Shareholders

Media worth consuming – a recap of December 2020

My good mate Jonathan Rochford of Narrow Road Capital has compiled a brilliant summary of the recent madness in markets, politics and economics. One could be forgiven for thinking it is a lot like satire. Link here.

Swedish truant slaps the high priestess of woke

The beauty of being young is that any manner of words can come out of the mouth and be automatically assumed to be fact or truth. Anyone with teenagers knows this.

How sorry we feel for the high priestess of woke, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, to be chastised by the infamous Swedish teenage truant for not doing enough on climate change. We should prepare ourselves in the future for Greta Thunberg as UN Secretary General because she is gifted in the ways of admonishing those that stray from the preordained orthodoxy.

Now that COVID19 is almost behind us and Joe Biden has officially been nominated president-elect by the electoral college we should expect to see the coronavirus restrictions/cases to disappear and climate change to regain its rightful place at the top of the liberal agenda.

We’ve always held the Paris Accord as an absolute joke. Self-declared developing nation, China, as the world’s biggest polluter by a minimum factor of two, is free to increase emissions out to 2030 while the rest of the developed world must self-flagellate. No matter what strides are made by nations on emissions abatement, it is never enough. Thank God we have all those elites who fly by private jet to global summits to tell mothers who drive their kids to soccer practice in second hand SUVs will burn in hell if they don’t quit their selfish behavior.

No doubt Greta will praise China’s net zero emissions commitment by 2060 as she’ll probably be one of the few that will be around to validate the promise.

Now that peons around the world have proved their obedience during lockdowns, ramming the global warming agenda should be a piece of cake. Maybe those who rationally want to see fair minded cost benefit analysis of going 100% renewable will risk being arrested by the apparatchiks and charged with hate crimes, as has previously been promote by the more radical climate alarmists.

Before they do that, we always have green pioneer Germany to guide us with the massive costs of decommissioning wind farms that have outlived subsidies. None of it factored into the modeling but you aren’t allowed to question this additional burden.

Rest assured global central banks have extended their expertise from monetary policy to saving the planet. We are in safe hands. Treasury Secretary-elect Janet Yellen has told us as much. After all, she claimed as Fed Chair that we’d never see another depression in our lifetime. Hmm.

Now that we are presented with negative sovereign yields for Portuguese, Italian or Greek debt despite the fact much of it will never be repaid, we know these geniuses have got Frankenstein under control. Just trust them, the media and ignore our thoughts. It’s above our pay grade and intelligence. So shhhhh. We’re in safe hands. School skipping teenagers know best.

Still getting woke and going broke

The North Face corporate virtue signal reminded us of the catastrophic destruction of value ($8bn) that befell Gillette.

What an opportunity for another similar brand to fill the void and capitalize on reality with sensible counter campaigns such as this watch company.

Once again, it is always embarrassing when corporates pontificate on subjects they know little or nothing about apart from what their woke PR teams tell them makes for good global citizens.

Surely customers don’t need sanctimonious lectures from corporates who invariably have chequered histories themselves.

Perhaps the regulators should clamp down on corporate hypocrisy instead of their empty commitment to usher climate change abatement reporting. Never forget that the stats show fewer companies are actually reporting on climate change for all the fluffy videos playing in corporate lobbies.

Watch the hips not the lips.

The Red Face

Adam Anderson, CEO of Innovex, an oil & gas company, wanted to get his staff The North Face (TNF) down jackets with the company logo emblazoned on it for Christmas.

Unfortunately, the apparel maker rejected the request on the basis that fossil fuel companies, like Innovex, didn’t reflect TNF’s core values – the same standard it applies to porn and tobacco companies.

