This is the finance word of the year for 2023 and it's more hopeful than you may think, according to UBS Global Wealth Management

 “Disinflation” will be the finance world’s “word of the year” in 2023, UBS Global Wealth Management says.


It’s a bold choice considering inflation reached a four-decade high of 9.1% in June, but most economists now believe consumer price increases have since peaked.


In the months since inflation topped 9%, gas prices have dropped nearly 40%, the housing market has tumbled, and prices for goods overall have begun to cool. 


As a result, year-over-year inflation fell to 7.1% last month, and although that’s still well above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate, Jason Draho, head of asset allocation for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management, believes that inflation is “likely to continue falling rapidly in the first part of 2023.”


“Disinflation is already happening,” he wrote in a Dec. 16 research note. “That there will be disinflation is not really in dispute at this point, the debate is over how much disinflation there will actually be.”


The major argument in economics circles next year will be whether inflation will fall back to the Fed’ 2% target without more interest rate hikes than are currently expected, or if inflation will “hit a floor” at around 4%, Draho said.


But he made it clear that choosing “disinflation” as his word of the year, or WOTY, for 2023 isn’t a forecast.


“Predicting that disinflation will be the most dominant market story next year is not a prediction for significant disinflation, with a return to 2% inflation by year-end,” he wrote. “But just as the Fed tightening financial conditions is what drove performance across financial markets this year, potential disinflation could do the same in 2023. If that’s not a recipe for a finance WOTY, then nothing is.”


Draho went on to lay out a few key reasons for selecting “disinflation” as his word of the year. 


First, he said that the amount of disinflation in the U.S. economy will be critical for Federal Reserve policy. The Fed has raised interest rates seven times this year in an attempt to cool the economy and tame inflation. 


“The more rampant and structural disinflation is, the sooner the Fed can stop hiking rates and start cutting,” Draho wrote.


Second, he argued that the Fed has become the most important variable for investors over the past year. Rising interest rates have made risky investments less attractive, leading to major price declines in once-high flying tech stocks and cryptocurrencies, but that could shift in 2023.


“[A] Fed that goes from investor foe to friend is the inflection point to watch next year,” he wrote.


Third, Draho described how the amount of disinflation next year will determine whether the U.S. economy will be able to achieve a “soft landing”—where inflation is tamed without a recession.


And finally, while the other obvious choice for word of the year in 2023 might be recession-related—like “soft landing” or “hard landing”—Draho said the debate over what a recession might look like is really about “semantics.”


“Both could entail negative earnings growth,” he said. “Whereas there is a big macro difference between a lot versus a little disinflation.”


This story was originally featured on Fortune.com


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02

Why 2023 could be the year of the cheap—or cheaper—EV

It’s been, uh, an electrifying year for EVs in America.


Next year could be even better, largely because of a slew of less expensive EVs, which will hit the market along with some new government rules that will make even pricey models affordable.


First, a 2022 overview: Despite supply chain issues and inflation, EV market share nearly doubled in the U.S. In the first ten months of 2022, for instance, EVs accounted for 5.3% of all vehicles sold, compared with 2.9% last year. According to data from Experian, new EV registrations hit 604,638, more than 60% higher when compared with the same period a year ago. (That trend isn't going to change, apparently. Analysts like Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley see EV share hitting 11% by 2025.)


All that growth is is happening despite the fact that most new EVs sales are in the upper tier, $50,000+ price range. “There is still a lot of room to grow in the top half of the segment to achieve portfolio targets without a sub-$30k offering for at least the next decade,” said Bill Newman, SAP North America Head of Automotive to Yahoo Finance.


But the easiest way to grow that EV number, beyond expanding EV charging networks and increasing incentives (which we’ll get too), is offering up more affordable EVs. It's no mystery why. Cars.com’s end-of-year buyers' survey finds that for both male and female consumers, price was the top drawback. Initial cost is the number one concern for 61% of men and 57% of women, per the automotive sales website.


But that sticker shock could be coming to an end. Here’s why 2023 could be the year we’ll see cheaper EVs. Consider:


New competition from older brands

2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV 3LT (credit: GM)


To be sure, there are cheap EVs on the market now. Chevrolet’s Bolt EV is back on sale after a hiatus due to a big battery recall, Nissan’s Leaf has been out for many years, and Hyundai’s Kona Electric has been on sale since 2021. All have starting prices around $30,000.


