Jan 3, 2024
“Life is too short for long-term grudges." — Elon Musk
Most mainstream investment outlooks predict the same middle-of-the-road scenario for 2024: interest rates finally starting to hurt, a mild economic slowdown, and a central bank pivot to easier policies setting the stage for a late-year rebound. JP Morgan and Vanguard are predicting “mild” recessions, BNY Mellon is saying there will be a “healthy slowdown” and Barclays is calling for a “soft-ish” landing. Most firms stress the need to seek out quality in stocks, diversify across sectors and regions, and seize upon some of the best yields in the fixed-income space in recent memory.
If the consensus on Wall Street is often wrong — and evidence from 2023 does little to disprove that idea – then 2024 is in for a bumpy ride. Firms used the same language as their playbook for 2023 and yet most were completely incorrect. As expectations for the year appear to be “predictable”, we have to wonder how consensus may be skewed and what opportunity may lie ahead.
Danish shipping giant Maersk announced plans to pause Red Sea and Gulf of Aden transits until further notice, on Tuesday. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have made travel through the Suez Canal nearly impossible as commercial ships are instead going around the Cape of Good Hope to reach Europe. The trip around the southern tip of Africa is ~20% longer which means there is far less shipping capacity available.
Around 30% of ocean container traffic flows through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea so the backlash on global trade could be far reaching. Although the biggest impact will first be felt by Asia and Europe, if the transit route experiences a long-term closure, we could see inflation creep back into goods that are reliant on global trade.
Chinese automaker BYD topped Tesla as the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles on a quarterly basis. BYD reported selling more than 526,000 fully electric vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared with Tesla’s sales of nearly 485,000 for the same period. Tesla remained ahead of BYD for the full year but the Chinese rival’s ascent has put pressure on Tesla to perform.
The changing of the guard comes at a time when car makers are being forced to cut prices in an effort to drive sales. BYD sells electric vehicles that are more affordable than those offered by Tesla which is likely allowing the company to reach a broader audience of qualified buyers. Although Tesla is expected to release a new generation of vehicles at a lower price point, are the reports a sign of cooling demand?
As of writing, TSLA is a 2.22% holding, SpaceX is a 5.81% holding, and Twitter (X Holdings) is a 1.14% holding in the ARK Venture Fund.
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