Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Allysia Finley, Kyle Peterson, Mary O'Grady and Dan Henninger. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Allysia Finley, Kyle Peterson, Mary O'Grady and Dan Henninger. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
Gold investors are anxious to see if Powell expresses concern about a recent volatile sell-off in Treasuries and his assessment of the economy.
Britain will modernise its listing rules to attract more high-growth company and so-called blank cheque flotations, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said after a government-backed review said London was on the back foot after Brexit. The London Stock Exchange is facing tougher competition from NYSE and Nasdaq in New York, and from Euronext in Amsterdam since Britain fully left the European Union on Dec. 31.
(Bloomberg) -- Growth at U.S. service providers slowed to a nine-month low in February as companies grappled with logistical challenges and rising prices at the same time a stretch of severe winter weather gripped much of the nation.The Institute for Supply Management’s services index fell to 55.3 during the month from an almost two-year high of 58.7 in January, according to data released Wednesday. Readings above 50 signal growth and the February figure was weaker than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.The group’s measures of orders and business activity also plummeted to the lowest levels since May. While many service providers remain constrained by the pandemic, the setback in February included an arctic blast that disrupted supply chains, caused blackouts and impeded commerce in some areas.“Respondents are mostly optimistic about business recovery and the economy. Production-capacity constraints, material shortages and challenges in logistics and human resources are impacting the supply chain,” Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee, said in statement.The polar vortex brought record-cold temperatures to more than 9,000 U.S. cities. The most severe case occurred in Texas, where the state’s power grid was overwhelmed and millions of residences went without lights, heat and water.The weather “one of the variables for sure one of the factors in there but not the big one. The big one I feel right now has to do with capacity constraints due to increased demand and not having the output, coupled with the logistics issues,” Nieves said on a conference call with reporters.Seventeen service industries reported growth during the month, led by accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and construction.Backlogs RiseIn a sign the slowdown in services activity is temporary, the ISM index of order backlogs rose to a six-month high of 55.2, while a gauge of export demand was the strongest since June.The services figures also showed prices paid for materials jumped to 71.8 in February, the highest since September 2008. Delivery times also lengthened. The group’s manufacturing data, released Monday, showed input costs for factories were also the highest since 2008.Both reports indicate that supply shortages and labor constraints remain obstacles across a broad swath of industries.Select ISM Industry Comments“Suppliers are taking the opportunity with the commodity-price increases in the last few months to propose price increases that are above and beyond normal expectations, causing significant concern. “ - Accommodation & Food Services“Sales of residential real estate continue to be strong, even outstripping supply. Cost inflation in building materials seen as shortages develop from sporadic Covid-19 closures at manufacturing facilities.” - Construction“Supplier deliveries continue to be an issue as well as lead-times. Additionally, price increases are occurring with more frequency for products containing raw materials such as copper and steel.” - Retail Trade“We are seeing an ongoing influx of price increases due to raw-material shortages, labor shortages, and transportation delays.” - Wholesale Trade“Many materials have inconsistent lead times or are facing delivery delays.” - UtilitiesThe ISM’s index of services employment indicated slower growth in February, falling to 52.7 from 55.2. Another report on Wednesday from the ADP Research Institute showed companies added fewer workers during the month than forecast.(Adds graphic)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Some households are collecting a big pile of federal money in 2021.
The president has agreed to a compromise making millions ineligible for the third checks.
