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4 ways Omicron is screwing up the economy this month

Omicron could peak this month, and it's disrupting the economy: cancelled flights, delayed mail, and sick workers — who may or may not go in to work. Bread aisle shelves at a Target are seen nearly empty as the U.S. continues to experience supply chain disruptions in Washington, U.S.REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger January is only half over. It's been, and will continue to be, a wild month. The Omicron variant is fueling the biggest infection wave yet and hampering the economic recovery. From flight cancellations to historic inflation, here's what's making January a really weird month. January's been a wild month, and it's only half over. The spread of Omicron infections across the world is causing millions of Americans to isolate again like it's 2020. Workers are staying home sick, and others are continuing to avoid the workforce for fear of the virus. Meanwhile consumers are paying the highest prices in almost 40 years.It's a situation unlike any we've seen before, and it's about to get wilder. The worst inflation since 1982 may ease, confusing Americans' budgets once againAfter living with historic inflation for the better part of a whole year, Americans have demanded bigger raises and businesses have struggled to keep goods in stock. Yet that normal is on its way out, and inflation is now likely to start cooling.The latest data show inflation was still hot during the last days of 2021. Prices surged 7% year-over-year in December, according to a Wednesday report, reflecting the strongest inflation since 1982.However, there's reason to believe price growth will start to slow in January. For one, Wall Street banks' forecasts show inflation peaking in the fourth quarter of 2021. The Biden administration and the Federal Reserve have said they expect inflation to fall from elevated levels by the middle of this year. Even everyday Americans' inflation expectations softened in December after skyrocketing through most of the pandemic.The data also shows month-over-month inflation cooling further. Prices rose 0.5% last month, decelerating from November's 0.8% pace and marking the smallest one-month gain since September.Much of the improvement will come from the solving of the global supply-chain mess. Bottlenecks are "easing in all the right places" as global suppliers ramp up production, JPMorgan economists Joshua Lupton and Bruce Kasman said in a Tuesday note.As supply rebounds to better match demand, it's likely inflation will ease faster.Businesses have empty shelves and not enough workersAs Omicron peaks, service may be slower at understaffed stores this month. Or, if companies have resumed pre-pandemic practices, employees at your local restaurant or grocery store might be working with COVID. Many companies started rolling back pandemic-era sick leave policies as vaccines have become available throughout the US. Omicron, however, evades vaccine protection more than previous variants.This leaves more people sick, without enough paid leave.  A Harvard study in 2020 found that nearly 1.5 million grocery workers across 24 grocery chains, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target, lacked access to paid sick leave. Low-income workers are especially affected. Only one third of workers whose wages are at the bottom 10% get any paid sick leave at all, compared with 95% of workers with wages in the top 10%, according to a national compensation survey of employee benefits conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in March. Omicron has also been wreaking havoc on the supply chain, which was already why grocery stores have been struggling to keep food on the shelves. And with the labor shortage still going strong, there are fewer hands to do work on farms, for manufacturers, and for distributors. Even food inspectors have been calling in sick, Bloomberg reported last week. Flights and public transportation will be harder to catchAirlines have been hit hard, with hundreds of flights being canceled every day. United Airlines decreased its number of flights after 3,000 workers, about 4% of United's workforce, tested positive for COVID. JetBlue Airways also reduced its schedule this week, by about 1,280 flights — roughly 10% of its schedule — because of crew members getting sick. Local forms of transit are slowing down for the same reason. Cities like Portland, Oregon, Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., are decreasing their mass transit services as their employees get sick with COVID. The New York Times reported that in New York City, more than a fifth of subway operators and conductors were absent from work. In Florida, school bus drivers are unable to drive students to school. And, the mail is delayed throughout the countryAlthough the United States Postal Service (USPS) largely got people their deliveries on time for the holiday season, the Omicron variant has been spreading amongst its employees. Roughly 6,500 postal workers were quarantined due to COVID-19 as of Christmas Eve, a number that grew to 8,000, the Associated Press reported. The USPS declined to comment on the existence of positive employee COVID-19 cases. Cities and states across the country have been reporting mail delays in response, such as Minnesota, The StarTribune reporting that garbage haulers have been out sick too. In Washington state, winter weather conditions compounded with a surge in cases among postal workers to cause delays. In Maine, some people haven't gotten mail delivered in weeks, which the USPS attributed to the spread of COVID-19."This is an incredibly tough moment. The omicron variant has taken off like wildfire," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a news conference last week, commenting on firefighter and ambulance delays. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

What"s Behind The Surge In Yields That Sent Tech Stocks Tumbling, And What Happens Next

What's Behind The Surge In Yields That Sent Tech Stocks Tumbling, And What Happens Next For a while it appeared that stocks, and especially giga-techs, were willing to ignore the plungefest in Treasuries and were riding the wave of new capital (some $125 billion according to Goldman) allocated to stocks of all stripes to start the new year. However, it wasn't meant to last, and with yields suffering their biggest 2-day surge since the chaos in March 2020... ... high-duration names, which just happen to be the market's all-important generals, are finally sliding which in a market with as little breadth as this one... ... is a very big problem because as Goldman warned a few weeks ago, a crack in the largest market leaders (the FAAMGs of course) could result in major pain: for those who forgot, the five most popular tech names - AAPL, MSFT, NVDA, TSLA, GOOGL - have contributed 51% of S&P 500 returns since April. And what goes up can just as easily go down if rates rise high - and fast - enough. Which brings us to the big question: what's behind the puke in Treasuries and will it persist? From 30,000 feet, the catalyst for the selling in Treasuries is hardly a surprise: the Fed is all hawked up and with the accelerated taper, rate hikes are scheduled to take place potentially as soon as April, with some speculating that the Fed may hike more than 25bps at a time (we seriously doubt it absent inflation truly spiraling out of control in the coming weeks). More likely, however, the recent yield spike is tactical (flow/positioning/liquidity-driven), and so we go to one of the most fastidious market tacticians, Nomura's Charlie McElligott who in his morning notes today does a post-mortem of the selloff that started yesterday and has continued for much of Tuesday. According to Charlie, the selloff in US Rates and Treasuries turned violent by the US midday on the first day of the new PNL year as bearish bets were re-engaged (with UST 10Y Yields now cleanly through 50, 100 and 200 DMA’s to the upside, while 30Y Yields are nearing a test of the 200 DMA themselves), and shares the following thesis checklist as a list of the drivers behind the move: Inflation “stuck” and currently unrelenting at multi-decade highs, with more Omicron supply-chain snarls further squeezing prices Still above multi-year trend growth in US (Atlanta Fed GDPNow @ 7.641% last) US Employment pushing “near full” again (4.2% U-Rate back to levels last seen pre-COVID) Imminent (obvious) Fed tapering commencement, but now, with actual balance-sheet runoff (QT) potential thereafter in UST and MBS being socialized by some Fed members, all of which would mean the need for actual (gasp) price-discovery for “private side” buyers--including convexity hedgers in Mortgages. Translation: we may very soon discover what the true yield of TSYs should be. Start-of-year resumption of heavy Corp debt issuance calendar @ ~ $11.25B of paper (Street expectations of ~$140B for the full-month of January), with a particularly duration-heavy (> 10 years) WAM seen in yesterday’s paper (note: more of the same today, with another 7 deals early, mostly Financials) Last but not least, we have seen the shift to the market not just pricing-in 3 full FOMC hikes this year, but pulling the liftoff forward almost every day, with the March meeting now ~ 72% “priced” These key drivers behind persistent Treasury weakness were not lost on the market, and as Charlie writes, there was lumpy Duration selling in both Cash and Futs on Monday (especially a notable late-day WN block seller ~ $1.1mm in DV01), which was matched by "particularly aggressive options flows", including what McElligott calls "an eye-wateringly ENORMOUS buyer of TY downside, where HUGE prem was spent on 71k of the TYH2 127 Puts (~1.95% yield target by mid-Feb exp) at nearly ~$5.5mm bp dv01" (here he notes that this was an ADD to a view, with OI on Dec 31st at 161k, but now 231k as of Jan 3rd). The move has led to Treasuries posting their worst start to the year since 2009, sending ripples through markets from Australia to the U.K. Adding to this, and in agreement with point 1 above, Bloomberg adds that Treasury traders "are betting the rapid spread of the omicron variant will increase inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy, rather than weaken them." Specifically, the article looks at 10-year breakeven rates which climbed to as high as 2.66% on Tuesday, the most since November, and up from as low as 2.36% on Dec. 14. Even real rates jumped from as low as -1.13% at the end of 2021 to -0.96% today. “Inflation continues to be the major theme of the market given life with the coronavirus,” said Makoto Noji, chief currency and foreign bond strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. There is speculation that “the widening spread of the virus will lead to a decline in labor participation and supply constraints,” he wrote in a research note. So how has this rate puke impacted stocks? Well, as McElligott continues, yesterday there was an outright “Momentum Shock” in the US Equities factor space, with the “Long-Term Momentum” factor absolutely "rekt" -3.5%, a 1d -3.1 std dev move over the past 1Y window and the largest drawdown in the factor since the peak of the meme stock / HF unwind on 1/27/21! Furthermore, the Nomura quant writes that the rally/short-squeeze in “Low Quality/High Vol” stocks seen yesterday - i.e. “Leverage” and “Short Interest” factors booming - was a stark contrast to the recent theme of the grab into “Quality” (high over low), “Size” (large over small), “Low Risk” (over high vol). Putting this together, this end-of-’21 “up in Quality” dynamic noted above was a large part of the blow-up in “Unprofitable Tech/Highly Speculatives” trade seen since the start of Nov ’21 into year-end (as the “short” leg of the trade), but yesterday, all of that “high spec” stuff really squeezed higher again, according to McElligott, as it looks like short books were de-grossed in a major way, while some too simply were taking discretionary punts on “high beta” to play for the January effect raising all boats, but particularly in the stuff which has just been the most beaten-down and ripe for O/P. Of course, this “Momentum shock” reversal (lower in Size, Quality, Low Risk “longs” vs the squeeze in “junk” Leverage / High Vol / Cyclical Value) also meant a frustrating day for hedge fund long & short “Crowding” proxies on the first day of the year, as both suffered outsized losses: Hedge Fund Crowding Factor -0.8% (-1.3 z-score) Hedge Fund L/S Proxy -1.5% (-1.8 z-score) Adding to the confusion, while hedge funds were clearing out their 2021 short-book leftovers, CTA/vol control funds were mechanistically rushing back into stocks, leading to the overall market ramp. According to McElligott's calculations, the Nomura QIS CTA model showed +$16.4B of fresh buying in Global Equities on the day (particularly focused in Asia with the Nikkei signal flipping from “-49% Short” to “+100% Long”—notionally buying +$15.6B, on top of +$800mm in US and and +$100mm in European equity futs). In the US, Nomura's Vol Control model estimated another +$3.8B of S&P futures buying as 1-month Realized Vol continued its collapse with a 6th straight day of buying, and now +$23.3B over the past 2 weeks (take a look at where the VIX is and compare it a month ago (spoiler alert: it has been cut in half). So what happens next? Well, as the Nomura strategist reminds us, next week should see the concentration of the forward buying - with particular focus on tomorrow (he is projecting a 1.0% chg = +$7.8B buying; 0.5% chg = +$14.5B buying; 0.0% chg = +$16.9 buying). Yet mechanistic buying aside, the risk is that with Index Options Gamma- and Delta getting longer/more positive, McElligott warns that we are slowly inching nearer towards “potential for a pullback” territory, and as usual Nomura's clients are urged again to focus on the monthly Op-Ex as the “unclench” catalyst there later mid-month January QQQ $Delta back to $13.2B, 94.9%ile SPX / SPY $Delta back to $291.6B, 80.1%ile In conclusion, the Op-Ex tied “window for a pullback” also corresponds with again “stress-y” vol signals as spot indices trade to new highs, and with “Skew” and “Put Skew” flashing again - but particularly noting that “Term Structure” is screening “extreme” and to the point made at the top of the note on the heavy selling of Vol / optionality.  Translated to plain English, what all of the above means is that instead of waiting until Friday to see where this week's op-ex chips may fall, the market is trading more or less as it should, and high duration giga-techs are dumping as yields are spiking... just as one would expect. The only question is whether this "logical" behavior will continue - one look at the chart below shows that the Nasdaq has a ways to drop if indeed it is allowed - or alternatively, if the remarkable bounceback from every op-ex makes another appearance, and spoos trade solidly back over 4,800 on their way to fresh all-time highs. Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 15:01.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 4th, 2022

