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Blain: What If We’re Looking At All The Wrong Things?

Blain: What If We’re Looking At All The Wrong Things?

Authored by Bill Blain via,

“Look not to the Sword waving around…



Blain: What If We're Looking At All The Wrong Things?

Authored by Bill Blain via,

“Look not to the Sword waving around to your front, but the Stiletto threatening your kidneys..… “

Everyone is balancing inflation, economic numbers and this week’s Jackson Hole Central Bank schmooze-a-thon to guess markets. What if we are looking at the wrong things – and economic divergence, income and wealth inequality and unravelling domestic politics are the critical factors?

This week will apparently be all about inflation and deciphering new economic data to predict the path of the Global Economy and Stagflation risks. The big event will be the Jackson Hole central bank gabfest – anticipating what Jay Powell will say about the US Economy and the Fed’s perception of the required pace of rate hikes to counter inflation. His comments will have massive implications in terms of perceptions of bond markets, currencies, and company outlooks.

The ongoing battle vs Inflation has more than a few market watchers warning the July/August rally feels premature! Among the points that worry them is the reality of inflation numbers – even though the number (in the US) is apparently declining, it means prices are still rising and inflationary tension are still being stoked! It’s still unclear just how solid the short-recession rally is, or is it just a bear-trap?

More and more investors believe its policy mistakes – from the ultra-cheap interest rate policy of the 2010s, QE and government pandemic policies, to government failures to address critical responsibilities like energy security, that have created the best market opportunities in recent years. And they are absolutely right! The right way to have read markets is to game what central banks and governments are doing, and place your chips accordingly!

From 2010-2021 the simple trade was to buy everything and anything because money was mispriced by central banks, making even the most schizoid stock sound look relative value. Level 2 was to buy coal, oil and gas because ill-thought out polices and ESG wokery was creating chronic energy insecurity. What is Level 3? Work out what the next big series of policy mistakes are going to be… and I suspect it will mean playing central bank recovery policies – ie when real economic and wage inflation, global recession and economic unrest require them to press both monetary and fiscal easing.

When? Sooner than we think…

And to make it even more confusing… What if we are watching all the wrong things?

  • Perhaps it’s the not the US economy we should worry about this week?

  • While everyone is focused on inflation as the prime economic danger driving instability – what if it’s something else?

  • What if the major risks remain political miscalculations?

Economic Divergence

The UK, Europe and the US – the Occidental West, and China are all headed on different economic trajectories. While we can probably be relatively confident the US economy will bounce out of recession pretty quickly, allowing the Fed to normalise interest rates and look to stabilise its growing economy in what will be recessionary global economy (Buy Dollars), the outlook for Europe is dire. The UK? Let’s not even go there.

And China? Its easing rates. Change is coming. A rising economic crisis is brewing:

  1. The jobs compact appears to be unravelling; the party quelled dissent and held power by providing everyone with well paid jobs – now the rising standard of living has plateaued, and young adult unemployment is rising.

  2. The economy is overly grounded on the thin foundations of the unbalanced property market – over 30% of the economy is vulnerable to wealth-effect reversal, and

  3. The Demographics are moving swiftly against the Middle Kingdom. We can discount China exporting deflation around the globe (as it did from 2000-2020).

As for Europe… As Gas prices threaten outages and crisis, Germany is still going to shutter its Nuclear plants this winter. That makes a ton of sense. Not.

Wages and Inequality

Meanwhile, back in Blighty…  UK dockers have just started a potentially crippling container port strike that could exacerbate supply chain, logistics, and inevitably trigger empty shelves and a run on bog-roll. Damn these 1900 striking dock workers! How very dare they complain… Revolting just because they will see their post-tax disposable income cut by £2000 (say 10% of income) this year by rising energy bills… How dare they ask for more….! Ungrateful tykes, having being offered an exceptionally generous £500 one-off bung and an effective pay cut?

I don’t hear many folk outraged by news the average take-home pay of FTSE100 bosses has hit £3.4mm, up nearly 40%, according to the High-Pay think tank reported in the Times of London this morning. The top 224 FTSE executives earned £720 million in 2021. The Chief Exec of a mining firm trousered £23 million for CEO-ing its mining operations in havens of wealth like Burkina Faso – where I hear the local miners’ private health care packages are exceptional. (US readers – Sarcasm alert.)

