The cannabis industry has been making significant strides amid increasing legalization—but its growth is just getting started.
I welcome Jason Wilson, a market veteran and cannabis banking and research expert at ETFMG, the leading ETF issuer behind the world’s largest cannabis fund, MJ. Jason explains how and why he became a cannabis industry leader. He also breaks down state and federal government regulation… some short-term headwinds… and why massive industry growth is inevitable over the next few years. [32:00]
Daniel Creech joins me to discuss whether we’ll be taking a COVID vaccine… and the incredible earnings results for Target and Walmart. Plus, bitcoin’s wild volatility as it looks to reach new highs… and why we’re still in the early stages of digital securities. [56:43]
Wall Street Unplugged | 748
One on one with Jason Wilson: Why massive cannabis industry growth is inevitable
Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged looks beyond the regular headlines heard on mainstream financial media to bring you unscripted interviews and breaking commentary direct from Wall Street right to you on main street.
Frank Curzio: What’s going on out there? It’s November 18th. I’m Frank Curzio, host of the Wall Street Unplugged podcast, where I break down the headlines, and tell you what’s really moving these markets. So it’s been an interesting two weeks, and last week we had Pfizer and BioNTech report very, very positive data on its COVID vaccine. The market popped on this news because the vaccine showed a 90% efficacy rate, so it’s effective. 90% effective, which is amazing. And to put that in perspective, the flu vaccine, which is distributed every single year, is around 40%. There’s a lot of different strains every single year, but it’s at 40%. This is 90%, and it’s put in a class of the MMR vaccine, which is measles, mumps, rubella, and together they’re close to the 90% range as well.
Frank Curzio: And if you look at measles, mumps vaccines, nobody goes out, nobody is worried about catching that, so that’s where you could look at where COVID is going to be a few years from now, not right away. A few years from now. Now once this news was released, what happened? We saw the cyclical trait, which is cruises, airlines, hotels, oil, travel related sites surge on this news, which it should be pretty great news for you guys because I’ve been pounding this table for at least two months, and as you guys know, I’m not someone that pats myself on the back ever. I cover my losers more than my winners, and I do that for a reason because we all become better investors in what we’ll be focusing on losers and how do we get better.
Frank Curzio: So I’m not being arrogant in saying that, but I saw little risk in these names, given that most are still down more than 25% from their highs, a lot of these names did a great job cutting costs, extending their debt schedules, hunkering down during those lockdowns. Plus, if you look at the hotels, casinos, cruise lines, I wasn’t recommending just any one of them, I was recommending those with the best balance sheets, and a lot of those names are seeing huge bookings for 2021. What does that mean? It means people are dying to get out of their houses. They’re dying to get out of their houses. We all know that, everyone listening to this could identify with this, everyone in the world can identify with this.
Frank Curzio: It’s not easy staying home, not being able to travel ever, even to see family members or business. Not easy. Plus, with the vaccine coming out soon, two months ago, we had amazing data from Moderna and Pfizer. This is phase two/phase three data that came out that was extremely positive, it just made sense to get into these stocks. The timing might have been a little difficult because, hey, COIVD is not going to be cured right away, but when we look at this… Eventually, we’re going to find a way out of this, and now the vaccine from last week from Pfizer was great. It’s awesome news.
Frank Curzio: So if you’re looking at the market as a whole, guys, even looking at what stocks went up and the stay-at-home stocks, you’re looking at large technology stocks, when you’re looking at this market, you’re not going to see a lot of money come out and go into treasuries, which we’ve seen a lot because they’re yielding, what, 0.9, 0.8 whatever it is today. And accounting for inflation, you’re going to make nothing. You’re going to make a negative return.
Frank Curzio: So what’s going on is the stock markets is what you see is a rotation. It’s the same amount of money in there, it’s just being rotated into different areas. So the rotation was going to take place where, hey, a lot of money managers, and you saw that with 13F, they come out every quarter, they were just released a couple of days ago. So you could look at Tepper, Globe, Buffett, all these guys. I believe we’re talking about $100 billion dollars of management. They have to list everything that they own, that they increased, all those positions that decreased and closed after, list all that stuff, and you saw that. You seeing the rotation out of technology and in to a lot of these names, which is really good news.
Frank Curzio: Now it gets even better because earlier this week, we had Moderna come out with results from its COVID vaccine. It was a phase three trial, as well. It showed a 94% effective rate, which is really the same as 90%, but it sounds better. 94%. The vaccine uses the same technology as Pfizer, which is called MRNA. It’s just basically, not to bore you, it’s a form of immunotherapy. They inject proteins into the cells, and then the cells are able to attach to other cells because even when you get cancer, your immune system fights it and realizes it can’t win, and gives up, and that’s how it spreads.
Frank Curzio: So these forms of immunotherapy, which MRNA is, it tells your immune system to keep fighting, and this one actually attaches itself, and feeds off of it, and creates even better sites. It’s really amazing. You really got to look into it. It gets a little technical, but it’s really cool. So these two companies both have the same technology. But when it comes to logistics, there’s a big difference because Pfizer’s vaccine has to be kept at nearly minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit to remain effective. If you want to put that in perspective, that’s about 20 degrees colder than extreme winter temperatures in the South Pole. Very crazy.
Frank Curzio: When you look at Moderna’s vaccine, it must also be shipped when it’s frozen, but it could be stored in a refrigerator in transportation for up to seven days, which is a significant difference. Now with Pfizer, they have all logistics present, everything is cool, but Moderna makes it a little bit easier. Now, there was a little back and forth on almost every media channel, and big personalities in social media, if you guys are on your Twitters and Facebook or whatever. Since Moderna was 94% effective and Pfizer is 90%, again, both amazing, amazing rates. Unbelievable. And for the record, today, today is Wednesday, today, Pfizer reported safety data, which said that the new data confirms a 95% effective rate, which is perfectly a little bit higher than Moderna. I get it. I understand.
Frank Curzio: Anything over 85% is amazing. 90, 95% basically is telling you that the COVID virus is going to be gone pretty soon. And when I say soon, I mean years. I don’t mean next year, I don’t mean 2022, I mean probably by 2025, which is great news, which is awesome. Now, here’s what you need to know. Both of these vaccines absolutely amazing, considering the quickest we’ve ever brought a vaccine to market was mumps in the late 1960s, and that took four years. Four years. These COVID vaccines are brought to the market in nine months, which is incredible.
Frank Curzio: I don’t want to get political here, I’m not. I know people get political, and people are going to hate Trump no matter what, and blame him for every single death in the United States from COVID. No matter who is president, that person is going to get blamed. That’s the way it goes in politics, everybody gets that. But the operation at warp speed to have the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world working on this together, hundreds of billions in government funding to fast track the operational hangups. Not to fast track the data. Of course, we don’t want that. We don’t want a vaccine that’s not going to work or we’re not too sure about. No. Absolutely not. But there is a bottleneck in this process, and it takes a while to really get the approvals and everything, but you can speed that up. Why? Because this is affecting the entire world.
Frank Curzio: And bringing all these from the largest pharmaceutical companies together, funding them, making this as easy as possible to do this, we were able to produce this in nine months. Pretty incredible when you think about it. Nine months. That’s going to save tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of lives, and this is around the globe, not just in the US. Now the government projects that Pfizer and Moderna are going to provide 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people because you got to two shots. I think they’re about a month apart, and this is by the end of the year, and then well over a billion doses in 2021. Again, that’s half a billion people.
Frank Curzio: So in the next few months, we’re going to have respond workers, people who work in hospitals, the people who are over 70 that need it the most, they’re going to get it. If you don’t have any underlying conditions, and first we would think, “Hey, only 50% said that they would take the vaccine.” Listen, you try wearing a mask. I wore a mask yesterday to take my daughter to get basketball sneakers. She had a first game, she did fantastic by the way. It was awesome just to see her. I wish I was out there, but she did fantastic. And we were in the store for an hour and my wife, we have, I guess, our personalized masks that we have and we just leave the regular ones, like 10 to 12 that come in a pack, we leave that in our cars in case we forget.
Frank Curzio: So we took our cars, so I forgot mine, and it was black, but I had an inside covering, I couldn’t even breathe. I got a headache, I was like, ugh… And I can tell you, that 50, 55% of people worried about the vaccine, again, that was in the middle of the election, and everyone is worried, and everyone is cutting corners, and you’re going to die and all that shit. When I look at the vaccine now and when it comes to masks, I think people are going to take it like crazy, especially with this 90% plus, 95% plus effective rate. You’re going to see a lot of people take it, so that we can go out, we can get rid of this thing and fine, we’re all cool.