Futures Rebound From Friday Rout As Omicron Fears Ease

Futures Rebound From Friday Rout As Omicron Fears Ease S&P futures and European stocks rebounded from Friday’s selloff while Asian shares fell, as investors took comfort in reports from South Africa which said initial data doesn’t show a surge of hospitalizations as a result of the omicron variant, a view repeated by Anthony Fauci on Sunday. Meanwhile, fears about a tighter Fed were put on the backburner. Also overnight, China’s central bank announced it will cut the RRR by 50bps releasing 1.2tn CNY in liquidity, a move that had been widely expected. The cut comes as insolvent Chinese property developer Evergrande was said to be planning to include all its offshore public bonds and private debt obligations in a restructuring plan. US equity futures rose 0.3%, fading earlier gains, and were last trading at 4,550. Nasdaq futures pared losses early in the U.S. morning, trading down 0.4%. Oil rose after Saudi Arabia boosted the prices of its crude, signaling confidence in the demand outlook, which helped lift European energy shares. The 10-year Treasury yield advanced to 1.40%, while the dollar was little changed and the yen weakened. “A wind of relief may blow the current risk-off trading stance away this week,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at U.K. brokerage ActivTrades. “Concerns related to the omicron variant may ease after South African experts didn’t register any surge in deaths or hospitalization.” As Bloromberg notes, the mood across markets was calmer on Monday after last week’s big swings in technology companies and a crash in Bitcoin over the weekend. Investors pointed to good news from South Africa that showed hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed by the latest wave of Covid cases. Initial data from South Africa are “a bit encouraging regarding the severity,” Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Sunday. At the same time, he cautioned that it’s too early to be definitive. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Alibaba’s (BABA US) U.S.-listed shares rise 1.9% in premarket after a 8.2% drop Friday prompted by the delisting plans of Didi Global. Alibaba said earlier it is replacing its CFO and reshuffling the heads of its commerce businesses Rivian (RIVN US) has the capabilities to compete with Tesla and take a considerable share of the electric vehicle market, Wall Street analysts said as they started coverage with overwhelmingly positive ratings. Shares rose 2.2% initially in U.S. premarket trading, but later wiped out gains to drop 0.9% Stocks tied to former President Donald Trump jump in U.S. premarket trading after his media company agreed to a $1 billion investment from a SPAC Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks tumble amid volatile trading in Bitcoin, another indication of the risk aversion sweeping across financial markets Laureate Education (LAUR US) approved the payment of a special cash distribution of $0.58 per share. Shares rose 2.8% in postmarket Friday AbCellera Biologics (ABCL US) gained 6.2% postmarket Friday after the company confirmed that its Lilly-partnered monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab, together with etesevimab, received an expanded emergency use authorization from the FDA as the first antibody therapy in Covid-19 patients under 12 European equities drifted lower after a firm open. Euro Stoxx 50 faded initial gains of as much as 0.9% to trade up 0.3%. Other cash indexes follow suit, but nonetheless remain in the green. FTSE MIB sees the largest drop from session highs. Oil & gas is the strongest sector, underpinned after Saudi Arabia raised the prices of its crude. Tech, autos and financial services lag. Companies that benefited from increased demand during pandemic-related lockdowns are underperforming in Europe on Monday as investors assess whether the omicron Covid variant will force governments into further social restrictions. Firms in focus include meal-kit firm HelloFresh (-2.3%) and online food delivery platforms Delivery Hero (-5.4%), Just Eat Takeaway (-5.6%) and Deliveroo (-8.5%). Remote access software firm TeamViewer (-3.7%) and Swedish mobile messaging company Sinch (-3.0%), gaming firm Evolution (-4.2%). Online pharmacies Zur Rose (-5.1%), Shop Apotheke (-3.5%). Online grocer Ocado (-2.2%), online apparel retailer Zalando (-1.5%). In Asia, the losses were more severe as investors remained wary over the outlook for U.S. monetary policy and the spread of the omicron variant.  The Hang Seng Tech Index closed at the lowest level since its inception. SoftBank Group Corp. fell as much as 9% in Tokyo trading as the value of its portfolio came under more pressure. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 0.9%, hovering above its lowest finish in about a year. Consumer discretionary firms and software technology names contributed the most to the decline, while the financial sector outperformed.  Hong Kong’s equity benchmark was among the region’s worst performers amid the selloff in tech shares. The market also slumped after the omicron variant spread among two fully vaccinated travelers across the hallway of a quarantine hotel in the city, unnerving health authorities. “People are waiting for new information on the omicron variant,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management in Tokyo. “We’re at a point where it’s difficult to buy stocks.” Separately, China’s central bank announced after the country’s stock markets closed that it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost to economic growth.  Futures on the Nasdaq 100 gained further in Asia late trading. The underlying gauge slumped 1.7% on Friday, after data showed U.S. job growth had its smallest gain this year and the unemployment rate fell more than forecast. Investors seem to be focusing more on the improved jobless rate, as it could back the case for an acceleration in tapering, Ichikawa said.  Asian equities have been trending lower since mid-November amid a selloff in Chinese technology giants, concern over U.S. monetary policy and the spread of omicron. The risk-off sentiment pushed shares to a one-year low last week.  Overnight, the PBoC cut the RRR by 50bps (as expected) effective 15th Dec; will release CNY 1.2tln in liquidity; RRR cut to guide banks for SMEs and will use part of funds from RRR cut to repay MLF. Will not resort to flood-like stimulus; will reduce capital costs for financial institutions by around CNY 15bln per annum. The news follows earlier reports via China Securities Daily which noted that China could reduce RRR as soon as this month, citing a brokerage firm. However, a separate Chinese press report noted that recent remarks by Chinese Premier Li on the reverse repo rate doesn't mean that there will be a policy change and an Economics Daily commentary piece suggested that views of monetary policy moves are too simplistic and could lead to misunderstandings after speculation was stoked for a RRR cut from last week's comments by Premier Li. Elsewhere, Indian stocks plunged in line with peers across Asia as investors remained uncertain about the emerging risks from the omicron variant in a busy week of monetary policy meetings.   The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 1.7% to 56,747.14, in Mumbai, dropping to its lowest level in over three months, with all 30 shares ending lower. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also declined by a similar magnitude. Infosys Ltd. was the biggest drag on both indexes and declined 2.3%.  All 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a measure of software exporters.  “If not for the new omicron variant, economic recovery was on a very strong footing,” Mohit Nigam, head of portfolio management services at Hem Securities Ltd. said in a note. “But if this virus quickly spreads in India, then we might experience some volatility for the coming few weeks unless development is seen on the vaccine side.” Major countries worldwide have detected omicron cases, even as the severity of the variant still remains unclear. Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to announce its rate decision on Tuesday, while the Indian central bank will release it on Dec. 8. the hawkish comments by U.S. Fed chair Jerome Powell on tackling rising inflation also weighed on the market Japanese equities declined, following U.S. peers lower, as investors considered prospects for inflation, the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tilt and the omicron virus strain. Telecommunications and services providers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.5%. SoftBank Group and Daiichi Sankyo were the largest contributors to a 0.4% loss in the Nikkei 225. The Mothers index slid 3.8% amid the broader decline in growth stocks. A sharp selloff in large technology names dragged U.S. stocks lower Friday. U.S. job growth registered its smallest gain this year in November while the unemployment rate fell by more than forecast to 4.2%. There were some good aspects in the U.S. jobs data, said Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. “We’re in this contradictory situation where there’s concern over an early rate hike given the economic recovery, while at the same time there’s worry over how the omicron variant may slow the current recovery.” Australian stocks ended flat as staples jumped. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed little changed at 7,245.10, swinging between gains and losses during the session as consumer staples rose and tech stocks fell. Metcash was the top performer after saying its 1H underlying profit grew 13% y/y. Nearmap was among the worst performers after S&P Dow Jones Indices said the stock will be removed from the benchmark as a result of its quarterly review. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6% to 12,597.81. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gave up a modest advance as the European session got underway; the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers with commodity currencies among the leaders and havens among the laggards. JPY and CHF are the weakest in G-10, SEK outperforms after hawkish comments in the Riksbank’s minutes. USD/CNH drifts back to flat after a fairly well telegraphed RRR cut materialized early in the London session.  The euro fell to a day low of $1.1275 before paring. The pound strengthened against the euro and dollar, following stocks higher. Bank of England deputy governor Ben Broadbent due to speak. Market participants will be watching for his take on the impact of the omicron variant following the cautious tone of Michael Saunders’ speech on Friday. Treasury yields gapped higher at the start of the day and futures remain near lows into early U.S. session, leaving yields cheaper by 4bp to 5bp across the curve. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.395%, cheaper by 5bp vs. Friday’s close while the 2s10s curve steepens almost 2bps with front-end slightly outperforming; bunds trade 4bp richer vs. Treasuries in 10-year sector. November's mixed U.S. jobs report did little to shake market expectations of more aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve. Italian bonds outperformed euro-area peers after Fitch upgraded the sovereign by one notch to BBB, maintaining a stable outlook. In commodities, crude futures drift around best levels during London hours. WTI rises over 1.5%, trading either side of $68; Brent stalls near $72. Spot gold trends lower in quiet trade, near $1,780/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME copper outperforms, holding in the green with lead; nickel and aluminum drop more than 1%. There is nothing on today's economic calendar. Focus this week includes U.S. auctions and CPI data, while Fed speakers enter blackout ahead of next week’s FOMC. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,567.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.8% to 466.39 MXAP down 0.9% to 189.95 MXAPJ down 1.0% to 617.01 Nikkei down 0.4% to 27,927.37 Topix down 0.5% to 1,947.54 Hang Seng Index down 1.8% to 23,349.38 Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,589.31 Sensex down 1.5% to 56,835.37 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,245.07 Kospi up 0.2% to 2,973.25 Brent Futures up 2.9% to $71.89/bbl Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,780.09 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.15% to 96.26 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.37% Euro down 0.2% to $1.1290 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Speculators were caught offside in both bonds and stocks last week, increasing their bets against U.S. Treasuries and buying more equity exposure right before a bout of volatility caused the exact opposite moves Inflation pressure in Europe is still likely to be temporary, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe said Monday, even if it is taking longer than expected for it to slow China Evergrande Group’s stock tumbled close to a record low amid signs a long-awaited debt restructuring may be at hand, while Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. faces a potential default this week in major tests of China’s ability to limit fallout from the embattled property sector China Evergrande Group is planning to include all its offshore public bonds and private debt obligations in a restructuring that may rank among the nation’s biggest ever, people familiar with the matter said China tech shares tumbled on Monday, with a key gauge closing at its lowest level since launch last year as concerns mount over how much more pain Beijing is willing to inflict on the sector The U.S. is poised to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, CNN reported, a move that would create a new point of contention between the world’s two largest economies SNB Vice President Fritz Zurbruegg to retire at the end of July 2022, according to statement Bitcoin has markedly underperformed rivals like Ether with its weekend drop, which may underscore its increased connection with macro developments Austrians who reject mandatory coronavirus vaccinations face 600-euro ($677) fines, according to a draft law seen by the Kurier newspaper Some Riksbank board members expressed different nuances regarding the asset holdings and considered that it might become appropriate for the purchases to be tapered further next year,  the Swedish central bank says in minutes from its Nov. 24 meeting A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities began the week cautiously following last Friday's negative performance stateside whereby the Russell 2000 and Nasdaq closed lower by around 2% apiece, whilst the S&P 500 and Dow Jones saw shallower losses. The Asia-Pac region was also kept tentative amid China developer default concerns and conflicting views regarding speculation of a looming RRR cut by China's PBoC. The ASX 200 (+0.1%) was initially dragged lower by a resumption of the underperformance in the tech sector, and with several stocks pressured by the announcement of their removal from the local benchmark, although losses for the index were later reversed amid optimism after Queensland brought forward the easing of state border restrictions, alongside the resilience in the defensive sectors. The Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) suffered from the currency inflows late last week but finished off worse levels. The Hang Seng (-1.8%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) were mixed with Hong Kong weighed by heavy tech selling and as default concerns added to the headwinds after Sunshine 100 Holdings defaulted on a USD 170mln bond payment, whilst Evergrande shares slumped in early trade after it received a demand for payments but noted there was no guarantee it will have the sufficient funds and with the grace period for two offshore bond payments set to expire today. Conversely, mainland China was kept afloat by hopes of a looming RRR cut after comments from Chinese Premier Li that China will cut RRR in a timely manner and a brokerage suggested this could occur before year-end. However, other reports noted the recent remarks by Chinese Premier Li on the reverse repo rate doesn't mean a policy change and that views of monetary policy moves are too simplistic which could lead to misunderstandings. Finally, 10yr JGBs were steady after having marginally extended above 152.00 and with prices helped by the lacklustre mood in Japanese stocks, while price action was tame amid the absence of BoJ purchases in the market today and attention was also on the Chinese 10yr yield which declined by more than 5bps amid speculation of a potentially looming RRR cut. Top Asian News SoftBank Slumps 9% Monday After Week of Bad Portfolio News Alibaba Shares Rise Premarket After Rout, Leadership Changes China PBOC Repeats Prudent Policy Stance With RRR Cut China Cuts Reserve Requirement Ratio as Economy Slows Bourses in Europe kicked off the new trading week higher across the board but have since drifted lower (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.1%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%) following a somewhat mixed lead from APAC. Sentiment across markets saw a fleeting boost after the Asia close as China’s central bank opted to cut the RRR by 50bps, as touted overnight and in turn releasing some CNY 1.2tln in liquidity. This saw US equity futures ticking to marginal fresh session highs, whilst the breakdown sees the RTY (+0.6%) outpacing vs the ES (Unch), YM (+0.3%) and NQ (-0.6%), with the US benchmarks eyeing this week’s US CPI as Fed speakers observe the blackout period ahead of next week’s FOMC policy decision – where policymakers are expected to discuss a quickening of the pace of QE taper. From a technical standpoint, the ESz1 and NQz1 see their 50 DMAs around 4,540 and 16,626 respectively. Back to trade, Euro-indices are off best levels with a broad-based performance. UK’s FTSE 100 (+0.8%) received a boost from base metals gaining impetus on the PBoC RRR cut, with the UK index now the outperformer, whilst gains in Oil & Gas and Banks provide further tailwinds. Sectors initially started with a clear cyclical bias but have since seen a reconfiguration whereby the defensives have made their way up the ranks. The aforementioned Oil & Gas, Banks and Basic Resources are currently the winners amid upward action in crude, yields and base metals respectively. Food & Beverages and Telecoms kicked off the session at the bottom of the bunch but now reside closer to the middle of the table. The downside meanwhile sees Travel & Tech – two sectors which were at the top of the leaderboard at the cash open – with the latter seeing more noise surrounding valuations and the former initially unreactive to UK tightening measures for those travelling into the UK. In terms of individual movers, AstraZeneca (+0.7%) is reportedly studying the listing of its new vaccine division. BT (+1.2%) holds onto gains as Discovery is reportedly in discussions regarding a partnership with BT Sport and is offering to create a JV, according to sources. Taylor Wimpey (Unch) gave up opening gains seen in wake of speculation regarding Elliott Management purchasing a small stake. Top European News Johnson Says U.K. Awaiting Advice on Omicron Risks Before Review Scholz Names Harvard Medical Expert to Oversee Pandemic Policy EU Inflation Still Seen as Temporary, Eurogroup’s Donohoe Says Saudi Crown Prince Starts Gulf Tour as Rivalries Melt Away In FX, the Buck has settled down somewhat after Friday’s relatively frenetic session when price action and market moves were hectic on the back of a rather mixed BLS report and stream of Omicron headlines, with the index holding a tight line above 96.000 ahead of a blank US agenda. The Greenback is gleaning some traction from the firmer tone in yields, especially at the front end of the curve, while also outperforming safer havens and funding currencies amidst a broad upturn in risk sentiment due to perceivably less worrying pandemic assessments of late and underpinned by the PBoC cutting 50 bp off its RRR, as widely touted and flagged by Chinese Premier Li, with effect from December 15 - see 9.00GMT post on the Headline Feed for details, analysis and the initial reaction. Back to the Dollar and index, high betas and cyclicals within the basket are doing better as the latter meanders between 96.137-379 and well inside its wide 95.944-96.451 pre-weekend extremes. AUD/GBP/CAD/NZD - A technical correction and better news on the home front regarding COVID-19 after Queensland announced an earlier date to ease border restrictions, combined to give the Aussie a lift, but Aud/Usd is tightening its grip on the 0.7000 handle with the aid of the PBoC’s timely and targeted easing in the run up to the RBA policy meeting tomorrow. Similarly, the Pound appears to have gleaned encouragement from retaining 1.3200+ status and fending off offers into 0.8550 vs the Euro rather than deriving impetus via a rise in the UK construction PMI, while the Loonie is retesting resistance around 1.2800 against the backdrop of recovering crude prices and eyeing the BoC on Wednesday to see if guidance turns more hawkish following a stellar Canadian LFS. Back down under, the Kiwi is straddling 0.6750 and 1.0400 against its Antipodean peer in wake of a pick up in ANZ’s commodity price index. CHF/JPY/EUR - Still no sign of SNB action, but the Franc has fallen anyway back below 0.9200 vs the Buck and under 1.0400 against the Euro, while the Yen is under 113.00 again and approaching 128.00 respectively, as the single currency continues to show resilience either side of 1.1300 vs its US counterpart and a Fib retracement level at 1.1290 irrespective of more poor data from Germany and a deterioration in the Eurozone Sentix index, but increases in the construction PMIs. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned revival in risk appetite, albeit fading, rather than Riksbank minutes highlighting diverse opinion, is boosting the Sek, and the Nok is also drawing some comfort from Brent arresting its decline ahead of Usd 70/brl, but the Cnh and Cny have been capped just over 6.3700 by the PBoC’s RRR reduction and ongoing default risk in China’s property sector. Elsewhere, the Try remains under pressure irrespective of Turkey’s Foreign Minister noting that domestic exports are rising and the economy is growing significantly, via Al Jazeera or claiming that the Lira is exposed to high inflation to a degree, but this is a temporary problem, while the Rub is treading cautiously before Russian President Putin and US President Biden make a video call on Tuesday at 15.00GMT. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are firmer on the day with the complex underpinned by Saudi Aramco upping its official selling prices (OSPs) to Asian and US customers, coupled with the lack of progress on the Iranian nuclear front. To elaborate on the former; Saudi Arabia set January Arab light crude oil OSP to Asia at Oman/Dubai average +USD 3.30/bbl which is an increase from this month’s premium of USD 2.70/bbl, while it set light crude OSP to North-West Europe at ICE Brent USD -1.30/bbl vs. this month’s discount of USD 0.30/bbl and set light crude OSP to the US at ASCI +USD 2.15/bbl vs this month’s premium of USD 1.75/bbl. Iranian nuclear talks meanwhile are reportedly set to resume over the coming weekend following deliberations, although the likelihood of a swift deal at this point in time seems minuscule. A modest and fleeting boost was offered to the complex by the PBoC cutting RRR in a bid to spur the economy. WTI Jan resides on either side of USD 68/bbl (vs low USD 66.72/bbl) whilst Brent Feb trades around USD 71.50/bbl (vs low 70.24/bbl). Over to metals, spot gold trades sideways with the cluster of DMAs capping gains – the 50, 200 and 100 DMAs for spot reside at USD 1,792/oz, USD 1,791.50/oz and USD 1,790/oz respectively. Base metals also saw a mild boost from the PBoC announcement – LME copper tested USD 9,500/t to the upside before waning off best levels. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap We’re really at a fascinating crossroads in markets at the moment. The market sentiment on the virus and the policymakers at the Fed are moving in opposite directions. The greatest impact of this last week was a dramatic 21.1bps flattening of the US 2s10s curve, split almost evenly between 2yr yields rising and 10yrs yields falling. As it stands, the Fed are increasingly likely to accelerate their taper next week with a market that is worried that it’s a policy error. I don’t think it is as I think the Fed is way behind the curve. However I appreciate that until we have more certainly on Omicron then it’s going to be tough to disprove the policy error thesis. The data so far on Omicron can be fitted to either a pessimistic or optimistic view. On the former, it seems to be capable of spreading fast and reinfecting numerous people who have already had covid. Younger people are also seeing a higher proportion of admissions which could be worrying around the world given lower vaccinations levels in this cohort. On the other hand, there is some evidence in South Africa that ICU usage is lower relative to previous waves at the same stage and that those in hospital are largely unvaccinated and again with some evidence that they are requiring less oxygen than in previous waves. It really does feel like Omicron could still go both ways. It seems that it could be both more transmittable but also less severe. How that impacts the world depends on the degree of both. It could be bad news but it could also actually accelerate the end of the pandemic which would be very good news. Lots of people more qualified than me to opine on this aren’t sure yet so we will have to wait for more news and data. I lean on the optimistic side here but that’s an armchair epidemiologist’s view. Anthony Fauci (chief medical advisor to Mr Biden) said to CNN last night that, “We really gotta be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn’t clause any severe illness comparable to Delta, but this far the signals are a bit encouraging….. It does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.” Anyway, the new variant has taken a hold of the back end of the curve these past 10 days. Meanwhile the front end is taking its guidance from inflation and the Fed. On cue, could this Friday see the first 7% US CPI print since 1982? With DB’s forecasts at 6.9% for the headline (+5.1% for core) we could get close to breaking such a landmark level. With the Fed on their media blackout period now, this is and Omicron are the last hurdles to cross before the FOMC conclusion on the 15th December where DB expect them to accelerate the taper and head for a March end. While higher energy prices are going to be a big issue this month, the recent falls in the price of oil may provide some hope on the inflation side for later in 2022. However primary rents and owners’ equivalent rents (OER), which is 40% of core CPI, is starting to turn and our models have long suggested a move above 4.5% in H1 2022. In fact if we shift-F9 the model for the most recent points we’re looking like heading towards a contribution of 5.5% now given the signals from the lead indicators. So even as YoY energy prices ease and maybe covid supply issues slowly fade, we still think inflation will stay elevated for some time. As such it was a long overdue move to retire the word transitory last week from the Fed’s lexicon. Another of our favourite measures to show that the Fed is way behind the curve at the moment is the quits rate that will be contained within Wednesday’s October JOLTS report. We think the labour market is very strong in the US at the moment with the monthly employment report lagging that strength. Having said that the latest report on Friday was reasonably strong behind the headline payroll disappointment. We’ll review that later. The rest of the week ahead is published in the day by day calendar at the end but the other key events are the RBA (Tuesday) and BoC (Wednesday) after the big market disruptions post their previous meetings, Chinese CPI and PPI (Thursday), final German CPI (Friday) and the US UoM consumer confidence (Friday). Also look out for Congressional newsflow on how the year-end debt ceiling issue will get resolved and also on any progress in the Senate on the “build back better” bill which they want to get through before year-end. Mr Manchin remains the main powerbroker. In terms of Asia as we start the week, stocks are trading mixed with the CSI (+0.62%), Shanghai Composite (+0.37%) and KOSPI (+0.11%) trading higher while the Nikkei (-0.50%) and Hang Seng (-0.91%) are lower. Chinese stock indices are climbing after optimism over a RRR rate cut after Premier Li Kequiang's comments last week that it could be cut in a timely manner to support the economy. In Japan SoftBank shares fell -9% and for a sixth straight day amid the Didi delisting and after the US FTC moved to block a key sale of a company in its portfolio. Elsewhere futures are pointing a positive opening in US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.46%) and DAX (+1.00%) futures both trading well in the green. 10yr US Treasury yields are back up c.+4.2bps with 2yrs +2.6bps. Oil is also up c.2.2% Over the weekend Bitcoin fell around 20% from Friday night into Saturday. It’s rallied back a reasonable amount since (from $42,296 at the lows) and now stands at $48,981, all after being nearly $68,000 a month ago. Turning back to last week now, and the virus and hawkish Fed communications were the major themes. Despite so many unknowns (or perhaps because of it) markets were very responsive to each incremental Omicron headline last week, which drove equity volatility to around the highest levels of the year. The VIX closed the week at 30.7, shy of the year-to-date high of 37.21 reached in January and closed above 25 for 5 of the last 6 days. The S&P 500 declined -1.22% over the week (-0.84% Friday). The Stoxx 600 fell a more modest -0.28% last week, -0.57% on Friday. To be honest both felt like they fell more but we had some powerful rallies in between. The Nasdaq had a poorer week though, falling -c.2.6%, after a -1.9% decline on Friday. The other main theme was the pivot in Fed communications toward tighter policy. Testifying to Congress, Fed Chair Powell made a forceful case for accelerating the central bank’s asset purchase taper program, citing persistent elevated inflation and an improving labour market, amid otherwise strong demand in the economy, clearing the way for rate hikes thereafter. Investors priced in higher probability of earlier rate hikes, but still have the first full Fed hike in July 2022. 2yr treasury yields were sharply higher (+9.1bps on week, -2.3bps Friday) while 10yr yields declined (-12.0bps on week, -9.1bps Friday) on the prospect of a hard landing incurred from quick Fed tightening as well as the gloomy Covid outlook. The yield curve flattened -21.1bps (-6.8bps Friday) to 75.6bps, the flattest it has been since December 2020, or three stimulus bills ago if you like (four if you think build back better is priced in). German and UK debt replicated the flattening, with 2yr yields increasing +1.3bps (-0.7bps Friday) in Germany, and +0.3bps (-6.7bps) in UK this week, with respective 10yr yields declining -5.3bps (-1.9bps Friday) and -7.8bps (-6.4bps Friday). On the bright side, Congress passed a stopgap measure to keep the government funded through February, buying lawmakers time to agree to appropriations for the full fiscal year, avoiding a disruptive shutdown. Positive momentum out of DC prompted investors to increase the odds the debt ceiling will be resolved without issue, as well, with yields on Treasury bills maturing in December declining a few basis points following the news. US data Friday was strong. Despite the headline payroll increase missing the mark (+210k v expectations of +550k), the underlying data painted a healthy labour market picture, with the unemployment rate decreasing to 4.2%, and participation increasing to 61.8%. Meanwhile, the ISM services index set another record high. Oil prices initially fell after OPEC unexpectedly announced they would proceed with planned production increases at their January meeting. They rose agin though before succumbing to the Omicron risk off. Futures prices ended the week down again, with Brent futures -3.67% lower (+0.55% Friday) and WTI futures -2.57% on the week (-0.15% Friday). Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 07:51.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 6th, 2021

