Sequel fever has hit this summer. Top Gun, Jurassic World, Thor, etc. We’ve all just purchased our tickets to “GameStop 2: Bed Bath & Beyond.”
This is the deal: In the spring, a prominent young investor bought a 10% stake in Bed Bath & Beyond in an effort to modernize the company and turn around its floundering business.
That investor was Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of Chewy.com. If you recognize the name, it’s likely because of the 1,600% rally in GME that followed Cohen’s appointment to the GameStop board in January 2021, which put pressure on short sellers and ushered in a new era for internet-based retail investors. Cohen has risen to the position of chairman of GameStop and is often compared to the investing guru Warren Buffett by Reddit and other social media users who are not professional traders.
Cohen’s investment in Bed Bath & Beyond was a hot topic on Reddit in early March.
Let’s skip ahead to this week…
Bed Bath & Beyond shares were soaring. Then the unexpected turn of events occurred.
On Wednesday, Cohen filed paperwork with the SEC saying he intends to sell the vast majority of his Bed Bath & Beyond stake, just five months after acquiring it.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock dropped by about 20% after the announcement. Even more perplexing than the filing itself was Cohen’s silence on the matter.
Cohen’s silence was interpreted by his online fanbase as a sign that he was plotting something, and that he had no intention of selling Bed Bath & Beyond stock. They were hoping for a GameStop-style rally and bought the dip.
However, Cohen did not intervene. The stock dropped another 36% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the billionaire confirmed he had sold out.
“The exact reasons for Cohen ditching his stake are not yet known,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said in a report. However, the severity of the issues at Bed Bath & Beyond likely factored into his decision… Nearly all of Bed Bath & Beyond’s metrics are in the red.
But the mood on WallStreetBets, the popular investing subreddit that was instrumental in the development of “meme stocks,” was akin to that of weary soldiers returning to the battlefield: confused but determined to reignite the excitement of the GameStop craze. Rally cries to hold the stock filled the forum, along with familiar sermons about getting rich by squeezing the short sellers (aka hedge funds and other investors who have wagered that the stock will go down) (aka hedge funds and other investors who have wagered that the stock will go down).
“LETS GO APES! BUY THE DIP AND HOLD!”
“I wanted to get work done today but the hedgies and bears have declared war. All right, then, they should prepare for war.
Put on your seatbelts, beat your chests with diamonds, and HODL, you apes.
NUMBER OF THE DAY: Five Million Dollars
Vince McMahon, the WWE chief executive who retired last month amid an investigation into hush money payments to several women, reportedly paid $5 million to Donald Trump’s charity in 2007 and 2009.
The Wall Street Journal claims that sum was among nearly $20 million in unreported company expenses paid out by McMahon during his tenure as CEO. According to the Journal, the majority of the settlement went to the women who had accused McMahon and another executive of sexual misconduct. People familiar with the WWE board investigation told the paper that the $5 million represented charitable donations to the now-dissolved Donald J. Trump Foundation in the same two years that Trump made appearances on televised WWE events.
SPATIAL WAVE OF HEAT
Climate change may cause a global economic downturn if war and economic unrest don’t.
This is the deal: My colleague Julia Horowitz reports that the world’s three largest economies—the United States, China, and the European Union—are all being hit by extreme heat and drought at the same time, when growth is already slowing.
Rising prices, sluggish growth, and the lingering effects of Covid-19 are putting a strain on each of these economies. But the heat and drought are making things worse, putting a strain on infrastructure like transportation and electricity, and reducing worker output.
(Look, this newsletter tries to be lighthearted, but there’s really no sugarcoating this issue, so bear with us.)
Temperatures in dozens of Chinese cities have risen above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making this the hottest summer in more than 60 years.
The heat forced factories to shut down this week in Sichuan Province, a hub for makers of semiconductors and solar panels.
Lithium, an essential ingredient in the batteries used by electric vehicles, may become more expensive as a result of the shutdown.
Additionally, this spring’s economic output was dampened by Beijing’s zero-Covid policies, which effectively locked down large sections of the population for several weeks. Forecasts for China’s economy this year are already being downgraded. Nomura analysts cut their 2022 projection for GDP growth to 2.8% on Thursday — way below the government’s 5.5% target — while Goldman Sachs trimmed its forecast to 3%.
The Rhine River in Germany, which transports a lot of chemicals, grain, and other commodities, has dropped to dangerously low levels.
Deputy director of the Federation of German Industries Holger Lösch said this week that it is only a matter of time before plants in the chemical or steel industry are shut down, mineral oils and building materials fail to reach their destination, and large-volume and heavy transports can no longer be carried out.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, “would need an economic miracle” to avoid falling into recession in the coming months if low water levels along the Rhine continue to reduce GDP by at least half a percentage point in the second half of the year.
Extreme drought in the American West has depleted the country’s largest reservoirs, necessitating mandatory water reductions from the federal government. That’s not all: it’s causing farmers to burn fields.
According to a poll conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, nearly 7 in 10 farmers in the United States have reported that the drought this year has had a significant impact on their harvest, leading to a loss of both crops and income.
Not much good can come from this, but it is worth noting that this week President Biden approved the largest climate investment in American history. By 2030, the bill hopes to reduce emissions by 80 percent compared to 2005 levels. In a major way.
Industry will still have to account for the cost of our collective delay in recognizing the severity of the situation and taking action to reduce its effects, as well as the fact that climate scientists weren’t exaggerating when they said it would be unpleasant.
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