Market Morning: Brexit Majority, Trump Signs HK Bill, Black Friday Nerves, Apple Mirror Patent

Market Morning

YouGov Poll Gives Johnson 68-Seat Majority to Get Brexit Done

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Could the end finally be near? Could Brexit actually get done? Is Bigfoot real? The latest YouGov poll suggests that yes, not about Bigfoot, but about Brexit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on track for a majority of about 68 seats, which is more than enough to pass his Brexit deal so that the frequency of Brexit headlines can come down a bit, until the “transition period” negotiations start, so really it never ends.  The poll found that the Tories will win 359 seats, Labour 211, the Scottish National Party 43 and the Liberal Democrats 13. The YouGov poll is only one poll, but it was the one that correctly predicted a hung parliament last time under Theresa May. There are two weeks until the Brits go to the polls. Expect the pound to skyrocket if Johnson actually does win an absolute majority, not necessarily because Brexit is good for the currency, but because it would eliminate at least some of the uncertainty that has plagued the UK economy since the 2016 Brexit vote. Yes, it has been almost 4 years now. (NYSEARCA:FXB)

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Trump Signs Hong Kong Human Rights Bill

Topping every news homepage is President Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which basically puts the threat of a new trade war against Hong Kong if it isn’t considered autonomous enough from China. China is obviously upset about this, and it’s not clear if it will help Hong Kong much or at all. Trump couldn’t have done anything to prevent it from becoming law since it was passed unanimously by the Senate with only one dissenting vote in the House of Representatives. So far, the South China Morning Post claims that it hasn’t affected trade war negotiations between the two countries, but it’s only been 2 days, and it’s hard to believe this won’t bleed over at some point if it hasn’t already.

Department Stores Nervous About Black Friday

Black Friday is losing its mojo, and that could be particularly bad for department stores that have long been struggling like Macy’s (NYSE:M) and JC Penney (NYSE:JCP). Black Friday rose in popularity starting in the 1970’s up until around 2014 when Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) started to gain serious popularity and so-called Cyber Monday began to eclipse the post Thanksgiving day frenzy. The prospect of camping outside a department store on a cold winter morning isn’t quite as alluring as it used to be. Meanwhile, projections for Cyber Monday are quite bullish and online retailers are expecting to cash in handsomely.

The increasing numbers for Cyber Monday also have an added effect of spreading the wealth a little bit more as opposed to brick and mortar shopping, since internet traffic driven to retail sites also gets a cut of sales. The key for the little guy though will be optimization.  According to Maksim Grevtsov, founder of Upstate Media, “To make an impactful conversion rate optimization decision, you have to first collect and process enough data to make assumptions on where your marketing funnel can be improved.”

Another Monopoly Bites the Dust

In the spirit of the original British East India Company monopoly that went bankrupt, PG&E (NYSE:PCG), the utility monopoly of California, may now never be able to resuscitate itself. This, after a federal bankruptcy court judge rejected its attempt to change a California law that requires utilities to pay for the cost of wildfires ignited by electrical equipment belonging to the utility. Makes enough sense, but PG&E didn’t like the law because it requires them to pay a lot of money, like $20 billion or so, that they don’t exactly have at the moment. PG&E expressed disappointment at being required to pay for damages the company caused, hoping that it would be bailed out. “We understand and appreciate that there are diverse opinions on this subject. We look forward to being engaged in discussions on these important issues to all Californians.” Just how much they are “looking forward” to this remains uncertain.

Google Moves Towards Quantum Computing, Workplace Complaints

What do quantum computing and sexual harassment have in common? Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) of course, which is on the threshold of both “quantum supremacy” and becoming the victim of the MeToo movement, simultaneously, sort of like a superposition of quantum states of reality. According to CNN, workers are becoming increasingly uneasy over the company’s dealings with secretive governments like China, which wanted a censored search engine powered by Google. The project has since been scrapped, officially at least, though who knows what’s going on behind closed algorithms. Meanwhile, employees are also uneasy that Google is working with customs and border protection. Earlier this week,  Google fired several outspoken workers in an internal announcement for violating data-security policies, who claim the company is simply trying to silence critics. Not publicly criticizing the company you work for, however, could be a legitimate precondition for working at said company.

Apple Files Patent For Smart Side Mirror Projectors

“Systems for improving side-mirror functionality of a vehicle,” to be precise. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has received a new patent for a device that projects images of the surrounding road onto side windows and the windshield, which could be a bit confusing is you consider that the surrounding road is already visible through the side windows because glass is transparent. Also, looking at so much imagery while driving could lead to sensory overload and confusion for drivers. The patent also includes an innovation that would have the mirror move depending on a driver’s facial direction and expression so that the driver has optimal vision at all times. Apple’s smart car, which may or may not exist, is speculated to hit the passenger car market by 2023 or so.

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