Category Archives: Economy

Apple’s stock price plummets: public fears they are “making too much money”

Yep, I’m back. Deal with it.

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the stock price of Apple. This past November, it crashed to a six-month low, and continues a steady decline. In case you haven’t been watching, here’s a visual summary of its losses against the forces of gravity:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 12.10.25 AM

To be clear: I do not invest in stocks at all, and have not incurred financial losses over Apple’s stock. However, I always thought that if I was going to invest in anything, it would be in Apple. The truth is, the foundations and operational successes of the company, by all critical measures, should result in an incredibly healthy stock price. Unfortunately, stock prices are determined more by speculators and those within the trading world that would benefit directly from the prices hitting certain points. Thus, they are controlled by forces we cannot truly understand as outsiders.

Still, it’s not the price that bothers me most, it’s all the people who have deluded themselves into thinking they actually understand the stock price behavior. Here are just some of the inane brain farts I have encountered:

“Steve Jobs’ death killed Apple.”

False. Since Jobs’ passing, Apple’s shares have soared more than 80% percent.

“Tim Cook cannot innovate.”

False. While he may not have Jobs’ stage presence, Cook has innovated his way to quite possibly the most efficient distribution network possible for his products. As noted in Information Week, he is considered a master of logistics, and is credited with “re-engineering Apple’s supply chain to increase profit margins while allowing for more flexibility to produce new products and make changes on the fly”. This is new territory that Jobs was never able to conquer.

“Apple is too expensive, so they don’t make much money in sales.”

False. Unless the next thing you say is “I have noticed that I tend to speak nonsense, so I will cease speaking”, please stop talking. This is a critical point, so pay attention. Apple is not just a profitable company; it is the most profitable company in the United States.


In their most recent quarterly report, Apple posted a record-breaking fifty four and a half billion dollars in profits. They generated more revenue in one quarter than Google did in all of 2012. Coincidentally, that is about fifty four and a half billion dollars more profit than Amazon makes (hint: they kind of don’t make money).


Think about that.

Then be silent and humbled, and think about it again.

Then go do some humble yoga, eat some humble pie, and practice your impression of an inanimate object.

Okay, you may now continue reading.

Apple’s net profit margins (i.e. cash they get to keep) are the stuff of dreams for most CEOs, and it puts them in a completely different league as their competitors. The next two most profitable companies are oil companies, which, as we all know, have a contract with the devil to trick humans into buying his urine to power their go karts until the end of days. So, they clearly have an unfair advantage.

Despite the numbers, Apple’s stock tanked by a whopping 10% after they reported those record earnings. Why? Well, it turns out that Apple calculates that particular quarter as a 13-week instead of 14-week quarter, so the numbers were (logically) lower than other quarters. Somehow, this freaked people out, and consumer confidence fell again. The absurd thing is that Apple always informs the public regarding the 13-week impact ahead of time, but it still gets drowned out by the loud screams of ignorance and panic.

Apparently, even Captain Obvious is no match for the likes of The Human Idiot.


Somehow, Apple’s stock continues to dwindle despite record profits, sales and revenues. Overall, stock prices seem to reflect an increasingly contorted picture of the health of a company. Even expert traders for the most part find that their best results will match average performance of the market, assuming they are patient enough to wait for for them over the long term.

So, the next time you’re thinking about investing in stocks for short-term returns, just try your money on the slot machines instead. They are both impossible to predict, yet delude you into thinking you’re mildly in control. Think doing your stock homework will change the outcome of your investment? It might — the same way that pulling the slot machine lever while holding your lucky Honey Boo Boo keychain might just get you a jackpot.

Good luck with that.

P.S. Why in God’s name do you have a Honey Boo Boo keychain, anyway? What is wrong with you?

Booking flights is like eating cereal… except the ‘special’ marshmallows are razor blades.

A few folks have queried me regarding my lack of posts over the last year. I attributed it primarily to my own relative happiness, implying that I tend to only compile the agglomerations of rage commonly known as my ‘rants’ when I am angry.

Well, I’m angry now.

