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Elon Musk is ponying up Tesla stock to buy Twitter
Apr 29, 2022
Episode 653

Elon Musk is ponying up Tesla stock to buy Twitter

And that could mean trouble for the electric car maker.

We’re keeping an eye on Tesla after Elon Musk reached a deal to buy Twitter earlier this week. Musk has sold roughly $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares in the last couple of days. We’ll get a little into the weeds about the dynamics playing out as the Twitter deal closes. Plus, the fallout after the Jan. 6 insurrection continues — we’ll update you on what’s happening in the courts. And a COVID-19 vaccine for young kids may be on the way. Then, the hosts play a round of Half Full/Half Empty. Finally, a big thank you to producer Marque Greene for all his hard work as he wraps up his stint on “Make Me Smart.” But don’t worry, he’s not going far.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Tell us what you think about today’s show. Email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278, or 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart April 29, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal:  So confused.

Kimberly Adams: Welcome to my general state of existence.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, all right. I’m just gonna I’m gonna have to do a little blind news item. Oh man, Drew, God.

Kimberly Adams: Well, hello, I’m prepared and I’m Kimberly Adams and welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s not that I’m not prepared. I was doing something else.

Kimberly Adams: You’re multi-tasking, good job.

Kai Ryssdal: Yes. Hi, I’m Kai Ryssdal, Thank you all for comin’ on the pod with this Friday afternoon Economics on Tap. Whether you’re on the livestream or on the Discord or actually listening later on doing that time shift thing. We are glad to have you with us.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, and I should – apologies to those on the fan run Discord, because I’m on a different computer today. So I cannot see what y’all are saying. But I can see, yes as Debbie points out, I am in the studio today. So you will not get the to see Jasper jumping up on the bed behind me. I am in Marketplace’s Washington, DC Bureau, which we occasionally actually use.

Kai Ryssdal: Did you see the picture from the New York Bureau yesterday in Amir’s note, I mean, everybody was there. It was crazy.

Kimberly Adams: It was a lot of people standing very close together.

Kai Ryssdal: That was my first thought actually, my first thought was man, I don’t recognize half of these people. The other one was there’s one mask and a lot of people but I don’t know what we do about that.

Kimberly Adams: What are you drinking?

Kai Ryssdal: I am having Santa Monica Brew Works Head in the Clouds Double IPA. I really shouldn’t be having a double because I haven’t been drinking a lot lately. And this may may put me to sleep actually in about an hour. But that’s fine. Whatever.

Kimberly Adams: Is that a terrible thing though? It’s Friday.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, no just makes me feel like an old fart. That’s all but anyway. It’s only 4 in the afternoon.

Kimberly Adams:  If it makes you feel any better. I’m having a giant mug of peppermint tea with honey. Just because I may have gone a little too hard last night. So, gotta take a breal.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s a story for another whole, on a whole ‘nother podcast. All right. So, this being Friday we have checked what people are drinking. We’re going to do some news and the little half full half empty, I believe right? Oh, I’m stealing your words.

Kimberly Adams: Oh, I stopped reading them. That’s okay. Okay. Yes. But let’s do that news. And I should say I will read the part that says the Half Full/Half Empty is going to be hosted by Drew Jostad, who we love and wonderful. Okay. I am checking back in on a you know, I’m obsessed with all of these cases being tried in DC for the January 6 insurrectionist, rioters, whatever you would like to call them or seditious conspirators, apparently, today – yes, today. Another member, the second member of the Oathkeepers group that was facing a seditious conspiracy charge for the role in January 6, pled guilty and is preparing to cooperate with prosecutors, Brian Ulrich, who’s one of 11 of these Oathkeepers I’m reading from Politico article here, again by my guy Kyle Cheney, who is facing these extremely serious charges of seditious conspiracy, which is basically like the worst. facing up to six years in prison, maybe more, depending on how well he cooperates. And just as a reminder, this Oathkeepers group wasn’t just like a part of the crowd storming the Capitol. These guys planned their trip brought weapons. Road up to the Capitol basically on golf carts. And if you saw some of the images from the attack on the Capitol where it was like a line of guys with their arms, their hands on each other, and they were just sort of weaving through the crowd and broken, that’s these guys. And they had real plans. They were like stashing weapons in Virginia. And this, really, I’m sorry, somebody said that they’re, they’re amazed that I can keep my face in front when my eyes are on the screen. Right? And that is what actually distracted me. Okay, many screens. But yes, so these are the guys who are accused of, you know, really making a plan to overthrow the government in a violent way. And now two of them have pled guilty. So that partners with another story that came out today, I think first reported by CNN. So remember, the January 6 committee got all of those text messages from Mark Meadows as part of their investigation. I mean, I think so CNN obtained many of these messages and apparently, Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff under Donald Trump and Sean Hannity of Fox, were exchanging dozens of text messages between Election Day and the day of the inaugurations, the inauguration, and many of those were perpetuating the big lie encouraging Trump to, you know, believe that this was a fraud and a fake and, you know, that’s not what media is supposed to do. To put it mildly.

