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Facebook Unit WhatsApp Sues Indian Government Over New Privacy Rules In Unusual Move

Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) WhatsApp messaging service has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government seeking to block new rules for social media companies that take effect on Wednesday, the Indian Express read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaMay 26th, 2021

30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet

30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org, You asked for it, so we made it. A collection of all the arguments you’ll ever need. We get a lot of e-mails and private messages along these lines “do you have a source for X?” or “can you point me to mask studies?” or “I know I saw a graph for mortality, but I can’t find it anymore”. And we understand, it’s been a long 18 months, and there are so many statistics and numbers to try and keep straight in your head. So, to deal with all these requests, we decided to make a bullet-pointed and sourced list for all the key points. A one-stop-shop. Here are key facts and sources about the alleged “pandemic”, that will help you get a grasp on what has happened to the world since January 2020, and help you enlighten any of your friends who might be still trapped in the New Normal fog: “Covid deaths” – Lockdowns – PCR Tests – “asymptomatic infection” – Ventilators – Masks – Vaccines – Deception & Foreknowledge *  *  * PART I: “COVID DEATHS” & MORTALITY 1. The survival rate of “Covid” is over 99%. Government medical experts went out of their way to underline, from the beginning of the pandemic, that the vast majority of the population are not in any danger from Covid. Almost all studies on the infection-fatality ratio (IFR) of Covid have returned results between 0.04% and 0.5%. Meaning Covid’s survival rate is at least 99.5%. * 2. There has been NO unusual excess mortality. The press has called 2020 the UK’s “deadliest year since world war two”, but this is misleading because it ignores the massive increase in the population since that time. A more reasonable statistical measure of mortality is Age-Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR): By this measure, 2020 isn’t even the worst year for mortality since 2000, In fact since 1943 only 9 years have been better than 2020. Similarly, in the US the ASMR for 2020 is only at 2004 levels: For a detailed breakdown of how Covid affected mortality across Western Europe and the US click here. What increases in mortality we have seen could be attributable to non-Covid causes [facts 7, 9 & 19]. * 3. “Covid death” counts are artificially inflated. Countries around the globe have been defining a “Covid death” as a “death by any cause within 28/30/60 days of a positive test”. Healthcare officials from Italy, Germany, the UK, US, Northern Ireland and others have all admitted to this practice: Removing any distinction between dying of Covid, and dying of something else after testing positive for Covid will naturally lead to over-counting of “Covid deaths”. British pathologist Dr John Lee was warning of this “substantial over-estimate” as early as last spring. Other mainstream sources have reported it, too. Considering the huge percentage of “asymptomatic” Covid infections [14], the well-known prevalence of serious comorbidities [fact 4] and the potential for false-positive tests [fact 18], this renders the Covid death numbers an extremely unreliable statistic. * 4. The vast majority of covid deaths have serious comorbidities. In March 2020, the Italian government published statistics showing 99.2% of their “Covid deaths” had at least one serious comorbidity. These included cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure and diabetes (among others). Over 50% of them had three or more serious pre-existing conditions. This pattern has held up in all other countries over the course of the “pandemic”. An October 2020 FOIA request to the UK’s ONS revealed less than 10% of the official “Covid death” count at that time had Covid as the sole cause of death. * 5. Average age of “Covid death” is greater than the average life expectancy. The average age of a “Covid death” in the UK is 82.5 years. In Italy it’s 86. Germany, 83. Switzerland, 86. Canada, 86. The US, 78, Australia, 82. In almost all cases the median age of a “Covid death” is higher than the national life expectancy. As such, for most of the world, the “pandemic” has had little-to-no impact on life expectancy. Contrast this with the Spanish flu, which saw a 28% drop in life expectancy in the US in just over a year. [source] * 6. Covid mortality exactly mirrors the natural mortality curve. Statistical studies from the UK and India have shown that the curve for “Covid death” follows the curve for expected mortality almost exactly: The risk of death “from Covid” follows, almost exactly, your background risk of death in general. The small increase for some of the older age groups can be accounted for by other factors.[facts 7, 9 & 19] * 7. There has been a massive increase in the use of “unlawful” DNRs. Watchdogs and government agencies have reported huge increases in the use of Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNRs) over the last twenty months. In the US, hospitals considered “universal DNRs” for any patient who tested positive for Covid, and whistleblowing nurses have admitted the DNR system was abused in New York. In the UK there was an “unprecdented” rise in “illegal” DNRs for disabled people, GP surgeries sent out letters to non-terminal patients recommending they sign DNR orders, whilst other doctors signed “blanket DNRs” for entire nursing homes. A study done by Sheffield Univerisity found over one-third of all “suspected” Covid patients had a DNR attached to their file within 24 hours of hospital admission. Blanket use of coerced or illegal DNR orders could account for any increases in mortality in 2020/21.[Facts 2 & 6] *  *  * PART II: LOCKDOWNS 8. Lockdowns do not prevent the spread of disease. There is little to no evidence lockdowns have any impact on limiting “Covid deaths”. If you compare regions that locked down to regions that did not, you can see no pattern at all. “Covid deaths” in Florida (no lockdown) vs California (lockdown) “Covid deaths” in Sweden (no lockdown) vs UK (lockdown) * 9. Lockdowns kill people. There is strong evidence that lockdowns – through social, economic and other public health damage – are deadlier than the “virus”. Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19 described lockdowns as a “global catastrophe” in October 2020: We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of the virus[…] it seems we may have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition […] This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe.” A UN report from April 2020 warned of 100,000s of children being killed by the economic impact of lockdowns, while tens of millions more face possible poverty and famine. Unemployment, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, drug use and other social/mental health crises are spiking all over the world. While missed and delayed surgeries and screenings are going to see increased mortality from heart disease, cancer et al. in the near future. The impact of lockdown would account for the small increases in excess mortality [Facts 2 & 6] * 10. Hospitals were never unusually over-burdened. the main argument used to defend lockdowns is that “flattening the curve” would prevent a rapid influx of cases and protect healthcare systems from collapse. But most healthcare systems were never close to collapse at all. In March 2020 it was reported that hospitals in Spain and Italy were over-flowing with patients, but this happens every flu season. In 2017 Spanish hospitals were at 200% capacity, and 2015 saw patients sleeping in corridors. A paper JAMA paper from March 2020 found that Italian hospitals “typically run at 85-90% capacity in the winter months”. In the UK, the NHS is regularly stretched to breaking point over the winter. As part of their Covid policy, the NHS announced in Spring of 2020 that they would be “re-organizing hospital capacity in new ways to treat Covid and non-Covid patients separately” and that “as result hospitals will experience capacity pressures at lower overall occupancy rates than would previously have been the case.” This means they removed thousands of beds. During an alleged deadly pandemic, they reduced the maximum occupancy of hospitals. Despite this, the NHS never felt pressure beyond your typical flu season, and at times actually had 4x more empty beds than normal. In both the UK and US millions were spent on temporary emergency hospitals that were never used. *  *  * PART III: PCR TESTS 11. PCR tests were not designed to diagnose illness. The Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test is described in the media as the “gold standard” for Covid diagnosis. But the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the process never intended it to be used as a diagnostic tool, and said so publicly: PCR is just a process that allows you to make a whole lot of something out of something. It doesn’t tell you that you are sick, or that the thing that you ended up with was going to hurt you or anything like that.” * 12. PCR Tests have a history of being inaccurate and unreliable. The “gold standard” PCR tests for Covid are known to produce a lot of false-positive results, by reacting to DNA material that is not specific to Sars-Cov-2. A Chinese study found the same patient could get two different results from the same test on the same day. In Germany, tests are known to have reacted to common cold viruses. A 2006 study found PCR tests for one virus responded to other viruses too. In 2007, a reliance on PCR tests resulted in an “outbreak” of Whooping Cough that never actually existed. Some tests in the US even reacted to the negative control sample. The late President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, submitted samples goat, pawpaw and motor oil for PCR testing, all came back positive for the virus. As early as February of 2020 experts were admitting the test was unreliable. Dr Wang Cheng, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences told Chinese state television “The accuracy of the tests is only 30-50%”. The Australian government’s own website claimed “There is limited evidence available to assess the accuracy and clinical utility of available COVID-19 tests.” And a Portuguese court ruled that PCR tests were “unreliable” and should not be used for diagnosis. You can read detailed breakdowns of the failings of PCR tests here, here and here. * 13. The CT values of the PCR tests are too high. PCR tests are run in cycles, the number of cycles you use to get your result is known as your “cycle threshold” or CT value. Kary Mullis said: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles[…]there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.” The MIQE PCR guidelines agree, stating: “[CT] values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” Dr Fauci himself even admitted anything over 35 cycles is almost never culturable. Dr Juliet Morrison, virologist at the University of California, Riverside, told the New York Times: Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive…I’m shocked that people would think that 40 [cycles] could represent a positive…A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35″. In the same article Dr Michael Mina, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said the limit should be 30, and the author goes on to point out that reducing the CT from 40 to 30 would have reduced “covid cases” in some states by as much as 90%. The CDC’s own data suggests no sample over 33 cycles could be cultured, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute says nothing over 30 cycles is likely to be infectious. Despite this, it is known almost all the labs in the US are running their tests at least 37 cycles and sometimes as high as 45. The NHS “standard operating procedure” for PCR tests rules set the limit at 40 cycles. Based on what we know about the CT values, the majority of PCR test results are at best questionable. * 14. The World Health Organization (Twice) Admitted PCR tests produced false positives. In December 2020 WHO put out a briefing memo on the PCR process instructing labs to be wary of high CT values causing false positive results: when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain. Then, in January 2021, the WHO released another memo, this time warning that “asymptomatic” positive PCR tests should be re-tested because they might be false positives: Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology. * 15. The scientific basis for Covid tests is questionable. The genome of the Sars-Cov-2 virus was supposedly sequenced by Chinese scientists in December 2019, then published on January 10th 2020. Less than two weeks later, German virologists (Christian Drosten et al.) had allegedly used the genome to create assays for PCR tests. They wrote a paper, Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by real-time RT-PCR, which was submitted for publication on January 21st 2020, and then accepted on January 22nd. Meaning the paper was allegedly “peer-reviewed” in less than 24 hours. A process that typically takes weeks. Since then, a consortium of over forty life scientists has petitioned for the withdrawal of the paper, writing a lengthy report detailing 10 major errors in the paper’s methodology. They have also requested the release of the journal’s peer-review report, to prove the paper really did pass through the peer-review process. The journal has yet to comply. The Corman-Drosten assays are the root of every Covid PCR test in the world. If the paper is questionable, every PCR test is also questionable. *  *  * PART IV: “ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION” 16. The majority of Covid infections are “asymptomatic”. From as early as March 2020, studies done in Italy were suggesting 50-75% of positive Covid tests had no symptoms. Another UK study from August 2020 found as much as 86% of “Covid patients” experienced no viral symptoms at all. It is literally impossible to tell the difference between an “asymptomatic case” and a false-positive test result. * 17. There is very little evidence supporting the alleged danger of “asymptomatic transmission”. In June 2020, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said: From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” A meta-analysis of Covid studies, published by Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2020, found that asymptomatic carriers had a less than 1% chance of infecting people within their household. Another study, done on influenza in 2009, found: …limited evidence to suggest the importance of [asymptomatic] transmission. The role of asymptomatic or presymptomatic influenza-infected individuals in disease transmission may have been overestimated…” Given the known flaws of the PCR tests, many “asymptomatic cases” may be false positives.[fact 14] *  *  * PART V: VENTILATORS 18. Ventilation is NOT a treatment for respiratory viruses. Mechanical ventilation is not, and never has been, recommended treatment for respiratory infection of any kind. In the early days of the pandemic, many doctors came forward questioning the use of ventilators to treat “Covid”. Writing in The Spectator, Dr Matt Strauss stated: Ventilators do not cure any disease. They can fill your lungs with air when you find yourself unable to do so yourself. They are associated with lung diseases in the public’s consciousness, but this is not in fact their most common or most appropriate application. German Pulmonologist Dr Thomas Voshaar, chairman of Association of Pneumatological Clinics said: When we read the first studies and reports from China and Italy, we immediately asked ourselves why intubation was so common there. This contradicted our clinical experience with viral pneumonia. Despite this, the WHO, CDC, ECDC and NHS all “recommended” Covid patients be ventilated instead of using non-invasive methods. This was not a medical policy designed to best treat the patients, but rather to reduce the hypothetical spread of Covid by preventing patients from exhaling aerosol droplets. * 19. Ventilators killed people. Putting someone who is suffering from influenza, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or any other condition which restricts breathing or affects the lungs, will not alleviate any of those symptoms. In fact, it will almost certainly make it worse, and will kill many of them. Intubation tubes are a source of potential a infection known as “ventilator-associated pneumonia”, which studies show affects up to 28% of all people put on ventilators, and kills 20-55% of those infected. Mechanical ventilation is also damaging to the physical structure of the lungs, resulting in “ventilator-induced lung injury”, which can dramatically impact quality of life, and even result in death. Experts estimate 40-50% of ventilated patients die, regardless of their disease. Around the world, between 66 and 86% of all “Covid patients” put on ventilators died. According to the “undercover nurse”, ventilators were being used so improperly in New York, they were destroying patients’ lungs: This policy was negligence at best, and potentially deliberate murder at worst. This misuse of ventilators could account for any increase in mortality in 2020/21 [Facts 2 & 6] *  *  * PART VI: MASKS 20. Masks don’t work. At least a dozen scientific studies have shown that masks do nothing to stop the spread of respiratory viruses. One meta-analysis published by the CDC in May 2020 found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”. Another study with over 8000 subjects found masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.” There are literally too many to quote them all, but you can read them: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Or read a summary by SPR here. While some studies have been done claiming to show mask do work for Covid, they are all seriously flawed. One relied on self-reported surveys as data. Another was so badly designed a panel of experts demand it be withdrawn. A third was withdrawn after its predictions proved entirely incorrect. The WHO commissioned their own meta-analysis in the Lancet, but that study looked only at N95 masks and only in hospitals. [For full run down on the bad data in this study click here.] Aside from scientific evidence, there’s plenty of real-world evidence that masks do nothing to halt the spread of disease. For example, North Dakota and South Dakota had near-identical case figures, despite one having a mask-mandate and the other not: In Kansas, counties without mask mandates actually had fewer Covid “cases” than counties with mask mandates. And despite masks being very common in Japan, they had their worst flu outbreak in decades in 2019. * 21. Masks are bad for your health. Wearing a mask for long periods, wearing the same mask more than once, and other aspects of cloth masks can be bad for your health. A long study on the detrimental effects of mask-wearing was recently published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Dr. James Meehan reported in August 2020 he was seeing increases in bacterial pneumonia, fungal infections, facial rashes . Masks are also known to contain plastic microfibers, which damage the lungs when inhaled and may be potentially carcinogenic. Childen wearing masks encourages mouth-breathing, which results in facial deformities. People around the world have passed out due to CO2 poisoning while wearing their masks, and some children in China even suffered sudden cardiac arrest. * 22. Masks are bad for the planet. Millions upon millions of disposable masks have been used per month for over a year. A report from the UN found the Covid19 pandemic will likely result in plastic waste more than doubling in the next few years., and the vast majority of that is face masks. The report goes on to warn these masks (and other medical waste) will clog sewage and irrigation systems, which will have knock on effects on public health, irrigation and agriculture. A study from the University of Swansea found “heavy metals and plastic fibres were released when throw-away masks were submerged in water.” These materials are toxic to both people and wildlife. *  *  * PART VII: VACCINES 23. Covid “vaccines” are totally unprecedented. Before 2020 no successful vaccine against a human coronavirus had ever been developed. Since then we have allegedly made 20 of them in 18 months. Scientists have been trying to develop a SARS and MERS vaccine for years with little success. Some of the failed SARS vaccines actually caused hypersensitivity to the SARS virus. Meaning that vaccinated mice could potentially get the disease more severely than unvaccinated mice. Another attempt caused liver damage in ferrets. While traditional vaccines work by exposing the body to a weakened strain of the microorganism responsible for causing the disease, these new Covid vaccines are mRNA vaccines. mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines theoretically work by injecting viral mRNA into the body, where it replicates inside your cells and encourages your body to recognise, and make antigens for, the “spike proteins” of the virus. They have been the subject of research since the 1990s, but before 2020 no mRNA vaccine was ever approved for use. * 24. Vaccines do not confer immunity or prevent transmission. It is readily admitted that Covid “vaccines” do not confer immunity from infection and do not prevent you from passing the disease onto others. Indeed, an article in the British Medical Journal highlighted that the vaccine studies were not designed to even try and assess if the “vaccines” limited transmission. The vaccine manufacturers themselves, upon releasing the untested mRNA gene therapies, were quite clear their product’s “efficacy” was based on “reducing the severity of symptoms”. * 25. The vaccines were rushed and have unknown longterm effects. Vaccine development is a slow, laborious process. Usually, from development through testing and finally being approved for public use takes many years. The various vaccines for Covid were all developed and approved in less than a year. Obviously there can be no long-term safety data on chemicals which are less than a year old. Pfizer even admit this is true in the leaked supply contract between the pharmaceutical giant, and the government of Albania: the long-term effects and efficacy of the Vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known Further, none of the vaccines have been subject to proper trials. Many of them skipped early-stage trials entirely, and the late-stage human trials have either not been peer-reviewed, have not released their data, will not finish until 2023 or were abandoned after “severe adverse effects”. * 26. Vaccine manufacturers have been granted legal indemnity should they cause harm. The USA’s Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) grants immunity until at least 2024. The EU’s product licensing law does the same, and there are reports of confidential liability clauses in the contracts the EU signed with vaccine manufacturers. The UK went even further, granting permanent legal indemnity to the government, and any employees thereof, for any harm done when a patient is being treated for Covid19 or “suspected Covid19”. Again, the leaked Albanian contract suggests that Pfizer, at least, made this indemnity a standard demand of supplying Covid vaccines: Purchaser hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Pfizer […] from and against any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, losses, damages, liabilities, settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses *  *  * PART VIII: DECEPTION & FOREKNOWLEDGE 27. The EU was preparing “vaccine passports” at least a YEAR before the pandemic began. Proposed COVID countermeasures, presented to the public as improvised emergency measures, have existed since before the emergence of the disease. Two EU documents published in 2018, the “2018 State of Vaccine Confidence” and a technical report titled “Designing and implementing an immunisation information system” discussed the plausibility of an EU-wide vaccination monitoring system. These documents were combined into the 2019 “Vaccination Roadmap”, which (among other things) established a “feasibility study” on vaccine passports to begin in 2019 and finish in 2021: This report’s final conclusions were released to the public in September 2019, just a month before Event 201 (below). * 28. A “training exercise” predicted the pandemic just weeks before it started. In October 2019 the World Economic Forum and Johns Hopkins University held Event 201. This was a training exercise based on a zoonotic coronavirus starting a worldwide pandemic. The exercise was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI the vaccine alliance. The exercise published its findings and recommendations in November 2019 as a “call to action”. One month later, China recorded their first case of “Covid”. * 29. Since the beginning of 2020, the Flu has “disappeared”. In the United States, since Februart 2020, influenza cases have allegedly dropped by over 98%. It’s not just the US either, globally flu has apparently almost completely disappeared. Meanwhile, a new disease called “Covid”, which has identical symptoms and a similar mortality rate to influenza, is supposedly sweeping the globe. * 30. The elite have made fortunes during the pandemic. Since the beginning of lockdown the wealthiest people have become significantly wealthier. Forbes reported that 40 new billionaires have been created “fighting the coronavirus”, with 9 of them being vaccine manufacturers. Business Insider reported that “billionaires saw their net worth increase by half a trillion dollars” by October 2020. Clearly that number will be even bigger by now. *  *  * These are the vital facts of the pandemic, presented here as a resource to help formulate and support your arguments with friends or strangers. Thanks to all the researchers who have collated and collected this information over the last twenty months, especially Swiss Policy Research. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt17 hr. 13 min. ago

The U.S. Is Losing the Global Race to Decide the Future of Money—and It Could Doom the Almighty Dollar

