Recently in Business Category

Shrinkflation - an egregious case

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I really like the Costco blue shop towels.  Really good for general cleaning but they are also pretty much lint-free and they work great for cooking too. Don't know if they are sanitary but have never had any problems and rolled paper products are usually sterile (newspapers for example).

Looks like Costco raised their prices without raising their prices if you know what I mean:
Two packages:

20230318-t01.jpg20230318-t02.jpgThe towels are the same width but the sheets are one inch shorter.  What really gets me is this:

20230318-t03.jpgGenerally, if a package is "reworked", they assign a new SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) and a new UPC Code
Here, they are the same for two very different packages.

It will be earthshaking if it is - from Zero Hedge:

USVI Lawsuit Makes Stunning Allegation: Jamie Dimon 'Knew In 2008' That Jeffrey Epstein Was Sex Trafficker
The US Virgin Islands hit back against JPMorgan's claim earlier this month that CEO Jamie Dimon had no clue that Jeffrey Epstein was breaking the law.

"Jamie Dimon knew in 2008 that his billionaire client was a sex trafficker," argued US Virgin Islands attorney Mimi Liu during a late Thursday hearing in front of Manhattan US District Judge Jed Rakoff, referring to the year Epstein was first criminally charged with sex crimes, CNBC reports.

"If Staley is a rogue employee, why isn’t Jamie Dimon?" Liu said during the hearing to discuss the bank's efforts to have the USVI lawsuit against the bank dismissed.

"Staley knew, Dimon knew, JPMorgan Chase knew," Liu continued, noting that there were several cash transfers and wire transfers made by the prolific pedophile (Epstein), including several hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to several women which should have been flagged as suspicious.

Dimon is one of the smartest in the business and he has a reputation for being squeaky clean.

This would be a major blow to Chase's credibility if it turns out to be true.

From The Epoch Times:

Ohio Files Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern Over Toxic Train Derailment
Citing his concern that Norfolk Southern Railway’s accident rate has increased 80 percent over the past 10 years, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced that his office has filed a 58-count civil lawsuit in federal court over the company’s Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern violated numerous state and federal laws, caused the release of “over 1 million gallons of hazardous chemicals” and created “hidden dangers” for the health of residents and Ohio’s natural resources, Yost said during an online press conference on March 14.

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water, and soil.

Ho. Li. Crap - that first paragraph: "Norfolk Southern Railway’s accident rate has increased 80 percent over the past 10 years"
And of course, had this been reported by the New York Times, this would be buried in paragraph #23

It's what happens when you lose your vision and are considered to be a cash cow for the shareholders.
Lookin' at you: Blackrock, Berkshire-Hathaway and Vanguard...

From DC Enquirer:

Elon Musk to the Rescue?: Billionaire Says He’s ‘Open’ to Buying Silicon Valley Bank Following Collapse, Could Make Twitter a Digital Bank
On Friday, Twitter CEO and billionaire Elon Musk said that he would be open to purchasing Silicon Valley Bank after the institution collapsed

Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan wrote on Friday, “I think Twitter should buy SVB and become a digital bank.”

In response to this, Musk tweeted, “I’m open to the idea.”

He got his start with digital banking - X.COM which merged with Confinity to form PayPal.

I do not like the idea of a worldwide digital currency supplanting our traditional banking system but having an alternative payment method is not a bad thing. A non-WOKE paypal...

SVB was a WOKE bank

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And we all know the truism:  Get WOKE, go BROKE
From their website:

We embrace diverse perspectives and foster a culture of belonging 


ESG Reporting
Our corporate philosophy of transparency and accountability guides our reporting on environmental, social and governance performance with the goal of building trust and evolving our policies and disclosures.

Nothing in there about the fiscal responsibility to their shareholders...  Deserve what they get.

