Tag Archive: Wall Street


“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t.” – Senator Bernie Sanders

Ever wonder why there are so few in the street carrying pitch forks?

Ditto for nocturnal torch-light parades?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Wall Street added $3.3 trillion in market capitalization (share prices x number of shares) since November 8. Translated: Investors are more than $3 trillion to the better since the election.

Whatever metric is used, the stock indices are sharply upward to the right: The NASDAQ increased 28 percent since the election, the S&P 500 is up 27 percent, and the Dow advanced 20 percent.According to Gallup, 55 percent of Americans owned individual stocks, stock mutual funds or managed 401(k) portfolios or IRAs in 2016. That figure is understandably down from 65 percent right before the economic crash in 2007, but it has been steadily advancing since then.

Almost DailyBrett will go out on the limb, and will contend the 55 percent number has grown since the historic 2016  election.

Predictably, the Gallup survey revealed that 88 percent of American families making over $75,000 are invested in individual securities, mutual funds and 401(k)s and IRAs. More than half of those (56 percent) making between $30,000 and $75,000 are invested in stocks.

The survey also revealed that 73 percent with bachelor’s degrees own stocks, mutual funds or invest retirement accounts, and 83 percent with master’s degrees or above also are investing in these same U.S. markets.

When one takes a second to ponder that 55 percent of middle-and-upper income Americans are participating in stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) portfolios and IRAs, the conclusion is obvious: America now has an investor class that is growing in numbers and wealth.

What’s the alternative for those investing for their retirement, their children’s education or that dream vacation? Bank interest rates that barely keep up with inflation? Speculative real estate? Stashing gobs of cash under the bedroom mattress?

And yet there was an ill-fated movement to tarnish America’s markets, Occupy Wall Street.

And now there are efforts in a handful of progressive states to impose a 20 percent “privilege tax” on the fees of financial advisors. Hmmm … wonder if this tax will be passed onto investors, the very same people who are trying to fund their retirement or college for their kids?

Attacking The Cash Cow?

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton.

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney.

What do Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have in common besides being guilty of lambasting literally millions of people in one unwise campaign utterance?

They both lost the presidency.

Winston Churchill once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Wall Street will never be perfect. The playing field has never been flat. Having said that, far more win with stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) plans and IRAs than lose. It has been upward to the right on a jagged line since 1929.

Maybe that is the reason why America has a more-than-half of its working age population investing in global markets. And for those investing, the six-plus months since the election has produced a record modern-era, bull market for any new president.

Granted, there will be those in the streets who bode ill for American markets, favor “privilege taxes” to stimulate more compulsory redistribution, and are maybe just a tad nostalgic for the mismanaged Occupy Wall Street debacle.

Do they really want to attack Wall Street and by extension America’s 55 percent and growing, investor class heading into the mid-terms of 2018 and beyond? Are these overheated rhetorical thrusts, smart politics?

If they relish in glorious defeat, they can insult America’s investor class to the content of their bleeding hearts.

They also should consider and ponder that America now has a new quiet majority, who fund their dreams with a simple click of the mouse while watching the tickers on CNBC.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/182816/little-change-percentage-americans-invested-market.aspx

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/01/statement-president-trump-paris-climate-accord

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2017/04/26/millennials-and-investing/100559680/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/illinoiss-privilege-tax-proposal-forgets-citizens-right-to-leave-1495834522

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5922&action=edit

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/20/stuart-varney-trump-has-already-made-america-4-trillion-richer-with-just-six-months-in-office.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t foment. You can’t create an impression a stock is down. You do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” – Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

“Apple is very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and AT&T have decided they don’t like the phone (iPhone). It’s very easy to do. It’s also easy to spread the rumor the phone is not ready for Macworld.”  — Cramer explaining how shorting hedge-fund managers drive down a company’s stock price through rumor mongering

“I want the Jim Cramer of CNBC (Mad Money host) to protect me from that Jim Cramer (Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager) – Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

Many of us watched Jon Stewart take apart Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The legendary 2009 interview went viral, including Cramer’s bragging about short selling, even among those who do not subscribe to the notion of buying low and selling high.

Here’s a predictable sports metaphor that brings into question the morality of short selling.

Every sports fan knows there are teams that far-too-many of us love to hate (i.e. New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Todgers …). We will happily pop open a cold one and sit in front of the Hi-Def and root against these teams and many others. We want them to lose, and lose big.

