Category: Digital Business


Pass the Maalox!

The Dow lost 651 points on Xmas Eve.

The Dow gained a record 1,066 points the day after Christmas.

The Dow lost 611 points Thursday morning only to finish up 260 points in the very same afternoon.

What’s the lesson for retail investors competing in an unfair market?

Don’t go all wobbly over the Dow Jones.

More to the point: Never panic.

And let’s not forget: Don’t morph into Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy when the market gyrates downward.

Just as important, never become a Pollyanna when the markets surge. Stay grounded.

Since October 3, the ever-downward market psychology has resulted in traders selling the rallies as opposed to buying the dips.

Buy Low, Sell High has been redefined … at least for now.

Algos Giveth; Algos Taketh Away

Almost DailyBrett clearly recognizes the Wall Street playing field is not level; it tilts downward to the “institutions,” the Buy-Side and the Sell-Side traders.

Similar to Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in “Money Ball,” the Charles Schwab retail investor (e.g., me) is competing in an unfair game.

Isn’t the easy solution to simple not invest in Wall Street, stick your money in a bank with pathetic interest rates or maybe even under the mattress?

Having said all of the above, the markets remain the choice investment vehicle for the 54 percent of Americans who constitute the Investor Class. These optimists about America’s future devote discretionary revenues in stocks and stock based mutual funds to pay for retirement, health care, children’s education or that dream vacation.

There is a ton of advice out there about taming the markets – some counsel is sound, other “advice” is dubious.

What is the humble advice from Almost DailyBrett, who has invested in markets for 25 years and who taught Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at two major universities?

There are Bulls. There are Bears. And Pigs Get Slaughtered

 “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Investor Peter Lynch

  • Your author believes in building your own mutual fund, instead of always paying a fee for someone else (e.g., Fidelity) to manage your money. And when you do structure your very own mutual fund make sure you know why you own each stock (thank you Peter), and make sure you diversify these holdings (everything can’t be tech).

For example, Almost DailyBrett presently owns Apple, McDonald’s, Nike and Salesforce; just sold Boeing. Two are differing tech stocks, one feeds 1 percent of the world each day, and the swoosh just does it as the leader in athletic apparel.

  • Passive investing is a loser. Building wealth is work. Far too many just purchase mutual funds at work through pensions and 401Ks or IRAs at home and literally forget about them. Really? This is your money. What is being done with your money? What are your returns? Forget passive. Be active.
  • Use or consume the product/service of the companies you own (i.e., Apple iPhones, McDonald’s Big Macs, Nike running shoes …). Understand very clearly how a company makes money. If you can’t comprehend why shares are increasing (e.g., Bitcoin), don’t invest. There is a world of difference between investing and gambling.
  • The harder mental gymnastics is not when to buy, but when to sell. Think of it this way: On Wall Street, there are bulls, there are bears … and pigs get slaughtered. Set upside-and-downside sell targets for your stocks. When they reach these points, ring the register. Sure wish your author always followed his own advice.
  • Accept the algorithms. The big institutions (not you) have pre-programmed servers with instruction algorithms that automatically to the nanosecond buy or sell large blocks of stocks whenever certain market price points are triggered. The game is not fair. Accept it.
  • For the longest time the bulls have been running (e.g., November 2016 – October 2018), and corresponding market psychology has been optimistic (bad news discounted). Since the start of the bear market on October 3, the psychology has dramatically shifted to the negative (good news is irrelevant). If you invest, you will experience both moods.
  • Most of all: Don’t panic. Stay active. Remain calm. Sometimes strategic retreat is necessary. Sell underperformers and convert to liquid. Cash is always king. There will be a bottom. There will be a day to buy low with the hopes of selling high.
  • Know your level of risk. If you can’t accept gaining $10,000 one day, and giving $9,000 back in the next day (a $1,000 gain for those scoring at home), you shouldn’t be investing in markets. Pathetic bank interest rates or under the mattress is right for you.

Yes there will be a day when it is time to buy the dip, while those who try to sell the rally end up losing their … fill in the blank.

The liberal networks were not cutting it across the fruited plain.

The front page of the New York Times always dictated the topics for their evening newscasts.

What played on Madison Avenue was not resonating for millions in the Basket of Deplorables west of the Hudson.

For years, the Nielsen reports for the legendary “Big Three” ABC, CBS, NBC and their ideological cousins, CNN and MSNBC, were consistently going down to the right (from a ratings chart point of view).

As America was becoming a more moderate-conservative nation, the media elites in Manhattan and within the confines of the Beltway were moving further to the left.

There was — and still is — an economic disconnect: pure and simple.

And yet there was an unrecognized-in-plain-sight-new-source-of-money to be made in the always tough media business.

The much-vilified duo of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes recognized a vast unmet need for a “Fair and Balanced” network resonating with the good folks in the so-called “fly-over states.”

Fox News Channel (FNC) was born in 1996, and just this year garnered its highest-ever ratings.

The Nielsen Ratings race was not even close.

