Business

Well, fancy that then

The US has a reputation for bouncing back from adversity quickly, but even by its own standards the turnaround has been remarkable.

Largely free market, largely capitalist, few worker protections – sure, in the breach and all that – is flexible enough to perform well near whatever is thrown at it.

We’re astonished, right?

Well, yes, obviously Mr. Kamm

Will that help or hinder economic prospects? There’s a convincing argument that a market in corporate control generates efficiency gains. A management that fails to deploy a company’s assets effectively to generate returns for shareholders ought to feel the discipline of a potential takeover. Yet a general principle doesn’t necessarily apply in every case. My guess is that a wave of corporate consolidation after this crisis is likely to reduce competitive pressures in the economy. This will not serve the interests of consumers.

Being able to screw the customers is to deploy corporate assets with greater efficiency. Not that it’s the sort of efficiency we want of course but the idea should be obvious and not need explaining.

Things that ain’t so

Some people who work at McDonald’s have been subjected to sexual harrassment. Therefore McDonald’s should be sued.

Labor unions say one challenge is that McDonald’s insists it is not responsible for employees of its franchised operations, which make up over 90% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide.

“[McDonald’s Corporation] is the employer of all who wear the McDonald’s uniform,” said Kristjan Bragason, the general secretary of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions.

As that second assertion ain’t true – either morally or in law – the case rather falls apart, doesn’t it?

Perhaps you are matey

The founder of scandal-hit NMC Health and Finablr has claimed he is a victim of “serious fraud” and pointed the finger at company executives after the sudden collapse of his business empire.

The question is still open as to whether “victim” is quite the right description though……

So who has been to an AGM?

If you hold but the one share in a company then you get to attend the AGM.

The Young’s Brewery one was reputed to be a good one. 5 minute speech from the Colonel or whoever was the patriarch and chairman, then “The lads have brewed up some special for us all to try, see you at the back” and the party started. Or so it is said.

Even to the point that one of the perks of Blue Buttons was to be sent off to a few AGMs using the stockjobber’s trading stock as the entrance fee.

It’s also true that now it’s possible to buy stock online and so size isn’t so much of an issue. One can buy one share when in the past you might be significantly encouraged to only buy in an economic lot. And on at least some platforms there is now no commission to pay, so buying very small lots doesn’t carry a minimum fee.

On the other hand, the process of getting registered as the actual – rather than through a nominee – owner seems to have changed.

At which point – what are AGMs usually like in terms of lunch? Or freebies handed out to those who attend? Are you lucky to gain a glass of tap water? Or are there always at least sarnies and a glass of something cooling?

The thought being, well, does spending £10 on the one share mean you get a reasonable lunch every year, if you actually attend?

So, peeps who have in fact attended AGMs. What’s the junket like. And please no, not about Berkshire Hathaway, I know about Woodstock for capitalists. The question is, the average listed stock, whadda ya get for turning up to hear the FD whining about interest rates?

This is news to many journalists

Mr Sunak said it was “reasonable, proportionate and fair” to exclude those with taxable profits above £50,000, including law partners, freelance journalists and other professionals. The chancellor said this group had average incomes of about £200,000.

Regular columnists in major papers maybe. Someone with a sideline in true crime books or ghosting ‘sleb stuff maybe. But your average freelance journo on £200k a year?

It is to larff.

As an actual journeyman (ie, not a name) freelance, and working like buggery (one entire newspaper or magazine piece a working day, which is proper work when you include research etc) mebbe £40k a year?

Well, yes

Abramov says: “Market forces will ultimately regulate the industry in a very brutal manner, forcing massive ‘shut-ins’ [well closures] across the country before the market imbalance can improve.”

That’s why we use markets, right?

In slightly more detail. Anyone think of any answer to the oil glut that doesn’t involve shutting in wells? Starting with those with the highest production costs? At which point markets unadorned are delivering our desired solution, aren’t they?

Times subs!

With 14.6 million passengers last year, Jet2 is Britain’s third largest scheduled airline after Easyjet and British Airways. Before the crisis, shares in Dart hit a record high of £19.46, valuing the company at £2.9 billion. Those shares closed down £13, or 2 per cent, yesterday at 599p.

They’re down £13 from their peak and down 2% yesterday but not £13 is 2%.

Now here’s a business model

The original Chris Steak House (1927–1965)
Chris Steak House was founded on February 27, 1927 by New Orleans entrepreneur Chris Matulich.[8] It was located at 1100 North Broad Street near the Fair Grounds Race Course, seated 60 people, and had no parking lot. During Matulich’s 38-year management, the business was sold six times, failing each time, and enabling him to buy the restaurant back cheaply from the purchasers

Lord Bless free markets, eh?

From floristry to food deliveries: ‘I created a new business in a week’

This being the entire point of the game. Free entry into the market.

Sure, 98% of such attempts fail, many are entirely doolally to start with. And yet people being able to do this is the motor that drives the entire society forwards.

Perhaps we should try to recapture some more of that most profitable liberty once this is all over?

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Money’s not great but it’s easy enough to make a few hundred a month.

Anyone with a Bloomberg or the like?

I’m interested in knowing what the WTI spot at Cushing was yesterday.

No, not the May expiring future which went negative, but what was the actual price for physical oil delivered Cushing?

I have a feeling is was rather different than the futures price but just want to check. And that spot price doesn’t seem to be something generally available online…..

This is a dreadful surprise:

Retailers experienced the worst fall in sales on record last month as shops were forced to shut up and down the country.