Having acknowledged this indisputable fact of life, will we spend our hard-earned money to travel to their respective stadia or watch them on our home team fields, courts, ice rinks solely to indulge in an exercise of Schadenfreude, delighting in their misery when they lose? You are rooting against them and not necessarily for your team.

Don’t we have better things to do with our money and time than negative rooting?

Moving from metaphor to reality, should the cunning few take their discretionary investment dollars and place a trade – a short sell – with the intent of cashing-out based not upon a publicly traded company’s stock rising, but instead losing value for the vast majority of investors and their employees?

Before going any further, Almost DailyBrett must acknowledge that short selling is perfectly legal (it shouldn’t be), but the question remains: Is it moral? Yes, some may be wondering how morality and Wall Street work in tandem. Believe it or not, there is synergy when it comes to investing and morality.

For example, each of America’s 5,900 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ is legally required to practice fiduciary responsibility (don’t glaze over). Translated: Every company is obligated to do the best job possible to drive the top line (revenues) and raise the bottom line (net income or loss).

The beneficiaries of fiduciary responsibility are America’s Investor Class, the 55 percent of our nation that invests in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. When “Wall Street” is attacked, the hopes and dreams of literally millions for a comfortable retirement, their children’s college education, their donations to worthy charities, their once-in-a-lifetime vacations, are under siege as well.

The Big Short

“Stormy weather in Shortville … “— Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweet mocking short sellers

The literally millions of short trades fly directly in the face of the aspirations of middle-class and lower-upper class investors, who realize you can’t finance dreams through negligible bank interest rates and ping-ponging real estate. That’s why they turn En-masse to equities, bonds and mutual funds (e.g., IRAs and 401Ks).

For example, there are those (including the author of Almost DailyBrett) who invest in Elon Musk and Tesla. They are supporting the development of electric cars, ion lithium batteries and solar power, all intended to transport millions and provide energy – all without contributing to climate change.

And yet 31 million of Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) 163.1 million shares are sold short or about $8.46 billion in market capitalization or value that these traders are hoping will simply plunge big time to their greedy benefit.

Alas for them and hooray for the rest of us the Tesla short sellers are taking it in the shorts.

As we saw in the Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Big Short, there were cunning and callous short sellers who bet big time – and won – against the U.S. real estate market and thousands of underwater and underperforming mortgages.

They won, while literally hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were trapped in properties they could not afford, thus triggering the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Almost DailyBrett believes the government regulates enough thank you very much. But should the feds (e.g., SEC, DOJ, FTC) take a long-and-hard look at short selling?

If the goal of the shorts is pure unmitigated greed, while literally hundreds of thousands suffer and see their hopes and dreams dashed, then short selling is not only wrong morally, but it should be frickin’ illegal as well.

http://www.goldmansachs.com/

http://www.biography.com/people/jon-stewart-16242282

http://www.cnbc.com/jim-cramer/

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/gliow5/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–3

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/movies/review-in-the-big-short-economic-collapse-for-fun-and-profit.html?_r=0

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-stocks-idUSKBN17522H

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/TSLA/key-statistics?p=TSLA

“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

Remember when people were content to be unambitious, sleep until 11, hang out with their friends? You had no occupation whatsoever, maybe working a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop … Portland is a city where young people go to retire.” – Lyrics to the Portlandia theme song, “The Dream of the 90s Is Alive in Portland”portlandia90s

You don’t set an alarm. Why would you? You don’t need to. You wake up … whenever.

You reach over to your mobile device …Ahh, yes … your $2,555 + $642 for each dependent child monthly UBI (Universal Basic Income) check has been direct deposited into your communal credit union account.

Your minimal effort wage amounts to an annual salary of $30,660 for a single, $61,320 for a couple and $76,728 for a family of four.

Life is good. Life is always good. There are no more challenges.

Should you go back to sleep or do whatever?

What time is it anyway?

Since you don’t wear a watch, you really don’t know or care … You sleep comfortably knowing that you are — through your inaction — contributing to the end of welfare as we know it. The reason: The “safety net” extends to us all.UBI

Many support free education as a matter of right. But let’s pose an obvious question right now: Why do you need an education when a paycheck is heading your way regardless of what you know or don’t know?

Literally tens of thousands of Americans back extending Medicare benefits to everyone as a matter of right. Certainly Medicare-for-all will be an extension of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Right?

