Tag Archives: CNBC

Automobiles: Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ Road Test

Tesla’s FSD Beta, which stands for ‘full-self driving’ beta, can best be summarized as a host of new driver assistant features that are not yet debugged. Chief among them is “autosteer on city streets,” which enables drivers to automatically navigate around complex urban environments without moving the steering wheel with their own hands.

Elon Musk has promised driverless cars since 2016, but FSD is not even close to a fully autonomous vehicle yet. The beta program is heavily scrutinized by regulators and has earned Tesla side-eye from competitors, who usually have professionally trained drivers, not customers, test driver assist features in their vehicles.

But for now, FSD Beta still available for thousands of Tesla owners to access, without the knowledge of drivers and pedestrians around them. CNBC went for a ride with three FSD Beta testers in different parts of the country to see how the system performs in the real world and explore what this program could mean for the future of vehicle automation.

Analysis: Why Plastic Surgery Is On The Rise

Plastic surgery has been booming in the past decade. But it was the Covid-19 pandemic that catapulted the industry to new heights. Americans working from home spent hours watching themselves on camera, endlessly scrolling on social media and experiencing downtime from social events. This all but benefitted the plastic surgery industry, which saw a record number of patients as pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Fast Food: How Chicken Took Over America (CNBC)

Chick-fil-A has long dominated the chicken sandwich category in fast food. After Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen launched its own version of the chicken sandwich, other fast food chains like Wendy’s, McDonalds and Shake Shack got into the battle. Here’s how chicken took over America.

Cities: Why Los Angeles Traffic Is So Bad (CNBC)

Los Angeles consistently ranks among the most traffic-clogged cities in America. The county has been trying to reduce its traffic for decades and nothing has worked. Many researchers and economists suggest charging people for using the road in a system called congestion pricing

Technology: The Rise Of Robotic Working Dogs

A number of four-legged robot dogs made by companies like Boston Dynamics, Anybotics and Ghost Robotics have been deployed in the workforce already for applications like inspections, security and public safety among others. At their core, these four-legged robots are mobility platforms that can be equipped with different payloads depending on the type of information that companies want to gather.

Experts predict the insurance industry alone will spend $1.7 billion on robotics systems in 2025. And other industries may follow suit. Amid the pandemic, a tight job market is forcing many companies to turn to automation. A survey done in December of 2020 by McKinsey, showed that 51 percent of respondents in North America and Europe said they had increased investment in new technologies during 2020, not including remote-work technologies.

Housing: Why Rents Are Rising In The U.S. (CNBC)

Fresh numbers from the fall of 2021 suggest that rents will increase at a rapid pace in the coming years. That’s a problem for Americans; many spend 30% or more of their income on rent. A decade-long slowdown in house building is coming to a close, which could help renters.

But the new developments in construction are generally for high-end and luxury apartment units. Experts say the market conditions are pushing people further away from their jobs and weighing on the economy writ large. Market indicators suggest that rent hikes are coming in 2022.

Average rents for a one-bedroom apartment in the booming suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, have more than doubled year over year, according to data from Apartment Guide. Meanwhile, rents in Manhattan have reached fresh records as life returns to the cities, according to Zumper.

The problems aren’t confined to the usual suspects, however. Rents for single-family homes across the country jumped more than 9% on average in August 2021 from the prior year, according to a report from the analytics firm CoreLogic.

Rents are moving fastest in the buzzy enclaves across the South and West. For Maria Arredondo, a teacher based in Austin, Texas, a sudden rent hike of nearly $400 forced her to make a move. “If I had signed the lease … it would be taking a lot of my savings. And so I decided to move to a new building, losing about 150 square feet,” she told CNBC. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said the strains on the housing construction market were building well before the pandemic took hold in the states.

“There’s a lot of evidence that the lack of housing closer to where the demand is and urban cores is having a meaningful negative consequence on long-term economic growth.“ Generous monetary and fiscal policies have juiced demand for goods and services coming out of the pandemic. All that extra money sloshing around the economy is bubbling up into the rent. The fresh demand is giving investors a reason to jump into the market.

