6.10.2022

Gas Prices, Golf Shake-up, and Shrinkflation Arrives Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, June 10, and we're covering the continuing rise in gas prices, a shake-up in the golf world, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

$5 Per Gallon

The national average of gas prices across the US is on track to pass $5 per gallon this weekend, according to industry groups. The rise is the continuation of a monthlong run of record prices, and marks the first time the threshold has been passed since the widespread adoption of automobiles.

 

Analysts have pointed to summer demand, refinery bottlenecks, and the effect of the war in Ukraine on global markets as primary factors. Some experts project crude oil prices to reach as high as $140 per barrel, up from the current $120, with gas prices over $6 per gallon. 

 

State-level averages vary. At least 19 states have already passed the $5 milestone, and per-gallon prices range from $4.40 in Georgia to more than $6.40 in California (see updated list). Prices are also rising quickly—today's average is up almost 30 cents from last week, 70 cents from last month, and more than $1.90 from last year.

 

See historical gas prices, adjusted for inflation, here.

Baby Formula Whistleblower

Abbott and government officials were alerted about possible product-safety concerns at the Sturgis, Michigan, baby formula plant months earlier than previously reported and nearly a full year before the plant shut down, according to reports yesterday.

 

A former employee allegedly filed a whistleblower complaint in February 2021—federal officials previously indicated they received the first complaint in September 2021. Abbott said it investigated the whistleblower complaint but could not confirm the allegations at the time.

 

The plant was voluntarily shut down this February after a number of infants were diagnosed with bacterial infections after consuming formula made at the facility. The company has said testing at the plant failed to establish a direct link with the cases.

 

The news comes days after the Sturgis plant resumed production on some types of baby formula. Abbott accounts for more than 40% of the US baby formula market. The formula shortage is expected to last until at least mid-July.

 

See background here.

Saudi Arabia Tees Off

Saudi Arabia's inaugural LIV Golf tournament debuted yesterday in London, the first event in the country's newly launched professional golf series. Financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund (see 101), the organization has made waves for its aggressive recruitment of the sport's biggest stars.

 

The league is viewed as a direct rival to the US-based PGA Tour and has been criticized as an effort to "sportswash"—or soften—the country's image in the face of a track record of human rights violations.

 

Seventeen current and former PGA Tour members have been suspended for their participation in the LIV Golf event. The list includes Hall-of-Famer Phil Mickelson, 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, and more. 

 

The eight events on the tour have a combined purse of $225M, with this weekend's tournament winner taking home $4M and the last place golfer raking in $120K. For comparison, Justin Thomas earned $2.7M for winning the PGA Championship in May. 

In partnership with Miso Robotics

FAST FOOD MEETS THE ROBO-REVOLUTION

 

Restaurants have notoriously low margins—as low as 3%. It's no wonder that one spot by your house just can't seem to find a restaurant that stays in business for over six months.

 

And to make matters worse, US restaurants have a 150% employee turnover rate despite spending $70.3B on labor annually. The good news: one savvy startup named Miso Robotics has a possible solution. Miso is revolutionizing commercial foodservice through intelligent, automated solutions that solve some of the largest gaps in kitchen operations. Its flagship technology, Flippy, is designed to cook food consistently, quickly, and at just 1% of traditional labor costs. The result: Miso helps boost restaurant profit margins by 3x.

 

Already partnered with 10 of the top 25 restaurant brands, including White Castle, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Jack in The Box, Miso is now calling on investors to help them continue expanding across the $300B fast food market. Get your shares before the campaign closes in two weeks on June 23.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose hosts the 75th Annual Tony Awards Sunday (8 pm ET, CBS); see full preview and predictions (More)

 

> Tampa Bay Lightning take Game 5, lead Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 over New York Rangers (More) | Oklahoma tops Texas to win their second straight Women's College World Series (More) | Trading cards coming for college football and basketball players (More)

 

> Grammy Awards add new categories, including Songwriter of the Year and Best Song for Social Change (More) | Britney Spears has surprise wedding to fiance Sam Asghari (More)

From our partners: The credit card that The Ascent's credit card expert couldn't resist. He signed up for it, and it's an absolute slam-dunk if you're looking for a one card wallet. Big sign-up bonus, up to 5% cash back, no annual fee, and the list goes on.

Science & Technology

> James Webb Space Telescope survives strike by micrometeoroid; engineers say systems are functioning as expected (More) | JWST's first full photos expected July 12 (More)

 

> Samples of the asteroid Ryugu show the object to be the most primitive type of asteroid known; analysis suggests similar meteorites recovered on Earth had their composition altered by the planet's atmosphere (More)

 

> Stem cell study reveals more than 300 genetic markers linked to glaucoma; analysis may lead to new treatments for the condition, the leading cause of irreversible blindness (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fell yesterday (S&P 500 -2.4%, Dow -1.9%, Nasdaq -2.8%) ahead of today’s release of the May consumer price index report (More) | European Central Bank will increase interest rates next month for the first time in 11 years (More)

 

> CEOs of more than 200 US companies call on Senate to address gun safety (More)

 

> DocuSign shares down over 20% in after-hours trading after missing earnings expectations (More) | Online apparel retailer Stitch Fix shares down double-digits as company plans to layoff 15% of workforce amid weaker consumer demand (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> House Jan. 6 Select Committee holds first public hearing, provides testimony from Ivanka Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr rejecting election fraud claims; see takeaways (More) | See our preview from yesterday (More) | FBI arrests Michigan gubernatorial candidate on charges linked to day's events (More)

 

> Grand Rapids, Michigan, police officer charged with second-degree murder in the April shooting of Patrick Lyoya (More) | See background on case with video (More, warning—sensitive content)

 

> Russian-backed court in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk sentences two Britons, one Moroccan to death for fighting for Ukraine (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

Space Trash

Financial Times | Peggy Hollinger, Sam Learner. A fascinating visual deep dive illuminating how space debris threatens modern life. (Read)

Reinventing the Internet

Bankless | Staff. Two of the country's leading venture capital voices discuss the evolution of the internet toward Web3. (Watch)

Addicted to Streaming

Pitchfork | Jeremy Larson. The downside of participating in the convenience of streaming music platforms. (Read)

WHITE CASTLE'S NEXT 100 HIRES

 

In partnership with Miso Robotics

 

Miso Robotics' robot-french-frying-maestro, Flippy, is finding its way into all sorts of restaurants. In fact, White Castle has decided to "hire" 100 more Flippys after a successful pilot launch in 2021.

 

Why? Flippy has proven to boost restaurant margins by 3x in the $300B fast food market. See why more brands keep hiring Flippy and check out the Miso Robotics investment offering before their fundraising campaign closes June 23.

Please support our sponsors!

ETCETERA

 

Shrinkflation—it's not just your imagination.

 

Prototype battery relies on steel, water, and carbon dioxide.

 

Follow seals under the icy Lake Baikal (in photos).

 

Renters are returning to Manhattan.

 

The push to begin naming heat waves

 

Is beefalo the meat of the future?

 

A highly effective pair of speedbumps.

 

Good Samaritan ambushed by kitten platoon.

 

Clickbait: Texas zoo camera captures casual nightmare fuel.

 

Historybook: Benjamin Franklin conducts famous kite experiment (1752); Hattie McDaniel, first African American to win an Oscar, born (1893); Hollywood legend Judy Garland born (1922); Italy invades France, declares war on France and Great Britain (1940); RIP musician Ray Charles (2004).

 

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

- Judy Garland

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