MyPillow’s products have disappeared from Costco’s site – but the company won’t say whether it’s cut ties with Mike Lindell’s brand

Mike Lindell Costco
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

  • You can’t buy MyPillow’s products on Costco’s website any more.
  • An employee told Insider none seemed to be in stock at any of its stores near Brooklyn either.
  • Costco declined to comment on whether the retailer had cut ties with Mike Lindell’s brand.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re looking to buy a MyPillow product from Costco, you might struggle.

The brand’s products seem to have disappeared from the retailer’s website.

Insider spoke to a customer service worker from Costco via the company’s website, who said there seemed to be no MyPillow products in stock at any of its stores near Brooklyn. They confirmed that none were listed for sale for online orders.

Costco MyPillow
MyPillow’s products were no longer available on Costco’s website, at time of writing.

Insider asked Costco whether it had cut ties with the brand. The retailer declined to comment.

This is a change from January, when Costco said that it had “contractual commitments to MyPillow that we intend to honor” when asked for comment.

Read more: The MyPillow guy says God helped him beat a crack addiction to build a multimillion-dollar empire. Now his religious devotion to Trump threatens to bring it all crashing down.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly pushed voter-fraud conspiracy theories. This included baseless claims that Dominion’s voting machines helped rig the 2020 US presidential election.

In response, the company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against both Lindell and MyPillow, accusing the CEO of profiting from his peddling of voter-fraud claims.

Lindell told Insider last week that at least 22 retailers have pulled ties with his company since January, including Sam’s Club, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Lindell said he expected this to cost the company about $65 million in lost revenue this year, but that radio and podcast infomercials could plug the gap.

More than 100,000 people have also signed a petition calling on other retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, to follow suit and stop selling MyPillow’s products.

Do you have a tip you want to share? Contact Grace Dean via email (gdean@insider.com). Always use a non-work email.

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Costco is reopening its food courts as restrictions loosen and bringing back fan-favorite items

Costco food court
  • Costco is adding seating back to food courts as restrictions are lifted.
  • The food courts pared down offerings during the pandemic.
  • Costco execs say the food court is key to drawing customers in.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco has plans to reopen seating in food courts soon, CNN reported.

In March of 2020, Costco closed down seating areas at food courts and cut back menus. Early in the pandemic, members could only buy hot dogs and pizzas to-go. Now, things are finally getting back to normal. Ice cream, smoothies, and churros are back on the menu, and the wholesale chain is adding back tables and chairs to stores with outdoor areas. Indoor seating is also returning as states lift COVID restrictions.

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti is planning for the food court to be back in business.

“God willing. But it’s going to take some time,” he told CNN.

Read more: Dollar General became a larger safe haven for cost-conscious shoppers during the pandemic. Experts now warn a lacking e-commerce presence may be its undoing in topping big-box rivals, even as it grows store offerings.

Costco’s food court is key to the chain’s strategy of making the in-store experience appealing over e-commerce to members.

“It’s still important to get people physically in the store. I don’t think brick and mortar is going away,” CEO Craig Jelinek told CNBC in December.

The famously inexpensive snacks are part of what draws people in, he says. The $1.50 hot dog and soda combo is particularly iconic, and the price hasn’t changed since the deal launched in 1985. Costco founder Jim Senegal once told Jelinek, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”

The commitment to keeping the price low has paid off. In the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million.

“It’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog,” Jelinek said. “We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck fifty,” he told shareholders. “End of story.”

Costco did not respond to a request for comment.

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Costco membership fees are expected to increase starting in 2021, the first time in four years

Costco pandemic coronavirus
  • For the first time since 2017, Costco is expected to raise the price of its membership.
  • Europeans are likely to see an increase first, starting this year, with the US following in 2022.
  • The company last raised the price by $5 for a basic membership, and $10 for a premium membership.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The annual cost of accessing Costco’s low prices on groceries is about to increase, according to a new analyst note from Wells Fargo.

The grocery chain’s Gold Star membership plan is expected to increase in price this year, for its basic “Everyday” and premium “Executive” memberships.

The prediction is based on the company’s history of increasing its membership pricing gradually over time, approximately every 5.5 years. “The membership fee looks poised to increase in the next 18 months,” the note viewed by Fox Business said, “and represents a potential catalyst for sales and earnings.”

The last time Costco raised the prices of its membership programs, in 2017, it added $5 to the lower tier and $10 to the higher tier. Those increases represented just shy of a 10% jump; it currently costs $60 for a basic membership, and $120 for a premium membership.

The price increase would have a much greater impact on Costco’s bottom line than it did back in 2017: There are over 108 million Costco members, as of February 14, according to the company.

Costco representatives were unable to be reached for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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The CDC is reportedly eyeing a ‘promising’ partnership with Dollar General to bring vaccines to rural communities, and Target is expanding access to shots with in-store CVS clinics

dollar general
dollar general

  • The CDC is eyeing a potential partnership with Dollar General, USA Today reported.
  • Dollar General has locations within 10-15 miles of rural communities in 46 states, the CDC said.
  • Target is now offering vaccine doses through over 600 in-store CVS pharmacies in 17 states.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the latest efforts to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly looking a partnership with Dollar General to bring vaccines to rural communities, while Target and CVS are working together to expand the rollout in 17 states.

