Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Over For Guitar Center

Guitar Center received the big warning from Moody's, letting the media know that the party is over for the big retailer. Change is coming. It is only a matter of time and the form of change. It seems odd to focus on one suffering firm, but this is emblematic of the problem with our FIRE economy and where things are moving in the future.

Guitar Center (GC) was in a really strong position a decade ago. Don't take my word for it, read this Fortune blurb from late 2006. Revenue was soaring, they were expanding online and they were going to expand in meatspace up to 420 stores. The stock was $43/share then, so when Bain organized an LBO at $63/share it was rich, but hey the debt was available and investor pool willing.

The excitement ended. Nothing good happened. Expansion? It did not happen. They went from 170 stores to 270, and have been cutting employee count for years now. They've let roughly half their employees go in the last three years out of what was 16,000 full time employees. They are down to 6000. Their employee turnover is high, they switched to having a bunch of ees slide under the 30 hours per week line and it's a rough atmosphere even if you like music. Now lenders are getting antsy.

The company has half of its debt coming up in the next two years and needs to refinance. Its junk status hurts the terms they can get, but this should be doable in the yield chasing atmosphere of today. The timing of the LBO by Bain is the problem. They loaded up on debt to overpay for a retailer as the e-shopping revolution was ongoing, which no one in the entire decision chain thought would be an issue. They thought if they went online they could fix it.

Problem is these retailers do not get that no one cares where they get it from just that they get what they ordered and that they got the best deal. Manufacturers are even figuring this out and looking for direct sales and alternative marketing ideas. GC's buyers thought the name would mean something for purchasing music equipment, especially expensive equipment, but they failed to understand online shopping. They also failed to anticipate the secondary market forming online that would cut into their sales to casual consumers.

This firm will refinance and then cut back their brick and mortar footprint or worse, lenders will see more value in letting them fail and scavenging the wreckage. Does the brand have cache? Does it matter? At this point with low interest rates, GC will most likely get that refinancing with a promise of a new management team (would be 4th CEO in as many years) that will cut back even more employees to keep those debt coupon payments flowing to the creditors.

This is just delaying the inevitable though. Maybe the eventual retail fight is Amazon vs. Walmart with no one left. Wholesalers and retailers alike will get squeezed to nothing, shedding even more jobs in our economy, so where does it end? Do we get the fully automated luxury communism with a UBI? They'll make it universal basic consumption though so you have to spend the money they hand you to keep their game going.

Maybe the future is a bit more like The Diamond Age and you'll see the 3D printing, automated products of the future but the hand crafted, artisanal products will be luxury items. Services would follow a similar path, but maybe indentured servitude will make a comeback for the promise of a safe life in a big home. Whatever the future, it is hard to see big, but niche retailers like Guitar Center existing in it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Social Matter - America’s No-Fly Zone Doctrine To Protect Rebel Groups Is Starting To Shake

New essay up at Social Matter. We know the routine USG likes to use for regime change in the 21st century. It's nothing new. It is actually old and dates back to the Nixon administration. It is a perversion of a Nixon idea that was meant to protect our imperial vassals. I even point to how one can interpret Lend-Lease with the Soviets as a proto-regime change routine that resembles what we do now.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ossoff's Loss + SM Review-Preview 95

The Democrats ginned their side up for a special election in a congressional seat they thought they could flip and lost. They didn't just lose but they lost monumentally when you consider the money they spent. Margin-wise this was a roughly 4 point win. Emotionally, this was a huge letdown for the Left. Big Picture: it means nothing. Nothing changes.

For the GOP, if anything, it means the GOP needs to give in and become the populist party that Trump campaigned on, which should open doors in states that they will want to control after the 2018 elections. It also means they should throw some kibble their base's way.

For Nate Silver, it means he needs to confess that he is a fraud. The man only made his name with political predictions because Team Obama fed him their internal data. They wanted him pushing the hype. They used him to manipulate the polling in '08 and '12 just like a basketball coach works the referees. Silver should retire now with his bags of Disney money.

For the Left, it shows how idiotic they are. Frank Luntz explained in a tweet that Ossoff spent $40 million and received fewer votes than the Democrat who ran in November received who spent $1,000. As I tweeted, it shows a problem for the Left and why they are really desperate for the Beige Bernie. How many Obamas are out there is a problem. Ossoff couldn't even vote in the district he was running in, so this was a carpetbagger. It raises questions, and these are serious as they point to problems in central control.

