Advertisements


Key Words: ‘We will not beat this pandemic until we stop the spread of the virus at work’: Labor unions react to Supreme Court blocking Biden’s vaccine mandate

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler had some strong words for the the Supreme Court’s ruling to stay enforcement of OSHA’s vaccine mandate......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 14th, 2022

Key Words: ‘We will not beat this pandemic until we stop the spread of the virus at work’: Backlash against Supreme Court’s decision to block Biden’s vaccine mandate

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler had some strong words for the the Supreme Court’s ruling to stay enforcement of OSHA’s vaccine mandate......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 14th, 2022

Stocks Soar On Optimism Omicron Is A Dud As Traders Focus On Growing China Stimulus

Stocks Soar On Optimism Omicron Is A Dud As Traders Focus On Growing China Stimulus U.S. index futures rallied, led by gains for Nasdaq 100 contracts, amid waning omicron worries and a booster shot of Chinese stimulus lifted world stock markets and oil on Tuesday and left traders offloading safe-haven currencies and bonds for the second day in a row. Emini S&P futures were up 61 point to 4,650.75 or about 120 points higher then where Gartman said "stocks are headed lower" some 24 hours ago. Nasdaq futures were up 1.8% and Dow futures rose 1% in premarket trading. In fact, futures are now just 50 points away from where they were below the Black Friday Omicron panic plunge. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was on track for its first back-to-back run of plus 1% gains since February while Asia saw record bounces from some of China's biggest firms such as Alibaba which soared by the most since its 2019 listing in Hong Kong, leading a rebound in Chinese tech stocks, as bargain hunters piled in amid improved sentiment following Beijing’s move to bolster the economy. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.7% while Japan’s Topix index closed 2.2% higher. The VIX dropped for a second day, sliding below 24, but remained above this year’s average. The risk-on mood also helped the dollar climb against safe haven currencies such as the Japanese yen, , which had lost 0.6% overnight, as the confidence-sensitive Australian dollar also found buyers. Safe-haven government bonds went the other way with yields  up 2.5% on Germany's benchmark 10-year Bund after falling to a three-month low on Monday. Reports in South Africa said Omicron cases there had only shown mild symptoms and the top U.S. infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, told CNN "it does not look like there's a great degree of severity" so far. "Good news relating to the severity of Omicron should be taken with a pinch of salt. Faster transmission could offset the benefits of milder symptoms," researchers at ING said in a note. "More broadly, it is still early days, even if markets are starting to display Omicron fatigue." "While epidemiologists have rightly warned against premature conclusions on Omicron, markets arguably surmised that last week's brutal sell-off ought to have been milder," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a note. "After all, early assessments of Omicron cases have been declared mild, spurring half-full relief." There are signs of “a fragile improvement in market mood,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. Still, “no headline addresses the major concern of the week: the rising U.S. inflation, which is a big threat to the investor mood, as the U.S. CPI data is due Friday, and the expectation is an advance to a strong 6.7%,” Ozkardeskaya wrote in a report. “We could see wild mood swings into the second half of the week.” The gains also came after China's central bank on Monday injected its second shot of stimulus since July by cutting the RRR - or the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve. Then on Tuesday, the PBOC said that the Interest rate for relending to support rural sector and smaller firms will be cut by 0.25 percentage point, effective from today, with 3-mo, 6-mo and 1-yr relending rates will be cut to 1.7%1.9% and 2%. After pretending it would let the economy falter for months, Beijing is finally firmly in pro-growth mode with the Politburo stating that stability is the top priority ahead of next year’s Communist Party congress. Premier Li Keqiang also said China has room for a variety of monetary policy tools after yesterday’s reserve ratio cut. As a result, the beaten down financial and property stocks were the biggest winners amid the change in tone from policy makers. In Hong Kong, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. soared by the most since its 2019 listing. Global markets are also getting a lift from the easing policy pivot in world’s second-largest economy which we first flagged more than a weeks ago. * * * In the premarket, Intel shares rose 7.7% in premarket trading after the chipmaker confirmed a WSJ report that it plans to float a minority stake in its Mobileye self-driving car business by the middle of next year. Alibaba jumped as much as 5.4% in U.S. premarket trading Tuesday, adding to a 10% rally on Monday as with Chinese tech stocks rebound. Alibaba’s climb in the U.S. comes after its shares posted their biggest gain since June 2017 on Monday. Cruise operators and airline stocks are trading higher for a second session as investors assess the severity of the omicron virus variant. American Airlines was among the notable outperformers after naming President Robert Isom to replace retiring CEO Doug Parker. AAL rose 3% in premarket trading, while UAL climbs 2.6% and JBLU jumps 2.7%; other gainers include: ALK +2.6%, DAL+2.3%, LUV +2.4%, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise added 3.3%, while Carnival increased 3.1% in premarket trading. Casino operators also rebounded, led by Las Vegas Sands +3.5%, Wynn Resorts +2.7%, MGM Resorts +2.3% after Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam said the city will prioritize quarantine-free travel for business people when its border with mainland China reopens. In Europe every industry sector rose, led by tech and mining companies, to push the Stoxx 600 Index to a 2% gain led by technology, mining and consumer companies. AstraZeneca was an outliker, falling 2% in London after the company agreed to pay Ionis Pharmaceuticals as much as $3.6 billion to gain rights to a promising medicine for a rare disease. European e-commerce stocks that benefited from increased demand during pandemic-related lockdowns rose in Europe on Tuesday, with many outperforming the benchmark Stoxx 600’s biggest gain since March. Among the names were Allegro +6.3%, Moonpig +5.3%, Global Fashion Group +5.3%, Asos +5.1%, Zalando +4.6%, THG +3.7%, Boozt +3.3%, Ocado +2.4%, Boohoo +1.9%. “As concerns grow over rising case numbers, we expect some people will prefer to shop online again to limit their visits to stores,” Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, says in emailed comments. Asian equities advanced, on track for their best day in more than three months, following China’s latest moves to bolster growth in the world’s second-largest economy.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.8%, poised for its biggest gain since Aug. 24. Consumer-discretionary firms contributed most to the market’s climb, led by Alibaba as bargain hunters snapped up recently rattled Chinese tech stocks. Benchmarks in Hong Kong and Japan led broad gains around the region.  China’s central bank said it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost. Meanwhile the Communist Party’s Politburo signaled an easing of curbs on the battered real-estate sector. “Anxiety over the Chinese economy is abating thanks to the cut in the banks’ reserve ratio and a partial easing of real-estate regulations,” said Hiroshi Namioka, chief strategist at T&D Asset Management Co. Plus, “an overall risk-on mood is being created as people turn increasingly optimistic about any impact from the omicron, leading to higher U.S. equities and long-term yields.”  Financials and industrials also boosted the region’s key equity gauge Tuesday as investors looked toward reopening prospects. The day’s rebound marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. U.S. equities overnight rebounded from Friday’s selloff after reports that cases of the omicron variant have been relatively mild. Japanese equities rose by the most in over a month, as investors were cheered by reports of Chinese policy makers moving to support the nation’s economy and that global omicron virus cases have been relatively mild. Electronics makers and telecoms were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which gained 2.2%, the most since Nov. 1. SoftBank Group and Tokyo Electron were the largest contributors to a 1.9% rise in the Nikkei 225. The yen extended its loss against the dollar after weakening 0.6% overnight. U.S. stocks climbed Monday after news from South Africa that showed hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed by the latest wave of Covid cases. Meanwhile, China President Xi Jinping oversaw a meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo on Monday that concluded with a signal of an easing in curbs on real estate. “Cyclical stocks, China-linked names and automakers that had been sold on a stronger yen will likely be bought up following China’s change in policy stance,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a strategist at Nomura Asset Management in Tokyo. “This will alleviate worry over a slowdown in the Chinese economy.” India’s benchmark equity index bounced back from a three-month low on optimism that the global economic recovery may be able to withstand risks associated with the omicron virus variant.  The S&P BSE Sensex climbed 1.6% to 57,633.65, in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index also advanced by a similar magnitude. ICICI Bank Ltd. provided the biggest boost to both the gauges with a 3.5% gain. Out of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 29 rose and one fell. All 19 industry sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained, led by a measure of metals companies. The uncertainty from the omicron variant, along with expectations of rapid tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve have tested the risk appetite of investors in the previous two sessions in India. However, markets across Asia advanced Tuesday after China pledged measures to support slowing economic growth. “Indian markets mirrored the sharp buoyancy in global indices on the back of short-covering by market participants. The rally was backed by a sharp upsurge in banking and metal stocks, which had taken a severe hammering in recent sessions,” Shrikant Chouhan, head of equity research at Kotak Securities Ltd. wrote in a note.  Australia’s central bank -- at its monetary policy meeting Tuesday -- left its key interest rate unchanged and said that while the strain is a source of uncertainty, it’s not expected to derail the recovery. Reserve Bank of India will announce its rate decision on Wednesday.  In FX, the Dollar Spot Index inched lower as commodity currencies led gains among Group-of-10 peers. The volatility skew for the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index shows bullish bets on the greenback over the one-month tenor stand near their lowest since August. This may change as soon as next week after Friday's CPI report. The euro reversed an Asia session gain to touch a December low of $1.1254 in early European hours. Bunds and Italian bonds slumped, led by the belly after ECB’s Holzmann yesterday said rate hikes are possible while still buying debt. Money markets continue to price the first 10bps rate hike in December 2022 but October pricing jumps to 7.5bps from 6bps on Monday. The pound was steady against the dollar, trailing other risk-sensitive currencies, with focus on next week’s Bank of England meeting and how officials will assess the threat of the omicron strain. The Norwegian krone and the Canadian dollar advanced amid rising oil prices and before the Bank of Canada meeting Wednesday. Australian bond yields extended gains and the Aussie dollar advanced versus all of its G-10 peers as central bank optimism that omicron won’t disrupt the economic recovery underscored bets on sooner-than-expected rate hikes. Australia’s central bank left monetary settings unchanged, citing uncertainties from omicron, while highlighting positive signs in the labor market and broader economy. Finally, the yen fell a second day after easing concern over the coronavirus omicron variant In rates, Treasuries were narrowly mixed with the front-end lagging ahead of today's 3-year auction. Treasury 2-year yields were cheaper by 2.2bp on the day, flattening 2s10s spread by 1.8bp and unwinding portion of Monday’s steepening move; 10-year yields around 1.436%, slightly cheaper on the day. Bunds lag by 1.3bp after ECB’s Holzmann says rate hikes are possible while still buying debt -- BTP’s cheapen 2.5bp vs. Treasuries in 10-year sector. U.S. TSY auctions resume with $54b 3-year note sale at 1pm ET, before $36b 10- and $22b 30-year Wednesday and Thursday; the WI 3-year around 0.973% is above auction stops since Feb. 2020 and ~22bp cheaper than November’s sale, which tailed the WI by 1bp. In commodities, oil prices jumped another 2% to $74.60 a barrel, adding to a near 5% rebound the day before as concerns about the impact of Omicron on global fuel demand eased; WTI rose about 3% near $71.50. Copper prices also ticked higher while gold was steady at $1,778.5 per ounce on expectations U.S. consumer price data due later this week will show inflation quickening. European natural gas futures rose on talk of fresh Russian sanctions. Spot gold is choppy near $1,780/oz. Base metals are well bid given the broader risk-on tone: most of the complex rises over 1% with LME zinc outperforming.  Looking at today's calendar, we have trade balance data for October at 8:30 a.m, while the EIA short-term energy outlook is published at 12:00 p.m. The US sells $54 billion of 3-year notes at 1:00 p.m. Biden and Putin talk from 10:00 a.m. Jeffrey Gundlach hosts his Total Return webcast from 4:15 p.m. Autozone Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. report results. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.3% to 4,650 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.7% to 476.71 MXAP up 1.7% to 193.18 MXAPJ up 1.7% to 627.71 Nikkei up 1.9% to 28,455.60 Topix up 2.2% to 1,989.85 Hang Seng Index up 2.7% to 23,983.66 Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3,595.09 Sensex up 1.6% to 57,657.07 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 7,313.90 Kospi up 0.6% to 2,991.72 Brent Futures up 2.3% to $74.73/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,778.95 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.36 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro down 0.2% to $1.1268 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The ECB said its supervision arm will focus its scrutiny in the coming three years on risks that lenders face from a potential spike in bad loans and their search for higher returns Hungary’s central bank is nowhere close to stopping a monetary tightening campaign that will make the country’s real interest rates the highest in central Europe, Deputy Governor Barnabas Virag said The U.S. and European allies are weighing sanctions targeting Russia’s biggest banks and the country’s ability to convert rubles for dollars and other foreign currencies should President Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter China’s exports and imports grew faster than expected in November, with both hitting records as external demand surged ahead of the year-end holidays and domestic production rebounded on an easing power crunch. Some China Evergrande Group bondholders have not received overdue coupon payments after the end of a month-long grace period, putting the world’s most indebted property developer on the brink of its first default on offshore notes U.K. house prices hit a record in November, with values over the past three months rising at their fastest pace for 15 years, according to mortgage lender Halifax A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive following the heightened risk appetite among global peers, including in the US, where the DJIA posted its best performance since March and all sectors in the S&P 500 finished positive. Omicron concerns abated throughout the session and resulted in notable outperformance across travel and leisure stocks, while the region also took its opportunity to digest the PBoC's recent RRR cut announcement and mostly better than expected Chinese trade data. The ASX 200 (+1.0%) was positive with broad gains across its sectors aside from utilities and with momentum helped after a lack of surprises at the RBA policy decision - which refrained from any policy tweaks. Nikkei 225 (+1.9%) outperformed and regained a firm footing above the 28k level as exporters benefitted from a weaker currency, and with the advances led by SoftBank which atoned for the recent declines in its portfolio companies. The Hang Seng (+2.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) were both initially lifted in early trade after the announcement of the PBoC’s RRR cut, which is said to likely calm markets amid increasing developer risks, although the mainland bourse then gave back its gains after the PBoC continued to drain liquidity in its daily open market operations. Furthermore, reports that the PBoC lowered its relending rate by 25bps for agricultural and small companies also failed to boost the mainland as this is viewed as a more targeted supportive measure. Finally, 10yr JGBs declined and re-approached the key psychological 152.00 level on spillover selling from USTs as stocks gained and Omicron fears abated. The results of the latest 30yr JGB auction were mixed with higher accepted prices and lower yield offset by a weaker b/c and wider tail in price. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Set for Best Day in 3 Months as China Tech Rebounds Alibaba Jumps Most Since H.K. Listing as China Tech Rebounds Malaysia Court Dismisses Najib’s Plea, SRC Verdict Due Wednesday LG Energy Seeks Up to 12.75t Won IPO, Biggest in Korea European stocks have conformed to the risk appetite seen across global peers (Euro Stoxx 50 +2.5%; Stoxx 600 +2.0%), which initially emanated from Wall Street, before seeping into APAC and reverberating in Europe. There is no clear catalyst behind the gains, although desks have been attributing the optimism to receding fears regarding the Omicron variant – with no recorded deaths thus far. That being said, some of the key tail risks to markets have not subsided, with liquidity also expected to be more anemic in the run-up to next week’s risk-packed docket before year end. Nonetheless, US equity futures are grinding higher with the NQ (+1.9%) in the lead, closely followed by the RTY (+1.7%), whilst the ES (+1.3%) and YM (+1.0%) see slightly less pronounced gains. Back in Europe, Euro-bourses see broad-based upside but the UK’s FTSE 100 (+1.1%) and the Swiss SMI (+0.7%) are capped by underperformance in the defensive sectors – with Healthcare and Food & Beverages towards the bottom of the bunch. Sectors are overall in the green with a clear and firm pro-cyclical bias. Tech leads the gains following its recent underperformance, with Basic Resources also among the winners as base metals post decent gains. In terms of individual movers GSK (+0.5%) remains supported after pre-clinical data demonstrate the potential for monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab to be effective against the latest variant, Omicron, plus all other variants of concern defined to date by the WHO. As a reminder, the co. last week said its COVID treatment Sotrovimab retains its activity against the Omicron variant. British American Tobacco (+2.1%) is firmer followed by a positive trading update alongside Babcock (+5.2%) and Ferguson (+4.0%). On the downside, AstraZeneca (-1.7%) resides towards the foot of the Stoxx 600 amid a downgrade at Jefferies, alongside the broader anti-defensive narrative. Looking at analysts’ commentary, Barclays suggests that the Fed is unlikely to over-deliver on the rate hikes that are already priced in, with the bank unphased by the recent Powell pivot and Omicron resurgence. Barclays maintains its positive view on 2022 equities and upgraded its European small caps to overweight on improving fundamentals but oversold performance, and downgraded Momentum to market-weight. Top European News U.K. House Prices Post Strongest Quarterly Increase Since 2006 Republicans’ Pecresse Ties With Le Pen in French Poll Ferguson 1Q U.S. Organic Revenue Beats Estimates EU Aims to Unveil Green Rules for Gas, Nuclear Projects Dec. 22 In FX, although the Buck remains bid on bullish US fundamentals and the index is finding plenty of underlying buying interest/support into 96.000, the overall market mood is constructive enough to help riskier currencies outperform, and shrug off another dovish RBA policy meeting in the case of the Aussie. Instead, Aud/Usd and Aud/Nzd are gaining more ground on the coattails of iron ore prices and favourable tradewinds, as Chinese imports surged beyond expectations and outpaced exports that also beat consensus to leave the surplus somewhat short of the mark. The headline pair reached 0.7101 before running into resistance and 1.2 bn option expiry interest at the 0.7100 strike, while the cross has breached 1.0450 convincingly to expose 1.0500 ahead of NZ Q3 manufacturing sales on Wednesday and following RBNZ Assistant Governor Hawkseby sticking to a considered line on further rate normalisation overnight. He also said the Kiwi is in a broad range of where it is expected to be and that a higher currency in the short-term will help us achieve objectives more quickly. Nzd/Usd is still rotating around 0.6750, while the Loonie is latching on to the latest leg up in WTI over Usd 71/brl to test offers protecting 1.2700 vs its US rival in advance of Canadian and US trade data, Ivey PMIs and tomorrow’s BoC, with the DXY fading following a fleeting breach of Monday’s peak within 96.447-168 confines, Note also, 1.1 bn option expiries reside between 1.2750-55 in Usd/Cad and could cap recovery rallies. Elsewhere, the Scandinavian Crowns continue to rebound from recent lows against the Euro, and Brent’s bounce to the brink of Usd 75/brl is helping the Nok probe 10.2000 rather than a somewhat mixed Norges Bank regional network survey, while the Sek is lagging circa 10.2400 amidst Riksbank concerns over the lack of liquidity and transparency in Sweden’s corporate bond market that needs to be addressed. CHF/GBP/EUR/JPY - The G10 laggards to varying degrees, with the Franc trying to pare losses from sub-0.9250 vs the Dollar and more successfully against the Euro from almost 1.0450 towards 1.0400, while the Pound is holding mostly above 1.3250 in Cable terms and Eur/Gbp is pivoting 0.8500 as the single currency remains under the psychological 1.1300 level vs the Greenback irrespective of supportive Eurozone macro impulses via better than forecast German industrial output and ZEW economic sentiment over bleak current conditions. Similarly, the Yen remains weak on risk and rate/yield dynamics and Usd/Jpy is now firmer within a loftier 113.40-74 range before a raft of Japanese releases including Q3 GDP revisions and October’s current account balance. EM - More easing in China, but resilience or even ongoing strength in the Cny and Cnh in wake of the PBoC shaving 25 bp off the relending rate for agricultural and small companies, according to sources in the Securities Times that also suggests in tune with the China Daily that an LPR cut may be in the offing. Conversely, weakness in the Rub awaiting the call between Putin and Biden and the Zar on the back of SA GDP missing already low-key expectations, but the Try is nursing some declines in what could be reasonably described as intervention fashion. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are firmer on the session, buoyed by the risk appetite across the markets. From a fundamental standpoint, the benchmarks remain underpinned by the lack of progress in Iranian nuclear talks coupled with the OSP hike seen by Saudi Aramco over the weekend for Asia and US customers – typically a reflection of firmer demand. The morning also saw some reports suggesting Yemen Houthis fired several ballistic missiles and 25 armed drones on Saudi Arabia, including Aramco facilities in Jeddah, but details remain light. Aside from that, the morning’s newsflow has been on the quiet side, with the macro environment currently dictating price action. WTI Jan is back on a USD 71/bbl handle (vs low 69.50/bbl) while Brent Feb topped USD 75.00/bbl (vs low USD 73.20/bbl). In terms of bank forecasts, Citi sees a dramatic fall in energy prices from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022 averages – with Brent seen at USD 62/bbl (from USD 79/bbl) and WTI seen at USD 59/bbl (from USD 75/bbl). Over to metals, spot gold and silver move in tandem with the Buck featuring the former around USD 1,780/oz and caged below that cluster of DMAs which today sees the 50, 100 and 200 at USD 1,793/oz, USD 1,790/oz and USD 1,791/oz respectively. Elsewhere LME copper takes impetus from the broader risk appetite, with prices back north of USD 9,500/t and extending on gains, with the Chinese trade data also supportive for the base metal complex. Overnight, Dalian iron ore futures gained focus as prices were bolstered by the recent liquidity action taken by the PBoC coupled with more sanguine commentary surrounding the Chinese housing market, according to some analysts. US Event Calendar 8:30am: 3Q Unit Labor Costs, est. 8.3%, prior 8.3% 8:30am: 3Q Nonfarm Productivity, est. -4.9%, prior -5.0% 8:30am: Oct. Trade Balance, est. -$66.8b, prior -$80.9b 3pm: Oct. Consumer Credit, est. $25b, prior $29.9b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It’s with much trepidation that I take an hour off work this morning to visit my 4-year old twins’ nativity play. They are by far the youngest in their Reception year and given they were premature, in reality there are technically older kids in the nursery year. As such my expectations were always well managed when the parts were being doled out that they wouldn’t be competing for the blockbuster roles such as Joseph! These expectations were met as they have been cast as “presents”. So I think they have to sit there with a bow around them and try to remember some of the words in the songs they have been given to sing. Success would be for them not to have a fight mid-performance as they do most evenings when I see them. Only when you have identical twins can you witness such love and hatred displayed within the space of a few seconds. Markets have been swinging between love and hate over the last 10 days with the former winning out yesterday as investors’ concerns eased around the Omicron variant. Obviously we’re still awaiting definitive data on a number of points, but more generally the suggestions that it could be less likely to cause severe disease has injected some optimism back into markets after the recent selloffs. As a result, we saw a decent bounceback among the major equity indices on both sides of the Atlantic, an advance for oil prices following 6 successive weekly declines, and investors even moved to marginally bring forward the likely timing of central bank rate hikes. We’ll start with equities, where risk appetite only increased as the day went on, with the S&P 500 (+1.17%) posting a broad-based advance that saw over 85% of the index’s members advancing. Europe also put in a strong performance, with the STOXX 600 up +1.3%, whilst many indices saw their biggest advances in months. That included the UK’s FTSE 100 (+1.5%), Spain’s IBEX 35 (+2.4%), and Italy’s FTSE MIB (+2.2%), which, outside of last Wednesday, were the best daily performances since July. European tech shares lagged the broader rally, with the STOXX Technology index down -0.33%, though US tech shares gained steam after the European close, with the Nasdaq up +0.93%, trailing the S&P by a more modest amount. Greater optimism about the new variant proved supportive for oil prices too, with Brent crude (+4.58%) and WTI (+4.87%) posting gains after a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines, having also been supported by Saudi Arabia’s move to raise oil prices to Asia and the US in January. Oil prices are up another 1% this morning. However, there was a big decline in US natural gas futures (-11.50%) yesterday, the worst daily performance since January 2019, as the mild weather outlook has served to dampen demand. Over in sovereign bond markets there was a fresh selloff in US Treasuries, and a steepening of the yield curve, as the optimism about Omicron led investors to bring forward their expectations of future rate hikes. Yields moved higher across the curve, with those on 10yr yields up +9.1bps to 1.43%, as both real yields and inflation breakevens moved higher on the day, whilst the 2s10s curve managed to steepen +4.7bps to 79.9bps. 10yr yields are up another +1.4bps this morning. Near-term, the first Fed rate hike is again fully priced by the June FOMC meeting. Over in Europe, yields were lower, with those on 10yr bunds (-0.1bps), OATs (-0.4bps) and BTPs (-3.8bps) all declining, though the greater risk appetite was reflected in the narrowing of peripheral spreads, with the gap between Italian and Spanish yields over bunds both tightening by the close. Overnight in Asia stocks are all trading up with the Nikkei (+2.09%), Hang Seng (+1.62%), CSI (+0.51%), KOSPI (+0.47%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.12%) all stronger. China’s RRR cut yesterday is certainly helping sentiment. On the data front, China's trade balance for November came in at $71.72 bn (consensus $83.60 bn and $84.54 bn previously), lower than expected as imports grew at +31.7% year-on-year against +21.5% consensus. Exports (+22%) were slightly higher than expected. Elsewhere the Reserve Bank of Australia held its benchmark interest rate unchanged while cautioning that price pressures remain subdued in Australia compared with other economies as the RBA expects it to reach 2.5% by 2023. Our economists put out a note suggesting that if you squint, the RBA commentary was slightly hawkish though. See more here if you’d like their review. Elsewhere futures are pointing to a positive start in the US and Europe with the S&P 500 (+0.34%) and DAX (+0.38%) contracts trading in the green. Looking ahead, one of the important events today will be the scheduled video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The Biden administration, in concert with European allies, is reportedly weighing whether to bring economic tools to bear against Russia in response to the recent flare up on the Ukrainian border. Measures being considered included sanctions against President Putin’s inner circle, energy producers, and banks, as well as the more drastic option of denying Russian access to US-run international payments system, SWIFT. The Ruble depreciated -0.66% against the US dollar after having appreciated +0.50% in the morning before the headlines. In terms of other developments on the pandemic, the global case count has been moving higher for 7 consecutive weeks now, and we got fresh news of tougher restrictions in New York City yesterday. They’re set to place a vaccine mandate on private sector workers from December 27, whilst indoor dining and entertainment will be requiring those aged 12 and over to be fully vaccinated, and those aged 5-11 to have one dose. Here in the UK, over 50k confirmed cases were reported yesterday once again, and the average number of cases over the last week now stands up +9% on the week before. Turning to Germany, the main news yesterday was that the Greens became the final party of the incoming traffic-light coalition to approve the negotiated agreement, with 86% of members in favour. That follows similar moves by the SPD and the FDP, and today the parties are set to formally sign the deal, with Olaf Scholz set to become chancellor tomorrow in a Bundestag vote, which will also bring an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. For a run down on what to expect from the new government, our research colleagues in Germany have put together a guide on the various policy areas (link here). Staying on Germany, data also showed yesterday that factory orders fell by a much larger-than-expected -6.9% in October (vs. -0.3% expected), with the decline driven by a -13.1% fall in foreign orders, contrary to domestic orders which actually expanded +3.4%. To the day ahead now, and data highlights include German industrial production for October and the ZEW survey for December, along with the US trade balance for October. Otherwise, US President Biden and Russian President Putin will be holding a video call. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/07/2021 - 07:59.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 7th, 2021

