Geopolitics took center stage last week as a Russian-hired, 25,000-troop mercenary force known as the Wagner Group embarked on Moscow after tensions grew between Putin and Wagner's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. The Wagner Group seized the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and shot down six Russian helicopters on their path towards Moscow before an agreement was reached. The incident heightens concern of instability in Russia and raises questions whether the highly effective Wagner Group will continue fighting alongside Russian troops in Ukraine. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
The tech-dominated NASDAQ Index snapped an eight-week streak of gains as investor fears grew over additional interest rate hikes following Jerome Powell's hawkish comments that The Fed's efforts to bring inflation back down to 2% were "far from over". However, inflation continues to show signs of moderating and with cracks beginning to form in the labor market additional rate hikes are far from guaranteed. (Source: CNBC)
This week, the spotlight continues to shine on real estate market data after housing starts, building permits, and existing home sales all came in better-than-expected last week. On Friday, The Fed's preferred measure of inflation, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), is reported for May.
BLACKROCK ON BITCOIN - Bitcoin surged 18% last week as Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager with $10 trillion in assets under management, announced their plan to create a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). Bitcoin is up nearly 90% so far in 2023. (Source: Reuters)
BUFFET PHILANTHROPY - Warren Buffet, the sixth-richest person in the world, is also its largest philanthropist having donated $51.5 billion since 2006. This year’s recipients received a combined $4.6 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock. Recipients include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($3.5 billion), The Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation ($350 million), and the foundations of his three children each received $250 million apiece. (Source: USA Today)
RECORD CREDIT CARD DEBT - According to the Federal Reserve Bank's latest data, Americans now hold a record $988 billion in aggregate credit card debt. The increase is largely due to higher costs stemming from inflation. The average American carries around $5,733 in credit card debt (Source: CNBC).
MUSK-ZUCKERBERG CAGE MATCH? - Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, the No. 1 and No. 10 richest men on earth, have been sparring over their respective social media platforms over a potential UFC-style fight. UFC President Dana White said the potential fight would generate over $1 billion in revenue. (Source: CNBC)
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