A Lot More People Than You Think Actually Like Their Job, Plus The Disney Vs. China War Begins

By 05.31.16

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“The Google car has been overhyped” — MIT engineering professor John Leonard, speaking at an MIT conference. According to Leonard, self-driving car technology isn’t as mature as many think. Humans 1, robots 0…for now.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

Big Picture

  • U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday, closing a strong week of gains led by the financial sector after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen heavily alluded to a rate hike next month in a speech

Alternatives to Watch

  • Yellen’s speech hit currencies hard, sending the dollar higher and gold to three-month lows
  • Bitcoin had a great Memorial Day weekend: the cryptocurrency increased 15% since Friday alone, and is now at $530, its highest level since August 2014—potentially thanks to an increase in demand from China

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CORPORATE PRIMER

Better Does Matter

It wasn’t just the Golden State Warriors who pulled out a big-time win yesterday: over 36,000 employees at Verizon also claimed victory after a lucrative deal for unionized workers was reached. The Verizon employees had been on strike for nearly seven weeks, and are now set to return to work on Wednesday. Here’s what did it: Verizon offering an increase in pension benefits, an 11% pay raise and a promise of adding 1,400 union jobs. What does Verizon get out of this? Happier employees, which the wireless carrier is hoping will lead to more satisfied customers—something that’s hard to pull off these days.

The Art of War

Bashing a Fortune 500 company while praising your own is a bold business move, but Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin—only the richest man in China—believes this is his moment. Unless you haven’t been on Facebook recently (and if you haven’t, props), you know that Disney is opening a new Magic Kingdom in Shanghai next month that has cost $5.5 billion. However, Mr. Wang wants everyone to know that his entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is simultaneously constructing theme parks similar in size to Disney’s throughout China, the first of which opened over the weekend—oh, and for over $2 billion less. Is this an act of war, or just business? TBD.

Noble Group Rides The Struggle Bus

Hong Kong-based commodities giant Noble Group announced yesterday that CEO Yusuf Alireza has resigned for “family reasons.” It’s bad timing all around: Noble’s profits have suffered due to the recent commodities downturn (you can thank weak Chinese demand and slow global economic growth for that one). On top of that, Noble’s credit rating was not-so-nobly downgraded, making it even harder for the struggling company to raise capital. The big question: what’s being done about all of this? Simply put, Noble is trying to sell its North American energy business to raise cash and improve its balance sheet. Now, it’ll have to accomplish that difficult task without its head honcho.

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U.S. MACRO

We’ll Take It

The U.S. Department of Commerce kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a bang, revising U.S. Q1 GDP growth last Friday. The results? It was good news…kind of. Annualized GDP growth was initially expected to come in at a weak 0.5%, but the new data suggests a higher 0.8% rate. While this still falls short compared to last year, we’ll take just about anything at this point. That being said, don’t start celebrating just yet—stronger numbers mean there’s a stronger chance the Fed will raise interest rates in June.

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OTHER STORIES

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ECONOMIC CALENDAR

  • Monday: U.S. Markets Closed (Memorial Day)
  • Tuesday: Michael Kors, Box, Cracker Barrel Earnings; Personal Income and Outlays; Consumer Confidence; S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index
  • Wednesday: ISM Manufacturing Index; Auto Sales; Private Employment Report; Construction Spending; Beige Book
  • Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims
  • Friday: May Employment Report; ISM Non-Manufacturing Index; Factory Orders; International Trade

ARE YOU HAPPY OR WHAT?

Happy Tuesday. Let’s start this shortened work week off with the last question you want to hear right now: do you like your job? It’s a common question to ask, and usually gets some pretty non-committal answers. But as it turns out, according to the Endrod-Ipsos 2016 Barometer, employees are generally pretty darn satisfied with their work. Here are the details:

  • First, the headline number: 71% of respondents were judged to be satisfied at work based on their answers to a variety of questions.
  • Which country is the happiest? That would be India, where 88% of employees reported positive feelings about work. On the other hand, only 44% of Japanese are feeling the vibes. Not only is that the worst of the 15 countries surveyed, it trails second-worst Italy by a whopping 19%.
  • How about the US of A? The American workforce clocks in tied at third with a 77% rate of satisfaction. Perhaps the Sunday Scaries and the Monday Blues aren’t so real after all.
  • What’s making everybody so gosh darn pleased? Of all the different managerial policies out there that influence work satisfaction, the most important ones are transmission and renewal of skills.

INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY

A clerk at a butcher shop stands six feet tall and wears size 12 shoes. What does he weigh? (Answer)

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BUSINESS TERM OF THE DAY

Blue Chips — When it comes to investing, blue chip companies are the ones with the big market capitalizations—the Microsofts and Apples of the world. When it comes to poker, the blue chips are the most expensive chips.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

According to the site StudentScholarshipSearch, the overall cost of skipped classes during a college career is $21,324 per student in a private institution, and $8,737 for public colleges. Bueller?


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