Frank Curzio: But average people are probably not going to get this to at least nine months from now. And when I say average people, I mean people who no underlying conditions, and under 70, and don’t work in hospitals or first responders and stuff like that. Now, great news all around. Really great news. The vaccines, which if you put alongside the incredible is always something from Home Depot, Walmart, Target, which I’m going to break down later with Daniel. It shouldn’t surprise anyone with these results, since these are companies that were allowed to stay open while everybody else closed, which is kind of amazing, but you’re seeing these results.
Frank Curzio: Target blew them out, Walmart, just amazing. We’re going to break this down a little bit later with Daniel. But those results and the vaccine news pushed the markets to all-time highs. Kind of incredible when you think about it because where the market was processing all the positive news, what was really going on? What’s the biggest story? Numerous states around the nation have decided to go back on lockdown. They’re back on lockdown. Are you kidding me? So, you have lockdown restrictions extended in Colorado, New Mexico, New Mexico is the harshest, which is weird. I don’t know. I haven’t been doing a lot of research on this. I just was surprised that people were told, “Hey, you basically have to stay home except for essential travel, and indoor and patio dining no longer be allowed.”
Frank Curzio: You have California. They’re already super tight. Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut, Washington, Vermont, New York, just to name a few. There’s a lot more. But most of these states, if not all of them, are planning to close schools again. They’re planning to close schools again. Now stay with me. This is going to be about your portfolio, and I’m going to share some data with you, and it’s data. So don’t hate me if this doesn’t support your agenda or way of thinking. It’s okay. You can hate me if you want, if it makes you feel better, firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to send me an email. Take it all out on me. I’m here for you. I don’t care.
Frank Curzio: People just, for some reason, are very passionate about things because they’re listening to sources. For me, I always want to look at the data. I’m a research analyst for close to three decades. My job is to research shit to death. That’s what I do. My wife hates me that I do it, everything I do, that’s it. I’m programmed that way. So, I want to get down to the data, the answer, and figure it out, and that’s what I do when I stock picks. I don’t want to lose those.
Frank Curzio: Now if you listen to this on iTunes, which a lot of you are, it’s really cool, but when you go to our Curzio Research YouTube page, all of our podcasts are in video format now. So this is in video format. You go there, it’s absolutely free, you subscribe, like the page, it would be great. But all of our interviews, we’ve got a fantastic interview coming out by the way, I’m going to tease that a little bit, really, really good for you, but you could look at all of this through our Curzio Research page. It’s important because now I have the ability to bring up certain sites, and I want you to see the actual research that I do. I’m going to explain it if you’re on iTunes. You don’t have to worry about it, but it’s pretty cool to see because at the end of the day, I want to try to educate you, and this is going to relate to how you can structure your portfolio better.
Frank Curzio: So when they’re closing all the states and decide to close the schools, closing schools again in so many different places, I wanted to see some more data from the CDC. Now, I’m going to punch this up really quick. So when you got oh the CDC site, and I have that up right now, again, I’m going to explain it for you iTunes people. You go to the front page, and it’s funny because they give you data like age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, all this stuff, and they have good data sources. They break out the years of the amount of people that have COVID. It’s pretty close to 224,000. Again, this is today. It’s updated November 12th, it’s updated every week, but this is the latest data. We’re talking about the CDC here.
Frank Curzio: The CDC. It’s important to understand that because the CDC is a site that we should all be able to trust. I would think. Unbiased, they’re reporting information, one of the leading sources that people grab things from, and that’s what we do here. So when you look at the CDC, again right on in here, which is interesting, so it’s kind of hard to find this data. But I want to see broken down by dates between kids under 18 years old, and I want to see the death rates based on states.
Frank Curzio: So they have a link here, it says index of available data files, I have to click that first, and then I have to go into provisional COVID-19 deaths by place of death. And when I click that, it brings me up to another page, and it highlights the dataset and visualized export. Now when I hit export, you could export it right to your Excel spreadsheet. Now, this is when things get interesting. When I downloaded it, here is what it looks like. Just a bunch of data that shows the data, the start week is February 1st, 2022. 11/12/2020. That’s the latest date available, all sexes, age group, zero to 17 years old. It has all the ages broken down, but I’m selecting zero to 17 years, then it has the amount of COVID deaths. It’s pretty close to 200… it’s about 224,000 deaths right now.
Frank Curzio: Now only 115 they have at the top, in the United States only 115 people who are under the age of 18, so zero to 17 years old, have died from COVID. That amounts to a 0.05% rate. But it gets even better than this because when I’m looking at this data, it goes by state by state. I go to Alabama. Alabama has zero for males and females under 17 who die from COVID. Alaska, zero. Arizona, zero. I went through every single state already, I won’t bore you. California has zero, even though there’s only two people, actually. That’s what’s being reported. Two people under the age of 18 years old died from COVID in California. There’s 40 million people, that’s the population of California. Two people. Two people died. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. I found out this week. Only two people.
Frank Curzio: “You’re closing the schools. We need to close schools, so we’ll close every single school. It’s very, very important.” California, they had zero here. This is their data, even though there’s two that are listed on some websites, but this, the CDC has zero. I go to New York, has zero. I’m going to heavily populated states. Again, kids have died under 18 who got COVID and died from COVID. The only state I go down to that has anything listed there, and again this is their data, is Texas. And when I go all the way down to Texas here, it’s basically they’re the only state that has their 14 deaths from males, and 11 from females. So 25 in total from Texas. That’s the only number I’m coming up with that’s based on their statistics, even at the beginning, it says 117 people.
Frank Curzio: Now when I look at that, it’s kind of interesting because we’re looking at the data. It’s all about the data, and why are they closing schools here? It’s kind of interesting because like I said, when it comes to California, you have 40 million people that live there, and just two kids, which I can’t even find on the CDC website, has zero there that died from COVID. Now to put that in perspective, there’s more people in California that die from bee stings and snake bites every year. I’m just putting it in perspective. “Oh, we’re going to close all the schools,” which is unbelievable.
Frank Curzio: So we’re looking at the data, and despite the data coming out, and this is from the colleges of leading doctors on how lockdowns have caused a spike in suicide rates among children, mental health issues, and data is now showing the catastrophic effects from lockdowns in terms of that depression anxiety. We’re seeing that. We’re seeing studies come out like crazy. They’re everywhere.
Frank Curzio: Now when I first heard this stat, especially with California, I wanted to dig in and do some more research. So it’s very easy. This is why I’m showing to you on our YouTube page that you could do this yourself, you can look at all the statistics, they’re all there. But what you’re going to hear is that cases are through the roof. We need to close everything. Hospitalization rates are through the roof. And you know what? They’re kind of telling the truth. They’re telling the truth, yes. Rates are going up, but you got to look at the data because I’m going to bring up something else here.
Frank Curzio: Now, one is, you’re seeing hospitalization rates go up. I’m going to post this right here, and I’m going to show this data and this chart, which is cool. And you look at the percentage ICU beds with COVID patients, and this is a major concern hospitalization rates are going high. So they’re going higher, and they’re skyrocketing, and everybody is going… You would think ICU, those beds would be filled. They’re not even near, and I have the chart up here. It’s not even near crisis levels, and they break it down by every single state, not even close. Not even close. Not one state is even close. Not one state is even close.
Frank Curzio: And then when I look at the hospitalization, let’s take a look here at COVID hospitalization and fatality rates. We need to look at rates. It’s important. That’s a percentage. That’s what we need to do. We need to look at the percentage. Yes, of course there’s more cases. There’s more people going out. We know that this disease impacts sick people. Again, we’re going to get to the portfolio in a minute, but here is COVID hospitalization and fatality rates. It’s kind of amazing. It’s from Evercore, ISI, great research firm, of crashing.
Frank Curzio: So to put it in perspective here, you’re looking at hospitalization rates are now down to around 3%, a little bit lower. To put that in perspective, it was 6% in August, it was over 15% in May. It’s under 3% meaning that, yes, there’s more people being hospitalized, but as a percentage, it’s going down tremendously, which is great news. The fatality rate is under 2%. And you’re looking at June at 4%, and you’re looking at, man, at April, over 15%. These two numbers are huge. Nobody wants to report them. I get it. People have an agenda, I get it. I’m not here to say, “Hey, you’re looking at this. You’re looking at that.” I’m not saying that, but you need to research a lot of this stuff because when I look at the data, get clear looking at the data, it doesn’t make sense that there’s nothing that supports that schools should be closed. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Frank Curzio: If you look at the common sense of it, where we’re locking down the entire country again to fight a disease that has a 99% plus survival rate. If you look at the common sense of it, where massive spikes in suicides, depression, anxiety from lockdown is creating a much bigger impact on society than COVID. When we look at recent studies from leading journalists, media outlets on both sides of the aisle here, guys. Both sides of the aisle. Donald Luskin, Wall Street Journal, says, “No escaping the evidence that at minimum, heavy lockdowns were no more effective than light ones, and that opening up a lot was no more harmful than opening up a little. So where’s the science that would justify the heavy lockdowns that many public health officials are still demanding?”
