Updated June 3, 2023
Bill Chen, CFA
The Piggy Bank
📈 The broad U.S. stock market finished the week largely unchanged after a rollercoaster week, while the Nasdaq 100 added 3.5% on visions of AI.
As of Sunday afternoon, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached a tentative agreement regarding the debt ceiling.
For those who have avoided the current news cycle like a plague, the debt ceiling is the legal limit of how much money the US government can borrow. Once this limit is reached, lawmakers must agree to raise the ceiling before the Treasury can issue more debt. Think of it like a maxed out credit card. The credit card holder would need to raise the limit on the card before they could continue to spend. If lawmakers can’t agree to raise the debt ceiling, it could result in social security benefits being halted, government employees not getting paid, and potentially even a systemwide economic collapse.Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has stated the US could run out of cash to pay its debt obligations by as soon as June 5th.
👀 What to Be on the Lookout for This Week
There will be less action this week than normal, due the shortened workweek. However, you can look out for earnings announcements from:
Additionally, several economic reports will release, including:
S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index
Average mortgage rate
JOLTS job openings
ISM manufacturing PMI
Average hourly wage
📰 In Other News
NVIDIA is the modern-day embodiment of the saying, “You can mine for gold or you can sell pickaxes.” (Here's why we wouldn't be buyers.)
The chipmaker is set to become the first trillion dollar company in the industry as it rides the artificial intelligence gold rush. Since the release of ChatGPT, virtually every major company is seeking to use the emerging tech to enhance business.
As one of the main companies providing the GPU chips crucial to many AI tools, NVIDIA saw blockbuster earnings last week and expects the AI trend to continue to be highly profitable. In fact, the company expects revenue to increase by 50% this coming quarter. Not bad for a company that already expected $7 billion in revenue.
In other news, Axios released its ranking of the Top 100 Brands in the US. Here’s a quick snapshot of the rankings:
Patagonia, Costco, John Deere, Trader Joe’s, and Chick-fil-a are America’s favorite companies.
On the other end of the spectrum, Meta Platforms, Twitter, Fox Corporation, FTX, and the Trump Organization have some work to do.
Between Meta Platforms, Twitter, and FTX, it’s becoming clear Americans are tiring of tech billionaires who promise the world and underdeliver.
Notably, Netflix wasn’t ranked last on the list, although the streamer has officially kicked off its long-rumored crackdown on US users sharing passwords to their accounts. It will be interesting to watch if they drop in the next report.
Finally, you might think with the rise of AI-powered filters physical makeup would become a thing of the past. Well, e.l.f. cosmetics would beg to differ. The budget makeup brand just reported an 80% growth in sales last quarter, marking 17 straight quarters of growth.
Reflects performance at market close 5/26/23
😔 Curing the Remote Work Blues
When naming the most common health problems for Americans, issues like heart disease, obesity, and cancer quickly come to mind. However, according to US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, millions of people are citing a lack of “social connection” as one of their most pressing health concerns. In other words, Americans are really lonely.
While loneliness doesn’t always have explicit physical effects, studies show a lack of social life can be as damaging to your overall well-being as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
It’s easy to link rising loneliness in America to the social isolation of the pandemic — and, by extension, to the rise of remote work. Before demanding everyone return to the office to get their water cooler conversations in, it’s important to note there are also plenty of other contributing factors. The decline of family sizes, the rise of social media, slowing birth rates, and much more correlate with increasing loneliness as well.
But, while these large-scale societal topics are complex and difficult to solve, the remote work blues might be much easier to treat than you’d think.
Remote Work Blues
The American workplace has been in a state of flux since the critical moment in 2020 when work-from-home mandates went into effect. This moment overthrew decades of social norms that required people to spend 40 hours per week in an office.
Despite all the downsides to in-office work — extensive commutes, unnecessary meetings, annoying coworkers — spending time in the office provided at least one thing consistently: social interaction. If you worked an office job, you automatically had plenty of people to talk to each day.