Target began providing vaccine doses on Wednesday in over 600 CVS pharmacies located inside its store locations, the company said in an emailed statement to Insider. Eligible people can find an appointment through CVS’s website.

Shots are available at store locations in Virginia, New York, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Pennsylvania, the retailer said in the statement.

Target added that, “as states open up vaccines for frontline and essential workers, we’ll work with CVS and others to offer vaccines to team members within our stores and distribution centers in the future.”

Separately, the CDC is looking into working with Dollar General to expand vaccine outreach to Americans in rural areas, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

“We’re exploring a promising collaboration with Dollar General stores, which have locations that include refrigeration capacity within 10 or 15 miles of our rural communities in all but four states,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday at Health Action Alliance’s National Business Summit, according to USA Today. Dollar General has over 17,000 stores in 46 states.

Dollar General did not immediate respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Dollar General was the first retailer to announce plans to pay workers to get vaccinated. In January, the discount store said it will offer all 157,000 employees four hours worth of pay if they get the vaccine.

In February, the White House announced that over 40,000 pharmacies nationwide are set to receive vaccine doses to give to eligible people for free per the rollout of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.

Last month, select CVS Pharmacy locations began offering around 570,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in 17 states as part of the program. CVS administered over three million vaccines and 15 million COVID-19 tests nationwide by mid-February.

The pharmacy chains and retailers partnering with the government in vaccine distribution include Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid, Kroger, Publix, Costco, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Meijer, and Winn-Dixie.

To date, 95.7 million vaccine doses have been provided to people in the US, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 tracker. An average of 2.17 million doses per day were administered this week, according to Bloomberg data.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Warren Buffett’s right-hand man blasted Robinhood, slammed SPACs, dismissed bitcoin, and warned against speculating at the Daily Journal annual meeting. Here are the highlights.

charlie munger
Charlie Munger.

Warren Buffett’s right-hand man issued a warning to stock-market speculators, criticized the trading platforms enabling them, blasted SPACs, and downplayed the significance of bitcoin at the Daily Journal annual meeting on Wednesday.

Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is also the chairman of Daily Journal, a newspaper publisher and software developer.

Here’s a roundup of the 97-year-old executive’s key comments during the meeting, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Market speculation

“These things do happen in a market economy, you get crazy booms. I’ve been around for a long time and my policy’s always been to just ride it out.”

“A lot of investors are buying stocks in a frenzy, frequently on credit, because they see them going up. That’s a very dangerous way to invest.”

“Shareholders should be more sensible and not crowd into stocks and just buy them just because they’re going up and they like to gamble.”

“I think it must end badly but I don’t know when.”

GameStop

“That’s the kind of thing that can happen when you get a whole lot of people who are using liquid stock markets to gamble the way they would bet on racehorses.”

“The frenzy is fed by people who are getting commissions and other revenues out of this new bunch of gamblers. When things get extreme you have things like that short squeeze.”

“It’s very dangerous and it’s really stupid to have a culture which encourages as much gambling in stocks by people who have the mindset of racetrack bettors. Of course that is going to cause trouble, as it did.”

Robinhood and trading apps

“If you’re selling people gambling services where you make profits off the top like many of these new brokers who specialize in luring gamblers in, it’s a dirty way to make money and I think we’re crazy to allow it.”

“[Wretched excess in the financial system] is most egregious in the momentum trading by novice investors lured in by new types of brokerage operations like Robinhood. All of this activity is regrettable, civilization would do better without it.”

“Human greed and the aggression of the brokerage community creates these bubbles from time to time. Wise people just stay out of them.”

“When you pay for order flow, you’re probably charging your customers more in pretending to be free. It’s a very dishonorable, low-grade way to talk. Nobody should believe that Robinhood’s trades are free.”

Stock valuations when interest rates are low

“Everybody is willing to hold stocks at higher price-earnings multiples when interest rates are as low as they are now. I don’t think it’s necessarily crazy that good companies sell at way higher multiples than they used to.”

“On the other hand, I didn’t get rich by buying stocks at high price-earnings multiples in the midst of crazy, speculative booms, and I’m not going to change.”

SPACs

“The world would be better off without them. This kind of crazy speculation, in enterprises not even found or picked out yet, is a sign of an irritating bubble. The investment-banking profession will sell shit as long as shit can be sold.”

Bitcoin

“I don’t think bitcoin is going to end up the medium of exchange for the world. It’s too volatile to serve well as a medium of exchange.”

“It’s really kind of an artificial substitute for gold and since I never buy any gold, I never buy any bitcoin. I recommend that other people follow my practice.”

“[The Daily Journal] will not be following Tesla into bitcoin.”

Tesla and bitcoin

Munger was asked to choose which was more ridiculous, bitcoin trading at $50,000 or Tesla’s fully diluted enterprise value of $1 trillion.

He quoted author Samuel Johnson, who when presented with two choices, said, “I can’t decide the order of precedency between a flea and a louse.”

“I feel the same way about those choices,” Munger said. “I don’t know which is worse.”

Banks

“Banking, run intelligently, is a very good business. The kind of executives who have a Buffett-like mindset and never get in trouble are a minority group, not a majority group.”

“It’s hard to run a bank intelligently. There’s a lot of temptation to do dumb things which will make the earnings next quarter go up, but are bad for the long term.”

