TOPLEY’S TOP 10 June 05 2024

1. MCHI China IShares Chart

MCHI breaks above red downtrend line going back to 2021

2. KWEB China Internet ETF

50day thru 200day to upside in early May

3. Energy Sell Off

OIH Oil Service ETF closes below 200-day

4. Another Look at Concentration in S&P…Top 3 Companies 20% of Market

5. Buffett Indicator

Doug Short Advisor Perspectives

6. Criticisms of The Buffett Indicator

From Current Market Valuation Blog 
No single metric is illustrative of the health or relative valuation entire market. Common criticisms of the Buffett Indicator are:

Interest Rates-The Buffett Indicator only considers the value of the stock market, but does not consider how stocks are valued relative to alternative investments, such as bonds.
When interest rates are high, bonds pay a high return to investors, which lowers demand (and prices) of stocks.

Additionally, higher interest rates means it’s more expensive for businesses to borrow money, making it harder to borrow cash as a way to finance growth. Any business that takes on debt will face relatively higher interest payments, and therefore fewer profits. Less corporate profits means lower corporate stock values. The corollary to this is also true. Low interest rates means bonds pay less to investors, which lowers demand for them, which raises stock prices in relation to bonds. Low interest rates make it easy for corporations to borrow cash to finance growth. Corporate interest payments will be low, making profits higher.

This is all to say that all else equal if interest rates are high, stock prices go down. If interest rates are low, stock prices go up.

Over the last 50 years the interest rate on 10 Year US Treasury bonds has averaged 5.86%. During the peak of the .com bubble when the Buffett Indicator was very high, the 10Y Treasury rate was a bit higher than average, around 6.5%, showing that low interest rates weren’t juicing the stock market. Today the Buffett Indicator is still quite high relative to its historical trend line, but interest rates are still relatively low, currently at 4.20%.

This can be interpreted to mean that during the .com bubble, equity investors had other good options for their money – but they still piled recklessly into stocks. Whereas today, investing in bonds returns relatively little. Today‘s investors need to seek a return from somewhere, and low interest rates are forcing them to seek that return from riskier assets, effectively pumping up the stock market. While this doesn’t justify the high Buffett Indicator on any fundamental basis, it does suggest that the market today is less likely to quickly collapse like it did in 2000, and that it may have reason to stay abnormally high for as long as interest rates are abnormally low.

For additional detail on the effect interest rates have on stock prices, view our Interest Rate Model.

International Sales
A second fair criticism of the Buffett Indicator is that the stock market valuation reflects international activity while GDP does not. Though GDP does include national exports, it would not include something like the sales Amazon makes in India (sourced from Indian fulfillment centers and sellers). However, Amazon’s India business is definitely priced into its overall stock price, which is listed in the USA. Imagine if the Indian government banned Amazon from the country and shut down all its operations/subsidiaries there. This would lower Amazon’s stock price, which would lower overall US stock market value, but have no impact on US GDP. That is, the Buffett Indicator would fall.
Globalization has expanded steadily over the last 50 years and has been a key driver in the growth of the Buffett Indicator over time, since US stocks have risen in value due to overseas activities not included in US GDP.

This is a very fair criticism of the Buffett Indicator itself — though not necessarily for the valuation model presented here, which looks at the Buffett Indicator relative to it’s own exponentially growing trend line. Our model expects exponential growth of the indicator over time, such that we have a “fair” Buffett Indicator value of 50% in 1960, growing to ~120% in 2020. Part of that natural increase is due to technological advances that lead to higher profits for existing firms, or from the creation of new industries entirely. Another part of that natural increase is because US market value is growing faster than GDP due to the rise of international sales of US-based firms. The key point here is that the model is looking at relative performance against the indicator’s own trend rate, and not just saying “the Buffett Indicator is high”.


7. Bitcoin Second Biggest Net Inflow Day Ever

After a period of flat to negative flows, the spot ETFs have added $3.7 billion in assets over the past month, to make the aggregate net inflows since inception almost $15 billion. Yesterday completed the sixteenth straight day of net inflows with a second-best-ever $887 million flood of money into the crypto assets.

