Recently in Business Category

From Protos:

The curious case of FTX and Farmington State Bank, aka Moonstone
In bankruptcy filings, crypto exchange FTX revealed a curious connection to stablecoin Tether through a small bank in rural Washington. Farmington State Bank is in fact the 26th smallest bank in the US, out of over 4,700. Until this year, it employed three people.

The bank was first formed in 1929 in a sleepy town named Farmington, hugging the Idaho border. It’s home to just over 100 residents, and features zero restaurants, hotels, or pharmacies — it doesn’t even appear to have an ATM.

The fact that Farmington State Bank somehow finds itself embroiled in the largest cryptocurrency fraud in history is puzzling, disconcerting, and totally out of place, to say the least.

A very curious story and, I am sure, one of many thousands of similar stories.  Only, we heard about this one.

How many others are there?

Protos has a nice followup article: Exclusive: Moonstone Bank explains ties with Alameda Research

Some excellent reporting...

Playing fast and loose - cryptocurrency

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Wish I had bought in at the beginning but that bubble is well past - from The Gateway Pundit:

Democrats’ “Newest Megadonor” Loses Billions As Crypto Exchange Fails — “Dot-Com Bust Level Event”
The Democrat’s newest megadonor Sam Bankman-Fried was forced to try and sell the crypto exchange he founded to his biggest rival on election day.

Bankman-Fried initially had a non-binding agreement that Changpeng Zhao, the leader of competitor Binance, would acquire the company.

This was after FTX saw around $6 billion of withdrawals within 72 hours.

Fox Business reported:

Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX considered the Democrats’ “newest megadonor” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, reportedly saw around $6 billion of withdrawals within 72 hours before Tuesday morning, forcing him to sell the company to its biggest rival on Election Day.

And then:

CNBC reported:

Binance is backing out of its plans to acquire FTX, the company said Wednesday, leaving Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire on the verge of collapse.

Heh - could not have happened to a nicer guy. Pump and Dump gone wrong.

Twenty-seven years - Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings offers this tweet and conversation.
The excerpt that started it:

Pushing an all-new 797 to 2035 would put its arrival to market 27 years after the 787 was first supposed to go into service in 2008.

For comparison, over a 27-year period in the last century Boeing developed the 707, 727, 737, 747, 757 and 767.

Quite the productive timeline.  Now? Resting on their laurels? What IS their future?

Dollar General

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Dollar General is a chain of stores mostly in the southeast. They are everywhere.
This might explain why:

A good way to put it

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Now this will be interesting - lawsuit

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From Arkhaven Comics:

The Cockroaches Just Saw the Bathroom Light Come On
David Zaslav and the Warner Brothers Discovery CFO are being sued by the Collinsville Police Pension Board.

The press is all tickled about Zaslav being named in a lawsuit because he has nuked a number of Woke projects as part of a writedown package for the IRS.

This is actually a lot more important than it would appear on the face of it.

First of all, if you are a pension fund then you are looking for stocks that are low risk but are a good bet to go up in value, and you want them to pay dividends. The smart ones tend to be very conservative fiscally. They don’t take big risks. And they invest on the basis of due diligence research. These guys do go through all the documentation that the company provides.

Now granted these investment projections provided by the company in question are given to sunny optimism but there is a difference between that and fraud. If you cooked the books on the investor documentation, then you have committed fraud.

A pension fund is not some angry celebrity or SJW activist organization (generally). These organizations don’t sue over butt-hurt feelings. They sue over corporate malfeasance.

Here is the super important part: They are suing over the number of streamers that HBOmax claims it had when Discovery and Warner Brothers merged because originally the pension fund was invested in Discovery. Discovery was indeed a healthy company at the time the investment was made, it was marrying it to Warner Brothers that damaged the value.

Is Zaslav going to be hurt? Very doubtful from what I’ve been told. This was just a necessary first step in legally redirecting the investor’s ire to where it rightfully lay: AT&T.

Zaslav is waaay after the fact.  It's AT&T and Warner that is going to be put on the hot spot.  This will not get a lot of media coverage (guess why) but it is a very important suit for Western Culture. Discovery anyone?