FNC became the first cable news outlet to lead all networks, including the big three, in total audience for a November midterm election, beating second place NBC by 7.78 million to 5.64 million viewers. FNC even commanded a two-to-one lead over once powerful, CBS.

Legendary chief executive Jack Welch repeatedly said any business should either be number one or number two in its given market. Fox News is without doubt numero uno.

The unanswered question that must be posed: Is why is Fox News still unchallenged in serving the moderate-conservative psychographic, the one which elected Donald Trump to the presidency two years ago?

The self-anointed elites at the liberal networks, the all-knowing think tanks and the academic types at journalism schools denigrate the Fox News audience as uneducated racist dolts. They don’t seem to realize through their intemperate scolding and actions, they are contributing to the reciprocal scorn of the NYC/DC political class.

Almost DailyBrett to this day has never and will not ever understand the “political wisdom” of lambasting and making fun of hard-working people, who alas did not win the biological intellectual lottery.

It must suck to live, work hard and go to church on Sundays in impregnable Blue Wall states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The End of Fox News?

The communal Schadenfreude of the political class celebrating the career ending capers of Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, coupled with the departures of Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, augured for the inevitable ratings/influence decline of Fox News Channel.

Using football parlance, it was next man (woman) up for Fox News. Sean Hannity vaulted to first place among all cable news programs. Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham successfully launched their own opinion programs.

On the news side, superb Bret Bair and MacCallum anchored the aforementioned industry leading midterms’ newscast with solid pros Chris Wallace and Brit Hume by their sides. Almost DailyBrett will always miss the insightful commentary of Charles Krauthammer. His toe-to-toe exchanges with O’Reilly were must-watch television. Krauthammer could have made Fox News’ industry leading Midterm election coverage even better.

The real question that must be asked: Is Fox News merely winning a ratings battle, or the actual media war as well?

Almost DailyBrett argues for the former: Fox achieved a major marker of its success. The network serves 2.5 million prime-time viewers, a 3 percent increase compared to 2017. MSNBC sports 1.8 million prime-time viewers, a 12 percent hike when measured against the preceding year.

Did MSNBC gain share against Fox? Or did MSNBC strengthen its position at the expense in the form of an epic decline by the other 24-7-365 anti-Trump network, CNN? Nielsen reported that CNN draws only 990,000 prime-time viewers, a decline of 6 percent compared to 2017.

What did Welch say about being number one or two in a given market (e.g., cable news)? This blog could easily be focused on what went wrong with CNN, founded 16 years before Fox News?

There was a time when Ted Turner’s network was the authority when it came to breaking news around the world. Remember Bernard Shaw? Those days have been replaced by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

In the meantime Fox News moves forward as the only moderate-conservative oriented network, the television outlet serving the other side of America’s divide.

If Fox remains the only network for the fly-over states, and the liberal networks cannibalize each other for left-of-center crowd … is there any reason to question that Fox News will retain its ratings dominance?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/11/07/fox-news-has-highest-rated-midterm-coverage-in-cable-news-history/#262c5105c867

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/12/12/fox-news-channel-has-highest-ratings-in-22-years-but-msnbc-is-growing-fast/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_content=1994079623&utm_campaign=sprinklrForbesMainTwitter#20dfce6a6124

https://deadline.com/2018/11/fox-news-wins-midterm-elections-ratings-cnn-msnbc-donald-trump-1202497745/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/nine-fox-blondes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

 

 

 

“If the Earth slammed into the Sun (or vice versa), what would the president do?” – CNN correspondent

“Guess, we would all fry and die.” – White House Trade Hawk Peter Navarro

Couldn’t believe that Navarro would answer CNN’s hypothetical question Friday about whether President Trump would impose $200 billion in even more tariffs on China, if the next 90 days of trade negotiations go nowhere.

Instead of bobbing, weaving and ducking the question, Navarro answered in the affirmative.

Why Peter, why?

American markets tanked Friday, led by a 558-point decline on the Dow.

The psychology on Wall Street is so negative right now. Traders are selling the bounces instead of buying on the dips. Forget about Buy Low, Sell High.

Why did the White House Press Office allow Navarro take an interview with CNN? Isn’t “prevention” one of the key components of effective crisis communications?

The liberal network openly despises … being nice here … Navarro’s boss (see Jim Acosta antics), and will not do the administration any favors whatsoever (e.g., benefit of the doubt).

Were you media trained, Peter?

Obviously, not.

Why didn’t you coordinate your talking points with Larry Kudlow?

Instead it was administration bad cop, trade hawk (Navarro) contradicting an administration good cop, trade dove (Kudlow), resulting in the media and markets seizing upon … Navarro’s negative response to a hypothetical question (e.g., more tariffs on China).

Shocking or more of the same from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue … or both?

It’s now painfully obvious the happy talking points/tweets emerging from last weekend’s G20 Xi-Trump summit over Argentinian steak were over-done … way over-done.

Earth And Sun Collide?

