Hello Riser,

How are you today? We’re halfway into January, and if you’re wondering whether it’s too late to set your new year goals, here’s what Nduka, a retired goal-quitter, has to say. While you laugh at his jokes, ensure you pick up his message. And don’t forget to enjoy the rest of your week.

Troubles At The Red Sea

Map of the Red Sea

Around the world, a storm is building after decades of calm. Since mid-November 2023, the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group backed by Iran, have launched dozens of attacks on ships sailing through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, making it riskier and costlier to use the crucial shipping lane and sending nearly all container traffic south, around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

Who are the Houthis?

The Houthis, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, are an Iran-backed group of Shiite rebels who have been fighting Yemen’s government for about two decades and now control the country’s northwest and its capital, Sana.

They have built their ideology around opposition to Israel and the United States, seeing themselves as part of the Iranian-led “axis of resistance,” along with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Their leaders often draw parallels between the American-made bombs used to pummel their forces in Yemen and the arms sent to Israel and used in Gaza.

In 2014, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened to restore the country’s original government after the Houthis seized the capital, starting a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands. Last April, talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia raised hopes for a peace deal that would potentially recognise the Houthis’ right to govern northern Yemen.

Why are they attacking ships in the Red Sea?

When the Israeli-Hamas war started on Oct. 7, 2023, the Houthis declared their support for Hamas and said they would target any ship travelling to Israel or leaving it.

Yahya Sarea, a Houthi spokesman, has said that the group frequently attacks ships to protest the “killing, destruction, and siege” in Gaza and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The Gazan authorities say that more than 23,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the Israeli bombing campaign and ground offensive that started after Hamas carried out cross-border raids, which the Israeli authorities say massacred about 1,200 people.

Since November, the Houthis have launched 27 attacks with drones and missiles on vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which they claim are heading toward or leaving Israeli ports. The latest was on Thursday at 2 a.m. when a missile landed near a commercial vessel, the U.S. military said. Perhaps, the most audacious Houthi operation came on Nov. 19, 2023, when gunmen hijacked a vessel named the Galaxy Leader and took it to a Yemeni port, holding its 25 crew members, mainly Filipinos, captive.

What is the United States doing about it?

The United States and a handful of allies, including Britain, struck back, carrying out missile strikes on Houthi targets inside Yemen early Friday and thrusting the rebels and their long-running armed struggle further into the limelight.

The attack on Houthi bases came a day after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn “in the strongest terms” at least two dozen attacks carried out by the Houthis on merchant and commercial vessels, which it said had impeded global commerce and undermined navigational freedom.

The task force, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, brought together the United States, Britain and other allies and has been patrolling the Red Sea to, in Mr. Blinken’s words, “preserve freedom of navigation” and “freedom of shipping.” But the problem is that no matter how much the US and its allies reinforce their boundaries, the Houthis aren’t guaranteed to respect them.

What does this mean?

Speaking to reporters in Bahrain on Wednesday, the American secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, warned that continued Houthi attacks in the Red Sea could disrupt supply chains and, in turn, increase costs for everyday goods. About 10% of global trade transits through Suez, 12% of global oil, and about 8% of LPG gas, but 30% of container shipping goes through the red sea.

The world’s biggest container companies, MSC and Maersk, have said they are avoiding the region, and shipping companies are left with difficult options such as detours to Africa. The detour adds about 30% more miles to the journey from Shanghai to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, and the additional days and fuel required increase the cost of shipping things– not just on Asia-to-Europe circuits but also on Asia-to-US ones. The diversion around the Cape of Good Hope at the bottom of Africa adds about 3,500 nautical miles, over $1 million in additional cost and a delay of up to two weeks. This is inflationary as the contents of every precious shipping container would be more expensive, increasing costs and the possibility of scarce goods and products.

What does this mean for my investment?

In light of these uncertainties and economic challenges, it’s essential for you to explore reliable investment and wealth management options to navigate these economic uncertainties. On Risevest, you can access diversified investment opportunities, helping to mitigate risks associated with geopolitical events and economic uncertainties.

The SEC Finally Approves Bitcoin ETFs

Spot Bitcoin ETFs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officially approved spot bitcoin ETFs last week. The 11 exchange-traded funds will let Boomers access Bitcoin without needing a crypto wallet. Basically, our parents may soon become Crypto Bros.

Now that it’s real, what does it mean?

Spot bitcoin ETFs will make investing in crypto more accessible by providing investors with exposure to bitcoin without having to buy it themselves. This also integrates Bitcoin into the traditional financial system. Big players like Fidelity, Ark Investments, and BlackRock were among the first applicants approved by the SEC. Bitcoin is essentially putting on a tie and agreeing to work at its dad’s insurance firm for the summer until the saying “buying a hamburger with crypto” becomes a thing.

Why now?

The long-awaited win for the crypto industry came after a false start on Tuesday when someone hacked the agency’s X account and spuriously said the ETFs had been approved. Crypto investors have been asking for spot bitcoin ETFs since roughly 2013, but the SEC has historically grimaced at the idea of inviting such a volatile asset into the financial system, concerned that a bitcoin ETF could be easily manipulated.

However, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which already helps investors buy bitcoin, tried to create an ETF for years and eventually took the SEC to court to force the agency’s hand in approving the fund. In August, a judge ruled in favour of Grayscale. This prompted it and several big-name investment firms to rush to file with the SEC to create spot bitcoin ETFs, and the agency was up against a deadline to decide.

What are the risks involved?

While spot Bitcoin ETFs offer a more straightforward way for traditional investors to access the cryptocurrency market, it’s important to note that the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies poses inherent risks. Bitcoin prices can be subject to sudden and significant fluctuations, and investors should be aware of the potential for both substantial gains and losses. So while you embrace the opportunities presented by this, don’t forget to diversify your portfolio with Rise.

What’s Up At Rise?

Portfolio Report
Our Rise portfolio has maintained its winning streak for the second consecutive week by outperforming the S&P 500. We closed the week with a positive return of 1.34%, surpassing the S&P 500, which closed positively at 0.20%. Notably, a significant contributor to our success is Microsoft, a company within our portfolio that achieved the prestigious title of the most valuable company in the world. We are starting the year strong and hope to maintain the momentum throughout

Major banks released their earnings this week, with most of them reporting better-than-expected earnings and profits. A better-than-expected earnings report signifies a healthy banking sector, attracting new customers and contributing to overall economic stability.

As usual, our commitment to delivering value to you remains unwavering.