Advertisements



The Conversation: Why widespread health problems could follow from high unemployment during the pandemic

Losing a job can mean decades of health problems, which is a good enough reason to prevent layoffs......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchMay 26th, 2021

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con Authored by Julius Ruechel via Julius Ruechel.com, The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service) If a plumber with a lifetime of experience were to tell you that water runs uphill, you would know he is lying and that the lie is not accidental. It is a lie with a purpose. If you can also demonstrate that the plumber knows in advance that the product he is promoting with that lie is snake oil, you have evidence for a deliberate con. And once you understand what's really inside that bottle of snake oil, you will begin to understand the purpose of the con. One of the most common reasons given for mass COVID vaccinations is the idea that if we reach herd immunity through vaccination, we can starve the virus out of existence and get our lives back. It's the COVID-Zero strategy or some variant of it. By now it is abundantly clear from the epidemiological data that the vaccinated are able to both catch and spread the disease. Clearly vaccination isn't going to make this virus disappear. Only a mind that has lost its grasp on reality can fail to see how ridiculous all this has become.  But a tour through pre-COVID science demonstrates that, from day one, long before you and I had even heard of this virus, it was 100% inevitable and 100% predictable that these vaccines would never be capable of eradicating this coronavirus and would never lead to any kind of lasting herd immunity. Even worse, lockdowns and mass vaccination have created a dangerous set of circumstances that interferes with our immune system's ability to protect us against other respiratory viruses. They also risk driving the evolution of this virus towards mutations that are more dangerous to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. Lockdowns, mass vaccinations, and mass booster shots were never capable of delivering on any of the promises that were made to the public.  And yet, vaccination has been successfully used to control measles and even to eradicate smallpox. So, why not COVID? Immunity is immunity, and a virus is a virus is a virus, right? Wrong! Reality is far more complicated... and more interesting. This Deep Dive exposes why, from day one, the promise of COVID-Zero can only ever have been a deliberately dishonest shell game designed to prey on a lack of public understanding of how our immune systems work and on how most respiratory viruses differ from other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against. We have been sold a fantasy designed to rope us into a pharmaceutical dependency as a deceitful trade-off for access to our lives. Variant by variant. For as long as the public is willing to go along for the ride.  Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural "antivirus security updates" against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools.  This is not to say that there aren't plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ― the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. "Immunity as a service".  So, let's dive into the fascinating world of immune systems, viruses, and vaccines, layer by layer, to dispel the myths and false expectations that have been created by deceitful public health officials, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and media manipulators. What emerges as the lies are peeled apart is both surprising and more than a little alarming. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Homes”  - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Table of Contents:     Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication     SARS: The Exception to the Rule?     Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity     Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses     Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection     Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly     Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu     Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect     Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure     The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity     Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters     The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses     Introducing Immunity as a Service - A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)     The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again. *  *  * Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ― we're getting close.  But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses. Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ― there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings. Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries. According to both National Geographic and Nature magazine, 40% of wild deer tested positive for COVID antibodies in a study conducted in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has also been documented in wild mink and has already made the species jump to other captive animals including dogs, cats, otters, leopards, tigers, and gorillas. A lot of viruses are not fussy. They happily adapt to new opportunities. Specialists, like smallpox, eventually go extinct. Generalists, like most respiratory viruses, never run out of hosts to keep the infection cycle going, forever. As long as we share this planet with other animals, it is extremely deceitful to give anyone the impression that we can pursue any scorched earth policy that can put this genie back in the bottle. With an outbreak on this global scale, it was clear that we were always going to have to live with this virus. There are over 200 other endemic respiratory viruses that cause colds and flus, many of which circulate freely between humans and other animals. Now there are 201. They will be with us forever, whether we like it or not. SARS: The Exception to the Rule? This all sounds well and good, but the original SARS virus did disappear, with public health measures like contact tracing and strict quarantine measures taking the credit. However, SARS was the exception to the rule. When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties: SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious) SARS made people extremely sick. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread. These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members.  By contrast, by January/February of 2020 it was clear from experiences in China, Italy, and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (more on that story later) that the unique combination of conditions that made SARS controllable were not going to be the case with COVID. COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke). In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie - this genie was never going back inside the bottle. Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical. All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of "imperfect copies" — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That's one of several reasons why flu vaccines don't provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ― our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed "variants."  This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone's immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccine ― a lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with "variants" for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won't already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations.  Genetic drift caused by mutations is much slower in viruses like measles, polio, or smallpox, which is why herd immunity can be used to control these other viruses (or even eradicate them as in the case of smallpox or polio). The reason the common respiratory viruses have such rapid genetic drift compared to these other viruses has much less to do with how many errors are produced during the copying process and much more to do with how many of those "imperfect" copies are actually able to survive and produce more copies.  A simple virus with an uncomplicated attack strategy for taking over host cells can tolerate a lot more mutations than a complex virus with a complicated attack strategy. Complexity and specialization put limits on how many of those imperfect copies have a chance at becoming successful mutations. Simple machinery doesn't break down as easily if there is an imperfection in the mechanical parts. Complicated high-tech machinery will simply not work if there are even minor flaws in precision parts. For example, before a virus can hijack the DNA of a host cell to begin making copies of itself, the virus needs to unlock the cell wall to gain entry. Cellular walls are made of proteins and are coated by sugars; viruses need to find a way to create a doorway through that protein wall. A virus like influenza uses a very simple strategy to get inside ― it locks onto one of the sugars on the outside of the cell wall in order to piggyback a ride as the sugar is absorbed into the cell (cells use sugar as their energy source). It's such a simple strategy that it allows the influenza virus to go through lots of mutations without losing its ability to gain entry to the cell. Influenza's simplicity makes it very adaptable and allows many different types of mutations to thrive as long as they all use the same piggyback entry strategy to get inside host cells. By contrast, something like the measles virus uses a highly specialized and very complicated strategy to gain entry to a host cell. It relies on very specialized surface proteins to break open a doorway into the host cell. It's a very rigid and complex system that doesn't leave a lot of room for errors in the copying process. Even minor mutations to the measles virus will cause changes to its surface proteins, leaving it unable to gain access to a host cell to make more copies of itself. Thus, even if there are lots of mutations, those mutations are almost all evolutionary dead ends, thus preventing genetic drift. That's one of several reasons why both a natural infection and vaccination against measles creates lifetime immunity ― immunity lasts because new variations don't change much over time.  Most RNA respiratory viruses have a high rate of genetic drift because they all rely on relatively simple attack strategies to gain entry to host cells. This allows mutations to stack up quickly without becoming evolutionary dead ends because they avoid the evolutionary trap of complexity.  Coronaviruses use a different strategy than influenza to gain access to host cells. They have proteins on the virus surface (the infamous S-spike protein, the same one that is mimicked by the vaccine injection), which latches onto a receptor on the cell surface (the ACE2 receptor) ― a kind of key to unlock the door. This attack strategy is a little bit more complicated than the system used by influenza, which is probably why genetic drift in coronaviruses is slightly slower than in influenza, but it is still a much much simpler and much less specialized system than the one used by measles. Coronaviruses, like other respiratory viruses, are therefore constantly producing a never-ending conveyor belt of "variants" that make long-lasting herd immunity impossible. Variants are normal. The alarm raised by our public health authorities about "variants" and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East. Once you got immunity to smallpox, measles, or polio, you had full protection for a few decades and were protected against severe illness or death for the rest of your life. But for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly.  Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses But let's pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won't ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID. So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity "update" ― they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years?  Feeling conned yet? Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection The current crop of COVID vaccines was never designed to provide sterilizing immunity - that's not how they work. They are merely a tool designed to teach the immune system to attack the S-spike protein, thereby priming the immune system to reduce the severity of infection in preparation for your inevitable future encounter with the real virus. They were never capable of preventing infection, nor of preventing spread. They were merely designed to reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you are infected. As former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, said: "the original premise behind these vaccines were [sic] that they would substantially reduce the risk of death and severe disease and hospitalization. And that was the data that came out of the initial clinical trials.” Every first-year medical student knows that you cannot get herd immunity from a vaccine that does not stop infection.  In other words, by their design, these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them - a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more. Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly There are multiple interconnected parts to why immunity to COVID, or any other respiratory virus, is always only temporary. Not only is the virus constantly mutating but immunity itself fades over time, not unlike the way our brains start forgetting how to do complicated math problems unless they keep practicing. This is true for both immunity acquired through natural infection and immunity acquired through vaccination. Our immune systems have a kind of immunological memory ― basically, how long does your immune system remember how to launch an attack against a specific kind of threat. That memory fades over time. For some vaccines, like diphtheria and tetanus, that immunological memory fades very slowly. The measles vaccine protects for life. But for others, like the flu vaccine, that immunological memory fades very quickly. On average, the flu vaccine is only about 40% effective to begin with. And it begins to fade almost immediately after vaccination. By about 150 days (5 months), it reaches zero. Fading immunity after flu shot (Science, April 18th, 2019) The solution to this strange phenomenon lies in the different types of immune system responses that are triggered by a vaccine (or by exposure to the real thing through a natural infection). This has big implications for coronavirus vaccines, but I'll get to that in a moment. First a little background information... A good analogy is to think of our immune system like a medieval army. The first layer of protection began with generalists - guys armed with clubs that would take a swing at everything - they were good for keeping robbers and brigands at bay and for conducting small skirmishes. But if the attack was bigger, then these generalists were quickly overwhelmed, serving as arrow fodder to blunt the attack on the more specialized troops coming up behind them. Spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry, catapult operators, siege tower engineers, and so on. Each additional layer of defense has a more expensive kit and takes ever greater amounts of time to train (an English longbowman took years to build up the necessary skill and strength to become effective). The more specialized a troop is, the more you want to hold them back from the fight unless it's absolutely necessary because they are expensive to train, expensive to deploy, and make a bigger mess when they fight that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Always keep your powder dry. Send in the arrow fodder first and slowly ramp up your efforts from there. Our immune system relies on a similar kind of layered system of defense. In addition to various non-specific rapid response layers that take out the brigands, like natural killer cells, macrophages, mast cells, and so on, we also have many adaptive (specialized) layers of antibodies (i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM immunoglobulin) and various types of highly specialized white blood cells, like B-cells and T-cells. Some antibodies are released by regular B-cells. Others are released by blood plasma. Then there are memory B-cells, which are capable of remembering previous threats and creating new antibodies long after the original antibodies fade away. And there are various types of T-cells (again with various degrees of immunological memory), like natural killer T-cells, killer T-cells, and helper T-cells, all of which play various roles in detecting and neutralizing invaders. In short, the greater the threat, the more troops are called into the fight. This is clearly a gross oversimplification of all the different interconnected parts of our immune system, but the point is that a mild infection doesn't trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That's why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus. As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime. Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That's why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That's why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat. Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed. Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not.  From an evolutionary point of view, this actually makes a lot of sense. Why waste valuable resources developing long-lasting immunity (i.e. training archers and building catapults) to defend against a virus that did not put you in mortal danger. A far better evolutionary strategy is to evolve a narrower generalist immune response to mild infections (i.e. most cold and flu viruses), which fades quickly once the threat is conquered, but invest in deep long-term broad-based immunity to dangerous infections, which lasts a very long time in case that threat is ever spotted on the horizon again. Considering the huge number of threats our immune systems face, this strategy avoids the trap of spreading immunological memory too thin. Our immunological memory resources are not limitless - long-term survival requires prioritizing our immunological resources. The take-home lesson is that vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn't produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle. So, with this little bit of background knowledge under our belts, let's look at what our public health officials and vaccine makers would have known in advance about coronaviruses and coronavirus vaccines when they told us back in the early Spring of 2020 that COVID vaccines were the path back to normality. From a 2003 study [my emphasis]: "Until SARS appeared, human coronaviruses were known as the cause of 15–30% of colds... Colds are generally mild, self-limited infections, and significant increases in neutralizing antibody titer are found in nasal secretions and serum after infection. Nevertheless, some unlucky individuals can be reinfected with the same coronavirus soon after recovery and get symptoms again." In other words, the coronaviruses involved in colds (there were four human coronaviruses before SARS, MERS, and COVID) all trigger such a weak immune response that they do not lead to any long-lasting immunity whatsoever. And why would they if, for most of us, the threat is so minimal that the generalists are perfectly capable of neutralizing the attack. We also know that immunity against coronaviruses is not durable in other animals either. As any farmer knows well, cycles of reinfection with coronaviruses are the rule rather than the exception among their livestock (for example, coronaviruses are a common cause of pneumonia and various types of diarrheal diseases like scours, shipping fever, and winter dysentery in cattle). Annual farm vaccination schedules are therefore designed accordingly. The lack of long-term immunity to coronaviruses is well documented in veterinary research among cattle, poultry, deer, water buffalo, etc. Furthermore, although animal coronavirus vaccines have been on the market for many years, it is well known that "none are completely efficacious in animals". So, like the fading flu vaccine profile I showed you earlier, none of the animal coronavirus vaccines are capable of providing sterilizing immunity (none were capable of stopping 100% of infections, without which you can never achieve herd immunity) and the partial immunity they offered is well known to fade rather quickly. What about immunity to COVID's close cousin, the deadly SARS coronavirus, which had an 11% case fatality rate during the 2003 outbreak? From a 2007 study: "SARS-specific antibodies were maintained for an average of 2 years... SARS patients might be susceptible to reinfection >3 years after initial exposure."  (Bear in mind that, as with all diseases, re-infection does not mean you are necessarily going to get full-blown SARS; fading immunity after a natural infection tends to offer at least some level of partial protection against severe outcomes for a considerable amount of time after you can already be reinfected and spread it to others - more on that later.) And what about MERS, the deadliest coronavirus to date, which made the jump from camels in 2012 and had a fatality rate of around 35%? It triggered the broadest immune response (due to its severity) and also appears to trigger the longest lasting immunity as a result (> 6yrs) Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one. If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I'd like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I've laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense.  The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones.  Now, as all the inevitable limitations and problems with these vaccines become apparent (i.e. fading of vaccine-induced immunity, vaccines proving to only be partially effective, the rise of new variants, and the vaccinated population demonstrably catching and spreading the virus ― a.k.a. the leaky vaccine phenomenon), the surprise that our health authorities are showing simply isn't credible. As I have shown you, all this was 100% to be expected. They intentionally weaponized fear and false expectations to unleash a fraudulent bait-and-switch racket of global proportions. Immunity on demand, forever. Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity? The short answer is no.  Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related "cousins". I'm going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe... and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. There are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun.  “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."  - President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Let's start with the evolutionary pressures that normally drive viruses towards becoming less dangerous over time. A virus depends on its host to spread it. A lively host is more useful than a bedridden or dead one because a lively host can spread the virus further and will still be around to catch future mutations. Viruses risk becoming evolutionary dead ends if they kill or immobilize their hosts. Plagues came, killed, and then were starved out of existence because their surviving hosts had all acquired herd immunity. Colds come and go every year because their hosts are lively, easily spread the viruses around, and never acquire long-lasting immunity so that last year's hosts can also serve as next year's hosts ― only those who have weak immune systems have much to worry about. In other words, under normal conditions, mutations that are more contagious but less deadly have a survival advantage over less contagious and more deadly variations. From the virus' point of view, the evolutionary golden mean is reached when it can easily infect as many hosts as possible without reducing their mobility and without triggering long-term immunity in most of their hosts. That's the ticket to setting up a sustainable cycle of reinfection, forever. Viruses with slow genetic drift and highly specialized reproductive strategies, like polio or measles, can take centuries or longer to become less deadly and more contagious; some may never reach the relatively harmless status of a cold or mild flu virus (by harmless I mean harmless to the majority of the population despite being extremely dangerous to those with weak or compromised immune systems). But for viruses with fast genetic drift, like respiratory viruses, even a few months can make a dramatic difference. Rapid genetic drift is one of the reasons why the Spanish Flu stopped being a monster disease, but polio and measles haven't. And anyone with training in virology or immunology understands this!  We often speak of evolutionary pressure as though it forces an organism to adapt. In reality, a simple organism like a virus is utterly blind to its environment — all it does is blindly produce genetic copies of itself. "Evolutionary pressure" is actually just a fancy way of saying that environmental conditions will determine which of those millions of copies survives long enough to produce even more copies of itself.  A human adapts to its environment by altering its behaviour (that's one type of adaptation). But the behaviour of a single viral particle never changes. A virus "adapts" over time because some genetic copies with one set of mutations survive and spread faster than other copies with a different set of mutations. Adaptation in viruses has to be seen exclusively through the lens of changes from one generation of virus to the next based on which mutations have a competitive edge over others. And that competitive edge will vary depending on the kinds of environmental conditions a virus encounters. So, fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus.  That's also why the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts s.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