Things Are Getting Messy In Draghi"s Italy

Things Are Getting Messy In Draghi's Italy Authored by Nick Corbishley via NakedCapitalism.com, Sixteen percent of the country’s officially employed workforce just lost their jobs (temporarily for the moment). And as one would expect, they’re not happy.   It is a strange experience watching the events currently unfolding in Italy from the relative calm and normality of Catalonia. As I reported in August, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled against the use of covid passports to restrict access to public spaces — specifically hospitality businesses (bars, restaurants and nightclubs). Since then the court has scaled back the ruling, allowing certain regions, including Galicia and Catalonia, to use the digital documents to restrict access to bars and nightclubs. But things are still moving quite slowly though I’m sure they’ll pick up speed soon. Italy, by contrast, has just introduced the strictest rules in Europe. “No Jab, No Job” Writ Large As of last Friday all residents of Italy need a covid passport, or Green Pass, to access not only public spaces but also public and private workplaces. The pass proves that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have recovered from the disease in the past six months or have recently tested negative. And now they need it to make a living, to feed their families. The “no jab, no job” rule applies to workers of all kinds, including the self employed, domestic staff and even people working remotely. If you’d still rather not get vaccinated, you have the option of showing proof of a negative test every two days. That can cost anywhere between €15 and €50 each time — far beyond the means of most low-paid workers. If you still refuse to get vaccinated or present proof of negative tests, you face unpaid suspension as well as a fine of up to €1,500. Public sector workers have five days to present the green pass before being suspended. Private sector workers without a green pass face suspension from the first day. Here’s more from Politico (comment and emphasis in brackets my own): By law, all workers must be able to show a so-called Green Pass, proving they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have tested negative in the past 48 hours. Roughly 81 percent of Italians over 12 are fully vaccinated. While polls suggest the majority of Italians are in favor of vaccine passes (just as the majority of people in all countries are in favour of vaccine passes, according to polls), there are still 3.8 million unvaccinated workers, many in strategic sectors and public services such as ports, trucking, health care and law enforcement, who will be unable to work. Massive Cull of Workers This is by any measure a massive cull of workers. Three point eight million is more than 5% of Italy’s entire population and over 16% of the country’s officially employed workforce (22.7 million). The total number of people currently unemployed in Italy is 2.3 million. In other words, if none of the unvaccinated workers were to cave in to the government’s demands — some will, of course, we just don’t know how many — the number of people without work in Italy would increase by well over 150% — in the space of just one week! And as the Politico article mentions, many of these workers are in strategic sectors and public services. This is all happening as Europe — and the world at large — faces the worst supply chain crisis in decades as well as acute energy and labor shortages. The move also risks giving a huge boost to Italy’s already quite large informal economy. Given as much, this is a huge, high-stakes bluff on the part of Draghi’s technocratic government, which was formed eighth months ago. If it pays off, the vast majority of Italy’s vaccine holdouts will fall into line and go back to work, and other governments across Europe will follow suit with similar mandates. If it doesn’t, Italy’s economy could be plunged into chaos. So far, data suggest that the government’s “no jab, no job” rule hasn’t exactly had the desired effect. When the rule was initially unveiled, on September 16, Italy’s Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta said it would trigger such a “huge” boost vaccination take-up that its job would largely be done before it even came into effect. That hasn’t happened. As El Mundo reports, in the week through Oct.8 some 410,000 people received the first dose, according to official data, a 36% drop from the previous week and the lowest weekly count since early July.  Over the last few days the response of many of the affected workers has been to stage rolling strikes and protests across the country. Roads and ports have been blocked. This has coincided with hundreds of flight cancellations due to strikes by workers at the former flagship airline Alitalia, which flew its last flight on Thursday. There have also been violent demonstrations by far-right groups such as Casa Pound and Forza Nuova as well as a 24-hour general strike held last week by unions to protest the government’s labour and economic policies. Since Friday Italy’s largest port, Trieste, 40% of whose employees are unvaccinated, has been an important focal point of industrial action. “There are no blockades, whoever wants to work does,” said Stefano Puzzer, leader of the protest against the health pass in the port of Trieste, on Friday. Yet although the strike was reportedly entirely peaceful and workers who wanted to work were allowed to do so, riot  police yesterday used water cannons and tear gas to evict the longshoremen. One Little Flaw The ostensible logic behind the government’s latest mandate is that by “nudging” almost everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated, it will help the country finally achieve herd immunity and thereby eliminate the virus. Also, work spaces will become much safer places because all workers will either have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, will have natural immunity or will have recently tested negative for the virus. There’s just one little flaw in the plan: the current crop of covid-19 vaccines are rather “leaky”, particularly with regard to the Delta variant. As such, people who are vaccinated are still liable to catch and transmit the virus and in some countries (such as the UK) the vaccinated account for more cases (in nominal terms) than the unvaccinated. In addition, what protection the vaccines do provide tends to wane rapidly. At the peak of Israel’s latest wave of infections, in August, half of the seriously ill hospitalized patients had been fully vaccinated at least five months prior, reported NPR.  Which begs the question: if a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person have a similar capacity to carry, shed and transmit the virus, particularly in its Delta form and even more so after four of five months after vaccination, what difference does implementing a vaccination passport, certificate or ID actually make to the spread of the virus? Vaccine Passport: An End In and Of Itself? In sum, Italy just unleashed the most severe de facto vaccine mandate in Europe on the basis of a vaccine that doesn’t actually work very well and is still only authorised by the European Medical Agency for emergency use. To give an idea of just how extreme the Draghi government’s position now is, the only other country in the world to have introduced a mandatory Covid passport for all workers is Saudi Arabia, reports Thomas Fazi in a recent article: With these changes, we are effectively stripping citizens who haven’t broken any law whatsoever (in Italy, like elsewhere, Covid vaccines are not mandatory) of their basic constitutional rights — the right to work, to study, to move freely. That should give anyone reason to pause and reflect. This kind of discrimination is also in direct violation of EU Regulation 2021/953, which states that “[t]he issuance of [Covid] certificates… should not lead to discrimination on the basis of the possession of a specific category of certificate”, and that “[i]t is necessary to prevent direct or indirect discrimination against persons who are not vaccinated, for example because of medical reasons… or because they have not yet had the opportunity or chose not to be vaccinated”. This is also echoed by Resolution 2361 (2021) of the Council of Europe. In fact, the word “discrimination” doesn’t even begin to do justice to what we are witnessing in Italy. Representatives of the political, medical and media establishment have openly accused the unvaccinated of being “rats”, “subhumans” and “criminals”, who deserve to be “excluded from public life” and “from the national health service” and even to “die like flies”. Perhaps more worryingly, both prime minister Mario Draghi and the president Sergio Mattarella have accused the unvaccinated of “putting the lives of others at risk” (a claim based on the assumption that the vaccinated aren’t contagious). That claim has now been thoroughly disproved by myriad scientific studies, as Yves painstakingly documented in August. So why do governments continue to repeat it? Why aren’t they rethinking their strategy? Perhaps, as Fazi postulates, the green pass is not just a means to an end — mass vaccination — but also an end in and of itself: The Italian economic-political establishment has a long history of invoking, embellishing or even engineering crises — usually economic in nature — to justify technocratic governments and emergency measures, as well as the sidestepping of the normal channels of democracy. In this sense, it is not outlandish to posit that the country’s elites, under Draghi’s leadership, may view the current conjecture as a golden opportunity to complete the oligarchisation of the country they’ve been working at for the past decades (and in which Mario Draghi has played a central role). A crucial feature of this process has been the transition from a post-war regime based on the centrality of parliament to one dominated by executive, technocratic and supranational powers, in which the legislature performs a marginal role, thus insulating policymaking from democratic processes. As a result, there has been an increased resort to so-called “technical governments” run by “experts” supposedly untainted by political partisanship and unburdened by the complications of parliamentary politics — as well as the transfer of key policy tools from the national level, where a certain degree of democratic control can always potentially be exercised, to the supranational institutions of the EU, which are undemocratic by design. Now Draghi is even being heralded in some quarters as a possible new figurehead for Europe in the post-Merkel era. The financial and economic elite are no doubt salivating at the prospect.   Tyler Durden Wed, 10/20/2021 - 02:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 20th, 2021

December Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough For A March Rate Hike?

December Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough For A March Rate Hike? We are officially in the "good news is bad news" quarter of the artificial business cycle, and as such a strong payrolls number on Friday (especially after last month's major headline payrolls disappointment when only 210K jobs were added) will only raise expectations of an even stronger hawkish response by the Fed, and an appropriate market reaction. And, naturally, vice versa especially since it appears that the Fed is hiking into a major economic slowdown. With that in mind, here is what Wall Street expects tomorrow, courtesy of Newsquawk: Analysts look for a 447k rise in December payrolls, up from 210K with a range in analyst forecasts between 150k and 1.1 million. Manufacturing payrolls are expected at 35k vs the prior 31k, while private payrolls are expected to rise 365k vs the prior 235k. The unemployment rate is expected to drop from 4.2% to 4.1%, with analyst forecasts ranging between 4.0% and 4.4%. Wages are seen rising 0.4% M/M, up from 0.3% in November, while the Y/Y metric is seen slowing to 4.2% from 4.8% growth. The average work week hours are expected to remain unchanged at 34.8hrs. Significant upward revisions to prior-month payrolls are fairly likely, following large upward revisions over the previous seven reports and a view that the depressed November response rate may have weighed on reported job growth in the advance release. In a late Thursday report, Goldman raised its nonfarm payrolls estimate from 450K to 500k, above the consensus of +447k, after the strong ADP print, with the bank noting that the pre-Omicron payroll trend was much firmer than the 210k pace reported for November - perhaps as high as +600k -  and most of the virus-related slowdown in dining activity occurred after the December survey week. Big Data labor market indicators were generally solid in the month, and the number of year-end layoffs was well below normal. By industry, Goldman looks for a weather-related boost in the construction industry and a ~50k rebound in education employment (public and private) — the latter reflecting fewer janitors and support staff departing for the holidays. However, the bank also expects another modest decline in retail jobs due to labor supply constraints, and we are assuming only a modest pickup in leisure-sector job growth. Slack measures will also be eyed, with the November report showing an improvement in the participation rate, employment-population ratio and U6 underemployment, although none have managed to return to pre-pandemic levels. While Powell has acknowledged the “rapid” progress the labor market is making, he has highlighted the pick-up in participation was subdued and disappointing, with Powell suggesting that it was now likely that higher participation will take longer than previously anticipated. Powell explained the subdued participation may be a result of people not wanting to go back into the labor force while COVID is still prevalent, a lack of availability of childcare, and higher savings. Other measures of slack also saw improvement in November, the employment to population ratio rose to 59.2%, compared to the 61.1% pre-pandemic print, while U6 underemployment fell to 7.8%, edging closer to the pre-pandemic level of 7.0%. The December NFP report will be framed in context of Fed lift-off, especially after the latest minutes leaned hawkish with some policymakers suggesting a hike could come before maximum employment is met, but several said that this had already been achieved and most judged it could be achieved relatively soon if job growth continues at the current pace. Fed pricing moved hawkish following the minutes, to see an 80% chance of a March hike, therefore a strong report will be viewed as a tiebreaker whether March will see the first lift-off. That said, employment gauges for December are mixed, the jobless claims week that coincided with the usual NFP survey period was in-line with expectations and unchanged from the prior week at 205k, while continued claims fell by more than expected. However, some analysts question the accuracy of the jobless claims data over the holiday period. The ADP report, although having a weak correlation with the official release, saw a very strong print which doubled analyst expectations, and led some banks to slightly revise higher their forecasts for the NFP print. The business surveys point to further growth in the manufacturing sector, while the services sector shows a slowdown, but still in expansionary territory. Job cuts however were disappointing, rising to 19k from 14.9k. FED POLICY OUTLOOK: The Friday NFP report will help shape expectations for lift off from the Fed. The December meeting minutes on Wednesday revealed that participants generally noted it may become warranted to increase the FFR sooner or at a faster pace than was earlier anticipated, while some members of the FOMC said there could be circumstances whereby the Fed raises rates before maximum employment had been fully achieved. Meanwhile, several participants viewed labor market conditions as already largely consistent with maximum employment, while most judged it could be met relatively soon if the recent pace of the labor market continues. The prior jobs report (which the Fed saw going into the December meeting) disappointed on the headline, seeing 210k jobs created in November, although measures of slack (participation rate, employment to population ratio, and U6 underemployment) all improved from the prior, but remained beneath pre-pandemic levels. After the release of the hawkish December minutes, interest rate futures started to price in a c.80% chance of a Fed hike at the March meeting, something Governor Waller has previously alluded too. As the Fed is now in data-dependent mode, and given the remarks around the labor market from the Fed minutes, providing job growth continues at the current pace, the case for a March lift-off will strengthen, although doves on the FOMC, including Kashkari, suggested to wait before the April data has been seen – note, Kashkari is a non-voter this year. Given the Fed are looking for the current pace to continue, a beat or miss on the headline may not be too important, just providing the jobs market is still increasing at a decent pace, while the Fed will also be cognizant of the slack metrics. JOBLESS CLAIMS: For the week coinciding with December’s NFP, initial jobless claims printed in-line with expectations at 205k, and unchanged from the prior week. Pantheon Macroeconomics note, "the apparent stalling in the downshift jobless claims in the past couple weeks is no big deal; the seasonals now are less friendly over the next few weeks than in October and November, and the data are always noisy over the holidays". Moreover, PM added "the core story is unchanged; the trend in claims is very low and still falling, because rising demand is easing the pressure on businesses. Moreover, firms are reluctant to let staff go in such a tight labor market, unless they have no other choice”. The continued claims that coincide with the NFP survey week fell to 1.716mln from 1.856mln, better than the expected rise to 1.868mln. ADP: The ADP report was strong, although the consistency with the official NFP report has not been strong. The ADP report added 807k jobs in December, seeing the largest increase since May 2021, rising from the prior 505k (revised lower from 534k) despite expectations for job growth to slow to 400k in December. Analysts at Pantheon Macroeconomics highlight the ADP data is slightly lower than the over 1mln rise in private payrolls signalled by the Homebase small business employment data, but although neither are consistently accurate in terms of the official NFP report, it is still consistent with their view that the NFP expectation of c. 400k is too low and thus are maintaining their 1mln forecast. Note, following the ADP report, analysts at Goldman Sachs boosted their NFP forecast for Friday to +500k from +450k. Pantheon points out that the rise in payrolls could be due to the fading of some of the forces holding back labor supply, such as enhanced unemployment benefits and school closures, combined with strong labor demand. However, the consultancy does note this could be interrupted by the rise in Omicron cases, although this may not be seen until the January data is released. Pantheon writes “it looks as though December survey week fell in something of a sweet spot, after the Delta wave faded, but before the Omicron surge began.” BUSINESS SURVEYS: The December ISM Manufacturing PMI report saw an uptick in employment, suggesting faster growth than the prior month. The employment index rose 0.9pts to 54.2 from 53.3 to show the fourth consecutive month of expansion. The report also notes that “an Employment Index above 50.6 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on manufacturing employment”. ISM note that the survey panelists' companies are still struggling to meet labor-management plans, but there were modest signs of progress where 7% of comments noted greater hiring ease, the same as November. Meanwhile an overwhelming majority (85%) indicated their companies are hiring or attempting to hire, but 37% of those expressed difficulty in filling positions, but that is lower than the November report. The December services report was more downbeat, employment fell to 54.9 from 56.5 in December, albeit remained in expansionary territory. Commentary noted respondents are struggling to backfill positions in a timely manner noting “The Great Resignation” is hitting them. Respondents are having to relook at their policies and incentive programs as fast-food restaurants are offering higher pay for lower level jobs as well as sign-on bonuses. ARGUING FOR A BETTER-THAN-EXPECTED REPORT: Education seasonality. Education weighed on job growth during the fall, likely because some janitors and support staff declined to return for the new school year. Many of these individuals typically stop working for the December survey period, implying a seasonally adjusted gain in education payrolls in tomorrow’s report. Big Data. High-frequency data on the labor market generally point to in-line or above-consensus job gains, as shown in Exhibit 1. That being said, the Google series continues to be biased upward by return-to-office (RTO) initiatives (office workers commuting instead of working from home) ADP. Private sector employment in the ADP report increased by 807k in December, nearly double consensus expectations and consistent with strong growth in the ADP panel. Jobless claims. Initial jobless claims fell during the December payroll month, averaging 204k per week vs. 277k in November. Continuing claims in regular state programs decreased 337k from survey week to survey week. End of federal enhanced unemployment benefits. The expiration of federal benefits in some states boosted job-finding rates over the summer, and all remaining such programs expired in early September. With 4.6mn fewer individuals receiving benefits versus in early September, the gradual return of these workers is expected to boost job growth in tomorrow’s report and beyond. Weather. Unseasonably warm weather during and leading up to the survey week argues for a solid rise in industries like construction. National temperatures averaged 40 degrees during the December survey week, compared to 35 degrees on average in those of the previous three years. Job availability. The Conference Board labor differential—the difference between the percent of respondents saying jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get—decreased by 2.1pt to 42.6, but remained near record highs. JOLTS job openings decreased by 529k in November to 10.6mn but remained significantly higher than the pre-pandemic peak. ARGUING FOR A WEAKER-THEN-EXPECTED REPORT: Public health. Covid infections rose sharply in late December, but the survey period ended on December 18th, and as shown below the decline in dining activity versus the November survey week—eventually to 20pp below pre-crisis levels—mostly occurred after the December survey period. Coupled with the 246krise in ADP’s estimate of leisure and hospitality jobs, we expect continued job gains in the leisure sector in tomorrow’s report (our estimates embed a rise of nearly+100k, compared to +23k in November). Supply constraints in retail. Labor supply constraints likely weighed on pre-holiday hiring in the retail industry in November (-20k mom sa). The BLS seasonal factors anticipate 100k net hires in December, and we do not expect all of these positions to be filled. If so, retail payroll could again fall on a seasonally adjusted basis. Vaccine mandates. The vaccine mandates announced by the Biden administration in September apply to roughly 25mn unvaccinated workers, and may have weighed on December job growth in healthcare and government. While the federal deadline for compliance is generally not until early January and faces an uncertain future in the court system, early adoption in some states may have reduced job growth at the margin in tomorrow’s report. Employer surveys. The employment components of business surveys generally decreased in December. Goldman's services survey employment tracker decreased 2.3pts to 54.1 and the manufacturing survey employment tracker decreased 1.7pt to 57.9.The Goldman Sachs Analyst Index (GSAI) edged down by 0.3pt to 76.9 in December, but the employment component rose 6.8pt to a record-high of 82.4. NEUTRAL FACTORS: Job cuts. Announced layoffs reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas increased by 24% month-over-month in December after decreasing by 11% in November, but remain near their three-decade low. As noted above, upward revisions to prior-month non farm payrolls are likely in tomorrow’s report, which reflects the trend of large upward revisions over the course of the year. There are two potential explanations, both of which could produce upward revisions in tomorrow’s report as well. First, some reopening establishments may respond to the BLS survey with a lag (e.g. 1-2 months after reopening). This would result in positive revisions to the not-seasonally-adjusted data (dark blue bars above). Relatedly, the depressed response rate in last month’s report (lowest for November in 13 years) may have in part reflected this issue, with the busiest human resource managers least likely to respond to the survey during the Thanksgiving holiday. A second possible explanation is that the seasonal factors may be overfitting to the advance releases, mistaking some of the strong job creation in 2021 as an evolution of seasonality (light blue bars). Given this and given consensus expectation of strong gains in the December panel, upward revisions are fairly likely. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 20:07.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 6th, 2022

How To Create A Health Care Crisis

How To Create A Health Care Crisis Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, At the CVS down the street, the lines are very long to buy home Covid testing kits, $24 a pop, limit four per customer. Everyone seemed to be buying four. Employees cannot restock fast enough.  We can speculate why. Are businesses demanding negative tests from the unvaccinated? Is Omicron sweeping the country and people need to confirm? Do we have another round of disease panic happening? It’s most likely that everyone in line has a different answer. My intuition, for what it is worth: this virus is everywhere. Lots of people are sick.  Do you have some sense that we’ve been in this place before? Another variant, another round of panics, more restrictions, models forecasting mass deaths, experts weighing in on all the things you must do, masks masks masks, exhortations from discredited experts demanding that you do things again even though they didn’t work the last time.  This is just a remarkable scene. Nearly two years after locking down to crush the virus, to stop the spread, this is where we are. It should be more than obvious that the mitigation measures did not achieve the goal and caused enormous damage.  The ghoul this time is: Omicron. Only one death in the US has been attributed to it. Cases of course are through the roof. It could get worse in terms of severity. At the same time, there is a well-established and once-understood tradeoff within this family of viruses between their transmissibility and their severity. More “cases” – meaning infections in this context – tends toward fewer deaths. South African health officials have clearly said that so far it is not resulting in severe outcomes. It killed no one in the country in which it was discovered. Still, the weary world seems always ready for another round of panic. Nothing has ever really made sense, but now the complete senselessness is on hyper-drive.  Universities all over the Northeast have closed and gone back to Zoom for final exams. New York events are being cancelled. Israel is blocking its citizens from travelling to some 10 countries, one of which is the US. Lockdowns are being imposed all over Europe along with ever more vicious enforcements of masks and vaccine passports.  Vaccine mandates and passports are spreading from city to city. And this is with a vaccine that has been widely adopted and accepted in all the countries now locking down.  Health authorities in Rhode Island, Maine, and many other states, are warning of impending disaster with overwhelmed hospitals and other facilities. This is because vast numbers have quit their jobs. Oh, but we are told, this has nothing to do with the vaccine requirement. No no. It’s because they found better job opportunities elsewhere.  Think about this. The staff and nurses 18 months ago were working like crazy and treated like heroes for exposing themselves to the virus. They were the fodder. They took a huge risk. They obtained natural immunity. These people should have been hired and given raises. But the CDC and NIH don’t like to breathe a word about natural immunity. Instead hospital management, pushed by government pressure, demanded that all staff get vaccinated on top of existing broad, safe, and effective natural immunity.  We’ve known about natural immunity for thousands of years. Now it is mostly denied or not spoken about. How can we account for that? From the point of view of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff, that’s an insult. It’s insulting enough to cause anyone to quit on the spot. So yes, many employees just began feeling demoralized. Here is where we stand and a look at why there is a crisis. Crisis upon crisis.  It’s the same in nursing homes.  So yes, the lockdowns and mandates created the health-care crisis that they strategized to prevent. The ICUs are filling up but not necessarily only from Covid. These are health problems generated by lockdowns. Cancer. Drug overdoses. Obesity. Broken immune systems leading to virus vulnerability.  But the question is why. The answer is that governors in every state locked down the hospitals for Covid only, with some exceptions made for urgent non-elective surgeries. Most hospitals in this country were empty for months. They were bleeding money. Spending on health care in general actually declined 8.6%.  As I’ve written, In the first half of 2020, inpatient admissions fell by 20%, while outpatient visits collapsed by 35%. Visits to the emergency room crashed too, in some places by as much as 42%. By the fall of 2020, elective surgeries were down by 90% of where they would normally be.  The financial crisis, the lockdown crisis, the mandate crisis, the public health crisis, have all pointed to one end: a genuine medical care crisis.  Now the Biden administration is taking the extraordinary step of forcing military doctors and nurses into the hospitals. Does that make you want to go to the doctor? Not likely. In fact, for nearly two years now, many people have been avoiding the doctor, letting cancer screenings go by and so on. This has produced the very public health crisis that the lockdowns were intended to prevent.  For the first time since this disaster began in March 2020, I feel a loss of words, an inability to explain or even describe the world in which we live. We are on the precipice of disaster, with not only a public-health mess unfolding before our eyes but now we must await a Supreme Court that is only days away from deciding on the OSHA mandate that could permanently change life in America.  Many businesses are now fighting for their lives. CEOs of major airlines have pleaded to end the mask mandate that is so awful for their customers flying on their extremely clean planes. Fauci flat out said no. We must wear masks forever, he says. Why is he, of all people, the dictator of our businesses, communities, and lives? And it all happened so quickly and shockingly.  We are surrounded by the carnage of the lockdown and mandate strategy, which not only did not stop the Omicron variant. They might have made it inevitable. And yet we still have major voices such as Jeremy Faust of Harvard University writing in his influential column: “am I willing to disrupt certain aspects of life temporarily when necessary to achieve a clearly stated goal? Yes. The key is to define that goal and to implement a strategy that can deliver it. Nobody gets tired of winning. What we’re tired of is losing.” Yes, we are losing because of a losing strategy that favored force over social functioning, models over public-health wisdom, central planning over decentralized intelligence, coercion over persuasion, suppression over endemicity, and brutalism over rationality. As for “temporarily,” where have we heard that before?  Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 23:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 23rd, 2021

