Across the Curve, Against the Grain: Amazon Passes Apple, Becoming World’s Second Most Valuable Company

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tours the facility at the grand opening of the Amazon Spheres rainforest-inspired offices in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2018
AFP

Jeff Bezos should send Mark Zuckerberg a thank you note.

Shares of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have declined over the past two days thanks in part to the intensifying scandal over user data at Facebook. Alphabet’s shares have been under-pressure because investors fear that regulators might clamp down on how tech companies deploy user data in a way that could crimp earnings across the sector.

On Tuesday, Alphabet declined by 0.39 percent, bringing its market cap down to a mere $762.5 billion. Shares of Amazon, which have not yet become collateral damage in the Data Debacle, rose 2.69 percent, bringing its market cap up to $768 billion. So for the first time, Amazon is worth more than Alphabet. The only public company worth more is Apple.

Stocks moved slightly higher on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.47 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.15 percent, the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.27 percent. The small cap Russell 2000 was close to unchanged.

Warren Buffett’s Very Expensive Phone

This is a head-scratcher.

In a securities filing, Berkshire Hathaway said:

“Mr. Buffett will on occasion utilize Berkshire personnel and/or have Berkshire pay for minor items such as postage or phone calls that are personal. Mr. Buffett reimburses Berkshire for these costs by making an annual payment to Berkshire in an amount that is equal to or greater than the costs that Berkshire has incurred on his behalf. During 2017, Mr. Buffett reimbursed Berkshire $50,000.”

How can Buffett possibly be spending $50,000 on postage or phone calls? A very expensive wireless plan, with unlimited data on multiple devices, could run you something like $300 per month or $3,600 a year. It’s hard to imagine that he could possibly make up the rest with postage. Remember, these are personal expenses. Could Buffet really be sending out that many Christmas cards?

Jay Walking at the Fed

Jerome “Jay” Powell will have his big debut at the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. The new Fed chair will conclude his first meeting of the Federal Open Markets Committee with a press conference.

The Fed is universally expected to raise its interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point, so the actual policy announcement will likely be a non-event. Instead, everyone will focus on what the Fed says about the economy, inflation, and the expected path of interest rates.

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