Insider Today: Elon issues a warning

Insider Today: Elon issues a warning
Elon Musk.Chesnot via Getty Images


Happy Friday! There's trying to get out of a restaurant bill. And then there's faking a heart attack 20 different times to avoid the check.

In today's big story, we're looking at why Elon Musk's concerns about the economy could echo a wider sentiment among executives.

What's on deck:

But first, the only certainty is uncertainty.


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The big story

Trouble ahead

Insider Today: Elon issues a warning
Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

The world's richest man is getting nervous.

Elon Musk had some stark warnings about the state of the economy during Tesla's earnings call, writes Insider's Theron Mohamed. Among his concerns: consumer debt, a credit crunch, more fallout from high rates, and overseas conflicts.

(To see exactly what he said, Theron highlighted 14 of his best quotes from the call.)


Of course, Musk picked a convenient time to raise these red flags. Tesla missed quarterly estimates, and Musk detailed the production challenges of the much-anticipated Cybertruck: "We dug our own grave."

Some Wall Street analysts were unimpressed, with one describing the call as a "mini disaster."

But even if Musk's concerns were meant to soften the blow from Tesla's earnings, that doesn't mean they're untrue.

His unease aligns with comments made by Citi CEO Jane Fraser during the bank's earnings call last week.

"I'm struck how consistently CEOs are less optimistic about 2024 than a few months ago," Fraser said.


Perhaps what's got Musk and other CEOs so on edge is the uncertainty surrounding the market over the past year-plus.

Wall Street predictions are notoriously difficult, but people aren't even willing to stick with one for very long nowadays.

Earlier this month, famed economist Mohamed El-Erian estimated that the consensus on whether the US economy will fall into a recession has changed six times in the past 15 months.

All of that flip-flopping tends to make decisions difficult for executives. It's one thing if you know things are shaping up to be bad or good. But when no one seems to have any idea what's going on, what do you do?

Earnings reports from Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon next week will provide some clues about where executives' heads are regarding hot topics like AI and the strength of the consumer.


Of course, one group seems more decisive about the market: everyday investors.

A record 58% of American households now hold stocks, according to a recent Fed survey.

Of course, that might not be a good thing. The last time such a large share of American families invested in the stock market was in 2007, right before the Great Financial Crisis.

3 things in markets

Insider Today: Elon issues a warning
Arantza Pena Popo/Insider
  1. Blackstone's president warns soaring bond yields will be felt by all of us. Jonathan Gray said in an interview that high interest rates on 30-year mortgages and car loans will start impacting consumer behavior. Meanwhile, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed will let bond market volatility "play out."
  2. Ken Griffin's massive market-making firm is on the hunt for technologists. Citadel Securities is looking for business-savvy coders to fill positions that can pay as much as $350,000. The firm's senior tech leaders and hiring manager detailed do's and don'ts for applicants.
  3. Playing the long game with JPMorgan Asset Management. A new report from the $2.9 trillion firm details how to map out a long-term investing plan. In short, consider stocks outside the US, including in emerging markets, and don't be afraid of the fixed-income sell-off.

3 things in tech

Insider Today: Elon issues a warning
David Ryder/Getty Images
  1. Amazon tells managers they can now fire employees who won't come in three times a week. The company shared updated return-to-office guidelines with managers this week. It included the steps they should take leading up to termination over not coming in enough.
  2. Google cut jobs in its news division despite fake news concerns. The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has sparked a slew of disinformation spreading online. Yet the tech company laid off 40-45 people within Google News, which aggregates news from thousands of global sources.
  3. What going through Google's exclusive Associate Product Manager program is like. Landing an interview is like hitting a gold mine. It's estimated that 8,000 people apply to it each year, and only 40-45 get accepted.

3 things in business

Insider Today: Elon issues a warning
Joey Hadden/Insider
  1. 'Tis the season — Americans are planning to spend way more on holiday shopping this year. More than one in five Americans plan to spend over $1,000 on holiday shopping. A new survey revealed that they're eying larger, more expensive gifts this season.
  2. The average American's net worth, by generation. From 2019 to 2022, the average American's net worth shot up by 37%. But that increase wasn't uniform when broken down by generation. It's in part due to increases in home and stock prices as well as government stimulus initiatives.
  3. The three skills you need to grow your career in the age of AI. Databricks VP Junta Nakai said that soft skills and being adaptable will become increasingly important. He recommended that people live far outside their comfort zones during these changing times.

In other news

What's happening today

  • Time Waits for No One — The Rolling Stones are releasing a new album today. "Hackney Diamonds" is their first album with original material in nearly two decades.
  • The National Women's Soccer League playoffs kick off today. Seattle's OL Reign and Los Angeles' Angel City FC will face off in a quarterfinal match. The winner will face the top seed San Diego Wave.
  • Earnings today: American Express and other companies.

News Quiz

How well do you know the news?

Test your knowledge of the week's top stories with Insider's news quiz.

  • From Monday: In "The Burial," this actor plays attorney Willie Gary, who has been dogged by controversy.
  • From Tuesday: A leaked document from this off-price retailer detailed how employees should handle aggressive shoppers.
  • From Wednesday: Who is the CEO of a massive asset manager who recommended investors put 80% of their portfolio in equities and hard assets?
  • From Thursday: This chip maker is expanding its partnership with Foxconn to build data centers called "AI factories."
  • From Friday: This former Trump lawyer struck a plea deal with Georgia prosecutors on Thursday.

Check Saturday's edition of Insider Today for the answers.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.