business news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday, MNB reported:

Amazon said yesterday that its first quarter sales were up 26 percent to $75.5 billion compared to the same period a year ago, but also reported that Q1 net income was down to $2.5 billion, from $3.6 billion a year ago.

CEO-founder Jeff Bezos said in a prepared statement that the "current crisis is demonstrating the adaptability and durability of Amazon’s business as never before, but it’s also the hardest time we’ve ever faced."

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

If  $2.5 billion net income  is “hard times”, then sign me up.

Regarding the meat shortage, MNB reader Mike Bach wrote:

I think it's worse than is being reported, candidly.  No news service seems to be interested in reporting this story…until it’s a crisis, I guess.

The 4 main packers have a virtual monopoly on cattle. A few years ago when Puerto Rico had the hurricane, IV fluids for animals and people were very difficult to get because so many were made in PR and the plant shut down. We have allowed the Chinese to control manufacturing of an astonishing percent of our drugs. Either the drug itself is produced in China or their components. (Ditto with dietary supplements..)

Several farmers who feed out cattle either at home or in commercial feedlots are sitting on cattle ready to go to market today or last week and no packer buyer will even look at them. Every day they have to keep feeding them while the quality goes down along with profits (or actually, they will lose more than they were already going to).

It is like having ripe vegetables rotting in the fields.  It's hurting the American farmers.

Competition is a good thing. It doesn’t happen when we allow so few companies to control so much of the business, as is happening in the meat processing business system. Ditto the airlines. Or, concert ticket distributors. An endless list of monopolies / oligopolies exist when one really thinks about it…but not US retail, which is why pricing and service are competitive points of difference.

Responding to the stories and emails we had last week about the Belgian potato shortage, and our call for everyone to eat more french fries in solidarity, MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

Great point! I know a lot of our local breweries and distillers are having tough times. So just got some Shiner. Thinking about Tito’s vodka - made with taters, right?

And another MNB reader wrote:

I was SO sure you (or a reader) would come back with the suggestion for alternative methods of reducing the potato overage, that I didn’t write.

However, MY vote is to distill them - quarantine makes me think more vodka.  

I like the idea of vodka, too … but my understanding is that Tito's is made with corn, not potatoes.  Just FYI.

My FaceTime on Friday was about this story:

One MNB reader responded:

I loved FaceTime today.  You have a pretty good voice too.  And, as Sally Field said “we really really like you!”

Another wrote:

Oh fear not, we get you.

Thanks Kevin, nice job as Thenardier, btw!

MNB reader Glenn Cantor wrote:

You have a good singing voice.

But, from another reader:

Don’t quit your day job!