20 December 2022
US large-cap S&P 500 closed 0.9%DOWN 🔻 Tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 1.49% DOWN 🔻 Pan European STOXX Europe 600 closed 0.36% UP ▲ HK’s Hang Seng Index closed 0.5% DOWN 🔻 Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 1.05% DOWN 🔻
📊 IN THE MARKETS
Don’t Fight The Fed, Bad Santa, Meta antitrust, Fear of Covid, Rats+Maggots+SBF, Luxury lives on Web3
Musk: Are you not entertained? (Is Twitter’s board of directors?)TikTok clock ticking (again)
📖 MoneyFitt EXPLAINS
🎓 The Board of Directors (public and private companies)
📊 IN THE MARKETS
Another weak December day in stockmarkets overnight as confusion continued over the difference between rather firm Wall Street forecasts (inflation behind us, recession coming, US interest rates to peak under 5% and then roll over in 2023) and “hawkish” comments from central banks in the US and Europe (inflation not under control, interest rates to peak over 5.1% and staying high into 2024, “softish landing” with recession avoidable.)
The general market response has been to go back to the default trader’s position: “Don’t Fight The Fed”, even –or perhaps especially– if you think they’re wrong. (One bearish scenario: inflation is beaten but central banks keep hiking, signs of recession kick in but the wrong ones so interest rates stay high… and only come down once the recession spirals out of control. You’re welcome.)
So not much of a “Santa Claus Rally” so far… but it’s not too late (historically, there’s been a small effect where stocks rally in the final five trading days of the year, extending into the first two of the new year.)
In happier news: Trustbusters! Meta fell on major flexing from EU antitrust regulators. The Commission said it would investigate Meta for breaching EU antitrust laws by distorting competition in markets for online classified advertising (with Facebook Marketplace) and abusing its dominant position (with Facebook.) If there is sufficient evidence that “Facebook users have no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace” on top of “unfair trading conditions” on competing online classified ads services on Facebook and Instagram, it could impose a fine of up to 10% of the company’s global revenues.
Hong Kong gave up its mild Friday rally despite weekend comments from China that it would stabilise its economy in 2023 and maintain ample liquidity in financial markets. Markets will be watching China’s central bank, The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) which will set its one-year and five-year Loan Prime Rates (LPR) later today, but greater focus is on media reports (e.g. in the FT: “… bodies have been seen at hospitals and crematoria”) about the number of Covid-positive deaths in Beijing and unofficial estimates suggesting 40% of the capital’s 22mn people have contracted the Omicron variant. On Monday, China reported just two COVID-related deaths, the first to be reported since 3rd December, days before Beijing lifted curbs.
And after experiencing a week in a rat and maggot infested Bahamian jail (without a vegan dietary option), the disgraced former CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried is dropping his fight against extradition to the US. He faces up to 115 years in prison if he’s convicted on all eight charges filed by the US Department of Justice, though “white-collar” criminals rarely serve statutory maximum sentences. (If he does, he’d be 145 on release.)
Adding it up:
2x Wire fraud (each maximum sentence of 20 years)2x Wire fraud conspiracy (each maximum 20 years)One of money-laundering (maximum 20 years)Conspiracy to commit commodities fraud (maximum 5 years)Conspiracy to commit securities fraud (maximum 5 years)Conspiracy to defraud the US and commit campaign finance violations (maximum 5 years)
In *Real World* Luxury + Web3 intersection intersection news, Dolce & Gabbana’s latest NFT drop was called “The Drip Collection,” featuring 2,000 digital bears designed by artist GianPiero D’Alesandro, with each bear wearing one of 21 products taken from the D&G vault. Holders of the NFTs will be able to redeem D&G garments which match their bears next year and receive a signed physical print.
Meanwhile, luxe watchmaker H. Moser has unveiled a holistic ecosystem in partnership with Deloitte with a dedicated app for watch authentication through blockchain technology plus (of course) exclusive access to H.Moser’s Swiss chalet in the metaverse space and NFT digital artworks and a physical limited-edition 50-piece release of a timepiece with its own unique QR code, engraved on sapphire crystal for additional benefits (purchase priority, invitations to exclusive events etc.)
