Volatile Bounce-Back, Grand Coalition, Apple-Shazam: CEO Daily for February 7, 2018
Practical-minded businesspeople may be tempted to dismiss this week’s wild market gyrations the same way they dismiss Trump’s tweets—mere noise that obscures the music. The fundamentals of the economy are good, earnings are strong, inflation and interest rates are low, so why worry?
But there’s a signal in there somewhere. Yes, algorithmic trading of volatility-related derivatives had a lot to do with the market’s roller coaster ride. But so did legitimate uncertainty about the future. For the last decade, the world has been awash in easy money—the result of an unprecedented experiment in monetary policy. As the flood recedes, rocks will emerge. To quote Warren Buffett: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked.”
There was no great harm done in this week’s swoon. Despite swings Tuesday that covered 1,200 points on the Dow, it remains close to where it started the year. But consider this a warning. Rough swimming ahead.
More news below.
It seems like everything that was crashing is back up again in the last day. The Dow Jones, S&P 500, FTSE 100, Stoxx 600, Dax, Topic, Nikkei, and Hang Seng—all up. Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies are also rebounding after their big crash, with Bitcoin up 26.5% on the day. Tuesday was tumultuous though, starting with big losses; the Dow even entered technical correction territory. Financial Times
Grand Coalition Hope
Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have agreed on the principles of a new German "grand coalition," five months after the general election. The SPD would win control of the finance ministry, with Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz reportedly tipped to become finance minister. It's not a done deal yet: the SPD's grassroots members still have to give their approval, which could take a few weeks. Politico
The European Union's competition authorities have taken over national regulators' scrutiny of Apple's proposed Shazam takeover. Shazam is an app that recognizes songs, and it would give Apple a lot of data about people's musical interests. European regulators are increasingly inspecting deals for their data-accumulation impact, rather than just looking at their traditional financials. Wall Street Journal
Wynn Loses Post
The casino magnate Steve Wynn has had to step down as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts following several claims of sexual misconduct. Former employees claim Wynn coerced them into performing sex acts. Wynn denies the claims but said he cannot be effective in his professional roles due to "an avalanche of negative publicity." NBC News
Around the Water Cooler
Space Race Call
Elon Musk wants to see a new space race, he said after the successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. The Falcon Heavy can carry bigger loads into orbit than anything else out there, and Musk wants it to form the basis of SpaceX's Martian colonization plans. In fact, he reckons it can "launch things direct to Pluto and beyond." Fortune
President Donald Trump wants a big military parade, after he saw one in France last year. The Pentagon said the planning process is in its "infancy." If it goes ahead, the parade will likely cost millions of dollars—it's not cheap to ship in tanks and other military hardware so they can trundle along Washington, D.C.'s streets. CNN
First Modern Britons Were Black
DNA analysis of a famous fossilized skeleton in Somerset, England, has shown that the first modern Britons had "dark to black skin." Cheddar Man, as the skeleton is known, lived shortly after settlers crossed from mainland Europe to Britain at the end of the last Ice Age. "These imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all," said archaeologist Tom Booth. Guardian
L.A. Times Deal
Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong—Fortune profiled him in 2013—is nearing a deal to buy the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune from Tronc, according to an anonymously-sourced report in the Times, which should have pretty good access to the relevant people in this story. The deal is apparently worth almost $500 million. L.A. Times