Watson’s Weekly 12-12-2020

This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week. 

THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.


  • China continues to do well (Tuesday) as exports rose at their fastest rate this year, driven by demand for things like PPE and electronics. China is certainly on a roll!
  • Japan’s PM Suga announced a big economic stimulus (Wednesday) of $294bn, which roughly equates to about 6% of Japan’s GDP. It will be spent on coronavirus-related measures and green tech
  • Angela Merkel went on a bit of a European mission this week to knock some European heads together (Tuesday) regarding the EU budget and coronavirus stimulus package. It seemed to work, though, as the budget got approved (Friday), with Hungary and Poland falling into line after a bit of hand-holding
  • Meanwhile, BoJo and Ursula von der Leyen are deep in Brexit negotiations that are supposed to be concluded this Sunday. BoJo is trying to manage expectations by saying that we need to brace ourselves for no-deal (Friday) but who really knows?!? In the meantime, ports like Felixstowe are backed up (Wednesday) and delays are mounting, which is starting to cause all sorts of problems. FWIW, I really think that if no-deal is avoided, the UK is going to be in for a serious upswing as this cloud has been hanging over us ever since the referendum


  • DoorDash had a stellar IPO this week (Thursday), as did Airbnb (Friday). Their share prices shot up by 87% and 110% respectively on the first day of trading as investors went mad for tech IPOs!
  • Small/mid-size British investment bank Numis announced record annual revenues (Wednesday) as M&A fees kicked into overdrive. Talking of which, G4S agreed to a takeover approach from American rival Allied Universal (Wednesday) having successfully fended off approaches from Canadian rival GardaWorld. GardaWorld may yet come back with a counter offer…
  • Over in Europe, Moncler bought Stone Island in cash-and-shares deal valuing the latter at €1.15bn (Tuesday). Moncler will buy 70% of the company that owns Stone Island and the remaining 30% from Singaporean state-backed investor Temasek. Not really sure what it’s going to achieve, but there you go 😁


  • Uber got rid of some of its stupid businesses like its autonomous car division (Tuesday) and its rather ridiculous flying taxis (Thursday). It’s all part of trying to be sensible and concentrate on actually being profitable rather than chasing rainbows. Having said that, it seems that the US military is keen on the flying taxis as they are lighter, cheaper and quieter than helicopters but I would be willing to put my mortgage on the prediction that flying pigs 🐖🐖 are more likely to fly past my window than flying taxis any time soon 😁. It’s hard enough to find anywhere to fly a drone these days let alone fly a taxi!!!
  • Just Eat may have put the cat among the gig economy pigeons by offering to pay by the hour (Thursday). This will be offered to about 1,000 workers initially in London and could be rolled out thereafter. It’ll be interesting to see whether this catches on and – crucially – whether it attracts people from rivals such as Deliveroo. If it does, rivals will have to do something similar. Given that not everyone is against being a contractor I would have thought it would be logical for gig companies to offer a contractor contract and an employee contract
  • The UK Treasury is thinking of doing a bit of a tax raid on gig companies (Thursday) as a way to recoup some of the money it has been doling out during covid – but it isn’t set in stone at this moment and could change


  • Debenhams in Guildford was sold to a developer called Native Land (Wednesday). I live in Guildford and everyone hates that building because it is really ugly! It’ll be interesting to see what they do to it, but as things stand it look like they are going to make it mixed use with residential units, offices and retail. This is important because I think this kind of thing is likely to go on in town centres up and down the country as department stores in prime locations implode. Frasers Group is still considering some kind of offer for Debenhams (Friday) either as a whole or in bits
  • Tesla is asking for yet more money (Wednesday) because, well, why wouldn’t you?!? The shares have already rocketed up this year and Elon is taking advantage of the red-hotness of his shares. Tesla will be entering the S&P 500 the week after next and index funds are going to have to buy it for technical reasons – so it’ll probably go up more from here. Another $5bn for Tesla to burn!
  • Disney touted the bright future for its Disney+ streaming service (Friday). This all sounds lovely and all, but Disney+ isn’t going to drag the rest of the company out of its current rut for some time yet. Still it has some punchy targets in mind – Disney+ to be bigger than Netflix by 2024. Good luck with that!


  • Watson’s Yearly updates: These will be left until the next edition of Watson’s Yearly that will be published on January 5th.


My favourite “alternative” story this week was the one that gave you a seriously important Christmas skill in Woman explains how you can slyly take Christmas chocolates without breaking tub seal (The Mirror, Paige Holland). This will come in very useful in the next few weeks!