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Criticism, personal experience and investing.

I get criticism.

I’m skeptical of banks, of retailers, of cannabis and crypto, and of specific stocks, like Boeing, Deutsche Bank, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond and Nordstrom (JWN).

My skepticism has nothing to do with whether you can or cannot make money in these areas. Many of my readers are making gobs of money in these areas.

We all have limited time, and limited attention span. We all get turned on (or off) by different things.

Among those things are our own customer experiences. I feel great about buying from Amazon. I feel awful about buying stuff from Walmart, Best Buy, Nordstrom, or local brick-and-mortar retailers.

One exception: The Spencertown Country Store (Spencertown NY) has the world’s best croissants. My life would not be complete without a daily dose of country mega-butter.

In short, I’m not the arbiter of what’s the best investment. I plug along, searching for new excitement in areas I can understand and feel comfortable with. That means I miss huge gains — in stocks, like the recovery of Facebook this year:

And I’m not good at shorting stocks — though many of the ones I don’t like would make great shorts.

Amazon’s Fourth annual Prime (two) Day kicks off today. You can buy a lot of Alexa stuff cheap. I find my Alexas useful for telling me the weather. Amazon gets an amazing amount of free ink.

From Business Insider and CNBC this morning:

+ Juul’s CEO said “I’m sorry” to parents whose teenagers are addicted to vaping. The FDA has said vaping among teenagers is an “epidemic”, with 21% of US high schoolers vaping last year.

+ YouTube star and presenter Emily Hartridge was killed after a crash between an electric scooter and a truck in London. Multiple UK news outlets said that it was the first fatality involving electric scooters in the UK, where they are illegal to ride on public roads.

You should see them in New York. They’re worse than bicycles. Don’t do stupid. Don’t ride one of these things.

+ President Donald Trump railed against cryptocurrencies and specifically called out Bitcoin and Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency that is backed by companies like Uber and Mastercard. Trump tweeted he was “not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies.”

Bitcoin just fell 10%.

+ China released second-quarter figures today showing that its economy slowed to 6.2%, the weakest rate in at least 27 years, as the country’s trade war with the U.S. took its toll. Many experts have long expressed skepticism about China’s GDP reports, saying the government has long been fudging the numbers. Given China’s incredible growth, I don’t know about the fudging.

I personally believe there are many large (and smaller) companies that just can’t pack up and leave China for some place else. To wit:

— Many Chinese entrepreneurs have built specialized factories to accommodate American manufacture, e.g. Nike shoes and Apple iPhones.

— Other Asian countries simply don’t have the factories, the capacity, nor the infrastructure to move the goods around.

I believe the Trump Administration is orchestrating much of the “Move Out of China” rhetoric in order to apply pressure for their Trade Deal with China — which I suspect is going to take eons to finalize.

Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith questions

Why Does Boeing CEO Muilenburg Still Have a Job?

Boeing is imposing yet more losses on carriers that were hapless enough to have purchased its 737 Max.

Early on Sunday, United Airlines and American Airlines announced they were keeping Boeing 737 Max aircraft out of their flight schedules through early November. That’s two months later than their most recent plans.

The Wall Street Journal swung into action and got more detail. Its take? That the scandal-plagued model may not fly until 2020. That would hit airlines that own the plane with lower capacity during the big volume holiday season. From the Journal:

Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX planes are unlikely to be ready to carry passengers again until 2020 because of the time it will take to fix flight-control software and complete other steps, an increasing number of government and industry officials say.

From Joel Ross’ latest Ross Rant newsletter:

Hotel investing has had its day. As always happens, times get good and supply increases more than demand. Stock prices ran up as the economy did very well, and more people took more vacations, and business travel. That growth is over. Revpar is flat with inflation and down in some markets. Transaction volume this year is down 45%. Hotels are generally over priced and their future performance is flat to negative. Despite a major study dome many years ago, industry pundits are now saying what that study proved- cap ex is really 6% not 3% of revenue. If you make that realistic adjustment, there are many hotels that would not make much money. To add to that, the PIP programs now required by brands tend to be even more costly making acquisitions more problematic. NYC has been, and continues to be, a hotel disaster with massive over building. Hotels is not where you want to be investing these days.

It is forecast that over 12,000 retail stores will close permanently this year. Malls are becoming combination retail, and entertainment and food. A 3 million sq ft mall is soon to open in NJ which will be half entertainment. The shift to online is accelerating and Amazon and Walmart are the big winners, although many retailers are figuring out how to compete with Amazon online. Logistics is key along automated warehouses and AI, and that appears to be getting resolved for many retailers.

Airline ticket update

My sister, Barbara Whitten, owns a large, successful travel agency in Sydney, Australia. She writes:

After 37 years of the agency, I know a bit. We buy regular US carrier tickets via a large wholesaler or what we call a consolidator. For fares from Sydney to U.S. we can save a couple of thousand dollars on a business class ticket.

I n short, some of the best deals are with human travel agents.

So you can make predictions?

I’m running this photo again to remind myself to get the tie framed. It’s the tie grandchild Sophie made for my recent birthday.

Harry Newton, who reminds everyone:

+ To sign up for dividend reinvestment programs on their favorite stocks and

+ To eat their daily dose of berries and yogurt.