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been asked hypothetical questions, posed by the media to generate headlines particularly on slow news days.

If asked by a member of the Capitol Press Corps in Sacramento what my boss would do if the earth did indeed slam into the sun, your author would without doubt take the following approach:

“The earth and the sun vary between 91 million and 94 million miles a part each year, and the earth has been around for 4.543 billion years. We are confident this trend, which is our friend, will continue.”

Always remember, conditions can and most likely change between now and later. If that is indeed the case, why answer a hypothetical?

Here’s an even better answer:

“As a policy, we do not answer hypothetical questions. We will say is that we are cautiously optimistic about our trade negotiations with China. We are not going to prejudge this process.”

Boring? Sure. That’s the point.

Do the markets sell off, putting more pressure on the U.S. negotiators? Not likely.

Are the reporters/correspondents disappointed? Oh well …

Should an administration speak in one voice? Always.

Kudlow and Navarro should not be separate spokesmen with conflicting philosophies on the same question. The Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel would have gone viral in the 21st Century with the NASDAQ dipping into correction territory.

Kudlow mentions the potential of extending the moratorium on tariffs for another 90 days Friday, if the negotiations are making progress … markets go up.

A little later Friday Navarro confirms the possibility of raising $200 billion in additional tariffs, if the negotiations go nowhere … and the markets are pounded.

Who’s on first?

Maybe, Mr. Art of the Deal wants to deliberately send confusing, ambiguous signals to the Chinese to keep them off guard … Good Cop vs. Bad Cop?

Unfortunately, this latest market selloff and the related overly negative market psychology could have been avoided by simply refusing to answer hypothetical questions, and by an administration speaking in one voice.

Is that too much to ask?

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/hypothetical-question.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/investing/stock-market-today-navarro-kudlow/index.html

https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html

https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/19833/about-how-many-revolutions-has-the-earth-made-around-the-sun

 

 

 

The national Twitter Bull-in-a-China-shop champion may not be the one you suspect.

Would you allow Elon Musk to baby-sit your retirement nest egg?

REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi

Consider the following:

In the last three months, Tesla common shares (NASDAQ: TSLA) are down $69.59 or 19.74 percent.

Tesla confirmed today the Department of Justice (DOJ) is launching a criminal probe into les affaires at Tesla.

Earlier, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its own civil investigation following Tesla founder Elon Musk’s August 7 tweet, proclaiming “funding secured” for taking Tesla private. Is Musk guilty of selective disclosure of material information (e.g., “Funding secured) in violation of SEC Reg FD (Fair Disclosure)?

There was also the inexplicable video of Musk smoking dope on television.

Why Elon, why?

Musk charged not once but twice that one of the heroes, saving the Thailand boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave, is a “Pedo guy.”

Nomura Securities downgraded TSLA from “buy” to “neutral,” reducing the company’s price target from $400 to $300, concluding that Tesla shares are “no longer investable.”

“Notwithstanding improving fundamentals, we believe that Tesla is in need of better leadership, an about face, and are moving to the sidelines until we see what happens with management. “ – Nomura Securities analyst Romit Shah

Does Elon Need His Own Mad Dog Mattis?

The best-and-brightest public relations counselors in the world can do absolutely nothing with Elon, if and until he is willing to ponder sage advice for even a nanosecond.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk takes a drag from a cigarette laced with
marijuana in this screenshot from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Some have suggested shaking up the Tesla Board of Directors to include strong-willed  independent hombres and mujeres willing to practice tough love with Elon (e.g., no public smoking marijuana for whatever reason).

Elon ‘Musk’s brother and board member, Kimbal, is not a candidate for his job. Did you see his CNBC interview this week from the floor of the venerable NYSE wearing a cowboy hat?

Why Kimbal, why?

Besides trying to run both publicly traded Tesla (EVs/solar) and privately held SpaceX (rockets) at the same time and thus needing more sleep, maybe the biggest issue is way too many sycophants kissing Elon’s derriere for way too long.

Remember the gushing CBS 60 Minutes Scott Pelley interview of Elon back in 2014? Musk was hailed at the time as the second coming of … Steve Jobs including  Almost DailyBrett. Your author repeatedly bought and sold Tesla shares for a nice profit, except the last time, selling for a modest loss.

The CNBC pundits were asking out loud circa 2014 whether Tesla was 1.) An electric vehicle company, 2.) an energy company or 3.) Elon Musk’s company?

The issue now is what would happen if a stronger, independent Board of Directors took the helm at Tesla? Would they have the cojones to fire Elon Musk? Would that stunning action be the 21st Century equivalent of John Sculley firing Steve Jobs at Apple? How did that move play out?

Most of all, what would happen to Tesla’s stock? The shorts have already gone crazy; they presumably would have a field day.

Maybe what Elon needs is his own version of a chief operating officer Mad Dog Mattis or some other chain-of-command George S. Patton type to knock off the nonsense?

