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Futures Slide As Dollar Jumps, Yields Rebound Ahead Of Massive Data Dump

Futures Slide As Dollar Jumps, Yields Rebound Ahead Of Massive Data Dump

For the third day in a row, US equity futures have been weighed down by rising (real) rates even as traders moderated their expectations for monetary-policy tightening..

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Futures Slide As Dollar Jumps, Yields Rebound Ahead Of Massive Data Dump

For the third day in a row, US equity futures have been weighed down by rising (real) rates even as traders moderated their expectations for monetary-policy tightening after New Zealand’s measured approach to rate hikes where the central banks hiked rates but not as much as some had expected. Traders also braced for an epic data dump in the US, which includes is an epic data dump which includes an update to Q3 GDP, advance trade balance, initial jobless claims, wholesale and retail inventories, durable goods, personal income and spending, UMich consumer sentiment, new home sales, and the FOMC Minutes The two-year U.S. yield shed two basis points. The dollar extended its rising streak against a basket of peers to a fourth day. At 730am, S&P 500 e-mini futures dropped 0.3%, just off session lows, while Nasdaq futures dropping 0.34%.

In premarket trading, Nordstrom sank 27% after the Seattle-based retailer posted third-quarter results featuring what Citi called a big earnings per share miss. The company reported higher labor and fulfillment costs in the third quarter while sales remained stubbornly below pre-pandemic levels and profit missed analyst estimates. Telecom Italia SpA surged in Europe on enhanced takeover interest. Oil prices fluctuated as producers and major consuming nations headed for a confrontation. Other notable premarket movers:

  • Gap (GPS US) sank 20% premarket after the clothing retailer reported quarterly results that missed estimates and cut its net sales forecast for the full year. Analysts lowered their price targets.
  • Nordstrom (JWN US) tumbles 27% in premarket after the Seattle-based retailer posted third-quarter results featuring what Citi called a big earnings per share miss. Jefferies, meanwhile, downgrades the stock to hold from buy as transformation costs are rising.
  • Guess (GES US) posted quarterly results which analysts say included impressive sales and margins, and showed the company navigating supply-chain issues successfully. The shares closed 9.2% higher in U.S. postmarket trading.
  • HP (HPQ US) shares are up 8.4% in premarket after quarterly results. Analysts note strong demand and pricing in the personal computer market.
  • Meme stocks were mixed in premarket after tumbling the most since June on Tuesday as investors bailed out of riskier assets.
  • Anaplan (PLAN US) slides 18% in premarket as a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss wasn’t enough to stem a downward trend. Analysts slashed price targets.
  • Autodesk (ADSK US) shares slump 14% in premarket after the building software maker narrowed its full-year outlook. Analysts are concerned that issues with supply chains and the pandemic could impact its targets for 2023.
  • GoHealth (GOCO US) gained 8.4% in postmarket trading after the insurer’s CEO and chief strategy officer added to their holdings.

As Bloomberg notes, investors are on the edge as they face a wall of worry from a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe to signs of persistent consumer-price growth. Damping inflation is now center-stage for policy makers, with ultra-loose, pandemic-era stimulus set to be wound down. The slew of U.S. data as well as Federal Reserve minutes due today may provide the next catalysts for market moves.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index erased earlier gains of up to 0.4% to trade down -0.1%, with tech and travel and leisure leading declines. Miners gained 0.8%, tracking higher copper prices on easing concerns over Chinese demand, while travel stocks slid over 1% on prospects of harsher travel curbs: Italy and France are debating new measures to cope with Covid’s resurgence while Germany isn’t ruling out fresh curbs. Oil stocks rose 1.2%, set for their biggest jump in over a month, with crude prices inching higher as investors remained sceptical about the effectiveness of a U.S.-led release of oil from strategic reserves. Here are some of the most notable European equity movers:

  • Mulberry shares surge as much as 24%, the most since March 12, after the U.K. luxury company swung to a 1H profit from a year earlier and reported an increase in sales.
  • Telecom Italia shares rise as much as 10% following a Bloomberg report that KKR is considering to raise its offer for the company after top investor Vivendi said the bid was too low. However, the stock is still trading below the initial non-binding offer from KKR.
  • Golden Ocean gains as much as 9.6%, most since Feb., after earnings. DNB says “Golden Ocean delivered solid Q3 results” and adds “Furthermore, guidance for Q4 should lift consensus estimates and solidify further dividend potential in our view.”
  • Intertek shares gain as much as 6.7%, the most since May 2020, after the company issued a trading update. UBS says the company’s accelerating momentum and reiterated targets are “reassuring.”
  • Aegon shares rise as much as 5.5% after Credit Suisse upgraded its recommendation to outperform from neutral and raised the PT to EU5.30 from EU4.00.
  • IQE shares slump as much as 21% for the biggest intraday drop since March 2020, falling to their lowest level since June 2020 after the semiconductor company said it sees softening demand in 4Q.
  • Genus shares fall as much 15% after the animal genetics firm lowered its FY22 earnings guidance, leading Peel Hunt and Liberum to cut estimates.