Fauci"s Finished

Fauci's Finished Authored by James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com, In a little under an hour, Joe Biden is expected to address the nation about the new Omicron variant of the virus. An aide claims the administration is “prepared for the rising case levels” and that Biden will explain how it “will respond to this challenge.” The Omicron variant is highly contagious. Some models, along with data from Europe, suggest the number of cases could potentially double every two days. Of course, you can’t really trust models, but this variant is spreading rapidly. The good news is that it doesn’t appear to be particularly dangerous. Symptoms are generally described as those of a mild cold. But you can expect Biden to dial up the fear tomorrow. He’s probably going to try to shame the unvaccinated and warn about a “dark winter” ahead because of their refusal to take the jabs. For the fully vaccinated, he’s going to tell them to get the booster. We’ll have to see what else he has in store, but you can be sure it won’t involve telling everyone to take hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin if they start showing symptoms. Changing Goalposts It’s all about vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! And when you’re done vaccinating, get ready for another. The goalposts are constantly changing. It was always expected that the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID vaccines would be two-dose treatments. (That’s not true of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which was always a one-dose regimen. Janssen’s is the only vaccine that relies on a more traditional adenovirus rather than mRNA technology to instruct your cells to create the toxic spike protein.) The vaccines were initially reported to be highly effective at reducing severe symptoms and deaths. This was despite some serious side effects that have not been fully reported and are still being evaluated. The likely number of vaccine-induced deaths exceeds 20,000, based on the VAERS reporting system. We don’t know the true number because there’s no definitive evidence that the vaccine caused the death, but the spike in reported deaths since the vaccines came out is off the charts. It’s not proof of a fire, but there’s lots of smoke. Meanwhile, all of the vaccines were falsely presented to the public as preventing infection. But that was untrue. The vaccines do not prevent infection or spread of the virus. Still, public health officials went on a full-court press to achieve 100% vaccination rates regardless of side effects, religious objections, medical objections based on asthma and other conditions and regardless of the natural immunity already acquired by over 50 million Americans who have had the disease and recovered. Besides, the vaccines do not appear to be effective at preventing infections from the Omicron variant. The fully vaccinated and the boosted can still get sick. Lepers Vaccine mandates were enforced through a large number of drastic outcomes for the unvaccinated. You could lose your job; lose a government contract; be denied international travel; be discharged from the military; and be denied access to restaurants, sports venues and concerts among other activities if you did not get vaccinated. The unvaccinated were treated like lepers with the result that many got vaccinated against their better judgment solely to avoid the harsh treatment otherwise reserved for them. The only consolation was that once you were vaccinated and had your paperwork in order (and ready to present to the vax enforcers), you could go about your business when it came to work, travel or leisure. But wait, not so fast. The petty government dictators who invented these rules in the first place are now moving the goalposts. Not only do the vaccines not stop infection, but they don’t even do their job of reducing symptoms after about six months. Naturally, Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying that it’s just a matter of time before the definition of “fully vaccinated” is changed to require three shots instead of two (or two for Janssen instead of one). Boosters Forever The implications of this are enormous. It means that those who thought they had put the vaccination issue behind them will have to get in line for another shot if they want to go about their business without discrimination. The supposedly vaccinated will find themselves back in the leper colony with the unvaccinated if they don’t get the new booster. Of course, the booster will wear off after six months also. (It’s called a “booster” but it’s the same vaccine as the first shot.) And that means you will have to get boosters for the rest of your life to comply with Dr. Fauci’s dictatorship. Vaccines should be allowed as a matter of choice but vaccine mandates are mostly illegal (per recent court rulings) and counterproductive in the sense that they encourage resistance, not compliance. Though it’s not proven, mass vaccination could also be causing new variants because it forces the virus to evolve. A better strategy would likely involve targeted vaccination for the most vulnerable, with therapeutics for everyone else. That would reduce the pressure on the virus to mutate while giving natural immunity to the people who were treated early and recovered. And studies indicate natural immunity is up to 27 times more powerful than vaccine-induced immunity. Back to the Same Failed Playbook In the meantime, expect more damage to the economy as resources are wasted in a vain attempt to achieve Zero COVID. Politicians and the bureaucrats who guide them keep reaching for the same playbook, even though the plays didn’t work the first time. Mask mandates, lockdowns, school closings, vaccine mandates and other dictates did nothing to help. The evidence is clear that masks don’t work. Lockdowns turned homes into COVID incubators. The better approach was to encourage people to be outside without masks, getting exercise and fresh air. School closures deprived children of a year of education and the socialization skills that come with it. Will this end anytime soon? In some free states like Florida and New Hampshire (where I live), most of the madness has ended already. But in neo-fascist states like Michigan, Oregon and Washington, the madness continues. “Permanent… Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Permanent” For example, the state of Oregon already had a mask mandate. However, it was issued under rules that make it temporary. This means that the deadline had to be extended from time to time, which requires public notice and possibly hearings. In order to avoid these requirements, Oregon began a process to make the mask mandate permanent. When asked to explain the new policy, the medical director for communicable diseases of the Oregon Health Authority, Dr. Paul Cieslak, defended the decision by saying, “Permanent … doesn’t necessarily mean permanent.” George Orwell must be smiling somewhere at that perfect illustration of Newspeak. It’s amazing how supposedly temporary measures can become permanent. Meanwhile, Fauci was asked on a weekend talk show if we’re ever going to reach a point where we won’t need to wear masks on airplanes. Fauci replied, “I don’t think so.” So you’re always going to need to wear a mask on a plane regardless of the circumstances if Fauci has his way. Here’s another bit of madness: Three months ago an FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly, 16–2, against booster shots for the general public. But three months later, colleges are actually mandating boosters for the upcoming spring semester. What happened to “the science”? Americans Are Fighting Back The American people are increasingly fed up with these contradictory, destructive and non-scientific mandates from the neo-fascist bureaucrats who are mainly pursuing their own agendas. The real solution to the pandemic consists of mutations that attenuate the virus, herd immunity, better treatments, fresh air and exercise. Fauci’s dream of making everyone a vax slave will not last. His failure will require resistance by the general population. That resistance is already taking place. Fauci is conflicted, incompetent and insecure. Moving the goalposts on vaccination is making that clear to the public. He will be deposed and vaccination will be made voluntary, but not yet. In the meantime, expect the madness to continue. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 13:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears ease" optimism to "vaccines won't work" pessimism, before futures took a sudden leg lower, dropping into the red just after 530am ET, following news that UK's Boris Johnson would introduce new restrictions in England to curb Omicron spread, sparking fears that Omicron is more dangerous that expected (and than futures reflected). However, this episode of pessimism proved short-lived because just an hour later, the WSJ confirmed that Omicron is really just a pitch for covid booster shots when it reported that even though the covid vaccine loses significant effectiveness against Omicron in an early study, this is miraculously reversed with a booster shot as three doses of the vaccine were able to neutralize the variant in an initial laboratory study, and the companies said two doses may still protect against severe disease. Futures quickly shot up on the news, spiking above the gamma "all clear" level of 4,700 in a move best summarized with the following chart. And so, after going nowhere, S&P futures climbed for a third day, last seen 12 points, or 0.3% higher, just around 4,700 after rising the most since March on Tuesday. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose following the biggest jump in more than a year. In addition to the omicron soap opera, which as we noted yesterday turns out was just one staged covid booster shot advertisement (because Pfizer and Moderna can always do with a bigger yacth), sentiment was also lifted by Chinese authorities' reversal to "easing mode" and aggressive efforts to limit the fallout from property market woes which lifted risk assets in Asia even as key debt deadlines at China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. passed without any sign of payment. "Clearly in the very short term uncertainty has risen over the Omicron virus... but overall at this stage we do not believe it will derail the macro picture in the medium-term," said Jeremy Gatto, multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion. Treasury yields were little changed after rising across the curve Tuesday. The VIX spiked first on the FT news, then dropped back into the red, while the dollar was flat and crude rose after turning red. Besides macro, micro was also in play and here are some other notable premarket movers Apple (AAPL US) ticks 1% higher in premarket trading following a Nikkei report that the tech giant told suppliers to speed up iPhone output for Nov.-Jan, citing people it didn’t identify. Amazon.com (AMZN US) shares in focus after an Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation Stitch Fix (SFIX US) tumbles 25% in U.S. premarket trading after a 2Q forecast miss that analysts called “surprising,” while customer additions also disappointed Pfizer (PFE US) shares drop 2% in U.S. premarket trading after an early study showed that the company’s vaccine provides less immunity to the omicron variant Dare Bioscience (DARE US) soars 41% in premarket trading after Xaciato gets FDA approval for treating bacterial vaginosis EPAM Systems (EPAM US) soars 8% in premarket after S&P Dow Jones Indices said co. will replace Kansas City Southern in the S&P 500 effective prior to the opening of trading on Dec. 14 Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT US) upgraded to buy from hold and target boosted to Street-high $32 from $29 at Deutsche Bank with the company seen as a major beneficiary from the shift to electric vehicles. Shares up 4.3% in premarket trading NXP Semiconductor (NXPI US) shares slide 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the chipmaker got a new sell rating at UBS Dave & Buster’s (PLAY US) gained 3.5% postmarket after the dining and entertainment company reported EPS that beat the average analyst estimate and authorized a $100 million share buyback program "Every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won't be the curveball to throw the recovery off course," wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially drifted both higher and lower then bounced 0.3% on the favorable Pfizer and BioNTech news one day after posting its bigger surge in a year. European benchmark index earlier rose as much as 2%, dropped 2.1%. Health care sub-index leads gains, rising 1.2%, followed by travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 closed 2.5% higher on Tuesday, biggest gain since November 2020 Earlier in the session, Asia stocks also rose for a second day as concerns about the omicron variant and China’s economic slowdown eased. The MSCI AsiaPacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% after capping its biggest one-day gain in more than three months on Tuesday. Technology and health-care shares provided the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in New Zealand and India -- where the central bank held rates at a record low -- were among the day’s best performers. “The biggest point appealing to investors is that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to be too fatal,” which is encouraging to those who had been going short to close out their positions, said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Tokyo. “Worry that the Chinese economy will lose its growth momentum has subsided quite a bit.” Thus far, Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals while vaccine developments indicate some promise in dealing with the variant. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new strain, protection can be fortified with boosters. The two-day rally in the Asian stock benchmark marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. Stocks in China also climbed for a second day. The nation’s central bank said Monday it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost and helping restore investor confidence In FX, news on the Omicron variant rippled through G-10 currencies after a report the Pfizer vaccine could neutralize the Omicron variant boosted risk appetite. The pound underperformed other Group-of-10 peers, extending declines after reports that the U.K. government is poised to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions.  A gauge of the dollar’s strength fluctuated as Treasuries pare gains and stocks rally after a report that said Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.1277; USD/NOK falls as much as 0.8% to 8.9459, lowest since Nov. 25 Sterling fell against the euro and the dollar, as traders pare bets on the path of Bank of England rate hikes following reports that the U.K. could introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions such as working from home and vaccine passports for large venues. Money markets pare rate hike bets, with just six basis points of interest rate hikes priced in for the BOE meeting next week. GBP/USD falls as much as 0.6% to 1.3163, testing the key level of 1.3165, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of gains since March 2020. EUR/GBP gains as much as 0.7% to 0.85695, the highest since Nov. 11. “The market will probably see this as more U.K. specific and therefore an issue for the pound at least in the short term,” said Stuart Bennett, FX strategist at Santander. In rates, Treasuries were mixed with markets reacting in a risk-on manner to the Dow Jones report that Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. Yields remain richer by less than 1bp across long-end of the curve while front-end trades cheaper on the day, flattening curve spreads. Session’s focal points include $36b 10-year note reopening at 1pm ET, following Tuesday’s strong 3-year note auction. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.475%, near flat on the day; gilts outperform slightly after Financial Times report that further Covid restrictions will be announced imminently to curb the variant’s spread. U.S. 2-year yields were cheaper by 1bp on the day, rose to new 2021 high following Pfizer vaccine report; 2s10s spread erased a flattening move In commodities, crude futures turned red, WTI falling 0.8%, popping back below $72. Spot gold holds Asia’s modest gains, adding $8 to trade near $1,792/oz. Looking at the day ahead, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,693.75 STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 480.55 MXAP up 0.7% to 194.84 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 632.78 Nikkei up 1.4% to 28,860.62 Topix up 0.6% to 2,002.24 Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,996.87 Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,637.57 Sensex up 1.8% to 58,654.25 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,405.45 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,001.80 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,790.33 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.17% to 96.20 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.38% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1286 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19 must inflict significant damage on the euro-area economy for European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to back additional stimulus “The current phase of higher inflation could last longer than expected only some months ago,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos says at event The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new Covid-19 restrictions in England, known as “Plan B,” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reported, citing three senior Whitehall officials familiar with the matter. French economic activity will continue to rise in December, despite another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh uncertainty over the omicron variant, according the Bank of France The Kingdom of Denmark will sell a sovereign green bond for the first time next month to help the Nordic nation meet one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets Tom Hayes, the former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader who became the face of the sprawling Libor scandal, has lost his bid to appeal his U.K. criminal conviction Poland is poised for a hefty increase in interest rates after a spike in inflation to a two- decade high convinced central bankers that spiraling price growth isn’t transitory. Of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 20 expect a 50 basis-point hike to 1.75% today and 10 see the rate rising to 2%. The other two expect a 25 basis-point increase Australia is weighing plans for a central bank-issued digital currency alongside the regulation of the crypto market as it seeks to overhaul how the nation’s consumers and businesses pay for goods and services Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya dropped a strong hint that big firms are in less need of funding support, a comment that will likely fuel speculation the BOJ will scale back its pandemic buying of corporate bonds and commercial paper A detailed summary of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded positively as the region took impetus from the global risk momentum following the tech-led rally in the US, where Apple shares rose to a record high and amid increased optimism that Omicron could be less dangerous than prior variants. This was after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID and NIH's Fauci also suggested that Omicron was 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, although there were some slight headwinds in late Wall Street trade after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. The ASX 200 (+1.3%) was underpinned in which tech led the broad gains across sectors as it found inspiration from the outperformance of big tech stateside, and with energy bolstered by the recent rebound in underlying oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) conformed to the upbeat mood although further advances were capped after USD/JPY eased off the prior day’s highs and following a wider-than-expected contraction to the economy with the final annualised Q3 GDP at -3.6% vs exp. -3.1%. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.2%) were less decisive and initially lagged behind their peers as sentiment was mired by default concerns due to the failure by Evergrande to pay bondholders in the lapsed 30-day grace period on two USD-denominated bond payments and with Kaisa Group in a trading halt after missing the deadline for USD 400mln in offshore debt which didn’t bode well for its affiliates. Furthermore, China Aoyuan Property Group received over USD 650mln in repayment demands and warned it may not be able to meet debt obligations, while a subdued Hong Kong debut for Weibo shares which declined around 6% from the offer price added to the glum mood for Hong Kong’s blue-chip tech stocks, as did reports that China is to tighten rules for tech companies seeking foreign funding. Finally, 10yr JGBs languished after spillover selling from T-notes and due to the heightened global risk appetite, but with downside stemmed by support at the key psychological 152.00 level and amid the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.0tln of JGBs. Top Asian News China Clean Car Sales Spike as Consumers Embrace Electric Gold Edges Higher as Traders Weigh Vaccine Efficacy, Geopolitics Paint Maker Avia Avian Falls in Debut After $763 Million IPO Tokyo Prepares to Introduce Same-Sex Partnerships Next Year Equities in Europe shifted to a lower configuration after a mixed open (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.1%) as sentiment was dented by rumours of tightening COVID measures in the UK. Markets have been awaiting the next catalyst to latch onto for direction amidst a lack of fresh fundamentals. US equity futures have also been dented but to a lesser extent, with the YM (-0.1%) and ES (Unch) straddling behind the NQ (+0.2%) and RTY (+0.2%). Sources in recent trade suggested an 85% chance of the UK implementing COVID Plan B, according to Times' Dunn; reports indicate such restrictions could be implemented on Thursday, with the potential for an announcement today. In terms of the timings, the UK cabinet is penciled in for 15:45GMT and presser for 17:30GMT on Plan B, according to BBC's Goodall. Note, this will not be a formal lockdown but more so work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightlife and numerical restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings. APAC closed in the green across the board following the tech-led rally in the US. The upside overnight was attributed to a continuation of market optimism after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID, albeit after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. Participants will be closely watching any updates from the vaccine-makers, with the BioNTech CEO stating the drugmaker has data coming Wednesday or Thursday related to the new COVID-19 variant, thus markets will be eyeing a potential update this week ahead of the Pfizer investor call next Friday. Back to European, the UK’s FTSE 100 (Unch) and the Swiss SMI (+0.8%) are largely buoyed by their defensive stocks, with sectors seeing a defensive formation, albeit to a slightly lesser extent vs the open. Healthcare retains its top spot closely followed by Food & Beverages, although Personal & Household Goods and Telecoms have moved down the ranks. On the flip side, Retail, Banks and Travel & Leisure trade at the bottom of the bunch, whilst Tech nursed some earlier losses after opening as the lagging sector. In terms of individual movers, Nestle (+1.8%) is bolstered after announcing a CHF 20bln share repurchase programme alongside a stake reduction in L'Oreal (+1.0%) to 20.1% from 23.3% - worth some EUR 9bln. L’Oreal has shrugged off the stake sale and conforms to the firm sectoral performance across the Personal & Household Goods. Meanwhile, chip names are under pressure after Nikkei sources reported that Apple (+0.8% pre-market) was forced to scale back the total output target for 2021, with iPhone and iPad assembly halted for several days due to supply chain constraints and restrictions on the use of power in China, multiple sources told Nikkei. STMicroelectronics (-1.7%) and Infineon (-5.0%) are among the losers, with the latter also weighed on by a broker downgrade at JPM. Top European News ECB’s Kazaks Sets High Bar for Omicron-Driven Extra Stimulus Biden Is Left Guessing Over Putin’s Ultimate Aim in Ukraine Byju’s Buys Austria’s GeoGebra to Bolster Online Math Courses Scholz Elected by Parliament to Take Charge as German Chancellor In FX, the Dollar index continues to hold above 96.000, but bounces have become less pronounced and the range so far today is distinctly narrower (96.285-130) in fitting with the generally restrained trade in pairings within the basket and beyond, bar a few exceptions. Price action suggests a relatively muted midweek session unless a major game-changer arrives and Wednesday’s agenda does not bode that well in terms of catalysts aside from JOLTS and the BoC policy meeting before the second leg of this week’s refunding in the form of Usd 36 bn 10 year notes. AUD/EUR - Notwithstanding the largely contained currency moves noted above, the Aussie is maintaining bullish momentum on specific factors including strength in iron ore prices and encouraging Chinese data plus PBoC easing that should have a positive knock-on effect for one of its main trading partners even though diplomatic relations between the two nations are increasingly strained. Aud/Usd has also cleared a couple of technical hurdles on the way up to circa 0.7143 and Aud/Nzd is firmer on the 1.0500 handle ahead of the RBA’s latest chart pack release and a speech by Governor Lowe. Elsewhere, the Euro has regained composure after its sub-1.1250 tumble on Tuesday vs the Buck and dip through 0.8500 against the Pound, but still faces psychological resistance at 1.1300 and the 21 DMA that comes in at 1.1317 today, while Eur/Gbp needs to breach the 100 DMA (0.8513) convincingly or close above to confirm a change in direction for the cross from a chart perspective. CHF/CAD/JPY/GBP/NZD - All sitting tight in relation to their US counterpart, with the Franc paring some declines between 0.9255-30 parameters and the Loonie straddling 1.2650 in the run up to the aforementioned BoC that is widely seen as a non-event given no new MPR or press conference, not to mention the actual changes in QE and rate guidance last time. Nevertheless, implied volatility is quite high via a 63 pip breakeven for Usd/Cad. Meanwhile, Sterling lost grip of the 1.3200 handle amidst swirling speculation about the UK reverting to plan B and more Tory MPs calling for PM Johnson to resign, the Yen is rotating around 113.50 eyeing broad risk sentiment and US Treasury yields in context of spreads to JGBs, and the Kiwi is lagging after touching 0.6800 awaiting independent impetus from NZ manufacturing sales for Q3. SCANDI/EM - The Nok extended its advantage/outperformance against the Sek as Brent rebounded towards Usd 76/brl in early trade and Riksbank’s Jansson retained reservations about flagging a repo rate hike at the end of the forecast horizon, while the Mxn and Rub also initially derived some support from oil with the latter also taking on board latest hawkish talk from the CBR. However, the Cny and Cnh are outpacing their rivals again with some assistance from a firmer PBoC midpoint fix to hit multi-year peaks vs the Usd and probe 6.3500 ahead of option expiry interest at 6.3000 and a Fib retracement at 6.2946, in stark contrast to the Try that is unwinding recent recovery gains with no help from the latest blast from Turkish President Erdogan - see 10.00GMT post in the Headline Feed for more. Conversely, the Czk has taken heed of CNB’s Holub underscoring tightening signals and expectations for the next rate convene and the Pln and Brl are anticipating hikes from the NBP and BCB. In commodities, crude futures have been hit on the prospect of imminent COVID-related measures in the UK, albeit the measures do not involve lockdowns. Brent and WTI front month futures slipped from European highs to breach APAC lows. The former dipped below USD 74.50/bbl from a USD 76.00/bbl European peak while its WTI counterpart tested USD 71.00/bbl from USD 72.50/bbl at best. Overnight the benchmarks traded on either side the USD 75/bbl mark and just under USD 72/bbl after the weekly Private Inventories printed a larger-than-expected draw (-3.6mln vs exp. -3.1mln), albeit the internals were less bullish. Yesterday also saw the release of the EIA STEO, cut its 2021 world oil demand growth forecast by an insignificant 10k BPD but raised the 2022 metric by 200k BPD – with the IEA and OPEC monthly reports poised to be released next week. On the vaccine front, a small preliminary study of 12 people showed a 40x reduction in neutralization capacity of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron, but early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID. BioNTech CEO said they have data coming in on Wednesday or Thursday related to the new Omicron variant. The geopolitical space is also worth keeping on the radar, with US President Biden yesterday warning Russian President Putin that gas exports via Nord Stream 2 will be targeted and more troops will be deployed if he orders an invasion of Ukraine. Further, reports suggested, an Indian army helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence staff reportedly on board, according to Sputnik. Note, Tamil Nadu is located towards the south of the country and away from conflict zones. Elsewhere spot gold was supported by the overnight pullback in the Dollar, but the recent risk aversion took the yellow metal above the 100 DMA around USD 1,790/oz, with nearby upside levels including the 200 DMA (1,792/oz) and the 50 DMA (1,794/oz). Copper prices meanwhile consolidated within a tight range, with LME copper holding onto a USD 9,500/t handle (just about). Dalian iron ore extended on gains in a continuation of the upside seen in recent trade. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 10.5m, prior 10.4m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that we are currently conducting our special 2022 survey. We ask about rates, equities, bond yields and the path of covid in 2022, amongst other things, and also return to a festive question we asked in 2019, namely your favourite ever Christmas songs. The link is here and it’ll be open until tomorrow. All help filling in very much appreciated. My optimism for life has been shattered this morning. Not from the markets or the virus but just as I woke this morning England cricketers finally surrendered and collapsed in a heap on the first day of the Ashes - one the oldest international rivalries in sport. It was all I could do not to turn round and go back to bed. However out of duty I’m soldering on. After the twins nativity play went without incident yesterday, this morning it’s Maisie’s turn. Given she’s in a wheelchair at the moment she can’t get on stage so they’ve given her a solo singing spot at the start. I’m going so I can bring a bucket for all my wife’s tears as she sings!! If I shed a tear I’ll pretend it’s because of the cricket. The global market rebound continued to gather strength yesterday as investors became increasingly optimistic that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. To be honest, it was more the absence of bad news rather than any concrete good news helping to drive sentiment. Late in the US session we did see some headlines suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine may provide some defence against Omicron but also that the new variant does evade some of the immunity produced by this vaccine. This report of the small study (12 people!!) from South Africa lacked substance but you could take positives and negatives from it. More information is clearly needed. For the markets though, every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won’t be the curveball to throw the recovery off course. Indeed, to get a sense of the scale of the market rebound, both the S&P 500 and the STOXX 600 in Europe have now clocked in their strongest 2-day performances of 2021 so far, with the indices up by +3.27% and +3.76% respectively since the start of the week. Meanwhile, the VIX fell below 25 for the first time in a week. On the day, the S&P 500 (+2.07%) put in its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the STOXX 600 (+2.45%) saw its strongest daily performance since the news that the Pfizer vaccine was successful in trials back in November 2020. Once again the gains were incredibly broad-based, albeit with cyclical sectors leading the way. The Nasdaq (+3.03%) outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in a week as tech shares led the rally. Small cap stocks also had a strong day, with the Russell 2000 up +2.28%, on the back of Omicron optimism. This recovery in risk assets was also seen in the bounceback in oil prices, with Brent crude (+3.23%) and WTI (+3.68%) now both up by more than $5.5/bbl since the start of the week, which puts them well on the way to ending a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines. For further evidence of this increased optimism, we can also look at the way that investors have been dialling back up their estimates of future rate hikes from the Fed, with yesterday seeing another push in this direction. Before the Omicron news hit, Fed fund futures were fully pricing in an initial hike by the June meeting, but by the close on the Monday after Thanksgiving they’d moved down those odds to just 61% in June, with an initial hike not fully priced until September. Fast forward just over a week however, and we’re now not only back to pricing in a June hike, but the odds of a May hike are standing at +78.8%, which is actually higher than the +66.1% chance priced before the Omicron news hit. A reminder that we’re just a week away now from the Fed’s next decision, where it’s hotly anticipated they could accelerate the pace at which they’ll taper their asset purchases. With investors bringing forward their bets on monetary tightening, front-end US Treasury yields were hitting post-pandemic highs yesterday, with the 2yr Treasury yield up +5.8bps to 0.69%, a level we haven’t seen since March 2020. Longer-dated yield increases weren’t as large, with the 10yr yield up +3.9bps to 1.47%, and the 5s30s curve flattened another -1.8bps to 54.4bps, just above the post-pandemic low of 53.7bps. Over in Europe there was similarly a rise in most countries’ bond yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.4bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+4.4bps) all moving higher, though incidentally, the 5s30s curve in Germany was also down -2.2bps to its own post-pandemic low of 50.0bps. One pretty big news story that markets have been relatively unperturbed by so far is the rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. Yesterday saw a video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The US readout from the call did not offer much in the way of concrete details, but if you’re looking for any optimistic news, it said that both sides tasked their teams with following up. Setting the background for the call, there were reports immediately beforehand that the US was considering evacuating their citizens and posturing to stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ruble appreciated +0.42% against the dollar, and is now only slightly weaker versus the dollar on the week. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.49%), CSI (+1.11%), Shanghai Composite (+0.86%) and the KOSPI (+0.78%) as markets respond positively to the Pfizer study mentioned at the top. The Hang Seng (-0.12%) is lagging though. In Japan, the final Q3 GDP contracted -3.6% quarter on quarter annualised against consensus expectations of -3.1% on lower consumer spending than initially estimated. In India, the RBI left the key policy rate unchanged for the ninth consecutive meeting today while underscoring increasing headwinds from the Omicron variant. Futures markets indicate a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.41%) and DAX (+0.12%) futures trading in the green. Back on the pandemic, despite the relative benign news on Omicron, rising global case counts mean that the direction of travel is still towards tougher restrictions across a range of countries. In fact here in the UK, we saw the 7-day average of reported cases move above 48,000 for the first time since January. In terms of fresh restrictions, yesterday saw Canada announce that they’d be extending their vaccine mandate, which will now require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated, including road transportation, telecommunications and banking. In Sweden, the government is preparing a bill that would see Covid passes introduced for gyms and restaurants, while Poland put further measures in place, including remote schooling from December 20 until January 9, while vaccines would become mandatory for health workers, teachers and uniformed services from March 1. One move to ease restrictions came in Austria, where it was confirmed shops would be reopening on Monday, albeit only for those vaccinated, while restaurants and hotels would reopen the following week. If you see our daily charts you’ll see that cases in Austria have dropped sharply since the peaks a couple of weeks ago, albeit still high internationally. In DC, Congressional leaders apparently agreed to a deal that would ultimately lead to the debt ceiling being increased, after some procedural chicanery. Senate Majority Leader McConnell voiced support for the measure, which is a good sign for its ultimate prospects of passing, but it still needs at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass. McConnell indicated the votes would be there when the Senate ultimately takes it up, which is reportedly set to happen this week. The House passed the measure last night. Yields on Treasury bills maturing in December fell following the headlines. Looking ahead, today will mark the end of an era in Germany, as Olaf Scholz is set to become Chancellor in a Bundestag vote later on, marking an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. That vote will simply be a formality given the three parties of the incoming coalition (the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP) have a comfortable majority between them, and the new cabinet will feature 7 SPD ministers, 5 Green ministers, and 4 from the FDP. Among the positions will include Green co-leader Robert Habeck as Vice Chancellor, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as finance minister. Running through yesterday’s data, the US trade deficit narrowed to $67.1bn in October (vs. $66.8bn expected), marking its smallest level since April. Meanwhile in the Euro Area, the latest Q3 growth estimate was left unchanged at +2.2%, but both Q1 and Q2’s growth was revised up a tenth. Over in Germany, industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected +2.8% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), with the previous month’s contraction also revised to show a smaller -0.5% decline. In addition, the expectations component of the December ZEW survey fell by less than expected to 29.9 (vs. 25.4 expected), but the current situation measure fell to a 6-month low of -7.4 (vs. 5.7 expected). To the day ahead now, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:58.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas Exposes The Real COVID Disaster

