Month: December 2018

2018: The Year the Cult-Of-Celebrity CEO Died

If there has been one major change when it comes to the C-Suite, it is this: The days of being a flamboyant, globe hopping, cause célèbre espousing, holier-than-thou, Wall Street minted CEO is dead. Period, full stop.

And it couldn’t come quick enough.

Over the past decade there has been a shift in perspective of what a CEO both does and means to a company. But also, what a CEO should and shouldn’t do when it comes to their position and title. To say the lines have been blurred for what used to be prudent business decorum is a gross understatement.

In regards to CEO and understatement, to not include the entire C-Suite, Boards and more would be just as much of a trivialization. For it appears that getting into the upper levels for publicly traded companies has something more akin to becoming what was once called “the rock star life” more than being an actual rock star. i.e., why dream of being a rock star when rock stars now dream of being CEOs? 

This phenom coincidentally seems to have reached its zenith at around the same time the Federal Reserve concluded its “rock star fueling” artist development program known as QE (quantitative easing.)

Funny how that happens, no?

To stay with the musical analogy, there’s none more illustrative than the complete and utter collapse of facade for two of the stage’s once fervently held and unassailable members of the C-Suite pop act known as Facebook™. e.g., Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.

As of late every-time Mark has had to appear in some setting that demands he may have to speak extemporaneously, he appears more staged and animatronic than an actual robot.

In his most recent performance at an E.U. grilling it appeared at the very end (time stamp starts at about 1:30:00) as if not only his sync track file was corrupted, but also his mechanisms for movement.

It is absolutely painful to watch, for it shows just how scripted before hand he is. His mannerism in those last two minutes tells one all they need to know. i.e., there’s no there there.

When it comes to Ms. “Lean In?” Let’s just say she’s leaned out when it comes to demands for any follow-up stage performances. i.e., I think A Flock of Seagulls may be more in-demand and command better ticket pricing. But that’s just me.

The once ubiquitous 21st century golden-girl model for C-Suite activism appears that not only has her once iridescent shine dimmed, but it’s dimmed so much that people she once clamored to be around, such as Former First Lady Michelle Obama, now cavalierly disses her once one-hit-wonder pop hit “lean in” with critique such as:

“…it’s not always enough to lean in, because that sh*t doesn’t work all the time.”

Can you say “Ouch!?”

You have others falling from grace such as Carlos Ghosn of Renault-Nissan™ now accused of improperly using corporate funds to fund a lavish lifestyle. Lloyd Blankfein former CEO now Chairman of Goldman Sachs™ the once ubiquitous face of Wall Street across any-and-all mainstream business/financial outlets appears to be on more milk cartons than any media outlet of late.

I wonder how long before the title of “Chairman” also includes “former” as the 1MDB debacle shines more of a spotlight than what he sought at conferences and television studios. Hint: see Jon Corzine for clues.

Remember Jeff Immelt? You remember the CEO extraordinaire that was going to guide the U.S. back from the abyss with “shovel ready jobs” as he headed that task force for the prior administration, don’t you?.

Oh right, there was a problem with all that. “The problem,” you ask? 

A complete waste of time and tax payers dollars that turned him into a caricature of what a CEO should represent. Much like he did with G.E.™. i.e.,  Mr. “Wait, what do you mean there was a second plane always following me like the president, for years? Is that what that thing was? I thought it was just a big bird that maybe fell in love! Wow, who signed off on that!?” Immelt.

How about “Ol’ Uncle Warren?” Have you noticed he’s no longer appearing in as many sit-downs with the salivating media as of late? Funny how that timing thing works when he may be losing as much money as his once unassailable credibility of “investing prowess” and/or recommendations now that the Fed has opened the drain of QT (quantitate tightening) i.e., you don’t have to be swimming to watch investment advice/dollars circle down a whirlpool.

There are others, Jeff Bezos has now suddenly found himself routinely ensconced as the new “whipping boy” when it comes to CEO’s with presumed wealth and power.

However, as that wealth gets hit with that same “whipping stick” aka QT, so goes the once Teflon® coating of can’t do no wrong for Amazon™. Hint: if share prices continue to fall, look for calls of “unlocking shareholder value” (e.g., break it up) to be said more often than a holiday-sale commercial.

Then, of course, there’s Tim Cook of Apple™. Suddenly he’s very concerned about government not regulating tech. i.e., Privacy.

I believe it’s a valid and arguable stance. However, at the same time he’s taking to stages and proclaiming that it is his duty, along with others of his ilk, to decide that it is they that will decide what is and is not hate speech.

