Stifel Bits

September 27, 2023

The Appetizer

“It wasn’t like we were arguing over that, people just stating their positions … ”

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell explaining how the Fed’s Summary of Economic Projections is put together.

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

  • 0.4%: The percentage of U.S. home purchases from landlords with 1,000 properties or more during the second quarter, down from a peak of 2.4% in late 2021.
  • 130%: The rise in the average price of olive oil, now at $8,900 a ton in September, surpassing the previous record of $6,242 a ton set in 1996.
  • 210 million: The number of unique visits to ChatGPT in May 2023, its busiest month this year.
  • 57%: The percentage of Gen Zers who said they would like to become an influencer if given the chance.
  • 94: The jersey number of a goalkeeper for Italian soccer team Lazio, who scored a game-tying goal at the last play of the game. Coincidently, or maybe not … the goal was scored in the 94th minute, the player was born in 1994, and is 1.94 meters tall.

Dig In
Tug of War: Inflation Versus Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) has two main goals: keeping jobs plentiful and prices stable. While the job market has been really strong, inflation remains an issue for the Fed, despite a recent decline in prices. To bring inflation down, the Fed has raised interest rates by a lot (5.25%) since last March. Prices in August went up a bit more than the Fed would like, but it ultimately decided to leave interest rates unchanged.

Rising gas prices deserve most of the credit (or blame) for inflation moving up, as they made up more than half of the 0.6% monthly increase in the consumer price index (CPI). This is more apparent in the core inflation reading, which excludes both food and energy, which was up just 0.2%.

However, a “break” does not mean it’s over (no, we aren’t talking about your relationship), as the Fed’s September Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) showed the Fed may hike the funds rate again in 2023 and keep it higher for longer, projecting inflation at 2% in 2026. Patience is the name of the game here.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on higher energy prices, as they may well translate into higher costs and inflation in other areas of the economy. Check out our recent Sight|Lines for more on this topic.

Weekly Specials

Mindy Horwitz pioneered a college concierge service providing a “mom” away from home for $450 a year, plus delivery fees. Your fake mom can pick up your prescriptions, decorate your dorm room, and even accompany you to doctor’s appointments. This idea has sparked similar services near campuses across the U.S.

It is a bittersweet time for Wheel of Fortune fans. Pat Sajak will be bidding farewell next year, as Ryan Seacrest steps in to take his place. Fortunately, the show will not look entirely different, as Vanna White will continue to flip letters for another two years. With her earnings at $100k an episode, who can really blame her?

Everyone likes to have a lazy day once in a while, but 30 straight days of lying in bed sounds like no fun. That is exactly what the Laziest Citizen competition contestants have been doing since August 19 in Montenegro. The competition gives the competitors three meals a day and the right to the bathroom every eight hours.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has been on strike for over 10 days, demanding better pay and benefits. Meanwhile, the “Detroit Three” (Ford, GM, and Chrysler aka Stellantis) are saying they can’t afford to meet the demands because they need to invest profits to build out EV capabilities. So far, 13% of the union’s 146,000 members are on strike.

Corporate Lunch

Warning: This week’s Corporate Lunch contains a lot of update on food, do not read if you are hungry.

Clorox said a cyberattack hurt product availability. Clorox stops 99.9% of viruses, but that 0.1% really came back to bite them this time.

Bears on a sugar rush! Black bears planned a heist and stole doughnuts from a Krispy Kreme truck making deliveries.

Starbucks is doubling down on China, investing $220 million in a roasting and distribution center.

Amazon plans to hire 250,000 new workers to help deliver presents this holiday season, 67% more than in 2022.

Airbnb said there was a 55% drop in parties between August 2020 and August 2022. Or have customers just gotten 55% better at hiding their partying?

Walmart is welcoming our furry friends with a dedicated pet services center in Atlanta.

Disney announced plans to invest $60 billion in theme parks and cruises over the next 10 years. The new parks include Frozen-themed lands in Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo.

Costco is planning to partner with healthcare marketplace Sesame for medical care access; members can schedule online primary care visits for $29 and mental health visits for $79.

drawing of a table setting

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