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Microsoft announces generative AI coming to 365 Suite

Top stories today: 1) Microsoft announces AI in 365 Suite, 2) Banks loan $30B to First Republic Bank, and 3) Fed balance sheet jumps $300B, reversing quantitative tightening.

Hi, and welcome to today's Bay Area Times daily newsletter. Top stories today: 1) Microsoft announces AI in 365 Suite, 2) Banks loan $30B to First Republic Bank, and 3) Fed balance sheet jumps $300B, reversing quantitative tightening.

0. Data and calendar

No major events are scheduled for today. Happy Friday, everyone!

1. Microsoft announces generative AI coming to 365 Suite

  • 365 Copilot: AI applied to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, etc. It has all the features you can imagine: writing, summarizing, creating columns, answering emails, taking meeting notes, etc. Seeing is better than writing -- the video above is a good 1-minute summary.

  • Closed beta with 20 customers, could be premium priced: "We will share more about pricing and details in the coming months." - The Verge, Microsoft

Business Chat is ChatGPT customized to your information

  • An AI personal assistant customized to you: it can read your meeting transcripts, emails, calendar, etc., and answer any questions you might have.

  • Microsoft also removed New Bing's waitlist. Now anyone can try it using the Microsoft Edge browser and a Microsoft account. - Techcrunch

  • It's likely that the benefits of generative AI will go mostly to incumbents. Google just announced similar features. The same is true of Salesforce, Hubspot et al. All in all, it is not clear whether new startups will leverage generative AI to beat the incumbents, or rather, as Sam Lessin put it, the best way to bet on AI is to bet on Big Tech.

2. Largest banks loan $30B to First Republic, for at least 120 days

  • $30B from big banks: $5B each from BofA, Citi, JPM, and Wells; $2.5B each from Goldman and Morgan Stanley, and $1B each from BNY Mellon, PNC, State Street, Truist, and U.S. Bank. All the deposits are uninsured.

  • Also, significant help from the Fed and government: between March 10 and 15, FRB's borrowings from the Fed increased from $20B to $109B. - Bloomberg, FRB

  • The bad news is that these borrowings come at a hefty 4.75% interest cost, vs deposits which were costing them less than 1%. Meanwhile, FRB's assets yield around 3%, according to Dec 31. numbers.

The idea was suggested by the government via Secretary Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen, Jamie Dimon, Jay Powell. Collage by the Bay Area Times, photos by Wikicommons.

  • Yellen called JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon on Tuesday, and had him at her office on Thursday. The idea also had the approval of Fed chair Jay Powell. - FT

FRB's stock rebounded briefly but still cut in half

Trading at a 0.46 price-to-(reported) book:

Bill Ackman called it a "false sense of confidence"

3. The Fed balance sheet jumped $300B this past week, reversing half of quantitative tightening

  • On the one hand, QT served to allow for more QE. The theory behind monetary policy fluctuations is that you tighten when economic conditions are strong, so you have space to expand when conditions are weak, such as now. - Bloomberg

  • On the other hand, it signals that QE Infinity is here to stay. The prospects of the Fed selling its entire balance sheet over time are all but dead.

  • We expect inflation to continue above the 2% target for years to come. And that will help the U.S. debt trajectory to be a bit more sustainable.

Money market funds see their largest inflows since Covid

  • Net inflow of $121B in the week to March 15, largest since April 2020. - Bloomberg

Markets still price in a 25 bps hike at Wednesday's meeting

But also rate cuts starting at the end of the year

  • Which would show a very volatile Fed. We find it unlikely that the Fed would hike and cut with such a short pause, unless economic conditions significantly deteriorate (e.g. with a serious banking crisis).

In related news...

4. In Europe, the ECB raised rates by 0.5% to 3%

  • And signaled support for the banking industry. "The Governing Council is monitoring current market tensions closely and stands ready to respond as necessary to preserve price stability and financial stability in the euro area. The euro area banking sector is resilient, with strong capital and liquidity positions." - CNBC

  • Euro area inflation at 8.5% in February, from 8.6% in January. - Europa

5. TikTok CEO says U.S. sale would not address China risk


  • His exact quote: "I do welcome feedback on what other risk we are talking about that is not addressed by this. So far I haven’t heard anything that cannot actually be solved by this." - WSJ

  • His argument does not make any sense. If TikTok U.S. was fully sold to U.S. investors, why would there still be any risk of U.S. data being purposively leaked to China? The reason that the current TikTok situation poses any risk is that TikTok parent ByteDance is a Chinese company that must follow China's totalitarian security laws.

Would China even allow a sale of TikTok U.S.?

  • Many lawyers and investors say no, especially as ByteDance is China's greatest influence on global media today. - The Information

  • Hard to say what will happen. All three major scenarios are possible: status quo, sale, and ban. Overall, the national security risks of TikTok remain unclear, given there is little evidence of abusive government control in TikTok.

  • Meanwhile, UK and New Zealand to ban TikTok from government phones, following similar moves by the U.S. and the European Union. - UK, New Zealand

6. Tiger's VC investments fell 33% in 2022

  • Real fall is likely even higher. As a point of comparison, Tiger lost 56% in its hedge fund and 67% in its long-only fund, which only includes public equities. Venture capital stocks are expected to have slightly higher volatility than public equities, when marked to market. - WSJ

7. Only 16% of U.S. adults trust Fox News after private texts; of viewers, 21% trust it less

  • Trust in mainstream media is at an all-time low, and Fox is one of the worst offenders. It is common for the mainstream media to parrot falsehoods or to portray stories in an extremely biased way. Fox went further: they knowingly lied about Trump's election fraud claims, to please uninformed viewers and make short-term profits. Well, their business strategy is working, as they remain #1 in TV news viewership. - Variety

8. Other headlines


  • Google announces zero-day vulnerabilities in Samsung, others' phones, fix available.

  • Amazon shutting down Kindle for Periodicals and Kindle Newsstand.

  • Pornhub sold to PE firm, in 2018 it had 460M revenue and profit margins of ~50%.

  • Twitch CEO and co-founder Emmett Sheat is stepping down.

  • Tweets now show number of bookmarks on iOS.

  • Youtube TV prices go from $64.99/mo to $72.99/mo due to "content costs".

  • Parker, Brex for ecommerce startups, comes out of stealth with $157M in funding.

  • Stripe's $50B valuation round actually raised $7B, included only 6-month lockups.

  • Google Cloud shifting focus to midsize customers.

  • China-sponsored cyberattacks hitting U.S. businesses and governments, Google says.


  • Macron raises retirement age from 62 to 64, bypassing Parliament.

  • Sanofi cuts insulin prices up to 78%, max $35/mo.


  • Ethereum devs target April 12 for Shanghai update, staked ETH withdrawals.

  • Arbitrum to airdrop ARB tokens on March 23 and transition to a DAO.

  • Youtubers who supported FTX face $1B class-action lawsuit.

Washington and more

  • Xi to visit Putin in Russia next, promises peace; call with Zelensky could follow.

  • Mar-a-Lago staff (dozens) subpoenaed in Trump classified documents probe.

  • Florida's Stop WOKE Act's enforcement is blocked by federal appeals court.

  • Covid could have come from raccoon dogs at Wuhan market, new data suggests.

  • Poland is 1st NATO member to pledge fighter jets to Ukraine: 4 Mig-29s.

  • U.S. releases footage of drone-Russia fighter encounter to show Russia lied.

  • Wagner soldiers are interviewed and tell stories of horror from the Ukraine war.

9. Interesting tweets, memes, and images

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