Where finance and media intersect with reality


Spot Markets Live, 22/11/23 (Skunkworks, Dutch elections, OpenAI’s Dubai shenanigans)

Screenshot 2023-11-22 at 11.25.47
All comments in bold addressed to audience members
Julian Rimmer 10:30

Good morning, aloha and greetings fellow market wizards

and good morning, Dario and welcome to the latest installment of the Boomer and the Zoomer

Dario Garcia Giner 10:31

Good morning all!

Julian Rimmer 10:32

given the chaotic nature of my morning thus far, I will be immensely relieved to discover Dario’s market miscellany is overflowing

Dario Garcia Giner 10:33

So let’s start our wednesday off with saying grace that we’re not this guy:

Julian Rimmer 10:33


Dario Garcia Giner 10:33

So we’re gonna be dealing with big ticket issues today mostly, but here’s just some smaller news to get your day going

The first is CEO share sell offs

Jeff Bezos is estimated to seek a sale of around $1bn of Amazon stock, having sold around $240mn of Amazon shares last week

Julian Rimmer 10:34

opportunistic or necessity?

Dario Garcia Giner 10:34

Well this is the interesting bit – he’s not the only one doing so

Julian Rimmer 10:34

(as if there’s a necesity!)

Dario Garcia Giner 10:34

Mark Zuck – the Reptile-in-Chief has been dumping 28,000 shares of Meta every day this November

It’s not much – 9 milly a day – but its’ still an interesting signal

Julian Rimmer 10:34

Mr Sugar Mountain, the man with a hairdo that looks like he just lifted it off the bayeux tapestry

Dario Garcia Giner 10:35

You’re being way too harsh on Zuck julian. We should give kudos that the world’s first bionic human is so realistici


The same can be said for the CEos of Trade Desk and Nvidia, who have been offloading shares this Sept and Oct

Indicative of a market slump, or loading up on capital for a bonanza christmas shop? You decide.

Julian Rimmer 10:37

i guess, given the meteoric share price rises we’ve seen this year, it would almost be irresponsible not to book some profits here and , perhaps as richard howarth was suggesting in this parish yesterday, investors will use theBig 7 to fund more risk-on trades elsewhere…?

Dario Garcia Giner 10:37

Mayhaps. And speaking of Christmas shopping

Emerging luxury EV builder Lucid has astounded the market with the release of their Gravity seven-seater SUV which claims an astonishing 440 miles of EV range

“The SUV boasts other niceties like acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than 3.5 seconds, 1,500 pounds of payload (what it can carry inside) and the ability to tow 6,000 pounds. To compare, Tesla’s Model X can tow 5,000 pounds, haul 1,065 pounds inside the vehicle, and can go for 348 miles with the long-range package.”

Julian Rimmer 10:37

qusnto costa per favore?

Dario Garcia Giner 10:38

Il costa $80,000 per favore

Julian Rimmer 10:38


Dario Garcia Giner 10:38

(thats not real italian)

What makes the difference is apparently Lucid’s battery tech, which uses much lighter battery packs, as well as patented ultra efficient electric motors

These use 900 volts compared to most EVs 400-500 volts

There are also other edges;

The stellar range is also a result of Lucid’s proprietary winding technique that produces a denser magnetic field along with several other innovations that create a super-compact package. The company holds eight patents related to the motor’s windings and cooling, and continues to find ways to squeeze as much copper into the motor stator as possible to generate big energy in a small package.

And speaking of competitors outdoing each other

Julian Rimmer 10:39

do they make their own batteries, because as i recall that was the advantage of BYD’s Seagull?

Dario Garcia Giner 10:40

Not to be outdone by the collapse of FTX – Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has pled guilty to felony charges related to his failure to prevent money laundering on the Binance platform, and has agreed to pay a roughly $4bn settlement.

So actually – currently they use Panasonic batteries, and aim to keep this partnership for the Gravity SUV

Zhao has also stepped down as the company’s CEO, the US treasury placing Binance under five years of compliance monitoring

Could this have anything to do with the FTX trial?

Julian Rimmer 10:41

surely not

Dario Garcia Giner 10:41

Binance and FTX were best mates and cross-invested in each other. But the relationship went sour when the FTX collapsed approached

Zhao announced he was selling all his crypto investments in FTX a week before it filed for bankruptcy

And Bankman-Fried has bene trying to cast the blame on Binance and Zhao for the FTX bank run in trial and public disclosures afterwards

May explain why Zhao took the bull by the horns and willingly surrendered to US authorities

Could this osmehow have anything to do with the 12% share price increase for coinbase?