Of late, I have had to book a lot of flights. Thinking back, the word ‘flying’ once exuded overwhelmingly positive connotations; freedom, the open skies, and being one with the mythical Gods themselves. Over time, as the novelty of human flight wore off on society, the commercial component of the experience dictated its identity entirely. Today, with excruciatingly few exceptions, flying is quite possibly the worst way to get anywhere. From paying exorbitant flight fees, to paying to check your bag, to wading through cancer-inducing security lines, to seats with legroom appropriate for a pelican. Flying just plain sucks; so much so that it drives some people toward mental breakdowns, at which point they literally jump out of planes to escape the horror of it all.

On the surface, booking a flight online seems like an ideal experience: simply go online, click a few things, and voila, you’re done! Unfortunately, as it turns out, it’s actually one of the most rage-inducing processes known to man.

At present, I have a few flights I’m trying to book over the next few months. One of these flights has literally doubled its fares in a matter of a week, for no apparent reason. On its own, this issue would not bother me — this would be manifested in a common marketplace as one store having inflated prices. The typical reaction from me, the consumer, would be to simply never go to said store anymore, and purchase my product elsewhere. The store would then realize that their customers may, in fact, think on occasion, and then reduce their prices to meet the market levels. This is a natural balancing act present in most fair marketplaces.

Of course, online flights do not follow the same economy; rather, they more accurately reflect a monopolistic environment. The minute one web site’s flight prices skyrocket, every other flight search website in existence also has its prices skyrocket, at the exact same time, with the exact same prices. This is not a coincidence, and everyone knows it. The immediacy of the change negates the natural balances normally at play, and heavily abuses the flight search sites’ collective ability to control supply. There is no justification for the service of flying an individual from one location to another change its value by 100% within 24 hours. The sad part is that no one even claims such axioms to be true; instead, the sites silently practice this openly without any ramifications. It’s robbery in broad daylight, folks.

The truth is, even the savvy consumer cannot defeat this system. The erratic nature of the pricing means that no system can predict it, so the typical consumer barely comprehends the extend of abuse that is happening. On most occasions, buying flights earlier is cheaper, but sometimes waiting a few days drops the price by hundreds of dollars. Why? No one knows, except the vendors, of course.

There is no perceptible logic behind the prices; they embody a proverbial entropy of possible values. Furthermore, because the technology that facilitates this is still relatively new, there are no regulations to prevent companies from openly abusing the system to take advantage of consumers. To supplement my case, I interviewed a hypothetical traveler in my head, and transcribed the result below. Obviously, everything below can be interpreted as 100% factual information.

ME: So, how much did the last flight you booked cost you?
TRAVELER: Umm, something like $500.
ME: I see. Is that a lot of money for that flight?
TRAVELER: Well, all the web sites I checked had it at that price. So, I did my research. Usually when I’m buying something I go to all the stores and check to find the lowest price; that way I know I got the best deal. So, it must have been the best price.
ME: Have you flown this flight before?
TRAVELER: Yes, a few times.
ME: How much did it cost in the past?
TRAVELER: One time it was around $350, another time I paid around $400.
ME: Why do you think the prices changed so much?
TRAVELER: I don’t know… maybe gas prices went up?
ME: I just searched the flight you went on — it’s $300. Did gas prices just halve since you flew?
ME:: Even if they did, that would mean flight prices were based on gas, so the longer the flight, the more expensive it would be. Right?
TRAVELER: …yes, that would make sense…
ME: There are hundreds of flights that go twice as far as your flight for half the price.
TRAVELER: You are making me sad now.
ME: You just buy flights without having any idea what their actual value is worth, so you just pay whatever price you see.
TRAVELER: I… I… don’t have a choice…
ME: Exactly.

I hope someday a savvy entrepreneur or developer sees the opening here and builds a service that optimizes flight searches for you. Bing has tried to do this, but I find their forecasting system to be occasionally reliable at best. I want to be be able to put in some dates for my flight, and expect that I will pay the standard amount for that flight. End of story. Is that really so much to ask?

For all of you flight buyers out there who blame yourself for “missing the price drop”, stop beating yourself up. Instead, target your rage towards the flight search companies.

My suggestion: procure a harpoon and deploy a variety of arrows to their collective faces, and then charge them an inconvenience fee for making you waste time buying a harpoon.