Experts say that’s boosting desperately needed supply. But there’s a catch: The homes being built are priced into the high end of the market. As a result, the evidence suggests that renters will be paying more for shelter this decade.

Analysis: Rise Of Sports Betting In The U.S. (CNBC)

Sports betting in the U.S. is booming. During the 2021 NFL season an estimated 45 million Americans are expected to wager at least $12 billion. Since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling, sports betting is now legal in more than 30 states.

A flood of new customers eager for risk and excitement has made DraftKings one of the nation’s biggest sportsbooks. In the third quarter of 2021 DraftKings revenue rose 60% from the year prior to $213 million. During that same period with mobile betting launching in several states the number of its monthly unique paying customers rose 31% to 1.3 million.

And the online sports betting and gaming industry in the U.S. is just starting to grow. As of 2021 only 4% of gross gaming revenue in the U.S. was generated online compared with 45% in a more mature market like the UK. The online sports betting market in the U.S. is expected to be worth nearly $40 billion by 2033. So what does the future look like for legal sports betting in America and what challenges lie ahead for sports betting providers like BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings?

Air Travel: Why Airport Security Is So Slow (CNBC)

There once was a time when getting through airport security was quick and easy. But after the attacks on 9/11, the TSA, or Transportation Security Administration, was created and security screenings became much more thorough. With millions of people passing through TSA checkpoints everyday, this can create excruciating long lines, especially during holiday travel. Despite enhancements in technology like millimeter wave imaging and CT scanners, the airport security process has been slow to evolve. But that may soon be changing.

Delta, JetBlue, and American Airlines are just a few of the U.S. airlines starting to test facial recognition for boarding and TSA checkpoints. The TSA is also working with companies on designing better screeners so passengers don’t have to remove anything from bags and can leave their shoes on. CNBC explores how far we’ve come in airport security and the ways the TSA and airlines are looking to speed up and make airport security even safer.

Analysis: Why Airlines Aren’t More Profitable

Passenger airlines are a crucial industry in the global economy, but the sector is also extremely volatile. Running a passenger airline is an asset-intensive industry with narrow profit margins.

Despite the risks, the industry has experienced some periods of consistent growth, which can lull investors into a false sense of security. Watch the video above to learn whether investors should steer clear of the sector and why passenger airlines struggle to stay profitable.

Video timeline: 0:00 – Introduction 1:35 – Industry shocks 6:16 – Business models 8:28 – Deregulation and consolidation 12:55 – Industry outlook

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once called himself an “air-o-holic” because of how tempted he is to invest in commercial airlines. But he learned the hard way, twice, that the industry can be a risky bet. Airline stocks have been on a wild ride since the beginning of the pandemic, which shows just how volatile the sector can be. “It seems that airlines once or twice a decade are hit with these really hard-to-process exogenous shocks, whether it’s something like 9/11 or the Great Recession,” said Adam Gordon, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group’s Airline Practice. The passenger airline industry is already asset-intensive, with narrow profit margins. Despite the risks, the industry has experienced some periods of consistent growth. Airlines saw big growth in profits for about a decade prior to Covid, which analysts attribute to the airlines restructuring post-9/11. These periods can lull investors into a false sense of security. In 2017, the CEO of American Airlines said he was confident the business was never going to lose money again. Airline stocks may be appealing to investors because the industry is crucial to the global economy. “If you just step back and you think about what service airlines are offering, they’re putting you in a metal tube, taking you up to 40,000 feet, and transporting you in relative or absolute comfort at hundreds of miles an hour to get from point A to point B. And if you think about the substitutes for that service, like, there really aren’t any,” said Gordon. “So it’s kind of surprising to me that an industry that delivers that kind of a service and does it with an absolutely impeccable operational and safety record is able to come under such pressure,” he added.