Wells Fargo

“There’s no question that Wells Fargo has disappointed long-term investors like Berkshire. The old management were not consciously malevolent or thieving, but they had terrible judgment in having a culture of cross-selling, with incentives on the poorly paid employees that were too great to sell stuff the customers didn’t really need.

“When the evidence came in that the system wasn’t working very well because some of the employees were cheating some of the customers, they came down hard on the employees instead of changing the system. That was a big error in judgment. It’s regrettable.”

“You can understand why Warren got disenchanted with Wells Fargo. I’m a little more lenient. I expect less out of bankers than he does.”

BYD

“BYD stock did nothing for the first five years we held it and last year it quintupled. What happened was that BYD is very well-positioned for the transfer of Chinese automobile production from gasoline-driven cars to electricity-driven cars.”

“It’s in a wonderful position and that excited the people in China – which has its share of crazy speculators – and so the stock went way up.”

Selling overvalued stocks

“I so rarely hold a company like BYD that goes to a nosebleed price, that I don’t think I’ve got a system yet. I’m just learning as I go along.”

Costco

“It’s been amazing that one little company, starting up not all that many decades ago, could become as big as Costco did, as fast as Costco did. Part of the reason for that was cultural. They have created a strong culture of fanaticism about cost and quality and efficiency and honor, all the good things, and it’s all worked.”

“People really trust Costco to deliver enormous values and that is why Costco presents some danger to Amazon. They’ve got a better reputation for providing value than practically anybody, including Amazon.”

Value investing

“Value investing, the way I conceive it, is always wanting to get more value than you pay for when you buy a stock. That approach will never go out of style.”

“All good investing is value investing. It’s just that some people look for value in strong companies and some people look for value in weak companies.”

Portfolio diversification

“In wealth management, a lot of people think that if they have 100 stocks, they’re investing more professionally than they are if they have four or five. I regard this as insanity, absolute insanity.”

“I’m way more comfortable owning two or three stocks which I think I know something about and where I think I have an advantage.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

“I’m a great admirer of Jeff Bezos, whom I consider one of the smartest businessmen who ever lived.”

Alibaba founder Jack Ma

“Jack Ma was very arrogant to be telling the Chinese government how dumb they were and how stupid their policies were and so forth. Considering their system, that is not what he should have been doing.”

The pandemic enriching the wealthy

“We were trying to save the whole economy under terrible conditions. We made the rich richer not as a deliberate choice; it was an accidental byproduct of trying to save the whole civilization. It was probably wise that we acted exactly as we did.”

Modern monetary theory

“So far, the evidence would be that maybe the modern monetary theory is right. Put me down as skeptical.”

Inequality

“I’m way less afraid of inequality than most people who are bleating about it. Inequality is absolutely an inevitable consequence of having the policies that make a nation grow richer and richer and elevate the poor. I don’t mind a little inequality.”

Politics

Munger bemoaned the rising amount of “hatred and irrationality” in politics, but argued the country had been well-governed for the past century.

“The system of checks and balances and elections that our founders gave us, actually gave us pretty much the right policies during my lifetime, and I hope that will continue in the future.”

The evolution of business

“Long-term business success is a lot like biology. In biology, the individuals all die and eventually so do all the species. And capitalism is almost as brutal as that.”

“Think of what’s died in my lifetime. Who ever dreamed when I was young that Kodak and General Motors would go bankrupt? It’s incredible what’s happened in terms of the destruction.”

Lifelong learning

“I think I had the right temperament. When people gave me a good idea, I quickly mastered it and started using it and just used it for the rest of my life. It’s such a simple idea. Without the method of learning, you’re like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

Psychology

“It’s one of the most ignorant professions in the world,” Munger said, highlighting that many psychologists fail to connect their theories and insights with other types of knowledge.

Adapting to technological change

“If you have a fixable disadvantage, remove it, and if it’s unfixable, learn to live without it. What else can you do?”

Challenging one’s beliefs

“I’m not really equipped to comment on a subject until I can state the arguments against my conclusion better than the people on the other side. If you’re looking for disconfirming evidence, that’s a good way to help remove ignorance.”

“When we shout our knowledge out, we’re really pounding it in, we’re not enlarging it.”

Early-stage investments

“Warren and I are better at buying mature industries than we are at backing startups. I would hate to compete with Sequoia in their field, they would run rings around me.”

“I got close to Sequoia when, with Li Lu, we bought into BYD. We were buying into a venture-capital-type investment, but in the public market. With that one exception, I’ve stayed out of Sequoia’s business because they’re so much better at it than I would be.”

The Queen’s Gambit and investing

“I have seen an episode or two. What I think is interesting about chess is to some extent, you can’t learn it unless you have a natural gift. And even if you have a natural gift, you can’t be good at it unless you start playing at a very young age and get huge experience.”

“Any intelligent person can get to be pretty good as an investor and avoid certain obvious traps, but I don’t think everybody can be a great investor or a great chess player.”

Do managers have a moral responsibility to have their shares trade as close to fair value as possible?

“I don’t think you can make that a moral responsibility because if you do that, I’m a moral leper. The Daily Journal stock sells way above the price I would pay if I were buying a new stock.”