European stocks are on course for weekly losses, as the return of COVID-19 curbs, rate hike and inflation concerns sparked fears of a weaker economic growth outlook.

"There's a two-way pull between macro concerns and what's happening bottoms-up in terms of corporate profits," said Nick Nelson, head of European equity strategy at UBS, adding that while the third quarter has been one of the decade's best reporting seasons for Europe, macro concerns such as a rise in U.S. bond yields and COVID-19 cases have been holding stocks back.

Earlier in the session, Asian equities declined, on track for a third-straight session of losses, as higher U.S. Treasury yields continued to weigh on technology stocks in the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 0.6%, with Japan stocks leading losses as traders returned from a holiday to access the prospect of tighter U.S. monetary policy to curb inflation. TSMC and Tencent were among the biggest drags on the regional gauge. READ: Samsung Plans $17 Billion Texas Chip Plant, Creating 2,000 Jobs The renomination of Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair earlier this week has sent U.S. 10-year Treasury yields to about levels near 1.65%, implying higher borrowing costs. That’s adding to concerns about weak earnings growth in Asia as well as ongoing supply-chain constraints. Investors will now turn their attention to U.S. gross domestic product data and FOMC minutes due out after Asian markets close Wednesday.  “A cautious tone may still seem to prevail for now,” Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia, said in a note. “Markets continue to shift their expectations towards a tighter Fed monetary policy.” New Zealand’s stock gauge added 0.6% after the central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points, less than the 50 points that some economists had predicted. Singapore authorities, meanwhile, expect gross domestic product to expand 3% to 5% next year, a slower pace than this year as the country rebounds from the pandemic.

Indian stocks fell ahead of the November monthly expiry on Thursday, led by technology companies. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.6% to 58,340.99 in Mumbai to close at its lowest level in two months. The gauge gained 0.3% on Tuesday, snapping four sessions of selloff.   The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined 0.5% on Wednesday, reversing intraday gains of as much as 0.6%. Software exporter Infosys Ltd. was the biggest drag on both gauges and slipped more than 2%. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 21 dropped and nine rose.  Investors roll over positions ahead of the expiry of derivatives contracts on the last Thursday of every month. Fourteen of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. fell, led by a measure of IT companies. “The scheduled monthly expiry would keep the traders busy on Thursday,” Ajit Mishra, vice president research at Religare Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. “We suggest continuing with negative bias on the index while keeping a check on leveraged positions.”

In Fx, the most notable movers was the drop in the kiwi: New Zealand’s currency ironically slid to the weakest in nearly two months and the nation’s bond rallied as the central bank’s 25 basis-point rate hike disappointed traders betting on a bigger increase. The central bank projected 2% benchmark borrowing costs by the end of 2022. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced a fourth consecutive day as the greenback gained versus all Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen, which reversed its losses after falling to the lowest since March 2017. The euro underperformed, nearing the $1.12 handle amid broad dollar strength even before data showing German business confidence took another hit in November and amid renewed fears that Germany may be considering a full lockdown and mandatory vaccines. RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr said policy makers considered a 50bps move before deciding on 25bps, and he sees the OCR climbing to around 2.5% by end-2023. 

Elsewhere, Turkey’s lira stabilized after Tuesday’s plunge. MSCI’s gauge of emerging-market stocks edged lower for a sixth session.  

In rates, Treasuries were richer by 1bp to 2bp across the curve, paced by European bonds ahead of a raft of U.S. data preceding Thursday’s market close. 10-year Treasury yields were richer by ~1bp on the day at around 1.655%, slightly trailing bunds; most curve spreads are within a basis point of Tuesday’s close with comparable shifts across tenors. During Asia session, Treasuries were supported by wider gains across Kiwi bonds after RBNZ hiked policy rates, but still erred on the dovish side. Bunds remain supported during European morning as haven demand stems from prospect of a nationwide German lockdown. Italian bonds snapped a two-day decline.

In commodities, oil futures in New York swung between gains and losses following an announcement by the U.S. and other nations of a coordinated release of strategic reserves. Focus now turns to OPEC+ on how the group will respond to the moves. The alliance has already said that such releases were unjustified by market conditions and it may reconsider plans to add more supply at a meeting next week.