Total sales fell by 4.3pc in March, compared with 1.8pc decline for the same month last year, figures from the British Retail Council (BRC) and KPMG showed. It was the sharpest decline in the 25 years that the numbers have been collated.

Sales before and after shoppers were asked to stay at home were in stark contrast. In the first three weeks, they rose by 12pc, then plunged by 27pc in the last two weeks.

This is mostly because all non-essential retailers had to close their stores as the outbreak took hold.

Who would have thought it?

Shops which are closed sell nothing. Makes you wonder why they bother to unlock them each morning in more normal times….

Possible I suppose but it does sound unlikely

So, charity shops send the stuff they can’t sell off to Africa etc. OK. But the volume might not be quite this much:

Fifteen million pieces of discarded clothing arrive in vast bales every week at Kantamanto, the biggest bazaar in Ghana, where a glut of cast-offs chokes rivers, wasteground and landfill sites.

Times subs might want to check that number.

For example, and this is rather rough, 3,000 t-shirts to a pallet, 20 pallets to a 40 ft container (no double stacking). Used goods are unlikely to be that tightly packed but still, at least an idea.

60,000 t-shirts to a container. 15 million pieces is 250 containers? A week? I think that’s rather unlikely, running through the one wholesale market in Ghana? 40 odd 40 ft containers a working day?

Well, could be, but it’s a number I’d check I think.

And if it’s true of course think how many Africans are gaining their clothing for cheap, raising their real incomes!

And there’s definitely something funny with these numbers. We’re told:

According to the UN, the UK is the world’s second largest exporter of second-hand clothes. In 2018, £419 million worth were sold overseas,

OK.

The rest are sold on to used clothing dealers or recycling companies, which give the charities about 45p per kilo.

Packed in bundles weighing between 50 and 90kg, the clothes are then shipped to Ghana and elsewhere,

OK. Now, the impression there at least is given that those bundles amount to £419 million’s worth. At 45 p per kg. For ease of calculation call that 50p per kg, £500 per tonne. 838,000 tonnes a year of used clothing? 130 kg per man, boy and bird in the country? Don’t think so somehow, the UK really isn’t exporting that much.

As to the solution if it is, there’s energy in cotton, wool, plastics. Build an incinerator producing electricity next to the market and pay a penny a pound or whatever for scraps delivered to it.

Who is this insane bint?

On March 10, the company announced that it would slash its dividend for the first time since 1990, when Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait sent oil prices plummeting.

Eh?

The 1990 oil price shock occurred in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990,[1] Saddam Hussein’s second invasion of a fellow OPEC member. Lasting only nine months, the price spike was less extreme and of shorter duration than the previous oil crises of 1973–1974 and 1979–1980, but the spike still contributed to the recession of the early 1990s.[2] Average monthly price of oil rose from $17 per barrel in July to $36 per barrel in October.

Luckin Coffee, an interesting little tale

Not sure if I’m right here but I think I am:

The problem with any and every scam is how do you collect? It’s trivially easy to create fake letters of credit, for example, but getting a bank to pay out on one is more difficult. Fake stock certificates the same, kiting checks and all the rest.

Someone, somewhere, has to be convinced to give you real money for there to be a profit in it.

At which point, stock which is quoted on an exchange can be used as security for a loan. Depends upon the market the quote is on but an OTC stock might be good for a 50% of market valuation loan, the stock being the security. Nasdaq stock for maybe 80, or 90%, no hard and fast rule here.

It’s very difficult to gain permission from your investors to use stock in a VC funded company as security for a loan. Sure, for a small amount, to buy a house and a car maybe. Who would want the wunderkind building the next world beater to be sleeping in the park and coming to work on a skateboard?

Flotation on an exchange opens the floodgates
Once the stock’s on a recognized exchange, then it can be used as security for a loan. And that loan can be much greater than any amount of stock anyone will let you cash in.

And that’s what my opinion is. Sure, there are stores across China. By the company’s own admission they’ve near no daily revenue. But through that flotation the management team was able to borrow that half billion using the stock as security. Security which said management team had a good idea – in my opinion of course – was worth rather little and could be happily left in the hands of the banks in return for the half a billion being cashed out.

No it wasn’t

The housing market was halted on Thursday night by the Government after financial institutions said they could no longer operate properly.

Ministers are discouraging buyers from going ahead with house sales and purchases unless they have ­already exchanged contracts as part of wider efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying no one should move unless absolutely necessary. ­

The effect of the government saying “we strongly advise you not to do it” might well be to slow the housing market down to a near halt. But it’s still not true that the government has halted it. We didn’t actually elect Ritchie you know.

Bollocks

Retail stalwart Primark has refused to pay its rent bill as it seeks more support from its landlords in a sign of the chaos sweeping the high street.

The firm is scrambling to save cash after being forced to shut all of its stores at a cost of £650m a month in lost sales.

A host of firms are thought to have refused to pay rent on Wednesday, the day when quarterly bills are due for a huge number of retail players. That Primark is among them despite being one of the most resilient names in the industry shows the huge pressure firms are under.

That’s not a sign of the pressure Primark is under. It’s a sign of the pressure Primark can apply, given that it has market power in these extreme times.

So, imagine that you’re one of the leading and most profitable clothes retailers in the country. And everyone around you is going bust. So, they get rent reductions and you don’t. That isn’t going to make you happy. So, you scweam and scweam until you’re sick and you too get rent reductions.

True, the landlords are so screwed. But that makes who unhappy?