"I don’t think the U.S. is aware there is a race" In cities across China, the country’s central bank has begun rolling out the e-renminbi—an all-digital version of its paper currency that can be accessed and accepted by merchants and consumers without an internet connection, credit or even a bank account. Already having conducted more than $5 billion in e-renminbi transactions, China has opened its digital currency up to foreigners. Next year, when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympic Games, authorities are expecting to let the world test drive its technological achievement. The U.S., by contrast, is having trouble even concluding its multi-year exploration into the possibility of an e-dollar. In fact, an upcoming Federal Reserve paper on a potential U.S. digital currency won’t take a position on whether the central bank of the United States will, or even should, create one. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Instead, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in recent testimony to Congress, this paper will “begin a major public consultation on central bank digital currencies…” (Once planned for July, the paper’s release has since been moved to September.) Once the world leader in digital payments and technological innovation, the U.S. is being outpaced by its top global adversary as well as much of the industrialized and the developing world. The Bahamas recently announced the integration of its digital Sand Dollar into a stock exchange, while Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa are moving forward with the world’s first cross-border central bank digital currency exchange program led by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is known as the central bank of central banks. Such developments have been somewhat outshined by El Salvador’s recent decision to make bitcoin a legally accepted currency, which few expect to make significant impact in the payment space. But outside of the cryptocurrency space, nations around the globe are making significant strides in the development of the digital future of money — supported by governments and backed by powerful central banks. Leadership in this space will have implications for more than just payments: geopolitical ambitions, economic growth, financial inclusion and the very nature of money could all be dictated by who leads the charge and how. “I don’t think the U.S. is aware there is a race” Digital currencies are the next wave in the “evolution of the nature of money in the digital economy,” Hyun Song Shin, economic adviser and co-leader of the Monetary and Economic Department at the Bank for International Settlements, tells TIME. As more of our world migrates from physical brick-and-mortar to wireless and cloud-based, the way we pay for things is changing as well. A central bank digital currency would operate just like cash, but instead of having to carry it in a physical wallet or put it into a bank account, it would be stored and accessed digitally. Not only could U.S.-backed digital currency facilitate easier, modern banking, it could prove vital in protecting American international influence. Late to the party, the U.S. is “stepping up its research and public engagement” on digital currencies, the Federal Reserve says, including forming working groups on cryptocurrency and other kinds of digital money, and experimenting with technology that would be central to producing a digital dollar. The Fed’s regional Boston branch is overseeing these efforts with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on what’s known as Project Hamilton. But the path towards a digital U.S. dollar has met many challenges, skeptics and outright opponents. All while China, and other countries, push forward. Lagging behind the world Just how far behind is the U.S. in the development of a central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC)? According to global accounting firm PwC’s inaugural CBDC global index, which tracks various CBDCs’ project status from research to development and production, the U.S. ranks 18th in the world. America’s potential efforts trail countries like Sweden, South Korea and China but also countries like the Bahamas, Ecuador, Eastern Caribbean and Turkey. China, with its government’s hyperfocus on maintaining control and overseeing data, has been working to develop a CBDC for almost a decade. And the U.S. is probably not close to catching up. Analysts like Harvard economics professor Kenneth Rogoff, who study monetary policy and digital currencies, estimate that the U.S. could be at least a decade away from issuing a digital dollar backed by the Fed. In that time, Rogoff argued in an op-ed earlier this year, the modernization of China’s financial markets and reduction or removal of its currency controls “could deal the dollar’s status a painful blow.” Read More: How China’s Digital Currency Could Challenge the Almighty Dollar China has already largely moved away from coin and paper currency; Chinese consumers have racked up more than $41 trillion in mobile transactions, according to a recent research paper from the Brookings Institution, with the lion’s share (92%) going through digital payment processors WeChat Pay and Alipay. “The reason you could say the U.S. is behind in the digital currency race is I don’t think the U.S. is aware there is a race,” Yaya Fanusie, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and a former CIA analyst, tells TIME in an interview. “A lot of policymakers are looking at it and concerned…but even with that I just don’t think there’s this sense of urgency because the risk from China is not an immediate threat.” Not only is the U.S. running significantly behind in the development of a CBDC, we are trailing the rest of the world in digital payments broadly. Kenya, for example, has almost fully digitized its economy through its digital currency and payment system MPESA, making transactions free and almost instantaneous. India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) allows users to transfer money instantly between bank accounts with no cost. Brazil’s PIX facilitates the transfer of money between people and companies in up to 10 seconds. All of these programs work through and are overseen by the countries’ central banks rather than commercial banks or other private companies. What’s holding the U.S. back? Critics argue CBDCs are simply a solution in search of a problem and potentially harmful. Many see support from the banking sector as vital to the success of a digital U.S. dollar, however commercial banks in the U.S. have taken a largely adversarial stance. “The proposed benefits of CBDCs to international competitiveness and financial inclusion are theoretical, difficult to measure and may be elusive,” the American Bankers Association said in a statement at a recent congressional hearing on digital currencies. “While the negative consequences for monetary policy, financial stability, financial intermediation, the payments system, and the customers and communities that banks serve could be severe.” The Bank Policy Institute, which lobbies on behalf of the country’s largest banks, went so far as to argue that neither the Fed nor the U.S. Treasury even has the constitutional authority to issue a digital currency. Commercial banks dominate the U.S. financial system to such a degree that unraveling them would be ostensibly impossible, experts say, they also would be a powerful adversary. Former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins notes banks have clearly seen the writing on the wall. “Banks are centralized middlemen with respect to financial transactions,” Prins, author of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged The World, tells TIME. “The more popular cryptocurrency or digital currency becomes, the fewer profits the banking system can reap from traditional services and verification methods that allow them to hold, take or use their customers’ money, and the more financial power they stand to lose as a result.” Even disruptive financial technologies like PayPal, Venmo and Zelle work through the banking system, rather than around it, thanks in large part to the banks’ power. Central bankers also generally have concluded that commercial banks are a necessary piece of a potential CBDC ecosystem, thanks to their pre-existing regulatory guardrails and ability to move money. Read More: How Jay Powell’s Coronavirus Response Is Changing the Fed Forever Top policymakers at the Fed, including influential Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles, have joined the banking industry in arguing that a digital dollar “could pose significant and concrete risks” and that the potential benefits “are unclear.” Fed Governor Christopher Waller said in August he was “skeptical that a Federal Reserve CBDC would solve any major problem confronting the U.S. payment system,” in a recent speech he titled “CBDC: A Solution in Search of a Problem?” Further, there’s no central U.S. authority with direct oversight or responsibility for any of this. In addition to the Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, Financial Stability Oversight Council, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the Office of Financial Research would all have some stake in the development of a digital currency backed by the central bank, to say nothing of state and regional authorities. “The U.S. has an active congressional debate, which is beneficial and very important,” Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard tells TIME in an interview. “But the U.S. also has a diffusion of regulatory responsibility with no single payments regulator at the federal level, which is not as helpful. That diffusion of responsibility is part of what creates the lags that our system is working through.” None of this exists in China where the Chinese Communist Party oversees the central bank, commercial banks and their regulators and is unconcerned with privacy. How a downgraded dollar could hamstring U.S. influence An American CBDC could have lasting geopolitical impact and curb a longstanding international effort to reduce reliance on the mighty U.S. dollar. “Why we should care about this is that the U.S. financial system is not intrinsically dominant,” Fanusie says. “Other countries, both allies and adversaries, are sincerely interested in finding ways to decrease their dependence on the dollar.” With the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve and primary funding currency, the U.S. can restrict access to funding from financial markets, limit countries’ ability to sell their natural resources and hinder or block individuals’ access to the banking sector. “Other countries, both allies and adversaries, are sincerely interested in finding ways to decrease their dependence on the dollar” While dollar dominance has rankled much of the world for decades, there has been no suitable replacement for the U.S., with its massive economy, sophisticated banking system and sprawling international presence. China is in the midst of a long-term push to simultaneously grow its financial markets and internationalize its currency. Both have the end goal of allowing China and its allies to limit the ability of the U.S. to enforce its will through economic actions like sanctions. Fanusie wrote in a January report that being the first major economy to roll out a digital currency is “part of China’s geopolitical ambitions.” However, the renminbi will not become the world’s reserve currency — at least, not any time soon. But what China has done by being in the forefront of CBDC development is put itself in position to take the lead on development and implementation of rules and regulations for digital currencies on a global scale. “While America led the global revolution in payments half a century ago with magnetic striped credit and debit cards, China is leading the new revolution in digital payments,” writes Brookings’ economic studies fellow Aaron Klein. Why should central banks offer digital currencies? Over the past decade, digital currencies, including cryptocurrency and “stablecoins,” have sprung up like weeds. Some purport to be just as safe as dollars, but are backed by questionable assets. In a crisis regulators worry they could fluctuate wildly in value or lose their value altogether. Having central banks, which are responsible for the printing and circulation of coins and paper money, issue digital currencies is in part a reaction to this private sector activity, Shin says, “accelerated by the potential encroachment of private digital currencies, and the need to preserve the role of money as a public good.” “The status quo is not an option” Notably, a U.S. digital currency could provide benefits to everyday people. It could increase financial inclusion and fix flaws in current payments systems, Shin adds, citing findings of a recent BIS study. For example, transferring money between U.S.-based bank accounts, even those held by the same person, can take days. The process can be even longer when crossing international borders. Credit and debit card transactions similarly don’t settle for days and come with significant fees for merchants, who sometimes pass them on to customers. CBDCs could grant universal access to the banking sector and quickly facilitate the distribution of paychecks and government funds, reducing the need for costly bank workarounds like check cashing and payday loans. Championing CBDCs Brainard has been pushing the Fed to move on a digital currency for years, but there was little urgency from others at the Fed or in Congress. Companies developing their own currencies, consumers investing in cryptocurrency and the COVID-19 pandemic making paper notes anathema to many Americans changed that. Before COVID-19, Facebook’s Libra project (now known as Diem) showed lawmakers and central bankers the potential for a private company to step in and fill the void by effectively minting its own currency that could be spent by users around the world. “The status quo is not an option,” Diem co-creator David Marcus said at the International Monetary Fund’s 2019 fall meeting. “Whether it’s Libra or something else, the world is going to change in a profound way.” Brainard, for one, has taken notice. “My own thinking is that stablecoins and related private sector initiatives are moving very rapidly, which makes it incumbent on us to move more rapidly,” she tells TIME. “That is why I have been pushing to advance outreach, cross-border engagement, and policy and technology research for several years now.” So-called stablecoins — unregulated digital currencies created by private companies that purport to represent dollars but are completely unregulated — have become a significant worry for lawmakers and shown the importance of considering tying currency to a central bank. “It’s getting harder and harder for community banks to compete for new customers when big tech companies can afford to spend billions on marketing and technology,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, tells TIME. “But many of these new ‘fintech’ products don’t come with the consumer protections, federal backing or customer service and relationships with the community that small banks and credit unions provide.” During a hearing on digital currencies in June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, compared stablecoins to worthless “wildcat notes” that were issued by speculators in the 19th century. Her expert at that hearing, Lev Menand, an Academic Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, went further in his testimony, calling stablecoins “dangerous to both their users and … to the broader financial system.” With private companies pushing deeper into the digital currency space, rival countries seeking to seize leadership and a public that is moving further away from physical currency, the U.S. is facing a world in which it may not control or even lead the world’s payment systems. That would make the future of money look very different from the past......»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 21st, 2021

BTFD Arrives: Futures Rebound, Europe Surges While Asia Slumps On Evergrande Fears

BTFD Arrives: Futures Rebound, Europe Surges While Asia Slumps On Evergrande Fears Even though China was closed for a second day, and even though the Evergrande drama is nowhere closer to a resolution with a bond default imminent and with Beijing mute on how it will resolve the potential "Lehman moment" even as rating agency S&P chimed in saying a default is likely and it does not expect China’s government “to provide any direct support” to the privately owned developer, overnight the BTFD crew emerged in full force, and ramped futures amid growing speculation that Beijing will rescue the troubled developer... Algos about to go on a rampage — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 21, 2021 ... pushing spoos almost 100 points higher from their Monday lows, and European stock were solidly in the green - despite Asian stocks hitting a one-month low - as investors tried to shake off fears of contagion from a potential collapse of China’s Evergrande, although gains were capped by concerns the Federal Reserve could set out a timeline to taper its stimulus at its meeting tomorrow. The dollar dropped from a one-month high, Treasury yields rose and cryptos rebounded from yesterday's rout. To be sure, the "this is not a Lehman moment" crowed was out in full force, as indicated by this note from Mizuho analysts who wrote that “while street wisdom is that Evergrande is not a ‘Lehman risk’, it is by no stretch of the imagination any meaningful comfort. It could end up being China’s proverbial house of cards ... with cross-sector headwinds already felt in materials/commodities.” At 7:00 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis were up 34.00 points, or 0.79% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis 110.25 points, or 0.73%, while futures tracking the Dow  jumped 0.97%, a day after the index tumbled 1.8% in its worst day since late-July,  suggesting a rebound in sentiment after concerns about contagion from China Evergrande Group’s upcoming default woes roiled markets Monday. Dip-buyers in the last hour of trading Monday helped the S&P 500 pare some losses, though the index still posted the biggest drop since May. The bounce also came after the S&P 500 dropped substantially below its 50-day moving average - which had served as a resilient floor for the index this year - on Monday, its first major breach in more than six months. Freeport-McMoRan mining stocks higher with a 3% jump, following a 3.2% plunge in the S&P mining index a day earlier as copper prices hit a one-month low. Interest rate-sensitive banking stocks also bounced, tracking a rise in Treasury yields. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: U.S.-listed Chinese stocks start to recover from Monday’s slump in premarket trading as the global selloff moderates. Alibaba (BABA US), Baidu (BIDU US), Nio (NIO US), Tencent Music (TME US)and Bilibili (BILI US) are among the gainers Verrica Pharma (VRCA US) plunges 30% in premarket trading after failing to get FDA approval for VP-102 for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum ReWalk Robotics (RWLK US) shares jump 43% in U.S. premarket trading amid a spike in volume in the stock. Being discussed on StockTwits Aprea Therapeutics gains 21% in U.S. premarket trading after the company reported complete remission in a bladder cancer patient in Phase 1/2 clinical trial of eprenetapopt in combination with pembrolizumab Lennar (LEN US) shares fell 3% in Monday postmarket trading after the homebuilder forecast 4Q new orders below analysts’ consensus hurt by unprecedented supply chain challenges ConocoPhillips (COP US) ticks higher in U.S. premarket trading after it agreed to buy Shell’s  Permian Basin assets for $9.5 billion in cash, accelerating the consolidation of the largest U.S. oil patch SmileDirect (SDC US) slightly higher in premarket trading after it said on Monday that it plans to enter France with an initial location in Paris KAR Global (KAR US) shares fell 4.6% in post-market trading on Monday after the company withdrew is full-year financial outlook citing disruption caused by chip shortage Sportradar (SRAD US) shares jumped 4.5% in Monday postmarket trading, after the company said basketball legend Michael Jordan will serve as a special adviser to its board and also increase his investment in the sports betting and entertainment services provider, effective immediately Orbital Energy Group (OEG US) gained 6% postmarket Monday after a unit won a contract  to construct 1,910 miles of rural broadband network in Virginia. Terms were not disclosed “So much of this information is already known that we don’t think it will necessary set off a wave of problems,” John Bilton, head of global multi-asset strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “I’m more concerned about knock-on sentiment at a time when investor sentiment is a bit fragile. But when we look at the fundamentals -- the general growth, and direction in the wider economy -- we still feel reasonably confident that the situation will right itself.” Aside from worries over Evergrande’s ability to make good on $300 billion of liabilities, investors are also positioning for the two-day Fed meeting starting Tuesday, where policy makers are expected to start laying the groundwork for paring stimulus.  Europe's Stoxx 600 index climbed more than 1%, rebounding from the biggest slump in two months, with energy companies leading the advance and all industry sectors in the green. Royal Dutch Shell rose after the company offered shareholders a payout from the sale of shale oil fields. Universal Music Group BV shares soared in their stock market debut after being spun off from Vivendi SE. European airlines other travel-related stocks rise for a second day following the U.S. decision to soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19; British Airways parent IAG soars as much as 6.9%, extending Monday’s 11% jump. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stagecoach shares jump as much as 24% after the company confirmed it is in takeover talks with peer National Express. Shell climbs as much as 4.4% after selling its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion. Bechtle gains as much as 4.3% after UBS initiated coverage at buy. Husqvarna tumbles as much as 9% after the company said it is suing Briggs & Stratton in the U.S. for failing to deliver sufficient lawn mower engines for the 2022 season. Kingfisher slides as much as 6.4% after the DIY retailer posted 1H results and forecast higher profits this fiscal year. The mood was decidedly more sour earlier in the session, when Asian stocks fell for a second day amid continued concerns over China’s property sector, with Japan leading regional declines as the market reopened after a holiday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.5%, headed for its lowest close since Aug. 30, with Alibaba and SoftBank the biggest drags. China Evergrande Group slid deeper in equity and credit markets Tuesday after S&P said the developer is on the brink of default. Markets in China, Taiwan and South Korea were closed for holidays. Worries over contagion risk from the Chinese developer’s debt problems and Beijing’s ongoing crackdowns, combined with concern over Federal Reserve tapering, sent global stocks tumbling Monday. The MSCI All-Country World Index fell 1.6%, the most since July 19. Japan’s stocks joined the selloff Tuesday as investor concerns grew over China’s real-estate sector as well as Federal Reserve tapering, with the Nikkei 225 sliding 2.2% - its biggest drop in three months, catching up with losses in global peers after a holiday - after a four-week rally boosted by expectations for favorable economic policies from a new government. Electronics makers were the biggest drag on the Topix, which declined 1.7%. SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing were the largest contributors to a 2.2% loss in the Nikkei 225. Japanese stocks with high China exposure including Toto and Nippon Paint also dropped. “The outsized reaction in global markets may be a function of having too many uncertainties bunched into this period,” Eugene Leow, a macro strategist at DBS Bank Ltd., wrote in a note. “It probably does not help that risk taking (especially in equities) has gone on for an extended period and may be vulnerable to a correction.” “The proportion of Japan’s exports to China is greater than those to the U.S. or Europe, making it sensitive to any slowdown worries in the Chinese economy,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a senior strategist at Nomura Asset Management in Tokyo. “The stock market has yet to fully price in the possibility of a bankruptcy by Evergrande Group.” The Nikkei 225 has been the best-performing major stock gauge in the world this month, up 6.2%, buoyed by expectations for favorable policies from a new government and an inflow of foreign cash. The Topix is up 5.3% so far in September. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched lower and the greenback fell versus most of its Group-of-10 peers as a selloff in global stocks over the past two sessions abated; the euro hovered while commodity currencies led by the Norwegian krone were the best performers amid an advance in crude oil prices. Sweden’s krona was little changed after the Riksbank steered clear of signaling any post-pandemic tightening, as it remains unconvinced that a recent surge in inflation will last. The pound bucked a three-day losing streak as global risk appetite revived, while investors look to Thursday’s Bank of England meeting for policy clues. The yen erased earlier gains as signs that risk appetite is stabilizing damped demand for haven assets. At the same time, losses were capped due to uncertainty over China’s handling of the Evergrande debt crisis. In rates, Treasuries were lower, although off worst levels of the day as U.S. stock futures recover around half of Monday’s losses while European equities trade with a strong bid tone. Yields are cheaper by up to 2.5bp across long-end of the curve, steepening 5s30s spread by 1.2bp; 10-year yields around 1.3226%, cheaper by 1.5bp on the day, lagging bunds and gilts by 1bp-2bp. The long-end of the curve lags ahead of $24b 20-year bond reopening. Treasury will auction $24b 20-year bonds in first reopening at 1pm ET; WI yield ~1.82% is below auction stops since January and ~3bp richer than last month’s new-issue result In commodities, crude futures rose, with the front month WTI up 1.5% near $71.50. Brent stalls near $75. Spot gold trades a narrow range near $1,765/oz. Base metals are mostly in the green with LME aluminum the best performer Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases include US housing starts and building permits for August, along with the UK public finances for September. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB Vice President de Guindos. Otherwise, the General Debate will begin at the UN General Assembly, and the OECD publishes their Interim Economic Outlook. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.0% to 4,392.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.1% to 459.10 MXAP down 0.5% to 200.25 MXAPJ up 0.2% to 640.31 Nikkei down 2.2% to 29,839.71 Topix down 1.7% to 2,064.55 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 24,221.54 Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3,613.97 Sensex up 0.4% to 58,751.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,273.83 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,140.51 Brent Futures up 1.6% to $75.13/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,761.68 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.19 German 10Y yield fell 5.0 bps to -0.304% Euro little changed at $1.1729 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Lael Brainard is a leading candidate to be the Federal Reserve’s banking watchdog and is also being discussed for more prominent Biden administration appointments, including to replace Fed chairman Jerome Powell and, potentially, for Treasury secretary if Janet Yellen leaves Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will this week face the challenge of convincing investors that plans to scale back asset purchases aren’t a runway to raising interest rates for the first time since 2018 ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos says there is “good news” with respect to the euro-area recovery after a strong development in the second and third quarter The ECB is likely to continue purchasing junk-rated Greek sovereign debt even after the pandemic crisis has passed, according to Governing Council member and Greek central bank chief Yannis Stournaras U.K. government borrowing was well below official forecasts in the first five months of the fiscal year, providing a fillip for Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as he prepares for a review of tax and spending next month U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned the next few days will be challenging as the energy crisis deepens, and meat producers struggle with a crunch in carbon dioxide supplies The U.K.’s green bond debut broke demand records for the nation’s debt as investors leaped on the long-anticipated sterling asset. The nation is offering a green bond maturing in 2033 via banks on Tuesday at 7.5 basis points over the June 2032 gilt. It has not given an exact size target for the sale, which has attracted a record of more than 90 billion pounds ($123 billion) in orders Germany cut planned debt sales in the fourth quarter by 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion), suggesting the surge in borrowing triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is receding Contagion from China Evergrande Group has started to engulf even safer debt in Asia, sparking the worst sustained selloff of the securities since April. Premiums on Asian investment-grade dollar bonds widened 2-3 basis points Tuesday, according to credit traders, after a jump of 3.4 basis points on Monday Swiss National Bank policy makers watching the effects of negative interest rates on the economy are worrying about the real-estate bubble that their policy is helping to foster Global central banks need to set out clear strategies for coping with inflation risks as the world economy experiences faster-than-expected cost increases amid an uneven recovery from the pandemic, the OECD said A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded cautiously following the recent downbeat global risk appetite due to Evergrande contagion concerns which resulted in the worst day for Wall Street since May, with the region also contending with holiday-thinned conditions due to the ongoing closures in China, South Korea and Taiwan. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was indecisive with a rebound in the mining-related sectors counterbalanced by underperformance in utilities, financials and tech, while there were also reports that the Byron Bay area in New South Wales will be subject to a seven-day lockdown from this evening. Nikkei 225 (-1.8%) was heavily pressured and relinquished the 30k status as it played catch up to the contagion downturn on return from the extended weekend with recent detrimental currency inflows also contributing to the losses for exporters. Hang Seng (-0.3%) was choppy amid the continued absence of mainland participants with markets second-guessing whether Chinese authorities will intervene in the event of an Evergrande collapse, while shares in the world’s most indebted developer fluctuated and wiped out an early rebound, although affiliate Evergrande Property Services and other property names fared better after Sun Hung Kai disputed reports of China pressuring Hong Kong developers and with Guangzhou R&F Properties boosted by reports major shareholders pledged funds in the Co. which is also selling key assets to Country Garden. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher amid the underperformance in Japanese stocks and with the Japan Securities Dealers Association recently noting that global funds purchased the most ultra-long Japanese bonds since 2014, although upside was limited amid softer demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr-20yr maturities and with the BoJ kickstarting its two-day policy meeting. Top Asian News Richest Banker Says Evergrande Is China’s ‘Lehman Moment’ Hong Kong Tycoons, Casino Giants Find Respite in Stock Rebound Taliban Add More Male Ministers, Say Will Include Women Later Asian Stocks Drop to Lowest Level This Month; Japan Leads Losses European equities (Stoxx 600 +1.1%) trade on a firmer footing attempting to recoup some of yesterday’s losses with not much in the way of incremental newsflow driving the upside. Despite the attempt to claw back some of the prior session’s lost ground, the Stoxx 600 is still lower by around 1.6% on the week. The Asia-Pac session was one characterised by caution and regional market closures with China remaining away from market. Focus remains on whether Evergrande will meet USD 83mln in interest payments due on Thursday and what actions Chinese authorities could take to limit the contagion from the company in the event of further troubles. Stateside, futures are also on a firmer footing with some slight outperformance in the RTY (+1.2%) vs. peers (ES +0.8%). Again, there is not much in the way of fresh positivity driving the upside and instead gains are likely more a by-product of dip-buying; attention for the US is set to become increasingly geared towards tomorrow’s FOMC policy announcement. Sectors in Europe are firmer across the board with outperformance in Oil & Gas names amid a recovery in the crude complex and gains in Shell (+4.4%) after news that the Co. is to sell its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips (COP) for USD 9.5bln in cash. Other outperforming sectors include Tech, Insurance and Basic Resources. IAG (+4.1%) and Deutsche Lufthansa (+3.8%) both sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 as the Co.’s continue to enjoy the fallout from yesterday’s decision by the US to allow travel from vaccinated EU and UK passengers. Swatch (-0.7%) is lagging in the luxury space following a downgrade at RBC, whilst data showed Swiss watch exports were +11.5% Y/Y in August (prev. 29.1%). Finally, National Express (+7.7%) is reportedly considering a takeover of Stagecoach (+21.4%), which is valued at around GBP 370mln. Top European News U.K. Warns of Challenging Few Days as Energy Crisis Deepens Germany Trims Planned Debt Sales as Pandemic Impact Recedes U.K.’s Green Bond Debut Draws Record Demand of $123 Billion Goldman Plans $1.5 Billion Petershill Partners IPO in London In FX, all the signs are constructive for a classic turnaround Tuesday when it comes to Loonie fortunes as broad risk sentiment improves markedly, WTI consolidates within a firm range around Usd 71/brl compared to yesterday’s sub-Usd 70 low and incoming results from Canada’s general election indicate victory for the incumbent Liberal party that will secure a 3rd term for PM Trudeau. Hence, it’s better the devil you know as such and Usd/Cad retreated further from its stop-induced spike to just pips short of 1.2900 to probe 1.2750 at one stage before bouncing ahead of new house price data for August. Conversely, the Swedish Krona seems somewhat reluctant to get carried away with the much better market mood after the latest Riksbank policy meeting only acknowledged significantly stronger than expected inflation data in passing, and the repo rate path remained rooted to zero percent for the full forecast horizon as a consequence. However, Eur/Sek has slipped back to test 10.1600 bids/support following an initial upturn to almost 10.1800, irrespective of a rise in unemployment. NOK/AUD/NZD - No such qualms for the Norwegian Crown as Brent hovers near the top of a Usd 75.18-74.20/brl band and the Norges Bank is widely, if not universally tipped to become the first major Central Bank to shift into tightening mode on Thursday, with Eur/Nok hugging the base of a 10.1700-10.2430 range. Elsewhere, the Aussie and Kiwi look relieved rather than rejuvenated in their own right given dovish RBA minutes, a deterioration in Westpac’s NZ consumer sentiment and near reversal in credit card spending from 6.9% y/y in July to -6.3% last month. Instead, Aud/Usd and Nzd/Usd have rebounded amidst the recovery in risk appetite that has undermined their US rival to top 0.7380 and 0.7050 respectively at best. GBP/CHF/EUR/JPY/DXY - Sterling is latching on to the ongoing Dollar retracement and more supportive backdrop elsewhere to pare losses under 1.3700, while the Franc continues its revival to 0.9250 or so and almost 1.0850 against the Euro even though the SNB is bound to check its stride at the upcoming policy review, and the single currency is also forming a firmer base above 1.1700 vs the Buck. Indeed, the collective reprieve in all components of the Greenback basket, bar the Yen on diminished safe-haven demand, has pushed the index down to 93.116 from 93.277 at the earlier apex, and Monday’s elevated 93.455 perch, while Usd/Jpy is straddling 109.50 and flanked by decent option expiry interest either side. On that note, 1.4 bn resides at the 109.00 strike and 1.1 bn between 109.60-70, while there is 1.6 bn in Usd/Cad bang on 1.2800. EM - Some respite across the board in wake of yesterday’s mauling at the hands of risk-off positioning in favour of the Usd, while the Czk has also been underpinned by more hawkish CNB commentary as Holub echoes the Governor by advocating a 50 bp hike at the end of September and a further 25-50 bp in November. In commodities, WTI and Brent are firmer in the European morning post gains in excess of 1.0%, though the benchmarks are off highs after an early foray saw Brent Nov’21 eclipse USD 75.00/bbl, for instance. While there has been newsflow for the complex, mainly from various energy ministers, there hasn’t been much explicitly for crude to change the dial; thus, the benchmarks are seemingly moving in tandem with broader risk sentiment (see equities). In terms of the energy commentary, the Qatar minister said they are not thinking of re-joining OPEC+ while the UAE minister spoke on the gas situation. On this, reports in Russian press suggests that Russia might allow Rosneft to supply 10bcm of gas to Europe per year under an agency agreement with Gazprom “as an experiment”, developments to this will be closely eyed for any indication that it could serve to ease the current gas situation. Looking ahead, we have the weekly private inventory report which is expected to post a headline draw of 2.4mln and draws, albeit of a smaller magnitude, are expected for distillate and gasoline as well. Moving to metals, spot gold is marginally firmer while silver outperforms with base-metals picking up across the board from the poor performance seen yesterday that, for instance, saw LME copper below the USD 9k mark. Note, the action is more of a steadying from yesterday’s downside performance than any notable upside, with the likes of copper well within Monday’s parameters. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Aug. Building Permits MoM, est. -1.8%, prior 2.6%, revised 2.3% 8:30am: Aug. Housing Starts MoM, est. 1.0%, prior -7.0% 8:30am: Aug. Building Permits, est. 1.6m, prior 1.64m, revised 1.63m 8:30am: Aug. Housing Starts, est. 1.55m, prior 1.53m 8:30am: 2Q Current Account Balance, est. -$190.8b, prior -$195.7b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Global markets slumped across the board yesterday in what was one of the worst days of the year as an array of concerns about the outlook gathered pace. The crisis at Evergrande and in the Chinese real estate sector was the catalyst most people were talking about, but truth be told, the market rout we’re seeing is reflecting a wider set of risks than just Chinese property, and comes after increasing questions have been asked about whether current valuations could still be justified, with talk of a potential correction picking up. Remember that 68% of respondents to my survey last week (link here) thought they’d be at least a 5% correction in equity markets before year end. So this has been front and centre of people’s mind even if the catalyst hasn’t been clear. We’ve all known about Evergrande’s woes and how big it was for a while but it wasn’t until Friday’s story of the Chinese regulatory crackdown extending into property that crystallised the story into having wider implications. As I noted in my chart of the day yesterday link here Chinese USD HY had been widening aggressively over the last couple of months but IG has been pretty rock solid. There were still no domestic signs of contagion by close of business Friday. However as it stands, there will likely be by the reopening post holidays tomorrow which reflects how quickly the story has evolved even without much new news. Before we get to the latest on this, note that we’ve still got a bumper couple of weeks on the calendar to get through, including the Fed decision tomorrow, which comes just as a potential government shutdown and debt ceiling fight are coming into view, alongside big debates on how much spending the Democrats will actually manage to pass. There has been some respite overnight with S&P 500 futures +0.58% higher and 10y UST yields up +1.5bps to 1.327%. Crude oil prices are also up c. 1%. On Evergrande, S&P Global Ratings has said that the company is on the brink of default and that it’s failure is unlikely to result in a scenario where China will be compelled to step in. The report added that they see China stepping in only if “there is a far-reaching contagion causing multiple major developers to fail and posing systemic risks to the economy.” The Hang Seng (-0.32%) is lower but the Hang Seng Properties index is up (+1.59%) and bouncing off the 5 plus year lows it hit yesterday. Elsewhere the ASX (+0.30%) and India’s Nifty (+0.35%) have also advanced. Chinese and South Korean markets are closed for a holiday but the Nikkei has reopened and is -1.80% and catching down to yesterday’s global move. Looking at yesterday’s moves in more depth, the gathering storm clouds saw the S&P 500 shed -1.70% in its worst day since May 12, with cyclical industries leading the declines and with just 10% of S&P 500 index members gaining. There was a late rally at the end of the US trading session that saw equity indices bounce off their lows, with the S&P 500 (-2.87%) and NASDAQ (-3.42%) both looking like they were going to register their worst days since October 2020 and late-February 2021 respectively. However, yesterday was still the 5th worst day for the S&P 500 in 2021. Reflecting the risk-off tone, small caps suffered in particular with the Russell 2000 falling -2.44%, whilst tech stocks were another underperformer as the NASDAQ lost -2.19% and the FANG+ index of 10 megacap tech firms saw an even bigger -3.16% decline. For Europe it was much the same story, with the STOXX 600 (-1.67%) and other bourses including the DAX (-2.31%) seeing significant losses amidst the cyclical underperformance. It was the STOXX 600’s worst performance since mid-July and the 6th worst day of the year overall. Unsurprisingly, there was also a significant spike in volatility, with the VIX index climbing +4.9pts to 25.7 – its highest closing level since mid-May – after trading above 28.0pts midday. In line with the broader risk-off move, especially sovereign bonds rallied strongly as investors downgraded their assessment of the economic outlook and moved to price out the chances of near-term rate hikes. By the close of trade, yields on 10yr Treasuries had fallen -5.1bps to 1.311%, with lower inflation breakevens (-4.1bps) leading the bulk of the declines. Meanwhile in Europe, yields on 10yr bunds (-4.0bps), OATs (-2.6bps) and BTPs (-0.9bps) similarly fell back, although there was a widening in spreads between core and periphery as investors turned more cautious. Elsewhere, commodities took a hit as concerns grew about the economic outlook, with Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (-1.53%) losing ground for a third consecutive session. That said, European natural gas prices (+15.69%) were the massive exception once again, with the latest surge taking them above the peak from last Wednesday, and thus bringing the price gains since the start of August to +84.80%. Here in the UK, Business Secretary Kwarteng said that he didn’t expect an emergency regarding the energy supply, but also said that the government wouldn’t bail out failed companies. Meanwhile, EU transport and energy ministers are set to meet from tomorrow for an informal meeting, at which the massive spike in prices are likely to be discussed. Overnight, we have the first projections of the Canadian federal election with CBC News projecting that the Liberals will win enough seats to form a government for the third time albeit likely a minority government. With the counting still underway, Liberals are currently projected to win 156 seats while Conservatives are projected to win 120 seats. Both the parties are currently projected to win a seat less than last time. The Canadian dollar is up +0.44% overnight as the results remove some election uncertainty. Turning to the pandemic, the main news yesterday was that the US is set to relax its travel rules for foreign arrivals. President Biden announced the move yesterday, mandating that all adult visitors show proof of vaccination before entering the country. Airline stocks outperformed strongly in response, with the S&P 500 airlines (+1.55%) being one of the few industry groups that actually advanced yesterday. Otherwise, we heard from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine trials on 5-11 year olds had successfully produced an antibody response among that age group. The dose was just a third of that used in those aged 12 and above, and they said they planned to share the data with regulators “as soon as possible”. Furthermore, they said that trials for the younger cohorts (2-5 and 6m-2) are expected as soon as Q4. In Germany, there are just 5 days left until the election now, and the last Insa poll before the vote showed a slight tightening in the race, with the centre-left SPD down a point to 25%, whilst the CDU/CSU bloc were up 1.5 points to 22%. Noticeably, that would also put the race back within the +/- 2.5% margin of error. The Greens were unchanged in third place on 15%. Staying with politics and shifting back to the US, there was news last night that Congressional Democratic leaders are looking to tie the suspension of the US debt ceiling vote to the spending bill that is due by the end of this month. If the spending bill is not enacted it would trigger a government shutdown, and if the debt ceiling is not raised it would cause defaults on federal payments as soon as October. Senate Majority Leader Schumer said the House will pass a spending bill that will fund the government through December 3rd and that the “legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022.” Republicans may balk at the second measure, given that it would take the issue off the table until after the 2022 midterm elections in November of that year. There wasn’t a great deal of data out yesterday, though German producer price inflation rose to +12.0% in August (vs. +11.1% expected), marking the fastest pace since December 1974. Separately in the US, the NAHB’s housing market index unexpectedly rose to 76 in September (vs. 75 expected), the first monthly increase since April. To the day ahead now, and data releases include US housing starts and building permits for August, along with the UK public finances for September. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB Vice President de Guindos. Otherwise, the General Debate will begin at the UN General Assembly, and the OECD will be publishing their Interim Economic Outlook. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 07:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The "Spartacus COVID Letter" That"s Gone Viral

