Your Financial News Roundup
February 8, 2023
1. Economy: Last night, U.S. President Joe Biden presented his second State of the Union address.
2. Tech: Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX’s debtors want their political donations back; and Google announces the launch of its ChatGPT competitor Bard.
3. World/US: Beijing’s will is tested as the Hong Kong 47 trial begins; and the ongoing crisis at Adani Group puts the Indian parliament to a halt.
Weekly Finance Concept [Part 2/8]: A Primer on Bonds
…on how the news impacts you and your wallet
Economy: President Biden faces a divided Congress for the remainder of his term with a Democratic Senate and Republican House. But, his focus on bipartisanship during the State of the Union may win some support from both parties.
Tech: An estimated 1 in 3 Congress members received political donations from FTX. As the newly-established February deadline approaches, we will get more clarity on who benefited and what legal actions the exchange can take against those who don’t return the funds.
With Google rushing to capture their share of the conversational AI market, it’ll be a race to see which company ends up on top.
World: The outcome of the Hong Kong 47 trials will likely have lasting impact on the state for years to come, particularly if Beijing continues to divert from its “One China, Two Systems” stance.
Indian billionaire and formerly the world’s 3rd richest man, Gautam Adani, controls critical infrastructure in the country, including ports, airports, and mineral reserves. The fall of Adani Group could have a ripple effect on India’s broader economy and other developing nations who rely on them.
🇺🇸 State of the Union: Last night, President Biden’s main message during the State of the Union Address focused on unity. He also touted a strong job market and various legislative achievements. Key topics he brought up include:
- Continued support for Ukraine
- A crackdown on fentanyl traffickers at the border
- More taxes on wealthy individuals and companies
- Codification of federal abortion rights
- Protections for Social Security and Medicare
- A ban on assault weapons
- Law enforcement reforms
- More funding for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments
- Eliminating junk fees
- A push on the Inflation Reduction Act
- Building up manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs
💀 Returns Wanted: Over the weekend, FTX and its affiliated debtors, self-dubbed “FTX Debtors,” sent confidential letters to politicians, PACs, and other recipients of company donations. They asked them to voluntarily return the money by the end of the month or face potential legal action. According to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that monitors campaign financing and lobbying, FTX made up to $93M in donations to various Democratic and Republican Congress members and organizations like Protect Our Future. (TechCrunch)
🔊 Google Fights Back: Currently in beta, Google is poised to launch its own AI-powered chatbot, Bard, in the coming weeks to rival “Google killer” ChatGPT. Bard is built on LaMBA, the tech giant’s existing large language model. This announcement comes on the heel of speculation that Microsoft will integrate ChatGPT into its search engine, Bing. Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the company plans to move more conservatively due to reputational risks of providing erroneous information. (CNBC)
🧑⚖️ The Hong Kong 47 Trial Begins: Starting this week, a group of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong will appear in court for subversion charges that could lead to life sentences. This landmark trial is Hong Kong’s largest security trial since Beijing’s new subversion laws following anti-government protests in 2019. Many believe the goal of the trial is to silence opposition against China’s increasing control over Hong Kong. But, the government has repeatedly denied these accusations. (CNN)
📉 Crisis at Adani Group: Indian conglomerate Adani Group is entering its 3rd week of crisis following a damning report by Hindenburg Research. The report questioned Adani Group’s valuations and levels of debt and accused them of fraudulent practices. Over the last few weeks, Adani and its firms have lost tens of billions of investor dollars. Meanwhile, lawmakers are calling for India’s market regulators to investigate Hindenburg’s claims. (The Guardian)
Finance Concept of the Week
What’s This Asset? — A Primer on Cash [Part 2/8]
A Series Exploring Different Asset Classes and How to Invest in Them
Did you know you can make money by lending to companies and governments?
Bonds are essentially loans you give to companies or governments (city, state, federal) to grow their business or build infrastructure, respectively. In return for your loan, they promise to give your money back (the “principal”) and pay you interest, based on the bond’s terms. Bonds are a good option for people who want a stable investment and steady income.
- Less volatility: Bonds are generally less volatile than stocks, making them preferable for risk-adverse investors.
- Portfolio Diversification: By adding bonds to an investment portfolio, you can counterbalance the ups and downs of the stock market and produce more consistent returns.
- Fixed returns: The interest payments from bonds are paid out in regular intervals (monthly/quarterly/biannually/yearly), making it possible to predict and model the returns easily.
- Counter to Inflation: A bond’s interest payments rise along with inflation, making them a good inflation hedge. In fact, the writers of this newsletter each hold federal I-bonds, which are designed to help investors preserve the value of their investments against rising inflation.
- Liquidity: Bonds are as easy to sell as stocks, making them more liquid than other types of asset classes like real estate.
- Interest rate risk: Bond prices and yields have an inverse relationship, so rising interest rates can lead to lower bond prices.
- Credit risk: Bond issuers may default on interest or principal payments, causing the bond’s value to decline. You also run the risk of not getting paid back in this scenario.
- Limited returns: The returns on bonds are generally lower than those of other types of investments, such as stocks or real estate.
- Market risk: The bond market can be impacted by broader economic and financial market conditions. For example, a bond’s value can go down if interest rates increase and are higher than the rate the bond offers.
- Long-term commitments: Bonds typically have longer terms, such as 5 years, which can limit an investor’s flexibility to sell or access their funds.
How to Make the Most of It:
- Do research: Before investing in bonds, make sure you understand how they work and what the different types are. Look into the issuer’s creditworthiness to vet their likelihood of paying you back.
- Diversify: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by investing only in one bond or one type of bond. Spread your investments out to reduce your risk.
Risk Level: Medium
Common Accounts to Use:
- Online Brokerage Account
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
- Corporate bond funds
- Treasurydirect.gov to buy federal government bonds (e.g., I-bonds, Treasuries, etc.)
Tip of the Day
💵 If you made less than $73,000 in 2022, you qualify to use IRS Free File to file your taxes. Roughly 70% of taxpayers qualify to use this free service, but only 2% used it for filing taxes last year.
- 10 Ways to Reduce Taxes on Your Retirement Savings (U.S. News)
- How Many Personal Loans Can You Have? (Finance Futurists)
- How the Rate Hike Increase Affects Your Life (CNBC)
- How to Clean Up Your Credit Reports (Finance Futurists)
- Most Undervalued Housing Markets (U.S. News)
Personal Finance Resources
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