(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled his second U.K. budget as he tries to balance the need to prop up the economy while the coronavirus pandemic endures with efforts to begin reigning in the deficit.With the prospect of the economy fully reopening still months away -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set June 21 as the earliest that can happen -- here’s what the chancellor announced on Wednesday:More Covid AidSunak said his priority is to protect jobs through the pandemic, and promised to support people and businesses as lockdown measures are gradually lifted. He outlined 65 billion pounds ($90 billion) of new Covid support, bringing the total since the crisis began to 352 billion pounds. When capital spending announced at last year’s budget is included, the total fiscal stimulus rises to 407 billion pounds.He announced:An extension of the flagship furlough program, under which the state pays idled workers 80% of their usual wages, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds a month. It was due to expire at the end of April but will be extended in full through the end of June, and state support will then be tapered over another three months.A fourth three-month grant for self-employed workers will be paid to cover February through April. It will be set at 80% of average trading profits and capped at 7,500 pounds. A fifth grant will also be paid, at a level that depends on the change in recipients’ turnover. More than 600,000 people who previously weren’t eligible will qualify for these grants.A six-month extension to the 20-pound a week uplift in Universal Credit social security payments, with equivalent support for working tax credit claimants in the form of a one-off payment of 500 pounds.An increase in the National Minimum Wage to 8.91 pounds/hour from April.A new program of loans of as much as 10 million pounds for struggling firms. The program replaces 3 existing plans, is open for businesses of any size, and the loans are 80% backed by the state.A three-month extension of the business-rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure, running through June. Then a nine-month, 2/3 discount for firms that remain closed, and a lower cap for those able to reopen. Sunak priced this measure at 6 billion pounds.A six-month extension in the temporary reduction of value-added tax for the hospitality and attractions sectors, which will now run through September. The rate is down to 5% from 20%. For the following six months, a discounted rate of 12.5% will apply.A three-month extension to the stamp duty holiday for the first 500,000 pounds of property sales. Then for three months, the holiday will apply to the first 250,000 pounds of a property purchase, before reverting to 125,000 pounds.TaxationThe chancellor also signaled there’s pain ahead as he tries to rein in a fiscal deficit that the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted will swell toward 355 billion pounds this tax year.“The amount we’ve borrowed is only comparable with the amount we borrowed during the two world wars,” Sunak said. “It is going to be the work of many governments, over many decades, to pay it back.”Sunak said it would be “irresponsible” to allow debt to rise unchecked, and announced a series of tax measures to take effect in future years.Corporation tax will rise to 25% in 2023 from 19% now. Sunak said the U.K. can do that and still retain the lowest level among the Group of Seven major economies. The chancellor introduced a small profits rate keeping the tax at 19% for businesses with profits of 50,000 pounds or less. There will be a taper above that so that only companies with profits of 250,000 pounds or more pay the full rate.The tax treatment of losses will be more generous for the next two years, allowing companies to claim more tax refunds.From next year, the thresholds at which people start paying different levels of income tax will be frozen until April 2026. Rises to 12,570 pounds and 50,270 pounds for the basic and higher thresholds will go ahead as planned next year.Sunak said he’d also freeze until April 2026 the inheritance tax thresholds, the lifetime allowance on pensions savings and the annual exempt amount in capital gains tax.From April 2022, the VAT registration threshold will also be frozen.There was also a “Super Deduction” sweetener to encourage companies to invest: For the next two years, companies that invest will be able to reduce their taxable profits by 130% of the amount they’ve invested.Alcohol and fuel duties were frozen.Leveling UpThere were several announcements that fed into the ruling Conservative Party’s “leveling up” mantra aimed at spreading prosperity nationwide:22 billion pounds of capital and loan guarantees to capitalize a new national infrastructure bank, with the aim of supporting 40 billion pounds of infrastructure investment. The bank will be located in Leeds.5 billion pounds of grants worth up to 18,000 pounds each to help nearly 700,000 eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure and personal-care sectors reopen.The Treasury and other government departments will set up a new campus in Darlington.Eight freeports were announced for East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.1 billion pounds of “Towns Deals” was announced for 45 locations.Funding in the budget of 1.2 billion pounds for the Scottish government, 740 million pounds for the Welsh government and 410 million pounds for the Northern Ireland executive.Other AnnouncementsSunak published an independent review into U.K. stock market listing rules as part of an effort to bolster the City of London post-Brexit.The world’s first sovereign green savings bond for retail investors. The funds raised will be earmarked for projects such as renewable energy and clean transportation.A mortgage guarantee program for 95% mortgages to help people get on the property ladder.1.65 billion pounds of funding for the U.K.’s Covid vaccination drive.55 million pounds to develop vaccines against new Covid variants and to study the effects of combinations of vaccines.375 million pounds for a new public-private fund to invest in fast-growing tech start-ups.A 520 million-pound ‘Help to Grow’ program to provide small and medium-sized businesses with subsidized management training, discounted software and technology advice.A 300 million-pound summer sports recovery package to get sports such as cricket, horse racing and tennis reopened.408 million pounds of funding for museums and the arts.126 million pounds for traineeships, and an increase to 3,000 pounds in the cash incentive for hiring apprentices.150 million pounds to help community groups take over struggling local facilities such as pubs and sports clubs.A new fast-track visa program to ease entry to the U.K. for highly-skilled researchers, engineers, scientists as well as those working in the financial technology and cyber sectors.The chancellor raised the contactless payments limit for credit and debit cards to 100 pounds from 45 pounds.The Bank of England will be given a new mandate to consider net zero targets.