And how many on the left and on the right have complained vocally about our welfare system with its unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability programs?

Why not include everyone and be done with it?

Switzerland already voted on Universal Basic Income last month. It was nip-and-tuck, but UBI came up on the short-end, 77-23 percent.UBIBern

Fret not; every worthwhile movement endures character-building setbacks at the onset only to prevail. Didn’t Chairman Mao’s Long March begin with the first step? Besides, won’t we all eventually vote our self-interest for free-money from the government as a basic right?

Is There A Catch?

With any nifty proposition, there are always those naysayers who may raise some annoying questions about UBI.

What about the $20 trillion national debt and counting? Wouldn’t UBI become the ultimate entitlement program sending the stratospheric red-ink ledger out of the galaxy?

Wait a minute: Isn’t money simply a creation of capitalistic greed? And doesn’t the basic right to income trump (no pun intended) alles?

For example, the nattering nabobs of negativism will want to know how UBI will be financed. Easy, the ill-begot profits of publicly traded companies and related Wall Street transaction taxes will be redistributed to a fund for UBI payouts.

Instead of putting resources into new innovation, building a business, paying out dividends and rewarding stellar employees, the entrepreneurs/achievers at publicly traded companies and unicorns will redirect via the government the remainder (e.g., profit) between revenues and expenses to pay UBI recipients.

What would happen to corporations, companies, start-ups and small businesses, their employees and the products, we use on any given day? What would be their incentive to invest, meet challenges and overachieve?

Regardless of what you do or not do, a UBI check is going to be deposited into your checking account. So why make a fuss?UBI

Would global competitors (e.g., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India) follow suit and provide UBI payments to their citizens? Or (gasp) would they continue to compete and work up-to-six-days-per-week to swiftly replace us as the leading economic power on the planet?

Maybe Almost DailyBrett is being a little too skeptical, and hopefully not cynical.

UBI proponents point to the end of capitalism as if that is a desirable goal. With UBI, we would all be grateful for (dependent on) the largesse of the nanny state. The much-vilified Clintonian welfare system would end. Conceivably, the leisure industry would prosper because everyone would be on permanent vacation.

And yet your blog author is primarily bothered by one overriding concern: Is it right to receive money for something I did not earn?

Let’s all compete to the best of our ability and see what happens. Hopefully, there will be more than a few shekels for us all instead of a paycheck we didn’t earn.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/03/technology/plan-to-fight-robot-invasion-at-work-give-everyone-a-paycheck.html?_r=0

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBt4HlcDUDw

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/universal-basic-income/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36454060

http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-06/universal-basic-income-is-ahead-of-its-time-to-say-the-least

https://www.google.com/#q=625+Swiss+francs+to+dollars

 

 

 

 

 

“For some ten years I have kept a journal more or less regularly as a vehicle for adjusting my own perspective. I’ve found it a convenient way of stepping back occasionally to see what forms and shades my sometimes hectic activities were leaving on the canvas of my life.” – Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (1932-2015)cuomo

Seems so simple, and for more than just a few … terrifying.

Just write every day for 15 minutes a day, every day.

That was the advice to post-graduate students by University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Professor Carol Stabile.

Good advice from my former across the cul-de-sac neighbor.stabile

Sorry to say, we are not talking about cumulative texting every day for four hours or more … With all due respect from the author of Almost DailyBrett that is not writing. LOL, SOL, BTW, BRB, JK, FOMO and the timeless WTF do not and will never constitute written expression or even coming close to contributing to the canvas of life.

Instead, we are discussing the practice of actually sitting down each and every day and writing for 15 minutes or longer.

Why would we want to do that? How about to improve our writing and thinking abilities?

Here’s the key question: What should you write about?

If you are asking that particular question, it may point to another issue: You may not be reading enough.

Yes in order to write; you need to read and read and read …

Canvas of Life

“An astrologist sent me a horoscope that said I was going to die on election day. I don’t know if she meant literally or figuratively. Just in case she means it literally, I think I’ll vote early.” – Cuomo diary on 1982 general election eve

Cuomo’s diaries of his difficult 1982 Democratic primary against NYC mayor Edward Koch and general election campaign for the governorship of New York were a hit in the mid-1980s.

Considering that my boss (e.g., Governor George Deukmejian) went through a similar process in the same year, just from the other side of the aisle, and across the country in California drew me to Cuomo’s diaries.

