Vermont is known for its rough winters, with 300 inches of snow not uncommon in my area over any given winter. Much to the chagrin of electric-car enthusiasts, cold weather has a tendency to take a major toll on the performance of an electric car, making the batteries far less efficient. I once briefly looked at buying a Nissan Leaf, months before its release, and the company outright refused to even consider selling one to me for exactly that reason (not that I would have actually bought one, for the much simpler reason that it turned out to be such a sad little car – more on that later). All this chatter about the car – which I have until 2014 to change my mind on, as the company isn’t even delivering them until next year, and the deposit is refundable – has crossed over with my investing life as well. As I browse the news about technology companies, I see a new analysis on the publicly traded, fledgling electric-car company at least daily. The level of noise has increased appreciably: first, following the delivery of lots of Model S sedans earlier this year; and second, on the news that Tesla has now made it around the bend. It’s not uncommon for the stock (which was trading at about $30/share just weeks ago) to see price targets flung about of $500/share or even $1,000/share. Between that and the immense percentage of the shares outstanding that are short – nearly half the float (47%), with a full 23 days to cover at last count – the stock seems to be taking off like a rocket ship of late, flying past $50 per share. It’s a short-term trader’s dream: that kind of volume with that kind of volatility and a boatload of squeezable shorts to milk. But I’m not a member of the day-trading set, so… All of this left me wondering: Just how much is Tesla, the company, really worth? Which is exactly what I will explore below (if you want to skip right to the numbers, click here to jump to the break. Before I go on to that exercise, let me provide some context on my mindset headed in to this adventure. After all, a guy who just put a down payment on a car is now going to tell you what he does and doesn’t like about that company’s stock – is there an agenda here? You will of course judge for yourself, but I would say “no.” Despite my early adopter move to grab one of the first electric SUVs – my one bow to practicality in this adventure, as I have to cart around a couple kids and their many accessories through a slippery winter, and the Model S sedan is just not going to cut it, even as a second car (which it would be) – I would not classify myself as a “believer.” I can barely be bothered to sort the recycling from the trash; I don’t compost (much to the chagrin of my seven-year old son Sam, who seems to be getting a heavy dose of greenwashing in his second-grade curriculum); and I have no problem driving all around kingdom come in my current monstrosity of an SUV, which was probably an overreaction to ridding myself of the cramped hybrid that preceded it. So what drove me (pun intended) to take the somewhat illogical step forward and write a check? Simply put, it’s a damn nice car. One privilege of my life is that I get to try all sorts of crazy new gadgets, from cellphones to laptops and tablets to wacky prototypes of wearable computers and 3D laser scanners. That list has also included an occasional brush with a Tesla. I’m not considering an electric car because of the environment. I don’t think the internal combustion engine is inherently bad; nor do I have any illusions that my electric car – filled with toxic batteries and sucking power from coal plants and aging nuclear reactors – somehow magically has zero impact on the world. I’d driven one of the first roadsters off the lot when Elon Musk came up to meet with a few of us at Microsoft in the early days. The car – barebones in a way that somewhat resembled a Lotus Elise – wasn’t exactly a pleasure craft. But it drove like strapping yourself to a silent rocket. Later, I was able to preview an early Tesla Model S prototype at a New York-area event. Both times I was thoroughly impressed with the cars (and with the company’s founder, a less-polished version of Richard Branson) in my brief encounters. After observing the reception the Model S got in the controversial New York Times double review and the big endorsement in Motor Trend, plus hearing a few owners gush about their newly delivered cars in the media, I had to seek out the final version and see for myself how it turned out. All I can say is, “Fantastic.” The Telsa S is as well built as any luxury car on the market, outside maybe of a Rolls Royce or Bentley. But it’s certainly as nice as a high-end Lexus or Mercedes. It’s simple to charge up. For someone willing to put out a little pocket change (relative to the price of the car) on a better charger and some new wires in the garage, it charges up rapidly enough to allow me to use it every day of the week. For the occasional long-term road trip, I’ve got another car already. It’s just plain