by Shane Ormond
On May 10, 2019
Earlier this month, it seemed like the Chinese trade negotiations would come to an amicable end any day now. But after some unexpected pushback from Beijing, the U.S. is ratcheting up the pressure with tariffs of 25% on more than $200 billion of Chinese goods.
- Martin Shrelki is running his company from behind bars and working hard to earn his new “prison name”
- China trade report sinks global stocks… is this the start of something bigger?
- February job report worse than anyone could have expected
- The world will lose billions to ransomware this year… but you could make some money
Shrelki still running the show at Phoenixus AG
You probably thought you’d heard the last of wannabe-Bond villain Martin Shrelki when he went to prison.
Well, no such luck. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the most hated man in America is still pulling the strings at his old company from inside the big house.
You probably remember Shrelki as the “pharma bro” who raised the cost of a $13.50 HIV drug to $750 per pill — and went to prison for securities fraud.
Crouching Tiger, Imprisoned Dumbass: Shrelki bought the sole copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s 2015 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for $2 million. When he went to prison, he forfeited all of his assets including the album. The Feds are probably listening to it right now.
Reportedly, this human hangnail is still running things behind the scenes from his bunkbed in a 12-person cell in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
With a contraband smartphone (can someone take this off him, please?), Shrelki’s been conducting business as usual, guiding the company’s research and even firing executives.
What’s in a name? After the Shrelki scandal, Turing Pharmaceuticals changed its name to Phoenixus AG. Get it? Cause they’re going to rise from the ashes like a magical phoenix. (Real imaginative, guys.)
According to the WSJ, Shrelki plans to come out of jail richer than he went in and expects Phoenixus to be worth $3.7 billion by the time he gets out in 2023.
Obviously, what Shrelki is doing is not legal. And he’s not super subtle about it. According to Phoenixus board member Akeel Mithani, it’s “widely known” that Shrelki has a contraband phone. And the dude won’t stop posting to his Twitter and blog.
(Source: Martin Shrelki’s Blog)
The FBI is currently investigating Shrelki’s activity to see if there’s anything untoward going on (hint: there probably definitely is). Expect to hear more on this story soon.
But for now, I want to leave this story on an extract from a stellar piece of reporting from the 37-time Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, The Wall Street Journal:
[Shrelki] has made prison friends, including “Krispy” and “D-Block,” some of whom affectionately call him “Asshole.” ( . . . . ) They walk alongside him in the hall to ward off shenanigans from other inmates. For reputational reasons, they persuaded him to turn down a gig playing guitar in a prison band because the other members were locked up for child molestation.
China Trade Report Sinks Global Stocks
Grab a tissue, it’s about to get messy in here
We used to say, “If America sneezes, the world catches a cold.”
But today, as the world’s largest trading nation and second-largest economy, the same can be said for China.
Last night, as America slept soundly in its bed, China had a sneezing fit.
In the wee hours, the old dragon released its trade data for February and, spoiler alert, it was a whole bunch of not great.
Chinese exports fell more than they had in three years. And imports aren’t doing any better. For the third consecutive month, they’ve continued their unstoppable march downwards.
Turn on the Trump Signal!
Investor’s had been hoping that Trump could get this trade deal with China all sewn up before April Fools. But reports out of Beijing are not looking good.
Xi Jinping was scheduled to visit Trump at Maralago at the end of the month for a trade summit and candlelight Chick-Fil-A dinner. But as predicted by our expert economist Jim Rickards, the two sides can’t agree on a deal and the summit has been postponed:
It is highly unlikely that the outstanding issues will be resolved by March 1.
But the big issues including limits on U.S. investment in China, forced technology transfers to China and theft of intellectual property will not be resolved.
The best case is that the deadline will be extended and the trade talks will continue. The worst case is that the truce will fall apart and the U.S. will impose massive tariff increases on Chinese exports to the U.S. as planned.
Either way, China’s export-driven economy will continue to suffer.
— Originally published in The Daily Reckoning, Feb 18, 2019
The news stoked fears of a global slowdown. Chinese stocks plummeted last night and global stocks followed suit when the markets opened this morning.
How sick are we talking here?
Economists are chiming in with their two cents and many are saying this could be the start of a full-blown Chinese recession. The knock-on effect could be a global financial crisis on the same level as the 2008 housing bubble burst.
Jim Rickards has been predicting this exact scenario for years. He says the world’s elite already have a secret plan to make sure their money’s safe. But that won’t help you or the average investor.
Jim pulls back the curtain on this global collusion in his book The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis. And for a limited time, Jim is giving away free copies to readers of One Last Thing.
In this groundbreaking book, Jim reveals the powerful strategies you can use to protect your money and your family from the coming crisis.