Kai Ryssdal: We have to, yeah, the whole idea that, you know, and I don’t know if you saw the one today that Maria Bartiromo, who used to be a reasonably respected business journalist on CNBC, she went to Fox and whatever happened to Maria Bartiromo, she was like feeding Trump questions and answers through Mark Meadows for appearances on her show. And I’m like, can we stop calling them journalists, please?

Kimberly Adams: So while we’re on this topic, you tweeted about this. And I, I have strong feelings on it also.

Kai Ryssdal: Which one? Today?

Kimberly Adams: No, no, this is about – I’m moving on to something else. This whole thing that has been happening of journalists, saving extraordinarily newsworthy details for books.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.

Kimberly Adams: I get so angry every single time…

Kai Ryssdal: It’s outrageous.

Kimberly Adams: I see this. It’s like, what what do you think your job is exactly. And like I’ve heard the argument –

Kai Ryssdal: Why don’t you frame it, why dont you ground it for people in this specific instance, that is so outrageous right now.

Kimberly Adams: Well, I can’t even remember the latest one, there’s been so many.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, the Mitch McConell one right, from like five or six days ago, or any of the McCarthy tapes, right. So two people –

Kimberly Adams: Or Donald Trump flushing –

Kai Ryssdal: Right, right flushing papers down the toilet. That was Maggie Haberman, but but within the last 10 days, Jonathan Martin from the New York Times, and Alex Burns is his last name, also from the New York Times are out flagging their book, right? They’re gonna have a book coming out, I think on Monday. It’s called “This Shall Not Pass.” And it’s about the events of January 6 and leading up to it and all this jazz. And they have broken in the last 10 days some incredible news, some incredible news, the lying of of Kevin McCarthy, who’s going to be the speaker of the house. Come next January, Mitch McConnell saying it on the evening of the sixth of January, in almost as many words “I want to get the hell rid of Donald Trump.” They held all, that they had it for a year and a half. And they held it for their book. And I don’t understand.

Kimberly Adams:  I mean, I’ve heard the argument that they’re saying people would not have given us this information or given  us these details or given us these interviews. If we were going to release it right away. And the only way I got the information is because I held it for the book, but I it makes me feel so gross inside. And I yeah, I don’t generally get in the habit of one bashing other journalists.

Kai Ryssdal: You wonder why nobody trusts the media. Honestly.

Kimberly Adams: I shall descend from my soapbox now. You go ahead.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright. Is that it, do you want to do one more or are you good?

Kimberly Adams: No, it’s just going to be continued ranting and raving into the abyss. Go ahead.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, fair enough. So I have three items of which one is genuine and two are just kind of anecdotal. The first is this. Oh, hello, Elon Musk, who is pledging a large chunk of his Tesla shares as collateral against loans that he’s taking out to buy Twitter. Elon Musk in in the three days between Tuesday and Thursday of this week sold something like nine and a half million Tesla shares, netting eight and a half billion dollars. And I just think you got to keep an eye on Tesla as the prospect of musk having to make good on these loans comes to fruition as the deal closes. That’s item number one, just keep an eye on it.

Kimberly Adams: Wait I don’t understand like, are you saying that he’s at risk of losing control of Tesla, because he has to sell so much stock?

