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Powell’s Pleas Unheeded: ​Corporate America’s Debt Addiction Persists, Risking Economic Fallout

Despite ​Federal Reserve Chair ​Jerome Powell’s continued efforts to steer ​Americans away from excessive borrowing and spending, CEOs and CFOs seem to be turning a deaf ear to his message.

Rather than reducing their debt burdens in light of 11 interest-rate hikes, many corporate leaders have actually increased their borrowing. They are tapping into bond markets to fund operational upgrades, business expansions, and share buybacks. This trend is observed not just among companies with strong credit ratings, such as Pfizer and Meta Platforms, but also among those with shakier finances, commonly referred to as junk-rated entities.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, since the first rate increase in early 2022, investment-grade companies have collectively taken on over half a trillion dollars in net debt. This persistent debt accumulation reflects the deeply ingrained culture of borrowing and spending that dominated Corporate America during an era of low interest rates. Executives who began their careers in this period find it challenging to break free from this mindset, seeing it as a fundamental principle of corporate finance.

While the market sentiment has been that the Fed’s hiking campaign is nearing its end, the ongoing debt boom suggests that Powell may need to continue raising rates to curb this behavior and address inflation concerns. Alternatively, he may have to maintain rates at elevated levels for longer than anticipated. The recent uptick in 10-year bond yields, which has momentarily slowed down debt issuance, indicates that investors may be gradually recognizing this reality.

However, the risk arises when Powell goes too far with rate hikes, potentially pushing the economy into a recession that could disproportionately impact heavily indebted companies. Bloomberg Intelligence data reveals signs of deteriorating financial health among investment-grade companies, as their leverage increases while interest coverage decreases.

Moreover, for less creditworthy businesses, the strain is even more pronounced, with defaults rising in sectors like real estate and retail. Notably, prominent names such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Party City are among the 150 companies with at least $50 million in debt that have filed for bankruptcy this year.

While corporate upheaval is rare among investment-grade firms, there have been instances of disruption. For instance, Silicon Valley Bank faced failure in March due to a run on deposits triggered by the surge in interest rates.

As Powell grapples with this persistent debt addiction, the stakes remain high. Striking a delicate balance is crucial, as excessive tightening may lead to economic repercussions felt most severely by debt-laden corporations, potentially sparking a wave of financial turmoil.

Wall St ends down slightly; investors await Friday’s payrolls

U.S. stocks ended just slightly lower after bouncing off session lows on Thursday as investors awaited Friday’s monthly jobs report and further possible clues on the outlook for interest rates.

U.S. data on initial claims for state unemployment benefits pointed to still-resilient labor market conditions, a day after a report showing U.S. private payrolls increased less than expected in September.

Friday’s monthly payrolls report could be the week’s most important economic news, however, investors remained concerned about whether the Federal Reserve will keep rates higher for longer.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields eased. Earlier this week, they hit their highest since 2007.

Stocks ended well off their weakest levels of the session, and strategists noted the S&P 500 was holding above its 200-day moving average, currently at around 4,206.

“It looks like we’re trying to hold here, and the reason is probably because yields have come down somewhat and these comments by Mary Daly may have also helped a little bit,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

San Francisco Fed Bank President Mary Daly said at the Economic Club of New York that with U.S. monetary policy “well into” restrictive territory and the recent rise in U.S. Treasury yields, the Fed may not need to raise rates any more.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.98 points, or 0.03%, to 33,119.57, the S&P 500 lost 5.56 points, or 0.13%, to 4,258.19 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.18 points, or 0.12%, to 13,219.83.

Among the day’s decliners, Clorox (NYSE:CLX) Co dropped 5.2% as the cleaning products maker said it expects to post a first-quarter loss.

Also, shares of Dell Technologies (NYSE:DELL) were down 1.5% after the company’s revenue forecast signaled that an AI boost may take longer to materialize.

After recent market weakness, investors are keen for third-quarter earnings reports to kick off mid-month. S&P 500 company earnings overall are expected to have risen 1.6% year-over-year for the quarter, according to LSEG IBES data.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.76 billion shares, compared with the 10.63 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.11-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted three new 52-week highs and 39 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 24 new highs and 330 new lows.