Cuomo wrote in the pre-dawn hours before heading out for a full-and-frantic day of politicking. Guess there are some not requiring the standard eight-hours of sleep that mumsy recommended.

The former New York governor used the old-fashioned pen and journal for his diaries, reflecting the historical fact the IBM PC had just been invented. Today, we will most likely opt for a lap top or tablet to write … even though pen and paper still works in this digital age. Heck Moses used his own tablets thousands of years ago.

There is so much happening in the world to write about, more good than bad. Yep, your author has been accused of being a Pollyanna.unicorn

The Economist just this week wrote about “Unicorns.” Yep, those highly capitalized and inventive, privately held companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion that are in no hurry to take their shares public … Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX, Pinterest, Dropbox, Snapchat …

Some lament the gyrations of Wall Street; sometimes the market is overbought and sometimes it is oversold … the choppy trend line is upward to the right.

Almost DailyBrett wrote about the Silly Season of politics, essentially recommending not getting one’s knickers in a twist about the bloviations of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Believe it or not, the political process has a way of moderating itself.

Summer is upon us (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and it is a magical time of Urlaub that wundervolle Zeit for vacationing, exploring and sampling yummy wines and refreshing microbrews. Ahh … Gemütlichkeit … Le Dolce Vida.

Soon the days will grow shorter, the air will become cooler and the leaves will start to change colors, it will be that magical time: college football season. There is something about the pageantry of the fall spectacle that serves as a rebirth and pleasant thoughts of another New Year’s Day In Pasadena.

Please excuse my bout of positive vibrations. Yes Almost DailyBrett recognizes there is and will always be the cup half-empty portion of the world. This blog is indeed pragmatic and recognizes it is much more difficult to be always positive, than the latter.

Go away Gloomy Gus and Negative Nancy.

The point is this: The Canvas of Life has so much to read about and more importantly to write about.

Sit down for your 15 minutes and write to your heart’s content. And if you are brave enough, publish your journal. The digital ones-and-zeroes of binary code will enable your self-publishing.

It only takes 15 minutes each day, every day.

http://wgs.uoregon.edu/profile/cstabile/

https://cstabile.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/01/us/mario-cuomo-dies-new-york-governor/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/nyregion/mario-cuomo-new-york-governor-and-liberal-beacon-dies-at-82.html?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21659745-silicon-valley-should-be-celebrated-its-insularity-risks-backlash-empire-geeks

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

 

 

 

 

Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street. The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.” – Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.”Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Are the phrases “economic populism” and “social justice” not-so-clever disguises for a full-fledged War on Wall Street?occupy1

Is this another round of the disorganized/nearly forgotten desultory Occupy Wall Street movement now showered, deodorized and all dressed up to make it seem more palatable to the American public?

As we head into the 2016 presidential cycle, one needs to ask:

Is it sound politics, particularly for a general election, to directly take aim on a system in which 52 percent of Americans build their hard-earned wealth through the investment in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for an active retirement, their children’s college education, a second career or something grand on the “bucket list?”

Granted this slightly more than half figure is down significantly from the 65 percent of Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the beginning of 2007, but that year was the beginning of the recession, downturn and economic malaise.

Some are questioning what happened to the middle class, but many are forgetting America’s burgeoning “investor class.” And with 52 percent of the public participating, it obviously applies to far more than just 1 percent of the American population. The more than half of all Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in 2013 could be even higher now because of the bull market.gender6

These are the people who invest in IRAs mainly with retail brokers in person or online (i.e., Schwab, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, eTrade, Edward Jones) or designate a percentage of their pre-tax income in 401Ks with a percentage matching from their employer with taxes being deferred until retirement.

According to Gallup, they are for the most part college graduates as 73 percent of those with undergraduate degrees and 83 percent with graduate degrees invest in markets … that would be publicly traded companies on Wall Street.

Money Under the Mattress?

And why would they do that? Consider the alternatives:

How about under the mattress. How about no rate of return?

How about banks? How about 0.02 percent interest rates?

How about real estate? How about the prospect of underwater mortgages?

And you wonder why smart upper, upper-middle and middle class Americans with some disposable income invest in publicly traded American companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ, even though people can lose a portion or all of their investment? The answer is that Wall Street is the best game in town, and with knowledge, diversification, perseverance and a cast-iron stomach, literally millions of people build wealth by investing in our markets and our country.

