Programming note: Money Stuff will be offÂ tomorrow through next week, back on Monday, April 5. See you soon!
Sports â¦Â hedging?
If you want to bet that oil prices will go up, you can buy oil futures. In the U.S., oil futures are legal and popular and exchange-traded and regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and have been for a long time. You can use them for various purposes, but one purpose is just to makeÂ a bet on oil prices, which is generally called âspeculation.â
If you want to bet that the Bucs will beat the Chiefs in the big football game, you can go to a casino or a sports book and make a bet. In the U.S., sports betting is popular, but its legality is more complicated. It is legal in some states but not others; it was illegal almost everywhere not that long ago; there is no simple national exchange to make sports bets, and in fact interstate sports gambling is illegal under federal law. If you are just making a bet on football scores, that is generally called âgambling.â
What is the difference between these two things? Well, traditionally, one big difference is that oil futures could be used to hedge real business risk. You might use them for pure speculation, just to bet on oil prices, but an oil company might use them to lock in a selling price for its future oil production, or an airline might use them to lock in a purchase price for its future fuel consumption. This sort of real-business rationale meant that commodity futures were legal and accepted business tools even while regular gambling was illegal and immoral. And, sure, some people would use commodity futures just to speculate âÂ to gamble âÂ but those speculators were helpful participants in a broader, socially useful market; they made the market more liquid and more useful for real businesses that wanted to hedge real risks.
Over time, the CFTC allowed more and more futures contracts, and the rationale was less âthis is a commodity that someone can deliver in the futureâ and more âthis is a financial contract that can hedge a real business risk.â So futures on volatility and interest rates are not like oil futures,Â in the sense that you canât load an interest rate on a tanker ship and deliver it to a customer, but they are like oil futures in the sense that interest rates and volatility are important risks for real businesses and those businesses might want to hedge them. So they are traded on exchanges and regulated by the CFTC, and if you want to bet on interest rates you can do that legally and transparently and as part of standard financial markets.Â
Meanwhile real normal businesses donât have costs or revenues that fluctuate based on football scores. So football betting isÂ justÂ gambling; there is no business purpose to it. Some states allow it and some donât, but financial contracts on football scores are not traded on exchanges or allowedÂ by the CFTC or part of standard financial markets.
Well, but, one kind of business has a real business needÂ to hedge against football scores: sports books! If you are in the (legal in your state) business of taking bets from customers on football games, and all your customers want to bet on the Chiefs, you might want to hedge your risk by buying some financial contracts that pay off if the Chiefs win. Could you go to the CFTC and say âhey, I have a legitimate business purpose to hedge my real risk by buying football-score futures,â and convince them to allow trading of those futures?
No, absolutely not, that is way too cute, but nice idea, good effort. Here is aÂ Wall StreetÂ Journal story about Eris Exchange LLC, a cryptocurrency exchange that tried to slip this one past the CFTC:
ErisXâs plan was to list three kinds of futures contracts, with payouts based on the outcomes of individual NFL games, the point spreads in those games, and what bettors call the over/underâbets based on the total number of points scored in a game. â¦
ErisXâs contracts wouldnât have been open to small individual investors. ErisX said they were designed to fill the hedging needs of businesses such as sportsbook operators that let bettors wager on games, stadium owners and food and beverage vendors.
For instance, a sportsbook licensed to operate in one state could have used the ErisX futures contracts to address a common problem where its local customers tend to bet on the home team, resulting in an imbalance in the firmâs books. Potentially, stadium operators could have used the futures to hedge against the risk of reduced revenue in case their local team didnât make the playoffs, ErisX said.
But ErisXâs proposal faced a legal hurdle: Federal law gives the CFTC the authority to prohibit event contracts linked to gaming. The law doesnât define gaming, leaving it up to the CFTC to determine whether the contractsâ underlying activity fits the classification. Historically, the regulator has been wary of proposals that blur the line between betting and financial derivatives trading.