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A firm hired to monitor Texas’ power markets says the region’s grid manager overpriced electricity over two days during last month’s energy crisis, resulting in $16 billion in overcharges.Amid the deep winter freeze that knocked nearly half of power generation offline, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as Ercot, set the price of electricity at the $9,000-a-megawatt-hour maximum -- standard practice during a grid emergency. But Ercot left that price in place days longer than necessary, resulting in massive overcharges, according to Potomac Economics, an independent market monitor hired by the state of Texas to assess Ercot’s performance. In an unusual move, the firm recommended in a letter to regulators that the pricing be corrected and that $16 billion in charges be reversed as a result.Potomac isn’t the first to say that leaving electricity prices at the $9,000 cap for so long was a mistake. Plenty of power companies at risk of defaulting on their payments have said the same. But the market monitor is giving that opinion considerable weight and could sway regulators to let companies off the hook for some of the massive electricity charges they incurred during the crisis.The Arctic blast that crippled Texas’s grid and plunged more than 4 million homes and businesses into darkness for days has pushed many companies to the brink of insolvency and stressed the power market, which is facing a more-than $2.5 billion payment shortfall. One utility, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, has already filed for bankruptcy, while retailers Griddy Energy LLC and Entrust Energy Inc. defaulted and have been banned from participating in the market.“The market is under quite a bit of duress,” Kenan Ogelman, Ercot’s vice president of commercial operations told Texas lawmakers Thursday. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Ercot one notch from A1 to Aa3 and revised the grid operator’s credit outlook to “negative.”Retroactively adjusting the power price would ease the financial squeeze on some of the companies facing astronomical power bills in the wake of the energy crisis. EDF Renewable Energy and Just Energy are among those asking the Public Utility Commission to reset the power price for the days after the immediate emergency while others have also asked regulators to waive their obligation to pay until price disputes are resolved.“If we don’t act to stabilize things, a worst-case scenario is that people will go under,” said Carrie Bivens, the Ercot independent market monitor director at Potomac Economics. “It creates a cascading effect.”The erroneous charges exceed the total cost of power traded in real-time in all of 2020, said Bivens, who spent 14 years at Ercot, where she most recently was director of market operations before becoming its watchdog. “It’s a mind-blowing amount of money.”While prices neared the $9,000 cap on the first day of the blackouts, they soon dipped to $1,200 -- a fluctuation that the utility commission later attributed to a computer glitch. The panel, which oversees the state’s power system, ordered Ercot to manually set the price at the maximum to incentivize generators to feed more electricity into the grid during the period of supply scarcity. The market monitor argues that Ercot should have reset prices once rotating blackouts ended because, at the point, the emergency was over.It’s asking the commission to direct Ercot to correct the real-time price of electricity from 12 a.m. Feb. 18 to 9 a.m. Feb. 19. Doing so could save end-customers around $1.5 billion that otherwise would be passed through to them from electricity providers, Bevins said.But power generators that reaped substantial profits from the high prices during the crisis week are likely to push back. Vistra Corp. on Thursday submitted comments to the utility commission arguing against repricing. During a Texas senate hearing the same day, utilities South Texas Electric Cooperative and the Lower Colorado River Authority also voiced opposition.Texas Competitive Power Advocates, a trade association representing generators, said retroactively changing prices could discourage future investments in Texas’s electricity market. “Changing prices after the fact creates additional instability and uncertainty,” Michele Richmond, the group’s executive director, said in an email.Bivens acknowledged the market monitor isn’t typically in favor of repricing, but noted in her letter to the commission that the move wouldn’t result in any revenue shortfalls for generators. Instead, the new price would reflect the actual supply, demand and reserves during the period.“This isn’t some Monday morning quarterbacking,” she said in an interview. “Ercot made an error and we don’t let errors slide.”The utility commission on Wednesday adopted a prior recommendation made by the market monitor, voting to to claw back some payments to power generators for services they never actually provided during energy crisis. The commissioners also expressed support for capping the price of certain grid services -- a request made by several retailers -- but didn’t take action on it. Another commission meeting is scheduled for Friday.(Adds Ogelman quote, Moody’s downgrade in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Mortgage rates have risen past a psychological benchmark for the first time since they fell to historic lows during the pandemic. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.02% this past week, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey—the first time since July that the rate has risen above 3%. “Since reaching a low point in January, mortgage rates have risen by more than 30 basis points,” wrote Freddie Mac’s chief economist, in a release.