Dear Sony Store: Please stop existing

In case you’re not aware, there is a sale going on. Which store? All of them. What items? Everything. Why? It depends on the store, but it is either because they are going out of business and thus have a clearance sale, or because they are trying to stay in business and so they are having a clearance sale.

Needless to say, it really sucks to see good stores shut down. I mean, there’s always the silver lining to these things (42″ Samsung LCD for $700? PROFIT!!), but in the end it’s at the very least inconvenient because now you have one less store to find things that you probably don’t need.

The other day I was at a Virgin Megastore, a store I only recently discovered. They were having a sale, which was nice, but I soon realized it was a closing down sale. It turns out that all branches of the Virgin Megastore are going to be shut down. This made me somewhat sad, as it is has a large selection and there aren’t that many stores in the city like it.

Anyway, by the time I left the store, I had come to terms with its impending shutdown. Businesses need to be competitive and profitable to warrant their real estate, especially in this city, where an inch of land is worth its width in gold.

Then, I saw it. The store beside Virgin. Big fancy lights. Costly display sets. No sign of going out of business. That must mean it actually makes money, right? Wrong. It was the Ferrari Store.

Am I the only one who finds it incredibly retarded that the freaking Ferrari Store is still open? Seriously, who actually shops there? (You are now imagining the one scenario where it might be appropriate: if you owned a Ferrari. PRO TIP: If you owned a Ferrari, and you shopped at the Ferrari store, the sheer douchebaggery of such a move would eradicate all coolness points earned by owning a Ferrari.)

So what could possibly be worse than running a store which is expected to have an operating loss until Q3-ENDOFTIME? Running many such stores.

Enter Sony, the proverbial sensei of innovating things which don’t make money. In particular, I find the Sony Store to be the worst offender of all.

Have you ever walked into one of those? There is absolutely no reason for any of them to exist. Here’s why:

  1. No one ever buys anything there. Ever.
  2. There is no evidence that any of the employees are trying to sell you anything. It is a foregone conclusion that their sole purpose is to inform you about Sony products, so you can be a more informed shopper when you go to a real store.
  3. You can buy each and every product at another store for much cheaper. Always.
  4. At some point, the Sony Store will shut down (or serve as my motivation to become rich, so that I can buy them all and shut them down myself). When this happens, they will have a going out of business sale, and everything will be 50% off. It is important to note that all items in the store will STILL BE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IN OTHER STORES.

But it doesn’t end there. If it isn’t the Sony Store, it’s catastrophic fails such as the PS3. I don’t even think there is a hardcore PlayStation fan left out there who actually defends that console. Of course, this was expected since you could actually buy a laptop computer for cheaper than a PS3, and none of the good titles actually came out until a year after release. They even managed to lose support from Square, with the Final Fantasy series gone with it (in case you’re not familiar with either of those, that would basically be like Nintendo losing Mario).

Sony has taken a really big hit as far as reputation goes. People don’t look at it the same way. They need to reinvent themselves, and regain appeal with their audience. At the very least, they should shut down the Sony Stores, and maybe donate some of that money to cancer research. Certainly, the books would look better with all those projects marked as “not-for-profit”, as opposed to “not-a-chance-for-profit”.


AT&T: The bigger they are, the harder they fail

A little over a year ago, I sold my soul by signing a 2-year contract with AT&T. In retrospect, I made a fatal error in not having contractual rape protection beforehand. Here’s the deal:

My phone now turns itself off at will. If i put it on my pocket, it might turn off. If i put it on a desk, it might turn off. Basically, the vibrations caused by me typing this sentence may well have turned it off. It was a good phone, a simple Sony Ericsson phone whose sole purpose was to make phone calls. Despite the overwhelming majority of “smart” phones owned by every single person around me, I managed to hold off till now. Unfortunately, my phone’s inability to satisfy its minimum requirements of being on have forced my hand.

So I decided it’s time to drop the bills and get a new one. I walk into an AT&T store and tell him I want a new phone. I’m looking at the new blackberry which just came out, the Bold. He then asks if I am already on a contract. I gladly respond to his query, informing him that I am an existing customer with AT&T. My assumption is that, while I may still have to sign a new contract to get a discount, being an existing AT&T customer is a benefit here. Ah, my naivety.