Frank Curzio: Landsat, the oldest publications in healthcare, they did a study, same thing. The National Bureau of Economic Research, Bloomberg, Elaine He, wrote this article, showed there’s little correlation between severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities. And even said that there’s tons of these. Look for yourself. There’s dozens to hundreds of data that has come out showing that lockdowns will not prevent COVID deaths.
Frank Curzio: So the question is what are we doing it for? The data doesn’t suggest it. I just brought up charts that I showed you, which indicated how you’re hearing what they’re telling you, and they’re telling you, “Yes, it’s a fact that hospitalization rates are going higher. It’s a fact that more people die from COVID.” But as a percentage of people infected, they continue going down and that’s an incredible trend. That’s the most important thing.
Frank Curzio: So if the data doesn’t suggest lockdowns, common sense doesn’t suggest it, even studies done by the media on both sides, they don’t suggest it either, again I can’t find any clear evidence at all that suggest lockdowns prevent COVID deaths, why are they doing it? Maybe you can answer that question. I can’t, I can’t. I can’t answer it. There’s a million conspiracy theories, they want more control of us, I have no idea. But if you’re looking at the data, if you’re looking at common sense, you’re looking for both sides, why are you locking down? More importantly, why are you closing schools for? Why are you closing schools for? That makes no sense.
Frank Curzio: But in the end, in the end, and here’s the point here, I’m getting to your portfolio, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. Your job as an investor is to react. So the fed is spending more money keeping it straight won’t react. You could bitch, you could go on social media, you could say whatever you want. “I hate this. The fed, they’re bailing out everybody.” Especially if you’re a permabear. You hate it. “I hate it. Stocks are going high. I hate it, I hate it.”
Frank Curzio: Have you ever been around a permabear before? My dad was a little bit of permabear. He’s always depressed. I don’t know. I’m never considered a permabear or permabull. Again, I look at the data and make my decisions accordingly. But go on social media, express your feelings, do whatever you want to do, but adjust your portfolio, start owning assets because when I look at what’s going on, we’re locking down. Regardless of the stats I just showed you on the CDC site, citing sources that are on both sides of the aisle, it makes zero sense. And even for kids, closing schools is a joke. It’s an absolute joke.
Frank Curzio: And again, I’m speaking… I have two kids, one has Crohn’s disease, and I’m still sending them to school. And when we’re in Florida, they go to school, they’ve been there for four, five months. Everything is great. Four months of it, everything has been great. They’re playing basketball, they’re playing sports. We get to New York, everything has been canceled. Just tell me that you see, “Wow, basketball is canceled.” They can’t coach, the kids aren’t doing anything. Fall schedules going online, 100% online, all this garbage. Why, why, why?
Frank Curzio: But I tell you, you have to adjust your portfolio accordingly because this is happening regardless of the data. You’re seeing the states lock up because everyone is scared shit of the coronavirus again even though 99% of people who get it are going to be perfectly fine plus. It’s amazing. Now this is what has me nervous because we spent six and half trillion dollars of stimulate the economy, which worked. It’s 30% of GDP, this is not an apples to apples comparison, but six and a half trillion and 30% should buy us around four months of economic growth, again, not apples to apples comparison, where you’re looking from a spending perspective.
Frank Curzio: And the six and a half million or trillion… I can’t believe I say trillion all the time. Trillion. Are you kidding me? Six and a half trillion dollars? That’s awesome. And we want to forgive debt now, student loan debt. Hey, what about auto loans? Throw that in there. Nobody has debt anymore. Everyone is happy. Hey, it would be fun. Anyway, six and a half trillion. It should fuel the economy and it did. Now this was past the CARES Act in late March. Like I said, if you put around four months on that, 30% of GDP, and in March it didn’t hit until April, but four months later it’s August, I’ll even give it to September. After that, a lot of that money is dry.
Frank Curzio: We still have some of the fiscal level, I agree. But a lot of it, if you talk to businesses, if you talk to people like I do, so many people email in, there are businesses that are doing good, you’re looking at as to related business, homes, prices are still going higher in home building, things like that, but a lot of this money is gone. And you’re looking at businesses outside of the Walmarts, Targets, Home Depots. Again, stay at homes, stocks, those are still okay. But you’re looking at restaurants, gyms, bars, they can’t even operate at 80% capacity, which it is on average around the nation.
Frank Curzio: Now you’re closing again? Now we’re locking down states again? And we still don’t have a stimulus pass, which may not happen until the end of the year. Now hypothetical here, let’s say you just woke up from a coma from one year ago, and I said to you that, “Hey, you know what? We’re locking down states, and the government is not providing any stimulus.” Just on that alone, you would think the stock market is down 20%, and we see tons and tons of bankruptcies. What do you mean lockdown? We’re locked down? People can’t open their business? They can’t run their business? No, you can’t even go out. You can’t travel, you can’t go to schools, any kid’s school, nothing.
Frank Curzio: Imagine I said that to you. You think, “Wow, the market must be getting crushed.” No, stocks are trading at all-time highs, and I understand more than anyone that markets are forward looking. The vaccine is eventually going to wipe out COVID, but it’s not going to happen for years. The states are still going to require for people to wear masks for many years, which results in fewer people going to fewer places. It does. Absolutely.
Frank Curzio: I went to Disney a couple of weeks ago. I don’t feel like going back to Disney. Not at all. My kids didn’t even like it because I had to wear a mask outside all day. We got sore throats at the end of the day. It wasn’t a great experience, and it was crowded on the rides. 25% open, but everything else was closed. So the only thing you could do was go on rides, and those were 30 to 50 minute wait. Pretty much 45 to an hour wait, actually. We didn’t get on in any rides in 30 minutes, nobody does.
Frank Curzio: Now to be clear, I’m not calling for a crash. There’s lots of things that I love here. I’m recommending a newsletter. We had a great performance, we did very well, but many stocks are at extreme valuations. The S&P would be trading over 21 times forward earnings with earnings declining year over year right now as of last quarter, which was reported, but we’re basically pricing in perfection, which could happen. Sometimes perfection happens. Sometimes. Not often. By perfection, I mean zero chance of the Democrats winning the two senate elections in Georgia and taking full control. Zero chance.
Frank Curzio: I wouldn’t put that at zero. By infection, I mean the vaccine will result in everyone going back to the way they spent money in the past? I don’t know. That’s what we’re pricing in now. By perfection, we’re definitely going to get 100% certainty, a stimulus plan, in the next month or two. I don’t know if I can guarantee that right now. I don’t know if it’ll happen this year. And you guarantee that we’re not going to have any global concerns with China, who infected the world with this virus and killed hundreds of thousands of people? Are you kidding me? Millions of people? Possible conflicts in the Middle East. It’s a lot of things to consider at these levels, so just be careful here.
Frank Curzio: I’m long, but if you want some puts, I’m not 100% long, more like 70% around. I’m going to be very, very careful. But for you, when you’re looking at your portfolio and everything that’s going on, there are a couple of certainties, and central government is going to continue to spend trillions to keep their economies afloat. Again, canceling student debt that’s actually on the table, are you kidding me? That’s a great message. That’s a great message to send to the schools, which have been increasing tuition at what? Seven to 10X times the rate of inflation. What do you think they’re going to do if all this debt gets paid off? Well, they’re going to jack it up even more for these kids, and they’re going to say, “You can’t even come through our schools. You got to do it online.”
Frank Curzio: Again, the schools accept no responsibility, which is an effing joke. Joke. To all the kids that’s all on the system, it’s all… And everybody blames everybody else. And hey, the schools love this. Hey, more money to us. It’s fine. It’s great. But when you see that, even over time, maybe the stimulus doesn’t happen in the US in the next couple of months, but if you look at the next year or two where businesses are still going to be closed for the most part, at least 10, 20% they’re going to need more money to survive, the central governments are going to do everything they can to supply that, which is why Bitcoin is at 17,000 plus, almost a new all-time high.