“The management should tell it like it is as all times and not be a big promoter of its own stock.”

Oil and gas

“The oil-and-gas industry will be here for a long, long time even if we stop using many hydrocarbons in transportation. The hydrocarbons are also needed as chemical feedstocks. I’m not saying that oil and gas is going to be a wonderful business, but I don’t think it’s going away.”

Wealth and happiness

“Most people are born with a happy stat, and their happy stat has more to do with their [inherent] happiness than their outcomes in life,” Munger said. He argued that most people wouldn’t be significantly happier if they were richer or much more miserable if they were poorer.

Physics and investing

“I don’t use much physics in solving my investing problems. Occasionally some damn fool will suggest something that violates the laws of physics, and I will always turn off my mind the minute I realize the poor bastard doesn’t know any physics.”

Marriage

“A little wisdom in spouse selection is very desirable. You can hardly think of a decision that matters more to human felicity than who you marry.”

Creativity in old age

“I don’t have any wonderful new thoughts. To the extent that my thoughts have helped my life, I’ve pretty well run the course. I don’t think I’m likely to have any new thoughts that are going to work miracles either. But I find that the old ways of doing things still work. I’m kind of pleased that I’m still functioning at all. I’m not trying to move mountains.”

Secrets to a long, happy, and healthy life

“I’m alive because of a lucky genetic accident. I don’t have any secrets. I think I would have lived a long time if I’d lived a different life.”

“The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life. Also, when you get reverses, if you just suck it up and cope, that helps more than if you just fretfully stew yourself into a lot of misery.”

Rose Blumkin [of Nebraska Furniture Mart] had quite an effect on the Berkshire culture. Her mottos were, ‘Always tell the truth’ and ‘Never lie to anybody about anything.’ Those are pretty good rules and they’re pretty simple.”

Life after the pandemic

“When the pandemic is over, I don’t think we’re going back to just the way things were. We’re going to do a lot less travel and a lot more Zooming. The world is going to be quite different.”

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Warren Buffett’s right-hand man blasted Robinhood, slammed SPACs, questioned bitcoin, and warned against speculating at the Daily Journal annual meeting. Here are the highlights.

charlie munger
Charlie Munger.

Warren Buffett’s right-hand man issued a warning to stock-market speculators, criticized the trading platforms enabling them, blasted SPACs, and downplayed the significance of bitcoin at the Daily Journal annual meeting on Wednesday.

Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is also the chairman of Daily Journal, a newspaper publisher and software developer.

Here’s a roundup of the 97-year-old executive’s key comments during the meeting, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Market speculation

“These things do happen in a market economy, you get crazy booms. I’ve been around for a long time and my policy’s always been to just ride it out.”

“A lot of investors crowd in to buying stocks on frenzy, frequently on credit, because they see them going up. And of course that’s a very dangerous way to invest.”

“Shareholders should be more sensible and not crowd into stocks and just buy them just because they’re going up and they like to gamble.”

“I think it must end badly but I don’t know when.”

GameStop

“That’s the kind of thing that can happen when you get a whole lot of people who are using liquid stock markets to gamble the way they would in betting on racehorses.”

“The frenzy is fed by people who are getting commissions and other revenues out of this new bunch of gamblers. When things get extreme you have things like that short squeeze.”

“It’s very dangerous and it’s really stupid to have a culture which encourages as much gambling in stocks by people who have the mindset of racetrack bettors. Of course that is going to cause trouble as it did.”

Robinhood and trading apps

“If you’re selling people gambling services where you make profits off the top like many of these new brokers who specialize in luring gamblers in, it’s a dirty way to make money and I think we’re crazy to allow it.”

“[Wretched excess in the financial system] is most egregious in the momentum trading by novice investors lured in by new types of brokerage operations like Robinhood. All of this activity is regrettable, civilization would do better without it.”

“Human greed and the aggression of the brokerage community creates these bubbles from time to time. Wise people just stay out of them.”

“When you pay for order flow, you’re probably charging your customers more in pretending to be free. It’s a very dishonorable, low-grade way to talk. Nobody should believe that Robinhood’s trades are free.”

Stock valuations when interest rates are low

“Everybody is willing to hold stocks at higher price-earnings multiples when interest rates are as low as they are now. I don’t think it’s necessarily crazy that good companies sell at way higher multiples than they used to.”

“On the other hand, I didn’t get rich by buying stocks at high price-earnings multiples in the midst of crazy, speculative booms, and I’m not going to change.”

SPACs

“The world would be better off without them. This kind of crazy speculation, in enterprises not even found or picked out yet, is a sign of an irritating bubble. The investment-banking profession will sell shit as long as shit can be sold.”

Bitcoin

“I don’t think bitcoin is going to end up the medium of exchange for the world. It’s too volatile to serve well as a medium of exchange. It’s really kind of an artificial substitute for gold and since I never buy any gold, I never buy any bitcoin. I recommend that other people follow my practise.

“[The Daily Journal] will not be following Tesla into bitcoin.”

Tesla and bitcoin

Munger was asked to choose which was more ridiculous, bitcoin trading at $50,000 or Tesla’s fully diluted enterprise value of $1 trillion.

He quoted author Samuel Johnson, who when presented with two choices, said, “I can’t decide the order of precedency between a flea and a louse.”

