Delta CEO: A negative Covid test mandate is 'a horrible idea'

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Tonight: Kap joins the SPAC craze; Uber’s staggering loss is still actually pretty good news; and don’t forget your spare quarters — Aldi’s going all in on America. Let’s get into it.


    Colin Kaepernick in 2019.
    Colin Kaepernick, the activist and former NFL quarterback, is the latest high-profile investor to get in on the SPAC craze.
    A SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, is a very trendy way to take a company public. Rather than go through the expensive, time-consuming process of an IPO, private companies can merge with a SPAC, aka a blank-check firm, which exists solely to raise money by listing on a stock exchange.

    Kaepernick will serve as co-chair of Mission Advancement Corp., which is seeking to raise about $250 million to invest in socially conscious consumer brands. Kap’s following on the heels of other star athletes getting in on the — can we call it a bubble yet? — trend. Alex Rodriguez, former Yankee and future husband of J.Lo, has one. Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame has one. And Shaq has a SPAC.
    SPACs were once an obscure part of the market, but then 2020 happened. With pockets full of easy money from the Fed, investors started looking for creative ways to invest. Last year, SPACs raised $76 billion — nearly six times more than in 2019.

    While the GameStop frenzy has died down, there’s still plenty of appetite for risky investments — especially as interest rates remain near zero.
    You can see that in the fervor for unprofitable startups like Airbnb and DoorDash, which went gangbusters on their first day of trading. Or consider Tesla, which doesn’t even make money from sales of its electric vehicles but has a market value larger than every other major automaker combined.
    And of course, in SPACs. “What you’re doing is throwing money out there — and hoping to find an idea,” Richard Fisher, the former president of the Dallas Federal Reserve, told my colleague Matt Egan. “It’s another indicator that money is too cheap.”


    Aldi, the German grocer known for its mega deals and quirky in-store rules (like charging a quarter to use a cart), says it’s on track to become the third largest supermarket chain in the US by store count, after Kroger and Walmart.
    The grocer just announced it will open 100 new US stores this year, adding to the more than 2,000 it already has in 37 states. 
    This is, of course, a pandemic bump. For the past year or so, Americans have been stocking up on essentials to eat at home rather than dine out. Sales at grocery stores increased nearly 8% in December from the same month in 2019, according to the US Commerce Department. And Aldi has an edge when it comes to price and scalability, my colleague Nathaniel Meyersohn reports.

    • Rock-bottom prices: The store boasts that its prices are up to 50% cheaper than traditional supermarkets. Aldi often beats Walmart at its own low-price game.
    • Smaller stores: At around 12,000 square feet, its stores are much smaller than a typical US supermarket of 40,000 square feet — making it easier to set up shop in urban areas. 
    • Private labels: More than 90% of the brands Aldi sells are its own private labels — a massive cash cow for grocers. 

    Aldi is not without challenges, however:

    • The competition: Lidl, another German grocer with a similar business model, is racing to grow in the United States, too, with plans to open 50 new stores by the end of this year.
    • 2021 isn’t 2020: Grocery sales are expected to fall 5% this year, according to one UBS analyst, as vaccines (hopefully) help curb the pandemic and allow customers to return to restaurants. 
    • Not all Americans love the store’s quirks. A quarter for a shopping cart? Sure, you get it back when you return the cart (that’s another way Aldi keeps labor costs down) but who has change in their pockets anymore? And at checkout, a cashier will shoo you over to another location to bag your own groceries. 



    Double mask it: Layering a cloth mask over a medical procedural mask, such as a disposable blue surgical mask, can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage, US health officials said Wednesday.


    When fast-food news breaks, Nightcap is on it.

    Our long national nightmare is over. McDonald’s is bringing back Hi-C Orange. The fan favorite drink got the boot nearly four years ago when McDonald’s replaced it with Sprite Tropic Berry. People were so mad they started a petition to bring it back. You know, people say Americans are an entitled lot — I say we fight were what we believe in. 

    Popeyes is opening a maritime front in the Great Chicken Sandwich Wars. The chain is rolling out a new crispy fish sandwich it hopes will give it an edge as more and more competitors capitalize on the chicken craze. Popeyes is also offering “sandwich insurance” for the first day — for an additional 15 cents, people who buy the fish sandwich and don’t like it can swap it out for a chicken sandwich.


      • Corporate responsibility: Target is giving workers free Lyft rides to get Covid-19 vaccines.
      • Banned: Former President Trump won’t be allowed back on Twitter even if he runs again for office and wins, according to Twitter’s CFO.
      • Taking on Big Tech: The man behind Fortnite is making the riskiest bet of his career. The payoff could be huge.

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