Market Weekend: CBS Fires Non-Leaker, Walgreens Deal, Hazy Aramco Details, China Inflation Up on Pork

CBS Fires Producer Who Recorded Amy Robach Tape On Epstein Interview Spike

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But she’s not the leaker. Ashley Bianco, a 25-year old producer who formerly worked for Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) ABC, was fired by CBS (NYSE:CBS) this week after ABC falsely identified her as the leaker that released a video of ABC anchor Amy Robach complaining about how the network spiked an interview with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an accuser of the late serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. An interview with Bianco was aired by Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News anchor and ABC anchor. Bianco, however, was only the recorder of the video for the sake of office gossip, and did not release the video to Project Veritas. Meanwhile, the leaker, going by the name of Ignotus, claims that he still works at ABC, and that he went to Project Veritas with the video, “…for the sole reason that any other media outlet else would have probably shelved this as well. I thank all of them, and James, for seeking truth.” He went on to deliver a few lines on mortality and redemption and other religious themes, “We are all human and mortal, creatures of mistakes and redemption. The road to redemption favors no soul.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance to go Private?

Will the Alliance between Walgreens and Boots go Private? $70 billion says maybe. If successful, it would be the most expensive leveraged buyout by private equity ever, by quite a bit. The runner up would be a $45 billion deal that took energy company TXU private just before the last financial crisis. Walgreens (NYSE:WBA) already has $15 billion in debt on its balance sheet, so whoever buys it will pick up that leverage as well. Walgreens’ earnings last quarter fell by more than half to $677 million compared to the same quarter last year, as pricing for prescription drugs and generics are both under pressure.

More Hazy Numbers Out of Aramco

Saudi Aramco plans to IPO on November 17, according to a prospectus released on Saturday, but no specific numbers are yet available as to how much of the company it will sell, though it will probably be less than 1%. Aramco reportedly wants to sell half of that float retail investors, or about half a percent. That would put retail investors at about half of the total target market for the IPO, which is much higher than the 10% usually seen in the typical offering. This could mean that the Saudis don’t want institutions dominating demand for the shares, which would make sense if they don’t want any one group to have too much influence on the company. This could also be why they are offering so little of the company to the public to begin with. More details should be available this week, though you never know with the Saudis. Investors in the Saudi local market are being told to bring money back into the country from overseas so as not to drain the local banking system of too much cash. Oil (NYSE:USO) meanwhile, continues to climb as the actual IPO gets closer, reaching a high of $57.70 at the end of last week.

China Pork Prices Slam CPI To Highest Rise in 8 Years

It’s not a good year for Szechuan pork. Pig herds in China continue to be ravaged by swine fever, causing inflation statistics in the country to shoot to their highest levels of increase in 8 years, rising at an annual clip of 3.8%. Technically though this is not an inflationary phenomenon as it is not monetary, but strictly supply-based from the commodity side. At the same time, the producer price index, more of an indication of capital prices, is down 1.6% last month from a year earlier, indicating a possible economic slowdown as consumer prices rise. This together is stagflationary, partially exacerbated by the ongoing US-China trade war and decline in world trade generally as a consequence. Core inflation however remains subdued at 1.5%. New tariffs from both sides are scheduled to kick in by December 15 if no deal is reached by then.

Speaking of the Trade War, Bad News Again

Rumors about both sides agreeing to scale back tariffs last week were apparently fake news, according to US President Donald Trump, who now says he never agreed to that. Sounding very Trump-like, he said, “They’d like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything. China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, not a complete rollback because they know I won’t do it.” Trump may start to be feeling the pressure of reelection, especially now that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be entering the race for the Democratic nomination. So chances are he will probably cut something he calls the greatest deal ever so he can say that he did it and get reelected. At the same time, China is feeling the pinch of pig fever and wants a deal for its own reasons. Taken together, the chances that some sort of paper will be signed that will make investors on both sides of the world feel better about this seems likely, though what the practical consequences to trade will be from said paper are unclear.

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