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas Exposes The Real COVID Disaster Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, I’m a voracious reader of Covid books but nothing could have prepared me for Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, a full and mind-blowing account of the famed scientist’s personal experience with the Covid era and a luridly detailed account of his time at the White House. The book is hot fire, from page one to the last, and will permanently affect your view of not only this pandemic and the policy response but also the workings of public health in general.  Atlas’s book has exposed a scandal for the ages. It is enormously valuable because it fully blows up what seems to be an emerging fake story involving a supposedly Covid-denying president who did nothing vs. heroic scientists in the White House who urged compulsory mitigating measures consistent with prevailing scientific opinion. Not one word of that is true. Atlas’s book, I hope, makes it impossible to tell such tall tales without embarrassment.  Anyone who tells you this fictional story (including Deborah Birx) deserves to have this highly credible treatise tossed in his direction. The book is about the war between real science (and genuine public health), with Atlas as the voice for reason both before and during his time in the White House, vs. the enactment of brutal policies that never stood any chance of controlling the virus while causing tremendous damage to the people, to human liberty, to children in particular, but also to billions of people around the world.  For the reader, the author is our proxy, a reasonable and blunt man trapped in a world of lies, duplicity, backstabbing, opportunism, and fake science. He did his best but could not prevail against a powerful machine that cares nothing for facts, much less outcomes.  If you have heretofore believed that science drives pandemic public policy, this book will shock you. Atlas’s recounting of the unbearably poor thinking on the part of government-based “infectious disease experts” will make your jaw drop (thinking, for example, of Birx’s off-the-cuff theorizing about the relationship between masking and controlling case spreads).  Throughout the book, Atlas points to the enormous cost of the machinery of lockdowns, the preferred method of Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx: missed cancer screenings, missed surgeries, nearly two years of educational losses, bankrupted small business, depression and drug overdoses, overall citizen demoralization, violations of religious freedom, all while public health massively neglected the actual at-risk population in long-term care facilities. Essentially, they were willing to dismantle everything we called civilization in the name of bludgeoning one pathogen without regard to the consequences.  The fake science of population-wide “models” drove policy instead of following the known information about risk profiles. “The one unusual feature of this virus was the fact that children had an extraordinarily low risk,” writes Atlas. “Yet this positive and reassuring news was never emphasized. Instead, with total disregard of the evidence of selective risk consistent with other respiratory viruses, public health officials recommended draconian isolation of everyone.” “Restrictions on liberty were also destructive by inflaming class distinctions with their differential impact,” he writes, “exposing essential workers, sacrificing low-income families and kids, destroying single-parent homes, and eviscerating small businesses, while at the same time large companies were bailed out, elites worked from home with barely an interruption, and the ultra-rich got richer, leveraging their bully pulpit to demonize and cancel those who challenged their preferred policy options.” In the midst of continued chaos, in August 2020, Atlas was called by Trump to help, not as a political appointee, not as a PR man for Trump, not as a DC fixer but as the only person who in nearly a year of unfolding catastrophe had a health-policy focus. He made it clear from the outset that he would only say what he believed to be true; Trump agreed that this was precisely what he wanted and needed. Trump got an earful and gradually came around to a more rational view than that which caused him to wreck the American economy and society with his own hands and against his own instincts.  In Task Force meetings, Atlas was the only person who showed up with studies and on-the-ground information as opposed to mere charts of infections easily downloadable from popular websites. “A bigger surprise was that Fauci did not present scientific research on the pandemic to the group that I witnessed. Likewise, I never heard him speak about his own critical analysis of any published research studies. This was stunning to me. Aside from intermittent status updates about clinical trial enrollments, Fauci served the Task Force by offering an occasional comment or update on vaccine trial participant totals, mostly when the VP would turn to him and ask.” When Atlas spoke up, it was almost always to contradict Fauci/Birx but he received no backing during meetings, only to have many people in attendance later congratulate him for speaking out. Still, he did, by virtue of private meetings, have a convert in Trump himself, but by then it was too late: not even Trump could prevail against the wicked machine he had permissioned into operation.  It’s a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story but applied to matters of public health. From the outset of this disease panic, policy came to be dictated by two government bureaucrats (Fauci and Birx) who, for some reason, were confident in their control over media, bureaucracies, and White House messaging, despite every attempt by the president, Atlas, and a few others to get them to pay attention to the actual science about which Fauci/Birx knew and care little.  When Atlas would raise doubts about Birx, Jared Kushner would repeatedly assure him that “she is 100% MAGA.” Yet we know for certain that this is not true. We know from a different book on the subject that she only took the position with the anticipation that Trump would lose the presidency in the November election. That’s hardly a surprise; it’s the bias expected from a career bureaucrat working for a deep-state institution. Fortunately, we now have this book to set the record straight. It gives every reader an inside look at the workings of a system that wrecked our lives. If the book finally declines to offer an explanation for the hell that was visited upon us – every day we still ask the question why? – it does provide an accounting of the who, when, where, and what. Tragically, too many scientists, media figures, and intellectuals in general went along. Atlas’s account shows exactly what they signed up to defend, and it’s not pretty.  The cliche that kept coming to mind as I read is “breath of fresh air.” That metaphor describes the book perfectly: blessed relief from relentless propaganda. Imagine yourself trapped in an elevator with stultifying air in a building that is on fire and the smoke gradually seeps in from above. Someone is in there with you and he keeps assuring you that everything is fine, when it is obviously not.  That’s a pretty good description of how I felt from March 12, 2020 and onward. That was the day that President Trump spoke to the nation and announced that there would be no more travel from Europe. The tone in his voice was spooky. It was obvious that more was coming. He had clearly fallen sway to extremely bad advice, perhaps he was willing to push lockdowns as a plan to deal with a respiratory virus that was already widespread in the US from perhaps 5 to 6 months earlier.  It was the day that the darkness descended. A day later (March 13), the HHS distributed its lockdown plans for the nation. That weekend, Trump met for many hours with Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and only a few others. He came around to the idea of shutting down the American economy for two weeks. He presided over the calamitous March 16, 2020, press conference, at which Trump promised to beat the virus through general lockdowns.  Of course he had no power to do that directly but he could urge it to happen, all under the completely delusional promise that doing so would solve the virus problem. Two weeks later, the same gang persuaded him to extend the lockdowns.  Trump went along with the advice because it was the only advice he was fed at the time. They made it appear that the only choice that Trump had – if he wanted to beat the virus – was to wage war on his own policies that were pushing for a stronger, healthier economy. After surviving two impeachment attempts, and beating back years of hate from a nearly united media afflicted by severe derangement syndrome, Trump was finally hornswoggled.  Atlas writes: “On this highly important criterion of presidential management—taking responsibility to fully take charge of policy coming from the White House—I believe the president made a massive error in judgment. Against his own gut feeling, he delegated authority to medical bureaucrats, and then he failed to correct that mistake.” The truly tragic fact that both Republicans and Democrats do not want spoken about is that this whole calamity is that did indeed begin with Trump’s decision. On this point, Atlas writes: Yes, the president initially had gone along with the lockdowns proposed by Fauci and Birx, the “fifteen days to slow the spread,” even though he had serious misgivings. But I still believe the reason that he kept repeating his one question—“Do you agree with the initial shutdown?”—whenever he asked questions about the pandemic was precisely because he still had misgivings about it. Large parts of the narrative are devoted to explaining precisely how and to what extent Trump had been betrayed. “They had convinced him to do exactly the opposite of what he would naturally do in any other circumstance,” Atlas writes, that is  “to disregard his own common sense and allow grossly incorrect policy advice to prevail…. This president, widely known for his signature “You’re fired!” declaration, was misled by his closest political intimates. All for fear of what was inevitable anyway—skewering from an already hostile media. And on top of that tragic misjudgment, the election was lost anyway. So much for political strategists.” There are so many valuable parts to the story that I cannot possibly recount them all. The language is brilliant, e.g. he calls the media “the most despicable group of unprincipled liars one could ever imagine.” He proves that assertion in page after page of shocking lies and distortions, mostly driven by political goals.  I was particularly struck by his chapter on testing, mainly because that whole racket mystified me throughout. From the outset, the CDC bungled the testing part of the pandemic story, attempting to keep the tests and process centralized in DC at the very time when the entire nation was in panic. Once that was finally fixed, months too late, mass and indiscriminate PCR testing became the desiderata of success within the White House. The problem was not just with the testing method: “Fragments of dead virus hang around and can generate a positive test for many weeks or months, even though one is not generally contagious after two weeks. Moreover, PCR is extremely sensitive. It detects minute quantities of virus that do not transmit infection…. Even the New York Times wrote in August that 90 percent or more of positive PCR tests falsely implied that someone was contagious. Sadly, during my entire time at the White House, this crucial fact would never even be addressed by anyone other than me at the Task Force meetings, let alone because for any public recommendation, even after I distributed data proving this critical point.” The other problem is the wide assumption that more testing (however inaccurate) of whomever, whenever was always better. This model of maximizing tests seemed like a leftover from the HIV/AIDS crisis in which tracing was mostly useless in practice but at least made some sense in theory. For a widespread and mostly wild respiratory disease transmitted the way a cold virus is transmitted, this method was hopeless from the beginning. It became nothing but make work for tracing bureaucrats and testing enterprises that in the end only provided a fake metric of “success” that served to spread public panic.  Early on, Fauci had clearly said that there was no reason to get tested if you had no symptoms. Later, that common-sense outlook was thrown out the window and replaced with an agenda to test as many people as possible regardless of risk and regardless of symptoms. The resulting data enabled Fauci/Birx to keep everyone in a constant state of alarm. More test positivity to them implied only one thing: more lockdowns. Businesses needed to close harder, we all needed to mask harder, schools needed to stay closed longer, and travel needed to be ever more restricted. That assumption became so entrenched that not even the president’s own wishes (which had changed from Spring to Summer) made any difference.  Atlas’s first job, then, was to challenge this whole indiscriminate testing agenda. To his mind, testing needed to be about more than accumulating endless amounts of data, much of it without meaning; instead, testing should be directed toward a public-health goal. The people who needed tests were the vulnerable populations, particularly those in nursing homes, with the goal of saving lives among those who were actually threatened with severe outcomes. This push to test, contact trace, and quarantine anyone and everyone regardless of known risk was a huge distraction, and also caused huge disruption in schooling and enterprise.  To fix it meant changing the CDC guidelines. Atlas’s story of attempting to do that is eye-opening. He wrestled with every manner of bureaucrat and managed to get new guidelines written, only to find that they had been mysteriously reverted to the old guidelines one week later. He caught the “error” and insisted that his version prevail. Once they were issued by the CDC, the national press was all over it, with the story that the White House was pressuring the scientists at the CDC in terrible ways. After a week-long media storm, the guidelines changed yet again. All of Atlas’s work was made null.  Talk about discouraging! It was also Atlas’s first full experience in dealing with deep-state machinations. It was this way throughout the lockdown period, a machinery in place to implement, encourage, and enforce endless restrictions but no one person in particular was there to take responsibility for the policies or the outcomes, even as the ostensible head of state (Trump) was on record both publicly and privately opposing the policies that no one could seem to stop.  As an example of this, Atlas tells the story of bringing some massively important scientists to the White House to speak with Trump: Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Joseph Ladapo, and Cody Meissner. People around the president thought the idea was great. But somehow the meeting kept being delayed. Again and again. When it finally went ahead, the schedulers only allowed for 5 minutes. But once they met with Trump himself, the president had other ideas and prolonged the meeting for an hour and a half, asking the scientists all kinds of questions about viruses, policy, the initial lockdowns, the risks to individuals, and so on.  The president was so impressed with their views and knowledge – what a dramatic change that must have been for him – that he invited filming to be done plus pictures to be taken. He wanted to make it a big public splash. It never happened. Literally. White House press somehow got the message that this meeting never happened. The first anyone will have known about it other than White House employees is from Atlas’s book.  Two months later, Atlas was instrumental in bringing in not only two of those scientists but also the famed Sunetra Gupta of Oxford. They met with the HHS secretary but this meeting too was buried in the press. No dissent was allowed. The bureaucrats were in charge, regardless of the wishes of the president.  Another case in point was during Trump’s own bout with Covid in early October. Atlas was nearly sure that he would be fine but he was forbidden from talking to the press. The entire White House communications office was frozen for four days, with no one speaking to the press. This was against Trump’s own wishes. This left the media to speculate that he was on his deathbed, so when he came back to the White House and announced that Covid is not to be feared, it was a shock to the nation. From my own point of view, this was truly Trump’s finest moment. To learn of the internal machinations happening behind the scenes is pretty shocking.  I can’t possibly cover the wealth of material in this book, and I expect this brief review to be one of several that I write. I do have a few disagreements. First, I think the author is too uncritical toward Operation Warp Speed and doesn’t really address how the vaccines were wildly oversold, to say nothing of growing concerns about safety, which were not addressed in the trials. Second, he seems to approve of Trump’s March 12th travel restrictions, which struck me as brutal and pointless, and the real beginning of the unfolding disaster. Third, Atlas inadvertently seems to perpetuate the distortion that Trump recommended ingesting bleach during a press conference. I know that this was all over the papers. But I’ve read the transcript of that press conference several times and find nothing like this. Trump actually makes clear that he was speaking about cleaning surfaces. This might be yet another case of outright media lies.  All that aside, this book reveals everything about the insanity of 2020 and 2021, years in which good sense, good science, historical precedent, human rights, and concerns for human liberty were all thrown into the trash, not just in the US but all over the world. Atlas summarizes the big picture: “in considering all the surprising events that unfolded in this past year, two in particular stand out. I have been shocked at the enormous power of government officials to unilaterally decree a sudden and severe shutdown of society—to simply close businesses and schools by edict, restrict personal movements, mandate behavior, regulate interactions with our family members, and eliminate our most basic freedoms, without any defined end and with little accountability.” Atlas is correct that “the management of this pandemic has left a stain on many of America’s once noble institutions, including our elite universities, research institutes and journals, and public health agencies. Earning it back will not be easy.”  Internationally, we have Sweden as an example of a country that (mostly) kept its sanity. Domestically, we have South Dakota as an example of a place that stayed open, preserving freedom throughout. And thanks in large part to Atlas’s behind-the-scenes work, we have the example of Florida, whose governor did care about the actual science and ended up preserving freedom in the state even as the elderly population there experienced the greatest possible protection from the virus.  We all owe Atlas an enormous debt of gratitude, for it was he who persuaded the Florida governor to choose the path of focussed protection as advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration, which Atlas cites as the “single document that will go down as one of the most important publications in the pandemic, as it lent undeniable credibility to focused protection and provided courage to thousands of additional medical scientists and public health leaders to come forward.” Atlas experienced the slings, arrows, and worse. The media and the bureaucrats tried to shut him up, shut him down, and body bag him professionally and personally. Cancelled, meaning removed from the roster of functional, dignified human beings. Even colleagues at Stanford University joined in the lynch mob, much to their disgrace. And yet this book is that of a man who has prevailed against them. In that sense, this book is easily the most crucial first-person account we have so far. It is gripping, revealing, devastating for the lockdowners and their vaccine-mandating successors, and a true classic that will stand the test of time. It’s simply not possible to write the history of this disaster without a close examination of this erudite first-hand account.  Tyler Durden Sun, 11/28/2021 - 12:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2021