“Unequal sharing of blessings” 

And what is the raison d’etre of these Wall Street companies? According to ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, passed by a Democratic Congress, publicly traded corporations are legally and morally mandated to drive the bottom line (doing well) for the benefit of their shareholders.

Guess that means they hire hundreds of thousands of Americans and make the products that people around the world want and need. That even includes the upscale coffee, tablets, earphones, cameras, laptops, mobile phones, social media software and operating systems used by Occupy Wall Street and made by (gasp) companies publicly traded on Wall Street.occupy2

Almost DailyBrett senses a disconnect, but does it matter in a party primary when the empty vessels making the most noise have near zero chance of winning the nomination?

Looking down the road to the fall of 2016 would a presidential nominee really want to be saddled with a platform that takes “issue” with major employers of tens of thousands, providing wonderful products and the prospects of solid rates of return for investors? That doesn’t sound like a winning prescription.

It may make the union bosses happy. It may re-energize those with the need to demonstrate just like they did in 1968, but does it make any political sense to attack, demonize and vilify the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg?

Does Wall Street in the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Bear Stearns, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, $6,000 shower curtains, “Race Together,” Bernie Madoff, GM and Chrysler bailouts, BP Deepwater Horizon, excessive executive compensation have major real and perceived public relations problems? Does Wall Street need better reputation management? Absolutely.

At the same time, let’s not lose sight of Corporate Social Responsibility (doing good) and the literally thousands of companies that work to protect the environment (e.g., Starbucks and Conservation International), address climate change (e.g., Tesla), help rebuild communities (e.g., Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity), combat cancer (e.g., Nike founder Phil Knight and Oregon Health and Sciences University) assist low-income children with difficult medical conditions (e.g., Southwest Airlines and Ronald McDonald House) … ehh … wouldn’t that be McDonald’s as well?

For those attacking Wall Street indiscriminately under the banner of “economic populism” aren’t they guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Maybe they should be drinking their own bath water instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clintons-guilt-by-association/2015/06/04/bd836dc4-0b13-11e5-a7ad-b430fc1d3f5c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-who-can-get-ahead-in-the-u-s/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bernie_sanders.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/stock-market-investments-lowest-1999.aspx

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/09/investing/american-stock-ownership/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t want to say much about them as individuals but I’ll just say that this particular fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi — it’s really emblematic in a lot of ways of sort of like elitist fraternity culture … They’re just so incredibly wealthy. Their alumni are very influential … They’re on Wall Street, they’re in politics.” – Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely

“No ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiating process. This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim.” – Statement by Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity

“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”  — Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana apologyUVAfraternity1

Political and corporate PR pros can spot them a mile away.

They are supposed to be objective reporters. However, they harbor a deep-seated ideological agenda.

They are interested only in facts that fit their preconceived narrative and anything and everything else is immediately deemed to be irrelevant and discarded.

They are bound and determined to produce copy (e.g., conventional, digital, broadcast) that triggers an impact. They are committed to social change at your expense.

And they will get away with it, unless there are those with the courage to proclaim they are wrong, dead wrong.

The “Right” Target

“The story and Erdely’s comments about it, moreover, suggest an effort to produce impact journalism … It starts with this business about choosing just the “right” school for the story. What is that all about?” – Erik Wemple of the Washington Post

It’s difficult to find a more sensitive subject than rape on campus, and for good reason. It unfortunately happens, and in each and every case it needs to be addressed quickly, decisively and severely by universities and law enforcement.

Erdely wrote about a student named, Jackie, and an alleged incident at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia on a late September weekend two years ago. The fraternity claims that no social events were scheduled at the house that particular weekend, and steadfastly defends itself.

No alleged perpetrator from the fraternity was interviewed by Erdely for her Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus” piece. The fraternity has been the scene of massive protests and the house was vandalized. Fraternity and sorority activities have been suspended on the UVA campus.

The reliability of Jackie has come into question, so much so that Rolling Stone issued an apology.rollingstonestory

The public relations issue here pertains to targeting, in this case the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

“I made contact with a student activist at the school who told me a lot about the culture of the school — that was one of the important things, sort of criteria that I wanted when I was looking for the right school to focus on,” said Erdely.

