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The Nature of Time

Despite the fact it was a contentious week, investors continue to look to the end of the year with hopes of a trade resolution and perhaps a bit more clarity going into 2020.  At the moment, impeachment hearings aside, all eyes are on a trade deal or the prospects of one.  The rhetoric has ratcheted higher in recent weeks and I can’t help but feel a little optimistic that some sort of deal will be announced in the coming weeks, even if it is just phase one, a small rollback of current tariffs, or even the delay of further threatened tariffs.

As for other government news you most likely weren’t aware, the U.S. government avoided another government shutdown with little time to spare.  President Trump signed a short-term spending bill into law last night funding the government through December 20, 2019.  This gives lawmakers more time to strike a long-term appropriations deal.  Congress already passed a two-year agreement to set budget levels and suspend the U.S. debt ceiling, but lawmakers still need to approve where and how the money gets spent.  Let’s hope they work something out before the Christmas deadline so we can celebrate the end of the year in proper fashion.

In company news, two automakers made a big splash this week.  Ford revealed details on its new all-electric Mustang Mach-E, which will retail for $44,000 before federal incentives.  In true Mustang fashion, it will come with an estimated 459 horsepower and go 0-60 in less than 4 seconds.  Not to be outdone, Tesla announced its latest electric concept truck.  If you’re familiar with Minecraft, you may have already seen it (joking).  The Tesla Cybertruck will have a base price of $39,900 and is expected to arrive in late 2021.  Perhaps the funniest part of the presentation was when Elon Musk elaborated on the non-destructible bulletproof glass the car uses while his associate threw a metal ball at the cars window easily shattering it.  If you haven’t seen the video, look for it on Google.  It’s worth the laugh.

In other company news, we’re sad to say goodbye to John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile.  This colorful CEO has led the charge against the much larger Verizon and AT&T.  He is the proverbial Samson versus the much larger Goliath(s).  Among his many strategic plans was to offer unlimited data and push the boundaries on lower-priced plans.  He is not retiring, but has not disclosed what the next chapter of his life will look like.  I can’t wait to see where he lands.

Procter & Gamble announced this week it has plans to make a strong push into DIY healthcare with more products aimed at consumers looking into wellness options.  P&G plans to offer more vitamins, supplements, nonprescription sleep aids, and all-natural menopause treatments following in the steps of rivals like Clorox and Unilever.  Underpinning this strategy is that these categories tend to have higher margins than the rest of its consumer products business.

Burger King is in a bit of a pickle this week as it faces a lawsuit over meat contamination of its popular Impossible Whoppers, which are a plant-based alternative to beef burgers.  A customer in Atlanta says his Impossible Whopper was cooked alongside regular Whoppers and therefore coated in meat byproducts.  He also accuses Burger King of false advertising and benefiting monetarily from offering a vegan option that is not in fact vegan.  I am sensitive to the issue but can’t help but remember the lawsuit against McDonald's twenty-five years ago by a customer claiming she was burned by McDonald's coffee.  As an aside, Burger King can prepare the burger in a microwave as to avoid contamination by meat byproducts, however I’d venture a guess it doesn’t taste quite the same.

In closing, I am reminded that we are quickly coming to the end of the year.  Thanksgiving is next week and then just a few weeks later Christmas and then the start of a new decade.  So, I sit here scratching my head wondering where did this year go?  I’ve often wondered why time seems to go faster the older one gets.  This is a recognized phenomenon but one that is not well understood.  However, researchers have proposed a new explanation on this issue.  It’s not that time is speeding up as we age.  In fact, it is quite the opposite according to new research.  It appears time seems to go faster because our brains process slower as we age.  As the ability to process information slows, due to deteriorating nerves and neurons, it appears like time speeds up.  In fact, time has not sped up… instead we have slowed down while the world has continued at its normal pace.  To us, the world and time just looks faster.  Now you know. 

 Bruce J. Mason, MBA