# 700 – 🌎 BRICS vs. the world – The Average Joe

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    # 700 – 🌎 BRICS vs. the world

    victorlei

    May 22, 2024

    Good morning. It’s camping season, but don’t pack the bear spray just yet — at least, that’s the call from Wall Street. Analysts have been upping their S&P 500 targets in recent weeks, especially after the index surged by nearly 12% this year.

    Joining the herd is Michael Wilson from Morgan Stanley, who, after being one of the last bears, finally bumped up his S&P 500 forecast from 4.5K to 5.4K. However, JPMorgan is still holding on to its prediction of a 20% drop, expecting the S&P 500 to hit 4.2K.


    GLOBAL

    Is BRICS+ a Real Threat? Understanding the Growing Economic Alliance

    In 2001, economist Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs made a bold prediction: by 2050, four countries will dominate the global economy. The shortlist included Brazil, Russia, India, and China — later joined by South Africa in 2010. Together, they formed BRICS — an economic alliance aimed at boosting the representation and power of emerging economies.

    Today, BRICS is showing results, but the coalition hopes to expand its influence further by adding new members. In January, BRICS welcomed five new countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — doubling the bloc’s membership and extending its reach into North Africa and the Middle East. Together, these ten countries form BRICS+ (luckily, they didn’t call it RISECUBIES).

    • BRICS+ represents more than 45% of the world’s population and 28% of its GDP — with some of the fastest forecasted global growth.

    • Thanks to the addition of oil-dominant Middle Eastern countries, BRICS+ also accounts for 44% of the world’s crude oil production — rivaling the OPEC+ oil cartel.

    But is BRICS+ a real threat?

    In recent years, BRICS+ has become the stuff of nightmares among some US political conservatives — who warn that the economic bloc could take up arms against Western countries by creating its own reserve currency, establishing a united military, or raising trade costs through collective bargaining. However, the reality is more nuanced. While BRICS+ is bigger than ever, it lacks the structure for such actions.

    • BRICS+ countries cooperate to a certain extent, but they often have divergent interests — for instance, India and China are considered political enemies.

    • Unlike the European Union, BRICS+ doesn’t have a common currency or trade agreements like NAFTA.

    What’s the big deal then? Analysts express concerns that the alliance could empower potential Western adversaries — like China (its largest member) and Iran (its newest member). However, experts like Geopolitical Monitor’s George Monastiriakos argue that BRICS+ isn’t a strategic threat to the US due to structural challenges, ideological differences, and economic weakness among some of its newest members, such as Egypt. This is why Javier Milei withdrew from joining the global partnership after becoming the President of Argentina. Nonetheless, BRICS+ is likely to continue growing in both membership and influence.


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    LARGECAP RECAP

    💱 Ethereum Inches Closer to Spot ETF Approval

    After waiting over a decade, crypto OGs finally saw their biggest wish come true with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approval of a Bitcoin ETF this year. And now, with the total crypto market cap over 3x higher than its 2023 lows, it seems the SEC might grant another wish — this time for an Ethereum ETF (or about ten)…

    • The SEC has asked exchanges to update filings for Ether ETFs before reviewing their applications this week.

    • Ethereum jumped over 20% on the news yesterday, climbing above $3.7K — and analysts at AllianceBernstein are predicting that Ether could rally by 75% if an ETF gets approved.

    What happens now? According to Eric Balchunas from Bloomberg Intelligence, the SEC’s request for updates was “a total shock” for the industry, which was “prepared and braced for denial.” Although the agency could ultimately deny the filings after the updates, Balchunas now estimates a 75% chance of approval, up from his previous 25%. We’ll know by Thursday if he’s right. If so, Wall Street could welcome Ethereum ETFs by the week’s end.

    Read: Ethereum’s Q1 2024 Earnings Triple Thanks To $1.2B Surge in Transaction Fees

    🍖 Florida’s Ban On Lab-Grown Meat Might Hurt US Competitiveness

    Where’s the (lab-grown) beef? Not in Florida’s future, thanks to a new ban. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation prohibiting lab-grown meat, calling it a “threat” to the state’s agriculture industry, which ranks ninth nationally for beef production. Florida is the first US state to ban cultivated meat, potentially setting a trend that could harm the burgeoning faux meat industry.

    • This ban still allows plant-based meats from companies like Beyond Meat ($BYND) and Impossible Foods but prohibits meat made in labs.

    • Critics, including innovators and venture capitalists, argue this move could damage Florida’s startup ecosystem and put the US behind pioneers like Singapore and China.

    The impact? Following Florida’s decision, Alabama enacted similar legislation, and five more Republican-led states might follow suit. This could benefit traditional meat producers but harm the environment since livestock production contributes 12% of global pollution. Vow CEO George Peppou called the ban an “own goal,” warning that the US could lose its competitive edge in another critical technology sector, just like semiconductors.


    JOE’S MARKET PULSE

    🔗 Macy's / VinFast

    Veteran Wall Street insider has an alternative to retirement: Dave Aquino, who’s worked at Merrill-Lynch and Vanguard, argues that the traditional route of saving via 401(k) and IRA isn’t the only to retirement. Instead, he shares a practical trading strategy that could transform your retirement. Is this the breakthrough you need? Learn more →*

    Markets & Economy

    JPMorgan ($JPM) dismisses buybacks: CEO Jamie Dimon said the bank’s stock looked too expensive, emphasizing they are “not going to buy back a lot of stock at these prices.” Dimon also warned investors that he might retire within five years. [Read]

    Climate change costs keep climbing: According to BloombergNEF, governments and companies will now have to spend 19% more — or $34T — on the clean energy transition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. [Read]

    Trump Media ($DJT) posts $327M loss: The former president’s social media company reported just $770K in revenue during its latest quarter, weeks after its former auditor was banned from markets for engaging in “massive fraud.” [Read]

    Business & Wealth

    Assumable mortgages are rising: Some homeowners are adding a new perk when they sell — their sub-4% mortgage. Homebuyers are assuming the mortgages of previous owners rather than financing at today’s high rates. [Read]

    Scarlett Johansson takes aim at OpenAI: The actress accused OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman of basing their new voice assistant on her character from the movie Her — just months after Altman asked her to be the voice of the AI model. [Read]

    Where freelancing pays the most: San Jose, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. residents — have you considered switching from a W-2 job for the 1099 life? A new study by Fiverr and Axios found these cities have the highest estimated freelancer earnings. [Read]

    *Thanks to our sponsors for keeping the newsletter free.


    CHART


    DIGIT OF THE DAY

    The Internet’s Memory Loss: 38% of Web Pages from 2013 Have Vanished

    They say the internet lasts forever, but our digital past is fading faster than we can preserve it. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that over one-quarter of web pages created between 2013 and 2023 have disappeared, with 38% of the oldest pages gone for good.

    This isn't just about losing a few memes or broken links; it’s a widespread issue called “digital decay” — the gradual erosion of online content. And it’s affecting how we access information across different areas:

    • Wikipedia: 54% of pages have at least one reference link that leads to a dead end.

    • News sites and government pages: Even critical sources aren’t immune from digital decay — as just over 20% of these pages currently contain at least one broken link.

    Gone but never forgotten: As more websites vanish, we're looking at a future with fewer online resources. And with people increasingly relying on AI for searches and visiting websites less, fewer new sites will be created — and existing ones might shut down due to a lack of visitors and ad revenue. This isn't just an inconvenience; it’s a loss that could erase important parts of our culture, history, and scientific knowledge. So, bookmark this newsletter (while you still can).


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