Crumbs & GoPro: Malinvestment x 2, But Blame Short Sellers. Booyah!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Posted in category Boom-Bubble Phenomenon

Forbes on the crumbling of Crumbs (bold emphasis mine):

Back in July 2011, Crumbs went public in a reverse merger at just over $13 per share. At approximately $60 million market cap, Crumbs wasn’t huge, but that was a hefty price given the chain only had about 35 stores.

Trouble came just about a month after it went public, when the company reported that same store sales were down 6%. By September 2011, Crumbs stock had fallen over 70%to under $4 per share. That November, the Crumbs CEO resigned. Despite growing to a peak of 70 locations, the overall financial performance has been in steady decline ever since.

Crumbs’ quick failure stands as a warning for investors of “trendy” new IPOs — especially for companies overly reliant on a single hit product.

So the IPO that Wall Street waxed endlessly about was doomed from the get-go. This IPO was not doomed because it was “trendy” and based on a single product – it was doomed because the easy-credit economic boom enabled manufacturers to invest in and produce increasingly more extravagant products and services that lured consumers who were not restricted by cash on hand or real wealth. Consumers could spend as they pleased through the careless use of government-subsidized cheap debt. Hence came the $5+ cupcake. I am always amused – perhaps too easily – by Wall Street’s high-toned pontification on these matters. From a 2011 article in The Street:

A publicly traded Crumbs “will be a growth play” for investors, Michael A. Yoshikami, president and chief investment strategist at YCMNET Advisors, told TheStreet in January when reports of a Crumbs IPO first surfaced. He expects investor interest to be strong since Crumbs would represent one of the only ways to bet on the cupcake trend through an exchange-traded equity.

The ‘cash is trash’ mentality ignores that long-term cash flow is necessary to sustain the business so that revenues can be earned and profits can be made. In the Wall Street world, trendy and fashionable = an investment banking firm’s wet dream. And so these disatrous IPOs commence. See my article from today on Crumbs and the end of the cupcake bubble.

Another recent and highly-praised IPO that is going to go bust is the GoPro, a camera company that is mostly riding the tide of the Narcissistic generation’s expression of self-love through endless video selfies. (Look at me! here I am! Here I was! There I go! Booyah!) After the IPO, GoPro shares quickly immediately rose 100% from $24/share to $48/share.

The stock’s torrid climb has more than doubled GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman’s net worth. Woodman (and his wife Jill) sold about 3.6 million shares in the IPO, netting a pretax windfall of $86 million. But he still owns over 52 million Class B shares, representing a stake of 48%.

Woodman’s shares were worth just over $1.2 billion at the IPO price, but they’re now worth over $2.5 billion (up nearly $500 million just from yesterday). Including cash and other assets, Forbes estimates Woodman’s current total net worth is approaching $3 billion.

Not that GoPro isn’t a cool and innovative product in some respects, but the same thing was said about Skullcandy when Wall Street poets talked up that IPO game. Skullcandy has since taken a nosedive into the bottomless pit of once-celebrated IPO carnage. Wall Street bobbleheads are now blaming the short sellers entering the market for GoPro’s volatility in price. The conventional minds of Wall Street always have it backwards: instead of short selling being the driver in downward stock price movement, the shorties are cutting loose on GoPro because they understand the malinvestment factor of fashion-forward products that quickly lose their appeal once the the infatuation and novelty is over. GoPro will GoToTheGraveyard.

I Called the Cupcake Bubble Bust. And It Leaves Behind Crumbs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Posted in category Boom-Bubble Phenomenon

I called the cupcake bubble back in 2009. Post-economic bust, what started rising from the economy’s ashes was a series of economic “successes” whose popularity made no sense in an economy that was awash with bubble-bust carnage. Cupcakes were the most obvious an imminent mishap.

Later on, as cupcake pandemonia took firm hold and media stories gloated about the glory and popularity of those pricey-but-oh-so-special cupcakes, I was writing about the cupcake bubble and what was really driving the bubble madness that created endless malinvestments [ see definition ] in the cupcake business.

Yesterday, it was announced that Crumbs, the New York-based “cupcake empire” was going out of business. Forty-eight stores in ten states went kaput. The day that Crumbs mania hit its high and it was announced that the company was going public, I called it out as a favorable stock short.

I didn’t attack cupcakes because I hate cupcakes – I like an occasional cupcake every now and then. I merely latched onto an absurd fixation that was being fueled by something other than demand and productivity. From 2008 onward, the advent of government stimulus policies along with the Federal Reserve’s fight to keep credit cheap and money plentiful created market distortions that were making even the ridiculous seem profitable and real. Americans developed a strange obsession with enormous, sugar-laden, pricey mounds of sweets all dressed up in toppings and flavors suitable for the most discriminating 5-year-olds, and thus business malinvestments in the cupcake world ensued.

