Connect with us

Government

“Stocks Only Go Up” & The Rise Of The Pezzonovante

"Stocks Only Go Up" & The Rise Of The Pezzonovante

Published

on

"Stocks Only Go Up" & The Rise Of The Pezzonovante Tyler Durden Tue, 06/16/2020 - 17:25

Authored by Jim Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

How crazy have markets become lately?

One new investor has said, “Stocks only go up,” while unemployed people are using their stimulus check to trade stocks:

“It was basically free money,” said one of them… “It’s like a gambling game.”

If you want to talk about craziness, just look at Hertz…

Fools Rush In

Hertz filed for bankruptcy on May 22. Then a bizarre thing happened. Some of those newbie investors who had just received their coronavirus stimulus checks opened online retail accounts at brokers like Robinhood and started buying Hertz!

The stock was sure to end up with zero value, but they didn’t care. If you bought it for $1.00 per share and could dump it for $3.00 per share, you tripled your money even if the stock ends up at zero.

That’s crazy enough, but then things got crazier.

Hertz saw its stock price going up and decided to sell $1 billion of stock in a new issue.

Investment bank Jefferies Co. agreed to underwrite the deal. The SEC signed off on the offering document.

Of course, in bankruptcy you have to get approval from the bankruptcy court. Many assumed the judge would put an end to the nonsense, but he didn’t. The judge approved the deal.

Just to be clear, if Hertz raises $1 billion, that money will go straight to creditors. Stockholders will still get zero. That’s why the judge approved the deal, because his job is to help the creditors.

This will be an expensive lesson in bankruptcy law for those who buy the equity, unless they sell to another sucker just in time.

I wish them all well.

Stocks Can Go Down After All

But the frenzied market rally of the past few weeks hit a snag last week. The Dow lost 5.5% on the week, while the S&P gave up 4.7%, making it the worst week since March 20.

I guess stocks go down after all.

The market was down big yesterday morning, extending last week’s losses, before rebounding yesterday afternoon on Fed headlines.

But it’s clear that investors are getting nervous about the resurgence in U.S. coronavirus infections, which places the prospects of a V-shaped recovery further in doubt (it wasn’t going to happen anyway).

The Good News

Well, we’ve all lived through the first wave of coronavirus infections (technically the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease).

Along with that came an unprecedented economic lockdown that has triggered a global depression.

Even during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–19 that killed 100 million people, there was no full-scale lockdown, although many large gatherings, sporting events and concerts were cancelled.

We’re just now starting to come out of our self-quarantines and small businesses are gradually reopening. That’s the good news.

The Bad News

The bad news is we’re hearing a lot about a so-called “second wave” of infections that could bring back another lockdown.

One professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has said, for example, “The second wave has begun.”

These concerns are causing market declines and volatility. But I don’t think many people really understand what a true second wave is.

There are new outbreaks of the disease, but these are still part of the first wave. We’re still experiencing the first wave, in other words.

Watch out for the Second Wave

The virus has a predictable pattern in a given locale. That generally means about an eight–10-week course with a peak after five weeks, then a gradual diminution.

But it does not hit every locale at the same time. What’s happening in Florida, Arizona, Texas and elsewhere today is just another version of what already hit New York. It’s just happening later in the timeline because of population density and different lockdown rules.

But again, it’s still the first wave. A true second wave happens after a period of relative calm. The virus mutates into a more lethal form and strikes again.

Those with antibodies from the first wave may do better, but others are highly susceptible to the second wave and the fatality rate can be much higher.

That’s what happened in the Spanish flu a century ago. The first wave was March–June 1918. It was fatal but tailed off quickly. The second wave hit in October 1918 and was much more fatal.

Bodies were piled up like firewood. They ran out of coffins. They ran out of grave diggers. They ran out of graveyards and dug mass graves, wrapped people in sheets and dusted them with disinfectant and threw them in. That’s how bad that was.