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

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

Category: dealsSource: nyt2 hr. 12 min. ago

Meet the entrepreneur planning to build the "McDonald"s" of plant-based burgers

Steele Smiley has 20 years of experience in the wellness industry. His latest act: tapping into the millennial and Gen Z plant-based food market. Steele Smiley, founder of fast casual restaurants Crisp & Green and Stalk & Spade. Crisp & Green Entrepreneur Steele Smiley aims to build America's first plant-based burger chain, Stalk & Spade. Along with his other fast-casual restaurant, Crisp & Green, Smiley is tapping into a healthy eating market dominated by millennials and Gen Z. He spoke with Insider about how the pandemic has shifted people's mindset toward wellness. See more stories on Insider's business page. Steele Smiley will be the first to tell you he runs his life like he's in the military.That involves 20 workouts a week, three times a day: Running in the morning, a yoga or boxing class during the day, and lifting weights at night. Since that doesn't seem to satisfy all his energy, Smiley also juggles two Minnesota-based fast-casual restaurants. In 2016, he opened Stalk & Spade, which serves up salads, grain bowls, smoothies, and free workout classes. Five years later (in the midst of the pandemic) he launched Crisp & Green with a plant-based-only menu. He's expanded both brands in the south and Midwest, bucking conventional health hubs like LA and NYC in favor of an edge in less competitive markets."We intend to become the first franchisable plant-based burger chain in the country," Smiley told Insider, billing it as the plant-based version of McDonald's.It's a bold statement, but the 43-year-old serial entrepreneur has 20 years in the fitness industry under his belt. While he declined to share revenue numbers, analytics verified by Insider showed that Crisp & Green digital orders increased from 9% of its total orders in January 2020 to more than 70% in April when the pandemic hit, where they've stayed ever since. Stalk & Spade launched in May. Stalk & Spade In 2021 alone, Crisp & Green expanded from five states to 12, with several locations in the Sun Belt, an area seeing explosive growth before and during the pandemic. Smiley said the chain is nearing 100 stores in 14 states, with new locations opening every 6.8 days. Overall, however, the restaurant scene has been struggling. Last August, before widespread vaccination, the fast casual space was down 12%, according to figures from foodservice data platform Technomic. While consumer spending in restaurants rose this year compared to last, recovery hasn't yet snapped back to pre-pandemic traffic levels. Restaurants are still contending with issues like labor shortages and shorter hours.Still, the wellness economy is worth $1.5 trillion, according to McKinsey, and Smiley is betting he can tap into that, especially since the pandemic has prompted many people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Plant-based diets, which nearly 10 million Americans follow, are gaining traction. The market is growing, expected to exceed $74 billion by 2021."The next evolution of healthy eating is plant-based eating," Smiley said. "Within a decade, people will choose the plant-based alternatives of the traditional meat they eat today."Move over, SweetgreenSmiley had just $765 in his bank account when he kicked off his career in 2004 with his boutique studio STEELE Fitness. In 2013, he had just landed a major partnership with Under Armour when he sold his business to international wellness company Lift Brands Global. He joined the parent company as a senior executive.He launched Crisp & Green in November 2016, which he juggled while working for Lift Brands for five months before going full-time. "I would work during the day at my first big business, and at night I would put on a Crisp & Green t-shirt and work at my restaurant," Smiley said.Smiley said he'd always wanted to launch multiple businesses in multiple industries. Evolving his career from fitness to healthy eating was only a natural next step."The opportunity that I felt was staring me in the face was food," he said. "In fitness, I taught people that the hour you work out can only be so impactful. The other 23 hours of a day, you can help people understand how to make the right food choices." Crisp & Green offers free fitness classes in addition to its salad and smoothie menu. Crisp & Green Those who perhaps best understood this pre-pandemic were young, healthy women, whom Steele would often see walking through Crisp & Green's doors.His brands certainly have Gen Z and millennial written all over them. The two generations helped grow the global healthy eating and nutrition economy to $704 billion and are leading the way in plant-based eating. Millennials, dubbed "the wellness generation," are especially more health-conscious and more willing to spend on healthy food and fitness than their parents.For them, investing in green juices and $30 spin classes is a discreet status symbol, a way to convey they care about their health and have the money to do it properly.Smiley made sure Crisp & Green checked all the boxes for this demographic: healthy, digitally accessible, deliverable, and Instagrammable. "It made people say I want to live a more aspirational life," he said. A post shared by C&G • Healthy & Scratch-Made! (@crispandgreen) It's this combination that Smiley believes enabled the restaurant to gain steam during the pandemic, which in turn led to his confidence in launching another venture."I figured why stop with just one that was working?" he said. And so Stalk & Spade was born.The plant-based way of the futureAfter his pandemic success, Smiley said he saw an opportunity to prepare for a post-vaccine economic reopening by giving Americans what he thought they'd need after a health-related recession and a social recession: healthier food and an opportunity to get out of the house.But he recognized that bringing yet another concept into the increasingly saturated wellness sector - especially during a pandemic that saw a declining footprint in the fast casual industry - meant that he'd be facing a tough road. He knew he needed to look toward the future - and what he saw were plants. A post shared by STALK & SPADE (@stalkandspade) He said he and his team worked on building Stalk & Spade's plant-based menu from scratch until taste testers couldn't discern the difference between a real burger and a plant-based one.The pandemic pushed healthy eating 10 years into the future, he said. It dramatically expanded his demographic from mostly young adults to nearly everyone.When asked who his clientele is now, Smiley said with a laugh, "humans." After all, "everyone wants to live a better life."Nutrition has taken on new importance, per a McKinsey survey, as people now want food that will help them accomplish wellness goals while tasting good. Millennials and Gen Z are even more willing to invest in health and wellness post-pandemic, with 60% believing that taking care of one's health will be the pandemic's most important societal change. With a modern, minimalist design, even Stalk & Spade's interior is Instagrammable. Stalk & Spade The mental shift has sparked the rise of a high-performance lifestyle, in which people are increasingly letting wearables and apps track their health and make lifestyle choices for them. That includes Smiley himself, who monitors his sleep with wearables. The healthier life people are now turning to is the life Smiley has been living this whole time, which could prove to be the key to growing his brands.By the end of the year, he said, Crisp & Green will have 25 locations with another 60 in the pipeline. Stalk & Spade is set to open up its second Minnesota location in early 2022.Smiley believes the time is now for plant-based eating to go from a niche audience to a more mainstream one. "We fed into the trends of healthy eating," he said of the plant-based market. "It's an opportunity for an entire new genre to start."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