Kai Ryssdal: Well, so here’s the deal. No, he’s not gonna lose control of Tesla, because he has sold nine and a half million shares, he has 170 million shares. Right. So that’s not the issue. The issue is that in order to guarantee the loans that he personally will have to provide to make up his half of the $44 billion purchase price of Twitter, Musk has to pledge as collateral, his shares, and here’s the deal, he’s got to come up with something like $20 billion. The catch is that when you’re using shares as collateral for loans, it’s usually a 50% ratio, that is to say, two to one. In other words, for however much money you want to bargain for loans, you have to pledge twice that dollar amount in shares. And that’s just a lot of money. And so he’s going to have to sell those shares, conceivably, and that drives Tesla’s share price down. And that will piss off Tesla shareholders. That’s a bad thing for Tesla. So just keep an eye on that. It’s it’s very inside baseball dynamics, but it’s interesting. Number two, I was driving home this afternoon from downtown LA and as a good public radio doobie, I turned on NPR at the top of the hour to get the to get the newscast. And on the newscast I hear Rob Stein, talk about talk about Maderna, asking the FDA to authorize a vaccine for kids, six months and up, right, which is great, because I cannot imagine being the child, the parent of a child five or under and not being able to vaccinate your kids. Okay. That’s huge. And I’m so glad this is happening. But one of the things Rob said in that report is the FTAs advisory committee will meet on June 8, June 8! And I don’t understand. And this is a legit question. If I’ve got epidemiologist friends out there, or FDA friends out there, tell me makemesmart@marketplace.org. Why does it take five weeks to set up a meeting to review something that we know is desperately needed? Literally just a question. So that’s it. And then and then my real news item is this. So I’m walking the dogs this morning. And I turn on as I not infrequently do when I’m walking the dogs, the daily podcast from the New York Times. And I’ve I’ve commented on on the host of that program, many a time, the original host of that program many a time. But today, it was David Sanger, a widely respected and I personally admire David’s work in the national security field. And they were just talking about the next phase in the war in Ukraine, what the Russians are going to do and where things are gonna go from here. And at the end, they started talking about Russia talking about so much more Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, talking about using potentially nuclear weapons. But let me rephrase that he didn’t talk about using nuclear weapons. He said this, it would be a shame if this war turned nuclear basically, is what Lavrov said. And David, at the end of the daily today said this, “I’ve been doing this now for more than a quarter century in Washington, I’ve had more discussions with people in the United States government about what they’re looking for, in the way of nuclear movement in Russia,” that is to say, Russians moving nuclear weapons into or near Ukraine, “more discussions of that in the past three months that I have in the past two and a half decades.” And that, to me is scary as hell, because David has a very sober guy, very experienced does not hyperbolized and that’s just scary as hell. And we should all be just worried about that.

Kimberly Adams: And apparently grateful he decided to tell us now.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so look, that’s a downer and I get it, but man that’s bad news. That is, but when David Sanger is worried, I’m worried. How’s that? How’s that peppermint tea going down? Is that helping you out with the news today?

Kimberly Adams: No, not, not particularly. No. But I think, I think Drew can save us.

Kai Ryssdal: Yes. Drew. There we go.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. Okay. Margie is asking in the chat, “Is this hollowed out shell Friday?”

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, right. No, not doing that. Oh God.

Kimberly Adams: We are. Are we half full or half empty on  nuclear war? Don’t answer that. Okay. That is the game that we’re gonna play, Half Full/Half Empty hosted by our very own Drew Jostad Take it away, Drew. All right.

Drew Jostad: Are you half full or half empty on Apple buying back $90 billion in shares.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, half full in that I think we’re getting ready to see a deluge  of companies doing this as they sort of double down for the coming recession.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, and companies have a ton of money. Look, it’s a really bad look, actually for Apple as much attention to that as there is now on the rich getting richer. And what this does is enriches the very small slice of the American public that actually has substantial holdings in the stock market. It’s just – Tim Cook should have done something else. They have so much money, they have like $250 billion in the bank. Oh, half empty.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I mean, I, from what I understand, like, so many companies are getting ready to just give massive dividends to their shareholders and the economic inequality that we’ve been seeing over the course of the pandemic expanding. Like, it’s, it’s just going to get worse because as you said, there’s such a small sliver of American society that is going to gain that wealth, but it’s going to be such an exponentially large amount of money accruing to so few people. But okay, we’re really digging into this, this downer stuff. Drew!

Kai Ryssdal: We’re sprialing. Let us not spiral. Drew.

Drew Jostad: Okay, I’ll do my best. Are you half full or half empty on Fidelity offering Bitcoin as an option for your 401K?

Kimberly Adams: Half empty.

Kai Ryssdal: All the way empty. Oh my god. So look, Fidelity is the largest retirement plan provider in the United States. It also provides retirement plan – plans for American Public Media, the parent company and corporate overlord of Marketplace productions. And they said this week, we’re gonna let you put up to 20% of your retirement contribution into Bitcoin. Okay, Bitcoin in one day, this week was down 9%. So if you’re willing to take your paycheck in Bitcoin, if you’re willing to risk your retirement a Bitcoin? Sure, do that. But oh, by the way, consult your own financial advisor, but come on, you guys. Half empty.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, it was kind of inevitable, I thin.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, totally, yes.

Kimberly Adams: But perhaps having it in these types of accounts now is going to actually give regulators a bit more, you know, kind of power to monitor and, you know, regulate it, perhaps, maybe, I don’t know.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay. Mmhmm. Sorry.

Kimberly Adams: I’m not even going to examine that facial expression.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s all right, it’s all good. … Next.

Drew Jostad: Next topic, according to a survey from ADP 64% of people would consider quitting their job if they were asked to go back full time. Are you half full or half empty?

Kimberly Adams: Does that mean like going back in the office full time? Or like…

Drew Jostad: Oh, yeah, that’s what I meant. Yeah, back in back in the office.

