Your Financial News Roundup
August 2, 2023
1. Economy: The meme stock craze has returned; while the Fed raised rates for the 11th time to discourage new borrowing.
2. Tech: 7 automakers pledge to counter Tesla’s dominance by building 30K+ EV fast chargers; meanwhile Uber made its first-ever operating profit but saw its stock price tumble.
3. World: GOP candidate Ron DeSantis shared his plan for economic nationalism; and Russia may rejoin the grain export deal.
Personal Finance Concept [Part 1/10]: Debt Detox – Credit Cards
😵💫 Meme Stocks Are Not Dead: Plastic maker Tupperware saw its stock rise 800%+ in the last 2 months in a manner similar to 2021’s meme stock craze. Meanwhile, the share price for trucking company Yellow doubled this week, despite it being on the verge of bankruptcy. Tupperware and Yellow are among the most watched stocks on Stocktwits, a popular site for retail investors. Market orders from retail traders made up 17.6% of total flows on 7/31, a 6-month peak. (Reuters)
Our Take: Echoing the meme stock craze of 2021, this trend highlights the power of mass retail trader collaboration and the hunger and excitement for quick profits. Whether there is a political message or a larger goal associated with this meme rally is unknown.
📈 Why So Many Hikes?: After raising interest rates for the 11th time, people are questioning why the Fed had to do it. In other countries like the U.K., people feel the effects of rate hikes quickly because of high homeownership rates and short-term mortgages. But, because the debt terms in the U.S. tend to be fixed-rate, borrowers have more protections, thus delaying the effects of rate hikes. However, highly leveraged industries, such as finance and commercial real estate, are feeling the impact, as we’ve seen with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other banks. (Axios)
Our Take: With debt levels at historic lows, the U.S. economy has proven to be resilient. That said, certain sectors like commercial real estate have been hit hard by office vacancies and are getting further pounded by these rate hikes.
🔄 An Equal & Opposite Force: In recent weeks, several auto makers, including Ford and GM, signed onto Tesla’s charger network, entrenching its market dominance. Now, 7 other auto giants have banded together to create their own network of 30K renewable energy powered fast chargers in the U.S. by 2030. This network would be larger than Tesla’s network of 17K fast chargers and 2x the number of chargers in the U.S. today. This network would be open to all EV types, addressing Americans’ #1 concern over EVs — a lack of fast public chargers. The automakers in this alliance include BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis (Fiat). (NPR)
Our Take: Tesla’s market dominance and Elon’s erratic behavior have rattled both automakers and the public, prompting people to seek alternatives. This ambitious, open-access model introduces overdue EV infrastructure and competition to the U.S. market, threatening Tesla’s first-mover advantage.
📉 Finally Made It: Ride-hailing app and service Uber (UB) reported its first ever profit, but fell short of its revenue estimate by $100M despite seeing 14% growth since last year. According to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber made $394M in operating profit, has $1B+ in free-cash flow, and is expecting consistent profits going forward. While Uber is still struggling with its freight business, the company predicts it will make earnings of $1B+ in the next quarter, beating market expectations. (CNBC)
Our Take: As an example of how fickle the stock market is, Uber’s share price declined despite hitting several milestones because it narrowly missed its revenue target. Given that Uber has never been profitable over its existence, this new trend could signal the ride-hailing space’s maturity.
🗳️ DeSantis’ Economic Pivot: To revive his campaign, GOP primary contender Ron DeSantis unveiled his economic plan. It involves ending China’s preferred trading status, creating stricter trade controls, and making the tax cuts permanent. He also wants to replace the Fed leader and its mission to ensure a stable dollar. DeSantis is facing donor concerns and has had to lay off staff. HIs 17% polling among Republican primary voters pales in comparison to Donald Trump’s 54%, a sign of waning interest in his campaign. (USNews)
Our Take: DeSantis once had the high ground in Republican primary interest as his platform speaks to a sense of economic nationalism among the GOP contenders. However, Trump’s 3 indictments let him play a “victim of the system” narrative, garnering sympathy from voters who feel Republicans are subject to double standards.