Bureaucrat"s False Promise: Take Two COVID Shots And We Will Reopen

Bureaucrat's False Promise: Take Two COVID Shots And We Will Reopen Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com, More lockdowns are underway in Europe. What happened to reopen promises? Fury Over Lockdowns  Global markets are reeling in the wake of more lockdowns and threats of them. The Economist (paywall) notes surge of deadly covid cases in Europe is met by popular fury over lockdowns. The sight of 40,000 unvaccinated Austrians marching through their capital, Vienna, in recent days was troubling twice over. The tightly packed opponents of lockdown measures were at risk of spreading the coronavirus. They also threatened to stir up an already tense political situation. Karl Nehammer, Austria’s interior minister, warned that anti-vaxxers in the Alpine republic are growing more radicalised. He called the demonstration’s mood “incensed” and “aggressive”. Some protesters were extremely provocative, carrying placards likening Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s new chancellor, to Josef Mengele, the sadistic physician at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. The protesters were marching against Austria’s increasingly tough measures against anti-vaxxers. On November 22nd the government imposed a full lockdown once again, to last for at least ten days. That compels Austria’s 9m people to hunker down at home, leaving only for work, essential shopping and exercise. Austria is also the first Western democracy to make covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all, starting on February 1st 2022. “For a long time—maybe too long—I and others assumed that it must be possible to convince people in Austria to get vaccinated voluntarily,” said Mr Schallenberg when he announced his “very difficult” decision. Let Our Guard Down The Washington Post (paywalled) reports ‘We let our guard down’: Frustrated Europe heads into second pandemic winter Life was finally starting to feel normal. An online flier for an October party in this Belgian beach town cursed the coronavirus and invited people to dance and drink again, to “get your clacker back from the attic” and kick off Carnival season. Hundreds attended that event and another Carnival party the next night. Most of the town is vaccinated, and people were required to show proof, or a recent negative test, to enter. But it wasn’t enough. Coronavirus cases spiked the week after. Officials worried about pressure on the local hospital. And soon the town found itself under semi-lockdown once more. As Americans catch up with family and friends this holiday week, with some trepidation about enduring risk, Europe is facing another wave of the virus — and a gloomy and frustrating second pandemic winter. New Heavily Mutated Covid Variant CNBC reports Belgium Confirms Case of New, Heavily Mutated Covid Variant. The emerging variant arrives in Europe amid an already devastating Covid surge linked to the delta strain. Europe saw more than 2.4 million new Covid cases over the week ended Nov. 21, an increase of 11% from the previous seven days, according to the WHO’s most recent epidemiological update. Europe represented 67% of all Covid cases reported globally during that span, the WHO measured. Belgium tightened restrictions this week to stop the spread of the virus, requiring people to work from home four days a week through the middle of December. Austria started its fourth lockdown of the pandemic on Monday, with a nationwide vaccine mandate scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has said that the lockdown will last for at most 20 days. New Lockdowns and Restrictions Slovakia declared a two-week lockdown on Wednesday. People can leave home for a limited number of reasons, including buying groceries, going to work and to school, and getting vaccinated. And starting next week, all workers will have to show they’ve been vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus or had a recent negative test. Austria, imposed a lockdown that will last at least 10 days and up to 20.  The Netherlands ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. Belgium has mandated that all but essential employees work from home four days a week. Belgium also reinstituted an indoor mask mandate this month. Merkel pushed for a German lockdown as its death toll passed 100,000. The U.K.  halted flights from six countries in the region, and European Union member states have collectively agree to pause travel to and from southern Africa. Singapore banned flights from southern Africa Japan is increasing border controls for travelers from the region. Italy requires proof of vaccination or recovery for access to many parts of public life. Vaccination restrictions fcome into effect on December 6 and last until January 15. Mess in Germany  Eurointelligence comments on Germany's Federal Virus. The massive outbreak in Covid-19 hospitalizations and fatalities in Germany raises disturbing questions about who is in charge. Having failed to achieve the right levels of vaccine procurement early on during the pandemic, the German authorities have repeated the same mistake. They did not procure the booster shots they needed. They have not set up a network of vaccination centres to deliver them rapidly. As of this weekend, only 11.4% of the population has received booster shots. It is very difficult to get an appointment. Only doctor's surgeries are allowed to deliver them. The network has not been expanded to pharmacies.  So why is this happening again? The answer is that the German healthcare system, well-funded as it is, is not set up for a pandemic, or indeed for public health emergencies in general. This is a publicly-funded, but privately run, healthcare system. The states are in charge of the local healthcare administrations and hospitals. Health insurance is a matter for the federal government, but states supervise the health insurance companies. What can possibly go wrong? Message From German Stats In Germany, over 45% of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are fully vaccinated. That last stat sounds more shocking than it really is. Germany is 68% fully vaccinated. Thus 55% of the hospitalizations cases come from 32% of the population. Only 11% of Germany received a booster. Given vaccinations wear off, the proper take away is get a booster, not flout the stats.  Vaccine Mandate US In the US, the Biden administration imposed a vaccine mandate vis OSHA on companies with more than 100 employees. On November 15, I noted Appeals Court Blocks Biden's Vaccine Mandate in a Blistering Rebuke The rebuke was a huge attack on the competence of Biden's mandate. My position, upfront was the mandate was unconstitutional.  Given multiple attacks on the mandate, jurisdiction, the case moved from the 5th Circuit to the 6th Circuit, where Biden doubled down.  On November 23, I commented Biden Doubles Down on Vaccine Mandate With Another Circuit Court The justice department files an emergency motion with the 6th circuit court arguing the 5th circuit's postponement of the OSHA vaccine mandate was unjustified I strongly suspect the 6th Circuit will reaffirm the previous ruling. Meanwhile, protests or not, mutations go on and on.  What Covid Lockdowns and Disruptions in Europe Signal to the U.S. False Promise "Take two shots and we will reopen society. That turned out to be a false promise." It's been one false promise after another, by Dr. Fauci, by Trump, by Biden, by Merkel, globally everywhere. Trust is essentially gone and rising protests are proof. *  *  * Like these reports? If so, please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts. Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 13:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 27th, 2021

Courageous LA County Sheriff Tells The Truth About COVID Vax Mandates

Courageous LA County Sheriff Tells The Truth About COVID Vax Mandates Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, The battle over the attempted forced vaccination of 100% of the American population regardless of scientific reason or prudence has brought out the absolute worst within a certain group of people in our society. They are showing their true colors as the authoritarians they really are, desperately clamoring for the power to compel people they don’t know or care about to submit to an experimental covid “vaccine” with no long term testing to prove its safety. I noted this trend in detail in my recent article ‘Noam Chomsky Goes Off The Deep End – Proving All Socialism Leads To Tyranny’, and I have to say, there are some folks out there that are shockingly monstrous just under the surface. It makes one realize how the dictatorships and genocides of the 20th Century were made possible. Historians tend to blame the idea of the “charismatic dictator” for the rise of totalitarianism within any given culture, as if all it takes is a single well dressed and well spoken figure with the ability to manipulate the emotional output of the masses into doing things they would not otherwise do. This is a fantasy. In reality, dictators and oligarchs cannot come to power without the avid support of a certain subset of the population that WANTS and LOVES tyranny. That is to say, authoritarians in government appeal to the rotten core of the worst of humanity – the sociopaths, the narcissists, the psychopaths, the control freaks and micromanagers. They work hand-in-hand with the aberrant and the fearful, the deceitful and the grotesque, and they align with such people to make it appear as though authoritarianism is an overwhelming desire of the majority when it is actually the deviant thirst of an aggressive minority. Of course, as in physics, there is no action within human society without an equal and opposite reaction. Just as the covid mandates have brought out the worst in some people, they have also brought out the best in others. The people who love and respect logic, reason and individual liberty are massing. We are legion, and I have been consistently surprised at how many of us there are within government institutions including law enforcement. The Sheriff of LA County, Alex Villanueva, proved his courage this week with a public media address covering the destructive effects of the covid mandates on his own department, using cold hard data to show that thousands of personnel and deputies, 30% of the Sheriff’s department, will be leaving or will be forced out of work by LA County if the vaccine mandates move forward in January. He also faced down a torrent of some of the dumbest and most vitriolic questions I have ever heard from a crowd of clearly biased “journalists” (i.e. leftist activists) scrambling to cast doubt on the sheriff and his data. I recommend watching Sheriff Villanueva’s even handed and rational presentation in full here: Keep in mind that the Sheriff is a vaccinated person, but he continues to defend the rights of his deputies to make personal informed decisions on the jab. Being anti-mandate does not mean a person is necessarily “anti-vax”. I think the sheriff did an admirable job presenting his case so I won’t rehash it here. However, what I do want to talk about is some of the INSANE rhetoric coming form the reporters in the crowd as they tried to confront and brow-beat him on his information and personal stance. There were some facts that the Sheriff put forward that the media seemed to be especially triggered by, so let’s talk about these issues for a moment… Covid Mandates Are Not Laws Multiple leftist reporters were extremely perturbed by the notion that Sheriff Department personnel could be “allowed” to defy the mandates at all. This was perhaps the most revealing line of questioning from the media, showcasing their complete lack of knowledge on constitutional law and their inherent hunger for control. Primarily, the questioning asserted that deputies and other staff would be “breaking the law” by refusing to comply with the mandates, and the media compared non-compliance with the jab to criminal non-compliance with a traffic stop. Sheriff Villanueva rightly reminded reporters that covid mandates are NOT laws. The reporters didn’t seem to understand. One of them even suggested that this argument was “semantics”. No, it is not semantics. If mandates are “laws”, then our country’s legal system should be done away with entirely and all decisions should be made from on high by executive fiat, making people like Biden and his handlers dictators by default. Laws are passed by legislatures or voted on by the citizenry in the US. The vax mandates are what is called “Color of Law”; they are dictates passed down by executive order or through bureaucracy with no checks and balances and are presented as laws when they are not. There is no allowance for “mandates” in the US Constitution, and I would also remind covid cultists that there is also no allowance for “emergency powers” within the Bill of Rights. The government does not get to wake up one day and decide which rights you are allowed to have and which rights you are not allowed to have based on their arbitrary perception of a national emergency. Our rights our sacrosanct and not subject to the whims of government. One reporter asks if the Sheriff is supporting the idea that people should be allowed to pick and choose which laws they want to obey. The Sheriff says of course not, but this question is disingenuous at its core and assumes that “laws” are sacred in and of themselves. If a law is unconstitutional and immoral, then yes, each person absolutely has the right to shrug off that law. Laws do not matter. All that matters is what is right and what is wrong. One would hope that our society’s laws will reflect our society’s values and principles, but sometimes they stand in direct opposition to our moral compass. Covid mandates are not laws, and even if they were they would be both unconstitutional and immoral laws that do not deserve our respect. There is nothing wrong with refusing to obey an illegal and immoral order. Covid Cultists Don’t Think People Should Be Allowed To Leave Their Jobs Without Punishment I always thought that losing one’s job WAS supposed to be the punishment for being unvaxxed. Apparently this is not enough for the covid cultists. Reporters insinuate that people who don’t comply with the vax should be criminally prosecuted under the mandates (which are not laws), just as a person would be criminally prosecuted for not complying with a deputy during a traffic stop. This confirms my suspicion that leftists did not expect such a large number of people to risk their jobs to defy the mandates. Leftists and pro-authoritarians have no concept of valuing principles over one’s own comfort or safety, and so the large national opposition to the mandates has caught them off guard. Now they are facing the prospect that THEY will have to suffer real world consequences for their support of vax authoritarianism, and the leftists don’t like that. The Sheriff logically outlines the facts on the ground in terms of personnel and how many will be leaving or will be fired due to the mandates, and the numbers hit hard. With at least 30% of the department gone, law enforcement in LA County will be effectively crippled. They are already short-staffed as it is because of the LA County Board Of Supervisors and their woke agenda to “defund the police”. Suddenly, losing their police force is not sitting well with those same woke activists. The media was very aggressive in trying to cast doubt on the idea that many deputies and staff were leaving because of the mandates, which the Sheriff squashed immediately by making it clear that the losses could only be attributed to vax requirements and any other suggestion would be disingenuous. The bottom line is this: The system as we know it will shut down if the mandates are enforced. This is why Joe Biden and friends are waiting to enforce the mandates until AFTER the Christmas season. They know that businesses and industries across the board will be hobbled by the loss of 30% or more of their workers and that many government institutions will be unable to function with the loss of 10% of staff, let alone 30% or more. The media is already trying to paint the narrative that people forced out of their jobs because of the mandates are the BAD GUYS, not the victims. This is classic leftist gaslighting. They attack the population with their edicts, they offer a non-choice in terms of compliance, and then when a large number of people choose to make sacrifices rather than submit, the authoritarians label those people “criminals.” In other words, the message is: “Because you will not submit to my tyranny, you are hurting society. Your lack of submission to my authoritarianism is an attack on me and the greater good.” The Narrative Is More Important To Covid Cultists Than The Facts Reporters then argued that the Sheriff should be “evangelizing” for the vaccines instead of giving such a presentation. I find this use of language interesting. I have long said that pro-vaxxers are a kind of cult that ignores the science and has turned the national medical response into a political witch hunt against conservatives and liberty minded people. The media thinks the Sheriff of LA County should be “evangelizing” to his staff, which means they want him to stop publicly sharing data that disagrees with their religion because it could derail what they believe to be a “righteous crusade”. But the vax mandates have nothing to do with public health and everything to do with public control. Sheriff Villanueva rightly points out that people who are vaccinated should not be worried about the vax status of the person next to them. As I have argued over and over again ever since the vaccines were introduced: If the vaccines work then the unvaccinated pose no threat whatsoever to the vaccinated. If they don’t work, then why are they trying to mandate them in the first place? Vaccinated people still actively spread the virus. Highly vaccinated countries like Israel have the highest infection rates in the world. Vaccinated people make up the bulk of hospitalizations and deaths in majority vaccinated countries. Unvaccinated people who have natural immunity are up to 27 times more protected from covid than people who take the vaccines. These are the facts. Furthermore, the media absolutely refuses to openly discuss the actual death rate of the covid virus. The median Infection Fatality Rate of covid is a mere 0.27% according to the medical establishment and numerous peer reviewed studies. Who are the unvaxxed a threat to? 0.2% of the population? Why don’t those people take the vax and leave the rest of us alone? Does the science not matter anymore? There is no evidence that shows that the unvaccinated pose a threat to anyone. None. Zero. Yet, covid cultists are calling for the unvaxxed to suffer joblessness, poverty and possibly criminal prosecution for refusing to comply. This is madness, and when you allow insane people to take control of your society, collapse is sure to follow. I suspect that the media will attempt to bury this presentation by Sheriff Villanueva because it destroys the narrative that an overwhelming majority of law enforcement and other government employees are on board with the vax mandates. It also runs contrary to a number of lies surrounding the justifications for the experimental vaccines in general. Finally, the media reaction is so ridiculous and unhinged that one immediately sees the difference between the covid cult and a normal rational person like the Sheriff. They come off as zealots while he presents as wise. I applaud his reserve and calm demeanor in the face of such rabid stupidity, and I applaud his bravery in standing for truth in an era when truth is vilified. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/08/2021 - 13:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 8th, 2021

Even the pope is on board with the labor shortage, urging prayers for "people who suffer from depression or burnout"

In November, Pope Francis I told parishioners "there is no solution" to their burnout but that "all who labor and are heavy laden" deserve prayer. Pope Francis I. Franco Origlia / Getty Images Pope Francis I addressed the labor shortage in his November prayer intentions. He Tweeted: "Let us #PrayTogether that people who suffer from depression or burn-out will find support and a light that opens them up to life." He also cited Jesus: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Overwork and work-related stress cause many people to experience extreme exhaustion - mental, emotional, affective, and physical exhaustion."No, that's not a public service announcement or an editorial about the labor shortage in an outlet like, say, Insider.It's a statement from "the people's pope" himself, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis I.He wrote on Twitter of prayers "that people who suffer from depression or burnout will find support and a light that opens them up to life."-Pope Francis (@Pontifex) November 3, 2021 His November prayer intention tackles labor issues head-on and, as is characteristic of the pope who has broken with Catholic tradition in a variety of progressive ways, Francis was pro-worker in his statement. Tackling the changing of the seasons, his prayer surveyed the seasonal affective disorder that arises in the Northern Hemisphere, as "sadness, apathy, and spiritual tiredness end up dominating people's lives, who are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today."Some react to these feelings by turning to false promises of solutions to these spiritual problems but, the pope said, "There is no solution."Instead he counsels turning to the words of Jesus, particularly those that pertain to the labor market: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."More progressive than the restPope Francis is no stranger to weighing in on the socioeconomic troubles of the world. In an October speech, the bishop of Rome offered an entire litany of prayers directly calling on corporate and financial elites to address inequalities.In that speech, Francis asked pharmaceutical companies to open up vaccine patents, mining, and oil businesses to promote conservation, and tech companies to "stop exploiting human weakness, people's vulnerability, for the sake of profits without caring about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories, and political manipulation."Francis has often taken a more activist tone than his predecessors, emphasizing a more leftist approach to the woes of the poor and downtrodden in the spirit of the liberation theology tradition in the Catholic Church. He has often drawn the ire of more conservative priests and bishops, including a 2019 letter from 19 priests and academics calling for his denouncement as a heretic over some of his more liberal positions.Workplace stress is just the latest issue Francis is taking on.Cases of burnout have been increasing at an alarming rate. The World Health Organization classified burnout as a "syndrome" in 2019, medically legitimizing the condition for the first time. It's a growing problem in today's workplace because of trends like rising workloads, limited staff and resources, and long hours.Millennials in particular have reported they suffer from higher rates of burnout than other generations, because of longer work hours and stagnant wages. In a viral BuzzFeed article, Anne Helen Petersen coined them as the "burnout generation," attributing the phenomenon to millennials' upbringings and the economic environment they grew up in.Burnout has come to a head during the era of remote work, as the labor force undergoes a Great Resignation with millions quitting their jobs. Older millennials (along with younger Gen Xers) are leading the way, according to the Harvard Business Review, in part because of higher demand for mid-level workers and because the pandemic has caused some to reevaluate what they want in both their job and in life.Since nobody has figured out a solution to the labor shortage yet, prayers might just help.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 3rd, 2021

Firefighters Say Florida County"s Vaccine Mandate Causing Rifts Among First Responders That Compromise Public Safety