Base metals are well bid with LME nickel adding over 2% to outperform peers. LME copper rises over 1% to best levels for the week. Crude futures fade a modest push higher fading after a brief push through Tuesday’s best levels. WTI trades flat, having briefly printed above $79; Brent prints highs of $83 before fading. Spot gold holds a narrow range close to $1,790/oz

To the day ahead now, and there’s a significant amount of US data ahead of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. That includes the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q3 GDP, October’s personal income and personal spending, new home sales, and the preliminary October readings for durable goods orders and core capital goods orders. Over in Germany, there’s also the Ifo’s business climate indicator for November. Finally on the central bank side, there’s the release of the FOMC’s November meeting minutes, and speakers include the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel, and the BoE’s Tenreyro.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 4,683.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 480.66
  • MXAP down 0.5% to 196.76
  • MXAPJ down 0.1% to 643.18
  • Nikkei down 1.6% to 29,302.66
  • Topix down 1.2% to 2,019.12
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 24,685.50
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.1% to 3,592.70
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 58,499.84
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 7,399.44
  • Kospi down 0.1% to 2,994.29
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $82.63/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,791.37
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.57
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.22%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1231

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Olaf Scholz is set to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor after forging an unprecedented alliance that aims to revamp Europe’s largest economy by tackling climate change and promoting digital technologies
  • The European Commission is set to announce the recommendations for the entire EU as soon as Thursday, Politico’s Playbook newsletter reported, citing three unidentified officials and diplomats
  • Italy’s government is debating tough new measures to stem an increase in coronavirus cases, which could include restrictions on unvaccinated people and be approved as soon as Wednesday
  • The ECB’s pandemic purchasing program may enter a “waiting room” rather than be abolished completely once net purchases are set to end in March, Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said at briefing in Vienna
  • The U.K.’s biggest business lobby group has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back down in its dispute with the European Union over Northern Ireland and not follow through with threats to suspend parts of the Brexit divorce deal
  • Polish central bank Governor Adam Glapinski said further weakening of the zloty wouldn’t be consistent with the country’s economic fundamentals, helping lift the embattled currency from 12-year lows
  • The supply crunch that’s helped drive inflation to multi- decade highs shows some signs of easing in the U.S. -- but it’s still getting worse in Europe. That’s the takeaway from the latest readings on Bloomberg Economics’ new set of supply indicators
  • The unraveling of the Turkish lira threatens to erode Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grasp on the economy and is already emboldening his political opponents. Small protests erupted in Istanbul and Ankara overnight, calling for an end to economic mismanagement that’s unleashed rapid inflation and triggered the currency’s longest losing streak in two decades

A more detailed breakdown of global news courtesy of newsquawk

Asia-Pac equity indices were mixed following the choppy performance of their US counterparts where energy rallied despite the SPR announcement and tech lagged as yields continued to gain, with the latest RBNZ rate hike, as well as looming FOMC Minutes and US data releases adding to the tentative mood. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was rangebound with the index subdued by losses in tech and gold miners which suffered from the rising yield environment, but with downside cushioned by strength in the largest weighted financials sector and with outperformance in energy after oil prices rallied in the aftermath of the widely anticipated SPR announcement. The strength in oil was attributed to several reasons including a “sell the rumour/buy the news” play and expectations of a response from OPEC+, while an administration official kept the prospect of an oil export ban on the table which is seen as bullish as it would remove US supply from the global market. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was the laggard on return from holiday amid flows into the local currency and with reports also suggesting the BoJ is considering tweaking its pandemic relief program. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) swung between gains and losses with early indecision due to the broad tech weakness tech which was not helped by reports that Chinese cyberspace regulators and police summoned Alibaba (9988 HK) and Baidu’s (9888 HK) cloud unit for telecoms network fraud, although the losses for Chinese bourses were eventually reversed amid gains in the energy heavyweights and after a mild PBoC liquidity injection. Finally, 10yr JGBs opened lower on spillover selling from global peers but gradually pared some of the losses after rebounding from support at 151.50 and with the BoJ in the market for nearly JPY 1.5tln of JGBs with up to 10yr maturities.

Top Asian News

  • Shinsei Drops Poison Pill Against SBI in Japan Takeover Saga
  • Morgan Stanley to Repay Hong Kong Staff $5,100 for Quarantine
  • KKR, Equinix Among Suitors for $11 Billion Global Switch
  • Japan to Issue $192 Billion in Debt for Stimulus: Nikkei