Europe Faces A Fragile Economy As The Merkel Era Ends

Europe Faces A Fragile Economy As The Merkel Era Ends Authored by Brendan Brown via The Mises Institute, As Angela Merkel prepares her exit from the chancellery in Berlin, a false alarm is ringing in Europe about an imminent danger of “stagflation.” This phenomenon, like dragons, belongs to mythology rather than real historical or present circumstances.  The noise will prevent any faint alarm being heard about the true danger of post-Merkel monetary deluge in Europe - a French and Italian debt crisis culminating in euro collapse.  The stagflation myth originates from the 1970s experience in the US. Data averages collected over the period as a whole (1973–80)—including a virulent monetary inflation and economic boom (1976–78) sandwiched between two recessions featuring energy supply shocks—show high Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation accompanying real economic sluggishness. Fast-forward to the present: European CPI inflation has been climbing through the year (3 percent year on year in September), albeit staying below US comparisons in part because of a low or zero weight for housing and secondhand cars. Yet real economic performance in Europe has been seriously subpar if we correct for optical illusions related to the end of lockdowns and a receding pandemic. Now an actual and looming crisis of natural gas supplies in Europe (amid forecasts of Russian supply shortages and domestic production curbed by environmental policy) could mean consumers in some countries facing a doubling of bills and also disruption. Russian president Vladimir Putin, with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany now complete, could make the crisis much worse for eastern and southern Europe. Some experts suspect Gazprom is already manipulating gas prices. This gas crisis comes on top of worsening bottleneck problems in the global economy. The whisper number for euro area CPI this winter is around 5 percent year on year. Meanwhile the outlook for economic rebound from the pandemic crisis is souring. Among the large European countries, only Germany this autumn is back to eve-of-pandemic GDP levels. Even European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde had to take note of the stagflation alarm in her September 9 news conference, crucially placed ahead of the German general election (September 26). Making a cosmetic concession to the Bundesbank point of view, she announced an insignificant tapering of quantitative easing. This consummate ex–French politician, acutely sensitive to the importance of the ECB-Berlin axis in sustaining the status quo of the European Monetary Union (EMU), succeeded in removing the euro as a topic of debate between the mainstream parties. Neither EMU nor stagflation alarm (nor President Putin!) featured at all in the final TV debate (September 12) between the three chancellor candidates (for the Christian Democratic Union, Social Democratic Party, and Greens). Lagarde’s recent announcements about a “greening” of the ECB monetary policy framework doubtless pleased the Greens, whom pundits see as a kingmaker in coalition negotiations subsequent to the elections. If there had been a question on stagflation, the correct answer from any of the candidates would have been that this is not the real danger.  Stagflation is a misleading term coined back in the 1970s by popular critics of the Arthur F. Burns Fed’s monetary “stimulus,” which was followed in Europe by countries outside the Deutsche mark orbit. These critics in their understandable concerns were too quick to point out a denouement of high inflation and high unemployment without attention to fine but important detail. The high average CPI inflation of 1973–80 turned on the potential of economies to be stimulated by monetary policy into an inflationary boom (1976–78). Notably, France in that decade was in an economic miracle.  Today by contrast there is widespread economic sclerosis largely resulting from a long monetary inflation which has spurred malinvestment and the advance of monopoly capitalism. Yes, we should be assessing the threat from this long monetary inflation, aggravated to a new pitch during the pandemic by the ECB and condoned crucially by Chancellor Merkel. It is an erroneous diversion, however, to dig up popular but erroneous diagnoses from the 1970s. The original episode of “stagflation” in the 1970s started with the Middle East Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries embargo and related quadrupling of the oil price in the immediate aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (autumn 1973). CPI inflation accelerated in the aftermath of this episode despite a gathering economic downturn. In fact, monetary inflation at that time was already turning to monetary disinflation, with the Burns Fed having imposed a monetary squeeze in summer 1973.  A jump in consumer prices due to supply disruption is no symptom of monetary inflation and would occur under a sound money regime. But once the disruption is resolved consumer prices should fall back. Instead, the Burns Fed stepped on the monetary inflation accelerator. Strong symptoms of goods and asset inflation emerged through 1976–78 amidst a powerful US and global economic boom. Then, as monetary policy started to tighten, the eruption of the Iranian Revolution brought a new oil supply shock, causing prices to spiral upward just as the economy was slowing. Fast-forward to the alarms now ringing about stagflation in 2021. In Europe as in the US much of the spike in CPI inflation this year has been driven by “dislocations on the supply side,” the notorious bottlenecks which are the essence of central bank speak that inflation is transitory. In turn these have contributed to enforced cutbacks in production. Uncertainties as to the waiting time for deliveries alongside a squeeze on real incomes are weighing on demand. Protestations of concern by the Fed and foreign central banks about supply disruptions (and the notorious transitory inflation due to bottleneck problems) beg the issue of responsibility here. Massive monetary “stimulus” contributed to a huge lopsided surge in demand for consumer durables while inflating the digitalization boom driven by stay-at-home needs during the pandemic. We should view the supply disruptions and the resource costs of clearing the backlogs ultimately as belonging to the subject of malinvestment as induced by monetary inflation. Overconsumption and malinvestment lie behind these bottlenecks, and their sequel could well add to recessionary tendencies. That is all par for the monetary course. The present run-up of CPI inflation in Europe, exacerbated most likely by the further surges in the natural gas price (this in contrast to the bottlenecks could be a genuine supply shock), is unlikely to mutate directly into the sustained high-CPI inflation characteristic of the 1970s. The real danger of a sustained leap in euro area goods and services inflation lies elsewhere—in the rise and fall of asset inflation, the defining characteristic of monetary inflation in Europe during the Merkel era. When global asset inflation turns to deflation there is a high probability that debts of the French and Italian governments and the banking systems in those two countries will come into the storm center of crisis. French banks have now notorious exposure to potential “bubble areas,” including Chinese loans, built up during long-run European and US monetary inflation. French government finances are now as weak as Italian ones on the eve of the pandemic. The cancellation of Australia’s megaorder for French submarines last week amid a larger existential crisis for the French military sector highlights weaknesses in French credit. Perhaps the three-party coalition government to emerge from the German elections will indeed work closely with Paris and say yes to a European banking union and unlimited bailouts via the ECB. That Chinese-type solution to Europe’s debt woes—severe monetary repression in an effectively state banking system—would drive capital flight from Europe on a scale not seen in China, with its inconvertible currency shielded by myriad of exchange restrictions. A euro collapse, rather than gas prices and bottlenecks, is the most likely source of sustained high CPI inflation in Europe following the Merkel era. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Australian Government Shuts Down Melbourne Construction Sites Amid Protests Over Vaccine Mandates

Australian Government Shuts Down Melbourne Construction Sites Amid Protests Over Vaccine Mandates By Jennifer Goodman of Construction Dive, Construction sites in and around Melbourne, Australia, have been shut down for two weeks after hundreds of construction workers and other protestors gathered Monday at the site of a union building, throwing bottles and damaging equipment. They were protesting the Victorian government's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for construction workers that begins Thursday. Riot police used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse crowds, the BBC reported, and the headquarters building for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union was damaged. Several people were arrested. The union released a statement saying it condemned the protests and the "mindless acts of violence" perpetrated by members of the crowd. The statement said that many protesters were not construction workers but members of neo-Nazi and other right-wing extremist groups. "It is clear that a minority of those who participated were actual union members," it said. Protests continued on Tuesday in Melbourne, with the crowd growing into the thousands and encompassing anti-vaccine activists and other types of workers.  Up to 2,000 protesters descended into the city's central business district, according to The New York Times, which also reported that protesters threw bottles at the police and set off flares, while officers in riot gear fired rubber bullets and used pepper spray. Worker protests began last week when "tea rooms" where tradespeople congregate during breaks were shut down amid the rising delta surge and the government banned workers from consuming food or drink indoors. That prompted construction workers to take their lunch breaks outside in protest. They set up tables and plastic chairs in multiple intersections in central Melbourne, blocking roads and holding up traffic, according to NPR. Public health measures Following the protests, construction and state officials announced that jobsites in Melbourne and other areas in the region will be closed for at least two weeks beginning Tuesday. It cited Monday's unrest and the increase in COVID-19 cases in the building and construction industry as the reasons. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that multiple outbreaks — as high as 13% of all cases, according to local media reports — have been linked to construction sites. Construction has been among the few industries that have largely stayed open throughout the pandemic in Victoria. "Construction workers are a mobile workforce who may work across multiple sites and travel longer distances to work than other permitted workers," Andrews said in a statement. "Concerns have also been raised, and remain, about the sector's compliance with public health measures and directions." Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas was even more forceful, saying that his office has seen widespread non-compliance across the industry. "We've been clear: if you don't follow the rules, we won't hesitate to take action," he said in the statement. Workers will be required to show proof of at least one vaccine dose when sites reopen on Oct. 5, he added. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Do The "Global Managers" Really Want The Pandemic To End?

Do The 'Global Managers' Really Want The Pandemic To End? Authored by Brian Jones via TheAmericanConservative.com, Early treatment of symptoms is the last remaining enemy of the global Covid consensus... In his March 17, 2020, article in Stat, Stanford epidemiologist Dr. John Ioannidis argued for a vast reconsideration of the societal response to the emerging SARS-COV-2 pandemic, commonly called Covid-19. For unknown reasons, the scientific and medical tradition forming the foundation for how to respond to pandemics was being quickly disbanded. Abandoning such previously established traditions entailed filling the void with the appearance of a new global consensus: The combination of unending non-pharmaceutical interventions (masks, social distancing, etc.) and universal vaccination was the key that would end the pandemic. The totalizing power of this new global pandemic consensus has certainly been effective over the last year and a half. However, the last month and a half has brought about a palatable instability to this apparently once-certain agreement. As one writer observes, Until now, Corona policy in every western country has unfolded more or less according to the same script, devised by the World Health Organization at the end of February 2020. The final act was supposed to be the wide-scale eradication of Corona after mass vaccination. It is now clear that this will never happen. For the first time since March 2020, there is no obvious international consensus on the way forward. The global political and health managers of Western nations and their media allies increasingly seem uncertain as to where to go next. Lurking behind the uncertainty of how to respond to the variants, however, is the last remaining consensus. And while it is the last remaining consensus, it has been a little-known, yet real, part of the script from the beginning. It is as simple as it is all-encompassing: Use every available means possible to assault early treatment of the virus.  Consider one of the latest displays of this charade. Many have now seen, or heard about, the American podcaster Joe Rogan’s recent experience with Covid-19. After recognizing some of the common symptoms of Covid-19, Rogan decided to “throw the kitchen sink at it.” Following the insights offered by Dr. Peter McCullough and his multi-drug treatment protocol, Rogan pursued infusion of monoclonal antibodies. Along with antibody infusion, Rogan took a cocktail that consisted of ivermectin, Azithromyicin, the corticosteriod Predinsone, and high doses of vitamin D (through drip line). Within 72 hours after beginning the treatment regimen, Rogan declared that he felt great, and had practically recovered from the virus. We would not have needed the gift of prophecy to have predicted what followed: The Covid machine was deployed to attack Rogan. The inspiration for the assault has been helped by a recent tweet from the FDA, which read: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” Moving on from its initial onslaught against the effective early use of hydroxychloroquine, the global consensus has now overwhelmingly shifted its ire to ivermectin. Coinciding with the attack on Rogan was a supposed news story from Rolling Stone, which claimed that access to emergency care for gunshot victims at an Oklahoma hospital was threatened due to the number of patients who had been poisoned by overdosing on ivermectin. The hospital offered a clarification that denied the claims, which had been made by a former employee. And yet, only updates have been added; thus far, the story has not been retracted. This widespread jettisoning of the principle and effectiveness of preventative and early treatment has been described as “therapeutic nihilism.” Nearly two years into this pandemic, getting early treatment for Covid-19 that can prevent hospitalization and death is still extremely difficult. Continued attempts to undermine early treatment protocols, as well as frequented campaigns against those who are skeptical of the prevailing narrative, give the impression that certain interested parties are hesitant to bring the pandemic to an end. The global managers writing and executing the Covid script are using it to manipulate the populace. I am reminded of the Polish philosopher and statesman Ryszard Legutko’s 2016 book The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Following the collapse of totalitarianism regimes in 1989, Legutko began noticing something that was as confusing as it was unsettling. Supporters of communism appeared to find a somewhat comfortable home in liberal democratic societies. In an attempt to parse out and understand this political phenomenon, Legutko came to realize some shared similarities between the principles of communism and modern liberal democratic regimes: Communism and liberal democracy proved to be all-unifying entities compelling their followers how to think, what to do, how to evaluate events, what to dream, and what language to use. They both had their orthodoxies and their models of an ideal citizen. [Emphasis added] What Legutko’s diagnosis reveals is that the global response to the pandemic has been utilized to accelerate the conditions whereby rigorous and independent thinking may be snuffed out. The pandemic seems to have accelerated the project of Western nations transmuting into large, mechanizing systems oriented towards uniformity of thought and practice. Here is Stanford’s Ioannidis commenting upon this disturbing integration of rapidly declining transparency and collectivism: The retraction of a highly visible hydroxychloroquine paper from the The Lancet was a startling example: A lack of sharing and openness allowed a top medical journal to publish an article in which 671 hospitals allegedly contributed data that did not exist, and no one noticed this outright fabrication before publication. The New England Journal of Medicine, another top medical journal, managed to publish a similar paper; many scientists continue to heavily cite it long after its retraction. Such a situation reveals the emptiness of supposed concerns about “evidence.” Abused tropes such as “follow the science” are revealing themselves to be nefarious power grabs seeking to destroy nuance. “Good” citizens should not even consider the possibility of calling into question the prevailing narrative regarding Covid. More specifically, it is anathema to even fathom the thought that preventative and early treatment should be a fundamental pillar of the response to a pandemic. As the consensus equating vaccination with the elimination of the virus continues to weaken, Ioannidis’s original prediction continues to be persuasive: The response to SARS-COV-2 will eventually be seen as a “once in a century evidence fiasco.” But the citizens of Western nations must think critically for themselves if the coils of the Covid machine have a chance of being loosened. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Evergrande"s Impact On The Broader Junk Bond Market

