Market Weekend: Microsoft Carbon Goals, Foxconn Fiat, Citigroup Pay Gap, Google To the Moon

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Pledges Carbon Negativity

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Forget carbon neutral. That’s passé now, even though it hasn’t been achieved yet. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is showing up its tech giant peers by pledging to be net carbon negative by 2030. To this end, it is investing $1 billion over the next 10 years to make it happen. “While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so,” wrote Microsoft president Brad Smith. Microsoft business units pay $15-per-metric-ton tax to corporate, which then could just be recycled back into the business units, but that’s another story. Those “taxes” will be raised over the next decade in an effort to be carbon negative. The current fee, introduced in 2012 and doubled in 2019, will now also include carbon emitted in manufacturing activities, business travel, and the electricity consumed by Microsoft products. Also, only electric cars will be used on its campuses. No word on whether carbon emitted by the manufacturing and charging of electric cars counts towards to quota, or how much its human employees happen to exhale during work hours.

iPhone Maker Foxconn Looks Into Fiat Chrysler EV JV

Speaking of electric cars, iPhone maker Foxconn (OTCMKTS:HNHPF) is looking into the possibility of a joint venture with Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) for the manufacturing of electric vehicles connected to the internet. “If the companies move forward, the plan would be to manufacture electric vehicles in China for China’s domestic market with the potential to export to other markets in the future,” Foxconn said. This proposed move comes at a time when the Chinese car market isn’t doing too well. Sales fell 8% in 2019, extending what is now a 3 year slump. Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in China fared badly as well last year, down 1.21 million units, or 4% in 2019. The declining numbers came along with a slash in state subsidies from an overgrowth or electric car companies.

Citigroup Gets Politically Correct, Factually Flexible, Tries to Plug “Pay Gap”

Citigroup (NYSE:C) thinks it might be inadvertently sexist, or at least is compelled to pretend it might be by law, since women who work for the bank earn 27% less on average than men who work for the bank. However, this was not “for the same work”, as like-for like employees were paid pretty much at parity across gender, with women earning 99% of what men earned in similar positions. What the law requires it to report, however, is the raw unadjusted data, which doesn’t take into account what employees are actually doing, so it generally looks a lot worse, and headlines get to report that and stick the real 1% gap for the same work somewhere at the end.

The press release on this matter seems to be structured to make it look like Citigroup is giving its female employees a 27% raise, when in fact only minor salary adjustments are being made to bridge the 1% gap between like-for-like employees.

“Transparency breeds accountability and we took that important first step last year in disclosing our pay equity results,” Citigroup’s global head of human resources, Sara Wechter, said, patting herself figuratively on the back.

China GDP Growth Keeps Falling

GDP growth in China is down to 6.1% annual for 2019 from 6.6% in 2018. This is the slowest pace in 30 years. Here comes more stimulus, say the financial media, as always. On the good side, the phase one trade deal has revived business confidence, or so is reported. For the fourth quarter, GDP was up 6% from last year, still the weakest in 30 years. Growth target this year will stay at 6% from last year’s range of 6-6.5%. This all assumes that GDP growth is the same as economic growth, which is not always the case, as in when inflation becomes a serious problem, as it is appears to be becoming in China, especially with the price of pork still double what it was last year due to African swine fever.

Google Reaches The 12 Zeros Club

Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has joined the trillion club as the Nasdaq continues to go parabolic in tandem with the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Up 17% over the last three months is Google, beating the S&P by 6 points. Short interest is picking up though as traders look for some kind of correction, which has been nowhere in sight. Part of the rocket rally may be the fact that mutual funds and hedge funds both own the stock. If that changes though, we could see a serious plummeting, as this pretty much means every institution is basically all in. It’s climbing too fast for institutions to let go though, which also means when it does start to fall and all those gains start to evaporate, a stampede of selling is possible.


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