Firefighters Say Florida County's Vaccine Mandate Causing Rifts Among First Responders That Compromise Public Safety By Nanette Holt of The Epoch Times Firefighter, paramedic, dispatcher, and EMT morale in Florida’s fifth most-populous county is so low due to a vaccine mandate that public safety is being compromised, first responders say. About 500 of the men and women who fight fires and rush to medical 911 calls are receiving written reprimands in their employment files for refusing to take the vaccine for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. Many say they fear the vaccine because they’ve responded to daily calls to the homes of people who’ve been seriously harmed or died shortly after the injection, says a spokesman for the group, firefighter Jason Wheat. Others object because they feel they should have a right to choose what to put in their bodies or have religious objections. The resulting infighting over who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t is causing so much strife within the department that many first responders are distracted, stressed, and unable to work well as a team, Wheat said. The Epoch Times spoke with another firefighter, a lieutenant, and a firefighter who is married to another firefighter. All described intense pressure at work that has brought about exhaustion, depression, family troubles, harassment, and a frightening lack of cooperation and teamwork. Two expressed dismay about three recent suicides among department workers. They blamed the stress that has plagued the department since the pandemic began. Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Lisa McDonald declined to comment. Orange County firemen use a hose to fill protective barriers with water in front of the booking and release center at the Orange County Jail July 15, 2011 in Orlando, Florida  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Wheat and 42 colleagues are suing Orange County. An attorney for the group filed a motion on Oct. 1 asking for an emergency injunction to block the county from requiring employees to submit to unwanted vaccinations. Employees say they were at first told that they’d be fired if they didn’t take the vaccines. Later, the county changed the plan to issuing written reprimands, employees said. The department would not have been able to provide services properly if there was a sudden loss of 500 employees, about 38 percent of the department, the firefighter said. The lawsuit filed by employees challenges an executive order by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. The order required employees, including those in the Fire and Rescue Department, to receive at least one shot by the end of last month. Attorneys for the county have declined to comment on the matter because litigation is pending. The conflict between Orange County and first responders further escalated on Oct. 19, when a fire battalion chief, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, was fired for refusing to discipline department employees listed as unvaccinated. Stephen Davis “was terminated on the grounds of failure to follow a direct order,” confirmed Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Lisa McDonald. “The insubordination was the result of his refusal to issue disciplinary action on Oct. 5.” Davis was hired in April of 2007 and promoted to Battalion Chief in 2018, she said, declining to comment further. Davis has said he refused to issue written reprimands to people under his command because the vaccine requirement is unlawful. Some employees on the list for disciplinary action had already submitted religious exemptions that were approved, he said. Supervisors told him the employee records would be rectified later. His firing caused department morale to sink even lower, said Wheat, a 17-year veteran and Florida’s 2019 Firefighter of the Year. “It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it,” he says. Others in the department echoed his assessment. Unvaccinated workers officially are required to be tested for COVID-19 once a week, he said. But sometimes, they’re forced to test a second time. And the tests often are past their expiration date, he and others told The Epoch Times. Vaccinated workers make slurs about the “dirty unvaccinated,” Wheat said. The tension between the vaccinated and unvaccinated grows daily, fire and rescue employees said. As a result, the number of firefighters calling in sick is up, which forces colleagues to work extra-long shifts that leave them exhausted. Some are quitting and taking jobs elsewhere. “The people of Orange County are being hurt,” Wheat said. Fire and rescue workers “are fighting with each other, not concentrating on their jobs. Safety is a problem. “We love this job so much because we want to help people. But when you’re distracted, it’s not good for the public.” Fear of disciplinary action or job loss is causing extreme anxiety among the first responders, several department employees said. Some colleagues have called Wheat in tears, expressing anger, alarm, sadness, and frustration. “We’re with the people on our shift more than our families,” said Wheat, 43. “It’s a shame. This has destroyed our department.” Some have told him the strain has destroyed their marriages. “I’ve been getting a lot of hate mail from citizens saying, ‘Go get the vaccine — stop being a punk!’ and lots of worse words than that.” But “I don’t need it,” he said. He discovered he had the virus 16 months ago when he went in for pre-surgery testing. Tests show he has antibodies now. “But we’re not for or against the vaccine. It’s about freedom of choice. If we’re of sound mind, we should be able to decide what we put in our bodies.” Firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs do have good reasons to fear the vaccine, he said. After President Joe Biden encouraged employers to mandate vaccines, first responders raced daily to 911 calls from people who had just had the shot and believed it had hurt them. Strokes, seizures, fainting, serious illness, heart palpitations, blood clots, and enlarged hearts were only some of the problems that seemed, to him and his colleagues, to be the result of a vaccination. A first responder provided The Epoch Times transcripts of notes describing the deaths of two patients who had just had the vaccine and had no other known health conditions. In September, Wheat created the nonprofit Operation Freedom of Choice. Now, representatives of 15 fire departments and unions in Florida meet weekly to discuss the latest on vaccine mandates and how their colleagues are holding up under the pressure. Taking up their fight is Rachel Rodriguez, a West Palm Beach attorney representing Wheat and the 42 others against Orange County. She says the lawsuit shouldn’t be seen as partisan. “The issue here is lawlessness, force, and tyranny,” she said. “I feel really privileged to work on this case because, my goodness, our republic is in trouble. I’m honored to be working with people who are standing up” for what they believe is right. Rodriguez is upset that her clients worked through the pandemic, responding to calls in person when many other county workers carried out their duties working remotely from the safety of their homes. Those same first responders, who had been lauded as heroes, now have to worry about how written reprimands will affect their employment. Orange County Fire Rescue serves more than one million residents and responded to 124,000 calls in the past fiscal year when many seeking help were experiencing serious symptoms of COVID-19. Rodriguez questions why Orange County is still under a state of emergency, a condition Florida law allows for up to 42 days. The state of emergency that allowed Mayor Demings to issue the vaccine mandate should have expired Sept. 7, she says. The mayor has said publicly that employees won’t be fired for not taking the vaccine. “But my clients don’t have assurance of that,” she says. “This is lawlessness versus rule of law and order.” One Orange County commissioner asked during a public meeting if liability for wrongful death could be imposed on unvaccinated workers of Orange County Fire Rescue for exposing “an innocent person…to something deadly.” Rodriguez is working with a loosely affiliated group of allied attorneys around the country who are sharing files and strategies. The group was organized by fellow Florida attorney Jeff Childers, of Gainesville, who turned over his corporate law practice to other lawyers so he could focus solely on what he calls “freedom cases.” He’s been taking on and assisting in those cases without requiring a promise to pay. And he and other attorneys in the group have been helping with cases like Rodriguez’s and others around the country Also jumping into the fray is Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, who asked the Circuit Court in Orange County Wednesday for permission to file an amicus brief in the case. An amicus brief is filed to show support for one side in a case and to present additional information, such as how others will be affected by the issues addressed in the case. “These local politicians are abusing their authority and trying to ruin the careers of so many of our courageous firefighters,” Moody said in a news release. In a further show of support from the state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials held a news conference with the chief fired for insubordination and others from Orange County. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis receives a signed helmet from Brandon Webb, Battalion Chief, Special Operations Division Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue during an event to give out bonuses to first responders held at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on August 10, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) “Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” DeSantis said. “When the vaccines first came out, we worked very hard to provide it, particularly to our elderly, but we said from Day One: we will make it available for all, but we will mandate it on none, because ultimately we want individuals to make the determinations about what is right for them. “I want a state in which people are able to maintain their livelihoods, earn a living, and provide for their families. And if the federal government or big corporations are hurting people, then we have a responsibility to step up and lead.” Later that day at a press briefing, Orange County Mayor Demings struck back, accusing the Governor of using firefighters to create “political theater.” The mayor’s wife is U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D), a former Orlando police chief, who is challenging Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican. The mayor’s son, Antonio Demings, works for Orange County Fire Rescue, as the chief of safety and wellness. “If you ask me what is my response to the Governor or anyone else,” Mayor Demings said, “I say these simple words: bring it on.” Tyler Durden Mon, 10/25/2021 - 11:04.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 25th, 2021

Southwest Air Asks Court to Reject Effort to Block COVID-19 Shots

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is trying to stop the airline from enforcing the Nov. 24 deadline for shots Southwest Airlines Co. asked a federal court to reject a request from its pilots to temporarily block the carrier from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations, saying such an order would put the company’s business, employees and customers at risk. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is seeking to stop the airline from moving ahead with the Nov. 24 deadline for the shots until an existing a lawsuit it filed over alleged U.S. labor law violations is resolved. The union claims Southwest illegally changed work rules during the pandemic instead of negotiating them with pilots. The carrier set the vaccination deadline to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden that mandates all employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covld-19 by Dec. 8. Southwest, like most major U.S. carriers, holds contracts to carry federal employees and goods, and the U.S. government is its largest single customer, the Dallas-based airline said in a legal filing Saturday. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “The injunction that SWAPA seeks is extraordinary,” Southwest said. If granted, it would prevent the airline from meeting Biden’s order and force the roll back of policies adopted to implement U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. The possible cancellation of Southwest’s government contracts would cause “substantial harm” to the company and all of its employees, including the pilots represented by group, the airline said. ‘Unilateral changes’ The union’s original lawsuit, filed in federal court in Dallas on Aug. 30, claimed Southwest has continued to make unilateral changes that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, or RLA, which governs airline-union relations. In addition to the vaccination requirement, the union wants to block Covid quarantine rules for pilots and an infectious disease control policy that, it says, significantly altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay, until the two sides agree on a resolution. The changes violate a “status quo” provision of the RLA by not maintaining terms of an existing contract during negotiations, the union lawsuit claimed. The federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case because it involves a “minor dispute” under the RLA that can be resolved through binding arbitration instead of a negotiation process for larger disagreements that can take years to resolve, the carrier said. The union also can’t show irreparable harm because it is in talks with the airline to establish a process for pilots to request religious or medical exemptions from the mandate. Pilots are at a unique risk because adverse reactions to a vaccine could affect their ability to pass periodic medical examinations required to maintain their license. The union wants to negotiate, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies. Pilots also are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to not work for 48 hours after receiving vaccinations. Southwest has engaged with the union to resolve disputes and adjust policies in a way acceptable to the 9,000 pilots represented by SWAPA, and only has taken unilateral actions when necessary, the airline said. A hearing on the union’s request for a temporary restraining order is set for Oct. 22. The case is Southwest Airlines Pilots Association v. Southwest Airlines Co., 3:21-cv-02065-M, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas). © 2021 Bloomberg L.P......»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 18th, 2021

Distraction As Policy While Our Economic Rome Burns

Distraction As Policy While Our Economic Rome Burns Authored by Matthew Piepenberg via GoldSwitzerland.com, Desperation and distraction are masquerading as economic policy. Below we see how and why...and at what cost... COVID: The Great Economic and Political Hall-Pass If every time I stole a cookie from the jar in front of my mom (age 8), or drove dad’s car (sometimes into a tree) without permission (age 16), failed a dorm-room inspection (age 17), broke a lawnmower for driving over a fence post (each year) or forgot a key anniversary (eh-hmm), it would have been so convenient to have a universal “hall pass” to excuse what is/was otherwise just plain stupid behavior. Luckily for the grown children running our global financial system into the ground, the COVID pandemic is becoming precisely that: “A global hall pass for excusing decades of stupid.” As we’ve written many times, inexcusably high debt levels, tanking growth data, struggling work force figures, embarrassing wealth disparity and insider market rigging between Wall Street and DC was well in play long before COVID made the headlines. But now, the architects of such “pre-COVID stupid” have the current COVID narrative to justify and excuse even, well… more stupid. The Latest Jobs Report “Explained” … Take, for example, the latest job reports data from those DC-based creative writers at that comic-book publication otherwise known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Known for years on Wall Street as mathematical magicians capable of turning 12% inflation into a 2% CPI lie, that same BLS is operating yet again to fib away the latest (and otherwise telling) jobs data. The September jobs report was the second consecutive and disappointing report from the BLS, which they were quick to blame on “pandemic-related staffing fluctuations.” Hmmm. That’s a nice phrase, no? “Pandemic-related staffing fluctuations.” But the real description boils down to something more PRAVDA-like under the new Biden Vaccine Mandate, namely: “Obey or we take your job away.” Needless to say, not everyone is obeying. Since 2020, employment in local government education is down by 310,000; in state government education, employment is down by 194,000 jobs, and in private education the numbers are down by 172,000. Ouch. Why such “staffing fluctuations”? The answer is simple: Many educated folks in the education sector don’t like being mandated to inject a vaccine into their bodies which by all reports from vaccinated infection rates, is no vaccine at all, but a debatable form of treatment at best. Thankfully for all of us, I’m not interested in debating the hard vaccine data here, as folks like me should not be proffering unwanted medical expertise, which I clearly lack. No one, myself included, really knows everything about mutating virology, but I’d wager to say that many of us are more mathematically dubious than Fauci is medically honest… Jefferson (and History) Ignored For followers of American history and markets, however, certain ideals and facts are easier to track despite distraction-as-policy tactics. We are reminded, for example, of how passionately Thomas Jefferson warned us circa 1776 that a private central bank would eventually destroy our nation, and that only an educated population could save it. Sadly, the new President is taking the inverse approach: Firing teachers and propping bankers. Fast-forward some 240+ years from our founding fathers to our semi-conscious Biden, and we discover a nation wherein a private central bank effectively finances our national debt while the teachers, students and institutions charged with making citizens wiser, educated and free now find themselves locked out of their offices, classrooms and lecterns. Seems a little upside down, no? Red or blue, most of us can agree than nothing coming out of the White House in recent memory remotely resembles the vision or freedom-driven intellect of founding fathers like Jefferson, despite his known flaws. Instead, we have seen red and blue administrations whose grasp on coherency, let alone math, history, economics or even Afghan geography is questionable at best. Biden’s Response And what does Biden (or his “advisors”) have to say about the recent and scary numbers within a gutted and “locked-out” educational labor force? Well, you’ll have to see it to believe it.. Really? Really? Really? That’s right folks. The President of the United States, home to the world’s reserve currency and former beacon of global freedom, is telling Americans not to worry about the slow death of genuinely informed dissent (as well as educational access and jobs) or the attempted popularizing of otherwise tyrannical mandates, but to focus instead on the vaccine rates at United Airlines? Yes. Really. The leader of the free world is boastfully telling us that the “bigger story” is a fully vaccinated United Airlines (who were forced to choose between a jab or job), so why worry about the problems in that silly ol’ educational sector or outdated Bill of Rights? Playing with Minnows While Ignoring Whales Where ever one stands on the understandably divisive vaccine issue, how can anyone compare a private airline’s vaccine rate to a national education, civil liberty and employment crisis? Why are politicians, Davos dragons, statisticians, media bobble-heads and central bankers focusing our/your attention more on a virus with a case fatality rate of less than 0.5% than they are on openly addressing whale-sized issues like unsustainable debt, rising inflation, embarrassing labor inequality, a dying currency or even more declining GDP? Deliberate and Desperate Distraction as Policy Well, history tells us why. As anyone not banned from a classroom knows, the history of desperate leaders seeking to distract, censor and control the masses in times of a self-inflicted and debt-induced cycle of internal economic rot is long and distinguished. As Biden doubles down on the bad (yet deliberately distracting) hand of what was hoped to be an optically humanitarian policy of vaccine mandates, the masses are getting restless as well as fired… Solution? Criminalize the non-consenting as anti-vaccine, anti-science or anti-American “flat-earthers” while denying open discussion on such otherwise relevant topics as basic math, constitutional law, calm science or individual rights… Meanwhile, those who won’t tow Biden’s increasingly incoherent mandate (or Don Lemmon’s always coherent ignorance) are losing jobs and/or forced to prioritize (in a Jeffersonian way) individual liberty over financial security. Ben Franklin, of course, said those who surrender liberties for security deserve neither. In such a polarized backdrop, everyone, pro or anti-vaccine, loses. Informed, open and calm debate has been replaced by a contradictory, censored, sanctimonious and hysterical autocracy from prompt-readers to political puppets. So much for leading the free world… Let me remind Biden to consider the words of another founding father, Thomas Paine: “I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” As someone who studied and practiced constitutional law, worked within a rigged Wall Street and read nearly every book I could find on America’s founding fathers, I can say without hyperbole that I no longer recognize the country (or values) of my birth nation. As Franklin also noted, “All democracies eventually die; usually by suicide.” Hmmm. But let’s get off my high-horse and back to those job reports… Conviction vs. Employment As Bloomberg recently noted, the result of these “pandemic-related staffing fluctuations” is a bit alarming. The following critical industries are witnessing the following job-loss percentages: Nursing and Residential Care (-1.26%); Local Government Education (-1.83%); Community Care for the Elderly (-2.20%) and lodging (-2.25%). But thank goodness that despite a deliberate weaning of nurses, teachers and elderly care experts, United Airlines is nearly fully vaccinated and our Motion Picture Industry (universally known for its astounding political and financial wisdom) is seeing a +4.21% job increase. Awe, but as Johny Mellencamp would say, “Aint that America?” Now instead of more employed and free-thinking nurses, teachers and students allowed to gather, speak and think freely at their own campus or clinic, we can be glad that jobs in Hollywood, like DC, are growing to keep us living on more fantasy rather than actual, informed and hard-earned knowledge. Oh, and the Economy… But rather than just rant otherwise rhetorical sarcasm, let’s get back to those other barbaric (and soon-to-be empty) old-school disciplines like economics… Biden’s mandates are more than just evidence of distraction as policy and constitutional interpretation/usurpation, they have direct impacts on our financial lives outside of the deliberately exaggerated vaccine debacle/debate. Let’s go down the list of what economics taught us years ago, when we were allowed to enter a classroom: Stagflation Ahead. As more and more folks are locked out of work, the entitlement costs for these “un-American” free-thinkers will rise, placing greater inflationary pressures upon a deliberately constrained rather than open economy. Rising inflation + slowing economic activity = stagflation. Prepare for this, as that’s what’s coming. Inflation, by the way, is an invisible tax on those who can afford it the least. Thanks again Powell et al for shafting the middle class… A Divided States of America A country which once revered open rather than censored debate, investigative rather than complicit journalism, and respected rather than polarized differences of opinion, is becoming increasingly factionalized, divided and angry. Jab or no jab, I fully respect both views. Can’t we all do the same without a “mandate”? Like Thomas Paine, I hope so, because as Thomas Jefferson warned, we face far greater economic and political threats ahead than COVID. Rather than accountability, transparency and cooperation, leadership today is defined by fantasy and magic, from magical money created at the Fed to magical employment and CPI data downplayed at the BLS. Such left or right fantasy-as-policy is as old as history—it’s darker side, that is. Just ask Lenin, Castro, Nixon or Greenspan. Whenever backed into a debt corner of their own design, leaders employ a familiar combo of boogeyman and salvation narratives to divert the masses away from the slow-drip erosion of their personal liberties, dying currencies and debt-driven stagnation. This distraction-as-policy is happening right now. The rise of the COVID narrative in 2020 is more than a coincidence. It’s a conveniently exploited opportunity for political and financial opportunists. More Centralized Controls and Fake Markets With debt levels far beyond the Pale of productivity levels (i.e., embarrassing debt to GDP ratios), the U.S. and other developed economies are mathematically and factually unable to ever grow their way out of the debt hole they have been digging us into for years. Period. Full stop. If I know this, and if you know this, well…they certainly know this too in DC. The only difference is that these policy makers, like most kids caught with a hand in the cookie jar, are incapable of admitting fault. Instead, today’s “leadership” can blame their economic and policy failures (and self-preservation rather than “service” instincts) on something else—i.e., “COVID did it.” But as we’ve voiced elsewhere, the debt time bomb, growth declines, social unrest, wealth disparity and failing political credibilities in play today were already a major problem BEFORE COVID. Now, as then, the empirical data objectively confirms that tanking manufacturing data, jobs growth, economic productivity, broken supply chains, scary transport numbers and political mistrust can never service the over $28.5T in public debt sitting on Uncle Sam’s bar-tab. As a natural result, we can therefore expect far more “accommodation” (i.e., monetary expansion) from the Fed, and far more “Fiscal Stimulus” (i.e., deficit spending) from our comical legislature ahead. Stated otherwise: Get ready for more real debt, fake money, centralized controls and hidden wealth destruction. Zombie Stocks, Bonds and Bankers: Too Big to Fail 2.0 Sadly, one of the only forms of income which Uncle Sam enjoys today is the capital gains receipts from a bloated, rigged and artificially Fed-supported stock market. This means we can anticipate more “stimulus” for a zombie, crack-up-boomed market well past its natural expiration date. The same is true of for government IOU’s.  No one wants our bonds. 2020 saw $500B in foreign outflows rather than inflows for US Treasuries. So, who will pay Uncle Sam’s bar tab now? Easy:  Uncle Fed at the Eccles Building down the avenue from a Treasury Department now led by a former Fed Chairwoman. One really can’t make this crazy up. It’s all that real, that rigged and that true. The U.S. debt crisis is now being “solved” by a circular loop of a Wall Street and a White House children tossing their hot potatoes of bad debt (MBS and sovereign) around until they are bought with money created out of thin air by the Fed. And yet despite such insider support, rigged markets and “accommodated” securities, even the rising tax receipts from these bloated markets are not enough to cover the interest expense on Uncle Sam’s bar tab. In short, US Treasury bonds and stocks are openly supported Frankenstein-assets kept alive by a central bank and White House cabal (sorry, Mr. Jefferson…) who blame every problem (and justify every expenditure) on a virus rather than confess to the cancerous reality of over 20+ years of their open and obvious mismanagement of a rigged banking and distorted financial system. But rather than account for such sins, we can expect a bigger bail-out rather than an honest confession… In 2008, for example, the response from DC and NYC to bankers gone mad was to declare bankrupt banks as “Too Big to Fail.” Fast-forward some 13 years later and that same toxic duo of bankers and politicos have now effectively telegraphed that bankrupt government bonds and private stocks are also “too big to fail.” That ought to anger an informed population. But instead, we are fighting about masks, vaccine shaming and Prince Harry’s sensitive upbringing. So far, the distraction-as-policy technique seems to be working in favor of the foxes guarding our financial henhouse. Signal More Currency-Debasing “Miracle Solutions” Which brings us right back to a harsh but increasingly undeniable yet ironic reality. If objectively broken bonds, stocks and financial regimes are too big to fail, then the only way to “save” them is with more mouse-click-created currencies which are too debased to succeed. As precious metal and other long-term, real-asset investors long ago understood, currency expansion is just another name for currency debasement. In other words, eventually, all that “system saving” new money simply drowns the system it was allegedly designed to save in ever more debased dollars. Again, it’s just that tragic and just that simple. Yes: More monetary and debt expansion can buy time and rising markets. But those markets are measured in currencies which time has equally taught us lose their value with each passing second. And the only ones paying for that time are you and I–with dollars, euros, yen and pesos whose purchasing power and inherent value are tanking faster than the credibility of the folks who brought us to this historical and debt-driven turning point. Stated bluntly: The financial and political leadership of the last 20+ years has placed the global financial system into a debt corner for which there is no exit other than deliberate inflation (and hence currency debasement). This foreseeable disaster, however, is now conveniently blamed on a current pandemic rather than a grotesque history of equally grotesque mismanagement by policy markets who have confused debt with prosperity and double-speak with accountability. Wouldn’t it be nice if such economic topics were making at least as many headlines as the latest infection rates? Meanwhile, the mainstream media pursues plays chess with context-empty headlines, bogus job data and ignored debt bombs as our economic Rome (and currencies) burns silently around us all. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 16th, 2021

