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Quick Hits

Bitcoin, California, and more!

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                                                                           Quick Hits Archive 2021

                                                                           Quick Hits Archive 2020

May 17, 2022

  • Nancy Pelosi is proposing legislation that would enable the President to freeze gasoline prices.

  • Coinbase said clients could lose their crypto if the company goes bankrupt.

  • The market might lose their crypto for them.

  • The SEC is investigating whether crypto exchanges trade against their customers.

  • Water, Sewer, and Trash collection accounts for 1.1% of the CPI.

  • Alcoholic Beverages account for 0.9% of the CPI.

  • Bloomberg teased an article with the line “North Korea is lying about Covid.”  Generalissimo Franco…still dead.

  • A British court ruled that calling a man “bald” at work is sexual harassment.

  • After McDonald’s sells its 847 restaurants in Russia, they will reopen under the name McDowell’s (not really, but they will reopen under a knockoff brand).

May 11, 2022

  • A game-worn jersey of Diego Maradona sold for $9.6mm.  It was from the infamous “Hand of God” game in the World Cup.  it pitted Maradona’s Argentina squad against the English in 1986.  Just like in everything it does economically, Argentina cheated.

  • The above references soccer (just in case you find it as boring as most Americans).

  • Robinhood now charges $100 to transfer securities out of your account.

  • Lucid Motors sold 360 cars and lost $600m in Q1.  Sounds like another Tesla in the making (without the mesmerized lemmings).

  • The Coinbase CFO, after terrible earnings, said the company is “not competing on price.  We’re competing on the experience.” 

  • Coinbase made $1.2b in Adjusted EBITDA last quarter in 4Q2021.  It made $20mm in 1Q2022.

  • Adjusted EBITDA strips out stock-based compensation.  For Coinbase, this was $350mm in 4Q2022.

May 4, 2022

  • The Central African Republic has declared for all to see and hear that the country will now accept Bitcoin as legal tender.  The HODLers must be jumping for joy.

  • The average interest rate on Brazil credit card debt is about 350%.

  • Many Brazilians use post-dated checks as their form of credit. 

  • Global IPO volumes year-to-date are down 72% vs last year.

  • The latest academic research in politics says that people with biases who watch programming with the same biases become more biased.  In other news, dog bites man. (hat-tip to Walnut Green).

  • The World Health Organization called the opening of the Aspen Pharma vaccine plant in South Africa in October of 2021, “a transformative moment.”  The plant has received zero orders.  Zero.

April 27, 2022

  • The US Capitol was evacuated when a small aircraft approached the airspace.  It was a US army plane carrying parachutists to the Washington Nationals baseball game.

  • Lululemon is starting a “Like New” program for used clothes.  It is being pitched with the tag, “sustainability-oriented.”

  • Melvin Capital, the fund that got killed on its GameStop short last year, is considering closing its fund in June only to relaunch a new fund in July.  It was also considering charging performance fees despite being down 52% since last January.  Investors have not gone along with this.

  • The area in Alaska in which Biden is stopping oil production is called the National Petroleum Reserve.

  • TelevisaUnivision was the #2 ranked television network in the US in February.

  • Musk will be banned from tweeting disparaging tweets about Twitter during his purchase of Twitter according to the merger agreement.

  • S&P will downgrade the debt of insurance companies if they hold securities that S&P does not rate.  S&P gets paid to rate securities.

  • A local Chamber of Commerce in Missouri held two seminars for telecommuting:  one virtual for those in favor and one in person for those opposed.

  • The “Beanstalk stablecoin project” was hacked and drained of  $182mm.  They need a new name for these not-so-stable coins.

April 20, 2022

  • The latest subprime lending fiasco is dog leasing in Massachusetts.

  • Goldman is advising Twitter and has recommended that the board not endorse a sale to Musk.  Goldman has a Sell rating on the stock.

  • Jack Dorsey, one of the Twitter founders, sold an NFT (fake art) of his first tweet.   This was last year, and it sold for $1.9mm.  It was recently put up for sale.  The maximum bid was $280.

April 13, 2022

  • The Masters golf tournament receives no money for its domestic TV production.

  • A Credit Suisse executive was fired for holding a client event at the National Golf Links club in the Hamptons.  Women are not allowed in the dining room.  They were cordoned off in a side room called “The Birdcage.”

  • The NCAA would not pay for St Peter’s to send their cheerleaders to March Madness.  St. Peter’s only has four which is below the minimum required for reimbursement.

  • Germany produces 6x more emissions per unit of electricity than France.

  • France spends 59% per unit of electricity of what Germany spends.

April 6, 2022

  • Europe excludes alcohol and tobacco from its “core” inflation reading (in addition to food and energy).

  • The SEC thinks (and is enforcing) that cryptocurrency exchanges should treat customer holdings as unsecured loans.

  • The pimento cheese sandwich at The Masters costs $2.17.