fun. The car is a blast to drive, a huge plus in my book. The informatics are top notch. All in all, it gives me the kind of joy that few other cars can provide today. It’s a great car. I am an admitted, old-fashioned American lover of all things car. And so I decided to raise my hand for one. Now I find myself 3,268th in line for a vehicle that won’t even be delivered until next year. You won’t find me doing that for an Acura or a Cadillac, that’s for sure. And that says mounds about what lies ahead for Tesla. In reality, there is only a slim chance I will go forward with the purchase – all that talk about practicality will likely catch up with me. But in the meantime, there is much to be discussed about the future of the automobile and its most controversial new player. Sincerely, Alex Daley Chief Technology Investment Strategist Casey Research A few weeks ago, I put a deposit down on a new car: an electric Tesla Model X. With any other car – short maybe a Lamborghini Veneno – that revelation would hardly elicit a second thought. But insert “Tesla” in the sentence and suddenly a lot more people have a lot more to say. To some, it’s positively exciting – another of a thousand cuts to be delivered to the smog-spewing engines of the last century. To others, it provokes an exasperated sigh, as they see yet another green crusader dump money into a hopelessly impractical invention. Of course, when you live in an ultra-cold state like Vermont – and in a hilly, snowy, pothole-laden, dirt-road-filled ski town, to boot – as I have the past few years, those reactions are all the more justified on both sides. Vermont is, after all, renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty, and is home to many a protective soul set on defending Mother Earth even if it means biking to work in a blizzard. I do not count myself among them, if we’re being honest, but discussing my potential next car seems to elicit a great deal of praise.
Doug Casey on the Khashoggi Scandal Recommended Link — Justin: So, you don’t think that all this tension could boil over into violence like we saw in the 1970s?Doug: That’s a good question. On one hand, I think the US is moving towards something resembling a civil war. On the other hand, the average American is pretty used to doing what he’s told.It’s a pity. Not so long ago, America was unique and better than the 200 other nation states that cover the face of the planet like a skin disease. Now… not so much.Justin: How would a major economic or financial crisis impact political tensions in the United States?Doug: I think a crisis would accelerate the direction of things. And the chances of a major crisis while Trump is in office, at least during his first term, are approaching 100%.If anything goes wrong, half of the country is going to blame it all on Trump. And since Trump is mistakenly associated with capitalism and the free market, we’re going to get an ultra-leftist from the Democratic party in 2020.And we already have a wide variety of wackos front and center of the Democratic party. Everybody from Pocahontas to Cory Booker to the creepy porn lawyer. There’s a wide variety of them and one of these guys will get the nomination and try to be the new Franklin Roosevelt. Socialism has become something that’s openly advocated now. So, when the crisis hits, it’s going to be electoral gold for the Democrats and the Democrats are going to win in 2020.There’s also an excellent chance that one, or both, of the parties is going to put up a general because the military, idiotically, is about the only institution that both the right and the left still trust. So we’ll get a right wing or a left wing general, which is about the worst possible thing. Generals are like corporate suits, except that they wear uniforms. They’re basically political guys that know some military strategy and I’ll still put my money on a general for being a candidate for one or both of the parties.Justin: You think we could get a general candidate as soon as 2020?Doug: Quite possible. We could have a real economic upset in the next year or so, especially if the trade war with China doesn’t get any better.I mean this might get nasty from a military point of view. Maybe the US is going to feel like it’s got to push the envelope in the South China Sea. Or maybe the US is going to feel like it’s forced to invade Saudi Arabia. It’s hard to say where the next flare up could happen because the US is sticking its nose into everything, everywhere.Justin: Do you think the US is becoming more adventurous with its military because it’s an empire in decline?Doug: Yeah. From listening to the talking heads on all the channels, they’re all talking about we’ve go to unite the country. We’ve got to get the country together. Now, that’s a stupid idea for all kinds of reasons that we won’t go into just now. But the best way to unite the country is to get a foreign enemy that we can all fight against, one that’s threatening everybody. So, whether it’s Trump or the next person after