Until there is some sense of consistent operating discipline (see Tim Cook’s management of Apple following the 2011 passing of Steve Jobs), the shorts will continue to bet against Tesla and its common shares.

Anybody want to “short” Apple? Didn’t think so.

Most of all, Elon Musk should be precluded from even going near Twitter. These 280 characters can lead to a heap of trouble, including twin probes by the DOJ and the SEC.

Audi today unveiled its $75,000 luxury EV SUV. There is considerable competition because electric cars are not going away.

Static photo,
Colour: electric green

Tesla still maintains considerable advantages: Market leadership, pure-play, first mover, visionary company.

Even with its present cash burn and convertible notes coming due next March, Tesla can more than survive and continue to drive technology leadership.

All Tesla needs is for a Mad Dog to put a discipline leash on one, Elon Musk.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2018/09/05/elon-musks-increasingly-erratic-behavior-comes-at-a-price-for-tesla-shareholders/#1058c7323944

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/11/elon-musks-erratic-behavior-continues-to-rattle-wall-street/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/18/tesla-stock-drops-after-company-reportedly-to-face-us-criminal-probe-over-musk-statements.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/business/dealbook/tesla-elon-musk-saudi-arabia.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/donate-to-united-way-or-invest-in-tesla/

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/09/17/kimbal-musk-says-his-brother-elon-is-doing-great.html

 

 “San Francisco has many charms, but it is not particularly salubrious. People regularly encountering used drug needles, human excrement and sidewalks full of homeless people when they arrive home late at night at their $4,000-a-month one-bedroom flat in San Francisco sometimes think they might just prefer it elsewhere.” The Economist cover story, “Peak Valley, Why startups are going elsewhere.”  

A median-priced home in the SF Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, costs $940,000. Where can one find this mid-range beauty?

Scenic Milpitas? Bucolic Sunnyvale? Hip Hayward? Utopia in Union City?

HUD considers a family income of $120,000 in San Francisco to be “low income.” Six figures is “low income”?

The traffic in the Bay Area, let alone Los Angeles, is beyond mind-numbing.

If you like taxes, California is your redistribution nirvana: Income, sales, corporate, property, gas, tobacco, liquor, special assessments, fees, surtaxes, bridge tolls … If it tastes good, it’s taxed.

The Bay Area Council quantitatively revealed that 46 percent of regional respondents want to move elsewhere compared to one-in-three just two years ago.

And where do many consider moving? Portland, Eugene, Bend, Lake Oswego, Ashland … all in Oregon.

The desire of Californians to adopt and embrace Oregon’s superior quality of life at saner prices (e.g., zero sales tax) is not new. What is notable is the disappearance of the term, “Californicators” from the vocabulary of Oregonians.

Are Californicators going extinct?

What happened to this threatened species, which at one time was feared and loathed by Oregonians?

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

When the author of Almost DailyBrett first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990, it was a good idea to remove the California plates from a vehicle as quickly (e.g., two nanoseconds) as possible.

As a former “Californicator,” your author was immediately responsible for all the sins that ailed Oregon. The state’s timber industry was heading in the wrong direction and the national recession hit Oregon hard.

Let’s face it, Oregonians exhibited a pronounced inferiority complex vis-à-vis California with its glorious weather, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood entertainers and yummy wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

What Oregonians didn’t seem to appreciate was that times were-a-changing. California was becoming more image than reality. The estimated 9 million more souls (about the size of Michigan), who were projected to move to the Golden State by 2010, actually established residence … and then some.

Californians started commuting longer distances as traffic intensified and as taxes and tempers rose. California is more than Los Gatos, Los Altos, San Francisco, Tiburon, Malibu and La Jolla. The state is also home to hopelessness in Central Valley foreclosure communities including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

California used to be divided by north (e.g., San Francisco) vs. south (LaLaLand). Today, it is west (e.g., Palo Alto) vs. east (e.g., Visalia).

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

Sure does and Oregonian loved exploiting the rain, dampness and gloom for their own purposes.

And then all the inferiority stopped cold, replaced by a smugness, even a sense that Oregon is superior to California.

Portland as evidenced by Portlandia became the place in which the Dream of the 90s survived.

JASON: “Remember when people were content to be unambitious? Sleep to eleven? Just hangout with their friends? You’d have no occupations whatsoever. Maybe you work a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”

MELANIE: “Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.”

JASON: “Not in Portland. Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

Oregon became synonymous with the Nike Swoosh. The Ducks played twice for the national title, and won their last two Rose Bowls with Marcus Mariota accepting the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley quickly became recognized as the home of some of the best Pinot Gris’ and Pinot Noirs in the world.

The state’s microbrews are literally second to none including: Widmer Hefeweizen (Portland), Deschutes Mirror Bond Pale Ale (Bend), Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Eugene), Full Sail Amber Ale (Hood River).

The state diversified away from timber to become a leader in high technology, cancer research, and a whole host of service oriented businesses.