However the Kona Electric and Nissan Leaf have smaller batteries and limited range. The Bolt is a solid option in the sub $30,000, 250-mile range. And with EV stalwart Tesla not offering anything near that price, there isn’t much in the cheap EV space.


But...that’s changing.


GM’s (GM) big EV rollout starts in 2023, one that will see the brand debut its Chevrolet Equinox EV, which the automaker says will start around $30,000. Along with the Bolt EV, GM will then have two crossover-style SUVs in that $30K price range.


The Chevrolet Blazer EV will come out later in the summer, with prices starting around $45,000 before any incentives. GM will then have its Silverado EV pickup in production in spring of next year, though the cheaper work truck version of the pickup (starting around $39,900) will likely arrive in the back half of 2023.


The new 2023 Toyota bZ4X electric car is displayed Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, as the Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)


Toyota (TM), which was late to the EV scene and is still mired in an electrification strategy overhaul, finally has its bZ4X hitting showrooms now after being delayed this spring. Though quantities are limited at this time, the car starts around $43,000 and will be rolling out in force next year.


Speaking of delayed cars, Nissan will also have its well-received Ariya CUV EV coming to US showrooms—finally— in early 2023. The Ariya, a joint design project with Nissan teams in Japan and Europe, features a sleek design and almost-luxury level interior in higher trims.The Ariya in entry level Engage trim starts at a reasonable $43,190.


And let’s not forget Volkswagen (VOW.DE), the number two car maker behind Toyota. VW’s ID.4 EV has been out in the U.S. since 2021, with nearly 17,000 sold since then. The ID.4 starts at a very reasonable $37,495, and it will soon be joined by its quirky stablemate, the ID.Buzz van starting in 2024.


Fisker and Tesla

A Fisker Ocean is displayed during the 2021 LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November, 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake


While the traditional automakers are coming onboard, upstart Fisker (FSR), led by the contagiously energetic Henrik Fisker, is aiming for a big 2023.


The Fisker Ocean EV SUV is already in production at its plant in Graz, Austria. While the initial “Ocean One” launch model will be the pricey $69,000 version, we’ll see other models come out next year including the entry level “Ocean Sport,” which will start at $37,499.


Will Tesla finally weigh in with a lower-priced EV?


Tesla (TSLA) operates in the premium luxury space; its cheapest offering is the Model 3 rear-wheel drive sedan at $46,990. CEO Elon Musk has claimed he will finally reveal the company’s sub $30,000 robotaxi next year. But it likely won’t go into production for at least a year.


IRA effect

HONOLULU, UNITED STATES - 2020/03/05: Customers admire a Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle at a Tesla store. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


Consumers can also get at a cheaper EV thanks to some tweaks by lawmakers in the U.S.


While the Inflation Reduction Act’s consumer tax credit for EVs is currently in effect for cars assembled in North America, some coming changes will benefit two big automakers - Tesla and GM.


Tesla and GM are currently phased out of the tax credit based on older rules, but starting on January 1st the two automakers will be allowed to participate again in the program, with buyers getting the full $7,500 off of qualified EVs. That's party due to the Treasury Department delaying a domestic materials requirement for batteries. (For more, click here.)


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 18: The first ever all-electric Chevrolet Silverado EV is on display at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)


This is all good news for Tesla and GM. The Tesla Model 3 rear-wheel drive, with the full federal tax credit of $7,500, would be below $40K. And GM’s Bolt EV and upcoming Equinox could start at prices well under $30K. Both Tesla and GM can produce these models in mass quantity (with GM actually increasing production of the Bolt for next year.)


Others that will ride the wave of the IRA: the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro and the upcoming Silverado EV work truck, the cheapest EV pickups in the market in 2023.


In addition, the IRA allows commercial vehicles to qualify for the full-tax credit, regardless of manufacturing location. The Lightning, Silverado, Ford’s E-transit electric van, and even Mercedes' eSprinter Van and others used for commercial purposes for a business would qualify for the full credit, bringing those sales down even further.


Bottom line: the era of the cheap, or cheaper, EV may be upon us.



Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.


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03

Three Trends That Will Drive Trade Finance In 2023

Carl Wegner, CEO of Contour.


getty


From the pandemic’s impact on supply chains to geopolitics, the past few years have been characterised by uncertainty. As we head into a new year, this uncertainty remains and is expected to take a toll on global trade growth.