“I feel the same way about those choices,” Munger saiud. “I don’t know which is worse.”

Banks

“Banking, run intelligently, is a very good business. The kind of executives who have a Buffett-like mindset and never get in trouble are a minority group, not a majority group.”

“It’s hard to run a bank intelligently. There’s a lot of temptation to do dumb things which will make the earnings next quarter go up, but are bad for the long term.”

Wells Fargo

“There’s no question that Wells Fargo has disappointed long-term investors like Berkshire. The old management were not consciously malevolent or thieving but they had terrible judgment in having a culture of cross-selling, with incentives on the poorly paid employees that were too great to sell stuff the customers didn’t really need.

“When the evidence came in that the system wasn’t working very well because some of the employees were cheating some of the customers, they came down hard on the employees instead of changing the system. That was a big error in judgment. It’s regrettable.”

“You can understand why Warren got disenchanted with Wells Fargo. I think I’m a little more lenient. I expect less out of bankers than he does.”

BYD

“BYD stock did nothing for the first five years we held it and last year it quintupled. What happened was that BYD is very well-positioned for the transfer of Chinese automobile production from gasoline-driven cars to electricity-driven cars. It’s in a wonderful position and that excited the people in China which has its share of crazy speculators and so the stock went way up.”

Selling overvalued stocks

“I so rarely hold a company like BYD that goes to a nosebleed price, that I don’t think I’ve got a system yet. I’m just learning as I go along.”

Costco

“People really trust Costco to be delivering enormous values and that is why Costco presents some danger to Amazon. They’ve got a better reputation for providing value than practically anybody, including Amazon.”

Value investing

“Value investing, the way I conceive it, is always wanting to get more value than you pay for when you buy a stock. That approach will never go out of style.

“All good investing is value investing. It’s just that some people look for value in strong companies and some people look for value in weak companies.”

Portfolio diversification

“In wealth management, a lot of people think that if they have 100 stocks, they’re investing more professionally than they are if they have four or five. I regard this as insanity, absolute insanity. I’m way more comfortable owning two or three stocks which I think I know something about and where I think I have an advantage.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

“I’m a great admirer of Jeff Bezos, whom I consider one of the smartest businessmen who ever lived.”

Alibaba founder Jack Ma

“I think Jack Ma was very arrogant to be telling the Chinese government how dumb they are. Considering their system that is not what he should have been doing.”

The rich getting richer during the pandemic

“That’s a misplaced concern. Nobody’s was trying to make the rich richer, that was an accidental byproduct of trying to save the economy under terrible conditions. It was probably wise that we acted exactly as we did.”

Modern monetary theory

“Maybe the modern monetary theory is right. Put me down as skeptical.”

Inequality

“I don’t mind a little inequality,” Munger said, describing it as an “inevitable consequence” of a growing economy.

Wealth tax

“Any rich nation ought to have a social safety net that expands a little with its wealth.”

Politics

Munger bemoaned the rising amount of “hatred” in politics, but argued the country had been well governed for the past century.

“The system fo checks and balances and elections that our founders gave us actually gave us pretty much the right policies during my lifetime, and I hope that will continue.”

Haven

“I don’t know anything about Haven,” Munger said, referring to the joint healthcare initiative between Berkshire, JPMorgan, and Amazon that was dismantled recently.

The evolution of business

“Business success long term is a lot like biology. In biology, the individuals all die and eventually so do all the species. And capitalism is almost as brutal. Just look at what’s changed in my lifetime. Who ever dreamed when I was young that Kodak and General Motors would go bankrupt? It’s incredible what’s happened in terms of the destruction.”

Learning

“I think I had the right temperament. When people gave me a good idea I quickly mastered it and used it. It’s such a simple idea. Without the method of learning, you’re like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

Psychology

“It’s one of the most ignorant professions in the world,” Munger said, highlighting that many psychologists can’t connect what they know with other types of knowledge.

Adapting to technological change

“If you have a fixable disadvantage, remove it, and if it’s unfixable, learn to live without it. What else can you do?”

Challenging one’s beliefs

“I think I’m not really equipped to comment on a subject until I can state the arguments against my position better than the other side. That’s a good way to help remove ignorance. When we shout our knowledge out, we’re really pounding it in, we’re not enlarging it.”

Zero-commission trading

“Commission-free trading is a very good candidate if you want to emphasize disgusting lies. Commission-free trading is not free.”

Sequoia Capital

“Warren and I are better at buying mature industries than we are at investing in startups. I would hate to compete with Sequoia in their field, they would run rings around me.”

“I got close to Sequoia when, with Li Lu, we bought into BYD. We were buying into a venture-capital-type investment on the public market. With that one exception, I’ve stayed out of Sequoia’s business because they’re so much better at it than I would be.”

The Queen’s Gambit and investing

“I have seen an episode or two. To some extent, you can’t be good at chess unless you have a natural gift, and even if you have a natural gift, you can’t become great at it unless you start playing at a very young age. Any intelligent person can get to be pretty good as an investor and avoid obvious traps, but I don’t think everybody can be a great investor or a great chess player.”

Managers owning their stock

“If you do that I’m a moral leper,” Munger said about the idea that managers have a moral responsibility to own their stock at as close to its fair value as possible.

