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Panera Bread’s Communist Experiment

By Jim Fink on June 26, 2012

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Chicago’s north-side neighborhood of Lincoln Park is yuppie heaven and I had the pleasure of living there for ten years.  I’m still interested in what happens there and read the Chicago Tribune regularly. A recent article on Panera Bread (NasdaqGS: PNRA) turned my head because it discussed the company’s conversion of one of its regular restaurants into a communist “pay what you can” community café. Above the ordering counter is a sign that reads:

Take what you need, leave your fair share.

If this sounds familiar, it should because it is based off of Karl Marx’s famous saying: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Marx, the 19th century German founder of the communist ideology, would be proud of Panera Bread.  This is how it works: you order your food and put money in a donation jar nearby – or not. That’s it. No proof of financial hardship required. You can lie about your ability to pay and get a free meal – although the store can require a freeloader to volunteer to work an hour at the store in exchange for the food. However, I’m not sure that a homeless person who hasn’t taken a shower in three weeks is someone you want preparing food or bussing tables. There must be some discretion in deciding who must work. It’s also unclear whether this work requirement applies only to people who refuse to pay anything or also applies to people who pay something but virtually nothing – such as a penny for a $20 meal.

On the face of it, this idea seems preposterous and a sure money-loser. Communism has failed wherever it has been implemented. As Edward Bellamy wrote in his utopian 1888 book Looking Backward, capitalistic societies believed the following:

It was the sincere belief of even the best of men at that epoch that the only stable elements in human nature, on which a social system could be safely founded, were its worst propensities. Greed and self-seeking were all that held mankind together, and that all human associations would fall to pieces if anything were done to blunt the edge of these motives or curb their operation. In a word, they believed — even those who longed to believe otherwise — the exact reverse of what to us seems self-evident; they believed, that is, that the antisocial qualities of men, and not their social qualities, were what furnished the cohesive force of society.

Well, duh! Bellamy – an avowed Marxist – argued that this capitalistic view of human nature was wrong, but I think the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union has proven Bellamy wrong. Some will point to Communist China as an economic success story, but a 2012 book by Harvard and MIT professors entitled Why Nations Fail argues that China’s economic growth is not sustainable without a change in the country’s communist political system:

Our analysis is that China is experiencing growth under extractive institutions — under the authoritarian grip of the Communist Party, which has been able to monopolize power and mobilize resources at a scale that has allowed for a burst of economic growth starting from a very low base, but it’s not sustainable because it doesn’t foster the degree of “creative destruction” that is so vital for innovation and higher incomes.

I don’t see any “creative destruction” in Panera’s “pay what you want” business model.  It relies on good Samaritans who not only tell the truth about their financial ability to pay, but also agree to pay more than market price for their food if they can afford to. Relying on human angels is not sustainable. In the end, such charitable businesses require government funding (via coercive taxation) to survive. As an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune suggests:

Come on! This isn’t some hippie commune we’re running here. It’s USA Inc.

Teach Panera a lesson. Take a lot, and pay nothing. That’ll learn ‘em. It should put them out of business in no time and send customers to the nearby diner, likely run by some hard-working immigrant family seeking a better life, one yummy omelet at a time.

The sooner this fantasy of a business model is squelched, the sooner we can get on with rebuilding America’s competitive spirit of building world-class real businesses based on real profits.

To be fair, Panera claims that its previous three community cafes — in Clayton Missouri, Dearborn Michigan, and Portland Oregon — all make enough money to be self-sustaining. The Portland location almost went under because homeless people used the store as a shelter and never left, but Shaich got tough and hired a bouncer to kick out drug-addicted leeches who abused the system. The key to success is choosing locations that include a healthy proportion of affluent liberals that are willing to support such left-wing causes.  According to Panera co-founder and Chairman Ronald Shaich, 20% of customers voluntarily pay more than market price, 60% pay the market price, and 20% pay “significantly” less than market price.

