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2021 Person of the Year: Elon Musk [Time]
“Sometimes I do hit some resonant notes with respect to humor,” Musk says of his puerile expressions…. “But you know, not all jokes land.”
This is the man who aspires to save our planet and get us a new one to inhabit: clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman, cad; a madcap hybrid of Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum, Andrew Carnegie and Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, the brooding, blue-skinned man-god who invents electric cars and moves to Mars.

Consumer Finance Startup Dave Eyes Acquisitions, Crypto After SPAC Deal [WSJ]
Dave pursued a public listing, in part, because it wanted to better position itself to acquire other nonbank consumer finance companies in the years ahead, Mr. Beilman said. The SPAC deal provides Dave with both capital and stock to bid for other companies, he said.
“We do see ourselves over the next couple of years being a consolidator in the space,” [CFO Kyle] Beilman said.

Harley’s electric motorcycle division to go public via $1.7 billion SPAC deal [Reuters via CNBC]
The company launched LiveWire earlier this year, hoping to claw back lost market share as its core baby boomer customer base grows older and interest in motorcycling as a recreational activity fades…. “If anything this underlines what we’ve been saying for a long time. Detroit, wake up! The train has left the station! EVs are inevitable,” Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin said.

Meme Stock Traders Thrilled by DOJ’s Criminal Probe of Hedge Funds [Bloomberg]
“A lot of stocks have been held down, or a lot of companies that have fundamentals basically don’t move,” said Jeff Robinson, a 40-year-old retail investor from Bakersfield. “You have a lot of retail investors that have their hands in the air. They just look at it as this market isn’t going to move until they rectify short selling….”
“We’ve been going crazy trying to get Gary Gensler’s attention,” said Michael Arevalo, a 31-year-old day trader from New York City. “The report is not helping us at all. They kind of lead us with this little dangling fruit and we get to the fruit and nothing came from it.”

Bond Traders Stare at Worst Real Returns Since Volcker Era [Bloomberg]
The dynamic isn’t expected to change: The bond market is projecting that 10-year Treasury yields will hold below the inflation rate for the next decade, meaning any investment income will be more than wiped out by the rising cost of living…. “People have accepted negative real returns for a long period of time,” said Greg Whiteley, portfolio manager at DoubleLine Group, which oversees $137 billion in assets. “Despite the fact it may seem peculiar, maybe this is something we have to adjust to as the new normal. The long-term secular drivers are still in place, and they are still going to be powerful.”

Better.com’s C.E.O. is ‘taking time off’ after firing 900 workers over Zoom. [NYT]
The mortgage lender’s board announced in a memo sent to staff on Friday that Mr. Garg was “taking time off” after the “very regrettable events….”
[Former underwriting trainee Christian] Chapman said that the chief executive’s messaging about fired employees “stealing” from the company by working only two hours a day — which the former employee said was contradicted by his team’s recent promotions and raises — had made it challenging for them to apply for new jobs.

