The Daily Alpha - 09.23.15

The Daily Alpha - 09.23.15

Garrett Baldwin

Alternative Thinking on Oil Pipelines, Wine Fraud, NFL Investments, Harvard’s Massive Endowment, and Deadly Selfies.

Daily insight into the world of alternative investments in just five quotes...

“I oppose it."

Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton announced that she opposed the construction of the XL Keystone Pipeline, which would carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to the U.S. refinery network in the Gulf Coast.

Clinton’s campaign team likely surveyed a few hundred voter polls on the issue before taking the stance.

If, however, the pipeline becomes popular again among primary voters, expect her to do her best Bill Clinton impersonation and redefine what the word “oppose” means.

Shares of TransCanada Corporation (TRP) fell 2% today, but that had more to do with a broader decline energy sector. The alternative energy sector also seemed unenthused.

Everyone is paying more attention to China and the Pope. 

That said, the Keystone Pipeline has been kicked around for seven years now, and it’s a waste of time to discuss both economically and “hypocritically.”

No evidence suggests that the pipeline will significantly reduce gasoline prices in the U.S., blowing the door off that argument from the 2012 debate.

Meanwhile, the State Department has been working on a review for years now to determine the carbon footprint of the pipeline (Hint: it’s lower than the process of bringing all that oil across the border on trains). Hillary Clinton was the head of the State Department, which has this authority because the pipeline would cross the border between Canada and the U.S.

It has taken the agency longer to conduct an environmental assessment (one that would take a graduate student six months to complete) than it took for NASA to put a man on the moon. It has taken the agency longer to approve one pipeline than it did to build the entire transcontinental railroad – a process that started during the Civil War.

And despite all this time, the White House has been providing presidential permits for select pipelines to move liquids across the southern border for years.

It seems the press and the Green lobby missed that.

So, why did Clinton come out this soon against the Pipeline?

Because her rival Bernie Sanders is so anti-carbon energy production that he wants to keep all oil in the ground. The Green lobby loves him and truly believes that we’re going to have windmills and solar panels stretching from coast to coast, and all of our cars and cell phones will be fueled by good vibes and the bones of extinct Republicans.

Unfortunately, for them, Slate did a nice piece on why coal will remain a key part of U.S. energy production for years and the dire implications of gutting this industry without a plan to replace production. Investors might find a silver lining and an opportunity in these spaces, although having a lobbyist or pal in Washington would probably help more.

Today, Hillary Clinton put a finger in the air and reacted to the direction of the wind. She was the last Democrat to oppose the bill, and it was hurting her in the polls.

Remember back in 2000. A man who would eventually make a lot of money on green energy projects and climate change was running for president, but at the time he waffled on a change to protect the environment. Former Vice President Al Gore didn’t immediately take a position on an airport project that was very close to the Everglades. 

He said he would wait until after the Clinton administration completed its review of the proposed project. That didn’t go over very well with the environmentalists in Florida.

A man named Ralph Nadar – who was the Green Party candidate – later received 90,000 votes in Florida. 

Gore lost the state by 537 votes.

"Braybrook's company was completely fabricated."

Online wine investment firm Le Bordeaux Wines Ltd. was a total sham, and now its founder Jonathan Braybrook will live in a jail for five years.

The fake company accepted more than £1 million for investments in Bordeaux fine wines that never existed. The scam affected roughly 20 to 30 wine companies, while Braybrook used the money on drugs, booze, and other leisurely activities.

“Under the terms of the brand contract with Terrance Williams, Fantex would acquire for $3.06 million a 10% interest in Mr. Williams’ brand income.”

Following the injury to Cowboys star receiver, Terrance Williams has been given an opportunity to step up and become a household name. The third-year wide receiver could be playing for a big contract very soon, and sports exchange Fantex is giving investors a chance to cash in.

Fantex, a popular topic of interest at the Alpha Pages, announced it made another splash in the NFL today after signing Terrance Williams and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier to deals.

We’ve covered Fantex quite a bit at the Alpha Pages over the last year.

The exchange allows investors to buy stock in professional athletes and collect profits of the expected income streams of these players over the duration of their career and any other jobs they receive that are tied to their NFL brand.

For a breakdown on how it works and how investors can profit from the career of some of their favorite NFL stars, read this piece on Chicago Bears wide receiver and “Fantex stock” Alshon Jeffrey.

"We have challenges ahead and much hard work to be done, but I believe we have gained significant traction in 2015."

Harvard, a private education institution, now has an endowment worth more than the Gross National Product of more than 100 countries. The nations of Bolivia and Jordan look up to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust in awe of the $37.6 billion in assets.

If only they had her network.

Finalternatives reports that Harvard’s endowment managers booked a 5.8% return in the most recent fiscal year, while assets jumped by 3.3%. Stephen Blyth, who became CEO of Harvard Management Company in January, explained a few sources of these gains in a letter:

Harvard Management Company's investments in U.S. stocks returned 12.4%, ahead of the broader market’s 7.2% gain,
Private equity investments earned 11.8%.
Real estate offered a 19.4% return, nearly twice the performance of its benchmark.

Here’s more.

“Selfie deaths have become so rife in Russia that thegovernment released a guidedetailing how not to die while taking a picture of yourself.”

Now for something ridiculous…

Russia came out with a public service announcement this week that offered citizens advice on the proper way to take a picture of themselves with a cell phone camera.


Because more people have died this year taking selfies than people have from shark attacks. Meanwhile, more than 100 have suffered serious injuries, according to the Telegraph.

The majority of incidence come from individuals falling, while being hit by a vehicle came in second.

The graphics from this government brochure could not be any more ridiculous.


Apparently people jump in front of moving trains before snapping a picture.

Well, that’s all for today.

Check back tomorrow after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen offers her insights during a speech in Amherst, Massachusetts, and we take a deeper dive into what investors are thinking about the Australian and New Zealand economies.


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