Cathie Wood's flagship ARK Invest ETF and a VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment backed by Wall Street bro Dave Portnoy are down by at least 4%. The VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF was down 4.3% in Thursday afternoon trade, in its debut. Meanwhile, Wood's ARK Innovation deepened its slide into correction on Thursday, off 6.6%. Both ETFs focus on drawing interest from many of the growthy tech stocks which are in the market's crosshairs as bond yields rise, including electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. . On Thursday, bonds took a leg higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he was watching the rise in rates but offered no concrete steps the central bank was taking to tamp down rate moves. The 10-year Treasury yield jumped by 7 basis points in afternoon action, hitting around 1.54% and accelerating a sell-off in stocks that are viewed as pricey and that don't offer a coupon. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was down nearly 10% from its Feb. 12 peak, meeting the commonly used definition for a correction. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 400 points, or 1.3%, and nursing a 0.8% year-to-date gain. The S&P 500 index was down 1.6% and holding on to a 2021 gain of less than 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite was negative for the year, down 1.4%.
Congress is nearing passage of the third economic stimulus check it will send out to you and other taxpayers as part of its Covid-19 relief bill.
The team will soon be accepting the crypto as part of a deal with payment services provider BitPay.
(Bloomberg) -- As the leader of crypto exchange Kraken, Jesse Powell is bound to be bullish on Bitcoin. Yet he’s projecting a disruptive future that would stretch the imagination of even the most ardent crypto fans.In a Bloomberg Television interview, Powell said Bitcoin could reach $1 million in the next decade, adding that supporters say it could eventually replace all of the major fiat currencies.“We can only speculate, but when you measure it in terms of dollars, you have to think it’s going to infinity,” he said. “The true believers will tell you that it’s going all the way to the moon, to Mars and eventually, will be the world’s currency.”The CEO also said San Francisco-based Kraken is considering going public, possibly next year.Extreme predictions are nothing new in the world of Bitcoin, where adherents stand to profit from convincing a wider audience that crypto is a legitimate asset class, rather than a speculative fad. The dollar remains the world’s reserve currency and is the benchmark for global trade, though its value has softened in the past year.Powell said Bitcoin bulls see it one day exceeding the combined market cap of the dollar, euro and other currencies.The dollar “is only 50 years old and it’s already showing extreme signs of weakness, and I think people will start measuring the price of things in terms of Bitcoin,” he said.The digital currency slipped 3% in early U.S. trading on Thursday, hovering around $49,000. Prices have surged almost 600% since the start of 2020 on the back of wider mainstream adoption, with bulls seeing it as both an inflation hedge and speculative asset.Critics argue that Bitcoin is in a giant, stimulus-fueled bubble destined to burst like the 2017 boom and bust cycle.Kraken benefits from higher prices as it reaps fees from increased trading. Bloomberg reported last month that the exchange was in talks to raise new funding, which would double the company’s valuation to more than $10 billion.“Personally, I think $10 billion is a low valuation,” Powell said. “I wouldn’t be interested in selling shares at that price.”The CEO did acknowledge the potential for wild market swings, saying prices can “move up or down 50% on any given day.” That kind of volatility has long been one of the negatives of Bitcoin, relegating the market to one of speculation, rather than a means of doing business.“If you are buying into Bitcoin out of speculation, you should be committed to holding for five years,” Powell said. “You have to have strong convictions to hold.