Your Weekly Financial Roundup Issue No. 62

Here’s the latest on the economy, tech, and the world, including the potential reclassification of employees, new plans for EVs, controversy within the NRA, and more.

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Your Financial News Roundup

January 10, 2024


1. Economy: In 2023, the economy performed fairly well despite concerns from many Americans; while a new rule regarding the classification of workers is on the table.

2. Tech: Automakers unveil their upcoming plans for the future of EVs; meanwhile, two authors sued Microsoft and OpenAI, alleging the companies used their works to train AI models without consent or payment.

3. World: An Israeli cabinet meeting indicated rifts between its leaders, and NRA leader Wayne LaPierre resigned amid its bankruptcy and corruption case.

Personal Finance Concept [Part 1/4]: Neobanks and the Future of Banking


📊 A 2023 Summary: While many Americans expressed concerns about the state of the economy last year, 2023 ultimately turned out to be a relatively good year. The stock market leaped upward, consumer spending remained healthy, and the Federal Reserve’s war on inflation yielded positive results, with December’s month-over-month CPI increasing by a mere 0.3%. Unemployment held steady at ~3.7% throughout the year, and despite a cooling job market, 2.7M jobs were added. However, challenges persist as job seekers face difficulties securing new roles, high mortgage rates stall the housing market, and people grapple with the cumulative effects of inflation. (CNBC)

Our Take: Despite difficulties for everyday Americans, the U.S. macroeconomic picture in 2023 was rosier than that of the E.U. or China. If these trends continue into 2024, rising wage growth will help offset people’s pain with inflated prices, and rate cuts will lower mortgage prices, easing the housing market somewhat.

🚘 New Contractor Rule Incoming: U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to release a new rule that will make it harder for companies to classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Slated to take effect later this year, the rule will impact a number of industries, notably app-based services like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart. According to the Biden administration, the prior regulation issued by the Trump administration violated U.S. wage laws. However, critics argue that this rule reduces flexibility for workers. (Reuters)

Our Take: The proposed rule by the Biden administration aims to increase labor protections and provide additional financial security for workers. But, some companies may respond by cutting back on the number of workers or shifting to more automated processes to offset labor costs.


⚡ Hydrogen Makes A Comeback: During CES 2024, Hyundai announced plans to incorporate hydrogen energy in vehicle production, while automotive supplier Bosch Mobility plans to debut its first hydrogen combustion engine. Meanwhile, Honda revealed two concept vehicles, the “Saloon” and “Space-Hub,” and Kia presented a set of three electric vans scheduled for production in 2025. Furthermore, Honda briefly discussed its plans to develop solid-state batteries, which are considered by many as essential for the mass commercialization of battery-powered EVs. (AP News)

Our Take: These announcements suggest that the EV ecosystem is maturing. Automakers are not only focusing on passenger vehicles but are also expanding into commercial vehicles and exploring alternative technologies.

🚫 The Legal Edge: Authors Nicholas Basbanes and Nicholas Gage filed a class action suit in federal court, alleging that OpenAI and Microsoft used their books to train OpenAI’s models without permission. The class action suit is part of a rising trend where authors and news outlets accuse tech firms of using copyrighted work to train AI models without permission or compensation. The authors’ lawyer argued that it was outrageous that tech firms could use his clients’ work to create a new multi-billion dollar industry without any payout. Microsoft and OpenAI haven’t responded to this case. (Reuters) (The Verge)

Our Take: Though OpenAI hasn’t revealed the training data for ChatGPT3, the model’s ability to reproduce copyrighted texts in almost 1:1 detail has led content creators to believe the companies infringed upon their rights. OpenAI tried to preempt the issue by entering into licensing deals with creators to use their works in their models, but the issue of compensating copyright holders remains a central issue.


⛅️ What Will the ‘Day After’ Look Like?: An Israeli cabinet meeting exposed divisions between its leaders on the future of the war in Gaza. Finance Minister Smotrich called for the potential resettlement of Gazans, and Defense Minister Gallant wants to continue military action while having a U.S.-led task force redevelop Gaza but provided no details on self-governance. Both comments attracted ire from leaders in European and Arabic nations, including the U.S. and the U.N. The U.S. has assured a coalition of Arab nations that there will be a path for Palestinian statehood in exchange for helping rebuild Gaza. (CNN)

Our Take: Some of Israel’s far-right leaders, like Smotrich, envision a transfer of the Gazan people to nearby countries to open up the land for Israeli settlement. This is a highly controversial idea to many in Israel and abroad and is illegal under international law. This public display of division destabilizes Netanyahu’s government and undercuts Israel’s international credibility.

