Your Financial News Roundup
July 26, 2023
1. Economy: UPS and Teamsters struck a deal, preventing a strike that would’ve crippled U.S. shipping; while the Fed officially launched FedNow — a way to move money instantly.
2. Tech: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman launches Worldcoin, his crypto/ identity-tech startup; meanwhile Spotify’s Daniel Ek teases the use of AI to make emotive ads and help creators.
3. World: One company’s employee-friendly policies may be the key to reversing Japan’s falling birth rates; and Barbie and Oppenheimer made box office records last weekend.
Personal Finance Concept [Part 5/5]: Money Scripts – Money Worship
🚚 Deals on Wheels: In a win for workers, UPS, and the economy, UPS and the Teamsters Union came to a deal that averted a 340K+ workers’ strike. The deal raises workers’ pay and pauses the threat of strikes. But details are unknown, such as how UPS prices may rise. The union’s bargaining power reflects recent labor wins and the threat of UPS losing out on 30% of its delivery volume to competitors, especially in high-value areas like healthcare. (MarketWatch)
Our Take: Union members will vote on the deal before it gets finalized, but more details will give investors clarity. Though this deal is all-around good news, the stock market doesn’t always feel the same.
🛠️ U.S. Banking Gets An Upgrade: Last week, the Federal Reserve launched its new payments system FedNow. Its goal is to modernize the flow of money by providing instant access to paychecks and the transfer of funds — making everyday payments faster. FedNow is being piloted by 35 banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Questions remain if banks will charge for the service and what transfer limits will look like. The Fed is looking into a CBDC, or Central Bank Digital Currency, which would work on a blockchain like Ethereum, but also reports FedNow may be good enough. (CNBC)
Our Take: FedNow’s instant settlement feature will potentially nerf crypto’s advantage of higher processing and settlement speeds while fixing a major pain point of U.S. banking. With FedNow, you’ll be able to move your cash at lighting speed, catching the U.S. up with 55 other firms.
🪙 One Coin To Rule The World: Sam Altman, the creator of ChatGPT, launched Worldcoin, a crypto startup that uses eyeball-scanning tech to distinguish between AI and humans and set up global democratic mechanisms. Backed by a16z and Netflix founder, Reid Hoffman, Worldcoin has $250M in funding. Its identity tech and tokens have launched, allowing 2M+ users to scan their eyeballs and get a “worldID.” Criticisms include its ambiguous mission to create global democracy, tying people’s identity to crypto, and its questionable onboarding practices. (TechCrunch)
Our Take: If this sounds crazy to you, that’s because it is.
👁️🗨️ I Spy A Friendly AI: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek claims its new AI features will summarize podcasts, suggest content, and most importantly — generate ads. The summaries will promote podcasts without users needing to listen to them first, boosting engagement and conversion for creators. The biggest surprise is that Spotify owns a patent for emotive AI, which it will use to lower advertising costs and make video/audio ads at scale! Spotify’s AI curator, DJ, has been well-received, spurring its continued use in its business and creative strategies. (TechCrunch)
Our Take: Like other tech companies, Spotify is quickly capitalizing on AI to create a more engaging and targeted platform for users and advertisers.
👼🏼 Recipe For a Baby Boom?: The CEO of Itochu Corp banned overnight work to boost productivity 10 years ago. Now, Itochu reports that profit per employee surged 5x+ and the fertility rate grew to ~2 children (per female employee). The late-night work ban eased pressure on women and maternity leave usage increased, bucking the nation’s trend of long work days. Itochu now allows employees to work from home 2 days per week and is switching to 6-hour workdays. (WIONews)
Our Take: Itochu is a prime example of how both society and businesses can win from reasonable work hours. With a fertility rate of 1.3, Japan is below the 2.1 children per woman needed for a sustainable population. Hopefully, Itochu’s experiments are successful and spur a healthier work culture.
🎟️☢️ Barbenheimer: Last week’s double-release of Barbie and Oppenheimer created a surge of press, social media, and memes in its runup, leading to a cultural moment driving people to cinemas in droves. While Barbie was the clear winner over the weekend — scoring $377M across the world — Oppenheimer was also well-received, grossing $178.5M. Both movies smashed records, with Barbie director Greta Gerwig becoming the highest-grossing female director for a debut. (NBC)
Our Take: Barbenheimer’s true winners are movie theaters, which haven’t seen ticket sales rebound since COVID, making this event a welcome respite. Perhaps this cultural moment will remind people of the communal experience movie-going can be.
Finance Concept of the Week
The Psychology of Money [Part 5/5]: Money Scripts — Money Worship
The way we perceive and handle money is often shaped by our beliefs and attitudes, which are collectively know as “money scripts.” For the last installment of this series, we’ll be focusing on money worship — arguably one of the most intriguing and potentially problematic scripts.
Money worship is characterized by an intense preoccupation with wealth and material possessions. People who fall under this category tend to equate financial success with personal wealth, believing that how rich you are is the ultimate way to measure success and happiness. Money worship can manifest in various forms, from an unrelenting pursuit of money to an irrational fear of losing what you already have.
Examining the Roots of Money Worship
Money worship, like other money scripts, is influenced by a combination of psychological, social, cultural, and environmental factors. In many societies, people celebrate and admire financial success and material wealth. We religiously follow lists like Forbes World’s Billionaires List and aspire to become millionaires (or even billionaires). Bombarded by messages glorifying wealthy individuals and celebrities, as well as the idea that “more is better,” we learn to associate wealth with our personal achievement and happiness.
As inherently social beings, we often compare ourselves to others to gauge our standing in society. In a culture that uses money as markers of success, people may prescribe to money worship to attain higher social status and gain approval from our peers.
Our early experiences also play a pivotal role in forming money worship beliefs. If you grew up in a household where financial success is highly praised or money is constantly discussed, you may have internalized the belief that money is the key to happiness and acceptance. Additionally, if you grew up in poverty, your feelings of financial insecurity may fuel a desire to become rich to protect yourself.
Additionally, money worship can result from attempts to fulfill psychological needs, such as a need for control, validation, or a sense of identity. Acquiring wealth may provide a temporary sense of empowerment and validation, leading to an attachment to money as a way of meeting those needs.
Overcoming Money Worship Beliefs
Reflect on your upbringing, past experiences, and internalized beliefs about money. Be open and honest about your money worship tendencies and how they impact your life and well-being. By understanding the roots of your beliefs, you can then challenge the idea that financial success is the sole indicator of personal wealth or happiness. Consider what truly brings you joy and fulfillment, whether it’s your relationships, personal growth, or experiences.
Establish specific and realistic goals that extend beyond accumulating wealth. For example, consider goals to save for meaningful experiences, eliminate debt, or support causes you care about. Pursue hobbies or interests that spark joy without focusing on the material rewards.
Improve your financial literacy by learning about budgeting, investing, and money management. Knowledge empowers you to make more informed decisions and reduces your overreliance on money worship beliefs to guide your decisions. Surround yourself with positive influences who can bring a balanced perspective on money.
Personal Finance Resources
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