So Anderson returned fire in a 4 page letter here:

“The recreational activities they encourage are all ones that require hydrocarbons to make the products, to provide the means to get to whatever activity folks want to perform…It’s just so intertwined with everything that we do…

…The irony in this statement is your jackets are made from the oil and gas products the hardworking men and women of our industry produce. I think this stance by your company is counterproductive virtue signaling, and I would appreciate you re-considering this stance. We should be celebrating the benefits of what oil and gas do to enable the outdoors lifestyle your brands embrace. Without Oil and Gas there would be no market for nor ability to create the products your company sells…

…“Low-cost, reliable energy is critical to enable humans to flourish. Oil and natural gas are the two primary resources humanity can use to create low-cost and reliable energy. The work of my company and our industry more broadly enables humans to have a quality of life and life expectancy that were unfathomable only a century ago.”

The ultimate irony with all this woke corporate virtue signaling is that these social justice warriors often get shown up for a complete lack of understanding about the very subject the publicly protest about.

We met a staffer from an Aussie bank the other week who proudly boasted it was stopping lending to companies that haven’t committed to reduce emissions by a certain amount. The argument was that shareholders are demanding it. We retorted that a small select number of activist industry funds who often don’t meet the very requirements they try to enforce on others, are trying to promote the sale of SRI/ESG funds because of the higher fees they can get by appealing to investors who think they’re making a difference when in reality they aren’t.

We did a more conclusive study during a business school lecture. Three funds with three different results were presented in a chart over 10 years. The students didn’t know which fund was what but all selected the one with the highest returns. Naturally.

Before the different funds were revealed we asked whether people would invest in a socially responsible investment fund to feel better about themselves? When it was revealed the SRI fund had the worst performance and the best performing fund rejected such virtue signaling, all still wanted the highest return in retirement. Who knew?

NASDAQ wants to enforce diversity on boards as a listing requirement

NASDAQ is pushing for SEC approval of a rule that would require public companies on its exchange to have at least one female director and one “diverse” director – one that self-identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ.

Companies would be required to disclose that diversity in its filings. Forgive us for being obtuse, but wouldn’t the ability to read a balance sheet or understanding corporate governance be the more relevant skillsets for shareholders? If the best candidates happen to be all women, LGBTQ or whatever other identity, wouldn’t shareholders applaud their appointment based on just being superior candidates as opposed to genitalia or who they choose to sleep with?

We’ve already seen how badly forced diversity programs have worked at companies like PG&E. Remember that the company had full data sets on the diversity of its workforce and suppliers but not the state of the infrastructure of its core business. Alas, not understanding the health of its main product led to the devastating forest fires in California last year sending the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The irony of the plan by NASDAQ is the partnership with Equilar. The picture above is the Equilar board which doesn’t seem to be playing by the very rules that NASDAQ wants to enforce on others. It reminds us of ACSI, which is a huge advocate for diversity on listed boards, but doesn’t even meet the very requirements it seeks to impose on others.

What if a prospective board member happens to be LGBT but doesn’t wish to disclose that fact as an individual member of privacy? What will happen if a company has to choose between a female, a member of the LGBT community, a person of colour or a female LGBT person of colour? Will more ticks in the identity box grant companies be seen as more advantageous in disclosure reporting even though the LGBT person is the most qualified? What will happen if prospective directors falsely claim they identify as something they are not, merely to be in the selection process? Will the companies check the validity by peering through the window of staff homes to ensure they are sleeping with the right person?

NASDAQ also wants to push the SEC to force private companies to adopt the same framework.

In a lecture we gave to a group of executive MBA students, we put up a chart where someone’s superannuation would have grown to $430,000, $180,000 and $130,000 given three different investment products over a decade. We asked for a show of hands as to which sum people wanted to retire on. Everyone wanted the $430,000. Surprise, surprise. When it was revealed that the first sum came from a direct investment in Harvey Norman, which doesn’t believe in all this woke diversity nonsense (despite having an exceptionally talented CEO who happens to be female, the group was surprised. The middle sum was the broader market index and the worst performer was the ESG fund. When asked would that change their mind, they all said no. Who knew? Being woke didn’t matter as much as being able to retire on a larger nest egg.

