Opening Bell: 11.17.17

Morgan Stanley is walloping Goldman in commodities; Elon Musk rolls out a(n allegedly) very fast car; robot backflips; and more.
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How Morgan Stanley Outdid Goldman in Old Commodities Rivalry (BBG)
Losses in natural gas and power trading were the major driver of the dire performance at Goldman’s commodities division this year, according to people familiar with the matter. The unit, which at its peak made $3.4 billion in a year, had net revenues of less than $200 million in the first nine months of this year. Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, has outperformed. The bank has made net revenues of about $400 million to $500 million so far this year. About half of that has come from gas and power, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils a surprise new car: A new ridiculously fast Roadster (CNBC)
The new Roadster clearly takes aim at high end sports cars. "The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars," Musk told a crowd in Los Angeles on Thursday. He added that the Roadster "will be the fastest production car ever made, period," he said.

Analysts flee Wall Street with gallows humor as research changes loom (Reuters)
Evercore ISI analyst Glenn Schorr recently titled a research note “Writing My Obituary,” with a follow-up called “Stay of (my) Execution.” “For the last few years, it’s been all about morgue humor like ‘flat is the new up’ and ‘no bonus, but at least you get to keep your job,'” said one former analyst who recently left a large bank but would not be quoted by name to avoid upsetting former or future employers. “Contrast that with Silicon Valley,” he continued. “It’s not even the money; it’s the optimism that I envy. Those guys are building a brighter future and this just feels like death.”

Brexit: Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein suggests second vote (BBC)
“Here in UK, lots of hand-wringing from CEOs over #Brexit. Better sense of the tough and risky road ahead. Reluctant to say, but many wish for a confirming vote on a decision so monumental and irreversible. So much at stake, why not make sure consensus still there?”

POINT: Yes, a Corporate Tax Cut Would Increase Investment (BBG View)
The evidence on investment behavior is fairly clear. When companies have more “free cash” at hand, they tend to invest more, and this effect is distinct from any effect of the tax cut on expected rates of return. So, in other words, when critics call the corporate rate cut a “giveaway” to business, that is precisely the mechanism that tends to boost investment.

COUNTERPOINT: ‘Why aren’t the other hands up?’ A top Trump adviser’s startling response to CEOs not doing what he’d expect (WaPo)
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey this summer asked over 300 executives at major U.S. corporations what they would do after a “tax holiday” that would allow them to bring back money held overseas at a low tax rate. The No. 1 response? Pay down debt. The second most popular response was stock buybacks. The third was mergers. Actual investments in new factories and more research were low on the list of plans for how to spend extra money.

Prepare to bet against bitcoin as it becomes civilised (FT)
After all, the argument goes, assimilating bitcoin into the mainstream investment world should boost its appeal and demand, making it more valuable. It is highly likely there will be an opposite effect. Until now, investors have not had an easy way to bet against bitcoin — the only “short” was to sell coins. But the CME futures contract will let investors place those negative bets. You do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to imagine that some bitcoin cynics will be doing just that.

Bail Bloc (New Inquiry)
Your computer is being used to verify transactions for the Monero cryptocurrency ledger. This process of reward is known as “mining” and is an incentive to participate in the upkeep of the network. When you run Bail Bloc, you are donating a small percentage of your overall computing power to this task, which results in money for bailing people out of pre-trial detention.

Boston Dynamics’ ATLAS Robot Is Now a Backflipping Cyborg Supersoldier (Gizmodo)
10 minutes ago, I was cautiously optimistic that one day we’d live and work side-by-side with robots in perfect harmony. Then Boston Dynamics posted a video of its ATLAS humanoid robot performing incredible jumps and backflips, and now I’m ready to go find a cave somewhere and hide.

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