Three Main Risks for European Banks in 2023

The global financial system has faced a series of events that have impacted European banks in 2023. The crisis in the USA and Switzerland, as well as prolonged periods of high rates, have created three main risks for European financial institutions.

The bankruptcy of major financial institutions in the USA and Switzerland could have far-reaching consequences for European banks. This creates uncertainty in the financial markets and can lead to a reduction in trust in the banking system as a whole. European banks, especially those with close ties to the crisis companies or dependent on them, may face a high risk of default and capital loss.

Prolonged periods of high rates can put significant pressure on European banks. High rates complicate access to financing and increase credit costs for banks. This can negatively affect profitability and overall financial stability of banks. Higher borrowing costs can also increase the risk of loan defaults and raise the level of arrears.

The crisis in the USA and Switzerland can lead to a weakening of the regulatory environment in European countries. In conditions of financial instability, some governments may be forced to relax regulatory requirements or postpone reforms to support the banking system. This can create additional risks and reduce the transparency and stability of bank operations.

Loan issuances in European banks have fallen tenfold. Despite warnings from the ECB, eurozone banks remain in a winning position from the rate hike cycle. How long will this trend continue?

Technological Advances and Global Engagement: San Francisco’s Pivotal Role in Emerging Trends

The Rise of Driverless Taxis: Cruise and Waymo Lead the Way

Significant growth in autonomous ride services highlights industry shift.

 Cruise and Waymo significantly increased their driverless ride services in San Francisco this year, with Cruise logging twice the number of passengers and trips compared to Waymo by August. Both companies accelerated their driverless taxi operations in 2023, transitioning to fully driverless rides, marking an industry inflection point. Cruise reported a fivefold increase in monthly passengers, reaching almost 66,000 in August, while Waymo saw its monthly passenger tally rise from about 3,300 in January to 28,100 in August. This surge indicates growing exposure and loyalty among riders, with both companies claiming tens of thousands awaiting paid driverless rides. Cruise, currently suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and Waymo, operating through a waitlist, are navigating challenges in the evolving landscape.

 Walmart Global Tech’s Major Move: Occupying Meta’s Sunnyvale Campus

Walmart Global Tech, the digital arm of global retailer Walmart, has taken over an entire campus that is leased to Meta Platforms in Sunnyvale

SETI Institute’s Galactic Boost: A $200 Million Quest for Extraterrestrial Life

Late tech mogul’s generous endowment propels alien research forward.

Late tech mogul left South Bay nonprofit $200 million for alien research. Franklin Antonio, co-founder of Qualcomm, left a substantial $200 million grant to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute upon his passing. The SETI Institute, a leading space exploration nonprofit, plans to utilize the funds for postdoctoral fellowships, grants, educational initiatives, and the advancement of research capabilities. Antonio’s philanthropic legacy includes contributions to science education and a $200 million grant to a high school seniors’ program. The endowment ensures the SETI Institute’s core programs are permanently supported, fostering global partnerships and groundbreaking research. Antonio, known for his technical expertise, played a crucial role in upgrading the Allen Telescope Array, a radio telescope used by the Institute.

San Francisco Triumphs as APEC Host: A Fusion of Culture and Technology

City’s diversity and tech prowess clinch the prestigious global summit.

San Francisco secured the hosting rights for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, beating other major U.S. cities. Matt Murray, the U.S. State Department’s senior official for APEC, highlighted San Francisco’s rich history, cutting-edge technology, and sustainability focus as key factors. The city’s diverse population, including over a third being Asian residents, and its prominent tech companies like Meta, Google, Uber, and OpenAI contributed to its selection. The 20,000-person event is anticipated to have a $52.8 million economic impact on the city, providing a boost post-pandemic. San Francisco’s logistical readiness, including Moscone Center’s expansion and airport connectivity, played a pivotal role in the decision. Murray acknowledged a strong partnership with Mayor London Breed’s administration in bringing APEC to the city.

Forging a Path for Responsible AI: Tech Leaders Unite in San Francisco

Startups and investors collaborate on ethical AI development guidelines.