However, I was attacked by cupcake lovers and libertarians alike, the latter who were incensed that I would bring into question any free market activity. As a market anarchist, I am all for the free market investing in and opening up toe-jam restaurants if that is the desire and/or apparent trend. Nonetheless, my criticism would be based in the feasibility of the idea and the ability for the economy to sustain such a market without government monetary policy and interventionism mucking up markets. At the core of Austrian economics is the trade cycle theory that explains why recurring booms and busts occur in an economy. Unsustainable credit expansion and inflation, along with the “have-pulse-will-loan” mentality, served to lure entrepreneurs into seemingly profitable business ventures that were not sustainable on their own merit.

I argued that the bubble period produced many casualties in the form of absurd fixations produced by the boom years that continues to titillate perpetually adolescent adults of all ages who are still experiencing their own sense of made-up prosperity even as America’s boom became a flat-out bust wherein even multiple government stimulus policies have not managed to stimulate anything in a tangible sense. When government inflation and interventionist monetary policies prop up the economy and “stimulate” it through artificial means, peoples’ perceptions of economic life are transformed into that which was intended by the central planners: the economic crush is over; our government cured all the problems; things are great again; go back to your old ways. Rinse and repeat.

Thus the credit boom had given rise to a fictitious prosperity grounded in debt. The accumulation of stuff via the buildup of debt distorted people’s perception of reality and gave them a false sense of wealth, and so they took full advantage of their newfound “prosperity.” It has not been authentic affluence because much of the economic growth in the U.S. has been built upon a foundation of debt and consumption, not one of increasing production and real wealth.

As household debt-to-income ratios rose to an all-time high, personal savings rates plummeted to new lows. People demanded more and more materialism in the form of “things,” and producers responded by supplying the goods and services that were in demand. The easy-credit, economic boom allowed them to produce increasingly more extravagant products and services that lured consumers who were not restricted by cash on hand or real wealth. Consumers could spend as they pleased through the careless use of debt.

Debt-based consumerism can generate numerous social problems, including leaving behind a number of spiritual casualties. In essence, the boom-bubble period made people go bonkers. Entrepreneurs, business owners, individuals, and consumers became unhinged, going well beyond sustainable business models and reasonable spending patterns. The excess of credit along with the low cost of obtaining it allowed business ventures to be funded that otherwise would not have been able to raise capital. Business capital was therefore wasted on projects that were doomed to failure in the long run.

Along with that, I have argued that government monetary policy is the major contributor to the institutionalization of perpetual adolescence. Inflation and credit bubbles distort time preferences [ definition here ] to the point where individuals are attracted to inanity and reduced to puerile behavior. The distortion of time preferences serves to infantilize adults whose instant gratification has usurped emotional intelligence and common sense. Among the most tragic consequences are the behavioral enigmas left behind by the spiritual debasement caused by years of excesses, with two of the most disturbing problems being the professional child consumer and the perpetual adolescent adult.

I first recognized this phenomenon in all its ugliness in 2008 after I observed that Cold Stone Creamery was yet another credit-bubble business whose business model wouldn’t last five minutes outside of the hyper-boom environment in which the business was born and initially thrived. I wrote about Cold Stone in 2008 when I sensed that this business was a most preposterous venture, perhaps the worst I’d ever seen from a major chain. I was attacked on multiple fronts for daring to call out the failure of this chain that happened exactly as I said it would happen.

Hat tip to Lauren Snyder Grosz and the many others who messaged and/or tweeted this newsflash my way.

 

Outhouse Racism

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Posted in category political correctness

What’s the big stink over a crappy parade float of an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library”? Of course, the whole thing was immediately elevated to claims of racism in spite of the fact that the outhouse-presidential library idea began as satire bashing a white guy: George Bush.

Government’s “Nutritional Experiment” That Killed Its Willing Subjects

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Posted in category Food Politics

Indeed, this is not a mock Onion piece, nor is it an illusion. The former mother of all conventional wisdom is striking out against conventional wisdom with its defense of fat and the way we used to eat. That is, until the McGovern Committee’s Report put Americans on a path to obesity and disease in the 1970s while the U.S. government facilitated decades of political pandering and billions in farm subsidies to support the Industrial Food Complex and its deliberate junk science. Here’s a quick hit on the impact of the McGovern era.