Hmmm … She contacted an “activist.” UVA was the “right” school. There was an “elitist fraternity culture.” Their alumni are on “Wall Street.”

Almost DailyBrett must ask: What do these social justice “facts” have to do with campus safety? Zero.

“Dry-by Journalism”

“Like a neighborhood thrown into chaos by drive-by violence, our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century.” — University of Virginia Rector George Keith Martin

“… She (Erdely) did have an agenda and part of that agenda was showing how monstrous fraternities themselves as an institution are and blaming the administration for a lot of these sexual assaults.” – University of Virginia co-ed Alex Pinkleton

There is no doubt about the ideological leaning of music and entertainment-oriented Rolling Stone. The same can be said for oodles of other media outlets, some on the right, more on the left.

If a publication, news aggregator, blogger, broadcaster is known for editorially advocating a certain point of view, it still needs to ensure that its favored ideology is not dominating reporter copy. Forget about objectivity; the majority of these reporters are not fair and balanced, and therefore they really need editors willing to ask the tough post-reporting questions. That obviously didn’t happen at Rolling Stone.rollingstonecover

For the public relations professional of the “target” institution (e.g., Wall Street, Fortune 500 company, major university, incoming majorities in Congress), you must keep your powder dry.

For instance, the University of Virginia needs to be able to immediately cite chapter and verse about anything and everything it does to protect all of its students. There is little doubt this list is extensive. Get ready to recite.

For fraternities on campus, you are a target. Get used to it. Be ready to defend your fraternity.

Forget about going to the editor, the reporter needs to be confronted. This person is not your friend, and never will be your friend. While maintaining your professionalism, you need to call this reporter out. Tell the reporter that your employer is being targeted, and you know this is indeed the case.

Remind that person that you are fully prepared to defend your organization, including using digital self-publishing (e.g., University of Virginia). This most likely will neither be the first time nor the last time you will be in a fight with a reporter. This is all part of the job.

Expect an impassioned response complete with name calling (e.g., class privilege, system of exploitation) all intended to bully, intimidate and stifle dissent.

Let’s face it: The notion of pure objectivity by reporters, editors, bloggers, and correspondents is a joke. The vast majority of reporters have a personal ideology, but the best put these thoughts aside and do their jobs. There are a chosen few, who are not there to report the news, but to “impact” social change. They are not journalists, but activists in disguise.

Ms. Erdely needs to be shown the door by Rolling Stone. Look for her holding up a sign right by the bull statue on Wall Street.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/03/23/charlottesville-police-make-clear-that-rolling-stone-story-is-a-complete-crock/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/15/u-va-rape-survivor-rolling-stone-reporter-had-an-agenda/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/05/rolling-stones-disastrous-u-va-story-a-case-of-real-media-bias/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-board-leader-denounces-drive-by-journalism-of-rolling-stone/2014/12/19/47980410-87b7-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-rolling-stone-rape-story-20141205-story.html

http://www.virginia.edu/

 

“Public scrutiny of business is constant and intense, and in the past decade, disillusionment has grown over excesses in executive pay, questionable accounting practices, drug recalls, and moral laxity on the part of corporations.” — Paul A. Argenti, Professor of Management and Corporate Communication at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Should communication students be encouraged to work for publicly traded companies either from inside the corporation or providing external advice as a hired gun at public relations or advertising agency?

Or should these very same students be galvanized against the excesses of capitalism, demonstrating against Wall Street under the banner of social justice?

floodwallstreet

Are these questions mutually exclusive? Are you either for or against capitalism or for or against social justice?

These questions are magnified and intensified against the backdrop of underachieving employment, wage and real estate markets, while the NYSE and NASDAQ remain persistently bullish.

It appears this persistent economic scenario quite possibly will greet graduating students at least for the next academic year or two.

Examples of Corporate Excess

Finding examples of corporate excess is relatively easy.

Almost DailyBrett has joined the scads of other bloggers that take issue with seemingly brain-dead or just plain greedy antics by the leadership of large-cap publicly traded companies:

  • The author’s former company, LSI Logic, provided a seven-or-eight figure Golden Parachute to former CEO Abhi Talwalkar as he drove the 33-year-old specialty semiconductor designer into the abyss.
  • Spirit Airlines famously stiffed a decorated 76-year old, dying of cancer Marine veteran asking for a mere $197 refund, telling him literally to pound sand because he didn’t buy trip insurance. The carrier generously offered a partial credit, if he succumbed to the Grim Reaper before his flight.
  • October is right around the corner and that means (drum roll) even more corporate efforts to tie marketing bonanzas to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both 5-hour ENERGY and “Buckets for the Cure” KFC have become global leaders when it comes to “Pink Washing.”
  • Largest corporate bankruptcy-ever, Enron, is the poster-child when it comes to corporate greed and wrongdoing. And yet there were innocent people who were just trying to do their job, including telling the corporate story, until they realized they too were being misled.