Shaich’s communist experiment has not hurt Panera shareholders too badly – yet. The stock has performed fabulously over the past five-year, three-year, and one-year periods, beating the S&P 500 over all of those timeframes. Much of its success has to do with expanding beyond bread (original company name was St. Louis Bread Company) into delicous salads and soups, including my favorite Fuji apple chicken salad and chicken and wild rice soup. But so far in 2012, the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 as well as chief competitor Starbucks (NasdaqGS: SBUX):

Source: Bloomberg

Panera’s management claims that this communist experiment in free food doesn’t jeopardize shareholders because all expenses (rent, food, employee salaries) are borne by the Panera Bread Foundation, a separate legal entity. But the fact remains that Panera donates the real estate and existing assets to the community cafes and that amounts to a redistribution of wealth from Panera shareholders to the charitable foundation.

If Panera’s recent stock underperformance continues, shareholders may demand that asset donations to the Panera Bread Foundation cease. Shaich stepped down as Panera CEO in May 2010 to run the foundation and it worries me that he has a conflict of interest between his role as Panera Chairman and his role as leader of the foundation. Would Shaich have agreed to donate such a large amount of Panera assets to the foundation if he wasn’t running the foundation? Empire building — charitable or otherwise — is not conducive with the fiduciary stewardship of shareholder capital.

It may be advisable for Mr. Shaich to study the fate of former Denny’s (NasdaqGS: DENN) CEO Nelson Marchioli, who bet the farm on giving away two million Grand Slam breakfasts for free during Super Bowl week in both 2009 and 2010.  The gimmick cost millions of dollars and fed a lot of homeless people, but – surprise, surprise – it did not result in any repeat paying business and restaurant sales continued to deteriorate. Marchioli was ousted from the company in June 2010.

 

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  1. avatar
    John Reply March 22, 2013 at 12:26 AM EDT

    Panera is a privately owned business who uses donations and excess materials from other stores to supplement Panera Cares. This is free market capitalists deciding to give back, it’s also a tax right off, charity. When an organization gives, it’s called charity, it’s a slap in the face to capitalism to say that’s communism. Communism requires force, some form of coercion to take away a private citizens right to property, a corporation can not violate someone’s personal rights, only government can get away with that. Please, don’t call charity communism, otherwise someday their won’t be charity and we’ll all be slaves dependent to the state.

  2. avatar
    James Reply January 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM EDT

    I was considering going long PNRA, but after I heard about this I held off.

    It seems so illogical. I dislike knowing that even if intentions are good there will be people abusing this system. And Panera is like the most expensive cafe franchise in the U.S. If you want to feed hungry people you don’t give them Panera’s gourmet high priced food, because you could feed 10x the # of people if you fed them with regular groceries from a supermarket the way a food bank does.

    Instead of being a good PR move, if this bad idea spreads it could well hurt the brand name, associating the for-profit Panera with homelessness and the type of food that is given away for free.

    The “communist” part of the article is a lil far-fetched, but the reason profit and capitalism works is it allows for growth and investment. Their for-profit outlets generate capital, which allows them to open new outlets and create jobs.

    I agree regarding Shaich’s possible conflict of interest. PNRA obviously has an activist Board and the best interests of shareholders are probably not being served. Which is why I’m holding off. This is a red flag to me, I’m afraid.

    • avatar
      Concerned... Reply February 9, 2013 at 12:18 AM EDT

      red scare bro. better invest in a different company that doesnt:
      1. cut cost to increase profit
      2. cut benefits to employees after record numbers, and put a wage cap in place a year or two ago.
      3. sell food based on the illusion of quality and good health(100% saturated fat in a bowl of sonoma stew btw) (over a 100% sodium in a full bacon turkey bravo) (list goes on)
      4. establish ‘relationships’ with customers

      if your really planning to invest in fast casual dining don’t choose another business based on this morons communist rant, or you are just as misinformed as he is. The listing above isn’t a nice one but it will sure as hell tell you where the loyalty lies… SHAREHOLDERS!

  3. avatar
    Mimi Reply October 22, 2012 at 6:19 PM EDT

    I loved panera and ate there twice a week… I am appalled and will cease eating any meal there ever again.

