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The US gives the Houthis an ultimatum as Red Sea attacks intensify and further disrupt global shipping

Posted by Shermwood on Saturday, January 6, 2024 Under: #WATCHLiST

A shipload of trouble (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

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Hey Snackers,

Is cringe cringe? Lake Superior State University shared its annual “banished words” list, full of 2023’s most mis- and over-used words. It includes Gen Z slang like “rizz” and “slay.” Even “cringeworthy” is now… * frantically Googles synonym for cringeworthy *.

The new year hasn’t been good to tech stocks. The Nasdaq 100 fell for the fifth straight day yesterday — its longest L streak since December 2022. Traders have eyes on today’s December jobs report as they try to get a sense of when the Fed will cut interest rates.

🧠 New year, new Qs: Make a resolution to ace the Snacks Seven Quiz. Here’s the first question:


The US gives the Houthis an ultimatum as Red Sea attacks intensify and further disrupt global shipping

Rattling markets… Oil prices have spiked and shipping costs have soared following numerous Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. On Wednesday, the US, UK, and other allies issued a “final warning” to the Yemeni rebel group: stop attacking ships or else. Yet just yesterday the Houthis launched another attack. Some background: the Houthis overthrew Yemen’s government in 2014, which led neighboring Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to launch a campaign against the Iran-backed militants.

  • How it started: The Houthis began launching missiles and drones toward Israel after Hamas’ October 7 attacks on the country. After the Houthis’ weapons were intercepted, they started targeting vessels in the Red Sea, which the Pentagon says have not all been linked to Israel.

  • So far: The US says the Houthis have attacked commercial ships 25 times since mid-NovemberLast week, US helicopters sank three Houthi ships to repel an attack on a Maersk container vessel.

  • Why it matters: About 15% of the world’s seaborne trade normally passes through the Red Sea, including 8% of the world’s liquefied natural gas trade.

Economic fallout… The Houthi attacks have led to ballooning shipping costs. That’s because several of the biggest shipping firms — including Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co. — have halted Red Sea shipping. Now, instead of cruising through the Red Sea and taking the Suez Canal shortcut that connects Europe to Asia, they have to sail around the southern tip of Africa (a much longer route). The effects by the #s:

  • Up ~3X: Spot container shipping rates from Asia to Northern Europe have nearly tripled. Rates from Asia to America’s East Coast are up 55%.

  • Down ~30%: Traffic in the Suez, a critical gateway between the East and West, has fallen 28% in the past 10 days.


All this could escalate… The White House said it isn’t seeking a wider Middle East conflict, but after its ultimatum a Biden admin official said “I would not anticipate another warning.” A US Navy commander said it was unlikely the attacks would stop anytime soon, and Iran has exacerbated matters by dispatching a warship to the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Iran rival Saudi Arabia has been keeping a low profile as it hopes to avoid a renewed conflict with the Houthis.


Finding a new job is getting tougher as US openings fall to a 32-month low

Wanted: “Now Hiring” signs… The once sizzling labor market is coming back to room temp. US job openings slid to their lowest level since “WandaVision'' was still airing (32 months ago), fresh Labor Department data showed. November’s 8.8M openings are still better than prepandemic #s, but well below 2022’s record of 12M — another sign workers have lost some leverage in the labor tug-of-war.

  • Refreshing the InMail: Job postings are down, too, finishing last year 15% lower than 2022, Indeed said. With fewer listings, it’s getting harder to find a new gig before severance runs out. Continuing unemployment claims rose 15% YoY.

  • Still recovering: The US added 2.7M jobs last year — 40% more than in 2019. But a majority of those roles were in-person jobs in industries still trying to recover from the pandemic (think: food service, childcare).

  • Stay for pay: Real wages are higher than they were prepandemic, on average, and overall wage growth outpaced inflation for most of last year, though it’s been slowing.

Not to pile on, but… it’s layoffs season. Job cuts tend to spike in December and January as companies reorg for the year ahead. This week Xerox said it would lay off 15% of its staff (3K+ workers), and digital media companies like Cheddar and The Messenger are also cutting jobs. Last year saw 305K+ layoffs, with industries like tech and media hit especially hard.


The Big Stay ain’t leavin’... With fewer off-ramps, workers have been cozying up to the Google Meets they know vs. the LinkedIn search they don’t. Quits ticked down to a 33-month low after holding steady for four straight months — and that’s in spite of job satisfaction falling 10% last year to early-2020 levels.

What else we're Snackin'
  • CounterGM’s offering a $7.5K incentive on EVs that recently lost their eligibility for a US tax credit of the same amount (several Tesla models also lost the credit). Just 13 EVs now meet the new criteria.

  • 18plus: Pornhub blocked users in Montana and North Carolina from accessing its site after age-verification laws went into effect. Parent company Aylo says age-ID legislation (now in nine US states) violates users’ privacy.

  • DecisionThe SEC’s expected to rule soon over whether 14 firms including BlackRock can launch bitcoin ETFs. Approval would give investors exposure to the coin without having to own it, which could help to mainstream crypto.

  • MessagingEli Lilly warned against using its popular Mounjaro and Zepbound drugs for “cosmetic” weight loss. Meantime, the drugmaker launched a platform to sell the drugs directly to patients.

  • DeshelvedEuropean grocery giant Carrefour is pulling Pepsi products because of price hikes. Previously, the chain added “shrinkflation” labels to Pepsi snacks like Lay’s as foodflation continues to bite.

🍪 Thanks for Snacking with us! Want to share the Snacks? Invite your friends to sign up here.

Snack Fact Of the Day

Taylor Swift passed Elvis as the solo artist with most weeks at #1 on Billboard’s album chart

  • December jobs report

  • Earnings expected from Constellation Brands

Authors of this Snacks own bitcoin and shares of: GM and Tesla


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