Some folk clearly haven’t been listening to Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey’s calls for pay restraint!

Much to my surprise, I was reading Young Conservatives (all six Tory party members under the age of 50), are disappointed Liz Sunak and Rishi Truss utterly failed to address the crisis in income inequality and the dearth of opportunity for young people in the Tory leadership whatever it is… coronation parade/contest?

Readers will not do doubt be surprised Dock Workers are unhappy with their pay cut offer. How can the nation possibly afford to give inflation busting wage rises to all key workers? If you pay the dockers, then the railwaymen will demand more! Even barristers are threatening strike action in pursuit of higher pay.

Unfortunately the drivers of wage inflation – be it FOMO, or relative income, or the perceived income injustices now perceived between older and younger workers – have already infected the whole economy. They are socio-economic forces that don’t give a fig for conventional political economy approaches. Solving them – will get messy.

How to solve or address out-of-control pandemic wage-inflation? I have simply no-idea – except that extraordinary times require extra-ordinary measures.. Hence I expect Governments will be forced to change tack and look at reflation in an inflationary environment.. Hang on to your hats…

I warned months ago the real danger of inflation is not just rising prices, or the difficulties it causes for both production costs and consumer affordability, but the unpredictable and potential chaotic social effects it could trigger. Rather than nations being able to grow their way out of a stagflationary crisis through job creation, an unexpected consequence will be worker scarcity: “why should I struggle into work on minimum wage, pay £1000 in monthly rent, have no savings, no holidays and no security, just so the bosses can have a great time?”


UK, German, Italian and US politics – watch them all. They all have a strong likelihood of spoiling your day in coming weeks. Bad politics have immediate and long-term consequences.

I am repeatedly told Donald Trump will not be the Republican Candidate in 2024, that too many Republicans now see through him, and the dismal showing of his candidates in US mid-term poling mean The Donald is set to cost his captured party potential majorities in the US Senate and Congress. The more I hear it, the more I fear it will happen – and the consequences for global trade, alliances, the environment, war, peace and everything will evaporate..

Yet, Trump is just another highly visible market risk. The issue is who and what is hiding in his coat-tails? Who are the US political names we don’t yet know who will emerge on the back of his philosophy in coming years to further bend and confound the US political process and its place on the world economy? Donald Trump may yet prove to have been a brilliant political figure, but only because he opened the door to legions of political wanabees much worse than himself!

My earnest hope is a return to sanity in Washington – but, as said so many times before – Hope is Not A Strategy. But Chaos is also opportunity!

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/22/2022 - 13:10

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Asia’s trade at a turning point

Policymakers in Asia are rightly focused on the potential reconfiguration of global supply chains, given the implications these shifts may have for the…



By Sebastian Eckardt, Jun Ge, Hassan Zaman

Policymakers in Asia are rightly focused on the potential reconfiguration of global supply chains, given the implications these shifts may have for the development of their export-oriented and highly open economies. While the focus on potential shifts on the supply side of the global and regional trading system is well-justified, equally dramatic shifts on the demand side deserve as much attention. This blog provides evidence of the growing role of final demand originating from within emerging Asia and draws policy implications for the further evolution of trade integration in the region.

Trade has been a major driver of development in East Asia with Korea and Japan reaching high-income status through export-driven development strategies. Emerging economies in East Asia, today account for 17 percent of global trade in goods and services. With an average trade-to-GDP ratio of 105 percent, these emerging economies in East Asia trade a higher share of the goods and services they produce across borders than emerging economies in Latin America (73.2 percent), South Asia (61.4 percent), and Africa (73.0 percent). Only EU member states (138.0 percent), which are known to be the most deeply integrated regional trade bloc in the world, trade more. Alongside emerging East Asia’s rise in global trade, intra-regional trade—trade among economies in emerging East Asia—has expanded dramatically over the past two decades. In fact, the rise of intra-regional trade accounted for a bit more than half of total export growth in emerging East Asia in the last decade, while exports to the EU, Japan, and the United States accounted for about 30 percent, a pattern that was briefly disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2021, intra-regional trade made up about 40 percent of the region’s total trade, the highest share since 1990.

