Monday, December 05, 2011

Paul Sheehan, and what happens when a bubble-headed booby babbles about bubbles ...

(Above: uh huh. So now let's head to some faith-based advice).

Excellent news for Melburnians this morning.

If they enter the world of Fairfax via The Age portal, they'll be spared Paul Sheehan.

Well they were being spared at time of writing, and it's enough to make you envy the blighters and never mind the brown mud always on view in Pravda by the Yarra.

Sure while celebrating their loss, Melburnians also have to put up with Chris Berg explaining how everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds for food supply - Phoney food fears ignore nimble market solutions - and how the current famine in Somalia is apparently nothing more than a "glitch" for the poor. Next time you see millions starving just wave your IPA-approved anti-Malthus tract at them, and explain patiently that starvation is just a glitch or perhaps a spike and the problem isn't scarcity but rampant abundance. It'll make it so much easier for them as they expire from starvation ...

But back to Sheehan - strictly for those living by the glittering jewel of the harbour - being utterly fey in Euro debt bondage could breed Tech Wreck:

First of all, let's note the escape clause, or the escape word. Euro debt bondage could breed Tech Wreck. Or might not. Whatever.

The point about this kind of catastrophic writing - to adopt a sanguine, Chris Bergian view of the world for the moment - is that all kinds of things could lead to a wreck, or to a catastrophe, and if you write a scattergun column predicting doom and gloom on a bi-weekly basis, chances are you might hit on one. Then again you might not, but what matter, because the pixels involved have danced off into the Google graveyard, or have been placed in the recycle bin for a pulping.

Sheehan's method is tremendously simple which is always handy when attempting simplistic analysis.

First do an elaborate - did we mention fey - set of metaphors about debt in Europe involving European elites, sado-economics and bondage markets, and talk about decadence and excess, and straitjackets, and the bondage of bond yields - avoiding any mention of Bernie Ecclestone is a sign of the very best taste - and then switch tracks, switch signals, switch metaphors so you can talk of a train wreck.

Now once a train wreck is the go as the metaphor - after all, you can only go so far with handcuffs and bondage gear, at least outside the world of the Hellfire Club and Madame Lash - you can talk of wrecks generally, and then move on to blather about Tech Wreck II, right up there with the dotcom bubble, and then - in best Charlton Heston mode - you can declaim:

If you think Australia, whose banks are strong but heavily exposed to the global wholesale credit market, is going to remain largely immune from the contagion caused by mistakes made in Berlin, Paris and Brussels, think again.

Yes it's armageddon time again, and just as George Miller made one of the great turkeys with Tina Turner in Mad Max III - tedium at the thundergroan, so Tech Wreck III is coming to a Fairfax column near you:

We are already seeing the first hints of a Tech Wreck III, or an abject rout for some once-gloried brands. Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, has seen its market value collapse 75 per cent this year. Just before the global financial freeze in 2007 it traded at $US133.03. On Friday, it closed at $US16.77, a destruction of more than $US60 billion in market value in four years.

Uh huh. The BlackBerry. Thank the absent lord that it's got nothing to do with the spectacular outages of service last month, or the product's inability to compete with Apple and Google's Android, and the company's inability to innovate, as explained recently in Computer World UK:

Jaguar highlighted RIM’s share price collapse from $149.90 in June 2008 to $29.59 on 2 September, 2011, an 80 percent decline, while comparable tech stocks were down around 15 percent over the period.

“RIM’s chronic underperformance and repeated delays in executing its strategy have led Jaguar to the conclusion that fundamental change at RIM is required. Most importantly, RIM’s competitors have seen a significant increase in market share at RIM’s expense, both in the enterprise and consumer markets, and a corresponding increase in share price and overall valuation,” said Jaguar.

It put this share price fall down squarely to lack of innovation. RIM’s “failure to offer products with innovative features, combined with its limited selection of applications, has resulted in RIM losing market share to its competitors,” it added. (here, with bonus pop up).

No, no, you silly people, it's all to do with sado-masochistic Germans, and bondage in the bond market. Paul Sheehan tells me so, and so it must be true.

Sheehan then proceeds to contemplate the share prices of various other tech stocks, such as Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Electronic Arts, Dell and eBay, without once considering the individual circumstances and prospects of the companies named and shamed as part of the Euro-bondage wreck.

And then he lists all the various IPOs and similar doing the rounds, and charts how their stocks have fallen, including Groupon, LindedIn, Pandora, Angie's List and Netflix.

Netflix? Could that have anything to do with several significant mis-steps, most notably a subscriber revolt over a price increase and a plan to force subscribers into separate streaming and DVD services that led to Netflix subscribers leaving in droves (Netflix Declines Most Since 2004 After Losing 800,000 U.S. Subscribers)?

So long Qwikster, it was good to know you, even if we hardly knew you, a bit like New Coke.

Netflix Inc., which once could do little wrong in the eyes of customers and investors, has lost the goodwill of both.

The Internet video innovator on Monday said it lost more customers than it expected in the third quarter following what it admitted was a botched effort to divorce rentals of DVDs from streaming video services, and predicted that subscriptions for DVD delivery will decline sharply in the current period. (Netflix Adds a New Woe: Red Ink).

No, no, you silly people, it's all due to the handcuffed to the German sado-masochistic bondage stock market surge in whips and paddles.

