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Musk’s Aggressive Takeover Attempt: It’s no secret that Elon Musk is working hard to purchase the popular social platform Twitter. His stated purpose is to protect “free speech.” But this is a polarizing topic. While it seems everyone should agree with the value of free speech, the responses to Musk’s attempted acquisition are varied. Washington Post columnist, Max Boot, wrote that he was “frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter.” Boot’s comments reflect a fear that Musk might not be repressive enough: “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” As one article states: In the digital age, then, the right side of history no longer wants to free information but to curate the right message. Covid has certainly accelerated the move from print communication to digital. So why should we care? It’s not so much about free speech. It’s “a fight for control of a key crucible of political consensus-formation, between those who prefer power to be vested in named individual, and those who prefer to be ruled by self-organizing swarm.” While that’s not a new battle, it’s certainly taken a different form. What do you think?

What is a Recession?: Simply defined, a recession is a period of decline in general economic activity, typically defined as when an economy experiences a decrease in its gross economic product for two consecutive quarters. Other recession indicators include unemployment, falling retail sales, slowed manufacturing growth, and a decline in real personal income. While uncertain and alarming, they are a normal part of the business cycle in the modern economy. Business cycles (as shown by the graph) have four distinct phases: (1) Expansion: economic growth indicated by increased employment and consumer spending, (2) Peak: when an economy reaches its crest of output, (3) Contraction: a period marked by a decline in economic activity, a falling GDP, rise in unemployment, and (4) Trough: the lowest point for economic activity.

While these don’t have predictable intervals, the market will turn around at some point. Of course, many factors define a recession, but understanding that they are a normal part of the ebb and flow of the economy can go a long way in helping you prepare and weather the downturns. And, of course, our advisors remain available to help in any way they can.

My529: We’ve mentioned it before, but we’re happy to repeat it—the 529 College Savings platform that we moved to, My529, has again received high marks. In a review of the 90+ 529 savings programs by Morningstar (an investment research company), My529 received its Gold ranking. We have found the investment options with My529 to be varied and successful, and we have eliminated the maintenance fees to you, our client, for anyone using this program. It’s easy to use and free—what’s not to like?

Business Briefing:  

  • Rate Hike: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday that taming high inflation was “absolutely essential,” so a larger-than-usual half-percentage-point interest rate hike “will be on the table” when the central bank’s policymakers meet in May. “It is appropriate, in my view, to be moving a little more quickly” to cool down the economy by raising borrowing costs, Powell said. (The New York Times)
  • Netflix Shares Plunge: Netflix shares dropped by as much as 25 percent in after-market trading on Tuesday after the streaming video company reported that it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, its first quarterly subscriber loss in more than a decade. The company said it was forecasting a loss of another 2 million subscribers in the second quarter. (CNN)
  • Home Prices Jump: Home prices jumped to an all-time high in March, with the median existing-home price reaching $375,300, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Buyers were rushing to close purchases before mortgage rates, which already have hit 5 percent, rose further. Prices have gone up year-over-year for more than a decade now, the longest such streak on record. (Reuters, CNN)

Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All: As companies face an upward battle to compel employees to return to the physical office, they are working on creative solutions. For example, several companies offer pet stipends and monthly sums employees can spend on dog-walking, pet-sitting, or some form of pet daycare. Nearly 400 employers advertising open roles offer paid time off for new pet parents—a perk dubbed “pawternity leave.” Other perks include free lunches and casual workwear. But what employees really want is flexibility. This has been true for some time, but the pandemic seems to have turbocharged the desire for such things.