The Daily Alpha: Real Talk on United Airlines, Fearless Girl, The Dude in Turkey and Elliott Advisors

Apr 13 2017 | 3:01pm ET

Today, we discuss Fearless Girl (do we have to?), The Dude, Elliot’s Email Gaffe and United’s PR Problem.  

Hair of the Dog
- ShotOur survey shows people know Snapchat started Stories - but Facebook might win out anyway.
- Chaser: Instagram is absolutely crushing Snapchat and there's no end in sight.

Quotes of the Day

“This ‘Dude’ is buying from our market, why should we be concerned? He is doing good stuff.” 

Borsa Istanbul AS Chairman and CEO Himmet Karadag told Bloomberg yesterday that a mystery trader simply known as “The Dude” has been making big bets on the Turkish stock market. No one seems to know who The Dude is, but there has been a lot of big bets during the most volatile days on the market.

None the less, is can be assumed that Istanbul-based brokerage Yatirim Finansman, which many suspect The Dude of using to execute these trades, abides.

"The girl is standing there like this in front the bull, saying, 'Now, what are you going to do?' "

There’s a war on the television, police are dragging people out of planes by their face, and Ubaldo Jimenez is still allowed to pitch in Major League Baseball games…

But what has the mayor of New York City and countless others up in arms? 

Fearless Girl.

The notable rights icon.

The bank advertisement… has been standing in front of the iconic Wall Street bronze bull for a few weeks now, and the latter’s sculptor wants it gone – even though he put his statue in the middle of the street without a permit several decades ago.

The bull's sculptor, Arturo Di Modic, says that the little girl’s statue changes the meaning of his artwork. The bull was there, and now she’s standing in front of it – Fearlessly – and taking this bull on… which turns the bull from a symbol of the economic growth of the 1980s into an aggressor – and apparently – a symbol of today’s male-dominated Wall Street world.

And he’s right.

But even though he’s right, remember, China is putting troops on the border of North Korea, and our military is training for an event where we have to disarm an erratic nuclear power.

But back to Fearless Girl.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio took a break from photo ops at local city diners, to Tweet out that Fearless Girl is needed more than ever… and that the statue will remain until at least February 2018.

A few questions…

One: Why do leaders like DeBlasio always choose symbols over actually solving the problem that the symbolism aims to address?

Second, what happens if Di Modic gets frustrated and moves the bull?

Without the bull standing in front of her, she’d just be “Girl Staring into Space Wondering How She’s Going to Get from Battery Park to the Upper East Side in 12 Minutes when the 4-5 is Delayed.”

Elliott is "aware of its various regulatory obligations, including obligations related to handling price sensitive, or potentially price sensitive, information." 

Oof. 

Reuters reports that Elliot Advisors’ Gordon Singer accidently sent an internal email to a representative at AkzoNobel. 

Of course, the email discussed tactics it may employ after informing Akzo and its investors that it wanted to meet with shareholders and attempt to oust the firm’s Chairman Antony Burgmans.

“The scam is called the “carried interest loophole,” and its beneficiaries are private equity partners and hedge fund moguls—aka virtually everyone in the Trump Administration.”

Yesterday, we explained that water is wet and that consumers love the convenience of technology (at the detriment of brick and mortar retail.)

Let’s add another obvious fact about life… The Nation is going to argue that everything hedge fund managers do is evil and that the writers hold the morale high ground.

On Wednesday, authors Robert Greenwald and Charles Khan targeted the carried interest rule.

Naturally, the high ground position is that all of the money should be given to the state so that it can spend it on roads and schools and bridges – oh and clean energy…

Because there’s never, ever, ever, ever anything that could go wrong if we just give all of our money to the government… is there?

United Is Why People Hate Capitalism

With the United Airlines debacle dominating social media, enter the words of the National Review’s Kevin Williamson that this story has evolved into a damnation of capitalism.  

Williamson points out that capitalism is unpopular because of banks, health-insurance companies, cable providers, and airlines.

And they all have something in common…

The critics argue that they are money-grubbing machines who don’t give a damn about the little guy… If anything, one should argue that this is really why people hate corporatism… which is a far better representation of this situation than capitalism. 

Alas, what those four sectors they really have in common is that they are immensely overregulated industries, with absurd barriers to entry, and they have very low margins making them ripe for consolidation.

Don’t worry though… people who don’t understand public policy and its impact on economics and business – like Eric Levitz at New York – are still going to harp and blame “deregulation” because – well they simply don’t get how the government helped create this mess.

But hell with it… let’s just look at the alternative down in South America.

Let’s talk about state-owned airlines.

Here’s a diary of our editor’s trip to one of the least free economies on the planet… Argentina – where your options to fly are now more limited than ever.

“In 2013, while traveling on a graduate school project, my flight traveled Mendoza to Buenos Aires. Our regional flight was on LAN, a Chilean carrier and competitor to the government-owned Aerolíneas Argentinas. Our midday flight was delayed by a half-hour, but not because of the rainclouds circling above Buenos Aires. It was well known by my co-passengers that the Argentine government has ordered its flight towers to delay rival airlines flights in order to raise Aerolineas' on-time arrival score in comparison to companies like LAN. Not only was that delay induced to enrage customers, but we also faced another 30-minute delay with our baggage, which was strange considering that all of the bags were off of our plane before we were (for some reason it took an extra 20 minutes to get access to a staircase to deplane). So it shouldn't surprise anyone that LAN pulled out of the Argentine market this week. This will only drive price increases and provide fewer options for travelers. It will also do little to improve the on-time arrival scores of a poorly run state enterprise.”

So it appears that aviation is a crappy industry everywhere… except – as Williamson notes – in New Zealand where the country has opened up competition and privatized the airports.

Oh, and if the airlines bump a person in New Zealand, the compensation figures are bigger.

Want to fix the airline industry?

Make it more competitive, not less. Prevent big airlines like United from preventing new competitors from getting gate space at O’Hare. Reduce the duopolies at multiple regional airports. Allow consumers to vote with other options… stop allowing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to make decisions given that no one there is accountable.

Of course, that would strike a blow to corporatism, and we can’t have that, can we Congress?

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Garrett Baldwin is the voice of the The Daily Alpha, the features editor for Modern Trader magazine, and the author of The Man with The Big Red Balloon.


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