COVID-19 isn’t anywhere near as bad as the Spanish flu was. But if we get a second wave, it could be more lethal than the first. It is likely to strike in December 2020. Let’s pray it doesn’t happen, but it’s too soon to rule it out.

The Rise of the Pezzonovante

What we can count on is that power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats will continue to throw their weight around...

Pezzonovante is a colorful Sicilian term famously used in the script for The Godfather. It basically means “big shot” or “self-important.”

It’s used in a derogatory sense to describe politicians who think they’re better than everybody else. One of the unpleasant side effects of the coronavirus lockdown is the rise of a new pezzonovante class among U.S. politicians.

It is true that political figures, especially governors and mayors, do have emergency powers to deal with public health crises or natural disasters. However, all such powers must be conducted in a constitutional framework with consideration for economic, medical and other factors balanced out.

The problem is that every elected official has an inner dictator who can’t wait to start bossing people around with arbitrary executive orders and no due process of law. That’s what’s been happening since the lockdowns began.

State governors were issuing “lockdown” orders, arresting people without face masks and revoking business and liquor licenses from small-business owners trying to earn a living, all without legal authority.

When these neofascist tactics are challenged in court, the state often loses. But not every small-business person can afford the legal fees to bring suit.

The lockdown did slow the spread of the virus and did save some lives, that’s true. But, the gains may only be temporary.

Remember, “flattening the curve” does not mean reducing total infections and deaths. It just means stretching them out over a longer period so the hospital system is not overwhelmed.

Let’s look at one pezzonovante…

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was responsible for 5,000 unnecessary deaths because he ordered COVID-19 patients to be forced into assisted living facilities where residents got ill and died as a result.

Now he’s threatening to reimpose a lockdown on New York beach resorts and Manhattan if people don’t follow his version of “social distancing” and face mask etiquette.

(Never mind that the science of face masks is not at all clear; many experts take the view that they don’t work and can do more harm than good except for medical personnel who face constant exposure.)

The point is that transparency and good communication with the public combined with voluntary compliance can get the job done. Orders and threats don’t help and prompt many people to do the opposite.

Leaders like Andrew Cuomo will just delay the economic recovery without doing anything to slow the spread of the virus. This is just one example of the new pezzonovante throwing their weight around without concern for the public good.

The “inner dictators” are on the loose and economic recovery will suffer as a result.

Unfortunately, they’re not going away.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

CDC Announces Overhaul After Botching Pandemic

CDC Announces Overhaul After Botching Pandemic

After more than two years of missteps and backpedaling over Covid-19 guidance that had a profound…

Published

on

CDC Announces Overhaul After Botching Pandemic

After more than two years of missteps and backpedaling over Covid-19 guidance that had a profound effect on Americans' lives, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Wednesday that the agency would undergo a complete overhaul - and will revamp everything from its operations to its culture after failing to meet expectations during the pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

Director Rochelle Walensky began telling CDC’s staff Wednesday that the changes are aimed at replacing the agency’s insular, academic culture with one that’s quicker to respond to emergencies. That will mean more rapidly turning research into health recommendations, working better with other parts of government and improving how the CDC communicates with the public. -Bloomberg

"For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for Covid-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations," said Director Rochelle Walensky. "I want us all to do better and it starts with CDC leading the way.  My goal is a new, public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness."

As Bloomberg further notes, The agency has been faulted for an inadequate testing and surveillance program, for not collecting important data on how the virus was spreading and how vaccines were performing, for being too under the influence of the White House during the Trump administration and for repeated challenges communicating to a politically divided and sometimes skeptical public."

A few examples:

Walensky made the announcement in a Wednesday morning video message to CDC staff, where she said that the US has 'significant work to do' in order to improve the country's public health defenses.

"Prior to this pandemic, our infrastructure within the agency and around the country was too frail to tackle what we confronted with Covid-19," she said. "To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes — from testing, to data, to communications."

The CDC overhaul comes on the heels of the agency admitting that "unvaccinated people now have the same guidance as vaccinated people" - and that those exposed to COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine.