From the London Daily Mail:

REVEALED: Bed Bath & Beyond CFO who leapt to his death from New York's famed 'Jenga' building is accused of role in 'pump and dump' scheme that artificially inflated value of flailing company and cost shareholders $1.2 BILLION

    • Gustavo Arnal, 52, is being sued for allegedly inflating the Bed Bath & Beyond's stock price in a 'pump and dump' scheme
    • The lawsuit, filed August 23, claims a majority shareholder approached Arnal about a plan to control shares of the company so they could both profit
    • As part of the plan, it says, Arnal 'agreed to regulate all insider sales'
    • It alleges he put out 'materially misleading statements' showing the company's finances were improving to artificially raise the share prices
    • By the time he sold over 42,000 shares in the company two weeks ago it was valued at $1 million
    • Arnal then took his own life by jumping from the 18th floor of the famous 'Jenga' tower in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood on Friday

The Bed Bath & Beyond CFO who plunged to his death on Friday was being sued for artificially inflating the company's stock price in a 'pump and dump' scheme to sell off his shares at a higher price, can reveal.

Gustavo Arnal, 52, is listed as one of the defendants in a class action lawsuit brought by a group of shareholders who claim they lost around $1.2billion when Arnal and majority shareholder Ryan Cohen engaged in a 'pump and dump' scheme.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on August 23, claims Cohen had approached Arnal about a plan to control shares of Bed Bath and Beyond so they could both profit.

As part of the plan, the lawsuit claims, Arnal 'agreed to regulate all insider sales by BBBY's officers and directors to ensure that the market would not be inundated with a large number of BBBY shares at a given time.'

I am always amazed that these people do not think beyond the immediate gain.  They are blind to the consequences.  Once again, a scam like this has no exit strategy.  Being found out and prosecuted is not a matter of "IF", it is a matter of "WHEN".  They are so full of themselves that they think that the basic rules of life do not apply to them...

I am sorry for his family but I can only say good riddance...

Still wonder if they pay any Federal Income Taxes - I know that their very profitible Medical Imaging division is now a wholly-owned Chinese corporation. They spun off their household appliance division in 2014.
From the Albany, NY Times Union:

GE CEO reports progress but 'much is still uncertain'
General Electric Co. surprised Wall Street on Tuesday with higher-than-expected adjusted profit of $1.7 billion, up 81 percent from a year ago as CEO Larry Culp Jr. continues to cut costs and improve operations at the Boston-based industrial conglomerate.

Traders pushed GE's shares up more than 2 percent in early trading as the stock hit $70, its highest peak in a month.

"We are improving delivery, price, and cost performance via lean and decentralization," CEO Larry Culp said in a statement. "Notwithstanding this progress, much is still uncertain about the external pressures companies are facing at this moment."

Decentralization?  You consider this to be a good move in this era of supply-chain problems?  Is Larry planning to retire soon?  Let the chips fall where they may, I am outta here.  I got mine...

Uncertainty remains for GE's Capital Region workforce, which includes GE's power plant and renewable energy businesses in Schenectady that GE is planning to spin off as a separate company known as GE Vernova.

Renewable energy business is not profitible?  What a surprise...  As GE Vernova tanks, it will be quietly rebranded as Vernova and people will forget the parent. More:

GE's renewable energy business, which is currently based in Paris but will be merged with GE Power before its planned 2024 spin-off, lost $419 million during the second quarter, forcing GE to cut back on its expectations for the unit for the rest of the year. Orders were down 3 percent.

Another GE division, another country's ownership. Thomas Edison is quietly sobbing in his grave.  More:

The company said that the expiration of the federal renewable energy tax credit and global inflation have caused uncertainty in the renewable energy market, which still carries high business risks.

"Tax credit" meaning subsidy paid for by us taxpayers. Booo fscking Hooo...  And it is not just a minor turndown or market "adjustment"  More:

Through the first half of the year, GE received orders for 564 wind turbines (including offshore wind turbines), about half the number it received through the first six months of 2021.

That is going to hurt.  Maybe those things don't work after all...
They also got burned on solar in 2013.
Their new business motto: Don't bother to innovate - that's passé.  Cannibalize.

Just say no - pushing the seasons

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I was in Costco a few days ago and saw this display:



I can see Christmas stuff coming out in October  but early July?  That just ain't right...

Posted at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Short and to the point:

Twitter, Inc.
1355 Market Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
Attn: Vijaya Gadde, Chief Legal Officer

Dear Ms. Gadde:

We refer to (i) the Agreement and Plan of Merger by and among X Holdings I, Inc., X Holdings II, Inc. and Twitter, Inc. dated as of April 25, 2022 (the “Merger Agreement”) and (ii) our letter to you dated as of June 6, 2022 (the “June 6 Letter”). As further described below, Mr. Musk is terminating the Merger Agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that Agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr. Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect (as that term is defined in the Merger Agreement).