Where was the eloquent black male to send down to be an equal carpetbagger?
Did the Left really think a SoyBoy would win in Georgia?
Are there really no blacks to parachute down and drum up an extra percent or two in black turnout?
Do the whites on the Left have a clue how quickly they will be pushed out?
Is the Left serious in thinking they've played nice, been centrist and taken the high road? (Yes)
Again, is the cupboard really that empty for non-Asian minorities that can run for office?

The votes will be there. The Left is a headless horseman, so all they need is to find a candidate, preferably a non-Asian minority, heterosexual male candidate, to sing the Bernie line and it's clear sailings. Then because there is no elasticity in voters anymore because it is all racial, friction and conflict will come.

Still, this is a lesson in the thirst the Left has to always win non-stop despite winning culturally left and right. There has been a consistent poly push now for a while, with the NY Times really pushing it hard, and no pushback from outlets. Despite seeing the culture erode, and the borders remain open in the West despite now near daily attacks in Europe, they need even silly little congressional special election wins. Ossoff collected 7,000 donations from donors in California compared to only 800 in Georgia. He spent $40 million, $23 million which was spent by his campaign directly.

This is all wasted energy. This is wasted money. This is wasted time. The Left's policies are broken, their false opposition is broken, their claptrap is broken (science continues to break it in new spots), and the world just is not agreeing with them. Yet, they are entrenched in institutions. Build new ones, burn the old ones and starve them to death in  masturbatory solitude in coffin apartments with their cats in those cities that they love to love.

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Last week I wrote about the need to take the cartels on, and that we need to end the imperial wars of choice and face the real battle on our border and in the failed state south of us. Weimerica Weekly covered the magic mix that makes a mass shooting a media event and I opened with some talk about Reviewbrah.

This week's essay will cover something I've been churning in my head for a bit, and Weimerica Weekly will tackle the most Weimerican of women in the land: Lena Dunham.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WW1 - Trench Barber

 
 
Not dated but identified as a French trench barber. Official title? No, just a brother in the trench helping another out. Small moments of humanity to break up the weekly grind that is remembering the Great War.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Whatever Happened To The University of Phoenix?

We see phenomena pop up, burn brightly and then disappear. People like to point to this in business and laugh over Pets.com and the like, but those groups are memorable because of the lunacy involved. It is common to see giant phenoms explode in size, overreach, and then be sliced back in scale to a long term natural size. Capital demands it, so capital can skew institutions but also reveal their flaws.

Look at the fate of the University of Phoenix (UP). After taking the for-profit university model to a nationwide network that became an SNL punchline, UP's parent company saw the stock zoom to nearly triple digits. It now has gone private at a staggeringly low price of $10/share. Revenue is still a concern due to cratering student enrollment. The problem going forward is enrollment, but this did not purely go private due to a reorganization push.

When UP's parent firm went public, it was all fun and games as money poured in to catch that sweet secular boom in college enrollment. UP used a great valiant pitch to normies to justify its existence, "Using da Internetz to make college accessible for all" while behaving like a boiler room for real estate or penny stock sales. Their boiler room tactics were applied to potential students.

They compensated their enrollers on how many people they sucked into UP. Once enrolled, they would say how much a student qualified for loans without matching it up to what they actually needed for that semester or their course load. This was all just using the students as a conduit for UP to suck off the government teat. Walmart and McDonald's use the EBT underclass as nationwide conduit for a transfer of wealth. UP was doing the very same but with nondischargeable debt. It is far more devious than Walmart of MickeyDs because of this.

UP's trajectory actually revealed the con of all of education as it stands today. Criticism of UP was they were not totally honest with students about courses, about the education process, about debt and about their potential job prospects. These criticisms can be leveled at traditional universities but no one did so because the media-academia complex is a satanic union. One criticism of UP was that they did not care about graduation or completion rates. Check the graduation rates of community colleges, HBCUs and even second tier state schools. It's similar.

The problem for UP was that they threatened the traditional system, which right now outside of STEM is nothing but certificates to get white collar jobs. The good life as the Last Psych would put it was all college was resting its hat on, and that my friends is a slender reed. Whether UP was being devious or not, it was only a matter of time before the media would attack for-profit universities, for regulatory regimes to start pressing them and for universities to offer the same online experience, albeit at a much more expensive price tag.

This privatization is more to avoid the rules and regulations that come with being a publicly traded firm. It will also take the firm out of the media spotlight as well. As far as a turnaround, UP has already laid off half of its staff. Cost cutting has been going into effect already, so now it is adjusting the firm to a lower enrollment that is not reliant on getting the absolute fringe marginal student. UP will exist and continue but in a smaller form with less visibility. They need to retrench and forget that marginal student that is just the next body in the door.