Frank Curzio: While gold has been strong, pulled back a little bit here and there based on the stimulus news, but overall, it’s been pretty strong. It’s a great time to add some names to your portfolio. And another industry that I think is going to benefit tremendously during this especially if there’s more lockdowns is marijuana. Cannabis. If you’re talking about the elections, “Yes, there’s so much going on with Trump, and he’s still fighting and all this crap.” Yeah, I get it. There’s a lot of motions, but when you look at it on the surface, there’s a lot of things that happen with marijuana. Five more states appreciated legalization methods, and that brings us to today’s guest, who may be the biggest name in this space, since he runs the largest cannabis ETF fund in the world with over 700 million assets.
Frank Curzio: It’s called Alternative Harvest, or MJ for short. This is a fund where every single marijuana stock that goes public is dying to go into. That’s their goal: To be into this. They got 33 securities in that portfolio, there’s hundreds that want to get in, a lot of great names that came to market. Of course, you’re going to see the biggest names go in there, but what does that mean? It means this person has access to the best names in the entire industry, which you’re going to hear about in a minute, and that person’s name is seasoned veteran manager, who runs the MJ fund, is Jason Wilson, and let’s get to that interview right now.
Frank Curzio: So Jason, thanks so much for joining us on Wall Street Unplugged.
Jason Wilson: Hi. Thanks for having me today. Great to be here.
Frank Curzio: Well you’ve been doing this a long time, and you have senior positions in several leading financial institutions. What attracted you to the cannabis space, and when did you realize that, “Wow. This is a market that it’s not just some kind of little that this is going to grow to something this big.”?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. I guess two things. Professionally, I’ve always been interested in emerging markets, emerging industries. Starting as a lawyer, I’ve done a lot of work in structured finance space, and that took me over to investment banking. And I’ve always had this interest and curiosity to get into. New asset classes and new industries. And it’s about 2014 I moved back from the US, back up to Canada, and it was right around then, we started seeing a lot of activity on the investment banking side for cannabis cultivators in the medical side looking to raise capital to expand their operations. And A) the fact that this wasn’t legal at the time in Canada from a recreational perspective, and B) it wasn’t legal in most countries around the globe, it was hard to raise capital.
Jason Wilson: So it was an interesting challenge to figure out how to bring some of these companies to market, and then B) just the efficacy behind the product. Listening to company after company, story after story of how medical cannabis was actually helping a number of people. You could really see the huge addressable market an opportunity would have, and also seeing it in the polls and public opinion where it was moving from, I’ll call it this kind of taboo type product to something that was becoming socially normalized, socially acceptable. So it’s just the combination of, I guess, right time, right place, and I guess I’ve been in the cannabis industry for six or seven years now. So it’s been a pretty great ride.
Frank Curzio: So you’re a veteran, right? In the industry?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Now as a veteran. Absolutely.
Frank Curzio: So, I’m looking at the election. Everyone is focused on the candidates, of course, and we had to get political. But I don’t know if it was under the radar, but you have five more states approve it. I think it’s 15 in total for recreational use I’m pretty sure, but you’ve mentioned something just now when you say internationally. I think we can all identify with the states, but what about international? Can you talk about the growth internationally? Because everyone who’s in the US is the biggest market. But yeah.
Jason Wilson: Yeah. The US is absolutely the biggest singular market, and I was just looking in North America, obviously, already we have full adult use legalization in Canada. Mexico as well, another large country by population is coming online for full recreational use by the end of this year, and that’s been in the works for a while. But going outside of North America, looking to Europe and the rest of the world, there is over 40 countries that have now legalized medical cannabis or in the process of legalizing, and their total populations represent over a billion people.
Jason Wilson: So outside of the US, there’s this tremendous movement to legalize. We actually have the United Nations that are going to vote to reschedule cannabis at the end of this year based on the WHO recommendations, and that will help open up that global market. So to your point, 15 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized adult use, there’s another 20 states for medical use as well. That’s a big story on its own, and we’ll see if we have a divided Congress or not. That will determine the timeline of federal legalization to some extent in the US.
Jason Wilson: But one way or the other, we’re going to see federal legalization in the US, and quite likely in the next few years we’re going to have 40, pushing 50 countries globally that have medical cannabis programs. So it’s a tremendous global opportunity as well just here in NA.
Frank Curzio: Ah, that’s fantastic. So let’s get into your fund a little bit. The MJ fund, and I’m going to bring this up for everybody to see, and they have the expert on it, which is a nice beautiful picture of you, which I want to put up because you seem like a modest guy. So, I just want to throw that up there. But it said the first US and world’s largest ATF to target the global cannabis industry, you have 33 holdings, here’s your assets and the management, and you have the states approval, and guys, I have the fact sheet here. You can find out everything you want. This is the largest…
Frank Curzio: I guess out of 33 issues, the number of holdings, could you venture into the international market or are you seeing… There’s probably hundreds that have come out that are just smaller companies, and some of them might be promising, but how does that work in terms of your allocation? Can you go international if you fund the right stocks and outside, I guess, North America?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Absolutely. In fact, the bulk of the portfolio has a new national exposure. MJ is unique in a number of ways. First off, it’s a first publicly traded, exchange listed fund in the US to focus on the global cannabis market launch at the end of 2017, and right now we’re approximately around 800 million in assets under management. So it’s not only the first, it’s by far the largest, and it’s also unique in the fact where MJ really focuses on the entire cannabis ecosystem. The majority of our holdings are cannabis cultivation companies. They actually grow and manufacturer cannabis related products, but we also have a number of other verticals in the cannabis there including companies that manufacturer equipment, provide services, we have pharmaceutical biotech component to it, a consumer product side.
Jason Wilson: So if you look at MJ, it’s looking at more in just the companies that grow and cultivate cannabis, and have dispensaries that sell adult use or medical cannabis direct to the public, but they also are involved in many other facets of the industry. It’s interesting that you mentioned is do we have international focus? It’s in fact fully international. Most of our large holdings have global operations. If you look at countries like Canopy Growth, they’re one of the market leaders in Canada, and they have obviously operations in the US initially on the hemp side, but they also have contingent and ownership interest in a couple of multi-state operators in the US.
Jason Wilson: They have obviously through a distribution partnership through their ownership of the Constellation Brands. They’re using that to build out their CBG side of things, but they also operate in over a dozen countries globally, and we have a number of companies in that bucket. Aphria is another good example where they own a pharmaceutical distribution company in Germany that gives them significant access to the European medical cannabis market over there. So, I would say at least half of our holdings provide that full global exposure.
Jason Wilson: Another significant portion of them are already operating in the US. God’s Miracle Grow is a good example, and some people would say it’s not really a cannabis company, and that’s true at heart. It’s not. They don’t grow cannabis, but they have significant revenues, and their fastest growing segment that they have is at the Hawthorne division, which solely focuses on the growing equipment and things, all the canopy lightning and what have you that you need to actually go out there. And for individuals that live in states that want to grow their own cannabis that can, they can do it, but they also have an institutional, industrial R&D program as well.
Jason Wilson: So MJ is great at what it does to provide full global exposure. It also does it in a manner that is touching multiple verticals in the cannabis ecosystem, and it’s the reason why we have so much support, so much investor support even withstanding correction we’ve seen in stock prices going through 2018, 2019 in the cannabis space up significantly from our lows this year. But we’ve always been gaining momentum and gathering steam with a lot of new assets coming into the front.
Frank Curzio: You mentioned Canopy, and I’m pretty sure that you were the advisor to Canopy, I think, during the Constellation investment, right? Constellation Brands I think it was?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Well when I first came back to Canada, the investment bank I was working at, we ended up doing some advisory work just for Tweed at the moment, which ultimately became Canopy Growth. And before then they ended up following all the way to the Constellation investment.
Frank Curzio: So just understanding Canopy early on and where they are now, and you’re looking at say the big ones that people talk about. It’s Tilray, Aura, other ones that you hear all the time. I know you know all the names in the industry, but do you see a changing in the guard? Do you see new technology, maybe the innovation coming out where are these guys going to be your thing, the Microsofts and Amazons or are they the Blackberries or the AOLs? Because as new technology comes along, and new systems, supply chains, everything changes especially in a high growth, new industry like this.