While Section 6.4 of the Merger Agreement requires Twitter to provide Mr. Musk and his advisors all data and information that Mr. Musk requests “for any reasonable business purpose related to the consummation of the transaction,” Twitter has not complied with its contractual obligations. For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to “make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform” (our letter to you dated May 25, 2022 (the “May 25 Letter”)). This information is fundamental to Twitter’s business and financial performance and is necessary to consummate the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement because it is needed to ensure Twitter’s satisfaction of the conditions to closing, to facilitate Mr. Musk’s financing and financial planning for the transaction, and to engage in transition planning for the business. Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information. Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr. Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr. Musk incomplete or unusable information.

More at the site - the one line that stands out: "Twitter has not complied with its contractual obligations"

Wondering just how many of the twitter accounts are bots — Twitter was saying "about 5%"
50%?  80%?  This is going to kill their advertising revenue too. 
Not the kind of disclosure their shareholders will be interested in reading about...

UPDATE:  Twitter announced that it is going to sue.  Rotsa ruck - I bet Elon has some really good lawyers and would not have backed out of the deal if he was not able to nail their corpse to the wall. Discovery is going to be a bitch.

A double benefit as these are usually the lowest-performing workers.  You are hired to benefit the shareholders.  Not for anything else.  If you seek to change the corporate culture, this is not productive and needs to be stopped aggressively so that others do not get the same idea.  The object of a business is not to go broke (as in: get woke, go broke)

Elon Musk knows this and he took action - from Reuters:

SpaceX fires at least five over letter critical of Elon Musk
Private rocket company SpaceX fired at least five employees after it found they had drafted and circulated a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and urging executives to make the firm's culture more inclusive, two people familiar with the matter said.

The good news is that other corporations are doing this as well - from the London Daily Mail:

CEO of crypto firm Kraken offers woke workers four months severance pay to QUIT after warning staff 'being offended doesn't make you harmed' - and 30 take up his offer

    • Kraken CEO Jesse Powell issued the new policy in a company memo this week
    • Warned staff to stop accusing each other of being 'toxic', 'hateful', or 'racist'
    • Powell is offering staff who are unhappy with the rules four months severance
    • They have until Monday to decide, and 1% of 3,000 workers have taken the offer

Good way to do it.  Give them a four-month cushion and get rid of them.  1% have taken the offer.  3,000 employees so we are looking at 30 troublemakers.  The company is not going to fail because of their absence.  In fact, it will do much better (see my opening thesis).

Not exactly business-friendly

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Big publicity over 70,000 pounds of baby formula being airlifted into the US-of-A.  Not that it will find its way to store shelves but, this is actually a very small quantity.

There are 4,756 Walmart stores in the USA as of 2020.  14.7 pounds per store if evenly distributed...

Big difference between being WOKE and waking up and smelling the Cappucino. Walt Disney Corp. seems to be transitioning from the former to the latter.  From Don Surber:

Disney moving 2,000 jobs TO Florida
Led by Ron DeSantis, Republicans stood up to Disney, the world's largest entertainment conglomerate (ABC, ESPN and half of Hollywood are among its holdings). Disney threatened to stop donating to Republicans if they dared pass the Don't Groom Kids law.

Florida is stainding up to this activist bullshit.  What is Disney doing?

In fact, instead of pulling jobs from Florida, Disney is adding to its work force in the Sunshine State.

The Orlando Business Journal reported, "California-based The Walt Disney Co. has had a major presence in Florida since the 1960s when the early stages of Walt Disney World were under development.

"The company should make the move to Lake Nona by late 2024, according to information shared on job postings. The Walt Disney Co. has confirmed it will relocate about 2,000 jobs from its California headquarters to Lake Nona, a master-planned community in southeast Orlando."

Are they looking at moving the corporate headquarters?  That would make a lot of sense with this move being a trial run. Being WOKE is bad for business.

Don Surber has a great post-mortem of events at Walt Disney Corp:

Virtue signaling cost Disney $89 billion

Go and read his post for the whole train-wreck. An object lesson.

Was talking about this with someone over coffee and they had not thought about looking at this metric. I checked today and there is a 222% difference in the rental price for a 10' box truck from Los Angeles, CA driving to Austin, TX depending on which direction you are going.



From $2,842 to $1,280 - quite the difference. 

The rates have not changed very much though.  Back in August of 2020, I checked the rates between San Francisco and Butte, Montana.  Then, it was $2,187 and $583 depending on direction.  Now? It is $2,800 and $875 - couple hundred bucks higher.  I would have expected a lot more.