Considering these examples and literally hundreds more, it is easy to give a broad-sweeping thumbs-down to multi-national corporations. At the same time, it should be remembered that these companies make the products and provide the services that we use on a daily basis (e.g., Apple = Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods). They hire and provide benefits to literally tens of thousands (e.g., Boeing, 168,400; Starbucks, 160,000; Amazon, 88,400; Nordstrom, 58,140), Microsoft, 55,455). They provide wealth-accumulation prospects for the 54 percent of Americans who buy stocks, mutual funds and bonds (e.g., America’s investor class), including 73 percent of college graduates, and 83 percent of post-graduates.

Profit Motive

One of the major beefs espoused by the Occupy Wall Street movement three years ago, and the Flood Wall Street demonstrators earlier this month, is that publicly traded companies are focused on profits. These statements are accurate, but it should also be pointed out that companies have a legal (e.g., Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA 1974) and moral (e.g., Fiduciary) obligation to produce the best bottom-line return possible for shareholders. Failure to do so invites almost certain civil and possible criminal litigation against the companies and potential dismissal of C-level executives.

floodwallstreet1

As a master’s degree candidate four years ago at the University of Oregon, the author of Almost DailyBrett noted the unrestrained celebration of competitive advantage and buy low/sell high mantra at the business school, and the unrestrained embrace of social justice including redistribution of income at the journalism school.

It seemed that one would build a statue of Adam Smith, while the other would throw flowers at the feet of Che Guevara. One would urge students to work and advise corporate America and the other would implore becoming an activist, marching, demonstrating and hopefully not being arrested.

Which is the better option for graduating students in making corporate America, particularly fallible publicly traded companies, more responsive to communities, the environment and let’s not forget, its own employees?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility or CSR should not be seen as an oxymoron. The concept of doing good (CSR) should not be viewed as contradictory to doing well (fiduciary responsibility). Graduates of communications, journalism and business schools can and should emphasize the value of doing BOTH to improve the bottom line for investors, including employees, while doing good deeds for communities, the planet and the rank-and-file employees.

Certainly the likes of Occupy Wall Street, which never found a unifying message, and Flood Wall Street, which tied capitalism to climate change, have their First Amendment Rights to (preferably) peacefully demonstrate. These NGOs need trained communicators and message developers.

Conversely, graduates could also choose to work internally to make companies better. They can stand for both fiduciary and corporate social responsibility. They can advocate against excessive C-level compensation. They can take stands against Pink Washing and Green Washing. They can ensure that the public is provided with good products at fair prices and everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

And heaven forbid, if another Enron is in the offing, they can courageouly tell the uncomfortable truth using their communication skills.

Is it better to be inside the corporation under the banner of capitalism or out in the streets (or in tents) calling for social justice?

There is more than one way to make corporate America better for everyone.

http://exec.tuck.dartmouth.edu/about-us/faculty/paul-argenti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/flood-wall-street-arrests_n_5865468.html

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/climate-change-protesters-flood-wall-street/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/lessons-from-the-spirit-airlines-pr-debacle/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/evil-spirit-airlines/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/5-hour-pink-washing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/shameless-5-hour-energy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/buckets-for-the-cure/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/what-would-you-do-if-you-were-enrons-pr-chief/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/adam-smith-vs-che%e2%80%99-guevera/

 

 

Investing without research is like playing stud poker and never looking at the cards.” – Über-investor and former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Peter Lynch

peterlynch1

Couldn’t help but note Lynch’s gambling metaphor when it comes to investing in global markets.

There are many who absolutely contend, and will not be convinced otherwise, that investing in Wall Street is nothing more and nothing less than gambling. They even talk about playing the market.

Are the Manhattan-based NYSE and the NASDAQ stock markets, Las Vegas East?

Or is Las Vegas, Wall Street West?