For employees who now work remotely, this means that a formerly significant portion of their social calendar no longer exists. For remote workers, there are no more work parties or events, water cooler gossip, group lunch breaks, or even brainstorming sessions. These long-time tenants of human interaction have been replaced with Zoom calls, Slack messages, and emails.
However, a new trend is emerging as a common way to treat loneliness while working from home: remote coworking.
It might sound like a startlingly simple solution, but one of the best ways to avoid work-from-home loneliness is simply to meet up with a friend and work remotely, together.
Despite its simplicity, the remote coworking strategy might not have occurred to many. In the traditional American work model, employees were encouraged to leave their personal lives at home when they entered the office. Talking about personal issues could even be construed as unprofessional.
But those who have tried remote working claim it offers three huge benefits. Not only does remote coworking stave off loneliness and increase happiness. People who have tried it say the accountability and even friendly competition it encourages ultimately makes them more productive.
As the world changes and it becomes easier than ever to avoid social interaction altogether, it’s important to remember: you may be able to work from home, but you don’t need to work alone.
💃 Women in the Workforce Hits All-Time High
Reversing the Slump
As workplaces shuttered during the pandemic, millions of women left the workforce as they were either let go or voluntarily left to care for loved ones.
However, now this trend is rapidly reversing and women are at the forefront of the push to get back to work.
Companies today have more women on their payroll than ever before, tying records set during the early 2000s. According to government data, the participation rate of women aged 25 to 54 in the workforce is 77.5% after dropping to 73.5% during the pandemic.
The fact that women have been able to reenter the workforce so quickly is a testament to the power of resiliency as well as a sign of America’s strong job market.
Currently, the unemployment rate is just 3.4%, matching its lowest level since the 1950s. By another metric, the number of open jobs currently outnumbers unemployed workers by a ratio of 1.6 to 1.
Still, for many women the decision to reenter the workforce was made out of financial necessity. Over the past year, US inflation surged to a high of 9.1%, marking its highest level since the 1980s. Inflation has remained elevated since, sitting at 4.9% as of April. As a result, prices have skyrocketed for staples like rent, groceries, gas, and other goods. Additionally, pandemic-era government aid packages, such as the expanded child credit, have been slowly coming to an end. With prices increasing so rapidly, most households now require two breadwinners.
Finally, the pandemic reshaped the modern workforce. Remote and hybrid work are far more common now than they were a few years ago. Prior to the age of remote work, many women were forced to pick between raising children or pursuing a career. Now, working from home has at least made it more possible, if not more manageable, to balance both.
It’s important to remember that, just because a job is open, it doesn’t mean it’s worth pursuing. In general, this strong labor market has helped women pursue quality job opportunities and earn higher pay. But now many of the unfilled positions are in lower-paying sectors like leisure and hospitality. For women still on the job hunt, some of these jobs might not pay enough to sustain a family.
So, while the speed with which women have recovered from the pandemic slump is certainly a positive sign, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Many changes must still be made to create a more equitable workforce. One of the most notable would be better access to child care, which would make it far easier to juggle career and family without choosing one or the other.
Right now, women are simply recovering from the pandemic-era decline. But, with a little more change, they can hopefully transition from surviving the workforce to thriving in it.
Build-for-rent housing is becoming more popular, with approximately 116,000 projects in the pipeline across the US. This development strategy involves building homes specifically for the purpose of long-term rental. It is making quality living more accessible as housing unaffordability rises.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is urging tech companies and parents to regulate kids’ social media use. Roughly 95% of children use social media, though there’s little evidence social media is safe for kids.
Many household brands are popping up on dollar store shelves. Dollar stores are opening rapidly across the US and accounted for roughly 50% of all new stores in 2021.
“Ghost jobs” are creating a skewed sense of the current job market. This tactic involves employers leaving a job listing open for months with no intention of filling it.
WhatsApp plans to let users edit messages for 15 minutes after sending them. Altered messages will show up as “edited” so other recipients will be able to see a change has been made, but they will not see the specifics.
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