Again, all while he cheerleads using Apple’s corporate persona, heft and coffers to openly solicit money via iTunes® to provide resources he will arbitrarily cut off to others to help fund an entity that many see themselves as an operation for spilling “hate.” e.g., Southern Poverty Law Center™.

This latest hypocritical, tone-deaf aberration of how and what are the duties of a CEO are now legend via his latest declarations. i.e., He declares one thing yet appears completely oblivious to his own actions. Here’s just one:

When it comes to “hate.” He himself has created more conflicts to this subject starting with the possible hostile work place environment situation for a hypothetical 50% of Apple’s workforce. And that’s not hyperbloe, let me explain…

If you are openly calling for donations for a cause you as CEO has declared is now the call-of-the-times via employees and more – and some decide not to, for any reason. You instill possible situations for peer pressure, or worse, retaliatory measures via co-workers and/or management that may hinder job performance or advancement. Not to mention 50% of your customer base.

To make clear: When you implement anything political 50% is the hypothetical starting point. Which is why politics doesn’t belong in business. Again, period. See Nike™ for further clues.

I would look for Mr. Cook’s award roster and speaking engagements to follow Apple’s share price. i.e., lower, possibly much. For as Apple-the-stock goes? So too does Mr. Cook’s value as CEO let alone “Celebrity CEO Cause Célèbre Speaker.”

Then of course there’s non other than Elon Musk. All I have to say is this:

Once investors stop trying to embrace and follow (I mean that literally!) the publicly weed smoking Musk with his music, wine, and pill popping recommendations of coice. Tesla® may be in for a far rougher road than any suspension innovations may be digitally adjusted for. The reasoning is simple:

The hangover will be legend.

Just ask an aged rock star. That is, if you can still find one.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

I Would Be Remiss Not To Point This Out

As I’m typing this I have watched the usual players across much of the business/financial media salivating to explain this sudden surge that took place in the “markets” from the lows created in the overnight session to basically end the day almost as if it never took place. I would caution you to remember one very crucial fact: They never expected such a thing even possible to begin with.

Again, what I’m hearing and reading goes something along these lines:

See, this market wants to go up! Once the market digested the news that the arrest (e.g., the daughter of a high ranking Chinese CEO arrested in Canada to face extradition to the U.S.) was possibly not that consequential to the trade deal and buyers stepped in and blah, blah, blah.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But here’s what I believe is far closer to an explanation:

The initial reaction had more to do with a confluence of other things. The arrest was just a triggering for the move to start, not the entire cause. And the subsequent buying may not be for the reasons being touted.

But here’s what I do know. And it is a very poignant observation with implications that may end up being the start of something far worse than the so-called “smart crowd” even realize.

Here’s what I’m currently focused on and I feel it is demanding attention to be paid. To wit:

(Source)

From a technical perspective this latest move, a move that is near identical in its formation across a myriad of other markets, is a near text book example of what one would use to show how an initial move down that occurred with size and speed then followed with a subsequent fast rebound can fake out most analysts. The reason is simple:

They (much like you’re hearing right now across the media) think the rebound means something it did not. i.e., people want to buy. Hint – it usually is for other reasons entirely and it provides the perfect opportunity for those initial sellers to sell even more dragging in additional sellers while simultaneously making all those that thought “This is it! BTFD!!” wrong and turn them into panicking sellers.

This is where things can feed upon themselves creating a “doom loop.” That’s why this needs to be pointed out, for that’s precisely where we might now be teetering. And the reasoning is manifold.

As I iterated above, this pattern or, market move is nearly identical across all sectors. What that implies is that everything is in lockstep. And if that is the case? Everything is in peril. Or said differently: A wave of selling in the broad indices could turn into a tsunami of panic selling across entire sectors and global markets. Not hyperbole.

If you look at the above chart you don’t need to be a technician to understand what I notated. All you need to do is watch for the “markets” to suddenly reverse and start heading lower, once again, and just how low they go. For that’s the key. Below 2620 with follow through is the trip-wire-zone for lack of a better descriptor.

Again, what that oval on the chart represents is what is known as an area that via certain technical formulas would satisfy a technical view that a reversal has high odds for it to develop and would be in order should they do just that.

The reason why this is important to watch is because you may not understand the technical terms, math or such – but that’s what the machines use. And if the machines think they’re important, need I say more?

To be clear: I’m not saying this will happen, I’m saying that the odds of such a thing are very high in nature, along with if they come to fruition the resulting gyrations could be of a force no one is prepared for, let alone, considering.

