Friday, October 6th, 2023


How the Cookie Crumbles

Is Ozempic going to eat big food's lunch? For decades, the food industry has had Americans eating out of the palm of their hands. But new and wildly popular obesity drugs that suppress appetites could change the balance of power. Maybe investment analysts are biting off more than they can chew when it comes to predicting this trend and they'll end up eating their words, but for now, they're worried about food and beverage stocks. Here's the bottom line: Appetite suppressing drugs are selling like hotcakes, which means that hotcakes aren't. It's early, so I'd take all of this with a grain of salt (if you've still got the appetite for a meal that size). Bloomberg (Gift Article): Ozempic Threat Is Causing a Selloff in Candy and Beer Stocks. Walmart "said it's already seeing an impact on shopping demand from people taking Ozempic, Wegovy and other appetite-suppressing medications. That sent shares of food and beverage companies sliding, some to multiyear lows." Are we ready to live in a world where the answer to the age-old question, "Do you want fries with that?" is No?

+ Nothing is definitive yet, but these numbers are enough to whet one's appetite: "The increasingly popular drugs generally work by reducing patients' appetites. With 1.7% of America's population prescribed a semaglutide drug in 2023 — up 40-fold in the past five years — that could spell serious trouble for the food industry." Ozempic is on the rise. That could be a problem for food companies.

+ Axios: How weight loss drugs like Ozempic could radically reshape the food business. (I just it doesn't reshape Fat Bear Week.)


Bordering on Chaos?

The border is back in the news, bigly. "The Biden administration has authorized the construction of a new section of border wall in Texas's Rio Grande Valley. It's a reversal of President Joe Biden's campaign promise that "not another foot" of border wall would be constructed under his purview that comes as the president faces increasing pressure from Republicans — and members of his own party — to reduce rising border crossings." Vox: How Biden ended up building part of Trump's border wall.

+ NPR: U.S. will resume deportation flights to Venezuela even as thousands flee that country.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): "The border plan President Biden put in place nearly five months ago is at risk of collapse amid a new wave of illegal crossings, intensifying strains on U.S. cities and leaving authorities struggling to care for record numbers of families arriving with children."

+ There are the nearterm political challenges which, given the nonsense we're seeing out of DC, we have little chance of addressing in a meaningful way. But then there's the longterm reality that no wall can solve. The AP sums it up in one paragraph: "Worldwide, climate change has already left millions homeless. Rising seas are eating away at coastlines; storms are battering megacities and drought is exacerbating conflict. But while catastrophes intensify, the world has yet to recognize climate migrants and find formal ways of protecting them."


Pooling Yarn

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the financial industry regulator banks most love to hate, has been petitioning Zelle to find out exactly how much fraud there is. And the data she's collected suggests there's probably, technically speaking, a whole f-cking lot. According to Warren's office, US Bank — a single institution in the consortium — reported 45,000 incidents of Zelle scams last year. That's triple the number from 2021. It's certainly possible, if the criminals keep at it, work hard, and show some grit, they can triple the amount of fraud again by next year." You can probably tell from Devin Friedman's tone that he tried to build a pool. Insider: The Great Zelle Pool Scam. "All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps."


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Eve Hewson is great in Flora and Son (in theaters and on AppleTV). The movie takes place in Dublin. There's a mother, a son, a guitar, a lot of music, and whole lot of feel good. I saw this at Sundance and loved it.

+ What Else to Watch: For a very different movie experience, check the well-played Fair Play on Netflix. A couple works at the same investment firm. When one of them gets a promotion, things get intense.

+ What to Book: We experience so much political negativity when it comes to issues of immigration and identity. The great Raj Tawney reminds us of the glory of these things, and he does it by way of the kitchen. This is the perfect time to grab your copy of Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience. Don't want to take my word for it? Here's Junot Diaz: "A lovingly wrought and deliciously intimate memoir that captures the stupendous mélange that is Tawney's American life (and ours). A feast for the mind, a banquet for the heart, as generous as hospitality and as unforgettable as your favorite meal." (Hurry up and read this before the Ozempic kicks in...)


Extra, Extra

Peace Prize: "Imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi has won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize ... Ms Mohammadi is currently serving a 10-year jail term in Iran's notorious Evin prison in the capital, Tehran."

+ Speaker Static: You may not like any of the current leaders in the race to become next GOP Speaker of the House, but how can you be certain which candidate is the absolute worst option? This should help: Trump endorses Jim Jordan for House speaker. Meanwhile, in his latest affront to America, Trump allegedly discussed US nuclear subs with foreign national after leaving White House. "Pratt told Trump he believed Australia should start buying its submarines from the United States, to which an excited Trump -- 'leaning' toward Pratt as if to be discreet -- then told Pratt two pieces of information about U.S. submarines: the supposed exact number of nuclear warheads they routinely carry, and exactly how close they supposedly can get to a Russian submarine without being detected." (Trump loves to gossip about other subs.)

+ Global Elite: The world of tech has extended beyond Silicon Valley. Way beyond. Rest of World has an interesting look at 40 emerging market pioneers that are outmaneuvering Silicon Valley for global domination.

+ Nones the Wiser? "In many countries around the world, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are nonbelievers or unaffiliated with any organized religion. These so-called 'nones' — atheists, agnostics, or nothing in particular — comprise 30% or more of the adult population in the United States and Canada, as well as numerous European countries. Japan, Israel and Uruguay are among other nations where large numbers of people are secular." AP with a special report: The Nones.

+ 51 Dies at 80: "I want to just let 'em know that they've been hit, and when they get up, they don't have to look to see who it was that hit 'em. It shouldn't be any puzzle. When they come to, they got to say, 'It must've been Butkus that got me." Dick Butkus, Hall of Fame linebacker for Chicago Bears, dies.

+ Grabs Popcorn: "The record-breaking Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film has seen advance global ticket sales cross the $100 million mark a week before the film opens in over 8,500 theaters worldwide." Beyonce also has a concert film coming out. The big deal about both is that they completely bypassed the studios and did a direct deal with AMC.


Feel Good Friday

Man, do I miss normal. Any sign of its return is good news. Say goodbye to the COVID-19 vaccination card. The CDC has stopped printing them.

+ The US economy added an estimated 336,000 jobs last month, blowing expectations out of the water.

+ New technology uses good old-fashioned wind to power giant cargo vessels.

+ NYT: When the Phone Rings and the Voice Says: You've Won a MacArthur Award. (When my phone rings, a voice usually says that my auto warranty has expired.)

+ Get on the bus: banned books tour hits the road, from New York to Texas.

+ NPR: Kentucky had an outside-the-box idea to fix child care worker shortages. It's working. "The state made all child care employees eligible for free child care, regardless of household income."

+ ‘The school is like a light for me:' The secret classrooms giving Afghan girls a chance to learn despite Taliban rules.

+ A new start after 60: I wanted to find myself – so I kayaked 6,800 miles alone. (Weird, I usually kayak to escape myself.)