Feel sorry for poor Chesapeake Energy filing bankruptcy?

CEO Robert D. “Doug” Lawler found in examining the company’s books a $110 million bill for two parking garages, Faber reported Monday. That was part of about $30 billion in spending above cash flow that happened from 2010-12, while the late Aubrey McClendon was CEO and prior to Lawler taking over in 2013.

Other revelations include a wine collection in a cave hidden behind a broom closet in the Chesapeake office. Extravagances further included a season ticket package to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder that was the biggest in the league and a lavish campus that was modeled after Duke University, complete with bee keepers, botox treatments and chaplains for employees.

In the Chapter 11 announcement, Lawler added that the company is “fundamentally resetting” its capital structure and business “to address our legacy financial weaknesses and capitalize on our substantial operational strengths.”

Peel me a grape!

Customer Facebook-shames barista for asking her to wear mask — the Tips are still pouring in

In the state of California, it is required that people wear masks in public, including restaurants and cafes.

After barista Lenin Gutierrez refused to serve Amber Lynn Gilles because she did not have a face covering, the woman posted a photo of Gutierrez on Facebook, writing, “Meet lenen [sic] from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”

Gutierrez received an outpour of support, and a GoFundMe campaign acting as a virtual tip jar for the barista has raised $47,118 as of Friday afternoon…

Gutierrez said that before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rendered everyone indoors, he was working as a dance teacher and is an aspiring dancer.

“With this donation that everyone provided me with GoFundMe, I can make these dreams reality,” he said. “I can fuel my passions even better now. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for it. It’s just amazing to see that I can actually make these dreams of pursuing more into dance a thing now. Thank you so much for it.”

Best story about human beings all week.

Feds supply Yankee Stadium rain ponchos for hospital workers’ PPE

Desperate times call for desperate measures. But this is just plain wrong.

A doctor at a hospital in New York City tweeted a photo Tuesday of the coronavirus PPE (personal protective equipment) she was issued.

I’m a physician at a hospital in NYC and THIS IS THE “PPE” I WAS JUST HANDED for my shift. Our federal government has completely failed its health care workers. #GetUsPPE

That’s how bad the coronavirus pandemic has become. Medical supplies are in such short supply and high demand that the doctors and nurses working on the front lines in hospitals are being asked to protect themselves from a deadly virus with something that doesn’t even keep people dry at Yankee Stadium.

And Trump probably took a commission for the shipment from the Yankees’ PR budget.

Ray Dalio’s perspective on China

Couple of quick notes:

Recently, I read reviews of Ray Dalio‘s essays on China and investing and that was what I was looking for. That is over here. In the course of my search for an easily accessible link, I came across this video. ‘Nuff said.

It’s long for my usual liking, though, there’s nothing slow or boring about it. Whenever he is on one of the (very few) TV channels I ever watch, I try to catch his appearance. I always learn something useful to managing the comparatively small retirement account I have to backup Social Security.

Trump appoints former director of company researching vaccines to head Federal program to find vaccine! Huh? Wha?


Trump, Dr Moncef SlaouiAP Photo/Alex Brandon

The former pharma executive tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the federal government’s hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine has more than $10 million in stock options in one of the companies receiving federal funding.

Dr Moncef Slaoui, a Belgian-American, was this week named Chief Scientist for Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed,” which aims to develop a working vaccine as fast as possible.

In order to take up the position, Slaoui resigned his role on the board of directors for Moderna Inc….Slaoui has 155,438 stock options in Moderna. The stake is worth $10,366,000 at Moderna’s current share price, $66.69 at the time of publication…

After news of Slaoui’s holding was published, former presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that Slaoui “must divest immediately.”

I’ll second that emotion.

Moderna has been one of the leading candidates to win the COVID-19 vaccine derby for quite a spell. I have to admit my dinky retirement account had shares of MRNA for a while. If I had the insider connections that Slaoui has I probably never would have sold them. :-] But, then, that’s the kind of creepy stuff that fits Trump like a cheap suit.

Debate over a long-time public service called the Post Office

Republicans want privatization, Trump wants to stick it to Amazon.