Curious - SVB depositors

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Looks like there were two major depositors - excerpted from Vox Day:

ITEM: BREAKING: HARRY AND MEGHAN STAND TO LOSE MILLIONS IN COLLAPSE OF SVB BANK. Sources tell iSN the couple set up accounts following the advice of friends in Silicon Valley. “This is a major blow,” said our source, “They had all of Harry’s money there.”

ITEM: OPRAH LOSES MILLIONS IN SVB COLLAPSE. iSN has learned Oprah kept millions at the failed bank. “Like other celebs she went all in and now may have lost serious money,” said a person familiar with the situation.

Eggs / Basket...

Sounds like the place was staffed with diversity hires.
Their CFO was the CFO of Lehman Brothers when they failed.
Heaven help they hire someone who actually knows how to work for a living...

Just wonderful - EU Banks

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From Breitbart:

SVB International Fallout: UK and EU Lenders Lose £30 Billion Overnight as ‘Panic’ Spreads
The fallout from the run on the Silicon Valley Bank in California went international overnight, with British and European Union lenders seeing nearly £30 billion wiped off their portfolios and the Bank of England stepping in to take over the insolvency process for the British arm of SVB to protect the deposits of British firms tied to the bank.

Since Friday, the Stoxx Europe 600 banks index, which also includes leading British lenders, saw a mass sell-off in the wake of the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, the largest American bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis. In total, the European-UK banking index saw a one-day decline of 3.8 per cent, with €33.5 billion (£29.6/$35.6 billion) being wiped off their balance sheets.

But don't worry - Ken Sweet at Associated Press has your back:

A major bank failed. Here’s why it’s not 2008 again
The financial institution best known for its relationships with high-flying world technology startups and venture capital, Silicon Valley Bank, experienced one of the oldest problems in banking — a bank run — which led to its failure on Friday.

Its downfall is the largest failure of a financial institution since Washington Mutual collapsed at the height of the financial crisis more than a decade ago. And it had immediate effects. Some startups that had ties to the bank scrambled to pay their workers, and feared they might have to pause projects or lay off or furlough employees until they could access their funds.

How did this happen? Here’s what to know about why the bank failed, who was affected most, and what to know about how it may, and may not affect, the wider banking system in the U.S.

More at the site - Ken's analysis does not give me the warm and fuzzies... 
Interesting times.

More bank news - crumbling away

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From Business Insider:

Wall Street's 4 top banks just had $55 billion wiped off their market value in a single day

    • Four of America's biggest banks lost a combined $55 billion of market value in a single day as financial stocks plunged.
    • US bank shares took a beating Thursday amid fears of contagion effects from the turmoil at Silicon Valley Bank and Silvergate.
    • JPMorgan saw the biggest tumble in market value among US lenders, losing $22 billion.

They also mention Silvergate Capital which is a crypto-based lender:

Meanwhile, crypto-focused lender Silvergate said it will write off its assets and close down Wednesday, only days after flagging doubts about its survival

A bit of reality for crypto.  Time for a market correction there.
Time to invest in something stable - like tulips.
*Resident Biden's economic policies coming home to roost.

Partying like it's 2007 - banks

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Couple of stories - first, from Fortune:

Silicon Valley Bank’s CEO sold $3.6 million of stock in potentially ‘problematic’ transaction days before historic bank failure
Silicon Valley Bank Chief Executive Officer Greg Becker sold $3.6 million of company stock under a trading plan less than two weeks before the firm disclosed extensive losses that led to its failure.

The sale of 12,451 shares on Feb. 27 was the first time in more than a year that Becker had sold shares in parent company SVB Financial Group, according to regulatory filings. He filed the plan that allowed him to sell the shares on Jan. 26.

Problematic does not begin to describe it... And this story from Forbes:

Wells Fargo Customers Report Missed Paychecks Due To Apparent Glitch
Numerous Wells Fargo online banking users complained of not seeing scheduled paychecks hit their accounts Friday, which the bank blames on a technical issue that does not appear connected to Thursday’s bank stock crash.