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Opening Bell: 8.18.21

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JPMorgan CIO Risk Chief Said To Have Trading-Loss History (Bloomberg) Irvin Goldman, who oversaw risks in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unit that suffered more than $2 billion in trading losses, was fired by another Wall Street firm in 2007 for money-losing bets that prompted a regulatory sanction at the firm, Cantor Fitzgerald LP, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. JPMorgan appointed Goldman in February as the top risk official in its chief investment office while the unit was managing trades that later spiraled into what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called “egregious,” self-inflicted mistakes. The bank knew when it picked Goldman that his earlier work at Cantor led regulators to penalize that company, according to a person briefed on the situation. Risk Manager's Past Scrutinized (WSJ) Mr. Goldman joined J.P. Morgan's CIO in January 2008 as a trader. The bank placed him on leave in September 2008 after it learned that NYSE Arca had opened a regulatory inquiry tied to his trading activities at Cantor Fitzgerald, people familiar with the matter said. After J.P. Morgan placed him on leave, Mr. Goldman founded a consulting firm based in New York called IJG Advisors LLC. He rejoined J.P. Morgan in September 2010 in the Chief Investment Office, this time focusing on strategy. Current J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Risk Officer John Hogan chose Mr. Goldman to serve as CRO of the office, a position that had been filled by Peter Weiland, who remains with J.P. Morgan's CIO. Mr. Hogan wasn't aware of the Cantor Fitzgerald incident or the earlier trading losses at J.P. Morgan Chase, said a person close to the bank. Eurobonds To Be Discussed At EU Summit (Reuters) Merkel has said she is not opposed to jointly underwritten euro area bonds per se, but believes it can only be discussed once the conditions are right, including much closer economic integration and coordination across the euro zone, including on fiscal matters. That remains a long way off. Will Greece Be Able to Print Drachma in a Rush? (Reuters) If or when policymakers finally decide Greece should leave the euro, the exit could happen so quickly that "new drachma" currency notes might not be printed in time. "It would be chaos," says Marios Efthymiopoulos, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced International Studies and president of Thessaloniki-based think tank Global Strategy. "The banks would collapse and you would have to nationalize them. You wouldn't be able to pay anyone except in coupons. There is only one (currency) printing press in Greece. It is in the museum in Athens and it doesn't work any more." Ryanair CEO: ‘No’ Campaigners in Irish Vote Are Crazy (CNBC) “I think Ireland will vote yes in the referendum and Ireland should vote yes. We have no alternative. People who are borrowing $15 billion a year to keep the lights turned on don’t have the wherewithal to vote no to the people that are lending them the money. There is no argument for voting no,” Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair said. He described “no” campaigners as a “bunch of idiots and lunatics.” Barclays To Sell Entire BlackRock Stake (WSJ) Barclays said BlackRock agreed to repurchase $1 billion worth of the 19.6% stake that the bank holds in the asset-management company. The remainder of the stake will then be listed on a stock exchange. The decision to sell comes as the bank faces pressure from investors to boost its return on equity and prepares to mitigate the effects of regulation that will force the lender to hold a bigger capital buffer. Mark Zuckerberg Gets Married (AP) The couple met at Harvard and have been together for more than nine years, a guest who insisted on anonymity said. The ceremony took place in Zuckerberg's backyard before fewer than 100 guests, including Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. The guests all thought they were coming to celebrate Chan's graduation but were told after they arrived that the event was in fact a wedding. "Everybody was shocked," the guest said. The two had been planning the marriage for months but were waiting until Chan had graduated from medical school to hold the wedding. The timing wasn't tied to the IPO, since the date the company planned to go public was a "moving target," the guest said. Zuckerberg designed the ring featuring "a very simple ruby." Hedge Funds Rebuild Euro Bear Bets On Greek Exit Banks Weigh (Bloomberg) Hedge funds and other large speculators, which pared trades that would profit from a drop in the euro to the lowest levels since November, rebuilt them to a record high last week, figures released May 18 by the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. The premium for options that grant the right to sell the euro has more than doubled since March. Nasdaq CEO Blames Software Design For Delayed Facebook Trading (Bloomberg) Nasdaq OMX Group, under scrutiny after shares of Facebook Inc. were plagued by delays and mishandled orders on its first day of trading, blamed “poor design” in the software it uses for driving auctions in initial public offerings. Fed Proves More Bullish Than Wall Street Forecasting U.S. Growth (Bloomberg) Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC, has derided the Federal Reserve for downplaying improvement in the U.S. economy. Yet his 2.6 percent forecast for growth this year is below the midpoint in the central bank’s projection of 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent...“I’ve been banging my head against the wall,” said Stanley in Stamford, Connecticut, a former researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, who had predicted an interest- rate increase as early as last year and now says the Fed probably will tighten in the middle of next year. “They’re willing to let things run for longer and let inflation accelerate more than historically.” Judge mulls suit vs. woman sending messages to driving boyfriend (NYP) In a case believed to be the first of its kind in the country, a New Jersey college student could be held liable this week for texting her boyfriend — knowing he was behind the wheel — and allegedly causing him to crash into a couple riding a motorcycle. “She texts. Instantly, he texts back, and, bang, the accident occurs,” said Skippy Weinstein, attorney for motorcycle enthusiasts David and Linda Kubert, both 59, who lost their left legs in the horrific 2009 accident in Mine Hill. It’s now up to a Superior Court judge in Morristown, NJ, to decide whether Shannon Colonna can be added to the suit against driver Kyle Best.