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Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

The stock market might look as though it's effortlessly gliding to record highs, but there's a lot of turmoil right below the surface, much of it related to tensions between shareholders and management.

Driving the news: At Tesla, CEO Elon Musk seems to be constitutionally incapable of dialing down the tweets that have cost him and his shareholders billions of dollars in wealth.

  • His calls for short selling to be made illegal will be music to the ears of, well, short sellers like David Einhorn, who smell blood in the water.

At Unilever, lame-duck CEO Paul Polman wanted to cement his legacy by finally getting rid of the company's anachronistic and confusing structure of having dual listings and dual headquarters in London and Rotterdam.

  • He failed: The move would have been good for the company as a whole, but bad for U.K. shareholders, many of whom would have been forced to sell their stock once Unilever became a Dutch company headquartered solely in the Netherlands.
  • What happens next is anyone's guess, especially after the U.K. leaves the EU in March.

At GE, CEO John Flannery was unceremoniously defenestrated on Monday, after just one year running the troubled conglomerate.

  • The company took the opportunity to take a $23 billion write-down on the value of its power unit, most of it related to the disastrous $10.6 billion acquisition of Alstom's power business in 2015. Amazingly, the write-down on that single acquisition is likely to be substantially greater than the purchase price.
  • If his history is any indication, new CEO Larry Culp is likely to lower the company's dividend.
  • To make matters worse, Culp has no experience at GE beyond a short stint on its board.
  • GE shares rose on the news, but the real story is told in the bond markets, where GE debt continues to trade at deeply depressed levels and where S&P just downgraded the company to a mere three notches above junk. It's a far cry from the perfect AAA rating that GE enjoyed in March 2009.

Go deeper

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.