Jason Wilson: Yeah. I think they’re already seeing that happening to some extent. Originally when there was a rush of capital when we were looking at full adult use to legalization in Canada, just there’s a splattering of money everywhere, and it was all invested off of narrative, and it was a grow at all cost kind of mentality. So we had a lot of these companies, a lot of the bigger ones, some of them that you mentioned, that they were just building these green meadows. They were all about trying to get as much growing capacity as possible on the hope that there would be this massive build out in Canada that there would be legalization in the US, and of course, legalization globally.
Jason Wilson: But as things happened, legalization in one country takes a fair amount of time. Implementation of legalization takes another fair chunk of time, and we saw that alone. And Ontario is Canada’s biggest province with almost 40% of the country’s population within it. In the first year after legalization, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 dispensaries where people could buy legal cannabis. So it took a long time for regulation framework and supply chain distribution channels to really build out, and we’re seeing a significant uptick in sales now. But that wore heavily on a lot of these companies as they burned through their cash, and you think of it globally too as well.
Jason Wilson: We have to see trade treaties be changed and amended to allow true global marketing, and in the US, ditto down there even though you’ll have state legalization, and federal legalization. It’ll still take a long time for all the regulations and guidelines come into place. So that’s created a lot of havoc and created some haves and have nots. There’s a lot of companies that raise capital when it was cheap, have significant war chest, have great investment partners, and they are becoming kind of cannabis 2.0 companies where in fact when they’re really CBG companies that focus on cannabis product.
Jason Wilson: Canopy is a great example of that, Aphria is a great example of it. Chronos and Tilray, they’re going that way as well. And what we’re also seeing other companies grow into the ecosystem better focusing just on extraction for example, and there’s other ones that are folks in GW Farm is a great example, solely on the pharmaceutical side and medical grade side of things. So there’s all these different components that I don’t even know. Some of them will be an Amazon of this space, but it’s becoming more faceted than that. As the industry develops, we’re seeing individual companies that are becoming leaders in their specific vertical, if you will, and that’s going to continue to play out for quite a while, which is, again, why we see so many people investing in a multi-strategy ETF, if you will. It gives exposure to that whole cannabis because it’s way too early innings to even try to guess who’s going to be the Google, the Microsoft, the Amazon of the industry.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. It definitely makes sense. And let’s talk about the current environment because it’s not right to say this, but it feels like it should be a secular industry, but it feels like it’s kind of cyclical to the point where you look in 2016, the election, just before they run up and then it comes down. Then we had the 2018 midterm elections, you had more states. I think it was three different states that approved some form of legalization, now you have five states. Now just before the election started moving up again, is it more about more states getting approval? Is this something? Because for me it seems like a secular trend, but also it seems like these companies have to go through just like with the technology companies went through during the tech boom. They just get crazy with their growth trends that they use, their stock is currency to buy as many companies as they can.
Frank Curzio: I get it, rolling up and stuff, but now it’s come to the point where I read a lot of stories that the majors have a ton of inventory levels, which is going to mean lower prices, which is great for people who like this product, but not so great for margins. So what are some of your concerns or are you even concerned about that in the short term for the industry?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Short term there’s a lot of pressure on exactly what you said. Look at Canada. Canada is an open market. It started as a limited license market on the health side where Health Canada was only issuing so many licenses, and that really allowed a lot of these early companies to come in and scale with, I’ll call it, margin protection. But as we moved to full national recreational use, it’s really become an open market, and there’s a number of cultivation licenses out there that it’s a lot easier to open dispensaries now. And based on that, we’re seeing more competition, and because we had such a rush of capital in the door several years ago and so much growing capacity was built out, we do have this over supply.
Jason Wilson: So in the short term, am I worried about that? It’s obviously hitting the balance sheets of these companies clearly. But in the long term, that is going to sort itself out and everything will normalize. We’ll end up getting to this point where the strongest company survives, and we’ll have this equilibrium in the open market. In the US, we’ve seen a very similar thing. We haven’t seen federal legalization as you know in the US, but state by state, some states like California, have a model similar to Canada, and it’s hard to compete there.
Jason Wilson: Again, open market, lots of competition, and the high excise taxes as well in contrast to some of the limited license markets. Again, we’re like we had in Canada initially these kind of protected margins, we’re seeing some of those multi-state operators actually do quite well. The problem is all of this is subject to change. I don’t know what and I don’t think anyone does what US federal legalization is going to look like. So today, certain models work, but looking forward depending on what the federal guidelines look like, whatever your model is could be completely turned upside down, and that’s why we’re seeing a lot of the ebb and flow in prices, we see companies that come in, they’re doing well, and then there’s some changes, and the next thing you know, they fall out of favor.
Jason Wilson: So some early stage companies that were managed well from the get go, and then overspend if continued to do well. Some of those companies though where they did overspend, and don’t have robust distribution networks are falling by the wayside. We have new companies coming in and are learning off of that, and there’s going to be a lot of M&A opportunity. And at the end of the day, it’s a new and emerging industry. There’s no institutional support with respect to stock prices yet. So we can see these somewhat emotional flows of cash come in and out because in large part, it’s still largely retail buying and selling with respect to cannabis stock, and less so on the called global cannabis companies like Canopy, but definitely when we look at some of the US names. It’s primarily supported by retail trading.
Frank Curzio: You brought up a good point with the institutions getting in where it’s not legalized in the federal level, which is a little weird because federal trump states here, but it’s not going to happen that they could come in and seize a business in Colorado or anything, but the fact that that’s open I can see institutions being a little lost. And one of the things that you mentioned, which is really interesting, I never thought about it, is how easy it is to start a business like this once it gets appreciated in the state because if you have a technology company, you really have to know a ton about technology, it’s not the easiest barrier of entry.
Frank Curzio: And even when you look at the oil industry, there’s some kind of technicals there where once this thing goes live, it’s hard to have the established players where there’s so many little players and local players out there. That makes a lot of sense though in this industry. But another thing you mentioned was some of the names that you said that had done a great job in terms of they don’t have high inventory, they’ve been smart with their costs and everything. Is there any names that you could share with us that you’re really liking? And if you can’t, it’s perfectly fine and I understand. But names outside the mainstream that you’re looking at that, “Wow. These guys are really getting it done, they’ve got a good management team, and looks promising.”
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Generally if you look at the big global cannabis players, Canopy is kind of the bellwether. They have significant institutional ownership in them through Constellation. That’s a big plus for them. That’s going to be incredibly important, I think, as they turn themselves into a global CBG brand. On its face, it’s kind of easy to grow cannabis, it’s a little bit less easy to grow and cultivate in a single state and sell it through state licensed dispensaries. But if you really want to scale this business, you have to do what Canopy is doing, and they’re looking at the derivative products.
Jason Wilson: So drinkables, edibles, on the medical side. At the end of the day, most physicians will not want to prescribe or try at least. They’re actually going to want to prescribe a specific call it a gel cap or a pill that has a specific cannabinoid profile that’s relevant to a particular ailment. So that takes a whole different skillset, and that’s what we like about companies like Canopy Growth because they have that strong management team, that institutional support to be able to take advantage of those opportunities on not just a continental basis, but on a global basis.
Jason Wilson: Aphria is another one that is an interesting company. They kind of started in your more traditional format where it was a group of people that were very adept in the agricultural space. But from there, management has fully changed over. They did some questionable acquisitions back in the heydays, but with Irwin Simon at the helm, he’s been there initially as a chairman, but now he’s the CEO, bringing again that CBG experience, they have a very well-run company, strong balance sheet, and again they are a CBG company first with a cannabis focus, and you can see that with their recent acquisition of SweetWater. And you look at the valuation of a company like Aphria. They’re only trading. Their enterprise value to sale is just around three times.
Jason Wilson: So very reasonable multiple trading just above book. It actually looks like a pretty interesting entry point for a company that has true global exposure to the cannabis industry. So there’s a number of companies like that in MJ that have that. GW Farm is another interesting one. The fact that they have the only plant based cannabinoid drug that’s approved by the FDA. So there’s, again, early times, a lot to come out, but there are some definitely strong companies that have been doing this for a while with strong balance sheets and good management that looked poised to take advantage of the next 10 to 20 years of global growth in the industry.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. And let’s talk about that. Where do you see because I talked about short term, and you’re always going to have bumps in the road in every single industry no matter where you are, that’s the way it is especially since it’s a high growth industry. You’re going to make lots of mistakes. And these guys, I feel like, have learned a lot. Where do you see this industry five to 10 years? Do you see that even in the US approved on a federal level? I can see exposure internationally, but I would think that you would have to pretty optimistic, right?