Yeah â¦Â I â¦Â I just think that a contract that lets a sports book lay off its sports gambling risk in a sports gambling derivatives market is pretty obviously sports gambling? Here are the skeptical questions that the CFTC sent to ErisX about this plan (âDo any of these contracts involve, relate to, or reference gaming,â etc.), and the Journal notes that ErisX âwithdrew its proposalâ as âthe CFTC had been poised to reject ErisXâs proposal on the grounds that it was contrary to the public interest.â I donât know if thatâs right as an intuitive matter âÂ maybe sports betting is great and in the public interest? âÂ but as a matter of CFTC rules it isÂ obviouslyÂ right. The CFTC does not allow futures contracts that are âgaming.â It is clever to argueÂ âno no no, this is not aÂ gamingÂ contract, this is a contract toÂ hedge gaming risk,â and I applaud the ingenuity, but of course it didnâtÂ work.
We analyze the effects of banksâ âprotected-weekendâ policies, which aim at improving the work-life balance of junior bankers by guaranteeing them free time during weekends, in particular on Saturdays. We study how these policies affected bankersâ working hours, as assessed from taxi rides from bank addresses and their immediate surroundings in New York City. While we find the policies induced bankers to stay at home on Saturdays, we also find they induced them to work more on other days. Our results suggest it is difficult to change bank culture by decree, and that well-meaning policies can have unintended consequences.
Thatâs the abstract to âGoing the Extra Mile: What Taxi Rides Tell Us About the Long-Hour Culture in Finance,â by Deniz Okat and Ellapulli Vasudevan. As youâd expect, when banks implemented policies giving their analysts 24 or 36 hours off every weekend (except when theyâre on a live deal, etc.), the analysts didnât really workÂ less; they made up for their Saturdays off by working longer on weeknights. Iâm not sure thatâs even really an âunintended consequenceâ; for all I know, the banks expected that to happen and the analysts were happy with the trade. Having 24 contiguous reliable hours to yourself might be better than unpredictably going home at 11 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. some nights. Also here is some investment-bank taxi data:
A typical trip includes one passenger and lasts about 2.8 miles. About one-half of the passengers pay by card and they leave on average a 19% tip.
This feels like a relic from another world, because of course investment bank analysts mostly arenât taking cabs home from the office anymore, or going to the office. They are working from home, and they are miserable. We talked the other day about a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. presentation in which a group of analysts complained about their 105-hour work week using pie charts. This seems both (1) bad and (2) kind of how investment banking has always worked, but it probably is much worse in a world where most investment bankers work from home. For one thing, working 105-hour weeks as a demented hazing ritual is more bearable if you are doing it with your fellow junior analysts; you can all sit around and commiserate together and feel the weird compensating excitement ofÂ being inducted into an intense new culture. If youâre just at home on your computer itâs no fun at all.
Also the hours are probably just worse. A recent investment banking analyst emailed me to explain (lightly condensed and edited):
Before work from home began, I think seniors were much busier, going to dinners or drinks. Participating in activities on the weekends etc. Once the pandemic hit I remember the shift that the senior bankers had nothing to distract them from work, and they knew that we also had nothing to distract us from work, so if they wanted to call you at 8pm on a Saturday it was kind of like â¦ what else would this analyst be doing?
The second piece is that I think working 100 hour weeks is really common, but I think it’s usually that 100 hours of work for a first year analyst is probably closer to 80 hours of work for a second year analyst. But first years aren’t learning as quickly working remotely, so the time isn’t being shaved down, it’s just staying at 100 hours a week. Not having the more experienced analyst showing you the way makes it way harder to develop.
The point of the 100-hour weeks is not just to haze analysts. As I said the other day, it is âto develop, through endless miserable repetition, a muscle memory for certain core skills,â mainly financial modeling and presentation formatting. One way to do that is by just doing it, alone in your childhood bedroom, 105 hours a week, but a better way to do it is by doing it in the office next to a slightly more senior analyst who can show you the shortcuts and whom you can easily bother with dumb questions. Without that in-person learning, the analysts donât get faster, and the 105-hour weeks keep taking 105 hours.
Meanwhile,Â Goldman CEO David Solomon hasÂ addressed the analystsâ misery in Goldmanâs preferred method of communication, a firm-wide voicemail:
“In the months ahead, there are times when we’re going to feel more stretched than others,” he said. “But just remember: If we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance.”
Can you imagine anything less inspiring? âJust remember, if you work yourselfÂ nearly to death, it can really add a few basis points to our profit marginâ? âJust remember, if you go without sleep or showers for weeks at a time to get a client the best possible presentation, the client might email you back âtxââ? The problem here is that the analysts are working at their limit and not sure it’s worth it. I am not sure that âgoing the extra mile for our client can really make a difference in our performanceâ is the sort of pep talk they need.