European equities attempted to claw back some of the week’s losses (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%; Stoxx 600 -0.2%) at the open with Monday and Tuesday’s session dominated by ongoing COVID angst in the region. Lockdown measures were enough to see investors shrug off yesterday’s better-than-expected PMI metrics for the Eurozone with today’s slightly softer than hoped for German Ifo report having little sway on price action. Despite the upside seen at the open, optimism has faded throughout the session as speculation mounts over whether the announcement of the German coalition deal (set to be unveiled at 14:00GMT) could prompt further lockdown measures for the nation. Furthermore, reports note that the Italian government is debating potential restrictions on the unvaccinated; measures could be approved as soon as today. On a more positive footing French Finance Minister Le Maire says at the moment he does not see any need for further COVID-related restrictions in France. However, it remains to be seen how long this viewpoint can be sustained. Stateside, futures are a touch softer with losses across the majors of a relatively equal magnitude (ES -0.1%) in the final full session of the week ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Given the shortened week, today sees a deluge of data from the US with releases including key personal income, spending and PCE data for October, a second look at Q3 GDP, final Michigan consumer sentiment data, as well as weekly jobless claims and energy inventory data. All of which is followed by the FOMC minutes from the November meeting. In a recent note, BNP Paribas stated it is of the view that equities will go on to provide the highest returns across asset classes in 2022 with the French bank targeting 5100 (currently 4690) for the S&P 500 by the end of next year. From a European perspective, BNP expects the Euro Stoxx 50 to close 2022 out at 4500 (currently 4300) with the market “too pessimistic” on margins; albeit the Bank concedes that the resurgence of COVID presents a risk to its view. Sectors in Europe are mostly constructive with Oil & Gas and Basic Resources underpinned by gains in the underlying commodities with the former continuing to garner support post-yesterday’s SPR announcement. The Travel & Leisure sector lags peers with the Travel element of the group hampered by reports that the European Commission is preparing new COVID travel recommendations for the whole of the EU. For Leisure names, Entain (-5.0%) and Flutter Entertainment (-3.0%) have been hit by news that over 160 UK MPs and peers are said to be demanding that online gambling limits are lowered. Finally, Telecom Italia (+9.7%) is the best performer in the Stoxx 600 after source reports suggesting that KKR is considering a higher bid for the Co. in an attempt to win over support from Vivendi.

 

Top European News

  • Scholz Seals Coalition Deal to Become Next German Chancellor
  • Italy Readies Curbs on the Unvaccinated as Covid Cases Rise
  • Booking Agrees to Buy CVC’s Etraveli for About EU1.63b
  • Orange CEO Convicted in $453 Million Arbitration Fraud Case

In FX, the Dollar index has gained traction and continued its gains above 96.500+ status in early European hours before eclipsing resistance at 96.700 to a fresh YTD peak at 96.758, with US players also preparing to wind down for the long weekend. Before that, the Buck will be facing a plethora of Tier 1 US data, including Prelim GDP (Q3), weekly Jobless Claims, and monthly PCE in the run-up to the FOMC Minutes – which will be eyed for clues on what could warrant an adjustment of the pace of tapering (Full preview available in the Newsquawk Research Suite). On the downside, immediate support will likely be at yesterday’s 96.308 low before this week’s current 96.035 trough. In terms of early month-end FX flows (on account of the holiday-shortened week), Morgan Stanley’s model points towards USD weakness against most G10 peers.

  • EUR, GBP - The single currency dipped a 16-month low just before the release of the German Ifo survey, which unsurprisingly voiced cautiousness against the backdrop of COVID and supply chain issues – with Ifo forecasting a growth stagnation this current quarter, whilst ING believe that today’s Ifo signals that “The risk of stagnation or even recession in the German economy at the turn of the year has clearly increased.” The currency came under further pressure in what coincided with reports that Germany is mulling a full COVID lockdown and mandatory vaccinations, although the piece failed to cite any sources nor officials and seemed to be more an extrapolation of recent remarks from the German Health Minister. EUR/USD fell through pivotal support at 1.1210 to a current low at 1.1206 ahead of 1.1200. Traders should also be cognizant of several chunky OpEx clips including EUR 1.3bln between 1.1195-1.1200. Ahead, the SPD, Greens and FDP set to unveil their coalition deal at 14:00GMT. ECB speak today include from the likes Schnabel after Panetta and Holzmann failed to spur action across EU assets. Elsewhere, the GBP/USD is flat intraday and saw little reaction to BoE Governor Bailey yesterday, suggesting he does not think the MPC will go back to a hard form of guidance and stated that it is not off the table that they give no guidance at all on rates. Bailey also stated that decisions are made meeting by meeting and that they have a very tight labour market. From a political standpoint, European Commission VP Sefcovic said EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland trade rules will probably drag into 2022. Cable remains within a 1.3353-89 range whilst EUR/GBP trades on either side of 0.8400. Looking ahead, BoE’s Tenreyro speaking at the Oxford Economics Society – with early-Nov commentary from the MPC member suggesting that monetary policy will have to bite if there are signs of second-round inflation effects, but policy cannot fix energy price spikes.
  • NZD, AUD - The Kiwi stands as the G10 laggard following a dovish 25bps hike by the RBNZ, with the board citing optionality. Desks suggest that FX was clearly gearing for a hawkish surprise from the central bank, with markets pricing some 35% of a 50bps hike heading into the meeting given the inflation survey earlier this month. Money markets were also disappointed, with participants flagging that the 2yr swap fell over 15bps despite the RBNZ upping its 2023 OCR forecast to 2.3% (prev. 1.7%). NZD/USD fell further beneath the 0.7000 mark to a current 0.6957 low. AUD meanwhile sees its losses cushioned from another day of firm gains in iron ore, whilst cross-currency flows help the AUD/NZD test 1.0450 to the upside. Nonetheless, the cautious market mood keeps AUD/USD around the flat mark after the pair found support at 0.7200.
  • JPY - The traditional haven outperforms as risk aversion creeps into the market. USD/JPY pivots the 115.00 market after hitting an overnight high of 115.23. Some desks suggest that offers are seen from 115.30 on Wednesday, with more around the 115.50 area, according to IFR citing Tokyo sources. In terms of notable OpEx, USD/JPY sees USD 1.7bln between 115.00-10.