Now come on down Forbes, and hopefully explain to the bears that all is not lost for the Netties:

Based on our analysis, the current market price for Netflix’s stock implies an effective halt in U.S. subscriber base expansion, no significant pickup in international subscriber additions and a significant rise in content acquisition costs. We don’t believe this bearish scenario will ultimately unfold as the company is investing heavily in its international expansion as well in improving its content library.

Our revised price estimate of $142 implies a premium of about 80% to the market price. (Netflix Priced For Failure, Stock Should be $142 - Forbes)

No no you sillies the collapse in butt plug pricing in the sado-masochistic European markets is part of a huge collapse in everything in the tech market, including Netflix. Quick Qwikster, we're all doomed ...

It would of course be possible to go through all the companies reeled off by Sheehan and examine their upsides and their downsides and their backsides - which possibly deserve a good paddling, a spanking or a whipping, depending on your European elite mood - and their current market situation and prospects, within the always volatile world of innovative technology, where yesterday's mp3 player and mobile phone is today's land fill (unless you follow the art of recycling as you should).

But truly, in terms of speculative fictions in the world of IPOs, Sheehan reaches the very nadir of insights when he talks about the failure of PlayBook in the context of the European markets.

Yep, it was an attempt by RIM, the Blackberry people, to take on Apple in the iPad arena, and lordy did they come off second best (PlayBook sell-off costs RIM half a billion dollars). But that's because the market determined that the tablet sucked ... in comparison to the competition. It was the same fate that awaited poor old hapless HP's TouchPad ...

What has the highly competitive tablet market, and the various failures that have occurred as competitors try to undo the dominance of Apple got to do with the bank wreck in Europe? Only the long absent god and Paul Sheehan might be able to explain it to you ...

As well as explaining the meaning of this non sequitur:

And an American judge threw out Apple's attempt to block Samsung from selling its Galaxy smartphones and tablets in the US, part of litigation spread across 10 countries.

Yes, as clear proof as any we've seen in Sheehan's whole piece that the selling of tablets and their fate in the marketplace is intimately linked to European elite sado-economics and bondage markets, as the world looks on with growing concern.

In the strange world that Sheehan infests, even a well-tempered IPO offering is a portent of doom:

Zynga, seeking to raise $US1 billion in an initial stock offering on December 16 - the biggest tech market launch since Google in 2004 - announced it had scaled back its issue price by 14 per cent.

Uh huh. That wouldn't have anything to do with Zynga's current situation in the marketplace, would it?

... there are signs that growth may be slowing. After hitting an average of 236 million monthly unique users in the first quarter, Zynga has pulled back modestly. Attracting and keeping new users is critical because only a small percentage of Zynga users actually buy virtual goods. (Zynga Sets Offering Price at $8.50 to $10 a Share).

Would any of this have anything to do with investors wary of the quick rise and fall of ventures like Second Life? No, no, silly, it's all due to the price of ball gags in the Euro bondage market. Because, you see:

The numbers, and there are plenty of them, tell the story. Every company, no matter how strong the brand, how innovative the product, how strong the business model, is feeling the gravitational pull from Europe and from debt turning into bondage.

Is that the same gravitational pull that makes me feel like my brain cells are being sucked into a black hole, a vast whirling vortex of stupidity each time I read Paul Sheehan?

Where a conflation of strong brands and innovative products can be blithely confused, in a trice, with hopeless brands and woeful marketing decisions in relation to very specific product and company offerings?

Well here's an idea.

You can play exactly the same game with airlines and their share prices, it being an extremely volatile marketplace, and currently undergoing buffeting from increased oil prices, never mind the ongoing issue of getting operational capital if you aren't owned by an Asian or an oil-rich Middle Eastern government. How about starting with Indian Airlines Struggle with Deep Troubles?

And then you can link all the fluctuations in share price to the current imbroglio in Europe.

Come to think of it, you can play the same game anywhere anytime. Garbage men didn't turn up this morning? Mired in garbage? Feeling civilisation is a stinking smelling wreck? Why it must be fall out from the European elites and their decadent bondage games ...

Simple really. Unnervingly dumb really. But at least there's one useful insight that's been revealed.

If Paul Sheehan ever makes a recommendation in relation to tablets, or phones, or social media, or the full to overflowing intertubes, flee at once to the highest hill, because otherwise you're likely to end up buying PlayBook as an innovative product coming from a strong brand ... and when you compare it to the iPad you've just thrown in the trash can, you might at last begin to understand the gravitational pull of Sheehan's junk bondage rhetoric.

(Below: still all this talk of bondage does allow us to feature Madame Lash with Fred Nile, found here, and surely enough of a sight to get anyone's juices flowing on a Monday).

1 comment:

  1. From Berg's idiotic article.

    Thomas Malthus argued population grows at a faster rate than food production. Malthus was wrong then.

    Not quite. Malthus actually argued that population would grow to consume all available resources and then exceed them, at which point population would fall back - via starvation etc - to match available resources, but at subsistence level.

    I believe the theory of evolution (and all the evidence for it) is based on exactly that idea.

    Simple observations of predator and prey populations exhibit the same thing numerically - predators overeat until they destroy the prey population at which point they starve, their population plummets and then the prey population comes back and the predators make hay again. Goes up and down like .... like the stock market really.

    But our data here is extremely patchy.

    Only if you ignore a few billion years of evolutionary outcomes.

    Markets balance themselves.

    Yeah, but to paraphrase JM Keynes, you may not like to be where they find their balance.


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