Tech leaders, backed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, introduced responsible AI guidelines for startups and investors in San Francisco. These voluntary commitments, spearheaded by Responsible Innovation Labs, involve 35 companies and investor groups, emphasizing responsible AI practices from the outset of product development. The principles cover organizational buy-in, transparency, risk and benefit planning, product safety testing, and ongoing improvements. While welcomed by some, including the Biden administration, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen expressed dissent. The voluntary framework is part of broader AI regulation efforts, aligning with recent executive orders from President Biden and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Viktoria Zolotova
Viktoria Zolotova
Head of 3V FUND
Representative Office in the USA

Dynamic Changes and Protests: A Week of Turbulence in San Francisco

Graffiti and Grievances: Pro-Palestine Messages Color San Francisco

Multiple downtown San Francisco buildings, as well as a stalled Waymo self-driving car, were spray-painted with pro-Palestine graffiti on Sunday amid a mass protest that drew thousands.

Amazon Games Trims Staff: A Strategic Shift in Focus

Over 180 jobs cut as Amazon restructures its gaming and audio divisions.

Amazon’s games division is cutting over 180 positions in its second round of layoffs within a week, part of a broader corporate shake-up. Christoph Hartmann, VP of Amazon Games, explained in an email that this decision followed careful considerations for the company’s future. This move comes after a prior round of cuts in April, affecting 100 jobs. Last week, staff reductions were announced in the streaming music and podcast division, alongside downsizing in human resources. Additionally, Amazon discontinued its live audio service, Amp. Amazon is shifting its games operations to Prime Gaming, bundled with the $139 annual Prime membership.

Voices of Dissent: Diverse Protests Converge at APEC Conference

A mix of activists rally against economic policies and social issues.

Thousands protested against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco, with diverse groups expressing opposition. The rally, including Palestinian liberation activists, anti-capitalist organizations, and climate change advocates, marched towards Moscone Center. The protest encountered police presence, and tensions escalated in the afternoon. Demonstrators criticized APEC as elitist and harmful to workers and marginalized communities. The protest reflects broader discontent with APEC’s economic policies. A significant security presence has been implemented for APEC, drawing attention to potential disruptions. A larger protest is anticipated later in the week, coinciding with the APEC CEO summit.

Carta’s Cost-Cutting Continues: Third Round of Layoffs Announced

The high-valued startup slashes more jobs amidst economic shifts.

Carta, the San Francisco-based equity management startup that attained an $8.5 billion valuation last year, announced its third round of layoffs since the beginning of this year. It previously slashed staff in January and July.

Pathfinder 1 Takes Flight: A New Era of Airships in Bay Area

Sergey Brin’s LTA introduces a revolutionary, helium-based airship.

An enormous experimental airship, Pathfinder 1, nearly double the size of the Goodyear blimp, is set for test flights in the San Francisco Bay Area. Developed by LTA Research & Exploration, backed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, it emerged from Moffett Field’s hangar for outdoor testing. Unlike the flammable Hindenburg, this 400-foot long airship uses non-flammable helium and has a rigid structure. Test flights began, focusing on both moored and free-flight testing at Moffett Field. Pilots control the ship with a gondola, operating electric motors and fin rudders. LTA envisions these airships aiding humanitarian efforts, delivering supplies to areas without airstrips.

Viktoria Zolotova
Viktoria Zolotova
Head of 3V FUND
Representative Office in the USA


Here are a few observations about China:

  1. China has reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds to $800 billion, a level not seen since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Considering currency devaluation, this amount is relatively minor. It’s important to note that China has never been a major enthusiast of U.S. government securities, unlike Japan, for example.

2. The Chinese economy is evidently slowing down, and its growth no longer appears as remarkable.

3. The Chinese stock market has been in a state of decline for the third consecutive year.

4. The real estate market in China is facing a downturn for the third year in a row, and the bankruptcy of developers continues.

    My point is not to cast a negative light on China. I have great respect for the country and its people, who have made a tremendous leap in development over the past 50 years!

