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May 8, 2024

The Appetizer

“I don’t know anything about AI, but that doesn’t mean I deny its existence or importance or anything of the sort.”

  • Warren Buffett at the latest Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting.

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

  • 6: The number of quarterbacks selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, tying a record. All six were selected within the first 12 picks.
  • $21.8 billion: The amount investors put into generative AI startups, up more than five times from the prior year, according to CB Insights.
  • 41.5 gigawatts: The amount of battery storage capacity added in 2023, according to the IEA, more than double the level in 2022.
  • $38 billion: The value of U.S. office buildings threatened by defaults, foreclosures, or other forms of distress, according to MSCI. This is the highest amount since late 2012.
  • $10,000+: The price per ton for copper, hitting the highest level since April 2022.

Dig In
Chemistry Class – The Global Trade Edition

Do you remember dozing off in high school chemistry, convinced that the periodic table would never pop up in real life use cases? Well, turns out these elements you might have ignored are stars in a tug-of-war between the world’s superpowers.

Co, Cu, Li, Ni, U – cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, uranium – are just some of the critical elements used in high-tech stuff like batteries, laptops, solar panels, and more. And guess what? The U.S. and China, along with everyone else, are trying to secure these strategic resources.

China is the world’s top processor of rare earths, and they’re not giving up their advantage easily. They’ve announced a series of bans that limit the export of the technology to process and produce rare earth magnets. Plus, China has a stronghold on the EV supply chain, supplying 80% of the world’s battery cells.

But don’t worry, as the demand for tech that uses these elements is growing, both companies and the government are on it. They are starting to invest in ways to make sure we have our own supply of rare earth elements right here at home!

If you want to know more, check out this recent Sight|Lines, where we dig deeper into protectionism and its implications for global trade.

Weekly Specials

Do you know what’s even more impressive than winning the Skytrax award for World’s Best Airport for Baggage Delivery in 2024? Kansai International Airport in Japan has never lost a bag in its 30 years of operation. That’s right, not even a single sock has gone missing! And with 20 to 30 million travelers passing through each year, handling around ten million pieces of luggage, that’s no small feat.

Who knew Amazon had a cat delivery service? Galena, a 6-year-old short-haired feline, embarked on an unexpected journey spanning over 600 miles from Utah to California inside a returned Amazon package. She is alive and well.

A man in New York City spent an afternoon eating an entire container of cheeseballs in front of a crowd in Union Square Park. “Not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need,” fans exclaimed on Instagram. Hey, there could be more boring ways to spend a Saturday.

Are you driving all over town(s) to find the best deal on a grocery item? You’re not alone. Consumers bought groceries from an average of 20.7 different retailers between March 2023 and February 2024. Some are calling this a new sport.

Corporate Lunch

Not the interns! Tesla rescinded offers to interns three weeks before they were supposed to start.

Alphabet paid Apple $20 billion with a B in 2022 for Google to be the default search engine in Safari. And here I’ve been making Google my default browser for free all these years.

Amazon reported that almost 60% of Prime orders in the top 60 U.S. metro areas in the first quarter arrived the same or next day, up from roughly 50% last year. I think my packages are getting stolen faster too.

Starbucks earnings and revenue fell as consumers were running on Dunkin’, not sipping in Seattle.

ExxonMobil and Chevron reported double-digit drops in earnings over the past quarter as a result of lower crude and natural gas prices.

McDonald’s is rolling out local deals to attract customers that are tightening their belts. I would burn all of my savings for Egg McMuffins if I had to, name your price.

Mastercard reported rising profits this past quarter on improving card spending by U.S. consumers.

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