#google

Political expediency will trump Coronavirus market rout. Await market manipulation

MARKETS YTD

Share markets have been decimated in recent weeks across the globe. This year to date (YTD) chart above shows the extent. It shouldn’t really have taken Coronavirus or plunging oil prices to lead to this. We’ve been living high on the sauce for two decades and even though GFC in 2008 was a rude hangover, our authorities thought doubling down on all those free money excesses would work again.

Let’s not get too carried away. On a 5-yr basis, shares haven’t exactly blitzed with the exception of the S&P500. The ASX has put on just under 7% in 5 years. Germany, Japan and Italy have gone down. So if one is 45% higher than 5-yrs ago with an S&P fund, is that a mass hysteria moment?

INDEX 5YR

Automotive stocks have been dud investments over the last 5 years. It didn’t take Coronavirus to expose the underlying trends. BMW is don 52% on 5 yrs ago. Ford down 60%. Volkswagen -40%.

Car stocks

Industrial bellwethers like Caterpillar and GE have also not escaped stagnation. YTD, all of these stocks have bloody noses. Boeing has held up surprisingly well despite the MAX problems.

Industrials

Yet if we look at the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix & Google), we can see that over 5 years, investors have made a bundle.

FAANGAs these 5 stocks make up 15% of the S&P500 Index by weight, if they fall the impact is greater. With the exception of Netflix, these monsters are down 15~20%.

FAANG 1M

Worried?

Fear not, our heavily indebted incompetent political class and complicit central bankers will concoct a new potion of even lower rates, more QE and further fiscal spending on wind farms, solar panels and roads to nowhere to keep the ship afloat. It may be a hapless task in the long run but just watch the printing presses move to full speed. The ride is about to get interesting.

We’ve been bearish for years based on the underlying tenet that financial market manipulation by authorities has merely distorted the most efficient clearing mechanism -free markets. The invisible hand will eventually win. Just not quite yet.

Italian Senator and former Deputy PM Matteo Salvini has called for a ban on short selling. Why? All he’ll do is exacerbate the sell-off by diverting capital from Milan to London. The politicians just don’t get it. That is why Milan FTSE All-Share index fell by 10.75% overnight. That market is down 23% YTD.

When the pandemic hit the economy, we should have known from last month that it would spread and impact global travel, trade and oil prices. Why did it take so long?

We wrote last week that the explosion in market chasing (especially levered) ETFs would exacerbate distortions on the downside. The main reason being is that options markets that hedge levered products see heavy delta bleed (pricing blowing out) during routs. The reason is in bull markets human nature is more comfortable taking risk. In bear markets, people panic hence needing larger insurance premiums to protect against the madness of crowds.

Essentially what that means is that when ETFs were a far smaller chunk of the market, today’s 7.8% drubbing may only have been -4% in equivalent terms. That is because the ETFs chase, not lead markets because their product design is to replicate the immediate past. Yet our first instincts are to compare these apples with oranges and equate them to 2008. Wrong. Furthermore, a larger part of the market is dominated by a smaller

So the question is, do we liquidate all of our shares into the falling knife or take the view that some wonderful opportunities will present themselves to get exposure to what we hopefully viewed as sensible long term investments.

We take the latter view. We need to separate Coronavirus (the disease) and the hysteria (eg hand sanitizer and toilet paper panic buying).

While the disease is problematic and will hit the economy hard in the coming quarters, the question is market hope pinned to government response will come back. The measures should continue to grow and grow until they have cauterized the wound. After all, we live in a market where financial TV programs are summoning the opinions of NY Mets baseball pitchers for their ideas on stocks.

Of course, it will be all academic, but confidence is the only thing that matters from here. As soon as we get on top of Coronavirus, markets will swing back into action and many will simply fall for the same tricks like Pavlov’s dog and the short squeeze will send stocks powering back.

Governments now have a legitimate excuse to blow out deficits and borrow to save us. In that sense, this pandemic is a blessing in disguise. That isn’t to trivialize Coronavirus but to note that politicians will do almost anything to stay in power, even if the long term consequences will linger long after they’re out of office.

Where will they spend? The automotive sector has been in the doldrums for ages. Expect to see EV related subsidies which will be a boon for the EV battery plays – we’ve bought Jervois Mining (JRV.AX) which is about to start a cobalt mine in Idaho.

Think of support to the aviation industry when the crisis is under control. Boeing and Airbus. Don’t forget that American Airlines renewed 900 aircraft soon after it announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2011.

Think construction – cement companies and construction machinery companies tend to benefit from public works programs. We continue to hold gold (have done since 2001) as the ultimate insurance policy when the whole system can no longer heal with band-aids.

So get ready to buy some bargain-basement names with cash flow survivability, especially if you have a self-managed super fund.

Yes the underlying economic backdrop is dreadful but there will be one last hurrah!

XR Co-Leader hitches a free car ride to GMB studio

Wow, Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a gift that keeps giving. XR Co-Leader Skeena Rathor went on Good Morning Britain (GMB) and revealed the complete hypocrisy of the movement. None moreso than admitting to catching a lift to the studio in a car arranged by GMB. XR followers are clowns. Rathor couldn’t answer even the most simple questions but rattled off all of the garbage claims of societal collapse, food shortages and a dire future for kids, including not being able to feed them. She even invited other guests to talk to their “scientists.

If XR keep up media appearances it only assures its extinction. So CM implores XR to keep it up.