The students were more shocked to find out that the management fees for ‘woke’ products was higher than standard investment structures. Who knew that heavily promoting social justice would be more financially rewarding to the investment advisors pushing it? It is for the planet, diversity and their brand new speedboat you know!

When will regulators let shareholders determine who they see best fit to run the companies they choose to invest in? We have no issues seeing more diversity on boards, provided it is based on merit rather than forced quotas.

We can’t help but feel that ambitious people (of whatever incidental identity) don’t need such condescending structures. They have enough confidence in their own ability to succeed than to be patronised in a way that suggests that without intervention they can’t get ahead.

Unfortunately these programs are by their very definition are all about discrimination.

Open Letter to America from Australia

Dear America,

As one of your closest allies, we cherish our long term relationship. Long may it prevail. We have spilt blood together in the defence of democracy. Australia has always been the first country to sign up to support the US on the battlefield to protect freedom and liberty.

For a bit of perspective, we thought we’d subject what is going on over there to what Aussies call a “pub test.” It is a figure of speech which depicts bar patrons decide what passes as truth or fiction over a beer. After all, a drunk man speaks a sober man’s mind.

From the offset we want to declare we have absolutely no say in how any of you choose to vote. Nor do we want to have a say. Your future should be in your hands, not ours. Although we are struck by how many liberals from other nations demand you vote according to their wishes, not yours.

We hope that November 3rd can deliver a free and fair election where democracy is the only winner. We have our doubts here.

Sometimes a voice who has no say in the outcome can provide perspective. We have no skin in the game. We just hope to provide our view of things.

In Australia, we also suffer the daily musings of a left leaning mainstream media obsessed with clickbait over facts. Nothing as bad as what you have over there but the ideology behind it is the same. Steeped in identity politics and pushing woke causes.

Our journalists, like yours, believe that Twitter is an accurate representation of the majority. Nothing could be further from the truth. We often write that journalistic integrity will only return when the media loves Americans more than they hate Trump. Ours too. What used to be a profession that thrived on facts, now focuses on activism. How many obituaries of slain terrorists read like they were scholars and selfless philanthropists of the highest order?

Watching the VP debate this week, we heard Senator Kamala Harris make the absurd assertion that foreign leaders think more highly of Chinese President Xi Jinping than President Donald Trump. Really?

What many of you may have missed several months ago was that soon after our Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed an independent investigation into China’s mishandling of COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) retaliated with tariffs and one senior bureaucrat even went as far as to say Australia waschewing gum stuck to China’s shoe.

Aussies are stoic. To us that was a spit in the face. That annoyed us. We are sure it would rile Americans too. We maybe a small nation but we aren’t a bunch of pushovers.

Unfortunately, up to that date, our political class had long kowtowed to China because of the relatively huge size of the trading relationship with Australia. Expediency was put ahead of principle.

Since coronavirus, many Aussies, including our law makers, have come around to the same philosophy of Trump. All bets are off when it comes to China now. We’ve had enough. We don’t trust the CCP. No one wants to be insulted without reason.

Look, we understand President Trump has an unorthodox style to say the least. He can be petulant at times. He is prone to exaggeration and has a glass jaw. But he gets things done which is ultimately the main aim of his role, no?

Trump must be the only politician in living memory to be condemned for actually keeping his promises.

You don’t have to like Trump. After all who looks to their politicians for moral or spiritual guidance? Yet he is mercilessly attacked every single day by the media which often finds itself peddling false narratives. It seldom apologizes but surely American citizens must be growing tired of story after story about how the orange man is bad.

To us he is a breath of fresh air. No massaged or nuanced comments. Full blunt force. He doesn’t care who he offends. He only looks forward. We totally get that he ruffles feathers. Yet after decades of failed administrations, isn’t he a monster of their own creation? Didn’t they give birth to him? Had they executed on behalf of the American people, Donald Trump would never seen the light of day in the Oval Office.