“The Daily Journal stock sells way above the price I would pay if I was buying a new stock. The management should tell it like it is as all times and not be a big promoter of its own stock.”

Technology and company valuations

“I don’t know how permanent it will be but it’s certainly caused a change,” Munger said about the idea that technology has permanently altered how companies should be valued.

Wealth managers being too active

“The wealth-management industry has a crisis on its hands. They really need the world to stay the way it is. That isn’t necessarily right for its customers.”

Oil and gas

“The oil-and-gas industry will be here for a long, long time even if we stop using many hydrocarbons in transportation. The hydrocarbons are also needed as chemical feedstocks. I’m not saying that oil and gas is going to be a wonderful business, but I don’t think it’s going away.”

Bill Gates and climate change

“I kind of admire the way Bill takes on these very hard problems,” Munger said, adding that he avoids challenges he won’t be good at addressing.

Wealth and happiness

“Most people are born with a happy stat, and their happy stat has more to do with their hap pines than their outcomes in life,” Munger said, arguing that most people wouldn’t be significantly happier if they were richer or much more miserable if they were poorer.

Physics and investing

“I don’t use much physics in investing. Occasionally some damn fool will suggest something that violates the rules of physics, and I will always turn off my mind when I realize the poor bastard doesn’t know any physics.”

Ageing and innovation

“I’ve pretty well run the course. I don’t think I’m likely to have any new thoughts that are likely to work miracles. I’ve found that the old thoughts work well still. I’m kind of pleased that I’m still functioning at all. I’m not trying to move mountains.”

The secret to a long and happy and healthy life

“I don’t have any secrets. I’m alive because of a lucky genetic accident. I think I would have lived a long time if I’d lived a different life.”

“A happy life is very simple. The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. That’s one you can easily arrange. If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life. When you get reverses, if you just suck it up and cope, that helps more than if you just fretfully stew yourself into a misery.”

Rose Blumkin [of Nebraska Furniture Mart] had quite an effect on the Berkshire culture. Her mottos were, ‘Always tell the truth’ and ‘Never lie to anyone about anything.'”

Lessons from the pandemic

“We can do with a lot less travel and a lot more Zooming,” Munger said. “A lot of things are going to change,” he continued, predicting a lot of people will work from home a couple days each week once the pandemic ends.

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Retail giants like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger are firing shots over rivals’ minimum wages. Here’s who actually pays $15 an hour.

walmart worker
Walmart is raising workers’ pay – but not to $15 per hour.

  • Companies including Kroger and Amazon are taking shots at rivals like Walmart over employee pay. 
  • Walmart said this week that it will raise many workers’ wages, but does not pay a $15 minimum wage.
  • Amazon, Costco, and Target all pay workers at least $15 per hour. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Massive retailers have stayed mostly quiet about looming minimum wage increases. 

But they have more to say when it comes to taking shots at the competition. 

When Walmart announced on Thursday it was raising some workers’ wages, rival grocery chain Kroger was quick to have a response. 

“We welcome Walmart’s announcement to bring their average wage up to $15 an hour,” a company representative told Insider. “At Kroger, our average hourly wage has been $15 an hour since 2019.”

“In fact, our average hourly associate rate reaches over $20 an hour when accounting for healthcare, 401(K) and pensions that so many of our competitors choose not to offer,” the spokesperson added. 

Sniping at Walmart is becoming a bit of a tradition in the retail industry. In December, Amazon decided to take a swing at Walmart when Bloomberg reported that an Amazon warehouse opening drove down a county’s average industry compensation.

“What surprises us is that we are the focus of a story like this when some of the country’s largest employers, including the largest retailer, have yet to join us in raising the minimum wage to $15,” Amazon said in a statement to Bloomberg at the time. 

Retailers sniping at each other comes as no surprise 

amazon worker
Amazon pays $15 per hour for all warehouse workers.

With a $15 minimum wage already rolling out in many states and cities, some companies are spending less time fighting new federal regulation and more time fighting each other. 

“Generally, I think most retailers would prefer wages to be left up to the market rather than legislated for,” GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders told Insider.

“However, a lot of retailers have been voluntarily increasing wages over the past few years so an increase to $15 is now not seen as such a big deal by some,” Saunders continued. “Indeed, many have raised, or are in the process of delivering on promises to raise, wages to $15.”

Higher pay for entry-level positions, as well as better benefits and other perks, typically means companies can hire more engaged workers who are less likely to quit. Retailers raise workers’ pay because of regulation, but also to better compete with rivals. 

“One of the challenges for any retailers is turnover,” Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea told Insider in October.

“Amazon has very liberal benefits programs, even for part time employees,” O’Shea added. “Walmart has got college covered. There’s all sorts of bells and whistles that the retailers at the top end of the food chain have been able to do because they can afford it.” 

The industry in-fighting can also help companies distinguish themselves from competitors. With Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon all going on massive hiring sprees in 2020, having the reputation of being a good place to work can help attract talent to stores and warehouses. 

Who actually has the highest minimum wage? 

costco
Costco was one oof the first national retailers to pay all workers at least $15 per hour.

Some major companies actually pay all workers at least $15, while others offer a wider range. Here is how some of the biggest players measures up. 