  • Women’s college basketball players earned more through NIL (the loophole allowing college athletes to be paid outright) than men’s college basketball players this season.

  • Applications for life insurance in 2020 increased at the highest level in 10 years.

March 30, 2022

  • The SEC is proposing that companies are forced to disclose their “carbon footprints” and other green dreams.  While laughably silly and out of the purview of a financial regulator, we welcome the disclosure to uncover all the empty virtual signaling.

  • As a refresher, the creator of ESG thinks ESG is one giant fraud.

  • Jazz music has been banned in New Orleans schools since 1922 (until now).

  • The first US debt was payable in bales of tobacco.

  • Barclays Bank forgot to update an SEC shelf registration (a filing detailing how much of a security the bank plans on selling to the public), and it cost the bank $600mm.

  • Four Deutsche Bank employees were fired for trying to expense a “dinner” at a gentleman’s club.

  • Patrick Harker, same Fed official as above, cited “whopping membership fees” at private golf clubs as evidence of inflation (not his golf club).

  • $600mm of crypto was stolen from a blockchain network connected to an online game.

  • Australia is the latest nation (California was first) to increase direct payments to consumers in an effort to combat the higher cost of living.  Fox Butterfield, is that you?  (Recall that the NY Times reporter was perplexed that crime rates were falling while prison populations were growing.)

  • A Wharton “professor” says cycling is bad for the environment because it leads to people living longer.  Tobacco companies in the 1980’s used the inverse of this logic.

March 23, 2022

  • The average American uses 60 barrels of oil a year.

  • The five biggest investment banks have earned $645mm in capital markets fees this year (doing IPOs, debt issuance, etc).  The same period last year brought in $5.3b.

  • Only 20% of the cost of a loaf of bread is wheat.

  • 10% of the blood plasma collected in the US comes from Mexicans on tourist visas.  They are paid $50 to donate.

  • Ukraine is about the size of Texas (86%).

  • GameStop’s earnings conference call lasted 11 minutes.

  • Time will likely be changing come the end of 2023 as there is bipartisan support to move to daylight savings time permanently.  We wonder what Arizona and Indiana will do about this.

  • The daylight savings bill passed in the Senate by “unanimous consent” because its opponents did not know there was a vote.

  • Cowen had a positive note on the restaurant sector with the not-so-mild-caveat which warned “input costs will be broadly challenged by surging oil prices, consumers’s disposable income will take a hit, and higher freight and labor costs are margin headwinds.”

  • There is a Welsh rugby player nicknamed Sausage.

  • Death row inmates in South Carolina can now choose to meet their maker via firing squad.

  • Modelo Especial is the second-best selling beer in the US.

March 9, 2022

  • Used car dealers are charging higher prices for cash deals instead of financed ones.

  • Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, said, “No two countries run by women would ever go to war.”

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued documents encouraging the use of “they” as a singular pronoun.  This is under the guise of complying with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

March 2, 2022

  • John Kerry gave an interview on BBC Arabic during which he warned about the emissions consequences of the Ukraine war.

  • Sean Penn is in Ukraine to film a documentary about the Russian invasion.  El Chapo was unavailable for comment.

  • Nikola, the EV infamous for rolling a truck down a hill to prove (?) it actually had a product, said it was delivering products, but the financials show it has zero revenues.

  • Tickets for the Duke-UNC basketball game on Saturday are about $5k.

  • Derek Jeter is selling his 4% stake in the Miami Marlins for a loss after eight years.

  • The owner of the Chelsea football team in London, Russian Roman Abramovich, is handing over control of his team to a charitable foundation.  No lawyer has been unable to untangle exactly what this means other than superficial  politico-signaling. 

  • Roman Abramovich, a close Putin ally, has structured his ownership of the Chelsea soccer team whereby he is the biggest creditor to the team.  Thus, he effectively cannot be stripped of his ownership without sending the team into bankruptcy.

  • Roman Abramovich’s latest super yacht, supposedly his eighth, is 460ft long and cost about $600mm.  His previous yacht was 533ft long and cost $1.3b.

  • There is a candidate for a school board in Texas that ran as a democrat and a republican.  He is ineligible for the general election.

  • US paper money had been privately printed before 1862.

  • Two cofounders of the BitMEX cryptocurrency derivatives exchange have pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws.

  • Someone has recited 110,700 digits of the number Pi.

  • Almost every semiconductor chip has silicon from North Carolina in it.

February 23, 2022

  • Mike Novogratz, considered one of the shepherds of the crypto space, says bitcoin will trade in a 30k-50k range.  Helpful?

  • Brooks is the top-selling, adult running shoe in the US.

  • There is a bill in Congress looking to abolish funding for sports stadiums from tax-exempt municipal bonds.  One of the reasons for the bill according to one of its sponsors:  The alleged sexual harassment inside the Redskins organization.