As always, we shall see. But one things for sure…

We are going to know very, very, very (did I say very?) soon.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

A “Not To Scare The Children, But” Update

As is usually the case I have been bombarded with questions from friends and colleagues about my thoughts on the current gyrations in the “markets.” This is in direct contrast to the flip-side of my usual, as in: when the “markets” are vaulting higher and my phone doesn’t ring – I know it’s them.

So with that said, I felt it was appropriate to update what I said way back in February. Here’s a bit starting with the chart I used, again, back in February. To wit:

Will it play out this way? Hint: No one knows. However, with that said here’s the underlying premise coupled with a probable conclusion.

As you look at the above chart remember this…

Everyone, especially the so-called smartest of the smart paraded on media argued the above “cliff dive” was all but assured to not be in the cards. And there it is, and now sits in the #1 position of history as the most points lost – ever – in a single day, coupled with, these same people said that based on what they perceived as “all baked in” any and all QT (quantitative tightening) worries, i.e., “The market knows, it’s prepared, the economy is strong, not an issue, blah, blah, blah.” Or, my now personal favorite, “If you’re holding cash, you’re going to feel pretty stupid” That came from none other than Ray Dalio as he appeared with the fawning mainstream business/financial media press at Davos. Or said differently: If you’re not all in on stocks, you’re stupid.

Then the above happened, and now, it appears he’s changed his mind.

Funny how that happens as soon as The Fed. went from lip service of reducing the balance sheet, to full implementation as Janet walks out the door, is it not?

Then again, what do I know. Just ask the “experts.”

“So where are we today and how much have my first inclinations changed with the most recent action,” you may ask? Good question, for that’s what the most repeated theme of questions asked were like. Here’s the short answer of which I repeated many times:

“Why would I think or change anything? Were you not listening when you asked me last time? Are the ‘markets’ not doing the exact things like I said they might?”

Now some may take a bit of offense in the above thinking “Oh, that’s so rude!” However, I make statements like this not because I think I’m some form of market genius or holier-than-thou aficionado. I usually respond like this to others (to clarify: others I know well and that also know me as well) because, what happens more often than not is that they seek others’ insights not for insight per se. But rather, to help themselves bolster an already formed conclusion they want desperately to be correct. i.e., Some want the world to full of lollipops and rainbows therefore, they’ll only ask people whose viewpoint is lollipop and rainbow centric. Even though the world is anything but.

So here’s an updated view using a “picture” as they say in Silicon Valley. And as I used in the prior title: “I don’t want to scare the children, but…” Again, to wit:

(Source)

As one can see the only thing that has changed is that I’ve now simplified it.

Remember, this inclination for where we may be heading was made way back in mid February. Also, this viewpoint was derided across the entire mainstream business/financial media with proclamations that anything that could derail this “market” was already “known and baked in.” (See Ray Dalio quote above for clues.)

The issue now to be resolved is this:

Exactly’s whose “known and baked in” inclination will prevail?

Theirs? i.e. All the paraded and glorified next-in-rotation fund-manager cabal and their so-called brethren of “smart crowd” aficionados.

Or, mine?

As always, we shall see.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it…get this)

Remember all the hoopla made across the mainstream business/finacial media just a few days ago? For those that don’t here’s just a couple. To wit:

When it came to the Fed. and its Chair during his speech:

“Powell sees the global slowdown and knows that it could hurt us,” Cramer said in a tweet storm as the prepared remarks from the Fed chief were being debated on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report”by host Scott Wapner and a panel of traders.

“Powell is concerned and knows when he does one he has to wait — very big change in view,” Cramer said. Powell “took himself off the table as a reason for a longer” market meltdown, Cramer added.

When it came to the “truce” at the G-20 as of yesterday evening:

“If you want to understand what’s working in this market, you need to think like a Chinese bureaucrat — not like a portfolio manager — a Chinese bureaucrat who’s trying to make President Trump happy,” Cramer said Monday on “Mad Money.”

From my article Sunday: “When The Wrong Conclusions Can Spell Disastrous Resolutions”

It is here where the true problem now arrises:

Did they blink? Or, just wink?

The resulting “market” reaction as displayed on Thursday and Friday seems to show it was nothing more that a “wink” as to maybe allow some form of front-running narrative to take hold of and help prop the markets up from a bad month-end scenario while also helping the mood going into the G-20. 

From My Article Saturday: “So The Question Is…”

And that question appears to be answered as I’m currently typing this, again to wit:

(Source)

And for those wondering, the answer is yes. As of this writing nearly all of the so-called “off to the races” surge via the “blinked” as well as G-20 calls has been wiped out. 

It’s quite possible all of it (if not more) may be gone before day’s end.

But what do I know.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr