"I'm in favor of progress; it's change I don't like." — Mark Twain
Like Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who hailed from the state to the south of my native Iowa, I'm wary of change. Not because I'm opposed to progress — or as we now call it, disruption — but because the old ways have demonstrated a lot of value over the decades and casting them aside is foolishly risky for individuals and for the larger economy.
I'm not 100 years old, but the Great Depression is still personal for me: My granddad was a young man taking over the family grocery store at the worst possible time. It was also an important era of establishing policies that would support a great economy, including several around industry and investing.
Among my favorites is the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: It requires a certain level of honesty and accountability for the public financing of companies — standardizing financial reporting to give retail investors a fighting chance at participating in equity growth.
Investing in a market of legitimate companies competing on a level playing field is not a zero-sum game. While it can seem like a casino when prices soar and collapse in short order, that isn't the model and it isn't the result — unless we let it be.
The greed that makes markets work must be met not only by the policing of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but also by the stingy fingers of investors shrewdly hunting for value.
Which brings me to the reckoning that is following the EV SPAC craze — when investors' lust to find "the next Tesla" made them insist on forgoing the safeguards that could ensure they knew what they were buying. Instead, they poured money into unproven startups that merged with a special purpose acquisition company — a prelisted shell of a stock offering.
Among EV SPACs, Lucid dropped last week's biggest fundraising plan — an $8 billion multipronged offering. The company has faced multiple setbacks leading to the slashing of its production plan for this year, even as it announces a plant in Saudi Arabia and an order for as many as 100,000 electric vehicles from the nation's government. And that's why I'm not worried about Lucid's near- to medium-term future: With the backing of Saudi Arabia's $600 billion Public Investment Fund, it will have all the money that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is willing to give CEO Peter Rawlinson or his successors.
Nor am I overly concerned about the future of Rivian. Its 70 percent stock drop this year is more about the EV bubble bursting than a business plan shattering. Is Rivian going to make it for the next 50 years? Nothing is guaranteed or easy, but with Amazon as its second biggest shareholder and biggest would-be customer, it has a chance.
It says a lot about the caliber of the intentions of CEO RJ Scaringe that Rivian went public through a traditional IPO, with all of the excruciating banker scrutiny that entails: It shows that they aim to join the ranks of serious automakers.
I respect that goal, but I must note again for the record books that until Elon Musk seized control of Tesla and willed it to not fail, no one had done such a thing since Soichiro Honda in the mid-20th century.