8. Number of Job Openings Normalizing

9. Devastation in Ukraine-NYT

By Jeffrey Gettleman 

Measuring every town, street and building blown apart since the Russian invasion. A map of Ukraine showing damaged areas since the invasion of Russia in 2022 

Sources: Analysis by Jamon Van Den Hoek, Corey Scher and The New York Times

You’re reading The Morning newsletter.  Make sense of the day’s news and ideas. David Leonhardt and Times journalists guide you through what’s happening — and why it matters.
Imagine your hometown being wiped off the map.
Imagine a city where no one lives.
Imagine the landmarks in your life — where you went to school, where you were married, where you worked and played and loved and prayed — erased.
This is what happened to Marinka, a small town in Ukraine’s east with nearly 200 years of history. Photos of it look like those of Hiroshima. Its destruction has become a symbol of Ukraine’s war.
A map of Ukraine showing damaged areas since the invasion of Russia in 2022

Photo by Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times
It’s hardly the only Ukrainian town like this. The Times worked with researchers to measure every town, street and building in Ukraine blown apart since the Russians invaded in 2022. In today’s newsletter, we’ll explain how we did it — and what we found.

10. 5 Ways to Emotionally Recover From a Frustrating Mistake

Practical strategies to bounce back and restore your peace of mind. Alice Boyes Ph.D.
We all make frustrating mistakes from time to time. Examples:

  • You drop and crack your phone.
  • You miss a deadline and have to pay a late fee.
  • You ding your car.
  • You lock yourself out of your house.
  • You forget to take your debit card to a store that only accepts debit cards, so you have to go home to get it, wasting 30 minutes.

These errors can be emotionally stinging, especially if you’re already feeling down on yourself or your emotional reserves are low. Here are five tips for recovering after this type of incident.

1. Give it an hour or two.
Rather than rushing in with strategies to repair your mood, wait an hour or two after the incident to see how much you recover in a small amount of time without doing anything. This will prevent unnecessary work and angst if your emotions substantially repair themselves. You can then deal strategically with whatever remains.

2. Do something smart and purposeful, even if it’s unrelated.
We can’t always fix a specific mistake, but we can take smart and purposeful action to remind ourselves that we’re not hopelessly inept at adulting. Do something, virtually anything, that makes you feel like you’re doing a good job managing your life.

3. Reflect on the pathways that led to the mistake.
Pointlessly dwelling on the causes of mistakes is a form of rumination. Don’t do that, but you can try fruitful reflection. For example, perhaps you had several warning signs of the potential for the mistake (e.g., near misses), and you ignored them. Or, perhaps you made other silly mistakes recently due to feeling scattered or overwhelmed. You’re aware that those states lead to being disorganized or making mistakes due to rushing, but you didn’t do anything to prevent that.

4. Implement a routine that will disrupt the pathway you identified.
If you make silly mistakes when you’re scattered, you probably need a consistent routine to help prevent them. For example, you always check your bag for your debit card before heading to a particular store, and you stick to going to that store on a specific day of the week to make it even more of a strong habit.
If you consistently use a habit, not just when you feel scattered, that will help that sequence of behavior carry over to times you’re rushing, etc.

5. Engage in “at least it wasn’t something worse” thinking.
Forced positive thinking can backfire, but there likely will be a point when it feels beneficial to engage in thoughts like, “At least no one was injured in the accident” or “This was minor in the grand scheme of things.” Most things that go wrong are minor rather than major. Try this thinking style when it feels beneficial to you. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can try techniques like describing the situation via ChatGPT and asking what a supportive but realistic friend might say in the situation. This can help you learn compassionate self-talk if it’s not currently in your repertoire.
Small mistakes are annoying, especially if they incur wasted time or money, embarrassment, or rumination. Don’t make the pain of an objective consequence (like wasted time or money) worse by loading up optional consequences (like excessive rumination). Instead, use these tips to analyze and react to the mistake in a smart and productive way.

TOPLEY’S TOP 10 June 04 2024

1. Penny Stock Volume

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading Seven of the top 10 most traded US equities in May, as measured by the number of shares bought and sold, are penny stocks worth less than $1, according to Cboe Global  Markets. None of the companies are profitable.  The huge volumes in so many little-known stocks suggest renewed appetite among  retail investors for cheap names in which they believe they can quickly make a lot of  money, FT reports.
“Penny stocks are not the same as the meme stock phenomenon, but let’s say they  rhyme. It’s people willing to put fundamentals aside and chase returns,” said Steve  Sosnick, chief market strategist at retail broker Interactive Brokers.

