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Market Morning: GM Sues Fiat, Pharma Fights for Pricing Privacy, More Opioid Lawsuits, Trade Deal Troubles

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GM Sues Fiat Chrysler Over Corrupt Union Dealings

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is suing Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) alleging racketeering regarding its negotiations with the United Auto Workers union from back in 2015. Fiat Chrysler executives have already pleaded guilty in an ongoing probe into the UAW, whose own executives accepted bribes from Chrysler people over the last ten years worth millions of dollars so that the union people would stop threatening to strike all the time. GM alleges “massive monetary damage in the form of higher costs that it seeks in relief.” For its part, Fiat Chrysler isn’t having any of it. Says Chrysler, “We are astonished by this filing, both its content and its timing. We can only assume this was intended to disrupt our proposed merger with PSA as well as our ongoing negotiations with the UAW. We intend to vigorously defend against this meritless lawsuit and pursue all legal remedies in response to it.” PSA refers to Peugeot (OTCQB:PUGOY). The guys at Fiat may have a point, since the original corrupt deal was done back four years ago. In any case, who ever thought that unions, those paragons of proletariat virtue, could be corrupt?

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Merck, Eli Lilly, Amgen Suing for Price Privacy

Drug companies don’t want you to know how much their drugs cost, and they may have a first amendment point to their argument. Merck (NYSE:MRK), Ely Lilly (NYSE:LLY), and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) are fighting a new mandate that would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list prices of the drugs that they choose to advertise on television. It may seem strange that drug companies are the only companies that do not want consumers to know the price of their products whereas everyone else who advertises on TV splays prices across the screen and often repeats them in a mantra such as “$9.99 are you out’a yo’ mind?” Though in the case of some drugs it would be more like “Only $9.99 a month for 10,010.009 months and this live-saving medication can be yours! Restrictions apply.”

However, since consumers almost never directly pay for the drugs that they are prescribed anyway, companies don’t feel like telling them this information. If consumers did pay directly, then the law would not have to try to force companies to advertise prices. Anyway, Big Pharma is not happy about this.

“More than merely affecting pharmaceutical companies, the rule also affects the First Amendment rights of cable networks and systems. By requiring disclosure of a prescription drug’s wholesale cost, the rule effectively prevents cable networks and systems from carrying advertisements that do not include that information,” the Internet & Television Association wrote.

What people really want to know is whether the new mandate mandates price jingles, too, so that everyone remembers them.

Kick’em While They’re Down, Says West Virginia to Opioid Companies

Endo International (NASDAQ:ENDP) and Mallinckrodt (NASDAQ:MNK) aren’t the pictures of perfect financial health these days, but that isn’t stopping West Virginia from trying to squeeze every last penny out of whatever remains of their skeletons. Maybe there’s some bone marrow left. For some reason Fox Business is calling these companies pharma giants, which would be accurate if the name was referring to the amount of money both companies are losing every quarter. “We must hold everyone in the pharmaceutical supply channel accountable,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a press release Wednesday. “We cannot let bad actors go unpunished. These alleged actions have caused widespread harm to our state and its citizens. We will not tolerate these practices, nor will we stand idly by as senseless death takes the lives of far too many West Virginians.”

Speaking of death, any sizeable winnings out of these two companies could be the death of them. Mallinckrodt is down 98% since 2015. Endo is down 95%. Good lock squeezing any more pennies out of those two corpses. At least they have a bunch of opioids to dull the pain.

Morgan Stanley Channels Jack Nicholson In Describing Phase One Trade Deal

What if this is as good as it gets? Thus spoke Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) of the ‘phase one’ US-China trade deal that has yet to be signed, and may now never be signed if President Trump chooses to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate yesterday. “Our base case is that the phase one trade deal gets done and that might be about as good as it gets, that phase two and phase three remain distant next year,” Andrew Sheets, chief cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley, told CNBC. Meaning, phase one may not happen at all and China may just be waiting for Trump to get voted out of office, if that’s what they’re banking on. The Morgan Stanley official still admitted that the passage of the phase one deal is still a huge assumption for the market.

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