Walmart minimum wage: $11 per hour

On Thursday, Walmart announced that on March 13 it will roll out a raise that brings 425,000 associates’ pay to between $13 and $19 per hour. As a result, the average pay for nearly half of hourly workers in the US will reach $15 per hour, according to a Walmart representative. 

All warehouse workers at Walmart make at least $15 per hour. At this point, Walmart’s minimum wage will remain at $11 per hour.

“Those people that we’re raising wages for tend to have been with us for a longer period of time than someone that might be earning the entry wage,” CEO Doug McMillon said on a call with investors this week. “We’re trying to … create this ladder of opportunity, providing an opportunity for people when they start with the company to build a career like so many of us already have.”

Costco minimum wage: $15 per hour 

Costco raised its minimum wage to $15 in 2019. At the same time, the company increased pay for supervisors and introduced paid bonding leave for all hourly employees. 

The retailer has been celebrated by many workers as one of the best places to work in the industry. 

“The best part is all the perks – guaranteed hours, benefits, time and a half on Sundays, free turkeys at Thanksgiving, four free memberships, a livable wage,” an employee with six years of experience told Insider in 2018.

Target minimum wage: $15 per hour

In June, Target raised its minimum wage to $15, up from $13. The raise was part of a multi-year effort, with the company promising in 2017 that it would reach a $15 minimum hourly wage by the end of 2020. 

“Everything we aspire to do and be as a company builds on the central role our team members play in our strategy, their dedication to our purpose and the connection they create with our guests and communities,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. 

Kroger minimum wage: Varies by region

While Kroger says its average hourly wage has been $15 since 2019, some workers make less than that. Entry-level pay varies by region and job position. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, Kroger has proudly invested over $1.5 billion to safeguard and reward our associates and committed nearly $1 billion to secure pensions for tens of thousands of our associates across the country,” a representative said in a statement. 

Kroger has also faced backlash recently for closing stores in Seattle and California due to “hero pay” regulation that would have temporarily increase workers’ wages by $4 per hour. 

“The biggest issue for many right now is dealing with local ordinances mandating temporary hero pay boosts and bonuses,” Saunders said. “This is causing a lot of issues and a patchwork of different wage structures. Many of the rules are illogical and hard to implement.”

Amazon minimum wage: $15 per hour 

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018. 

“At Amazon, we believe $15 an hour is the minimum that anyone in the U.S. should be paid for an hour of labor,” Amazon said in a statement to Insider on Friday. “That’s why, since 2018, every Amazon employee has earned a starting hourly wage of at least $15.”

“It’s also why we’re calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and urging other major corporations to increase wages to this level,” the statement continued. “We’re pleased that multiple companies have taken this important step – which will help workers and their families, communities and our overall economy – and hope more will follow suit.”

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Here’s what Costco looked like when it opened in 1983 and the annual membership was $25

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Costco is one of the most popular big-box stores in the United States. It’s known for selling everything in bulk from toilet paper to seafood.

Jerry Seinfeld: Look at this can of tuna. 

Narrator: Although the members-only wholesaler first opened in 1983, today’s stores don’t look much different than they did almost 40 years ago.

Before the first Costco warehouse opened, there was Price Club, which opened in 1976.

The first location was in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, California. At the time, it served only small businesses.

Its executive vice president of merchandising, distribution, and marketing, Jim Sinegal, played a big role in its initial success.

After leaving Price Club, Sinegal and Jeff Brotman worked together to co-found Costco Wholesale, which they basically modeled after Price Club.

The first Costco Wholesale store opened in 1983 in Seattle. Annual club membership was just $25 at the time. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about the same annual fee today.

Stores quickly expanded across the Pacific Northwest. 200,000 people held Costco memberships by the end of 1984 and another year later, the company filed for an IPO. Soon, it became a $1 billion company.

Ten years after the first Costco store opened, Price Club and Costco merged to form PriceCostco.

In 1997, PriceCostco changed its name to Costco Companies, Inc. Today, it goes by Costco Wholesale Corporation – or as most people know it, just Costco.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.

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Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other companies’ decision to end partnerships with MyPillow spell ‘pain’ for the controversial pillow brand

my pillow mike lindell
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the White House on January 15.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, and other companies are ending partnerships with MyPillow. 
  • MyPillow CEO says companies cut ties because he is spreading baseless voter fraud theories.
  • Industry experts said this will hurt MyPillow and put pressure on its direct sales business.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Companies’ decisions to cut ties with MyPillow are shaping up to be a significant blow to the controversial pillow company. 

Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s confirmed this week that they are cutting ties with MyPillow. Fintech startup Affirm told Insider it had also cut ties.

According to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, numerous other stores including H-E-B, Kroger, and BJ’s have told him they will no longer sell MyPillow products. (These brands did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.) 

In statements, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s said that they would no longer sell MyPillow products because of poor sales. Affirm did not provide an explanation for ending the business relationship. 

“As previously announced, we have been rationalizing our assortment to discontinue a number of underperforming items and brands. This includes the My Pillow product line,” a Bed Bath & Beyond spokesperson said in an email. “Our decisions are data-driven, customer-inspired, and are delivering substantial growth in our key destination categories.”

Lindell, however, said that he was skeptical of companies’ decisions to cut ties soon after news broke he is facing a legal threat from voting-technology company Dominion, linked to his propagation of baseless voter fraud theories. 

