BULLY PULPIT Arbitrage!

Yglesisas notes that fast-food stocks took a beating today after Obama came out in favor of higher minimum wage indexed to inflation.   Doesn’t this present a substantial opportunity for those who understand that the United States doesn’t have a parliamentary system?   I wouldn’t say that Obama’s position-taking means absolutely nothing, but the odds of Democrats re-taking the House in 2014 are so low that it seems crazy for there to be a non-trivial discount in stock prices for fast-food stocks.    (The reaction of the market does make clear, however, why enacting this salutary policy will be enormously difficult.)

40 comments on this post.
  1. bobbyp:

    Could be statistical noise; could be more evidence undermining the efficient market hypothesis; could be those damned robot traders trying to out-algorithm each other.

    As some famous Chinese pol put it, “It’s too early to tell”.

  2. Murc:

    Can I put money on “markets in general and investors in particular are dumber than sacks of hammers and more nervous than a meth addict?”

  3. shah8:

    I do not think a landslide Republican loss in 2014 is out of the question. They are insane. And unresponsive. And their traditional voters really, really, really need the help from material transfers of wealth to them. They might be okay with having to share a line with black welfare mothers if it means they get help this time.

  4. Brandon:

    I’m gonna go with this one

  5. djw:

    Yeah, I’m not seeing it. They’ve been insane and unresponsive for a while now. I do agree that the Republicans absolutely could do very poorly in 2014, relative to the expectations of a standard model. But they’ll retain the House. The redistricting was absolutely brutal. Yes, they’re only ~17 seats short, but to get there in 2012 they would have needed an addition 7% uniform swing; roughly doubling the 10-12 swing. There’s very good reason to believe that a good number of D voters will continue their lifelong practice of not voting in non-presidential elections. Those handicaps are almost certainly too great to overcome.

  6. sparks:

    Seconded. Seen it too often for it to be otherwise.

  7. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    What this actually means is that anyone who thinks they can time the market is a fool (but you already knew that, I assume).

  8. shah8:

    They’ve been paying increasingly stiff penalties on the crazy. Their brand level is lower than gonorrhea, with the history of overt clowns and grifters like Cain and Palin showing up as meaningful candidates. Newtown is just one of several new suburban-exurban wedges showing up. We already know the penalties from their opposition to immigration reform.

    Redistricting is, at best, a short-term fix, and I have to think that even conservative areas east of the Mississippi and north of Vicksburg + SFL are growing increasingly disenchanted with the antics of their state houses and their loonytoons governers. Lastly, the most key aspect of gerrymandering in the modern day US is the isolation of urban areas from serving as a base for broader Dem consensus (or Republican if they’d just be sane). This makes many of these republican districts inherently brittle. Unlike some people, I do not think the period of 2013 and 2014 will be free of further events that erode the Republican base (without a substantial lurch left). And I do not think Republicans will stop attacking programs people *know* (and unpersuadable otherwise so) that they want and need. And I do not think the compartmentalization necessary for the attractiveness of the concept of voting for social issues like abortion will last in this economic context without a substantial boost in growth.

  9. Loud Liberal:

    I wouldn’t say that Obama’s position-taking means absolutely nothing, but the odds of Democrats re-taking the House in 2014 are so low that it seems crazy for there to be a non-trivial discount in stock prices for fast-food stocks.

    Since when did intrinsic value have anything to do with stock prices?

  10. shah8:

    I also think that people need to take into account the chances of a regional split among Republicans such that a Democratic Party house leadership happens despite being a minority party.

  11. Murc:

    So, funny story. I have an acquaintance from high school who… I don’t know if he’d qualify as a day-trader, exactly, but the next best thing. He buys and sells stocks and lives off the proceeds. Kind of like a professional poker player. He clears about 50k a year after taxes (which are far lower than mine).

    I messages him about this, and he was like “Yeah, I don’t know. It’s insane. I just picked up a bunch of MCD and in a month or two I’ll probably make three, four grand on the deal. This ain’t the first time; I bought into SWHC and RGR about a year ago and held onto it until the election. It was pretty clear the gun nuts would make something crazy happen to it.”

    He remains unsure as to why the hell the market does what it does, but makes a reliable living on the basis that it’s jittery and irrational.

  12. joe from Lowell:

    Henry Ford would have made a killing off this.

  13. djw:

    This makes many of these republican districts inherently brittle.

    More so than in 2012, despite the near-certain absence of a segment of 2012 D voters? I’ll need to see some evidence for this. In 2012, the Republican’s brand of crazy had been fully on display for a while, and Obama’s turnout machine was in effect, and they didn’t come close to 218.

  14. djw:

    To be clear, I too believe that it’s distinctly possible that GOP support will continue to erode over the next two years. Perhaps even enough to offset the loss of D presidential year only voters. But to overcome that, and close the gap in ~20 more districts? Where? Which ones? I don’t see 20 R-held winnable districts right now.

  15. joe from Lowell:

    There are a couple of wild cards that the Tea Party lunacy could produce:

    Party-switchers – longtime, bring-home-the-bacon incumbents who want to buy their districts something nice for giving Pelosi a majority. This would be a bandwagon effect building on Democratic momentum.

