Industry Insights: June 28, 2023
by Jordan DeGraw • June 28, 2023
Big Tech is Getting a Caffeine Boost
Welcome back to our Industry Insights for the week. We have a lot of exciting updates and thought-provoking trends to discuss, so let’s dive right in!
Inflation has been a hot topic lately, and while the official numbers show a slowdown to 4% year-over-year, many of us still feel the pinch in our wallets. The truth is not all prices move in the same direction. Gas prices have actually gone down by almost 20% from last year, but we’ve seen an increase in restaurant and grocery prices, as well as rising rents by 8.7%. It’s important to remember that inflation affects different sectors differently, which is why we might still perceive prices as high.
Another buzzworthy topic is the rise of AI and tech companies. Investors are flocking to companies like Tesla, Nvidia, Apple, and Meta, hoping to ride the wave of technological innovation. However, some experts caution against getting caught up in the hype. They draw parallels to the dot-com bubble of 1999, where not all technological advancements translated into lasting business success and earnings.
The labor market presents an interesting contradiction. While hiring remains strong, there’s been a decline in the average hours worked per employee. This could be attributed to businesses holding onto their workforce due to post-pandemic uncertainties. After struggling to hire and retain staff, companies fear they might not be able to reassemble a skilled team if they were to face layoffs. While this may be good news for unemployment rates, it raises concerns about stagnant wages for workers.
Now, here’s a quirky indicator that has economists scratching their heads: cardboard shipments. Economists are observing an 11% drop in empty cardboard box shipments compared to last year. While it may seem like an irrelevant metric, boxes play a crucial role in the supply chain of goods. This decline might indicate a global slowdown in consumer demand, which could have broader implications for the economy. It’s fascinating how even the most unexpected metrics can offer valuable insights.
Consumers hate hidden fees, but businesses love “cost complexity.” Studies show that consumers spend more when shown an initial price without taxes and fees than when shown an “all-in” price. However, as of late, there has been a shift towards price transparency. Companies like Airbnb and Ticketmaster are opting to show the total cost upfront, giving consumers a clearer picture of what they’re paying. This move aligns with a growing consumer preference for transparency and honesty, potentially reshaping the way businesses present their prices in the future.
In the realm of finance, lawmakers are aiming to reduce credit card fees paid by merchants, which amounted to a staggering $67 billion last year. While this would alleviate the burden on merchants and consumers, it might result in lower credit card rewards. It’s a complex issue with implications for both businesses and consumers and finding the right balance will be crucial.
On the global stage, Google finds itself facing a formal complaint from the EU for alleged anticompetitive behavior. The accusation revolves around Google’s dominance in the digital ad market, with claims of favoritism towards its own ad exchange in automated online auctions. The EU believes this behavior harms publishers and advertisers, discouraging competition. This case highlights the ongoing challenges of maintaining fair competition in the digital realm.
As Twitter continues to evolve under its new leadership, we can expect to see initiatives and improvements aimed at enhancing the accuracy and reliability of the information shared on the platform. Twitter’s new CEO recently made a significant statement in her first company memo. She declared that Twitter’s ultimate goal is to become the “world’s most accurate real-time information source,” signaling an exciting direction for the platform.
Just for Fun:
Lastly, let’s lighten the mood with a fun fact. Can you guess the top-performing U.S. stock of the past 25 years? It’s not Apple, Tesla, or Amazon, but none other than Monster Energy! With an astounding cumulative return of 268,000% since 1998, Monster Energy has proven to be an unexpectedly lucrative investment. Who would have thought that a caffeine addiction could bring such incredible returns?
That’s all for this week’s Industry Insights! We hope you found these updates informative and thought-provoking. Remember to stay curious, keep exploring, and take care! Until next time!
Your friendly Industry Insights devotee,