Your Financial News Roundup
February 15, 2023
1. Economy: Inventory buildups are adding to supply chain costs and causing slowdowns. While an activist investor forces Disney to restructure and layoff 7,000 workers.
2: Tech: SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce calls her agency “hostile to crypto.” Biden’s calls to regulate the tech industry were met with bipartisan support.
3: World: North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is positioning his daughter to be his successor. The U.S. has shot down multiple objects within its airspace of both Chinese and unknown origin.
Personal Finance Concept [Part 3/8]: A Primer on Annuities
🛒 New Inflation Warning: Last year, supply chain inflation came down sharply. But excess inventories due to decreased consumer demand and a lack of new storage facilities are putting upward pressure on warehousing rates. Now, full warehouses and distribution centers are leading shippers to store their products in containers on chassis, putting extra pressure on chassis pools nationwide and racking up penalties that will get passed onto consumers. (CNBC)
Our Take: While supply chain inflation has been easing, national warehouse storage rates remain high. If this trend continues, there is a possibility inflation rises again.
🪧 Rise in Activist Investing: Activist investor, Nathan Peltz, who owns $1B in Disney stock, called out Disney for its messy CEO transition, overpaying on acquisitions (e.g., Fox), and high operating costs. In response, CEO Bob Iger created a plan that restructures the company and reduces operating costs, including laying off 7K workers and giving business control back to creative leads. Peltz walks away with a 20% return but no board seat. (Reuters)
Our Take: Activists are pushing companies to improve results by laying off staff and other cost-cutting measures. Their aggressive plays have led to stock market optimism and share buybacks amid a market decline, allowing them to have a record year in 2023.
Note: Activist investors make money by buying shares of underperforming companies, influencing management, and then selling at a profit.
🚫 Unfair Crypto Banning: SEC Commissioner, Hester Peirce, vocally dissented against her agency’s forced shutdown of Kraken’s crypto exchange staking program. As part of Kraken’s legal settlement, it shut down its staking service, where users could earn interest by staking select cryptos (like Ethereum) to their native networks. She believes the SEC has not given crypto exchanges a fair shot to register their products before suing them for non-compliance. (CNBC)
Our Take: The SEC’s pursuit of honest firms is causing uncertainty within the U.S. crypto space, while many feel the SEC failed to protect investors from the crypto frauds of FTX and Celsius Network. To avoid harming Web3 tech development, Congress will have to set clear guardrails for the industry.
👊🏽 U.S. v.s. Big Tech: During Biden’s State of the Union, there was bipartisan applause as Biden spoke on curbing Big Tech’s power. Congress’s concerns range widely from data privacy, social media’s impact on kids, and tech’s monopoly power. Issues like regulating social media and privacy laws have received bipartisan support. But, others like breaking up tech’s monopoly power and censorship have a partisan divide. Despite finding common ground, potent obstacles of partisanship and tech lobbyists remain. (WIRED)
Our Take: By 2025, it’s fair to expect a federal privacy law that will restrict how tech firms use personal data and clarify users’ rights to their data. Federal involvement will be necessary to smooth over the growing number of states with their own privacy laws and maintain the U.S. tech sector’s edge.
🇰🇵 Kim 4.0: North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is positioning his 10-year-old daughter, Kim Ju-ae, as the 4th ruler of the Kim dynasty. She made her 5th public appearance by his side during last week’s military parade. The state media refers to her as Un’s “respected” daughter, a term only used for Kim Jong Un after his Supreme Leader ascension was publicized. At 39, Kim is preparing his successor early to obtain buy-in from the military and populace of a patriarchal society. (CNN)
Our Take: Last year, North Korea had a record number of provocative missile tests, including some that flew over Japan. Kim Jong Un’s recent actions indicate NK is doubling down on its nuclear arsenal to safeguard its existence and will continue to exacerbate global tensions — driving a deeper wedge between both China and the U.S.
🎈 Mysterious Object Shot Down: President Biden had a 4th flying object shot down within U.S. airspace this month alone. The military believes these unknown aerial objects are not a threat, but have not ruled out their origins, including the possibility of a Chinese spy balloon. As the U.S. government seeks answers from China, China has countered, claiming that the U.S. flew 10 balloons into its airspace. (ABC News)
Finance Concept of the Week
What’s This Asset? — A Primer on Annuities [Part 3/8]
Would you like to get paid after you retire?
Then an annuity may be for you.
An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company.
- You’d buy an annuity from them and make payments, called premiums (either in a single lump-sum or monthly basis).
- The insurance company invests the premiums in safe investments (or in a basket of riskier assets like stocks and bonds, depending on the annuity type).
- Upon payout, it provides a series of income payments over time.
Basically, it’s like a subscription plan to get paid during your retirement.
- Guaranteed Income Source: Because annuities can provide a steady income stream, they are attractive to retirees who prefer stable returns and low-risk options.
- Room for Tax-Deferred Growth: An annuity can offer tax-deferred growth if it allows for pre-tax or qualified contributions. This means you don’t pay taxes on the earnings until you withdraw like with a 401k/403b/IRA. Alternatively, you can make after-tax or non-qualified contributions, where your tax bill on withdrawals is more limited.
- Multiple Options: Different types of annuities, such as fixed and indexed, give investors the flexibility to choose the best type that fits their individual needs. Some people may prefer a longer time horizon to earn larger payouts.
- Moderate Return Potential: There’s potential for bigger returns than what you’d get from a high-yield savings account (HYSA), money market account, certificate-of-deposit (CD), or bonds. For reference, a HYSA can pay ≥ 4.2% right now. But an annuity’s return depends on its type and contract details.
- Higher Fees: They can be pricey and come with fees such as admin costs, insurance charges, underlying asset fund fees, surrender charges, etc. These fees eat into investment returns and reduce your potential income earnings.
- Low Liquidity: There are penalties for withdrawing money early such as surrender charges — which is a fee for withdrawing before the contract allows.
- Inflation Risk: Some annuities pay out a fixed amount, so your purchasing power falls over time with inflation
- Interest Rate Risk: Fixed rate annuities produce lower returns if interest rates rise — such as how they are now, leaving the investor with a low rate of return.
- More Complexity: By the nature of their contracts and variety, annuities are more complex to grasp and utilize than other assets, making them less accessible.
How to Make the Most of It:
- Learn The Details: Make sure to understand the contractual terms, fees, and any restrictions before signing onto an annuity. Ask for clarification as needed.
- Consider Your Goals: Find out if an annuity is right for your personal needs. If you need access to your money soon or prefer higher risk options, it may not be the best choice.
- Compare Your Options: Annuities vary in their fees and returns, so compare your options before making a choice.
- Seek Outside Consultation: If you are confused or don’t know where to start, consider getting support from a financial advisor.
Risk Level: Varied (Low to High); the risk level depends on the type, contract terms, and underlying investments. Some are considered low-risk because they provide a guaranteed income stream, while others have a similar risk/return to the stock market as they are linked to its movements.
Common Accounts to Use:
- Life Insurance Policy
- Brokerage accounts (Regular, IRA, Roth IRA)
- Employer-backed retirement plans (e.g., 401(k), 403(b))
Tip of the Day
💵 This year, the IRS will not tax rebate payments from these states, including CA, NY, and IL.
- IRS Will Not Tax State Rebates (CNBC)
- A Guide to Plan Your Vegas Trip (Finance Futurists)
- Using Bing with ChatGPT (TechCrunch)
- Rolling Over Your 401k (CNBC)
- How Many Loans Can You Take Out (Finance Futurists)
- Crypto Bankruptcy 101 (TechCrunch)
Personal Finance Resources
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