Stifel Bits

March 15, 2023

The Appetizer

“When I was little, I would never have believed someday I would be in this position. The whole day I was trying not to focus on that.”

  • U.S. Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin after winning her record-tying 86th World Cup race. The latest win ties the record for the most wins by a female or male alpine skier in history. Did we mention Stifel sponsors the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team?

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • 6.79%: The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the week ending 3/3/23, which is 2.70 percentage points higher than a year ago.
  • 16: The number of stitches received by Boston Red Sox third baseman Justin Turner after taking a fastball to the face.
  • 70: The number of “cocaine hippos” that Colombia is proposing to relocate to India and Mexico to control their population. They’re descendants of four hippos that were imported by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s.
  • ~7: The number of years since a nuclear reactor has started up in the U.S. Georgia Power recently announced the Vogtle Unit 3 has started a nuclear reaction inside its reactor.
  • 87.5: Points per game by Gonzaga during the regular season/conference tournament, highest in the nation.
  • $250 million: The size of Salesforce’s generative AI startup investment fund.

Dig In
‘Tis the Season

All eyes were on Washington last week when Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress (the data will determine the Fed’s next actions) and the Biden Administration released its initial budget proposal for 2024. Let’s focus on the budget.

Every year, the sitting administration must develop a comprehensive budget proposal for the government, which usually highlights the president’s priorities. This year’s $6.9 trillion submission appears to be no different, requesting funds to ensure Medicare solvency, lower drug and healthcare costs, expand childcare, and invest in manufacturing. Additionally, the plan calls for increased defense spending, a $3 trillion reduction in the federal deficit over the next decade, and $4.5 trillion in new taxes to fund the outlays.

Remember, though, that Congress has the power of the purse, and most budget proposals are dead on arrival at Capitol Hill. We expect negotiations to be particularly fierce this year with a split Congress and Republicans tying budget negotiations to raising the debt ceiling later this summer.

So hold on tight, things are just getting started.

Weekly Specials

The clock appears to be running out on TikTok, as the White House endorsed the RESTRICT Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow the federal government to regulate or ban foreign-produced technology. Despite broad support, some senators believe the bill doesn’t go far enough in establishing a major data privacy law to protect Americans’ confidential information.

A half-point rate hike? It could happen … or maybe not. After markets took Fed Chair Jay Powell’s comments last Tuesday before the Senate to mean a 0.5% hike in March is likely, Powell kept the central bank’s options open in his comments to the House on Wednesday. The Fed will be leaning on hiring and inflation to guide the March rates decision.

It seems Punxsutawney Phil was wrong this year. Less than six weeks after the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, spring appears to be well underway in many places. In fact, warm temperatures across the country have trees sprouting leaves earlier than any other year on record – in some cases, up to three weeks earlier than normal.

The French are SERIOUS about retirement. So serious, in fact, that they’ve taken to the streets to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030. Macron argues that raising the retirement age is only way to preserve the country’s pension system without raising taxes or cutting benefits.

A Newcastle soccer fan was so sure that his favorite team would win its first trophy in seven decades, that he went out and got a brand new tattoo to commemorate the win. Well, he jumped the gun when Newcastle lost 2-0 to Manchester United in the finals. “Oops” would most definitely be an understatement. Just ask Johnny Depp.

Wait, didn’t 5G launch just launch? A number of telecom execs, including Nokia’s CEO, believe that 6G internet may launch in 2030. While everyone is still waiting for 5G to take off, it takes number of years to set the standards for the next generation of technology, so the industry is getting a head start.

Corporate Lunch

The U.S. Justice Department is suing to block JetBlue from acquiring budget carrier Spirit Airlines … which would eliminate the unique competition Spirt provides.

Hershey announced two vegan-friendly additions to their line – vegan Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups made with oat chocolate and an oat chocolate bar with sea salt and almonds.

Nestle, Kellogg, Tyson Foods, and Gorton’s Seafood are among the food companies leaning into the air fryer boom to appeal to consumers. Nearly 60% of U.S. households now own an air fryer.

Adidas slashed its dividend by nearly 80%, missing estimates, and offered no concrete plans for disposing of $1.3 billion in Yeezy gear. There are warning signs for its first annual loss in three decades.

Toblerone chocolate will remove the famous Matterhorn peak logo from packaging due to “Swissness” laws, as it moves production to Slovakia to meet global demand.

Marlboro maker Altria agrees to buy e-cigarette startup NJOY for $2.8 billion while shedding its stake in JUUL.

Intel is seeking an additional 4-5 billion EUR in subsides from the German government to move ahead with a chip manufacturing complex in the eastern part of the country.

Despite recent rumors to the contrary, Tom Brady is still retired.

drawing of a table setting

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