And Boeing moves GHQ yet again

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They started in Seattle but moved their Global Headquarters to Chicago as Seattle is turning into a shithole city and the costs of doing business in WA State are climbing out of control (one of my primary reasons for moving to N.C.). They jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, moving to Chicago, Illinois - probably got a nice sweetheart deal on taxes. Now? Beetlejuice's worker's paradise has gotten to be too much and they are on the move again.  This time? Virginia. Republican governor. Kick-ass Lieutenant Governor.  Cheap taxes and close enough to the swamp but not too close.

From Boeing:

Boeing Names Northern Virginia Office Its Global Headquarters; Establishes Research & Technology Hub
Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that its Arlington, Virginia campus just outside Washington, D.C. will serve as the company's global headquarters. The aerospace and defense firm's employees in the region support various corporate functions and specialize in advanced airplane development and autonomous systems. In addition to designating Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.

"We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia. The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent," said Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun.

Boeing will maintain a significant presence at its Chicago location and surrounding region.

"We greatly appreciate our continuing relationships in Chicago and throughout Illinois. We look forward to maintaining a strong presence in the city and the state," said Calhoun.

"We also want to especially thank Governor Youngkin for his partnership, and Senator Warner for his support as we worked through the process."

Heh - "continuing relationships in Chicago and throughout Illinois"  Yeah - they still have factories and maintain offices there but that is not the headquarters of the business.  Boeing will not pay its business taxes to Chicago any more.

Good move and smart for their shareholders.

From American Military News:

Gary Sinise Foundation moving headquarters out of California
The Gary Sinise Foundation, which serves “our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need,” announced on Tuesday that it is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles, Calif., to Franklin, Tenn.

“It will be very, very good to be in a state that’s connected to seven other states, all of them with military bases and many, many veterans and all those communities around Tennessee,” actor Gary Sinise said in a statement. “Having our foundation more centrally located in the country will be a very, very positive thing for the work that we do.”

The foundation has been located in Los Angeles since it was established in 2011, and while it is moving to Tennessee, the organization will maintain existing chapters in San Diego and Orlando.

Sinise said he is moving his family to Tennessee, as well.

“I’ve been in California for 35 years and was thinking of next steps that might be exciting for the family. We have little grandchildren,” Sinise said. “I had a lot of friends there (in Tennessee). It’s a great entertainment industry there. They’re very, very supportive of veterans and would be a good place for the foundation and the family.”

Good call - Tennessee is a gorgeous and well-run state.  I prefer North Carolina but Gary is moving to a more urban area. Franklin is about 20 miles South of Nashville.  Starve the tyrants.

Competition in the marketplace

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Sums things up pretty well:


Reedy Creek had its purpose - the initial Disney park was a big gamble.  Taking almost 40 square miles of swamp and ag land and turning it into a world-class tourist destination.  Yeah - they needed some incentive to build there but that was created in 1967 —  55 years ago  —  they had their free ride.  Now?  Time to start supporting their community and paying their fair share.

From People's Dispatch:

Mexico nationalizes lithium industry
Mexico has officially nationalized its lithium industry. On April 21, the bill, proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), that modified the mining law to give the state the exclusive right to explore, exploit and use the valuable metal entered into force. According to the law, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation, the executive or the president now has 90 days to create a decentralized state company that will deal with all lithium-related matters.

The reform was approved in a record time in both houses of the Congress. President AMLO presented it in the Chamber of Deputies on April 18. The same day, the lower house discussed the reform, voted on it and passed it with 275 votes in favor, 24 against and 187 abstentions. The next day, on April 19, the Senate also debated the reform and sanctioned it with 87 votes in favor, 20 against and 16 abstentions.

Interesting to see what will happen - their Petroleum industry is nationalized.  Lithium?  Key ingredient for batteries for electric vehicles. More:

The new mining law recognizes lithium as a heritage of the nation, and reserves it for the benefit of the people of Mexico. It elevates lithium to the category of “strategic mineral”, and prohibits granting concessions, licenses, contracts, permits, assignments or authorizations for its exploitation to private corporations.

Current Lithium mining?

There is only one lithium mine in Mexico, operated by Chinese firm Ganfeng Lithium, which is slated to produce 35,000 tonnes of the metal per year starting in 2023. In the coming days, it will be discussed if that will be taken over by the government.

Heh - sucks to be them...  Good for Mexico.  We have Lithium too but the enviro-weenies don't want anything done here.  They are 100% OK with irresponsible mining in South America stripping out the forests and putting children to work hauling rocks (this is for Cobalt - also needed). After all, they covet their neighbors Tesla. A responsible mine here? Not gonna happen.