    • avatar
      Concerned... Reply February 8, 2013 at 11:57 PM EDT

      mimi, do yourself a favor and don’t watch FOX anymore, it will help you think for yourself, i promise!

  4. avatar
    Dinky Peters Reply September 11, 2012 at 1:59 AM EDT

    This crap has brought many, many more dangerous people to the neighborhood. The yuppies have all but disappeared but on Saturday, it is nothing but people sititing around squishing the turds in their pants, and leering at young women jogging by.
    This crap needs to go away and NOW

  5. avatar
    Food insecurity Reply July 15, 2012 at 6:44 PM EDT

    This is pretty good, but after eating there good about 5 times it’s just lost its appeal, it leaves me wanting Mcdonald’s or something else bad for me.
    Even though they’ve seen most of us neighborhood people, they still attack you at the door (with the commie philosophy) with this strange, brainwashed look in their eyes and I just don’t want to hear, I just want to eat my food and they can shut up already. It’s irritating.

    • avatar
      Concerned... Reply February 9, 2013 at 12:08 AM EDT

      lol?

  6. avatar
    Don Garabedian Reply July 2, 2012 at 2:13 AM EDT

    As a Panera shareholder I don’t care much for this idea either. To be fair though the stock is up almost 50% since October, 2011 which is when I purchased it.

  7. avatar
    really? Reply July 1, 2012 at 4:47 PM EDT

    Wow, do the other editors of Investing Daily agree with this bizarre rant? It makes me question the validity of any of your company analysis. Living not far from the very first St. Louis Bread Co. location, and equally close to the Clayton, MO “community cafe” I would suggest that Panera is regarded as a local capitalist success story. Growing from one neighborhood coffee/bakery, into what they have become, with what, ever 1000 nationwide locations? So three trial locations makes them a communist operation that’s going to sink the whole ship? If you bother to research the reality on the ground, you might see how silly your article comes across.

    Locally, the community cafe idea is regarded as a quirky experiment. Panera (so far) has never asked for taxpayer money to put their name on some failed sports complex. This one community cafe comes across as part of their corporate citizenship, (oh the horror!) customers know little to nothing about the Foundation aspect. If you don’t want to support that one cafe, which by the way is about 1/4 the size of a typical Panera, guess what, within 5 minutes driving there are 4 other normal Panera locations. And if you really consider Starbucks burnt coffee shops a competitor to Panera’s breakfast, lunch & dinner offerings, well, there is a Starbucks 200 feet down the street from this one “communist cafe” and plenty more SB’s not far away. Is that not a free market choice? You want more fuel for your rant, this Clayton Panera is across the street from the St. Louis County Government center, and the county jail. Gov workers might pay for their lunch while a newly released prisoner could eat for free, OMG!!! That nails it, it must be a communist plot!

    The suggestion that other corporations with foundations and charity operations run everything past the shareholders first for approval is so absurd as to not need comment.
    .

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 6:44 PM EDT

      The “recent article” Mr. Fink grossly misrepresented didn’t mention any of those facts and issues, either.

      Could it be that “Yuppies,” “Liberals,” “good Samaritans,” “deadbeats,” “leeches,” “homeless persons,” and “communists” have driven him completely berserk?

  8. avatar
    Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 3:33 PM EDT

    Takes a “deadbeat” to know one!

    WHICH enterprise has Mr. Fink ever started, still less one as successful as Panera has been?

    Indeed, WHICH of the “stocks” he touts has done as well?

    Can he even tell the difference between PNRA and DECK and/or FOSL?

    How ’bout Veolia, Cisco, Credit Suisse, Bank of America?

    WHAT funds have been “surreptitiously confiscated” from Panera shareholders?

    HOW is serving quality food at reasonable prices and that earn shareholders excellent returns “communist”?

    From WHOM is Mr. Fink stealing in writing such utter claptrap?

    WHO is the “communist”?

