Your Financial News Roundup
March 22, 2023
1. Economy: The Fed is expected to raise rates to 4.75% and offer forward guidance; while Swiss bank UBS is forced to buy out Credit Suisse.
2. Tech: FedNow, a 24/7 digital payments system run by the Federal Reserve, launches in July; while Chinese search engine Baidu releases Ernie — its answer to ChatGPT.
3. World: China and Russia vow to defend international order during a state visit; while French President Emmanuel Macron’s government narrowly escapes a vote of no-confidence.
Personal Finance Concept [Part 8/8]: A Primer on Owning a Business
♟ The Next Move: Amidst the backdrop of a banking crisis, the Fed is meeting to decide on the next rate hike. Fed leaders usually signal their direction in advance, but the Fed’s swift move to prevent a banking crisis and its failure to regulate Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has led to uncertainty. Currently, 60% of the market is betting on a 0.25 bps increase (bringing rates to 4.75%), which could balance the Fed’s goal to stabilize the banking system and lower inflation. (NYT)
Our Take: Given the clear distress in the global banking system, the Fed is expected to move cautiously while battling inflation, meaning you can expect smaller rate increases in the future.
🏦 Credit Suisse Falls: Following SVB’s collapse, customers withdrew more than $10B in a day from Swiss banking giant, Credit Suisse. To save the bank from bankruptcy, Swiss regulators forced an acquisition between the 2 largest banks in the country. Rival bank UBS rescued Credit Suisse for 3B Swiss francs ($3.2B) as part of the government-backed, cut-price deal. The steep discount wiped out $17B of the bank’s Additional Tier 1 (AT1) bonds, absorbing the losses from the takeover. (Wall Street Journal)
Our Take: Credit Suisse’s collapse threatens to undermine Switzerland’s standing as a financial safe haven and may have economic ramifications for other Swiss financial institutions. At the same time, the write-off of the banking giant’s AT1 bonds is concerning and will lead to lengthy lawsuits.
💵 Dollar Goes Digital: FedNow, the Federal Reserve’s digital payments system, will speed up the movement of money starting this July. It’s been in the works since 2019 and will allow participating banks to have 24/7 access to bill payments, money transfers, and other activities. The current system pauses on weekends. Fed leaders say FedNow could replace the need for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) — the central bank’s answer to Bitcoin. (CNBC)
Our Take: FedNow will update the banking system’s processes, allowing for faster settlement and delivering crypto’s main value without the blockchain. If successful, the appeal of cryptos such as USD-pegged stablecoins and CBDCs could decline.
🤖 Chatbot Competition Storms On: Chinese search engine giant, Baidu, released Ernie — its answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard AI. Reuters tests found that Ernie shied away from politically sensitive topics, reflecting the censored nature of the Chinese internet. For instance, Ernie gave a detailed answer about Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Schulz but said it had not yet learned the answer when asked about Xi Jinping’s achievements. (Reuters)
Our Take: Despite its lackluster debut, Baidu’s Ernie bot is China’s best bet in the generative AI space. The company has heavily invested in AI and deep learning R&D over the years and 30K+ businesses have signed up to test Ernie following the demo.
❤️ Xi & V: Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on a 3-day trip to Moscow to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. At their initial meeting, Xi and Putin positioned themselves as peacemakers in global affairs. Putin thanked China’s “balanced line” on the Ukraine war and welcomed its efforts to broker peace, as the war and 12-point peace plan will be a main talking point. Xi will speak with Ukraine after his Moscow trip. (Guardian) (BBC)
Our Take: Though the West is unified behind Ukraine, countries in other regions are aligned with China and Russia, usually due to existing economic links. While China’s diplomacy improves its standing with these other countries, it will likely favor Russian interests.
🇫🇷 Living Another Day: French President Emmanuel Macron’s government narrowly survived a no-confidence vote on his flagship pension plan, which would raise the national retirement age to 64 from 62. If the vote of no-confidence had passed, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, his appointed majority leader, and her Cabinet of Ministers would have had to step down. Macron and Borne invoked Article 49.3 of the Constitution to pass the reforms without the Parliament’s vote, inciting weeks of strikes and protests across France. (NBC News)
Our Take: More than 26% of France’s population is over 60 and by 2040, it’s expected to be 1 in 3 people. The conflict over the proposed pension reforms reveals pressing issues at hand — an aging population and a dwindling workforce. The demographic debacle is a pressing issue affecting many countries, including the U.S.
Finance Concept of the Week
What’s This Asset? — A Primer on Owning a Business [Part 8/8]
A Series Exploring Different Asset Classes and How to Invest in Them
If you are an entrepreneur at heart, you can own a business by either acquiring an existing business or starting your own company. It’s the most active, time-consuming form of investment out there.
When you buy an existing business, everything is already set up, from the customers, employees, payroll, etc. You can use a site like BizBuySell to source potential deals and negotiate seller financing, where you put down part of the purchase and pay the seller the rest over time via a percentage of the revenue.
If you are building a product or service from the ground up, you will need to do research to identify the problem you want to solve and your target audience. You’ll also need to assemble the right team to execute your vision and have a plan in place to determine runway, customer acquisition strategies, marketing, etc.
- Bet on Yourself: Owning a business gives you control over your company’s direction, decision-making process, and revenue streams. That includes deciding on the product or service offerings, who to hire, location, and more.
- Flexibility: You can set your own schedule and priorities, providing a greater level of flexibility than a 9-5 job. You can attend that noon yoga class or work remotely across the country or world.
- Potential For Financial Rewards: A successful business can provide long-term growth opportunities that a regular 9-5 won’t be able to give you, such as increased profits or higher earnings potentials.
- Creativity and Personal Growth: Running a business gives you plenty of opportunities to learn new skills, challenge yourself, and become more resilient as your business expands.
- High Risk of Failure: You could spend months or years trying to start a business, only for it to fail despite your best efforts. Nearly 2/3rds of small businesses fail within the 1st 10 years. Reasons for failure include the lack of product-market fit, running out of cash, strong competitors, hiring the wrong team, poor marketing, etc.
- Financial Uncertainty: Depending on the type of business, it may require significant upfront capital and ongoing financial commitment, which could put a strain on your personal finances. There may also be times where you need to take out loans or dip into your savings to cover expenses.
- Time Commitment: Owning a business requires a significant time commitment as no one will care more about your business than you. Over time, this can adversely affect your mental health and relationships.
How to Make the Most of It:
- Conduct Due Diligence: If you plan on acquiring an existing business, you will need to audit the company’s financial statements, confirm its assets and inventory, vet the team, and devise a transition plan to take over the business operations. You will also need to gather insights on customer retention, verify any legal processes, confirm the tech stack, and focus on ways to grow the business. If you are starting a business from scratch, these are all things you should start thinking about as you build your company.
- Seek Advice and Support: Seek advice from trusted mentors, friends, family, and the Small Business Administration to help navigate the challenges of starting or owning a business. If you plan on raising money through venture capital, vet the partners carefully to ensure that they will give you the support you need to take your company to the next level.
Risk Level: Very High; There is potential for significant loss despite the time spent and the effects of increased stress on your personal life. These aspects can vary widely based on your business idea, experience level, and personality. Whether your idea is a restaurant or tech startup, it’s not uncommon for one’s business to become its owner’s life.
Common Funding Sources:
- Personal Savings
- Small Business Loans — from a bank or Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Angel Investment from individual investors, family, friends, etc.
- Personal Loans
- Business Credit Cards to earn a little cashback on your business expenses
Tip of the Week
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Personal Finance Resources
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