In commodities, WTI and Brent Jan futures consolidate following yesterday’s gains post-SPR announcement. The release disappointed the oil bears given the widely telegraphed nature of the announcement coupled with relatively small contributions from members. Desks have also highlighted that the reserves will need to be replenished at some time in the future, and thus, analysts have passed the effects from the SPR release as temporary; although, cautioning that if the desired impact is not achieved, then further action can be taken – with a temporary export ban still on the table. Meanwhile, on the demand side, futures dipped after CNBC reported that Germany could head into a full lockdown, but the piece did not make a mention of officials nor sources but seemed to be more an extrapolation of recent comments from the Germany Health Minister, with an announcement on this matter potentially to come today. Further, tomorrow could see revised travel guidance for the whole of the EU, according to Politico sources, although "The biggest overall change will be a move away from a country-based approach and to a person-based one, which takes into account a citizen’s individual COVID status." Despite this month’s European COVID developments, JPMorgan sees global oil demand growing by another 3.5mln BPD next year to reach 99.8mln BPD (280k BPD above 2019 level); 2023 demand is expected to average around 101.5mln BPD (1.9mln BPD above pre-COVID levels) and suggested that global oil demand is on track to exceed 2019 levels by March 2022 and strengthen further. As a reminder, next week also sees the OPEC+ meeting whereby the group is expected to continue with plans of monthly output increases of 400k BPD, with a risk of a more dovish decision and/or commentary. WTI Jan trades around USD 78.50/bbl (vs high 79.23/bbl) and Brent Jan around USD 82.25/bbl (vs high 83.00/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold is interestingly unfazed by the rampant Dollar as prices remain caged within a cluster of DMAs (100 around 1,793, 200 around 1,791 and 50 around 1,788). Copper prices are again on the grind higher with LME around USD 9,800/t at the time of writing – with participants citing underlying demand, particularly from China.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: 3Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 2.2%, prior 2.0%
    • 8:30am: 3Q GDP Price Index, est. 5.7%, prior 5.7%
    • 8:30am: 3Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 4.5%, prior 4.5%
    • 8:30am: 3Q Personal Consumption, est. 1.6%, prior 1.6%
  • 8:30am: Oct. Durable Goods Orders, est. 0.2%, prior -0.3%
    • 8:30am: Oct. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.8%; - Less Transportation, est. 0.5%, prior 0.5%
    • 8:30am: Oct. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 1.4%
  • 8:30am: Oct. Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.3%, prior -0.2%; Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.4%
  • 8:30am: Oct. Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. - $95b, prior -$96.3b
  • 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 260,000, prior 268,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.03m, prior 2.08m
  • 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 50.7
  • 10am: Oct. Personal Income, est. 0.2%, prior -1.0%;
    • 10am: Oct. Personal Spending, est. 1.0%, prior 0.6%
    • 10am: Oct. Real Personal Spending, est. 0.6%, prior 0.3%
  • 10am: Oct. New Home Sales, est. 800,000, prior 800,000
    • 10am: Oct. New Home Sales MoM, est. 0%, prior 14.0%
  • 10am: Oct. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.3%
    • 10am: Oct. PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.2%
    • 10am: Oct. PCE Deflator YoY, est. 5.1%, prior 4.4%
    • 10am: Oct. PCE Core Deflator YoY, est. 4.1%, prior 3.6%
  • 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 67.0, prior 66.8
    • 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 2.9%
    • 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, prior 4.9%
    • 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Current Conditions, prior 73.2
    • 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Expectations, prior 62.8
  • 2pm: Nov. FOMC Meeting Minutes