And he's in - Twitter

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From PR Newswire:

Elon Musk to Acquire Twitter
Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.

Under the terms of the agreement, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter common stock that they own upon closing of the proposed transaction. The purchase price represents a 38% premium to Twitter's closing stock price on April 1, 2022, which was the last trading day before Mr. Musk disclosed his approximately 9% stake in Twitter.

Bret Taylor, Twitter's Independent Board Chair, said, "The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."

Parag Agrawal, Twitter's CEO, said, "Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important."

"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," said Mr. Musk. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."

And the fun begins...

Pure schadenfreude - from The Post Millenial:

Disney LOSES nearly $50 billion in stock value since waging war against Florida's anti-grooming law
The Walt Disney Company has lost nearly $50 billion dollars in stock market value since the start of March, when executives shifted gears and became more actively involved in politically-charged ideological culture warfare against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida leadership.

They picked the wrong hill to die on.  It is not good (or legal) to play social games with your shareholders investments.

No BOD membership after all - from The Daily Wire:

Musk’s Decision To Not Join Twitter’s Board Signals Potential Major Move He Can Now Make On The Company
Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s decision to not join Twitter’s board reportedly means that the world’s wealthiest man is no longer restricted in how much of the company that he can buy.

After becoming their top shareholder with control of more than 9% of the company, Musk signed an agreement with Twitter for the following terms as long as he served on their board: “Mr. Musk agrees that, for so long as Mr. Musk is serving on the Board and for 90 days thereafter, Mr. Musk will not, either alone or as a member of a group, become the beneficial owner of more than 14.9% of Company’s common stock outstanding at such time, including for these purposes economic exposure through derivative securities, swaps or hedging transactions.”

Not bound by the agreement. Looking at acquiring a controlling interest?

Louis Rossmann's video channel is fascinating.  He started off doing very deep-level repair of computers - replacing components on the circuit boards instead of just swapping modules.  He got into the right to repair movement (here, here and here for starters) and is now in Washington, D.C. working with some farmers regarding having the ability to repair your own stuff. He was walking around and noticed something curious:

Good to see Facebook get what's coming to them.  When I hired on at MSFT in 1997, the same thing was happening - the stock price was still crashing from the dotcom bubble so the vestments were not worth anything.  Still, it was a blast - a very fun five years. Got to work with some amazing people and some amazing equipment.

From the New York Post:

Meta employees look to ditch jobs amid stock crash: ‘Feeling like s–t’
Shares of Facebook and Instagram parent Meta have plummeted more than 40% over the past six months — and some employees saddled with underwater stock options are eyeing the exits.

“Joined Meta near [all time stock high], now feeling like s—t,” one Meta employee said this week in a popular thread on Blind, a corporate message board with verified members. “What should I do?”

“Leave this crap place,” another “Metamate” responded.

“Same boat,” a third said, adding that they’re “already interviewing” at other companies.

“Duh, you’re supposed to think Meta, Metamates, and me. Ask yourself if this train of thought is good for the company,” a fourth joked. “Just kidding… it super sucks.”

They (and Twitter and Google) started out OK but their management was seduced by the dark side.  I thought that sort of crap was only supposed to happen in the movies.

Sucks for the employees though - they were probably hired for shit wages with the understanding that they would get shares of META that they could accrue and cash out. Channeling my inner Nelson Muntz

Working retail

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Been a business owner most of my life - I can relate to this one:


From Bloomberg:

The ‘Mother of All’ Supply Shocks Lurks in China’s Covid Crackdowns
The world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain stumbles.

That’s the warning from HSBC economists who caution that if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, then disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable. “Temporary, one would hope, but hugely disruptive all the same” in the next few months, they wrote in a research note this week.

China is the world’s biggest trading nation and its ability to keep its factories humming through the pandemic has been crucial for global supply chains.

While the outbreak of omicron in China is small compared with its Western peers, authorities are taking no chances. In recent weeks scattered infections of both the delta and omicron variants have already triggered shutdowns to clothing factories and gas deliveries around one of China’s biggest seaports in Ningbo, disruptions at computer chip manufacturers in the locked-down city of Xi’an, and a second city-wide lockdown in Henan province Tuesday.

And the fun begins.  It would be prudent to maintain a couple months supply of food staples.  Consider gardening - fresh greens are a lot healthier and more appetizing when served along with your beans and rice.  Looking to get any new cheap chinesium?  Get it now before prices skyrocket.

From the Austin Business Journal:

Meta leases up all office space in Austin's tallest tower in historic deal
Months of speculation have come to an end as California-based Meta Platforms Inc. — the parent company of Facebook — recently leased the entire commercial half of Sixth and Guadalupe, the 66-story high-rise under construction that will be Austin's tallest building when finished.