Can’t say the author of Almost DailyBrett is an expert about either gambling (never been to Lost Wages) or investing, but I do know enough about Wall Street to be dangerous.

And based upon this finite knowledge, let me proclaim IMHO: Investing in Wall Street is not gambling, provided that you do your homework, and as Peter Lynch has stated, “Invest in what you know.”

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

The academic paper for my M.A. project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication provided the backdrop for the creation of an upper division college course: Strategic Business/Financial Communications. I was privileged to teach the course that I created.

Many students thought that Strategic Business was a math class. Ahh … I flunked geometry in high school. Screw the Pythagorean Theorem. Yours (left-brain challenged) truly cannot and will not ever teach a math class. Instead, communications’ students learned a new language – speaking, writing, hearing, reading – the lexicon of Wall Street.

There is a reason why financial communications/investor relations are easily the highest compensated segments of the public relations profession. According to Salary.com, IR directors received in the range of $97,753 to $201,565 annually in 2013. Corporate PR directors received $86,469 to $167,836 in the same year.

This is serious money, not including stock purchase plans and options. And why is that? Both jobs demand qualitative excellence (e.g., developing relationships with analysts, investors, reporters, employees) and quantitative skills (e.g., reading income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements).

investorrelations

Which brings us back to the point as to why Wall Street is investing and not gambling. The answer lies with responding to a basic question: How does a company make money?

Microsoft sells software and video game consoles. Boeing produces airplanes. Google is the No. 1 search engine. Apple is Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. Nike makes athletic shoes. Amazon is the No. 1 digital retailer etc.

And backing up the answer to these questions is a plethora of facts, figures and information. Looking up a stock on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch.com, The Street.com and others is the easy part.

There are also the aforementioned income statements (revenues and net income…there is a major top-line and bottom-line difference), balance sheets (assets and liabilities), CEO letters, annual reports, analyst reports and more. The sheer volume of this data can be overwhelming, but it is all there, free of charge.

Leading or Trailing Indicator?

“ … Don’t care where a stock has been, only where it’s going.” – CNBC Mad Money Jim Cramer.

Cramer is fond of stating that he really does not care about a stock’s past, only its future. That answers the leading vs. trailing indicator question. Stock prices are an indicator of the expected/anticipated/projected/forecasted upward or downward direction of a company’s business prospects.

cramerbuy

How do we know whether a company is doing well or not? Certainly there are oodles of information online, maybe even too much data. There is also your personal experience.

Ever observe the perpetual line out the door at Starbucks as people queue to pay $4.00 for that overpriced grande mocha with no whip.

Ever notice that Southwest Airlines only offers peanuts and a soda; you can choose your own seat; the airline only flies Boeing 737s; and the flight attendants are actually Pharrell Williams Happy?

Ever note the high prices, superior quality, commitment to service and high-traffic stores at Nordstrom?

And did you ever wonder about all the hoopla about “The Cloud” or the access of Big Data contained in mega servers and offered in manageable chunks by a company such as Salesforce.com?

When one mentions “Hog,” your mind may conjure a barnyard or you may think about high-performance, big muscle motorcycles. Want to invest in one of the country’s great comeback stories? Just enter NYSE: HOG or Harley Davidson into the search engine.

“The House Always Wins”

When one is mathematically challenged, it is best to stay away from Texas hold-em or the black-jack table. Can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase: “The House always wins.”

wallstreetgambling

That’s not to say that there are not legitimate complaints about Wall Street, particularly as it applies to executive compensation for underperforming CEOs. And there are those who contend the market is rigged against the little guy, the retail investor.

There is no doubt that cash is king. And the buy-side (e.g., PERS, Fidelity, Putnam) and the sell-side (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan) own the lion’s share of company shares. The respective analysts for these investment houses naturally draw the most attention from publicly traded company execs.

Having said all of the above, there are still opportunities for the retail (e.g. Charles Schwab, eTrade, TD Waterhouse) investors. The time-tested tenets of diversification, doing your homework, know who you are buying and why, still apply.

Sure beats investing in a 0.02 percent passbook account, plunging hundreds of thousands into real estate that could go underwater, stuffing dollars under the mattress or even playing the Roulette wheel in Vegas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lynch

http://25iq.com/2013/07/28/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-about-investing-from-peter-lynch/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/jim-cramer-stock-picks-money-tips/

http://www.salary.com/

 

 

 

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