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

We’ve had a number of requests to bring back our Covid tables in the EMR. At the moment I’m resisting as they take a considerable amount of time. While we work out an efficient form of articulating the current wave on a daily basis, in today’s EMR we show graphs of the daily rolling 7-day cases and fatalities per million in the population for the G7. We’ve also included Austria, given how topical that is, and also The Netherlands, given mounting problems there. These act as a useful reference point for some of the more stressed countries. The cases chart should be in the text below and the fatalities one visible when you click “view report”. Germany is probably the main one to watch in the G7 at the moment and overnight reported 66,884 new cases (a record) compared with 45,362 the day before.

A reminder that yesterday we published our 2022 credit strategy outlook. See here for the full report. Craig has also put out a more detailed HY 2022 strategy document here and Karthik a more detailed IG equivalent here. Basically we think spreads will widen as much as 30-40bps in IG and 120-160bps in HY due to a response to a more dramatic appreciation of the Fed being well behind the curve. This sort of move is consistent with typical mid-cycle ranges through history. We do expect this to mostly retrace in H2 as markets recover from the shock and growth remains decent and liquidity still high.

We also published the results of our ESG issuer and investor survey where around 530 responded. Please see the results here.

As we hit Thanksgiving Eve and a US data dump of a day given the holiday tomorrow, the big story over the last 2-3 business days has been real rates in the US. As recently as Friday, after the Austria lockdown news, 10yr real rates hit -1.2%. Yesterday they traded above -0.95% before closing at -0.97%, +4.0bps higher than the previous close. Our view in the 2022 credit strategy document is that credit is more tied to real rates than nominal rates and if the market attacks the Fed as we expect, then they should go up. However, note that I’ve also said I suspect they’ll stay negative for the rest of my career so while higher real yields are likely, I suspect that this is a trade rather than a structural long-term journey given likely long-term financial repression.

Anyway, rising real yields, a fresh covid wave and belief over a less dovish Fed post the Powell reappointment saw a tough day for equities, especially in Europe, before the US managed to eke out a gain into the close. The S&P 500 (+0.17%) was up for the first time in 3 days, whilst Europe’s STOXX 600 (-1.28%) posted its worst daily performance in nearly 2 months. On a sector level, it was the same story in the US, where energy (+3.04%) shares benefitted from climbing oil prices and financials (+1.55%) gained on steeper and higher yields. Larger tech firms retreated on the higher discount rates, with the Nasdaq declining -0.50%.

Meanwhile the VIX index of volatility was back above the 20-mark for the first time in over a month, coinciding with a broader tightening of financial conditions. However, we dipped back below 20 into the stronger close.

Honing in on bonds now and there was a major selloff yesterday that hit a number of European countries in particular. By the close of trade, yields on 10yr bunds were up +8.1bps, which is their single-biggest daily increase in over a year, actually since the day we found out that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had proven successful in trials and was set to be rolled out. The move came about entirely due to higher real rates, with Germany 10yr inflation breakevens actually down -2.0bps on the day. Similar moves were seen elsewhere on the continent, with yields on 10yr OATs (+8.6bps) and BTPs (+10.5bps) seeing sharp rises of their own, which occurred in part on the back of stronger than expected flash PMI data raising the prospect of a quicker drawdown in monetary stimulus, not least with inflation still running some way ahead of the ECB’s target.

For US Treasuries, yields were a touch more subdued, and the yield curve twist steepened. 2yr yields declined -1.8bp whilst every other maturity increased, and all tenors out to 7 years are at post-pandemic highs. The 5yr nominal yield increased +2.2bps to 1.34%. The 10yr was up +4.1bps to 1.67% due, as we discussed above, to real yields. 10yr breakevens were flat (+0.2bp) at 2.63%. The 10 year is 7.5bps off of 2021 closing highs and in the 430 plus business days since the pandemic started there have only been 14 days with a higher close than last nights.

Elsewhere yesterday, we had an important piece of news on the energy front, as the US announced that it would be releasing 50m barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with the move occurring alongside similar decisions in China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK. 32m of those 50m will be an exchange, whereby oil is released over the next few months that is then returned over the coming years, while another 18m are coming from an acceleration of an oil sale that Congress had already authorised. Oil prices rose following the release however, with Brent crude (+3.27%) and WTI (+2.28%) both seeing decent advances, in part because the contribution from other nations was smaller than many had anticipated, but also because the potential release from the SPR had been widely reported in advance, thus sending prices lower from their peak around a month ago.