Evergrande's Impact On The Broader Junk Bond Market Ahead of China's reopening on Wednesday after a two-day holiday which has seen property stocks traded in Hong Kong tumble on fears that the Evergrande default will spark contagion both domestically and internationally, investors are closely watching what - if anything - Beijing will announce to ease investor nerves (they are also watching the first People’s Bank of China policy operation since the country’s holiday break). Meanwhile, international investors are just as closely tracking developments in China bond markets, not just the High Yield market where yields have soared to the highest level in 10 years, but also the investment grade sector, which is where the country's banks reside. The good news here is that so far China's IG market has barely budged, and as Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid notes, "if  Chinese IG doesn't care, the world shouldn't. However, if that starts to widen we know the impact is starting to spread. Definitely one to watch." And while traders wait to see if new developments impact China's IG market, Deutsche Bank has released a detailed look at how Evergrande could impact the broader high yield market, where it is a dominant player, with estimates of Evergrande's bonds ranging anywhere between 10% and 16% of total market size... Or, as Deutsche Bank puts it, "Evergrande is the largest corporate in the largest sector of the second-largest economy in the world" and as such the fact that this crisis has become a much wider global macro story shouldn't be a surprise. To this end, in his note published this morning DB's Craig Nicol seeks to answer some of the questions posed by investors in recent days, including scale and scope of contagion within HY, exposure to China risk within indices, and the ultimate end game. Starting with the topic of contagion, the first question to ask is why have we not seen any wider scale contagion within HY or even China $IG? As detailed in the chart below, which shows cumulative year-to-date total returns across HY markets as well as China $HY and $IG markets, the obvious point to make is that, while we've seen a significant decline in performance in China $HY, the wider impact on credit markets has been negligible. China $HY has seen YTD performance of nearly -18% which compares to returns of +3% to +5% across broader HY markets and +1% for China $IG. The next two charts show the scale of the spread moves for context. The first two charts focus on the China $ markets only. As we have observed recently, China's dollar HY market has seen spreads widen back to the pandemic wides of last year at ~1600bps - and clearly very distressed levels - and recently even rose to decade wides from 2011. Spreads are 326bps wider MTD alone. In contrast, and as noted above although yesterday was the first real weak day for China $IG, spreads are only 7bps wider MTD and 10bps tighter versus the end of Q2. The chart with spreads tracked back to 2010 on the right hand side shows that there has been a clear dislocation between China $ IG and HY risk in recent weeks as the Evergrande situation has developed compared to what has historically been a tight correlation between the two markets. Chart 3 shows spreads for $HY and €HY only. Spreads were notably wider yesterday, particularly in $HY, however in the context of YTD spread performance we are still near the tights not only this year but also historically over the last decade. Most importantly, China $HY spreads have been widening for the best part of 4 months now but in that time we've seen $HY and €HY trade in a narrow range at historically tight levels with all-time low volatility. So, as Nicol notes, "whilst yesterday's price action was eye-catching the broader spread moves since China $HY started widening aggressively has been anything but that. So, contagion has been incredibly limited and virtually non-existent so far at least." One reason for the lack of contagion within the bond market is the relatively low exposure: according to DB, global HY has only 5% exposure to China, while €HY less than 1% and $HY no exposure, and as Nicol notes, "the fact that we've seen spreads remain so resolute in $HY and €HY in the face of China weakness is supported by the lack of direct China risk. In Figure 4, we show the breakdown of the main ICE HY indices with a focus on China country of risk and also Asia and broader EM exposure." As shown above, given that $HY is a DM-only index, there is no exposure to corporates with a China country of risk whatsoever whilst €HY has minimal exposure at just 0.3% of the index notional spread across 2 issuers. Where there is greater exposure is within global HY funds where around ~5% of the index is directly China country of risk (excluded here are issuers that don't have a China country of risk but may have significant revenue, earnings or even asset exposure to China. This will be more significant but requires more of a subjective overlay.) DB has also included distress ratios as an additional information point across all markets. Distress ratios are at historically low levels across HY markets (to be expected in a world that has injected $40 trillion in liquidity since Covid); however, unsurprisingly for China $HY, the distress ratio is alarmingly high at over 57%, although one should highlight that this is very much a real estate story. According to DB calculations, China's real estate sector comprises over 80% of China $HY and has a distress ratio of 69%. In contrast, all other sectors combined have a distress ratio of just 6% and only just above that of the wider global HY market. This is further evidence that the contagion has been incredibly limited so far with China HY real estate really the only sector under any kind of distress, although when one considers the outsized impact of China real estate on China's economy - 30% of GDP and 70% of household wealth are tied up in property - this should not be discounted. Uncertainty is high, contagion risks should not be discounted. While one could be tempted to discount the risk of contagion, Deutsche Bank cautions that "the sheer scale and complexity of Evergrande and the potential for contagion in a sector like real estate that provides core collateral for financial intermediation and complex webs and interlinkages between institutions rightly means markets are sensitive about the potential fallout." Indeed, in recent days, the scale of concern has even ignited debate about Evergrande being "China's Lehman" moment. That said, to counter some of the more extreme concerns, DB notes that the first important point to make is that the Evergrande situation has not happened overnight and it is a story that has been developing for some time now. Indeed, the $ bonds have been in what is a relatively steady decline since the end of May now as opposed to crashing in a matter of days (as was the case with Lehman, although there the stock did collapse heading into Sept 15, 2008). So, as Deutsche notes, "investors have had some time to digest the potential knock-on risks, price the risks and consider the wider ramifications for more domestic markets and sectors. That is considerably different to the global financial crisis over a decade ago where broader markets ultimately were unable to reprice quickly enough" (or rather they simply refused to accept the Lehman bankruptcy as a viable outcome until the actual bankruptcy filing itself). The second point is that we have seen little to no fallout beyond the real estate sector in China HY. As stated earlier, the non-real estate distress ratio in China $HY is just 6% and only slightly above broader global HY while there is no stress at all in China $IG. The latter is the next market to watch especially given exposure to banks, however here DB argues that a combination of stronger balance sheets and a level of state or local government backing does somewhat mitigate the risks. The third point and, where there appears to be some level of consensus, is that a wide-scale systemic issue is unlikely. Historically, there has been some level of belief that China's government would not let a financial shock event unfold especially before contagion. However, as many have noted in recent weeks, it is not nearly as clear how much of a China “policy put” exists to support sectors, unless contagion gets much worse. This is especially the case given policy makers' greater focus on reducing moral hazard. Ultimately, authorities have the tools to contain this, are incentivised to prevent this becoming a wider systemic issue and will likely prevent this being systemic, especially if market turmoil gets worse. If nothing else, the argument goes, problems have been too obvious for too long and the Evergrande shock is mostly policy-induced so all things equal policy makers should be more in control than a decade ago. While this may come via a managed restructuring of Evergrande’s debt as opposed to a direct bailout, the bigger unknown is how much longer are authorities willing to tolerate and the likelihood of a policy error going up. That all being said, Deutsche ultimately agrees with Goldman that whatever the ultimate timeline is on some level of policy support to prevent this becoming more widespread, it's hard to argue against there being a further shift lower in growth expectations in China, especially when it comes to the slowdown in the property sector adversely impacting GDP (for those who missed it yesterday, the chart below shows Goldman's three cases how significantly the property market slowdown will impact China's GDP). Here DB's China economists have also noted that the property sector is now in a cyclical downturn and that if the downturn this time were to follow historical patterns, the trough for property sales will likely be in end-2021 or early 2022. The bank also notes, similarly to Goldman, that previous downturns resulted in a negative impact on real GDP of ~1-2% and closer to ~5% during the GFC. As Deutsche Bank concludes, "much depends on contagion knock-on risks to other sectors; however, we should note that this is all coming as China also shifts to living with COVID and potential further waves, and smoothing trade relations with the US." One final point: DB's chief credit strategist Jim Reid held a flash poll asking clients' opinion of what Evergrande will mean for global markets in a month had over 700 response in two hours. The result: only 8% felt it would be significantly impacting global financial markets by then with a combined 68% expecting limited or no impact. Bottom line: markets are fully of the view that contagion is virtually unlikely. Or as Jim Cramer would say, "Evergrande is fine." Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 21:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

Precarious Market Action

Precarious Market Action Dan Laboe here, Editor of the Headline Trader portfolio. I am covering for the acclaimed Jim who will be back in action tomorrow. The market is growing increasingly cautious as we enter post-earnings season action. This precarious market posture was apparent in today's dicey trade. Stocks were buoyant for most of the day (trading right around even) until the last hour of the session, where indecisiveness turned into panic, causing all the major averages to spill into the close. We are entering a seasonally weak period for the public equity market (September & October have been the worst months for stocks in the past decade), where down days are expected. Market participants are increasingly taking on the mindset that this may be as good as it gets, which could cause further short-term volatility. This is the second consecutive down day for all the major averages, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones slipping 1.07% & 1.08%, respectively. The growth-driven Nasdaq 100 was punished marginally less because of its larger decline yesterday but still experienced a 0.97% decline. The VIX broke above its 200-day moving average for just the 3rd time since early March, and its 50-day turned into a support today. This may be an indication that volatility will remain with us for a time. Consumer discretionary, the biggest laggard yesterday following weak retail sales data, was the only market sector to close in the green today. This morning, robust earnings from Lowe's (LOW) and TJX (TJX) drove fresh hope back into the retail space. Fed Minutes July's Fed Minutes were published this afternoon, and the markets had an immediate knee-jerk reaction to the Fed's focus on the potential impact of the Delta-variant, causing the US 10 Year yield to plummet and equity indexes to jump in the 5 minutes that followed its release. This move quickly reversed with an exaggerated move in the opposite direction, which inevitably led to the end of session sell-off. Today's released Fed Minutes were stale. The Fed in last month's FOMC meeting is not the same Fed that we have today. Since the exceptional July jobs report earlier this month, members of the Fed have changed their stance on the tapering timeline. In the last couple of weeks, several Central Bankers have come out and said that it would be prudent to start paring its $120 billion in asset purchases sooner rather than later. The markets are now pricing in a September announcement (FOMC meeting September 21-22) to start tapering in October and complete its asset purchasing program in mid-2022. This morning, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard discussed the risks of delaying monetary tightening, stating that if the Fed's inflation projections are wrong, they may be forced to implement abrupt and potentially "very disruptive" policy changes. He declared that "every indication is that labor markets are about as tight as they ever get." Bullard wants the Fed to be done tapering by the first quarter of next year so that the Central Bank would have the flexibility to begin liftoff (first Fed Funds rate hike) as soon as possible. Every day it seems that the Fed gets more hawkish, but if the Delta-variant does begin to impact the economy, this narrative will quickly reverse.  Is This As Good As It Gets? Market participants are taking on a 'this is as good as it gets' mentality with peak earnings growth, ultra-low interest rates, peak consumer demand, and accommodative monetary/fiscal policies, all now ostensibly in the rearview mirror. Investors still have their mouths open as we round out a jaw-dropping Q2 earnings season. This was one of the best earnings seasons in history, with 88% of companies beating EPS estimates by an average of 17.5% while exhibiting record profit margins averaging 13.6%. Earnings and revenues are up an unprecedented 103% & 28% year-over-year, respectively. Despite the exceptionally weak Q2 2020 EPS comps, earnings are still up over 30% from pre-pandemic levels. Now investors are looking at decelerating earnings growth in the coming quarters, forcing market participants to reevaluate the market's rich valuation multiples. Since the pandemic lockdowns began, the Fed-induced ultra-low interest rate environment has provided a nice tailwind for high-growth stocks. Record low cost of capital (driven by low yields) provided nascent innovation-powered companies with an almost endless upside in the equity market. Analysts were able to catapult the value of growth businesses' projected future earnings, justifying some of the crazy valuation multiples we saw earlier this year. Most of the over euphoric valuations on unprofitable growth stocks have been compressed by the rising yields in anticipation of liftoff. Consumer spending took off in the first 4 months of 2021 as the economic reopening drove an unparalleled tidal wave of pent-up demand on Main Street. The pandemic lockdowns and resulting record levels of savings/wealth in the US ($19 trillion increase in wealth, 26% increase in net wealth) propelled our society's propensity to spend as storefronts reopened across the country. This effect has decelerated since April, causing investors to question if peak consumer spending is in the past. With back-to-school shopping and the holiday season around the corner, I find this notion unlikely. The unprecedented level of accommodation provided by record monetary (Federal Reserve) and fiscal (Federal Government) spending amid the pandemic is the only reason that our economy has been able to not only recover at such a speed but come out the other side better than ever. The PPP loans, COVID checks, and unemployment benefits provided by the Federal government provided the economy with enough liquidity to do a little better than survive last year and now thrive during the recovery. The Fed's swift action of dropping Fed Fund rates to 0-0.25% and its subsequent $120 billion monthly asset purchases (aka quantitative easing) allowed the equity market to take off after the initial pandemic sell-off. The accommodative monetary and fiscal policies are beginning to phase out. Still, I expect the aforementioned positive impacts will continue to echo in our economy for quarters to come. The best is yet to come. We are reentering the Roaring 20s with ambition. Technological advancements are accelerating faster than ever, pushing our economy to do the same. I expect to see growing annual stock market returns as prolifically advancing tech thrusts valuations to continuously new highs. A Technical Omen That Could Spell Trouble For Investors A Hindenburg Omen, a technical indicator that signals an elevated probability of a market crash, has been reached by this precarious market. This indicator looks for an elevated number of new 52-week highs and lows that surpasses 2.2% of all securities traded that day (the number of highs cannot be more than double the number of lows), along with an upward trending 50-day moving average, and negatively shifting market sentiment (indicated by the McClellan Oscillator or MCO). This indicator generally implies that market participants are tentative and uncertain. The Hindenburg Omen almost always precedes a stock market downturn but is only about 25% accurate when it is seen. Investors have been positioning themselves defensively as post-earnings price action commenced. These defensive investors are buying stocks in low beta sectors like health care, utilities, consumer staples, and real estate, which have led over the past week of trading. All of the previously mentioned sectors have lagged the broader market over the past 52-weeks, so it's only natural for weakness chasing money managers to rotate into these segments even if an index level correction (10%+ decline from recent highs) isn't coming. I'm not running for the hills quite yet, with trillions of bullish capital still waiting to be deployed on even the most immaterial dips. I am also not adding many new positions to my portfolio. I don't think we will experience a full correction, but I do believe that some consolidation may be in order over the next few months.  Cathie Wood vs. The Big Short's Michael Burry Expected interest rate growth and overzealous valuation multiples on ultra-high-growth stocks have some investors betting against Cathie Wood's Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK). 'Big Short' investor, Michael Burry, who is famous for predicting and profiting from the 2008 financial crisis, revealed a $31 million put position against ARKK, along with a $731 million bet against Tesla (TSLA), which happens to be Cathie's largest holding, in his latest 13-F filing (institutional investment managers' SEC required quarterly report). The actively traded ARKK fund has become the benchmark for high-growth 'market-disruptors,' and Cathie Wood has become an investing icon. Her innovation-driven ETF saw an impressive bull run during the pandemic, exhibiting a 384% 11-month rally from its March 2020 lows to its peak in mid-February, but has recently fallen out of market favor. Soaring yields forced investors to reevaluate the extreme growth multiples in Cathie's 4th Industrial Revolution focused holdings. Cathie Wood fired back at the press surrounding Burry's notable position against her ETF with a tweet saying, "I do not believe that he (Michael Burry) understands the fundamentals that are creating explosive growth and investment opportunities in the innovation space." Burry doesn't have a vendetta against Cathie Wood but sees a short-term trading opportunity. He is making a relatively small bet in his over $2 billion Scion Asset Management portfolio (ARKK put up just 1.5% of total assets under management). Burry believes that the current fundamentals of ARKK's high growth holdings are out of whack in this rising interest rate environment, and he is not alone with this thinking. A record 13.5% of outstanding ARKK shares are currently held short (24.87 million shares), and a Short ARKK ETF, which will trade under the ticker SARK, is awaiting SEC approval. ARKK is looking at a days-to-cover short ratio (number of shares held short divided by daily volume) of 4.6, which isn't exactly a concerning level yet, but it is growing. I personally love how Cathie Wood views this rapidly advancing market and focuses on long-term profitability instead of short-term volatility. I perceive Cathie's pandemic success as a reflection of her savvy ability to recognize market-disrupting innovators, and it finally paid off after more than 5 years of flying under the radar (relatively speaking). That being said, I still utilize her ETF for put option opportunities when they reveal themselves because of the speed at which ARKK moves. Cathie Wood remains one of if not the most influential players in the market today. "The Cathie Wood Effect" has replaced "The Warren Buffett Effect" in this rapidly progressing and digitalizing economic/market environment. ARKK is undoubtedly a long-term hold for the commencing 4th Industrial Revolution, which is already changing the world in which we live.  Today’s Portfolio Highlights Options Trader: Following some of this week's precarious price action, Kevin is pulling profits on the September call option in Nasdaq, Inc (NDAQ), after almost two months of holding. The NDAQ September 180 call contracts crossed the 30 days till expiration threshold, and Kevin doesn't want to lose that time premium baked into these options. This exchange has been an excellent trade for the Options Trader portfolio this year, with NDAQ providing three separate profit-driving trades since April. According to Kevin: "First one was a $892 gain on 4/16. Second one was a $906 gain on 6/24. Looks like we'll get approx. $435 on this one." NDAQ has been on an absolute tear so far this year, rallying over 40% year-to-date (more than doubling the S&P 500s performance). Kevin stated that he would likely jump back into this trade as he still sees further upside potential. Stocks Under $10: The health care sector has led the broader market over the past month of trading, with Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE) leading the pack. Brian is taking advantage of this sector's momentum with the addition of Immunovant (IMVT) on this down day for the market. IMVT and its development of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases are developing an early treatment for those with COVID. Brian expects this stock to get a Delta-variant catalyzed boost, and most analysts seem to agree with him with every price target showing a sizable increase from current price levels. Surprise Trader:  Car manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand as chip shortages continue to plague the space, causing used/old cars to stay on the road longer. Dave is taking advantage of this notion with a read-through trade, adding Advanced Auto Parts (AAP) to the Surprise Trader portfolio. More old cars on the road means more tune-ups and breakdowns that will require vehicle parts. The company is reporting before open next Tuesday, and Dave believes that it has some strong upside potential that the markets are yet to price in. Happy Wednesday! DanRecommendations from Zacks' Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the Zacks.com website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks' private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we've made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks' portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we've predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to "test drive" Zacks Ultimate for FREE >>  Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Weak Jobs Report Sends Mixed Signals