The 5-minute video (below) compliments the Time magazine cover headline, “Eat Butter: Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy. Why They Were Wrong.” The Time piece addresses the errors of “science” and ensuing misplaced fears that radically changed the American diet from whole foods to a infinite sea of industrial substitutes. The video narrator refers to this as a ”vast nutritional experiment” and notes that Americans have since been “dropping dead from heart disease.” This narrative deems the government’s “experiment a failure” and correctly concludes that “Americans are sicker than ever before.” This is strong language coming from a mainstream media organ, especially after being accustomed to puff pieces that never dared to advance down the path of revisionism, even when backed by facts and science.

This video even manages to produce a revisionist and mostly correct portrayal of the former declared enemy, LDL cholesterol – whose demonization is one of the medical establishment’s greatest crimes. When one understands the politics and corporate state schemes of the rent-seeking Medical-Food-Pharmaceutical complex, one can one begin to understand why there has been a 5-decade assault on traditional, whole foods in favor of chemicalized-processed-plasticized industrial slop. The Time piece, however, doesn’t bump up too heavily against the political racket that completely turned science on its ear in favor of propping up politically-enabled profiteering on the part of mega-complex that changed the world one illicit proclamation at a time. I can assume that these truths will be broached at some point as curiosity leads the cat to the causes and conditions behind the latest conclusions. NYU Professor Marion Nestle has done some good work in this direction.

You can watch the Time video here. Here is a link to my post from yesterday: “Butter We Repent.”

Butter, We Repent

Monday, July 7, 2014
Posted in category Food Politics

My parents, once upon a time, never knew anything but real butter. However, my generation grew up with the usual 70s propaganda: fat bad, industrial-chemical substitutes good. The twisted, power-mongering politics of food have long had a stranglehold on fat, especially in terms of demonizing saturated fat in favor of its plasticized, industrial substitutes. One of the most notable traditional foods that ended up on government’s death row is butter.

Thus our parents and families were stripped of cooking traditions and free markets in food in favor of adherence to government’s junk science fueled by lies and Big Government-Big Business profiteering that served to benefit the government-subsidized, mega-industrial manufacturers at the expense of the artisanal makers and small competitors. Since then, diseases of modern diet have skyrocketed, with some – such as diabetes – approaching epidemic distribution within the American populace.

Fifteen+ years ago, I turned the anti-butter mythology on its ear in my household, and margarine was informally and unofficially and voluntarily banned to the deepest recesses of hell. Since ditching the last vestiges of an industrial diet such as processed foods, pop, and industrial oils while returning to a full-blown traditional, real-food diet, I was able to ward off a a rare autoimmune disorder (that I was told was “forever”); maintain my high school waist size into my 50s; and generally, just discover an overall fountain of youth and endless energy. The holistic view of full-body wellness recognizes that food is a powerful “medicine,” especially in terms of avoiding or healing chronic disease. Still, most of our traditional “medicine” has been jettisoned in favor of large-scale food politics because the participating entities are politically empowered.

In spite of the imbalance of political power, butter has recently developed a new block of devotees from the mainstream media machine who are repenting for the decades of butter bashing. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a headline on June 25th, “Butter Makes Comeback as Margarine Loses Favor.” Today recently ran a piece that seemed to gently concede to losing the war on butter, although giving the usual, woolly advice to practice “moderation.” Quartz magazine recently published a piece, “The War Against Butter is Over. Butter Won.” This story conveys the facts that sales of margarine are at a 70-year low. Hooray! Sales of plasticized butter have dropped 30% in less than fifteen years. Meanwhile, butter consumption is the highest it has been in forty years.

Even food giant Unilever is backpedaling on its anti-butter marketing and product placement while touting its “half butter” products. But most amazing of all is the recent Time magazine cover that declared, “Eat Butter.” In fact, Time goes so far as to attempt to undo the years of vilification of fat. A heroic advancement, on the part of the mainstream, in truth and facts. However, as The Guardian recently noted, don’t expect a collective apology from the purveyors of low-fat lies who have perpetuated the anti-fat orthodoxy for decades.

butter

Here’s a related post of mine from April 2014 where I point to a favorable piece on butter from Mother Jones while I also take on the anti-butter rantings of James McWilliams, a professional, paid, one-man propaganda vehicle for the rent-seeking Industrial Food Complex. And here’s the kind of butter I use – a raw (unpasteurized and not homogenized) product that would not make it past the FDA’s lookout tower that stands proudly within the bowels of D.C. The label is clear and simple: made in a home kitchen, meaning without approval from our political slavemasters and special interest oppressors.

butter pic2

Meals Under Wheels

Monday, July 7, 2014
Posted in category The State

I just want you Michigan folks to be informed: the government just gave you permission to ask for permission to bring home your fresh roadkill. The good and kindly bureaucrats in the state of Michigan are making it slightly less onerous to take home your roadkill. Michigan Senate Bill 613 “streamlines” the bureaucracy one must wade through in order to clean up fresh roadkill for purposes of salvaging the meat. So instead of toiling through near impossible bureaucratic engines to tag a roadkill for a carry out, one must merely seek permission from the Department of Natural Resources in order to make a road mess into a series of meals. This is recognized as a sweeping advancement in trust, efficiency, and benevolence on the part of your taskmasters. “Roadkill: It’s What’s For Dinner.”

