Market Morning: FDA Head Resigns, India Strikes Out, Special K Approved, Trade Deficit Explodes

Stock Market Roundup

FDA Head Steps Down, eCig Industry Smokes Nicotine-Laced Sigh of Relief

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The head of the Food and Drug Administration appointed by Donald Trump, Scott Gottlieb, is stepping down. He wants to spend more time with his wife and three young kids, and the FDA doesn’t have enough take-your-family-to-work days so he quit. Gottlieb, an anti-e-cigarette crusader, ended his tenure by admonishing Walgreens (NYSE:WBA), Walmart (NYSE:WMT), and Kroger (NYSE:KR) for selling e-cigarettes to kids, probably because their fake IDs were too realistic. Companies like Altria (NYSE:MO) and Phillip Morris (NYSE:PM) asked Trump to halt the FDA’s aggressive regulatory assault on the e-Cigarette industry, the irony of it all being that he was appointed to head Trumps “deregulation” efforts in the healthcare industry. So much for that. It isn’t any easier to get drugs through clinical trials. Gottlieb also got involved in the drug pricing debate, but didn’t accomplish much in terms of lowering drug prices because all he really did was threaten companies who priced drugs too high in his estimation, without actually lowering any regulatory burden that would make drug development less expensive and therefor drugs significantly cheaper, like say limiting the FDA to testing safety and leaving efficacy for the free market to determine. That would have been drastic, but it would have worked.

SEE: Cannabis Stock News Daily Roundup March 5

India Missed Pakistan Madrasa Target, Pakistan Unsure of Next Tit-For-Tat Move

The move that exacerbated the current spat between India and Pakistan, the bombing of what India claims is a terrorist-training Madrasa, was actually a swing and a miss, though India had claimed it was destroyed. High resolution images taken by a San Francisco satellite operator show that the buildings are basically unchanged compared to an earlier photo taken in April 2018. On February 26, India’s Prime Minister had claimed that all targets were hit, but none of them actually were, which means the spat is simply over what India says it bombed, which doesn’t quite seem all that worth it for triggering a fight between two nuclear powers. Pakistan had denied that India actually hit anything, defending their airspace from Indian incursion and claiming that Indian planes dropped their bombs on an open field. India’s foreign ministry did not return Reuters’ request for comment on whether the pictures contradict official government statement. Probably because they do and they have nothing else to say.

Special K Molecular Mirror Image Approved For Severe Depression

Got severe depression? Have some Special K, or at least its mirror image esketatmine. It’s been around since the 90s but just now got approval for use in patients with treatment-resistant depression. So much for deregulation. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), developer of Spravato, esketamine nasal spray will be for people who have tried two other anti depressants without success. Unlike serotonin reuptake inhibitors that take months to kick in if they work at all, the effect of Spravato is almost immediate, targeting the glutamate receptor, basically the same thing as MSG, that salt that makes food taste better used liberally in Chinese restaurants and savory snack foods. “You can feel it coming on, it’s a strong drug,” said a woman who really loves the stuff, describing colors and shapes that drift before her eyes. “I just let the drug work. I close my eyes and my mind is amazingly quiet.” She takes it every two weeks at her doctor’s office in a reportedly “comfortable chair”. Reports aren’t clear as to whether Spravato makes it even more comfortable.

Breaking News, Tariffs Don’t Work! Trump Mum

According to Bloomberg, President Trump will preside over a 20% worsening of the US trade deficit since he took office, which Trump uses as a barometer for the health of US trade. He thought that tariffs would help alleviate the “problem” but they didn’t. The evidence is that they made supposed problem supposedly worse. Trump, like India on its bombing claims, hasn’t said anything on the matter, but he’ll probably blame it on lack of a border wall. The deficit is the largest since 2008, and indicates that Americans are consuming more foreign imports, probably because they can afford to.

GE Has Bad News Again

Shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) fell nearly 5% yesterday when the company announced that it would be cash flow negative for 2019. CEO Larry Culp accepted culpability, saying that GE still had too much debt and that the piper would have to be paid. “Once we put our balance sheet in a healthier place, we’ll be in a better position to play offense across all our businesses,” he wrote in a note to investors. This means he’s probably going to have to raise more cash by liquidating even more assets or maybe even equity finance and dilute the stock. GE still has about $95B in long term debt after recent liquidations, higher than its current market cap.

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