Yeah - a glitch.  WF has a history of playing fast and loose - from the same Forbes article:

Wells Fargo has been plagued with a series of legal troubles over the past several years, including a fake accounts scandal where employees created millions of checking and savings accounts for real customers without their consent to meet quota goals set by top executives. The company agreed to pay a $3 billion fine for the fake accounts in 2020 and former CEO John Stumpf was banned from ever working in the banking industry again.

It is also worth noting that Wells Fargo is one of the top Mortgage Lenders for the US (including JP Morgan and BofA). Third - from Housing Wire:

Mortgage volumes collapse for Wells Fargo, JPMorgan in Q4 2022
Like its nonbank competitors, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America operated in a highly challenging mortgage market in 2022. But quarterly earnings released on Friday also revealed that the top depository lenders struggled more than the overall mortgage market in the final three months of the year, perhaps an omen of what’s to come.

“The fourth quarter results were weaker than we expected,” a team of mortgage lending analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods wrote in a report.

So the Biden Inflation is causing lending rates to soar so people are putting of buying houses and the market is crashing.  Just wonderful... We really need to get some adults in the room soon.  Get things back on an even keel...

Here we go again - from the New York Post:

Ohio residents ordered to stay inside as another train derails
Ohio residents have been ordered to shelter in place Saturday after another Norfolk Southern train ran off the tracks.

The 212-car train derailed at Ohio 41 near the Prime Ohio Business Park in Springfield around 5 p.m., the Clark County Emergency Management said.

About 20 of the train’s box cars toppled off the tracks while it was traveling through the city.

A spokesperson confirmed with The Post that Norfolk Southern — the same railway company involved in the tragic East Palestine derailment that contaminated 1.1 million gallons of water and 15,000 pounds of soil — was operating the derailed train.

“No hazardous materials are involved and there have been no reported injuries,” the company said.

However, hazmat crews were spotted at the scene, WHIO reported.

There is a photo at the NYP site - looks like just box cars with dry freight.  No tankers.
Still...  You think that Norfolk Southern would be on their best behaviour.

Bonds are good when the stock market is uncertain - the two markets tend to see-saw back and forth.
The latest "fad" is ESG -  Environmental, Social, and Governance  The latest buzzwords of the WOKE.
Seems that they are not maintaining their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders.
From SSRN (division of Elsevier) comes this interesting paper:

Green Bonds, Empty Promises

We examine the legal terms in the market for green bonds, debt instruments in which proceeds are earmarked, directly or indirectly, for projects with a positive environmental impact. Utilizing a sample of nearly 1000 bonds over the entire history of the market and supplementing this data with interviews with over 50 market participants and policymakers, we find a concerning lack of enforce ability of green promises. Moreover, these promises have been getting weaker over time. Green bonds often make vague commitments, exclude failures to live up to those commitments from default events, and disclaim an obligation to perform in other parts of the document. These shortcomings are known to market participants. Yet, demand for these instruments has been growing. We ask why green bond promises are so weak, while the same investors demand strong promises from the same issuers in other settings.

Bonds are often how large capital projects are funded - bridges, wastewater treatment plants, power systems, etc...
The name Solyndra comes to mind as well as a lot of other green technologies that have failed.
The only true money in green technology is the government subsidies and those are our tax dollars at work.

They want to get rid of Board Member Al Gore. From FOX Business:

Apple shareholder moves to boot Al Gore from board of directors
An activist shareholder is seeking to have climate change activist Al Gore removed from his longstanding position on Apple Inc.'s board of directors.

Corporate ethics watchdog National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed an exempt solicitation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday that urged fellow Apple shareholders to vote against Gore as a director nominee at the tech giant's annual meeting, which is slated for March 10, arguing that the former U.S. vice president is not qualified for the role and that "his political activism poses to Apple a reputational risk that is not worth his limited skill set."