Jason Wilson: Yeah. Five years, there’s so much bipartisan support right now, and if you think of a post-COVID economy, where what we’ve really had is a number of things. Significant job losses, massive hits to state and local budgets, and you got the legal cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing, if not, the fastest growing industry for jobs in the US. There’s this impetus to say, “Let’s legalize,” because it’s going to A) make it safer and more efficient to operate with these companies that are already in legal states. Two, it’s going to give the opportunity for more job growth. Three, a lot of tax revenues. All these things.
Jason Wilson: Right now they’re incredibly important to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I think whether you’re red or blue, it doesn’t matter, and you add to that the medical efficacy. And we’re seeing really deep red states that are approving programs now for that simple reason. They want access to medical cannabis. So, I think there’s a lot of reasons economically to do it. There’s also a great opportunity for social justice reform to allow this new industry to grow and to actually bring in minority business enterprises as well.
Jason Wilson: So, I think that regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s going to happen in one way, shape or form. The only question is if we end up with the Dems controlling Congress as well, it’ll be easier in the shorter term. But even if it’s not, even we have a divided Congress, it’s still going to happen. And then globally same story. Every country is fighting against the massive budgets right now, figuring how to get people productive and employed again, and this is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and make that happen.
Jason Wilson: So that just legalization on its own won’t be the end of it. Obviously we’ll have to see proper guidelines, regulatory reform. We saw hemp legalized in 2018, but with conflicting guidelines from the FDA, the DA, and the USDA, that industry still hasn’t emerged. So even once legalization occurs will take time to fully adopt and grow a full industry, but we’re going to be tremendously further ahead five years from now in where we are today. We’ve got lots of upside to gain.
Frank Curzio: That’s great. I was going to say, if you need an analyst, you need boots on the ground, sample some of the stuff to figure out and let you know if it’s any good, let me know. I’m sure you have analysts lined up out the door, right?
Jason Wilson: Absolutely.
Frank Curzio: But I want to end on this, and this is really cool, so I hope I’m not going to embarrass you because this is kind of amazing, but I did read… Because I was doing a lot of research before I interview everyone, a lot of it, and it says that prior to completing university studies, Jason was a member of the Canadian forces and is a recipient of the Gulf of Kuwait Medal awarded for his engagement direct combat during the Gulf War in 1991. That’s really, really cool, when I saw that. So congratulations on that.
Jason Wilson: Well thank you. Yeah. Thanks
Frank Curzio: Oh that’s awesome. I love getting to the personal side of people too. It’s all business sometimes, but that’s really cool to know that background. But listen, I want to thank you for coming on, we put this interview together pretty quickly. Thank you so much for being flexible. I know how busy you are.
Jason Wilson: No problem. Thanks for having me.
Frank Curzio: No worries. And if you need anything on my end, please don’t hesitate to ask, and good luck with your fund, and I’m sure it’s going to draw a lot of attention even from this interview because a lot of people are definitely interested in this trend.
Jason Wilson: Thanks very much. Well, I hope to catch up soon.
Frank Curzio: All right. You got it. Take care. All right guys. Great stuff from Jason. He’s just an awesome guy. I was able to speak to him a few days before and we discussed topics and everything, but just a straight shooter, someone that I respect a lot, and I want to thank John Petrides, who we’re going to get back on this podcast, who made an introduction to someone in this space, and made that introduction to Jason again, who’s one of the largest players in this space, and a big name, and I really appreciate it. These are the names that are coming on thanks to you guys. Our downloads keep increasing, and now that we’re doing it on our Curzio Research YouTube page, again feel free to go there. It’s absolutely for free, which is really cool because there’s a lot of visuals there, and you get to see my good face, along with the ugly face of the person I’m bringing on right now, who is my buddy, Daniel Creech, where we’re going to talk about some of the topics.
Frank Curzio: Not just vaccine news, Bitcoin, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, but a lot of things on the table right now that I want to get to. But Dan, what’s going on, man? How’s everything?
Daniel Creech: Frank, happy Wednesday, sir. How are you?
Frank Curzio: Well, I want to start off by saying Daniel, his back, he had back problems. When I say back problems, he couldn’t even get off the floor. It was really bad, and I’ve been through this. I had two back surgeries, so I know what he’s going through. So, I’m helping him out, get him coffee, do everything that I have to do-
Daniel Creech: Hilarious.
Frank Curzio: And he’s kind of bitching a little bit. I’m not making fun of you, right?
Daniel Creech: Oh yeah.
Frank Curzio: And it’s funny because Dan is… How tall are you? 6’6″?
Daniel Creech: About 6’6″. Yeah.
Frank Curzio: 6’6″, and you hear his voice, deep voice, and he’s like, “My back hurts.” So it’s kind of funny to hear.
Daniel Creech: Man, and I know it starts out like this because it’s like getting in trouble at school, and you got to explain to your dad and be like, “Listen, I’m sitting there minding my own business, and then all of a sudden…” Every story sounds like that. But how crazy it was and how out of the blue it came is that… And I’m active. I exercise and do stuff like that. I went to bed Thursday night thinking, “Man, the weather is going to be beautiful Friday.” It’s supposed to be really nice down here and has been the last few days, and I complained about the weather here. The weather sucks here for the most part. If you move from anywhere else it’s nice. Unless you’re up north. It’s great here.
Daniel Creech: But I literally went to bed thinking, “Man, maybe we’ll sneak out and play golf in the afternoon.” I woke up and felt like somebody took a few vertebrates out of my spine and did. So, thank you to Frank for getting coffee, and he’s really a nice guy at heart, folks.
Frank Curzio: Don’t ruin it for me. Don’t ruin it for me. But it’s funny because I did-
Daniel Creech: Yeah. I’m back and moving now, so I can sit up a little bit. I’m pretty uncomfortable, but we’re headed in the right direction.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. Definitely. And I can identify with that because even when I asked the doctor I said, “You know what? Not that I’m some tough guy, but I’m usually okay with pain.” And I was on the floor almost crying with my back pain, and he said, “If you got shot, you’d feel less pain.” So, I had to stand. I was telling him, “Damn, dude. It’s bad. Don’t do anything stupid. It’s not something that you just go crazy and try to stretch it out all the time.”
Frank Curzio: But anyway, I’m glad that it’s getting better, and I’m glad you’re able to come on because now we’re going to talk about a couple of topics. Let’s talk about the amazing results. Target, Walmart, Home Depot. All three of these we put in our portfolios placed for Curzio Research Advisory. We sold Home Depot a little bit early for a nice profit.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. We did a quick game.
Frank Curzio: We still have Target and Walmart in it, but talk about… So these results are insane, right?
Daniel Creech: Yeah. You just try to fathom. It was $20-something billion dollars in quarter, and you just stop and think about billions are thrown around all the time. So that’s easy to just sit there and read through especially in our jobs. It’s like, “Okay. Did they beat? Did they raise? What are they saying?” But I don’t know if you talked about in your intro, but it’s hilarious when you’re allowed to stay open no matter what. Talk about having a heads up on the competition, and they are. There’s Staples as you need them. Target is impressive just because, and Walmart too. But Target just has a nicer feel, the logistics, the efficiency that goes on behind those companies, the management teams, they’re so good and so regular, I guess, that you take it for granted. But the big news that I got was four and a half billion in stock repurchases. They’re probably going to start next year.
Daniel Creech: So it’s not like these stocks are performing well, it’s not like they’re near 52 week highs, and so that shows you the momentum they have that’s kind of here to stay.
Frank Curzio: And it’s amazing, Dan, because when I look at these company that they were allowed, deemed essential, to stay open, but mom-and-pop, a lot of these organizations were not. Even Amazon, and Amazon we had in our portfolio for a while, up over 200% on it, but if you’re looking at Amazon, you’re looking at Walmart, you’re looking at Target, for people who never shop there before, they were forced to shop there and especially online where online, it seems like it’s a higher number, but I think it’s 13% of all retail sales are online. Only 13%. It might be more now. I think I looked at it about three months ago, four months ago.
Frank Curzio: But what does that do? Well, you go to Amazon and you realize, “Wow. Holy cow. This thing is amazing.” You’re being forced on it, and now you’re forced on it and going like, “Wow. I don’t even have to leave my house. I can just have free shipping, become a Prime member, automatically sent to my house. Towels, paper towels, toilet paper, whatever you need.” And once they kind of grab hold of you, especially all the algorithms and everything like that, they’re going to know what you want, they’re going to give you discounts, and I went to Home Depot to get a vanity for my bathroom, and it was amazing. I’ve been going to Home Depot forever.