Drivers of intra-regional trade in East Asia are shifting 

Initially, much of East Asia’s intra-regional trade integration was driven by rapidly growing intra-industry trade, which in turn reflected the spread of cross-border global value chains with greater vertical specialization and geographical dispersion of production processes across the region. This led to a sharp rise in trade in intermediate goods among economies among emerging economies in Asia, while the EU, Japan, and the United States remained the main export markets for final goods. Think semiconductors and other computer parts being traded from high-wage economies, like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, China for final assembly to lower-wage economies, initially Malaysia and China and more recently Vietnam, with final products like TV sets, computers, and cell phones being shipped to consumers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

The sources of global demand have been shifting. Intra-regional trade no longer primarily reflects shifts in production patterns but is increasingly underpinned by changes in the sources of demand for exports of final goods. With rapid income and population growth, domestic demand growth in emerging East Asia has been strong in recent years, expanding by an average of 6.4 percent, annually over the past ten years, exceeding both the average GDP and trade growth during that period. China is now not only the largest trading partner of most countries in the region but also the largest source of final demand for the region, recently surpassing the U.S. and the EU. Export value-added absorbed by final demand in China climbed up from 1.6 percent of the region’s GDP in 2000 to 5.4 of GDP in 2021. At the same time, final demand from the other emerging economies in East Asia has also been on the rise, expanding from around 3 percent of GDP in 2000 to above 3.5 percent of GDP in 2021. While only about 12 cents of every $1 of export value generated by emerging economies in Asia in 2000 ultimately met consumer or investment demand within the region, today more than 30 cents meet final demand originating within emerging East Asia.

Figure 1. Destined for Asia

Source: OECD Inter-Country Input-Output (ICIO) Tables, staff estimates. Note: East Asia: EM (excl. China) refers to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

These shifting trade patterns reflect dramatic shifts in the geography and makeup of the global consumer market. Emerging East Asia’s middle class has been rising fast from 834.2 million people in 2016 to roughly 1.1 billion in 2022. Today more than half of the population—54.5 percent to be precise—has joined the ranks of the global consumer class, with daily consumer spending of $12 per day or more. According to this definition, East Asia accounted for 29.0 percent of the global consumer-class population by 2022, and by 2030 one in three members of the world’s middle class is expected to be East Asian. Meanwhile, the share of the U.S. and the EU in the global consumer class is expected to decline from 19.2 percent to 15.8 percent. If we look at consumer-class spending, emerging East Asia is expected to become home to the largest consumer market sometime in this decade, according to projections, made by Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution and others, shown in the figure below.

Figure 2. Reshaping the geography of the global consumer market

Figure 2

Source: World Bank staff estimates using World Data Pro!, based on various household surveys. Note: Middle-class is defined as spending more than $12 (PPP adjusted) per day. Emerging East Asia countries included in the calculation refer to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

Intraregional economic integration could act as a buffer against global uncertainties  

Emerging economies in Asia are known to be the factories of the world. They play an equally important role as rapidly expanding consumer markets which are already starting to shape the next wave of intra-regional and global trade flows. Policymakers in the region should heed this trend. Domestically, policies to support jobs and household income could help bolster the role of private consumption in the steady state in some countries, mainly China, and during shocks in all countries. Externally, policies to lower barriers to regional trade could foster deeper regional integration. While average tariffs have declined and are low for most goods, various non-tariff barriers remain significant and cross-border trade in services, including in digital services remains particularly cumbersome. Multilateral trade agreements, such as ASEAN, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) offer opportunities to address these remaining constraints. Stronger intraregional trade and economic integration can help diversify not just supply chains but also sources of demand, acting as a buffer against uncertainties in global trade and growth.

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“I Couldn’t Remain Silent”: Physician Assistant Fired For Reporting COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events To VAERS

"I Couldn’t Remain Silent": Physician Assistant Fired For Reporting COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events To VAERS

Authored by Matt McGregor via…



"I Couldn't Remain Silent": Physician Assistant Fired For Reporting COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events To VAERS

Authored by Matt McGregor via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

For her efforts to report injuries to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and to educate others in her hospital system on doing the same, Physician Assistant Deborah Conrad said she was labeled an anti-vaxxer and fired from her job.