Weak Jobs Report Sends Mixed Signals Dan Laboe here, Editor of the Headline Trader, covering for Jim the Whiz Giaquinto, who should be back in action on Tuesday after Labor Day. The public equity markets were quiet going into this long holiday weekend, as the irony of a bad jobs report on the eve of Labor Day weekend reverberated in investors' indecision today. The low volumes and muted price action on what should have been a market-moving morning of data (nonfarm payroll Friday) lead me to believe that bigshot (equity-focused) money managers are already on their yachts. On the other hand, fixed-income activity was vibrant as bond investors moved on the inflationary implications of one of this morning's employment figures. The only sector that saw any growth today was technology with mega-cap tech and semiconductors powering the Nasdaq 100 up over 30 basis points for another record close. This tech-focused rally kept the S&P 500 buoyant, with the trillion-dollar club (AAPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOGL, & FB) now making up over 20% of this index, closing the session just a couple basis points below even. The Dow Jones traded two-tenth of a percent lower. This economically sensitive index has moved effectively sideways for nearly a month now, as the Delta-dent weighs on its performance. As I mentioned yesterday, inflows into nothing but mega-cap tech is an indication of indecision. This cohort's boundless liquidity, decades of proven outperformance, and endless profitable growth make it a perfect place to park your coin when you don't know what else to do with it. The August Jobs Report The Delta-dent showed its colors in this morning's disappointing (to say the least) August jobs report. The US economy only added 235,000 new jobs this past month (the slowest monthly jobs improvement since January), missing economists' 720,000 consensus estimate by a mile. At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped to a post-pandemic low of 5.2%, a material improvement from July's 5.4% and January's 6.3%. There was also a sizable uptick in average hourly earnings this past month, demonstrating a 0.6% jump from July (the largest monthly increase since this gauge was established) and a 2.2% increase from pre-pandemic levels. The accelerating wage expansion that we've seen since March is a sign of sticky inflation and had bond traders selling longer-dated assets on the notion that the Fed may have to initiate liftoff (rate hikes) sooner than they think to control prices. The August jobs report sent the bond market into a frenzy with the US 10-Year yield drop off a 2.5% wall in the first 30 seconds of the headline number's release only to slingshot 5% higher in the 30 minutes that followed. T-Bill traders had some initial confusion on how to react with mixed feelings about the Fed's monetary plan moving forward. The report almost certainly pushed the timeline for an asset taper announcement from the Fed past the upcoming September meeting and likely to the November meeting. The Fed's $120 billion asset purchase program will still likely begin paring before the year is up. On the other hand, the timeline to liftoff was just pushed up on the accelerating growth of hourly wages, something that Chair Powell has stated explicitly as a concern. These implications had a steepening effect on the yield curve with all T-bills with a less than 2-year maturity seeing yields fall on the notion of a delayed taper, and treasuries with maturities of 2 years or longer all saw yield spikes on inflation concerns related to wages. The Headline Jobs Data May Not Be That Concerning Hiring took a summer holiday with the latest wave of the COVID-variant significantly slowing the jobs market. Leisure & hospitality, construction, government schools, and retail all weighed on August's employment data. Reinstated COVID restrictions and an overheated housing boom catalyzed 0 net new jobs in leisure & hospitality and net employment declines in construction, government schools, and retail (which was by far the biggest laggard). Still, employers are somehow struggling to fill positions. This unexpectedly large deceleration in August may not be as concerning as the headlines lead you to believe. Nearly 12 million people who have recently been relying on the government's COVID support will no longer receive the additional unemployment benefits after this long holiday weekend. This change in fiscal policy will leave 7.5 million people receiving aid under the qualification of long-term unemployed, self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, and anyone else who would usually be ineligible for state benefits, with nothing to lean on after September 6th.  This should inspire a flood of job seekers looking to get back into the workforce and push the health of our jobs market towards the "substantial further progress" that the Fed is looking for to give its tapering announcement the nod. Portfolio Highlights: The Surprise Trader: Ahead of this long weekend, Dave saw a pre-earnings opportunity in Restoration Hardware (RH) and added it to the portfolio with a 12.5% allocation. RH is a Zacks Rank #3, but Dave sees an upside surprise opportunity going into this company’s earnings next week (after the bell Wednesday, September 8th). RH hasn't missed on earnings for as far back as we can see and has seen significant upside price action following its past three reports. Analysts’ Consensus EPS estimate sits at $6.58, but Dave sees a high probability chance of a sizable beat following its previous quarter's earnings which came in 16.4% above expectations.  Counterstrike: TJX (TJX), owner of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Sierra, and Homesense, revealed an outstanding July quarter that blew past analysts' expectations, driving this stock into a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). TJX saw a 10% rally in the week that followed its report last month but lost some momentum after hitting overbought RSI levels in the past week. Jeremy sees an opportunity to jump into this leading off-price retailer as it comes down to a Fibonacci-derived support level around $71.50. Jeremy is looking for an $82 target or nearly 15% upside from where it is trading today. Blockchain Innovator: Dave pulled profits on Air Transport Services (ATSG) for an over 35% gain in just over four months, outperforming the S&P 500 by 28%. This sale was triggered by the stock's inability to get past the high $20s, where it continued to see resistance.  Have a great long weekend! Dan Recommendations from Zacks' Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the Zacks.com website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks' private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we've made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks' portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we've predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to "test drive" Zacks Ultimate for FREE >>  Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Wedding planners and florists say there"s a massive flower shortage as weddings boom: "We"ve never had demand like this"

