A few weeks ago, when the US announced the first set of sanctions against Russia, we jokingly commented that among the possible retaliations would be a Russian explusion of that global US permastaple, McDonalds. As it turns out, yet another "joke" may be on its way to becoming the truth.
As the cost of living increases around the globe, wage protests and strikes have become commonplace, particularly in the emerging market space:
The situation with Russia should give investors and traders a reason to brush up on their history, as current events take root in things that happened 50, 100, and 200 years ago. To understand this, can provide perspective, during an information war, where it's not easy for some to separate facts from beliefs and propoganda (on both sides). The relationship between US and Russia has always been interesting, as we shall explore.
The cultural divide
So much for de-escalating:
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN SIGNS ORDER ON RECOGNITION OF CRIMEA AS SOVEREIGN STATE - RIA
Surely to precede Putin's own executive order recognizing Crimea as the latest member of the Russian Federation. And as for those "crippling" sanctions, via the FT, here is the locals reall think and why the Russian stock market is soaring as we reported earlier.
Moments ago McDonalds reported its latest monthly comp store sales numbers. Printing at -1.4% for the US, this was a nearly double miss to expectations of a 0.6% decline, and was the 4th consecutive monthly drop in annual sales - the longest such stretch in the past decade and likely longer. Looking at this data, there are two observations: i) Americans, courtesy of record obesity rates, are finally getting serious about their health, and have shunned the infamous 99 cent deep fried meals or ii) courtesy of the Fed's "Fed's recovery", the average American can no longer even afford sub-$1 deep fast food.
If our inner self, our essence, is not centered and at peace, at best we will be ineffective and at worst just a miserable person.
It may not be as sleek and intimidating as Robocop (or Skynet's Terminator) but California-based Knightscope's recently unveiled line of K5 robots will “predict and prevent crime with an innovative combination of hardware, software and social engagement.” While everyone from Jamba Juice to McDonalds is looking at robotizing their workforce away from minimum-wage-hike-demanding, bathroom-break-needing, healthcare-expecting, sleep-requiring humans, it seems everyone from your local mall cop to replacing police in neighborhood watch is now under threat as the automation of the American workforce moves from science fiction to science fact.
While joking about potential terrorist plots is below us, the fact that New Jersey police are investigating the appearance of suspicious white powder at several hotels near the site of the Superbowl was too close to an "Onion" headline for us to ignore. As AP reports, the FBI is investigating the substance (found in envelopes - which we suspect were not marked with player's names). No injuries or overnight bouts of unexplained euphoria have been reported.
While we are sure it is hard to make ends meet on the minimum-wage-paying positions at fast food restaurants these days; the lengths that one McDonald's employee in Pittsburgh went to subsidize her income could be a little much. As CNN reports, Shantia Dennis, 26, would drop a handy baggy of heroin in drive-thru customers' boxes if they uttered the secret phrase "I'd like to order a toy" with their food order. Police recovered over 50 bags of heroin and a small amount of marijuana... brings a whole new meaning to the term "Happy Meal".
This chart shows the year over year change in a very important data series. Guess what it is.
Following last night's surprise event, which was China's HSBC PMI dropping into contraction territory for the first time since July, which in turn sent Asian market into a tailspin, the most relevant underreported news was a speech by International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara who said that "As long as steady progress is being made toward the 2% target, we do not see a need for additional monetary accommodation in Japan." He added that while exit from unconventional monetary policy "is still very likely some way off for the euro area and Japan, I believe that the moment to start planning is now." This warning - an echo of prcisely what we said yesterday - promptly roiled the Yen, sending it far higher and sending the EMini futures sliding by over 10 tick in no time: a drop from which they have not recovered yet.
One of Warren Buffett’s greatest investment ideas concerned “economic moats.”
While McDonalds "coffee is hot" warning labels and litigation was a farce of lowest-common-denominator American exceptionalism; SirGriorgio Clardy, a Portland pimp, is suing Nike for not specifying that his trainers could be used as a dangerous weapon. As NBC News reports, Clardy is seeking $100 million from the Oregon sportswear company after he was sentenced to 100 years in prison for brutally beating a 'john' with his sneaker (apparently unaware of their potential for danger when one stomps on the face of another human being).
Worried that Starbucks is running out of real estate? Concerned that McDonalds will be unable to fill its quota of minimum-wage employees as urban sprawl caps out? Have no fear for as the following map shows, there is plenty of room left in the world for the chains to expand... and of course, where there is a Starbucks there is mass affluence, right? Of course, extremes of heat and cold will require a little adaptation but that's what free easy money is for...
With a seemingly endless line of talking-heads willing to ignore essentially every study that has been undertaken with regard the effects of raising the minimum-wage; and propose what is merely populist vote-getting 'benefits' for the ever-increasing not-1% who benefitted from Ben Bernnake's bubbles - we thought the following burger-flipping robot was a perfect example of unintended consequences for the fast food industry's workers. With humans needing to take breaks, have at least 4 weekend days off per month, and demanding ever-increasing minimum-wage for a job that was never meant to provide a 'living-wage', Momentum Machines - a San Francisco-based robotics company has unveiled the 'Smart Restaurants' machine which is capable of making ~360 'customized' gourmet burgers per hour without the aid of a human. First Jamba Juice, then Applebees, next McDonalds...