Obsidian Market Update 4/28/2023
We certainly live in interesting times.
- Following the failure of several banks in March, the country’s largest banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo) beat analysts’ expectations and reported record profits in the first quarter of 2023.
- Beginning May 1, OPEC+ (a group of 23 oil- exporting companies) will cut oil production, yet last week the price of oil fell back into the upper $70s per barrel.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for electric vehicles (EV) has grown from 0.2 percent of total car sales in 2011 to 4.6 percent in 2021. In the past two months, however, the stock of the world’s largest EV manufacturer, Tesla, has fallen from a high of $214.24 per share (on February 14) to $160.03 (on April 24.) Tesla has also decreased prices of its vehicles four times since the beginning of 2023, and only in the last month has it increased a sticker price on one model.
- On May 3, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will announce its next interest rate decision aimed reducing the U.S. inflation rate to two percent. Since March of 2022, the Fed has raised interest rates nine times, yet over that same period, inflation has only fallen from 8.5 percent to 5.0 percent.
- The U.S. job market did not cool appreciably during the first three months of 2023. The unemployment rate increased only .1% since January while the economy added over 1 million jobs.
- Stock market performance has been muted as investors wait for earnings reports from companies in a variety of industries, but especially those from the large tech companies. Between January and March of 2023, tech companies have laid off over 150,000 employees.
Well before 2023, then Federal Reserve Governor (now Chairman), Jerome Powell, said, “All economic forecasts are subject to considerable uncertainty.” Amen! We aren’t in the business of economic forecasting. Instead, we keep an eye on ever-changing economic data so we can help you can make the wise financial decisions necessary to reach your goals.
If you have any questions about the performance or goals of your portfolio, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Last week the editor of a German magazine was fired for publishing an “exclusive” interview with Formula One driving legend, Michael Schumacher. Schumacher hasn’t given an interview since suffering a brain injury in 2013, and he didn’t give this one. The article was generated by an AI (artificial intelligence) chatbot.
This article is just one example of how AI is being used—or misused.
Many businesses are deploying chatbots to provide service 24/7, free up agents from answering repetitive questions, and to enable customers to update their passwords, find products and check inventory online. It’s likely you have interacted with a chatbot in at least one of these scenarios. In education, chatbots can assess a student’s learning history to provide personalized recommendations designed to improve academic performance. Individuals are using chatbots to meet fitness goals that provide personalized diet and workout recommendations. A chatbot can even be used on dating sites to enhance dating profiles or craft conversation starters
Despite the benefits, 1000 tech leaders recently warned that AI tools present “profound risks to society and humanity.” They called on AI labs to “immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”
Why so much concern? For starters, chatbots are only as accurate and the information they are trained on. If the information is not collected from a diverse or representative population, it amplifies biases. Chatbots collect huge amounts of personal information from users; information that is vulnerable to hacking. And finally, chatbots are not legally or morally accountable for the harm they cause.
As with all new technologies, there are pros and cons. The issue with AI is that not all the pros or cons are known. Until that time, we recommend that you look before you leap into the world of AI.
How we help
Estate Planning for International Families
It’s not at all unusual for families in the Washington metropolitan area to include members who live abroad. These “international families” face unique challenges when creating their estate plans. Tax codes, the treatment of community property and inheritance rules vary from country to country. Some countries require assets to pass to certain blood relatives, and in others, trusts are not considered to be legally valid. Unless these issues—and many more—are managed, inheritances may be subject to court proceedings and unnecessary taxation in multiple countries.
If you are an international family, the mechanics of your estate plan are complex, but the four foundational objectives of your plan are not: protect your loved ones, prevent conflicts among heirs, preserve your legacy and minimize taxation.
Next week we will introduce you to a new member of our team, Anne Heydrick. Some of you already know her from Integrated Financial Strategies, LLC, and we’re excited to introduce her to the rest of our Obsidian family.
Advisory Services offered through Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC. Securities are offered through Triad Advisors, member FINRA/SIPC. Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC, and Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, Inc, are not affiliated with Triad Advisors.