    Tea Party primaries that unseat a sure thing and hand what should be a safe seat to the Dems.

    Tea Party primaries that beat the incumbent, who then runs and wins as an independent.

  16. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    This is good bad news for McCain McDonald’s!!

  17. Jameson Quinn:

    “But since you can lose just as much money by underestimating their stupidity as by being stupid yourself, arbitrage like this is a fool’s game.”

  18. Jameson Quinn:

    Right. 2014 is a truly long shot, though of course we have to try. But I don’t think 2016 is out of the question. People could decide “oh, Republicans really are crazy” just as quickly as they are deciding “oh, gay marriage is OK”.

  19. Dagchester:

    => re: the Speech of the Union

    On gun control, the idiot-in-chief’s polemics, arguing “these [dead] people deserve a vote”, comes down to the premise that criminals will obey the law. But this is false, and that’s why we call them criminals.

    Case in point: The gang-banger who shot the young woman in Chicago who performed in DC just a few days before she died didn’t care that it was illegal to possess the gun. And what’s worse is that law-abiding citizens were unable to legally possess a gun, AKA the only device known to be effective in stopping gang-bangers.

    It is disparity of force that allows criminals to get away with most of their crimes.

    Adam Lanza STOLE his weapons b y murdering their owner, his own mother. There is no law that would have been effective in stopping him from doing so.

    As per the rest of Obama’s speech, it could be summed up as: The cost of everything is going up.

    At the same time, this idiot cheered rising stocks and houses, while lying about them medical care and cost of living generally.

    Then the idiot advocated for a 25% increase in the cost of labor at the bottom end through a hike in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00.

    Why is the cost of living going up? Because of illegal inflation of the money supply.

    Whether the issue was the minimum wage, the cost of college and crushing individual debts, Obama’s so-called “answer” was emit more debt into the system — which is exactly how we got into the mess.

    There’s only one way to stop the destruction of the US economy: an immediate and permanent cessation of deficit spending.

    NOW.

    AND a permanent and immediate stop to the monopolist behavior in the health-care system.==>

  20. Alan in SF:

    Buy on delusion, sell on panic, isn’t that the axiom?

  21. Dagchester:

    your friend is making money by arbitraging, which does make the market more rational.

  22. Dagchester:

    ==
    Your friend is making money by arbitraging, which does make the market more rational.

  23. mpowell:

    2016 isn’t a midterm! Totally different question.

  24. mpowell:

    In the House, that first effect can’t work until you get one or two seats away, can it?

  25. Philip:

    Mmmm, delicious pancakes.

  26. John:

    There are no chances of that.

  27. Loud Liberal:

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. NONE!

  28. joe from Lowell:

    Right, the first one is a band-wagon effect.

    Since a likely scenario is a Democratic wave that can’t produce enough seats because of redistricting, this effect might be important.

  29. Loud Liberal:

    Put down the stupid juice!

  30. John:

    Hmm…
    Looking at the list, it looks really tight. There’s only about 25 or 30 Republican held seats that the Republican won by less than 10 points. There’s a few other northeastern seats (Philly suburbs, primarily) where the Republican won by more than 10, but where one could at least imagine the possibility of a good Democratic candidate winning. But it’d really have to be the perfect storm.

  31. expatchad:

    He gets stupid juice via IV line and a very large catheter.

  32. LosGatosCA:

    I think a name change from Winchester is appropriate. But the better fit would be LoseChester not dagchester.

  33. Lurker:

    This is true, but considering the size of his operation, it has negligble effect. If you are turning in 50k a year, you are most likely trading with some 10 to 40 k daily volume. The market volume is hundreds of billions. Even with a million guys like this, the market behaviour would not change. (Although socially, a million guys living off the irrationality might move some of the bigger players to reconsider their behaviour.)

  34. Cody:

    None of your points make sense – this is pretty impressive.

    Good work. Must have though long and hard how to be completely wrong on everything at once.

    Do you know how you stop criminals from having guns – make guns unavailable. You see, when you can’t find something to buy (or steal), you can’t actually have it. Unless you make it yourself. Which is tough, but I guess there could be huge underground gun-making cartels. Of course, they would be pretty easy to bust. And making guns is not easy…

  35. Winchester:

    make guns unavailable

    Which is impossible, since there are guns, and there will always be guns, or their technological equivalent.

  36. LeeEsq:

    Yes, sometimes his Sociological Department could get out of hand but the usually only broke a few bones.

  37. Hogan:

    There’s only one way to stop the destruction of the US economy: an immediate and permanent cessation of deficit spending.

    Which is impossible, since there is deficit spending, and there will always be deficit spending, or its technological equivalent.

  38. Winchester:

    it is possible to stop deficit spending, by slashing expenses

    however, the sovereign power of the state apparatus can not and will never be able to eradicate all the guns : just watch happened with the War on Drugs.

    The state can not even stop drugs from entering prisons!

  39. Malaclypse:

    it is possible to stop deficit spending, by slashing expenses

    Because raising taxes is unpossible.

  40. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Maybe an analogy involving Faberge Eggs, Honus Wagner baseball cards or endangered species would help these Supply Siders understand the concept.

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