Demand for flowers continued to grow during the last two years while florists and flower farmers grappled with poor weather and lack of workers. The flower supply chain is in chaos. Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) Florists say demand for flowers is skyrocketing while they become harder to source. A lack of workers earlier in the pandemic led to shortages of plants to harvest now. Climate change is also impacting growing seasons around the world. See more stories on Insider's business page. Wedding and event planners across the US are scrambling to find flowers as a combination of surging demand, lack of workers, and unfavorable weather roils the floral industry."It's not just that there's a shortage in product, it's that everybody has events at the same time," Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore floral design business in Washington, DC and the website Floral Source, which connects US flower farmers with florists, told Insider. "We've never had demand like this."Teresa Eoff, the owner of Figure Eight Events in Fontana, California, is seeing the same thing."Everyone's fighting over flowers right now," she said.An explosion in weddings is happening across the US. The Wedding Report is forecasting 1.93 million US weddings in 2021 and 2.47 million in 2022 - up from 1.3 million weddings in 2020. The forecasters also said that 20% of 2020 weddings were rescheduled for 2021."The wedding boom is absolutely real," Daulton Van Kuren, owner of The Refined Host event planning in Georgia, told Insider. As soon as events were allowed again, "my phone line and email inbox went nuts," he said.Demand is so great that buyers can't ask for specific flowers or even colors, just a general color palette, said Val Foote, a florist and owner of Sungrove Blossoms in Rochester, New York. "We're past asking for specifics."White flowers, in particular, are nearly impossible to get."You used to be able to find a white rose no matter what," Marisa Guerrero, vice president of Debbie's Bloomers in El Paso, Texas, said. "Now they're in super high demand because everybody decided to get married." Fewer plantings disrupted supplyWhen COVID-19 first hit the US in spring 2020, the floral industry was hit hard.As a result, flower farms destroyed hundreds of tons of flowers, according to Jackie Trejo, the owner of Jackie Trejo Floral Design in Houston, Texas.Some flower farms laid off workers and others closed down altogether. In December 2020, US floral industry employment was at 5.64 million, its lowest level in seven years according to the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, down 247,717 jobs from the same period in 2019.As a result, fewer flowers were planted and properly harvested for upcoming seasons, some florists and flower farmers said."We have four times the demand for flowers, but half the stock," Foote said. "It's a disaster."When demand started to pick up again, some flower farms had trouble finding workers. Shore said some commercial farms she visited recently didn't have enough workers to bundle flowers and load them into trucks for storage in coolers. The harvested flowers were left to die in the heat, she said."We had issues finding workers this year," Gretel Adams, owner of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio told Insider. When she couldn't find enough local workers, she hired temporary workers through a visa program with Mexico, she said. Poor weather has hurt supply, florists say "The weather has been terrible, with horrible growing conditions," for flower farms in South America, where most US flowers are sourced from, Foote said. Colder nights and heavier annual rainfall impacts the health of the plants and when they're ready to harvest, according to Florists Supply.US farms are also facing weather-related problems. California, which is responsible for three-quarters of US cut flower sales, has contended with historic droughts, unpredictable rain patterns, and fires."We had wildfire come right up to the border of the farm. We were working in smoke for approximately four weeks," Dru Rivers of Fully Belly Farm in Guinda, California told Slow Flowers Society. Rivers says her farm has also shifted to focus on sunflowers, zinnias, and other flowers that can thrive in hot weather.For Adams in Ohio, she's feeling the impacts of warm weather coming earlier in the spring recently."In May it gets really hot and everything starts to sprout," but then there's a late frost or freeze that kills the budding flowers. "We've lost our peonies the last two years," she said."Local farms [in New York] had a terrible spring and planted a month late," Foote said. Dahlias and roses, popular wedding flowers, are both growing behind their normal schedule, with some traditional summer blooms not ready until fall- an issue she attributed to changing weather. US flower farms are already spread thin as people increasingly rely on them with imported flowers failing to arrive, Foote said.Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties Authored by Ken Silva via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is touting a raft of new programs aimed to combat domestic extremism—many of which are raising red flags among interest groups across the political spectrum. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on terror threats to the United States in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Sept. 21, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images) The new DHS plans follow a March intelligence community report that deems white supremacy and violent domestic extremism as the most dangerous terror threat to the homeland. Mayorkas made similar statements at a Sept. 21 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on counterterrorism. “Today, U.S.-based lone actors and small groups, including homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists—who are inspired by a broad range of ideological motivations—pose the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country,” he said. These “broad range of ideological motivations” include “racial bias, perceived government overreach, conspiracy theories promoting violence, and false narratives about unsubstantiated fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “perceived government overreach” or “conspiracy theories promoting violence.” He did, however, assure lawmakers that his department is working hard to combat these perceived threats. One of the major programs touted by Mayorkas is the newly branded DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), formerly known as the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. In conjunction with that, the DHS is in the midst of a $77 million grant program aimed to provide state and local institutions with tools to counter extremism. The DHS first announced CP3 in May along with a new dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A). Mayorkas told the Homeland Security panel that CP3 is helping expand the department’s ability to prevent terrorism and targeted violence “through the development of local prevention frameworks.” “Through CP3, we are leveraging community-based partnerships and evidence-based tools to address early-risk factors and ensure individuals receive help before they radicalize to violence,” he said. However, Mayorkas didn’t offer details about other elements of CP3—elements that various interest groups say pose a threat to liberty. Among the details that weren’t discussed are what CP3 says on its own site—that it “leverages behavioral threat assessment and management tools, and addresses early-risk factors that can lead to radicalization to violence.” According to human rights activist Ed Hasbrouck, consultant to the nonprofit Identity Project, this mission amounts to a pre-crime program. “CP3’s attempts to predict future crimes are to be based on behavioral patterns— i.e., profiling—and on encouraging members of the public to inform on their families, friends, and classmates,” Hasbrouck wrote when CP3 was first announced. “The problem, of course, is that the law does not permit prosecution based solely on patterns of lawful behavior,” he wrote. “With good reason: ‘precrime’ prediction is a figment of the imagination of the creators of a dystopian fantasy movie, ‘Minority Report.’” The Brennan Center for Justice has expressed similar concerns. Far from a conservative group, the Brennan Center agrees with the DHS and FBI that domestic extremism is a rising threat. “Over the past five years, from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to El Paso, attacks by people who reject our multiracial democracy have shaken our country to its core and sparked conversation about how best to address far-right violence,” the group stated in a June report. “The Trump administration, which stoked the flames of white supremacy, ended with the ransacking of the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.” But the Brennan Center said CP3 and the Biden administration’s overall approach to countering domestic extremism—enhanced surveillance, profiling, and the like—are the same draconian tactics government used against Muslims post-9/11. “At a time when jurisdictions around the country are considering how to reduce law enforcement involvement in mental health and social issues, CP3 prevention activities take the opposite approach. They create structures to bring a broad range of concerns about mental health and socioeconomic conditions to the attention of law enforcement as indicators of criminality without normal safeguards,” the Brennan Center stated in its June 69-page report on the issue. Not only are the DHS-Biden plans a threat to civil liberties; they’re also proven to be ineffective, the Brennan Center said. The Brennan Center report paid particular focus to DHS “fusion centers”—law enforcement compounds scattered throughout the United States that seek to integrate federal, state, and local intelligence. The goal of fusion centers is to create partnerships between varying agencies and the private sector to share intelligence on threats to public safety so law enforcement has the whole picture and can “connect the dots.” Citing congressional reports from 2012, the Brennan Center stated that these fusion centers have proven to be ineffective. Those reports found that the DHS spent $289 million to $1.4 billion in public funds to support state and local fusion centers since 2003, with little results to show. “Instead of looking for terrorist threats, fusion centers were monitoring lawful political and religious activity. That year, the Virginia Fusion Center described a Muslim get-out-the-vote campaign as ‘subversive,’” the Brennan Center stated in its June report. “In 2009, the North Central Texas Fusion Center identified lobbying by Muslim groups as a possible threat.” Seemingly little has improved since then. Earlier in September, NBC News revealed an investigation into fusion centers. The report starts with an anecdote of Mike Sena, the president of the National Fusion Center Association, bragging that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) helped stop a mall shooting attack in Santa Clara. NBC News found that Sena was apparently stretching the extent to which his fusion center helped. “We don’t have any information showing that NCRIC was involved,” said Steven Aponte, a San Jose Police Department spokesperson. The Brennan Center stated in its June report that the Biden administration is inappropriately involving law enforcement in social problems and should focus on “community investment, not criminalization.” “Communities around the United States should not need to sign up for a counterterrorism program to get resources for their schools, universities, places of worship, or social institutions,” the Brennan Center stated. “Government commitments should directly address these as social problems rather than treat those experiencing them as potential violent criminals, and should wall off programs addressing social ills from law enforcement across levels of government.” Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Before They Were An Inconvenience, But Now The Shortages Are Really Beginning To Sting

Before They Were An Inconvenience, But Now The Shortages Are Really Beginning To Sting Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, Have you noticed that store shelves are starting to get emptier and emptier?  During the panic shopping that was sparked by the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020, there were very intense shortages of certain items, but those shortages did not last very long at all.  But now there are widespread shortages in just about every sector of our economy, and they are starting to become quite painful.  Unfortunately, we are being told to expect the shortages to intensify as we head into the holiday season.  That is extremely alarming, because in many areas the shortages are already quite severe. I had been away from the news for a couple of days, and when I came back there were lots more stories about our ongoing shortages.  For example, the following comes from an excellent piece by Matt Stoller… There are shortages in everything from ocean shipping containers to chlorine tablets to railroad capacity to black pipe (the piping that houses wires inside buildings) to spicy chicken breasts to specialized plastic bags necessary for making vaccines. Moreover, prices for all sorts of items, from housing to food, are changing in weird ways. Beef, for instance, is at near record highs for consumers, but cattle ranchers are getting paid much less than they used to for their cows. In my entire life, I have never seen anything like this. Even the Federal Reserve is admitting that we have a major problem at this point.  In fact, in the latest Beige Book the Fed referred to the shortages a whopping 80 times. In certain parts of the country, these shortages are really beginning to sting.  A reader just emailed me about what is going on in his section of Connecticut, and he said that I could share this with all of you… I am just a regular guy in Connecticut, who has been watching things very closely, especially from a Biblical perspective. I wanted to quickly share with you an experience my wife and I had about two weeks ago at a medium-size, family run grocery store near Waterbury, CT. Seemingly overnight, we noticed there were little yellow signs on the shelves, where certain SKUs used to be. Not entire lines, but individual SKUs. For example, a flavor of oatmeal, certain cereals, etc. The signs said something to the effect of: “This item is no longer available due to supply chain constraints”. I would say there were a few hundred signs in total throughout the store. It wasn’t until we got to the juice/water aisle that we noticed the larger problem: there was no Gatorade (?) and no bottled water (gallon jugs). I have befriended the manager over the years, so I asked him where the water is, and he told me “…they only will give us so many bottles”. I asked who ‘they’ is, and he said the manufacturer: they were being rationed. As he said this, a truck driver happened to walk by and joined in on the conversation. He told us that he just got back from Maine, after a three-day trip- a trip that normally takes him a few hours. He said he, and all of the other truck drivers, sit at the warehouses for days, waiting for their trucks to be filled. To be clear, I asked him how long it normally takes, and he said a few hours at the most. On our way out, I remembered that we needed dog food, so we went to the pet aisle, and there was no cat litter, and no dog food, save a few little bags of the cheapest stuff. All of the things Steve Quayle has been saying about food and water shortages suddenly became reality. I always believed him, but now I was seeing it, at the very local level. We then decided to go to PetSmart to get the dog food. Empty. The entire dog food shelf was empty except for a few bags! Are similar things happening in your part of the country? If so, please feel free to email me and let me know. We need to share intel with one another, because the mainstream media is not telling us the truth. Of course the shortages would not be as severe if we could actually unload all of the container ships that are backlogged at our ports.  Right now, dozens of container ships are sitting along the west coast waiting to be unloaded… The number of container ships at anchor or drifting in San Pedro Bay off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has blown through all previous records. The latest peak: There were an all-time-high 73 container ships in the queue in San Pedro Bay on Sunday, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California (the tally inched back to 69 on Tuesday). Of the ships offshore Sunday, 36 were forced to drift because anchorages were full. Theoretically, the numbers — already surreally high — could go even higher than this. While designated anchorages are limited, the space for ships to safely drift offshore is not. This is the same problem that I talked about the other day. At one time we had more able-bodied workers than we knew what to do with, but now there is an extreme shortage of workers all over the globe. Sadly, it has gotten to a point where we don’t even have enough people to drive our kids to school… School districts around the country are struggling to fill thousands of bus driver positions as worker shortages lead to late arrivals and last-minute scrambles to bring retired workers back onto payrolls. The shortages are so bad in some places that districts are taking extraordinary steps to get kids to school as students return to in-person classes this fall. Philadelphia’s school district will pay families $300 a month, or $3,000 for the year, to opt out of transportation services and get their kids to school on their own. Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia is offering a $2,500 bonus to new drivers — $100 more than the school district in the county seat, Charlottesville, is offering. This is the worst labor shortage that the U.S. has ever faced, and it just keeps getting worse. So where did all the people go? Without enough able-bodied workers, our economy is experiencing a whole host of difficulties right now.  And when you consider everything else that has been going on, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Joe Biden’s approval rating just sunk to a new record low… Eight months after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, his job approval rating has fallen six percentage points to 43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden’s performance. These findings are from a Sept. 1-17 Gallup poll that was conducted after the U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan. The United States’ exit from the nation’s longest war was marred by the Taliban’s quick takeover of most of the country and a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, which killed 13 U.S. service members. Over the same period, COVID-19 infection rates, nationally, were surging, leading to hospital overflows in some regions. And there are some parts of the nation where his approval rating is absolutely disastrous.  Just check out the latest numbers from Iowa… Just 31% of Iowans approved of how Joe Biden is handling his duties as president while a whopping 62% disapprove. Biden’s disapproval number is below the lowest ever measured by ace pollster J. Ann Selzer for former presidents Donald Trump (35%) and Barack Obama (36%). “This is a bad poll for Joe Biden, and it’s playing out in everything that he touches right now,” Selzer told the Des Moines Register. Less than a year ago, a lot of Americans were viewing Biden as some sort of a “savior” figure. That didn’t exactly work out, did it? Many of us have been warning that shortages and high levels of inflation were coming for a very long time, but of course most of the population is not interested in such warnings. They just want to be told that everything is going to be okay. But the truth is that everything is not going to be okay, and the pain that we have experienced so far is just the beginning. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 15:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Credit Suisse Dumped All Evergrande Exposure, Crows That "Risk Procedures Worked"