2. Bullish Bets in US Stock Futures at 12-Year Highs

I am not familiar with this chart.
Barbara Kollmeyer Marketwatch
In a separate note, strategists led by Mislav Matejka point out that apart from a “complacent technical picture,” positioning is looking stretched headed into summer. Their below chart shows U.S. equity futures positioning, which has been above average all year, is now the highest in a dozen years:

3. Dell -25% From Highs But Still Up 76% YTD

4. Record Number of Global Elections in 2024….Mexico Market and Currency Down -10% Post-Election.

EWW -10% One Day

Mexican Peso -10% One-Day

5. Modi Majority Shrinks in India

Huge run India ETF….-6% pre-market

6. Small Banks Increasing Commercial Real Estate Exposure

Credit: Small banks have been increasing CRE exposure.

Source: Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live Blog

7. Poll of Leverage Loan Companies

From Barry Ritholtz The Big Picture Blog

8. Construction Spending on Factories

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Companies plowed $18.4 billion in April into the construction of manufacturing plants in the US, a seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction spending of a record $212 billion, according to the Census Bureau today. This was up by 140% to 200% from the range in 2015 through mid-2021,

The spike in factory-construction activity began in the second half of 2021. The CHIPS Act, signed into law in August 2022, seems to have turbocharged it, though the money hasn’t even started flowing yet.

Beyond semiconductors, a large number and a great variety of manufacturing plants have been announced over the past two years, and we’ll get to some that were announced just in recent weeks. They’re part of what the National Manufacturing Association has termed, “general reshoring.”

During the record year of 2023, spending on factory construction spiked by 71% from 2022, and by 138% from 2021, to $196 billion. And 2024 is on track to set a new record as the eyepopping boom continues.
This boom is a result of a massive corporate and government rethink after the supply-chain and transportation chaos during the pandemic, the increasingly edgy relationship between the US and China, the fundamentally scary dependence by US companies on production in China, and the nerve-racking dependence on semiconductor production in Taiwan.

9. America’s Commute to Work Is Getting Longer and Longer

Story by Anne Marie Chaker
The American worker is making peace with a longer ride.

Big shifts in the way people live and work are making commutes of over an hour into the office more common—and even more palatable. Rising housing costs have prompted many to move farther away from city centers, while the staying power of hybrid work means they don’t have to drive into work every day.

The share of super commutes—those 75 miles or longer—have grown the most and are up by nearly a third since 2020, according to new research from Stanford University.

Craig Allender’s family of four felt they had outgrown their three-bedroom home in Novato, Calif., and wanted to upgrade. They found a five-bedroom one 30 miles north in Sonoma County where lower housing costs put a 3,000-square-foot house in reach.

Allender says he can tolerate his new 63-mile drive to work since he only has to go in three times a week.

“If I had to be in the office five days a week, there’s no way,” says the managing director of an engineering company in Oakland.

A recent analysis of satellite-navigation data for the 10 largest cities in the U.S. shows he’s not alone in making that calculus.

America’s Commute to Work Is Getting Longer and Longer© Provided by The Wall Street Journal

Examining two million morning commutes over the same four-month period in 2023-24 and 2019-20, Stanford University economists Nick Bloom and Alex Finan found the number of longer drives—though still a fraction of total trips—rose the most over the four years: As a share of all morning commutes, those between 50 and 74 miles rose 18%, while those 75 miles and up rose 32%. Commutes less than 35 miles, which were the majority of all commutes, declined, according to their analysis of data from transportation research firm INRIX.