Whistleblower Deborah Conrad tells her story in Jackson, Miss., on Feb. 27, 2023. (Courtesy of Charlotte Stringer Photography)

Today, the New York-based Conrad tells her story at medical freedom conferences throughout the country, the most recent being one in Mississippi where physicians, scientists, and the vaccine injured warned state lawmakers to pull the COVID-19 vaccines from the market.

Conrad told The Epoch Times she began to see early danger signals in 2021 upon the vaccine rollout, and with that, resistance among her colleagues to report on them.

After the vaccines came out, there was this uptick in unusual symptoms, some of which I had never seen in my 20-year career,” Conrad said. “In every case, it was in somebody who had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Conrad said she had never admitted an adult patient with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) until the COVID-19 vaccines.

“And every patient who came in with RSV was vaccinated for COVID,” Conrad said. “It wasn’t normal.”

Then, there were the adolescents with no previous medical conditions who had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine a week prior and, suddenly, they were struck with pneumonia and not able to function, she said.

They weren’t able to walk or eat, and they were completely and totally fatigued,” Conrad said.

This was in 2021 before myocarditis was being discussed, so many of those early cases that were probably myocarditis were diagnosed as pneumonia, she said.

“A lot of these myocarditis cases came in with fevers because of this massive inflammatory response that was taking place in the body, so they would be labeled as septic, treated as if we were treating pneumonia or fevers of unknown origin,” Conrad said. “We’d treat them with antibiotics and all sorts of other things, not realizing that they were having heart failure.”

Conrad began reporting to VAERS, which she said was an overwhelming task not made easy by its multiple user-interface complications.

My entire life had been taken over by doing these VAERS reports by myself,” she said.

In meetings with leadership, she would propose implementing a reporting system and hiring someone to manage the reports, she said.

‘A Hostile Environment’

“They kept telling me we’re looking into it and we’ll get back to you,” Conrad said. “Around April 2021, leadership came back and said no one else is reporting injuries—implying that I was crazy and there was nothing really going on with the vaccines.”

Leadership then audited her reports, she said and concluded that she was overreporting.

“I was then told that by doing VAERS reports and even discussing VAERS that it was an admission that the vaccines were unsafe, so it’s contributing to vaccine hesitancy,” Conrad said.

From there, it became a “very hostile environment” that compelled her to seek legal counsel, who wrote letters to the Department of Health, the CDC, and the FDA.

No one cared,” Conrad said. “Finally, I had had it. It was so unethical; I couldn’t take it anymore. These VAERS reports are critical to assuring these vaccines are safe for us all. I could no longer be a part of a system that is lying to the American people.”

Conrad decided to become a whistleblower, telling her story on Del Bigtree’s The Highwire, knowing, she said, that it would cost her job.

I couldn’t remain silent, even if it meant losing my career and everything I worked for,” she said. “I was fired a few weeks later and walked out like a criminal in front of all my peers.”

The initiative and education she had brought forth to report to VAERS were squashed that day, she said.

Whistleblower Deborah Conrad speaks about her termination for attempting to utilize the VAERS reporting in her hospital system, in Jackson, Miss., on Feb. 27, 2023. (Courtesy of Charlotte Stringer Photography)

National Vaccine Injury Act of 1986

According to Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), under the National Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, it’s a federal requirement for health care workers to report vaccine-related adverse events to VAERS.

Fisher, whose son was harmed by the DTP vaccine in 1980, worked with other parents of vaccine-injured children in establishing the NVIC in 1982.

“The 1986 Act was driven by parents of DPT vaccine injured children asking the government to pass legislation to secure vaccine safety informing, recording, reporting, and research provisions in the vaccination system to make it safer, and to create a federal compensation system alternative to a lawsuit against manufacturers of vaccines that injure or kill children,” Fisher told The Epoch Times.

