Amazon Does Booze
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has started distilling its own gin. It’s called Tovess. You can get it for $32 on…well, Amazon, but it’ll only be delivered to you if you can prove your age. It’s made in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. According to Amazon, it’s both a summer drink and it’s also for any time of the year, which is a bit overlapping, unless we’re talking about different planets. (With Jeff Bezos, it might be possible.)
Amazon has four stills it claims are from the 1700’s, back when Amazon was still just a rain forest and not yet a global retailer. The names of the stills are MacKay, Angela, Constance, and Jenny, which is important if you plan to be on Jeopardy and the category ‘Still Names’ comes up. 25% of the population of the UK apparently buy gin, though that could just be dividing the number of orders by the population. It could be that only a small section of the population drinks a lot of it.
Amazon’s own brands are higher margin, sometimes forcing outside brands to cut prices in order to compete. As to how to market these brands, the company is stepping on eggshells. It doesn’t want to be accused of anticompetitive practices which supposedly raise prices in the minds of regulators, even though by offering more of its own stuff, prices go down due to a technical arcane economic concept called “supply”.
Whistleblowers En Vogue in India, Infosys Targeted
Whistleblowers aren’t just after President Trump anymore. Now they’re going after the Indian company Infosys (NYSE:INFY). Shares dropped more than 16% yesterday after news of two whistleblower complaints accused the company of unethical practices and excessive international travel by the CEO in particular. A letter was written to authorities in the United States under a whistleblower protection program, which applies as long as the US recognizes you as a whistleblower rather than an Enemy of the State. Meaning, no whistleblower protections for those who blow the whistle against the State itself, unless it’s part of the State that the Deep State (AKA CIA, NSA, and other similar acronyms) doesn’t like. Like Trump, for example.
Anyway, the accusers have emails and voice recordings supporting their allegations. Infosys is an outsourcing company that has been growing steadily over the last 10 years, though now there are suspicions that the books have been cooked.
Facebook Now Has 47 Lawyers After It
47 state attorneys general are now going after Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), at least according to one of the attorneys, New York Attorney General Letitia James. The group is apparently investigating Facebook for anticompetitive practices. Paradoxically, anticompetitive actually means hypercompetitive, because if Facebook were not competitive enough, the attorneys wouldn’t be investigating. Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Texas and Virginia are the newest states to sign on to the initiative. “As we continue our investigation,” said Letitia James, “we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.” At least they won’t be leaving any tools in the tool closet. The attorneys are of course planning on pursuing an antitrust case against Facebook.
SoftBank to Take Over WeWork
A deal has been agreed upon to bail out WeWork and give it emergency funding. SoftBank (OTCMKTS:SFTBY), the bank that originally planned to take the company public at a valuation of about $47 billion, will now take it private at a valuation of about $10 billion. CEO Adam Neumann will be paid off to the tune of $685 million to leave the company in one of the most comfortable “falls from grace” (see link) one could ever hope for. SoftBank has already spent nearly $20 billion on the company, and that number could grow if the office space rental company keeps losing money and needs more bailouts. Meanwhile, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son wants to raise $108 billion. Good luck to him.
Brexit Likely to be Postponed Again
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson couldn’t get the House of Commons to agree on his speedy timetable for passing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, AKA WAB. MPs insisted on “scrutinizing” the bill for longer, because they’re all very concerned about being thorough and responsible, and also want to make sure that the UK never actually leaves the European Union. So we’re going to have another few months of this until UK elections, unless Parliament refuses to back a no confidence motion and keeps Johnson in office until the end of his term without him being able to actually do anything, and then suspend the institution of elections altogether, just so they can prolong this whole mess indefinitely, which at this point seems the most likely course.
Italy Causing Fiscal Problems Again
Meanwhile, another festering sore in the EU, Italy, is stirring up trouble again. The European Commission has sent a letter to Rome asking for more clarification about the country’s 2020 budget. Primary expenditure, which excludes interest payments on its massive debt (which, in many cases, are actually negative), is going up by 1.9% instead of falling by 0.1%. The Commission isn’t a big fan. Italian bond investors don’t seem to care. Italy’s 10-year bond yield is at all time record lows of just a smidge over 1%. 2 year bond yields are negative, so people are still paying Italy to spend their money. This doesn’t really make all that much sense, but it’s best not to think about it and assume the experts have it all under control. Meanwhile, France, Finland, Portugal, Spain, and Belgium are all annoying the Commission for either not submitting a budget or coming short of fiscal targets. In summation, all is well in the Eurozone.