10. If you answer ‘always’ to these 8 questions, you’re mentally stronger than most

Scott Mautz, Contributor@/IN/SCOTTMAUTZ/

Mental strength is the ability to productively regulate your emotions, thoughts and behaviors, even in challenging circumstances. It’s how you manage internally, so you can operate better externally. 
Most of us intuitively understand that to be successful at work and in life, you need to self-regulate. But it’s hard to do in practice. 
I’ve spent 30 years studying what makes people, and especially leaders, mentally strong. As part of my research, I’ve developed a Mental Strength Self-Assessment that helps you gauge where you are, and what you can do to level up. 
DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to becoming a master communicator and public speaker
Here’s a mini-assessment: If you answer “always” to these eight questions, you’re mentally stronger than most.
1. Are you resilient in the face of setbacks?
When you’re navigating obstacles and facing challenges, there are bound to be moments of defeat. But what determines your mental strength is how — and whether — you pick yourself up and press on. 
Mentally strong people find and focus on the opportunity in adversity, rather than the threat. Instead of getting stuck in unproductive emotional reactions and the sense that “it’s not fair,” they accept where they are and ask: “How do we move forward now?”
2. Do you perform well under pressure?
Your ability to thrive under pressure is based in large part on your mindset and initial response to stressors. Being mentally strong means thinking “challenge” rather than “threat.” 
If you see something as a threat, your body responds as it might to a predator in the wild: with a fast-beating heart, sweaty palms, tense muscles and an upset stomach. Feeling anxious and imagining everything that could go wrong undermines your ability to perform. 
Mentally strong people think: “I’m prepared for this challenge.”
This approach helps them handle stress, increase their focus and control their emotions and thoughts, enhancing their ability to perform. They ignore “What if …?” and think “What will,” as in “What will now happen is that I’m going to ….”
3. Do you avoid approval-seeking behavior?
Mentally strong people chase authenticity, not approval. They know approval is elusive, and pursuing it with people-pleasing behaviors can erode their confidence, advertise their insecurity and create a false and temporary sense of comfort. 
They understand how their need for approval holds them back, and act like they already have approval. 
4. Do you avoid comparing yourself to others?
Comparing yourself to others most often makes you feel small and inadequate. 
It’s an exercise that typically involves comparing your own weaknesses to other people’s strengths. You attribute their success to some kind of inherent superiority, rather than considering the context and factors that may have worked in their favor. 
People with the most mental strength only make comparisons to who they were yesterday. Instead of concentrating on whether they measure up to someone else in one way or another, they ask themselves if they’re becoming better versions of themselves. 
5. How often do you challenge the status quo?
Mentally strong people know that boldness leads to growth. Boldness means thinking big, taking risks, pushing past discomfort, trying new things and embracing change in pursuit of something worthwhile.  
It requires uncovering the beliefs holding you back, exposing the unhelpful assumptions and stagnant stories you tell yourself and tearing off the self-applied labels weighing you down. 
Boldness means replacing limiting beliefs, like “I’m not good enough,” with empowering beliefs, like “I have all the ability I need to succeed.” 
6. Are you able to manage your negative emotions in the moment they arise?
Mentally strong people don’t let negative emotions take over. 
When they feel their temperature rising, they breathe, take a moment and, if needed, create some distance between themselves and the intensity of their emotion.
People with the most mental strength only make comparisons to who they were yesterday.
They don’t let the emotion pull them somewhere they don’t want to be. 
Instead, they name what they’re feeling, so it loses its hold over them. Then they logically reassess the situation and reframe it in a way that allows them to take actions that lead to beneficial outcomes.  
7. How often would you (or others) say you’re decisive?
Indecision is a lack of self-regulation, discipline, courage and conviction in an especially damaging form. It’s particularly harmful for people in leadership positions. 
At work, indecision can bring an organization to a standstill, drain a team’s energy and damage employees’ sense of certainty. When leaders don’t make decisions, they leave multiple options open for too long, costing the organization money and delaying timelines. 
In life, hesitation allows someone else to jump on that thing you didn’t. It causes you to burn time second-guessing yourself that you could have spent being the first mover. 
Mentally strong leaders are decisive, evaluating the cost of a wrong decision versus indecision, setting deadlines for deciding, accepting inevitable choices sooner and willingly making tough, unpopular calls when they need to. 
8. How often do you hold yourself accountable?
Mentally strong people aren’t afraid to look in the mirror and ask themselves: 

  • “Where am I making excuses instead of progress?” 
  • “Where am I avoiding the issue instead of owning it?” 
  • “Where am I blaming instead of being brave?”