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/17/2022 - 12:22

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

Why Is No One at Nike Working This Week?

And will the move gain broader acceptance among American employers?

Published

on

And will the move gain broader acceptance among American employers?

You go into an office, pull at the door and find that it doesn't give and nobody's there. 

It may sound like the start of the common rushing-to-the-office-on-a-Saturday nightmare but, more and more, collective time off is being embraced by employees as part of a push for a better work culture.

While professional social media platform LinkedIn  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report and dating app Bumble  (BMBL) - Get Bumble Inc. Report had already experimented with collective time off for workers, the corporate ripples truly began with Nike  (NKE) - Get Nike Inc. Report.

In August 2021, the activewear giant announced that it was giving the 11,000-plus employees at its Oregon headquarters the week off to "power down" and "destress" from stress brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.

"In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane," Matt Marrazzos, Nike's senior manager of global marketing science, wrote to employees at the time.

Nike Is On Vacation Right Now

The experiment was, not exactly unexpectedly, very well-received — a year later, the company instituted its second annual "Well-Being Week." Both the corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and three Air Manufacturing design labs with over 1,500 employees are closed for a collective paid vacation from Aug. 15 to 19.

"We knew it would be impactful, but I was blown away by the feedback from our teammates [...]," Nike's Chief Human Resources Officer Monique Matheson wrote in a LinkedIn post.

"Because everyone was away at the same time, teammates said they could unplug – really unplug, without worrying about what was happening back at the office or getting anxiety about the emails piling up."

Shutterstock/TheStreet

Of course, the time off only applies to corporate employees. To keep the stores running and online orders fulfilled but not exacerbate the differences between blue and white collar workers, Nike gave its retail and distribution employees a week's worth of paid days off that they can use as they see fit.

Nike has tied the change to its commitment to prioritize mental health. In the last year, it launched everything from a "marathon of mental health" to a podcast that discusses how exercise can be used to manage anxiety and depression.

Rippling Through the Corporate World?

But as corporations are often criticized for turning mental health into positive PR without actually doing much for employees, the collective week off was perhaps the most significant thing the company did for workers' mental health.

Real Money

Elevate Your Portfolio

Get actionable market insights from a team of experts who actually invest, trade, and manage money for a living

  • Daily Market Commentary
  • Actionable Trading Ideas
  • Investment Advice

The practice of set office closures has long been common practice in many European countries. In France, not only corporate offices but even restaurants and retail stores empty out over the month of August for what is culturally considered sacred vacation time. 

But as American work culture prioritizes individual choice and "keeping business going" above all else, the practice has been seen as radical by many corporate heads and particularly small businesses that may find it more difficult to have such a prolonged drop in business. 

But in many ways, the conversations mirror some companies' resistance to remote work despite the fact that one-fourth of white-collar jobs in the U.S. are expected to be fully remote by 2023

"This is the kind of perk that makes employees want to stay," industry analyst Shep Hyken wrote in a comment for RetailWire. "And knowing they can’t completely shut the entire company down, I like the way they are compensating the distribution and retail store employees."

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

#EmptyOldTrafford: why Manchester United’s attempt to recruit global fans may be backfiring

Social media calls for a boycott of the club’s upcoming match against Liverpool seem to mostly becoming from outside the UK.

Published

on

United fans are calling for a stadium boycott – but the majority live thousands of miles from Old Trafford. warasit phothisuk/Shutterstock

After years of underachievement on the field, Manchester United was supposed to bounce back this Premier League season.

But an opening game home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, followed by an embarrassing capitulation away at Brentford, has left United bottom of the Premier League, with zero points. This has prompted former club captain Gary Neville to assert that the club has now reached rock bottom.

In protest, fans have taken to social media to call for a boycott of United’s next game, Monday’s home clash against historic rivals Liverpool. Organised around the hashtag #EmptyOldTrafford, many posts take aim at the club’s owners, the Glazer family, who critics accuse of prioritising the club’s commercial activity and global reach over performance on the pitch.