Meta confirmed to Austin Business Journal that it leased 589,000 square feet of office space across 33 floors at Sixth and Guadalupe, located downtown at 400 W. Sixth St. The lease was signed Dec. 31.

“We first came to Austin over 10 years ago with just seven employees, now over 2,000 of us are proud to call Austin home. We’re committed to Austin and look forward to growing here together,” Katherine Shappley, head of Meta's Austin office and vice president for commerce customer success, said in a statement.

California-based Meta also announced it is looking to hire 400 more people in Austin. As of last summer, <a href="" target="_blank" >the company had about 2,000 local employees</a>, which ranked No. 25 among the largest private-sector employers in the region. Given the new lease and other Meta offices in Austin, the company could grow significantly beyond that mark in coming years.

The 589,000 square feet of office space in Sixth and Guadalupe is larger than the entire Frost Bank Tower.

That is not a branch office for every long.  Makes perfect sense for them - get out of the high corporate taxes. California city planners are probably hitting the bottle about now - losing all that sweet sweet tax revenue.

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is on my No-Go list.  They are welcome to be as woke as their little liberal hearts can be.  I am under no obligation to purchase their product.  Looks like other people are coming to the same decision.  From Reuters:

Illinois bars state pensions from owning Unilever over Israel
An Illinois board overseeing state employee pension funds on Wednesday voted to bar funds from holding Unilever PLC shares due to sales limits by the company's Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand in Israel, joining at least five other U.S. states moving to restrict the stock.

A representative for the Illinois Investment Policy Board said it voted 7-0 at a meeting on Wednesday "to add Unilever to its prohibited entity list," following similar moves by other states including New York and New Jersey.

Good.  Anti-Semitism is not a virtuous corporate value.  Never has been.  Never will.

Heh - not just Florida

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It's ALL Republican-led states - from Breitbart:

Analysis: Republican-led States Lead Democrat-led States in Economic Recovery in November
States with Republican governors and legislatures are leading Americans back to work quicker than those led by Democrats, according to an analysis of the state-by-state unemployment data from the Department of Labor.

The analysis of the Labor Department’s November unemployment data from the Republican National Committee (RNC) research team uncovered that the Republican-led states continued to outperform Democrat-led states in job recovery for 17 of the top 20 states, and the lowest unemployment in 16 of the top 20 states.

“More jobs are being recovered and unemployment is lower in red states,” the RNC research team wrote.

Without interruption from a Democrat-led state, the top 13 states leading in job growth as states across the country continue to end the coronavirus restrictions as Americans get back in the states run by a Republican governor.

This is my surprised face...

Nothing can stop you if you deal with truth instead of narrative.
From Breitbart:

Florida Job Growth Rate 6 Times Faster than the Nation’s
Florida’s job growth rate was six times faster than the country’s as a whole in November, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on Friday.

“Our job growth rate is six times faster than the rest of the nation because we’ve worked hard to keep Florida open and protect the jobs of individual Floridians,” DeSantis said, attributing the success to pro-freedom policies which have allowed Floridians to continue to work while blue states, many of which existed in extended lockdowns, continue to implement coercive policies, forcing people to choose between their jobs and a shot. DeSantis went on to say:

Because we have protected their livelihoods, Floridians are confident in finding work and operating their own businesses. We will continue to focus on our state’s foundation of freedom to ensure that Florida remains a leader in economic growth and Floridians are able to succeed.

Looks like Florida is a nice place to live these days.

Lisa and I have been thinking about moving...

Moderna - what else do they do?

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Raise gobs of money and promote the hell out of their first and only product - the coof vax.  Never had a product before.  Never passed the litmus test.  Never approved for use in humans - only because of the emergency powers declaration is it being used.

I keep thinking that I am seeing another Theranos - strong-willed person at the top.  A cult of personality.  Gobs of money coming in and no real product going out.  When is Moderna going to blow up and disintegrate.

Modern RNA is where its name comes from - betting on one trick pony years before that pony is able to perform.

About that minimum wage

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Another perfect example of liberals doing something that "sounds" good rather than doing something that "does" good.
From Centralia, WA's The Chronicle:

Study From UW Shows the $15 Minimum Wage Did Not Help Income Inequality
A recent study by the University of Washington has shown that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage “did little to offset widening inequality.” This conclusion matches the research done across the United States and work that the Washington Policy Center has done over the last decade on the effect of artificially high, government set, minimum wage policies.

