Hi! If you’re part of the 62% of Americans who want to ban the changing of the clocks and took it upon yourself to personally ditch the switch yesterday, we’d just like to say a quick hello from the past… Today we’re exploring:
Although likely not enough to offset the rising cost of living, you may have noticed a few extra dollars in your savings account each month, as interest rate rises begin to trickle through to higher savings.
Warren Buffett certainly has noticed: his sprawling conglomerate, Berkshire Hathway, is sitting on a cool $157 billion of cash and cash equivalents, the highest figure ever recorded by the company. In the days of near-zero interest rates, that didn’t mean much — but, in the most recent quarter, that cash pile bolstered income by $1.7 billion, with most of this being lent to the US government via short-term treasuries.
Saving up for something good
Berkshire is America’s seventh-largest company; an expansive industrial giant with businesses in insurance, railways, energy, manufacturing, retailing… and an enormous portfolio of investments in companies including Apple, American Express, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, and more.
Still led by the dynamic duo of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, who are 93 and 99 years old, respectively, modern Berkshire remains an outlier in corporate America — an empire built through prudent dealmaking and investing over more than 60 years. At the moment, Buffett and Munger seem content to do something that’s often hard for prolific dealmakers: sit tight, keep their financial powder dry, and wait for an opportunity.
Degrees of separation
Less than a month after Harvard professor Dr. Claudia Goldin became the third woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for her research on the gender pay gap, a new Pew Research report has detailed just how far women have climbed the ranks of America’s most lucrative careers.
Since 1980, the proportion of women in the top 10 highest-paying occupations in the US — which, in 2021, meant median earnings equal to $136,000 on average — has increased some 22 percentage points to 35%. As several of these occupations require advanced degrees, it follows that a greater share of women have undertaken doctorates in Pharmacy (40% vs. 63%), Medicine (23% vs. 50%), and Dentistry (13% vs. 51%) from 1980 to 2021.
The relative presence of women has increased significantly in nearly all of these professions over the same period, with the proportion of women dentists more than quadrupling, and women physicians tripling, in the last 40 years. However, it’s the pharmacy industry where women have formed the greatest generality, as they now comprise 61% of pharmacists in the US in 2021 — with a family-friendly working model, and more egalitarian earnings within the industry, explaining at least some of the relative popularity of the pharmacist career path among women.
Even so, in all the other top 10 highest-paying jobs, women remain in the minority.
Not Fully Thriving
OpenSea, the self-proclaimed “first and largest” marketplace for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), is reportedly laying off 50% of its current staff, as the platform looks to cut costs and reorganize amidst the continued fall of the digital tokens.
The days of tweets selling as NFTs, “crypto punks”, and celebrities going on Jimmy Fallon to talk about their “bored apes”, are now a very distant memory. Indeed, NFT sales on OpenSea have fallen almost 99% from their trading volume heights of ~$4.9 billion, hitting less than $50m in October. That’s the lowest figure on record since January 2021 — suggesting that we’re well past “peak NFT”.
At the height of NFT-mania, everyone from Paris Hilton and Eminem to Twitter’s founder / ex-X exec Jack Dorsey seemed to be getting involved in buying, selling, and shilling the buzzy tokens. When digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for $69m, it spurred a flood of digital music, art, games, and meme assets that quickly oversaturated the market — which wasn’t helped by high-profile scam allegations.
Although the tokens seem to still hold some cultural worth — they featured heavily in the latest Halloween Simpsons special last night — the diminished standing of the technology seems to have proven the original naysayers right: NFTs were a solution looking for a problem.
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