(Ellen Rolfes/Marketplace; Getty Images)
"Make Me Smart” Newsletter

Nvidia goes up and down, a volatile week for the AI chipmaker

Ellen Rolfes Jun 28, 2024
(Ellen Rolfes/Marketplace; Getty Images)

It’s been a volatile week for Nvidia. The artificial intelligence chipmaker briefly became the world’s most valuable public company last week, overtaking Microsoft and Apple. But the peak was short-lived, as many investors cashed in on the massive gains. The sell-off trimmed as much as $500 billion in value, but Nvidia’s stock price has surged more than 1,000% in recent years. 

What’s Nvidia actually worth? That depends on whether AI evangelists’ prophecies come true. AI adoption is moving quickly, but hard evidence of how AI improves businesses’ bottom lines is hard to find.

Many skeptics are concerned that the AI boom is actually a bubble waiting to burst. Even Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has warned his own employees, many of whom have become wildly rich as a result of Nvidia’s growth, that the stock market is unforgiving and that being a trillion-dollar company increases pressure to deliver results.

Will you pony up for generative AI tech? If not, the “gravy train” could come to a “screeching halt,” one analyst told Yahoo Finance. Companies that are paying big bucks to integrate generative AI into their products must convince customers to pay more for those features.

Smart in a Shot

A map of the U.S. shows states where ballot measures have occurred to legalize marijuana. States are shaded based on how much money the campaigns raised.
Click on the map above to interact with the data. (OpenSecrets)

Fifth time’s the charm? A ballot initiative in Florida to legalize recreational marijuana has broken fundraising records, according to the nonpartisan research organization OpenSecrets. The political action committee supporting Florida Amendment 3 has already raised over $40 million, more than any other state campaign to legalize weed. 

Almost all of that money is coming from a medical dispensary called Trulieve, which has close ties to Republican politics and was one of the first companies to win a license when medical marijuana became legal. Existing dispensaries like Trulieve would be most ready to profit if the initiative passes, because Florida requires vertical integration of the state’s marijuana industry. Companies selling medical marijuana must manage all aspects of production in-house, including the growing, cultivating, transporting and selling. 

“You’re not going to invest as a business, $40 million into something if you don’t think you’re gonna get a return on that investment,” Will Jones, the director of community outreach and engagement at Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told NPR station WUSF.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t easily swayed. Though one of his first actions as governor was signing a bill legalizing medical marijuana, he strongly opposes recreational use and unsuccessfully tried to block the initiative from getting on the November ballot. Florida’s GOP formally denounced the referendum last month. 

Most Floridians support legalization, but for the initiative to pass, a supermajority or 60% of voters will have to vote in favor of it. 

The Numbers

The U.S. is set to revise its dietary guidelines for safe drinking in 2025. Let’s do the numbers.

2

Current American guidelines recommend adults limit their alcohol intake to, at most, two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. In 2020, the federal government rejected recommendations to lower these limits. 

Zero

Canada revised its own guidelines on alcohol consumption in 2023, recommending no more than two drinks per week to avoid serious health consequences, including many cancers and cardiovascular diseases. (Zero drinks is the only risk-free option, according to Canada’s guidelines.) The previous guideline was 10 drinks per week for women and 15 drinks per week for men, at most. 

Dietary guidelines on alcohol vary greatly from country to country. Belgium, for example, says men can safely have up to 21 drinks per week. 

6

Six people on a Health and Human Services panel are reviewing existing dietary guidelines and make recommendations for the 2025 update. Three scientists on the panel have published research concluding that drinking any alcohol is harmful to health. Trade groups and lobbyists want to know how the panel will determine the new recommendations.

15x

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found the number of daily cannabis users has increased 15-fold since the early ’90s, surpassing the number of daily or near-daily drinkers in 2022. Analysts predict that expanding legal cannabis will come with more consequences for the alcohol industry. 

$13 billion

That’s the market value for low- and no-alcohol products in 2023, and it’s expected to continue to grow.

$12

A “fauxgroni” may still cost you just as much as an alcohol-based cocktail. But why?! Marketplace reporter Janet Nguyen sought answers for Marketplace’s “I’ve Always Wondered” series. 

None of us is as smart as all of us

Our recommended reads that made us smarter this week. Tell us what’s making you smarter at smarter@marketplace.org. We’d love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.

Gratuities aren’t bribes

After the city of Portage, Indiana, bought five garbage trucks for about $1.1 million, the city’s mayor received a $13,000 thank-you gift from the owners of a local truck dealership. Is that legal? The Supreme Court thinks so. It overturned the former mayor’s corruption conviction this week, limiting the application of a federal law around bribes. The majority in the 6-3 decision ruled that bribes aren’t the same as gifts paid after the fact. Writer Ellen Rolfes (hi!) recommends a Los Angeles Times article about the decision, and how it could impact the behavior of the 20 million local and state officials.

The implosion of Project Veritas 

For more than a decade, conservative grassroots organization Project Veritas has waged information warfare. It’s used secret recordings and misinformation to try to discredit news media and progressive activists. Host Kimberly Adams recommends a Rolling Stone longread about the rise and fall of the far-right activist group and its founder James O’Keefe.

How giving cash can save

Starting in 2022, Denver began giving $1,000 a month to more than 800 Coloradans living in their cars, shelters and outside. Within a year, almost half of them had secured housing. Editor Virginia K. Smith is reading a Business Insider article about the one-year results of Denver’s experiment giving direct cash payments. The city says the program has saved $589,214 in public service costs.

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