    It is evident that China and the USA are preparing for a significant conflict. The U.S. and its funds are withdrawing substantial investments from Chinese companies and the stock market, while China openly repays U.S. debts.

    Andrey Syrchin
    Andrey Syrchin

    Vintage Wine: Art and Investment

    In the investment world, vintage wines are becoming increasingly noticeable and financially promising. Elite wines such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from Burgundy and Château Lafite Rothschild from Bordeaux, as well as Malbecs from Argentina, are valued not only for their rarity but also for the meticulous process behind each bottle. The experience and intuition of oenologists – wine science specialists – play a key role in predicting the potential of a wine, whether it will become legendary or fade into oblivion.

    Market Size

    The global wine industry is significant, with revenues estimated at $333 billion in 2023, and an expected average annual growth of 5.52% from 2023 to 2027, according to Statista. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 index showed a 10% increase since the beginning of 2022, and the vintage wine market demonstrated a 16% growth last year, steadily increasing by an average of 8% over the last 15 years.

    Rating System

    Annual ratings such as Wine Spectator and Decanter evaluate wines on scales up to 100 points. These publications can increase interest in certain wines and create a buzz around them, which can lead to up to 20% annual returns on investment.

    When purchasing, it is recommended to choose wines from 95 points. For example:


     • Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits​ (around 100 points)


     • Vigneti Villabella, Fracastoro, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva, Veneto


     • Lustau, 30 Years Old, Oloroso, Sherry


     • Bodega Norton, Privada Family Blend, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza


     • Domaine Naturaliste, Rebus Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia, 2020 — 97 points

    🇺🇸USA (Napa Valley):

     • Harlan Estate’s Bordeaux Red Blend — 97 points with an average price of $1485

    Proper storage of wine and purchasing in large batches are important to avoid loss of value and to achieve a profit proportional to the investment.

    Historical Significance of European Wines

    The stories of wines, such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, are closely linked with legendary winemakers like Aubert de Villaine and Henri Jayer. For instance, the last bottles from the renowned Burgundian winemaker Henri Jayer were sold at an auction in Geneva for $35 million.

    In 1811, astronomers recorded a comet that would have entered history with the nondescript catalog number C/1811F, had it not marked an extremely fortunate year for European winemakers, especially in the provinces of Burgundy, Cognac, and Champagne. The comet was depicted on corks and labels — this symbol became a sign of quality for “comet wines.”

    “Whisky Investments: Unveiling the Appeal of a Spirited Venture”

    Investing in whisky is becoming increasingly popular, and here’s why:

    Interesting Facts:

    • The whisky market is at an unprecedented level. The demand for premium single malt whisky is immense, and it’s hard to imagine a situation where consumer demand would significantly drop.
    • Only 56 million liters of all Scottish whisky (8%) is retained as single malt, and this relatively small volume has a target audience of 500 million whisky consumers worldwide.
    • In October 2021, VCL Vintners auctioned a 30-year-old Macallan for $2.3 million, setting a new world record for the highest price of a cask sold at auction. This record surpassed the previous one set by Bonhams in 2021 for HK$4.4 million ($573,000). The sold cask was one of the few produced in 1991 and, apparently, is one of the oldest casks of Macallan. The cask contained about 608 bottles of whisky, which means that the price per bottle was approximately $5,705, doubling the previous auction result.


    • All whisky in casks is stored in a warehouse in Scotland and, as a result, is exempt from VAT. When you decide to bottle the whisky and the cask is removed from the warehouse, excise duty and VAT will be charged. Usually, a cask is sold while it is still in the warehouse, and therefore these taxes are not applied.
    • For UK taxpayers, capital gains tax is not considered applicable because whisky in a cask is considered a “wasting asset” due to the “angel’s share” (evaporation).

    Factors affecting the price of whisky:

    • Year of production, type of cask, distillery, age, ola (Original Litres of Alcohol), rla (Remaining Litres of Alcohol), and abv (Alcohol by Volume).
    • The whisky market is growing due to enormous demand and limited supply, especially for rare and old whiskies.