We post a legitimate question. Can you honestly say that the Left side of politics in America has made a sound argument to the voting public as to why it considers itself the sensible, credible and morally superior alternative via its actions?

The Russia hoax – which now looks like a hit job which goes all the way to the top of the Obama administration – has revealed the sinister side of the establishment.

If this were Australia, no matter which party affiliation one supported, few if any would blindly accept such blatant collusion courtesy of taxpayer funded agencies seeking to pervert the course of democracy. We would demand those responsible be brought to justice and punish the party that indulged in the duplicitous behaviour.

You can be absolutely sure if Biden prevails, #Obamagate will be dead and buried forever. That is the sincere hope for the guilty parties. Who doesn’t delete their phone records by entering their password incorrectly? Who doesn’t take out indemnity insurance if they are following the letter of the law? Is it any wonder Obama is campaigning so hard for a man he took forever to endorse?!

Let’s not forget that Barack Obama even took to using John Lewis’ funeral as an opportunity to make a campaign speech during his eulogy. Crass. Michelle Obama has hardly graced herself talking about her “low grade depression” from her $15m Martha’s Vineyard mansion.

Even if you hate Trump, having him serve four more years to bring corrupt officials in public agencies to heel is the cheapest insurance policy Americans can pay. Failure to do so will mean that you openly authorize federal agencies to defraud you at will to remain in power. Jim Comey and friends never thought they needed to worry about their actions until Hillary Clinton lost 2016. His recent testimony was unbelievable.

We watched the Kavanaugh Senate confirmation circus in disgust. An accomplished man was besmirched in much the same fashion of Clarence Thomas in the 1990s. It was a farce.

The impeachment clown show led by Nancy Pelosi, who grinned her way through the ‘sombre occasion’, was a national embarrassment. Member of Congress, Rep Rashida Tlaib, promised to “impeach the mother f*cker!” What a disgrace to the office. She smiled on her way to cast her vote as if it was some sort of big joke. Recall the embarrassing moment where Adam Schiff chased after Jerry Nadler who stormed the podium to make his own closing remarks. Officials behaving like unruly teenagers.

Perhaps the biggest revelation to come from COVID-19 is not so much the virus but the overt display of power drunk Democrat mayors and governors. They have been borderline despotic and utterly hypocritical. These politicians live by the creed “rules for thee, but not for me!

Most recently, Nancy Pelosi got caught unmasked in a hair salon. Instead of accepting the double standard, she claimed she was set up and sought to legally ruin the business. True colours. Pelosi also showed how out of touch she is by revealing her $20,000 freezer full of boutique ice cream during lockdown when her district is in such squalor.

Who could forget Oregon Gov Kate Brown ordering child protective services on a hair salon owner who wanted to feed her family? What was the connection?

Or LA Mayor Eric Garcetti threatening to cut off the utilities of businesses defying lockdown. How pleased we were to see Californians let off July 4th fireworks in defiance of the order not to.

Or Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan calling CHAZ a “summer of love” until it affected her personally. How we laughed at these protestors demanding supplies from the functional democracy they sought to overthrow.

Perhaps the most disgraceful episode of COVID-19 was the vile reaction from the left wishing death on Trump. Argue all you want about his handling of the pandemic but the Left’s derangement and unsuitability has been on full display. Do people that wish death on others show all the hallmark qualities of leaders capable of uniting a nation?

Never mind the actions of NY Governor Cuomo stuffing nursing homes with infected patients or then NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot cheerleading identity politics and encouraging people to reject Trump’s xenophobia instead of falling back on her own medical expertise. Orange man bad.

Then came the BLM protests.

The George Floyd incident united a nation. The majority of the public were well on side in fighting for justice and equality right up to the point where they ended up being attacked by the mob in restaurants, neighbourhoods, cars or even protecting their homes.

