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December 6, 2023

The Appetizer

“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy, does that help – particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”

  • Charlie Munger, who recently passed away at the young age of 99.

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

  • 8.92%: The increase in the S&P 500 in November, marking one of the best Novembers on record.
  • 5.2%: The estimate of U.S. GDP growth for the third quarter, revised up from 4.9%.
  • $2.5 billion: The estimated value of agricultural damage that feral hogs cause each year in the U.S.
  • $2.7 million: The record-breaking price of a rare bottle of Scotch whisky (Macallan Adami 1926) that sold at auction recently.
  • 10,000+: The number of micro-naps that chinstrap penguins take per day. The naps usually last a few seconds.
  • $201,972.66: The total cost of the 12 gifts from the classic song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” according to the PNC Christmas Price Index.

Dig In
Black Friday Shopping

On the sole Friday morning when everyone suddenly claims to be a morning person – yes, Black Friday – a digital shopping storm ensued, breaking records with $9.8 billion in online sales in the U.S. On its own, Amazon sold more than one billion, yes billion, items during its Black Friday sale.

Now, the elephant remains in the room: Are consumers spending due to a positive economic outlook, surplus savings, or simply irresistible deals? Perhaps the hottest sold items of the day hold the answer to that question … a snail mucin skin moisturizer and the Amazon Fire Stick … Answer pending.

However, a closer look points to the rising trend of buy now, pay later (BNPL) shoppers. BNPL purchases hit an all-time high, up 43% from a year ago, allowing shoppers to split payments into manageable installments, often with zero or minimal interest. Additionally, a report showed credit card balances grew $48 billion in the third quarter and marked the eighth quarter of consecutive year-over-year increases.

In essence, the Black Friday craze may be fueled in part by the shifting landscape of consumer finance, where flexible payment options increasingly shape shopping habits and financial commitments.

Weekly Specials

The A23a iceberg, a frozen titan three times the size of NYC, is free! After a 30-year chill by the Antarctic Filchner Ice Shelf, this icy giant is breaking free and quickly floating past the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip!

Thirteen Congress members are waving goodbye to the chaos, opting out of re-election. They’re tired of all the dysfunction! What this means: A possible shift in power as seats could flip with so many members stepping down. We’re starting to prepare for the 2024 presidential election. Read about the four phases to watch in our Sight|Lines.

ChatGPT is breaking barriers in medicine! Early in 2023, ChatGPT passed the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, and since then, it has been able to lighten workloads, have conversations about research, and increase overall efficiency in the medical world. Next thing you know, AI might just step into the diagnosis game!

Authentic, defined as not false or imitation, was picked by Merriam-Webster to be word of the year. This past year the pursuit of authenticity has been on everyone’s radar as celebrities embrace “realness” and AI churns out fake news.

Corporate Lunch

Tesla held an event to celebrate its first Cybertruck deliveries. The model starts at $61,000, a little bit higher than the $40,000 starting price announced in 2019.

Apple is ending its credit card partnership with Goldman Sachs, so max one out now while you still can before they wipe all of the accounts! Just kidding, the cards are sticking around and so is Collections.

Sports Illustrated is catching some flak for allegedly using AI tools to write stories. Management denies the allegations.

Disney CEO Bob Iger plans to bring Disney to the modern age. A little unsolicited advice: Don’t use AI tools to write scripts. People notice and get mad.

A flying taxi company called Lilium received approval from the EU to design and operate its vertically launching electric jets. Taxis already fly in New York City; I swear they drive with both feet.

A Finnish startup is charging more than Apple! Varjo launched a $3,990 mixed-reality headset. You could buy 46 Christmas trees for that price, plant them, and now you have a small business.

drawing of a table setting with a fork on the left, plate in the middle, and a knife and spoon on the right

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