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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

If stock trading is the new sports betting, then the best kind of stock to gamble with is a stock that's guaranteed to end up being wiped out entirely.

The big picture: Bankrupt companies like Hertz, Whiting Petroleum and JC Penney are great gambling vehicles for low-information bettors. Much like bitcoin, they have no intrinsic value; their share price is therefore simply a reflection of short-term flows and manias.

By the numbers: Hertz rose from 83 cents per share on the morning of June 4 to as much as $5.85 per share in the afternoon of June 8. Whiting Petroleum closed on June 4 at 85 cents; on June 8 it closed at $3.48. JC Penney rose from 21 cents per share on June 5 to 67 cents the following trading day.

  • The buyers were not making sophisticated bets that the equity of these companies might somehow have residual value post-bankruptcy. (It won't.)
  • Instead, they were playing a game of "how long can you hold on to a rising stock with a fundamental value of $0 before it crashes."

My thought bubble: Day trading bankrupt penny stocks is a bit like buying lottery tickets. So long as you know the risk involved, it can be a fun way to dream of riches while (ideally) leaving your long-term retirement investments untouched.

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Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 19, 2020 - Energy & Environment

GM's electric vehicle business could be worth big money

Data: Yahoo; Chart: Axios Visuals

A Morgan Stanley note Tuesday pegged the value of General Motor's nascent electric vehicle business at $20 billion, a tally well above the firm's assessment of GM's core gasoline-powered lines.

Why it matters: It signals analysts' view that revenues from electric vehicles and battery tech are going to be a big thing despite what's now a tiny market share, but it's unclear who the long-term winners will be.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.

54 mins ago - World

"I stood up for that": Pope Francis voices support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Photo: Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, per the Catholic News Agency.

Why it matters: The pope’s remarks represent a break from the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long taught that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and contrary to natural law.