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0 Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, On top of an intensifying cold war between the U.S. and China and other seismic changes, the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant could finish off our most recent phase of global integration. “Somewhere out there,” I wrote here two weeks ago, “may lurk what I grimly call the ‘omega variant’ of SARS-CoV-2: vaccine-evading, even more contagious than delta, equally or more deadly. According to the medical scientists I read and talk to … the probability of this nightmare scenario is very low, but it is not zero.” Indeed. Little did I know, but even as I wrote those words something that appears to fit this description was spreading rapidly in South Africa’s Gauteng province: not the omega variant, but the omicron variant. As I write today, major uncertainties remain, but what we know so far is not good. People are emotionally predisposed to look on the bright side — we are all sick of this pandemic and want it to be over — so it pains me to write this. Nevertheless, I’ll stick to my policy of applying history to the best available data, even if it means telling you what you really don’t want to hear. First the data: South African cases were up 39% on Friday, to 16,055. The test positivity rate rose from 22.4% to 24.3%, suggesting that the true case number is rising even faster. A Lancet paper suggests that Omicron is likely by far the most transmissible variant yet. There are three possible explanations for this: A higher intrinsic reproduction number (R0), An advantage in “immune escape” to reinfect recovered people or evade vaccines, or Both of the above. An important preprint published on Dec. 2 pointed to immune escape. South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases has individualized data on all its 2.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the pandemic. From these, it identified 35,670 suspected reinfections. (Reinfection is defined as an individual testing positive for Covid-19 twice, at least 90 days apart.) Since mid-November, the daily number of reinfections in South Africa has jumped far faster than in any previous wave. In November, the hazard ratio was 2.39 for reinfection versus primary infection, meaning that recovered individuals were getting Covid at more than twice the rate of people who had never had Covid before. And this was when omicron made up less than a quarter of confirmed cases. By contrast, the same study found no statistically significant evidence that the beta and delta variants were capable of reinfection. And, crucially, at least some of these new infections are leading to serious illness. On Thursday, the number of Gauteng patients in intensive care for Covid almost doubled from 63 to 106. Data from a private hospital network in South Africa that has over 240 patients hospitalized with Covid indicate that 32% of the hospitalized patients were fully vaccinated. Note that around three-quarters of the vaccinated in South Africa received the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine. The rest got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Yet these are not the data that worried me the most last week. Those had to do with children. Between Nov. 14 and 28, 455 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Tshwane metro area, one of the largest hospital systems in Gauteng. Seventy (15%) of those hospitalized were under the age of five; 117 (25%) were under 20. And this is not just a story of precautionary hospitalizations. Twenty of the 70 hospitalized toddlers progressed to “severe” Covid. Up until Oct. 23, before experts estimate omicron began circulating, under-fives represented only 1.8% of cumulative Covid hospital admissions in South Africa. As of Nov. 29, 10% of those now hospitalized in Tshwane were under the age of two. If this trend holds as omicron spreads to advanced economies — and it is spreading very fast, confirming omicron’s high transmissibility — the market impact could be much bigger than is currently priced in. Unlike with the delta wave, many schools would return to hybrid instruction, parents would withdraw from the labor force to provide childcare and consumption patterns would again shift away from retail, hospitality and face-to-face services. Hospital systems would also face shortages of pediatric intensive care beds, which have not been much needed in prior Covid waves. South Africa’s top medical advisor Waasila Jassat noted on Dec. 3 that hospitalizations on average are less severe than in previous waves and hospital stays are shorter. But she also noted a “sharp” increase in hospital admissions of under-fives. Children under 10 represent 11% of all hospital admissions reported since Dec. 1. Here’s what we don’t know yet. We do not know how far prior infection and vaccination will protect against severe disease and death in northern hemisphere countries, where adult vaccination rates are much higher than in South Africa (just 24%). And we do not know if omicron will prove as aggressive toward children in those countries, especially the very young children we have not previously contemplated vaccinating. (Because South Africa has limited testing capacity, we do not know the total number of under-fives infected with omicron in Gauteng, so we do not know what percentage of children are falling sick.) We may not know these things for another week, possibly longer. So panic is not yet warranted. Nor, however, is wishful thinking. It may prove a huge wave of mild illness, signaling the final phase of the transition from pandemic to endemic. But we don’t know that yet. Now the history. First, it makes all the difference in the world whether or not children fall gravely ill in a pandemic. Covid has so far spared the very young to an extent rarely seen in the recorded history of respiratory disease pandemics. (The exception seems to be the 1889-90 “Russian flu,” which modern researchers suspect was in fact a coronavirus pandemic.) The great influenza pandemics of 1918-19 and 1957-58 killed the very young as well as the very old. The former also carried off young adults in the prime of life. The latter caused significant excess mortality among teenagers. Up until this point, Covid was the social Darwinist disease: It disproportionately killed the old, the sick and the gullible (the vulnerable people who allowed themselves to be persuaded that the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus). A hundred years ago, many experts would have hailed such a disease for the same reasons they promoted eugenics. We think differently now. However, emotionally and rationally, we still dread the deaths of children much more than the old, the sick and the foolish. The moment children become seriously ill — as has already happened in Gauteng — the nature of the pandemic fundamentally alters. Risk aversion will be far higher in the Ferguson family, for example, if its youngest members are vulnerable for the first time. The second historical point is that this may be how our age of globalization ends — in a very different way from its first incarnation just over a century ago. The first age of globalization, from the 1860s until 1914, ended with a bang, not a whimper, with the outbreak of World War I. Within a remarkably short space of time, that conflict halted trade, capital flows and migration between the combatant empires. Moreover, the war and its economic aftershocks strengthened and ultimately empowered new political movements, notably Bolshevism and fascism, that fundamentally repudiated free trade and free capital movements in favor of state control of the economy and autarky. By 1933, the outlook for liberal economic policies seemed so utterly hopeless that, in a lecture he gave in Dublin, even John Maynard Keynes threw in the towel and embraced economic self-sufficiency. Now, there is an argument (made by my Bloomberg colleague and occasional editor James Gibney) that the pandemic will not kill globalization. I am not so sure. Defined too broadly, to include any kind cross-border interaction, the word loses its usefulness. Yes, there were all kinds of “transnational networks in science, health, entertainment,” as well as increasingly ambitious international agencies between the wars. But the fact that (for example) the Pan European movement was founded by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in the 1920s does not mean that the subsequent decades were a triumph of European integration. There was a great deal of international cooperation and cross-border activity between 1939 and 1945, too. That does not mean that the 1940s were a time of globalization. For the word to be meaningful, globalization must refer to relatively higher volumes of trade, capital flows, migration flows and perhaps also cultural integration on a global scale.   On that basis, globalization peaked — or maybe “maxed out” would be more accurate — in around 2007. Calculate it how you like: Whether the ratio of global exports to GDP, the ratio of gross foreign assets to GDP, global or national migrant flows in relation to total population, they all tell the same story of a sustained rise of globalization hitting a peak around 14 years ago. The economic historian Alan M. Taylor has long argued that we should measure globalization by looking at current account imbalances, which tell us when a lot of trade and lending are happening. On that basis, too, globalization peaked in 2007. Even Before Covid, Trade and Lending Were Trending Down Source: Our World in Data from Maurice Obstfeld and Alan M. Taylor, "Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth," Japan–US Center UFJ Bank Monographs on International Financial Markets; and International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database. Note: The data shown is the average absolute current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) for 15 countries in five-year blocks. The countries in the sample are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S.. Since the financial crisis of 2008-9, however, the volume of world trade has flatlined relative to the volume of industrial production. The U.S. current account deficit peaked in the third quarter of 2006 at -6.3% of GDP. The latest read? -3.3%. The same story emerges when one turns to migration. The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose rapidly from its nadir in 1970 (4.7%) to a peak of 13.7% in 2019. But the rate of growth clearly slowed after 2012. It remains below its historic peak of 14.7%, back in 1890. Data for net migration similarly point to peaks prior to the financial crisis. Net emigration from South Asia peaked in 2007, for example. So did net immigration to the United Kingdom. Not-So-Open Borders Source: United Nations Population Division What about cultural globalization? My guess is that peaked in 2012, which was the last year that imported films earned more at the Chinese box office than domestic productions. The highest-grossing movie in the history of the People’s Republic is this year’s “Battle of Lake Changjin,” a Korean War drama in which heroic Chinese troops take on the might of the U.S. Army—and win. (Watch the trailer. Then tell me globalization is going to be fine.) What has caused globalization to recede? Let me offer a six-part answer. First, global economic convergence. This may come as a surprise. An influential story over the past two decades was Branco Milanovic’s thesis that globalization had increased inequality. In particular, Milanovic argued in 2016 that “large real income gains [had] been made by people around the median of the global income distribution and by those in the global top 1%. However, there [had] been an absence of real income growth for people around the 80-85th percentiles of the global distribution.” He illustrated this argument with a famous “elephant chart” of cumulative income growth between 1988 and 2008 at each percentile of the global income distribution. On closer inspection, the elephant was a statistical artifact. Strip out the data for Japan, the former Soviet Union and China, and the elephant vanishes. The story Milanovic’s chart told was of the decline of ex-Soviet and Japanese middle-class incomes following the collapse of the USSR and the bursting of Tokyo’s bubble in 1989-90, and the surge of Chinese middle-class incomes, especially after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The real story of globalization turns out to be a sustained reduction in global inequality as Chinese incomes caught up rapidly with those in the rest of the world, combined with big increases in national inequality as the “one percent” in some (not all) countries got a whole lot richer. At the heart of globalization was what Moritz Schularick and I called “Chimerica”—the symbiosis between the Chinese and American economies that allowed American capital to take advantage of low-cost Chinese labor (offshoring or outsourcing), American borrowers to take advantage of abundant Chinese savings, and American consumers to take advantage of cheap Chinese manufactures. It could not last. In 2003 Chinese unit labor costs were around a third of those in the U.S. By 2018 the two were essentially on a par. In that sense, the glory days of globalization were bound to be numbered. For as Chinese incomes rose, the rationale for relocating production to China was bound to become weaker. Secondly, and at the same time, new technologies — robotics, three-dimensional printing, artificial intelligence — were rapidly reducing the importance of human labor in manufacturing. With the surge of online commerce and digital services, globalization entered a new phase in which data rather than goods and people crossed borders, even if the Great Firewall of China partly cordoned off China’s internet from the rest of the world’s. Chimerica, as Schularick and I argued back in 2007, was in many ways a chimera — a monstrous creature with the potential to precipitate a crisis, not least by artificially depressing U.S. interest rates and inflating a real estate bubble. When that crisis struck in 2008-9, it was the third blow to globalization. For those who suffered the heaviest losses in the United States and elsewhere, it was not illogical to blame free trade and immigration. A 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute showed clearly that people in the U.S., U.K. and France who saw themselves as “not advancing and not hopeful about the future” were much more likely than more optimistic groups to blame “legal immigrants,” “the influx of foreign goods and services,” and “cheaper foreign labor” for, respectively, “ruining the culture and cohesiveness in our society,” “leading to domestic job losses” and “creating unfair competition to domestic businesses.” The only surprising thing was that these feelings took as long as seven years to manifest themselves as an organized political backlash against globalization, in the form of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and America’s vote for Donald Trump. Dani Rodrik’s famous trilemma — which postulated that you could have any two of globalization, democracy and sovereignty — was emphatically answered in 2016: Voters chose democracy and sovereignty over globalization. This was the fourth strike against “the globalists,” a term invented by the populists to give globalization a more easily hateable human face. The financial crisis and the populist backlash didn’t sound the death knell for globalization. They merely dialed it back — hence the plateau in trade relative to manufacturing and the modest decline (not collapse) of international capital flows and migration. The fifth blow was the outbreak of Cold War II, which should probably be dated from Vice President Mike Pence’s October 2018 Hudson Institute speech, the first time the Trump administration had taken its anti-Chinese policy beyond the confines of the president’s quixotic trade war (which only modestly reduced the bilateral U.S.-Chinese trade deficit). Not everyone has come to terms with this new cold war. Joseph Nye (and the administration of President Joe Biden) would still like to believe that the U.S. and China are frenemies engaged in “coopetition.” But Hal Brands and John Lewis Gaddis, John Mearsheimer and Matt Turpin have all come round to my view that this is a cold war — not identical to the last one, but as similar to it as World War II was to World War I. The only question worth debating is whether or not, as in 1950, cold war turns hot. There is no Thucydidean law that says this is inevitable, as Graham Allison has shown. But I agree with Mearsheimer: The risk of a hot war in Cold War II may actually be higher than in Cold War I. Nothing would kill globalization faster than the outbreak of a superpower war over Taiwan. (And “The Battle of Lake Changjin” is blatantly psyching Chinese cinemagoers up for such a conflict.) The decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies would almost certainly have continued even if the sixth blow — the Covid pandemic — had not struck. It has been astounding how little the Biden administration has changed of its predecessor’s China strategy. However, the pandemic has delivered the coup de grace — “a brutal end to the second age of globalization,” as Nicholas Eberstadt put it last year. True, the volume of merchandise trade has recovered even more rapidly in 2021 than the World Trade Organization anticipated back in March. But the emergence of a new, contagious and lethal coronavirus has caused a collapse of international travel and tourism. The number of passengers carried by the global airline industry plunged by 60% in 2020. It will be not much better than 50% of its pre-pandemic level this year. International tourist arrivals are down by even more this year than last year — close to 80% below their 2019 level. In Asia, international tourism has all but ceased to exist this year. Meanwhile, both the U.S. and the Chinese governments keep devising new ways to discourage their nationals from investing in the rival superpower. Didi Global Inc., the Chinese Uber, just announced it is delisting its shares from the New York Stock Exchange. And the pressure mounts on Wall Street financiers — as Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio discovered last week — to wind up their “long China” trade and stop turning a blind eye to genocide in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. Next up: the campaign to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Strikingly, a growing number of Western sports stars and organizations such as the Women’s Tennis Association are already willing to defy Beijing — in the case of the WTA by suspending tournaments in China in response to the disappearance of the tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a senior Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her. China’s leaders should be even more worried by a recent Chicago Council of World Affairs poll, which showed that just over half of Americans (52%) favor using U.S. troops to defend Taiwan if China invades the island — the highest share ever recorded in surveys dating back to 1982. Last month I asked a leading American lawmaker how he explained the marked growth in public hostility toward the Chinese government. His answer was simple: “People blame China for Covid.” And not without reason, as Matt Ridley’s new book “Viral” makes clear. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not foresee as complete a collapse of globalization as happened after 1914. Globalization 2.0 seems to be going out with a whimper — or perhaps a persistent cough — rather than with a bang. Income convergence and technological change were bound to reduce its utility. Having overshot by 2007, globalization settled at a lower level after the financial crisis and was less damaged by populist policies like tariffs than might have been anticipated. But the advent of Cold War II and Covid-19 struck two severe blows. How far globalization is rolled back depends on how far the two phenomena persist or worsen. Maybe — let us pray — the alarming data from Gauteng will not imply a major new wave of illness and death in the wider world. Maybe the omicron variant will not, after all, be that nightmare variant I have feared: more infectious, more lethal, vaccine-evading, not ageist. But omicron is only the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. In all of Africa only 7.3% of the population are fully vaccinated and there are countless immunocompromised individuals with HIV. Even if omicron turns out to be, like delta, a variant we can live with, there is still some non-zero chance that at some point we get my “omega variant.” In that scenario, the pandemic does not oblige us, weary as we are of it, by ending, but recurs in a succession of waves extending for years. One begins to wonder if China will ever lift its stringent restrictions on foreign visitors. Under such circumstances, I see little chance of Cold War II reaching the détente phase earlier than Cold War I.   In addition to applying history, I have come to believe that we should also apply science fiction, on the principle that its authors are professionally incentivized to envision plausibly the impact of social, technological and other changes on the future. (Fact: an Italian sci-film called “Omicron,” in which an alien takes over a human body, was released in 1963.) No living author is better at this kind of thing than Neal Stephenson, whose “Snow Crash” coined the word “metaverse,” and whom I got to know — appropriately via Zoom — through my friends at the Santa Fe Institute. When Stephenson and I met for a late-night Scotch at a bar in Seattle a few weeks back, we swiftly found common ground. Never have I seen a longer list of wines and spirits: We could have scrolled down on the iPad the server handed us for an hour and still not reached the end. Eventually, we found the malt whisky. And immediately we agreed: Laphroaig — the standard 10-year-old version. Stephenson’s latest novel is “Termination Shock.” Buy it. You will be catapulted into a future Texas of intolerable heat, man-eating hogs, and other nightmares, the effect of which will be to make your present circumstances seem quite tolerable. Part of Stephenson’s genius is his use of the throwaway detail. “RVs,” he writes, were “already at a premium because of Covid-19, Covid-23 and Covid-27.” It’s not really part of the plot, but it stopped my eyeballs in their tracks. And remember: He predicted the metaverse. In 1992. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 05:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 6th, 2021

Is It Time For Eurozone Banks To Start Worrying About Turkey Again?

Is It Time For Eurozone Banks To Start Worrying About Turkey Again? Authored by Nick Corbishley via NakedCapitalism.com, The ECB has already warned once about the potential impact a plummeting lira could have on Euro Area banks heavily exposed to Turkey’s economy. Turkey is in the grip of another big wave of its multiyear currency crisis. The value of the lira against the dollar has plunged by almost 40% so far this year, making it the worst performing emerging market currency. The currency is currently trading at just over 13 units to the dollar, compared to 7.44 in January and 3.78 at the start of 2018. On just one day this month (Nov 23), the currency plunged almost 20% before recovering slightly. The main cause of the collapse was the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey’s decision to reduce interest rates for the third time since September, despite a slumping lira and surging inflation. Contagion Risks Luxury watches have a reputation for holding value. eBay created a best-in-class platform to match bona fide buyers with a network of sellers. Whether you are looking for a statement piece or entering the watch investment game- eBay has you covered. Read more. At the height of the last big wave of Turkey’s ongoing crisis, in August 2018, the European Central Bank issued a warning about the potential impact the plummeting lira could have on Euro Area banks heavily exposed to Turkey’s economy via large amounts in loans — much of them in euros — through banks they acquired in Turkey. The central bank was worried that Turkish borrowers might not be hedged against the lira’s weakness and would begin to default on foreign currency loans, which accounted for 40% of the Turkish banking sector’s assets. In the end, the contagion risks were largely contained. Many Turkish banks ended up agreeing to restructure the debts of their corporate clients, particularly the large ones. At the same time, the Erdogan government used state-owned lenders to bail out millions of cash-strapped consumers by restructuring their consumer loans, many of them foreign denominated, and credit card debt.   But concerns are once again on the rise about European banks’ exposure to Turkey. On Friday, as those concerns commingled with fears about the potential threat posed by the new omicron variant of Covid-19, Europe’s worst-affected stocks included the four banks most exposed to Turkey: Spain’s BBVA, whose shares fell 7.3% on the day, Italy’s Unicredit (-6.9%), France’s BNP Paribas (-5.9%) and the Dutch ING (-7.3%). The collapsing lira is almost certain to fuel even higher inflation in Turkey. In October, consumer price inflation in the country was already at an eye-watering 20%. That’s still not as high as the 25% peak registered in 2018, but it is likely to go a lot higher as the lira weakens. As prices soar, further eroding the savings and incomes of many Turks, so too will the risk of social and political unrest. Another cause for concern is that a weaker lira will make it even harder for businesses already battered by the fallout of the virus crisis to repay their foreign-denominated debts. The one silver lining for Turkey’s economy is that the crumbling lira has boosted exports while making imports prohibitively expensive for many people. Even before the currency’s latest rout, Turkey registered two straight months of current account surpluses in August and September — a rare feat for a country so heavily dependent on imports. Meanwhile, Erdogan, who maintains de facto control of Turkey’s central bank, continues to dig in his heels over interest rate policy, as the Guardian reports: […] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s declaration of an “economic war of independence” has pitched him against many in his own party and the country’s technocrats who fear an inflation rate running at 20% will create further bouts of social unrest. “Some people who wanted to convey the opinion to the president that a different policy should be followed were not successful in this,” a senior official in the ruling AK party told Reuters, requesting anonymity. Three central bank governors who stood against Erdoğan’s demand for lower interest rates have been sacked since mid-2019, leaving the way clear for the governor since March, Şahap Kavcıoğlu, to bring down the base rate in three separate cuts from 19% to 15%. Reduced Exposure Spanish banks have by far the highest loan exposure to Turkey, with just under $63 billion of loans outstanding, followed by France ($26 billion), Germany ($14 billion) and Italy ($6 billion), according to recent data from the Bank of International Settlements. The good news for the ECB is that some Eurozone banks with large-scale operations in Turkey have pared back their exposure to the country, or at least not added to it, since 2018. Italian megabank Unicredit has sold down its stake in the commercial bank Yapi Kredi from 40% in 2018 to around 20% today. Under a strategy aimed at offloading non-core assets, the bank’s current business plan envisages achieving zero contribution from Yapi by the end of 2023. Nonetheless Yapi Kredi will still contribute around 5% of group earnings in 2021, according to estimates by Citi analysts. French giant BNP Paribas operates various businesses in Turkey, from retail banking to leasing and insurance through a string of subsidiaries. But the country accounts for a low single-digit contribution to BNP profits, according to Jeffries. What’s more, BNP claims that most of its Turkish business is self-financed. Another European bank with operations in Turkey is the Dutch group ING but its exposure is also limited. In 2020 it generated a total income of 420 million euros in the country, making it the Dutch bank’s third biggest market outside Europe after the United States and Australia. Assets in Turkey stood at around 7.3 billion euros in 2020, or less than 1% out of a total of 937 billion euros. Bucking the Trend There is one big exception to this trend: Spain’s second largest lender, BBVA. In 2020, Turkey was BBVA’s third largest market after Mexico and Spain, providing €563 million of net attributable profit, up 41% from 2019. That represents 14.3% of BBVA profits, excluding the corporate centre. Until two weeks ago, BBVA owned just under 50% of Turkey’s second largest private bank, Garanti, for which it had paid €6.9 billion in incremental purchases beginning in 2010. Since then the Lira has done nothing but fall. Garanti’s market cap as of two weeks ago, converted into euros, was €3.7 billion (it is now €3.3 billion). BBVA’s 49.85% stake in it was worth €1.85 billion. In other words, BBVA had lost 73% of its investment. But instead of cutting back its exposure to Turkey, BBVA has doubled it. Flush with cash after selling its U.S. subsidiary to PNC last year, BBVA announced two weeks ago — just days before Turkey’s central bank cut interest rates for the third time, triggering the lira’s worst daily collapse in 20 years — plans to buy the rest of Garanti for the price of TL12.20 per share. The move amounts to a massive gamble Turkey’s Erodgan-dominated economy and has found little favour among investors. Since the day of the purchase BBVA’s shares have fallen almost 20% while Garanti’s are now below the takeover price. “It was our best investment option,” said BBVA’s CEO, Onur Genç, on in an investor call on Monday aimed at allaying shareholders’ concerns. The Spanish lender sees its purchase of Garanti as a long-term proposition that cements its position in a high-growth market it already knows well — and what’s more at a bargain price! Genç, himself of Turkish descent, said even the recent decline of the lira, which has decimated Garanti’s market value, was beneficial to BBVA since it meant that its offer price for Garanti, converted into euros, has fallen from €2.25 billion on the day BBVA announced its offer, to €1.8 billion today. At the same time, the amount of capital committed has fallen from €1.4 billion to €1.2 billion. But while the collapsing lira may mean that BBVA is getting a cheaper and cheaper deal as each day goes by, it could still end up paying dearly. As a Reuters Breaking Views article cross-posted in El País points out, the crisis could hurt Garanti in two ways: First, a weaker lira makes it harder for borrowers to service dollar-denominated debt, increasing the risk of defaults. Garanti has reduced its foreign currency exposure much faster than other banks, but at $11.6 billion (€ 10.3 billion), it is still almost a third of total loans. Second, the unorthodox monetary easing raises the prospect of a sharp rise in rates at some point in the future. That would reduce loan margins, as deposits instantly become more expensive while loans take longer to appreciate. But BBVA’s CEO is for the moment nonplussed, or at least appears to be. “Since the beginning,” he said, “we have been aware of the risks and have controlled for them in multiple ways.” One prime example is the way BBVA has set up its global business to limit the spread of financial wildfires from Turkey or other emerging markets to the wider group, as a Bloomberg article recently pointed out (comment in parenthesis my own): As a legacy from the Argentine debt crisis of the late 1990s, the bank uses a model of self-sufficient subsidiaries, which insulates other units if one of its businesses runs into trouble. That means that if Garanti were to start failing, it could be liquidated or restructured without affecting the rest of the group. In a worst case, BBVA would risk the value of its equity stake in Garanti — currently just under $4 billion. In other words, BBVA would simply walk away from the smouldering wreckage as well as Turkey as a whole — at least in theory. The one thing the Bloomberg article doesn’t mention is that BBVA’s silo-based damage control system has never been properly road tested before. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/01/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2021