🇷🇺 Restoring the Deal: On Tuesday, the U.S. was informed that Russia was ready to strike a new deal to continue the safe export of Russian and Ukrainian grain and agricultural goods through the Black Sea. But the U.S. has not seen any firm evidence yet. Russia quit the deal on July 17th after its demands were not met, but would have to revisit the deal if it wants to sell fertilizer and grain on the world market. (USNews)
Our Take: Ukraine and Russia sit on the best farmland in the world and regularly export grain and fertilizer across the world, feeding much of the developing world. Early on in the war, an agreement was reached to avert a global famine. However, Russia occasionally uses the deal as a bargaining chip to get concessions.
Finance Concept of the Week
Debt Detox [Part 1/10]: Credit Cards
Common types of debt and how to best tackle them
Credit cards are an integral part of our everyday lives. In fact, the average American carries 3 credit cards with a balance of $5,474 as of late 2022, according to data from TransUnion. Credit cards allow us to make purchases and access credit on a revolving basis while building our credit scores and history. However, they also have a dark side. They can tempt us to overspend and rack up large amounts of debt if we’re not careful.
How Credit Cards Work
Credit cards are issued by financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to consumers based on their creditworthiness. They are widely accepted as a form of payment at many places, both online and in person.
Each credit card comes with a set credit limit, which is the maximum you can borrow at any given time. Lenders typically determine this limit by looking at your credit history, income, and other financial factors. Whenever you make a purchase using a credit card, you are essentially borrowing money from the credit card issuer to pay for the transaction.
At the end of the billing cycle, usually a month, the lender will generate a statement detailing all the transactions made and the total outstanding balance. You are required to make at least the minimum payment each month, though it’s best to pay off the entire balance on time and in full to avoid interest rate charges and other fees. If you miss a payment or use too much of your available credit, you can seriously damage your credit.
Types of Credit Cards
Not all credit cards are created equal. You should look for credit cards that best match your spending habits. Common types of cards include:
- Travel credit cards: Catering to frequent travelers, travel cards offer rewards and perks like airline miles, hotel discounts, travel insurance, airport lounge access, and more.
- Rewards credit cards: These cards offer rewards in the form of points, cashback, or travel miles for every dollar spent. You can typically redeem the rewards for gift cards, travel, or statement credits.
- 0% APR credit cards: If you have a lot of existing debt, you can transfer the balance to a credit card with a 0% intro APR period (typically 12 to 18 months) to save on interest charges. During this time, you can pay off your debt interest-free, though you’ll have to start paying interest again after the intro period ends.
- Student credit cards: Designed exclusively for students with limited credit histories and income, they typically offer lower credit limits and education-related rewards or cashback incentives.
- Cash back credit cards: These cards make it easy for you to earn cash back or statement credit for your purchases. Some offer flat rate rewards while others offer points for categories like restaurants and travel.
- Business credit cards: Geared towards businessowners, business credit cards allow you to separate personal expenses from business ones. Some may also offer cash back or other rewards.
How to Manage Credit Card Debt
Managing credit card debt is key to maintaining financial stability. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Create a budget: Go through your last few months’ of expenses and categorize your purchases into different buckets, including your needs, wants, and debt obligations. Look for areas where you can potentially cut back if needed.
- Prioritize high-interest debt: If you have multiple credit cards, focus on paying off the card with the highest interest first. Known as the avalanche method, this strategy saves you money on interest in the long run.
- Snowball method: Alternatively, you can use the snowball method by paying off the smallest balance first. Once that debt gets paid off, move on to the next smallest debt, and so on. This strategy can give you a psychological boost and incentivize you to keep zeroing in on your debt.
- Consolidate debt wisely: If you are struggling to pay off your debt, consider consolidating your balances into a card with a lower interest rate or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% intro APR. But, do the math beforehand to confirm that you will save money, as there may be fees associated with this process.
- Build an emergency fund: Having an emergency fund allows you to cover unexpected expenses, such as job loss, medical bills, car repairs, etc. Financial experts recommend having at least 3 to 6 months of your living expenses in an emergency fund.
Personal Finance Resources
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