Increasing the minimum wage, through government regulation, destroys jobs, reduces available work hours and causes inflation. Businesses will often relocate away from areas that have high minimum wages creating longer commutes for workers that chose to stay with the employer or elimination of the jobs completely.

Nowhere is the harm imposed by a high minimum wage demonstrated more clearly than in Seattle, where the city council has aggressively increased the minimum wage over the last few years. The rash of restaurant closures and lost jobs can be attributed, in many cases, directly to the additional fiscal cost the minimum wage increases have caused.

The best minimum wage is $0.00.  Employment is not a "right". If you want to be hired, you have to be able to provide a valuable service for your employer.  If you apply yourself and take on more and more responsibility, take classes and learn additional skills, you will have more value to your employer and you will be able to ask them for more money. If you are content to slide through life doing as little as possible, do not expect to make any appreciable money.

Forcing employers to pay inflated wages to their staff will cause the employers to raise the prices of the goods and services they sell.  This may cause them to lose business. They will then have to lay off their staff - starting with the less productive ones.  Those with the lowest value.  Asking for a higher minimum wage will guarantee that you will price yourself out of a job.

I have covered this problem in thinking before here:

Doing something that "sounds" good is a very liberal thing to do.  There is little or no thought put into the program, all that is needed is for it to sound good.  After the fact, there is no accountability. People do not do the basic research to see if this new program is actually doing what it intended to do.  More often than not, it is not addressing the problem and additionally, adding some new layer of confusion and harm.

The liberal reaction when this is brought to light is to expand the offending program.  They could not have made a mistake - after all, they are the brightest and the best.  It must be that the program was just not given enough money or resources. They need to take the failing program and make it bigger so that it can do even more fail.

Rough way to be let go especially given the season but...
From CNN Business: CEO fires 900 employees over Zoom CEO Vishal Garg announced the mortgage company is laying off about 9% of its workforce on a Zoom webinar Wednesday abruptly informing the more than 900 employees on the call they were being terminated just before the holidays.

"If you're on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off," Garg said on the call, a recording of which was viewed by CNN Business. "Your employment here is terminated effective immediately."
He then said employees could expect an email from HR detailing benefits and severance.

But this little beacon of light and hope stands out:

Among those fired were the diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team.

Yay - get rid of the social parasites.  The WOKE serve no function.  If they are allowed to operate, they will corrupt the core competency and damage the business.  They are a feel-good pox and serve no imaginable purpose.

Coming home to roost - Portland

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Tourism is big business.  My store near Mt. Baker lives and dies by it. So do many of the businesses on this island. From the Portland, Oregon FOX News affiliate:

Travel Portland presents telling tourism report to city council
Portland’s reputation isn’t the greatest. That’s the big takeaway from a city council meeting Wednesday morning, when Travel Portland presented a telling tourism report.

In the meeting, Commissioner Mingus Mapps started by bringing up some reputation concerns.

“Here’s the problem,” said Commissioner Mapps. “Around the world, too many people associate Portland with homelessness and homicide.”

“Today, a significant chunk of humanity is afraid of spending time and money in our city,” he continued.

That skepticism surrounding the city is holding back major economic recovery, according to the President and CEO of Travel Portland.

“Continued attacks and breaking glass on buildings throughout the city, but especially downtown, continued to affect this hard to overcome sentiment, “ said Jeff Miller. “Our central city occupancy in September lags every competitive city we tracked.”

A study by Travel Portland shows a major problem affecting the economy right now, a lot of people don’t want to attend conferences in the city.

Conferences are a big money-maker.  Also, a little known fact is that a percentage of what you pay for a hotel room gets taxed and handed to local business associations so that they may promote local attractions to bring in tourists to the area.  Actually a great idea.

There is a conference I visit on the Oregon coast regularly and last couple times, I made it a point to bypass Portland when driving down even though the freeway passes right through downtown. More driving but less hassles.  Spidey senses don't tingle quite as much...

Unintended consequences anyone? 
A good leader will know about these.
A poor leader will be surprised by them.

Traditionally, Unions have voted Democrat. Fait accompli. End of story.
These days? Not so much - from the Sacramento, CA NBC affiliate KCRA:

US hasn't seen worker anger like this in decades
Workers are saying enough is enough.

And many of them are either hitting the picket lines or quitting their jobs as a result.

The changing dynamics of the U.S. labor market, which has put employees rather than employers in the driver's seat in a way not seen for decades, is allowing unions to flex their muscles.