Elsewhere in junior-financier complaints, we talked last week about how associates at Apollo Global Management Inc. feel overworked and mistreated. Here is how Apollo responded:
In an effort to stem the exits, Apollo has extended $100,000, $150,000, and $200,000 bonuses for first-year, second year, and third-year associates, respectively, to be paid in April, according to two people familiar with the matter. The bonuses come with the stipulation that associates stay with Apollo at least until September 2022.Â
Yes! It responded with money! When young finance workers are unhappy because you are insanely busy doing big deals, you give them money! Not platitudinous voicemails. Credit Suisse Group AG is also giving junior bankers $20,000 bonuses for being so busy. TheyÂ get how this game is played.
One thing that happens in the world is that Wall Street research analysts estimate how much money public companies will make each quarter, and they publish those estimates, and those estimates are averaged intoÂ âconsensus earningsâ for each company. Then the company announces earnings, and if the earnings are higher than the consensus estimate then thatâs good, the market is pleasantly surprised and the stock goes up,Â but if the earnings are lower than the consensus estimate then thatâs bad, the market is unpleasantly surprised and the stock goes down. This is a very approximate description âÂ often companies will beat estimates but the stock will go down due to ominous signs about future earnings, or vice versa, or whatever âÂ but it has some rough truth to it. A share of stock represents a claim on the future earnings of a company, investors value the stock based on their expectations for those future earnings, analystsâ consensus estimates roughly represent those investor expectations, and the best indicator of the companyâs future earnings power is often its current earnings. So if a company beats (or misses) this quarterâs earnings, that suggests that investorsâ expectations of its future profits should be revised up (or down), so the stock price should go up (or down).
And, you know, GameStop Corp. is a public company, and every quarter Wall Street analysts estimate its earnings, and then it announces what the earnings actually are, and you can say things like âGameStop earnings beat estimatesâ or, in the case of yesterdayâs earnings, âitÂ released fiscal fourth-quarter results that missed Wall Streetâs estimates on the top and bottom lines.â And in fact the stock dropped. Here are some business words:
Shares of the video-game retailer fell 10% to $163.84 as of 9:34 a.m. in New York after it reported profit in the period ended Jan. 30 of $1.34 a share, excluding some items. That compared with an average projection of $1.43 from analysts.
Though a new generation of game consoles helped spur purchases, the company didnât get as big a bump as expected. Net sales fell 3.3% to $2.12 billion in the quarter, short of the $2.24 billion estimate. Still, the console surge helped lift same-store sales by 6.5%, with online revenue up 175%.
Did the stock fall 10% at the openÂ because GameStopâs adjusted earnings were 6% below Wall Street estimates? Anythingâs possible! Except that, thatâs not possible. If GameStopâs stock price reflects expectations about future earnings,Â it reflects expectations that are almost unrelated toÂ currentÂ earnings. GameStop had an adjusted net loss of $2.14 per share in its 2020 fiscal year; if it had met analystsâ estimates this quarter it would have had an adjusted net loss of $2.05 per share. Bloombergâs EEO screen tells me that consensus analyst estimates for adjusted earnings per share are negative $2.10 in 2021, negative $0.62 in 2022, positive $0.24 in 2023 and positive $1.25 in 2024. The stock closed yesterday at $181.75 per share, or 145 times four-years-ahead earnings.
If you careÂ at all about analystsâ estimates, if you careÂ at allÂ about GameStopâs performance last quarter or the trajectory that it is currently on, you are not buying the stock at $181.75 per share, or atÂ $163.84, or whatever. If you are paying $181.75 per share for GameStop, you are paying for an entirely different GameStop, a transformed GameStop, a technology company, a leader in online retailing, a GameStop that exists in your imagination and in the imagination of GameStopâs Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee, a GameStop that might one day exist in reality, but a GameStop that absolutely does not exist today and absolutely did not make $1.34 per share last quarter. That was the old GameStop, the one that sells game consoles in stores in the mall. Who cares about that GameStop?
âIf GameStopâs stock price reflects expectations about future earnings,â I wrote above, but I have no idea if it does. Some people, surely, bought GameStop at $181.75 or $200 or $400 because they expect it to pivot successfully to being a lucrative technology company. Others bought GameStop because they know it is a popular meme stock on Reddit and because they expect the meme to continue, a purely social story of flows and perceptions that has nothing to do with the company or its earnings. Others bought GameStop due to technical stories about short squeezes. Why should they care about earnings?