Holding yourself accountable isn’t always easy, but doing the right thing rarely is. 
Even if you can’t answer “always” to all of the questions above right now, that doesn’t mean you never will. With the right intention and tools, you can get — and stay — mentally stronger. 
Scott Mautz is a popular speaker, trainer, and LinkedIn Learning instructor. He’s a former senior executive of Procter & Gamble, where he ran several of the company’s largest multi-billion-dollar businesses. He is the author of ”The Mentally Strong Leader: Build the Habits to Productively Regulate Your Emotions, Thoughts, and Behaviors.” Follow him on LinkedIn.

TOPLEY’S TOP 10 June 03 2024

1. Update Value vs. Growth Stocks

Barrons The Russell 1000 Value Index trades at 15.8 times 12-month forward earnings, a deep discount to its growth counterpart at 27.9 times.

2. Spread Between Largest Nasdaq Names and the Rest.

Spread Between Nasdaq 100 and Rest of Nasdaq Names (Comp)

Chart from Jonathan Baird

3. Software ETF IGV Closes Below 200 Day

IGV-A Series of lower highs and close below 200day after CRM missed earnings

4. Seasonality in Election Year

Marketwatch –  Clissold, in a note earlier this week, observed that since 1950 the S&P 500 has risen 77.8% of the time from April 30 to Oct. 31 in election years, that’s the strongest of the four years in the presidential election cycle. The 3.3% median gain seen over that stretch in election years is the second highest (see table below).

5. American Exceptionalism Last 5 Years.

Chartr Blog USA #1 – Another reason economists might have a rosier view of the American economy than the general public? A global perspective. Indeed, the US has seen real GDP grow by nearly 9% since the pandemic began, by far the strongest of any of its G7 peers, which have averaged only 2.7%. Canada’s economy has been the next best in the group of seven, growing 5%.

The great American consumer.

Despite sky-high interest rates and inflation, good old-fashioned consumer spending – the biggest slice of the US economic pie – has been nearly unstoppable for more than 3 years, with people continuing to splurge. However, very recently, there have been signs that some consumers might be starting to crack. Retail sales growth halted abruptly in April, and recent earnings from Target and Walmart suggest that lower-income consumers are starting to struggle, with Fortune reporting “a shift from spending on wants to needs”, with similar sentiments shared by executives at other consumer companies.

In recent years, when consumers felt the pinch, many had pandemic-era savings to dip into thanks to stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, tax credits, and the fact that there wasn’t much to spend your money on during lockdown. This influx of cash bolstered our bank accounts significantly: one economic model estimates that America banked excess savings worth a staggering ~9% of nominal GDP during 2021.

6. Josh Brown Ritholtz Wealth-Wide Dispersion in Retail Stocks.

7. Cyber Crime Losses

8. Solar and battery storage to make up 81% of new U.S. electric-generating capacity in 2024.

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, December 2023

9. American Home Equity $32 Trillion…Added $12 T Since 2019.

by Ben Carlson America’s Piggie Banks Are Full The pandemic housing boom means Americans have more home equity than ever.

Households have added roughly $12 trillion in home equity since the end of 2019:

10. Classroom vs. Real Life-Farnam Street Blog

There is a certain category of decisions that work well in the classroom but not in real life. I call these chalkboard decisions. These decisions tease us because the math always seems correct. 

The problem is that most decisions are less about the math and more about judgment. The math always points to the optimal immediate decision, which is rarely the best long-term decision. 

Consider paying off your mortgage. With 2% interest rates, the spreadsheet will tell you it doesn’t make sense to pay off your mortgage. Instead, put the money you would have used to pay off your house in the stock market. Assuming an 8% return, you’d be much better off. 

The math in chalkboard decisions is irrefutable. And yet, the best decisions are often based on positioning yourself for things you can’t see. 

What if we have a pandemic? What if the stock market drops 20% or 30%? What if mortgage rates rise 10%? Can you handle these events with equanimity, or will circumstances force you to do something you don’t want to do? 

I see the same thing in business all the time. The math says lever up, reduce inventory, pay your employees as little as possible, charge your customers as much as possible, and take advantage of the weakness of your suppliers. You don’t need to look far to see companies who take this approach. In the short term, these decisions almost always seem optimal. In the long term, they almost always fail. 

If it helps to visualize chalkboard decisions, imagine standing at the base of a 2000m mountain with two paths in front of you. You can only see the next 100m of each, and one path looks easier. If you only consider what you can see, you’ll choose the easier path. Only after you walk the first bit do you realize that choosing the easiest visible path leads to a cliff and doesn’t take you where you want to go. 

