The last samurai

Happy Friday!

Three stories worth sharing this week…

The first is a blog post by Charlie Bilello discussing secular trend reversals. When these happen, no bell is rung. Investors usually don’t even realize they happened until well down the road. I’m not so sure I agree with everything in this post, simply because it’s still early and risks false positives and I just said they don’t feel like reversals until well into them so maybe I’m falling victim, but it’s still worth reading. 

The second involves Jack Ma – founder of Alibaba and the wealthiest person in China. About three months ago, he was preparing his most recent venture (Ant Financial) to become the largest IPO in the history of financial markets at $34 billion. Maybe a day or two before the IPO was to price, Ma publicly criticized the Chinese government, which is a no-no in communist regimes, and the government pulled the plug on the IPO.

Then Ma went missing for months, which sparked more than one conspiracy theory. One was that he upset the government so much that they decided to throw him in a hole somewhere, which isn’t all that crazy of a theory.

Because here’s the thing. If you are a billionaire in China, and you go missing, you almost always stay missing. And that could have been a problem for Alibaba’s investors because it could have implied that the government had taken over (even though Ma stepped down as CEO a while back).

But this week he appeared on a video for less than a minute speaking to a group of teachers (Ma was an English schoolteacher prior to founding Alibaba). He said nothing about what he’s been up to. He also appears to have had a change of heart towards Chinese leadership, which some theorists attribute to re-education training.

While investors breathed a collective $58 billion sigh of relief (that’s the amount of market cap added back to BABA after the video surfaced), I’m not so sure BABA investors should be popping bottles just yet. A colleague sent me this article from the New York Times a few months ago, and if you take a few minutes to run through it, you will see where my head is going on this one… It’s not the real Jack Ma.

Lastly, I enjoy reading about serial killers who are gifted enough to channel their psychosis into other artforms. And if you’ve ever asked yourself what these misfits do during lockdowns, the answer is apparently origami. If there is one article you read over the weekend, make it this one.

It’s about a guy who presumably took a three month hiatus from disemboweling turtles to create an origami samurai from a single sheet of paper. Here’s a screen shot of what this thing looks like. I mean WTF. This guy makes Patrick Bateman look sloppy and inattentive to detail.

Who would have guessed that origami is a proverbial nicotine patch to temper this type of psychopathic rage?

In all seriousness, I’ve haven’t seen art this impressive since I first saw the Seurat hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago. But this guy needs to be under constant surveillance because folding this figurine is right up there with buying 50 pound of fertilizer and a box of fuses on Amazon. He has to be put on some list somewhere and every single movement tracked. Otherwise this ends really badly.

Enjoy the weekend…