Love it — "limited skill set" is being very charitible 😝

From the California Air Resources Board:

Truck and Bus Regulation
The Truck and Bus Regulation is necessary to meet federal attainment standards. This regulation requires heavy-duty diesel vehicles that operate in California to reduce toxic air contaminants (TACs) emissions from their exhaust. Diesel exhaust is responsible for 70% of the cancer risk from airborne toxics. Therefore, by January 1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will be required to have 2010 or newer model year engines to reduce particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. To help ensure that the benefits of this regulation are achieved, starting in 2020, only vehicles compliant with this regulation will be registered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Emphasis mine - you will not be able to register a truck in California if the engine is older than eleven years. Large trucking companies will register their vehicles out of state.  This ruling disproportionately hurts the small independent truck owner/operator.

Supply chain problems?  Just beginning...  How much Chinese stuff comes in from California ports?

This "Board" is a perfect example of an unelected body making rulings which are just as potent as legislation.  They have no accountability and answer to no one. Cut their budget by 95% and move their office to some small town far far away from Sacramento.

Of course it had to be Portland, OR

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From The Needling:

Portland Startup to Mine Artisanal Bitcoin Using Only Slide Rules and Graph Paper
A pair of Portland entrepreneurs say they’re bringing authenticity back to Bitcoin mining by eschewing purpose-built AntMiner S19 Pros in favor of hand-crafted hash made using only graph paper and slide rules.

“We feel that crypto has abandoned the early days of organic blockchain crafting when bored math geeks would mine 10 Bitcoins in an afternoon and then blow it all on IPAs and pizza later that night,” said 26-year-old Hash & Moon co-founder Cody Silas. “Today’s Bitcoin investor is savvy and looking for a hand-crafted crypto currency to launder money or pay to have someone eliminated. We are the only hyper-locally sourced, sustainable option for that.”

His co-founder Oliver Heath said their approach cuts down the giant carbon footprint of Bitcoin servers with more sustainable ways to play into fashionably legal crypto-Ponzi schemes.

More at the site.  An idea whose time has come.

Maple Falls is not exactly the hub of the universe but it is home to an amazing electronics repair business.
Check out Joe's Gaming & Electronics:

This is from their YouTube channel - lots of useful DIY repair videos
They also have a coffee place that is my favorite morning haunt. A good business run by good people.

Globalization and borderless free trade are the current narrative. Unfortunately, they do not work - every time they have been tried, everyone (except for a select few) wind up poorer for the experience. Hmmm...  The head of the world's largest chip maker has a few thoughts on the subject - from The Register:

TSMC founder says 'globalization is almost dead' as Asian foundry giant expands in US
Caught in the middle of an escalating trade war between the US and China, the founder of Taiwanese contract chip-making giant TSMC has stated that globalization and free trade are "almost dead" as his company expands in the US for the first time in over 20 years.

Morris Chang reportedly made the comments at Tuesday's ceremony for TSMC's advanced chip manufacturing site in Arizona, where the company plans to spend roughly $40 billion to open a 4nm fab in 2024 and a more sophisticated 3nm plant in 2026. The company said the Arizona fab plan represents "one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the United States."

"Twenty-seven years have passed and [the semiconductor industry] witnessed a big change in the world, a big geopolitical situation change in the world. Globalization is almost dead and free trade is almost dead. A lot of people still wish they would come back, but I don't think they will be back," said Chang, according to Japanese newspaper Nikkei and other news reports.

It's one of the blunter statements offered in the semiconductor industry lately. For it to come from the founder of the world's most advanced, and second-largest, chip manufacturer, which makes silicon designed by major Western firms like Qualcomm and Nvidia, is a sober reflection on the industry's state of affairs as US chip sanctions against China create a bifurcation of supply chains.