Duchess of Cambridge: A**Gate

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Posted in category Feminism

Kate Middleton’s windy-day, bared derriere has sparked a silly bottomless debate that has become a tired version of The Feminists vs The Rest of ‘Em, so Tessa Miller takes on the slippery slope of non-slipness in her article on the Daily Beast. She writes:

In 1,000 or so words that do nothing but push feminism back a few decades, The Daily Beast’s Kelli Goff argues that Middleton—and all women, for that matter—should wear slips or weight their clothing to avoid revealing their bodies when the pesky wind catches their skirt. “But as ‘Bottomgate’ proves,” the author writes, “[Middleton] could benefit from an extra something under her dress, and an old-fashioned slip just might be the perfect fit.”

The old wrangle over more clothes (repression) versus less clothes (freedom from repression) has been invoked in order to argue for or against Kate’s lack of an “appropriate” cover-up. Writer Keli Goff, also on the Daily Beast, doesn’t give the topic a slip when she insists that Kate should have been wearing something, perhaps even an old-fashioned slip in order to avoid the wardrobe malfunction, while Miller basically makes the case of ‘take your underclothes and shove it.’

I am not quite seeing a feminist argument here, but rather, I see the wind, a vigorous updraft, and an accidentally bared butt that some meddling photographer happened to etch in digital form and spread ’round the Internet. So now the world is horrified that a revered royal rump has been splashed throughout the media and has thus become etched into the minds of the group-thinking, celebrity-obsessed riffraff, permeating their piddling minds to the point of torment. And so the debate goes on.

To wear underclothes or not to wear them, that is not the question. The point is – who the f*** cares? It’s an ass, people, and we’ve all seen an ass or two in our day. Go to any beach where loads of women are stuffed into tiny cloth triangles caressing pricey and painful Brazilian wax jobs that offer much more exposure than the royal updraft. Or go to Peopleofwalmart.com and you’ll see more bared and flaccid body parts in one place than you ever cared to see in any environment, let alone the retail sphere. And as Ilana Mercer points out in “Kate’s Keister,” as least Kate has a pretty ass as opposed to the bulging spectacles springing from the Kardashian Klan that conjures up visions of frozen cottage cheese wrapped with a too-tight canvas tarp.

To wear or not wear underclothes is not a feminist argument, nor is there one right answer to the questions being asked about the necessity of wearing boob or bottom protection. To wear or not wear some form of cover-up is a choice made by an individual, usually without much contemplation or strategizing, because sometimes you feel like it, and sometimes you don’t. It’s just not that complicated.

 

Libertarian Follies, Part 2

Sunday, May 18, 2014
Posted in category Libertarianism

I am going to have a bit of fun with this post that I originally plopped on Facebook. It created quite a stir, which was quite a surprise for me. I have made some edits to the original post.

The obsessions, on the part of many libertarians, with claiming allegiance to “thick” libertarianism (as opposed to “thin” libertarianism), has made me view so much of the libertarian movement, these days, as perpetual fucktardianism. All the underemployed libertarian “intellectuals” who don’t have real jobs are jockeying for position in the new narcissism.me movement that still has not produced a single productive business model that will survive the times, let alone the profitability test.

Yet all of the ass-sucking, too-much-time-on-their-hands cultists who religiously follow these losers are jacking off over bow ties and hollering about unnamed libertarian “racists” because they have nothing better to do with their time other than troll the incessant, self-glorified posts of these libertarians and claim allegiance to every piece of crap that they squeeze out of their ass. And there are plenty of blind followers out there to give these libertarians the time and attention they desire.