…The Trump administration…appears to be specifically hostile to the idea of a Postal Service bailout. Its distaste for a postal bailout merges ideological conservatives’ generic preference for postal privatization with the president’s hang-up about the idea that the USPS is giving Amazon a sweetheart deal on shipping.

In general, there are a lot of complexities to the long-term postal policy picture in the United States, but the immediate crisis is actually pretty simple: Mail volumes are plunging, taking USPS revenue down with them. And unless something is done relatively quickly to make up for those lost revenues, it’s hard to see how significant layoffs and service reductions can be avoided…

…At the core of that entity is a two-sided bargain. On the one hand, the Postal Service gets a monopoly on the provision of daily mail services. On the other hand, the Postal Service undertakes a series of public service obligations that a private company would not provide — most notably, daily mail delivery and flat postage rates regardless of where you live.

RTFA. Some discussion. Some debate. I see nothing useful in ending a public service that only has private alternatives that cost American consumers a boatload of money.

Life without coffee?

“What would life be without coffee?” King Louis XV of France is said to have asked. “But, then, what is life even with coffee?” he added. Truer, or more apt, words for the present moment were never spoken, now usable as a kind of daily catechism. At a time when coffee remains one of the few things that the anxious sleeper can look forward to in the morning….giving as it does at least an illusion of recharge and a fresh start, the charge has invariably slipped away by the time the latest grim briefing comes…

This change is real, and is reflected in the numbers. As Jonathan Morris documents in his recent book, “Coffee: A Global History”, epicurean coffeehouses in the United States numbered in the hundreds in 1989, and in the tens of thousands by 2013. A lot of that is Starbucks, but not all. Roasters in Italy went from exporting twelve million kilograms of espresso in 1988 to more than a hundred and seventy million in 2015. Not surprisingly, the growth of a coffee culture has been trailed, and sometimes advanced, by a coffee literature, which arrived in predictable waves, each reflecting a thriving genre. First, we got a fan’s literature—“the little bean that changed the world”—with histories of coffee consumption and appreciations of coffee preparations. (The language of wine appreciation was adapted to coffee, especially a fixation on terroir—single origins, single estates, even micro lots.) Then came the gonzo, adventurer approach: the obsessive who gives up normal life to pursue coffee’s mysteries. And, finally, a moralizing literature that rehearsed a familiar lecture on the hidden cost of the addiction…

This is worth reading if you haven’t any problem with the worst of several styles of writing loved by The New Yorker. Never use 8 words in a sentence when you can use 38 (or more). See what I just did. It happens almost every paragraph.

I have been guilty of every fault I find in the article…including obscurant conclusions. But, RTFA. It is well recommended. And in The New Yorker, after all.

Thai police latest to turn Teslas into patrol cars

We are starting to see Tesla vehicles becoming quite popular with police departments all over the world…

At this point, there are about a dozen police departments going electric with Tesla vehicles and now the Model 3 is the one becoming most popular with police departments.

Earlier this year, the Bargersville, Indiana, police department started updating its fleet to Tesla Model 3 vehicles after they realized it would be much less expensive to drive electric.

The Model 3 Standard Range Plus version that they bought is a little more expensive than their usual Dodge Charger at ~$41,000, but they expect gas savings of about $6,000 per year, which means that the Model 3 will almost pay for itself over its lifetime (they expect six years as a police vehicle)…

Now the Thai police also see the advantage of going electric with the Tesla Model 3.

According to documents first reported by Blink Drive, the Thai police bought a fleet of 7 Model 3 vehicles and turned them into patrol vehicles.

Cripes. Even in the small community we live in there already are a couple Model 3’s. They cost about the same as I’d have to shell out to replace my 26-year-old pickup truck with new.

Will the Pandemic Change Consumer Behavior?

Barry Ritholtz rocks!


Click to enlarge

Amazon has prioritized essential services as it is overwhelmed by consumer demand. All non-essential items are being delayed (although the subscribe & save seems to be still doing timely deliveries) The unprecedented demand is helping some retailers while potentially leading to the end of others.

We don’t know how much of this is temporary, but I would surmise that some of the changes in consumer behavior will become permanent.

Cripes! Now that I see this distribution of purchases, no wonder I couldn’t find my favorite King Arthur flour anywhere in recent weeks. People are starting to bake their own bread big-time.