The departure of the figurative Californicators from the local nomenclature is both a reflection of the decline of California, but more importantly the growing coolness of Oregon.

https://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/former-governor-tom-mccall-message-visitors/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/09/01/silicon-valley-is-changing-and-its-lead-over-other-tech-hubs-narrowing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

https://genius.com/Carrie-brownstein-and-fred-armisen-dream-of-the-90s-lyrics

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

 

 

 

 

The University of Oregon’s student run newspaper, The Daily Emerald, reported that one registered Republican serves on the university’s Law School faculty, and another in its Political Science Department.

To these two poor souls Almost DailyBrett promises to keep your political affiliation, secret. Seriously.

For those of you scoring at home, these two departments sport 44 registered Democrats and two Republicans. Since 2015, more than 98 percent or more than $235,000 in donations from university faculty has been directed to liberal causes.

Only 98 percent?

Working on my 2012 master’s degree at UO, your author could imagine Adam Smith and his “Wealth of Nations” being embraced at the Lillis School of Business. According to the Emerald, only 50 percent of the business school faculty are registered Democrats.

About 100-yards to the east, the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) offers a totally different atmosphere.

Close your eyes. You can envision a lecture by Che Guevara being packed to the rafters. Don’t have to imagine the championing and teaching of Karl Marx, even though his philosophy continues to fail today (e.g., Maduro’s Venezuela).

Is the real philosophical gulf between the overwhelming number of faculty Democrats vs. the un pequito Republicans or more between those who embrace Social Justice and those who defend Capitalism?

For What It’s Worth

“The cultish professor who self-evidently reinforces a set of political beliefs is not something that just about anybody openly and consciously says is okay.” – Professor Craig Parsons, UO Department of Political Science chair

Amen.

The regular readers of Almost DailyBrett long ago determined your author is a registered Reaganite Republican and a staunch supporter of Buy Low, Sell High.

For my M.A. at the University of Oregon, your author created a college course in corporate communications and investor relations and taught it for more than five years.

Remember telling my students each quarter that whether they individually support or oppose capitalism, the main purpose of the class is to provide a realistic explanation of how global markets work. We also assessed the vital role public relations professionals play in presenting to investors an accurate picture of company financials and how a corporation makes money.

As Professor Parsons correctly states, it’s not appropriate for professors to indoctrinate their students. Instead, they should instill their profession-based knowledge – in this case, Wall Street and SEC disclosure rules – about how the real world works.

Is the goal of a university to develop activists or to prepare professionals to succeed in our free-market-driven, digital economy?

Does Political Stridency Enter The Classroom?

Alas, way too many times strident political discourse is being posted on the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media pages by professors. They will piously claim they are exercising their cherished First Amendment right of free speech and therefore commenting as a private citizen.

But what happens when their online rhetoric becomes the subject matter for a course syllabus, and thus is transformed into the classroom for discussion, follow-up quizzes, midterms and/or finals?

Will the student toe the philosophical line in order to secure a good grade?

One overly eager activist associate professor was requiring her students to watch the anti-Vietnam War documentary, “Hearts and Minds.” What about the individual hearts and minds of her students?

Another dean prompted her college to sponsor a series of lectures on mass incarceration, which is all well and good … except there were no speakers from the correctional/law enforcement community.

When asked about the absence of balance in the lecture series, she retorted: “There are no other views.”

Okay?

Disgraced commentator Bill O’Reilly was once lamenting to the late great Charles Krauthammer about the preponderance of liberal faculty on America’s college campuses. Krauthammer told him to accept a reality, which will never change.

The real issue is whether a professor’s political philosophy permeates into the classroom. Almost DailyBrett for the most part was impressed with Millennial students. They are the most-educated generation in the planet’s history and the most moved by experiential learning.

Let’s provide them with the facts about how the real world works and life-long skills (e.g., how to read an income statement and a balance sheet), and then give them the opportunity to excel and grow.

Dominating a classroom to forcefully instill your chosen political philosophy to develop activists is wrong and inappropriate.

Starting later this month, this practice will undoubtedly raise its ugly head once again.

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2018/08/20/does-it-matter-if-your-professor-is-a-democrat/

“I’m not a car person. Three years after ‘The Da Vinci Code’ came out, I still had my old, rusted Volvo. And people are like, ‘Why don’t you have a Maserati?’ It never occurred to me. It wasn’t a priority for me. I just didn’t care.” – Dan Brown

If Dan Brown is not a “car person,” why does he write as if he is indeed a “car person?”

For years, Almost DailyBrett has been an avid Dan Brown fan having plowed through Digital Fortress, The Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and Inferno. Your author also consumed the last three as movies with Tom Hanks playing an unlikely hero, Harvard University Professor of Religious Iconology and Symbology (as if there is such a discipline) Robert Langdon.

The 24-hour plots incorporate landmark buildings and masterpiece art with Langdon racing against time with the recurring theme of science against religion, notably Catholicism.

Predictably and understandably, Brown uses the Vatican, Louvre, Capitol Hill, Firenze, Barcelona as the backdrop for his find-the-clue suspense novels.