Read more: The MyPillow guy says God helped him beat a crack addiction to build a multimillion-dollar empire. Now his religious devotion to Trump threatens to bring it all crashing down.

“It’s 100% cancel culture,” Lindell, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, told Insider in an interview.

“They were afraid of being boycotted by customers because they live in fear of all these attack groups,” Lindell added. “And they’re not their customers. What’s going to happen to them now is that all the real customers are going to be very upset.”

Compachartnies cutting ties ‘will cause some pain’ 

my pillow
While Bed Bath & Beyond said it is ending its partnership with My Pillow, a store in Crofton, Maryland still had pillows in stock this week.

Chris Alleri, the founder of brand consultancy Mulberry & Astor, told Insider that he also believes companies are cutting ties because of Lindell’s insistence on spreading baseless theories that President Joe Biden “stole” the election. However, unlike Lindell, he believes these companies are making the right decision. 

“Lindell is being dropped right and left by legitimate retailers, not because he’s friends with Trump, not because he’s some victim, because he has a big mouth that has been spewing lies,” Alleri said in an email to Insider. “No brand wants to associate with a dumpster fire like that. Advancing a false narrative of a stolen election has consequences.” 

These consequences could have a sizable impact on My Pillows business. Neil Saunders, managing director of analytics firm GlobalData, said sales through retail partnerships have become a “much more significant element of MyPillow’s business.” 

“The loss of these selling channels will cause some pain and will put more pressure on the direct-to-consumer business,” Saunders said. “It’s also the case that distributing through retailers widened the audience for MyPillow beyond the consumers who digest infomercials, so the company will now need to find other ways of reaching these potential customers.”

MyPillow CEO says he is not worried about partnerships ending

mike lindell donald trump
Lindell is a vocal supporter of Trump.

Not all companies are cutting ties. 

Costco said this week it plans to continue to sell MyPillow products. A representative told told SFGate on Thursday that the company has “contractual commitments to MyPillow that we intend to honor, as we seek to do with all of our suppliers. 

Walmart continues to sell a range of MyPillow products, despite the fact that some pillows are being flooded with one-star reviews. 

“If you sleep with this pillow, you might wake up at a fascist like the CEO,” reads one such review. 

Walmart did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

Lindell told Insider that he expects companies that continue to stock MyPillow to see a rise in sales. Further, he said, he anticipates MyPillow’s direct sales to grow in the aftermath of backlash. 

“We’re going to get very busy,” Lindell said. “And those stores are going to lose out because they don’t have the products that people want. It’s sad for them that they bowed down to these left-wing groups that – all they do is attack.” 

Alleri is skeptical of Lindell’s confidence. 

“Maybe some of Trump’s deranged diehards might want to buy his products, that’s not enough to build a legitimate brand with staying power,” Alleri said. 

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Costco CEO says $1.50 hot dogs and $4.99 rotisserie chickens aren’t going away – the in-store experience is still a priority as other retailers pivot to e-commerce

FILE PHOTO: Customers queue to enter a Costco Wholesalers in Chingford, Britain March 15, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley
Customers queue to enter a Costco Wholesalers in Chingford, Britain

  • Costco’s CEO said that the retail giant’s brick-and-mortar stores are here to stay.
  • “It’s still important to get people physically in the store. I don’t think brick and mortar is going away,” said Craig Jelinek on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Monday.
  • Meanwhile, competitors like Walmart and Target have expanded curbside pick-up options since the outset of the pandemic, and food-delivery services have turned to “ghost kitchens” in a pivot away from brick-and-mortar. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As retailers across the country pivot to e-commerce, Costco’s CEO says the in-store experience is here to stay. 

“It’s still important to get people physically in the store. I don’t think brick and mortar is going away,” the CEO said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Monday.

The comments come at a time when retailers across the country are turning to e-commerce and curbside pickup to court COVID-conscious customers. Walmart and Target both expanded their curbside pickup options since March, and restuarants have turned to “ghost kitchens,” which exclusively produce food for delivery, amid health concerns. 

Meanwhile, Costco saw e-commerce sales increase from 5% last year to 9% this year, but still remains  “stubborn on digital,” Business Insider previously reported.  Its pickup options are limited to expensive goods like jewelry, with few plans to expand in the coming months. And in-store traffic has actually grown, with traffic up 6% in October.

Traditionally, Costco has focused on pulling customers into stores with offers like $4.99 rotisserie chickens and its $1.50 hot dog and drink combo, which has cost the same since 1985. Free food samples, which the store temporarily suspended due to the pandemic but now is bringing back on a “slow rollout basis,” are also a customer favorite and a key part of the in-store experience. 

Read more: Costco’s earnings came in better than expected. From $4 million to $8 million, here’s how the retail giant pays its executives.

Early in the pandemic, Costco executives worried that people would be reticent to visit the store in person, and they would discontinue their Costco membership, Jelinek said on Monday.

“You pay to shop at Costco. Are you going to be able to continue to renew at the same rates?” Jelinek said. 

But despite initial concerns about customers staying home, Jelinek said that customers were as loyal as ever, with a renewal rate of about 91%, he said. 

“There’s no better way to do it than a $1.50 hot dog and a rotisserie chicken,” he added.  

Watch the complete interview on CNBC

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