Economists Suck at Predicting Economy
February job report worse than anyone could have expected
What a week to start our new e-letter.
It’s been nothing but bad news on top of worse news on top of weird news. And the February jobs report ain’t no exception.
Job growth is DOA. If it was a parrot, it would be deceased. If it was an ice cream flavor, it would be Gravel & Sad.
Economists (who are notoriously ineffective at predicting the economy) predicted we’d see about 190,000 new jobs on this report. Not a bad guess, considering we added an average of 223,000 jobs to the U.S. economy each month in 2018.
But a guess is all it was.
The real number was around 20,000. (They were only off by 170,000 jobs!)
Unemployment fell from 4% to 3.8%, the lowest unemployment rate in the last 50 years. This, combined with the dramatic downshift in growth, indicates we’ve hit a ceiling.
Essentially the U.S. economy is supporting all the jobs it can handle.
Where do we go from here? The only way we can go. Down.
In lighter news, private sector workers got an 11-cent hourly raise on average in February. Don’t spend it all in the one place!
ONE LAST THING
The world will lose billions to ransomware this year… but you could make some money
Ransomware is a 21st-century take on an old-school crime.
It’s a simple ransom play: They take something you need or love. You get it back when you pay the ransom.
The difference is, these guys aren’t just targeting wealthy folks who can afford to stuff a briefcase with a million bucks in unmarked billions.
With modern tech, these guys can attack thousands of people at once — taking a few hundred dollars from regular, middle-class folks here and there.
Pooled together all those small payouts add up to a fat bounty, much more than any one person could pay. And with zero the risk.
Here’s how it goes down:
- Hackers infect your computer with a virus, effectively locking you out of your data.
- If you don’t pay a ransom (in bitcoin to avoid tracking) by a certain time, your data is destroyed. Turning off your computer will destroy the data immediately. And even the best IT guys couldn’t unlock the data before the timer runs out.
Ransomware has been around since Madonna was singing Like a Virgin (1989. Take that to your pub quiz next week). But it’s only really caught on in the last few years when hackers started to refine the process.
As it turned out, the key to success (much like the key to dating) was “lower your expectations.” Hackers found that the lower the ransom amount, the more likely someone was to pay.
After some tinkering and testing, the hackers found the sweet spot. For individuals that’s about $500. While for businesses they could demand thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the business.
And so ransomware flourished:
- Ransomware losses for businesses average $2,500 for each incident.
- On average, businesses are willing to shell out upwards of $50,000 to decrypt their data.
- Ransomware is costing businesses more than $75 billion per year.
- FedEx lost $300 million in the NotPetya ransomware attack. They didn’t have cybersecurity insurance.
- Ransomware and other cybercrimes are projected to cost the global economy $6 trillion per year by 2021. (That’s a whopping 7.5% of the total value of the world economy.)
Now, the vast majority of these attacks are coming from one place. And they tend to happen in higher volume around certain events. Which strangely enough, presents a weird opportunity for investors to make money.
That’s all I’m going to say for now. I’ll tell you more on Monday. Let’s just say it involves a little gift from Russia… to your mom.
Closing Data for 3/6/19:
|S&P Index 500||2,748.92||↓ 0.81%|
- Wall Street continues to fall for the fifth day in a row on weak jobs data and worries of global slowdown.
- National Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: FIZZ), the maker of LaCroix “barely flavored” water, deflated more than 15%today after reporting the first drop in quarterly sales in five years.
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How will you even know if you’re on Huawei’s internet?! What if you send an e-mail to someone who has it, even though you don’t? Is the UN going to weigh in on this? This is all because Trump won’t stop needling China. Don’t poke the bear!!!
— Lucy S.
The problem with a two internet structure is that you won’t be able to communicate between the two. They’ll be completely cut off from each other and have security measures in place to stop data from passing between. Trump may be poking the bear (or dragon) but inaction is probably the worst thing a president could do right now. You’ll know you’re on Huawei’s internet if you Google Tiananmen Square and the police show up at your door.
So are Democrats going to block Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the wall?? What’s going on with that? It’s hard to keep up these days.
It’s unclear if the Dems will be able to stop Trump’s declaration but they sure as hell are going to try. Expect this issue to be tied up in the courts well into the campaigning for 2020.
- Disney and Marvel’s latest blockbuster Captain Marvel earns $78 million in early international box office.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook changes name to Tim Apple on Twitter, poking fun at Trump’s name mix-up.
- Actor who played children’s TV icon Barney the Dinosaur is now a tantric sex therapist.
- Canadian McDonald’s employee accused of smuggling 80 pounds of Chicken McNuggets in his rectum.
Editor, One Last Thing