Your Weekly Financial Roundup Issue No. 63

Here’s the latest on the economy, tech, and the world, including positive economic sentiment from many Americans, Netflix’s price hikes, former President Donald Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, and more.

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Your Financial News Roundup

January 25, 2024


TL;DR

  1. Economy:  Americans are increasingly feeling better about the economy’s health; while the job market sees a drop in openings amid record-low unemployment.
  2. Tech:  Netflix ends its cheapest ad-free plan to drive growth in pricier plan tiers; while MIT predicts that AI’s long-feared impact on the job market will take longer than first thought.
  3. World:  Donald Trump won the Republican primary in New Hampshire; while Mexico demands the U.S. look into how American-made, military weaponry finds its way to drug cartels.

Economy

😎 The Vibes Are On: American consumers haven’t felt this good about the economy in years. Despite a good overall situation, many say the U.S. is in a “vibes-cession” where people feel worse off due to labor market volatility and high inflation. A survey shows that consumer sentiment jumped 29% from Dec to Jan and is at its highest level since July 2021 and another shows households feel their finances improved. Yet views on the health of the economy diverge by political party with Republicans rating it much lower than Democrats who view it favorably. Though scores are still below pre-pandemic ones, analysts say the upward rebound is clear. (NBC)

Our Take: The dual-partisan narrative of the economy could greatly influence voter behavior in 2024. A sustained upward trend could boost consumer sentiment, increasing the chances of averting a recession and making the Fed’s “soft landing” happen.

⁉️ The Strongly Strange Job Market: In recent years, media pundits and leaders have touted a robust job market with the lowest unemployment rate on record. New job posting data from Indeed suggests the labor market is cooling as job postings fell more than 15% from 2023’s start and that white-collar job openings fell the most. LinkedIn reports a similar decline from mid-2022 to mid-2023.  Wells Fargo thinks that 2024’s job market will weaken, but the government reports the job market is still strong as 216K jobs were added in December and unemployment is steady at 3.7%. (CNN)

Our Take: While the labor market cools, there are still 8.8M+ roles open signifying that the job market is still far away from pre-pandemic normal. However, many have found that there are many scams and that some companies make fake job postings or that other roles have a lot of competition, making it hard to secure the next gig.


Tech

🥸 Streaming = Cable in Disguise: Original streaming giant, Netflix is ending its cheapest ad-free plan of $11.99/month in favor of its ad-supported options. Now, the cheapest ad-free plan would be $15.49/month and the ad-supported plan would be $6.99/month. Netflix’s co-CEO Greg Peters reported that the ad-supported offering is at 23M MAUs and is focused on growing that figure, along with bumping the quality up to 1080p and enabling downloads. Netflix now has 247M subscribers globally and has stepped into new spaces like 4K streams, gaming, and live sports broadcasting. It is offering these features by playing with its plans’ pricing and by asking ”our members to pay a little extra.” (TheVerge)

Our Take: Streaming giants always wore the veneer of disruptive tech, while operating on the same business model as cable. To continue producing content and grow, streamers will jack up subscriber fees and bundle with their competitors to remain viable — making their prices and products resemble cable. It’s likely the smaller platforms will fade away, making the industry viable.

🤖 Why AI Is Not Coming For Your Job: Research from MIT on when AI would automate human work came to a surprising conclusion — most “at-risk” jobs will take longer to automate than thought. The key finding was that only 23% of the jobs that could be potentially done by AI right now would be cost-effective for employers to do so, highlighting that human labor is still the more economically viable option at the moment. The study implies AI adoption will be slower than anticipated and mirror past waves of tech change — disappointing AI doomers everywhere. With gradual change in the job market, there will be more time for people and society to plan, adapt, and retrain. (CNN)

Our Take: This reassuring report combats the fear espoused by AI doomers of automation causing mass unemployment and societal instability. It also shows how the adoption of AI will resemble more gradual transitions, providing time for society to develop a more realistic and balanced view of AI’s role in the future.


World

🔫 Secret Life of Guns: Mexico’s government wants a speedy investigation into how U.S.-made weapons are ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The Mexican army has recovered military-grade weaponry such as rocket launchers and grenade launchers that are only for the U.S. military. Mexico estimates that 70% of its illegal weapons smuggling comes from the U.S, and has long had a problem with finding weapons legal in the U.S. but illegal in Mexico show up within its borders. Mexico has sued gun makers, alleging that they knowingly sell weapons to smugglers — with mixed success. (AP)

Our Take: This troubling aspect of U.S.-Mexico relations has existed for decades, perpetuating the violence of Mexico’s drug cartels and how American rights and policies have affected its neighbor. It also underscores the need for gun makers to secure their supply chains and combat arms trafficking. 

🇺🇸 GOP Primary Season: On Tuesday night, Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary after winning in Iowa. Trump captured at least 54% of the vote, while the runner-up Nikki Haley garnered 43% of the vote with each candidate gathering 84K and 68K votes, respectively. Trump made electoral history as the first non-incumbent Republican to win both states, but Haley has vowed to stay in the race, saying it is “far from over” as dozens of primaries remain. Trump faces a slew of court cases that could disqualify him, but he still maintains a sizable lead over Haley in polls for the next primary in South Carolina. (CNN)

Our Take: Though many call for Haley to drop out, she’s vowed to keep fighting until at least Super Tuesday in early March. The success of her campaign rests on if Trump is found guilty in one of his cases and how voters feel next month — else it’ll be a Biden v. Trump rematch.


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