That said, presumably the stock was down this morning not because of the utterly irrelevant quarterly earnings, but because the earnings release and call were an opportunity for a business update, andÂ GameStop did not give an especially satisfying explanation of how its transformation is going. ââI donât think the results matter much at this point âÂ people will be looking to how they transform themselves from here to reduce the reliance on brick and mortar and expand e-commerce,âÂ said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman.â I wrote yesterday that the earnings conference call would finally be a chance for GameStop the company and GameStop the meme stock to meet: After months of not saying much, GameStopâs executives would have to get on a call and talk about their strategic plansÂ and answer questions from their rowdy enthusiastic shareholders, or at least from bemused Wall Street analysts. Turns out, nope!
On Tuesday GameStop officials didnât address the stock-trading frenzy and the onslaught of attention from investors as well as regulators. Mr. Sherman was the only company executive to speak on the conference call and didnât take questions from analysts.
Look, if I were GameStop Chief Executive Officer George Sherman, I wouldnât want to answer questions either. (All the questions would be âwhy is the stock so high,â and all the answers would be âbeats me.â) But thatâs kind of what theyâre paying him for? It remains amazing to me that, two months after its stock went crazy in late January, GameStop the company continues to blandly ignore its meme status:
Chief Executive George Sherman said that after a difficult year GameStop was working to become a âcustomer-obsessed technology company that delights gamers.â He said the retailer plans to expand its product offerings in areas such as gaming computers, gaming TVs and mobile gaming, while reducing its dependence on the console-gaming market, as well as improving customer service and warehouse management.
Improving warehouse management. âOh the stock is up? I hadnât noticed, I was too busy reorganizing the warehouse, look, all the games are in alphabetical order now, I think that will really make things a lot easier.â Imagine caring about warehouse management at a time like this.
In addition to the earnings release and call, yesterday GameStop released its annual report on Form 10-K. And there, GameStopÂ didÂ have to acknowledge its stock-price weirdness a little. It added some risk factors. For instance, thereâsÂ the âwe donât know whatâs going on with our stockâ risk factor:
Stock markets in general and our stock price in particular have recently experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies and our company. For example, on January 28, 2021, our Class A Common Stock experienced an intra-day trading high of $483.00 per share and a low of $112.25 per share. In addition, from January 11, 2021 to March 17, 2021, the closing price of our Class A Common Stock on the NYSE ranged from as low as $19.94 to as high as $347.51 and daily trading volume ranged from approximately 7,060,000 to 197,200,000 shares. During this time, we have not experienced any material changes in our financial condition or results of operations that would explain such price volatility or trading volume.Â
ThereâsÂ the âshort squeezeâ risk factor:
A large proportion of our Class A Common Stock has been and may continue to be traded by short sellers which may increase the likelihood that our Class A Common Stock will be the target of a short squeeze. A short squeeze has led and could continue to lead to volatile price movements in shares of our Class A Common Stock that are unrelated or disproportionate to our operating performance or prospects and, once investors purchase the shares of our Class A Common Stock necessary to cover their short positions, the price of our Class A Common Stock may rapidly decline. Stockholders that purchase shares of our Class A Common Stock during a short squeeze may lose a significant portion of their investment.
And the âoy, Redditâ risk factor:
We have received, and may continue to receive, a high degree of media coverage that is published or otherwise disseminated by third parties, including blogs, articles, message boards and social and other media. This includes coverage that is not attributable to statements made by our officers or associates. Information provided by third parties may not be reliable or accurate and could materially impact the trading price of our Class A Common Stock which could cause stockholders to lose their investments.
All fair warnings! Presumably you donât need to âÂ and wonât! âÂ read the risk factors in GameStopâs 10-K to know that its stock price is insane due to short squeezes and Reddit, but, as a responsible public company, GameStop is writing down those risk factors anyway. WeÂ talked last month about how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned meme-stock companies that, if they want to sell any stock into theÂ meme-stock frenzy, they had better include warnings like this. GameStop has.
