🐤 Home sweet home

America has a housing crisis and some think more government is the answer.

Monday | February 12th, 2024
Early Chirp

Happy Monday, chirpers! Whether your team won, lost, or didn’t make it to yesterday’s big game, the ads can unite even the most bitter rivals. A 30-second commercial cost an eye-popping $7 million this year with the food and beverage industry once again dominating the field of advertisers.

A few brands made their Super Bowl debuts yesterday, including Lindt chocolates, Nerds candy, Drumstick ice cream, Silk almond milk, and Popeye’s chicken. Here’s hoping they got their money’s worth!

-Chris Agee

$196.95 (1.25%)
Dow Jones
-$54.64 (-0.14%)
S&P 500
$28.70 (0.57%)
$0.00 (0.12%)
$404.34 (0.85%)
$9.44 (7.12%)
*Market data for this issue is from February 11th, 2024 at 6:39pm EST

🏦 Markets: More inflation data is dropping tomorrow as the Federal Reserve considers what it will do with interest rates in the short term. Later on in the week, we’ll have even more economic data with the latest retail sales numbers surfacing on Thursday followed by a new consumer sentiment survey the following day.

All of these data points will have some impact on the markets, as will continued earnings reports from companies including Coca-Cola and Chrysler parent company Stellantis.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Shutterstock

🏈 Super Bowl LVIII: The pregame chatter might have swirled around the arrival of Taylor Swift at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, but all eyes were on the 49ers and Chiefs after the Super Bowl kickoff. The Chiefs defeated the 49ers 25-22, cementing head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes’ team as the new NFL dynasty to beat with their third title in last five seasons.

🦟 Brazilian outbreak: Dengue fever is nothing new, but the number of cases has been spiking in Brazil recently. The nation’s Health Ministry confirmed that it is anticipating a total of more than 4.2 million cases by the end of the year. For perspective, that’s more than all the cases in the 42 nations included in the Pan-American region last year combined. Warmer weather and the cyclical nature of the virus are to blame, and officials are now warning that it could spread across the region … potentially to U.S. territories including Puerto Rico.

🗳️ Bukele re-elected: While Americans are focused on the upcoming presidential election, voters in El Salvador took to the polls earlier this month and gave another term to controversial President Nayib Bukele. Although he has translated his laid-back and charismatic persona to popularity among many of his nation’s citizens, plenty of others are concerned about his apparent autocratic tendencies. He has embraced the backlash, at one point dubbing himself “the world’s coolest dictator.”

💸 NATO funding: Some prominent Americans, including former President Donald Trump, have accused fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of failing to pay their fair share to support the alliance. During a campaign rally over the weekend, he took his criticism further, declaring that if he is re-elected and NATO allies refused to meet the agreed-upon defense spending targets, he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to those nations.

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Could Universal “Social Housing” Ever Take Root In America?

A lot depends on escaping the existing stigma surrounding public housing.

Could Universal “Social Housing” Ever Take Root In America? Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission

Home ownership has long been considered by many to be a key factor in realizing the “American dream.” In recent years, however, limited inventory and skyrocketing costs, have resulted in an unavoidable housing crisis.

One proposed solution involves the government buying homes to rent back to Americans.

How would it work?

A number of nations around the world have pursued robust public housing programs, but in America, such provisions have generally been reserved for low-income residents. In some areas dealing with particularly acute housing shortages, however, there’s a shift toward what is being called “social housing,” which would open up government-owned residences to people regardless of their income.

Zachary Marks of the Montgomery County, Maryland, housing authority, has been a proponent of this model for years, explaining in 2022 why he believes it could be successful.

“What I like about what we’re doing is all we have effectively done is commandeered the private American real estate model,” he said. “We’re replacing the investor dudes from Wall Street, the big money from Dallas.”

Could it actually succeed?

Even Marks has acknowledged that implementing the “social housing” system would be met with some serious pushback. But while the model might not be right for every community, he has seen some encouraging response to the work thus far in his county.

There are tentative plans to fund thousands of rental units in the area with public money, but just one such building currently exists. It contains 268 apartments and has been open for less than a year.

“We’re 97% leased today and it’s just been incredibly successful and happened so fast,” Marks said.

Now officials from big cities like Chicago, New York City, and Boston are reaching out to Montgomery County to find out if the program could address their housing problems too.

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Here Are Some Options For Everyone Not Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Some folks are looking for an escape from the relentless romantic themes.

Here Are Some Options For Everyone Not Celebrating Valentine’s Day Giphy

For many of the chirpers in our audience, Wednesday will be a day marked by romance — a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, a candlelit dinner, etc. — but there are plenty of others who, for whatever reason, aren’t inclined to partake in the holiday.

Perhaps you are single, maybe you think Valentine’s Day is just a scam to sell cards and candy, or it could be that you’re just not into romantic gestures. If so, there’s good news: It’s easier than ever to find an “anti-Valentine’s” alternative that will help you redirect Cupid’s arrow.

Here are a few ways you can turn the holiday on its head:

  • Support a cause: Sure, you can donate to charity any day of the year, but Valentine’s Day presents a unique opportunity for those of you who are still a little bitter about a relationship that went awry. The San Antonio Zoo is once again hosting a fundraiser whereby roaches and rats are named after someone (usually the donor’s ex) and then fed to one of the animals. Morbid? Maybe. But it’s certainly an innovative spin on Valentine’s Day.
  • Laugh it off: They say laughter is the best medicine. And if you’re nursing a broken heart or just tired of the hearts and roses lining the aisles of every store, there are comedy shows like one in London during which singles in the audience can share stories about their bad relationships and couples are open targets to be made fun of by the comedians on stage.
  • Focus on yourself: A little retail therapy never hurt anyone, and this week’s holiday provides an increasingly popular opportunity. The online retailer Etsy, for example, recently revealed that searches for “self-gift” on the platform are 12% higher this year than the days leading up to last Valentine’s Day.
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Let’s Explore The Most Controversial Aisle In TJ Maxx

One person's strange package is another person's treasure.

Let’s Explore The Most Controversial Aisle In TJ Maxx Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of discount retailers like TJ Maxx, you already know that it’s impossible to predict what you’ll find for sale during any given trip. And that is especially true in one area of the store: the food aisle

Why it’s so weird

Some people love to spend time browsing through the different snacks and spices on display at their local TJ Maxx while others are convinced that these foods are either nasty, out-of-date, or both.

And while it’s true that the selection is not like what you’d find on the shelves of a typical supermarket, there’s no need to be concerned about its safety.

So what makes it such an unusual experience? TJ Maxx has developed a strategy that involves purchasing items from niche companies whose products don’t usually make it to big-name grocery stores.

Not only does this allow the retailer to offer lower prices, but it also serves as an intriguing aspect of the shopping experience that convinces some customers to spend longer in the store and, more importantly, spend more money.

The debate rages on

Despite TJ Maxx’s assurances about the quality and freshness of its foods, many social media users have weighed in about their misgivings. One said, these aisles evoke “literal terror” while another cited their “ominous energy.”

But other customers are clearly buying up these unusual items. Whether you’re satisfying your adventurous palate or preparing a one-of-a-kind gift basket, there are plenty of options.

Industry analyst Aneesha Sherman said the strategy plays into TJ Maxx’s goal of providing shoppers with a “treasure hunt” experience.

She expects that “as people try the foods and realize that their quality is actually pretty good and there isn’t an expiration date issue, the trust in that category will probably grow over time.”

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
Grand Cayman KY1, 9006, Cayman Islands

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