A new floor plan for the stock exchange


May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020
The Hustle
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Grimes and Elon Musk changed their baby’s name — but for those of you hoping for something normal (or at least normal-adjacent), you’re outta luck. Lil Elon’s old name: X Æ A-12. Lil Elon’s new one: X Æ A-Xii. Why the change? Grimes didn’t specify, but the old name might not have been legal in California. She explained (sorta) on Instagram: 

“Roman numerals. Looks better tbh.” 

Buy or Sell?

Welcome to the era of the socially distant stock exchange

Today, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange will reopen to traders — but it’s going to look a lot different

The floor shut down in March after 2 people tested positive for COVID-19, and went all-electronic for the first time in the exchange’s 228-year history.

Masks are a buy, and crowds are a sell

As The Wall Street Journal reported, the days of elbow-to-elbow traders shouting over each other are gone for now. Only about 25% of the people who work on the floor will be back when the bell rings today.

Other restrictions should sound familiar: Traders will be required to wear masks, plexiglass barriers will keep them apart, and they’ll have to sign a waiver preventing them from suing the exchange if they get infected.

Some firms, like Morgan Stanley, aren’t planning to send brokers back to the floor right away. The Journal said many floor brokerages are smaller — with fewer than 20 employees — and their revenue dried up when the pandemic hit.

These days, floor trading is a throwback

Most markets have gone online, and the vast majority of transactions take place electronically. But the floor is still important for daily closing auctions, which are increasingly used to buy or sell big quantities of stocks.

Trading IRL might also provide cooped-up brokers a chance to blow off a little steam. One startup that helps companies keep track of their workers found Wall Streeters were cursing and complaining about their situations more often after their employers shifted to remote work.

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TLDR: 10 Quick Takes to Catch You Up

US markets were closed for the holiday yesterday, so we start today’s roundup with a few headlines from Europe.

1️⃣ Bayer AG said it had reached agreements to settle many of the ~125k lawsuits over claims that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer.

2️⃣ The German government agreed to a €9 billion bailout of the air carrier Lufthansa, and it will take a 20% stake in the company.

3️⃣ Germany’s highest civil court ruled that Volkswagen must buy back cars from consumers whose vehicles were part of the company’s Dieselgate emissions scandal.

4️⃣ Zoom has temporarily disabled the Giphy integration in its chat feature — making your meetings just a little more boring.

5️⃣ The World Health Organization paused tests of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, over safety concerns.

6️⃣ A group of Amazon shareholders is pressuring the ecommerce giant to release more data on worker safety, ahead of its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow.

7️⃣ Speaking of Amazon: The group that built its Kindle, Echo, and Fire hardware is hiring — to beef up the company’s testing capacity for COVID-19.

8️⃣ Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit tried to launch small satellites from a rocket dropped by a jumbo jet yesterday — but the mission fizzled.

9️⃣ The work collaboration app Notion said its service had been blocked in China.

🔟 New Zealand’s prime minister might be unshakable: A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck during Jacinda Ardern’s live TV interview, but she shook it off and kept going.

2 Christopher 2 Nolan

Will there be a summer box office? Ask ‘Tenet’

No one is under more pressure right now than Christopher Nolan.

The director of “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” plans to drop his mind-bendy new film “Tenet” on July 17 — and Hollywood is counting on it to usher people back into theaters.

The thought is this: If an original film from a beloved director and an outspoken theater advocate can’t get people into the seats this summer, nothing can. 

One executive told The Washington Post, “If ‘Tenet’ doesn’t come out or doesn’t succeed, every other company goes home. It’s no movies until Christmas.”

The summer season may be left on ice

Warner Bros. says it needs at least 80% of the world’s movie theaters to open for “Tenet” to recoup its $200m budget. But with big markets like New York City showing no signs of reopening, that seems unlikely. 

So what happens if “Tenet” doesn’t come out? The next blockbuster on the docket is Disney’s live-action “Mulan” (July 24), followed by “Wonder Woman 1984” less than a month later.

