Joseph G. Witthohn, CFA
VP of Product Development Emerald Asset Management

Good morning.

Stocks are little changed this morning … but many … on the East Coast at least … will probably direct focus away from the markets for the rest of the week and toward the hurricane heading their way. And who can blame people for worrying? Right now the weather channel is producing an ominous headline that, in part, reads: “… Destructive Strike Nears: Up to 40″ of Rain Possible.” I mean … that’s over 3 feet of rain. Let’s hope these forecasts are an exaggeration.

In business, recent news on employment continues to show strength … as, according to Daily Shot, “the number of openings hit the highest level on record.” The claim goes on to state that “the U.S. now has 11 job openings per 10 unemployed persons.”

Let’s think about that for a moment.

What is one of the issues that exist when you have a difficult time filling positions? If you are able to hire someone at all you might be forced to place an unqualified worker in a role … or “double up” on tasks (probably good for productivity, but risking quality). I think about that every time I pull up to a McDonald’s window and as the cashier is counting my change they are speaking on some headset, talking to another customer at the drive- through about their order. And last night (as my son asked for a milkshake on the way to an event) I found myself face-to-face with a life-sized kiosk … forcing me to punch in my order and pay … before I dare approach the counter.

I see that cryptocurrencies are getting beaten up again. Some are even commenting that the situation with some of these is now as bad as the “tech wreck” seen less than two decades before. I don’t know about that … but if my Bitcoin keeps going down I will be eating at McDonalds a lot more often.

Other than this, a few interesting stories are in the news and included below.

In the second to the last article, a man got into his car (in his garage) and the electrical system failed. Unable to honk the horn … unlock the doors … or break the windows (he tried) … he was stuck in his car for 14 hours. Yet one interesting thing I found in the article was the claim that there is a way to exit cars with this problem … but many owners are unaware. The lesson learned is it is a good idea to have an exit strategy whether you be in a car … or in an investment. See? I tied this into finance somehow.

And the last article below tells the story of a drug which the World Health Organization calls “essential” for lower urinary tract infections … where the manufacturer raised the price by 400% … as their head claims they have a “moral obligation” to “… sell the product for the highest price.”

While many would agree that maximization of profit is important … the FDA is seeing this as price gouging and taking advantage of patients. We saw similar moves recently by the Epi-pen manufacturer and Martin Shreli … whose firm raised the price of an AIDS drug by more than 5000%.

Yes, the head of the firm claims the price skyrocketed only because he felt this “moral obligation.”

… but personally I feel that, if he is taking this price far above fair and reasonable profit, someone has the moral obligation to smack this guy in the side of the head.

Have a great day,

Joseph G. Witthohn, CFA
Vice President
Emerald Asset Management PA, LLC
610 Freedom Business Center Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Direct: (610) 285-9905
wit@teamemerald.com

… as of 11:32 AM today …

Quick Look at the News

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