October 4, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! The trial of SBF has kicked off, as the ex-titan of the crypto universe faces up to 100+ years in jail if convicted of all charges. Today we're exploring:

  • 2B for MrB: The world's biggest YouTuber hits another milestone.
  • Down a size: Macy's is looking for something smaller in the store department.
  • Sharp moves: Treasury yields shot up yesterday, taking them to 16-year highs.
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MrFeast

2 billion monthly views. That’s what YouTuber MrBeast racked up in September, per the latest data from Social Blade — equivalent to one-quarter of the entire human population tuning in to watch a MrBeast video last month (even if briefly)... and that was just on his main YouTube channel.

The milestone came only a few days before the YouTuber — real name Jimmy Donaldson — announced a partnership between his snack company, Feastables, and basketball team the Charlotte Hornets. The collaboration will be the first-ever between a creator-led brand and an NBA franchise, with the Feastables logo, complete with MrBeast’s signature blue-and-pink panther, set to be included on all Hornets uniforms.

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With over 350 million combined followers on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, MrBeast represents the good, the bad and the wacky of the future of entertainment, as the burgeoning media empire rests almost solely on Donaldson's personal brand. Indeed, the 2.05 billion views that MrBeast managed in September — thanks in part to videos with clickbait titles like “Lamborghini Vs World's Largest Shredder” — takes the total views on the channel to 33.5 billion.

Although controversy has followed Donaldson in recent years, inside the belly of the beast is a canny creator, comfortable with backing his own formula of what will make for "good content". A perfect blend of childish clickbait, outlandish ideas, and genuine philanthropy — all perfectly attuned to the all-powerful YouTube algorithm — have given MrBeast an audience with few rivals on the internet.

Down a size

“America’s Department Store” is moving away from traditional malls, following years of reduced footfall and competition from other retailers, as Macy’s announced plans yesterday to open 30 new small-format stores by the end of 2025.

Indeed, the Macy’s group is returning to its roots as a small shop 165 years after its founding — opening 12 Macy’s and 3 Bloomingdale's stores that will be about one-fifth of the size of its typical outlets — after closing ~80 of its locations in the past 3 years, mainly in struggling shopping centers.

Escalating problems

Despite having been a mall staple for decades, the shuttering of the legacy brand’s megastores, and the decision to expand in compact locations, reflects what seems to be a permanent change in consumer habits. The company’s shares have shed 66% of their value in the last 5 years, as sales have stalled. Macy’s management are hoping that the slimmed-down stores with curated merchandise in convenient locations will prove “more efficient to operate” and help “ensure long-term viability”.

Although times are tough — with J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy — it would be a gross overstatement to say that the great American mall is under threat of extinction. While some of the biggest names in retail may need to prune their portfolio, a new report “The State Of The American Mall” found that mall sales overall actually grew 11% last year.

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Shooting pains

US 10-year treasury yields, a key measure of the interest cost for future government borrowing, have shot up to their highest levels in 16 years. The benchmark yield leaped yesterday, surpassing 4.8%, driven by the latest job report from the US Labor Department. The survey revealed a surge in job openings, raising the expectation that the Federal Reserve will have to maintain an interest rate regime of “higher for longer”.

The move spooked investors, with the S&P 500 Index dropping 1.4% and the tech-heavy NASDAQ shedding nearly 2%.

Beg to borrow

Apart from hurting your stock portfolio, treasury yields that shoot up and stay up are a big deal for the government’s ability to borrow more debt. Borrowing a few extra billion, or trillion, with a promise to pay it back in 10 years will now come with a 4.8% interest rate for Uncle Sam — while only 3 years ago, the rate was just 0.8%.

More Data

• Both Meta (Instagram, Facebook) and TikTok are testing out ad-free subscription plans for its users, with a monthly price tag of approx. $10.49 and $4.99, respectively.

• Go fetch: to celebrate ‘Mean Girls’ Day yesterday, Paramount released the hit film for free on its TikTok — by cutting the 97 minute film into 23 separate clips.

Singapore has been named the world's most expensive city in 2023 based on the average cost of 20 items associated with a cosmopolitan lifestyle, knocking Shanghai off the top spot.

Hi-Viz

• Get lost in this visualization detailing the maze of online job applications.

• Great estates: quantifying the scale of China’s enormous property sector.

Off the charts: Canadian and American parents obviously have similar tastes, as the most popular baby girl name in Canada was just announced as the same name that topped the US list from earlier this year. What name is it? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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