him, someone is going to start a real war. And it won’t be one of these little sport wars we’ve got all over the world. It will be a real war in order to unite the country and that would be quite serious.Justin: Thanks, Doug.Doug: My pleasure.Justin’s note: If you missed our previous Conversations With Casey, make sure to catch up right here: Justin: Interesting… But political tension is obviously on the rise in America. Why is this?Doug: It seems that most people in this country now either really like Trump or really hate Trump. It’s not really his fault. He’s just a lightning rod; the storm has been brewing for years. The leftists and the traditionalists are watching separate movies. They neither understand nor like each other.In the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to a lot of MSNBC and CNN. The talking heads on these stations love to yap at each other, and are uncompromising in their hatred of Trump and Middle America—which is characterized as uneducated white males. There’s some truth to that, in that perhaps 40% of the US is now what are known as “people of color.”Incidentally, that recently coined phrase is symptomatic of the problem, and how the right has completely conceded the field of words and ideas. It used to be “white people” and “colored people”—a simple distinction. But why “people of color” now? Perhaps because “people of non-color” don’t exist—a subtle psychological distinction…In prisons—most Americans are unaware of this—the inmates strictly segregate themselves by race. Blacks, Hispanics, and whites. There is zero crossover or communication between the groups, and failure to observe protocol will put you in the hospital. The US is, more than ever, being divided along racial lines. Which may come as a surprise to those whose real-world exposure is mostly TV. On TV groups are always biracial, and blacks are always smart and successful.Justin: Do you see tensions between the left and the right getting better or worse?Doug: Well, we kind of returned to normalcy after things blew up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. But I don’t think it’s going to change for the better this time. And I’ll tell you why. Up to the 1970s, relatively few people went to college. Those that did might be corrupted by leftist teachers. But there were far fewer socialist/Marxist/SJW teachers than there are today. And lots less college students, either relatively or in absolute numbers. So they were a fringe group. Almost everybody goes to college today, however. And the ambiance in academia is very statist and collectivist. Even the teachers in high school, and for that matter grade school, are now leftists.When you send a high school kid off to college, with basically an empty head, his teachers will fill his mind with their views. It’s easy, since they’ve already been softly and subtly inculcated with these values from what they hear on television, movies, and high school teachers. The average American has been floating in a philosophical cesspool since childhood, and college cements them together intellectually. You can’t easily get rid of these bad ideas. It’s very hard to unlearn things. Just like if your dog or if a horse picks up a bad habit, it’s very hard to break that habit. It’s the same thing with kids. Both Lenin and the Jesuits are famous for saying that if you give them a kid for the grade school years, he’s a believer for life. You can easily verify that. Look at how many people will say something like “Well, my parents always taught me…” when justifying their beliefs. They don’t realize that it’s a stupid, thoughtless argument for or against anything. Anyway by the time people get out of college, they’ve been heavily politicized. And everything that they continue to hear from the movies, television, the newspapers, or their friends reinforces that. There’s no question we’re on a slippery slope. And it’s only going to get steeper and more slippery in the years to come. Trends in motion tend to stay in motion. Maybe we won’t see the violence that we got with fringe groups in the ‘70s, if only because the average American is too fat, drugged up, and occupied by video games, the Internet, and his cell phone. We all live in bubbles today. But it’s going to be something serious. A culture collapse is much worse than a financial collapse—which we’ll also see.What’s going on is a change in the nature of American culture itself. Western civilization is going downhill rapidly, noticeably. That’s what makes this much more serious than what happened 40 years ago. Justin’s note: Three weeks ago, someone sent pipe bombs to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and the offices of CNN.Thankfully, no one was hurt. But that doesn’t make this story any less disturbing… especially since these attacks appear to be politically motivated.Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. During the 1970s, hundreds of political bombings occurred. They were commonplace.So, I recently called Doug Casey to find out if he sees any similarities between what’s happening now and what happened in the ‘70s…Justin: Doug, do you see any parallels between what’s happening now and what happened in the ‘70s?Doug: They’re similar in that the natives are restless. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Vietnam War was the centerpiece, and—in very general terms—the leftists, hippies, and blacks were arrayed against the establishment, the middle class, and the working class. This time is very different. The US is engaged in wars everywhere, but nobody cares. The leftists have completely won on the ideological level. And the leftists and blacks have been reinforced by massive numbers of Hispanics, migrants, and—counterintuitively—college graduates.It’s much less violent than in the early ‘70s when there were hundreds and hundreds of bombings around the US, sometimes several a day. Those were all conducted by radical fringe groups with very few people. But they got a lot of press. And it was kind of exciting to go out on a date on a Friday night and smell the tear gas in the air in Washington, D.C. I kid you not.There used to be something called the Symbionese Liberation Army that kidnapped Patty Hearst, for instance. The Weathermen, the SDS, the Red Brigades. There were many groups like that. They seemed to specialize in bombings at universities and banks.But they were outliers, by no means mainstream. They were genuine fringe groups. The recent faux bombings, apparently pipe bombs that couldn’t go off, are totally meaningless and trivial by comparison. To start with, absolutely anybody can fabricate an IED by stuffing a bunch of matchheads in a pipe and rigging a timer. Considering the law of large numbers, the fact there are 330 million people in the US, probably a third of them have done psychiatric drugs, and most of them seem to hate another group’s politics, I’m surprised this is the only incident. FREE BRIEFING: The “New Gold Standard” Reader MailbagLet us know what you thought of today’s Conversations With Casey at [email protected]’s Third Power Shift Is Underway…The biggest power shift in the last 100 years is happening now. And it’s creating a tipping point in the next generation of energy metals. If you know where to put your money ahead of time, you could see once-in-a-lifetime gains. To learn how you can take advantage of this megatrend, watch this video. Recommended Link — Click here to get the details behind which companies could make the biggest gains in this brand-new sector Doug Casey on Columbus Day December 25 could be the start of a medical revolution“These FANG stocks already hit the top. But there’s a new industry just starting to make its way up.” Early investors in four tech industries likely became millionaires as innovative breakthroughs disrupted their fields… Today, there’s only one breakthrough capable of upending the market… It’s what I call the “God Key,” and it’s expected to grow by 35,000% in the coming years. 9 U.S. States Pass New Gold Laws—What this Could Mean is Incredible…President Trump loves gold. His buildings are covered in it. He once accepted $200,000 in gold bullion as a lease deposit. And he’s repeatedly called for a return to the gold standard. Now, it appears the president may finally be getting his wish… According to currency expert Teeka Tiwari, several American cities (including Trump’s hometown of New York) could be on the verge of rolling out a new “gold standard.” All based on a breathtaking new technology. “It’s incredible,” says Tiwari. “Not only will this make America ‘great again,’ but it will also help make countless individuals rich.” Teeka has located 4 companies poised to gain from the new “gold standard,” including one currently priced under $1. For all the details, click on the button below: Doug Casey on the Nobel Prize in Economics
Facebook has taken the lion’s share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it’s far from alone. YouTube, Google and Twitter also have giant platforms awash in more videos, posts and pages than any set of human eyes could ever check. Their methods of serving ads against this sea of content may come under the microscope next. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. YouTube toughens rules regarding which videos get ads Explore further Advertising and privacy experts say a backlash is inevitable against a “Wild West” internet that has escaped scrutiny before. There continues to be a steady barrage of new examples where unsuspecting advertisers had their brands associated with extremist content on major platforms.In the latest discovery, CNN reported that it found more than 300 retail brands, government agencies and technology companies had their ads run on YouTube channels that promoted white nationalists, Nazis, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda.Child advocates have also raised alarms about the ease with which smartphone-equipped children are exposed to inappropriate videos and deceptive advertising.”I absolutely