The Mormon church loves $TSLA

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A Georgia mechanic received his final paycheck ($915) in the form of 91.5k oily pennies that his disgruntled ex-employer dumped in his driveway.

In case you’re wondering, that’s 500 pounds worth of coins. And if you stacked them, they’d be 454 feet tall — about the height of a 32-story building.

To the moon
pile of cash

GIF: Book of Mormon; Illustration: The Hustle

The Mormon church’s secret $100B investment fund, explained

Earlier this week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was hit with a federal lawsuit alleging donation misuse fraud.

The lawsuit comes ~2 years after a whistleblower alleged the church’s secretive $100B investment division was using church donations to fund commercial ventures.

Wait — the Mormon church has a $100B investment fund?!

Yes… probably. For decades, information on the fund’s holdings has been kept secret. Few outside of the church knew much about it — that is, until an inside source tipped off the IRS in 2019.

The fund, Ensign Peak Advisors, got its name from a Salt Lake City hill that Brigham Young scaled in 1847 while scoping out a settlement.

Today, Ensign maintains a portfolio that spans hot stocks, Florida timberland, and investments in hedge funds.

At first, church leaders had to approve every trade

Ensign started small, managing ~$1B in the 1970s. By 2019, the fund had reportedly grown 100x.

Today, Ensign is a little more transparent about its holdings. Voluntarily submitted SEC documents show the company had a fantastic Q4 in 2020:

  • Overall, the value of its stocks rose 11% to $44B
  • The fund grabbed 46k GameStop shares at <$19 each, pre-mania
  • The fund 4x’d its Tesla stake to 467k shares

At Ensign’s offices, biblical paintings hang alongside TVs playing CNBC and — as per church values — there are no investments in tobacco, alcohol, or gambling.

The lawsuit addresses the ancient practice of tithing 

There are 16m+ worldwide members of the Mormon church, and they are expected to contribute tithes (donations that amount to 10% of their income) to the Mormon church.

This week’s lawsuit alleges portions of these tithes were used by Ensign — a registered tax-exempt charity — for commercial purposes instead of religious ones. (The church denies this.)

Whatever the case, Masayoshi Son, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Harvard University should consider taking a page out of the Mormons’ investment playbook:

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Snippets
  • Uplifting science: America’s bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009, thanks to conservation efforts. The birds — which can have a 7.5-foot wingspan and can dive at up to 99 mph — are now 300k+ strong.
  • And you thought Substack was expensive: The New York Times minted one of its columns as an NFT. It attracted 34 bids and sold for 350 ETH (~$563.5k).
  • Social media beef: Chinese state media is in a tussy with US-based brands H&M, Nike, and Adidas over statements they made in regards to labor conditions in the country’s Xinjiang region.
  • GM moves: The auto manufacturer added Mark Tatum (longtime NBA COO) and Meg Whitman (former CEO of HP, eBay, and — yikes — Quibi) to its board as it navigates a global semiconductor shortage.
  • Light at the end of the tunnel: Last week’s jobless claims fell to 684k — the lowest figure since the pandemic began.
  • No thanks: Pepsi has unveiled a Peeps-flavored soda that is only available to people who share promotional hashtags on social media.
Supply chain woes
shipping containers

Where the hell are all the shipping containers?

A critical shortage of shipping containers is boosting cargo fees and sending shockwaves through global supply chains.

We know what you’re thinking — and no, you can’t blame this scarcity on hipsters using them to build tiny houses

So what’s going?

The pandemic disrupted normal trade patterns

While some regions were in lockdown, others opened back up quickly, causing an imbalance in commerce and a host of ripple effects:

  • Temporarily closed US factories left a backlog of unclaimed cargo at domestic ports, causing bottlenecks.
  • Exports from Asia swelled during lockdown as retailers like Walmart and Home Depot shipped 300% their normal volume.
  • China’s now facing a massive container shortage, slowing exports and boosting demand for returning containers.

There’s currently a 40% imbalance, meaning that for every 100 containers entering the US, only 40 are sent back overseas. And 3 out of 4 of those going from the US to Asia are sent back empty.

That’s a huge deal, considering that ~39% of all US imports come from China.

The cost of shipping a container is up ~200% over last year

Meanwhile, orders for new containers sank during the pandemic, and data from Hillebrand shows that, globally, we’re scrapping more containers than we’re producing, leading to further shortages and price hikes.

All of this was before a ship stuck in the Suez Canal blocked ~12% of the world’s seaborne trade.

Forbes reports that the bulk of this economic burden will fall on consumers, with prices on food and other staples rising.

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Labor
handshake

Grave diggers and pot farmers: The org behind Amazon workers’ union push

This month, Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, will cast mail-in ballots on whether or not to unionize.

It’s the first vote to unionize Amazon workers since a failed attempt in 2014 — and the largest by far. Only 30 technical warehouse workers participated in the 2014 vote in Delaware, compared to Bessemer’s ~5.8k workers.

So, which union are Bessemer workers joining?

Meet the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)

Founded in 1937, RWDSU refers to itself as a “progressive” union focused on forwarding change and social justice.

As The New York Times notes, the union spans racial, geographic, and political lines; the majority of its 100k+ members are people of color.

It also boasts professional diversity: Its members include grave diggers, airline caterers, poultry processors, and cannabis gardeners.

Now all eyes are on Amazon…

Organizers believe a successful union at the Bessemer warehouse could lead other Amazon employees to follow suit.

And that’s no small matter: the company has 1.2m workers worldwide.

As the union push has attracted bipartisan support, Amazon has attempted to dissuade potential members with texts, mandatory meetings, and an anti-union website featuring… a vinyl-spinning dog.

The mail-in vote is set to end on March 29.

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FUBAR of the day
cargo ship

Zachary Crockett / The Hustle

Since Tuesday, one of the world’s biggest container ships has been stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking a critical trade route. Experts say the Ever Given — which is 1.3k feet long and weighs 440m pounds — could take weeks to dislodge.

According to maritime publication Lloyd’s List, the combined eastbound and westbound traffic through the canal is worth $9.6B per day.

That means that one ship is holding up $400m worth of goods with each passing hour.

Who had ‘big-ass ship stuck in canal’ on their 2021 supply chain bingo card?

Shower Thoughts

  1. We find the sound of a single drop of water at night infuriating but the sound of many drops of water (rain) calming.
  2. It would make way more sense if a bachelor party was something celebrated the night before a divorce instead of the night before a wedding.
  3. Going to a psychologist is the brain using another brain to debug itself.
  4. In a few thousand years, some archaeologist might finally find those keys you lost.
  5. There are so many stars in the universe, if you drew random stars, you’d most probably have drawn an actual real group of stars.
via Reddit

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