What The XXXX Just Happened!

I miss my Dad. His 30-year anniversary is this week but it’s also one of those occasional weeks where there’s so much mad stuff going on I’d just love to have one more chance to chat with him. From his celestial perch he would have a pretty good view of how we are burning our planet to death. However, I’m still struggling to comprehend some of the data points hitting our screens but here are a few standouts:

  • Temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea have exceeded 28C.


  • Air temperatures in Sardinia have smashed through the 48C barrier.


  • Wildfires in Rhodes have forced the evacuation of 19,000 tourists as Corfu and Dubrovnik stare down the barrel of a similar fate.


  • Sea temperatures off the Florida Keys have exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


Given the enormity of that last figure, it looks like an extinction event for all coral reefs around Florida and the mother and father of super-heated hurricane seasons to come. Of course, when it comes to the climate emergency there’s always a populist charlatan ready to step up and fill the airwaves for a complicit “both sides” media. Cometh the hour, cometh the moron. And who better than the weather-named but Brexit shamed, Lord Frost, to offer his latest global leadership ‘genius’ and advocate UK exceptionalism. According to the good Lord, the UK is fortunate(again!!) that “far more people die of cold than heat. Rising temperatures are actually likely to be beneficial.” I rest my case, m’Lord.

Indeed, the self-destruct button is not exclusively in the hands of the loony Lords of Brexit. In the world of financial trading we are going through a significant period of AI hype with the five biggest companies in the space – Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Nvidia – known as the “MAAAN” stocks accounting for a record 24% of the value of the entire S&P 500 index. My personal view is that these big tech names could indeed benefit hugely from an estimated $16 trillion addition to global GDP by 2030 (source: PWC) but be wary of the “concept” companies and ideas currently chasing FOMO (fear of missing out) capital. As an illustration of giddy destruction, cast your minds back to Metaverse excitement and the parallel development of crypto currencies and tokens, or NFTs. The big cryptocurrencies are still holding value but the NFT world is a wasteland. Only this week we heard that an NFT of Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey’s, first tweet originally purchased for $2.9 million was now worth….. $4. And if we stick with tweet value destruction we need to talk about X and Elon Musk.

It has been described as the $44 billion bonfire of a brand. The replacement of the familiar blue bird logo at Twitter with “X” is breathtakingly bold or bonkers. And, don’t get me started on this week’s Capitol Hill hearings on aliens, UFOs and probably X-Men. Back on planet earth, the initial take by almost all of the commentariat is that, having incinerated the engineering support and revenue/advertising business model of the social messaging platform, Musk has gone full Al Pacino “Scarface” on the brand. It’s difficult to defend the move but I’m still thinking there’s a financial services opportunity for Twitter. Our first article when Musk announced his Twitter bid outlined many of those possibilities so I was intrigued to read the thoughts of Steve Jobs biographer, Walter Isaacson. He has spent three years with Musk as prep for a further biography and he makes three very interesting points.


  • Musk has always wanted to disrupt finance. Even in the early days at PayPal he had set up X.com and wanted it to replace PayPal as the brand. He was ousted as PayPal CEO on that initiative.
  • Musk has been plotting the X rebranding of Twitter since BEFORE closing the purchase of Twitter.
  • Musk sees the 250 million-strong content creation platform as a trillion dollar financial payments platform for creators of all media content.


We shall see. My father as a former marketing guy would be fascinated how this rebrand plays out. But, he might also remark upon the resilience of Twitter; it still reaches millions and remains the best real-time search engine on the planet. And perhaps, in a week of disturbing planetary news we should finish with an illustration of global resilience. The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates again this week and rates are now at a 22 year high. I have to confess I am gobsmacked that both the speed and scale of monetary tightening in the past 15 months has not blown up the world economy. Instead, this week we received further optimistic signals from China, excellent big tech results from Microsoft and Google, US consumer confidence and real wages rising ahead of expectations, the IMF upgrading 2023 global GDP, and cyclical sectors like banks and commodities outperforming. No wonder the commentariat have begun to refer to the “Godot recession”.

As for the rest of us, we will just have to wait and hope that monetary and environmental discipline will ultimately pay off as a global good thing rather than destruction. It won’t take 30 years to find out either.


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