But if “Tenet” runs for the hills, the other tentpole movies probably will, too. 

Desperate to go to the theater? You have a few other options

Some small-time releases are slated to hit theaters before the big “Tenet” debut. 

A small distributor has a Russell Crowe road-rage film called “Unhinged” in the queue for July 1. A day later, the military flick “The Outpost” is coming out in much of the US.

While you’ve been sighing through Netflix reruns on your family room couch, your hip friends have been rolling up to the drive-in. 

One of the biggest films in America is an indie horror movie called “The Wretched” — and since its May 1 release, it has netted a whopping… $548k+ in drive-in earnings. Great news: That’s about as much as a small popcorn and two large sodas costs at the theater these days. 

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1-800-SPAM

Robocalls ask: Miss us yet?

Feel like no one is hitting you up in quarantine? You aren’t alone.

Times are so tough that even trusty spam callers — you know, the ones with the numbers only a few digits off from yours — have started ghosting. 

The spam-call blocker YouMail says that only 2.9B robocalls hit US phone lines in April — down significantly from March (4.1B) and February (4.8B). 

There are 2 big reasons for this slide: 

  1. Tons of robocalls originate from call centers — and with offices closed, they’re going dormant.
  2. To cut down on COVID-19 scams, the FTC is stepping up enforcement. Complaints to the agency have fallen 60%.

Stop calling, stop calling, I don’t want to talk anymore

Celebrate this victory now, because in a few months, your telephone might start blowing up like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s. 

The Supreme Court is deliberating over a big robocall case, and at its heart is the question, Are robocalls free speech?

Here’s the thing: These unsolicited calls are already illegal. Our entire economy of blocking robocalls is built around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which stops spam calls from flooding your cell. 

There are a couple of exceptions to the TCPA — debt collection, for one, and emergency calls from the government — but if SCOTUS decides to strike it down entirely, we might be in for a new torrent of spam calls. 

On the bright side: At least then we’ll finally understand what Beyoncé meant when she said, “Sometimes I feel like I live in Grand Central Station.”

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A Classic Conundrum

A strange scourge for the classical music industry: Copyright bots

Remote work has its perks, but the perils of the Zoomiverse are plentiful. If you’re not careful, your remote meeting can be undone by surprise spouses in their underwear, toilet-flush whodunits, and “turn yourself into a potato” settings that are surprisingly hard to turn off.

The world’s classical musicians have another obstacle to deal with: algorithms that are trying to put them on mute.

Musicians worldwide have pivoted to Zoom to maintain a connection with their audiences. But as The Washington Post reported, violin virtuosos’ performances are unintentionally tripping systems designed to flag tunes being broadcast illegally. 

The bots are fighting Bach

As the Post put it, classical performances are “sitting ducks” for an overzealous algorithm.

Why? The musicians play songs that live in the public domain, and bots have trouble telling the difference between performances. 

“Mozart died in 1791” — a classic excuse — doesn’t protect musicians from receiving violation notices.

The problem is bigger than the world’s smallest violin

Copyright law is notoriously arcane, and even the government admits it could use some updates. 

Last week, Instagram made it easier for live broadcasters to see when they’re playing music they can’t use. But the experts admit there may not yet be a good solution for the world’s Beethoven buffs.

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Snippets

🐕 More than two months after he won the Iditarod, the Norwegian sled-dog champ Thomas Waerner is still stuck in Alaska.

🏟 Now this is a unique place for an overnight stay: A minor league baseball team put up its stadium as a listing on Airbnb.

🏀 Speaking of: When its season starts up again, the NBA wants to play in Disney World. 

🍔 One of the fanciest restaurants in the world has reopened… for burger service.

🚬 Inside the collapse of MedMen, one of the country’s hottest pot startups.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Diana Boredom (Staff Transcriptionist), Nick “Wannabe Bell Ringer” DeSantis, Michael Waters, and Bobby Durben.

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