  9. avatar
    Rider I Reply July 1, 2012 at 1:15 AM EDT

    The reality is that you have to explain to people though. If we start losing money we have to cut back pay. So do not spend extravagantly in our time of surplus. Create a savings. Currently, Panera is on a massive increase as per the great food staff and perfect environment. So employees should receive that money too. For example the current 30% odd increase in sales and value. Should be spread through out the to the employees. However, this year did we see an increase in base salary in panera. No we did not. So why not. That is because of cold chains. CEO’s become less caring about the producers and more caring about their big houses in foreign lands. That is oldschool business individually owned style business. We making it we making it I get savings you get savings.

  10. avatar
    Rider I Reply July 1, 2012 at 1:06 AM EDT

    Furthermore which upsets me about these companies which are cold and calculating and not properly caring as the CEO is not intouch with the bakers. Is that local bakeries that are family owned pay their workers a livable wage. Where they can also have a home, share in the profits if they do good they make more if they do bad they make less. As they are doing the majority of the production. Yet companies like this come along and family owned bakeries see that and start to pay less. As they go panera does it. Just like Walmart. Once grocery stores all paid around $20 on up an hour for grocers as they where the primary source of local food very important. Today thanks to Walmart Target and Kmart’s richies hiding behind fences and not in touch at all with their employees. Local groceries have had to also cut back their pay to survive. As the cold chains as what I call them. Are destroying quality of life of workers. I think I live individual owned business better. As they are forced to interact with their employees and hear about the daily attributes of making less than $12 an hour and trying to have a family. I think if you are a CEO and you make $400 million a year as chain. That you can take a 8 milion pay cut in your take home to spread the wealth so employees can live a great life too. You still making $392 million.

  11. avatar
    Rider I Reply July 1, 2012 at 12:58 AM EDT

    To bad they do not say pay what you need. They pay bakers less than $12 an hour even though they produce the majority of the restaurants muti hundred million dollar take each year. Where they can donate one million dollars to their CEO’s extravagant donations. But they can’t pay a baker the proper fee of $20 an hour to create their primary source of income. Business like this are upsetting. They are like Walmart. One woman worked at walmart for over 20 years never made more than $13 an hour. Even though she knows the whole store folks love here and she loves working there. A good salary is $20 an hour for companies that make over $100 million take over a year. This one grosses around $400 million purely guessing here from doing my research on my own for jobs searches and outcome of best chances to take what I need. Which is a car, a home, a wife, children, vacation. Panera may act cool in Chicago’s rich lets be communist area cause we can afford it. But in reality their position is greed and slavery. That is my opinion not facts and is made up of guess as I have searched for jobs and researched their businesses.

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 2, 2012 at 11:19 PM EDT

      Very interesting points.

      Could it be that Panera’s “charity,” in fact, is funded through exploitation of its front line employees?

      Am I right to assume that Rider I is one such employee?

      Please note, though, that Mr. Fink accords not one iota of concern therefor.

      Indeed, his evident obsession is on “creative destruction,” which is yet another concept he completely misconstrues: To be a true “capitalist,” one must “creatively destroy,” i.e., obliterate one’s competitors through profit maximization, which is done by bulldozing everyone in one’s path, starting with employees, who are to be wrung completely dry, and ending with customers, who are to be fleeced thoroughly clean.

      To do otherwise makes one, in Mr. Fink’s own twisted words, a “communist”:

      “I don’t see any ‘creative destruction’ in Panera’s ‘pay what you want’ business model. It relies on good Samaritans who not only tell the truth about their financial ability to pay, but also agree to pay more than market price for their food if they can afford to. Relying on human angels is not sustainable. In the end, such charitable businesses require government funding (via coercive taxation) to survive.”

      Once again, where does Mr. Fink supply any shred of evidence for such preposterous assertion?

      But back to Rider I’s comments, maybe Panera should be challenged for its failure properly to remunerate its front-line employees?

      Which is Rider I’s issue — NOT Mr. Fink’s!

