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Throughout the week, there were events in the news that appeared under the banner of “this hasn’t happened since 2007/2008”.
10-year Treasury yields briefly topped 4%, a level not seen since 2008. That move helped push mortgage rates to their highest level, 6.7%, since July 2007, a moment. the market crashed earlier this week, a seemingly exhausted London banker he told the Financial Times: “At some point this morning I was worried that this was the beginning of the end. It wasn’t exactly a Lehman moment. But he was close.”
The timing of all these events is certainly a bit spooky: today, September 29, marks 14 years to the day that stock markets around the world crashed, ushering in the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.
With all that pessimism, it’s natural to wonder if history is about to repeat itself.
To be clear: the market did end up fully recovering, albeit it took years. And in many ways, the economic and financial distress unfolding around the world is by no means a repeat of the period leading up to the Great Recession. It’s a completely different beast now.
But it is precisely because of those scars from 2008, which are still strongly remembered by many, that economists and analysts get nervous when things go as bad as they have in recent weeks.
At this time, the prevailing mood is fear. Economies hampered by inflation and high borrowing costs are vulnerable to economic shocks, whether those shocks come from a catastrophic hurricane, a superpower declaring war on a neighbor, or a radical underfunded fiscal scheme. Or, God forbid, a resurgent pandemic.
All of that means there aren’t many good places for investors to put their money right now. Stocks and bonds are in bearish territory, and many analysts say the market could remain volatile until inflation is under control (which, if we slip into a recession, could happen very soon…not a huge silver lining , I know).
If there is one lesson to take from the Great Recession, it is not to panic. According to my colleague Jeanne Sahadi:
Let’s say you invested $10,000 in early 1981 in the S&P 500. That money would have grown to almost $1.1 million by the end of March 2021. But if you’d missed just the top five trading days during those 40 years, you’d only have grown to approximately $676,000.
In other words: Hold on tight, folks, and try to avoid looking at your 401(k) balance for the foreseeable future.
Stocks fell on Thursday, giving up Wednesday’s big gains and plunging the Dow into a bear market again.
The S&P 500, one of the broadest measures of the health of US companies, fell 2.1%, hitting a new low for the year. The Dow and S&P 500 are once again not far from their lowest levels since November 2020.
What a way to end the third term, huh? The stock market actually had a promising start to the quarter in July. But fears about inflation, rate hikes, rising bond yields and recession came back with a vengeance in August and September.
Continuing a great tradition of Corporate Rebranding Nonsense, Johnson & Johnson is placing all of its consumer health products under a newly formed parent company.
Soon, Johnson’s Band-Aid, Tylenol, Benadryl and baby powder will be sold under the umbrella brand identity “Kenvue.”
That’s pronounced “Ken”, like the doll, “see”.
Here’s the deal: Johnson & Johnson, the owner of these labels, is in the process of splitting into two companies: one focused on medical devices and drugs, the other on consumer health products, reports my colleague Nathaniel Meyersohn.
J&J keeps its recognizable name for its larger pharmaceutical business, but needed something new for the smaller consumer arm.
The company said Wednesday that it landed at Kenvue, a combination of “Ken,” an English word for knowledge used primarily in Scotland, and “vue,” a reference to sight.
“Kenvue” is the winning moniker earned by a small J&J team, working with a naming agency. The goal was to be memorable. And, more importantly, passing trademarks in more than 100 markets and “passing linguistic and cultural exams in 89 languages and dialects.”
The company also released the new Kenvue logo: white letters on a green background, the extremities of the letter “K” resembling a heart on its side.
What does it mean? Absolutely nothing, and that’s the point.
Corporations gravitate toward names that are squeaky clean. There is no possibility of a negative connotation, because it is a made up word. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t sound like it could resemble a swear word in some other language. Kenvue is harmless. Bloodless. It’s the corporate brand tofu.
“It’s really just a holding company behind all these other brands,” one insider told Nathaniel. “They want a name that disappears into the background and the brands stand out.”
(Mission accomplished. I already forgot the new name and just typed it in 40 seconds ago.)
MY TWO CENTS
The best review I can give of the new brand is that it is forgettable. Other companies have failed (infamously?) to keep landing with new names.
Netflix, in 2011, quickly backed down after trying to rebrand its DVD mail service as “Qwikster.” More recently, Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group merged in 2020 under the collective name “Stellantis,” which is still the name of the company, but I still think it’s something you should ask your doctor if you have signs of seasonal depression.
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