Market Morning: Epstein Dead, Mattel Gets Threatened, Greenspan Worried, Walmart Inflation

Market Morning: Epstein Dead, Mattel Gets Threatened, Greenspan Worried, Walmart Inflation

Jeffrey Epstein Found Hanged, Dead in Cell

Less than one day after hundreds of pages of documents were unsealed revealing the extent of billionaire financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s sex crimes, the guy was found dead in his cell. He appeared to have hanged himself. For some reason, he was not under suicide watch at the time. Having been connected to many rich and powerful people including current and past US presidents, some of whom took flights on his private jet, there is some moderate to extremely high levels of healthy suspicion regarding the circumstances surrounding his death. In a July 25 court filing, the government said it was pursuing an “ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals” involved with the case. So there may still be some hope that some people will figure out which uncharged individuals this statement refers to. This investigation will reportedly continue despite Epstein’s death. US Attorney General William Barr, who serves of course under President Donald Trump, one of Epstein’s past associates, is “appalled”. This authentic display of outrage is encouraging.

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Speaking of Epstein, Mattel Next in Line?

Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) plunged nearly 16% on Friday last week when the company disclosed that it received an anonymous letter from someone calling him or herself a whistleblower about something sinister and secret probably, but the company did not say what was in the letter, making it definitely secret, but hopefully not sinister, though probably so.  The company went so far as to cancel a debt sale in order to further investigate the matter. This creates an interesting dilemma in insider trading law, incidentally. If the composer of said letter was short shares of Mattel, is his own knowledge of the fact that he was going to send the letter, itself insider trading? Or is that just self knowledge trading, which is what all trading is? Meanwhile, until Friday, shares of Mattel had risen 35% in 2019. So much for that. It has been rough on Mattel ever since the bankruptcy of Toys-R-Us.

Huawei Licenses Delayed

Huawei competitors AT&T (NYSE:T), T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) and others rejoice! Other companies that rely on sales to Huwai like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) will probably not be too happy. The White House has reportedly decided to delay the issuance of special licenses that would have allowed American tech companies to do business with Huawei, the Chinese telecom conglomerate that is under sanction from the Trump Administration and is a large pawn in the ongoing trade/currency war. US tech companies have urged the White House not to impose these restrictions, as much of their business is dependent on selling their products to China. By keeping the restrictions on then, the Trump administration is basically banning exports to China. This should lower exports still further, bringing even deeper imbalance to trade between the two countries, which is precisely what Trump is trying to avoid.

Greenspan Negative on Economy, But Not Extremely So

Alan Greenspan, former Ayn Rand confidant, former gold standard advocate, former head of the Federal Reserve, is out with another interview where he worries that the global economy is cooling off, though he doesn’t see recession on the horizon. Who of media repute does, though? The Fed just recently cut interest rates another 25 basis points, but Greenspan says that is neither here, nor there. “The economic backdrop doesn’t have anything to do with cutting interest rates,” he told Fox Business. “It’s definitely sogging and its sogging around the world I might add. This is a sluggish economy at this stage, the long-term is unquestionably negative but there are positive signs in the short- run which suggest that we are not about to tip into a recession.” With that though, how are prices doing?

Walmart Showing Inflation Breaking Through?

Inflation officially was only at 2.3% annual according to the last release of the Consumer Price Index, but perhaps prices at Walmart (NYSE:WMT) are more indicative of how fast the dollar is actually losing purchasing power. According to Bloomberg, Walmart said it saw “modest” inflation in the first quarter, but it has heated up lately, and a Walmart shopping trip was 5.2% more expensive in June compared with a year earlier. 5.2% is much more substantial than 2.3%. In any case, new CPI number come out this week, but since the Producer Price Index actual fell month over month according to last week’s release, nothing earth shattering is expected from the upcoming CPI. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), rival PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) and Procter and Gamble (NYSE:PG) have all been increasing prices lately. Does something gotta give? That and there are more tariffs on the way. That would help ease any pricing pressures.