Credit Suisse Dumped All Evergrande Exposure, Crows That "Risk Procedures Worked" Having been thoroughly embarrassed by their failings (and losses) in Archegos and Greensill, we suspect the public relations team at Credit Suisse (CS) were over the moon when they discovered that, not only was CS not exposed to the Evergrande debacle, they had actually sold well ahead of the crisis because "risk procedures worked." “Risk procedures actually worked then...[but] it was a warning signal about the kind of deals that were being brought in” by bankers and wealth managers in Asia, people involved told the FT. Specifically, The FT reports that CS - once the top international underwriter of Evergrande bonds (over the past decade, CS helped arrange $4.6bn of dollar bonds for Evergrande, about 13% of the total) - sold down its entire exposure to the troubled Chinese property developer late last year, according to people familiar with the decision; and has not underwritten any debt for two years after becoming concerned about the developer’s financials. Credit Suisse reassured investors and asset management clients this week that the bank’s funds held very little Evergrande debt and the overall institution had minimal exposure, having decided to sell down its residual exposures because “it didn’t like what it was seeing”, the people familiar with the matter said. The red flags were reportedly there for a few years, and The FT reports one incident flagged to senior management was a proposed loan to the company’s chair, Hui Ka Yuan, in late 2018: Evergrande had recently raised a $1.8bn bond to help pay a special dividend to investors. Hui, then China’s third-richest man, had to put up $1bn of his own money to support the deal due to lack of demand, the Financial Times reported at the time. Hui then approached Credit Suisse for a loan that would be used to purchase Evergrande securities, offering the bond as collateral. When the transaction was submitted for review, risk managers criticised the structure for having characteristics of circular financing, people involved told the FT. “The transaction was wrong financially and morally,” one of the people said. “Also, Evergrande had the most fragile financials [among Chinese developers] and was clearly facing a liquidity crunch.” We suspect a major sigh of relief was felt across the Credit Suisse C-Suite that avoided this landmine, but as The Wall Street Journal reports, Evergrande’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong, may not escape unharmed from this crisis. The property developer's auditor faces growing backlash that it gave the imploding firm a clean bill of health in an annual report issued this spring. Despite Evergrande's stock and bond prices plunging as the firm offered deep discounts to keep sales growing during the pandemic (and the government effectively warning that it had borrowed too much), PwC in HK signed off on the company’s 2020 financial statements without including a so-called going concern warning. WSJ notes that concerns about the company’s financial health may not have been sufficient to trigger a going-concern notice in Evergrande’s 2020 annual report under U.S. and Hong Kong accounting rules. The bar to issue one of these is high, and there are often bankruptcies or reorganizations that aren’t preceded by a going-concern statement, academics said. “The auditor is not responsible for predicting future conditions or events,” the regulator says on its website. It added that the absence of a going-concern warning “should not be viewed as providing assurance as to an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.” But in the company’s financial statement for the first six months of this year, Evergrande’s board of directors expressed concerns about the company’s ability to pay its short-term obligations and its ability to continue as a going concern. The report, which was unaudited, was one of the company’s first serious admissions of its financial problems. So PwC has plenty of cover for its potential lack of diligence, but we suspect, when all is said and done and with Evergrande in default on its offshore bonds, numerous investors will be looking for someone to blame and the auditor may be high on that list. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 11:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Coronavirus vaccine boosters are coming

These are Insider's biggest healthcare stories for the week ending September 24. Hello, Welcome to Insider Healthcare. We're Lydia Ramsey Pflanzer and Leah Rosenbaum, and this week in healthcare news:The FDA reached a decision on who should get COVID-19 booster shots;We did a deep dive into the companies propping up digital healthcare infrastructure;Startups including Xealth and Chapter raised new funding.Before we jump in, I (Lydia) just wanted to say a big welcome to Leah Rosenbaum, who joins us this week as a healthcare editor. You'll be seeing her name a lot in this newsletter over the next few months! You can email her at lrosenbaum@insider.com or follow her on Twitter @leah_rosenbaum. And as always, if you're new to this newsletter, sign up here. Let's get to it... A nurse preparing to inject staff members with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Bradley Manor residential care home in Belfast on December 9, 2020. Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images Pfizer booster shots OK'd for manyAfter weeks of debate, on Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for older adults and people at high risk of disease. The conversation surrounding booster shots has been messy, but this decision from the FDA finally brought some clarity to the issue. Six months after getting their second dose of Pfizer's vaccine, adults 65 and older and people who are at high risk of disease (frontline workers, prisoners, and immunocompromised people) can get a third shot.A new wrinkle came on Thursday, when CDC advisors split from the FDA over whether frontline workers should get additional shots. The advisory committee did vote unanimously to recommend Pfizer's booster shots for people who are 65 and older and nursing home residents. While some adults are getting three shots, many children in the US still haven't gotten one. This could change soon though - Pfizer announced this week that its vaccine is safe in kids ages 5-11. Read on>> FDA authorizes boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for older adults and others at high risk from COVID-19 Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock Meet the companies that are building the backbone of digital healthA new generation of digital health companies is making millions by focusing on the infrastructure of health care. The companies, including Wheel, Truepill, SteadyMD, and Particle Health, are the "plumbers" of the digital health world, Megan Hernbroth reports. They provide software and infrastructure to other digital health companies, enabling patient information and data to flow smoothly from one company to the next. It may not be the most glamorous work, but someone's got to do it. Dive in>>A handful of companies are powering the next wave of the digital health revolution. Here's why investors are betting millions on healthcare's 'plumbers.' Mike McSherry spoke with Insider about the pitchdeck that scored the company a $24 million Series B. Xealth Health software company Xealth just raised millionsSeveral healthcare startups raised rounds in the millions this week. Xealth, a software company that sells tools to doctors, raised a $24 million Series B round this week. Mohana Ravindranath and Lydia got a peek at the pitch deck that helped them score the deal. Other companies had successful fundraising rounds this week too. Among them are telehealth company NOCD, which raised $33 million to help people with obsessive compulsive disorder. A new startup backed by Peter Thiel called Chapter also raised $17 million in funding, wrote Shelby Livingston. Its goal? Help older adults get registered for Medicare. Check it out>> See the 29-slide pitch deck that a digital health startup used to raise $24 million from its hospital customers. More stories that kept us busy this week: Fitness and nutrition reporter Gabby Landsverk did a deep dive into discontentment at Noom, an "anti-dieting" app that has been flooded with frustrated customers. Dr. Alan Spiro, a former executive at Accolade, is joining digital health company Laguna Health, Megan found out. Tech reporter Hugh Langley wrote about Verily's efforts to untangle itself from Google. Health correspondent Hilary Brueck investigated two doctors who have been pitching Ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure. -Leah & LydiaRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

Bank Stock Roundup: Expansion Plans of USB, JPM, C & Asset Cap on WFC in Focus

Business expansion efforts and solid economic growth will keep aiding major banks like Citi (C), JPMorgan (JPM) & U.S. Bancorp (USB). Wells Fargo (WFC) continues to face lawmakers' ire over its mishandling of business practices. Over the past five trading sessions, the performance of major bank stocks depicted an optimistic stance. At the end of the two-day FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve hinted at tapering its bond-buying program “soon” which many have interpreted as their next meeting in November.This symbolic tightening of monetary policy was cheered by investors as this goes on to signal that the central bank is confident of economic recovery and won't let inflation get too high. Thus, yields on both 10-year and 30-year Treasury bonds have risen over the past week despite continued concerns over the increase in cases due to the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The rate on the 10-year Treasury bond stands at 1.44% while that for the 30-year Treasury bond is 1.95%.Thus, the steepening yield curve, as well as expectation of solid economic growth, will benefit major banks’ net interest margins amid a low interest rate environment. Though the Fed kept the short-term rates unchanged this time, there has been increasing expectations of a rate hike as soon as in the second half of 2022.This, in turn, will support major banks’ top-line growth. With banks’ financials directly tied to the health of the economy, investors are now expecting improved profitability for major banks in the quarters ahead.Now talking about bank-specific developments, the key theme during the past five trading sessions was business expansion (domestic and international). As major banks face revenue growth challenges owing to low rates and muted loan demand, they are undertaking measures to further diversify operations and fuel top-line growth through opportunistic buyouts.Another major news that dominated bank investors’ sentiments was Wells Fargo’s WFC persistent issue related to the $1.95-billion asset cap. The Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted that the central bank is closely watching the remedial efforts by the bank to mend its "widespread and pervasive" problems. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research(Read: Bank Stock Roundup for the Week Ending Aug 13, 2021)Important Developments of the Week1. U.S. Bancorp USB has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MUFG Union Bank’s core retail banking operations from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group for a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $8 billion, in a bid to boost its presence on the West Coast. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2022, will fortify the company’s presence in California, Washington, and Oregon.2. JPMorgan JPM has acquired the college financial planning platform, Frank. The entire business of Frank, including its Easy FAFSA, Classfinder College Course Marketplace, Scholarships & Employment tools, and Financial Education and Careers content, is being acquired. The acquisition adds to the many deals inked by the bank over the past few months in a bid to compete with technology firms.3. JPMorgan has launched its digital retail bank Chase in the U.K. As planned, currently a smartphone app has been launched, which offers only current accounts. However, eventually, JPMorgan intends to provide savings as well as current accounts along with a wide range of banking services and loan products through the digital-only bank.4. In order to help the bank trim costs and streamline its post-trade processes, Citigroup C recently entered into a a strategic partnership with Snowflake to reassess and reform the processes across financial services transactions. Snowflake’s Financial Services Data Cloud aids firms to boost their top-line growth and steer innovation while alleviating any risk.5. Wells Fargo’s looming $1.95-billion asset cap is likely to stay put “until the firm has comprehensively fixed its problems,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in the September FOMC press conference when asked about Senator Warren’s letter last week that urged the Fed to break up the Wall Street biggie.6. JPMorgan has increased its regular quarterly dividend. The bank announced a dividend of $1 per share, representing a hike of 11.1% from the prior payout. JPMorgan has a track record of increasing its dividends since 2011. From paying 5 cents a share as the quarterly dividend during the 2008 financial crisis, the company has come a long way in terms of capital strength.Price PerformanceHere is how the seven major stocks performed: Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOver the past five trading days, both Capital One and U.S. Bancorp recorded maximum gains, with their shares rallying 4% each. Also, shares of both Wells Fargo and Bank of America have gained 2.9% during the same period.Over the past six months, shares of Capital One and Wells Fargo have jumped 37% and 25.8%, respectively, while PNC Financial has gained 15.8%.What’s Next?Over the next five trading days, unless there is any change in the macroeconomic/global situation, the major bank stocks are likely to perform in a similar fashion. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Wells Fargo & Company (WFC): Free Stock Analysis Report JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): Free Stock Analysis Report Citigroup Inc. (C): Free Stock Analysis Report U.S. Bancorp (USB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Fed Taper to Start in November? 7 ETFs to Buy

The Fed may start tapering in November. These ETFs could prove to be winning picks. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank could start scaling back asset purchases as soon as November and finish the process by mid-2022. Several officials are even interested to hike interest rates next year.The announcement of the Fed QE taper may come in the policy gathering on Nov 2-3. However, the Fed chair Powell left the door open to waiting longer should the need be and stressed that tapering is not directly corelated with the timing of rate liftoff.Investors should note that the Fed held interest rates near zero since last year and have been buying $80 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities every month until “substantial further progress” is seen on employment and inflation goals.Inflation is running high, which may compel the Fed to taper QE. Jobs market has also improved a lot. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in August, well below the April 2020 peak of 14.8%, but still higher than the 3.5% rate recorded in February 2020, just before the pandemic started.If the Fed starts the QE taper soon and rates rise, there could be sell-offs in the bond market. Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few ETFs that could be winning picks.ETFs in Focus Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF UUPThe U.S. dollar strengthened lately versus a basket of major currencies as market watchers on Fed taper talks despite a surge in COVID-19 cases. Plus, the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is another concern, which may slow down global growth further. It appears to be a win-win situation for the greenback as the global health crisis has not dissipated yet. This fact provides support to the safe-haven trades.iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF IATAs regional banks fare well in a steepening yield curve environment, IAT has chances of gaining ahead. As banks seek to borrow money at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, a steepening yield curve will earn more on lending and pay less on deposits, thereby leading to a wider spread. This will expand net margins and increase banks’ profits.iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF IWNSmall-caps stocks tend to outperform in a growing domestic economy. Rapid vaccination and stimulus rollout are great positives for the segment. Honing in on the value spectrum in the small-cap segment would be a great idea amid taper tantrum. Value stocks tend to perform in a rising rate environment. This is especially true given the fund IWN is heavy on Financials – a sector that is a great beneficiary of rising rates.Invesco Senior Loan ETF BKLNSenior loans are floating rate instruments and thus pay a spread over the benchmark rate like LIBOR, which help in eliminating interest rate risk. This is because when interest rate rises, coupons on senior loans increase while the value of the bonds decline, keeping investments stable. Since these loans are issued by companies with below investment grade credit ratings, they usually pay yields to compensate for the risk.Given this, senior loans and the related ETFs offer higher yields along with protection against any interest rate rise, making these ideal investments. Further, they carry lower credit risk than most other assets, with a similar level of yield and have low correlations with the other asset classes. Hence, investors can definitely play BKLN, which yields 3.19% annually.iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF FLOTFloating rate notes are investment grade bonds that do not pay a fixed rate to investors but have variable coupon rates that are often tied to an underlying index (such as LIBOR) plus a variable spread depending on the credit risk of issuers.Since the coupons of these bonds are adjusted periodically, they are less sensitive to an increase in rates compared to traditional bonds. FLOT has an effective duration of 0.10 years and thus presents minimal interest rate risks.Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF VYMWith the 10-year Treasury yield (1.32% as on Sep 22, 2021) rising, income-loving investors would definitely look for other better options. VYM yields 2.90% currently. Plus, the dividend payout scenario has also improved within corporate America.iShares Preferred And Income Securities ETF PFFPreferred securities as an asset class are hybrid securities, having traits of both equity shares as well as fixed income securities. These are classified as shares having a fixed rate of dividend on their face value (par value). The fund yields 4.45% annually, which is pretty higher as compared with the benchmark U.S. treasuries as of Sep 22.   More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone! It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 77 billion devices by 2025, creating a $1.3 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 4 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2022.Click here for the 4 trades >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (UUP): ETF Research Reports iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF (IWN): ETF Research Reports Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM): ETF Research Reports iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF (IAT): ETF Research Reports iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF): ETF Research Reports iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT): ETF Research Reports Invesco Senior Loan ETF (BKLN): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 23rd, 2021

