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ResearchThree Things (11/13)

Three Things (11/13)

Nov 13, 2023

“I believe in the future, and to be a good investor, you have to believe in the future."
— Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI

Markets race higher

A lightning-fast rebound has driven the S&P 500 up in nine of the past 10 sessions and 7.2% over the past two weeks. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” has plunged from its October highs. U.S. stock ETFs and mutual funds saw $4.2 billion in inflows while bearish bets by hedge funds against the S&P 500 fell to the lowest level since June 2022.

What’s behind the market’s U-turn? Stocks and bonds got a double boost from Washington earlier this month. The Treasury increased the size of longer-term debt auctions by a smaller amount than many had expected, and the Federal Reserve hinted that it likely won’t raise interest rates again this year. Some important inflation data comes in this week including consumer-price index and producer-price index figures, and both should be a barometer for whether this rally can last. 

Developer day

OpenAI hosted its developer day last week and AI company unveiled the GPT-4 Turbo — an improved version of the popular GPT-4 model at a 3x cost reduction. The new model has a knowledge cut-off of April 2023 compared to GPT-4’s September 2021 cutoff. The company also launched a new Assistants API, to let developers build their own “agent-like experiences”, an app store experience, and DALL-E 3 is now available through API. 

OpenAI is shipping products quickly as they attempt to race ahead of peers and consumer developer mind-share. With over 100 million weekly active users, the company’s most important announcement is likely surrounding its price cuts. They’re modeling their approach after other disruptive technologies where the market leader wants to quickly dominate the emerging market by making it accessible, then develop a superior product to maintain their position. 

Slowing ships

Shipping volumes are retreating as carrier companies that once posted net income totaling $364 billion in 2021 and 2022 are back in the red. The downturn stems from a combination of economic forces: goods demand is returning to pre-pandemic levels just as supply is rising in the form of new, bigger ships. The cost of moving merchandise can’t stay this low indefinitely, because carrier company expenses are heading in the opposite direction – for now, however, they are eating the losses.

The lowering demand is representative of a global economy that is slowing. Chinese exports have tumbled but the flip side of shipping pains are lower costs for the manufacturers and retailers that own the cargo being transported. These lower costs have ripple effects which ultimately help central bankers tasked with bringing down inflation across many developed economies.


As of writing, MSFT is a holding in Titan's Flagship strategy.

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