Coinbase is the only fully authorised US crypto dealer and one of few which allows real auditors in – alongside crypto.com – meaning the news is surely bullish for the American crypto exchange

And last on market miscellany

Lockheed Martin’s skunkworks have been teasing a new aircraft

They all have one thing in common

Julian Rimmer 10:43

looks like a sting ray

Dario Garcia Giner 10:43

that’s actually a good name!

I’m guessing these are hypersonic interceptors/bombers that can fly in or above the stratosphere

It’s probbaly this thing spotted a few years back at an LH facility

Julian Rimmer 10:44

they look very streamlined making if difficult to carry a heavy payload of bombs?

Dario Garcia Giner 10:44

Well that’s the interesting thing. If these interceptors can fly so high – all they would need is kinetic energy

A tungsten rod dropped from the stratosphere can have a sub-atomic fallout, leaving 0 evidence behind or radiation

they’re called ‘rods from god’ and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on new generation bombers

A video of a similar contraption was released a few years ago:

Julian Rimmer 10:45

i must say i would feel even unluckier than i do normally if i were to be killed by a tungsten rod falling from the stratosphere

Dario Garcia Giner 10:45

You know what else is cool about the video? The object maintains its approximate size – suggesting the cameraman is in a similarly capable vehicle.

Would it make you feel any better if I can guarantee that you’d never know what hit you?

Shall we tune in to clog central?

Julian Rimmer 10:46

a complete change of direction now and a brief look at the Dutch elections taking place today

 first exit polls at 9am Cloggie Time and an incredibly tight race.

Four candidates could have reasonable expectations of being the next PM although the least likely among them is the candidate who came out on top in the most recent polls after a late surge:

anti-Islamic and freedom party’s Geert Wilders.

I’m all in favour of anti-Islamic parties

in fact I’m all in favour of parties opposed to alll religions

as i regard them all as a channle for kisdirected sexual energy

however, back to Holland

Wilders is  campaigning on a slate for the banning of mosques and the Koran ( I see nothing wrong with this so long as it is accompanied by a proscription on the building of new churches and the Bible). I think he’s also in favour of Nexit.

He was estimated to take 28 seats / 150 in the Dutch parliament.

Commanding a similar number of seats is Dilan Yesilgoz , the daughter of Kurdish refugees

who nevertheless has been obliged to take a hard line on immigration to remain favourite to replace mark rutte and prevent herself being outflanked by wilders

incidentally, the name Yesilgoz in Turkish means ‘green eyes’

Dario Garcia Giner 10:50

Interesting that she did that – Yesilgoz herself landed in Holland as the daughter of an asylum seeker I think

Julian Rimmer 10:50

Rutte was obliged to resign after his coalition fell apart in August. Arguments over immigration funnily enough were the cause of the collapse.

i suspect as always, the hard line on immigration would soften the moment she was elected

which is how it goes in most cases except for The Mar-a-Lago Ripper who went even harder when in office

Immigration is the hot button issue in this election with housing a close second but the shortage of housing

and its cost (E400k is the price of the average apartment now)

 is in effect a derivative of the immigration Net immigration last year was almost a quarter of a million – 250k decanted into a small country.

Dario Garcia Giner 10:52


Julian Rimmer 10:52

Timmermans and Omtzigt are the other two candidates although the former’s hot button issue is climate change , as you might expect from an EU climate commissioner, which only resonates with people <30 yrs old

the latter seems reticent about actually wanting to be a prime minister. Both, however, are within spitting distance of Wilders and Yesilgoz

Considering the political volatility, the performance of Dutch bonds has been very reassuring. 10yr yields started at 2.71%, topped out around 3.3% in the early autumn and hover ~2.88% present

While reading up on this yesterday I looked at a list of Dutch prime ministers and discovered more names open to double entendres than you might find in any other country

Ruud Luber,  Wim Kok, Joop den Uyl were three particular favourites

Dario Garcia Giner 10:55

That’s hilarious

Julian Rimmer 10:55

not to mention mark rutte

Dario Garcia Giner 10:55

how the heck is that sexual

Julian Rimmer 10:55

i think it relates to the mating habits of deer

Dario Garcia Giner 10:55


Julian Rimmer 10:55

something i see a lot of in richmond park

deer that is

this election comes as there is a change in Dutch attitudes to many things

Amsterdam is trying to change as a city, it’s less designed for stag nights and sex pests, some of that dutch permissiveness wearing thin, fewer flights into Schiphol but it’s the difficult issue of race and decolonisation which inflames public debate.

i actually went to Amsterdam on a stag party myself in 1992, did all the predictable things a young man does

and as a consequence spent a week in an Amsterdam hospital so this subject is near and dear (not deer) to my heart

Dario Garcia Giner 10:58

What the hell happened?