Peaceful protests gave way to looting, arson, carjackings, assault, shootings and violence. Statues were pulled down. Public and private property destroyed and defaced. Were Nancy Pelosi’s “people will do what they do” comments acceptable? Was talking 100 days after the violence started to condemn it when the polls started to swing sincere? Of course not.

How we felt sorry for struggling businesses under the jackboot of draconian lockdowns having to suffer a further kick to the guts, despite being innocent bystanders. The damage will be lasting. Sure BLM leaders might scream that insurance will pay for the looting now but they overlook the reality that premium hikes will all but guarantee they can’t reopen.

Cities that have been run by Democrats for half a century or more ordered their police to stand down. Is it any wonder that wrapping law enforcement in red tape has dire consequences? The fools sitting on the Minneapolis City Council gave us front row seats to witness how crime flourishes when liberal policies are applied. Who knew they’d be forced to reexamine their own self-inflicted wound?

Then liberals want to tell you that Senator Kamala Harris is a credible candidate. She openly sponsored and supported the MFF which has bailed out felons charged with rape, battery and sexually assaulting an 8-yo child. She even praised career felon Jacob Blake and his family, including his anti-Semitic father. That’s right, criminals are now the innocent victims in the minds of Democrats. It is your fault they stole your wallet.

Even worse this has led to a string of activist DAs across America who want to prosecute innocent parties before evidence is even heard. Think of the sinister behaviour of Fulton County DA Paul Howard who is covering up his own unethical behavior by framing cops who acted in the scope of the law he outlined during the arrest of Rayshard Brooks. Never mind that he was drunk, resisting arrest and fired a taser at the police because he knew he was going straight back to prison. No wonder the police unions are supporting Trump.

Think of Jake Gardner who was acquitted of murder in an act of self defence. Soon after an activist DA folded to mob pressure and prosecuted him with manslaughter, Gardner committed suicide.

Then the public was subjected to woke displays by the sporting codes. The NFL, NBA, MLB and others all joined in ramming politics down the throats of fans who had just paid hard earned money to distract themselves from the grind of life. How surprising that the NBA has just realised that lecturing fans is a bad idea and will remove overt displays in the locker room?

Oh to be lectured by Colin Kapernick who openly celebrated July 4th under Obama but lambasted it as a glorification of white supremacy this year. And Disney is going to give this serial victim a contract to produce a docuseries. Don’t even get us started o the hypocrisy of Alyssa Milano.

We don’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist. However when people like Jussie Smollett, Jonathan Lopez and Sabrina Belcher stage hate crime hoaxes we feel that the fight for equality is closer than it has been for decades of people are forced to conjure it. Hate crimes are a fraction of what they were 30 years ago.

Just look at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who has pledged to dismantle the system. You know, the very system that rescued her from a Kenyan refugee camp and delivered her to the highest levels of government office. Hardly held back by systemic racism, wouldn’t you say?

When Joe Biden says “#YouAintBlack“, “poor kids are just as smart as white kids“, described blacks as “superpredators” in the 1994 crime bill, told Hispanics that their community is far more diverse than blacks or letting you know he is surviving lockdown because a black woman is restacking the grocery shelves, who is the racist? Trump has denounced white supremacy countless times. Listen for yourself.

We could go on and on with countless more examples including Nancy Pelosi’s recent wish to invoke the 25th Amendment. These people will stop at absolutely nothing to gain power. They care not one jot for you. Don’t forget that Nancy Pelosi felt so deeply for the loss of George Floyd that she called him George Kirby. Senator Chuck Schumer got it wrong too and guess what, YouTube has removed the video!

Yet another issue where Trump is 100% correct. Do you want some biased tech giant in control of what it deems you can consume? If these open platforms are taking on editorial decisions on what you are allowed to see, they should lose sanctuary status from prosecution. Surely you should have 100% control of what you view, read or hear without some apparatchik arbitrarily deciding for you.

