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October 25, 2023

The Appetizer

“… So I figured, this is it, this is the moment.”

  • A Washington, D.C., man who decided to propose to his now fiancée after being stranded at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

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

  • $3.6 billion: The amount consumers are expected to spend on candy this year, up from $3.1 billion last year.
  • $108.24: The expected average spend on costumes, candy, decorations, and greeting cards for Halloween this year, up from $100.45 last year. Now that’s scary!
  • -7.4%: The decline in the number of U.S. students graduating with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in accounting during the 2021-2022 academic year from the prior year, the largest one-year decline since the 1994-1995 academic year.
  • 28,420: The number of people worldwide with a net worth of at least $100 million, up 12% over last year and more than double the number back in 2003.
  • 5.19 billion: The estimated number of internet users in the world as of July 2023.

Dig In
Higher for Longer

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard the phrase “higher for longer,” (translation: “No, we can’t afford a new car right now!”). As the Federal Reserve (Fed) trudges on toward 2% inflation, brace yourself for an extended period of elevated rates, aka a new rate regime.

The expectation for a higher rate regime has helped drive up yields to levels not seen since the Great Recession. And forward rates are signaling investors believe the 10-year yield will remain above 4% for decades. Yes, you read that right, decades. Moreover, this brings to light the meaningful increase in debt over the last 15 years, which mixed with a higher rate regime could put us on a course for a fiscal transition.

But why should you care? Well, borrowing money will be more expensive, and companies swimming in debt will be refinancing their loans at much higher rates, which could pressure valuations, pushing equities lower.

The Fed has it handled right? It depends on who you ask, but according to the Fed’s September Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), inflation is slated to come back to 2% in 2026. So, don’t despair, that new car in 2026 will be worth the wait!

Weekly Specials

The office jungle is bustling again! In the U.S., 26% of households now host at least one remote worker for one day a week, a drop from the 37% in 2021. But hey, it’s still way more than the pre-pandemic era when just 5.7% of folks worked in PJs.

Lacrosse, squash, cricket, flag football, and baseball-softball have joined the 2028 L.A. Olympics lineup. The inclusion of cricket it set to bring a $100 million boost to the value of the Olympics’ broadcasting rights in India, while flag football and baseball-softball offer exciting opportunities for NFL and MLB players.

Funflation” is the newest term of 2023. It’s all about how your typical fun activities have been hitting your wallet harder than ever. With concert ticket prices up a staggering 95% since 2019, and Disney theme parks increasing their entry fee by $30, it wouldn’t be surprising if more folks decide to take a break from the fun.

Picturesque Pomfret, Vermont, went viral on TikTok and Instagram recently with 80,000 mentions and countless photos. However, the locals were over all of the hype, raising $15,000 to close their town during the foliage season to keep out leaf-peepers. It’s understandable – no one wants an uninvited photoshoot on their private property.

Corporate Lunch

Some T-Mobile users must opt out of an automatic plan shift, moving them from older unlimited plans to pricier ones. Limiting the unlimited?

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, is developing a tool to detect AI-generated images and is being touted to be 99% accurate. Finally!

X (formerly Twitter) is giving users in New Zealand and the Philippines the deal of a lifetime: $1 a year for the ability to tweet. Elon Musk’s quest to squash spam and bots is taking baby steps!

Delta saw its profits take flight, reporting a 60% increase as a strong summer of flying, especially international flights, offset recent increases in fuel expense.

The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is keeping China on its “no AI chips for you” list, but deep in its 400-page rulebook, it said it is open to semiconductor companies like Nvidia and Intel finding ways to keep sending chips to small- and medium-sized systems.

Whole Foods Market is predicting next year’s food trends: faux fish, complex heat, and buckwheat while mushrooms, walnuts, and legumes are replacing meat alternatives. Give me a steak.

American Express had a record quarter as its customers kept spending and traveling. The not-so-good news? Bad debt reserves were bumped up 58% to $1.23 billion.

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