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IT COULD BE WORSE …
… you could be major US stock indices. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed out the year of our Lord 2018 down 5.6%, 6.2%, and 3.9%, respectively. The end to the historic bull market marked the worst year for equities since 2008. Put simply, if years were banks, 2018 would be Deutsche Bank.
If the markets final week of the year (the worst Christmas Eve ever was followed-up by the largest one-day point-gain ever) was any indication, 2018 can best be described with one (hyphenated) word: bat-sh*t. Don’t believe me? The Cboe Volatility Index, more colloquially known as the VIX, saw its sharpest annual increase of all time.
It’s hard to put one’s finger on exactly WTF happened, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try: the ongoing trade war with China, the Fed raising rates, a partial US government shutdown, government and geopolitical instability, and countless economic indicators pointing towards a downturn have played a role in the markets terrible, no good, very bad year.
Wells Fargo, Carlos Ghosn, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerburg, and James Cordier probably couldn’t wait to put 2018 behind them. But few had the year David Einhorn did. The prominent value investor’s hedge fund, Greenlight Capital, ended the year down 34% … as in losing almost 1/3 of its value.
You know you’re having a bad year when your short position on a company who consistently misses output estimates and whose leader is a man-child with an itchy Twitter finger and a hankering for narcotics. Yup, Einhorn’s fund was short Tesla.
Just in case spontaneous combustion didn’t make you think twice about buying a Tesla, the federal government is doing its part to disincentivize you from doing so. Up until the ball dropped on December 31st, Tesla buyers could receive a $7,500 federal tax credit for purchasing one of the electric vehicles.
The problem is that the sales have surpassed the federally imposed 200k unit limit that warrants the tax credit. But the credit doesn’t just vanish overnight, like, say Elon’s “secured” funding.
There is a phase-out period over 12 months so buyers can still get 50% ($3,750) of the credit through June 2019 and another 50% ($1,875) of that through December. You know, because tax credits on luxury cars are exactly what the doctor ordered for affluent tree-huggers.
The program applies to all electric/plug-in car companies, not just Tesla. As more and more car manufacturers bring electric cars to market the same tax incentives apply for buyers. GM is the next to cross the 200k threshold.
What better time than now?
After a 2018 that some Tesla shareholders would rather forget, 2019 is off to an auspicious start for Elon and Co. with a new $35k Model 3 “set to launch.” Of course, the waning federally subsidized price cut won’t help the company’s “everyman” vehicle’s cause.
HACKY NEW YEAR
Hacker’s ended 2018 on a high note by disrupting the weekend run of a number of print publications across the US. Papers like the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and west coast editions of The Wall Street Journal and New York Times were affected by the hack.
The attacks began on Thursday night and had spread over the course of the day on Friday. While some of the papers are owned by different entities, they are all run using the same systems.
So what happened exactly?
The exact source of the hack can’t be traced to one specific aggressor, but it has been determined that, much like the plot of every 80’s action movie, the invasion was the act of a “foreign agent.” The attack caused failures to software storing stories and photos, and glitches in software required to create the plates used to print physical papers.
As of now, none of the papers’ websites were affected by the hack nor were names or data of your grandparents and/or Amish people who still consume print content exposed.
IN OTHER NEWS
- Erik Prince, the former US Navy Seal and founder of Blackwater, the private security company that shoots first and asks questions later, plans to launch a $500M fund that will invest in car battery metals including cobalt. Because America, that’s why.
- Game on. Netflix has poached Activision Blizzard’s CFO. Spencer Neumann who was placed on a leave of absence by the video game producer will start with the maker of ‘Bird Box’ as early as this week.
- In case you were wondering: yes, the government is still partially shut down. Today marks the 12th day. Expect things to move quickly over the next few days, however, as House Democrats will use their newfound majority to potentially split the budget into two separate votes. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it will make it through the Senate or to the White House.
- New Year, new Wells Fargo? Fat chance! Monsanto, which doesn’t exactly have a glowing reputation itself, is suing Wells Fargo and Citizens Asset Finance for trying to place leases for company-owned planes in default. Monsanto claims that the banks are trying to cover their asses because the asset’s values are significantly lower than what was originally expected.
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