The World Trade Organization expects trade growth to slow sharply but remain positive in 2023. Beyond the numbers, I believe trade is the lifeline of economies around the world, with the potential to reduce poverty and inequality.


This is where trade finance comes in—to make global trade accessible by ensuring that importers receive their goods and exporters receive their payments. But the core ecosystem—exporters, importers and banks—is complicated with multiple parties involved in a single transaction.


As a CEO of a global trade finance network, there are three factors at play that I think will reshape the future of trade finance. Combined, these have the potential to contribute to the resiliency of the industry by bringing confidence and significant growth to trade finance globally.


1. There are still huge opportunities to digitize trade finance.

The trade finance industry is heavily reliant on paper and manual processes to ensure that liquidity flows through the ecosystem and risks are managed. Even with the momentum we’ve seen in the past few years from banks and corporates embracing blockchain technology in their trade finance processes, there is still room for further growth.


One area is digitizing documentation and the bill of lading (BL). According to McKinsey, an electronic bill of lading (eBL) would save $6.5 billion in direct costs and enable $40 billion in global trade.


A very small percentage of BLs are currently digital, which represents a huge upside opportunity, however, the recent closure of TradeLens, an eBL platform formed by Maersk and IBM, highlights the challenges of collaboration between big corporations and the industry. We remain hopeful for more widespread adoption of the eBL in the future, as digital innovation must be embraced in order to move the industry forward.


As with all digital transformation, there is some hesitation to jump on board until standards come in. But, in my opinion, playing the waiting game will just hold the industry back. Standards will come in, and everyone must be able to adapt and be open to them as they become more codified.


The last few years have been about the digital transformation of industries, and I believe this will remain topic number one for years to come.


2. Integration between financial institutions and fintechs will be key to future growth.

As the trade finance industry moves ahead with its digitization efforts, collaboration between banks and fintechs will be crucial to transforming the future.


Many banking partners have said that they are just at the beginning of their digital journey when it comes to trade finance. The majority also don’t have the resources–whether that’s time or money–to experiment with technologies that could drive further efficiencies in the industry. This is especially true when focus on core business during tough economic times means all hands are concentrated on their traditional businesses.


This is where fintechs can help complete the picture, as they are critical in a bank’s digitization journey and can connect the traditional architecture to external data flows. Within financial institutions, many have created architectures that allow them to be integrated with different fintechs across different areas, with the goal of streamlining workflows and driving efficiencies that will ultimately add value for their clients.


3. The next wave of innovation in trade finance is in digital assets.

Finally, the growing interest in digital assets is now also evident in trade finance. While cryptocurrencies and Central Bank Digital Currencies are often associated with digital assets, there is a different opportunity case with digital trade assets as opposed to digitalization of payments.


Anything with value becomes a digital asset when tokenized and the opportunity in tokenization is a trillion-dollar one. According to a BCG and ADDX report, tokenization could reach 10% of global GDP or $16 trillion by 2030.


Digital asset transactions are recorded in secure digital ledgers. Blockchain is an example of a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT), where transactions are grouped in blocks of data which are linked together cryptographically.


Without a use case, like the transformation of trade finance, blockchain or DLT would just be an innovative or interesting technology. This is where I see the potential for digital assets to make global trade more efficient.


Trade and trade finance is complex, with multiple parties and processes involved to facilitate the movement of goods and services from one port to another. Take the letter of credit (LC) for example. It is a largely manual process that has been around for more than a century—and still primarily managed on a common data transfer mechanism known as mailing paper documents.


A digital LC is an example of tokenization (disclaimer: this is a solution my company provides). And by leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT), there is potential to digitize more trade finance processes by using smart contracts to create digital trade assets.


There is also an opportunity to create tokenized digital assets to represent bank risk. I believe this will create a more inclusive future for trade finance and level the playing field for SMEs and local banks who tend to make smaller transactions. When it comes to how trade is financed, banks typically focus on originating new trade finance loans, but the high friction and processing costs means they’re mostly incentivized to target larger transactions. Digitizing the process will mean reducing the cost to service transactions and enabling smaller transactions, the ones that the SMEs rely on to be more profitable.


These three drivers—the opportunity to further digitise trade finance, the increased collaboration between financial institutions and fintechs, as well as the potential to create tokenised digital assets in trade finance—are changing the nature of how trade finance is conducted in the face of the challenges we’re seeing. With all three factors at play, it will bring confidence, efficiency and significant growth to trade finance globally starting in 2023.


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