The Zeitgeist – 3.15.2019


Every morning, we run the Narrative Machine on the past 24 hours worth of financial media to find the most on-narrative (i.e. interconnected and central) stories in financial media. It’s not a list of best articles or articles we think are most interesting … often far from it.

But for whatever reason these are articles that are representative of some sort of chord that has been struck in Narrative-world.

A buzzy $3.2 billion startup that helps you get braces without seeing a dentist is planning to go public [Business Insider]

I thought we were finished with the “it’s like Warby Parker for X” business models, but I guess I was wrong.

So today I’m pleased to announce the launch of a kickstarter campaign for VaxDirectClub.

Why pay for an expensive healthcare professional and subject your children to god only knows what sort of germs in that waiting room when you can administer all of the standard immunizations from the convenience and safety of your own home? You owe it to your children to subscribe to VaxDirectClub today!

Also … this is the official SmileDirectClub founders photo. A great deal of effort and expense was put into this photo. There is nothing accidental or casual about it. It is a signifier of exactly how Alex and Jordan want to represent themselves to the world, all the way down to Alex’s careful coif and Jordan’s wan smile.

In Low Yield World, Global Investors Turn To Big Dividend Foreign Stocks [Forbes]

Because, you know, all of those crazy penny stocks and “new, speculative industries” are well known for their dividend yield.

You see this at the end of every cycle … value investors convince themselves that “value large-cap tech” is a thing, and yield investors convince themselves that “safe dividend EM financials” is a thing. Both are desperate measures for desperate times, and neither ends well.

House Dems to test Wilbur Ross’s ‘Survivor’ status [Politico]

In the same way that Rick Perry had no idea that the Dept. of Energy was in charge of nuclear weapon development until somebody told him, I would bet a large sum that Wilbur Ross had no idea that the Commerce Dept. was in charge of the census until somebody told him.

Trade your personal account on MNPI while Commerce Secretary? No problem. But allow a flunky to slip a bogus Trumpkin question into the census? Well now you’re in trouble, bub!

Whatever. Uncle Wilbur is this administration’s Albert Fall. You can look it up.

The ECB Has Reached The End Of Its Rope, Leaving The Eurozone With Few Options [Seeking Alpha]

Yeah, I know I posted this same photo yesterday. It’s evergreen. As are these earnest SeekingAlpha posts.

EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging market stocks, currencies jump on trade optimism [Reuters]

Emerging Markets are not a thing. You think they are, but they’re not.

EM as an asset class is a reflection of DM monetary policy, nothing more and nothing less.


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Peter Perez
Peter Perez

If I had to guess…the above “” thing marks a social extreme or exhaustion of trend in the “do it yourself” mentality/movement that began with pumping our own gas nearly 40 years ago. DIY is fine for low level tasks, not so for high level ones. The masquerading of the complex as simple DIY tasks has been well curated (and worked well) for 30 years by the Vanguards of this world. My sense is that we’ve also reached exhaustion of trend in complexity masqueraded/marketed as simplicity with ETFs and canned robo asset allocations. That is…unless capital markets as political utility can be disconnected from valuation ad infinitum. I’d bet serious money that MPT will be utterly discredited when EVERYTHING goes down together during the eventual debt crisis. Standby; this is gonna be fun!

Mark Kahn
Mark Kahn

“EM as an asset class is a reflection of DM monetary policy, nothing more and nothing less.”

Hey, you’re plagiarizing yourself as that is right out of one of your earliest notes, “It was Barzini all along:”

“The inexorable conclusion is that Emerging Market growth rates are a function of Developed Market central bank liquidity measures and monetary policy,”

And that was in 2013. You were early on the call and consistent – and right – all along.