Even with the news, there’s no sign that inflationary pressures will be going away just yet, since much of what happens next will depend on the reaction of the OPEC+ group. If they move to cancel plans to increase production, then that could put upward pressure on prices again and help counter the impact of the move from the various energy consumers. And as we’ve been discussing, inflationary pressures have been widening for some time now, stretching beyond specific categories like energy and used cars to an array of other areas.

Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly in the red with the CSI (-0.03%), Hang Seng (-0.06%), Shanghai Composite (-0.10%), KOSPI (-0.48%) and the Nikkei (-1.35%) all lower. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has raised interest rates for the second consecutive month and lifted the official cash rate 25bps to 0.75%. There was some who expected 50bps so bonds are rallying with 2yr and 10yrs -5.5bps and -7.5bps lower, respectively. The central bank were pretty hawkish in their comments though. US Treasuries are 2-4bps lower across the curve overnight as well.

Staying on New Zealand, the country eased its travel restrictions by allowing fully vaccinated travellers (and other eligible travellers) from Australia without any isolation from Jan 17 and those from the rest of the world from February 14. Elsewhere, South Korea reported its highest ever daily new cases of 4,115 with 586 critical cases with the PM announcing the situation is "more serious than expected". Futures are indicating a slightly weaker start in the US and Europe with the S&P 500 (-0.24%) and DAX (-0.09%) lower.

Over in Europe, there’s no sign of the pandemic letting up just yet, with French health minister Veran saying in parliament that “we are sadly well and truly in a fifth wave of the epidemic” as France announced 30,454 new cases yesterday. Austria has been the main country in the headlines recently as it moved into a nationwide lockdown, but the reality is that the trend lines have been moving higher across the continent, raising the prospect of fresh restrictions. In terms of yesterday’s developments, the Netherlands announced that social distancing would be reintroduced on a mandatory basis, and that people should stay 1.5m apart, and Poland saw the biggest daily increase in hospitalisations since April. Elsewhere, Slovakia’s PM said that he was considering following the steps adopted in Austria, and the outgoing Czech PM said that mandatory vaccines for the over-60s were being considered.

In spite of the growing Covid wave across Europe, the flash PMIs released yesterday actually proved better than the consensus was expecting, and even saw something of an uptick from the October readings. The Euro Area composite PMI ended a run of 3 successive declines as it rose to 55.8 (vs. 53.0 expected), with both manufacturing (58.6) and services (56.6) rising relative to a month ago. And both the German (52.8) and the French (56.3) composite PMIs were also better than expected. On the other hand, the US had somewhat underwhelming readings, with the flash services PMI down to 57.0 (vs. 59.0 expected), as the composite PMI fell to 56.5.

To the day ahead now, and there’s a significant amount of US data ahead of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. That includes the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q3 GDP, October’s personal income and personal spending, new home sales, and the preliminary October readings for durable goods orders and core capital goods orders. Over in Germany, there’s also the Ifo’s business climate indicator for November. Finally on the central bank side, there’s the release of the FOMC’s November meeting minutes, and speakers include the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel, and the BoE’s Tenreyro.

Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 08:07

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International

Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here’s Why?

Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here’s Why?

Authored by Ross Pomeroy via RealClearScience.com,

Americans had a lot less sex in 2018 compared to 2009, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The finding…

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Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here's Why?

Authored by Ross Pomeroy via RealClearScience.com,

Americans had a lot less sex in 2018 compared to 2009, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The finding mirrors a downward trend also seen in many other parts of the developed world, including the UK, Australia, Germany, and Japan.

Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University School of Public Health made the discovery by comparing data collected in 2009 and 2018 from participants of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB). The NSSHB is an ongoing, representative survey of adolescents aged 14-17 and adults aged 18-49 focused on understanding sex in the United States. Participants are asked about their sexual exploits as well as various demographic factors.

For the current analysis, lead author Dr. Debby Herbenick and her colleagues examined the responses of 4,155 individuals from the 2009 NSSHB and 4,547 individuals from the 2018 NSSHB, specifically focusing on how often they reported having penile-vaginal intercourse. The researchers also probed the frequency of other sexual behaviors like masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex.

They found that while 24% of adults reported not having penile-vaginal intercourse over the prior year in 2009, 28% of adults reported not having intercourse over the prior year in 2018. Adolescents were also increasingly abstinent – 79% reported not having sex over the previous 12 months in 2009 while 89% reported not having sex over the previous 12 months in 2018.

The data also permitted the researchers to estimate how often the average American adult aged 18-49 has sex each year. In 2009, it was about 63 times. In 2018, it was about 47 times.

Both adolescents and adults also reported fewer instances of partnered masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex in 2018 compared to 2009, which surprised the researchers. They hypothesized that any decrease in penile-vaginal sex would be offset by an increase in other sexual activities. Not so. It simply seems that Americans are having less sex.