Our ability to predict the future is never as certain in the real world as in the classroom. No matter how compelling the math, the best chalkboard decision might not be the best overall move.

TOPLEY’S TOP 10 May 31 2024

1. Will Nvidia Become the Largest Company in the World?

@Charlie Bilello
That question would’ve seemed absurd just a few years ago.

For at the start of 2020, Nvidia had a market cap of $144 billion.

Fast forward to today and it’s market cap stands at $2.82 trillion, over 19x higher.

The only companies in the world with a bigger market cap than Nvidia: Microsoft ($3.19 trillion) and Apple ($2.92 trillion).
If you think that’s an incredible stat, how about this one: Nvidia’s market cap is now over $1 trillion higher than all of the companies in the S&P 500 Energy sector … combined.

2. Stock Market Concentration at Multi-Decade Highs

Digging further into the S&P 500’s concentration, one of the reasons today’s environment is so different than that of other periods of high concentration is its top-heaviness. According to data from J.P. Morgan, the weight of the largest 11th-50th stocks in the S&P 500 is still near multi-decade lows while the weight of the 10 largest stocks is the highest it’s been since the early 1970s. The weight of the 10 largest stocks in the S&P 500 is 32.1%, but as mentioned earlier, the weight of the five largest stocks is over 25%. Therefore, most of the exposure of the 10 largest stocks comes from just five stocks. Breaking it down further, the average year-to-date performance of the largest 6-50th stocks in the S&P 500 is 6.90%. That’s better than the S&P 500 Equal Weight Index but is still lagging the SPX by a considerable margin. This is all to say that the market is truly being led and carried by just a handful of stocks.

3. Concentrated Returns Leaves Market Breadth Lagging

4. Why 10-year Treasury yields should fall into year end, based on 60 years of history

Joy Wiltermuth Marketwatch

5. Consumer Discretionary Stocks Underperforming

Consumer Spending ETF XLY vs. S&P ….Breaking below 2023 lows.

6. Same Store Sales Growth of Big 3 Retailers

Jack Ablin Cresset


7. Salesforce Chart-Negative 1-Year Return After Yesterday

CRM closed below 200-week moving average on long-term chart….

8. DELL -14% Pre-Market

DELL $35 to $170 since 2023

9. Global Private Debt Update


10. Who’d Want to Give a Commencement Speech Anymore?

Sarah Kessler

Tim Cook has delivered at least seven commencement addresses since becoming CEO of Apple. Superstar Taylor Swift, whose concerts have been credited with lifting local economies, addressed New York University’s graduation ceremony in 2022. Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Dimon — they’ve all given graduation speeches more than once.

They’re obviously not doing it for the money (and typically there isn’t any). Instead, speakers have long seen graduation ceremonies as offering something increasingly rare: a stage where a large group of people gather to hear speakers impart wisdom, advice or whatever else they want to talk about.

The appeal of being a commencement speaker, however, seems to be waning.

Just three Fortune 50 CEOs appear to be commencement speakers this year, as colleges have faced campus protests over the war in the Gaza Strip and student arrests, and wealthy alumni threatening to break ties with their alma maters over antisemitism.
“The idea of CEOs going out aggressively and speaking anywhere near this environment on campuses, it just doesn’t seem like the moment for them to be doing that,” said David Murray, executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association.

CEOs are tired of talking. At a recent meeting of executive speechwriters, Murray said one takeaway stood out. As one presenter put it, “Less is more in ’24.”

Murray highlighted the sentiment in the Professional Speechwriters Association’s May newsletter: “Folks will increasingly keep their leaders out of the spotlight,” he wrote, describing the current moment as one in which “even formerly anodyne messages encouraging employees to vote” sound partisan to some.

That approach marks a drastic change from when executives made statements in droves after the death of a Black man, George Floyd, in police custody in 2020.

“They didn’t get rewarded for it,” Murray said. “They got called woke. One group said they didn’t go far enough, one group said they went too far, and now they’re definitely in a phase of ‘We comment on things that absolutely have essential bearing on our company and our business.’”