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A new exchange-traded fund seeking to ride the companies most loved by investors online has found plenty of its own positive sentiment in its first day of trading.About $438 million worth of shares in the VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF (ticker BUZZ) changed hands on Thursday, making it the third best ETF debut on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Normally, this kind of blow-the-roof-off volume for the first day is for ETFs that open up a new asset class like gold or Bitcoin,” said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.The fund, which has been promoted by Barstool Sports Inc. founder Dave Portnoy, follows an index that uses AI to scan online sources like blogs and social media to identify the 75 most favorably mentioned equities.Because of its criteria for inclusion, the hottest names among the day-trading crowd like GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. don’t actually make it into the gauge. Its top holdings currently are Ford Motor Co., Twitter Inc. and DraftKings Inc.Nonetheless, the rapid uptake suggests VanEck has succeeded in tapping into the increasingly powerful retail investing cohort.“Given the explosion of individual, younger retail traders, it makes sense to see a pile of volume,” said Dave Lutz, macro strategist at JonesTrading. “Whether it is the WSB crowd embracing Dave Portnoy’s marketing of the ETF, or institutions playing it to bet on the direction of the trend (or hedge) -- we won’t know for a bit. I suspect it’s a bit of both.”The fund opened at $24.40. It was down 1% at $24.15 at 12:02 p.m.(Updates with latest figures, analyst comments.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. Treasury yields Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he was monitoring the rise in bond yields and that he would be concerned if financial conditions did tighten. "I would be concerned by disorderly conditions in markets or persistent tightening in financial conditions that threatens the achievement of our goals," Powell said during a webinar hosted by The Wall Street Journal. The 10-year Treasury note yield climbed 7.1 basis points to 1.541%. Bond prices fall as yields rise. Many investors had said that if Powell didn't offer more explicit pushback on higher government bond rates, it could fuel Treasury market weakness. Powell stressed again that the Fed would be "patient" with higher inflation expected this year, saying it was likely to be a "one time" effect and not price gains that continue year-after-year.
Despite the hashtags, the stock market is far from “crash” territory, as anyone with a working memory of last year's pandemic-inspired selloff would recall. But a rotation away from the market's recent leaders does appear to be under way.
Workhorse Group Inc. said Thursday that it met with U.S. Postal Service representatives on March 3, to discuss why the electric vehicle maker missed out on a Next Generation Delivery Vehicle contract, which was awarded to Oshkosh Corp. Workhorse said it can't disclose details of the discussion at this time, but said it plans to share information when permitted. The stock slumped 3.4% in premarket trading. Missing out on the USPS contract had sent Workhorse's stock plunging 47.5% on Feb. 23 to $16.46, and the stock has lost another 9.4% since to close Wednesday at $14.92, the lowest close since June 29, 2020. "Yesterday's meeting with the USPS marked the first step in what we expect may be a prolonged process to explore our options and possibly pursue further action related to our NGDV bid," said Chief Executive Duane Hughes. "We will continue to follow the proper due course procedures as defined by the USPS and will also look to other options available to us." He said legal and corporate advisory firms were retained to identify and pursue its options. Workhorse's stock has lost 32.4% over the past three months through Wednesday, while Oshkosh shares have rallied 28.6% and the S&P 500 has gained 3.3%.
Contractors, freelancers, and sole proprietors in the US can now access considerably larger loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), following a new rule issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA) on Wednesday. The rule allows entrepreneurs without employees to calculate their loan eligibility using gross income rather than net income, making the loans far more generous, especially for businesses with little or no profit.