Julian Rimmer 10:59

i got into a brawl (which wasn’t an uncommon event in those days- or these days) but this one was different in that one of my assailants shot me in the leg during the course of said fracas

Dario Garcia Giner 10:59

That is a very julian story

You could scratch that one from the bucket list

Julian Rimmer 10:59

yes, The Blind Spot will be replete with such sensational headlines from time to time


i have a very trendy pair of jeans with a bullethole in them but if you wish to replicate the effect, I recommend you take the jeans off first

Exit polls in holland will appear as soon as the voting stops and then the months of arguing over a coalition begin.

It’s important for Europe that Wilders does not gain too much power to arrest the trend of firebrand , polarising, post-factual populists being elected

and then being congratulated by Ted Bundy down there in maralago

Dario Garcia Giner 11:01

So we’re expecting a populist win, essentially. No surprises there

Julian Rimmer 11:02

i dont think Wilders has any chance of being PM because his opponents willgang up and his sudden, late surge may galvanise a late swing to the left

Dario Garcia Giner 11:02


On the topic of late surges being thwarted

Nvidia’s just posted their results and – to nobody’s surprise – their results were staggeringly good. But not good enough!

Nvidia’s revenue was at a record $18.12bn, up 34% from Q2 and up 206% from a year ago

Julian Rimmer 11:03

traveland arrive?

Dario Garcia Giner 11:04

Their data centers achieved record revenue of $14.51bn up 41% from Q2 and up 279% from a year ago

GAAP earnings per diluted share for Q3 of $3.71, up more than 12x from last year, up 50% from Q2

And importantly, they beat analyst expectations

Which predicted $16.18bn in rev versus the $18.12, and predicted $3.37 EPS vs achieved $3.71 EPS

Julian Rimmer 11:05

sounds like they beat consensus from analysts but not really whooping the whisper number

Dario Garcia Giner 11:05

Expectations for Nvidia’s future growht are still broadly optimistic. Even with the much greater amounts of capital flooding into chip design sector, any real rival chip is at best 3 years away – giving Nvidia a clear runway of outsized profits for at least a half decade maybe

But it still wasn’t good enough for markets, as you point out Julian

The relatively cool reaction may have been based on two things

The first as Bloomberg reported:

Nvidia’s numbers failed to satisfy the loftier expectations of shareholders who have bet heavily on an artificial intelligence boom.”

Another reason may be NVIDIa’s cooling advice on China’s revenue

Our sales in areas like China, subject to licensing requirements, have typically contributed 20-25% of Data Center revenue recently.” He further added, “We anticipate a substantial decline in these sales in Q4 of fiscal 2024.

And it hasn’t stopped people on WSB approaching the stock with uncertainty

NVIDIA is practically the only firm at the crossroads between AI hype and chip reality

This means that whatever the good news, there is every chance the stock has bene overbought due to a lack of similarly solid companies to chase on the market

IT reeks of a magnificent company beset by a magnificent amount of speculators with nowhere better to go

Suffering from success? Ho hum, what do I know

Julian Rimmer 11:08

I think the numbers willplease everyone but after such a run-up this year, booking gains on the release was probably inevitable and especially when the figure comes soclose to thanksgiving when many people will shut down trading books for a week

i imagine analysts will be upgrading gradually after incorporating these numbers and as AAPL and TSLA have illustrated in recent yars, once a company corners the mkt in a growth sector then valuations are often a secondary concern

Dario Garcia Giner 11:10

Speaking of chips – turns out the OpenAI story may have been about chips(and china) as much as AI

There have been many surprises in this weekendus horribilis for OpenAI

The first is that Altman is apparently back in reunion talks with OpenAI to rejoin the company

we managed to get an exclusive shot of Altman’s Wikipedia editor

So it turns out the whole kerfuffle may have been about geopolitics and chips and two-timing UAE wealth funds

The star who identified this connection is Director of Krebs Stamos Intelligence Matthew Pines

The following are extracts from his magnificent twitter thread

Quoring from a bloomberg piece – Pines emphasised

So keep this in mind – Altman + Softbank + ME Sovereign wealth fund

Who could this ME sovereign wealth fund be?