Then there is Brutalism, the latest abstraction over which the lefty libertarians are smitten. Brutalism?? Seriously? What attention-seeking, rotted tripe. There are plenty of excellent posts that deconstruct this absurd notion of libertarianism, so I will not enter the fray on this point. Unfortunately, there are many “libertarians” who are desperate to join this circle of B.S. in order to keep their movement alliances so they can “grow” their opportunistic tendencies and gain a small paycheck or two, even if paid libertarianism is only a remote possibility for them. Pay attention, closely, to the libertarians who have drastically switched sides in terms of their alliances and philosophical groundings. Those folks who formerly despised each other are now best buds, and some of the formerly anti-Kochtopus libertarians are now fully engaged, and occasionally paid, by the Kochtopus. (Here is Part 1 of three parts on the Kochtopus by David Gordon.) If you have blinded yourself to these total ideological transformations, you need to reclaim your knowledge within your world of ignorance.

Christopher Cantwell is doing a good job of keeping up on the action in the ‘Thick vs Thin’ domain. His appearance on the Tom Woods Show is a nice addition to the infighting drama. He refers to the above mentioned alliance shifting as “jumping ship” on Tom’s show, and he is precisely correct. Christopher and Tom Woods are also correct in noting that this “infighting” is, at this time, worth paying attention to because the egalitarian mission of the “Thicks” is attracting a smallish yet dedicated cult that is working hard to redefine libertarianism to conform to egalitarian leanings. Also, it’s just plain fun to pay attention to the libertarian movement’s train wrecks and IdiotFests long enough to be educated on the day-to-day drama.

I intentionally left my post on Facebook wide open for others to read and share, knowing full well that it could go semi-viral. What is most interesting is that my Facebook post drew enough attention from the Thick Libertarians that I was contacted, via email, by David Luntz, the entrepreneur who started Liberty.me. While that is interesting on its own, it’s even more compelling that he cc’d Lew Rockwell with his email to me, assuming that perhaps Lew has some influence over me and my occasionally animated ways. Mr. Luntz was not pleased with my comments about Narcissism.me, which, by the way, were not entirely directed at his Liberty.me. He seems like a nice enough guy, so I will respond to him in kind, and continue these posts. If he gives me permission to post his email, I will indeed post it along with my response.

Here is the link to “Libertarian Follies, Part 1.”

Julia Child on McDonald’s French Fries

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Posted in category Food Politics

A blast from the past: a 1995 interview with Julia Child on the goodness of beef tallow and lard, which was condemned by government bureaucrats, politicized special interests, and other assorted purveyors of food politics in favor of trans fat and industrial oils, and how that forced change turned McDonald’s french fries from a treat to a travesty.

Pomegranates Gone Wild

Saturday, April 26, 2014
Posted in category Food Politics

The Coca-Cola machine vs the self-professed lords of pomegranate – the Supreme Court is hearing arguments. POM Wonderful first sued Coca-Cola in 2008 under the Lanham Act, signed into law by Harry Truman, which “prohibits false and misleading statements” about products. POM’s case is essentially one of competition: Coca-Cola has produced a nasty, little product made by its Minute Maid division, and this product is sold as a pomegranate-blueberry juice. In reality, it’s just another sugary apple juice trying to capitalize on the popularity and perceived health benefits of pomegranate. Here’s a description of the product from the Bloomberg article:

In the courtroom, Pom pointed out that when customers buy Minute Maid’s Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of five juices, they think they’re getting mostly pomegranate and blueberry juice. But the beverage is 99.4 percent apple and grape juice, 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, 0.2 percent blueberry juice, and 0.1 percent raspberry juice. Pom also took issue with the images on the label—featuring a pomegranate and blueberries as prominently as an apple, grapes, and raspberries—and the size of the type for “Pomegranate Blueberry” compared with “flavored blend of five juices.”

This product is sold cheaper than POM’s 100% pomegranate juice because it is mostly made up of a cheap and widely available fruit – apples – while pomegranate resources are more scare, and thus this fruit tends to be a more pricey product in its purest form.

Somewhere, there has to be a government dictate that stirs the pot, right? Of course, for Coca-Cola’s defense is that it is adhering to the relevant FDA guidelines for food labeling, and these guidelines allow food companies to call a horse a cat if that horse incidentally passed a cat in the barn somewhere in its past. FDA guidelines are in place in order to protect the Industrial Food Machine from having to reveal industrial ingredients, while allowing them to deceive consumers.

POM has its own issues with deceptive advertising, making multiple health benefit claims as regards pomegranate juice. In the end, it is up to each individual customer to sort it all out and to be self-educated enough to deconstruct marketing ploys. Consumers, much to their dismay, can never rely on an authoritarian, self-interested government body – such as the FDA – to regulate markets and determine individual food choices. I know, no one wants to hear the same old accountability argument because, after all, government is here to protect us, serve us, and keep us informed. And no one wants to hear that the FDA is one of the most politicized and totalitarian arms of the US government that is busy protecting us to death.