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January 17, 2024

The Appetizer

“They had to win tonight? If that’s the case, just let us know so we don’t show up for the game, just give them a win. But that was not fair tonight.”

  • Darko Rajaković, head coach of the Toronto Raptors on the quality of officiating in his team’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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

  • $1.59 trillion: The U.S. government spending level for the 2024 fiscal year.
  • 19.6%: The percentage of unleased office space in U.S. major cities as of the fourth quarter, up from 18.8% a year earlier. This is the highest since the data was first collected in 1979.
  • 700: The number of jobs added to the IT sector over 2023, a drastic slowdown from the 267,000 jobs added in 2022.
  • $101 billion: The value of merchandise that was returned fraudulently in the U.S. in 2023, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • 34.1%: The percentage of Japan’s unmarried adults in their 20s to 40s that have never been in a relationship.

Dig In
Politics and Geopolitics

From the election in Taiwan, the vessel attacks in the Red Sea, and the start of U.S. primary elections, there’s a lot going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our Geopolitical Risk Dashboard, our team’s radar for potential market-moving events.

Taiwan’s election this weekend was one of 40 worldwide this year, marking a global election supercycle. China called the race a “choice between war and peace,” but voters shrugged off the warning and re-elected the ruling party’s presidential candidate. The status quo is expected to continue, for now.

The conflict in the Middle East passed the 100-day mark last week. Tensions have continued to escalate. The Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group, have been launching missiles into the Red Sea, one of the world’s most densely packed shipping channels. The U.S. finally responded with its own missile strikes as it tries to preserve security in the region.

In the U.S., Iowa kicked off the Republican primaries. Donald Trump swept the field with 51% of the votes. Second place was a close tie between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, keeping their dreams alive. The New Hampshire primary on January 23, however, may be a make or break for DeSantis and Haley. Read more in our latest Potomac Perspectives.

Weekly Specials

Big news! Congress is finally on the same page for once. House Republicans and Senate Democrats reached a deal on top-line spending in 2024 – $1.59 trillion, déjà vu from the last bipartisan debt deal. $886 billion will go to defense spending, while the rest will fund areas like education, transportation, and income security.

It’s been 51 years since anyone set foot on the moon, and the lunar reunion has been delayed again. NASA aimed to send four astronauts for a spin later this year, but the launch has been pushed back to 2025, with moonwalking plans set for 2026.

January marks 25 years since Tony Soprano, the “waste management worker” attending therapy, was introduced to the world. If you don’t have time to watch all six seasons (77 hours and 55 minutes), TikTok creators have condensed each episode into 25 seconds, letting viewers relive the series in just 36 minutes.

A man from southern England claimed he was a senior footman at Windsor Castle and was selling the beloved Queen Elizabeth’s walking stick on eBay. The auction reached $686 before he learned the police had launched an investigation. He was found guilty of defrauding eBay buyers and sentenced to 12-month community service.

Corporate Lunch

Excuse me, I think you dropped this. An Alaska Airlines aircraft lost a piece of its fuselage mid-flight, and thankfully no one was hurt. An iPhone that fell out of the plane survived the 16,000-foot fall. Is this the purpose of airplane mode?

Netflix is considering more ways to squeeze juice out of its video game offerings. Ideas include charging extra and incorporating ads.

Tiger Woods and Nike are parting ways after a 27-year partnership. Estimates are that Woods earned roughly $500 million through his contracts with Nike.

Starbucks is expanding in India, opening the equivalent of one new location every three days. Are these stores made out of Legos?

Meta will restrict the content teens can see on Instagram and Facebook amid a lawsuit from 42 attorneys general claiming the social media sites harm kids. Are teens still on Facebook?

Nvidia’s newest GPUs are designed to run AI from a regular PC. If you thought hackers were bad in Call of Duty before, just wait.

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