Musk: Are you not entertained? (Is Twitter’s board of directors?)
Somehow barging his way into our consciousness yet again is none other than Elon Musk. First off was a policy to prohibit promoting links –calling it “free promotion”– to six other social media platforms and a couple of the more popular “link-in-bio” aggregator sites that even “walled garden” Instagram permits. Then again, Instagram was among the platforms banned, along with stablemate Facebook, Mastodon (clunky alt-Twitter) and Trump’s Truth Social plus some others.
Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the company’s new policy “doesn’t make sense” (having in April said “Elon is the singular solution I trust”) and long-time supporter and influential VC, Paul Graham, tweeted “This is the last straw. I give up. You can find a link to my new Mastodon profile on my site” and promptly aand hilariously got suspended (before getting reinstated. By Musk. Against the new policy.)
From Doha, Musk then tweets “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes,” Musk said. “My apologies. Won’t happen again.” The policy was then reversed and a new poll went up asking if Twitter should ban accounts with “the main purpose of advertising other social media platforms.” (MFM would prefer to vote on this.)
And then this:
Is this a genius move to create enough buzz to draw more users onto the platform and force advertisers back on? Is it a David Cameron-level misjudgment of support? Is it a cry for help after getting booed on stage at a comedy club? Perhaps just head-fake where results won’t matter since he will be introducing his planned successor anyway? (Replying to one comment, Musk tweeted “There is no successor”.)
The point of this segment: Twitter is a very influential though not dominant media company and must comply with regulations and competition policies. Companies, whether public, meaning traded on a stock exchange like Tesla, or private, like Twitter, have a “board of directors” 🎓 which has a responsibility to the company’s shareholders and oversees the top levels of management of that company. But using his majority shareholding and voting power (and rather docile bankers and minority co-investors) Elon Musk dissolved Twitter’s entire 9-person board of directors as part of his takeover and became “sole director”, as confirmed in a securities filing made public on October 31st. In other words, regulators will be watching, but Musk can pretty much do what he wants with Twitter and, for now, can create (and destroy) value at will.
TikTok clock ticking (again)
US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has proposed banning TikTok in a bipartisan bill, with national security concerns about the platform’s ownership by a Chinese company and whether Beijing can access American users’ data or influence the content they see.
Also reflecting the app’s reach outside the teen/pre-teen demographic that many still believe is its entire market, the US Senate passed legislation last week to ban federal employees from accessing TikTok from government devices.
Interestingly, 60% of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance of China is now owned by funds run by leading non-China private equity and asset management funds including Fidelity, BlackRock, KKR, General Atlantic and Sequoia.
Incidentally, the “secret sauce” of TikTok’s success isn’t its algo feeding you what you’ve “told” it you want to see –they all do that, even Reels– but its swipe-up scrolling design: “Eliminating conscious decision-making from the user experience means… people will watch these videos if they show up in their feed but won’t explicitly click on them.”
Thank you for spending a few minutes of your time with us. Remember to take time for yourself and be thankful for what you have.
📖 MoneyFitt EXPLAINS
🎓🤖 The Board of Directors (public and private companies)
A company’s board of directors is a group of individuals elected by the shareholders of the company to represent their interests and oversee the management of the company.The board is responsible for making strategic decisions that guide the direction of the company and ensure that it is operating in a financially and ethically responsible manner. In order to fulfil these responsibilities, the board of directors has a number of legal duties and liabilities.The duty of care requires the board to act in the best interests of the company and to exercise due diligence and care in making decisions.The duty of loyalty requires the board to act in the best interests of the company and not engage in self-dealing or any other activity that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.The duty of oversight requires the board to monitor the management of the company and take corrective action when necessary. Board members can also be held personally liable for any illegal or unethical actions taken by the company.In summary, the board of directors plays a crucial role in the governance and management of a company, and it is essential that they fulfil their responsibilities and liabilities in order to ensure the success and integrity of the company.
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