Wall St ends down slightly; investors await Friday’s payrolls


Farewell ​Flexport Force: ​U.S. Startup Cuts 30% of Workforce in Bold Cost-Cutting Move

According to insider sources, the dynamic U.S. logistics startup Flexport is set to bid farewell to a significant portion of its workforce. Reports suggest that around 30% of employees, roughly 1,000 individuals, will be affected by the forthcoming layoffs. The plan, initially brought to light by The Information, reveals Flexport’s determination to trim costs and reignite profitability.

In recent statements, Flexport has emphasized the importance of disciplined growth and cost efficiency. While specifics about the job cuts remain under wraps, the company is steadfast in its resolve to weather the storm.

The return of ​CEO Ryan Petersen shines a light on the factors that led Flexport down this path. Petersen credited former ​Amazon executive ​Dave Clark for his role in developing essential products within the company. However, it was recognized that during Clark’s tenure, Flexport lost sight of customer-centricity and financial management.

Located in the vibrant hub of San Francisco, Flexport recently made waves in the industry by introducing revolutionary e-commerce tools. The unveiling of the self-service offering, aptly named Revolution, and the innovative Flexport+ subscription service signifies the company’s mission to streamline operations, cut expenses, and automate the tedious manual tasks often endured by small businesses across multiple spreadsheets.

Flexport’s dominance in the logistics realm is no secret, with an impressive funding record of $2.3 billion and a current valuation of $8 billion. In a strategic move last June, the company expanded its repertoire by acquiring Shopify Logistics, bolting on valuable expertise in business-to-business distribution and last-mile delivery.

As Flexport adapts to a changing landscape, the turbulent journey continues. Will these calculated cost-cutting measures steer the ship towards smoother waters? Only time will reveal the outcome of Flexport’s bold approach.

OpenAI’s Grand Chip Conquest: James Bond-Style Adventures in the AI World!

​OpenAI, the maestro behind ​ChatGPT, is on a quest to conquer the world of artificial intelligence chips. Rumor has it that they’re so invested in this endeavor that they’re even considering a potential acquisition. Picture OpenAI as the ​James Bond of the AI world, contemplating secret missions to expand its chip empire.

While nothing is set in stone yet, insiders claim that OpenAI has been holding intense internal discussions. They’ve been scratching their heads, trying to solve the dilemma of expensive AI chips. After all, these chips are the lifeblood of OpenAI’s operations, and scarcity is a bitter foe.

So, what’s on the table? OpenAI has tossed around some intriguing ideas. They’ve contemplated crafting their own AI chip, like a modern-day alchemist turning silicon into precious gold. On top of that, they’ve been cozying up to the mighty ​Nvidia, the reigning champ of chipmakers. But they’re not stopping there – they’re also looking to diversify their chip suppliers.

What does OpenAI have to say about all this? Well, their lips are sealed. They’re keeping the suspense alive, leaving us hanging on the edge of our seats.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is a man on a mission. He’s made securing more AI chips a top priority. In fact, he’s publicly voiced his frustrations about the scarcity of graphics processing units, those magical chips essential for running AI applications. Nvidia, the ruler of this chip dominion, holds over 80% of the global market. It’s like a villain with a stranglehold on the precious resource.

So, dear friends, let us watch the AI chip saga unfold. Will OpenAI venture into the chip-making realm? Will they find an acquisition target worthy of their ambitions? Only time will reveal the fate of OpenAI’s chip crusade. Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode!

​Smart investing is like a game of ​financial chess – you need to strategize, plan your moves, and outwit the market. It’s like playing the ​stock market with ​Cassandra-like foresight, making calculated risks and dodging financial pitfalls. It’s about channeling your inner ​Sherlock Holmes, analyzing trends and piecing together clues to unlock profitable opportunities. So, grab your monetary magnifying glass, put on your investing thinking cap, and get ready to make those dollars dance the cha-cha of financial success! Remember, in the world of smart investing, the only thing sharper than your wit should be your portfolio.