Already on strike are 10,000 workers at John Deere, who hit the picket lines early Thursday after rejecting a tentative deal that would have improved wages and benefits. They joined 1,400 strikers at Kellogg who are upset with seven-day work weeks and a two-tier retirement system. Other unions are preparing for walkouts of their own.

The overwhelming majority of strikers and potential strikers are doing so for the first time in their careers. Many say they are driven not just by wages or benefits. They say they are striking, or planning to strike, in a bid to do their jobs the way they believe they should be done, and to gain basic improvements in the quality of their lives, such as time with their families, which they say they deserve.

One of the main issues running through many of these strikes, or looming strikes, is workers' anger.

A lot more at the site.  A lot of it is general malaise (Carter years all over again), a lot of it is the economic downturn and people wanting to negotiate better terms.  Of course, this will be reflected in higher product prices so we will all be right back where we started from.  A good chunk is vaccine mandates. Interesting times...

Fun times in the Windy City

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From Chicago's CBS affiliate:

Chicago Police Union President Estimates More Than 3,000 Officers Defying City’s Vaccine Reporting Mandate
The back and forth between the mayor and the Chicago police union continues, with the city sending out a flurry of emails and memos as its vaccine mandate enters its first full week in effect.

CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe obtained the latest threatening memo sent out to officers.

At least two memos have gone out since Friday’s deadline for all city workers to report their vaccination status to the city, but Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said thousands of officers are still refusing to do so.

“The unofficial number we have is about over 3,200; so about of third of the department,” Catanzara said.

Catanzara has said the mandate is illegal, because the city didn’t negotiate terms with the union.

Love to see the unions backing up the workers. Nobody is happy until the Union is happy. How it should be.

I do not like it when unions negotiate unreasonable demands - excessive pay and benefits and/or pensions. The workers should be paid an amount based on the real economy - too many pension funds are in trouble (looking at you Chicago for example) because pensions were over-promised.  Still, protecting the worker is crucial and there, the unions do a great job.

Port of Los Angeles - the back-story

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Now the real reason is coming out - from National File:

L.A. Cargo Terminal Operator Makes Massive Chinese Communist Deal; Union Leader Says ‘Foreign-Owned Shipping Companies’ Are Blocking Supply Chain
A union leader exposed the role that “foreign-owned shipping companies” play in the cargo backup at the Port of Los Angeles, which is causing supply chain shortages in the United States. The union leader said that “foreign-owned shipping companies” that own the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles have not been requesting union labor at a high enough rate for quite some time, thus slowing down the process of hauling and transporting goods off ships. The biggest foreign-owned company running the biggest cargo terminal at the Port of Los Angeles is Maersk, which has many Chinese offices and does massive business in China. Just weeks ago, Maersk sold its refrigerated container business for over $1 billion to a Chinese company that counts multiple Chinese Communist government state-owned enterprises as its major shareholders, giving China more control over our food and pharma supply.

In response to the supply chain crisis, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo recently stated, “the reality is that the only way we get to a place where we work through this transition is if everyone in America and everywhere around the world gets vaccinated.” Clearly, this has led to speculation that the supply chain shortages are being manipulated in order to push the vaccine agenda. The Biden administration has touted a supposed deal it negotiated to help the Port of Los Angeles to operate 24/7 to offload the backed-up cargo. But one union leader said that union workers are already capable of working 24/7. The problem, in his view, is that “foreign-owned shipping companies” are not requesting labor.

The picture starts to get clearer.  They played along until the big push to assume global power and now, they are showing their hand. When this is over and sanity returns, we will remember...

There is hope - System D

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Fascinating article about the real economic powerhouse of this planet.
And no bureaucrats can screw it up.  From Foreign Policy:

The Shadow Superpower
Forget China: the $10 trillion global black market is the world's fastest growing economy -- and its future

With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa’s most populous country.

It wasn’t a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country’s electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle’s brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce. David’s deal, struck four years ago, was not massive — but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.

You probably have never heard of System D. Neither had I until I started visiting street markets and unlicensed bazaars around the globe.

And System D?

System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of “l’economie de la débrouillardise.” Or, sweetened for street use, “Systeme D.” This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. A number of well-known chefs have also appropriated the term to describe the skill and sheer joy necessary to improvise a gourmet meal using only the mismatched ingredients that happen to be at hand in a kitchen.

Wonderful news - this is where the "gig economy" springs from and if the State is going to "manage" our banking and report transactions over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service (the trigger point is at $10,000 now), I see a lot more of our economy moving over to System D.  It does not seem that we can vote the deep-state out of office but we can certainly starve them to death.

Finally, a System D that I approve of.  Not this systemd  —  here and here for starters...

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