Fear And Panic As Bitcoin Crashes 50% From All Time High

Fear And Panic As Bitcoin Crashes 50% From All Time High Just two months after cryptos hit an all time high amid widespread euphoria that the newly launched bitcoin ETF would lead to even more substantial upside, the two largest tokens have lost half of their value, with the broader crypto sector suffering more than $1 trillion in losses amid an accelerating liquidation panic that the Fed's tightening cycle will lead to another crypto winter.  Such is the volatility in the sector where, as Bloomberg put it overnight, there has been just one constant recently: "decline after decline after decline." Of course, for veteran hodlers, Bloomberg hyperbole seems trivial in a world where 80% drawdowns are the norm and the current drop may have a ways to go before it hits a bottom, before a new all time high is hit. Where Bloomberg is right however, is that superlatives for the latest carnage have been easy to come by: Friday’s decline led to the liquidation of more than $1.1 billion in crypto futures positions and overall more than $1 trillion in market value has been destroyed since the last peak. In other words, "the meltdown is pouring salt on an already-deep wound." After the latest furious puke that pushed Bitcoin RSI's indicator to the most oversold level since the covid crash in March of 2020... ... Bitcoin, which lost more than 12% on Friday, saw its price drop just above $34,000 with Ethereum sliding as low as $2,400, as the two largest digital assets now trade at a 50% discount from their all time highs and are back to levels last seen in late July, early August. Other digital currencies have suffered just as much, if not more, most meme coins mired in similar drawdowns. While the selling has been relentless for the past two months, it accelerated in the past three weeks, after the latest Fed minutes - published in early January - showed its intention to not only hike rates but to accelerate the unwind of its balance sheet, which has sent all "bubble baskets" plunging, with bitcoin getting hit especially hard amid the carnage. And while there have been much larger percentage drawdowns for both Bitcoin and the aggregate market, according to Bespoke,  this marks the second-largest ever decline in dollar terms for both. “It gives an idea of the scale of value destruction that percentage declines can mask,” wrote Bespoke analysts in a note. “Crypto is, of course, vulnerable to these sorts of selloffs given its naturally higher volatility historically, but given how large market caps have gotten, the volatility is worth thinking about both in raw dollar terms as well as in percentage terms.” Another fact that Bloomberg gets right, is that over the past year, cryptos have transformed from relatively uncorrelated assets providing diversification during market turbulence, into what is effectively a high beta stock. This is easily seen in the following chart showing the 60d correlation between cryptos and stocks. One can thank institutional adoption for that, because the same institutions that are now facing margin calls on their tech holdings, are also dumping cryptos to provide much needed liquidity. “Crypto is reacting to the same kind of dynamics that are weighing on risk-assets globally,” said Stephane Ouellette, chief executive and co-founder of institutional crypto-platform FRNT Financial. “Unfortunately for some of the mature projects like BTC, there is so much cross-correlation within the crypto asset class it’s almost a certainty that it falls, at least temporarily in a broader alt-coin valuation contraction.” Antoni Trenchev,, co-founder of Nexo, cites Bitcoin’s correlation to the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, which right now is near the highest in a decade. “Bitcoin is being battered by a wave of risk-off sentiment. For further cues, keep an eye on traditional markets,” he said. “Fear and unease among investors is palpable.” According to  Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, it’s useful to think of cryptocurrencies as living in the same space as other speculative sectors, including special-purpose acquisition companies and electric-vehicle makers. “When we’re in an environment where all of those riskier assets are selling off, crypto is going to find itself doing the same,” Hogan said. “When the Nasdaq 100 or any of the other more-speculative, rapid-growth, momentum-type asset classes start to gain some traction, so will cryptocurrencies.” Unfortunately for Bitcoin longs, one place where the token's correlation is especially high is that to such market naplam as Cathie Wood’s sinking ARK Innovation ETF, a pandemic poster-child of speculative risk-taking. That correlation stands at around 60% year-to-date, versus about 14% for the price of gold, according to Katie Stockton, founder and managing partner of Fairlead Strategies, a research firm focused on technical analysis. It’s “reminding us to categorize Bitcoin and altcoins as risk assets rather than safe havens,” she said. Perhaps unaware what "hodling" means, data from Coinglass shows that more than 342,000 traders had their positions closed over the past 24 hours, with liquidations totaling roughly $1.1 billion. “Digital-currency markets in total have been challenged this month,” said Jonathan Padilla, co-founder of Snickerdoodle Labs, a blockchain company focused on data privacy. “There’s definitely some pain there.” Though liquidations have spiked, the numbers are rather muted when compared to previous declines, according to Noelle Acheson, head of market insights at Genesis Global Trading. Acheson points out that Bitcoin’s one-week skew, which compares the cost of bearish options to bullish ones, spiked to almost 15% on Wednesday compared to an average of about 6% in the past seven days. “This flagged a jump in bearish sentiment, in line with overall market jitters given the current macro uncertainty,” she said. Amid the pain, some of bitcoin's most faithful are professing patience... HODLing #Bitcoin is painful. If you survive the journey, you will truly know what HODL means. — Dan Held (@danheld) January 21, 2022 ... while others are starting to wonder out loud at what point the battering might end. Famed crypto investor and (former?) billionaire Mike Novogratz mused on Twitter that “this will be a year where people realize being an investor is a difficult job.” 2600 $Eth would be the next support. Hoping and thinking it holds. Unfortunately Russel has like 14 percent more to go before it bottoms. Won’t be a straight line down. This will be a year where people realize being an investor is a difficult job. — Mike Novogratz (@novogratz) January 21, 2022 Unfortunately for Novogratz, 2600 did not hold and Eth is now trading below 2,400. Still, many point out that like on all previous occasions when cryptos crashed, they eventually rebounded to new all time highs. At some point, sellers will become exhausted and the market could see some capitulation soon, said Matt Maley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak + Co. “When that happens, the institutions will come back in in a meaningful way,” he said. “Once the asset class becomes more washed-out, they’ll have a lot more confidence to come back in and buy them. They know that cryptos are not going away, so they’ll have to move back into them before long.” But it's not just central bank tightening fears and liquidation technicals that have depressed cryptos: one can also throw in a relentless news cycle, where just in recent days, regulators from Russia, the U.K., Singapore and Spain all announced interventions that could undermine crypto companies looking to grow in those regions. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is preparing to release an initial government-wide strategy for digital assets as soon as next month and task federal agencies with assessing the risks and opportunities that they pose, Bloomberg reported late on Friday. Testing the resilience and patience of the faithful, so far the sharp drop below the psychological level of $40,000 has failed to serve as an upward inflection point. Crypto proponents say heavy liquidations often serve to cut out the froth in easy-win asset speculation, helping to solidify new bottoms in the market. Ultimately, the real support will come from none other than the Fed, which will soon realize that it is hiking into a slowing economy... Tightening into a slowdown… Déjà vu? pic.twitter.com/pczXzMVSxb — Julien Bittel, CFA (@BittelJulien) January 22, 2022 ... and will be forced to be far more dovish during this week's FOMC meeting, a reversal which should serve to send risk assets sharply higher. “Fear and unease among investors is palpable,” Nexo's Trenchev,said. “If we see a bigger selloff in equities, expect the Fed to verbally intervene to calm nerves and that’s when Bitcoin and other cryptos will bounce.” In other words, the more the Fed tightens - or the more the Fed scares markets into believing it will tighten - the bigger the market selloff, and the worse the economic slowdown, until eventually Powell will be forced to ease, a key point brought up by  Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett yesterday. Incidentally, it also means that the faster markets crash, the faster the Fed panics, and is forced to stabilize stocks because even if the new and improved Powell Put is well below previous levels, the Fed can't risk a market crash just to appease Biden's demands for an inflationary slowdown so Democrats aren't destroyed in the midterms. And incidentally, this weekend's ongoing selloff in cryptos means that while stocks are currently mercifully not trading, Monday should be another bloodbath, as Jim Bianco reminds us. The BTC/SPX correlation is "significant" Or as @jeffdorsman says, crypto is a 24/7 VIX. See the table, as of this writing, Crypto is down another 10% since Friday's NYSE Close. If this hold, no-coiners have about 36 more hours to gloat before it is their turn. pic.twitter.com/JpWeMJZbAf — Jim Bianco biancoresearch.eth (@biancoresearch) January 22, 2022 One thing is certain: several more 2% drops in the Nasdaq, and Powell - who two years ago crossed the Fed's final rubicon and bought corporate bonds to halt a catastrophic collapse - will be making emergency phone calls to put an end to the carnage. As such, a continuation of the meltdown may just be the best thing that the bitcoin faithful can hope for. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/22/2022 - 13:04.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 22nd, 2022

US stock sell-off deepens as Nasdaq falls nearly 3% on fears of higher rates and weak tech results

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 400 points while the S&P 500 slumped to its worst weekly performance since October 2020. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)Spencer Platt/Getty Images US stocks tumbled Friday as investors continued to fret over rates and digested disappointing earnings. Netflix fell over 20% after its earnings report delivered a weak outlook for subscriber growth.  Cryptocurrencies, oil, and gold prices all slipped.  Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. US stocks tumbled on Friday as investors continue to worry about a hawkish Federal Reserve, interest rate hikes, rising inflation, and disappointing earnings, particularly from mega-cap technology firms. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite — which entered correction territory midweek — tumbled further, dragged by streaming giant Netflix. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped more than 300, breaking further below its 200-day moving average. The benchmark S&P 500 slumped to its worst weekly performance since 2020. Here's where US indexes stood after the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Friday:S&P 500: 4,397.73, down 1.9% Dow Jones Industrial Average: 34,265.50, down 1.3% (449.89 points)Nasdaq Composite: 13,768.92, down 2.72% Netflix plunged more than 20% after disappointing subscriber outlook. Year-to-date through Thursday, Netflix had lost nearly 16% alongside a broader selloff in tech stocks, which have largely benefitted from a low-interest-rate environment during the pandemic. Three Wall Street analysts explained here why they are less bullish on the stock.Peloton, meanwhile, staged a rebound Friday to climb over 10% after a 24% slump in the previous session. The high-end exercise equipment maker acknowledged plans to adjust production to meet lower demand. US equities as a whole have been roiled in early 2022 by expectations that the Fed will repeatedly hike rates and start reducing its balance sheet, bringing an end to the central bank's massive support of the US economy through the pandemic. "Wall Street has gone from debating how aggressive one should rotate out of tech into cyclical," Edward Moya, senior equity analyst at Oanda, said in a Friday note.Investors, Moya said, seem to have two main concerns: inflationary pressures that could prompt the Fed into becoming overly aggressive in tightening monetary policy, and profit growth expectations that may have been too optimistic amid ballooning labor costs.Tech earnings coming up including Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and Samsung."I'm focused on earnings," Jason Brady, president and CEO of Thornburg Investment Management, said in a note. "Markets are moving in plenty of interesting ways to start the year ...  I can pretty much bet that at the end of 2022 we'll have a different market than one that is, every day, linearly correlated with rates."The 10-year Treasury yield edged lower to 1.749% from Thursday's 1.833%. Bond yields move inversely to prices. In cryptocurrencies, prices have fallen sharply as the assets track the rout in equities.Bitcoin plunged as much as 10% to a six-month low below $38,000 and ether dropped to under $3,000 as a broad sell-off intensified Friday."The decline is not a breakdown, but it brings bitcoin out of the consolidation phase that has characterized the chart for about three weeks in a bearish shift in short-term momentum," Katie Stockton, founder of Fairlead Strategies, said in a note Friday, adding that $37,361 is the key support level she sees for bitcoin.Oil slightly edged lower though prices are still near their highest levels since late 2014.West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.71% to $84.94 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, dropped as much as 0.87% to $87.61 per barrel as strong demand for the commodity is outstripping global supply. JPMorgan said Brent could soar to $150 a barrel during the first quarter of 2022 if an ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine leads to a supply shock. Gold slipped 0.48% to $1,830.26 per ounce. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 21st, 2022

Should You Move While You Can, Or When You Must?

