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Fortune December/January 2021

FORTUNE covers the entire field of business, including specific companies and business trends, tech innovation prominent business leaders, and new ideas shaping the global marketplace. FORTUNE is particularly well known for its exceptionally reliable annual rankings of companies. FORTUNE furthers understanding of the economy, provides implementable business strategy, and gives you the practical knowledge you need to maximize your own success. Fortune currently publishes 3 double issues. Each count as two of 12 issues in an annual subscription.

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United States
Meredith Corporation
$14.63(Incl. tax)
$43.93(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
wall street and reality remain out of whack

CORPORATE TAXES STAY LOW After November’s elections, many stock market prognosticators gleefully greeted the promise of a divided U.S. Congress. That’s because the markets tend to perform better when Capitol Hill is gridlocked, as that rules out disruptive policies that threaten to upend business as usual. In 2021, a likely GOP-controlled Senate, or even a fifty-fifty split, puts the kibosh on any Biden administration plans to reverse the Trump tax cuts; that should bode well for corporate profits, which are also primed for a major rebound when the pandemic wanes. CRUISES RUN AGROUND Several small cruise operators have gone under since the pandemic essentially shut down the industry in March (and turned some 3,500-person vacations into headline-grabbing superspreader events). The world’s largest cruise conglomerates—Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian—have remained afloat by selling ships…

1 min
state budgets on the brink

BY THE DUBIOUS STANDARDS OF GOVERNMENT FINANCE, the past decade was almost a model of prudence in statehouses across the U.S. After the financial crisis of 2008—a rare instance when collective state revenue fell—many states created new (or supplemented existing) “rainy day” funds. As a result, state and local governments entered 2020 with a combined $119 billion in such savings, according to the Brookings Institution. But the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 has blown up budgets from coast to coast, and the impact will be lasting. Moody’s Analytics estimates that state and local government budget shortfalls could be a combined $450 billion over the next three years even as the economy recovers. Above, a state-by-state breakdown of the looming deficits.…

19 min
investor roundtable: the smart money plots its next move

SARAH KETTERER• Causeway Capital“We’re at a very exuberant part of the market cycle. And what happens after that?”MALLUN YEN• Operator Collective“Direct listing isn’t right for every company, but I love the trend of investor democratization.”SAVITA SUBRAMANIAN• Bank of America Merrill Lynch“An old-school buy-and-hold mentality might be the biggest opportunity to make money.”JOSH BROWN• Ritholtz Wealth Management“It’s stocks that can go up long term versus stocks that only go up in fits and starts.”DAVID EISWERT• T. Rowe Price Global Stock Fund“You have to suffer on the path in the near term, so that you make money over the next two or three years.” GRIM NEWS about a resurgent pandemic on one hand, exuberant stock markets on the other. That was the paradox confronting the members of our annual investor roundtable when we…

19 min
stealing (market share) from the rich

The startup’s stock-trading app is a runaway hit. But can Robinhood persuade wealthier customers to trust it with serious money? VLAD TENEV, like so many CEOs these days, is working from home. A thin 33-year-old with jet-black hair down to his shoulders, Tenev has joined a video call to discuss how his company—Robinhood, maker of the wildly popular eponymous stock-trading app—plans to capitalize on its recent growth. But he also has other transitions on his mind. A father of two, Tenev explains that his younger child is in the final stages of potty training—a milestone that feels especially significant given Tenev’s own upbringing. “When I grew up, in Bulgaria, there were never enough diapers available,” he recounts. “So there was huge pressure to move on from diapers.” Though he now lives in tony…

6 min
tomorrow’s growth champions

FINDING ADVANTAGE IN ADVERSITY Businesses with the most “vitality” thrive in times of crisis and beyond. And in the fourth edition of the Future 50 index, we used our proven formula to identify global companies best positioned for growth in the years to come. By MARTIN REEVES & KEVIN WHITAKER IN STABLE TIMES, sticking with a proven formula makes sense. For successful companies, it’s a good bet that the products and models that are working well today will continue to work in the future. But in volatile and uncertain times—when the need for resilience rises to the forefront—adapting to new circumstances and reinventing businesses become central challenges. The events of 2020 have reminded us how quickly the pattern of challenge can change. When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across the world, companies focused primarily…

7 min
quantum enters a new dimension

SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS on a conference call are trying to get a quantum computer, a buzzy successor to today’s supercomputers, to do some of its magic. They want to see how well the experimental machine can reproduce a simple pattern of bars and stripes. After the team tees up some software code, a scientist with dreadlocks clicks a button to put the computer, located in a lab outside Denver, into action. A laser generates a magnetic pulse in the machine that sets atoms inside a vacuum chamber—the computer’s brain, of sorts—into motion. Engineers with Zapata Computing, a startup that helps business customers create algorithms to use on quantum computers, are conducting the test. The company is renting use of a machine owned by industrial giant Honeywell, which considers quantum computing to be a…