Will it sell stock? Well, hereâs what else the 10-K says:
We utilize cash generated from operations, cash on hand and funds available to us under our revolving credit facility to fund our operations and in 2019 and 2020, Reboot transformation initiatives. We may also fund our operations and potential costs related to the acceleration of future transformation initiatives, such as product catalogue expansion efforts, as circumstances warrant, from other sources of capital, including sales of our equity and debt securities. In December 2020, we established an “at-the-market” offering program (the “ATM Program”) that provides for the sale of shares of our Class A Common Stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $100 million, from time to time, through Jeffries LLC, as the sales agent under the ATM Program. See Part II, Item 7, âManagementâs Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations â Liquidity and Capital Resources.â Through the date of this Form 10-K, we have not sold any shares of our Class A Common Stock under the ATM Program. Since January 2021, we have been evaluating whether to increase the size of the ATM Program and whether to potentially sell shares of our Class A Common Stock under the increased ATM Program during the course of fiscal 2021, primarily to fund the acceleration of our future transformation initiatives and general working capital needs. The timing and amount of sales under the ATM Program would depend on, among other factors, our capital needs and alternative sources and costs of capital available to us, market perceptions about us, and the then current trading price of our Class A Common Stock.
So GameStop needs money âto fund the acceleration of our future transformation initiatives,â that is, to transform into the company that it hopes to be and that its shareholders expect it to be. Its shareholders are absolutely desperate to give it that money, as you can tell by the fact that the stock went up like 1,700% at one point this year. (As of 10 a.m., at $151.68, itâs still up 705% year-to-date.) When I first wrote about GameStop, exactly two months ago tomorrow, I said that âif a bunch of traders on Reddit decide to buy the heck out of your stock one day for somewhat inscrutable reasons, you should sell it to them.â
And here we are, two months later, and GameStop is â¦Â considering it? Evaluating âalternative sources and costs of capitalâ that might be cheaper than Reddit traders clamoring to buy the stock at 145 times four-years-ahead earnings? âWeâve got an old lamp and if we rub it a genie might come out and give us a billion dollars, so we donât want to be too hasty about hitting the bid on the ATM programâ? I donât get it! GameStopÂ has announced earnings and given the appropriate warnings; now it should go out there and get that cash.
One pitch for theÂ special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, is that it is a way for ordinary investors to get in onÂ initial public offerings the way big institutions do. Traditionally the way an IPO works is that a company and its investment banks price the stock at like $50, and they sell it toÂ big institutional investors, and then it opens for trading on the stock exchange the next day and immediately trades up to like $70. If youâre an ordinary retail investor, you buy the stock on the stock exchange, at $70; only the favored institutions get to buy it at $50. But the way SPACs work is that they sell shares at $10, and anyone can buy shares at around $10, and then they announce that they will take a company public, and the stock trades up to $14 or whatever because people are excited for the deal. There is a âSPAC popâ much like there is an âIPO pop,â but ordinary investors have a chance to capture it.Â
There are various trade-offs for this. One is that SPAC sponsors, the investors and operators who start the SPAC and take it public and raise money, extract aÂ tonÂ of value for their service. Traditionally they get about 20% of the SPACâs shares more or less for free, to reward them for their efforts and for paying for the SPACâs startup costs. Itâs a good business to be in, which is why basically every rich and/or famous person in the universe has gotten into it. Name a celebrity: Theyâve got a SPAC. Shaquille OâNeal! Ciara! Wilbur Ross! A-Rod! Sammy Hagar! There is just a ton of money sloshing around right now for SPAC sponsors, and anyone famous enough to get invited will happily put their name on a SPAC for some easy money.
So naturally someone wants to democratize that:
A new special purpose acquisition company, dubbed The Peopleâs SPAC, is seeking to disrupt the status quo, according to people with knowledge of the matter and a presentation obtained by Bloomberg. .â¦Â It is planning to raise sponsor equity by crowd-funding, according to the presentation calling the effort âOurSPACâ.
The SPAC is seeking to raise no more than $100,000 per accredited investor, giving Main Street participants a way to become blank-check firm owners before an initial public offering, and offering a bigger slice of potential profits, the presentation shows. Sponsor equity is traditionally awarded to founders at a sizable discount in exchange for launching the SPAC and covering IPO costs. It also comes with an added bounty, known in the trade as the âpromote.â
You still need to be an accredited investor to invest in the âMain Streetâ SPAC, meaning that you have to be somewhat affluent, but most dentists will qualify. You donât need to be a celebrity; you just need to write them a check.