In addition to NVIC arguing that physicians and vaccine manufacturers should be giving informed consent and report injuries, the organization maintained they should also continue to be held accountable in a civil court to serve as an incentive for physicians to administer vaccines responsibly, for manufacturers to produce safer vaccines, and for adequate federal compensation to vaccine-injured children.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/20/2023 - 19:00

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Air pollution can increase the risk of COVID infection and severe disease – a roundup of what we know

Air pollution can increase COVID risk by weakening our immune defences and exacerbating underlying health conditions.




Tatiana Grozetskaya/Shutterstock

The early part of the COVID pandemic led to a significant reduction in air pollution in many parts of the world. With lockdowns, travel restrictions and decreased economic activity, there was a noticeable drop in the emission of air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and particulate matter (PM) that is fine enough to be inhaled.

Changes in air pollution varied depending on the location and the type of pollutant, but reductions were particularly noticeable in cities and industrial areas, where emissions from transport and industrial activities are typically high. In many areas though, air pollution levels quickly increased again as restrictions eased and activity resumed.

Along with having harmful effects on the environment, it’s well established that air pollution can have negative effects on human health, including increasing the risk of respiratory and heart problems and cancers. Emerging research suggests air pollution may also affect the brain and be linked to certain developmental issues in babies. The severity of these health effects can depend on the type and concentration of pollutants, as well as individual factors that affect a person’s susceptibility.

While there has been much focus on the way the pandemic affected air quality, it has also become apparent that air quality affects COVID risk – both in terms of the likelihood of contracting COVID and how sick people get with the infection.

How does air quality increase COVID risk?

Research has shown that long-term exposure to air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter under 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) and NO₂, may increase the risk of COVID infection, hospitalisation, and death.

A study in England, for example, showed long-term exposure to PM2.5 and NO₂ is associated with 12% and 5% increases in COVID cases, respectively, for every additional microgram of PM2.5 or NO₂ per cubic metre of air.

One of the primary ways that air pollution may increase the risk of COVID is by weakening the respiratory system’s defences against viral infections. We know long-term exposure to fine particulate matter that is inhaled can reduce the lungs’ immune responses and cause damage to them, which can make people more vulnerable to respiratory infections like COVID.

Read more: Long COVID linked to air pollution exposure in young adults – new study

Air pollution can also impact the immune system’s ability to fight off viral infections. Exposure to particulate matter, such as PM2.5, has been linked to increased levels of cytokines and inflammation in the body.

Cytokines are signalling molecules that help the immune system fight infections. But high levels can cause a “cytokine storm”, where the immune system overreacts and attacks healthy cells in addition to the virus. Cytokine storms have been associated with severe COVID and a higher likelihood of dying from the disease.

And notably, COVID binds to ACE2 receptors to enter a cell. In studies of animals, PM2.5 exposure has been linked to a significant increase in ACE2 receptors. PM2.5 may therefore increase the probability of COVID entering cells in humans.

A crowd of people walking a New York street wearing masks.
There are a variety of factors which could explain why air pollution increases COVID risk. blvdone/Shutterstock

Further, air pollution may increase the severity of COVID symptoms by exacerbating underlying health conditions. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to increased rates of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which have been identified as risk factors for severe COVID.

Air pollution may also increase COVID transmission rates by acting as a carrier for the virus. Researchers continue to debate the potential of respiratory droplets from infected people attaching to particulate matter in the air and travelling long distances, potentially increasing the virus’s spread.

How can I reduce exposure to air pollutants?

With all this in mind, reducing air pollution levels may be an important strategy for mitigating the impact of COVID and protecting public health.

This requires a combination of individual actions and collective efforts to address the sources of pollution. There are several ways you can decrease your and others’ exposure to air pollution, including:

Limit outdoor activity during high-pollution days. Check air quality forecasts and limit outdoor activities on “high” days. Try to go outside at times of the day when pollution levels are lower, such as early morning or late evening.

Think about your mode of transport. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike instead of driving can help to reduce pollution levels. If you do drive, try to carpool or use an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Read more: Wuhan's lockdown cut air pollution by up to 63% – new research

Use indoor air filters. Having air filters in your home can help reduce indoor pollution levels. Hepa filters can remove many pollutants, including fine particulate matter. Further, the use of Hepa air systems can successfully filter COVID virus particles from the air.

Samuel J. White advises on air quality and receives funding from Fédération Equestre Internationale.

Philippe B. Wilson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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