      • avatar
        Concerned... Reply February 8, 2013 at 11:49 PM EDT

        Communism, capitalism, socialism… As far as i know they all sound good in theory but within every social construct there is an inescapable flaw, human consciousness. Personally i think that humans are arrogant, ignorant, and highly destructive. We are animals that have developed complex systems of sounds which over time have modeled what I am doing now… using a written language. I know it sounds a little backwards but perhaps the biggest problem we have is thinking that we deserve anything at all. I was very cynical for years about poverty, inequality of chance, and the dying upward mobility in America. I then switched my perspective to a more ‘free market individualism’ everyone could succeed if they wanted too kind of thought process. But always resurfacing and trumping all my trivial concerns is this fantastic quote from the late, great George Carlin, “We’re just star stuff, collecting star light”. You know, recycled atoms that have been a million different places in a million different possibilities, and to say there is a substantial difference between me and the keyboard im typing on is ludicrous… i will pass, the keyboard will too, my molecules will eventually end up somewhere else and thats it… oh and one more thing specifically targetting the OP FINKSTER, TAKE A SOCIOLOGY CLASS! Maybe then you will realize that information is meant to be synthesized from all angles not just the ones that make you happy… Karl Marx also talked about the under-utilization of the workforce that would undoubtedly occur in capitalist societies. And based on mechanization, various forms of outsourcing, and the cut cost increase profit variables of today he was very right!

    • avatar
      Rick Dale Reply October 30, 2012 at 7:51 AM EDT

      panerabakersunite.wordpress.com

      Take A second to look at our blog! Panera bakers in Michigan trying to unionize over a year now because of the way we are treated. The cafes are nothing without the hard working ladies and gentlemen who make the bread and sweets you enjoy there. Our cafe made 67 thousand dollars last week while i made 10.35 an hour. Thanks

  12. avatar
    Jim D Reply June 28, 2012 at 8:03 AM EDT

    There are so many holes in this badly written, terribly argued, article I cannot be bothered to compliment it with a proper reply. Leaving aside the mixing up of communism/socialism as an economic system and this cafe’s paying policy, the fact that you seem to think that the fall of the USSR in 1991 ‘proves’ that neoliberal capitalism is the only economic system that ‘works’ is beyond childish.

    Ask people in Russia which system they preferred. For all its faults, of which there were many-personality cults, overly bureaucratic, sometimes brutally repression (all of which can be explained by the backward economic starting position and the decades of invasions and sabotage by the rest of the world.) Yet Russians-who are now largely living the capitalist dream of mass poverty while a few rich oligarchs live in luxury-back then had jobs, housing, access to sporting and cultural facilities. There was pride where now there is cynicism, racism and murder. Hurrah for capitalism!

    Capitalism is crumbling all around us. People are sick of this dog-eat-dog system that defies human nature. If we really were all selfish we would still be apes swinging from trees.

    Just because selfish acts are committed by people from time to time doesn’t make it defining or inherent about our general human nature, does the fact that people sometimes commit murder or rape does that mean we should glorify an even more aggressive economic system where criminal acts are celebrated?

    Human society cannot exist without some form of communal economic system. There are more and more people in this world and less and less resources unless we start sharing, we will all be suffering from increased, poverty-fueled,world wide conflict.

    It is socialism or barbarism!

  13. avatar
    John Neubauer Reply June 28, 2012 at 12:27 AM EDT

    Not every organization or person who is giving or tries a different pricing structure should be branded “Communistic.” Sure, you will always have those who take advantage of an organization or a person but that seems to be human nature. Check out Wall Street and some large banks.

  14. avatar
    Judd Reply June 27, 2012 at 4:07 PM EDT

    Is this a joke? One store in a market with 60 stores is not going to hurt the profits of Panera. Many corporations make charitable contributions to their community and no one calls it communist or is worried about it hurting profits. Also, you should take a course in logic and scientific method. To conclude that this is a communist endeavor because people can pay what they can afford is the biggest leap in logic that I have ever seen. Panera is one of the most profitable companies in the industry, both for their franchisees and for the corporation. They also provide better benefits to their employees then most restaurant chains. Maybe you think that is a sociologist plot. It is more about satisfied employees going out of their way to keep the customers happy. I am a stockholder and have attended every meeting for the last 11 years. No one has every complained about these cafes. It is still the St Louis Bread Co. in the St Louis area.

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 5:15 PM EDT

      Indeed!