Campuses reflect an era of division. Before the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, the war in Gaza and the campus protests that followed, the City University of New York School of Law announced that it would have no commencement speaker. The school had faced a backlash when speakers at previous commencements focused on their support for Palestinians.

After protests on campus related to the war, and the ensuing controversy over how school administrations handled them, Columbia University announced that it would cancel its main commencement ceremony altogether. And across the country, as many ceremonies carried on without disruption, several have been interrupted by protests and walkouts, some targeting the school’s choice of speaker.

Speechwriters are increasingly preparing for disruption, said Michael Franklin, executive director of the industry association Speechwriters of Color.

“A new part of the package this year, in addition to the remarks that they would deliver, is also having some alternative transition remarks in the event of a disruption,” he said.

Some executives prefer chats to speeches. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella accepted an honorary doctorate at Georgia Tech this year but did not give a commencement speech. Instead, at a special ceremony in January, he delivered a five-minute speech, left the stage to remove his graduation robe and returned for a “fireside chat” with the school’s president, Ángel Cabrera.

“They love fireside chats,” Murray said of executives. “They want to sit down, have a chummy conversation, look charming, be charming, say short things, kind of stick to their key messages.”

Kate Linkous, an executive vice president in Edelman’s corporate reputation practice, said she’s also noticed more conferences replacing their keynote speeches with fireside chats.

“The commencement speech is one of our last few brilliant examples of a long-form speech,” she said.

Will the commencement address as we know it survive? One potential outcome is that the address just becomes boring, as speakers focus on avoiding controversy.

“Whenever you’re in a position of trying to sand something down, you end up appealing to no one and saying nothing,” said Ben Krauss, a former speechwriter for Joe Biden and other politicians and CEO of Fenway Strategies, a speech writing and strategic communications firm. His advice?

“People have been protesting commencements for as long as there have been commencements,” he said. “If someone interrupts, someone interrupts. That’s just kind of a natural feature of human communication.”

c.2024 The New York Times Company

Who’d Want to Give a Commencement Speech Anymore? (

TOPLEY’S TOP 10 May 29 2024

1. Equity Positioning Not At Extreme Bullish

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading
Deutsche Bank’s measure of positioning shows investors are “overweight” equities but not to the “extreme” levels seen in 2021 and 2018.

2. Fear and Greed Index Neutral

3. Semis Relative to S&P

4. Semis -20% in Five Weeks -Bespoke Investments

Since its closing low on April 19th, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) has rallied over 20% in five weeks. When anything rallies that much in so little time, you can’t help but take notice, but in the case of the SOX, the current rally is already the second this year – and it’s not even June!

As shown below, the SOX rallied 21.2% in the five weeks ending on March 7th, and back in June 2023, it was also up 20% over five weeks for a third time in the last year.

The fact that there have been three separate five-week rallies of at least 20% sounds pretty remarkable.  In the post-COVID environment, though, they’ve been somewhat common with eight other occurrences (besides the current one) since April 2020.  That’s more than the seven total occurrences from 2003 through 2019, but from the SOX’s inception through the end of 2002, when semis were a much less ‘mature’ sector, there were a total of 20 different periods when the SOX rallied at least 20% in five weeks. As shown in the chart below, in many of those periods, the magnitude of the gain was much larger than 20%!

5. Equal Weighted S&P Trades Below 10 Year Average P/E

Unio Capital

6. S&P Margins Keep Increasing

From Irrelevant Investor Blog -Michael Batnick

7. Last Week’s Market All Tech

The Daily Shot Brief 
The rally is increasingly dominated by tech/growth stocks, with the rest of the market lagging. Here is last week’s performance by sector:

Source: The Daily Shot

8. Apple’s iPhone sales in China jump 52% in April, data shows

By Reuters   
BEIJING, May 28 (Reuters) – Apple’s (AAPL.O), opens new tab smartphone shipments in China rose 52% in April from a year ago, extending a rebound seen in March, according to data from a research firm affiliated the Chinese government.

The jump follows a weak performance by the U.S. tech giant in the world’s biggest smartphone market earlier this year amid intensifying competition in the high-end smartphone category from local rivals like Huawei (HWT.UL).
Shipments of foreign-branded phones in China increased by 52% in April to 3.495 million units from 2.301 million a year earlier, data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) showed on Tuesday.

Apple’s shares rose 2.3% in premarket trading.

Although the data did not explicitly mention Apple, the company is the dominant foreign phone maker in China’s smartphone market. This suggests that the increase in foreign-branded shipments can be attributed to Apple’s performance.

9. High Paying Remote Jobs Fading Fast

Kelsey Kernstine

  • A new study by job-seeking website Ladders found that high-paying remote jobs fell nearly 60%, while hybrid job availability fell 95% over the past year. 
  • Plus, a survey by Resume Builder found that 90% of companies out of the 1,000 surveyed said they expect a full five-day week return to the office by the end of this year. 
  • For those looking to make $250,000 or more annually, only 4% of those jobs are available for remote work. A year ago, it was 10%. 

(NewsNation) — Loving that remote job? Employees hoping for a raise might want to reconsider working from home. 
A new study by job-seeking website Ladders found that high-paying remote jobs fell nearly 60%, while hybrid job availability fell 95% over the past year.
Higher-paying jobs require more commitment from their employees, including showing up to the office daily. Companies have found it is better for their bottom line to have workers in the office versus working from home.
78% of Americans see fast food as a ‘luxury’: Survey 

Return-to-office requirements

CITI, HSBC and Barclays banks are now among those companies requiring employees to return to the office five days a week, according to a Bloomberg report.
Plus, a survey by Resume Builder found that 90% of companies out of the 1,000 surveyed said they expect a full five-day week return to the office by the end of this year. 
For those looking to make $250,000 or more annually, only 4% of those jobs are available for remote work. A year ago, it was 10%. 

Remote workers make less money: Data

Remote jobs still exist, but many companies that allow employees to work from home are likely to be paid less. 
James Terry, a hiring expert from Indeed Flex, told NewsNation that moving up the career ladder is tied to in-office employment. 
Has McDonald’s menu outpaced inflation? 
“A lot of businesses and organizations I’ve spoken with have actually really wrestled with the idea of promotions and growth within organizations, and do people who work fully remote have the same, truly the same type of opportunities for career advancement as those that work in the office,” Terry said.
Even Zoom, the company that made work from home a possibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now demanding its employees come back to the office at least twice a week.

10. Events Can Only Harm You If They Harm Your Character

The Daily Stoic
John Profumo screwed up. He had an affair with what turned out to be a spy. He lied about it. As a result, the prime minister lost his job. The country was embarrassed. He was canceled, driven into political exile from which he was never able to return.

Did he deserve it all? Maybe. Probably.

But what’s interesting is what happened after. Because instead of licking his wounds, instead of being angry, instead of nursing many grievances, what John Profumo did instead was go to work at Toynbee Hall, a poverty-fighting charity in England. For the next forty years he was the charity’s single longest-serving volunteer, working his way up from manual labor to its chief fundraiser, almost entirely without recognition or fanfare.

This is a story told in Right Thing Right Now (a book about the Stoic virtue of justice, which you can preorder…right now) because it’s so rare. Here is someone engulfed in scandal and shame, largely of his own making, who instead of being made worse by it, instead of trying to settle scores or prove people wrong, he decided to become better for it. Someone who quietly, diligently, decided not to be defined by what happened to him—at least to himself anyway. He did try to prove people wrong, but only in the sense that he sought to prove that he was not who he was at his worst moment.

Marcus Aurelius talks in Meditations about how events can only harm you if they harm your character. He talks about how the best revenge is to not be like that. It is so easy in the middle of a scandal or after a huge mistake, to double down. To make it all about you. To become bitter and angry about the unfairness of it all. Profumo didn’t do that. Instead, he made something positive out of it. He showed his truecharacter. He got revenge not on his political enemies but on the old version of himself.

That’s why seeing justice as a way of being, as how you treat others, is so important. It’s why Marcus Aurelius called it “the source of all other virtues.” Because how can we become better versions of ourselves, how can we reach the heights of our potential, if we can’t admit our past blunders, if we can’t make amends with others, if we can’t own the unpleasant responsibility of who we’ve been? Justice, as the Stoics understood, is the foundation to true self-improvement.

Which is exactly why I wrote my new book Right Thing, Right Now: Good Values. Good Character. Good Deeds., which features the stories of Profumo, Marcus Aurelius, and many more…