What Consists Of The ‘American Dream’ Is Changing, Plus War And Economic Health Really Don’t Mix

“All but end” — Lyft president John Zimmer, describing what will happen to private car ownership in major cities by 2025. Yes, that’s less than a decade away. The times, they are a changin’.

Market Snapshot

  • U.S. stocks closed lower on Friday as investors react to inflationary data and look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting this week
  • Oil dropped to multi-week lows after data showed Iran had increased its exports by two million barrels last month, dashing hopes that the supply glut would pass

An Oil Company That’s Not Struggling?

…That doesn’t sound right. And it’s got the attention of the New York attorney general, which is investigating why Exxon Mobil is the only major oil company that hasn’t written down the value of its assets after the last two years of falling oil prices. Exxon’s accounting knack for avoiding writedowns—when a firm permanently reduces the value of an asset because it’s overvalued—has helped the energy giant outperform its rivals since the oil crash began. To add insult to injury, Exxon is already being investigated for its past knowledge of the impact of climate change on its business. Something smells fishy.

Classic California Move

…Where techy meets environmentally friendly, there’s Elon Musk. That’s right folks, Elon Musk and Co. just got hired by the state of California to build the world’slargest lithium battery, capable of powering over 2,500 households for a full day. It’s a pretty big deal: the so-called Tesla Powerpack (which is literally a massive collection of batteries) will allow utilities to store excess solar energy and draw from it when needed to adjust to peak levels of energy demand, effectively smoothing consumption across California. Tesla: 1, power outages: 0.

Johnson and Johnson Drops $4.3 Billion in Cash

…To add Abbott Medical Optics to its stacked healthcare portfolio. The acquisition of Abbott’s ophthalmic segments (that’s a fancy term for eye care) will make J&J one of the market leaders in vision healthcare moving forward. So what’s the big whoop here? J&J breaking into the cataract surgery space. It may sound pretty niche, but cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed eye surgeries. Now do you see?

War and Economic Health

…They don’t really mix. An IMF report released on Friday illustrated the devastating toll of war on economies in the Middle East and North Africa. Bottom line? Things are much worse than usual. Whereas the typical country embroiled in war suffered an average GDP loss of 4%-9% following three years of conflict, countries from these regions have seen a loss of 6%-15%. Even countries bordering war-torn areas were more negatively impacted than you’d expect. The worst-affected economies at the moment? Syria’s GDP is half what it was prior to 2010, while Yemen and Libya have both seen their GDPs plummet around 25% in 2014 and 2015, respectively. And don’t even get us started on physical infrastructure damage.

Other Stories

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: Housing Market Index
  • Tuesday: Adobe, FedEx Earnings; Housing Starts; Fed Meeting Begins
  • Wednesday: General Mills, Bed Bath & Beyond Earnings; Fed Meeting Announcement
  • Thursday: AutoZone, Rite Aid Earnings; Existing Home Sales; Weekly Jobless Claims
  • Friday: PMI Manufacturing Index

Dream On

The American Dream: a swimming pool, a golden retriever, a spouse who doesn’t age, two low-maintenance kids who are good at sports and—of course—a nice, big house. Well, turns out that house part might not be as American anymore—home ownership has dropped to a rate of around 63%, a 50-year low:

  • So what’s going on? Americans certainly haven’t stopped dreaming: 90% of millennials aspire to be homeowners, but 62% either rent or live with roommates.
  • Renting a house? As if. A recent survey by the rental website Zumper found 71% of its users think that the American dream requires home ownership, not simply rental.
  • So if home ownership is still regarded as part of the American dream, why is the rate dropping so low? Simply put, it’s hard to buy a home when you don’t know if you’ll stick around long enough. 60% of millennials have changed jobs at least once in the past five years, meaning with each new job they might have to relocate. And with student debt piling higher than ever, there may not be enough room in the budget for a down payment. Better start off with just the dog.

Interview Question of the Day

Alice and Bob take turns to pick numbers from one through nine without replacement. The first to possess three distinct numbers that sum to 15 wins. Does Alice have a winning strategy? (Answer)

Business Term of the Day

Equity Capital Market (ECM) — A market that exists between companies and financial institutions that’s used to raise equity capital for the companies. Initial public offerings, allocation of new issues and private placements are some of the activities that companies process in the ECM. ECMs also deal with derivative instruments such as futures, options and swaps.

Food for Thought

Does North Dakota State sound familiar? It should now. The FCS school (think Division II of college football) has been consistently beating FBS (Division I) programs. And this weekend was no different, as NDSU took down ranked Big Ten foe Iowa. That makes it six wins in a row for NDSU against FBS teams. Even crazier: NDSU has been paid over $2 million by their opponents to play these six games. Fear the Bison.

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