Stifel Bits

April 26, 2023

The Appetizer

“Of course, we respect local restrictions around the word ‘champagne,’ but we remain proud of Miller High Life, its nickname, and its Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provenance.”

  • Molson Coors Beverage Company, after Belgian customs officials seized more than 2,300 cans of Miller High Life for bearing the nickname “The Champagne of Beers.”

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

  • $15 million: The amount a license plate with a single number sold for at a charity auction in Dubai, setting a new world record.
  • $25,000: The prize a Maine museum is offering to the first person to deliver a 1 kilogram specimen of a recent meteor that fell near the border there.
  • 5,000+ pounds: The estimated total weight of the dimes stolen from a truck that had picked up coins from the U.S. Mint. Estimates are that the thieves fled with at least $100,000 worth of dimes.
  • 1,000 watts: The strength of the laser-powered purple beam that the Sacramento Kings display after home wins. It is considered the brightest full-color laser in the world and is able to reach outer space.
  • $47 billion: The amount the EU recently approved for its European Chips Act, in response to the U.S. CHIPS Act.
  • 10: The number of EV models that qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit.

Dig In
Raising the Ceiling, Might Need a New Roof

Last week, we saw debt ceiling negotiations kick into a higher gear as analysts warned the Treasury’s “extraordinary measures” currently funding the government could run out sooner than expected, and House Republicans introduced wish-list legislation to raise the borrowing limit. Game on.

As you may recall, the Biden administration released a budget proposal for 2024 that runs a $1.8 trillion deficit. That’s nothing new or unique to either party: The U.S. has operated on a deficit each year since 2002. But years of borrowing to make up income/spending differences have added up, and the U.S. debt now stands at $31.5 trillion. Low interest rates following the global financial crisis kept servicing costs relatively contained, but that’s changing in the current rising rate environment.

While both parties will continue to debate the issue – the real negotiations are just getting started – we believe the national debt’s growth is unsustainable and will need reining in. Exactly how that happens remains TBD, but will most likely come through a combination of economic growth and stricter budget discipline. We’re watching this one closely, so check out Sight|Lines for a deeper dive on the topic.

Weekly Specials

For the first time in 35 years, you can’t listen to “The Music of the Night” on Broadway. “The Phantom of the Opera” – Broadway’s longest-running show – dropped its curtain (and chandelier) for the final time last week after production number 13,981. It may not be gone long, though, with producers hinting all great shows eventually make their return.

The latest installment of humans versus AI went down last week when “Heart on My Sleeve,” a song created using artificial intelligence to clone Drake and The Weeknd’s voices, was pulled from social media and streaming services amid copyright violation concerns. Neither artist has ever performed the song – rather, it used publicly available video clips to make the tune.

One way to deal with a water shortage? Create more. Cloud seeding – the process of using an airplane or ground equipment to introduce rain-causing particles in the air – has taken off amid the West’s ongoing drought. Believe it or not, it may actually work. Utah calculates the practice increased the state’s 2018 water supply by 12%.

How much would you pay to go into space? For $132,000, French space tourism company Zephalto plans to offer 60 space balloon trips per year starting in 2025. The fare includes fine food and wine as you float in luxury 15.5 miles above the earth. That appears to be the going rate: Florida-based Space Perspective also offers space balloon trips costing $125,000.

Pothole, utility trench, who cares? After Arnold Schwarzenegger released a video of himself repairing a pothole in his neighborhood, the city of Los Angeles claimed it was actually a utility trench. Months of heavy rains prevented the gas company from fixing the area permanently after completing work back in January.

Corporate Lunch

McDonalds is upgrading its burgers. Apparently the buns will be softer, cheese will be gooier, and onions will be added to patties right on the grill. Oh, and extra Big Mac sauce.

In a shocking turn of events, Netflix announced that it will “disc-continue” its DVD-by-mail business.

Tesla cut some Model Y and Model 3 U.S. prices for the sixth time this year, to boost demand as competition among electric vehicles ramps up.

Boeing stands by its plans to increase 737 Max production despite the recent flaw it uncovered.

Lululemon has approached competitor Hydrow about a possible sale of its at-home fitness business Mirror. Apparently, Mirror is “weighing” on its balance sheet.

Google is launching its first foldable phone, the Pixel Fold, in June. It will cost around $1,700 … but is justified because it has the “most durable hinge on a foldable.”

Apple announced a high-yield savings account, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, paying 4.15% interest. Interestingly, this rate is higher than that offered by Goldman Sachs on its Marcus account.

Travelers snapped up $10,000 tickets on Japan’s airline ANA for $300 after an online currency conversion blunder. All we can get are airlines canceling all flights for the day…

drawing of a table setting

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