January 31, 2021

An Even Better Overview of the Gamestop Mess

Via Pixy

This video comes with the following list of citations in the description.


Like everything nowadays this has become polarized. I've had conversations with and read missives by people, including a few friends who are convinced the Redditards are in the wrong, and are the only bad actor here. Some have made it plain that to disagree with them on this point is to reveal oneself as a bad person. 

Here is where I take off the mask and reveal myself to have been secretly working for the forces of darkness all along. 

I think the Redditards are probably assholes. They likely are vulgar, blunt and rude people, who don't engage in the insincere social niceties so necessary for polite upper middle class society. Hell, they're probably just jerks and I don't think they'd be fun to hang out with.

I do NOT think they did anything wrong here. 

I think the hedgefund  shortsellers in the affair are probably well-spoken affable individuals, articulate and fun to be around. 

I think that shorting struggling companies 140 percent is and this being a common practice, is troubling. I think that the ability of a few firms to do this in such a way it affects the whole market is scary. And I think that the stink of corruption in the firms with fiduciary responsibilities to the hedge funds ; the ones that stopped trading, but not selling, on the very stocks that the hedge funds desperately wanted people to sell...is suss to say the least.   I think that lying about one's liquidity to investors and customers is not a best practice.

Finally, I think that struggling companies that might have turned the corner, not being crushed like grapes before they have the chance to maybe save the livelihoods of their owners, investors and at least some of their employees...well that's not bad per se. 
As for a bunch of assholes making money because they saw a legal opportunity and took it? Well, more power to them. 

Did some people get hurt in this? Yes, those with retirement funds...like mine have gotten burned. But they got hurt, not because some asshole on Reddit NOTICED that hedge funds were manipulating the market, but because the hedge funds pursued a short squeeze in the first place.  

So there, your milage may vary,  but now you all  know. 

The vast depth and breadth of my evil is laid out before you. Get your affairs in order, I'll be crossing the Rivr Isen on Midsummer Eve...and I'll be wearing black. 



(Or something...June 21st is in the middle of my vacation this year but COVID makes it hard to plan. ) 

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January 27, 2021

Leading Indicators

Today was the first day in 2 weeks I've worked more than an hour and a half. There's been an astonishing drop in volume at my work over the last 2 weeks. There always is a severe drop after Christmas, but before Christmas we had Christmas level volume because of the COVID restrictions...which have gotten much more onerous during that time.. Now I'm not laid off, I have sufficient seniority that when they lay people off I can volunteer to be one of them and I've had errands, family issues and doctors appointments so I've taken advantage of that several days, but we're still very short of volume. Even in slack years, even in January, we did not finish unloading packages after an hour and a half on a nominally 4-5 hour shift. 


Given the increasing intensity of he lockdowns and the volume of vaccines that we were getting before this week, one would expect a heavier than normal January. Indeed the first two weeks of the month (which in my 28 years of experience are usually dead) were remarkably heavy. 

In general the end of January and beginning of February are a bit heavier than most of the post-Christmas winter since stores are restocking their inventory. However, this is the very time that we're seeing volume DROP. 

One shipping center is not representative of the company, let alone the economy. In fact it's a ridiculously inadequate data point, but it is concerning, and the lack of pay is of some personal concern. 

U.S. economic numbers lag a fair bit in relation to the current time, so I checked out the Baltic Dry Index, which is a current measure of the cost of international shipping. It is an imperfect metric, particularly now as COVID restrictions have likely added considerable overhead to shipping costs, but in general it is a leading indicator of how robust world trade is, the lower the cost the less trade is happening. 


However, the BDI is an indicator of bulk raw material shipping prices, not retail. It proceeds in fits and starts with production. 

Other leading indicators are at the precise moment that I type this, on a generally downward trend, but I don't know enough to say if it is precipitously so. 



Note that that is a screenshot of an active, constantly updating chart that has one or two indices occasionally switching between red and green. 


The sudden, unexpected drop in volume from its aberrant and bonecrushing highs to lay-offs where I am may be a localized phenomenon and should not be a cause for undue concern. 
A focus group of one is a woefully inadequate data set. 

However, in my 28 years of experience our volume trends quite closely with the overall economic health of the nation, so I'm very curious if anyone else here has noted any drop-offs in economic activity. 

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January 24, 2021

Meanwhile, In Russia:


It looks like mass demonstrations have spontaneously broken out all across Russia in protest of the jailing of a Russian opposition party leader named Alexi Nalvany who was  just arrested and jailed after returning from a trip trip to Germany. There is apparently concern for his safety since he was arrested, as he had been in Germany recovering from acute nerve agent poisoning he had contracted from his underwear (as one does). The Russian authorities refused to open an investigation into the attempted murder of a Russian citizen. Given the history of poisonings of Russian political opponents, this was particularly suss, and there seems to be genuine fear for his safety by his political supporters. 

This is not just around Moscow either. There are currently protests in 109 cities across the largest country on Earth and  I've heard reference to Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk in some of the video coverage. Also; according to the NYT article above, these protests are taking place in temperatures as low as minus 68 degrees Fahrenheit which would seem to indicate a certain level of passion and motivation on the part of the protestors. Over 3,000 people had been reported arrested as of 23:05 GMT

Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting  in hundreds cities in the largest country on the planet, which controls a large percentage of the worlds oil reserves and which has the largest nuclear arsenal on Earth....

This seems seems like it ought to be getting rather more coverage than it is here in the U.S.A. 

I do not know anything about Nalvany or how, in what is presented to us as a country with fairly strong social media control, he got such a following, but I'm very interested in finding out. Anyone who, you know,  speaks Russian or has insights into this situation...feel free to sound off in the comments. 

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