3 ways Biden could fix student-loan forgiveness for public servants "locked in a lifetime of debt," over 200 organizations say

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program promised student debt relief to public servants, but "this promise has been broken," advocates said. President Joe Biden. AP Photo/Evan Vucci The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program rejects 98% of public servants who apply for debt relief. 200 groups urged Biden to forgive student debt for those who've worked over a decade in public service. Biden has yet to implement reforms to the program - something he promised to do in his campaign. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created to give public servants, like teachers and government and nonprofit workers, student-debt relief after ten years on the job. But 98% of those public servants continue to be denied relief, prompting advocates to call on President Joe Biden to implement urgent reform.More than 200 advocacy organizations, led by the Student Borrower Protection Center, sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday detailing how PSLF has failed to live up to its promise of instituting student-debt relief.They wrote that when Congress created PSLF in 2007, the program was built on ensuring public servants would not be "locked in a lifetime of debt," but the opposite has happened, and flaws in the program have denied the vast majority of borrowers the relief they are entitled to.The letter said that "workers across the country have faced widespread, systemic barriers to PSLF while responding to an unprecedented public health emergency, navigating a deep economic recession, and struggling to emerge from an unequal economic recovery. Throughout the pandemic, public service workers have remained on the hook for debts they should not owe, taking a heavy psychological and financial toll month after month."To remedy the "systemic failure" of the program, the organizations called on Cardona to follow through on three reforms:Eliminate all student debt for those who have worked in public service for more than ten years;Change the criteria for eligibility to focus solely on the duration of public service performed by granting credit for each year of public service;Automate the process for student-debt relief instead of requiring borrowers to submit paperwork.During his campaign, Biden promised to reform PSLF, and the Education Department is currently in the rulemaking process the organizations referenced, which includes a years-long process of receiving public comments on reforms and debating them in committees. The organizations urged Cardona in the letter to implement the reform outside the rulemaking process by whatever authority he has under the law to carry out this relief and deliver on the program's promise.As Insider has previously reported, the program has been flawed for years and is hurting public servants who are eligible for relief. The Student Borrower Protection Center released data on Tuesday that found over 4,500 teachers were denied loan forgiveness under PSLF because of minor paperwork errors they made, like failing to write the date next to their signature, while others were denied because their school did not qualify as a public service employer.And Insider reported earlier this month that if the program continues on its current track, it may see minor improvements, but still only approve 20% of borrowers for forgiveness by 2026.Even those who managed to get relief through PSLF had to face bureaucratic hurdles. Insider spoke to David O'Keefe, a public servant who succeeded in getting his remaining $20,000 student debt balanced wiped out through the program, but he was mistakenly told he wasn't eligible and had to conduct follow-up after follow-up to ensure his paperwork was being processed accurately."It was the same thing again and again," O'Keefe said. "It was extremely frustrating."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 23rd, 2021

BlackBerry Reports Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2022 Results

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

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 22nd, 2021

The labor shortage is actually 3 mismatches between workers and employers

The Delta wave has kept the labor shortage going into the fall. There are three unresolved "mismatches" between what workers and companies want. A man hands his resume to an employer at the 25th annual Central Florida Employment Council Job Fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images Reports of a labor shortage persist, even as unemployment benefits ended and the US continues to reopen. Some of the driving factors behind the labor shortage remain mismatches across the economy. Available workers might not fit open jobs, or want more from work. They also may have just moved. See more stories on Insider's business page. A Family Dollar briefly closed in Nebraska after its whole staff quit over high turnover and low wages. A coffee shop owner in Iowa raised wages to $15 to lure in workers. A burger chain owner says restaurants are in a bidding war for workers.It seems like every day there's yet another story about the effects the persistent labor shortage is having on businesses.Ending federal unemployment benefits hasn't seemed to plug it up yet, Bloomberg reports. In fact, letting those benefits lapse may actually deal a large blow to consumer spending and incomes, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.There are three major disconnects that define this mystery around open jobs, and why people aren't filling them. Economists call these "mismatches," and they've been driving labor crunches for months, as Insider reported in July. None seems to have faded yet.(1) There's still a skills mismatch - and higher-skilled workers might be filtered outIn June, the right-leaning Chamber of Commerce sounded the alarm on a skills gap, arguing for the need to invest in job-training programs and to equip applicants with the skills needed to fill open roles.In an August note, economists at Morgan Stanley led by Ellen Zentner wrote: "Differences in skills and qualifications limit the extent to which workers can easily transition to high-demand industries, leading to a mismatch of labor supply and demand."However, there's another wrinkle: The Wall Street Journal reported that employers are increasingly leaning on hiring software that filters out applicants based on words that may or may not appear on their resumes. But those keywords might filter out someone with tangentially related skills, and keep out someone looking to job switch.Erica Groshen, senior economics advisor at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told Insider that many employers may also be filtering out applicants who don't have four-year degrees."This is a real problem for the labor market, because less than half of US workers have a college degree, it's not changing rapidly," Groshen said. "And yet we have many, many workers who were very productive at previous jobs, who have learned a lot of skills on those jobs."(2) People are moving and leaving open jobsWhile big cities like New York and San Francisco may be on the rebound, people did move around within metro areas - and many don't want to start commuting again. In fact, they're making big investments in homes without factoring in commute time as much as pre-pandemic.And "exurbs," rural areas and small towns outside of big-city suburbs, have risen in popularity during the pandemic; the cities people have moved to have more professional roles that need filling, according to Morgan Stanley. Meanwhile, the big cities - which are now seeing red-hot housing prices - need service workers. Those economists say migration might need to settle down before the geographic mismatch ends. They also warned that, after the 2008 financial crisis, "regional misallocation of labor was one of the reasons that employment was slow to recover."(3) Workers have higher expectations and want more than what's availableFor four months now, workers have been quitting at record rates. Even leisure and hospitality, the sector largely leading the recovery, is seeing workers leave en masse and push up wages as employers get more eager to lure them back. In a survey of 1,800 unemployed job seekers by FlexJobs, 48% of respondents said they were frustrated with the search because they weren't finding the right positions - and many were only finding openings for low-wage roles. With the Delta variant still pummeling the US, taking a job now isn't just about pay or benefits (although both are compelling workers). It's also a health and a childcare consideration - will the job offset childcare costs, or be flexible enough when school closes due to an outbreak?As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter: "Would you sign up for a job to get attacked by unvaccinated tourists for $15/hr? For no healthcare but max risk? Most wouldn't."Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-lastRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 22nd, 2021

Kraft Heinz has cut costs to the bone. Insiders say the strategy has hurt innovation, created employee turnover, and more.

Kraft Heinz has been cutting costs across the board - and here's why critics say one of the biggest names in food has taken several steps back. Jell-O, Heinz ketchup, and Oscar Mayer hot dogs are among Kraft Heinz's best-known products. Kraft Heinz; Shutterstock; Marianne Ayala/Insider Kraft Heinz has gotten a sales lift from pandemic demand for food that people can eat at home. But the company has suffered under the private-equity owner 3G Capital since its 2015 creation. Here's a rundown of why critics say one of the biggest names in food has taken several steps back. See more stories on Insider's business page. Kraft Heinz owns some of the best-known brands in food, including Jell-O and Oscar Mayer hot dogs.But people familiar with the company's strategy say it's mismanaged them by focusing too much on maximizing profits instead of building up the business.Insiders also say Kraft Heinz and its private-equity owner, 3G Capital, have failed to invest enough in new products that would grow sales over the long haul.And while demand for more food Americans can eat at home has lifted Kraft Heinz's sales during the coronavirus pandemic, employees still left en masse this year, anticipating more problems after things return to normal.The danger for Kraft Heinz now is that while it has massive scale advantages over upstart brands like Beyond Meat, Hu chocolate, and Flow water, selling products under decades-old brands may become more complicated. Many consumers are looking for new and healthier options. If the company focuses too much on efficiencies, Kraft Heinz risks missing out on the next big food trend, according to food-industry analysts.Below is Insider's coverage of the fallout at Kraft Heinz resulting from the company's cost-cutting strategy:Kraft Heinz budget cuts created a dysfunctional companySince its 2015 inception, following the $50 billion merger of Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz, Kraft Heinz has cut costs under a model that 3G Capital used to make operations leaner at Burger King and Tim Horton's.Kraft executives have told investors they would run the company more efficiently while finding new ways to grow sales. Attempts at the latter included selling blended versions of the company's condiments, which led to the release of a mix of its ketchup and ranch known as "Kranch."At the company's corporate offices, employees are feeling the squeeze of that strategy. Budgets for everything from travel to promoting new products were cut year after year. The company also went through annual reorganizations and rounds of layoffs, with those left behind forced to do more with less.Read more: 3G's merger of Kraft and Heinz is killing morale, causing burnout, and choking innovation, some employees say. Now, the company could get left behind as the economy reopens.Read more: Why the private-equity playbook failed Kraft HeinzRead more: Kraft Heinz just agreed to sell Planters for $3.4 billion. Here's how the deal fits into its broader culling of food brands.Read more: Kraft Heinz just unveiled a 'platform'-based strategy for managing its food brands. Here's how the top US executive hopes to finally get sales growing again. Kraft Heinz; Samantha Lee/Insider Kraft Heinz's investments in e-commerce may not be enough in the long runKraft Heinz has championed some high-growth areas of its business. The best example is its e-commerce division, which manages relationships with online retailers like Amazon. Kraft Heinz even tapped a 15-year veteran of Amazon as its most recent e-commerce chief.But even that part of the business has been beset by problems. Employees say recruits from the tech world have clashed with old-school food-industry employees, leading to turnover. In September, a leaked email revealed the company's e-commerce lead was headed out the door.Industry analysts also say investing in areas like e-commerce, even if done right, may not be enough to prop up the company.Read more: Kraft Heinz tried to supercharge its e-commerce strategy by looking to Amazon. Instead, it created 'a clash of cultures' between the old-school food industry and tech types.Read more: Leaked email reveals Kraft Heinz is losing its e-commerce chief, an Amazon hire who created 'a clash of cultures' between the old-school food industry and tech typesRead more: Experts say Kraft Heinz faces a real nightmare scenarioKraft Heinz is an extreme example, but other big food companies also face challenges as they try to stay relevantBig food companies have scale, but they aren't always nimble enough to respond to consumer demands. Kraft Heinz and its peers, including Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever, and Nestlé, have set up initiatives to work with small brands to stay on top of trends.Like Kraft Heinz, many have also benefited from an eating-at-home craze during the pandemic. As vaccines become more widespread and daily life moves toward normal, those companies are trying to keep as many of those pandemic-era customers buying as possible.Read more: CPG giants like Procter & Gamble and Mars are on the hunt for the next DTC breakout company. Here's what 4 execs say they're looking for.Read more: Shoppers flocked to packaged foods during the pandemic. Now, Kraft Heinz, General Mills, and Kellogg are supercharging marketing spend to keep them buying.Read more: Here's how to impress a VC with your food startup, according to the head of Kraft Heinz's $100 million venture fundRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 21st, 2021