      Actually, some ONE did complain about those cafes — an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune.

      Which Mr. Fink then proceeds to ape, as if it (as opposed to the relevant 10Qs and 10Ks, none of which he anywhere even mentions) were gospel, when, in fact, Gospel reads:

      “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?… Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

      Apparently, Mr. Fink opposes that kingdom and righteousness and incredibly imagines that Karl Mark cooked up the concept “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”!

      It’s abundantly clear that Mr. Fink is blinded by mammon!

      Does he regard Jesus as “communist”?

  15. avatar
    JIM Reply June 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM EDT

    Based on your logic then all charities are doomed to fail. I thought charities were the free markets solution to government programs. I guess you just proved the need for government intervention to help the destitute because we can not rely on the good of others to help those who can not help themselves.

    • Jim Fink
      Jim Fink Reply June 27, 2012 at 1:22 PM EDT

      I support charity, but these Panera community cafes are doomed to fail because they allow people who can afford to pay full price to cheat and get the food for free. The cost incurred by feeding these deadbeats may overwhelm the revenue collected from good samaritans. In contrast, traditional charities don’t face the moral hazard problem of paying for freeloaders and can just benefit from the generosity of good samaritans.

      I also prefer that charities be completely separate from the for-profit corporations, which is definitely not the case with Panera and its foundation. Investors in Panera want to make profit and siphoning off corporate profits to support a charity confiscates shareholder wealth without their consent. I don’t like Shaich’s dual role as Chairman of Panera and CEO of the Foundation; it smacks of a conflict of interest.

      It is much better for charities to be headed by people unconnected to for-profit corporations so that there are no conflicts of interest and donations are truly voluntary rather than surreptitiously confiscated from unknowing common shareholders.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Jim

      • avatar
        Tim Bovee Reply June 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM EDT

        And so what makes the Panera experiment “communist”, to use your term, is that people who can afford to pay are able to cheat and it is a charity associated with a for-profit enterprise.

        I’m afraid that Karl Marx wouldn’t recognize your definition of “communist”.

      • avatar
        Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 6:23 PM EDT

        “these Panera community cafes are doomed to fail because they allow people who can afford to pay full price to cheat and get the food for free. The cost incurred by feeding these deadbeats may overwhelm the revenue collected from good samaritans.”

        Sheer nonsense!

        You neglected the rest of the “recent article” you cited as FACT regarding Panera’s community cafes:

        “Shaich said the idea has worked because Panera turns the stores over to the Panera Bread Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that runs day-to-day operations. This frees the publicly traded restaurant company of its obligation to run a profitable business.

        “Oddly enough, all three of the current locations in Clayton, Mo.; Dearborn, Mich.; and Portland, Ore.; have turned a profit. Shaich said the foundation, of which he is also president, gives the money to social service organizations that provide job training for at-risk youth. Panera hires those who have received the training.

        “During the recession, Panera profited from a contrarian approach: focusing on the Americans who were still at work, focusing on quality and not slashing prices. Since then, it has posted industry leading sales growth. In 2011, Panera sales rose 18 percent, to $1.8 billion, while net income grew 22 percent, to $136 million.”

        AND you neglected to mention PNRA’s results the last Q (March): EPS up 28%, pretax profits up 25%, sales up 18%. Nor did you cite any change in company guidance or analyst estimates for the current Q or year (EPS up 21% and 22%, respectively).

        Instead, you assert — without ANY evidence — “the fact remains that Panera donates the real estate and existing assets to the community cafes and that amounts to a redistribution of wealth from Panera shareholders to the charitable foundation.”

        If you can’t represent a simple newspaper article accurately, how can you possibly read a 10K or 10Q?

        Still less understand what “communism” is?

  16. avatar
    mark Reply June 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM EDT

    I couldnt resist but this has to be one of the worst articles I have ever read. Go back to school and humble yourself. If you were incredibly smart and successful you wouldnt be writing idiotic articles for a living.

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 4:33 PM EDT

      Indeed!

