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Gambling on Xi and Trump. Good luck. There are positives, however.

One is president for life. The other is acting as if he’s president for life.

This weekend they meet to sign a deal to avoid escalating the Trade War — which could see 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the U.S. which could hurt everyone from Walmart to Amazon to Dollar Tree.

I’m not making predictions. But I’m guessing that both leaders can figure out a middle ground that will signal the War is over and each one has won.

There’s too much at stake here for some sort of deal not to get done. Hence, I’m optimistic for a trade deal. But I’m not optimistic for the economy. Reasons? From yesterday:

  1. Housing. Don’t believe me? Put your house or apartment up for sale. Watch how nobody comes to see your gem. Government housing numbers are not good.

2. Retail. Shops empty of shoppers. Walk down New York’s Fifth Avenue, as I did. There’s nobody shopping. Ritzy Madison Avenue gives empty shops a whole new meaning.

3. Over-borrowed companies. With rates low, companies in recent years binged on borrowing. The bingers are often the worst credit-worthy ones. Heck why otherwise would they borrow all that money? Why did idiots lend to shonky borrowers? Debt is being downgraded daily.

4. Steel, labor and interest are making construction projects hugely pricey and tanking many of them. One contractor used to promise his bids for 30 days. Now he holds to 48 hours.

5. The accelerating changes in taste – e.g. the ones that tanked GM. Think also the sharing economy that brought us Airbnb, Uber and Lyft.

As I eye this list, I start thinking there are some companies to short. This is not my normal behavior. But it’s weekend research.

First company to short: GM:

I bicycled around New York yesterday looking for GM vehicles. This is what I found:

Lots of Suburban limos.

 

No GM cars. In fact, biking around for an hour, I saw only one Malibu and not one Chevy Cruze.

The Cruze is a perfect size for New York’s fleet of smaller taxis and Ubers. But no one is driving them. The tesstdrive reviews on the Cruze stink.

GM is killing the Cruze. It is also shutting down its much vaunted hybrid called the Volt. I heard good things about it.

I’ve been watching GM ads. They’re really awful. GM seems to have little idea of marketing, of positioning a vehicle for a specific market. When I think Subaru, BMW, Mercedes, Prius… I have a a strong idea who the vehicle is meant for. But GM? The first car I ever bought in the U.S. was a used Ford Mustang. I’ve never bought or even considered buying any vehicle from GM. Which is sad.

This is GM year to date. I like the recent spike to short off:

Are there readers out there driving GM? Is anyone out there who thinks that firing 15,000+ and closing down a bunch of plants will save GM?

Am I wrong? Leave a Comment below or send me an email.

More companies to short

I don’t like companies that have borrowed heavily to buy other companies. They need to deal with two problems: getting the acquisitions to work and second, dealing with rising interest rates. Companies include:

+ AT&T

+ Comcast

+ CVS

There are others. I need to research them this weekend.

Any thoughts from readers?

The world is a complicated place

Don’t believe me? Read these words from today’s New York Times business section:

Falling Oil Prices May Make Trump Happy but They Pose Risks for U.S.

HOUSTON – Oil prices have plunged by about 25 percent in the last month while the cost of gasoline has tumbled to as little as $2 a gallon in several states. President Trump is pushing for even lower prices, calling it “a big Tax Cut for America and the World.”

But Mr. Trump is playing a tricky game. The United States became the world’s largest oil producer this year, and a collapse in prices could hurt scores of businesses and hundreds of thousands of workers in the energy and manufacturing industries. The damage would be particularly severe in states like Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota that voted for the president.

Oil, which is trading at around $50 a barrel, is close to an economic sweet spot. Prices are not so high that they are a burdensome tax on consumers and businesses, and not so low as to bankrupt energy companies and strain the finances of major oil exporters like Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“Trump tweets as if he has a joystick and he has everything under his command like he is playing one of these video games,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

You can read the full article here. 

Amazon AWS shines

I watched some of yesterday’s keynote by AWS CTO, Werner Vogels. I am impressed with AWS and the awesome work the AWS team is working to improve it. I’m tempted to sign for next year’s show. Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) may be the biggest engine for growth and innovation in our economy. Perhaps the world’s economy.

AMZN is going back to $2,050.

Don’t do stupid.

+ Do not buy any Prevagen, the jellyfish brain supplement. It’s worthless.

+ Don’t forget to get your flu short and shinglest shots this weekend.

+ Auto-pay works best with a credit card. Once you sign with your bank info, you can never close it down. You can close down your credit card from one day to the next. Trust me on this one.

Wonderful Jackie Mason

My grandfather always said, “Don’t watch your money; watch your health.”

So one day while I was watching my health, someone stole my money.

It was my grandfather.

Older posts you may have missed

I’m not posting every day. Some days I have nothing to say. But some days my blog gets emailed to your old email address or dumped into your spam folder. Please check. Here are my most recent columns, including yesterday’s:

A bouquet from the Fed. But still depressing longer-term. Nov 29. Click here.

Here we go again. Nov 28. Click here.

Fear and uncertainty don’t make for a happy stockmarket. Nov 27. Click here.

Stocks are bouncing back today. Let’s watch them carefully. Bitcoin plummets. Nov 26. Click here.

There is good news and there is bad news. Nov 23 (Black Friday) Click here.

What I learned – if anything – from my recent huge tech stock losses. Nov 21. Click here.

Blood is flowing. Is now the right time to jump back in? Nov 20. Click here.

I lied. Not every asset is crashing. Nov 19. Click here. 

Another day poorer. But not deeper in debt. Nov 15. Click here.

Asset prices in free-fall: Stocks. Housing. Commodities. Nov 13, Click here.

Too much money. Too many opportunities. Hence today’s stomach-churning investment scene. Nov 8. Click here.  

This is me on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

I’m coming back from tennis.


Here are the views earlier that morning:

Looking east:

Looking west

Magnificent?

  • Anonymous

    For your comment on retail: “Shops empty of shoppers. Walk down New York’s Fifth Avenue, as I did. There’s nobody shopping. Ritzy Madison Avenue gives empty shops a whole new meaning.”

    Not sure I fully agree with you there or, maybe better put, I think it’s just looking at one piece of a much larger pie … I think if you segment retail you’ll find that some areas (i.e. malls) are struggling but if you walk into a Five Below or Ulta they’re not … the off-price/discounter segment is generally doing well and on top of that is viewed as recession-resistant.

  • TomFromVa

    That is cool – what does a ride on the tram cost?