Should You Move While You Can, Or When You Must? Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, This gives an extreme advantage to those few who move first, long before they must. The financial advantage for first movers is equally extreme. Moving is a difficult decision, so we hesitate. But when the window to do so closes, it's too late. We always think we have all the time in the world to ponder, calculate and explore, and then things change and the options we once had are gone for good. Moving to a new locale is difficult for those of us who are well-established in the place we call home. Add in a house we love, jobs/work, kids in school, a parent living with us and all the emotional attachments to friends, extended family, colleagues and favorite haunts, and for many (and likely most) people, moving is out of the question. Many of us have fond memories of moving when we were in our late teens or early 20s--everything we owned fit in the backseat and trunk of a beaten up old car, and off we went. Once you put down roots in a home, work/enterprise, schools, neighborhood and networks, it's a herculean task to move. Moving to another state or province isn't just a matter of the physical movement of possessions and buying / renting a new dwelling, itself an arduous process; the transfer of medical and auto insurance, finding new dentists and doctors, opening local bank/credit union accounts, obtaining local business licenses and a staggering list of institutions and enterprises that require an address change is complicated and time-consuming. Knowing this, I don't ask this question lightly: Should You Move While You Can, Or When You Must? The question is consequential because the window in which we still have options can slam shut with little warning. The origin of the question will be visible to those who have read my blog posts in 2021 on systemic fragility, our dependence on long, brittle supply chains, the vulnerabilities created by these dependencies and my polite (I hope) suggestions to fashion not just a Plan B for temporary disruptions but a Plan C for permanent disruptions. My new book Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States is a result of realities few are willing to face: the extreme inequality we now have in the U.S. leads to social collapse. That's the lesson of history. So to believe as if collapse is impossible is to ignore the evidence that social collapse is inevitable when inequality reaches extremes. Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies. Social collapse has consequences, and so we have to ask: where do we want to be in the vast human herd when social order unravels? My new book also addresses the transition that's obvious but easily denied: we've transitioned from an era of abundance to an era of scarcity. There are many historical examples of what happens as scarcity diminishes living standards and puts increasing stress on individuals, families, communities and nations. There are ways to adapt to scarcity (that's the point of my book) but nation-states and the elites who run them are optimized for abundance, not scarcity, so they lack the means to adapt to scarcity. Their default setting to is keep pursuing a return to higher consumption ("growth") by increasingly extreme means--for example, printing trillions of dollars and giving it to wealthy elites and corporations, and printing additional trillions to give away as bread and circuses (stimulus) to the masses. There is no historical evidence that this vast, endless creation of currency is consequence-free or successful. This delusional pursuit of endless "growth" that is no longer possible due to resource depletion and soaring costs of extraction, transport, etc. also leads to collapse. This is the modern-day equivalent of squandering the last resources available on ever-more elaborate (and completely unproductive) temples in the hopes of appeasing the gods of "growth." As I also detail in the book, the status quo is fantastically wasteful and ineffective. It now takes 20-25 years to build a single bridge or tunnel, and each project is billions of dollars over budget, yet we're assured that the entire nation will seamlessly and painlessly transition away from hydrocarbon fuels to alternative energy in 20-25 years. Never mind that this would require building a new nuclear plant or equivalent every month for the next 20 years; skeptics are just naysayers. While a successful transition to a degrowth economy and society is certainly physically possible, the current status quo lacks the will, structure, leadership or desire to manage such a transition. While no one is entirely independent of long supply chains and energy-intensive industrial economies, the lower one's dependency and one's exposure to the risks of social disorder, the better off one will be. Put another way, the greater one's self-reliance and independence from global supply chains, the lower the impact should things break down. The closer one is to local sources of energy, fresh water, food, etc., the lower the likelihood of losing all access to these essentials. The wealthiest few hedge their risks by having one or more homes they can escape to if urban life breaks down. When risks rise, the wealthy start buying rural homes sight unseen for double the price locals paid a few months earlier. Here's the problem: roughly 81% of Americans live in urban zones (270 million people), and around 19% (60 million people) live in rural areas. About 31% of urban residents live in dense urban cores, about 25% live in suburban counties and the remaining 24% live in urban clusters and metropolitan areas--smaller cities, etc. Rural regions have plenty of land but relatively few dwellings due to the low population density. Much of the land is owned by government agencies, corporations or large landowners, so a relatively small percentage is available for housing. Many rural economies have stagnated for decades, so the housing stock has not grown by much and older homes have deteriorated due to being abandoned or poorly maintained. Few building contractors survived the stagnation and so finding crews to build a new home is also non-trivial. So when the wealthiest few rush out to buy second or third homes in desirable rural areas in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, etc., they find a very restricted supply of homes available. This generates a bidding war for the relatively few homes considered acceptable and prices skyrocket, pricing out locals who soon resent the wealthy newcomers' financial power and fear the inevitable rise of the political and commercial power their wealth can buy. (Cough, billgates, cough.) At present, few anticipate urban America becoming a dicey place to live and own a home. But inequality and the hollowing out of the economy by globalization and financialization has left cities entirely dependent on diesel fueled trucks to deliver virtually everything. This is also true of rural communities, of course, but some rural areas still produce energy and food, and given the lower population density, these communities are less dependent on global supply chains and are therefore more self-sufficient. Rural households have more opportunities to raise animals, grow vegetables, etc., and more opportunities to have supportive relationships with neighbors who actually produce something tangible and essential. Dependence is a matter of scale: if you can get by on 5 gallons of gasoline a month, you're much more likely to put your hands on enough fuel to get by than if you need a minimum of 50 gallons of fuel to survive. The same is true of food, fresh water and other essentials: the less you need, the more you supply yourself, the lower your vulnerability to supply disruptions. Lower population densities lend themselves to greater self-sufficiency / resilience and to community cohesion. Roving mobs are less likely to form simply because the low density makes such mobs difficult to assemble. As I explain in my book, social cohesion is a combination of civic virtue, shared purpose, agency (having a stake in the local economy and a say in decisions which affect everyone) and moral legitimacy, i.e. a community that isn't divided into a self-serving elite that owns the vast majority of the wealth, capital and political power and a relatively powerless majority (i.e. debt-serfs and tax donkeys). In my analysis, social cohesion in most urban zones has already eroded to the point of no return. The tattered remnants will crumble with one swift kick. The conventional view is the urban populace will continue to grow at the expense of rural regions, a trend that's been in place for hundreds of years. But this trend exactly parallels the rise of hydrocarbon energy. Large cities existed long before hydrocarbon energy, but these cities arose and fell depending on the availability of essential resources within reach. Imperial Rome, for example, likely had 1 million residents at the apex of its power, residents who were largely dependent on grain grown in North African colonies and shipped across the Mediterranean to Rome's port of Ostia. Once those wheat-exporting colonies were lost, Rome's population fell precipitously, reaching a nadir of perhaps 10,000 residents living amidst the ruins of a once great metropolis. More recently, economic and social shifts hollowed out many city cores in the 1970s as residents and jobs moved to the suburbs. A reversal of this trend in favor of small cities/towns and rural areas may already be gathering momentum under the radar. All this is abstract until the attractions of city living fade and economic vitality declines to the point of civic and financial bankruptcy. Cities have cycles of expansion, decay and decline just like societies and economies, and it behooves us to monitor the fragility, dependency and risk of the place we inhabit. At nadirs, homes and buildings that were once worth a fortune are abandoned, or their value drops to a fraction of its former value. Putting these dynamics together, the problem boils down to a systemic scarcity of housing in attractive, productive rural towns and regions and a massive oversupply of urban residents who may decide to move once urban zones unravel. Let's assume that a mere 5% of urban residents decamp for rural regions. Given that there are about 130 million households in the U.S. and 81% of that total is 105 million households, 5% is 5.25 million households. Given that the number of rural communities that have all the desirable characteristics is not that large, we can estimate that it might be difficult for even 500,000 urban households to relocate to their first choice, never mind 5 million. This gives an extreme advantage to those few who move first, long before they must. The financial advantage for first movers is equally extreme, as they can still sell their urban homes for a great deal more money than they will fetch once conditions deteriorate. (The value of homes can drop to zero, as Detroit has shown.) Those few who decide to join the early movers even though the difficulties are many have all the advantages. Those who wait until conditions slip off a cliff may find their once valuable home has lost most or all of its value and the communities they would have chosen are out of reach financially. Most people reckon they have plenty of time to act--decades, or at least many years. The problem with systemic fragility was aptly described by Seneca: "Increases are of sluggish growth but the way to ruin is rapid." My own expectation is a self-reinforcing unraveling that gathers momentum to breaking points by 2024-25, only a few years away. Rather than fix the systemic problems of inequality and scarcity, the status quo's expedient fixes (printing trillions out of thin air and hoping there will be no adverse consequences from distributing free money to financiers and bread and circuses) will only accelerate the unraveling. There may not be as much time as we think. New readers pondering these dynamics may find value in one of the more widely read of my essays, The Art of Survival, Taoism and the Warring States (June 27, 2008) which discusses the importance of being a helpful and productive member of a tight-knit community and the futility of having an isolated "bug-out" cabin as Plan C. The vista of solid ground stretching endlessly to the horizon may turn out to be a mirage, and the cliff edge is closer than we imagine. *  *  * This essay was first published as a weekly Musings Report sent exclusively to subscribers and patrons at the $5/month ($54/year) and higher level. Thank you, patrons and subscribers, for supporting my work and free website.. My new book is now available at a 20% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20). If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 11:31.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Labor Shortage And Surging Shipping Costs Are Biggest Drivers Of US Food Inflation

Labor Shortage And Surging Shipping Costs Are Biggest Drivers Of US Food Inflation Setting aside the ever-present issue of the global supply chain crunch presently gestating in the PROC, where factories and ports are struggling with the most restrictive lockdown measures since the (Fauci-funded) "China virus" first burst forth out of Wuhan, the US is still facing serious shortages of workers and critical goods like foodstuffs and medicine. The US labor market disappointed once again in December, while November's similarly disappointing number was revised up only slightly. Meanwhile, those who are working are struggling with the fact that inflationary price pressures are hammering real wages. And regardless of what the Fed does next, it appears kinks in the economy created by COVID and the federal government's response to COVID will continue to push food prices higher for the foreseeable future, as Reuters reports. Citing three critical factors, high demand for groceries, soaring freight costs and "omicron-related" labor shortages, Reuters projects that prices for "food and fresh produce" will continue to climb for the foreseeable future. Already, growers across the West and Midwest are paying 3x the freight costs from before the pandemic - all to guarantee shipment of perishables like berries and lettuce before they spoil. Some companies are even holding back on shipping certain goods (like long-lasting onions) to see if shipping costs might ease. Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce, which grows onions, watermelons and asparagus along the border of Idaho and Oregon, said he has been holding off shipping onions to retail distributors until freight costs go down. Myers said transportation disruptions in the last three weeks, caused by a lack of truck drivers and recent highway-blocking storms, have led to a doubling of freight costs for fruit and vegetable producers, on top of already-elevated pandemic prices. "We typically will ship, East Coast to West Coast – we used to do it for about $7,000," he said. "Today it’s somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000." One CongAgra subsidiary blamed labor shortages for the bulk of their troubles. Birds Eye frozen vegetables maker Conagra Brands' CEO Sean Connolly told investors last week that supplies from its U.S. plants could be constrained for at least the next month due to Omicron-related absences. Earlier this week, Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran said he expects the supermarket chain to confront more supply chain challenges over the next four to six weeks as Omicron has put a dent in its efforts to plug supply chain gaps. The packaged goods industry is missing more than 100K workers. Participants filled measly 1,500 jobs last month, according to the BLS data. The situation is not expected to abate for at least a few more weeks, Katie Denis, vice president of communications and research at the Consumer Brands Association said, blaming the shortages on a scarcity of labor. The consumer-packaged goods industry is missing around 120,000 workers out of which only 1,500 jobs were added last month, she said, while the National Grocer’s Association said that many of its grocery store members were operating with less than 50% of their workforce capacity. Of course, labor shortages aren't the only issue. Demand for groceries remains sky high as millions of Americans remain hunkered down, too scared to eat at a restaurant - or too tapped out from their financial difficulties to justify dining at one. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 08:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

The Lab Leak: The Plots & Schemes Of Jeremy Farrar, Anthony Fauci, And Francis Collins

The Lab Leak: The Plots & Schemes Of Jeremy Farrar, Anthony Fauci, And Francis Collins Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Jeremy Farrar is a former professor at Oxford University and the head of the Wellcome Trust, an extremely influential non-government funder of medical research in the UK and a big investor in vaccine companies.  Some people regard Farrar as the UK’s Anthony Fauci. He had much to do with the pandemic response, including the lockdowns and mandates in the UK. For the entire pandemic ordeal, he has been in touch with his colleagues around the world. He has written a book (it appeared July 2021 but was probably written in the Spring) on his experience with the pandemic.  I reviewed already.  In general, the book is chaotic, strongly backing lockdowns without ever presenting a clear rationale for why, much less a road map for how to get out of lockdowns. I swear you could read this book carefully front to back and not know anything more about pandemics and their course than you had at the beginning. In this sense, the book is an abysmal failure, which probably explains why it is so little talked about.  That said, the book is revealing in other ways, some of which I did not cover in my review. He carefully presents the scene at the beginning of the pandemic, including the great fear that he, Fauci, and others had that the virus was not of natural origin. It might have been created in a lab and leaked, accidentally or deliberately. This awesome prospect is behind some of the strangest sentences in the book, which I quote here: By the second week of January, I was beginning to realise the scale of what was happening. I was also getting the uncomfortable feeling that some of the information needed by scientists all around the world to detect and fight this new disease was not being disclosed as fast as it could be. I did not know it then, but a fraught few weeks lay ahead. In those weeks, I became exhausted and scared. I felt as if I was living a different person’s life. During that period, I would do things I had never done before: acquire a burner phone, hold clandestine meetings, keep difficult secrets. I would have surreal conversations with my wife, Christiane, who persuaded me we should let the people closest to us know what was going on. I phoned my brother and best friend to give them my temporary number. In hushed conversations, I sketched out the possibility of a looming global health crisis that had the potential to be read as bioterrorism. ‘If anything happens to me in the next few weeks,’ I told them nervously, ‘this is what you need to know.’ Sounds like a thriller movie! A burner phone? Clandestine meetings? What the heck is going on here? If there really was a virus on the loose and a looming crisis of public health, why would your first impulse be, as a famous guy and so on, to write about it, tell the public everything you know, inform every public health official, open up and prepare people, and get to work finding therapeutics that can save lives? Why would you not immediately investigate the demographics of risk and inform people and institutions of the best-possible response? What the heck is all this cloak-and-dagger about? Seems like a bad start for a responsible public policy.  The next chapter reveals some of the background to all this high dudgeon: In the last week of January 2020, I saw email chatter from scientists in the US suggesting the virus looked almost engineered to infect human cells. These were credible scientists proposing an incredible, and terrifying, possibility of either an accidental leak from a laboratory or a deliberate release…. It seemed a huge coincidence for a coronavirus to crop up in Wuhan, a city with a superlab. Could the novel corona-virus be anything to do with ‘gain of function’ (GOF) studies? These are studies in which viruses are deliberately genetically engineered to become more contagious and then used to infect mammals like ferrets, to track how the modified virus spreads. They are carried out in top-grade containment labs like the one in Wuhan. Viruses that infect ferrets can also infect humans, precisely the reason ferrets are a good model for studying human infection in the first place. But GOF studies always carry a tiny risk of something going wrong: the virus leaking out of the lab, or a virus infecting a lab researcher who then goes home and spreads it…. The novel coronavirus might not even be that novel at all. It might have been engineered years ago, put in a freezer, and then taken out more recently by someone who decided to work on it again. And then, maybe, there was … an accident? Labs can function for decades and often store samples for just as long. In 2014, six old vials of freeze-dried variola virus, which causes smallpox, were uncovered in a lab in Maryland, US; though the samples dated back to the 1950s, they still tested positive for variola DNA. Some viruses and microbes are disturbingly resilient. It sounded crazy but once you get into a mindset it becomes easy to connect things that are unrelated. You begin to see a pattern that is only there because of your own starting bias. And my starting bias was that it was odd for a spillover event, from animals to humans, to take off in people so immediately and spectacularly – in a city with a biolab. One standout molecular feature of the virus was a region in the genome sequence called a furin cleavage site, which enhances infectivity. This novel virus, spreading like wildfire, seemed almost designed to infect human cells…. The idea that an unnatural, highly contagious pathogen could have been unleashed, either by accident or design, catapulted me into a world that I had barely navigated before. This issue needed urgent attention from scientists – but it was also the territory of the security and intelligence services…. When I told Eliza about the suspicions over the origins of the new coronavirus, she advised that everyone involved in the delicate conversations should raise our guard, security-wise. We should use different phones; avoid putting things in emails; and ditch our normal email addresses and phone contacts. Keep in mind, we are talking here about the last week of January. The top experts in the world were living in fear that this was actually a lab leak and perhaps a deliberate one. This consumed them completely, knowing full well that if this were true, we could see something close to a world war developing. And then the question comes up concerning responsibility.  Let’s move to the next chapter: The next day, I contacted Tony Fauci about the rumours over the origins of the virus and asked him to speak with Kristian Andersen at Scripps. We agreed that a bunch of specialists needed to urgently look into it. We needed to know if this virus came from nature or was a product of deliberate nurture, followed by either accidental or intentional release from the BSL-4 lab based at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  Depending on what the experts thought, Tony added, the FBI and MI5 would need to be told. I remember becoming a little nervous about my own personal safety around this time. I don’t really know what I was scared of. But extreme stress is not conducive to thinking rationally or behaving logically. I was exhausted from living in two parallel universes – my day-to-day life at Wellcome in London, and then going back home to Oxford and having these clandestine conversations at night with people on opposite sides of the world.  Eddie in Sydney would be working when Kristian in California was asleep, and vice versa. I didn’t just feel as if I was working a 24-hour day – I really was. On top of that, we were getting phonecalls through the night from all over the world. Christiane was loosely keeping a diary and recorded 17 calls in one night. It’s hard to come off nocturnal calls about the possibility of a lab leak and go back to bed.  I’d never had trouble sleeping before, something that comes from spending a career working as a doctor in critical care and medicine. But the situation with this new virus and the dark question marks over its origins felt emotionally overwhelming. None of us knew what was going to happen but things had already escalated into an international emergency. On top of that, just a few of us – Eddie, Kristian, Tony and I – were now privy to sensitive information that, if proved to be true, might set off a whole series of events that would be far bigger than any of us. It felt as if a storm was gathering, of forces beyond anything I had experienced and over which none of us had any control. Well, there we go. Was there ever a doubt that Fauci and so on were consumed by fear that this was a lab leak from their own colleagues and friends in Wuhan? Has he denied this? I’m not sure but this account from Farrar is pretty extraordinary proof that discovering the virus’s origins was the major concern from these official and influential scientists for the last part of January through February. Rather than thinking about things such as “How can we help doctors deal with patients?” and “Who is vulnerable to this virus and what should we say about that?”, they were consumed by discovering the origin of the virus and hiding from the public what they were doing.  Again, I am not interpreting things here. I’m only quoting what Farrar says in his own book. He reports that the experts he consulted were 80% sure it had come from a lab. They all scheduled an online meeting for February 1, 2020.  Patrick Vallance informed the intelligence agencies of the suspicions; Eddie did the same in Australia. Tony Fauci copied in Francis Collins, who heads the US National Institutes of Health (the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which Tony heads, is part of the NIH). Tony and Francis understood the extreme sensitivity of what was being suggested,… The next day I gathered everyone’s thoughts, including people like Michael Farzan, and emailed Tony and Francis: “On a spectrum if 0 is nature and 100 is release – I am honestly at 50! My guess is that this will remain grey, unless there is access to the Wuhan lab – and I suspect that is unlikely!” These discussions and investigations continue for the whole month of February. This explains so much about why health officials in so many countries were entering into panic mode rather than calmly addressing an emerging problem in public health. They spent all their energies on discerning the origin of the virus. Were they worried that they would be implicated due to financial ties? I don’t really know and Farrar doesn’t go into that.  Regardless, it took them a full month before this small group finally came out with what appeared to be a definitive paper appearing in Nature: The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. The date it appeared was March 17, 2020. That was the day following the announcement of lockdowns in the US. We now know that the paper was written as early as February 4, and went through many drafts over the coming weeks, including edits by Anthony Fauci himself. That paper has since been debated very extensively. It was hardly the last word.  What strikes me most in retrospect concerning the idea of the lab leak is the following. During the most critical weeks leading up to the obvious spread of the virus all over the Northeast of the U.S., leading to incredible carnage in nursing homes due to egregious policies that failed to protect the vulnerable and even deliberately infected them, public health officials in the US and UK were consumed not with a proper health response but with fear of dealing with the probability that this virus was man-made in China.  They deliberated in secret. They used burner phones. They spoke only to their trusted colleagues. This went on for more than a month from late January 2020 to early March. Whether this virus originated as a lab leak or not in this case is not so much the issue; there is no question that Farrar, Collins, Fauci, and company all believed that it was likely and even probable, and they spent their time and energies plotting the spin. This fear consumed them entirely at the very moment when their job was to be thinking of the best public-health response.  Maybe their time should have been about telling the truth as they knew it? Explaining how to deal rationally with the coming virus? Helping people who are vulnerable protect themselves while explaining to everyone else that there is no point in panicking?  Instead, in the midst of the panic they both felt and then projected to the public, they urged and got lockdowns of the world’s economy, a policy response never before attempted on this scale in response to a virus. The virus did what the virus does, and all we are left with are the breathtaking results of the pandemic response: economic carnage, cultural destruction, large amounts of unnecessary death, and an incredible paper trail of incompetence, fear, secrecy, plotting, and neglect of genuine health concerns.  Tyler Durden Sat, 01/15/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

The Great Omicron Sickout: Millions Of Unwell Americans Causing "Hellacious" Worker Shortages

The Great Omicron Sickout: Millions Of Unwell Americans Causing "Hellacious" Worker Shortages Record spikes in Covid-19 Omicron cases across the country are causing a nationwide worker "sickout," as businesses from airlines to grocery stores are suffering from disruptions, even though the new variant is markedly far less severe - yet far more transmissible - than prior strains. According to Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, the past few weeks have been "hellacious," adding that around 10% of his workforce, or 8,000 of his employees, have contracted the virus in the past month. The shortages contributed to over 2,200 canceled Delta flights since December 24. Although a precise count of the number of employees who are out sick or quarantining is hard to come by, about 5 million Americans could be isolating due to COVID-19 at the peak of Omicron, according to Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. That could reflect about 2% of the nation's workforce forced to stay home due to illness, he added. Some employers report taking a harder hit. Stew Leonard Jr., chief executive of supermarket chain Stew Leonard's, said about 8% of his staff was out sick or quarantining last week. That affects what shoppers find on store shelves. -CBS News "That's the highest we've ever had," said Leonard Jr. "What we are doing is the same as every other business — you have to limit your product line." "Like I talked with my bakery director, and she said, 'I make a great crumb cake, and I also make a great apple crumb cake, but when I'm short on people I'm not able to make the apple crumb cake.' You'll get crumb cake, just not the apple crumb cake." As we noted earlier this month, Omicron poses a major risk to Fed confidence about reaching maximum employment relatively soon. It's even more obvious now that the CDC's revised December quarantine guidance from 10 days to 5 days (as long as symptoms aren't getting worse) was likely to grapple with Omicron's impending wave of sick-outs. TD's Priya Misra predicted the pain - writing that the near certainty of the first rate hike in March is "very aggressive," adding that "the spike in infections should have a modest negative impact on the economy, and signs of slowing Q1 growth could be enough for the market to push out the start of the hiking cycle. This should help pull 2y yields lower in the near-term." And as BofA chief economis Ethan Harris pointed out, "the challenge with Omicron is the dramatically higher case load, adding that a quick back of the envelope calculation illustrates the kind of labor shortages this could trigger. Suppose that every infected person on average causes themselves and two other people to quarantine for five days. That means at the peak of omicron wave 30mn (= 2mn * 3 * 5) could be quarantined per day. Of course, many of these people either don’t work or can work from home. Roughly half of the population work and among them, according to a Gallup poll, about 30% always work in person. This suggests that 4.2 million (= 30 mil * 0.5 * 0.3) in-person workers per day will be absent due to quarantining. This number could be too high or too low, but a multi-million number seems very likely. As we wrote at the time: "These calculations underscore not only that the US labor market problem is about to get much, much worse, but that the well-advertised worker shortages in the airline industry are not an isolated problem. Generally speaking these absences will not show up in official estimates of labor supply—if you are home sick, you are still employed. Nonetheless, they add (temporarily) to the record 11 million job openings." At present, Covid cases are averaging nearly 1 million per day nationally based on a seven-day moving average reported by CBS News - the highest number since the pandemic began. The number is undoubtedly higher, of course, as milder Omicron symptoms combined with a shortage of testing means that cases are potentially vastly understated. That said, deaths have continued to remain remarkably low. Last week, one CEO of a consumer packaged goods company said that they were cutting production lines by 20% to adjust to the high numbers of absent workers, according to Consumer Brands Association spokeswoman, Andrea Woods, citing an off-the-record call. About 75% of consumer packaged goods companies in a recent survey said they had experienced an increase in absenteeism due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure to someone with the virus, Woods added. -CBS News "We are still dealing with a massive driver shortage — 80,000 and counting — with one truck available for every 16 loads. Omicron only intensifies that problem," said Woods. "Absenteeism in warehouses is resulting in late shipments, and retailers don't have the employee base to restock shelves." That said, Omicron worker shortages may be over as quickly as they began... Jan. 13. Lower again pic.twitter.com/HngIA1SUfT — tae kim (@firstadopter) January 15, 2022 Tyler Durden Sat, 01/15/2022 - 12:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

Biden"s monthly payments to families were a "godsend." Now that they"ve ended, parents are "a little bit terrified" about what comes next.