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral Via The Automatic Earth blog, This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot. The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter Hello, My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough. We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies. Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight. We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw. We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment. What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core. First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end. Summary: COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs. Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder. Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater. Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs. The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one. Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal. There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China. Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present. The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables. COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments: COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that. In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion. COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame. In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19. The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus. COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2. The breakdown of the pathology is as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus. SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2. This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted. Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage. Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach. Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis. Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely. This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis. We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde. When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation. The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues. Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice. Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect. The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively. In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling. India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin. Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug. The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral. In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all. The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis. The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means. COVID-19 Transmission: COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible. The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant. The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe. Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud. The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped. Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments. COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers: The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown. Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ. These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to. SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body. It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that. Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies. Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation. Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue. SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity. SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness. The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules. SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones. In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill. If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease. There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive. In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs. We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives. By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease. Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately. COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy: The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people. In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs. Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina. This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony. Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2. The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars. EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose. In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials. December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours. Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab. The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released. The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found. This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established. The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators. The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik. The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19. The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront. This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public? The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable. COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism: This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells. On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells. The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage. Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity. Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely. Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales. Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books. Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines. Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic. In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind. Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing. However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes. However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels. BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling. For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse. If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will. Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master. The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it. Conclusions: The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise. This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them. Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so. These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago. Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods. This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect. Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs. The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite: Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are. Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class. Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests. Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization. Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon. Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation. Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values. What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories. The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism. Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man. To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens. To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words. Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that. *  *  * This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references. For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt1 hr. 25 min. ago

Norwegian Government Announces Lifting Of Final COVID-19 Measures

Norwegian Government Announces Lifting Of Final COVID-19 Measures By Frazer Norwell of TheLocal, On Friday, the Norwegian government announced that most of the last remaining coronavirus restrictions would be scrapped from Saturday, and life would return to normal with "increased preparedness". Oslo from above Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced on Friday that from tomorrow 4pm, most of the final remaining national Covid-19 measures in Norway would be dropped. “Now we can live almost as we did before the pandemic hit us. I do not think everything will be as before. I think the coronavirus will affect us for the rest of our lives, for better or worse. We have learned how vulnerable we are and how much we can achieve when we stand together,” Solberg told a press conference on Friday. The decision to lift measures such as social distancing was based on advice from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and the Norwegian Directorate of Health. In addition, limits on numbers at gatherings will also be axed, and rules stopping venues letting in guests past midnight will be repealed, and club-goers will be able to hit dance floors once again. “The NIPH and the Norwegian Directorate of Health gave us advice on Monday that it will be possible to switch to normal everyday life around the turn of the month. The positive development has continued this week, and that is the reason why the government – after a thorough assessment – has concluded that tomorrow at 4pm, we will move on to normal everyday life. Although most of the last remaining measures will be scrapped, those who test positive for Covid-19 will still have to self-isolate, and unvaccinated people living with someone infected will also need to quarantine. Furthermore, the traffic lights system for schools will remain in place, and entry restrictions and travel rules (which we will have more on in a separate article) would stay in place for now. Municipalities would still have the right to introduce their local restrictions and policy on face masks and gathering limits. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 12:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

Post-Pandemic Luxury Trends Beginning to Emerge

A new report from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is shedding some light on what the post-pandemic luxury real estate market might look like as the travel restrictions and financial upheavals of the pandemic begin to settle and wealthy homebuyers begin assessing their preferences and needs in a changing world. Of particular interest is a continued demand […] The post Post-Pandemic Luxury Trends Beginning to Emerge appeared first on RISMedia. A new report from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is shedding some light on what the post-pandemic luxury real estate market might look like as the travel restrictions and financial upheavals of the pandemic begin to settle and wealthy homebuyers begin assessing their preferences and needs in a changing world. Of particular interest is a continued demand for vacation homes—where people are likely to spend significantly more time than they did previously—as well as a likely renewed interest in large metros like New York City and Dubai. The report also examined geographic and demographic trends, honing in on what it referred to as the “millennial migration” of younger homebuyers flooding into non-traditional markets—places like Aspen, Colorado and Santa Barbara, California—driven by a desire for more space and flexible remote work schedules. “What is interesting to me is that millennials are largely skipping the entry level home purchase and moving directly to a move-up home, or in many cases an aspirational home,” Christy Budnick, CEO of HSF Affiliates, LLC, tells RISMedia. “Since many millennials are purchasing their first home in their mid to late 30s, we are seeing an unusual percentage purchasing in the million dollars-plus range.” Millennials also prefer less flashy, less opulent designs for their luxury homes, the report said, and value technology and smart-home amenities much more than previous generations. Following the broader market, luxury buyers have also flocked to lesser-known cities in the Midwest especially, driving up prices and leaving scarce inventory. Empty lots or tear-down homes in Coeur d’Alene are going for around $700,000, while prime locations along one of the area’s beautiful lakes are easily surpassing $2 million, according to the report. The median price for a luxury sector home in Austin blew past $2.75 million, the report said, and has seen a 66% increase in total sales in that sector. Other hot cities in non-traditional luxury markets the report identified include Crested Butte, Colorado; Bozeman, Montana, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “With the ability for many to work from home or a mix of in-office/at-home work, homebuyers will continue to prioritize lifestyle and the ability to spend more time enjoying life in their second or vacation homes,” Budnick says . Florida is another destination for younger luxury buyers, according to the report, as people flee high taxes in Atlantic states. The overall median home price in Miami rose almost 30%, and the threshold to be considered a luxury property nearly doubled from around $1 million to more than $2 million. Florida is also the epicenter of the “half-and-half” trend, where homeowners are looking for an equal amount of two good things as they split time between two places, according to the report. Sparked by a pandemic restlessness that saw frustrated, unfulfilled city-dwellers seeking gratification when their traditional at-home indulgences were restricted, these people are likely to continue slipping in and out of new homes—which are designed to comply with their every need—year-round. “Because of the pandemic, buyers are no longer using their vacation homes just for vacation. Instead, they are spending much more time working remotely and splitting their time between primary and secondary homes,” Budnick says. Privacy and flexibility characterize this new practice, which is also popular along the Jersey Shore and California coastline. Having two spaces where they will spend roughly equal amounts of time—with both used almost interchangeably for pleasure as well as work—is the definition of the “half-and-half.” Vaccinations and a loosening of previously tight restrictions have done nothing to quell people’s enjoyment, or desire to at least try out this new experience, according to the report. International vacation homes are another trend on the uptick in a post-pandemic world, as luxury buyers cast their eyes overseas as they look to snatch up more space for leisure. Those buyers have piled into more rural areas, again with an emphasis on space and privacy, though also an eye on how governments handled the pandemic. The report cited Dubai and Canada as two destinations that have seen an increased interest at least partially due to their success at staying open and safe during the pandemic, according to the report. Canada in particular was rated highly for its “risk readiness” and “health management,” and buyers were also drawn to country-cottage style properties that can provide flexibility with home offices or so-called “granny suites.” “Many luxury buyers did seek to attain a new nationality during the early days of the pandemic, particularly those in hard hit areas as well as those looking for more space, but also excellent health care,” Budnick says. “This is one of the reasons that Canada has fared so well, offering homes with wide open space outside of the city but access to an outstanding health care system in the event it is needed.” A handful of swanky Toronto suburbs saw median home prices soar more than 50% year-over-year, according to the report, and Dubai’s most expensive properties spiked 230% in the first quarter of 2021. Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Post-Pandemic Luxury Trends Beginning to Emerge appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaSep 24th, 2021

Macquarie (MIC) to Buy Back Notes, Sells Atlantic Aviation

Macquarie (MIC) plans to repurchase convertible senior notes and completes the divestment of Atlantic Aviation. It is due to complete the sale of the MIC Hawaii businesses in the first half of 2022. Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings, LLC MIC yesterday announced an offer to buy back its entire 2.00% convertible senior notes, which are due to mature in 2023. Concurrently, the company communicated the successful completion of the divestment of the Atlantic Aviation business to New York-based KKR & Co. Inc.It is worth mentioning here that Macquarie is a limited liability company formed as a result of a corporate reorganization of Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation. The latter is now a subsidiary of Macquarie. The reorganization was completed on Sep 22, and since then, the shares of Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation is trading on the NYSE as the units of Macquarie.The reorganization plans were announced by Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation in February and shareholder approval for the same was received in May.Notably, Macquarie’s units gained 0.15% yesterday, ending the trading session at $40.27.Inside the HeadlinesRegarding the buyback offer, the company is willing to repurchase the notes at a price equal to the summation of the principal amount per note, and any unpaid and accrued interest on it. The offer price might come in as $1,001.17 per senior notes. The total outstanding principal amount of 2.00% convertible senior notes due 2023 was approximately $34 million as of Sep 23, 2021.Each $1,000 principal amount of the convertible senior notes can be converted into 12.6572 units of Macquarie.About the Atlantic Aviation divestment, Macquarie completed the transaction for $4.475 billion, which includes $1 billion of assumed debt. The parties entered the divestment deal on Jun 7, 2021.The Atlantic Aviation business offers aircraft hangaring, fuel, terminal and other services primarily to owners and operators of general aviation jet aircraft at 69 airports throughout the United States. It also caters to freight, commercial, government and military aviation customers.With the completion of the divestment, Macquarie’s board of directors approved the distribution of the sale proceeds to the company’s unitholders at the rate of $37.386817 per unit. All unitholders of record as of Oct 4 will be applicable to receive the distribution on Oct 7.A brief discussion of important events/announcements related to Macquarie’s strategic alternatives is provided below: September Announcement: On Sep 22, 2021, the MIC Hawaii businesses were distributed to Macquarie, with the former becoming a direct subsidiary of the latter. This move, in turn, will help Macquarie to divest the businesses to an affiliate of Argo Infrastructure Partners, LP.The divestments, including the Atlantic Aviation business, the MIC Hawaii businesses and others, are in sync with the company’s strategic alternatives (announced in October 2019), which include disposing of businesses to unlock values for its shareholders. June Announcement: On Jun 14, 2021, Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation entered an agreement to divest its MIC Hawaii businesses to Argo Infrastructure’s affiliate. Subject to the receipt of necessary approvals and the fulfillment of customary conditions, the company anticipates the transaction to be complete in the first half of 2022.Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation’s MIC Hawaii segment comprises several smaller businesses as well as an energy company — Hawaii Gas — which processes and distributes gas, and provides related services. These are collectively engaged in reducing costs as well as improving the reliability and the sustainability of energy in Hawaii.Macquarie’s unitholders will likely receive $3.83 per unit if the transaction gets completed on or before Jul 1, 2022. On closing after this date, unitholders will be entitled to get the consideration of $4.11 per unit. On the completion of the transaction, the MIC Hawaii businesses will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Argo. Earlier Event: In December 2020, Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation completed the divestment of its liquid storage and handling business, International-Matex Tank Terminals, for $2.67 billion to an affiliate of Riverstone Holdings, Inc.Zacks Rank, Price Performance and Stocks to ConsiderWith a market capitalization of $3.5 billion, the company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). In the past three months, its unit has gained 5.4% compared with the industry’s growth of 5.3%. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Three better-ranked stocks in the industry are Raven Industries, Inc. RAVN, Carlisle Companies Incorporated CSL and Crane Co. CR. While Raven presently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both Carlisle and Crane carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.In the past 60 days, earnings estimates for the companies have improved for the current year. Also, earnings surprise for the last reported quarter was 100% for Raven, 3.35% for Carlisle and 31.65% for Crane. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers 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 Raven Industries, Inc. (RAVN): Get Free Report Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL): Free Stock Analysis Report Crane Co. (CR): Free Stock Analysis Report Macquarie Infrastructure Company (MIC): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

