Maybe Tesla Just Needs a New CEO

Today’s Agenda

Maybe Tesla Just Needs a New CEO

Short-Termism Vs. Elon Musk

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk has had it up to here with the short-termism of the stock market. So he must have been happy this morning when President Donald Trump tweeted he has “asked the SEC to study!" the idea of having public companies only report earnings every six months instead of every quarter, to “allow greater flexibility,” whatever that means. This came a week after Musk said he was tired of the market’s hamster wheel and wanted to take Tesla private, where he wouldn’t have to worry about pesky short-sellers, analysts and the like.

But short-termism isn’t a big problem for a company like, say, Deere & Co., notes Brooke Sutherland. The tractor maker, which reported quarterly results this morning, has a long-term story compelling enough to make investors overlook short-term hiccups. Tesla, on the other hand, is one of those companies "that have bigger challenges that get felled by arbitrary goal posts, and the most problematic are often those of leaders’ own making,” Brooke writes. Click here to read the whole thing.

Musk’s musings about going private have gotten the company in hot water with the SEC, and last night the New York Times published an unsettling interview with him in which he teared up about the pressure of being Tesla's CEO, saying it was taking a physical and personal toll on him, and suggested he would be fine if somebody else did it. Matt Levine writes Musk has accidentally stumbled on the simplest solution to Tesla’s problems: Just let somebody else be CEO

This is just the latest in a string of bizarre behaviors from Musk, enough even to rouse some members of Tesla’s sleepy board, the Times reported. Shira Ovide helpfully observes the board has a very simple solution at hand: “Do your jobs.” The board can fire Musk, or get him some help, or do all sorts of other things they aren’t doing. Of course, Tesla is in many ways a cult of Musk’s personality, so curbing him might mean curbing Tesla. It’s a dilemma, but board members are paid well to handle them, Shira writes. Click here to read the whole thing.

So Many Real-Life Versions of ‘Succession’

Have you been watching HBO’s “Succession,” about an aging media mogul who refuses to hand his company over to his kids? I’ve been slow to get into it because every character seems absolutely horrible. But then a lot of smart people, including Tara Lachapelle, say it gets really good, so I’m sticking with it. Then again, if I wanted such stories, I could just follow News Corp., Viacom Inc. and several other media empires where the drama of “Succession” is a fact of life, Tara notes: “The biggest leaders of Hollywood and TV entertainment are approaching the end of long tenures with what seems like apprehension of letting go, and at a time when their businesses arguably need some fresh blood as they try to keep up with the drastic changes in consumers’ video consumption appetites.” Click here to read the whole thing.

Time to Talk to the Taliban

Trump’s mini-surge in Afghanistan starting last year has produced a stalemate at best, Bloomberg’s editors write. It’s time to try a new approach: taking advantage of a seeming willingness on the part of the Taliban to negotiate a peace settlement. This will take deft diplomacy, as it will also necessarily involve Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan — all of which have, uh, complicated relations with the Trump administration. Still, it’s worth a try, the editors write. Click here to read the whole thing

Two Simple Tweaks to Fight Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a large, deadly and fast-growing epidemic. Two fairly simple tweaks suggested by a couple of recent behavioral studies might help with the problem, writes Cass Sunstein. First, letting doctors know when patients die from opioid overdoses makes them less likely to prescribe opioids in the future. And tweaking the default settings for opioid prescriptions in electronic discharge orders to 10 pills instead of 30 makes doctors prescribe fewer pills overall, which could help curb addiction. Click here to read the whole thing.

Socialists Shift the Overton Window

Conservatives may think some signature proposals of Democratic Socialists such as Bernie Sanders — think Medicare for all and a federal job guarantee — will never happen in America and in fact can be used to scare right-wing voters to the polls. But Noah Smith writes these ideas have moved the window of public discussion so far that now centrist policy makers are working on more measured reforms that can accomplish similar goals without the disruption — think Denmark, not Venezuela.

Chart Attack

Under pressure over its role in exorbitant drug prices, pharmacy benefit manager CVS Health Corp. has proposed not covering some super-expensive drugs — but its plan leaves out some of the priciest drugs on the market, points out Max Nisen:

Maybe Tesla Just Needs a New CEO

Do you really need a car for that trip you’re taking? Wouldn’t a bike or scooter be just as good? asks Nathaniel Bullard:

Maybe Tesla Just Needs a New CEO

An “Amazon tax” of the kind the U.K. government is considering would hurt the very retailers it’s meant to help, writes Andrea Felsted:

Maybe Tesla Just Needs a New CEO

Weekend Reading

Pakistan should beware the strings that will come attached to China’s bailout money. – Shuli Ren

Brazil’s voters have mostly bad choices in the next election. – Mac Margolis

Turkey’s enjoying a respite right now. But if it reacts badly to a credit downgrade, markets will punish it again. – Mark Gilbert

Palestinians can’t keep living the way they are. – Hussein Ibish 

The Catholic Church is still in denial over sexual abuse. – Ramesh Ponnuru  

Saudi Arabia’s problem is capital flight, not Canada. – Karen E. Young 

Trump’s military-parade fiasco shows there are limits to acting alone. – Jonathan Bernstein 

Mark Carney is at risk of  making the same mistakes as Jean-Claude Trichet. – Richard Barwell  

Lots of things could kill the bull market, but old age isn’t one of them. – Barry Ritholtz

ICYMI

Trump called Paul Manafort a “good person” and criticized his fraud trial — while jurors are deliberating. Looks like he’s not going to have that military parade. Soon driving to New York from New Jersey will be just as bad as taking the train.

Kickers

This might sound crazy, but what if LA sports fans just walked to Dodger Stadium? – Justin Fox

Forget going back to the moon — let’s go to Mars instead.

Archaeologists found a jar of 3,200-year-old cheese in an Egyptian tomb but warn you probably shouldn’t eat it. 

There’s just something about “Hey Jude,” which turns 50 this month. 

National Geographic’s photos of the week.

Note: Please send cheese, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

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