AT&T Guy: Sorry, you cannot buy the phone.
Me: What?
AT&T Guy: We are not selling the phones to existing customers. Only to new customers.
Me: Why?
AT&T: It’s a new phone. Only new customers can buy it.
Me: Why?
AT&T: That’s just how it works. You might be able to buy it when it is not as new.
Me: When will it be “less new”?
AT&T: Umm. Maybe… in a month?
Me: Why a month? What is that based on?
AT&T: It’s just the policy.
Me: …
AT&T: ..
Me: Listen. My phone is broken. I need a new phone. Can I buy another phone? What about the iphone? That’s old now. Can i buy that?
AT&T: No, that’s still considered new. You can’t buy that till your contract expires…. *checks stuff*… which is May 2009.
Me: But the iphone has been out for a month.
AT&T: It’s just store policy.
Me: …
AT&T: ..
Me: So let me get this straight. If I wasn’t already with AT&T, I could buy a phone. But since I am, I cannot buy a phone.
AT&T: ..Yes.

At this point, I leave the store, still in utter shock as to what just happened. AT&T actually refused to take my money. I walked in with a bag of money, showed it to them, and said please take all of my money because I have no use for it, and then they said No. I’m still shocked.

I then called AT&T customer service and the guy on the phone seemed pretty understanding of my situation. He said he dealt with this kinda shit all the time, and had a great solution. I was all ears. His solution was that I sign another 2-year contract for an additional line at $9.99 a month, and use that new line to get the phone. Seriously. This was his “inside method” to get me my phone. I get to pay $240 over 2 years for a line that no one will use so that I can save $200 on the phone. Freaking genius. I asked if I could sign a 2-year contract for a new phone, and have the 2 years added on to my current contract (which is gay, but at least satisfies their interest to have me finish my initial 2 years). He said No. Awesome.

All in all, I’m not really sure what to do now. 6 months is a long time, and I kinda do want an email phone now. But the Bold is too expensive on its own ($550), and paying $399 for an iphone i would normally get for $199 makes me want to shoot things (by things I mean AT&T, and by shoot I mean stab in the face). I guess I could also just use one of the temp phones I have lying around for 6 months. I just find it so fundamentally retarded that they are refusing to take my money. How is that ever, under any circumstances, a smart business decision?


National debt: the new Y2K

It was a pleasing sight to see Obama categorically defeat McCain in the recent second debate. What’s even more heartening is that the verdict of his debate victory is relatively unanimous.

Either way, I’m glad both candidates have been stressing repairing the national debt. When I was taking econ in first year of university, I remember thinking a $7 trillion debt was one of the scariest problems a country could face. I assumed everything would be done to immediately mitigate the issue. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Today, the debt has reached a point where the National Debt Clock is too freaking small to display the actual figure. The immediate solution was to simply remove the dollar sign from the clock.

With this incident, I’d like to present the morals of this story:

  1. The economy isn’t running out of time, it ran out of time orders of magnitude dollars ago.
  2. Y2K should not have been feared as the end of the world. 4MY of Bush’s fiscal policies should have.
  3. Killing the Dollar sign to allow more digits == Killing the US Dollar to allow more debt.

Duck Tales understands monetary policy better than you.

I once read a joke which basically insinuated that, as Governer, Sarah Palin tried to outlaw books in libraries in favour of magazines, because they have big pictures in them. We now know that such an accusation is baseless, as it has become clear that Palin has never actually read a magazine.

Now, that joke could be updated to say that she wants to replace all reading material in general with, say, cartoons. Cartoons would be a great ally to a McCain-Palin campaign, primarily because cartoons often depict an impossible environment where none of the actions you take have any consequences. Jump off a cliff? It’s okay, you’ll survive. Stand in front of a giant cannon? It’s okay, you’ll survive. Buy a mortgage you can’t afford? Okay, you’re screwed, even a cartoon has its limits.

Of course, if she ever did enforce a cartoon library, there are still some cartoons that she would ban from the shelves. I’m not talking about cartoons with communist intelligence in them (which, in her mind, means any cartoon you watch while you’re in Alaska). I’m talking about childrens’ cartoons, like Duck Tales, which could potentially fill the minds of innocent children with terrorist concepts such as logic, reason, and basic understanding of the economy.

If the world needed protection from knowledge, Palin would be our own iron curtain.