3 HMO Stocks That Outperformed the S&P Index in a Year"s Time

Membership growth, mergers and buyouts, and investment in technology are likely to aid health insurance companies like ANTM, MOH, and UNH to outperform the S&P Index. The health insurance industry more popularly called Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) has been gaining from mergers and acquisitions, solid revenues, investments in technology, diversified businesses, contract wins, strong Medicaid and Medicare businesses and cost-curbing measures.The companies delivered solid results in the first half of the year, which even made some of the leading insurers hike their 2021 guidance.The industry players are also constantly forging alliances to penetrate geographies and meet demands of the market. Other constant factors, such as aging U.S. population, solvency levels and demand for Medicare poise the industry participants well for growth. Full government backing related to the Affordable Care Act also helped the industry gain a sweet spot.This reform instituted by the then President Barack Obama back in March 2010, has been one of the major drivers for the industry despite inducing some challenges. And the current President Joe Biden continued supporting ACA, which came as a welcoming relief to the industry players. The government’s support for the ACA is aimed at bringing more Americans under the health insurance coverage. This will directly buoy the health insurers’ top line.Further Upside Left?The overall bullish scenario makes us optimistic about the health insurance industry’s consistent growth, which should boost prospects of its participating companies with sound business fundamentals.Here are some of the factors that will positively impact the companies.Consistent With Mergers & Acquisitions Strategy: The health insurers continue to intensify their focus on the M&A strategy, which helped them boost their business scale and expand their presence. These initiatives led to an improved quality of care and brought about diversification benefits.Growing Senior Population: With aging population in the United States and seniors accounting for a higher percentage of the total population, overall demand for health insurance among the aged will soar. Medicare Advantage (MA) is the private version of the government Medicare program. MA plans are attractive to seniors on the back of declining member premiums, new benefits and less attractive medigap options.Increased Automation:  The industry also joined the movement of digital revolution by embracing cutting-edge technology for operational use. It was slow in this transition but the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the process.Use of chatbots and AI-based voice, assistants, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), mobile-based apps, robots, cloud computing, analytics among other technologies are expected to optimize healthcare delivery and workflow while minimizing unnecessary costs. This should lead to operational excellence and better customer experience. Insurers who can bridge the physical-virtual gap will be the frontrunners in the industry.Industry player UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH leads the pack with a separate unit named OptumInsight, which offers software, data analytics and related services to healthcare providers.Rising Membership: The industry players are well-poised for growth on the back of several contract wins. Moreover, Biden allowed a Special Open Enrollment window on Feb 15 and extended the same to Aug 15. This gave Americans another chance to buy insurance coverage online on health exchanges. Biden's support for ACA led to a membership hike for companies like Centene Corporation CNC during the special enrollment period. This also made them raise their membership outlook for the current year. Per insurers, the current year might be the best selling phase for them. Insurers like UnitedHealth and Cigna Corp. CI are expanding their presence on the exchanges by tapping new areas.3 Stocks on WatchlistThe Zacks  HMO  industry, which is housed within the broader Zacks  Medical  sector, currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #104. This places it in the top 41% of 252 Zacks industries.The Zacks HMO industry has grown 37.3% in a year’s time compared with the S&P Index’s rally of 39.4%.These health insurance stocks hold ample growth prospects to retain stability in the days ahead. Here are three stocks that presently have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and managed to surpass the S&P Index in the past year. All the companies have a VGM Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Anthem Inc.’s ANTM strategic buyouts and collaborations and an improving top line along with the company’s expanded product portfolio should drive long-term growth. Its solid 2021 guidance impresses. Over the past 60 days, the stock has witnessed its 2021 earnings estimate move 0.2% north. In the past year, shares of the company have gained 54.8%.Molina Healthcare, Inc.’s MOH ability to engage in inorganic growth initiatives and capital deployment reflect an improved financial position. Its strong 2021 outlook encourages. Over the past seven days, the company has witnessed its 2022 earnings estimate move 1.5% north. Over the past year, the stock has surged 84.7%.UnitedHealth Group continued strong growth at Optum as well as UnitedHealthcare segments are driving revenues. Its favorable government business and a strong capital position are other positives. Over the past 30 days, the stock has witnessed its 2022 earnings estimate move 0.4% north. In the past year, shares of the company have surged 41.4%.Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers 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 UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH): Free Stock Analysis Report Molina Healthcare, Inc (MOH): Free Stock Analysis Report Cigna Corporation (CI): Free Stock Analysis Report Centene Corporation (CNC): Free Stock Analysis Report Anthem, Inc. (ANTM): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Futures Slide Alongside Cryptocurrencies Amid China Crackdown

Futures Slide Alongside Cryptocurrencies Amid China Crackdown US futures and European stocks fell amid ongoing nerves over the Evergrande default, while cryptocurrency-linked stocks tumbled after the Chinese central bank said such transactions are illegal. Sovereign bond yields fluctuated after an earlier selloff fueled by the prospect of tighter monetary policy. At 745am ET, S&P 500 e-minis were down 19.5 points, or 0.43%, Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 88.75 points, or 0.58% and Dow e-minis were down 112 points, or 0.33%. In the biggest overnight news, Evergrande offshore creditors remain in limbo and still haven't received their coupon payment effectively starting the 30-day grace period, while also in China, the State Planner issued a notice on the crackdown of cryptocurrency mining, will strictly prohibit financing for new crypto mining projects and strengthen energy consumption controls of new crypto mining projects. Subsequently, the PBoC issued a notice to further prevent and dispose of the risks from speculating on cryptocurrencies, to strengthen monitoring of risks from crypto trading and such activities are illegal. The news sent the crypto space tumbling as much as 8% while cryptocurrency-exposed stocks slumped in U.S. premarket trading. Marathon Digital (MARA) drops 6.5%, Bit Digital (BTBT) declines 4.7%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT) -5.9%, Coinbase -2.8%. Big banks including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp slipped about 0.5%, while oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp were down 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively, in premarket trading.Mega-cap FAAMG tech giants fell between 0.5% and 0.6%. Nike shed 4.6% after the sportswear maker cut its fiscal 2022 sales expectations and warned of delays during the holiday shopping season. Several analysts lowered their price targets on the maker of sports apparel and sneakers after the company cut its FY revenue growth guidance to mid-single- digits. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Helbiz (HLBZ) falls 10% after the micromobility company filed with the SEC for the sale of as many as 11m shares by stockholders. Focus Universal (FCUV), an online marketing company that’s been a favorite of retail traders, surged 26% in premarket trading after the stock was cited on Stocktwits in recent days. Vail Resorts (MTN) falls 2.7% in postmarket trading after its full-year forecasts for Ebitda and net income missed at the midpoint. GlycoMimetics (GLYC) jumps 15% postmarket after announcing that efficacy and safety data from a Phase 1/2 study of uproleselan in patients with acute myeloid leukemia were published in the journal Blood on Sept. 16. VTV Therapeutics (VTVT) surges 30% after company says its HPP737 psoriasis treatment showed favorable safety and tolerability profile in a multiple ascending dose study. Fears about a sooner-than-expected tapering amid signs of stalling U.S. economic growth and concerns over a spillover from China Evergrande’s default had rattled investors in September, putting the benchmark S&P 500 index on course to snap a seven-month winning streak. Elaine Stokes, a portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles & Co., told Bloomberg Television, adding that “what they did is tell us that they feel really good about the economy.” While the bond selloff vindicated Treasury bears who argue yields are too low to reflect fundamentals, others see limits to how high they can go. “We’d expected bond yields to go higher, given the macro situation where growth is still very strong,” Sylvia Sheng, global multi-asset strategist with JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “But we do stress that is a modest view, because we think that upside to yields is still limited from here given that central banks including the Fed are still buying bonds.” Still, Wall Street’s main indexes rallied in the past two session and are set for small weekly gains. European equities dipped at the open but trade off worst levels, with the Euro Stoxx 50 sliding as much as 1.1% before climbing off the lows. France's CAC underperformed at the margin. Retail, financial services are the weakest performers. EQT AB, Europe’s biggest listed private equity firm, fell as much as 8.1% after Sweden’s financial watchdog opened an investigation into suspected market abuse. Here are some of the other biggest European movers today: SMCP shares surge as much as 9.9%, advancing for a 9th session in 10, amid continued hopes the financial troubles of its top shareholder will ultimately lead to a sale TeamViewer climbs much as 4.2% after Bankhaus Metzler initiated coverage with a buy rating, citing the company’s above-market growth AstraZeneca gains as much as 3.6% after its Lynparza drug met the primary endpoint in a prostate cancer trial Darktrace drops as much as 9.2%, paring the stock’s rally over the past few weeks, as a technical pattern triggered a sell signal Adidas and Puma fall as much as 4% and 2.9%, respectively, after U.S. rival Nike’s “large cut” to FY sales guidance, which Jefferies said would “likely hurt” shares of European peers Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rose for a second day, led by rallies in Japan and Taiwan, following U.S. peers higher amid optimism over the Federal Reserve’s bullish economic outlook and fading concerns over widespread contagion from Evergrande. Stocks were muted in China and Hong Kong. India’s S&P BSE Sensex topped the 60,000 level for the first time on Friday on optimism that speedier vaccinations will improve demand for businesses in Asia’s third-largest economy. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 0.7%, with TSMC and Sony the biggest boosts. That trimmed the regional benchmark’s loss for the week to about 1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 2.1%, reopening after a holiday, pushing its advance for September to 7.7%, the best among major global gauges. The Asian regional benchmark pared its gain as Hong Kong stocks fell sharply in late afternoon trading amid continued uncertainty, with Evergrande giving no sign of making an interest payment that was due Thursday. Among key upcoming events is the leadership election for Japan’s ruling party next week, which will likely determine the country’s next prime minister. “Investor concerns over the Evergrande issue have retreated a bit for now,” said Hajime Sakai, chief fund manager at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “But investors will have to keep downside risk in the corner of their minds.” Indian stocks rose, pushing the Sensex above 60,000 for the first time ever. Key gauges fell in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, while the Thai market was closed for a holiday. Treasuries are higher as U.S. trading day begins after rebounding from weekly lows reached during Asia session, adding to Thursday’s losses. The 10-year yield was down 1bp at ~1.42%, just above the 100-DMA breached on Thursday for the first time in three months; it climbed to 1.449% during Asia session, highest since July 6, and remains 5.2bp higher on the week, its fifth straight weekly increase. Several Fed speakers are slated, first since Wednesday’s FOMC commentary set forth a possible taper timeline.  Bunds and gilts recover off cheapest levels, curves bear steepening. USTs bull steepen, richening 1.5bps from the 10y point out. Peripheral spreads are wider. BTP spreads widen 2-3bps to Bunds. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed back from a one-week low as concern about possible contagion from Evergrande added to buying of the greenback based on the Federal Reserve tapering timeline signaled on Wednesday. NZD, AUD and CAD sit at the bottom of the G-10 scoreboard. ZAR and TRY are the weakest in EM FX. The pound fell after its rally on Thursday as investors looked ahead to BOE Governor Andrew Bailey’s sPeech next week about a possible interest-rate hike. Traders are betting that in a contest to raise borrowing costs first, the Bank of England will be the runaway winner over the Federal Reserve. The New Zealand and Aussie dollars led declines among Group-of-10 peers. The euro was trading flat, with a week full of events failing “to generate any clear directional move,” said ING analysts Francesco Pesole and Chris Turner. German IFO sentiment indeces will “provide extra indications about the area’s sentiment as  businesses faced a combination of delta variant concerns and lingering supply disruptions”. The Norwegian krone is the best performing currency among G10 peers this week, with Thursday’s announcement from the Norges Bank offering support In commodities, crude futures hold a narrow range up around best levels for the week. WTI stalls near $73.40, Brent near $77.50. Spot gold extends Asia’s gains, adding $12 on the session to trade near $1,755/oz. Base metals are mixed, LME nickel and aluminum drop ~1%, LME tin outperforms with a 2.8% rally. Bitcoin dips after the PBOC says all crypto-related transactions are illegal. Looking to the day ahead now, we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell, Vice Chair Clarida and the Fed’s Mester, Bowman, George and Bostic, as well as the ECB’s Lane and Elderson, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Finally, a summit of the Quad Leaders will be held at the White House, including President Biden, and the Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,423.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.7% to 464.18 German 10Y yield fell 8.5 bps to -0.236% Euro little changed at $1.1737 MXAP up 0.4% to 201.25 MXAPJ down 0.5% to 643.20 Nikkei up 2.1% to 30,248.81 Topix up 2.3% to 2,090.75 Hang Seng Index down 1.3% to 24,192.16 Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,613.07 Sensex up 0.2% to 60,031.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,342.60 Kospi little changed at 3,125.24 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $77.57/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,755.38 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.14 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg China Evergrande Group’s unusual silence about a dollar-bond interest payment that was due Thursday has put a focus on what might happen during a 30-day grace period. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation target is increasingly out of step with international counterparts and fails to account for structural changes in the country’s economy over the past 30 years, Westpac Banking Corp.’s Bill Evans said. With central banks from Washington to London this week signaling more alarm over faster inflation, the ultra-stimulative path of the euro zone and some of its neighbors appears lonelier than ever. China’s central bank continued to pump liquidity into the financial system on Friday as policy makers sought to avoid contagion stemming from China Evergrande Group spreading to domestic markets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed with the region failing to fully sustain the impetus from the positive performance across global counterparts after the silence from Evergrande and lack of coupon payments for its offshore bonds, stirred uncertainty for the company. ASX 200 (-0.4%) was negative as underperformance in mining names and real estate overshadowed the advances in tech and resilience in financials from the higher yield environment. Nikkei 225 (+2.1%) was the biggest gainer overnight as it played catch up to the prior day’s recovery on return from the Autumnal Equinox holiday in Japan and with exporters cheering the recent risk-conducive currency flows, while KOSPI (-0.1%) was lacklustre amid the record daily COVID-19 infections and after North Korea deemed that it was premature to declare that the Korean War was over. Hang Seng (-1.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.8%) were indecisive after further liquidity efforts by the PBoC were offset by concerns surrounding Evergrande after the Co. failed to make coupon payments due yesterday for offshore bonds but has a 30-day grace period with the Co. remaining quiet on the issue. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower on spillover selling from global counterparts including the declines in T-notes as the US 10yr yield breached 1.40% for the first time since early-July with the pressure in bonds also stemming from across the Atlantic following a more hawkish BoE, while the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.3tln of government bonds with 1yr-10yr maturities did very little to spur prices. Top Asian News Rivals for Prime Minister Battle on Social Media: Japan Election Asian Stocks Rise for Second Day, Led by Gains in Japan, Taiwan Hong Kong Stocks Still Wagged by Evergrande Tail Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Tech Index Extends Decline to More Than 2% European equities (Stoxx 600 -0.9%) are trading on the back foot in the final trading session of the week amid further advances in global bond yields and a mixed APAC handover. Overnight, saw gains for the Nikkei 225 of 2.1% with the index aided by favourable currency flows, whilst Chinese markets lagged (Shanghai Comp. -0.8%, Hang Seng -1.6%) with further liquidity efforts by the PBoC offset by concerns surrounding Evergrande after the Co. failed to make coupon payments due yesterday for offshore bonds. As context, despite the losses in Europe today, the Stoxx 600 is still higher by some 1.2% on the week. Stateside, futures are also on a softer footing with the ES down by 0.4% ahead of a busy Fed speaker schedule. Back to Europe, sectors are lower across the board with Retail and Personal & Household Goods lagging peers. The former has been hampered by losses in Adidas (-3.0%) following after hours earnings from Nike (-4.2% pre-market) which saw the Co. cut its revenue guidance amid supply chain woes. AstraZeneca (+2.1%) sits at the top of the FTSE 100 after announcing that the Lynparza PROpel trial met its primary endpoint. Daimler’s (+0.1%) Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will take a 33% stake in a battery cell manufacturing JV with Total and Stellantis. EQT (-6.5%) sits at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the Swedish FSA announced it will open an investigation into the Co. Top European News EQT Investigated by Sweden’s FSA Over Suspected Market Abuse Gazprom Says Claims of Gas Under-supply to Europe Are ‘Absurd’ German Sept. Ifo Business Confidence 98.8; Est. 99 German Business Index at Five-Month Low in Pre-Election Verdict In FX, the rot seems to have stopped for the Buck in terms of its sharp and marked fall from grace amidst post-FOMC reflection and re-positioning in the financial markets on Thursday. Indeed, the Dollar index has regained some poise to hover above the 93.000 level having recoiled from 93.526 to 92.977 over the course of yesterday’s hectic session that saw the DXY register a marginal new w-t-d high and low at either end of the spectrum. Pre-weekend short covering and consolidation may be giving the Greenback a lift, while the risk backdrop is also less upbeat ahead of a raft of Fed speakers flanking US new home sales data. Elsewhere, the Euro remains relatively sidelined and contained against the Buck with little independent inspiration from the latest German Ifo survey as the business climate deteriorated broadly in line with consensus and current conditions were worse than forecast, but business expectations were better than anticipated. Hence, Eur/Usd is still stuck in a rut and only briefly/fractionally outside 1.1750-00 parameters for the entire week, thus far, as hefty option expiry interest continues to keep the headline pair in check. However, there is significantly less support or gravitational pull at the round number today compared to Thursday as ‘only’ 1.3 bn rolls off vs 4.1 bn, and any upside breach could be capped by 1.1 bn between 1.1765-85. CAD/NZD/AUD - Some payback for the non-US Dollars following their revival, with the Loonie waning from 1.2650+ peaks ahead of Canadian budget balances, though still underpinned by crude as WTI hovers around Usd 73.50/brl and not far from decent option expiries (from 1.2655-50 and 1.2625-30 in 1.4 bn each). Similarly, the Kiwi has faded after climbing to within single digits of 0.7100 in wake of NZ trade data overnight revealing a much wider deficit as exports slowed and imports rose, while the Aussie loses grip of the 0.7300 handle and skirts 1.1 bn option expiries at 0.7275. CHF/GBP/JPY - The Franc is fairly flat and restrained following a dovish SNB policy review that left in lagging somewhat yesterday, with Usd/Chf and Eur/Chf straddling 0.9250 and 1.0850 respectively, in contrast to Sterling that is paring some hawkish BoE momentum, as Cable retreats to retest bids circa 1.3700 and Eur/Gbp bounces from sub-0.8550. Elsewhere, the Yen has not been able to fend off further downside through 110.00 even though Japanese participants have returned to the fray after the Autumn Equinox holiday and reports suggest some COVID-19 restrictions may be lifted in 13 prefectures on a trial basis. SCANDI/EM/PM/CRYPTO - A slight change in the pecking order in Scandi-land as the Nok loses some post-Norges Bank hike impetus and the Sek unwinds a bit of its underperformance, but EM currencies are bearing the brunt of the aforementioned downturn in risk sentiment and firmer Usd, with the Zar hit harder than other as Gold is clings to Usd 1750/oz and Try down to deeper post-CBRT rate cut lows after mixed manufacturing sentiment and cap u readings. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is being shackled by the latest Chinese crackdown on mining and efforts to limit risks from what it describes as unlawful speculative crypto currency trading. In commodities, WTI and Brent are set the conclude the week in the green with gains in excess of 2% for WTI at the time of writing; in-spite of the pressure seen in the complex on Monday and the first-half of Tuesday, where a sub USD 69.50/bbl low was printed. Fresh newsflow has, once again, been limited for the complex and continues to focus on the gas situation. More broadly, no update as of yet on the Evergrande interest payment and by all accounts we appear to have entered the 30-day grace period for this and, assuming catalysts remain slim, updates on this will may well dictate the state-of-play. Schedule wise, the session ahead eyes significant amounts of central bank commentary but from a crude perspective the weekly Baker Hughes rig count will draw attention. On the weather front, Storm Sam has been upgraded to a Hurricane and is expected to rapidly intensify but currently remains someway into the mid-Atlantic. Moving to metals, LME copper is pivoting the unchanged mark after a mixed APAC lead while attention is on Glencore’s CSA copper mine, which it has received an offer for; the site in 2020 produced circa. 46k/T of copper which is typically exported to Asia smelters. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are firmer but have been very contained and remain well-within overnight ranges thus far. Which sees the yellow metal holding just above the USD 1750/oz mark after a brief foray below the level after the US-close. US Event Calendar 10am: Aug. New Home Sales MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.0% 10am: Aug. New Home Sales, est. 715,000, prior 708,000 Central Bank Speakers 8:45am: Fed’s Mester Discusses the Economic Outlook 10am: Powell, Clarida and Bowman Host Fed Listens Event 10:05am: Fed’s George Discusses Economic Outlook 12pm: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Equitable Community Development DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap WFH today is a bonus as it’s time for the annual ritual at home where the latest, sleekest, shiniest iPhone model arrives in the post and i sheepishly try to justify to my wife when I get home why I need an incremental upgrade. This year to save me from the Spanish Inquisition I’m going to intercept the courier and keep quiet. Problem is that such speed at intercepting the delivery will be logistically challenging as I remain on crutches (5 weeks to go) and can’t grip properly with my left hand due to an ongoing trapped nerve. I’m very glad I’m not a racehorse. Although hopefully I can be put out to pasture in front of the Ryder Cup this weekend. The big news of the last 24 hours has been a galloping global yield rise worthy of the finest thoroughbred. A hawkish Fed meeting, with the dots increasing and the end of QE potentially accelerated, didn’t quite have the ability to move markets but the global dam finally broke yesterday with Norway being the highest profile developed country to raise rates this cycle (expected), but more importantly a Bank of England meeting that saw the market reappraise rate hikes. Looking at the specific moves, yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +13.0bps to 1.430% in their biggest daily increase since 25 February, as both higher real rates (+7.9bps) and inflation breakevens (+4.9bps) drove the advance. US 10yr yields had been trading in a c.10bp range for the last month before breaking out higher, though they have been trending higher since dropping as far as 1.17% back in early-August. US 30yr yields rose +13.2bps, which was the biggest one day move in long dated yields since March 17 2020, which was at the onset of the pandemic and just days after the Fed announced it would be starting the current round of QE. The large selloff in US bonds saw the yield curve steepen and the long-end give back roughly half of the FOMC flattening from the day before. The 5y30y curve steepened 3.4bps for a two day move of -3.3bps. However the 2y10y curve steepened +10.5bps, completely reversing the prior day’s flattening (-4.2bps) and leaving the spread at 116bp, the steepest level since first week of July. 10yr gilt yields saw nearly as strong a move (+10.8bps) with those on shorter-dated 2yr gilts (+10.7bps) hitting their highest level (0.386%) since the pandemic began.That came on the back of the BoE’s latest policy decision, which pointed in a hawkish direction, building on the comment in the August statement that “some modest tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period is likely to be necessary” by saying that “some developments during the intervening period appear to have strengthened that case”. The statement pointed out that the rise in gas prices since August represented an upside risks to their inflation projections from next April, and the MPC’s vote also saw 2 members (up from 1 in August) vote to dial back QE. See DB’s Sanjay Raja’s revised rate hike forecasts here. We now expect a 15bps hike in February. The generalised move saw yields in other European countries rise as well, with those on 10yr bunds (+6.6bps), OATs (+6.5bps) and BTPs (+5.7bps) all seeing big moves higher with 10yr bunds seeing their biggest climb since late-February and back to early-July levels as -0.258%. The yield rise didn’t stop equity indices recovering further from Monday’s rout, with the S&P 500 up +1.21% as the index marked its best performance in over 2 months, and its best 2-day performance since May. Despite the mood at the end of the weekend, the S&P now starts Friday in positive territory for the week. The rally yesterday was led by cyclicals for a second straight day with higher commodity prices driving outsized gains for energy (+3.41%) and materials (+1.39%) stocks, and the aforementioned higher yields causing banks (+3.37%) and diversified financials (+2.35%) to outperform. The reopening trade was the other main beneficiary as airlines rose +2.99% and consumer services, which include hotel and cruiseline companies, gained +1.92%. In Europe, the STOXX 600 (+0.93%) witnessed a similarly strong performance, with index led by banks (+2.16%). As a testament to the breadth of yesterday’s rally, the travel and leisure sector (+0.04%) was the worst performing sector on this side of the Atlantic even while registering a small gain and lagging its US counterparts. Before we get onto some of yesterday’s other events, it’s worth noting that this is actually the last EMR before the German election on Sunday, which has long been signposted as one of the more interesting macro events on the 2021 calendar, the results of which will play a key role in not just domestic, but also EU policy. And with Chancellor Merkel stepping down after four terms in office, this means that the country will soon be under new management irrespective of who forms a government afterwards. It’s been a volatile campaign in many respects, with Chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU, the Greens and the centre-left SPD all having been in the lead at various points over the last six months. But for the last month Politico’s Poll of Polls has shown the SPD consistently ahead, with their tracker currently putting them on 25%, ahead of the CDU/CSU on 22% and the Greens on 16%. However the latest poll from Forschungsgruppe Wahlen yesterday suggested a tighter race with the SPD at 25, the CDU/CSU at 23% and the Greens at 16.5%. If the actual results are in line with the recent averages, it would certainly mark a sea change in German politics, as it would be the first time that the SPD have won the popular vote since the 2002 election. Furthermore, it would be the CDU/CSU’s worst ever result, and mark the first time in post-war Germany that the two main parties have failed to win a majority of the vote between them, which mirrors the erosion of the traditional big parties in the rest of continental Europe. For the Greens, 15% would be their best ever score, and exceed the 9% they got back in 2017 that left them in 6th place, but it would also be a disappointment relative to their high hopes back in the spring, when they were briefly polling in the mid-20s after Annalena Baerbock was selected as their Chancellor candidate. In terms of when to expect results, the polls close at 17:00 London time, with initial exit polls released immediately afterwards. However, unlike the UK, where a new majority government can immediately come to power the day after the election, the use of proportional representation in Germany means that it could potentially be weeks or months before a new government is formed. Indeed, after the last election in September 2017, it wasn’t until March 2018 that the new grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD took office, after attempts to reach a “Jamaica” coalition between the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens was unsuccessful. In the meantime, the existing government will act as a caretaker administration. On the policy implications, it will of course depend on what sort of government is actually formed, but our research colleagues in Frankfurt have produced a comprehensive slidepack (link here) running through what the different parties want across a range of policies, and what the likely coalitions would mean for Germany. They also put out another note yesterday (link here) where they point out that there’s still much to play for, with the SPD’s lead inside the margin of error and with an unusually high share of yet undecided voters. Moving on to Asia and markets are mostly higher with the Nikkei (+2.04%), CSI (+0.53%) and India’s Nifty (+0.52%) up while the Hang Seng (-0.03%), Shanghai Comp (-0.07%) and Kospi (-0.10%) have all made small moves lower. Meanwhile, the Evergrande group missed its dollar bond coupon payment yesterday and so far there has been no communication from the group on this. They have a 30-day grace period to make the payment before any event of default can be declared. This follows instructions from China’s Financial regulators yesterday in which they urged the group to take all measures possible to avoid a near-term default on dollar bonds while focusing on completing unfinished properties and repaying individual investors. Yields on Australia and New Zealand’s 10y sovereign bonds are up +14.5bps and +11.3bps respectively this morning after yesterday’s move from their western counterparts. Yields on 10y USTs are also up a further +1.1bps to 1.443%. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.04% while those on the Stoxx 50 are down -0.10%. In terms of overnight data, Japan’s August CPI printed at -0.4% yoy (vs. -0.3% yoy expected) while core was unchanged in line with expectations. We also received Japan’s flash PMIs with the services reading at 47.4 (vs. 42.9 last month) while the manufacturing reading came in at 51.2 (vs. 52.7 last month). In pandemic related news, Jiji reported that Japan is planning to conduct trials of easing Covid restrictions, with 13 prefectures indicating they’d like to participate. This is likely contributing to the outperformance of the Nikkei this morning. Back to yesterday now, and one of the main highlights came from the flash PMIs, which showed a continued deceleration in growth momentum across Europe and the US, and also underwhelmed relative to expectations. Running through the headline numbers, the Euro Area composite PMI fell to 56.1 (vs. 58.5 expected), which is the lowest figure since April, as both the manufacturing (58.7 vs 60.3 expected) and services (56.3 vs. 58.5 expected) came in beneath expectations. Over in the US, the composite PMI fell to 54.5 in its 4th consecutive decline, as the index hit its lowest level in a year, while the UK’s composite PMI at 54.1 (vs. 54.6 expected) was the lowest since February when the country was still in a nationwide lockdown. Risk assets seemed unperturbed by the readings, and commodities actually took another leg higher as they rebounded from their losses at the start of the week. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot index rose +1.12% as Brent crude oil (+1.39%) closed at $77.25/bbl, which marked its highest closing level since late 2018, while WTI (+1.07%) rose to $73.30/bbl, so still a bit beneath its recent peak in July. However that is a decent rebound of roughly $11/bbl since its recent low just over a month ago. Elsewhere, gold (-1.44%) took a knock amidst the sharp move higher in yields, while European natural gas prices subsidised for a third day running, with futures now down -8.5% from their intraday peak on Tuesday, although they’re still up by +71.3% since the start of August. US negotiations regarding the upcoming funding bill and raising the debt ceiling are ongoing, with House Speaker Pelosi saying that the former, also called a continuing resolution, will pass “both houses by September 30,” and fund the government through the first part of the fiscal year, starting October 1. Treasury Secretary Yellen has said the US will likely breach the debt ceiling sometime in the next month if Congress does not increase the level, and because Republicans are unwilling to vote to raise the ceiling, Democrats will have to use the once-a-fiscal-year tool of budget reconciliation to do so. However Democrats, are also using that process for the $3.5 trillion dollar economic plan that makes up the bulk of the Biden agenda, and have not been able to get full party support yet. During a joint press conference with Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer said that Democrats have a “framework” to pay for the Biden Economic agenda, which would imply that the broad outline of a deal was reached between the House, Senate and the White House. However, no specifics were mentioned yesterday. With Democrats looking to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill early next week, negotiations today and this weekend on the potential reconciliation package will be vital. Looking at yesterday’s other data, the weekly initial jobless claims from the US for the week through September 18 unexpectedly rose to 351k (vs. 320k expected), which is the second week running they’ve come in above expectations. Separately, the Chicago Fed’s national activity index fell to 0.29 in August (vs. 0.50 expected), and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing activity index also fell more than expected to 22 in September (vs. 25 expected). To the day ahead now, and data highlights include the Ifo’s business climate indicator from Germany for September, along with Italian consumer confidence for September and US new home sales for August. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell, Vice Chair Clarida and the Fed’s Mester, Bowman, George and Bostic, as well as the ECB’s Lane and Elderson, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Finally, a summit of the Quad Leaders will be held at the White House, including President Biden, and the Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Global stocks fall as Evergrande uncertainty dents confidence, while Fed outlook ignites surge in bond yields

Troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande is staying quiet on whether it missed a crucial deadline to make an $83 million interest payment. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Global stocks fell Friday as revived concerns about Evergrande's debt crisis weighed on investors. The troubled Chinese property giant appears to have missed a crucial $83 million bond interest payment. Treasury yields ticked higher on growing hopes the Fed will hike rates sooner than previously expected. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. Global stocks fell Friday, with investors on edge as uncertainty surrounded the Evergrande debt crunch situation, while government bond yields rose after the Federal Reserve hinted interest rates could rise quicker than expected.Futures on the Dow Jones dropped 0.3%. Those on the S&P 500 were down 0.4%, and Nasdaq futures lost 0.5% as of 6:10 a.m. ET, suggesting a lower start to trading later in the day. The three major US indexes all gained more than 1% Thursday, as markets recovered from Evergrande-driven losses at the start of the week.But the concerns around a debt default by the troubled Chinese property giant were simmering again Friday as it was unclear whether Evergrande had missed its Thursday deadline to make a crucial $83 million bond interest payment.Bondholders have not been paid nor heard from the company, people familiar with the situation told Reuters. There has been no word from Evergrande itself.Evergrande has a 30-day grace period to meet the obligation. If it doesn't pay by then, it will be in default. The size of the property developer means a default could pose risks to China's financial system, which could then spread elsewhere in the world. The People's Bank of China injected $17 billion of cash into the banking system Thursday in a bid to calm nerves.Evergrande's shares closed 12% lower in Hong Kong on Friday, with the Hang Seng falling 1.5% and the Shanghai Composite dropping 0.8%. Tokyo's Nikkei rose 2.06% as traders returned from a holiday.At the same time, prices for US government bonds dropped Friday as investors grew increasingly hopeful that the Fed will raise interest rates sooner than previously expected. The central bank's outlook released Wednesday showed half of the officials on the Federal Open Market Committee expect the first rate hike to arrive next year.The yield on the 10-year Treasury note added 13 basis points to 1.43% early Friday, marking a two-month high and the biggest daily increase since February 25. Yield on the 30-year Treasury bond put on 9 basis points to reach 1.93%. Yields move inversely to prices.In the UK, the 10-year Gilt yield moved 10 basis points higher to 0.85% after the Bank of England signaled Thursday that it sees increasing reasons for an interest rate rise.London's FTSE 100 fell 0.3%, the Euro Stoxx 50 declined 0.8%, and Frankfurt's DAX lost 0.7%.Oil prices continue to be supported by production outages in the Gulf of Mexico and lower OPEC+ output than agreed. Coupled with robust demand, the limited supply has caused the market to tighten noticeably, Commerzbank's Carsten Fritsch said.Brent crude was 0.4% higher at $77.56 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose 0.2% to $73.47 a barrel.Gold initially reacted to the hawkish Fed signals and surge in bond yields by falling to $1,740 per ounce, but it last rose 0.3% to $1,755 per ounce on Thursday.Read More: Michael Albaum built a 63-unit portfolio by living well below his means for almost a decade. The engineer-turned real estate investor breaks down his due diligence-focused strategy and shares how 'doing the work' has allowed him to achieve financial freedom.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

Telecom Stock Roundup: AT&T Halves HBO Max Price, Verizon 5G for Air Force & More

While AT&T (T) is presently offering HBO MAX at $7.49 per month for six months in a limited promotional deal till Sep 26, Verizon (VZ) will provide 5G mobility service to seven Air Force Reserve Command installations. Over the past five trading days, U.S. telecom stocks continued to mirror the broader benchmark equity indices in a similar trend as the prior week and witnessed a gradual downtrend due to an apparent policy paralysis despite the best intentions of the government to spur a healthy growth momentum. The final passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by the House appears to be stuck in a potential stalemate, as several progressive Democrats want the bill to be tied to the larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is facing massive backlash from both Republicans and Democrats. This even forced President Biden to personally meet the dissident groups to seek an early resolution, although it reportedly failed to broker a compromise despite some ‘productive’ discussions. The infusion of federal funds to improve broadband infrastructure for greater access and deeper penetration in the underserved domestic markets is the need of the hour to bridge the digital divide. However, the uncertainty over the much sought-after infrastructure bill that focuses on affordability and low-cost service option has hard hit the industry.In order to stimulate broadband growth across the country, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued fresh guidelines as to how states should allocate money from the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund created as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The instruction set encourages states to prioritize investments in fiber-optic connectivity and developing related infrastructure for the future broadband needs of the communities. It also urges states to pursue projects involving broadband networks either owned or affiliated to the government, non-profit or co-operatives in order to serve larger communities with less pressure on profit-making initiatives.   Meanwhile, China-based Hytera – a supplier of radio equipment to emergency first responders – said in a submission to the FCC that it has been unfairly targeted by the government and argued that its radio equipment do not pose any security risk as they do not use broadband connectivity. It urged the FCC to specify which of its equipment are deemed to be potential threats in order to avoid being hit across its entire business. The developments assume significance as the government is reportedly aiming to ease diplomatic relations with Beijing that have worsened over recent times to improve bilateral trade, as several restrictions and economic sanctions were hurting operations of domestic firms.    Regarding company-specific news, business tweaks, portfolio enhancements, a strategic tie-up, and product launch primarily took the center stage over the past five trading days.Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories1.    Over the past few months, AT&T Inc. T has taken several strategic decisions to focus more on its customer-centric business model. One of these was the decision to phase out HBO and HBO Max subscriptions through Amazon Prime Video Channels of Amazon.com, Inc., as it aimed to develop direct-to-consumer relationships. As HBO subscriptions officially went off the air from Amazon Prime on Sep 15, AT&T apparently lost about 5 million U.S. subscribers who had signed through Amazon. The company is now aiming to woo back these customers and attract newer ones as well through a discounted price offering as the streaming wars heat up.HBO Max subscription was originally priced at $14.99 per month. AT&T is presently offering this streaming service at $7.49 per month for six months in a limited promotional deal till Sep 26. The disruptive pricing is lower than the Prime video membership of $8.99 per month, plus taxes and is likely to be a lucrative offer for both existing and new customers. The offer, however, is available to only U.S. customers as AT&T expects to register healthy growth in HBO Max subscribers in international markets.      2.     Verizon Communications Inc. VZ recently secured a prime contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for an undisclosed amount to provide 5G mobility service to seven Air Force Reserve Command installations. The deal underscores the trust and reliability enjoyed by the carrier as it continues to support the digital transformation initiatives of the federal government.Verizon Public sector, the unit dedicated to serving various public sector entities, has been entrusted to deliver 5G Ultra Wideband service in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas Air Force bases. This includes the deployment of c-band radios at outdoor locations at the facilities to improve signal bandwidth at higher speed and lower latency.3.     ADTRAN, Inc. ADTN recently announced that it has secured multiple partnerships with service providers to deploy its highly scalable fiber access network in the rural regions of the U.K. The Huntsville, AL-based company has collaborated with Alncom, Wildanet, and Netomnia.The alliances will bridge the digital divide on the back of a cost-effective fiber-to-the-home network, thereby delivering exceptional broadband experiences to customers, particularly based in the underserved areas of the European country.4.    Viasat, Inc. VSAT has secured two research contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) to evaluate the potential and feasibility of 5G connectivity in the battlefield. The Carlsbad, CA-based company has been working with DoD to address challenging communications issues across multiple network domains. The research contracts, which will be conducted over a span of three years, were awarded through the Information Warfare Research Project. These contracts are part of the $600 million 5G research program that was announced last year by DoD. The initiative aims to assess how the fifth-generation technology can boost warfighting capabilities.  5.    Viavi Solutions Inc. VIAV recently announced that it has augmented the capabilities of its Xgig 5P16 platform. It now supports multi-user functionality and analyzer bifurcation for multiple users and simultaneous tests on a single platform. The Xgig 5P16 Exerciser platform enables real-time analysis of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express or PCIe 5.0 data traffic at all layers of the stack.VIAVI Xgig 5P16 Analyzer is specifically designed to modernize data traffic analysis while addressing the growing demands of AI and IoT with enhanced capabilities. The device is reckoned to be the first-of-its-kind solution in the market. The latest move highlights Viavi’s commitment to drive the influence of bandwidth-intensive computing services globally on the back of its technology prowess.Price PerformanceThe following table shows the price movement of some of the major telecom stocks over the past week and six months.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchIn the past five trading days, T-Mobile was the only stock that gained 0.5%, while Bandwidth declined the most with its stock falling 6.5%.Over the past six months, Motorola has been the best performer with its stock appreciating 24.3%, while Bandwidth declined the most with its stock falling 17.2%.Over the past six months, the Zacks Telecommunications Services industry has gained 7.5% and the S&P 500 has rallied 12.7%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWhat’s Next in the Telecom Space?In addition to 5G deployments and product launches, all eyes will remain glued to how the administration implements key policy changes to safeguard the interests of the industry and address the bottlenecks to spur growth. More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone! It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 77 billion devices by 2025, creating a $1.3 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 4 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2022.Click here for the 4 trades >>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 ADTRAN, Inc. (ADTN): Free Stock Analysis Report AT&T Inc. (T): Free Stock Analysis Report Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ): Free Stock Analysis Report Viasat Inc. (VSAT): Free Stock Analysis Report Viavi Solutions Inc. (VIAV): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 23rd, 2021

