Daily Alpha: Antique Biscuits, “Retirement Inequality,” Bitcoin Buys, Carl Icahn, and Brazil Blues

Daily Alpha: Antique Biscuits, “Retirement Inequality,” Bitcoin Buys, Carl Icahn, and Brazil Blues

Garrett Baldwin

Alternative Thinking on Antique Biscuits, "Retirement Inequality," Bitcoin Ventures, Uncle Carl Icahn, and Brazilian Blues...

“It was part of a survival kit on the lifeboats, but some guy kept this one as a souvenir (pretty uncouth, dude), and it's lived in an envelope ever since.”

Some alternative investors speculate on land. Others buy baseball cards. Some might invest $50,000 into a startup, and others might purchase Bitcoin.

Well, one Greek investor just dropped five figures on a historic cracker.

A biscuit preserved from a Titanic life raft sold for $23,000 in an auction this week.

Naturally, a lot of biscuit and “unsinkable” puns were made about this on the internet… which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Now, he’s off to purchase powdered milk from the Bismarck...

“It’s difficult for President Dilma’s approval ratings to fall even further…”

Emerging markets remain under pressure in 2015, and expectations remain low for 2016.

Looking to South America, the continent’s largest economy is set to contract by 3% this year. Brazil will slide an additional 1.4% next year, according to its central bank research. Most forecasts don’t have the nation recovering for at least three years, which is stunning given that the country is hosting the Olympics in 2016.

That will represent its first back-to-back recession since 1931, a year after a military junta seized control of the nation and the onset of the Vargas Era.

Meanwhile, the popularly of President Dilma Rousseff is at a record low.

Less than 16% of Brazilians approve her performance as leader…

How bad is it?

The nation’s economy is performing worse than the Ruble these days. 

"We think a spin-off of AIG's mortgage insurer, coupled with an aggressive cost cutting campaign, are the most likely outcomes. However, we do not see AIG avoiding SIFI status given its previous government bailout…"

Uncle Carl Icahn succeeded in getting eBay to spinoff PayPal, much to his personal benefit.

Now, Icahn has taken a “large stake" – as he described – in American International Group. He’s urging the insurance giant to spin off its life and mortgage units into public companies. He’s joined by other activists like John Paulson, who owns roughly 1.1% of the firm.

Here’s Reuters’ breakdown of what Icahn proposes.

Meanwhile, every investor in America shakes his head knowing that AIG traded under $2 in 2009, and that Paulson projects the stock is headed for more than $100 under Icahn’s plan.

“There’s a lot of pivoting of companies saying we want to build things for companies on the blockchain…”

Bloomberg says that venture capital flowing to bitcoin startups "slowed substantially last quarter," and startups are facing capital issues.

But how significant is this pinch? After all, the amount of venture is heading into bitcoin startups will surpass $1 billion by the end of this month, according to Barry Silbert, co-founder of SecondMarket. 

Next year is going to be critical for Bitcoin and the underlying technology blockchain that has investors and traders excited in the future.

Barry Silbert was a key source in our November issue of Modern Trader, available at Barnes and Noble, and online at Futuresmag.com.

Be sure to read our most recent feature: The Many Facets of Bitcoin, which includes interviews with Silbert, Tyler Winklevoss, and other industry leaders who provide insight into the future of the cryptocurrency.

Read it right here. 

“The retirement funds of those 100 CEOs were worth $4.9 billion (an average of $49.3 million per executive), according to CEG.”

Here’s another talking point lined up for Bernie Sanders during the next Democratic debate, and one that will be echoed repeatedly for the next 12 months.

It turns out that 100 CEOs have more in retirement funds combined than 40% of American families combined. David Novak at YUM! Brands has nearly a quarter-billion dollars lined up and will receive a monthly check of $1.3 million when he hangs up his chicken buckets.

Here’s the full list of the 100 CEOs and their retirement war chests.

As we explored in May, there are more reasons for “income inequality” than what politicians and journalists lead on. Technology and scale – which economists have long misunderstood – are core drivers, but also provide steep boosts in living standards. Read about that here.

Fortunately… ugh… we’ll receive another round of ideas from Washington to help boost retirement for Americans. Given that any C-corporation startup entrepreneur burns around 13.2% of his or her income to Social Security each year and will only see 75% of that at best in 30 years, it’ll be fun to hear what politicians propose to make Americans invest more in T-bills in order to finance the ever growing debt.

More Wednesday Words.

Hillary Clinton:

“Because if you can't manage it, it's more likely to fail."

The Democratic Presidential Frontrunner says she’d let the banks fail in the future.


“It's highlighted by two amazing [Mark] Rothko paintings – one from 1952 and one from 1962. Both of them are expected to sell between $20-$30 million.”

This could be the largest auction in house history, featuring $500M in Picassos, Modiglianis, and Rothkos.

Larry Robbins:

“I will rightfully earn nothing this year as we focus our resources on investing in team and process.

The hedge fund manager says he’ll take no pay as his fund falls 20% this year due to the pull back in healthcare stocks.

It’s a topic we addressed in yesterday’s briefing.

Enjoy the rest of the trading session. We'll talk about the Fed tomorrow, because everyone else is going to beat that horse to death this afternoon.


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