I dunno. Another pitch for SPACs is that the SPAC sponsors areÂ doing somethingÂ for their paycheck. Theyâre not just some names attached to a pot of money; the SPAC sponsors are there because they are good at (1) identifying promising private companies to take public, (2) attracting additional institutional investors to join the PIPE deals that usually accompany SPAC mergers, (3) negotiating a favorable deal with the private company, (4) pitching the private companyâs business and valuation to the public so that the SPAC merger succeeds and (5) taking board seats on the newly public company and advising it on its business, capital markets, personnel, etc. I donât know that Sammy Hagar is going to be great at all of those jobs, but presumably heâll be good at some of them? Some anonymous dentist who chips in $10,000, Iâm not so sure.
What thoughtful SPAC sponsors say is that their model isÂ notÂ purely âwe have a pot of money and we willÂ fling it at someoneâ; they view themselves as real merger partnersÂ who will add long-term value to the companies they take public by sitting on the board, bringing in investors and business opportunities, and giving advice. The Peopleâs SPAC is more âif you fling some money at us, weâll have the beginnings of a pot of money, which weâll use to raise a bigger pot of money, which weâll fling at someone.â Iâm not sure that thatâs the correct reading of the current SPAC mania, though I canât say it wonât work.
Well hereâs the best business deal Iâve ever seen:
Musk Metals Acquires the âElonâ Lithium Property in Quebec
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Musk Metals Corp. (âMusk Metalsâ or the âCompanyâ) (CSE: MUSK) (OTC: GPMNF) (FSE: 1I3) is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a 100% interest in the prospective âElonâ Lithium property that spans over 245 hectares in the La Corne and Fiedmont townships of Quebec, approximately 40 kilometres north of the mining town of Val dâOr.Â
Terrific. I hope they get a lot of lithium out of it. Somehow this is a company with the ticker MUSK, named Musk Metals,Â that just bought a mine named Elon. The stock was up 61% yesterday on heavy volume, closing at 14.5 cents for a market cap of 4 million Canadian dollars. I hope it names its next mineÂ X Ã A-12. I hope Reddit discovers it and it’s a trillion-dollar stock next week. âThe way finance works now is that things are valuable not based on their cash flows but on their proximity to Elon Musk,â I keep grimly saying, which makes a hole in the ground named âElon Muskâ very valuable indeed.
Trading App Robinhood Says It Files Confidentially for IPO.Â HSBC Searches for Chinaâs Wealthy With an Army of Roaming Bankers. Elon Musk says Tesla vehicles can now be bought using bitcoin.Â London Metal Exchangeâs Overhaul Meets Resistance. No. 3 in the Metsâ Rotation, and Leading the Way in NFTs. âOur lawyers want me to note that the NFT does not include the copyright to the article or any reproduction or syndication rights.â âThe vessel, Ever Given, is well and truly stuck in the embankment along the canal.âÂ âI intend to help create impact in peopleâs lives.â âYou look like a stealth assassin from the clouds.âÂ Tree frog named as 2021 Cadbury Bunny.Â
 Another very important difference, historically, is that a lot of commodity futures have physical settlement. That is, an oil futures contract feels more ârealâ than sports gambling because at the end of it the short party might deliver oil to the long party. (In practice futures tend to be used for financial hedging and speculation and are often closed out without delivery, but delivery is an option.) So a futures contract feels like a business transaction in which an oil producer arranges to deliver oil to an oil consumer, at a fixed price, in the future. And then a lot of financial apparatus is built up around that basic intuitive business arrangement. These days I donât think this intuition is that important, and there are lots of widely accepted financial futures contracts that donât involve physical delivery (try physically delivering the VIX), but it is surely part of why commodity futures were originally acceptable when gambling wasnât.
 Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, you are going to email me with counterexamples. Thereâs that guy who gives away free mattresses when the Astros win! Bars near stadiums do better when their teams are in the playoffs! Fine, whatever, but these examples are considerably less central to real businesses thanÂ the price of oil is to an oil company (or an airline).
 Disclosure, I was a Goldman investment banker, though I was never an *analyst*, so my hours were relatively humane.
 Like many retailers, GameStop has very seasonal earnings, with a big fourth quarter due to holiday sales, so it was profitable in the fourth quarter but lost money for the year.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.