An article from Oct 9 in the FT gave Matthew some clues

Titled “Saudi-China collaboration raises concerns about access to AI chips” outlined fears at the saudi’s top uni that ties to Chinese researchers could upset the US govt

In the piece, a company called G42 and controlled by the UAE’s national security adviser was listed as having cooperated with China on vaccines (serving as regional distributor of Sinopharm) and lab testing, as well as releasing an Arabic large-language-model (LLM)

Here is where it gets even more interesting

The CEO of G42 is Peng Xiao – who used to run the spyware company Pegasus, which was a subsidiary of Emirati security firm DarkMatter (and Israel’s NSO)

G42 launched a $10bn “42X” tech fund in Aug 2022 togehter witht he UAE sovgn welath fund, headed by a former exec of CHinese e-commerce giant JD.com to expand their china investments

G42 also listed PAX AI as a subsidiary, which is apparently a new name that Pegasus operates under according to the AP

Now remember Pegasus, the spywarei s-your-phone-bugged-or-is-it-not, scary tech thing.

G42 claimed to have no connection to Dark Matter whatsoever despite the fact there is significant overlap of previous Dark Matter or Pegasus employees now working at G42

And now let’s get into some timelines

June 6, 2023: Sam attends an event called Hub71, created in partnership between OpenAI and G42 – his speech is opened by Andrew Jackson, CEO of the Inception Institute of AI, described as a subsidiary of G42.

June 10 – Sam gives virtual keynote at the Beijing Academy of AI, where several sanctioned Chinese firms attend, after which Sam emphasised need for US and China researchers to collab on AI development

But by Aug 2023 America got tired of UAE’s double dealing between China and the US. That month, the US tapped Nvidia and AMD on the shoulder and said no more advanced GPU sales to KSA and the UAE – out of fears they were passing sales to China to bypass export controls

In the same breath, US announced “acute concerns” over the investment activities of sovereng wealth funds Mubadala (the UAE sovgn wealth fund) and Softbank

Then on October 18, Altman announced an agreement between OpenAI and G42, where it was announced as part of a suite of measures aimed at developing the UAE’s tech industry

In short – the following picture has all a racist would need to surmise what really happened to Altman

And on November 19, Yahoo confirmed that ““Altman had been traveling to the Middle East to fundraise for the project, which was code-named Tigris…. & raise tens of billions from “SoftBank Group Corp., SaudiMs Public Investment Fund & the Mubadala Investment Company.”

Matthew Pines estimated that should Sam Altman return, Sam’s reinstatement could come with a suspension of its G42 deal – which would validate his hypothesis.

Julian Rimmer 11:18

So Izzy’s theory with Altman, is that he was getting too cosy with the Chinese and middle eastern players, helping them to build their own stack from scratch (because he sees the world through this prism) and this put him on a crash course with old security state.

They tried to boot him out, but his cult was too strong. He is a sort of messiah/pied piper who takes his talent with him. So now he’s back at OpenAi with a new board, that includes US govt reps like Larry Summers.

Dario Garcia Giner 11:19

The Larry Summers thing I”m hearing is a huge deal

A type of guarantee that Altman stays in line

with US govt national security concerns

Julian Rimmer 11:20

Panmure Gordon became the latest to highlight the value of a contrarian trade in Chinese equities, citing govt support for troubled sectors, foreign purchases Chinese equities @ 8yr low, charts looking ripe for breakout in ETFs like KWEB US and EEMA US (-37% from Feb 21 highs)

they also cite risk appetite rising in EMFX, as we mentioned here both yest and last Friday as DXY has been softening

i also read a good piece by traderoutes capital yesterday which was much more definitive on the battle against inflation than anyone else I have read of late

they opine the battle against inflation is won

Inflation is not the threat it once was. We’ve moved on. The Fed will use it as the ‘boogie man’ to scare investors into accepting higher rates but the reality is that the US market as well as the rest of the developed economies (EU inflation fell sharply for October to 2.9%, the lowest in 2 years) are witnessing lower inflationary pressures but also increasingly lower growth thanks to the interest rate environment. If anything, the latest inflation reports signal a potential decline in rates earlier than most economists anticipate. We have been discussing this issue for some weeks now, but the evidence, as we see it, point to an environment where inflation is not threatening, where growth is diminishing and where interest rates can fall without re-accelerating inflation. In that environment, risk assets do well, and bond prices rise (as yields decline).

