Stifel Bits

November 2, 2022

The Appetizer

“I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.”

– Tesla CEO Elon Musk on his decision to buy Twitter

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

  • 4.5%: The percent of Americans households without a bank account in 2021 as reported by the FDIC, a record low since the survey started in 2009.
  • 64: The age Americans expect to retire, up from 62.6 a year ago, according to a Northwestern Mutual survey.
  • $1.25 million: The amount Americans think they need to have saved in order to retire comfortably, up 20% from last year.
  • 4: The number of ships waiting to unload at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, down from the peak of 109 ships in January 2022.
  • $3,860: The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, the highest in the U.S.
  • 47 days: The time it took a runner to run 2,456 miles across Australia.

Dig In
U.S. - China Balancing Act

The U.S.-China balancing act took center stage last week when President Xi Jinping emerged from the Communist Party congress for a precedent-breaking third term as General Secretary.

For background, the party congress convenes 2,300 party leaders every five years to tout accomplishments, set plans and goals, and reveal new leadership. The meeting usually follows a tight script; however, there was some palace intrigue when aides escorted former leader Hu Jintao from the stage during the closing session. Whether he left for medical or symbolic reasons remains unclear.

Markets reacted strongly to the congress, as Chinese stocks sold off on fears the leadership may be more concerned with Communist ideology than economic growth. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index suffered its largest one-day decline since the financial crisis, and the Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index dropped 14%. Chinese internet and tech stocks took the heaviest beating.

And what a coincidence! The U.S. released the declassified version of its National Defense Strategy last week, naming China as the “most consequential and systemic challenge” to U.S. national security.

Buckle up. We expect the U.S. and China rivalry to shape the world for the next decade or more.

Weekly Specials

Is it a bird? A plane? We don’t know, so NASA wants to find out. The space agency announced the formation of a new team to study UFOs.

So far, so good for Europe’s energy crisis. Mild weather and successful acquisitions have storage facilities nearly full and prices of gas and natural gas falling. Lack of storage space may become an issue, but a cold snap could still change the situation quickly.

It’s not often that companies post CFO positions to the public, let alone one geared toward dogs. That’s right; is looking for Chief Fluff Officer. Candidates must be well groomed, camera ready, and up for trying the company’s products on camera.

Baby, come back! NBA fans packed Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena for a preseason game between the Clippers and Trailblazers in a show of how much they want a team again.

Kat DeLorean, daughter of former auto exec John DeLorean, aims to bring her father’s famed sports car back to the future in 2023. Her new company will face stiff competition. Another group acquired the DeLorean brand name and trademark with plans to launch their own four-door model in 2024.

Corporate Lunch

In a move to make sure more of our wallet spend goes to Amazon, the company announced it will offer Venmo as a payment option this holiday season.

Restoration Hardware has opened 15 restaurants across the United States and Canada over the last decade. Guests snap photos not of their meals, but of the Italian wool velvet chairs and custom made light fixtures.

Uber is now allowing marketers to place ads within the Uber app to reach customers at each step on their trip. “Hey Uber driver, can you stop while I grab a boba tea?”

Abbott plans to help solve a problem that it was partially responsible for by opening a new $500 million baby formula plant.

Snapchat dismissed the metaverse as the way of the future and instead said it is focused on augmenting the real world.

Apple will have to follow a European Union law forcing it to switch to the USB-C charging cable.

Virgin Australia launched a lottery to entice passengers to take the middle seat. Prizes include free flights, a helicopter pub crawl, and a bungee jumping experience.

drawing of a table setting

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