think that Google is next and long overdue,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google-owned YouTube’s advertising and data collection practices earlier this month.YouTube has repeatedly outlined the ways it attempts to flag and delete hateful, violent, sexually explicit or harmful videos, but its screening efforts have often missed the mark.It also allows advertisers avoid running ads on sensitive content—like news or politics—that don’t violate YouTube guidelines but don’t fit with a company’s brand. Those methods appear to have failed.”YouTube has once again failed to correctly filter channels out of our marketing buys,” said a statement Friday from 20th Century Fox Film, which learned that its ads were running on videos posted by a self-described Nazi. YouTube has since deleted the offending channel, but the Hollywood firm says it has unanswered questions about how it happened in the first place.”All of our filters were in place in order to ensure that this did not happen,” Fox said, adding it has asked for a refund of any money shared with the “abhorrent channel.”YouTube said Friday that it has made “significant changes to how we approach monetization” with “stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency” and said it allows advertisers to exclude certain channels from ads. It also removes ads when it’s notified of problems running beside content that doesn’t comply with its policies. “We are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right.” This photo combo of images shows, clockwise, from upper left: a Google sign, the Twitter app, YouTube TV logo and the Facebook app. Facebook has taken the lion’s share of scrutiny from Congress and the media for its data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it’s far from alone. YouTube, Google and Twitter also have giant platforms awash in more videos, posts and pages than any set of human eyes could ever check. Their methods of serving ads against this sea of content may come under the microscope next. (AP Photo) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next? (2018, April 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-facebook-scrutiny-google.html So far, just one major advertiser—Baltimore-based retailer Under Armour—had said it had withdrawn its advertising in the wake of the CNN report, though the lull lasted only a few days last week when it was first notified of the problem. After its shoe commercial turned up on a channel known for espousing white nationalist beliefs, Under Armour worked with YouTube to expand its filters to exclude certain topics and keywords.On the other hand, Procter & Gamble, which had kept its ads off of YouTube since March 2017, said it had come back to the platform but drastically pared back the channels it would advertise on to under 10,000. It has worked on its own, with third parties, and with YouTube to create its restrictive list.That’s just a fraction of the some 3 million YouTube channels in the U.S. that accept ads, and is even more stringent than YouTube’s “Google Preferred” lineup that focuses on the top most popular 5 percent of videos.The CNN report was “an illustration of exactly why we needed to go above and beyond just what YouTube’s plans were and why we needed to take more control of where our ads were showing up,” said P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose.The big problem, experts say, is that advertisers lured by the reach and targeting capability of online platforms can mistakenly expect the same standards for decency on network TV will apply online. In the same way, broadcast TV rules that require transparency about political ad buyers are absent on the web.”There have always been regulations regarding appropriate conduct in content,” says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York customer research firm. Regulating content on the internet is one area “that has gotten away from everyone.”Also absent from the internet are many of the rules that govern children’s programming on television sets. TV networks, for instance, are allowed to air commercial breaks but cannot use kids’ characters to advertise products. Such “host-selling” runs rampant on internet services such as YouTube.Action to remove ads from inappropriate content is mostly reactive because of lack of upfront control of what gets uploaded, and it generally takes the mass threat of boycott to get advertisers to demand changes, according to BrandSimple consultant Allen Adamson. “The social media backlash is what you’re worried about,” he said.At the same time, politicians are having trouble keeping up with the changing landscape, evident by how ill-informed many senators and congresspeople appeared during questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month.”We’re in the early stages of trying to figure out what kind of regulation makes sense here,” said Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University in New York. “It’s going to take quite some time to sort that out.”