Dario Garcia Giner 11:22

David – see yesterday on the transcripts on our website our quotes from David Dorr. he thinks much the same. Super fast pace of AI disruption means any big company today may be worthless tomorrow

Julian Rimmer 11:22

obviously this will clash with Powell, Bailey, Lagarde and so on who have to maintain the inflation-fighting rhetoric


Given the continued decline month to date in the oil price, this trend, barring a shock in the next couple of weeks, is likely to continue to be deflationary in November. This hypothesis is further supported by reports suggesting that Iran has intimated in political back channels to the US last week that they are not interested in escalating the Israel/Hamas conflict beyond the current phase.

The last shoe to drop is unemployment. It is set to rise.

as that chart demonstrates quite neatly

Dario Garcia Giner 11:24

very interesting chart

Julian Rimmer 11:24

and lastly

Last week was an important week for retailers reporting earnings. We had results from Home Depot, Target, TJX, Walmart and GAP. In virtually every case, managements reported a rebalancing in inventories and better than expected revenue. However, most also guided conservatively citing consumer fatigue. Interestingly, Walmart, a very good proxy for consumer sentiment and spending habits reported that whilst footfall remained consistent, the average spend per basket had reduced fairly significantly. Consumers are ditching high-cost durables in favour of experiential and non-discretionary purchasing and getting more careful with their spending habits. This is consistent with a slowing economy and more prudent consumer behaviour. In fact, economists have even come up with a name for this behaviour, ‘the paradox of thrift’. Ie whilst it’s prudent for individuals to save, if everyone did this in the economy, the economy would slow.


Goldman Sachs retail team did highlight a couple of strong features in the retailer outlook. 1. Experiential sales remained strong. Restaurants and travel remained a fixture in the consumer spending habit and 2. Event based shopping continues to grow. They forecast a strong Black Friday/Digital Monday sales period and strong Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping. This is good news for Amazon and the payment processors.

and that’s it from me until tomorrow with apologies

Dario Garcia Giner 11:26

In other news that soared over our blind spot

Starbucks is in hot coffee this week (or last week – let’s say both)

Investigators at Reporter Brasil found that some of its coffee plantations in Brasil were using child and slave labour, as well as other unethical practices.

The plantations in question held the C.A.F.E. Practices seal, which stands for Coffee and Farmer Equity. This certification program, according to Starbucks, evaluated suppliers according to 200 indicators related to transparency, quality, social and environmental responsibility.

But guess what happened when the certificators left – the old practices returned

Certification is the West’s pontius pilates, allowing consumers to wash their hands of any guilt for buying produce for poor countries

I worked briefly at a European lobbying firm specialised in importing agricultural products from French overseas regions

My specialty was bananas – and boy do I have some banana news for you

Have you noticed the ‘Eco’ label that’s everywhere these days?

In the EU?

So European ‘Eco’ producers are tied to extremely stringent EU-imposed bounds that guided the production of ecologically-friendly products – no airborne pesticides, no extreme selection for GMOs, etc.

This is a substantial hindrance on production – but also a great guarantee of quality

I’ve seen these producers – they’re old fashioned and sweaty, but their produce is fantastic. The banana’s are delicious, small and sweet

So what’s happened with recent EU deals – and why can everyone seemingly get the stringent ‘Eco’ label in the EU?

Well, trade deals between the EU and Latin America provided the latter with a magical tool called “equivalence” – meaning Latin American ‘Eco’ certifications were rubber stamped with an EU ‘Eco’ label once they entered our borders. As you can imagine – they were nothing alike.

LatAm ‘Eco’ producers benefitted from 0 oversight, cheaply bribable food inspection authorities, underpaid or slave labour, and ample room to spray their crops from the air without anyone to notice.

So the next time you’re in a supermarket – buy European. I would highly recommend Canarian bananas, which are very small and very special

Like we say often on the show – size doesn’t matter, until it does

And lastly, a reminder that Bacardi rum isn’t real rum because it’s made of sugar molasse rather than sugar cane – save your dime for real Martiniquan rum

That’s all from us today folks!

We hope you were suitably entertained

Dario Garcia Giner 11:31


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