Skip to Content

Uber CFO, Auto Tariffs, Busy Facebook: CEO Daily for August 22, 2018

Good morning.

Unless stocks suffer a catastrophic collapse today, the bull market will become the longest in history. Kind of. Turns out measuring bull markets isn’t exactly a science.

The standard definition is a stock rise uninterrupted by a 20% correction, on a closing basis. By that definition, this one has lasted 3,453 days. But turns out the market pullback from July 16 to Oct. 11, 1990, actually was only 19.9%. Only with rounding does that interrupt what would be an even longer bull market. Then there are the other analysts who argue the standard bull market definition isn’t sufficiently nuanced. If you care enough to explore further, try this story on MarketWatch.

But despite its advanced age, the bull market shows little sign of ending. The S&P 500 hit a new intraday high yesterday, driven by optimism that the U.S. and China would work out their trade woes. And despite years of concerns about interest rate rises, the ten year rate remains improbably below 3%—and roughly zero when adjusted for inflation. President Trump may complain about interest rate hikes, but there is little evidence of tight credit. That’s why some strategists are arguing the bull market could still have room to run. Barrons is betting it will end sometime in 2020.

By the way, anyone who doubts the strong connection between this bull market and President Trump should consider this: stock futures dropped yesterday on reports that Michael Cohen had pled guilty and implicated Trump in the process. The bulls want Trump to stay.

More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

Top News

Uber CFO

Uber has hired a new chief financial officer, Nelson Chai, who sounds like just the individual to help steer an IPO. Chai used to work for Merrill Lynch and New York Stock Exchange parent NYSE Euronext, and his first CFO role involved taking Archipelago Holdings public. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi: “He will be a great partner for me and the entire management team as we move towards becoming a public company.” Wall Street Journal

Auto Tariffs

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross yesterday postponed his August deadline for producing a report on potential auto tariffs against European cars, in order to accommodate ongoing negotiations with the European Commission—only for President Trump to then tell a rally that “we’re going to put a 25% tax on every car that comes into the United States from the European Union.” CNBC

Busy Facebook

Facebook has carried out another mass takedown of disinformation accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Interestingly, this time Russia isn’t the only culprit—some of the accounts were associated with Iranian state media. And also interestingly, this time Facebook appears to have coordinated its efforts with Twitter, which also nixed hundreds of accounts, many of which were Iranian. Wired

American Airlines

Rising fuel prices have led American Airlines to cut some of its international routes, including Chicago-Shanghai—Chicago-Beijing’s cancellation had already been announced. The carrier will also fly from Chicago to Tokyo three times a week rather than daily. VP of network planning Vasu Raja: “The two China routes, to a lesser degree, Tokyo, have been colossal loss makers for us.” CNBC

Around the Water Cooler

Slack Cash

Slack, the workplace messaging platform, has raised $427 million in a round that gives it a valuation of over $7.1 billion—a boost from the $5.1 billion valuation it got in a round last September. Slack apparently has over 8 million active daily users now, which is around twice the number from the same time last year. Over 70,000 groups are ponying up for the premium version. Fox Business

Musk Vacation

It’s a strange state of affairs when a CEO’s brief vacation becomes newsworthy in itself, but that’s how it is with Elon Musk, whose admitted workaholism and general mental health have become the subject of intense scrutiny. After the Tesla chief referenced a visit to his brother’s wedding in an interview, Bloomberg used his tweets and flight data to piece together the narrative of the trip: Musk went to Spain for the wedding, then took his kids to Northern Ireland. The upshot? “For five days this summer, Tesla Inc. survived without Elon Musk on the factory floor.” Bloomberg

Venezuela Devaluation

Venezuela’s drastic devaluation of its bolivar currency made for an eerie day yesterday, as people struggled to get their hands on the new “sovereign bolivar.” Business remained closed and people stayed at home. Meanwhile, Caracas was also shaken by an earthquake along the country’s northern coastal region. BBC

Against Halfspeak

Fortune editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf has written a splendid piece about the insidious blurring of the “meaning of words we think we understand”—”halfspeak” as opposed to clouding the conversation with jargon. Rudy Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” is the case in point here. As Leaf writes: “The tool, sadly, is effective, inflicting a blunt force trauma on the real meaning of words and things…The bruised and bloodied here aren’t so much other politicians, but the grand institutions that have kept America free and flourishing for nearly two and a half centuries. If truth ends up not becoming truth as a result, the damage may last as long.” Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.