Frank Curzio: But just going there, the girl is like, “Hey, you know what? If you fill out a card, you can get $75 off the purchase of $300.” It’s nice. You get the sink and you get the vanity. It’s pretty cool for our bathroom. And I was like, “Wow.” I said, “I think we already have a card.” They were like, “No. You can have up to five.” But she did everything she can. She gave us $75 off. But the point is that experience. They understand. Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, they understand you’re getting new people in there. Treat them great. Give them everything because now they’re going to be customers for life, and this is a new audience where you’re increasing your total addressable market.
Frank Curzio: It’s no surprise, but what does that do for everybody else because when things do start opening and some have opened, you’re not really seeing that demand from a lot of these businesses. It seems like a lot of mom-and-pop stores are going to wind up going out of business.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. Well hopefully that’s one good story about customer service. Very rarely those aren’t the norm anymore. So it’s good when you run into somebody like that. Yeah. I think everybody is going to have to pick up slack and operate where they can. I think if you don’t kind of cater to those new customers and give as good of an experience, people are going to lose. That’s old fashioned capitalism. But again, if you’re a mom-and-pop store and you kind of had to shut down or you don’t have the resources and stuff like that, you can get into the unfair argument, but that’s the reality.
Daniel Creech: And the management teams wouldn’t be… I think Target is looking to raise their dividend or staying on page two, and buying back shares if they didn’t see this momentum continuing into the future. So vaccine or no vaccine, Walmart and Targets are pretty good bets, and they’re boring. So they’re good to have in your portfolio and be like, “Oh, guess what? We’re up 30, 20%, whatever we are.” It’s not a worrisome thing. If the market is down 10%, you’re not panicking that you own Target.
Frank Curzio: Oh that’s a good point, and you mentioned vaccines. We saw the news come out 94, 95% effective from Pfizer, and BioNTech, and Moderna. Those two vaccines are fantastic, fantastic news. This is great news all around.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. That’s true.
Frank Curzio: It’s not going to happen all of a sudden. Let me ask you. Are you going to take the vaccine when it comes out?
Daniel Creech: No. Next question.
Frank Curzio: So you’re not going to take it?
Daniel Creech: No. I’m nervous about all that, but I come from the attitude of I try to avoid all that in general. Did you talk about any data and deaths in your intro? Did you piss everybody off?
Frank Curzio: I did. I broke it down. Hopefully, I didn’t bore anyone to death.
Daniel Creech: Here it comes.
Frank Curzio: But I was amazed because before this podcast, real quick Dan, as you know, because of my deal all day, I’m doing research. I try to make this relevant as possible to up to date, so we’d take these things on Wednesday and we get this out on Wednesday. We have a great crew that tapes it, that puts everything out there in video now, and also on iTunes, and I just went crazy with data today because I was just surprised. I was just surprised that you’re closing schools. I said, “Let me really look at the data,” and even the data didn’t even show, other than Texas, of kids under 18 that are dying from COVID. But yeah, I did share that data.
Daniel Creech: And again, I don’t want anybody to get it, I don’t wish anything on anybody, but for me, when you keep looking at data and the death rates, and if you’re at risk or not, and how this is handled to kind of everything else with the vaccine race, and from flus to sicknesses to diseases and all that, it really makes me skeptical. So it’s not that I don’t believe all the data, I don’t think anybody is lying about the 95% or whatever effectiveness. All that is over my head, but to the extent of when I dumb it down to think, “Hey, if I’m not in the risk zone,” other than my back right now, “I’m a pretty healthy guy.”
Daniel Creech: So no, I would avoid that, but I want to get it in the hands of the people that are genuinely fearful of leaving their house because it breaks my heart that you have older people that are lonely and have been lonely for months. I’ve had some family issues, I’ve been to Ohio several times this year. I couldn’t imagine going and not seeing my older grandparents and people are like, “Ah, you’re putting them at risk.” Nah, they’re fine. But I feel for them. You hear of friends and stuff that are at homes or whatever that haven’t had human contact with anybody. That’s heartbreaking. So anything that we can get back to more normal I’m for, but no. I’m not going to be lining up to take that thing.
Frank Curzio: So let me ask you this question. If you’re not lining up to take it, there’s a lot of people that are. I get it. If I wasn’t going to take it, but the fact is I really don’t want to be at risk.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. But you’re getting old, Frank. No.
Frank Curzio: Listen, I hate wearing masks. I really do. Just the fact that you have to wear a mask when you’re not sick is just mind boggling to me. I get it. I’m going to wear it because I understand there’s people that’s going to make them feel sick even though there’s… Seriously, guys. Some of that data, there’s no real studies showing that masks work. If they work, you wouldn’t see massive spread in Europe, which you’re seeing right now because they mandated it. It wasn’t like here where you’re like, “I’m not going to wear a mask.” No. You go to jail. You get in trouble.
Daniel Creech: You got to take it with some salt, but I’ve seen some videos on Twitter, and I know that they can be doctored, but yeah. People are getting the hell beat out of them or arrested for not wearing that stuff, like at a subway and things? It’s like, “Damn.”
Frank Curzio: Yeah. It’s crazy. So, I guess when I look at it that way, I’m like, “Hey, you know what? I’m probably going to take it.” And I changed my mind. I wasn’t going to take it. I suggested if, “Hey, if you’re under 35, maybe under 40 [crosstalk 01:05:38] with no underlying conditions,” which is most people and not me, “Then fine. Do what you got to do.” But you don’t really have to take it. But you wouldn’t take it even after six months of say… I took it and I’m like, “Hey, everything is cool because now I don’t have to wear…” Well, hopefully.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. It’s hard to look in the future. Possibly it’s like anything else. I would have to know either people or be one person away from other people. There’s still some skepticism around how it works and all that kind of stuff. The worst thing is somebody gets it and catches it, and everybody gets really sick. Talk about doubting the whole damn thing.
Frank Curzio: Yeah, I know.
Daniel Creech: But yeah. I’m sure that’s par for the course and all that kind of stuff, but I’m sure I would kind of soften up to it eventually. But as long as good data points, and I know that one death is too many. I don’t mean to make light of that, but as long as the death rate and other stuff like that, as long as… Forget the vaccine for a moment even though that’s excellent, there’s no reason to believe the treatment is going to continue to get even better as well. So heaven forbid if you do get it, hopefully we’re getting to the point, and tomorrow will be better than today, and next month and this month will have more better treatment, we’ll but more efficient and all that.
Daniel Creech: We have the greatest frontline people around, and that’s more of a calling than anything to do that job, so hats off to all you. But I have a ton of confidence in all that. But until I get it more in the risk or the data changes, I’ll leave the vaccine to others that are more at risk, and hopefully that gets out quickly, and like I said, we can get back to normal.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. And good point on that too because I brought up earlier, we’re separating these videos on YouTube and stuff like that, but I brought up earlier how hospitalization rates are crashing. Rates, rates. Not people who are going to hospitals. The rate the average person out of everyone who has COVID, and also fatality rates, and I can share that once again too how they’re crashing. This is as of two days ago. So you’re looking at the percent of hospitalization rate is now down to 3% of the amount of people who have COVID. It was in August, it was 6%, and over 16% in April, and same with death rate where it’s down below 2%.
Frank Curzio: So the fatality rate, which was in April above 14%, which is crazy. So that’s evidence that suggests, “Hey, the medicine is working, plus we’re keeping this people who are at most risk safe,” which is great. So we’re all doing a good job on that front. Now the last thing I want to talk to you about on one of these topics, which is kind of amazing. We’ve been saying this for a very, very long time. Again, I’m not touting my horn or anything, but the environment made perfect sense for Bitcoin to go much, much higher, and now we’re seeing that right now.
Frank Curzio: To me, Daniel, I think things are different compared to 2017. Guys, if you’re out there, listen to this. I have a lot of crypto people, we have a crypto newsletter performance. It’s fantastic in it because I have great, great context. For those of you who are die-hards in the industry, I would love to see stats. I would love to see stats. I can research it myself, but again, I’m busy these days. So if you can, help me out. Where the percentage of people who own it or even the Google Statistics that are looking, searching for it because I remember those statistics in 2017, and it uses a buying point where only 2% of people even understand what Bitcoin even is.
Frank Curzio: I think that number is exploding now. It’s everywhere. Even cab drivers are talking about Bitcoin, and to me, that makes me think that this trend is probably very early in its infancy. Not just digital securities. But when you look at it as a whole with what’s going on in central governments and more spending, this is one of the options that makes a lot of sense.