The payments helped millions of families stay afloat. One mother said, It was "huge to just know that we're not going to lose our house." Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images Over 36 million families were sent the final advance monthly child-tax-credit payment in December. Parents told Insider how the monthly payments have been helpful, such as for mortgage payments. One said the payments meant she could keep working amid the pandemic and its effect on schools. Meghan Hullinger is a single mother with four children living in West Virginia, and the monthly payments parents received from the government from July to December were a lifeline for her family.Thinking back to the first payment in July, Hullinger told Insider that "it was just the relief of knowing" that she wouldn't have to "play the bill lottery.""It was basically, I had just enough to pay all of my bills and have a decent sitter that I trusted to watch my kids so I could work," Hullinger said. "It was the absolute relief of having enough."But that relief Hullinger and others have felt from receiving the payments has evaporated. Parents who were getting used to receiving monthly checks from the federal government won't see any fresh deposits for the time being, and it could make it harder to pay bills and support their families. Since July, households had received up to $300 per child each month under the expanded child tax credit passed last year as part of the government's response to the ongoing pandemic. The last payment before the program was set to expire was sent on December 15 to over 36 million families, the IRS said. Democrats don't have a clear shot at reviving it anytime soon. They sought to extend it for another year as part of their $2 trillion Build Back Better plan. But it's languishing in the Senate because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia — Hullinger's home state — who wants to add a work requirement to the benefit.The advance monthly payments have helped households in a variety of ways. It has helped some make their mortgage payments or pay for rent, food, school supplies, or other school expenses. Some have put it away in savings or used it to pay down debt. Insider spoke with two moms who are also MomsRising members. The two moms had relied on the child-tax-credit payments and were now worried about what comes next.Without another monthly payment, one mom said she was "a little bit terrified.""The monthly payment is significantly more helpful for everyday people who kind of are living paycheck to paycheck and really have to figure stuff out," said Stacy Niemann, a mother of two who received payments of $550 per month.Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, a cofounder and the executive director and CEO of MomsRising, called the expanded child tax credit transformational for families. She said it helped lift children out of poverty and helped working parents afford care, which kept them in their jobs.Rowe-Finkbeiner said the expanded child tax credit benefited not only the millions of families receiving the payments but also the US economy."We can't forget that parents, and moms in particular, are the primary people making consumer purchasing decisions in our consumer-fueled economy," she added.One parent said the payments helped her family 'just be a little bit more comfortable'Hullinger said the monthly payments helped her in multiple ways. For one, knowing that the payments would start in July, she was able to get a used car in May that she said was much safer than the one she already had.The expanded tax credit also helped her keep working. With the pandemic still raging, Hullinger and her family have faced multiple school closures and quarantines. She said that without the payments, such disruptions would have meant taking time off work. Instead, she was able to get a sitter.Hullinger said the last advance monthly payment was a godsend as she was able to buy kerosene to heat her apartment and also get Christmas gifts for her four children.Niemann's experience with the monthly payments differed from Hullinger's. She said her husband's income was the family's primary income."But with my husband being self-employed, our income is variable and kind of unpredictable," Niemann said. "So that's the biggest thing that the child tax credit has helped us with — to know that every month, for sure, we have at least one bill that's going to be paid by getting the child tax credit."Trying to maintain a small business amid the pandemic has been hard for Niemann and her husband. She said they lost a lot of business. She and her husband also both needed surgery and were now paying thousands of dollars in medical debt.She said the monthly payments helped them "in some months to be able to just be a little bit more comfortable."In particular, the monthly disbursements helped with their mortgage payments."That's honestly been huge to just know that we're not going to lose our house," Niemann said.She added that she was able to use the money on fun activities for her two children, such as buying pumpkins or a Christmas tree."None of us are going on extravagant vacations and living our best lives on this money," Hullinger said. "A lot of times it gives us just enough to where we can sleep at night."No more payments could mean negative consequences for some familiesOther parents spoke with Insider's Erin Snodgrass about what the end of the payments meant for their families. "Without these payments, I won't eat so my kids can," one parent told Snodgrass.Congressional Democrats want to extend the program for another year through their social- and climate-policy bill. But resistance from Manchin means they can't muscle it through the Senate and sidestep Republicans anytime soon. The Biden administration has floated retroactive payments for eligible families if the plan clears the 50-50 Senate."The temporary child-tax-credit expansion that we have had in place for the past several months is proof of concept that a permanent child-tax-credit expansion is needed into the future in our nation," Rowe-Finkbeiner told Insider in December.Put simply, Rowe-Finkbeiner said the expanded child tax credit "definitely must continue," and Niemann called it "really just a huge help."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

Consider These ETF Strategies to Tackle Hot Inflation Data

Take a look at some ETF areas that can be considered good investment options amid rising inflation concerns. Rising inflation levels continue to be a concern for the U.S. economy. Per the latest Labor Department report, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in December rose 7% year over year, on par with the Dow Jones estimate, according to a CNBC article. The metric came in at the highest level since June 1982 and covers a basket of products, ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents. It also increased 0.5% for the month, surpassing the 0.4% Dow Jones estimate. The soaring food, shelter and used vehicle prices might be primarily responsible for the higher inflation levels.Excluding food and energy prices, the core CPI was up 0.6%, worse than the estimate of 0.5%. Annual core inflation also increased at a 5.5% pace, in comparison with the 5.4% expectation and came in at the highest level since February 1991 (per a CNBC article).The Federal Reserve has considered constrained labor availability the major reason for supply crunches. With higher chances of rising omicron cases and winter conditions in the northeast region, the labor shortage may remain and put increased pressure on prices (per a CNBC article).Going on, considering the consistently hot inflation readings, the central bank has already started tapering bond purchases, which it expects to complete by March. The Fed is expected to begin raising its benchmark interest rate in March. The Federal Reserve may take a more aggressive approach in raising interest rates. In fact, Goldman Sachs is expecting the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates four times this year, according to a CNBC article.Notably, the hot inflation data has compelled investors to look for alternative investment options that may fare better than cash or bonds in an inflationary environment. Moreover, certain companies with compromised pricing power may take a severe hit amid inflation and future earnings may also look less attractive amid high inflation levels. Against this backdrop, let’s take a look at some ETF trades that can be considered:Gold ETFs to Hedge InflationConsidering the current scenario, gold prices have been rising. The inflationary backdrop in the United States is favorable for gold as the metal is viewed as a hedge against inflation. Going by an article on kitco.com, Commerzbank also predicts 2022 to be a favorable year for gold. The report further mentioned that, “in the United States, inflation is currently at a 39-year high of 6.8%, in Germany at more than 5%, the highest level in 29 years, and in the Eurozone at 4.9%, the highest since the start of the monetary union in 1999.”Going on, the report mentioned that “This means that market participants do not expect inflation to return to the Fed's 2% inflation target in the medium to long term. Should the higher inflation become entrenched and the central banks fail to react appropriately to it, gold would probably benefit from this as an inflation hedge. According to a study by the World Gold Council, gold stands out with its price performance in phases of high inflation (inflation >5%). Even with inflation rates between 2% and 5%, the performance of gold is still significantly positive."Gold ETFs mostly move in tandem with gold prices. The SPDR Gold Shares GLD and iShares Gold Trust IAU are some of the popular ETFs (read: Play This New ETF PPI to Beat Inflation).TIPS ETFs at RescueTIPS ETFs offer robust real returns during inflationary periods, unlike their unprotected peers in the fixed-income world. It provides shelter from increasing prices and protects income for the long term. While there are several options in the space to tap the rising consumer prices, we have highlighted iShares TIPS Bond ETF TIP and Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF SCHP, which can be compelling investment choices. TIP and SCHP have a High-risk outlook (read: Why Reopening-Friendly ETFs Can be Bought on the Dip?).Bitcoins Gaining Popularity as ‘Digital Gold’According to The Guardian report, bitcoin is generally seen as an alternative to the traditional safe-haven investment — gold. Some analysts also expect to see tough competition between both assets in the near future. According to the market pundits, growing retail interest in bitcoin may soon be observed as a form of digital gold. In fact, following the release of hot inflation data, investors can consider the first fund to track the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF BITO, which was up 0.4% on Nov 10 (read: ETFs to Win or Lose on Hawkish Fed Minutes). Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it free >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report SPDR Gold Shares (GLD): ETF Research Reports iShares Gold Trust (IAU): ETF Research Reports iShares TIPS Bond ETF (TIP): ETF Research Reports Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP): ETF Research Reports ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 14th, 2022

American Express (AXP) Boasts Earnings & Price Momentum: Should You Buy?

Finding strong, market-beating stocks with a positive earnings outlook becomes easier with the Focus List, a top feature of the Zacks Premium portfolio service. Here at Zacks, we offer our members many different opportunities to take full advantage of the stock market, as well as how to invest in ways that lead to long-term success.One of our most popular services, Zacks Premium offers daily updates of the Zacks Rank and Zacks Industry Rank; full access to the Zacks #1 Rank List; Equity Research reports; and Premium stock screens like the Earnings ESP filter. All are useful tools to find what stocks to buy, what to sell, and what are today's hottest industries.Also included in Zacks Premium is the Focus List. This is a long-term portfolio of top stocks that have all the traits to beat the market.Breaking Down the Zacks Focus ListIf you could get access to a curated list of stocks to kickstart your investment portfolio, wouldn't you jump at the chance to take a peek?Enter the Zacks Focus List. It's a portfolio made up of 50 stocks that are set to beat the market over the next 12 months; each company selected serves as a foundation for long-term investors looking to create an individual portfolio.Additionally, each selection is accompanied by a full Zacks Analyst Report, something that makes the Focus List even more valuable. The report explains in detail why each stock was picked and why we believe it's good for the long-term.The portfolio's past performance only solidifies why investors should consider it as a starting point. For 2020, the Focus List gained 13.85% on an annualized basis compared to the S&P 500's return of 9.38%. Cumulatively, the portfolio has returned 2,519.23% while the S&P returned 854.95%. Returns are for the period of February 1, 1996 to March 31, 2021.Focus List MethodologyWhen stocks are picked for the Focus List, it reflects our enduring reliance on the power of earnings estimate revisions.Earnings estimates are expectations of growth and profitability, and are determined by brokerage analysts. Together with company management, these analysts examine every aspect that may affect future earnings, like interest rates, the economy, and sector and industry optimism.What a company will earn down the road also needs to be taken into consideration, and this is why earnings estimate revisions are so important.The stocks that receive positive changes to earnings estimates are more likely to receive even more upward changes in the future. Take this example: if an analyst raised their estimates last month, they'll probably do so again this month, and other analysts will follow.Utilizing the power of earnings estimate revisions is when the Zacks Rank joins the party. A unique, proprietary stock-rating model, the Zacks Rank uses changes to quarterly earnings expectations to help investors create a winning portfolio.There are four main factors behind the Zacks Rank: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise. Each one of these features is then given a raw score that's recalculated every night and compiled into the Rank. Using this data, stocks are classified into five groups, ranging from "Strong Buy" to "Strong Sell."The Focus List is comprised of stocks hand-picked from a long list of #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy) ranked companies, meaning that each new addition boasts a bullish earnings consensus among analysts.Because stock prices react to revisions, buying stocks with rising earnings estimates can be very profitable. Focus List stocks offer investors a great opportunity to get into companies whose future earnings estimates will be raised, potentially leading to price momentum.Focus List Spotlight: American Express (AXP)Founded in 1850, NY-based American Express Company is a diversified financial services company, offering charge and credit payment card products, and travel-related services worldwide. American Express and its main subsidiary – American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. (“TRS”) – are bank holding companies under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. The company offers business travel-related services through its non-consolidated joint venture, American Express Global Business Travel (the GBT JV).On December 23, 2021, AXP was added to the Focus List at $162.47 per share. Shares have increased 7.39% to $173.29 since then, and the company is a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks Rank.Seven analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.09 to $9.47. AXP boasts an average earnings surprise of 35.4%.Moreover, analysts are expecting AXP's earnings to grow 77.3% for the current fiscal year.Reveal Winning StocksUnlock all of our powerful research, tools and analysis, including the Zacks #1 Rank List, Equity Research Reports, Zacks Earnings ESP Filter, Premium Screener and more, as part of Zacks Premium. You'll quickly identify which stocks to buy, hold and sell, and target today's hottest industries, to help improve the performance of your portfolio. Gain full access now >> Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 5 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report American Express Company (AXP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 14th, 2022

Biden"s top economic advisor endorses stock-trading ban for members of Congress despite Pelosi"s opposition, says it would "restore faith in our institutions"

"There's a lot of distrust and mistrust around how politics works, around the political process," said National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images and Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Brian Deese, Biden's top economic advisor, endorsed restricting lawmakers' stock trades. "Anything we can do to restore faith [in government] I think makes a lot of sense," he said.  The White House ignored past requests to comment on Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation. A ban on stock trading by members of Congress is "sensible" and would "restore faith in our institutions," says Brian Deese, a top economic advisor to President Joe Biden and head of the National Economic Council. The comments were in response to CNBC's "Squawk Box" host Andrew Sorkin asking Deese what he thought about banning members from trading individual stocks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers should be allowed to do so in comments to Insider last month. Deese began by noting that executive branch employees are barred from trading individual stocks."I can tell you, the restrictions on the executive branch are quite significant," said Deese. "There's no engagement on individual stock transactions."He went on to praise the idea more broadly. "I think that's certainly sensible. It's a rule that we all operate by and live by in the executive branch, and [it] doesn't put any real practical burden on our ability to do our jobs," he said.Deese then said restrictions on stock trades were important for the goal of restoring faith and trust in American political institutions."There's a lot of distrust and mistrust around how politics works, around the political process," he said. "One of the things that we need to do across the board is restore faith in our institutions, whether that be Congress and the legislative branch, whether that be the Fed and otherwise and so anything we can do to try to restore that faith, I think makes a lot of sense."—bryan metzger (@metzgov) January 14, 2022 The White House did not immediately respond to a query from Insider to elaborate on Deese's comments, including which policy proposals it supports to strengthen the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, also known as the STOCK Act. The 2012 law allows members of Congress and their top staff to trade stocks but requires them to regularly report their trades, as well as other ways they earn money outside their congressional salaries. In December, Insider published "Conflicted Congress," a five-month long investigation that found dozens of lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staffers had violated the STOCK Act by failing to properly report their stock trades. Insider reached out to the White House for comment before the project launched, alerting officials about the investigation's findings. Officials were asked to comment on the findings given that Biden was vice president when President Barack Obama signed the STOCK Act into law. At the time, Obama said the law was crucial to restoring faith in government.Yet the White House did not reply to requests to comment on what it wanted Congress to do in light of Insider's findings. During Biden's 2o20 presidential campaign, he pledged to work with Congress to pass legislation to prevent self-enrichment via personal financial holdings.Deese's remarks come as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed a slew of bills to ban stock trading in recent days, including a pair of competing proposals unveiled on Wednesday by Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Democrat of Georgia, and Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican of Missouri.Ossoff's proposal, which he's co-sponsoring with fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, would force members to place stocks in a blind trust. It's similar to the House's TRUST in Congress Act, introduced by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat of Virginia, and Chip Roy, a Republican of Texas.  Connor Joseph, a spokesman for Spanberger, told Insider that the congresswoman was "very encouraged by Deese's comments this morning" and is "excited about the growing momentum behind this push."Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota said Thursday that she would be introducing a bill to ban lawmakers from holding individual stocks outright, going beyond blind trusts.Pelosi rejected the idea of a ban when asked by Insider at a December press conference. "We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that," she said. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is reportedly supportive of curtailing stock-trading by lawmakers.Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia — chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the 6th wealthiest member of Congress, per an Insider analysis — endorsed a ban on members of Congress trading individual stocks."Members ought to restrain themselves from playing in the market ... If you take these jobs and responsibility, you have to be willing to give up something," Warner told Alan Kantrowitz of the Big Technology Podcast."Even if you're not doing anything wrong," he said, "it looks bad." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 14th, 2022