Another idea out of the universities that failed in the real world.
When will we learn to stop listening to these credentialed idiots.
Reminds me of Vox Day's old aphorism:

In academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world there is

North Carolina in the news - Blackrock

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Nice to see them take a stand on this. From the Daily Wire:

North Carolina State Treasurer Calls For The Resignation Of BlackRock’s Larry Fink
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell called for the resignation of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink over his focus on the environmental, social, and governance movement, also known as ESG.

According to a letter sent on Friday and provided to The Daily Wire, the Tar Heel State’s public retirement system invests over $14 billion through the asset management company in a variety of passive and active funds. Folwell asserted that “ideological pressure” from Fink could lead to the use of ESG ratings against state and local governments, while initiatives related to climate change and other causes imply that the firm is not solely focused on maximizing profits.

“As keeper of the public purse, my duty is to manage our investments to ensure that the best interests of those that teach, protect and serve, as well as of our retirees, are always paramount,” Folwell wrote. “Unfortunately, Larry Fink’s pursuit of a political agenda has gotten in the way of BlackRock’s same fiduciary duty. A focus on ESG is not a focus on returns and potentially could force us to violate our own fiduciary duty.”

And it's not just NC:

The move from the state of North Carolina occurs one month after Bluebell Capital Management, a small hedge fund based in London, called for the ouster of Fink, arguing that his emphasis on ESG has “alienated clients and attracted an undesired level of negative publicity.”

Good news - we need to remember that corporations like Blackrock exist to SERVE their customers; not to use their customer's assets as some token for playing social justice games. Lrry seems to have lost sight of this and is not operating in the overall best interests of Blackrock or its shareholders.

Great news from Vanguard Investments:

An update on Vanguard’s engagement with the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM)
More than 30 million individual investors around the world have chosen to entrust Vanguard with their hard-earned savings. We have a singular goal to maximize their long-term returns and give them the best chance for investment success as they save for retirement, a child’s education, a home, or simply a more secure financial future.

Approximately 80% of our clients’ assets are invested through index funds, which provide broadly diversified access to stock and bond markets at minimal cost. Index fund managers don’t choose the securities in a fund or dictate a portfolio company’s strategy or operations. Instead, they buy and hold all securities included in the benchmark index and capture the return that the market provides. In the words of our founder, Jack Bogle, rather than searching for the needle in the haystack, buy the whole haystack. It’s an approach that has helped build wealth for tens of millions of everyday investors. Importantly, indexing relies on efficient and fair capital markets. Companies’ disclosure of material financial risks is central to that market health, which is why material risk identification and disclosure is a critical priority for Vanguard.

That is where I have my investments - not flashy but very secure and the maintenance costs are cheap.
A well-run company.  A bit more:

Climate change, and the ongoing global response, will have far-reaching economic consequences for companies, financial markets, and investors, presenting a clear example of a material and multifaceted financial risk. Vanguard has been taking steps to understand and attend to this risk to investors’ returns, including through our engagements with portfolio companies, policymakers, and broader industry efforts. As part of these efforts, and consistent with our commitment to promoting portfolio company disclosure of material financial risks, Vanguard joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM) in 2021. Such industry initiatives can advance constructive dialogue, but sometimes they can also result in confusion about the views of individual investment firms. That has been the case in this instance, particularly regarding the applicability of net zero approaches to the broadly diversified index funds favored by many Vanguard investors. Therefore, after a considerable period of review, we have decided to withdraw from NZAM so that we can provide the clarity our investors desire about the role of index funds and about how we think about material risks, including climate-related risks—and to make clear that Vanguard speaks independently on matters of importance to our investors. This decision is part of our continuous assessment of our participation in external organizations and their ongoing alignment with Vanguard’s mission and perspectives on investing.

Emphasis on the highlighted section: Therefore, after a considerable period of review, we have decided to withdraw from NZAM

Excellent - they gave it a try for a year and did not like what they were dealing with.  Climate Change is political and not science.  I was happy with them before, now I am very happy with them and with my decision to stick with them.  They prioritize their clients and not the prevailing political narrative.

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...

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