A peachy new year

12.21.2023

2024 is the year of … “Peach Fuzz” according to color consultancy Pantone. Some passionate online reactions to the announcement revealed that a lot of people were rooting for a year of green* instead. 

Speaking of, 1 in 10 Americans are planning to spend north of $1,000 on holiday gifts this season, and many are traveling, according to Empower research. In late December, 7.5 million people* will take to the skies, and almost 104 million are predicted to hit the road for the holidays.  

So will we: The Currency™ is on pause for the next two weeks. Wishing you a happy holiday season, and we’ll see you in the (peachy) new year.

— The Editors  

 

PLAY

Playing hardball (and winning): After much speculation* on social media, pitcher-hitter superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract* with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the largest deal in pro sports history. It’s structured mostly as deferred payments, with $680 million collected between 2034 and 2043. For those of us not in the major leagues, it’s good to know how to play it if you come into a windfall.  

💵 Checks and balances: 40% of Americans say they never use a checkbook, and yet the amount of check fraud in the U.S. is on the rise. Industry professionals say banks and credit unions are expected to file nearly 540,000 suspicious activity reports* this year, the highest on record. That might be why almost a third of Americans (28%) feel safer when they keep money in cash. 

🎁 Holiday mall standbys: The National Retail Foundation predicts between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion* will be spent over November and December, a 3-4% bump from last year. One unlikely spender is your local Santa: The majority of entertainers say they spend between $500 to $1,500 to take on the persona* (including two or three of the big red suits, of course).

🧸 Play on: Pop-up operator Go! Retail Group – which caters to holiday shoppers’ calendar, toy and game needs – inked a deal to bring 24 Toys R Us flagship stores to cities across the U.S. over the next 10 years, with the first expected for next year’s holiday season.

 

MONEY

Future feeling brighter   

Inflation expectations have hit a two-year low, according to a recent University of Michigan survey. Consumers expect inflation to sit at 3.1% in a year,* a notable decrease from last month's figure of 4.5%. The easing would be a welcome reprieve for many, as 67% of Americans say their income isn’t keeping up with inflation, according to Empower research.

Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged in their last policy decision of the year (keeping the benchmark rate around 5.4%*), and 17 of 19 Fed policymakers* project lower rates by the end of next year. The current rate has led to higher costs for borrowing across the economy – from consumers with mortgages to businesses seeking funding.  

 

WORK

Small employers: the next big thing?

America’s smallest companies could provide a big window of opportunity for job seekers, as they currently have the highest share of openings on record. In September, companies with one to nine employees made up 21% of all job openings.*

The amount of open positions in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest level since March 2021, with 8.73 million jobs unfulfilled* as of October. Combined with Baby Boomers “unretiring”* and the fact that 58% of Americans are open to working indefinitely, signals point to the labor market cooling.

With a quarter of Americans reporting that they switched jobs at least once in the past year (24%), those seeking a new role are wise to look into both what a company can offer and what to do about benefits (like retirement plans) should they find a new place to land. 

 

LIFE

An eye out for streaming stats   

With Spotify Wrapped* capturing what people were listening to this year, Netflix is sharing the top TV shows and movies that struck a chord with its viewing audience for the first time. Following a password crackdown that added nearly 9 million subscribers* and recent price hikes, the streaming service is providing the first real peek behind the curtain in 16 years.  

According to the global midyear viewer data* for every title in its service catalog, viewers spent 812.1 million hours binging thriller series The Night Agent during the first half of the year, the top taker among the more than 18,000 titles included. 

Despite 11% of Americans canceling streaming services to cut their holiday expenses, 47% plan to use home movie nights as an affordable celebration this month. It’s among the many ways consumers are balancing spending and saving this season.

___

Thinking ahead: With 2024 around the corner, what’s your money resolution for the new year? Let us know in this week’s poll

  • Buy something nice  

  • Retire 

  • Build up your savings 

  • Work with a financial professional

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As of December 15, 2023, EAG holds shares of Netflix (NFLX) in advisory client accounts and does not hold Spotify (SPOT). 

*Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness, or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement, responsibility, or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites.

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The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

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