Southwest Pilots Union Sues To Block Airline"s Vaccination Mandate

Southwest Pilots Union Sues To Block Airline's Vaccination Mandate In what appears to be one of the first cases of a union pushing back against the new COVID vaccination requirements handed down by the Biden Administration, a union representing pilots at Southwest Airlines is suing to stop the vaccine requirement from being forced until a lawsuit is resolved. Bloomberg reports that the union representing Southwest's pilots has asked a court to grant a temporary stay against the federal vaccination rules until an ongoing lawsuit over what they allege are violations of US labor laws is resolved. In a court filing on Friday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier has continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs relations between airlines and employee unions. The "unilateral action" in question is the company's attempt (at the Biden Administration's direction) to force workers to either get the jab, or be fired or sent on unpaid leave, Bloomberg reports. "The new vaccine mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021," the legal filing said. "Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is in clear violation of the RLA." According to the guidelines set out by President Biden (and "voluntarily" embraced by most of the major airlines), Southwest has a deadline of Oct. 4 under the federal mandate for employees to get jabbed or have an approved medical or religious exemption. SW is affected by the mandate because it has contracts with the federal government (like many large businesses). The union represents 9,000 pilots at the airline, and a strike could easily disrupt American air travel (remember the air traffic controllers strike in the 1980s?) For whatever reason, the airline isn't backing down, insisting that the vaccination mandate (which airline CEOs have gone on TV to defend) isn't an issue subject to labor-management negotiation, and that anybody who refuses the jab without an exemption will be fired. “The airline disagrees with SWAPA’s claims that any Covid-related changes over the past several months require negotiation,” Southwest said in an emailed statement. The carrier is committed to working with its unions “as we continue navigating the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic.” Unfortunately for the Southwest, the vaccine mandate isn't the only COVID-related policy that the pilots have taken issue with. Other policies the union seeks to block include Southwest’s Covid quarantine rules for pilots and an infectious disease control policy that it says significantly altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay, until the two sides negotiate a resolution to alleged contract violations outlined in its original Aug. 30 lawsuit. The changes violate a “status quo” provision of the RLA by not maintaining terms of an existing contract during negotiations, the lawsuit claimed. Pilots are also uniquely at risk because (as a growing number of Nordic countries impose new restrictions on mRNA vaccines, and amid skepticism about whether vaccines are really worth it for the young and healthy) an adverse reaction to the vaccine could cost them their pilots' license. Pilots are at a unique risk because adverse reactions to a vaccine could affect their ability to pass periodic medical examinations required to maintain their license. The union wants to negotiate, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies. Understandably, before agreeing to all these restrictions, the union wants to make sure any pilot affected in this manner receive disability. As we wait to see whether pilots at other unions push back in a similar way, over in the UK, restrictions on travelers and pilots are actually being relaxed. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/09/2021 - 15:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 9th, 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: nytSep 26th, 2021

For Leftists, Your Freedom Is Their Misery – Your Slavery Is Their Joy

For Leftists, Your Freedom Is Their Misery – Your Slavery Is Their Joy Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, There is a certain level of madness required to reach the state our country is in today. I think most of us feel this and know this but I want to dissect the situation a little so that we can see the guts of the thing and understand the mechanics of it. Insanity has a structure, believe it or not, and there are ways to analyze it and identify it. For example, there are many forms of madness that stem from an obsession with power and control. In my previous article ‘Is There A Way To Prevent Psychopaths From Getting Into Positions Of Power’, I explored the thinking patterns and predatory habits of the worst 1% of humanity and how they insinuate themselves into authority by blending in (until they have all the power and no longer need to blend it). Now I want to talk more about the OTHER unstable people, the 5%-10% of the population that psychopaths exploit as a mob or army to frighten everyone else into conformity and help them achieve their goals. To be clear, almost any group can become an exploitable weapon used by psychopaths. There have been times in history where the elites within the Catholic Church used zealotry among Christians to dominate society to the point of torture and terror during the inquisitions and crusades. During the George W. Bush era I remember well the lies about WMDs used to herd Republicans into pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, that is the past. Today the problem of zealotry is resoundingly on the side of the political left. That is to say, the political left is now the side that is most appealing to narcissists, sociopaths, the emotionally unstable, etc., and this attraction is forming a mob that can be easily exploited by the establishment. What I find interesting is that leftists actually believe that THEY are the underdogs and that they are fighting a “revolution” against the establishment. This is a bizarre disconnect from reality. Every major institution of power and influence in the US is on the side of the political left. How can you be rebelling against the establishment if all your values coincide with the establishment’s agenda? The mainstream media and Hollywood have gone hardline in favor of leftist propaganda from critical race theory to the trans agenda and identity politics to feminism to socialism and centralization. Nearly every commercial, TV show and movie we see today reflects a far-left viewpoint or far left imagery, even though the majority of the population has no interest in woke ideology. Clearly, leftists and their friends in media think that if they force their cultism into people’s faces non-stop 24/7 that we will eventually capitulate and embrace it. Big Tech and major social media platforms ALL operate according to leftist politics. All of their terms of service rules are enforced to protect leftists from criticism and to censor conservatives and any moderates that dare speak up. The evidence overwhelmingly shows a left leaning bias in Big Tech censorship with conservatives being booted off platforms for nothing more than citing facts. We saw this recently with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia GOP representative, who was banned from Twitter and called a “far-right conspiracy theorist” for posting links to the VAERS database. For those unfamiliar with VAERS, it is a database run by the US government to track the adverse effects of vaccinations including covid vaccinations. While the numbers have been manipulated in the past (which the CDC claims was due to “reporting errors”), VAERS has still reported thousands upon thousands of deaths and side effects directly related to the covid vaccines, but you aren’t supposed to know about that. So, Greene gets booted from Twitter for posting the government’s own data, which is now only accessible if you go through a maze of links to get to the downloads. Social media is also commonly used as a weapon by leftists in order to “cancel” people that step out of line. An American Airlines pilot was attacked this week by a Twitter mob when a crazed feminist recorded images of his luggage. His crime? A small sticker on his suitcase which said “Lets Go Brandon.” The woman and her Twitter cohorts called for the pilot to be fired and American Airlines is “investigating” the issue. This is just one instance among thousands in the past few years that illustrate the sheer rage leftists feel when they are faced with a free thinking person. Their immediate reaction is to punish and destroy rather than accept and move on. But where does this mentality come from? I think it’s a combination of a culture of narcissism and collectivism coupled with a desperate desire for weak people to feel as though they are powerful. Leftists are very commonly people you might call the “runners-up” in life. There are a lot of malcontents and socially inept failures in their ranks that grow up feeling powerless. Instead of improving their lot by improving themselves and achieving something of merit, they instead blame others and the world for their lack of accomplishment. This mentality can also be seen with their academia which often exaggerates their own importance and the importance of their accolades. One can get a masters degree in social sciences or feminist studies, but how useful is that person to the world really? Being an activist alone is not a career and they produce nothing, so the only measure of their education and their life is how much they can destroy, not how much they can build and create. Joe Rogan’s latest move from Twitter over to GETTR is another big story that leftists are losing their minds over. They act as though they just want to be rid of conservatives and argumentative moderates from their “safe spaces,” but in reality this does not satisfy them. They don’t want us to walk away, they want us to conform. They want us trapped within their echo chambers and going along to get along, or, they want us erased. Leftists see people as property of the collective, and if you and millions of others walk away this reflects badly on their ideology, which is unacceptable. This is why they are CONSTANTLY attacking or trying to take down conservative social media platforms. You would think they would be happy that GETTR exists, but they are miserable. Your freedom is their misery. Think about that for a moment; there are millions of leftists out there that cannot abide your existence if you are free to express your discontent with their narrative. When Joe Rogan contracted covid the leftists were jittery with excitement hoping he would die. When he beat the virus in less than three days without being vaccinated they cried out in horror. It’s as if they don’t realize that most unvaccinated people have had the virus and have easily survived it (I had covid for a week and then I was fine – I will NEVER get vaccinated). Maybe they are aware that the vaccines are mostly pointless. Maybe what really bothers them is that the unvaxxed are free and do not conform to the mandates or the fear mongering? Maybe they are more concerned about the act of defiance rather than any issues of legitimate “health safety”…? And this brings me to the relationship between the majority of government and the political left, which are working hand in hand to push forward covid controls and vax mandates. I’ve said this before and I’ll point it out again – There is no longer any debate about who the authoritarians really are. If you want to be free from overt government intrusion and tyranny you go to a conservative red state. If you want to be a slave to bureaucracy you go to a progressive blue state. Red states value individual freedom – Blue states do not. This is undeniable. Leftists are not the rebels they think they are; they are not the heroes – They are the villains. They are the empire. I believe the vax mandate agenda in particular appeals to their innate desire for control over others. This is evident in their crazed rhetoric over the vaccination issue. The LA Times just published an Op-Ed titled ‘Mocking Anti-Vaxxers’ Covid Deaths Is Ghoulish, Yes – But May Be Necessary’ (originally titled ‘Why Shouldn’t We Dance On The Graves Of Anti-Vaxxers?), and it’s this kind of bloodthirsty propaganda that truly reveals the extend of the political left’s broken psychology. They want you to die for going against the mandates. They seem to think that covid is their avenging angel, but this only shows that they are too dumb to understand basic science or too malicious to think rationally. The Biden Administration has been a key element in fear mongering over the covid pandemic, which has an average Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of 0.26% to 0.27% according to dozens of peer reviewed studies, and now with the even less dangerous Omicron strain the death rate is plummeting further. The overwhelming majority of people have NOTHING to fear from covid, yet leftists readily rally around Biden and his medical tyranny. Furthermore, the bias (or ignorance) of the LA Times is made clear when we look at the actual data for Breakthrough Cases. Breakthrough cases are covid infections and deaths among fully vaccinated individuals. As a point of reference, in the state of Massachusetts alone there have been over 262,000 fully vaccinated people who still ended up infected with covid and 1054 deaths according to official numbers. That is an infection fatality rate of 0.4%, which is HIGHER than the national average IFR of 0.27%. The most vaccinated countries in the world are also suffering from the worst infection spikes in the world. In Ireland, for example, over 63% of recent covid deaths were fully vaccinated individuals. In Israel, nearly 60% of covid hospitalizations are fully vaccinated. Uruguay, Bahrain, Maldives and Chile all have overwhelming majority vaccination rates and all of them have seen spikes in covid deaths and and infections. According to the UK government’s own stats, people who are triple vaxxed are 4.5 times more likely to be infected with Omicron than people who are unvaxxed. The average vaccine is tested for 10-15 years before it is approved for use on human beings, yet covid vaccines were released within months with no long term testing to prove their safety. It makes perfect sense for people to be concerned. So, I would ask the hacks at the LA Times: Should we be dancing on your graves when you die from covid despite all those miraculous untested vaccines? Or maybe when you end up dead and on the VAERS list due to vaccine side effects? Autoimmune disorders can take 2-4 years to gestate and be identified by doctors; maybe in 2024 you’ll be wishing you had taken a wait-and-see approach to the untested vaccines like all the smart people are doing? This is called logic, reason and science. The above data is beyond the mental grasp of many leftists and even when they do get it they ignore it. They have no interest in protecting your health or the health of the public, that’s not what this is about. What they care about is control and nothing would bring them more joy than to see 100% conformity and slavery to their ideals. They live vicariously through tyranny. The pandemic paranoia, the lockdowns, the mandates, Big Tech, social media, cancel culture are all means to an end. Leftists pretend they are humanitarians that care about the greater good, but this is a facade. It’s just another excuse to justify a deep seated thirst to micromanage the lives of others. A classic tactic of narcissistic sociopaths is to victimize and terrorize people, then accuse them of being monsters when those people snap back and rebel.   They are projecting their tyranny on the rest of us and label us the bad guys.  It’s time to end the theater and call leftists what they really are – They are the dictators they claim they are trying to fight. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/15/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

"They"re Totally Confused": Biden"s Vaccine Mandate Chaos Leaves Employers With "Whiplash"

"They're Totally Confused": Biden's Vaccine Mandate Chaos Leaves Employers With "Whiplash" The Biden Administration's attempt to force millions of American workers to either get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs has backfired spectacularly. On Monday, the NYT published what to many probably sounded like scathing criticism coming from the notoriously pro-Dem paper: President Biden's attempt to use OSHA to try and force some 84MM workers to get vaccinated has left said employers with "whiplash". "They're totally confused", a quote in the headline screamed. Just a few weeks ago, the Administration was charging ahead, but its momentum has been decidedly crippled, especially now that the "very definition of fully vaccinated" has been thrown into question. The marching orders from the Biden administration in November had seemed clear — large employers were to get their workers fully vaccinated by early next year, or make sure the workers were tested weekly. But a little over a month later, the Labor Department’s vaccine rule has been swept into confusion and uncertainty by legal battles, shifting deadlines and rising Covid case counts that throw the very definition of fully vaccinated into question. The spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has seemingly bolstered the government’s argument, at the heart of its legal battle over the rule, that the virus remains a grave threat to workers. But the recent surge in cases has raised the issue of whether the government will take its requirements further — even as the original rule remains contentious — and ask employers to mandate booster shots, too. The country’s testing capacity has also been strained, adding to concerns that companies will be unable to meet the rule’s testing requirements. Even the lawyers don't know what to do. "My clients are totally confused as, quite frankly, am I," Erin McLaughlin, a labor and employment lawyer at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, said on Saturday. "My sense is that there are a lot of employers scrambling to try and put their mandate programs in place." With the issue still being viciously contested in the courts, the legal reality of the situation is that the order is still pending, so in effect, the Biden Administration has been stymied. With so much likely riding on a decision from the nation's highest court, how much longer until this becomes another cudgel used by the progressive left to push their court packing agenda, which is not dead, since President Biden and VP Kamala Harris mostly refuse to talk about it publicly. No company has been spared the whirlwind of changes in the last week, set off by the spike in Covid cases that have, in some instances, cut into their work forces. Then on Friday, an appeals court lifted the legal block on the vaccine rule, though appeals to the ruling were immediately filed, leaving the rule’s legal status up in the air. On Saturday, hours after the appeals court ruling, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urged employers to start working to get in compliance. But OSHA also gave employers some leeway, pushing back full enforcement of the rule until February, recognizing that for all its best intentions the rollout of the rule has been muddled. For companies struggling to meet OSHA’s standards because of testing shortages, the Labor Department said Sunday that it would “consider refraining from enforcement” if the employer has shown a good-faith effort to comply. The fact that many states have cities (most notably NYC) have rolled out their own rules for enforcement adds another layer of complexity to the whole mess. Adding a layer of confusion, many states and cities have created their own vaccine rules — some more stringent than the federal government’s, as in New York City, where an option to test out of vaccine requirements isn’t allowed, while some, like Florida, have sought to undermine OSHA’s rule. There’s also the question of whether companies will eventually be required to mandate boosters, which would require accommodating the six-month delay between the second and third shots. And as far as Wall Street is concerned, their current state of vaccine enforcement is "we're not going to talk about it." JPMorgan Chase, whose decision to require vaccines is complicated by its sprawling retail operations across the United States, declined to comment on how the court’s most recent decision, along with the recent spike in cases, affects any plans to mandate vaccines. But the bank on Friday told its American employees who do not work in bank branches that “each group should assess who needs to come into the office, work priorities and who should revert to working from home on a more regular basis over the next few weeks.” At this point, opponents of the rule, which includes the National Retail Federation, a trade group, haven't changed their positions despite the "rise" of omicron (which, keep in mind, has only been confirmed in a tiny fraction of overall new cases). Even the spread of Omicron hasn’t changed the position of some of the vaccine rule’s most ardent opponents. The National Retail Federation, one of the trade groups challenging the administration’s vaccine rule, is among those that have filed a petition with the Supreme Court. The group is in favor of vaccinations but has pushed for companies to get more time to carry out mandates. Still, even as it fights the administration’s rule, the federation is also holding twice weekly calls with members to compare notes on how to carry it out. "There’s no question that the increased number of variants like Omicron certainly don’t make it less dangerous," said Stephanie Martz, the group’s chief administrative officer and general counsel. "The legitimate, remaining question is, is this inherent to the workplace?" Then of course there's the booster question. And employers face yet another uncertainty: Should they mandate boosters? And will they be required to? When will all of this insanity and confusion end? Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 20th, 2021

Appeals Court Allows Biden Private Business Covid-19 Vax Mandate To Take Effect, Setting Up Supreme Court Showdown

Appeals Court Allows Biden Private Business Covid-19 Vax Mandate To Take Effect, Setting Up Supreme Court Showdown Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly (emphasis ours), President Joe Biden in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 17, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) A federal appeals court late Friday in a split decision ruled that the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private employers of companies exceeding 100 people can take effect. The 2–1 decision by a panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolves the stay entered by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month on the nationwide mandate. The rule issued by OSHA meant that some 84 million U.S. workers faced a Jan. 4 deadline to get vaccinated before it was paused. It is unclear after the latest ruling Friday when the requirement will be in effect. The case was brought by multiple businesses, including the American Family Association; multiple individuals; and several states, including Texas, Utah, and Mississippi. Petitioners said the mandate, promulgated as an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), should be struck down because it exceeds OSHA’s authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The ruling comes after several industries - including airlines and the big three US automakers - agreed not to mandate vaccines for their union employees. Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote in her majority opinion (pdf) on Friday, “Given OSHA’s clear and exercised authority to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the authority to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace.” She added, “Indeed, no virus—HIV, HBV, COVID-19—is unique to the workplace and affects only workers. And courts have upheld OSHA’s authority to regulate hazards that co-exist in the workplace and in society but are at heightened risk in the workplace.” Gibbons was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. The other judge who ruled in favor of the OSHA mandate, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was appointed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Earlier this week, the 6th Circuit’s active judges rejected a move to have the entire panel consider the case, on an 8–8 vote, reported The Associated Press. The dissenting judge, Joan Louise Larsen, was appointed by President Donald Trump, a Republican. In her dissenting opinion, she noted that Congress did not authorize OSHA to create such a rule; furthermore, to work around Congress, the rule did not meet the emergency standard of necessity that the secretary of labor needed to bring it about. “The Secretary has not made the appropriate finding of necessity,” she noted. “An emergency standard must be ‘necessary to protect employees from [grave] danger.'” She wrote, “The purpose of the mandate is to protect unvaccinated people. The rule’s premise is that vaccines work. And so, OSHA has explained that the rule is not about protecting the vaccinated; they do not face ‘grave danger’ from working with those who are not vaccinated.” She also added, “[A] multitude of petitioners—individuals, businesses, labor unions, and state governments—have levied serious, and varied, charges against the mandate’s legality. They say, for example, that the mandate violates the nondelegation doctrine, the Commerce Clause, and substantive due process; some say that it violates their constitutionally protected religious liberties and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.  To lift the stay [by the 5th Circuit] entirely, we would have to conclude that not one of these challenges is likely to succeed. A tall task.” Under the rule, employees who are not fully vaccinated would have to wear masks and be tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19. Exceptions would apply to those who work outdoors or from home. The OSHA rule threatens fines of up to $13,600 per violation. It also threatens to fine an additional $13,600 per day that an employer does not abate the violation. For a willful, or serious, violation OSHA can issue a fine up to $136,000. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge denounced the ruling. In a statement, she indicated she would move to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block it. “The Sixth Circuit’s decision is extremely disappointing for Arkansans because it will force them to get the shot or lose their jobs,” she said. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who chairs the Republican Attorneys General Association, expressed disappointment in the decision. “We are confident the mandate can be stopped,” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “We will go immediately to the Supreme Court—the highest court in the land—to fight this unconstitutional and illegal mandate. The law must be followed and federal abuse of power stopped.” Zachary Stieber and Nick Ciolino contributed to this report. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/18/2021 - 10:23.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 18th, 2021