What I Have Been Reading – May 2020


Commodities Investing

Between 1980 and 2019, the world’s population increased from 4.4 billion to 7.6 billion or by 73.2 percent. The time price of commodities fell by 74.2 percent

Human Progress

 

Confounding Expectations

People think their personal financial situation will deteriorate but have never been more bullish on stocks:

Axios

 

Ingenuity

But what’s funnier about Roy’s friend’s problem (and it was a real problem because of Yelp reviews and angry customers) is that DoorDash priced the pizzas incorrectly. “A pizza that he charged $24 for was listed as $16 by Doordash,” emphasis Roy’s. And then: “My third thought: Cue the Wall Street trader in me…..ARBITRAGE!!!!”

And so the story unfolds. “If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clearly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You’d net a clean $8 profit per pizza [insert nerdy economics joke about there is such a thing as a free lunch],” wrote Roy. They order 10 pizzas this way, and it worked! The money was free, a seamless transfer from SoftBank’s deep venture capital-lined pockets to Roy’s friend’s business bank account. Eventually, in another series of what Roy hilariously calls “trades,” they just ordered pizza dough through DoorDash for $75 in pure profit

The Verge

 

The Shifting Business Landscape

“In the David-versus-Goliath battle between big and small businesses in America, COVID-19 is…a toxin for underdogs and a steroid for many giants.”

The Atlantic

 

Free Shares

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200. All You need to do is sign up via this link – Freetrade, top up your account, could be as little as £1 and complete the w8-ben form on the app.

 

Cheap Fuel

The cheap price of fuel is causing ocean carriers to go the long way around Africa instead of paying the Suez Canal fees. The Canal lost $10M in fees in April and May (mtd).

Twitter

 

Ecommerce

“Every day, we would see that the volume was 20% higher than the last day,” Mehta says. “In a matter of a couple of weeks, we were already ahead of our end-of-year goal. A week later, we were ahead of our 2021 goals, and a few days after that, we were ahead of our 2022 goals. And so, at a certain point, we stopped counting.”

Bloomberg

 

Work From Home – Here To Stay?

Earlier today, Jack Dorsey sent an email to Twitter staff, notifying employees that they will be able to continue working from home as long as they see fit. The CEO notes that Twitter was an early adopter of a work-from-home model, though — like much of the rest of the world — that push has been accelerated by COVID-19 stay at home orders.

Tech Crunch

 

Future Of Transport

“People are using their cars more because they are afraid to use public transportation:”

Bloomberg

 

Knock On Effects

Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of ethanol, which by federal mandate is mixed into gasoline to help it burn more cleanly. But fewer people are driving because of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and demand for gasoline has plunged, prompting ethanol plants to shut down. That has put pressure on the source for roughly 40% of all industrial carbon dioxide produced nationwide—a key ingredient for soft drinks and beers.

WSJ

 

Stressed Out

Since last summer, however, the number of people feeling stressed has risen 14 percentage points and the number feeling worried has climbed 21 points, representing 53 million more worried adults, Gallup reports.

Washington Post

 

Layoffs VS Lower Pay

I asked: Why do you lay so many people off rather than reducing pay? And his answer was – I should’ve made it the title of my book – ‘to get the misery out the door’,” Bewley said.

“It’s sort of obvious, and I kept hearing that same thing all over the place,” he said. “Your core – which you want to hang onto and cultivate – have them work full-time and keep their pay and be loyal to the company. And everybody else, you sacrifice.”

Bloomberg

 

Food Supply

There has been a surge in demand for lower-quality cuts of beef as millions of Americans stay home. That surge has jacked up the price of the cheap cuts. At the same time, there’s been a drop in demand for higher-quality sirloin and tenderloin cuts that typically get purchased by now-shuttered restaurants … For the first time in recent history, producers have started to grind up higher-quality roast cuts, adding them to their ground beef since they are more likely to sell than if the cuts were kept whole. This in turn drives up the price of ground beef, since the meat that makes up the ground is of a higher quality.

The Counter

 

Medical Supply Changes

The hospital industry, in a bid to increase profit, slashed inventory of all supplies. Rather than bulk up after the swine flu, hospitals turned to inventory-tracking software to winnow stocks of protective gear and other supplies, hoping to be able to replenish it as needed.

—Manufacturers got bitten during the swine flu, ramping up production only to be left with few buyers when that crisis abated. Many mask and other device makers rebuffed later calls to build back emergency capacity, ceding a chunk of the market to overseas makers.

WSJ

 

Universities

There will be a dip, the mother of all V’s, among the top-50 universities, where the revenues are hit in the short run and then technology will expand their enrollments and they will come back stronger. In ten years, it’s feasible to think that MIT doesn’t welcome 1,000 freshmen to campus; it welcomes 10,000. What that means is the top-20 universities globally are going to become even stronger. What it also means is that universities Nos. 20 to 50 are fine. But Nos. 50 to 1,000 go out of business or become a shadow of themselves. I don’t want to say that education is going to be reinvented, but it’s going to be dramatically different.

NYmag