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December 20, 2023

The Appetizer

“There is no more money.”

  • Luis Caputo, Argentina’s Minister of Economy, in a televised message to the country after announcing measures to contain an economic crisis and inflation.

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

  • 3.1%: The Consumer Price Index reading for November 2023, down from its peak of 9.1% in June 2022.
  • ~2 million: The number of Tesla vehicles recently recalled in the U.S. due to problems with the Autopilot feature.
  • $16.5 million: The price tag for former New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter’s Manhattan penthouse.
  • $443.5 billion: The amount that developing nations spent on servicing their public debts in 2022, up 5% over the previous year.
  • 54%: How much Argentina devalued its currency as new President Javier Milei begins to implement his “shock therapy” economic plan.

Dig In
Better Times Ahead for the Housing Market?

As we say goodbye to a year of sky-high interest rates and home prices that make your bank account flinch, the question remains: When can we upsize or downsize? This year we saw mortgage rates peak at 8% in October, bringing housing costs to levels not seen since Y2K. So naturally homeowners clung to their houses much like kids would cling to their candy.

What happened? Basically, during the pandemic, everyone wanted to move out of the city – who wouldn’t? Kidding. But this surge in demand, coupled with supply chain issues, pushed home prices up and up and up, you get the point … It was a real-life game of Monopoly, but the houses were taking their sweet time popping up on the board. However, we are starting to see building permits and housing starts finally on the rise.

The recent Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting came with a holy grail known as the dot plot. The dot plot shows all Fed members see the present fed funds rate as the peak rate. And better yet, the committee sees three rate cuts in 2024. Hopefully this will bring mortgage rates back down and a housing market rebound.

Weekly Specials

The recent rally in the market is bringing the bulls back, both literally and figuratively. Last week, an 800-pound steer was spotted running on the New Jersey Transit train tracks. Some speculate he may have been trying to find a way to get to Wall Street.

In the past year, avid binge watchers collectively logged over 100 billion hours on Netflix. Leading the charts were “The Night Agent” with 812 million hours, followed by “Ginny & Georgia” at 665 million hours and “Wednesday” with 507 million hours. Perhaps it’s time to consider a book instead!

Something straight from Jurassic World emerged on a beach in southern England: a 150-million-year-old pliosaur skull measuring 6.5 feet, once part of a colossal 50-foot ocean-dwelling giant. Meanwhile, in a Florida reptile park, a rare 19.2-inch white alligator was born last week. Described by the Gatorland president as extraordinarily rare, it is set to be on display next year.

Andrew “The Annihilator” Ngai, a 36-year-old actuary from Sydney, became the three-time world champion in data processing at the Microsoft Excel World Championship last Saturday. “You didn’t just succeed – you exceled,” Microsoft told Ngai.

Corporate Lunch

McDonald’s is spinning off a new fast food brand called CosMc’s that will primarily sell beverages. They put the McFlurry on the menu, but we’ll see if the ice cream machine ever actually works.

Meta is integrating chatbot functionality into Ray-Bans. A simple “Hey, Meta” can prompt the glasses to capture a photo and initiate analysis, potentially revolutionizing accessibility for the visually impaired.

Apple plans to add Stolen Device Protection to iOS that will help keep your passwords safe. If my phone ever gets stolen, I want it to turn into a glitter bomb. Have fun sweeping that up.

Netflix is live streaming an event that tennis fans will love: Rafael Nadal versus Carlos Alcaraz.

Amazon is trying a new subscription for free deliveries on groceries. My fifth-floor walkup will have these delivery drivers quitting on their first day.

TikTok users hit $10 billion in spending. You guys are spending $11 million per day tipping your favorite content creators. When was the last time you tipped your barista??

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