They will leave that student to the government protected university cartel with its media salesmen. C'mon, don't be a loser, go to university. Don't you want the good life?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Weimerica Weekly - Maximizing Mass Shooting Exposure

New Weimerica Weekly is up. This one is a little over 40 minutes. I spend the first 12 or so discussing Reviewbrah. he is like a Mr. Rogers for the 21st century. After that, I discuss what makes a mass shooting a media event versus just page 8 news. After the Dylan Roof mass shooting, the mass shootings in America have been mostly swept under the rug, most famously the Orlando Gay Slaughter*. Shooters don't fit the media narrative, and the victims are not all perfect for manipulating normies.

*The Orlando shooting is odd but I've heard a good explanation for why there was little to no follow up. As an ISIS inspired terrorist and son of an immigrant, this had to be suppressed for the election. There had to be no follow up because of a wild rumor I read elsewhere. The Afghani shooter spent hours on the phone as the cops waited and waited outside. He didn't shoot anyone yet. Then, in the last minute, he killed 50 gays. That's the story. Better story is the SWAT team finally went in and 50 gays died in the firefight between the shooter and SWAT. No one would want to report that in a tough situation, America saw innocent gays during PRIDE killed in the crossfire.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Amazon-Whole Foods Future

Amazon agreed to buy Whole Foods. I recently wrote how Whole Foods was getting beaten up by Trader Joe's. The problem was the casual or marginal organic consumer. Trader Joe's can beat Whole Foods up in that market by being a bit cheaper. Whole Foods (WF) itself is rolling out stores that are more stripped down and have a smaller footprint so that they can pluck the younger, poorer organic leaning consumer. Amazon's purchase of WF shows you how WF can become very competitive but also the dark, poorer future the progs predict will come.

Amazon has been testing no lines, no check out, pick up grocery stores for a while. This sounds futuristic and exotic but it's not. Kroger does something similar called "Clicklist". Shop online, pay online, the staff at the store attempts to fill the order (not perfect) and then you the consumer pick up your groceries at the store. This is an adaptation of the old failed online groceries idea, but the twist is you pick it up so the grocery chain does not have to have a delivery fleet. It is also anchored in their existing distribution network, so it is not all of the corporations' business.

Amazon now has a corporation with an existing store footprint, a brand name that people consider high status and an existing market strategy that makes money. It has problems, but that's where Amazon comes in. Amazon starts applying its online buy + pick up formula to WF, and now WF can move to smaller stores. WF can also pop up in odder locations that have warehousing space and move with the flow of their consumer base (keep white flight in mind).  WF has an Internet savvy consumer base so this type of shopping will work.

Suddenly the fixed costs of a store get cut, the staffing costs get cut and WF is leaner as a firm. WF then can compete better on price with Trader Joe's and their quality organic goods will not be so much more expensive than the organic labeled items in Kroger, Wegmans, Target, etc. It helps WF bottom line with costs and potentially expands their top line sales growth. It will make each location more efficient.

Why stop there though? This is about the future. Amazon and WF both see a poorer consumer here and now and that trend will continue. They must become cheaper. This idea helps but also points to the future for city living. I talk and write of the Clinton Archipelago. I also mention how these cities are massively feudal in their design. New towers of condos and apartments do not get made with mid-level pricing. They are for more wealthy folks to concentrate their living in NYC, San Fran, Miami, etc.

Amazon is also testing another program: drone deliveries. Extrapolate the ideas with these specific consumer brands. Amazon can use its online shopping for more warehouse style 'stores' that deliver by drone. Cities will start seeing drone copters deliver food to the towers so that the tower residents, the lords and ladies of the Clinton Archipelago, never have to risk traveling on the city streets among the riff-raff that are their political allies.

The Rio or Sao Paulo dystopia living will be exemplified by these towers that can use technology to avoid the consequences of bad progressive governance. Why stop there? These progressive elites, and even just wealthy soft right elites, will remove themselves from the public sphere. These Whites, Asians, Jews and occasional non-Asian minority will harden their feudal enclaves. Eventually they will leave their surroundings a wasteland filled with a violent and dumb underclass. They won't apply VR towers for those folks to clean up the streets or sequester problem populations.

Take this out further. Extend the technologically enhanced segregation. Enhance the decay and degradation of the masses. They'll create Elysium.