Futures Rise On Taper, Evergrande Optimism

Futures Rise On Taper, Evergrande Optimism US index futures jumped overnight even as the Fed confirmed that a November tapering was now guaranteed and would be completed by mid-2022 with one rate hike now on deck, while maintaining the possibility to extend stimulus if necessitated by the economy. Sentiment got an additional boost from a strong showing of Evergrande stock - which closed up 17% - during the Chinese session, which peaked just after Bloomberg reported that China told Evergrande to avoid a near-term dollar bond default and which suggested that the "government wants to avoid an imminent collapse of the developer" however that quickly reversed when the WSJ reported, just one hour later, that China was making preparations for Evergrande's demise, and although that hammered stocks, the report explicitly noted that a worst-case scenario for Evergrande would mean a partial or full nationalization as "local-level government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been instructed to step in only at the last minute should Evergrande fail to manage its affairs in an orderly fashion." In other words, both reports are bullish: either foreign creditors are made whole (no default) as per BBG or the situation deteriorates and Evergrande is nationalized ("SOEs step in") as per WSJ. According to Bloomberg, confidence is building that markets can ride out a pullback in Fed stimulus, unlike 2013 when the taper tantrum triggered large losses in bonds and equities. "Investors are betting that the economic and profit recovery will be strong enough to outweigh a reduction in asset purchases, while ultra-low rates will continue to support riskier assets even as concerns linger about contagion from China’s real-estate woes." That's one view: the other is that the Fed has so broken the market's discounting ability we won't know just how bad tapering will get until it actually begins. “The Fed has got to be pleased that their communication on the longer way to tapering has avoided the dreaded fear of the tantrum,” Jeffrey Rosenberg, senior portfolio manager for systematic fixed income at BlackRock Inc., said on Bloomberg Television. “This is a very good outcome for the Fed in terms of signaling their intent to give the market information well ahead of the tapering decision.” Then there is the question of Evergrande: “With regards to Evergrande, all those people who are waiting for a Lehman moment in China will probably have to wait another turn,” said Ken Peng, an investment strategist at Citi Private Bank Asia Pacific. “So I wouldn’t treat this as completely bad, but there are definitely a lot of risks on the horizon.” In any case, today's action is a continuation of the best day in two months for both the Dow and the S&P which staged a strong recovery from two-month lows hit earlier in the week, and as of 745am ET, S&P 500 E-minis were up 25.25 points, or 0.6%, Dow E-minis were up 202 points, or 0.59%, while Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 92.0 points, or 0.60%. In the premarket, electric vehicle startup Lucid Group rose 3.1% in U.S. premarket trading. PAVmed (PVM US) jumps 11% after its Lucid Diagnostics unit announced plans to list on the Global Market of the Nasdaq Stock Market.  Here are some of the biggest movers today: U.S.-listed Chinese stocks rise in premarket trading as fears of contagion from China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis ease. Blackberry (BB US) shares rise 8.7% in premarket after co.’s 2Q adjusted revenue beat the average of analysts’ estimates Eargo (EAR US) falls 57% in Thursday premarket after the hearing aid company revealed it was the target of a Justice Department criminal probe and withdrew its forecasts for the year Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition (AMHC US) doubled in U.S. premarket trading after the SPAC’s shareholders approved the previously announced business combination with Jasper Therapeutics Steelcase (SCS US) fell 4.8% Wednesday postmarket after the office products company reported revenue for the second quarter that missed the average analyst estimate Vertex Energy Inc. (VTNR US) gained 2.1% premarket after saying the planned acquisition of a refinery in Mobile, Alabama from Royal DutVTNR US Equitych Shell Plc is on schedule Synlogic (SYBX US) shares declined 9.7% premarket after it launched a stock offering launched without disclosing a size HB Fuller (FUL US) climbed 2.7% in postmarket trading after third quarter sales beat even the highest analyst estimate Europe's Stoxx 600 index rose 0.9%, lifted by carmakers, tech stocks and utilities, which helped it recover losses sparked earlier in the week by concerns about Evergrande and China’s crackdown on its property sector. The gauge held its gain after surveys of purchasing managers showed business activity in the euro area lost momentum and slowed broadly in September after demand peaked over the summer and supply-chain bottlenecks hurt services and manufacturers. Euro Area Composite PMI (September, Flash): 56.1, consensus 58.5, last 59.0. Euro Area Manufacturing PMI (September, Flash): 58.7, consensus 60.3, last 61.4. Euro Area Services PMI (September, Flash): 56.3, consensus 58.5, last 59.0. Germany Composite PMI (September, Flash): 55.3, consensus 59.2, last 60.0. France Composite PMI (September, Flash): 55.1, consensus 55.7, last 55.9. UK Composite PMI (September, Flash): 54.1, consensus 54.6, last 54.8. Commenting on Europe's PMIs, Goldman said that the Euro area composite PMI declined by 2.9pt to 56.1 in September, well below consensus expectations. The softening was broad-based across countries but primarily led by Germany. The peripheral composite flash PMI also weakened significantly in September but remain very high by historical standards (-2.4pt to 57.5). Across sectors, the September composite decline was also broad-based, with manufacturing output softening (-3.3pt to 55.6) to a similar extent as services (-2.7pt to 56.3). Supply-side issues and upward cost and price pressures continued to be widely reported. Expectations of future output growth declined by less than spot output on the back of delta variant worries and supply issues, remaining far above historically average levels. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rose for the first time in four sessions, as Hong Kong helped lead a rally on hopes that troubled property firm China Evergrande Group will make progress on debt repayment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.5%, with Tencent and Meituan providing the biggest boosts. The Hang Seng jumped as much as 2.5%, led by real estate stocks as Evergrande surged more than 30%. Hong Kong shares later pared their gains. Asian markets were also cheered by gains in U.S. stocks overnight even as the Federal Reserve said it may begin scaling back stimulus this year. A $17 billion net liquidity injection from the People’s Bank of China also provided a lift, while the Fed and Bank of Japan downplayed Evergrande risks in comments accompanying policy decisions Wednesday. Evergrande’s stock closed 18% higher in Hong Kong, in a delayed reaction to news a unit of the developer had negotiated interest payments on yuan notes. A coupon payment on its 2022 dollar bond is due on Thursday “Investors are perhaps reassessing the tail risk of a disorderly fallout from Evergrande’s credit issues,” said Chetan Seth, a strategist at Nomura. “However, I am not sure if the fundamental issue around its sustainable deleveraging has been addressed. I suspect markets will likely remain quite volatile until we have some definite direction from authorities on the eventual resolution of Evergrande’s debt problems.” Stocks rose in most markets, with Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and India also among the day’s big winners. South Korea’s benchmark was the lone decliner, while Japan was closed for a holiday In rates, Treasuries were off session lows, with the 10Y trading a 1.34%, but remained under pressure in early U.S. session led by intermediate sectors, where 5Y yield touched highest since July 2. Wednesday’s dramatic yield-curve flattening move unleashed by Fed communications continued, compressing 5s30s spread to 93.8bp, lowest since May 2020. UK 10-year yield climbed 3.4bp to session high 0.833% following BOE rate decision (7-2 vote to keep bond-buying target unchanged); bunds outperformed slightly. Peripheral spreads tighten with long-end Italy outperforming. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index reversed an earlier gain and dropped 0.3% as the dollar weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen amid a more positive sentiment. CAD, NOK and SEK are the strongest performers in G-10, JPY the laggard.  The euro and the pound briefly pared gains after weaker-than-forecast German and British PMIs. The pound rebounded from an eight-month low amid a return of global risk appetite as investors assessed whether the Bank of England will follow the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tone later Thursday. The yield differential between 10-year German and Italian debt narrowed to its tightest since April. Norway’s krone advanced after Norges Bank raised its policy rate in line with expectations and signaled a faster pace of tightening over the coming years. The franc whipsawed as the Swiss National Bank kept its policy rate and deposit rate at record lows, as expected, and reiterated its pledge to wage currency market interventions. The yen fell as a unit of China Evergrande said it had reached an agreement with bond holders over an interest payment, reducing demand for haven assets. Turkey’s lira slumped toa record low against the dollar after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates. In commodities, crude futures drifted lower after a rangebound Asia session. WTI was 0.25% lower, trading near $72; Brent dips into the red, so far holding above $76. Spot gold adds $3.5, gentle reversing Asia’s losses to trade near $1,771/oz. Base metals are well bid with LME aluminum leading gains. Bitcoin steadied just below $44,000. Looking at the day ahead, we get the weekly initial jobless claims, the Chicago Fed’s national activity index for August, and the Kansas City fed’s manufacturing activity index for September. From central banks, there’ll be a monetary policy decision from the Bank of England, while the ECB will be publishing their Economic Bulletin and the ECB’s Elderson will also speak. From emerging markets, there’ll also be monetary policy decisions from the Central Bank of Turkey and the South African Reserve Bank. Finally in Germany, there’s an election debate with the lead candidates from the Bundestag parties. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,413.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.1% to 468.32 MXAP up 0.5% to 200.57 MXAPJ up 0.9% to 645.76 Nikkei down 0.7% to 29,639.40 Topix down 1.0% to 2,043.55 Hang Seng Index up 1.2% to 24,510.98 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,642.22 Sensex up 1.4% to 59,728.37 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.0% to 7,370.22 Kospi down 0.4% to 3,127.58 German 10Y yield fell 5.6 bps to -0.306% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1728 Brent Futures up 0.3% to $76.39/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,768.25 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 93.16 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Financial regulators in Beijing issued a broad set of instructions to China Evergrande Group, telling the embattled developer to focus on completing unfinished properties and repaying individual investors while avoiding a near-term default on dollar bonds China’s central bank net-injected the most short- term liquidity in eight months into the financial system, with markets roiled by concerns over China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis Europe’s worst energy crisis in decades could drag deep into the cold months as Russia is unlikely to boost shipments until at least November Business activity in the euro area “markedly” lost momentum in September after demand peaked over the summer and supply chain bottlenecks hurt both services and manufacturers. Surveys of purchasing managers by IHS Markit showed growth in both sectors slowing more than expected, bringing overall activity to a five-month low. Input costs, meanwhile, surged to the highest in 21 years, according to the report The U.K. private sector had its weakest month since the height of the winter lockdown and inflation pressures escalated in September, adding to evidence that the recovery is running into significant headwinds, IHS Markit said The U.K.’s record- breaking debut green bond sale has given debt chief Robert Stheeman conviction on the benefits of an environmental borrowing program. The 10 billion-pound ($13.7 billion) deal this week was the biggest-ever ethical bond sale and the country is already planning another offering next month A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquaw Asian equity markets traded mostly positive as the region took its cue from the gains in US with the improved global sentiment spurred by some easing of Evergrande concerns and with stocks also unfazed by the marginally more hawkish than anticipated FOMC announcement (detailed above). ASX 200 (+1.0%) was underpinned by outperformance in the commodity-related sectors and strength in defensives, which have more than atoned for the losses in tech and financials, as well as helped markets overlook the record daily COVID-19 infections in Victoria state. Hang Seng (+0.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.6%) were also positive after another respectable liquidity operation by the PBoC and with some relief in Evergrande shares which saw early gains of more than 30% after recent reports suggested a potential restructuring by China’s government and with the Co. Chairman noting that the top priority is to help wealth investors redeem their products, although the majority of the Evergrande gains were then pared and unit China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle fully retraced the initial double-digit advances. KOSPI (-0.5%) was the laggard as it played catch up to the recent losses on its first trading day of the week and amid concerns that COVID cases could surge following the holiday period, while Japanese markets were closed in observance of the Autumnal Equinox Day. China Pumps $17 Billion Into System Amid Evergrande Concerns China Stocks From Property to Tech Jump on Evergrande Respite Philippines Holds Key Rate to Spur Growth Amid Higher Prices Taiwan’s Trade Deal Application Sets Up Showdown With China Top Asian News European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.9%) trade on the front-foot and have extended gains since the cash open with the Stoxx 600 now higher on the week after Monday’s heavy losses. From a macro perspective, price action in Europe has been undeterred by a slowdown in Eurozone PMIs which saw the composite metric slip to 56.1 from 59.0 (exp. 58.5) with IHS Markit noting “an unwelcome combination of sharply slower economic growth and steeply rising prices.” Instead, stocks in the region have taken the cue from a firmer US and Asia-Pac handover with performance in Chinese markets aided by further liquidity injections by the PBoC. Some positivity has also been observed on the Evergrande front amid mounting expectations of a potential restructuring at the company. That said, at the time of writing, it remains unclear what the company’s intentions are for repaying its USD 83.5mln onshore coupon payment. Note, ING highlights that “missing that payment today would still leave a 30-day grace period before this is registered as a default”. The most recent reports via WSJ indicate that Chinese authorities are asking local governments to begin preparations for the potential downfall of Evergrande; however, the article highlights that this is a last resort and Beijing is reluctant to step in. Nonetheless, this article has taken the shine off the mornings risk appetite, though we do remain firmer on the session. Stateside, as the dust settles on yesterday’s FOMC announcement, futures are firmer with outperformance in the RTY (+0.8% vs. ES +0.7%). Sectors in Europe are higher across the board with outperformance in Tech and Autos with the latter aided by gains in Faurecia (+4.6%) who sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 after making an unsurprising cut to its guidance, which will at least provide some clarity on the Co.’s near-term future; in sympathy, Valeo (+6.6) is also a notable gainer in the region. To the downside, Entain (+2.6%) sit at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after recent strong gains with the latest newsflow surrounding the Co. noting that MGM Resorts is considering different methods to acquire control of the BetMGM online gambling business JV, following the DraftKings offer for Entain, according to sources. The agreement between Entain and MGM gives MGM the ability to block any deal with competing businesses; MGM officials believe this grants the leverage to take full control of BetMGM without spending much. Top European News BOE Confronts Rising Prices, Slower Growth: Decision Guide La Banque Postale Eyes Retail, Asset Management M&A in Europe Activist Bluebell Raises Pressure on Glaxo CEO Walmsley Norway Delivers Rate Lift-Off With Next Hike Set for December In FX, not much bang for the Buck even though the FOMC matched the most hawkish market expectations and Fed chair Powell arguably went further by concluding in the post-meeting press conference that substantial progress on the lagging labour front is all but done. Hence, assuming the economy remains on course, tapering could start as soon as November and be completed my the middle of 2022, though he continued to play down tightening prospects irrespective of the more hawkish trajectory implied by the latest SEP dot plots that are now skewed towards at least one hike next year and a cumulative seven over the forecast horizon. However, the Greenback only managed to grind out marginally higher highs overnight, with the index reaching 93.526 vs 93.517 at best yesterday before retreating quite sharply and quickly to 93.138 in advance of jobless claims and Markit’s flash PMIs. CAD/NZD/AUD - The Loonie is leading the comeback charge in major circles and only partially assisted by WTI keeping a firm bid mostly beyond Usd 72/brl, and Usd/Cad may remain contained within 1.2796-50 ahead of Canadian retail sales given decent option expiry interest nearby and protecting the downside (1 bn between 1.2650-65 and 2.7 bn from 1.2620-00). Meanwhile, the Kiwi has secured a firmer grip on the 0.7000 handle to test 0.7050 pre-NZ trade and the Aussie is looking much more comfortable beyond 0.7250 amidst signs of improvement in the flash PMIs, albeit with the services and composite headline indices still some way short of the 50.0 mark. NOK/GBP/EUR/CHF - All firmer, and the Norwegian Crown outperforming following confirmation of the start of rate normalisation by the Norges Bank that also underscored another 25 bp hike in December and further tightening via a loftier rate path. Eur/Nok encountered some support around 10.1000 for a while, but is now below, while the Pound has rebounded against the Dollar and Euro in the run up to the BoE at midday. Cable is back up around 1.3770 and Eur/Gbp circa 0.8580 as Eur/Usd hovers in the low 1.1700 area eyeing multiple and a couple of huge option expiries (at the 1.1700 strike in 4.1 bn, 1.1730 in 1 bn, 1.1745-55 totalling 2.7 bn and 1.8 bn from 1.1790-1.1800). Note, Eurozone and UK flash PMIs did not live up to their name, but hardly impacted. Elsewhere, the Franc is lagging either side of 0.9250 vs the Buck and 1.0835 against the Euro on the back of a dovish SNB Quarterly Review that retained a high Chf valuation and necessity to maintain NIRP, with only minor change in the ordering of the language surrounding intervention. JPY - The Yen is struggling to keep its head afloat of 110.00 vs the Greenback as Treasury yields rebound and risk sentiment remains bullish pre-Japanese CPI and in thinner trading conditions due to the Autumn Equinox holiday. In commodities, WTI and Brent have been choppy throughout the morning in-spite of the broadly constructive risk appetite. Benchmarks spent much of the morning in proximity to the unchanged mark but the most recent Evergrande developments, via WSJ, have dampened sentiment and sent WTI and Brent back into negative territory for the session and printing incremental fresh lows at the time of publication. Back to crude, newsflow has once again centred around energy ministry commentary with Iraq making clear that oil exports will continue to increase. Elsewhere, gas remains at the forefront of focus particularly in the UK/Europe but developments today have been somewhat incremental. On the subject, Citi writes that Asia and Europe Nat. Gas prices could reach USD 100/MMBtu of USD 580/BOE in the winter, under their tail-risk scenario. For metals, its very much a case of more of the same with base-metals supportive, albeit off-best given Evergrande, after a robust APAC session post-FOMC. Given the gas issues, desks highlight that some companies are being forced to suspend/reduce production of items such as steel in Asian/European markets, a narrative that could become pertinent for broader prices if the situation continues. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are both modestly firmer but remain well within the range of yesterday’s session and are yet to recovery from the pressure seen in wake of the FOMC. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Sept. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 320,000, prior 332,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.6m, prior 2.67m 8:30am: Aug. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.50, prior 0.53 9:45am: Sept. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 55.4 9:45am: Sept. Markit US Services PMI, est. 54.9, prior 55.1 9:45am: Sept. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 61.0, prior 61.1 11am: Sept. Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 25, prior 29 12pm: 2Q US Household Change in Net Wor, prior $5t DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap My wife was at a parents event at school last night so I had to read three lots of bedtime stories just as the Fed were announcing their policy decision. Peppa Pig, Biff and Kipper, and somebody called Wonder Kid were interspersed with Powell’s press conference live on my phone. It’s fair to say the kids weren’t that impressed by the dot plot and just wanted to join them up. The twins (just turned 4) got their first reading book homework this week and it was a bit sad that one of them was deemed ready to have one with words whereas the other one only pictures. The latter was very upset and cried that his brother had words and he didn’t. That should create even more competitive tension! Back to the dots and yesterday’s Fed meeting was on the hawkish side in terms of the dots and also in terms of Powell’s confidence that the taper could be complete by mid-2022. Powell said that the Fed could begin tapering bond purchases as soon as the November FOMC meeting, in line with our US economists’ forecasts. He left some room for uncertainty, saying they would taper only “If the economy continues to progress broadly in line with expectations, and also the overall situation is appropriate for this.” However he made clear that “the timing and pace of the coming reduction in asset purchases will not be intended to carry a direct signal regarding the timing of interest rate liftoff.” The quarterly “dot plot” showed that the 18 FOMC officials were split on whether to start raising rates next year or not. In June, the median dot indicated no rate increases until 2023, but now 6 members see a 25bps raise next year and 3 members see two such hikes. Their inflation forecasts were also revised up and DB’s Matt Luzzetti writes in his FOMC review (link here) that “If inflation is at or below the Fed's current forecast next year of 2.3% core PCE, liftoff is likely to come in 2023, consistent with our view. However, if inflation proves to be higher with inflation expectations continuing to rise, the first rate increase could well migrate into 2022.” Markets took the overall meeting very much in its stride with the biggest impact probably being a yield curve flattening even if US 10yr Treasury yields traded in just over a 4bp range yesterday and finishing -2.2bps lower at 1.301%. The 5y30y curve flattened -6.7bps to 95.6bps, its flattest level since August 2020, while the 2y10y curve was -4.2bps flatter. So the market seems to believe the more hawkish the Fed gets the more likely they’ll control inflation and/or choke the recovery. The puzzle is that even if the dots are correct, real Fed funds should still be negative and very accommodative historically for all of the forecasting period. As such the market has a very dim view of the ability of the economy to withstand rate hikes or alternatively that the QE technicals are overpowering everything at the moment. In equities, the S&P 500 was up nearly +1.0% 15 minutes prior to the Fed, and then rallied a further 0.5% in the immediate aftermath before a late dip look it back to +0.95%. The late dip meant that the S&P still has not seen a 1% up day since July 23. The index’s rise was driven by cyclicals in particular with energy (+3.17%), semiconductors (-2.20%), and banks (+2.13%) leading the way. Asian markets are mostly trading higher this morning with the Hang Seng (+0.69%), Shanghai Comp (+0.58%), ASX (+1.03%) and India’s Nifty (+0.81%) all up. The Kospi (-0.36%) is trading lower though and is still catching up from the early week holidays. Japan’s markets are closed for a holiday today. Futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.25% while those on the Stoxx 50 are up +0.49%. There is no new news on the Evergrande debt crisis however markets participants are likely to pay attention to whether the group is able to make interest rate payment on its 5 year dollar note today after the group had said yesterday that it resolved a domestic bond coupon by negotiations which was also due today. As we highlighted in our CoTD flash poll conducted earlier this week, market participants are not too worried about a wider fallout from the Evergrande crisis and even the Hang Seng Properties index is up +3.93% this morning and is largely back at the levels before the big Monday sell-off of -6.69%. Overnight we have received flash PMIs for Australia which improved as parts of the country have eased the coronavirus restrictions. The services reading came in at 44.9 (vs. 42.9 last month) and the manufacturing print was even stronger at 57.3 (vs. 52.0 last month). Japan’s flash PMIs will be out tomorrow due to today’s holiday. Ahead of the Fed, markets had continued to rebound from their declines earlier in the week, with Europe’s STOXX 600 gaining +0.99% to narrowly put the index in positive territory for the week. This continues the theme of a relative outperformance among European equities compared to the US, with the STOXX 600 having outpaced the S&P 500 for 5 consecutive sessions now, though obviously by a slim margin yesterday. Sovereign bonds in Europe also posted gains, with yields on 10yr bunds (-0.7bps), OATs (-1.0bps) and BTPs (-3.2bps) all moving lower. Furthermore, there was another tightening in peripheral spreads, with the gap in Italian 10yr yields over bunds falling to 98.8bps yesterday, less than half a basis point away from its tightest level since early April. Moving to fiscal and with Democrats seemingly unable to pass the $3.5 trillion Biden budget plan by Monday, when the House is set to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Republican leadership is calling on their members to vote against the bipartisan bill in hopes of delaying the process further. While the there is still a high likelihood the measure will eventually get passed, time is becoming a factor. Congress now has just over a week to get a government funding bill through both chambers of congress as well as raise the debt ceiling by next month. Republicans have told Democrats to do the latter in a partisan manner and include it in the reconciliation process which could mean that a significant portion of the Biden economic agenda – mostly encapsulated in the $3.5 trillion over 10 year budget – may have to be cut down to get the entire Democratic caucus on board. Looking ahead, an event to watch out for today will be the Bank of England’s policy decision at 12:00 London time, where our economists write (link here) that they expect no change in the policy settings. However, they do expect a reaffirmation of the BoE’s updated forward guidance that some tightening will be needed over the next few years to keep inflation in check, even if it’s too early to expect a further hawkish pivot at this stage. Staying on the UK, two further energy suppliers (Avro Energy and Green Supplier) ceased trading yesterday amidst the surge in gas prices, with the two supplying 2.9% of domestic customers between them. We have actually seen a modest fall in European natural gas prices over the last couple of days, with the benchmark future down -4.81% since its close on Monday, although it’s worth noting that still leaves them up +75.90% since the start of August alone. There wasn’t much data to speak of yesterday, though US existing home sales fell to an annualised rate of 5.88 in August (vs. 5.89m expected). Separately, the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for the Euro Area unexpectedly rose to -4.0 in September (vs. -5.9 expected). To the day ahead now, the data highlights include the September flash PMIs from around the world, while in the US there’s the weekly initial jobless claims, the Chicago Fed’s national activity index for August, and the Kansas City fed’s manufacturing activity index for September. From central banks, there’ll be a monetary policy decision from the Bank of England, while the ECB will be publishing their Economic Bulletin and the ECB’s Elderson will also speak. From emerging markets, there’ll also be monetary policy decisions from the Central Bank of Turkey and the South African Reserve Bank. Finally in Germany, there’s an election debate with the lead candidates from the Bundestag parties. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 08:13.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

"Fundamental lack of decency": Boris Johnson criticized for re-hiring minister who repeatedly broke ministerial code

Boris Johnson has appointed George Freeman as science minister, despite the government being told he broke the ministerial code earlier this year. George Freeman. Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images Boris Johnson appointed George Freeman as a minister in his reshuffle last week. Freeman was previously rebuked for twice breaking the Ministerial Code for post-government work. Labour and Lib Dem MPs said Freeman's return shows a lack of integrity in the government. See more stories on Insider's business page. Boris Johnson has been criticized for reappointing a former minister who was found to have broken the ministerial code twice earlier this year.Johnson conducted a government reshuffle last week, making George Freeman MP the science minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.He was previously a minister in the Department for Transport.Freeman was found to have broken the code on two separate occasions by Eric Pickles, chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) which regulates jobs taken up by former ministers.A senior figure in Johnson's government had previously noted that Freeman's disregard for ministerial rules could harm his employment prospects - but it was not enough to prevent Johnson giving him a new role.Opposition MPs criticised the move.Sarah Olney MP, a Liberal Democrat, told Insider that "it really is not acceptable that once again we're witnessing ministers act in complete defiance of measures which have been introduced to improve transparency and accountability."The Prime Minister's appointment of Freeman, who began this sorry affair by incredulously demanding an apology for himself, underlines the fundamental lack of decency and integrity that runs through the heart of this Conservative government."Anneliese Dodds MP, Chair of the Labour Party, told Insider: "This is yet another example of Boris Johnson treating the ministerial code with contempt and more evidence that the current system for regulating lobbying and standards in public life is totally unfit for purpose."There cannot be one rule for senior Conservatives and another rule for everyone else."Freeman lost his job as a transport minister in a February 2020 reshuffle, starting a two-year period in which he was required to consult ACOBA before taking up any new roles.In April 2021, Pickles wrote to the Cabinet Office noting Freeman's failures to do so:Freeman earned £2,500 working for Aerosol Shield, a firm trying to sell PPE to the NHS, in June and July 2020.After Pickles wrote to Freeman saying he had breached the Ministerial Code, Freeman claimed ACOBA had made a "serious error", appealed the finding, and demanded an apology. Pickles did not apologize, but Freeman later did.Freeman organised a £20,000-a-year consultancy contract with Ryse Hydrogen, openDemocracy reported. He then cancelled the work and refunded the company after realising he first needed ACOBA's approval before taking the role.Freeman had unpaid roles with the Resume Foundation, Reform for Resilience, and Haemcro.Freeman apologised for his various breaches.Lord Nicholas True, a Cabinet Office minister, responded to Pickles in May, suggesting that there would be consequences for Freeman in future.True agreed that Freeman had breached the Government's Business Appointment Rules. Following the Business Appointment Rules is a requirement of the Ministerial Code. "The public recognition that Mr Freeman did not adhere to the rules means that current and future employers, as well as the public can take this into account", he wrote.Freeman told Insider: "The Cabinet Office have accepted my apology that I had understood ACOBA's remit only covered commercial roles (not my not-for-profit projects) and appointments related to a Minister's previous job post (not my previous career in technology)."Indeed Lord True made clear my case showed why ACOBA Guidance needed amending."True wrote that the Cabinet Office and ACOBA were assessing "whether a lighter touch regime is appropriate for unpaid, voluntary roles with not-for-profit organisations".Downing Street declined to comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021

BlackBerry Reports Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2022 Results