Futures Slide After Disappointing JPMorgan Earnings, Tech Rout Worsens

Futures Slide After Disappointing JPMorgan Earnings, Tech Rout Worsens After trading flat for much of the overnight session, S&P futures slumped to session lows shortly after JPM reported earnings that disappointed the market (see our full write up here) and were last trading down 30 points or 0.64%, with Dow futures down 0.3% and Nasdaq futures taking on even more water as the "sell tech" trade was back with a bang. Treasury yields rose 3bps to 1.74% and the dollar reversed an overnight loss. The VIX jumped above 20 and was last seen around 21. The Nasdaq 100 fell to the lowest in almost three months yesterday as tech came under pressure after Fed Governor Lael Brainard said officials could boost rates as early as March. It looks like the selling will continue today. “Market sentiment has been shaken by concerns over the prospect of imminent Fed tightening along with record global Covid-19 infection rates, but we don’t expect either of these factors to end the equity rally,” said UBS Wealth Management CIO Mark Haefele in a note. “The fourth-quarter U.S. earnings season, which started this week, could turn investor attention back to strong fundamentals.” JPMorgan shares dropped in premarket trading after revenues and EPS beat thanks to a $1.8 billion reserve release while FICC trading revenue missed expectations even as its dealmakers posted their best quarter ever and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon gave an upbeat assessment of prospects for growth. Wells Fargo advanced after reporting higher-than-estimated revenue. BlackRock Inc. became the first public asset manager to hit $10 trillion in assets, propelled by a surge in fourth-quarter flows into its exchange-traded funds. Here are some of the other notable pre-movers today: U.S.-listed casino stocks with operations in Macau rise after the announcement of much-anticipated changes to the local casino law aimed at tightening government oversight on the world’s largest gaming market. Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +6.6%; Melco Resorts (MLCO US) +5.5%; Wynn Resorts (WYNN US) +5.6%. Apple (AAPL US) shares are up in U.S. premarket trading after Piper Sandler raises its target for the stock, saying that Apple’s set-up for 2022 is favorable. Broker adds that the tech giant’s venture into health-care and automotive markets are the next catalysts to drive the stock to a $4 trillion market cap and beyond. NextPlay Technologies (NXTP US) shares jump 19% in U.S. premarket trading after giving an update for fiscal 3Q 2022 late yesterday. Domino’s Pizza (DPZ US) is cut to equal-weight from overweight at Morgan Stanley, while Chipotle is upgraded to overweight from equal-weight amid a “mixed” view on restaurant stocks into 2022. Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD US) advanced in postmarket trading after being upgraded to outperform from market perform at SVB Leerink, which cited the potential of a treatment for Pompe disease, should it be approved. Spirit Realty dropped 4% postmarket after launching a share sale via Morgan Stanley and BofA Securities. European equities traded poorly and followed the drop in Asia, with most sectors trading lower, weighed down once again by a soft tech sector. Euro Stoxx 50 is down 0.8%, most major indexes dropped over 1% before rising off the lows. Oil & gas is the best Stoxx 600 performer with crude trading well. European technology stocks as well as pandemic winners are leading declines after a U.S. selloff in tech shares resumed Thursday as Federal Reserve officials signaled their intention to combat inflation aggressively.  European chipmakers are down in early trading Friday: ASM International -3.5% at 9.17 a.m. CET, Infineon -0.9%, ASML -2.9%, STMicroelectronics -2.3%. Meanwhile, energy and automakers outperformed. Utilities were also in focus as French nuclear energy producer Electricite de France SA (EDF) plunged by a record as the French government confirmed plans to force it to sell more power at a steep discount to protect households from surging wholesale electricity prices, a move that could cost the state-controlled utility 7.7 billion euros ($8.8 billion) at Thursday’s market prices. There was some good news: a majority of strategists still see the rally in European equities continuing this year. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index will rise about 5.2% to 511 index points by the end of 2022 from Wednesday’s close, according to the average of 19 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. Equity funds once more led inflows among asset classes in the week through Jan. 12, as investors reduced cash holdings, according to BofA and EPFR Global data. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks slid as investors offloaded technology shares on growing speculation the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in March.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 1.3% before paring losses to 0.7% in afternoon trading. Alibaba, Keyence and Sony Group were among the largest contributors to the benchmark’s slide. The Hang Seng Tech Index, which tracks China’s biggest tech firms, closed down 0.5%. Electronics makers also dragged down indexes in Japan and South Korea, with benchmarks in both nations leading the region’s drop. China’s CSI 300 Index closed at its lowest since November 2020. Asian stocks have been whipsawed this year by remarks from Fed officials as investors try to gauge the timing and scope of the anticipated interest rate hikes. The renewed weakness on Friday was triggered by comments from Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who said officials could boost rates as early as March to ensure that price pressures are brought under control. “This kind of hawkishness and a rush for rate hikes is, of course, a minus for share prices,” said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo. If the Fed were to increase rates in March, “investors will want to make sure the economy remains strong despite the monetary tightening before making their move,” Sera added.  With Friday’s moves, Asia’s benchmark is set to pare its weekly gain to about 1.6%, which would still be its best weekly performance since October.    In Japan, sentiment worsened as Tokyo raised its Covid alert to the second-highest of four levels as virus cases surged. South Korea’s Kospi was also weighed down as the central bank increased its policy rate for the third time in just five months In rates, Treasuries pared declines with stock index futures under pressure as U.S. day begins. Yields beyond the 2-year reached session highs inside Thursday’s ranges amid a global government bond selloff. Treasury yields are cheaper by 3bp to 4bp across the curve with 10- year yields around 1.7274%, fading a bigger loss earlier and slightly underperforming bunds and gilts. Asia session featured speculation about tighter global monetary policy. IG dollar issuance slate empty so far and expected to remain light ahead of U.S. holiday weekend with markets closed Monday; four names priced $3.8b Thursday. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot is little changed around worst levels for the week, while NOK, JPY and CAD top the G-10 scoreboard. The yen advanced, and is set for its largest weekly advance in more than a year as speculation about a shift in the Bank of Japan’s policy spurred a further unwinding of dollar longs. The five-year Japanese government bond yield climbed to a six-year high. The volatility term structure in dollar-yen shifted higher Friday and inverted. The euro was little changed around $1.1460 and European sovereign bond yields rose, with the core underperforming the periphery. Norway’s krone and the Canadian dollar advanced as oil prices rose, with Brent trading above $85 per barrel, while the Australian and New Zealand dollars were the worst performers. The pound extended its longest winning streak in nearly two months as the U.K. economy surpassed its pre-pandemic size in November for the first time. Sweden’s krona inched down, shrugging off data showing that the nation’s inflation rate rose to the highest level in 28 years In commodities, crude futures rally with WTI recovering to Wednesday’s best levels near $83 and Brent putting in fresh highs near $85.40. Spot gold is little changed a brief retest of the week’s highs, trading near $1,823/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME nickel adds about 2% extending its recent surge; copper holds a narrow range in the red Looking at the day ahead now, data releases include US retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilisation for December, along with the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for January and the UK’s GDP for November. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde and New York Fed President Williams. Lastly, earnings releases include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and BlackRock. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,667.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 483.71 MXAP down 0.8% to 195.28 MXAPJ down 0.5% to 639.13 Nikkei down 1.3% to 28,124.28 Topix down 1.4% to 1,977.66 Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 24,383.32 Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,521.26 Sensex up 0.1% to 61,320.31 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.1% to 7,393.86 Kospi down 1.4% to 2,921.92 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.08% Euro up 0.1% to $1.1467 Brent Futures up 0.8% to $85.16/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,823.97 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 94.73 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said that three interest-rate increases this year was a “good baseline” but there may be fewer or even as many as five moves, depending on inflation The U.K. and the European Union agreed to intensify post-Brexit negotiations over Northern Ireland, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss led the British side for the first time in a meeting at her official country residence Germany’s economy contracted by as much as 1% in the final quarter of 2021 as the emergence of the coronavirus’s omicron strain added to drags on output from supply snarls and the fastest inflation in three decades Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest, may mull investing in Chinese government bonds if the market situation improves, GPIF President Masataka Miyazono says at a press conference in Tokyo Ukraine said a cyberattack brought down the websites of several government agencies for hours. Authorities didn’t immediately comment on the source of the outage, which comes as tensions with Russia surge over its troop buildup near the border Russia won’t wait “endlessly” for a security deal with NATO and progress depends on the U.S., Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, keeping up pressure after a week of high-level talks with the West failed to yield noticeable progress Turkey’s newly appointed finance chief said the country’s inflation will peak months earlier and at a level far lower than predicted by top Wall Street banks The global pressures driving inflation higher represent a “major change in trends” and will keep price growth high for the foreseeable future, Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina said North Korea appears to have fired two ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast-- in what could be its third rocket-volley test in less than 10 days -- hours after issuing a fresh warning to the Biden administration A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets weakened amid headwinds from the US where all major indices declined led by losses in tech and consumer discretionary amid a slew of hawkish Fed speak, while mixed Chinese trade data added to the cautiousness in the region. ASX 200 (-1.1%) traded lower as tech and consumer stocks mirrored the underperformance of stateside peers and with nearly all industries on the back foot aside from utilities and gold miners. Nikkei 225 (-1.3%) briefly gave up the 28k level amid a firmer currency and source reports that BoJ policy makers are said to debate how soon they can begin signalling a rate hike. In terms of the notable movers, Fast Retailing was the biggest gainer after it reported a record Q1 net, followed by Seven & I Holdings which also benefitted post-earnings, while Hitachi Construction was at the other end of the spectrum after news that parent Hitachi will offload half its majority stake. KOSPI (-1.4%) eventually underperformed after the Bank of Korea hiked rates by 25bps for a third time in the current tightening cycle to 1.25%, as expected. BoK also noted that CPI is to stay in the 3% range for a while and BoK Governor Lee made it clear that rates will continue to be adjusted which has fuelled speculation of similar action at next month’s meeting. Hang Seng (-0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (-1.0%) were also pressured with participants digesting the latest trade figures which showed weaker than expected Imports although Exports topped estimates. Nonetheless, the downside was somewhat limited amid ongoing expectations for PBoC easing to support the economy as the Fed moves closer towards a rate lift off and with some encouragement after Evergrande averted its first onshore debt default whereby bondholders approved a six-month postponement of bond redemption and coupon payments. Finally, 10yr JGBs retreated beneath the 151.00 level following the source report that suggested debate within the BoJ on how soon a rate increase can be signalled which could occur ahead of the 2% price target, while this coincided with an increase in the 5yr yield to a 6-year high and a weaker than previous 20yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Chinese Developer R&F Downgraded to Restricted Default by Fitch Macau Cuts Casino License Tenure, Caps Float as Controls Tighten Inflation Irks Asia as Japan Yields Hit Six-Year High, BOK Hikes China Builders’ Dollar Bonds Slump Further; Logan, KWG Lead The major cash equity indices in Europe remain subdued but off worst levels (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.6%) as the downbeat APAC mood reverberated into the region amid a slew of hawkish Fed speak, while the mixed Chinese trade data added to the concerns of a slowdown ahead of next week’s GDP metrics. Newsflow had overall been quiet during the European session ahead of the start of US earnings season, but geopolitical tensions remain hot on the radar after North Korea fired its third missile of the year (albeit landing outside Japan’s EEZ), whilst Russia closed all communication channels with the EU and exerted some time-pressure on Washington with regards to Moscow’s security demands. Back to trade, a divergence is seen between Europe and the US as the former catches up to the late accelerated sell-off on Wall Street yesterday; US equity futures have been consolidating with mild broad-based gains seen across the ES (+0.2%), YM (+0.2%), NQ (+0.2%) whilst the RTY (Unch) narrowly lags. Delving into Europe, the UK’s FTSE 100 (-0.1%) is cushioned by gains across its Oil & Gas and Financial sectors as crude oil prices and yields clamber off intraday lows, whilst the SMI (-0.3%) sees some losses countered by its heavyweight healthcare sector. Sectors in Europe are mostly in the red with a slight defensive tilt, although Oil & Gas stands as the top gainer and the only sector in the green. The downside meanwhile sees Tech following a similar sectorial underperformance seen on Wall Street and APAC overnight. In terms of individual movers, DAX-heavyweight SAP (-0.3%) conforms to the losses across tech after initially rising as a result of upgraded guidance and the announcement of a share buyback programme of up to EUR 1bln. The most notable mover of the day has been EDF (-17.5%) as the Co. withdrew guidance after noting the impact of new French price cap measures is forecast to be around EUR 8.4bln on FY22 EBITDA. Top European News EDF Slumps by Most on Record on Hit From Price Cap U.K. Economy Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Size With November Surge German Recovery Lags Rest of Europe on Supply Snarls, Inflation HSBC Markets Chief Georges Elhedery To Take Six-Month Sabbatical In FX, another lower low off a lower high does not bode well for the index and Buck more broadly, but some technicians will be encouraged by the fact that chart supports in the form of a Fib retracement and 100 DMA have only been breached briefly. Meanwhile, Friday may provide the Greenback with a prop via pre-weekend position squaring and US data could lend a hand if upbeat or better than expected at the very least. For now, the DXY is restrained between 94.887-626 confines, with the upside capped by a major trendline that falls just below 95.000 around 94.980, and the Dollar also hampered by pressure emanating outside the basket from the likes of the Yuan, crude oil and other commodities. CAD/JPY/GBP - The Loonie has reclaimed 1.2500+ status in line with a rebound in WTI towards Usd 83/brl, but still faces stiff trendline resistance vs its US counterpart at 1.2451 and probably conscious that several multi-billion option expiries roll off either side of the 1.2500 level today. Conversely, the Yen has cleared the psychological 114.00 hurdle with some fundamental impetus coming from hawkish BoJ source reports contending that policy-setters are contemplating how soon the Bank can telegraph a rate hike that is likely to be delivered prior to inflation reaching its 2% target. Elsewhere, Sterling remains elevated above 1.3700, though unable to scale 1.3750 even with tailwinds from stronger than forecast UK GDP and IP or a narrower than feared trade gap amidst ongoing political uncertainty. CHF/EUR/NZD/AUD - All narrowly divergent and contained against their US rival, with the Franc straddling 0.9100 and Euro holding within a 1.1483-51 range and immersed in hefty option expiry interest spanning 1.1395 to 1.1485 (see 7.01GMT post on the Headline Feed for details). On the flip-side, the Aussie and Kiwi have both lost a bit more momentum after probing 0.7300 and approaching 0.6900 respectively yesterday, and Aud/Usd appears to have shrugged off robust housing finance data in the run up to China’s trade balance revealing sub-consensus imports. SCANDI/EM - Firmer than anticipated Swedish CPI and CPIF metrics have not offered the Sek much support, as the stripped down core ex-energy print was in line and bang on the Riksbank’s own projection. However, the Huf has been underpinned by hot Hungarian inflation and the Cnh/Cny in wake of the aforementioned Chinese trade data showing a record surplus for December and 2021 overall. In Turkey, the Try is flattish following the latest CBRT survey that predicts a weaker year-end Lira from current levels, but above record lows and still well above target CPI, while in Russia the Rub is benefiting from Brent’s rise above Usd 85.50/brl (in keeping with the Nok) against the backdrop of geopolitical and diplomatic strains as the country’s Foreign Minister declares that all lines of communication with the EU have ended. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures have been on an upward trajectory since the Wall Street close, with the former now above USD 83/bbl (vs 81.58/bbl low) and the latter north of USD 85.50/bbl (vs 83.99/bbl low) in European hours. Overall market sentiment has been a non-committal one amid a lack of fresh macro catalysts, however, geopolitical updates have been abundant: namely with Russia’s punchy rhetoric surrounding its security demand from NATO and Washington, whilst North Korea fired what is said to be ballistic missiles which landed just outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). On the demand side of the equation, eyes remain on China’s economic and COVID situations, with the import figures indicating China's annual crude oil imports drop for the first time in 20 years, whilst the nation grounded further flights between the US due to its zero-COVID policy. On the supply side, reports suggested that China will release oil stockpiles in the run-up to the Lunar New Year (dubbed as the largest human migration). The release is part of a coordinated plan with the US and other major consumers, according to the reports, which cited sources suggesting China will likely ramp up its releases if prices top USD 85/bbl. Turning to metals, spot gold is trading sideways and prices waned after again hitting the resistance zone around USD 1,830/oz flagged earlier this week. LME copper meanwhile remains under USD 10,000/t – subdued by the sharp slowdown in Chinese imports suggesting weaker demand, albeit annual imports of copper concentrate hit a historic high in 2021. The trade data also indicated a fall in iron ore imports as a factor of the steel production curbs imposed last year to tackle pollution and high iron ore prices. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Dec. Import Price Index YoY, est. 10.8%, prior 11.7%; MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.7% Export Price Index YoY, est. 16.0%, prior 18.2%; MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 1.0% 8:30am: Dec. Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. -0.1%, prior 0.3% Dec. Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.3% Dec. Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. -0.2%, prior 0.2% Dec. Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0%, prior -0.1% 9:15am: Dec. Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.5% Capacity Utilization, est. 77.0%, prior 76.8% Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.3%, prior 0.7% 10am: Nov. Business Inventories, est. 1.3%, prior 1.2% 10am: Jan. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 70.0, prior 70.6; Expectations, est. 67.0, prior 68.3; Current Conditions, est. 73.8, prior 74.2 U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 4.8%, prior 4.8%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 2.9% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap There was no rest for markets either yesterday as the tech sell-off resumed in earnest, which came as fed funds futures moved to price in a 93% chance of a March rate hike, the highest closing probability to date. At the same time, however, the US dollar continued to weaken and has now put in its worst 3-day performance in over a year, having shed -1.25% in that time. And all this is coming just as earnings season is about to ramp up, with a number of US financials scheduled to report today ahead of an array of companies over the next few weeks. Starting with sovereign bonds, yields on 10yr Treasuries fell a further -3.9bps yesterday, their biggest decline since mid-December, to their lowest closing level in a week, at 1.704%, with most of the price action again happening during the New York afternoon. Lower inflation breakevens helped drive the decline, with the 10yr breakeven down -3.4bps after the producer price inflation data for December came in softer than expected. Indeed, the monthly gain of +0.2% (vs. +0.4% expected) was the slowest since November 2020, and in turn that left the year-on-year measure at +9.7% (vs. +9.8% expected), which is actually a modest decline from the upwardly revised +9.8% in November. As with the previous day’s CPI reading though, there was a more inflationary interpretation for those after one, as the core PPI measure came in at a monthly +0.5% as expected, leaving the year-on-year change at an above-expected +8.3% (vs. +8.0% expected). So something for everyone but no massive surprises either way. The latest inflation data came as numerous Fed speakers continued to match the recent hawkish tone, which helped strengthen investor conviction in the odds of a March hike as mentioned at the top. Philadelphia Fed President Harker said at an event that “My forecast is that we would have a 25 basis-point increase in March, barring any changes in the data”, and that he had 3 hikes pencilled in but “could be convinced of a fourth if inflation is not getting under control.” Separately, we heard from Governor Brainard, who appeared before the Senate Banking Committee as part of her nomination hearing to become Fed Vice Chair. She signalled that she would be open to a March hike as well, saying that they would be in a position to hike “as soon as asset purchases are terminated”, which they’re currently on course to do in March. Even President Evans, one of the most dovish members of Fed leadership, said a March rate hike and multiple hikes this year were a possibility. As it happens, today is the last we’ll hear from various Fed speakers for a while, as tomorrow they’ll be entering their blackout period ahead of the next FOMC announcement later in the month. Staying on the Fed, Bloomberg reported overnight that President Biden has picked three nominees for the vacant slots. They include Sarah Bloom Raskin, previously Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, who’s reportedly going to be nominated to become the Vice Chair of supervision, as well as Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson, who’d become governors. Cook is an economics professor at Michigan State University, and Jefferson is an economics professor at Davidson College in North Carolina. All 3 would require Senate confirmation, and bear in mind those choices haven’t been officially confirmed as of yet. Over on the equity side, the main story was a further tech sell-off that sent both the NASDAQ (-2.51%) and the FANG+ index (-3.72%) lower for the first time this week, and taking the former to a 3-month low. That weakness dragged the S&P 500 (-1.5%) lower, though despite the stark headline numbers, it was only just over half of the shares in the index that were in the red on the day. Meanwhile in Europe, the STOXX 600 (-0.03%) also saw a modest decline, though the STOXX Banks (+1.10%) hit a fresh 3-year high after advancing for the 8th time in the last 9 sessions. Sovereign bond yields echoed the declines in the US too, with those on 10yr bunds (-3.1bps), OATs (-3.3bps) and BTPs (-4.6bps) all moving lower. Following that tech-driven fall overnight on Wall Street on the back of those hawkish comments, Asian stock markets are trading lower this morning. Japan's Nikkei (-1.42%) extended the previous session’s losses while briefly falling over -2%, as the Japanese Yen found a renewed bid amid the risk-off mood. Additionally, the Kospi (-1.37%) widened its losses, after the BOK lifted borrowing costs by 25bps to 1.25% amidst rising concerns about inflationary pressure. That takes the benchmark rate back to pre-pandemic levels after the central bank's 25bps rate increase in August and November last year. Meanwhile, the Korean government unveiled a supplementary budget worth 14 trillion won in size to continue providing support to the economy. Elsewhere, the Hang Seng index (-0.86%), CSI (-0.60%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.53%) have all moved lower as well. Data released in China showed that exports went up +20.9% y/y in December (vs +20.0% market expectations) albeit imports in December rose +19.5% y/y less than +28.5% as anticipated. That meant that they posted a trade surplus of $94.46bn last month, above the consensus forecast for a $74.50bn surplus. Looking ahead, futures on both the S&P 500 (-0.19%) and DAX (-0.79%) are pointing to further losses later on. Elsewhere in markets, yesterday saw another surge in European natural gas futures (+13.71%), albeit still at levels which are less than half of the peaks seen in mid-December. The latest moves came as Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said that talks with the US had reached a “dead end”, amidst strong tensions between the two sides with Russia rejecting any further expansion of NATO as well as calls to pull back its forces from near Ukraine’s border. In response, the Russian ruble weakened -2.31% against the US dollar yesterday, whilst the MOEX stock index (-4.05%) suffered its worst daily performance since April 2020. Turning to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decline in UK cases continued to accelerate yesterday, with the number of cases over the past week now down -24% relative to the previous 7-day period. Looking at England specifically, the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is now down for a 3rd day running, and in London the total number in hospital is down to its lowest level since New Year’s Eve. To the day ahead now, and data releases include US retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilisation for December, along with the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for January and the UK’s GDP for November. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde and New York Fed President Williams. Lastly, earnings releases include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and BlackRock. Tyler Durden Fri, 01/14/2022 - 08:13.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

China’s Trade Surplus Hit Record in 2021—With Exports Jumping 30% Amid Pandemic Demand

