Anyone in Amazon should be a little bit nervous today. While the stock’s performance should speak for itself, we think an announcement by the company could be a risk factor. Amazon has announced that it is increasing the price of its Prime service from $99 to $119, or a 20% rise. The company has not raised the price since 2014, but the changes will come into effect next month. Amazon notes that it has greatly expanded the services included in Prime, including bringing the total items covered by Prime to over 100m.
FINSUM: How much might this keep new subscribers from joining? Going over the $100 mark seems like an important mental threshold. The price hike appears to indicate Amazon needs more revenue to invest in another big venture.
One of the main mistakes that retirees make is that they underestimate the amount of money they will need for spending in retirement. Accordingly, one of the main jobs of financial advisors is to adjust their thinking on this and make sure that does not happen. Here are some of the reasons people underestimate what they will need. They discount the likelihood of needing to help family members who might get into a precarious financial situation, or even paying for things like weddings. Retirees also forget to budget for one-time big ticket items, even though they are mostly predictable, such as a new car or a new roof. People also underestimate how much more they spend on entertainment, as they will have a great deal more time. Healthcare is also chronically underestimated.
FINSUM: While advisors deal with this frequently, it is never a bad idea to revisit the key “problem” areas.
Yields on the ten-year Treasury note crossed the 3% threshold this week and seem set to stay there for some time, sparking a big change in bond markets. Bloomberg argues that yields at this level change everything for all asset classes. The reason why is that a jump in yields to above 3% starts to cause a shake out amongst highly indebted companies, boosts the Dollar, and in turn, makes emerging markets less attractive.
FINSUM: To be honest, our biggest concern was not even discussed by Bloomberg, which is how higher yields affect the arithmetic for whether to put money in richly valued stocks, or into bonds that are starting to offer acceptable returns. 3%+ yields really could put an end to this bull market.
Something very odd is happening in the stock market. Despite the fact that rates look likely to rise and yields are rising sharply, financial stocks are losing ground. This is the opposite of what one would expect, as higher rates boost profit margins for banks and the like. No one is quite sure why, but it seems that instead of boosting hopes for earnings, higher rates have investors worried about a weaker economy to come, which would be negative for banks, which are quite tied to economic performance.
FINSUM: To us this is a quite a bearish view, as it indicates that investors see stagflation coming on (higher rates with zero or negative growth.
Go back a few years and the big fear of the wealth management market was robo advisors, especially upstarts like Betterment and Wealthfront. Fast forward to 2018 and fears of robos have largely receded as they seem to have found their niche in the industry alongside human advisors. Now the big worry is about large tech companies pushing into wealth and asset management. The anxiety most commonly manifests in worrying that Amazon might launch a digital wealth management platform of its own. However, Charles Schwab’s CEO just sent out a warning to the FANGS, saying that “If you’re a FAANG-type company and you decide you want to come into our space in a manner consistent with the way we operate, you will invite the Federal Reserve into every single thing you do”.
FINSUM: It is true that if the FANGS were to become full-fledged financial service providers they would suddenly be subject to much stricter regulations. It could be an obstacle that holds them off, at least for a while.