Has Brown mentioned a commercial establishment/business in his previous books? Affirmative.

No trip to the piazza (Piazza della Signoria in Florence) was complete without sipping an espresso at Caffè Rivoire.” — Robert Langdon in Inferno.

 

The author of Almost DailyBrett asked the manager of Caffè Rivoire in 2015, if Dan Brown visited the restaurant. The manager pointed to Brown’s favorite spot for espresso.

Give Brown credit for sipping espresso at favorite place just steps away from Michelangelo’s “David,” and likewise for actually driving a Tesla X.

The question is why is Robert Langdon driving the exact same model of Tesla, so gloriously described in Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin?

Robert Langdon Driving A Tesla?

 “The windshield on Edmond’s Tesla Model X was expansive, morphing seamlessly into the car’s roof somewhere behind Langdon’s head, giving him the disorienting sense he was floating inside a glass bubble.

“Guiding the car along the wooded highway north of Barcelona, Langdon was surprised to find himself driving well in excess of the roadway’s generous 120 kph speed limit. The vehicle’s silent electric engine and linear acceleration seemed to make every speed feel nearly identical.

“In the seat beside him, Ambra was busy browsing the Internet on the car’s massive dashboard computer display …” Dan Brown’s Origin, Chapter 49, Page 217

The gushing references to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk’s SUV EV reads more like shameless marketing spin than the text of a suspense novel.

Expansive windshield?

Silent electric engine?

Linear acceleration seemed to make every speed feel nearly identical?

Browsing the Internet?

Massive dashboard computer display?

Almost DailyBrett knows marketing copy when he reads it in Origin.

If Elon Musk gave Dan Brown one heck of a deal on his own $80,000 Tesla Model X or even compensated him for the gushing praise for the EV, shouldn’t Tesla be required under SEC and FTC rules to fully disclose the monetary/in-lieu relationship as an operating expense?

Just as important — if not more so — did Dan Brown sell his personal brand and reputation for the highest dollar? Will all his future novels also include references to chosen companies such as Tesla and Uber in Origin? If Brown did sell Robert Langdon for product placement, who would blame him? … But what about the rolling eyes of his faithful readers?

Or is the blatant Tesla plug just a coincidence?

Is Product Placement Ever Wrong?

“Once you give up integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.” – Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing

Some product placement is actually clever. An example is Julia Roberts jumping on board a Fed-Ex truck as Richard Gere chases in vain in The Runaway Bride. Wherever she was going, Mizz Roberts was guaranteed to be there by 10:30 in the morning.

NBC is not so subtle with its promo for Sunday Night Football with Verizon repeatedly and shamelessly mixed into the Carrie Underwood title song.

Our world has degenerated into product placement on baseball stadium outfield walls, hockey boards, soccer and (gasp) basketball jerseys.

And now … yes now, it appears the novels that we read, and more importantly purchase, are including thinly disguised product placement.

It’s one thing for NBC to shamelessly plug Verizon; it’s another for Dan Brown to appear to be incorporating Tesla marketing spin into his latest Robert Langdon  novel and presumably more to come.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/books/dan-brown-origin.html

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/origin-book-by-dan-brown.99753/

http://theweek.com/articles/730426/dan-brown-bad-writer

http://www.rivoire.it/en/#

https://www.florenceinferno.com/caffe-rivoire/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Almost DailyBrett has never dunked a basketball, and never will.

Not enough height, hops and hand-circumference.

Palm a basketball? Forget it.

There are many people for a wide variety of endeavors, who just can’t.

And many times they bravely try anyway.

Which leads your author to those, who won’t.

They have the talent. They have the knowledge. They have in many cases extraordinary opportunity …Some even won the biological lottery.

But … their attitude. Their stubbornness. Their lack of motivation. Their gaming of the system are all symptom of … won’t.

The Best Economy in 20 Years

“It’s the economy, stupid.” – Successful Political Campaign Consultant James Carville

The help wanted signs are everywhere.

According to the U.S. Depart of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent or about 0.4 percent above full employment.

We have a labor shortage — not for just jobs with wages — but positions with salaries, a full array of benefits and maybe equity opportunities.

Our service oriented economy is in full gear with GDP growing at 4 percent and inflation hovering around 2 percent.

And yet there are so many out there (particularly lame males of the species), who still pretend the economy is mired in the 2007-2010 “Big Short” crash-and-burn mode.

Jobs did not exist back then, not even tasks (e.g., fast food) that many men type believed then and contend now were/are below their pride.

Fast forward to the present day, and these men still act as if jobs/positions do not exist. According to the American Enterprise Institute, up to 32 percent of working age males (20-54 years young) are voluntarily not working.

As Almost DailyBrett has mentioned before, these hombres are typically sleeping in until 11 am or noon, playing video games/binge watching for an average of 5.5. hours per day (e.g., Fortnite, Dungeons and Dragons … ), before happy hour/evening intoxication.

