📊 This is how Howard Marks is investing

Exxon announced plans to up spending on oil and gas | Cities drove twenty-first-century growth |

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Today's big stories

  1. Cities powered recent decades’ economic growth – but that could soon change
  2. Howard Marks breaks down what really matters to investors – Read Now
  3. ExxonMobil announced it's sticking with its commitment to oil

Bright Lights, Big Money

Bright Lights, Big Money

What’s Going On Here?

Data out on Thursday showed that a handful of big cities drove half of twenty-first-century global economic growth.

What Does This Mean?

Cities are hectic, expensive places, but if there’s one thing they’re good for, it’s driving economic growth. That’s hard to remember when you’re spending hand over fist for a dingy shoebox apartment, but pooling so much talent and cash in one place does make trade much more efficient. In fact, the most successful areas in poorer countries are a lot closer to their counterparts in advanced economies than they are to their neighbors. Case in point: Portugal’s five times richer than India – but your average resident of Mapusa, western India had a similar economic output to the typical inhabitant of Porto, Portugal in 2019. All in all, the research showed that over half of global economic growth in the first two decades of this millennium was driven by regions that make up less than 1% of the world's landmass.

Why Should I Care?

The bigger picture: Urban decay.
Cities’ heyday might be drawing to a close. After all, remote and hybrid work took off when Covid hit – meaning workers can now clock in from exotic locales like the beach, Alpine log cabins, or makeshift “home offices” subject to frequent raids by impatient children. And with wallet-emptying inflation adding to the appeal of cheaper, quainter areas, more and more workers could take the road leading out of the metropolis – meaning the economic weight of big cities might not be so outsized in the future.

Zooming out: Prepare for change.
Forget the next 20 years: this week Goldman Sachs looked into its crystal ball and identified the key themes that’ll be steering the economy until 2075. The takeaway’s that a whole lot’s going to change. Picture this: the US slips from prominence, population levels ease up and slow growth, and emerging markets take center stage. Grab the popcorn.

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Analyst Take

Here’s What Matters Now And What Doesn’t, According to Oaktree

Here’s What Matters Now And What Doesn’t, According to Oaktree

By Russell Burns, Analyst

Sometimes you’ve got to just step back to gain perspective about the markets. 

So it’s handy that in a recent note to clients, investing guru and Oaktree CEO Howard Marks has laid out the things that matter right now and the things that don’t. 

That’s today’s Insight: we’re taking a look at his perspective – what matters, what doesn’t, and where to focus now.

Read or listen to the Insight here

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Exxon’s Bad Boy Appeal

Exxon’s Bad Boy Appeal

What’s Going On Here?

Oil giant ExxonMobil announced on Thursday that it’s upping its spending plans, underscoring its commitment to oil and gas.

What Does This Mean?

With more and more energy companies jumping aboard the green transition bandwagon, those that have stuck to fossil fuels look increasingly like dinosaurs. But here’s a newsflash: being a dinosaur can pay off. Naughty Exxon doubled down on old-fashioned fuels while its European competitors drifted toward renewables – and sky-high oil prices, kept aloft by the war in Ukraine, propelled the firm to record profit for two straight quarters. That helped send the irresistible bad boy’s shares up over 60% this year – far above better-behaved rivals like Shell and BP. And now Exxon, possibly encouraged by salivating investors, is doubling down yet again – quadrupling down, even. The firm plans to spend as much as $25 billion next year to meet global demand, up from $22 billion this year, as part of a wider bid to bring its oil and gas production to a record high by 2027.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Buyback bonanza.
Part of Exxon’s stellar stock performance has been down to its share buybacks: simply put, the firm’s buying its own shares, which limits what’s available and boosts the price of what’s left over. And there’s plenty more where that came from: the firm plans to buy back shares to the tune of $50 billion worth over the next three years. And it’s making some concessions to green-minded investors too, with more money set aside to reduce emissions and bury carbon underground.

The bigger picture: A hot sector on an overheating planet.
Exxon might not be doing the planet any favors, but it’s just done its workers a solid: the oil giant’s giving US employees an average salary bump of 9%, higher than current US inflation. That’s in stark contrast to previously lucrative fields like tech and finance, which have been shedding employees at lightspeed. Better get those job applications ready...

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💬 Quote of the day

“The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant – and let the air out of the tires.”

– Dorothy Parker (an American poet, writer, critic, and satirist)
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