As the debates have revealed, Joe Biden is a Trojan horse for a radically left agenda.

Your taxes will be raised, the Supreme Court will be packed and the GND is a formality. The Obamagate investigation will be buried and you can be assured the Democrats will embark on a 4-yr revenge fest based on their own.

We aren’t saying Trump is perfect. Far from it. Yet he hasn’t started a war, he’s got NATO to reach into their wallets, signed historic peace deals people like John Kerry said would never happen. He achieved record low unemployment rates for blacks, Hispanics and women. He is about to get pharma prices slashed 90% and is the only candidate that will hold China to account.

This is your country at stake. Ultimately we think that ‘lived experience’ will prevail. We think that Americans want their livelihoods back. They want the streets to be safe. They want honest cops. But they want honest politicians even moreso. They want prosperity. They want to have pride. They don’t want to be made to feel guilty for crimes they didn’t commit to people that didn’t suffer.

Say what you like about Trump, but from 10,000 miles away, none of you should expect a NY property developer to be the cleanest shirt. However the last four years of Democrat derangement have shown they are absolutely unfit to lead. Double standards, hoaxes and scandals backed by a hysteric cheerleading mainstream media.

Like Aussies, we know deep down Americans are a parochial and patriotic bunch. You have so much to be proud of and the last thing you need is to be lectured to by power mad career politicians with so little to show for other than lining their own pockets.

Do you want to die standing on your feet, or live on your knees. Because that is what is on the ballot.

God Bless America.

Regards,

FNF Media

Meghan inspired by Marxist BLM co-founder

The ever woke Meghan Markle is apparently looking to make a film about the life of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

Cullors, as we have written before, is a self-professed Marxist who wants to destroy the nuclear family and end capitalism.

Never mind. Sources close to Meghan said,

Meghan has been blown away by the incredible work Patrisse has done. She thinks her story needs to be told — and she would love to be the one to make it.

Harry & Meghan said, with respect to the Netflix deal, “Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope…As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.

We’re not quite sure how a hateful ideology that wants to destroy traditional family values and capitalism are the sorts of thing that align to a couple raising a kid in a multi million dollar mansion.

We’ll be more inspired when Meghan gives up all the perks, moves to subsidized project housing while giving away Archie to be raised by faceless community leaders to fulfill Cullors’ socialist utopia. We thought not.

Good. More jobs. Fewer mobs.

Nice to see activists who spend a lifetime staging secondary boycotts and trashing corporations operating within the law get stopped by the courts. Go Adani!

Now American homes and restaurants aren’t safe

It’s times like these that residents in Rochester, NY probably wished they had an NRA banner skewered into their front lawn instead of one filled with pacifist woke messages.

Several weeks ago we were appalled to see BLM activists shine torches through bedroom windows and yell obscenities in the middle of the night in suburbia. Now these thugs are climbing onto properties to intimidate the occupants.

After BLM activists ransacked local restaurants and causing diners to flee, they went to their homes and intimidated them there.

In Denver, Colorado BLM activists also harassed diners in Larimer Square.

How can anyone in their right mind vote for those who have openly supported these “mostly peaceful” protestors? We reckon BLM is doing far more lasting damage to businesses that coronavirus lockdowns ever could.

CFMEU abandons the Left

Poor old Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk. How could the CFMEU abandon the left wing faction of the Labor Party?

Here is what CFMEU construction division secretary Michael Ravbar had to say:

The leadership vacuum in the left has seen a once powerful voice for working Queenslanders atrophy to the point where today it is little more than a creche for party hacks…In the process, the faction has become little more than a protection racket for dud members such as Jackie Trad, who as former deputy premier bears much of the blame for the failure to look after workers’ interests even on major public projects such as Cross River Rail…

Isn’t it funny how the new party of the workers now lies with conservative governments and progressives with the urban elites?

In the CFMEU’s case, it is a reality that the party has left them, not the other way around.