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Money Stuff: Facebook Makes Profits, Shareholders Complain

Matt Levine
Money Stuff
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The Facebook Files

  • Frances Haugen was alarmed by what she saw while working at Facebook, so she copied pages of Facebook's internal research and decided to leak it to The Wall Street Journal and to lawmakers.
  • She also filed a complaint with the SEC causing FB of misleading investors with public statements that didn't match its internal actions. She complained that FB maximized profits for shareholders instead of caring about the public good.
    • Her statement reflects the core of ESG investing: in the long run, externalities are internalized, so if you make a profit by harming society, eventually, you are going to pay it back.
    • This is also the core of Engine No.1's complaint against Exxon Mobil.
    • If FB's shares drop due to this controversy, shareholders have a legitimate securities fraud claim even if there is no regulatory action against FB.

Some Market Manipulation

  • Last week, the SEC announced charges against Mark Melnick, the host of a stock trading webcast, for spreading more than 100 false rumors about public companies to generate profits.
    • A year ago, it would have only made sense for an internet message board to move the price of only small illiquid stocks.
    • Today, it's normal for an internet message board to move the price of any stock.

Body Language

  • During in-person meetings, Knee, who worked at Morgan Stanley and Goldman, looks for subtle clues by observing body language. It's incredibly hard to do the same on Zoom.
    • This story is probably exaggerating the reason why bankers want to go back in person.
    • A more plausible reason is that in-person meetings make you feel more like you're "in it together" with your colleagues.

NFT Stuff

  • Swiss Post says it will “bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds in philately” on November 25, when it launches the “Swiss Crypto Stamp”, the first stamp of its kind in Switzerland.
    • This means collecting, exchanging, and trading stamps has gone digital, too.
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