CM forgot to mention in Dion Lights interview with Andrew Neil, her claim that the scientists who compiled the latest IPCC research paper was flawed because they are focused on pre-industrial era data…hmmm…even though she broadly supported the 99% consensus of the IPCC report…so which is it? Just not alarmist enough. Noone with half a brain would ever believe that billions are at risk of dying in the next few decades.

We shouldn’t forget that yesterday, a blind paralympian, James Brown, decided to climb atop a British Airways plane at London City Airport. Despite the danger he put himself and other airport security officials, the judiciary should hand out a sentence ensure that he is charged with the total costs borne by British Airways shareholders and the airport for the inconvenience caused. Being a blind paralympian shouldn’t grant any special treatment of sympathy.

Twitter bias – who’d of thunk?

Judge for yourself on whether Twitter targets particular groups. Think Sarah Jeong faced no Twitter ban for calling to #CancelWhitePeople whereas black conservative Candace Owens got a suspension for changing Jeong’s words from “white” to “Jewish” and “black”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly admitted in a congressional testimony that Silicon Valley was littered with people from the far left. Think of poor old #WalkAway activist Brendan Straka , the articulate, openly gay hairdresser who was suspended for 30 days for highlighting he’d appear on the then banned InfoWars. Not for posting a video.  Just that he’d appear.

The publishing of Google’s internal post-election debrief video shouldn’t have surprised anyone in the slightest. All the outer appeals to the group’s impartiality were smashed by this leaked video. In a sense Google was the victim of the half-life nature of the very digital media feeds it seeks to control. Even worse it was all the senior management talking about what really goes on behind closed doors.

Sunlight is truly the best disinfectant.

Google’s gaffe only proves the massive opportunity for others

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The publishing of Google’s internal post-election debrief video shouldn’t surprise anyone in the slightest. All the outer appeals to the group’s impartiality were smashed by this leaked video. In a sense Google was the victim of the half-life nature of the very digital media feeds it seeks to control. Even worse it was all the fromage-grande senior management talking about what really goes on. Sunlight is truly the best disinfectant.

Putting the need to respect the “confidential’ nature of the meeting  (it seems employees aren’t all following those protocols) to one side, this video totally backs up the CM piece which spoke of the opportunity to plug the gaping hole in social media.

We shouldn’t forget what this episode makes blatantly clear – how toxic the work environment must be for staff who don’t share the political views of the politburo.

Mark Zuckerberg openly admitted that Silicon Valley is dominated by the far left. Stands to reason only conservatives get blocked, suspended of banned. Poor old #WalkAway activist Brendan Straka was the latest victim. The articulate openly gay hairdresser was suspended for 30 days for highlighting he’d appear on the recently banned InfoWars. Not posting the video.  Just that he’d appear. Talk about the mixed emotions of the Facebook censor who probably required counseling for having to choose partisan politics over LGBT rights?

None of us need a technical overlord determining what they see as fit for us to consume. If it is Icelandic pig racing in winter or dwarf tossing into a mud pool, should demand for it exist and it is legal then who is Google to censor it outside of respecting government mandated maturity ratings??

If Google had half a brain it would publish the “raw” data of trends. Not its selective manipulated subjective view of what it wants to see but what might be driving populism in Europe or the 2016 Trump election victory? If Google had properly recognized the trends it’d have seen for itself the raw power of understanding motivations rather than cast aspersions and skew feeds to support its own narratives. Truth be told it isn’t working. Every person banned (and the hurdle gets lower every time) highlights the agenda based nature of these social media houses. Search impartiality and no social media house should pop up toward the top of the list.

The beauty of social media is that we are free to choose. Switching costs are effectively free. Yet we use Google because it’s the best search engine and there is little in the way of competing product.

Which stands to reason if a social media proposition with more conservative values which didn’t cut off those who didn’t agree with internal biases was built, the servers would probably crash due to the stampede to join it.

Growing numbers of people have become fed up with what they can’t say (even when completely appropriate) on social media. Not bleedingly obvious profanity and senseless racism but reasoned argument. People are also fed up with learning their data has been used without permission to profile them with ads. In all fairness if one openly publishes his/her/xir data on a social platform then there is an expectation that it’s “at risk”.

Still CM has all “location services” switched off yet a social media service asked to rate a Bavarian beer hall CM visited  the very next day. When a help yourself drinks counter in a reception area of a corporate office provided whiskey the ensuing discussion with a fellow delegate brought up his preferred brand – Johnny Walker Blue. The next day were banner ads on that brand on top of unrelated searches. Presumably the mic is being accessed. Or is it a purely freakish coincidence?!?

The market for free speech is being eroded before our very eyes. The big organizations controlling much of our social media are constantly being outed for their double standards. More consumers are not blind to it yet all the while no real alternative exists the social media giants hold all of the aces.

Therein lies the opportunity.  The demand is there. The day a comparable service is offered without big brother controlled censorship the door will be beaten down. Even if we wish to call the actions of Google et al into question we can choose not to use them at any time.

Let Google, FB and Twitter  treat us as mugs.  Let them exercise their questionable moral value sets on us. The more they do, the more they draw the ire of a growing number of  users. An alternative will come and their behaviour will backfire big time. Live by the sword, die by the sword. CM won’t have the slightest sympathy.

The attitude driven by these divine franchises can be felled very quickly. Bring on the alternative ASAP. Then Google execs will really start crying. #biasbackfire

 

When Japan ruled the world

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30 years ago 32 of the 50 largest corporations by market cap were Japanese. Telco NTT was #1 followed by 4 megabanks. Scroll forward to today and there is only one Japanese corporation that makes the Top 50 cut – Toyota Motor (#35). Now, the top 33 of 50 companies are American – Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.