Revenue exceeds expectations and Company adds deep cybersecurity industry experience to drive growth - Total company revenue of $175 million. - IoT revenue of $40 million. - Cyber Security revenue of $120 million. - Licensing & Other revenue of $15 million. - Positive operating cash flow of $12 million. - Non-GAAP loss per basic and diluted share of $0.06; GAAP loss per basic and diluted share of $0.25. A non-cash accounting adjustment to the fair value of the convertible debentures, as a result of market and trading conditions, accounts for approximately $0.12 of GAAP loss per share. WATERLOO, ON, Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BlackBerry Limited (NYSE:BB, TSX:BB) today reported financial results for the three months ended August 31, 2021 (all figures in U.S. dollars and U.S. GAAP, except where otherwise indicated). "Revenue for all businesses beat expectations this quarter.  The Cyber Security business unit delivered robust sequential billings and revenue growth and the IoT business unit performed well in the face of global chip shortage pressures," said John Chen, Executive Chairman & CEO, BlackBerry. "We are already seeing benefits from establishing the two key business units and are delighted to appoint John Giamatteo as President of Cyber Security.  Giamatteo, who was previously President and Chief Revenue Officer at McAfee, adds leading industry expertise. In IoT, design activity for our QNX products remains very strong, demonstrating both our industry leadership position and secular trends, such as ECU consolidation. In Cyber Security we received strong third-party validation of the effectiveness of our AI-driven, prevention-first suite of products, illustrating progress made with recent product launches." Second Quarter Fiscal 2022 Financial Highlights Total company revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $175 million. Total company non-GAAP gross margin was 65% and GAAP gross margin was 64%. IoT revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $40 million, with gross margin of 83% and ARR of $89 million. Cyber Security revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $120 million, with gross margin of 59% and ARR of $364 million. Licensing and Other revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $15 million as negotiations for the sale of a portion of the patent portfolio continue. Gross margin was 60%. Non-GAAP operating loss was $30 million. GAAP operating loss was $141 million, primarily due to a non-cash accounting adjustment to the fair value of the convertible debentures, resulting from market and trading conditions, of $67 million. Non-GAAP loss per share was $0.06 (basic and diluted). GAAP loss per share was $0.25 (basic and diluted). Total cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments were $772 million. Net cash generated from operating activities was $12 million. Business Highlights & Strategic Announcements BlackBerry has design wins with 24 of the world's leading 25 Electric Vehicle (EV) automakers. This has increased from 23 of the top 25 last quarter following an EV win with Daimler. BlackBerry IVY™ to deliver highly secure vehicle-based payments, leveraging direct access to vehicle sensor data and edge processing to create a "digital fingerprint". Delivered through a partnership with Car IQ. Nobo Technologies selects BlackBerry QNX® Neutrino® as foundation for new Digital Cockpit Controller for Great Wall Motors' Haval G6S SUV. Great Wall Motors is China's largest producer of SUV vehicles. sTraffic, Korea's leading solution developer for transportation infrastructure systems, selects QNX® OS for Safety as the foundation for their train traffic management system that includes unmanned train operations. BlackBerry launches BlackBerry® Jarvis 2.0® composition analysis tool. Delivered as a more user-friendly SaaS offering, Jarvis 2.0 empowers OEMs to validate and ensure the quality of their multi-tiered software bill of materials. BlackBerry awarded highest AAA rating by SE Labs in breach test of BlackBerry® Protect (EPP) and BlackBerry® Optics (EDR). The breach test adopted a range of real-world hacker tactics and BlackBerry's AI-driven products delivered complete prevention and detection with zero false positives. BlackBerry® UEM integrates with Microsoft 365, delivering BlackBerry's industry-leading security to Microsoft's productivity products. BlackBerry® AtHoc® critical event management platform used as foundation for autonomous flood risk and clean water monitoring solution. BlackBerry updates SecuSUITE capabilities to protect group phone calls and messages for governments and businesses from high risk eavesdropping. Appointment of New Cyber Security Business Unit PresidentBlackBerry has appointed John Giamatteo as President of the Cyber Security business unit.  With this strategic hire the company adds significant industry experience. Giamatteo will join the company on October 4th and report to Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen.  He will be responsible for business unit strategy, engineering, and go-to-market. Giamatteo brings to BlackBerry over 30 years of experience with technology companies. Most recently he served as President and Chief Revenue Officer of McAfee, where he was responsible for sales, marketing, and customer success.  During his time with McAfee, he delivered strong double-digit growth across its Enterprise, SMB and Consumer businesses as well as significant margin expansion across the portfolio.  Prior to that he served as Chief Operating Officer at AVG Technologies, a leading provider of Internet and mobile security. Giamatteo also held leadership positions with Solera Holdings, RealNetworks, Inc. and Nortel Network Corporation. "I'm excited to be joining BlackBerry and to be leading the Cyber Security business unit.  Never has the threat of cyberattacks been higher, nor more in the minds of management," said Giamatteo. "BlackBerry's AI-driven, prevention-first technology is well placed to scale to meet the constantly evolving cybersecurity needs of companies everywhere.  I'm very positive about the opportunities that we have as a company." Tom Eacobacci, BlackBerry's President and COO, has decided to pursue other opportunities and will leave the Company on October 29th.  BlackBerry thanks Tom for his hard work and contributions in his time at the Company. OutlookBlackBerry will provide fiscal year 2022 outlook in connection with the quarterly earnings announcement on its earnings conference call. The earnings call transcript will be made available on our website and on SEDAR. Use of Non-GAAP Financial MeasuresThe tables at the end of this press release include a reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures used by the company to comparable U.S. GAAP measures and an explanation of why the company uses them. Conference Call and WebcastA conference call and live webcast will be held today beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET, which can be accessed by dialing +1 (877) 682-6267 or by logging on at BlackBerry.com/Investors. A replay of the conference call will also be available at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET by dialing +1 (800) 585-8367 and entering Conference ID #6149337 and at the link above. About BlackBerryBlackBerry (NYSE:BB, TSX:BB) provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world. The company secures more than 500M endpoints including more than 195M vehicles.  Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company leverages AI and machine learning to deliver innovative solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, safety and data privacy, and is a leader in the areas of endpoint security, endpoint management, encryption, and embedded systems.  BlackBerry's vision is clear - to secure a connected future you can trust. BlackBerry. Intelligent Security. Everywhere.  For more information, visit BlackBerry.com and follow @BlackBerry.   Investor Contact:BlackBerry Investor Relations+1 (519) 888-7465investor_relations@blackberry.com Media Contact:BlackBerry Media Relations+1 (519) 597-7273mediarelations@blackberry.com This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of certain securities laws, including under the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws, including statements regarding BlackBerry's plans, strategies and objectives including its expectations with respect to increasing and enhancing its product and service offerings.  The words "expect", "anticipate", "estimate", "may", "will", "should", "could", "intend", "believe", "target", "plan" and similar expressions are intended to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by BlackBerry in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that BlackBerry believes are appropriate in the circumstances, including but not limited to, BlackBerry's expectations regarding its business, strategy, opportunities and prospects, the launch of new products and services, general economic conditions, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, competition, and BlackBerry's expectations regarding its financial performance.  Many factors could cause BlackBerry's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, risks related to the following factors: BlackBerry's ability to enhance, develop, introduce or monetize products and services for the enterprise market in a timely manner with competitive pricing, features and performance; BlackBerry's ability to maintain or expand its customer base for its software and services offerings to grow revenue or achieve sustained profitability; the intense competition faced by BlackBerry; the occurrence or perception of a breach of BlackBerry's network cybersecurity measures, or an inappropriate disclosure of confidential or personal information; the failure or perceived failure of BlackBerry's solutions to detect or prevent security vulnerabilities; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; BlackBerry's continuing ability to attract new personnel, retain existing key personnel and manage its staffing effectively; BlackBerry's dependence on its relationships with resellers and channel partners; litigation against BlackBerry; network disruptions or other business interruptions; BlackBerry's ability to foster an ecosystem of third-party application developers; BlackBerry's products and services being dependent upon interoperability with rapidly changing systems provided by third parties; BlackBerry's ability to obtain rights to use third-party software and its use of open source software; failure to protect BlackBerry's intellectual property and to earn expected revenues from intellectual property rights; BlackBerry being found to have infringed on the intellectual property rights of others;  the substantial asset risk faced by BlackBerry, including the potential for charges related to its long-lived assets and goodwill; BlackBerry's indebtedness; tax provision changes, the adoption of new tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities; the use and management of user data and personal information; government regulations applicable to BlackBerry's products and services, including products containing encryption capabilities; the failure of BlackBerry's suppliers, subcontractors, channel partners and representatives to use acceptable ethical business practices or comply with applicable laws; regulations regarding health and safety, hazardous materials usage and conflict minerals; acquisitions, divestitures and other business initiatives; foreign operations, including fluctuations in foreign currencies; the fluctuation of BlackBerry's quarterly revenue and operating results; the volatility of the market price of BlackBerry's common shares; adverse economic, geopolitical and environmental conditions. These risk factors and others relating to BlackBerry are discussed in greater detail in BlackBerry's Annual Report on Form    10-K and the "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" section of BlackBerry's MD&A (copies of which filings may be obtained at www.sedar.com or www.sec.gov). All of these factors should be considered carefully, and readers should not place undue reliance on BlackBerry's forward-looking statements. Any statements that are forward-looking statements are intended to enable BlackBerry's shareholders to view the anticipated performance and prospects of BlackBerry from management's perspective at the time such statements are made, and they are subject to the risks that are inherent in all forward-looking statements, as described above, as well as difficulties in forecasting BlackBerry's financial results and performance for future periods, particularly over longer periods, given changes in technology and BlackBerry's business strategy, evolving industry standards, intense competition and short product life cycles that characterize the industries in which BlackBerry operates. BlackBerry has no intention and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.   BlackBerry Limited Incorporated under the Laws of Ontario (United States dollars, in millions except share and per share amounts) (unaudited) Consolidated Statements of Operations  Three Months Ended Six Months Ended August 31, 2021 May 31, 2021 August 31,2020 August 31, 2021 August 31, 2020 Revenue $ 175 $ 174 $ 259 $ 349 $ 465 Cost of sales 63 60 60 123 123 Gross margin 112 114 199 226 342 Gross margin % 64.0 % 65.5 % 76.8 % 64.8 % 73.5 % Operating expenses Research and development 58 57 57 115 114 Selling, marketing and administration 83 73 79 156 169 Amortization 45 46 46 91 92 Impairment of goodwill — — — — 594 Impairment of long-lived assets — — 21 — 21 Debentures fair value adjustment 67 (4) 18 63 19 253 172 221 425 1,009 Operating loss (141) (58) (22) (199) (667) Investment loss, net (1) (2) (5) (3) (5) Loss before income taxes (142) (60) (27) (202) (672) Provision for (recovery of) income taxes 2 2 (4) 4 (13) Net loss $ (144) $ (62) $ (23) $ (206) $ (659) Loss per share Basic $ (0.25) $ (0.11) $ (0.04) $ (0.36) $ (1.18) Diluted $ (0.25) $ (0.11) $ (0.04) $ (0.36) $ (1.18) Weighted-average number of common shares outstanding (000s) Basic 568,082 567,358 558,882 567,724 558,365 Diluted 568,082 567,358 558,882 567,724 558,365 Total common shares outstanding (000s) 566,995 566,248 556,468 566,995 556,468   BlackBerry Limited Incorporated under the Laws of Ontario (United States dollars, in millions) (unaudited) Consolidated Balance Sheets As at August 31, 2021 February 28, 2021 Assets Current Cash and cash equivalents $ 291 $ 214 Short-term investments 416 525 Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $9 and $10, respectively 121 182 Other receivables 23 25 Income taxes receivable 9 10 Other current assets 50 50 910 1,006 Restricted cash equivalents and restricted short-term investments 27 28 Long-term investments 38 37 Other long-term assets 13 16 Operating lease right-of-use assets, net 57 63 Property, plant and equipment, net 44.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 22nd, 2021

Facebook CTO To Step Down After 13 Years

Facebook CTO To Step Down After 13 Years Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, the man who oversees the the social giant's work in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the blockchain, will step down next year after 13 years with the company; he will be replaced by longtime Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, will take over as CTO, Bloomberg reported citing an internal message on Wednesday from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg Schroepfer’s move - which comes on a day Facebook shares tumbled after the company warned Apple's privacy changes will have a bigger Q3 impact than it previously disclosed - marks the most significant departure from the company in years and follows the recent exits of several other top executives. Schroepfer joined Facebook in 2008 and has been CTO since 2013, reporting directly to Zuckerberg. He sits atop many of Facebook’s most ambitious organizations -- including groups that the social network is depending on for future growth - such as engineering, infrastructure, augmented reality and VR, and the blockchain and finance unit. His desk sits next to Zuckerberg’s and operating chief Sheryl Sandberg’s at Facebook headquarters. Schroepfer’s most central role has been his oversight of Facebook’s AI organization, which he helped build. That group develops the technology Facebook uses to automatically find and remove content that violates its policies, like nudity, hate speech and graphic violence. According to Bloomberg, Schroepfer, 46, will continue to advise the company in a new part-time “senior fellow” role, helping with recruiting technical talent and developing the company’s artificial intelligence initiatives.  “This new position will also create more space for me to dedicate time to my family and my personal philanthropic efforts while staying deeply connected to the company,” Schroepfer wrote in an internal post. “Boz will continue leading Facebook Reality Labs and overseeing our work in augmented reality, virtual reality and more, and as part of this transition a few other groups will join Facebook Reality Labs over the next year as well,” Zuckerberg wrote to employees. Before joining Facebook, Schroepfer worked for web browser maker Mozilla. A Stanford University graduate, he has become one of the most visible Facebook executives, often speaking at events and at Facebook’s own annual developer conference. He represented the social network at a hearing before the U.K. Parliament to discuss the company’s Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal in 2018. He cuts a high profile internally as well, frequently appearing at companywide meetings, and is the executive sponsor for the internal “Women@ Facebook” employee group. Schroepger's departure is the latest in a series of veteran executives leaving the company in recent months. Fidji Simo, the head of the company’s flagship social networking app, left in July to become CEO at Instacart Inc., and was joined there shortly after by Carolyn Everson, who was a Facebook vice president running its global business relationships with advertisers. Both women were at Facebook for more than 10 years. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 16:39.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

Tim Cook on the ‘Basic Human Right’ of Privacy and the Technology That Excites Him the Most

While Apple continues to reach new heights, the past year hasn’t been an easy one for the world’s most valuable company (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.)   This week’s interview was conducted by John Simons, Executive Editor at TIME.   Can you imagine people were worried about this guy? Prior to taking over officially as CEO of Apple from co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Tim Cook was known in tech circles as a quiet tactician, skilled at driving operational efficiency. But at the time, many pundits worried that Cook wouldn’t be able match his predecessor’s charisma and carnival-barker showmanship. Those doubts have faded with every new height the company hit, and Apple’s investors certainly have few complaints. Their shares have ballooned more than 1,000% since Cook took over, and the iPhone maker surpassed oil giant Saudi Aramco this year to become the world’s most valuable company. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Still, Cook insists it’s not just about the numbers. In an interview with TIME, he said that it’s important for Apple to lead not only in innovation, but also in efforts to make the world a safer, more equitable place. The past year hasn’t been an easy one for the world’s most valuable company. In September alone, critics knocked Apple’s recently revealed iPhone 13 for being too iterative, a federal judge ordered the company to substantially change its App Store as part of an antitrust lawsuit brought by Fortnite maker Epic Games, and it delayed software aimed at fighting child pornography after privacy experts raised concerns about the company’s plan to scan users’ iCloud accounts for illegal content. Cook played a starring role in App Store courtroom proceedings, defending the company on the witness stand, in part by arguing that Apple excludes rival app stores from the iPhone not to garner additional revenue, but to ensure user security. “We’re not thinking about the money at all, we’re thinking about the user,” he told the judge in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom in May. Those words—“…not thinking about the money”—would surely illicit groans and eye-rolls coming from any other millionaire CEO, but uttered by Cook, with a good dose of serene Southern charm, they have potential to melt anyone’s icy skepticism. In our 2021 TIME100 issue, Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike, confirms that the Cook we see in public is the same man behind boardroom doors. Knight praises Cook’s wisdom and good judgement, writing: “What separates the good from the great are intangibles such as character, compassion, courage—adjectives that apply to Tim.” Those qualities helped Cook earn the honor of being selected as a 2021 TIME100 honoree—and they were all on display when I spoke with Cook recently about his thoughts on leadership, corporate values and the tech that really excites him. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.   Subscribe to The Leadership Brief by clicking here. You just hit a big milestone recently, a decade as chief executive. Have you changed the way you manage in that time? Have you learned anything new in your role as CEO? Maybe the top thing I’ve learned is that, I still have so much more to learn. I learned very quickly to remember that I had two ears and only one mouth, and to listen very carefully to people that I’m surrounding myself with, because I have some of the best and brightest people around me. And they’re smarter than I am. And we’re able to solve some really big issues and big problems by working together. The pandemic itself in this last 18 months, has taught me that we’re not always in control of our destiny. We have to adapt and be flexible and agile, and move and learn very quickly. If you were to have told me 18 months ago, that we would still be sitting here today, I would never have guessed all the things we did accomplish over that course of time. It’s become very popular among CEOs to talk about something called stakeholder capitalism–companies committing to doing better by their workers, by their customers and by the environment. Apple has been talking about these issues for a long time. Do you think it’s important now, for companies and for business leaders, to be upfront about where they stand on political and social issues? Our values are infused deeply into the company. And so, as you point out, we’ve been talking about the environment for decades. Our goals have changed, and the activities have changed around those. They’ve gotten much bolder. But we’ve always cared deeply about the environment. We’ve always cared deeply about workers. We’ve set the highest standards for workers in our supply chain, of anybody in the industry. We’ve always cared deeply about our employees. They’re my most important constituency. We’re in a period of time where some of the biggest problems of the world, like climate change as just one example, this is not going to get solved solely by government. This needs other constituencies and other stakeholders to move in the same direction and have public/private partnerships. Diversity and inclusion, racial equity and injustice, these are all things that we need the whole of society moving forward on. And so, I think it’s more important than ever. I think more people expect it today as well, and I applaud that. I’m glad that our customers are expecting it, our employees are expecting it. And I see that happening across the industry and in many other industries. And I think it’s great for society in general. How do you ensure that Apple is at the forefront of the latest ideas in those areas and stays part of the public conversation? We pride ourselves in innovation. We’re always challenging ourselves to up our ante in environment, as just one example. If you look at[…]our journey on environment, we started with eliminating toxics. Years later, we ran our company on 100% renewable energy, being carbon neutral as a company. And now we’ve set a much bolder objective by 2030, to have our entire carbon footprint go away. This is not only the part within our company which we control today, but also our supply chain, and also our product usage at our customers. This is an incredibly bold objective. And we evolve and set these more bold and ambitious objectives, as time goes on. Why do you feel like it’s important for Apple to remain a part of the public conversation around issues of equity, the environment and so on? Is it important for the business? Is it important for just the general image of the company? It’s nothing to do with image and so forth. It’s about, we’re a collection of people in Apple that want to change the world for the better. We want to leave the world better than we found it. And to do that, you have to be a part of the conversation in areas where the policies of government intersect with your values. Racial equity and justice is a part of that. Diversity and inclusion is a part of that. Environment is a part of that. Supplier responsibility, is a part of that. All of these things are key, in terms of the way that we present ourselves. And probably more importantly, we can be a ripple in the pond on these things. So, we can create a change that is much broader than any of us could individually do ourselves. If we stop changing the world or are stopped trying to put our ding in the universe, so to speak, I don’t think people would want to work here anymore. Where do you think your personal comfort level with espousing these issues comes from? This is not something you learned in business school. Yeah. You’re exactly right. There was no course on this, at least, at the time I was in business school. I’m not sure I can totally answer your question, but I think it’s rooted in the way I was brought up. In what I saw going on at the time I was being brought up. Martin Luther King was killed in 1968. I was 8 years old at the time. There were all kinds of racial equity and justice issues in the environment at that time. As I got older and understood the environmental issues, you don’t have to look beyond yesterday or the day before to see the latest storms and the latest floods and the devastation that it’s causing. And it’s causing it disproportionately to people in need. So, I think all of these things. And of course, my background as a gay American, as well, has a lot to do with that. You learn to speak up about these things. Let’s jump to a bit of technology talk. Apple recently made privacy a big part of the sales proposition for buying the company’s products. Why is this an important push—and should we expect to see more, along these lines? Well, we believe privacy is a basic human right. It starts with that. And we believe that privacy is one of the most consequential issues of our time. I mean, it’s right up there, near the top of the list of things. And we see every day, people’s privacy being taken for granted, and them losing control. And we’re all about giving the user transparency and control. We’ve come out with so many different features over time. This year we came out with application tracking transparency. Where, if apps want to track you across apps, they have to get your permission. It sounds really simple, but it’s pretty profound in terms of how the internet actually works. We came out with a privacy “nutrition label” for the app store, where an app has to describe what information they’re collecting and why they’re collecting it. Again, it sounds simple, but it’s a profound change. We’re working for the user. It’s not about a marketing slogan or a way to sell things. It’s a core value of ours. Beyond Apple, just looking out there on the technology landscape, what excites you about innovations that you’re seeing today? I get really jazzed about AI. AI today is in a number of products that you don’t really think about. If you just take, from us, from the way that we’re recognizing your face, to your fingerprint. The way that we’re grouping photos together, the way that Siri works. I mean, AI is everywhere. And I see that we’re at the very early stages of what it can do for people and how it can make people’s lives easier. I am really stoked about [augmented reality], and what AR can bring. And the overlay of the virtual world with the real world. But in a way that is not distracting from the physical world and your physical relationships. But enhancing your relationships, enhancing your collaboration. Is that what some people are calling the metaverse? There’s clearly different words out there; I’ll stay away from the buzzwords. We just call it augmented reality. But I am super excited about these things. I believe that technology can do so much good in the world. And of course it depends on the creator, and whether they thought through the ways it can be used and misused. But mainly, I am so optimistic about all the things that can happen in our lives that free up time for more leisure activities and other things that we want to do in life.   Subscribe to The Leadership Brief by clicking here......»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 21st, 2021

These Children Are U.S. Citizens. They Need Help, But They Can’t Get the Child Tax Credit

