‘The Weekender’ spotlights what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.
1. Instagram quietly launches payments for commerce
Josh Constine, TechCrunch
It’s getting easier to spend money on Insta. Some users are part of a rollout of “native payments,” that let people pay for services, such as a haircut, without leaving the flow of the app.
Right now, users get exported to a business’ external website to purchase an item tagged on Instagram. But that could change.
The feature underscores the change in how people shop, and buy services, not to mention what they expect from technology and how they want companies to integrate into where they spend time. See it, like it, buy it, keep scrolling.
One in four Americans, of all ages, are online “almost constantly,” according to a March 2018 report from Pew Research Center. Of the 18-29 age cohort, 39 percent are almost always connected.
Each day 77 percent of Americans go online at some point.
2. Facing historic labor shortages, companies snap up teenagers
Levitz has followed along as companies look to recruit teens due to a tightening labor pool amidst record low unemployment. (Levitz: To Recruit Workers, Manufacturers Go to Parents’ Nights)
The greater Nashville area, including Franklin and Murfreesboro, had the lowest unemployment rate in February 2018 — at 2.7 percent — among metro areas with 1 million people or more, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The greater San Francisco area came next with 2.9 percent.
In Tennessee, the state’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.4 percent in February and March — down from 4.2 percent year over year. Nationally, unemployment hit 4.1 percent in March.
3. Where will the next crisis occur?
Last time: easy money to subprime home buyers, mind-bending structured products that spread the subprime risk to all sort of investors, and thinly stretched bank balance sheets.
Next time?: The Economist ponders the impact of a decade of cheap money, a deterioration in the corporate-credit rating since 1980 when it’s gone from A to BBB-, and the fact that investors haven’t pushed for higher returns given the falling credit quality.
4. AllianceBernstein’s Nashville move threatens New York and London
Gillian Tett, Financial Times
AllianceBernstein’s’s bombshell announcement, scooped by the WSJ, that it plans to relocate 1,050 of its jobs, including its CEO, to Nashville dropped a few jaws. The FT points out — as did numerous people on financial Twitter — that it’s a partial relocation.
But, like other industries with significant overhead, asset managers are seeing the industry upended by cheaper, tech-enabled options. And, of course, technology means that AllianceBernstein can do its business anywhere.
Giants in the financial services sector are seeing a lot of competition from companies that tailor products to different segments of customers, without the overhead of a decades-old corporate structure. Whereas, health care is waiting for the tech or movement that’s going to uproot its system, but, for the foreseeable moment, it is insulated by the continued centralization of care.
The web gives investors — be they high dollar or someone thinking about how to put some extra cash to work — a lot of ways to make financial decisions. For instance, investment advisers Stash runs advertisements on Pandora as an option to invest a little cash here and there, while ElleVest is designed for professional women.
Read more on different outlooks on investing: Millennials and Gen Xers need different advisor approaches