Kimberly Adams: Half full. Um, I saw what’s his name? Brian Chesky. I think of Airbnb tweeting…

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, CEO of Airbnb.

Kimberly Adams:  Yeah, that they’re, they’re basically like, you can work wherever you want, forever. And, you know, we’re going to – they’re basically redesigning the way their company works, we’re going to have meetings, you know, like, every so often where your team meets together in person, but for the most part, scattered throughout the world, and, you know, my blessings upon you, and very key. He’s not going to change people’s salaries based on where they are.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s the key thing. Exactly.

Kimberly Adams: That’s the key thing. And I think that that is going to that distinction, because lots of companies are saying there people can work remotely, which is great. But that salary differential is going to become a sticking point. And the employers that level that out are going to have a competitive advantage, I think.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, totally. And here’s the question, right? Should your value to the company be where you are? Right, and your value to the company is reflected in your paycheck, right? Should it be where you are? Or should it be the work you do? That’s fundamentally a question. I think, you know.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. So in terms of like that many people saying that they quit if they have to go back to the office full time. I mean, absolutely. Because they have options, and especially in such a tight labor market. They don’t have to. Yep. That. What Kimberly said,

Drew Jostad: All right, I’m gonna try and get through this next topic without gagging. Are you half full or half empty on a cereal by Tropicana specifically made to be eaten with orange juice, not milk.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, so, alright. So first of all, raise your hand if you have not accidentally poured orange juice on your cereal. I have I’ve actually also poured coffee on my cereal by mistake, but that’s a whole different thing. I’ve done that.

Kimberly Adams: I have not done that.

Kai Ryssdal: Although – you have not done that?

Kimberly Adams: No. Sorry.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh. Well, I’ve done it and it’s gross. Cereal should be eaten with milk. That’s where I am, that’s what I got. I’m half empty on cereal with orange juice, speaking from personal experience. Clearly, you’re more coherent in the mornings than I am. I don’t know.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, yeah, maybe. I don’t know. You have to get up a lot earlier than I do, though. A lot earlier than I do. Yeah. Okay. All right. Is that it, Drew. We’re like going on forever today.

Drew Jostad: Well, I assume you’re half empty on that Kimberly.

Kimberly Adams: I actually don’t care I’m sure half empty.

Kai Ryssdal: For the record, I got yelled at when I did that one too many times. I got yelled at by our boss. I need you to take a stand, don’t just say I don’t care.

Kimberly Adams: I deploy it selectively.

Drew Jostad: Okay, last one. Apropos of nothing in particular I assume, are you half full or half empty on cruises?

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah whatever Kimberly says, I will say.

Kimberly Adams: All all the way empty all the way empty all the way empty. So so empty.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, Kimberly just got back from an extended family cruise, let’s just say that.

Kimberly Adams: And let’s let’s just say that it is highly unlikely anyone in my family will ever be cruising with that particular company again.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, but but but just to be clear, just because this is matriarchally driven in your family from what I understand you’re going to be going on another cruise.

Kimberly Adams: The family will, I’m going to do my best not to.

Kai Ryssdal: Big talk, big talk.

Kimberly Adams: It’s – it’s not just my mother. It’s also my sister. They love it. They love it.

Kai Ryssdal: Fair enough. Fair enough.

Kimberly Adams: That is it for us today. Before we end we want to say a special thank you to Marky – Marque Greene, whose name I usually say right all the time. Marque Greene who is a marketplace producer who has been working on our show the last few months he’s going to work on another Marketplace show. This is Cncomfortable the podcast that the wonderful Reema Khrais but we wanted to thank him just for his time with us. Thank you Marque.

Kai Ryssdal: Lots of hard work that came from him for sure.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, and yeah, we’ll be back Monday.

Kai Ryssdal: Till then though, if you’ve got any questions send us a voice memo or an email makemesmart@marketplace.org. Leave us a voice message we’re at 508-827-6278. That is 508-U-B-SMART.

Kimberly Adams: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Greene, our intern’s Tiffany Bui. Today’s episode was engineered by Drew Jostad and the senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Kai Ryssdal: The team behind our Friday game is Steven Beyon, Mel Rosenberg and Emily Maccune. Theme music was written by Drew Jostad for that game the director of On Demand is Donna Tam.

Kimberly Adams: Everyone’s in the chat with my sister asking her what happened.

Kai Ryssdal: Are they really. Oh my god. That’s really funny. And she’s like, Nope, nope, nope.

Kimberly Adams: Oh, no. Looks like she’s about to spill the tea that I have.

Kai Ryssdal: Here comes, here comes the “well.” Oh, that’s pretty funny.

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer