The Hut Group Howler: 10 Things We Learned This Week


There have been some adorably weird events this week and (for once) it wasn’t all in Westminster. Round off your week with our roundup below!

We have all been shamed by our parents. I know I have. But imagine you’re the CEO of a troubled e-commerce giant and none other than your own mother steps in to accuse journalists of giving you a hard time. So it was this week with The Hut Group (THG), whose CEO Matt Molding is still trying to find a solution to the company’s apparent share price death spiral. A step forward Mother Moulding, who saw fit to send an email sunday time associate editor (and heavyweight business journalist) Oliver Shah with a reprimand so severe it could have appeared in that scene in the second Harry Potter movie where Ron gets howled for stealing his father’s car. “You must lead very boring lives in your dead-end jobs,” he commented. That will show you.

Kid Rock is back, and he’s bad

Having erased his impression of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock returned this week with a terrible attempt at a political anthem. New single We the People he targets Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci, Twitter and, in a move reminiscent of Ms. Molding herself, the “mainstream media.” “Inflation’s gone up, like the minimum wage, so it’s all the same and nothing’s changed,” comments Mr. Rock on the track, which, stylistically, is a poor attempt at Rage Against The Machine, Aerosmith, Run. DMC. and the Beastie Boys. For a song that calls for “love and unity,” it all seems a bit, well, radicalized.

Things are on a knife edge in Ukraine

As the internet was awash with memes about Boris Johnson’s apparent birthday party, commentators were quick to point out that the UK (as a NATO member) had much bigger problems piling up on the Ukrainian border. It all comes down to whether Putin will snap his fingers and greenlight an invasion. For now, the Ukrainian government does not believe an invasion is imminent, although Joe Biden has said an invasion is likely in February. Russia itself has stated that there is “little ground for optimism”, although it denies that it is planning an attack. Morningstar’s new editorial director for EMEA, Lukas Strobl, has summed up the market situation here. And as for UK politicians, they all agree that they should probably start acting like adults.

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The Fed is no longer “reserved” on inflation

This week, Federal Reserve officials continued to lay the groundwork for a series of interest rate hikes in 2022, informing investors that the first step would be on the way in March. In its statement, the committee acknowledged that inflation is “well above 2%” and that the labor market was “strong.” In other words, there is nothing stopping the committee from a series of rate hikes right now. Morningstar’s Eric Compton summarizes the situation in this article, which originally appeared on our US sister site.

About another Jack Monroe winner

Having successfully sued former Apprentice finalist turned far-right political commentator (and deportee from Australia) Katie Hopkins for defamation in 2017, anti-food poverty activist Jack Monroe was back in the news this week speaking on inflation and food poverty. She thinks the official Office for National Statistics (ONS) assessment of inflation does not take into account the decline in purchasing power of low-income households, and wants the UK’s official statistics body to take this into account in its publications. For its part, the ONS has agreed to a change, and, for its part, Monroe is already working on a new index. A tribute to Terry Pratchett’s novel men at arms, the “Vimes Boots” index is inspired by the author’s explanation of the cost of being poor. “A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that would still keep his feet dry ten years from now,” Pratchett wrote, “while a poor man who could only buy cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots at the same time and I’d still have wet feet.” Read James Gard’s explanation of events here.

A tax row is brewing

For the most part, Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak has appeared relatively absent from the airwaves in recent weeks. If he takes a lenient view of the situation, he might argue that he has a lot to get on with, but if he’s a cynic like me, he might also choose to believe that the flawlessly manicured Richmond MP is probably on the prowl. . moment when he can take the highest position. That’s changing, though, and it’s all because of an apparent plan at Camp Johnson to scrap planned National Security increases. The offer is nothing more than an attempt to woo disillusioned lawmakers for every instance in the last four weeks (no, two years) when Johnson should have resigned. However, even if the U-turn is thwarted, events are likely to reveal whether Sunak is full of talk.

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Accenture bucks the consulting trend

It hasn’t been a brilliant few years for corporate consultants. Repeated scandals, from Carillion to Wirecard, have called into question the integrity of the biggest consulting firms and led to repeated calls to break up the “big four” UK players. Accenture is not a “big four” company, but it did make our list of the best sustainable companies to own, and with the lowest ESG risk rating. Morningstar Research Services equity analyst Julie Bhusal Sharma is a fan, citing Accenture’s strong reputation for trustworthiness and its “treasury of institutionalized industry knowledge and experience.”

It’s too early to celebrate governance

Frankly, it is too early to start celebrating the success of ESG given the small minority of companies that actually have good business ethics. That’s the conclusion of a major report from the World Benchmarking Alliance, which this week argued that just 1% of companies in its social transformation benchmark assessment were doing enough to meet their top expectations. Of the 1,000 companies it assessed, only 10 showed satisfactory performance on social indicators that encompass human rights, decent work, and ethical conduct in lobbying and taxation. Last week, my own editor’s column tackled the social impact side of ESG investing. This reveals how uphill it will be to improve the “G” part.

The year of the tiger is upon us

In a timely look at investing in China stocks ahead of the Chinese New Year, Morningstar’s Lukas Strobl asked JPMorgan Asset Management’s global market strategist Mike Bell for an opinion on whether to buy or sell China. “If you look back to 2010, there have been four times that MSCI China is down more than 30%, including the most recent one,” Bell tells Strobl in this video. “On the previous three occasions, once Chinese stocks were down 30%, they were always higher a year later, and two years later, they were at least 25% higher, and on the other two occasions, they were higher. 40% higher two years after falling 30%.” That’s not a perfect guide, of course, but it can dampen your pessimism if you’re worried about the region’s prospects.

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It’s harvest time for guitarists with opinions

At Morningstar we’re used to bringing you news of top-tier musicians selling the rights to their back catalogs for hefty sums. Less common are events related to artists’ refusal to deal with larger companies on moral grounds. He steps in front of Canadian singer-songwriter (and hearse-driving legend) Neil Young, who has now added medical misinformation to his already impressive list of political campaign issues. In the past, Young has revisited his turbulent relationship with musicians David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash to launch a tour protesting the Iraq war. Now, he’s pulling his music from Spotify in protest against the platform’s hosting of Joe Rogan’s podcast, which Young says spreads medical misinformation. It’s rare to find profanity on these pages, but perhaps the signs were there. “And as an afterthought, this too must be told,” Young once sang. “Some people have taken pure shit and turned it into gold.” Rust doesn’t really sleep.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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