As part of a longitudinal research project monitoring football clubs and social media, we sampled 21,610 tweets featuring the #EmptyOldTrafford hashtag between Saturday 13 August to Monday 15 August 2022. What we found was striking. It appears that a majority of Twitter users encouraging fans not to attend the Liverpool game are based outside the UK and may never even have attended a game at Old Trafford.

This would suggest that the club’s strategy of recruiting fans worldwide for commercial reasons may be backfiring. In building a huge following across the world, United may also have inadvertently cultivated a community of global social media activists intent on influencing how the club is run.

United’s commercial success

Fans, followers and pundits frequently target the blame for United’s descent from greatness at its owners, the Glazers, a family of US sports entrepreneurs who took control of the club in 2005.

The Glazers’ focus on the commercial development of United has seen the club constantly feature towards the top of financial performance and brand valuation league tables. In 2012, it generated US$478 million (£396 million) in revenues, which reached a pre-pandemic peak of US$796 million in 2019.

Such revenues are also a result of the club’s pursuit of overseas fan engagement. This appears to have been very successful. In one study, it was estimated that United has 1.1 billion worldwide fans and followers. In another study, it was identified that the Manchester club has upwards of 170 million followers across all social media platforms. That’s enough to fill Old Trafford 2,292 times.

Thai Manchester United fans
Manchester United is regarded as the world’s most-supported sports team. mooinblack/Shutterstock

Fan frustration

In May 2020, United fans’ frustration about poor results manifested itself in a pitch protest against the Glazers, leading to a home game against Liverpool being postponed. Just last season, fans had also planned mass walkouts during games to express their discontent, but few fans actually left the stadium on these occasions.

This time around, calls for a walkout have been amplified by social media. Our map of accounts using the #EmptyOldTrafford hashtag shows that United fans and followers from a multitude of countries have been calling for people to stay away from the game against Liverpool, including significant clusters in the US, west Africa and India.

A map showing global clusters of twitter activity
The protest hashtag has been used across the world. Wasim Ahmed, Author provided

We themed the tweets according to their content, colour coding them on our map. Some explicitly criticised the owners, while others focused on encouraging loyal fans to join the protest.

A table of the themes grouped by the researchers
We grouped tweets into four main themes. Simon Chadwick, Author provided

Curiously, we noted that of the inflammatory aggressive clusters, the biggest is centred in Nigeria. One reason for this could be that the club has a significant fan base in the west African country, perhaps following its signing-on loan in 2020 of Nigerian international Odion Ighalo. Another reason could be that Nigerian celebrities including Adekunle Gold, Uche Jombo and Mayorkun have ridiculed Manchester United online.

There is a third explanation. It’s possible that Nigerian troll farms are being specifically engaged to spread the #EmptyOldTrafford hashtag, though by whom and for what purpose is unclear. What is clear from our work is that the largest number of Twitter accounts involved in the hashtag were only established this year. That’s often a sign that accounts have been created for a specific purpose.

It could be that fans are joining Twitter with the intention of supporting the protest. Alternatively, one might argue that new users are more vehement in expressing their views about United and the Glazers. But if troll farms have helped the #EmptyOldTrafford hashtag trend on Twitter, it suggests there are some worrying new developments on social media that top football clubs must address.

Pressure on the Glazers

Manchester United fans will be aware that ticket revenue accounts for a tiny proportion of the club’s total income. If the #EmptyOldTrafford protest is successful and the stadium is conspicuously empty for the Liverpool game, it may only serve as a passing embarrassment for the club’s owners.

But a football club with global ambitions is subject to global scrutiny and criticism, especially in the age of social media. A one-off stadium protest may not rattle sponsors and commercial partners, but the ongoing discontent of the global audience they’re trying to reach may well do.

Even if the atmosphere at Monday’s fixture is muted, our findings suggest that United’s global fan base has found its voice. It’s that development, rather than events in Manchester, that may ultimately encourage the club’s owners to address United’s decade-long slide to Premier League mediocrity.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending