Stifel Bits

June 7, 2023

The Appetizer

“We have closed the digital divide. Everyone is a programmer. Now, you just have to say something to the computer.”

  • Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang in regard to generative AI during a keynote speech.

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

  • $6,696: The price of the most expensive ice cream in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The ice cream includes edible gold leaf, white truffle, and natural cheeses.
  • 31: The number of billionaires in the world that are individually worth more than the $38.8 billion that the U.S. Treasury has in cash.
  • 60: The number of cupcakes a hungry black bear ate in the garage of a Connecticut bakery before running off.
  • $1 billion+: The amount invested a day in solar power this year, according to the IEA, coming in higher than spending in upstream oil for the first time ever.
  • ~7,500: The number of active satellites orbiting Earth, according to McKinsey.

Dig In
Consumers Carry the Economy

When clients asked if we’re heading for a recession last year, we said that it depends on the consumer. Well, you know the 2022 story by now. Consumers spent in spite of higher prices and supply shortages, and kept the economy afloat.

Now, 364 days later, interest rates top 5%, economic growth has slowed to 1.3%, warning lights are flashing across our recession dashboard – and clients are asking again. Believe it or not, our answer remains the same: It depends on the consumer.

On the downside, inflation is slowing but still running higher than the Federal Reserve would like, households continue to burn through excess pandemic savings, and consumer sentiment dipped a little recently.

That said, the consumer might have something left in tank. The jobs market remains resilient, households still hold a nice cushion ($500 billion!) of excess savings, and consumer spending is up.

Believe us, we see the flashing lights and believe it’s inevitable the U.S. economy will enter a recession at some point – markets go through cycles, after all. But for now, the consumer continues to show resilience.

Weekly Specials

Swifties are finding creative ways to get into Taylor’s sold-out shows. In Nashville, one accountant took a side hustle as an arena security guard to score a front row seat, and videos of him singing his heart out went viral.

See? You can work together. Congress and the White House averted disaster by reaching an eleventh-hour agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The bill suspends the debt ceiling until 2025 in exchange for budget cuts and caps on spending, and doesn’t touch Social Security and Medicare.

Don’t worry, travelers, it’s not fight night. Air New Zealand is weighing in 10,000 international passengers to get a better estimate of the average passenger’s weight. Personal data will remain anonymous – the scales have no display – and it will help the airline balance airplanes and calculate fuel needs more effectively.

The annual cheese-rolling race took place recently in Gloucester, England. Racers chase a seven-pound wheel of Double Gloucester down a near-vertical hill – the pictures are worth a thousand words for this one. The winner keeps the cheese … and the bumps and bruises it took to win. Maybe some people just like cheese?

The Italian government called a crisis meeting last month to discuss pasta prices soaring 16.5% in April, more than twice Italy’s inflation figure. The elevated prices are the result of producers selling products made when raw material costs were higher. Prices have improved somewhat recently, hopefully a sign that this too shall pasta.

Corporate Lunch

Amazon announced it’s ending 37 projects from the “Bezos Era.” No more summoning Alexa through your lock screen or free U.S. grocery delivery.

Costco noticed fewer steak and beef purchases in its meat department and thinks this is a trend indicative of a recession coming.

Pets everywhere are barking loudly and wagging their tails as Chewy reported a top and bottom line earnings beat.

Pfizer is testing out an oral weight-loss drug that produces similar results of blockbuster rival Ozempic.

Up, up, and away. American Airlines just raised its profit forecast due to stronger demand and lower fuel prices.

TikTok is taking Montana to court faster than their 15-second videos, over a bill that would ban the app in the state starting at the beginning of 2024.

HBO estimated 2.9 million viewers watched the Succession finale … but the throne still belongs to, well, Game of Thrones at 19.3 million.

State Farm has stopped selling home insurance in wildfire-prone California.

drawing of a table setting

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