

        

CALENDAR

The week ahead

Ulster County, NY "I voted" sticker design submission. Colorful smiling human head with six teal legs. Hudson Rowan’s design, Ulster County Board of Elections

The midterms: Tomorrow is Election Day across the US. In the most recent analysis from FiveThirtyEight, Republicans are favored to take back control of the House but the Senate is up for grabs. Here’s everything you need to vote. And yes, that design above is the official “I Voted” sticker of Ulster County, New York.

Climate talks begin. World leaders are gathering in Egypt this week for COP27, the UN’s annual climate summit. Negotiations got off to a good start—for the first time, delegates agreed to discuss splitting the bill for losses from extreme weather events in lower-income countries that experience weather damage disproportionate to their emissions.

CPI and earnings: The consumer price index (CPI), the inflation report we dread every month, drops on Thursday and is expected to show that price growth cooled off a bit in October (but is still far higher than where the Fed wants it). Meanwhile, earnings season rolls on with reports from Disney, AMC, Palantir, Beyond Meat, and more.

Everything else:

  • Veterans Day is Friday.
  • The Black Panther sequel comes out on Friday.
  • The last lunar eclipse in three years will take place tomorrow.

TOGETHER WITH WORKIVA

Workiva

Bust out the friendship bracelets. Your finance and ESG teams are about to become closer than ever. They already buddy up to provide trusted, audit-ready data for stakeholders—and upcoming ESG regulations will have them more in sync than ever. Workiva outlined everything you need to know about the new regs.

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

Mattress Mack celebrating the Astros' victory Bob Levey/Getty Images

Stat: Furniture mogul Mattress Mack’s winning bet on the Houston Astros was so huge that it could impact Q4 profitability at Caesars. From his wagers on the Astros, Mack won $75 million total, including a $30 million check from Caesars Sportsbook. On the hook for the largest ever payout from a legal sports betting site, Caesars warned even before the Astros won that Mack’s lone wager could impact its financial results. Last week, its CEO said the World Series outcome “will be a swing factor in whether the fourth quarter is positive as a whole.”

Quote: “I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.”

For the first time since Elon Musk laid off half of the company’s employees, Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey made a public statement, tweeting an apology for growing Twitter’s workforce too fast. Dorsey isn’t totally out of the Twitter picture, though. He remains an equity investor in Musk’s new ownership regime, contributing just under $1 billion to the takeover.

Read: Pack your bags, we’re moving to Roku City. (New York Times)

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Meta will reportedly begin to lay off thousands of employees this week in what could amount to the company’s most significant job cuts since it was founded in 2004.
  • Apple said that iPhone 14 production has been hamstrung by Covid restrictions at its huge assembly plant in China.
  • PreCheck deflation: TSA is lowering the price for its PreCheck program ahead of the holiday travel season.
  • Mastodon, a Twitter-esque social media site, has seen a spike in users since Musk’s takeover of the bird app.

BREW'S BETS

Dive back into the week:

DIY DJ. This AI music creation platform lets you build tracks in a matter of seconds. Take a spin.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Turntable: Today’s Turntable jumble features vowels galore. Play it here.

Geoguessr

Can you name the country this arrow is pointing to on the map?

A map of Europe with an arrow pointing to a country@gaspardooo via Twitter

AROUND THE BREW

What it costs to win an election

What it costs to win an election

🗳 How much does it cost to run a political campaign? We dive deep into the financials of running (and winning) a seat in Congress. Watch here.

Improve your finance knowledge and gain analytical tools in our Business Analytics Accelerator. Apply today and use code THANKFUL on the last question of the application to get $100 off.

Want to ease your spreadsheet stress? Shop the PC Excel Dictionary Bundle now for 330+ shortcuts and 120+ functions. Also available for Mac users.

Calling all marketers: The Brief is a one-day summit with the world’s most influential brands and marketers. Register now.

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ANSWER

Trick question—it doesn’t exist. Or rather, it does exist in people’s imaginations. Ever since a Twitter user posed this question on Oct. 30 to troll Americans, it’s gone viral as the made-up country Listenbourg. Listenbourg historians have given it a backstory, a flag, and a national anthem.

✢ A Note From Fundrise

*For more information, including all relevant disclaimers, check out the Fundrise Mid-Year Investor Letter.

         

Written by Neal Freyman

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