February 16, 2022

  • Marijuana stocks are classified in the Health Care sector

  • Geography reminder:  Taking the Ambassador Bridge from Canada to the US flows south to north.

  • Saudi Arabia transferred $80b of its Aramco (state oil company) stake from one government entity to another.  Diversification was the reason.  Perhaps this means something different in Arabic.

  • BlockFi will pay a $100mm fine to the SEC for violating investor protection laws.  BlockFi is a platform that enables the lending of cryptocurrency.

  • Apparently there has been an increase in “romance scams” fueled by cryptocurrency.  No comment.

  • A twitter account that only posted screen shots of other people’s tweets has been suspended.

  • Charlie Munger’s latest commentary on Bitcoin likens it to a venereal disease.

  • ARKK:  50% of its NAV is companies with higher interest expense than operating profit.

  • The winner of the French Scrabble Championship cannot speak French.

  • The best-selling NFL jersey in the state of Wisconsin is a Bear’s (Justin Fields).

February 9, 2022

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that lithium-ion battery prices have fallen 90% which should make EV’s more desirable.  Fox Butterfield, is that you?  (Perhaps the lack of demand is leading to a fall in prices.

  • John Deere plows were revolutionary because they were self-cleaning.

  • Ed Snowden thinks the arrested criminals behind the $4.5b (that is with a B) theft of cryptocurrency have been set up.

  • China’s purchases of US exports declined instead of increasing the promised $200b.

  • Byron Allen, he of the bad TV from the 80’s, is preparing a bid to buy the Denver Broncos.

February 2, 2022

  • Billy Andrade, a senior PGA golfer, is sponsored by Major League Baseball.

  • In the UK, buildings with the highest “environmental ratings” use far more power than building with the lowest ratings.

  • The Chinese Olympics were expected to cost $3.9b.  The latest estimate is $39b.

  • According to blockchain data platform Chainalysis, the total value of cryptocurrency used for money laundering increased 30% in 2021 vs 2020.

  • The media is reporting that Spotify is facing backlash from musicians over Joe Rogan.  The list of the outraged include:  Belly, india.Arie, Eve 6, Letters to Cleo.  Their music will surely be missed.

January 26, 2022

  • The Fed owns 32% of all mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

  • King of the crappy SPAC, Chamath, ranted on a podcast that he does not “care about the Uyghurs in China.”

  • According to an MIT research paper, the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) $800b in handouts when predominantly to business owners.  Only about 27% of the total went directly to workers who would have otherwise lost their jobs.

  • The Queen of England is launching a line of condiments called the Royal Estate.

  • South Africa’s unemployment rate hit 35% in 2021.

  • A hedge fund is trying to buyout the casino company Bally’s.  The hedge fund guy happens to be the chairman of Bally’s.

  • 33% of public companies in the US use a foreign accounting firm to perform at least some of their internal audit.

  • The congressman bringing a cannabis bill says, “there are three things that really bring people together – animals, Britney Spears, and cannabis.”

  • Some academic researchers claim to be able to make a car battery out of hemp.

January 19, 2022

  • The FDA is revoking its 70-year-old definition of French Dressing.

  • Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather are being sued for pumping and dumping a fake crypto coin.

  • The state of Washington rebuffed an offer from one of its counties in helping clean up after a winter storm because the county does not have a vaccine mandate.

  • Boston’s public schools have an “open-window” mandate.  Recent lows have been six degrees.

  • There is a new study showing that “doing good does not necessarily mean doing well.”  This is blasting so-called ESG funds that simply buy the market index but charge exorbitant fees.

  • The government has not collected $114b of student debt payments because of Covid waivers.  JP Morgan expects the tally of defaults to reach over $400b.  About $1.6t in debt is outstanding.

  • A new study shows the use of the words “conclusions” and “determine” are in decline in literature and journalism.  Replaced with:  “Feel and “believe.”

  • Tiger Woods is coming out with a SPAC.

  • UK oil production has dropped from 3mm barrels per day in 2000 to 850k today.

  • halted withdrawals after “suspicious activity.”  Some might think halting withdrawals would qualify as “suspicious activity.”

January 12, 2022

  • Amazon’s Alexa told a child to stick a penny in an electricity socket.

  • Agents for players in FIFA (soccer, yawn) made $500mm in transfer fees last year.

  • There are about 300 SPACs looking for acquisition targets.  These SPACs have already collected about $300b.

  • France will likely fire up some of its idled coal plants to help alleviate the winter energy crunch.

  • The Boston marathon bomber received Covid relief funds on death row.

  • A German utility, Uniper, has sold 90% of its 2022 power in the forward market at EUR$49/MWh.  The current futures prices is about EUR$273/MWh.

  • A British utility, Ovo Energy, recommends, “cuddling with pets, performing hoola hoops, and avoiding chili as key steps to tame household energy bills this winter.”

Quick Hits Archive 2021

Quick Hits Archive 2020

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