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CEOs are embracing ‘real world’ interest rates



Good morning.

A lot of people were happy to see U.S. inflation ease last month—although emotions may be running high at the Bureau of Labor Statistics for different reasons; someone released Consumer Price Index and real earnings data half an hour early yesterday. Oops! Now, the gaze has shifted to the Fed for some signal on whether April’s 3.4% inflation growth is modest enough to cut the 5.3% key interest rate that’s been in place since July 2022 after inflation peaked at 9.1%.  

While more than 75% of CEOs expect interest rates to ease by the end of September, according to Fortune’s latest CEO poll in collaboration with Deloitte (which sponsors this newsletter), expectations are modest. 

“The environment in 2020 and 2021 was irrational with zero interest rates,” Chen Amit, CEO of Tipalti, a finance automation company, told me yesterday. “Now, we’re back in the real world … We’re seeing interest rates that we can earn money on, but also growth as our customers grow.” 

Interest rates matter, of course, which is why we’ve invited San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President and CEO Mary Daly to speak at Fortune Brainstorm Tech summit in Park City, Utah, from July 15 to 17. (You can learn more here.) But rates are a symptom of the economy and a lever that business leaders can’t control. 

Today, I invite you to join us at the Fortune Future of Finance conference via livestream, starting at 10 a.m. ET, to hear about the trends, technologies, and players reshaping the industry. I’ll be talking with Mike Cagney, the former CEO of SoFi who’s disrupting and democratizing finance as CEO at Figure Markets, a decentralized trading platform powered by blockchain technology. I’ll also be exploring trends in alternative investing with PJT Partners’ Andrew Shapiro and Tripp Shriner of Point72 Private Investments. And we will debate innovative solutions to prepare the next generation for financial success with Tom Davidson, founder and CEO of EVERFI from Blackbaud, David Nason, COO of TIAA, and Vanessa Okwuraiwe, a principal at Edward Jones. That’s just a taste; here’s the full agenda.  

We often describe our Fortune events as live journalism because it’s another platform for our reporting and storytelling. My colleague Emma Hinchliffe’s interview with E. Jean Carroll at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women dinner earlier this week is one example. But it’s also a platform for connections and conversation, as we had last night at a dinner for C-suite leaders driving sustainability, impact and ESG initiatives at their companies. Like their counterparts in finance, these executives face daunting business challenges, but the innovations are inspiring. Hope you can join in the conversation. 

More news below.

Diane Brady
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Buffett’s mystery stock

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed a new $6.7 billion stake in Chubb, one of the biggest property-casualty insurers in the U.S. Chubb’s shares rose around 8% in extended trading after Berkshire revealed the investment in a regulatory filing. Buffett has been building its stake in the insurance company since 2023, but the Securities and Exchange Commission granted special permission to keep the stake confidential. Bloomberg

Relocating staff

Microsoft is asking hundreds of China-based staff to consider leaving the country to locations like the U.S., Ireland, and New Zealand. The roughly 700 to 800 employees mostly work in machine learning and cloud computing. Microsoft’s presence in China has come under political and regulatory scrutiny as the Biden administration tries to curb Beijing’s access to advanced AI. The Wall Street Journal

Google’s AI moat

Google’s developer conference—which unveiled new chatbot technology and AI-enabled search functions—is showcasing the tech company’s potential advantage in the AI arms race: its reach into almost every part of our digital lives. OpenAI has the most state-of-the-art AI model, but the ChatGPT developer can’t yet compete with Google’s Search, Gmail, Maps, and its other consumer services when it comes to distribution. The services give Google another advantage: Access to masses of data. Fortune


Amazon axed more than 100 customer service managers in CEO Andy Jassy’s latest job cuts by Jason Del Rey

The most powerful woman in fintech is on the hunt for acquisitions by Luisa Beltran

Commentary: Trade and investment data in the last two years dispel the deglobalization and decoupling myths as U.S.-China competition ignites ‘reglobalization’ by Kenneth Dewoskin and Alan MacCharles

More people watch YouTube than NBCUniversal or Paramount as the internet keeps crushing traditional TV by Chris Morris

How Lead Bank’s co-founder transformed a century-old community bank into an innovative fintech company by Fortune Editors

As a landmark crypto bill nears a floor vote, the House digital assets chair sees a path forward by Leo Schwartz

This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon. 

This is the web version of CEO Daily, a newsletter of must-read global insights from CEOs and industry leaders. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.
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