Do you think that someone obsessed with video games/binge watching could quite possibly be adept at software coding for a major publicly traded technology company?

Sure … but …

Ten years ago when the nation was mired in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the national labor participation rate was 65 percent. Today during a boom, its 62.9 percent.

Yep, the economy went from depressing recession to robust economic expansion and the percent of Americans working went down … 2.1 percent or about 3.2 million workers.

Can you imagine the increased productivity and tax revenues if 3+ million workers entered the workforce en masse?

In-lieu of an increase or decrease in tax rates, what would be the impact be on the nation’s bottom line if all of these people were filing tax returns under existing rates each spring?

Instead of never-ending arguing about tax legislation wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on increasing the number of taxpayers?

Scared Of The Service Economy?

As America has matriculated from an agrarian-to-manufacturing-to-a-service-oriented economy brute strength, ignorance and testosterone has lost value. The upswing has been enjoyed by the fairer gender, albeit pay rates are not at parity.

As a result way too many hard-working women who can are supporting far too many sedentary men who won’t.

What would happen if these women realized they would be better off without these parasitical men?

What if they threatened to drop the hydrogen bomb and declare to their young retirees: “you can and you must” learn to add value to the service economy.

Yes, there are some who can’t … but not all of the record 9 million souls on disability. Is there really nothing some of these recipients can do to participate in society to make a difference? Are all of them just waiting for that day when they can’t operate the remote or video game controller?

In some cases for idle men, it’s just plain old arrogance. They appear to be rising out of their respective chairs to go out and find a job, but for some reason … that dog just won’t hunt.

These men can, but they won’t. There is always an excuse.

“I have to sign a document.” “I have to urinate in a cup.” “I have to …

How do you spell the word, F-R-A-U-D?

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate

 

Mark Parker of Nike is also one of my mutual fund advisors.

Ditto for Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com

Let’s not forget of Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been told to invest anything and everything into mutual funds.

For the record 70 percent of your author’s Charles Schwab portfolio is held in mutual funds, the largest amount managed by William Danoff of the Fidelity Contrafund.

Having made this point, let’s take a contrarian stand.

Why can’t investors create their own mutual fund comprised of individual and diversified stocks within their own portfolios?

Whoa … aren’t you the investor taking on too much … risk? Shouldn’t you diversify?

The humble answers are “not necessarily” and “yes.”

As legendary investor Peter Lynch once said: “Know what you own, and know why you own it.”

When it comes to investing and in the spirit of Lynch’s axiom, Almost DailyBrett follows these self-formulated rules:

  • Never invest in a stock in which you personally detest/loathe the lead executive (e.g., Oracle’s Larry Ellison)
  • Buy shares in firms you personally use or have a 100 percent understanding of how the company makes money (e.g., Apple).

For example, ever cutesy Scott McNealy of extinct Sun Microsystems once labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as Ballmer and Butthead. McNealy would have been funny, if his company stock wasn’t trading at the very same time at $3 per share.

Whatever happened to Scott McNealy? His company was devoured by Oracle.

Another example: your author won’t touch Bitcoin because even though it is the choice of money launderers around the world, the crypto currency is not associated with any country and there is zero logical explanation of how it makes money.

Isn’t Tim Cook A CEO?

Why is Tim Cook my mutual fund portfolio manager?

Doesn’t Cook run the largest capitalized – $1 trillion-plus – publicly traded company in the world? Absolutely.

Almost DailyBrett clearly understands that Apple is not a mutual fund, but still it offers the complexity, confidence and diversity of a mutual fund.

Apple plays in the hardware (i.e., smart phones, tablets, wearables, PCs) space. Ditto for software (e.g., iOS) and services (e.g., iTunes). Think of it this way, Apple has as many if more investors as any mutual fund … including mutual funds themselves – both buy side and sell side institutional investors – and 75 million shares recently bought by Warren Buffett too.

And who runs this diversified enterprise with the expectation of $60 billion to $62 billion on the top line in the next (fourth) quarter? Revenues grew 17 percent year-over-year. Gross margin remained steady at 38 percent. EPS jumped year-over-year from $1.67 to $2.34 and dividends grew from $0.63 to $0.73.

The dilemma for every Apple investor, particularly today, is when is it time to ring the register at least for a portion of the shares? Almost DailyBrett does not hear very many bells clanging.

There is little doubt that Apple is tearing the cover off the ball. Apple has proven it is not necessarily the number of smart phones sold – even though these mobile devices are an absolute must for our lives – in many ways it is the average sales price, climbing closer to four figures for every unit.

Back to Danoff and Fidelity Contrafund. Today it has a reported $130 billion in assets under management. Cook counters with $1 trillion in investor confidence in Apple’s shares.

Which “mutual fund” manager would you choose, if you could only select, one?

And for diversification, you package Apple with Boeing (U.S. commercial airliner and defense aircraft innovator and manufacturer) …

And Nike, the #1 athletic apparel manufacturer in die Welt.