🔫 A Shot to the NRA: The NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre resigned last week, allegedly due to health reasons, after a career of making the NRA a powerful lobbying group only to see it fall into bankruptcy and graft. Since 1991, LaPierre has helped the NRA expand gun rights and stave off gun control even as mass shootings became common. NY State AG Letitia James is pursuing corruption charges against the NRA’s leaders for misuse of the organization’s funds. Despite LaPierre’s reelection, the NRA has seen its revenue fall 44% since 2016, and its membership decline from 5.5M to ~4M. (Reuters)

Our Take: Once a force of the right that dictated the gun control debate and agenda, the NRA still has some teeth but is becoming more of a shadow of its former self.

Finance Concept of the Week

Financial Technology and Innovation – Neobanks and the Future of Banking [Part 1/4]

Much like how Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry and Uber and Lyft disrupted the transportation industry, neobanks are giving traditional banking a run for their money. Neobanks, also known as “challenger banks,” are digital-first banking platforms that provide seamless mobile and online banking experiences.

Typically, neobanks make most of their revenue from interchange fees and out-of-network ATMs. They are also heavily funded by venture capital firms. For example, Chime raised $485M in Series F funding in 2020 while Varo raised $63M in 2021.

With digital financial services becoming increasingly popular, many consumers are turning to neobanks to meet their banking needs. However, before doing so, there are a few things you should consider.


  • Convenience: Neobanks operates online, giving you 24/7 access to your accounts. They also tend to have intuitive and user-friendly mobile apps, making banking more accessible and convenient.
  • Low Fees: Because most neobanks do not maintain physical branches, they can pass these savings on to customers in the form of lower fees or no fees at all. They also have fairly transparent fee structures, making it easier to understand the costs of banking with them.
  • Innovative Features: Neobanks leverage technology to offer innovative features, such as real-time transaction notifications, budgeting tools, and customizable alerts. They often partner with other fintech companies as well, giving you a wider range of services to choose from.
  • Streamlined Onboarding: Neobanks typically offer quick and easy account setup processes, allowing customers to start using their services without extensive paperwork or time-consuming procedures.


  • Limited Physical Presence: To reduce costs, most neobanks lack physical branches, which means customers may not have access to in-person customer support or assistance.
  • Security Concerns: Operating exclusively online exposes neobanks and their users to potential cybersecurity threats, such as hacking and phishing attacks. Some neobanks may operate in less regulated environments, potentially leading to fewer safeguards for customer protection.
  • Downtime Issues: Neobanks heavily rely on technology, and any technical glitches or outages could disrupt services, impacting customers’ ability to access their funds or perform transactions.
  • Lack of Full-Service Banking: Neobanks may not offer the full range of financial products and services that traditional banks do, such as loans, mortgages, or comprehensive wealth management.


  • Chime: With over 14M active users, Chime is one of the most popular neobanks in the U.S. Launched in 2014, Chime offers banking services with no monthly fees, overdraft fees, minimum balances, or foreign transaction fees. They also provide a high-yield savings account, free debit card, credit-building opportunities, 60,000+ fee-free ATMs, and more.
  • Current: Similar to Chime, Current comes with no minimum balance fees, in-network ATM fees, bank transfer fees, or annual fees. You can easily pay and build credit, track monthly balances, get early access to direct deposit, and earn up to 4% APY on your Savings Pods.
  • Revolut: Headquartered in London, Revolut is a global neobank and financial technology company that offers currency exchange, debit and virtual cards, stock trading, crypto, etc. You can set up joint accounts and savings accounts, as well as budgeting and analytics, linked accounts, and more.

Tips and Tricks

  • Understand the Fee Structure: Carefully review each neobank’s fee structure to be aware of any charges associated with transactions, ATM withdrawals, or account maintenance.
  • Explore Mobile App Features: Explore and make use of all the tools offered by neobanks, such as real-time transaction notifications, budgeting features, and spending insights to manage your finances effectively.
  • Take Advantage of Global Accessibility: If the neobank offers global services, use this advantage for international transactions or travel. Ensure that you understand any associated fees for foreign transactions or ATM withdrawals.
  • Have a Backup Plan: Neobanks rely heavily on technology, and technical issues can occasionally occur. Have a backup plan or alternative payment methods, especially when traveling, to avoid inconvenience during potential downtime.

What Else Is New?


Personal Finance Resources

🚀 Check out our collection of personal finance resources on Gumroad, featuring both free and paid options:

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We are not financial advisors. The content on this website and our YouTube videos are for educational purposes only and merely cite our own personal opinions. In order to make the best financial decision that suits your own needs, you must conduct your own research and seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor if necessary. Know that all investments involve some form of risk and there is no guarantee that you will be successful in making, saving, or investing money; nor is there any guarantee that you won't experience any loss when investing. Always remember to make smart decisions and do your own research!

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