China’s global trade surplus surged to $676.4 billion in 2021, likely the highest ever for any country, as exports jumped 29.9% over a year earlier (BEIJING) — China’s politically volatile global trade surplus surged to $676.4 billion in 2021, likely the highest ever for any country, as exports jumped 29.9% over a year earlier despite semiconductor shortages that disrupted manufacturing. The country’s monthly trade surplus in December swelled 20.8% over a year earlier to a record $94.4 billion, customs data showed Friday. China piled up a series of monthly export surpluses in 2021 but they prompted less criticism from the United States and other trading partners than in earlier years while their governments focused on containing coronavirus infections. Exports rose to $3.3 trillion in 2021 despite shortages of processor chips for smartphones and other goods as global demand rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers also were hampered by power rationing in some areas to meet government efficiency targets. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The surplus with the United States, one of the irritants behind a lingering U.S.-Chinese trade war, rose 25.1% in 2021 over a year earlier to $396.6 billion. Trade envoys have talked since President Joe Biden took office in January but have yet to announce a date to resume face-to-face negotiations. Exports to the United States gained 27.5% over 2020 to $576.1 billion despite tariff hikes by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, that still are in place on many goods. Chinese imports of American goods rose 33.1% to $179.5 billion. In December, China’s monthly trade surplus with the United States rose 31.1% over a year earlier to $39.2 billion. Exports to the U.S. market rose 21.1% to $56.4 billion while imports of American goods edged up 3.3% to $17.1 billion. This month, China’s global export volumes are likely to weaken due to congestion at ports where anti-coronavirus restrictions are imposed and to changes in global demand as shippers clear backlogs, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. “We’d still bet on export volumes being lower rather than higher by the end of this year,” said Evans-Pritchard in a report. Chinese imports in 2021 rose 30.1% to $2.7 trillion as the world’s second-largest recovery rebounded from the pandemic. Economic growth weakened in the second half of the year as Beijing carried out a campaign to reduce what it sees as dangerously high debt in the real estate industry, but consumer spending was above pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturing activity edged higher in December but new export orders contracted, according to survey earlier by the government statistics bureau and an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing. Chinese exporters benefited from being allowed to resume most normal business in early 2020 while foreign competitors faced anti-coronavirus restrictions on travel and trade. That advantage carried into 2021 as other governments renewed controls in response to the spread of new virus variants. Earlier, forecasters said Chinese exporters would benefit from the spread of the latest variant, omicron, which Beijing appeared to be keeping out of the country. More recently, however, China has responded to outbreaks within its own borders by imposing travel restrictions on major cities including Tianjin, a manufacturing center where omicron was found. China’s global trade surplus was a 26.4% increase over 2020, which economists said then was among the highest ever reported by any economy. They said the only comparison as a percentage of the economy’s size likely was Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters during their price boom in the 1970s, but their total revenues were smaller. The swollen trade surplus has strained the ability of China’s central bank to manage the exchange rate of its yuan, which has risen to multi-year highs against the U.S. dollar as money flows into the country. The People’s Bank of China has tried to limit the ability of banks and other traders to speculate on the currency’s movement. China’s trade surplus with the 27-nation European Union, its second-largest trading partner, swelled 57.4% in 2021 over a year earlier to $208.4 billion. Exports to the EU rose 32.6% to $518.3 billion while imports of European goods gained 19.8% to $309.9 billion. In December, China’s trade surplus with Europe widened by 85.9% over a year earlier to $25.1 billion......»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 14th, 2022

Retail Sales Preview: A Drop To End The Year, And It"s All Downhill From Here

Retail Sales Preview: A Drop To End The Year, And It's All Downhill From Here Now that even Blackrock is echoing our warning that central banks - powerless to fight supply-driven inflation - could hike right into a recession and beyond, the next question is what is the best leading or coincident indicator showing the state of the US economy. A good place to start is spending of the US consumer, responsible for 70% of US GDP, and a good indicator of that is retail sales, the same retail sales that have been running some 22% above trend from pre-covid levels even as payrolls remain dismally lower. Conveniently we get the next retail sales report tomorrow morning, where consensus expects to see sequential growth if modestly slowing, with the December print up just 0.1% down from a 0.3% increase in the previous month , and a 0.3% increase in core retail sales. Unfortunately for the Fed, and all those expecting the current burst of artificial, stimmy-driven growth to continue, the latest credit and debit card spending data from Bank of America suggest a far bigger slowdown in December retail sales: as summarized in the chart below, actual data shows a -1.3% drop in retail sales, a -1.6% drop in retail sales ex autos, and a -2.0% drop in retail sales ex-autos and gas. Another way of visualizing BofA card spending data overlaid with the Census Bureau's retail sales. Here is how BofA economist Anna Zhou described the latest retail sales dynamics: December sales were weighed down by the pulled forward holiday shopping, which was then negatively impacted in the SA process due to the large seasonal factors. Indeed, as shown in the chart below, December has the highest seasonal adjustment factor, meaning that while unadjusted data is likely to show a big drop, the final number will be all about what adjustment factor is used by the Census Bureau. Taking a step back, BofA writes that total card spending, measured by aggregated BAC credit and debit cards, increased an average of 19.5% on a 2-yr basis over the 8-weeks ending Jan 1st, in keeping with the top chart. Naturally, rising omicron cases continue to weigh on services spending. On a 2-yr basis, airlines spending dropped to -32%, the lowest since mid-Sep 2021. This was driven by a steep slowdown in spending at US carriers. Entertainment services spending also slipped further although restaurants spending rebounded slightly on a 2-yr basis. Meanwhile, although the pulled forward holiday shopping lowered the 2-yr %change of total card spending toward year end (15.0% for the 7-days ending Jan 1), the BofA economist notes that consumers likely "remained robust during the season finale of a strong year of spending." And indeed, while spending on goods remains solid, consumers are pulling back on services spending due to the surge in COVID cases. To wit, total airline spending contracted by 23% on a 2-yr basis for the 7-days ending Jan 1, the lowest reading since Oct 5 ‘21. BofA also saw a big pick up in refunds from US carriers during the last week of Dec, which likely reflects significant flight cancellations due to COVID-related staff shortages and severe weather. Broken down by major category on a sequential basis, we find the biggest increase in gas and lodging spending, offset by a sharp drop in spending on furniture, clothing and airlines. On a 2-year basis, big increases were observed in furniture spending (which however has tempered in recent months), gas and general merchandise, while declines in airlines and department store spending persist. A regional snapshot shows a relatively uniform distribution of spending across the US. Total spending broken down by major MSA also shows generally consistent patterns with the exception of Seattle where spending appears to have hit a brick wall into the new year. Interestingly, international spending seems to be less impacted as the share of brick and mortar retail spending done abroad surged to 1.3% during the last week of Dec, just shy of the 1.5% in 2019. Lastly, the BAC Holiday Sales Measure showed that holiday sales grew 11.7% yoy for the month of Nov and Dec combined, a far more muted pace of spending compared to mid and late-November In other words, while December spending will likely see a sequential slowdown largely due to Omicron, outsized seasonal adjustment factors may mitigate the decline. The bigger question is when will we start seeing a secular decline in spending, especially among the lower-income group. And indeed, this may already be the case: as the next chart shows, spending by the low income group (.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 13th, 2022

Businesses Are Laying Off Workers During Omicron Surge, Rising U.S. Unemployment Claims Signal

The four-week moving average rose nearly 6,300 to almost 211,000 (WASHINGTON) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since mid-November, but still low by historic standards. U.S. jobless claims climbed by 23,000 last week to 230,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week blips, rose nearly 6,300 to almost 211,000. The weekly applications, a proxy for layoffs, have risen in four of the last five weeks, a period that runs in tandem with the spread of the omicron variant. Yet the jobs market has bounced back strongly from last year’s coronavirus recession. Jobless claims had fallen mostly steadily for about a year and they dipped below the pre-pandemic average of around 220,000 a week. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “The rise in claims likely reflects an increase in layoffs due to the surge in COVID cases,” said economists Nancy Vanden Houten and Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics. “Claims may remain elevated in the near term, but we expect initial claims will gravitate back to the 200k level once the omicron wave passes. Encouragingly, there are indications that cases from the omicron variant are peaking.” Altogether, 1.6 million people were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Jan. 1. Companies are holding onto workers at a time when it’s difficult to find replacements. Employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November, the fifth-highest monthly total in records going back to 2000. A record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November — a sign that they are confident enough to look something better. The job market has bounced back from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession. When COVID-19 hit, governments ordered lockdowns, consumers hunkered down at home and many businesses closed or cut back hours. Employers slashed millions of jobs in March and April 2020, and the unemployment rate rocketed to 14.7%. But massive government spending — and eventually the rollout of vaccines — brought the economy back. Last year, employers added a record 6.4 million jobs — but that still was not enough to make up for the unprecedented 9.4 million jobs lost in 2020. And hiring slowed in November and December last year as employers struggled to fill job openings. Still, the unemployment rate fell last month to a pandemic low 3.9%......»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 13th, 2022

Mortgage Rates Spike to Highest Level Since March 2020

Elevated inflation and the concerns over how federal officials intend to address it led to a significant surge in mortgage rates across the board, according to recent reports from Freddie Mac. According to the agency’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.45% for the week ending Jan. 13, climbing 0.7 […] The post Mortgage Rates Spike to Highest Level Since March 2020 appeared first on RISMedia. Elevated inflation and the concerns over how federal officials intend to address it led to a significant surge in mortgage rates across the board, according to recent reports from Freddie Mac. According to the agency’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.45% for the week ending Jan. 13, climbing 0.7 points from a week earlier. Mortgage Details 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.45% with an average of 0.7 point for the week—up from last week when it averaged 3.22%. Last year the 30-year FRM averaged 2.79%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.62% with an average of 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.43%. Last year the 15-year FRM averaged 2.23%. 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.57% with an average of 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.4%. Last year the 5-year ARM averaged 3.12%. The Takeaway “Mortgage rates rose across all mortgage loan types, with the 30-year fixed-rate increasing by almost a quarter of a percent from last week. This was driven by the prospect of a faster than expected tightening of monetary policy in response to continued inflation exacerbated by uncertainty in labor and supply chains. “The rise in mortgage rates so far this year has not yet affected purchase demand, but given the fast pace of home price growth, it will likely dampen demand in the near future.” —Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The Freddie Mac fixed rate for a 30-year loan shot up this week, with a 23 basis point jump to 3.45%, the highest rate since March 2020, riding a strong inflationary wave and following the surge in the 10-year Treasury. Investors took note of the acceleration in consumer prices, which rose at the fastest pace in forty years in December. In addition, the mild impact of the omicron wave, despite the high number of cases, points toward a brighter post-pandemic horizon, a sentiment that underpins a more bullish outlook on the economy. “Real estate markets are unseasonably active this January, as many buyers respond to the signals of rising rates and prices by seeking to find the right home and lock in a fixed mortgage payment. At today’s rate, buyers of a median-priced home are paying about $219 more per month than a year ago, adding over $2,600 to their yearly housing costs. This amounts to more than half of a household’s food-at-home budget for the year. With prices for most consumer goods and services increasing, buyers are feeling the pinch on their wallets. Affordability continues to be a central challenge for this year’s first-time buyers. The silver lining is that a strong preference for remote work has led to an increasing number of companies moving to hybrid work models for 2022. With more flexibility, first-time buyers have the opportunity to seek their ideal home in dynamic, smaller markets, with strong economies, high quality of life and more affordable housing.” — George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com. The post Mortgage Rates Spike to Highest Level Since March 2020 appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJan 13th, 2022

Global Economy Heading For "Mother Of All" Supply Chain Shocks As China Locks Down Ports

Global Economy Heading For "Mother Of All" Supply Chain Shocks As China Locks Down Ports Over the past month, as Wall Street turned increasingly optimistic on US growth alongside the Fed, with consensus (shaped by the Fed's leaks and jawboning) now virtually certain of a March rate hike, we have been repeatedly warning that after a huge policy error in 2021 when the Fed erroneously said that inflation is "transitory" (it wasn't), the central bank is on pace to make another just as big policy mistake in 2022 by hiking as many as 4 times and also running off its massive balance sheet... right into a growth slowdown. The Fed is going from one huge error (inflation is transitory) to another huge error (4 rate hikes and runoff won't crash markets). — zerohedge (@zerohedge) January 11, 2022 And, as we have also discussed in recent weeks, one place where this slowdown is emerging - besides the slowdown in US consumption of course where spending is now being funded to record rates by credit cards - is China and its "covid-zero" policy in general, and its covid-locked down ports in particular. But what until recently was a minority view confined to our modest website, has since expanded and as Bloomberg writes overnight, the effects of restrictions in China as the country maintains its Covid-zero policy "are starting to hit supply chains in the region." As a result of the slow movement of goods through some of the country’s busiest and most important ports means shippers are now diverting to Shanghai, causing the types of knock-on delays at the world’s biggest container port that led to massive congestion bottlnecks last summer that eventually translated into a record number of container ships waiting off the coast of California, a glut that hasn't been cleared to this day. With sailing schedules already facing delays of about a week, freight forwarders warn of the impact on already back-logged gateways in Europe and the US and is also why HSBC economists are warning that the world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain shocks if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, at which point disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable. "Temporary, one would hope, but hugely disruptive all the same" in the next few months, they wrote in a research note this week first noted by Bloomberg. For those who have forgotten last year's global shockwave when China locked down its ports for several days, a quick reminder: it led to an unprecedented hiccup in global logistics and shipping which hasn't been resolved to this day. That's because China is the world’s biggest trading nation and its ability to keep its factories humming through the pandemic has been crucial for global supply chains. While the outbreak of omicron in China has been small compared to other nations (if one believes China's official data, which is a big if) authorities are taking no chances, especially with China's continued "zero-covid" policy. In recent weeks scattered infections of both the delta and omicron variants have already triggered shutdowns to clothing factories and gas deliveries around one of China’s biggest seaports in Ningbo, disruptions at computer chip manufacturers in the locked-down city of Xi’an, and a second city-wide lockdown in Henan province Tuesday. Below is a brief timeline of the most recent events courtesy of Deutsche Bank: China's first Omicron outbreak was detected in the city of Tianjin over the weekend. On the morning of Jan 8, two patients in Tianjin who actively sought medical treatment were confirmed as being infected with the Omicron variant. The local government immediately locked down certain districts, restricted travel, and conducted large-scale screening. A total of 41 positive cases have been reported as of the morning of Jan 11. The source of the local cases in Tianjin is still unknown, and community transmission is possible, according to local disease control officials. All previous local Omicron cases in Tianjin belonged to the same transmission chain. However, the above cases cannot be confirmed to be in the same transmission chain as the sequences of the imported cases of the Omicron variant that have been found in Tianjin. The early confirmed cases do not have any travel history outside Tianjin either. The specific source of the local cases found in Tianjin is still unknown at this time. More alarmingly, the same Omicron virus strain has already spread to outside Tianjin. Two positive cases were found in Anyang, Henan on Jan 8, and were later confirmed to be the same Omicron variant found in Tianjin. Through contact tracing and gene sequencing, the source was identified as a college student who returned to Anyang from Tianjin on December 28, 2021, and who did not show any symptoms. 81 cases have since been confirmed in Anyang over the past few days. This suggests that (1) the Omicron virus may have been transmitted in Tianjin for almost 2 weeks; and (2) other travelers might have already carried the Omicron virus from Tianjin to elsewhere in China. Looking at the recent data, China's Covid outbreak this winter could be worse than in the previous winter - as shown in the chart below more provinces have detected Covid outbreaks this winter. Entering Q4, there are 12 provinces which have found more than 19 local cases in the past 14 days. More significantly, the total number of new cases in the past 14 days in Shann’xi has already exceeded 1500, which is a record high, except for in Hubei when Covid first occurred in early 2020, and this has happened despite China now having very high vaccination rates and strict regulations such as lockdowns. In addition, comparing the differences between months near Chinese New Year in 2021 and 2022, not only have the number of news cases been larger this year, the provinces hit by Covid outbreaks this year also tend to have higher GDP and population density. As Bloomberg adds, Henan and Guangdong, which also has an outbreak, are centers of electronics production. If cases continue rising there, it could impact the supply of iPhones and other smartphones. This also brings us to what Bloomberg calls the paradox of China’s aggressive “Covid-zero” strategy: while on one hand it helps contain the virus spread, to do so usually requires significant disruption or lockdowns as authorities limit the movement of people. The repeated mandatory testing of whole cities interrupts businessess and production, although nothing to the extent seen in places like the US, where the omicron wave caused an estimated 5 million people to stay home sick last week, leading to further economic slowdown (as discussed in "A March Rate Hike? Not So Fast") That risk of disruption for factories is already prompting companies to spread their risk by ensuring they have alternative production facilities, Stephanie Krishnan, a supply chain expert at IDC in Singapore, told Bloomberg. “We are starting to see companies mitigating risk, seeing where they can increase capabilities for production of different products in different factories so they can shift that around,” she said. Echoing what we said last night in "New Year Brings New All-Time High For Shipping's Epic Traffic Jam", Krishnan doesn’t see an end to the global supply crunch anytime soon and cautions it could take several years for the snarls to unwind. It’s a sobering outlook to start a year that many had hoped would mark the beginning of the end of the Big Crunch which dogged producers and consumers through much of last year. Clearly what happens next is critical, and how China’s control of the virus plays out will ultimately be crucial, said Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre. Those companies whose supply chains are fully located inside China may be insulated by the country’s mitigation strategy. But that won’t apply to everyone, she said. “Lots of products in supply chains come from outside China,” Elms said. “Given challenges elsewhere, even zero Covid doesn’t solve all the issues of disruption.” * * * In its assessment of next steps, Deutsche Bank expects the government will try to contain the Omicron outbreak with more lockdowns and quarantines rather than taking a "live with Covid" approach. This will pose downside risks to near-term growth. The impact on consumption could be significant, although probably not as large as what happened in 2020. While Omicron is far less deadly than other Covid variants, it is still deadly enough to cause healthcare service shortages in China, at least in some regions. Vaccination has proven to be ineffective in preventing Omicron from spreading, and while it offers protection against hospitalization, China still has some 20% of the population who are not vaccinated and will face serious health risks if Omicron becomes widespread. As such, DB says that a containment approach is still the government's optimal choice for this winter regardless of how fast Omicron spreads in the next few weeks. It will be good news if travel restrictions, lockdowns and large-scale testing and contact tracing work in containing the outbreak. Even if outbreaks cannot be contained in some regions, these measures will still be considered necessary in flattening the curve and preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed nationwide. What is much more important for the US, global capital markets and the Fed's monetary policy - which has assumed much stronger growth in 2022 - is that China's Omicron outbreaks are significant downside risks for near-term consumption demand. Restrictions will likely be imposed nationwide to reduce travel before the Chinese New Year and encourage people to stay where they are. Cities where new cases were found will reimpose lockdowns and social distancing measures. The impact in each city will depend on local authorities. Experience from the past 2 years was that while some cities (such as Shenzhen and Shanghai) can manage outbreaks in a less disruptive way, other cities (such as Xi'an) have resorted to stricter and larger scale lockdowns, causing severe disruptions to consumption and service sector activities. Businesses such as restaurants, as well as those linked to travel, and leisure & entertainment will suffer from sharp revenue reductions or even temporary shutdowns. This may also cause temporary job and income losses and negatively impact consumer goods purchases. Retail sales growth dropped by 3ppt in Jan-Feb 2021 (in 2-year average terms). Retail sales might weaken again in Jan-Feb 2022, though the YoY growth rate might not drop much owing to the low base in 2021. Nevertheless, consumption will likely recover rapidly once lockdowns are lifted. Similar to what happened before, such negative shocks will likely be transitory and will be followed by strong recovery once lockdowns are lifted and businesses reopen. Still, the notorious bull-whip effect will emerge once again, as supply chains once again become stretched, and like in 2021 the question will be how the trade off between rising costs - as goods in transit end up stuck on a ship far longer than expected - and slowing growth will impact the Fed's view on what the optimal policy response is. While the Fed's prerogative for now is clearly to contain inflation, the reality is that much of the inflation experienced today is on the supply side, something which Brainard told the Senate in her confirmation hearing the Fed is powerless to address. Meanwhile, if we see a "surprise" drop in growth in the coming months, the Fed will have no choice but to delay or at least stagger its tightening as the last thing the Fed can afford to do is hike into another recession, which will then quickly be followed with even more easing.  Tyler Durden Thu, 01/13/2022 - 13:06.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 13th, 2022