Daniel Creech: Yeah. Bring me back to Bitcoin because I have to joke real quickly about the Fed news. So yesterday, Judy Shelton was an informal advisor to Trump or whatever. She didn’t pass the vote in the senate to be on the fed board, I believe. And the only reason that’s worth news and kind of funny is because a couple of Republicans, Mitt Romney and the Senator Adam Maine, who run with Susan. Susan, I think, were going against her, so they weren’t sticking to party lines. A couple of the independents. But the big thing here is that they scared everybody because Judy Shelton in the past had been a fan of the gold standard. Returning to the gold standard, had totally different thoughts on inflation, kind of like if you’re really trying to help the poorest people in the world, why would you try to increase prices every year, common sense stuff like that.
Daniel Creech: And the people are throwing fits and it’s hilarious. The funny thing is that the reason I bring that up with Bitcoin is because a lot of times, and I got to give them credit. Both Jamie Dimon and Ray Dalio, banker for JP Morgan Chase and Bridgewater hedge fund manager, have you seen any recent comments they talked about?
A lot of them. A lot of hedge fund managers. Yeah. I’ll look that up.
Daniel Creech: So Ray went on Twitter recently. I don’t know if it was yesterday or the day before and said, “Hey, I might be getting this Bitcoin thing wrong. I’d love it to get explained.” He threw out his points saying, “Here’s what I don’t like,” and people are going to respond and all that. At least he’s open minded. I know Jamie Dimon was speaking yesterday or today at something and was saying, “Hey, it’s just still not my cup of tea.” But you got to give him credit for not hiding, and kind of going out there to Mitt, and they could be wrong because it’s going to, what, 18,000 right now.
Frank Curzio: It’s not his cup of tea, but yet they’re totally involved. JP Morgan is totally involved.
Daniel Creech: Well on the blockchain too. And he said that again today. You got to give him praise. He says, “Hey, I think the blockchain is going to really help move money around the world, it’s going to be huge for institutions in different money things.” So you got to give him that credit. The reason I’m explaining the fed and the scary person of Judy Shelton and the gold standard is because Bitcoin, to me, has never been that hard to understand if the concept of a limited amount, the 21 million, proves to be correct. And as long as that still does, I don’t see why it’s a big grasp to get a higher price on something that’s limited because people are human, you value scarcity. That’s why gold still holds value, et cetera, et cetera.
Daniel Creech: So it reminded me of a funny conversation in 2017. It was damn near 20,000 then, and a guy in Ohio said, “Hey, man. I just brought a little bit of Bitcoin. What do you think?” And I said, “Well, I have no idea what it’s going to do,” but I said, “Just forget about it.” Well as it went down to five and 4,000, who knows what he did, I haven’t talked to him or asked him, but it would be interesting because now it’s damn near right back to it. Talk about your emotions changing and saying, “Oh well maybe I wasn’t that silly back then,” or whatever. But I think with the government doing its thing, both Ray Dalio and Jamie Dimon actually have governments making it illegal or further restriction which, Frank, when governments outlaw something, everything goes away.
Daniel Creech: Drugs, prostitutes, you stop all your bad habits, and everything loses its value. If pot is illegal, pot is worthless. Nobody is going to pay for it ever again. These people-
Frank Curzio: I love that because when it comes to… Even with COVID, I think it was April and May, they had the strip bars. So they weren’t allowed to go indoors, but they had them almost like…
Daniel Creech: Somebody did a drive through.
Frank Curzio: …Outdoor drive throughs, where they have these spaces available. And when it comes to sex and drugs, they’re always going to find a way no matter what.
Daniel Creech: I wish I can remember what state did that.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. It’s more bad people when it comes to that. We’re all terrible.
Daniel Creech: Oh, that’s-
Frank Curzio: “Drugs are bad. Sex is bad.” All this stuff. So it’s got to-
Daniel Creech: But I think it’s great how they highlight, and I appreciate Dalio for saying, “Hey, I think they’re just going to …” Basically governments would make it illegal or I think Dimon was saying how their regulation could be more strict. We’ll get into this another time, but that’s a bigger point because why would you make something illegal that all people were trying to do is efficiency, cheaper, and transparency? So that’s a rabbit trail for another time. But it’s easy to say now that Bitcoin is approaching near its previous all-time highs, but it still makes sense, and you’re seeing a lot more money and news around it.
Daniel Creech: Hell, but now it’s all of a sudden back other 60,000 and then 100,000 Bitcoin. Didn’t you highlight the city guy? Didn’t he put a 318,000 by the end of next year?
Frank Curzio: You know what? When it comes to-
Daniel Creech: Think about that.
Frank Curzio: It kind of pisses me off because the guy was basically… This is all technical, which how are you using technicals when you never broke 20, 21,000, whatever. Why are you using technicals for at that level? Not only that, you’re citing a fundamental reason for gold with the gold standard in the ’70s, and why gold took off, but it’s a guy that wants to get his name in the paper and it pisses me off because we’re into digital assets as well. We have a security token, CEO Curzio Equity Owners Token, and I believe in this industry. Not all those utility garbage tokens, but I do believe in digital assets. And then when I see guys like this come out with stupid targets, to me, it’s a negative because people are skeptical about the industry. You can say 35,000, 50,000, same thing, but you’re from Citigroup, so go crazy.
Frank Curzio: This is where we get all of his attention, and to me, I just get pissed off I think. We heard million dollar targets in 2018, ’18, and look what happened. And he thinks it’s going to happen next year by the way.
Daniel Creech: I know. I think it was December of 2021.
Frank Curzio: 2021 next year.
Daniel Creech: Yeah.
Frank Curzio: How crazy is that?
Daniel Creech: Yeah, that would be nice. Anybody that owns Bitcoin is a fan of that.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. And I’m sure he’ll say, “Well, I got it right,” if it’s at 30,000. He’s going to be like, “I told it was going on.”
Daniel Creech: Hey, it’s higher.
Frank Curzio: 300,000?
Daniel Creech: Last thing I do want to say on that because we have seen, I put it in the token tracker email, but there’s been a couple of companies that have brought Bitcoin to kind of use as basically their treasury, which is interesting to me.
Frank Curzio: Awesome.
Daniel Creech: And then Zero Hedge had, and I’ll butcher his name so I’m not even going to say, but apparently Mexico’s third richest man who’s worth 11 or 12 billion, put 10% of his in Bitcoin of his net worth. Now you still are rich even if that goes to zero, but that’s a big deal.
Frank Curzio: No, it is, it is, it is. All right. So we covered a lot of topics there, and guys, questions, comments, feel free to email at email@example.com. Daniel, I want to thank you for coming on. I love having you on. We get a lot of positive feedback. I love discussing these topics with you.
Daniel Creech: We’re getting some good negative ones too. I like that.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. Keep the negative ones. We’re going to read them.
Daniel Creech: It’s good to be on. The show must go on. Look how much pain we’re working through here.
Frank Curzio: Yeah. We’re going to work on the negative ones, so stop bitching about your pain. You’ll be fine. You’re 6’6″, man. Give me a break. Anyway, listen, thanks so much for joining us. And guys, last time you’ll be sure to go to our Curzio Research YouTube page. Hit the subscribe button so you never miss another podcast video. We’re separating them. Again, we have this whole stupid set up. I’m really proud of it because it was a lot of work, and a lot of people helped me out on it, and to have this now is really, really cool just to bring you the websites and things. I believe it’s going to help you become a better investor. I promise. That’s why we’re doing all this stuff.
Frank Curzio: And it’s a little bit better visually than just listening to it sometimes because I do like to watch podcasts actually. I enjoy that. So you could do that by going to our Curzio Research YouTube page, again hit the subscribe button, like it, don’t like it, whatever you want to do. But these videos are there, and you’re going to have some really good information and good visuals when you go there. And guys, listen, thanks so much for listening. We continue to get tons of downloads. I’m most humbled by that. You guys have led me into your lives, and just really, really cool stuff.
Frank Curzio: Again, I don’t expect you to always agree with me with whatever, but I’m always a straight shooter, and I’m doing everything I can to making as much money as possible. And so far, our newsletters are doing pretty well, we can do much, much better, always do better, but I’m very happy with the performances and in all the newsletters and everything, and really appreciate all the support. So thank you so much, and I’ll see you guys in seven days. Take care.
Announcer: The information presented on Wall Street Unplugged is the opinion of its hosts and guests. You should not base your investment decision solely on this broadcast. Remember, it’s your money and your responsibility. Wall Street Unplugged produced by the Choose Yourself Podcast Network. The leader in podcasts produced to help you choose yourself.
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