  17. avatar
    EAG Reply June 26, 2012 at 10:26 PM EDT

    Wow! If I had known that being part of Investing Daily meant you had to be a close minded, charity hating, uber-capitalist — I would have never signed up for your newsletters. I bet Jim Fink still believes “better dead than Red” as well.

    • avatar
      Concerned... Reply February 8, 2013 at 11:55 PM EDT

      Open minds are a great thing, but they scare plunderers who profit on the horrific status quo. Progression and functionalism are never used in the same sentence.

  18. avatar
    don larson Reply June 26, 2012 at 10:26 PM EDT

    Very appropriate comment Tim. These Guys that hawk their products and newsletters would be well advised to stick to something they know about; and, maybe it’s timely investments – - who knows. (Sucker or not; I subscribe to some of them.)

    So many get in over their Heads, when they try to have us believe they know something – - often anything – - about the Social, Economic, and Political Problems and Challenges of our times. They lose credibility when they attempt to pass off Opinions they have heard from others – - as FACTS! So much of that going on today – - especially among the Talking Heads from all walks of Life. Lots of Dark Money out there today, to perpetuate the, “Big Lie.”

    doktor

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 7:07 PM EDT

      Indeed.

      But if these guys had timely investments, they’d stick to those and refrain from bashing stuff they don’t understand and proving how little they know about virtually anything.

      Mr. Fink clearly does not understand Panera, whose LONG run-up he’s completely missed. Just as he and his confederates have done Chipotle, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Costco, Hain Celestial, and so on.

      So what does he do? Bash Panera!

      Isn’t that sour grapes?

      As well as peevish ignorance?

    • avatar
      Concerned... Reply February 9, 2013 at 12:05 AM EDT

      DON! your the man now dog! on the note of Finkie not being on top of his facts, setting examples is stronger than a rant like FINKS in the long run. After all you can always say something and be full of shit, but what really transcends generations are the unspoken truths: loyalty, justice, peace, love, compassion, and all the other things that people love to hate because it affects a quarterly statement.

      …basically finks comment holds as much long-term value as the shit i just took.

  19. avatar
    don larson Reply June 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM EDT

    Does it really make much of a difference whether the Chinese exercise control over their Economy – - and we/they, call it State Directed Capitalism; when unfettered, unregulated, and corrupt Capitalism occurs here regularly under the guise of, “Free Markets?” The Point is: They are BOTH CONTROLLED, and MANIPULATED! They both STEAL from the Fruits of the Labor of the Working Man. How else do you think we got to this point of great disparity in both income and wealth in this Country? You need to read the Book by Joseph Stiglitz, entitled, “The Price of Inequality.” It will bring you up-to-date, quickly.
    Professor Stiglitz has won the Nobel Prize in Economics; and, is highly regarded among Economists throughout the World.

    And in the case of the U.S., the Greedy Robber Barons on Wall Street unleashed, what the Oracle of Omaha, called: “Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction.” In referencing the Multi-Trillion Dollar Heist or Theft that occurred in 2008; when it all came down; the Bastards on Wall Street, with the Aid of Crony Politicians, launched their, Nukes; which, have destroyed millions of lives; and wiped out the Life Savings of Mom, Pops, Grands, Seniors, and others, including the College Funds of the Young. The Nukes were called Sub-Prime Loans; Derivatives, CDS’s,
    and other Exotic Financial Junk. It was pure Fraud, and sleight of hand.

    Stop picking on any business or group that actually tries to do some, public good. The Rich, Selfish Bastards have forgotten how to do that. For them, it’s no longer about producing anything: it is about Extracting what little wealth the Main Street Minions have left; both here, and throughout the World. The Wall Street Greed’s, are Rent Seekers of the Worst Kind.

    doktor

  20. avatar
    Tim Bovee Reply June 26, 2012 at 5:46 PM EDT

    No, Mr. Fink, “communist” would be an enterprise owned and manged by the workers. That’s not the case with Panera.

    The proper word for Panera’s experiment would be “charity”.

    This is the model of the United Fund Campaign and most churches, who also take from those able to pay and give to those who can’t.

    • avatar
      Ross Reply July 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM EDT

      Exactly!