Stock benchmarks finished sharply lower Thursday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he was monitoring the recent rise in bond yields but added that the inflation expected this year was unlikely to last
Longtime Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) bull Ron Baron acknowledged Thursday morning his fund Baron Capital sold 1.7 million shares of the electric automaker despite his long-held belief the stock has a path to $2,000. What Happened: Baron Capital invested $387 million in Tesla's stock back in 2014 and the position has grown to be worth $5.5 billion in February, Baron said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." Over the past six months, the fund has sold 1.7 million out of its 8-million share position between $450 and $900 a share with an average price of $666.70. Baron said many of his friends were skeptical with his original 2014 thesis that Tesla's stock would return 20 times. "We persisted," Baron said. "And at the time we invested, it was unlikely in most people's opinions that electric cars were going to dominate." Related Link: Ark More Convinced On Tesla's Autonomous Strategy And Cathie Wood Says A New Price Target Is Coming Soon Why It's Important: The decision to authorize a sale of a stock he believes still has tremendous upside potential was due strictly to profit-taking as the stock's surge means it accounted for an outsized representation in the fund portfolio, Baron said. The fund also used some of the proceeds from the sale to pay down part of a line of credit. Baron said it was "painful" to sell close to 2 million shares of Tesla's stock as the company's prospects of eventually selling 20 million cars a year is a more realistic outcome. Tesla has so many opportunities ahead, such as the ability to monetize each of the 20 million cars sold by charging a monthly $100 fee for autonomous driving features. "That alone is worth the present price of the stock in 10 years," he said. See also: How to Invest in Tesla Stock What's Next: The billionaire himself said he has not sold a single share he personally owns and is unlikely to do so "for another 10 years." Tesla's stock traded around $657 a share at publication time. See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaExclusive: Grayscale CEO 'Wouldn't Rule Out' Future Bitcoin ETF Launch In US© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
(Bloomberg) -- The most popular stock trade in China is unraveling, tarnishing the reputations of some of the country’s most successful money managers and undermining the outlook for the world’s second-largest equity market.Until three weeks ago, buying the nation’s beloved liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co. was a surefire way for the $3 trillion mutual fund industry to mint money and attract bumper inflows. The stock soared 30% year-to-date through its Feb. 10 record, after gaining almost 70% in 2020 -- and doubling in the year before that.Many funds, flush with a record amount of cash, didn’t have a choice if they wanted to keep their clients and attract new investors. Buying Moutai was the simplest and most effective way to top rankings -- until it wasn’t. The stock began tumbling after the Lunar New Year break, and kept falling. It’s now down 22% since its peak, including a drop of as much as 6% Thursday, and has lost more than $111 billion in value.One of the most high-profile casualties is E Fund Management Co.’s Zhang Kun, the first in China to oversee 100 billion yuan ($15 billion). Zhang’s E Fund Blue Chip Selected Mixed Fund is down 12% in 10 trading days after returning 95% last year largely due to a big bet on baijiu, the Chinese white spirit. The fund had 9.6% of its assets invested in Moutai as of December. Another fund run by Zhang has lost 23%. Zhang didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.The fund manager has received “verbal abuse” in recent weeks by investors who were previously fans, according to a report Wednesday in China’s state tabloid Global Times. He was known as “Prince Charming” or “Brother Kun” among his investors, who now refer to him on social media as “Kun Gou” or “Kun the dog” -- an offensive term in Chinese.Other copycat money managers will be feeling the pain: recent data showed two-thirds of mutual fund assets were invested in only 100 stocks, while the top 400 stocks lured 93% of total funds. Although China’s onshore market contains more than 4,000 stocks, Moutai is by far the largest with a market value of about $390 billion.Moutai accounts for 27% of the loss in the FTSE China A50 Index of the nation’s largest companies since Feb. 10. When added together with fellow spirit makers Wuliangye Yibin Co. and Luzhou Laojiao Co., the three comprise more than half of the gauge’s decline.Concern had been growing about the stretched valuations of Moutai and its peers, especially as gains accelerated. A gauge tracking consumer staples, including liquor makers, traded at a record 36 times projected 12-month earnings in February.Read how China is warning against ‘entertaining’ investors with fund pitchesTo be sure, the company’s shares have faced plenty of risks in the past. The stock tumbled about 8% in a single day in July after the People’s Daily criticized the high price of the company’s liquor. In 2017, Xinhua News Agency said the stock was rising too fast, triggering a selloff. Back in 2013, the stock plunged when Xi Jinping came to power and clamped down on lavish spending by party cadres.But this time around, authorities have grown increasingly concerned about risks to the financial system posed by excess liquidity. On Tuesday, China’s top banking regulator jolted markets with a warning about the need to reduce leverage amid the rising risk of bubbles globally and in the local property sector. With Moutai being the best-known proxy for liquidity-fueled bets and momentum, fund managers will likely need to find a new strategy to protect their returns.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.