Is Tesla Going Up in Smoke?BloombergOpinion
Tesla Has an Elon Musk Problem
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Elon Musk brought Tesla Inc. into this world, and he seems determined to take it out.
The billionaire’s latest self-destructive act was an appearance last night on the podcast of comedian Joe Rogan, where, among other things, Musk confirmed Bob Dylan’s thesis that “everybody must get stoned.” It’s the latest in a long chain of Musk stunts, which Liam Denning admits keeps him neck-deep in entertaining column fodder but has troubling implications for Tesla. You know, the company Musk is supposed to be running? The electric-car-maker’s stock tumbled today, as did its bonds. Its chief accounting officer quit after less than a month on the job. Its HR director followed him out and kept walking. “Tesla’s vital swing investors are backing away,” Liam writes. “The joke’s getting old.” Read the whole thing.
Musk often blames short-sellers for Tesla’s problems. And yesterday one of those, Citron Research founder Andrew Left, did in fact create a new headache for the company. He sued Tesla and Musk, claiming the billionaire’s August tweets about taking the company private were meant to manipulate the stock to burn shorts like him. Musk’s tweets did temporarily boost the stock, but also brought an SEC investigation and reinforced doubts about Musk’s fitness to run Tesla; and all those temporary gains are long gone. Still, Matt Levine suggests Left might be on to something: “Musk’s extremely public and intensely self-documented desire to burn short sellers ... is a pretty plausible explanation for why he might announce a going-private transaction without actually intending to do it.” Read the whole thing.
It’s all more fodder for the argument made by Joe Nocera recently that Musk should give up his CEO job, at least, and let somebody else – maybe ex-Ford CEO Alan Mulally – take over, before it’s too late.
The Trade Slowdown Is Already Here
The Trump administration is putting the finishing touches on a proposed $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. You know what that means: Time for even more tariffs! President Donald Trump today said he might slap duties on another $267 billion in Chinese imports. Altogether, current and threatened tariffs would add up to more than China currently exports to the U.S., but who’s counting? Anyway, markets seem mostly unconcerned about the impact, which many investors see as theoretical and distant. But global trade has slowed down already, notes David Fickling; in fact, we’re in the middle of only the second sustained trade downturn since the recession:
These and other numbers contradict the market’s apparent conviction that everything’s more or less fine with the global economy, David warns. Read the whole thing.
Melania Trump Throws Rocks From Glass House
Melania Trump last night criticized the anonymous op-ed writer in her husband’s administration, calling the person a coward and daring him or her to come forward. She may or may not realize her husband “has spent the better part of five decades anonymously and gregariously leaking malicious and damaging rumors and information about friends, enemies, business associates and his own family members to gossip pages and reporters,” writes Tim O’Brien – who was one of the reporters Trump used to solicit. With that in mind, Melania’s admonition rings a bit hollow.
Bonus Trump reading:
Fed Conundrum Gets More Conundrum-y
The August jobs report showed a welcome year-over-year jump in wages, the biggest since 2009. But that also led to an unwelcome jump in interest-rate expectations in the bond market, notes Brian Chappatta. In other words, a Federal Reserve that might have been thinking about easing up on rate hikes might just have to think about speeding them up instead.
A more-aggressive Fed would be bad news for emerging markets, mired in their worst bear market in years. Rising U.S. interest rates make the dollar more attractive and take easy money out of the hands of investors. Hopes for an easier Fed had investors seeing light at the end of the EM tunnel, Robert Burgess notes. It's still possible that light is an oncoming train. And Dan Moss warns a theoretically easier Fed wouldn’t solve all of emerging markets’ problems anyway (which Satyajit Das laid out in detail last week).
Bonus emerging-market reading: Keep an eye on how Russia handles the EM blowup. – Marcus Ashworth
Bonus Fed reading: Fed policy is becoming less predictable. – Tim Duy
Chart Attack, Jobs Report Edition
Women are playing a key role in the “Goldilocks” economy of strong growth and low inflation, writes Mark Whitehouse. That’s because they’ve been rushing back into the workforce, helping boost the supply of labor and keep the price of it down.
Government’s share of the job market is the lowest in generations, writes Justin Fox.
Amazon.com Inc. may be the Grim Reaper to a lot of industries, but it’s a godsend to automakers. – Brooke Sutherland
How the U.S. has long used the dollar as a weapon. – Satyajit Das
Don’t be fooled, millennials – not everybody can live the FIRE (“Financial Independence, Retire Early”) lifestyle. – Lionel Laurent
Seizing land from white farmers and giving it to black farmers might be immoral, but it could boost South Africa’s economy if done right. – Noah Smith
The Skripal poisoning case exposes the problems of the UK’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras. – Leonid Bershidsky
Power companies love drones, and for good reason. – Nathaniel Bullard and Claire Curry
“Mindful” people feel less pain.
Weird numbers called quaternions, discovered in the 1800s, gave rise to modern algebra.
Ancient farmers may have changed the climate enough to avert an ice age.
Turns out probiotics are basically useless and possibly harmful.
A giant plastic-scooping array is launching in the Pacific; but will it do more harm than good?
Turns out putting “rogue satellites” in space was not the best idea.
Why can’t apes talk?
Note: Please send quaternions, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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