“He didn’t want me to reject it out of hand, which I might have done, because it was a crazy idea. But when I tasted it, I was sold.”
- Ray Kroc, on his introduction to the Egg McMufﬁn. (1)
The Egg McMufﬁn was invented right here in Santa Barbara by Herb Peterson, a McDonalds franchisee, back in 1972. History is replete with examples of signiﬁcant food inventions including Hot Dogs (Nathan’s Famous on Coney Island; 1916), Cobb Salad (The Brown Derby in Los Angeles; 1926), Bananas Foster (Brennan’s in New Orleans; 1951) and California Rolls (Tokyo Kaikan in Los Angeles; 1970).
To this illustrious list we would like to nominate the Stew, made on Wall St. in 2019. Technically, stew is a type of food consisting of meat or ﬁsh and vegetables, cooked slowly in a small amount of liquid. It’s a great metaphor for how we see the stock market, with its performance a mix of economic growth and earnings (protein and veggies) and interest rates (the liquids).
She was 21 years old and pregnant, when backup singer Merry Clayton received a late-night phone call from her agent back in 1969, asking if Merry could come down to the recording studio. The agent responds to Clayton’s protests by exclaiming, “Merry, this is for the Rolling Stones”. (1)
Mick Jagger asks Merry to sing a short chorus for a song rooted in the violence associated with Vietnam, social unrest and recent assassinations. With her hair up in curlers, Merry reads the lyrics, grasps the closeness of the violence and emotionally belts out the now famous chorus, “It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away”.
Recent market volatility stems partially from trade news being “just a tweet away” and investors have reacted by seeking shelter. Thematically, we honor the 50th anniversary of “Gimme Shelter”.
Greek Mythology’s popularity spread through Homers’ works, the Iliad and the Odyssey. (1) However, Hesiod deserves credit for establishing the original structure in his poem, Theogony, written around 700 BC. (2) Think of this as an early version of 23 and Me, documenting the ancestry of all Greek characters. Despite being both ﬁctitious and ancient, many aspects of Greek Mythology continue to be referenced today.
One such story involves Cassandra, daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Smitten by her beauty, Apollo, the son of Zeus, bestowed upon her the gift of prophecy. When Cassandra rejected Apollo romantically, he placed a curse on her that would make her predictions non-believable to others. Cassandra could see the future, but nobody would heed her warnings. In 1949 a French philosopher coined the phrase, “Cassandra Complex” to capture the idea of ignoring cautionary signs.
Today the bond and stock markets are ﬂashing conﬂicting signals. Could one of them be a Cassandra?
It’s neither bird nor plane. Baby Boomers, it’s not Underdog. Millennials, it’s not a drone. It is a boomerang. Dating back to Prehistoric times, these devices have served many purposes including musical instrument, fire starter, recreational object, and weapon. Mechanically, a flying boomerang behaves according to Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Additionally, a boomerang serves as a useful metaphor. The focus of this note will be two boomerangs impacting the financial markets today, one originating a decade ago, the other more recently, and their relationship.
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