Ivan, just 6 months old, bounces in his baby rocker as a Spanish-language cartoon plays on TV. The living room is small but full, dominated by a tree branch with plastic red blossoms that Ivan’s mother, Sara, made. She asks her 9-year-old daughter, Luz, to leave the room. She’s about to explain something she doesn’t… Ivan, just 6 months old, bounces in his baby rocker as a Spanish-language cartoon plays on TV. The living room is small but full, dominated by a tree branch with plastic red blossoms that Ivan’s mother, Sara, made. She asks her 9-year-old daughter, Luz, to leave the room. She’s about to explain something she doesn’t want her daughter to ever think about again: the event that set off a chain of other events that led to them ending up in southwest Detroit with no money, no way to get around and no identification papers. Without those papers Ivan can’t qualify for any of the assistance the U.S. government provides for its citizens, because they can’t prove he—or they—exist. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Sara, 27, and her daughter came to the U.S. from the Michoacán region of Mexico, under the asylum program. The father of her daughter, she says, had started selling and using drugs, and one night beat her while their daughter was in the home. They escaped to her relatives’ home, but her husband, concerned that she would report him to the police, monitored her every move. “I just stepped out of the house and he was there,” she says, in Spanish. “So I couldn’t do anything.” Fearing she was endangering her family if she stayed, she fled to the Arizona border, where she was granted provisional asylum, had her passport and all her identification papers taken, was put in an ankle monitoring bracelet and sent to live with a cousin in Chicago. (TIME has agreed to use only the first names of the women in this story, to protect their safety.) In order to get a Mexican passport for her daughter, to complete the asylum requirements, Sara needed a signature from the girl’s father. When she tried to obtain that in 2019, she discovered he had been murdered. She was told by her state-supplied immigration lawyer that with her husband’s demise, she was no longer in danger, and therefore her asylum case was closed and she needed to return to Mexico. Sara says her family warned her, however, that her husband’s brothers had been killed too, along with one of their wives, and his sisters were now seeking asylum. She cut off her ankle bracelet and fled from Chicago to Michigan with a new boyfriend, also Mexican, also in the U.S. without documents. (TIME has confirmed her account with relatives in Mexico.) A year or so afterwards, they had a son. Read More: As Many Americans Get COVID-19 Vaccines and Financial Support, Undocumented Immigrants Keep Falling Through the Cracks For the last three months, millions of U.S. families have gotten a payment of up to $300 for each child in their home from the Internal Revenue Service. There will be one each month until the end of 2021. They are advance tax credits, part of a new program by the Biden Administration touted as the boldest attempt in decades to try to help impoverished families, especially those for whom the pandemic had taken a very harsh toll. Every American citizen child qualifies for this benefit, even those from what is called “mixed status” families—those with some undocumented members. This is a reflection of the twin beliefs that (a) vulnerable children should be helped, no matter their circumstances and (b) that raising children out of grinding poverty is good for the long term economic growth of any country. Children are also the mostly likely age of American to be in poverty. A new Census Bureau report found that 44% of American children experienced at least two consecutive months of poverty between 2013 and 2016, even before the pandemic. Almost immediately after the first payments landed, the US Census Bureau’s monthly Pulse survey detected a drop in “food insufficiency”—the fancy term for people not having enough to eat—and in its measurement of people finding it hard to pay their weekly bills. Instead of 11% of kids going hungry, only 8% were. The improvement was only evident in homes with children, which means that the CTC payments were likely the cause. “There’s been no other social program that has reached this many families this quickly in the history of the country,” says Luke Shaefer, a professor of Social Work and the Director of the Poverty Solutions Center at the University of Michigan, and the co-author, with Kathryn Edin, of the seminal work on American poverty, $2 a Day. In 2018, the two of them, with other scholars, co-authored a paper recommending monthly cash payments, which is seen as one of the bases for the current administration’s program. Because Ivan was born in the U.S., his family qualifies for the credit, money that would help them find their footing, and move out of the unstable financial situation in which they live. But they didn’t get it. They are just one example of an extremely vulnerable household that has not been reached by the new program. The reasons are not novel. An analysis by the Urban Institute in 2019 found that a quarter of people living in poverty do not receive support from any government program. Welfare programs have always suffered from “last mile” issues: a legion of obstructions between the funds available and the families who need them. In many ways, the distribution of the CTC is offering an object lesson in the obstacles America faces when helping its poorest citizens. Cutting child poverty, for some In order to survive, Sara and families like hers live in a kind of nether world of informal economies and networks. Apart from her daughter’s bilingual public school, the household has almost zero contact with any institutions, government or otherwise. It’s necessary for them to be as invisible as possible to the authorities. Ivan’s dad is ferried to and from work with other laborers in a bus. He is paid in cash. They have a car but cannot drive anywhere because they do not have regulation license plates, and cannot afford to be pulled over. Sara’s biggest nightmare is being separated from either of her children; the American one, who is legally allowed to abide in the U.S. whatever happens to his mother, or the Mexican one, who might be separated from her, were Sara to be detained. It’s not like they don’t pay any taxes: many undocumented workers do. Magdalena, who lives in the Bronx, New York, has paid tax at her job in a grocery store for years. She has four children aged from 2 to 15, all born in New York City, after she escaped across the border 17 years ago. Her children need school uniforms and books, but she can’t afford those as well as the rent on her wages now that she is working part-time because her childcare was very limited during the pandemic. She can barely even cover the childcare she has. The CTC would pay her family $1100 a month, but she cannot figure out how to get it. “What we’re doing so far is not perfect,” says Shaefer. “There are people who are being left out.” Because it’s a tax credit, the money is sent to people who have filed taxes, and it has taken a little while for that news to filter out and for people to get their paperwork in order. “The second problem stems from residential complexity and bank account instability that are common among low-income people,” he says. Families who have recently moved to a shelter or started doubling up with other family members, or those whose bank balance went into arrears or were overwhelmed with bank fees might find that the money has been directed to an old address or closed bank account. “That’s something,” says Shaefer, “That is still going to require a lot of work.” Read More: 6 Ways To Use the Child Tax Credit Payments, According to the Experts (Who Are Also Parents) Some critics note that the methods the government is using to distribute funds are long overdue for an update. “It’s just a generation after generation after generation of doing aid through the same large not very nuanced poverty administration systems,” says Tyler Hall, director of communications at GiveDirectly, a non profit that helps donors give simple cash to people in need. Because the administration opted to give the money via the IRS, a large amount of money was sent out widely and very quickly, but not necessarily very accurately. “Prioritizing operational considerations and ease of access stymies a number of the administration’s best ideas,” says Hall. Before the first payment, the government set up a website for folks who had never paid tax so they could still claim the money. But it was loaded with bureaucratic language and not mobile friendly, even though phones are much more widespread in low income communities than computers. As the second payment rolled around, the administration, with the help of Code For America, set up a different website, which is due to go live in “the next few weeks,” according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Critics also claim the credits were poorly advertised, utilizing services like Twitter and eschewing old school methods like radio advertisements and mailers, which tend to be where those whose lives are more precarious get their information. And Rosario Alzayadi, a fieldworker with the Detroit agency Starfish, says once she finds these stricken families, it takes a while to build their trust. “When we go to the homes, we kind of see what’s going on,” she says. “But sometimes it takes us a long time to know the family needs.” Many of her clients were unaware they are eligible for reduced-cost internet access, for example, or that even if they’re undocumented, they can still file taxes, and thus become eligible for benefits for their American born children, among others. “Unfortunately,” notes Hall, “the vulnerable will always be the hardest to reach.” Families need more time, experts say Until the pandemic, Sara worked in light construction, but now she stays home. The couple has bought one of Detroit’s many derelict homes, which can cost just a few thousand dollars, and are renovating it themselves. A social worker who is trying to help Sara’s American-born son qualify for the CTC through his father, is gamely dealing with a legion of setbacks. His Mexican passport has expired, the nearest consulate moved from downtown Detroit to Madison Heights, a three hour round trip by public transit. If he can get an appointment (consulates are backed up), and figure out how to travel there (the social worker says she is asking one of her siblings to drive them), get a day off work (his job offers none), and get enough forms of ID to qualify for a passport, it’s possible he can also get a ITIN, a taxpayer number. If he can then wade through enough forms to file a tax return, and get his son’s American birth certificate, Ivan may eventually qualify for some federal help. That’s if the program lasts beyond the end of the year. Read More: Americans Need Recurring Stimulus Checks Until the Pandemic Is Over In some ways Sara is among the lucky ones. He family unit is stable. She dreams of being an interior designer and cabinet maker. Maria, another mother in Michigan with three American-born children under 5, cannot afford those dreams. She and her children’s father do not live together, but he currently pays the rent. Even if all the obstacles to getting the CTC could be overcome, it’s not clear who would get the money. Maria, 26, who first came to the U.S. with her mother to escape the violence of her father, she says, has no work and is reluctant to search for any, because she has no childcare or transport. So she stays home all day, venturing out only occasionally to take the children on the long walk to the nearest grocery store for food, and worries about her elderly mother, who returned to Mexico after her father died and whose health is frail. Despite the program’s shortcomings, Shaefer, the poverty researcher, sees the advanced CTC as a profoundly important development. “I’m just incredibly excited that we have the scaffolding in place, that I think we can continue to improve,” he says. “It’s unprecedented in history that we would have a program that went out to this many families. And the initial evidence is really strong that it’s working in the ways that we think it should be working.” One side benefit Shaefer and other researchers were hoping for is that more families would come out of the shadows, so that they could be reached by social service agencies. The lure of free money is pretty strong, and Sara and other families seem committed to figuring out how to get themselves documented. The IRS is not allowed to share information on the families with other government agencies, whether it’s ICE or Medicaid, but activists hope that the interaction will help them gain some trust in government institutions. Alzayadi, the social worker, says she was inspired to work undocumented families, because as a young mother of four, a home visitor found her, encouraged her to put her situation to rights and showed her the steps she needed to take to get help. In an encouraging sign, a larger number of families applied for and received the August payment than the 35 million who got July payment. One of the unanticipated side effects of the CTC payments might be that it may entice those who have been difficult for social services to reach and the safety net to catch, to finally reach out for some help. —with reporting by Pablo Muñoz-Hernandez.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 21st, 2021

Cracker Barrel Reports Fourth Quarter And Full Year Fiscal 2021 Results And Declares Quarterly Dividend

LEBANON, Tenn., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. ("Cracker Barrel" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: CBRL) today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 ended July 30, 2021. Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2021 Highlights Total revenue in the fourth quarter of $784.4 million was approximately flat compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 total revenue of $787.1 million. Compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 20191, comparable store restaurant sales decreased 6.8% and comparable store retail sales increased 18.2%. Comparable store off-premise restaurant sales grew 108.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 20191 and represented approximately 19% of restaurant sales. GAAP operating income in the fourth quarter was $62.7 million, or 8.0% of total revenue, and adjusted2 operating income was $65.9 million, or 8.4% of total revenue. GAAP net income was $36.4 million, or 4.6% of total revenue. EBITDA was $93.5 million, or 11.9% of total revenue, which represented a 30 basis point sequential improvement compared to fiscal 2021 third quarter EBITDA margin. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.53, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $2.25. The Company announced that its Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $1.30 per share and authorized share repurchases up to $100 million of the Company's outstanding common stock. Commenting on the fourth quarter results, Cracker Barrel President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran said, "Despite the well-known headwinds that the industry continues to face with respect to staffing, commodity and wage inflation, and the resurgence of the pandemic, we were pleased that our fourth quarter profitability continued to trend positively from the third quarter and that our off-premise sales, retail business, and Maple Street Biscuit Company concept continued to outperform.  In addition to these strengths, our impressive field and home office support teams delivered on multiple fronts throughout the year, including cost-savings, the introduction of our new dinner menu and the continued roll-out of beer and wine to our stores, and helped ensure our continued recovery in 2021.  I'm confident that these and other initiatives position us well for 2022 despite the uncertain environment." Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2021 Results RevenueThe Company reported total revenue of $784.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, representing an increase of 58.4% compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, and a decrease of 0.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.   Cracker Barrel comparable store restaurant and retail sales compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 20191 and versus the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 were as follows: Versus FY19Comparable Period1 Versus FY20 Comparable Period Fourth Quarter Ended7/30/21 Fourth Quarter Ended7/30/21 Comparable restaurant sales -6.8% 53.5% Comparable retail sales 18.2% 74.8% Operating IncomeGAAP operating income in the fourth quarter was $62.7 million, or 8.0% of total revenue. Excluding the approximately $3.2 million in non-cash amortization related to the gains on the previously disclosed sale and leaseback transactions adjusted2 operating income for the fourth quarter was $65.9 million, or 8.4% of total revenue. Net Income, EBITDA and Earnings per Diluted Share GAAP net income in the fourth quarter was $36.4 million, or 4.6% of total revenue, and EBITDA was $93.5 million, or 11.9% of total revenue. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.53, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $2.25. Convertible Debt OfferingAs previously disclosed, during the fourth quarter the Company completed the private offering of $300 million of 0.625% convertible senior notes due 2026, which generated net proceeds of approximately $291 million. The Company used approximately $30 million net, of the proceeds to fund the cost of entering into certain convertible note hedging transactions to minimize the risk of potential future dilution from the offering. The remainder of the proceeds were used to pay down debt under the Company's revolving credit facility. The Company ended the fourth quarter with approximately $327 million in total debt. The Company also paid approximately $18 million to terminate the interest rate swaps that it had been using to hedge interest rate risk on the debt outstanding under the Company's revolving credit facility. We anticipate this action will result in savings on interest expense over the next two years. In connection with the offering, the Company also repurchased $35 million of its common stock. Quarterly Dividend and Share Repurchase AuthorizationThe Company's Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend to common shareholders of $1.30 per share, payable on November 9, 2021 to shareholders of record on October 22, 2021. This dividend represents a return to the Company's pre-pandemic quarterly dividend level. Additionally, the Board of Directors authorized share repurchases up to $100 million of the Company's outstanding common stock. Fiscal 2021 ResultsRevenueThe Company reported total revenue of $2.81 billion for fiscal 2021, representing an increase of 11.8% compared to fiscal 2020 and a decrease of 8.2% compared to fiscal 2019. Comparable store restaurant sales for fiscal 2021 increased 8.4% compared to fiscal 2020, including a 5.3% increase in store traffic and a 3.1% increase in average check. Comparable store retail sales for fiscal 2021 increased 20.9% compared to fiscal 2020. Operating IncomeGAAP operating income in fiscal 2021 was $366.7 million, or 13.0% of total revenue, compared to $103.6 million, or 4.1% of total revenue, in fiscal 2020. Adjusted2 operating income for fiscal 2021 was $166.8 million. Net Income, EBITDA and Earnings per Diluted Share GAAP net income was $254.5 million, or 9.0% of total revenue, and EBITDA was $488.0 million, or 17.3% of total revenue, in fiscal 2021. Adjusted2 EBITDA was $275.4 million, or 9.8% of total revenue. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $10.71, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $5.14. Fiscal 2022 OutlookAs a result of the ongoing business impact and significant uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the nationwide increase in infections and responsive public health restrictions brought about by the rise of the "Delta variant" of the virus, the Company is not providing its customary annual earnings guidance for fiscal 2022 at this time. For the full fiscal year 2022, the Company expects: Commodity and wage inflation in the mid-to-high single digits; Capital expenditures of approximately $120 million; An effective tax rate of approximately 18%; and The opening of three new Cracker Barrel locations and 15 new Maple Street Biscuit Company locations. The Company reminds investors that its outlook for fiscal 2022 reflects a number of assumptions, many of which are outside the Company's control.  1 For the purpose of comparing to fiscal 2019, comparable stores are defined as restaurants open a full 30 months before the beginning of the applicable period.2 For Non-GAAP reconciliations, please refer to the Reconciliation of GAAP-basis operating results to non-GAAP operating results section of this release. Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Conference CallAs previously announced, the live broadcast of Cracker Barrel's quarterly conference call will be available to the public on-line at investor.crackerbarrel.com today beginning at 11:00 a.m. (ET). The on-line replay will be available at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and continue through October 5, 2021. About Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) provides a caring and friendly home-away-from-home experience while offering guests high-quality homestyle food to enjoy in-store or to-go and unique shopping — all at a fair price. Established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn., Cracker Barrel and its affiliates operate more than 660 company-owned Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® locations in 45 states and own the fast-casual Maple Street Biscuit Company. For more information about the Company, visit crackerbarrel.com. CBRL-F Except for specific historical information, certain of the matters discussed in this press release may express or imply projections of revenues or expenditures, statements of plans and objectives or future operations or statements of future economic performance. These, and similar statements are forward-looking statements concerning matters that involve risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual performance of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. and its subsidiaries to differ materially from those expressed or implied by this discussion. All forward-looking information is subject to completion of our financial procedures for Q4 FY 2021 and is provided pursuant to the safe harbor established under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and should be evaluated in the context of these factors. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "trends," "assumptions," "target," "guidance," "outlook," "opportunity," "future," "plans," "goals," "objectives," "expectations," "near-term," "long-term," "projection," "may," "will," "would," "could," "expect," "intend," "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "potential," "regular," "should," "projects," "forecasts," or "continue" (or the negative or other derivatives of each of these terms) or similar terminology and include the expected effects of COVID-19 on our business, financial condition and results of operations and of operational improvement initiatives, such as new menu items and retail offerings. Factors which could materially affect actual results include, but are not limited to: risks and uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ultimate impact on our business, levels of consumer confidence in the safety of dine-in restaurants, restrictions (including occupancy restrictions) imposed by governmental authorities, the effectiveness of cost saving measures undertaken throughout our operations, disruptions to our operations as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in our workforce, and our level of indebtedness, or constraints on our expenditures, ability to service our debt obligations or make cash distributions to our shareholders or cash management generally, brought on by additional borrowing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic; general or regional economic weakness, business and societal conditions, and weather on sales and customer travel; discretionary income or personal expenditure activity of our customers; information technology-related incidents, including data privacy and information security breaches, whether as a result of infrastructure failures, employee or vendor errors, or actions of third parties; our ability to identify, acquire and sell successful new lines of retail merchandise and new menu items at our restaurants; our ability to sustain or the effects of plans intended to improve operational or marketing execution and performance; uncertain performance of acquired businesses, strategic investments and other initiatives that we may pursue now or in the future; changes in or implementation of additional governmental or regulatory rules, regulations and interpretations affecting tax, wage and hour matters, health and safety, pensions, insurance or other undeterminable areas; the effects of plans intended to promote or protect our brands and products; commodity price increases; the ability of and cost to us to recruit, train, and retain qualified hourly and management employees; the effects of increased competition at our locations on sales and on labor recruiting, cost, and retention; workers' compensation, group health and utility price changes; consumer behavior based on negative publicity or changes in consumer health or dietary trends or safety aspects of our food or products or those of the restaurant industry in general, including concerns about outbreaks of infectious disease, as well as the possible effects of such events on the price or availability of ingredients used in our restaurants; the effects of our indebtedness, including under our credit facility and our convertible senior notes, and associated restrictions on our financial and operating flexibility and ability to execute or pursue our operating plans and objectives; changes in interest rates, increases in borrowed capital or capital market conditions affecting our financing costs and ability to refinance all or portions of our indebtedness; the effects of dilution of our existing stockholders' ownership interest that may ensue from any conversions of our convertible senior notes or the related warrants issued in connection with our convertible note hedging transactions; the effects of business trends on the outlook for individual restaurant locations and the effect on the carrying value of those locations; our ability to retain key personnel; the availability and cost of suitable sites for restaurant development and our ability to identify those sites; our ability to enter successfully into new geographic markets that may be less familiar to us; changes in land, building materials and construction costs; the actual results of pending, future or threatened litigation or governmental investigations and the costs and effects of negative publicity or our ability to manage the impact of social media associated with these activities; economic or psychological effects of natural disasters or unforeseen events such as terrorist acts, social unrest or war and the military or government responses to such events; disruptions to our restaurant or retail supply chain, including as a result of COVID-19; changes in foreign exchange rates affecting our future retail inventory purchases; the impact of activist shareholders; our reliance on limited distribution facilities and certain significant vendors; implementation of new or changes in interpretation of existing accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("GAAP"); and other factors described from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, press releases, and other communications. Any forward-looking statement made by us herein, or elsewhere, speaks only as of the date on which made. We expressly disclaim any intent, obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements made herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based.   CRACKER BARREL OLD COUNTRY STORE, INC. CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT (Unaudited) (In thousands, except share and per share amounts, percentages and ratios)    Fourth Quarter Ended   Twelve Months Ended Percentage Percentage 7/30/21 7/31/20 Change 7/30/21 7/31/20 Change Total revenue $784,405 $495,065 58% $2,821,444 $2,522,792 12% Cost of goods sold, exclusive of depreciation and rent 235,754 150,778 56 865,261 779,937 11 Labor and other related expenses 268,702 187,785 43 983,120 924,994 6 Other store operating expenses 180,333 141,267 28 676,301 614,733 10 General and administrative expenses 36,948 40,950 (10) 147,825 146,975 1 Gain on sale and leaseback transactions 0 (69,954) (100) (217,722) (69,954) 211 Impairment 0 4,160 (100) 0 22,496 (100) Operating income 62,668 40,079 56 366,659 103,611 254 Interest expense 24,964 9,944 151 56,108 22,327 151 Income before income taxes 37,704 30,135 25 310,551 81,284 282 Provision for income taxes (income tax benefit) 1,341 5,069 (74) 56,038 (28,683) 295 Loss from unconsolidated subsidiary 0 0 0 (142,442) Net income (loss) $36,363 $25,066 45.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 21st, 2021

UN Warns Artificial Intelligence May Pose "Negative, Even Catastrophic" Threat To Human Rights

UN Warns Artificial Intelligence May Pose "Negative, Even Catastrophic" Threat To Human Rights Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, The United Nations has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) systems may pose a “negative, even catastrophic” threat to human rights and called for AI applications that are not used in compliance with human rights to be banned. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Sept. 15 urged members states to put a temporary ban on the sale and use of AI until the potential risks it poses have been addressed and adequate safeguards put in place to ensure the technology will not be abused. “We cannot afford to continue playing catch-up regarding AI—allowing its use with limited or no boundaries or oversight and dealing with the almost inevitable human rights consequences after the fact,” Bachelet said in a statement. “The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI’s ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility. Action is needed now to put human rights guardrails on the use of AI, for the good of all of us,” the human rights chief added. Her remarks come shortly after her office published a report that analyzes how AI affects people’s right to privacy, as well as a string of other rights regarding health, education, freedom of movement, and freedom of expression, among others. The document includes an assessment of profiling, automated decision-making, and other machine-learning technologies. While the report notes that AI can be used for good use, and can help “societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times,” its use as a forecasting and profiling tool can drastically impact “rights to privacy, to a fair trial, to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to life.” According to the report, numerous states and businesses often fail to carry out due diligence while rushing to incorporate AI applications, and in some cases, this has resulted in dangerous blunders, with some people reportedly being mistreated and even arrested due to flawed facial recognition software. Meanwhile, facial recognition has the potential to allow for unlimited tracking of individuals, which may well lead to an array of issues surrounding discrimination and data protection. An AI robot (L) by CloudMinds is seen during the Mobile World Conference in Shanghai on June 27, 2018. (-/AFP/Getty Images) As many AI systems rely on large data sets, further issues surrounding how this data is stored in the long-term also poses a risk, and there is potential for such data to be exploited in the future, which could post significant national security risks. “The complexity of the data environment, algorithms and models underlying the development and operation of AI systems, as well as intentional secrecy of government and private actors are factors undermining meaningful ways for the public to understand the effects of AI systems on human rights and society,” the report states. Visitors look at an AI smart city system by iFLY at the 2018 International Intelligent Transportation Industry Expo in Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province in December 2018. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) Tim Engelhardt, a human rights officer in the Rule of Law and Democracy Section, warned that the situation is “dire” and that it has only become worse over the years as some countries and businesses adopt AI applications while failing to research the multiple potential risks associated with the technology. While he welcomes the EU’s agreement to “strengthen the rules on control,” he noted that a solution to the myriad of issues surrounding AI won’t be coming in the next year and that the first steps to resolve these issue need to be taken now or “many people in the world will pay a high price.” “The higher the risk for human rights, the stricter the legal requirements for the use of AI technology should be,” Bachelet added. The report and Bachelet’s comments come following July’s revelations that spyware, known as Pegasus, was used to hack the smartphones of thousands of people around the world, including journalists, government officials, and human rights activists. The phone of France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire was just one of many being investigated amid the hack via the spyware, which was developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. NSO Group issued a statement to multiple outlets that did not address the allegations, but said that the company will “continue to provide intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world with life-saving technologies to fight terror and crime.” Speaking at the Council of Europe hearing on the implications stemming from the Pegasus spyware controversy, Bachelet said the revelations came as no surprise, given the “unprecedented level of surveillance across the globe by state and private actors.” Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

Klarna Set for New Funding Round at $40 billion Valuation

Swedish fintech startup Klarna is reportedly close to securing a new round of funding that would value the company at more than $40 billion. Klarna offers a buy-now-pay-later service to retailers and… The post Klarna Set for New Funding Round at $40 billion Valuation appeared first on Red Herring. Swedish fintech startup Klarna is reportedly close to securing a new round of funding that would value the company at more than $40 billion. Klarna offers a buy-now-pay-later service to retailers and raised $1 billion in March at a valuation of $31 billion. The latest investment round is expected to be smaller but will secure the company’s status as the most valuable private technology unicorn in Europe.  According to anonymous sources quoted by Business Insider, Softbank and multiple other investors are backing the investment. This latest funding news will most likely be followed by a much-anticipated blockbuster public listing at some point in the future.  Just hours after the news of the funding broke, Klarna suffered a “self-inflicted incident” affecting the privacy of its users. Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski announced the issue on Twitter, promoting concern the company had suffered a data breach. “Full attention from all colleagues to bring back things to normal, take actions to avoid this going forward and communicate broadly,” Siemiatkowski said on the social media platform. Klarna posted $1.2 billion in annual revenue last year, crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time. It’s losses increased 50% due to international expansion costs, and the company reported a new loss of around $109 million. The startup received a boost during the coronavirus pandemic as more people have shopped online. Klarna takes a fee from merchants when customers make a transaction and is also a regulated bank. It has made efforts to move into retail banking in its native Sweden and Germany.  Other buy-now-pay-later services have also increased in popularity during the pandemic, perhaps partly due to the economic woe suffered by people who have lost their jobs. American payments company Stripe recently partnered with Afterpay to offer a pay now option at checkout, while PayPal launched a similar offering last year. However, some countries have not looked favorably on the rise of these services.  Regulators in the United Kingdom are looking to impose new rules on companies like Klarna over fears of unaffordable loans being pushed on customers.  The post Klarna Set for New Funding Round at $40 billion Valuation appeared first on Red Herring......»»

Category: topSource: redherringSep 21st, 2021