Finally, Almost DailyBrett has bought Salesforce.com nine times and sold eight times for a profit. To describe Salesforce.com as business software company seriously understates its business strategy.

With all due respect to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Salesforce.com is THE Cloud pioneer selling software as a service (SaaS) to enterprises around the world.

Let’s see: Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce.com in the Almost DailyBrett mutual fund.

Is your author right? Only time will tell. Will this “mutual fund” adjust and change its holdings? No doubt.

Here’s the point: As Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments would say, it’s time to “graduate” from pure mutual funds.

There is risk associated with selecting stocks for your portfolio, but isn’t that also the case for mutual funds? Some think that mutual funds are no brainers. Not true, and let’s not forget the fees.

When it comes to my “mutual fund” portfolio — AAPL, BA, NKE, CRM — the only fees yours truly pays are $4.95 per trade.

Not bad, not bad at all.

https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/summary/316071109

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/07/apple-reports-third-quarter-results/

Whatever happened to Mr. Magnum, P.I.?

Whatever happened to“The Fonz?”

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember learning about predatory reverse mortgages on “Happy Days.”

Using celebrities in advertisements has been de rigueur since the Earth cooled.

Some of us remember O.J. slicing and dicing his way through airports on behalf of Hertz.

There is element of sadness when you learn that once-well-known and admired actors and entertainers are now lending what is left of their reputation and fame to extol … reverse mortgages to susceptible elderly people with life-preserver nest eggs.

Usually the “Has it come to this?” questions apply to one-time headliners (i.e., REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Moody Blues, ZZ Top) being reduced to playing desert casinos or county fairs.

Guess, they can get out there and play “Sharp Dressed Man” just one more time.

From Magnum, P.I. to AAG

“I’ve done my homework. And I know how dedicated AAG is to helping retirees in a caring, ethical way. I trust them. I think you can too.” – Selleck reading the teleprompter during American Advisors Group’s (AAG) two-minute spot

“These companies (AAG, $400,000 fine, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, $325,000 fine, Aegean Financial $65,000 fine) tricked consumers into believing they could not lose their homes with a reverse mortgage. All mortgage brokers and lenders need to abide by federal advertising disclosure requirements in promoting their products.” — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.

Hey Tom, did your “homework” include the 2016 $400,000 fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against caring and ethical, AAG?

According to the bureau, AAG “tricked” seniors into thinking they could never default on a reverse mortgage loan. The truth is seniors still must pay their property taxes, hold insurance on the property and maintain their residences. These loans are NOT zero brainers.

Do you still “trust” AAG, Tom? AAG has been fined for “tricking” seniors, and the ads — starring little ole you — are still running.

Do you care?

Almost DailyBrett has natural admiration/affinity for Selleck based upon the fact he is obviously talented, served as a Navy Seal, and went to the University of Southern California … May The Horse Be With You.

This blog post is one of sadness. Everyone has to make a living. We trade upon what we do well and in many cases, who knows us. We also have a precious personal reputation to safeguard and protect.

Once your good name is gone, it’s gone. And that’s the issue here.

As a public relations counselor, your author would have asked Tom Selleck:

‘Has it come to this, Tom?’ Really, Tom?

‘Is there no better way at this point in your successful career to make a buck? Does the indisputable fact that AAG was fined $400,000 for deceptive advertising mean anything to you? Do you really want to associate your good name with shameless false advertising?’

“Fonzie,” What Happened?

Henry Winkler, you were television’s answer to James Dean.

There you were, Mr. Ultra-Cool in your black bomber jacket and white t-shirt on Happy Days.

And here you are today in a standard light-blue colored shirt, a few belt sizes larger, pitching reverse mortgages for One Reverse Mortgage.

Seems like you and Tom Selleck caught the same dollar-driven disease.

Guess, coolness doesn’t matter anymore.

For the record, One Reverse Mortgage has not been fined by the CFPB. Does that really matter when it comes to Winkler’s image and reputation? Personal brands are indeed valuable.

Almost DailyBrett, who likewise is putting a few miles on the odometer (there is still plenty of gas in the tank) was shocked when he first saw Winkler in these reverse mortgage commercials. Getting old is a bummer.

This blog is already on the record about time shares, annuities and reverse mortgages. Each is a multi-billion business. The winners without a doubt  in each and every case are the salesmen/saleswomen, and most of all … the pitchmen to vulnerable seniors (e.g., Selleck and Winkler).

Reverse mortgage advertising star, former Senator Fred Thompson, couldn’t line his casket with his AAG money.

Messrs. Selleck and Winkler, you won’t be able to take your earnings to the after life either.

When your respective days are done, future generations will be left to ponder about your diminished reputations, if they think about you at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAui0vUT88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eIIQ6s_u0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhGparW6KQ

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-reverse-mortgage-companies-deceptive-advertising/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/would-you-trust-tom-selleck-with-your-life-savings.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Selleck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Winkler

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: