Is That a Monster in Your Pocket?
You've probably noticed already, but the puppet masters of the financial media issued an edict ordering that all of us pawns must write about Pokemon this week.
I didn't actually get the memo, but I assume it must exist because there's no other way to explain this week's news. Far be it for me to disobey. And even if I could, it would be impossible to do this week's roundup of the most important financial news without mentioning Pokemon Go.
To wit: Japanese benchmark equity indexes posted their best weekly gains since 2009, in large part because Pokemon-maker Nintendo jumped almost 71 percent for its biggest weekly gain ...
... with everything from Japan's novelty bakeries and regional banks coming along for the ride as the Trade of the Week involved anything to do with pocket monsters.
You may be skeptical that Pokemon was the sole reason for this week's surge in risky assets, but its fingerprints are obvious wherever you look. For example, some of the world's biggest central banks are clearly engaged in a game of "catch them all," with the pocket monsters being chased after in this case being any sovereign bond with a positive yield.
The chase for yield has become so intense that DoubleLine Capital's Jeffrey Gundlach said it's creating "mass psychosis," and to hammer home the point, he said he's "quite sure" Donald Trump will be the next president.
Maybe Nintendo could be kind enough to send out a few Pokemons to trumpet new short-sale ideas for Bill Ackman because the whole Herbalife thing doesn't look as if it will work out too well. The company settled with the Federal Trade Commission and its shares popped as much as 22 percent on Friday. Herbalife's milkshakes brought all the shorts to the yard, but Carl Icahn's long bet was better than theirs.
The government was still enthralled with spoofers, and its campaign to "catch them all" (or at least catch the ones Citadel complains about) continued apace. Michael Coscia went into the history books as the first person to be convicted of spoofing after it was made a crime under the Dodd-Frank Act. He was sentenced to three years in prison, which sounds harsh, but on the bright side he should get out just in time for people to stop talking about Pokemon.
It wasn't easy for all of us financial press pawns to become Pokemon experts, especially because we'd barely caught our breath after becoming Brexit experts. But the race was on, and on the first day of the week The Awl was already reporting that only 17 Pokemon Go headlines remained. Vox quickly pounced on the best of the lot, declaring breathlessly: "Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism."
I was skeptical of that premise at first, but then I read that that the poster boy for everything that truly is wrong with late capitalism -- hedge fund/pharma scamp Martin Shkreli -- couldn't wait to get his court hearing over with so that he could get his Pokemon on. So maybe there really is a connection.
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