What could explain this drought of sexual activity? The researchers put forth a number of hypotheses. They note that, compared to 2009, adolescents and younger adults are drinking less alcohol, spending more time on social media, and playing more video games.

They also earn less money and are less likely to be in romantic relationships.

"Also, more contemporary young people identify with non-heterosexual identities— including asexual identities—and more young people identify in gender expansive ways," the researchers write.

There's also a simpler explanation. People may have been more prone to exaggerate their sexual habits in 2009 and are less likely to now.

Whatever the reasons, the researchers say there's no reason to fret about the decline. "The age-old question on how much sex is too much and how little sex is not enough comes to mind," they write. The data is merely interesting, and they will continue to monitor it, especially watching for changes resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

*  *  *

Source: Herbenick, D., Rosenberg, M., Golzarri-Arroyo, L. et al. Changes in Penile-Vaginal Intercourse Frequency and Sexual Repertoire from 2009 to 2018: Findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. Arch Sex Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02125-2

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 21:45

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Government

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Authored by Jim Bovard,

The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements

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Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Authored by Jim Bovard,

The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements and reports that could automatically castigate citizens who distrust the federal government. We may eventually learn that the new Biden guidelines spurred a vast increase in federal surveillance and other abuses against Americans who were guilty of nothing more than vigorous skepticism.

Biden is Nixon on steroids

The Biden team is expanding the federal Enemies List perhaps faster than any time since the Nixon administration. In June, the Biden administration asserted that guys who are unable to score with women may be terrorist threats due to “involuntary celibate–violent extremism.” That revelation was included in the administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which identified legions of new potential “domestic terrorists” that the feds can castigate and investigate.

The White House claims its new war on terrorism and extremism is “carefully tailored to address violence and reduce the factors that …infringe on the free expression of ideas.” But the prerogative to define extremism includes the power to revile disapproved beliefs. The report warns that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election … will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” If accusations of 2020 electoral shenanigans are formally labeled as extremist threats, that could result in far more repression (aided by Facebook and Twitter) of dissenting voices. How will this work out any better than the concerted campaign by the media and Big Tech last fall to suppress all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the election? And how can Biden be trusted to be the judge after he effectively accused Facebook of mass murder for refusing to totally censor anyone who raised doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Biden administration is revving up for a war against an enemy which the feds have chosen to never explicitly define. According to a March report by Biden’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” But that was the same belief that many Biden voters had regarding the Trump administration. Does the definition of extremism depend solely on which party captured the White House?

The Biden report writers were spooked by the existence of militia groups and flirt with the fantasy of outlawing them across the land. The report promises to explore “how to make better use of laws that already exist in all fifty states prohibiting certain private ‘militia’ activity, including … state statutes prohibiting groups of people from organizing as private military units without the authorization of the state government, and state statutes that criminalize certain paramilitary activity.” Most of the private militia groups are guilty of nothing more than bluster and braggadocio. Besides, many of them are already overstocked with government informants who are counting on Uncle Sam for regular paychecks. Some politicians and pundits might like to see a new federal crime that labels any meeting of more than two gun owners as an illegal conspiracy.

The Biden report promises that the FBI and DHS will soon be releasing “a new edition of the Federal Government’s Mobilization Indicators booklet that will include for the first time potential indicators of domestic terrorism–related mobilization.” Will this latest publication be as boneheaded as the similar 2014 report by the National Counterterrorism Center entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts”?

The new Red Guard

As the Intercept summarized, that report “suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as ‘Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,’ … and ‘Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)’ … to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.” The report recommended judging families by their level of “Parent-Child Bonding” and rating localities on the basis in part of the “presence of ideologues or recruiters.” Former FBI agent Mike German commented, “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical, and social-service employees to rate the communities, individuals, and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.”

Biden’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report also declared that “enhancing faith in American democracy” requires “finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories.” In recent decades, conspiracy theories have multiplied almost as fast as government lies and cover-ups. While many allegations have been ludicrously far-fetched, the political establishment and media routinely attach the “conspiracy theory” label to any challenge to their dominance.

According to Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor and Oba- ma’s regulatory czar, a conspiracy theory is “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Reasonable citizens are supposed to presume that government creates trillions of pages of new secrets each year for their own good, not to hide anything from the public.

“Conspiracy theory” is a magic phrase that expunges all previous federal abuses. Many liberals who invoke the phrase also ritually quote a 1965 book by former communist Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Hofstadter portrayed distrust of government as a proxy for mental illness, a paradigm that makes the character of critics more important than the conduct of government agencies. For Hofstadter, it was a self-evident truth that government was trustworthy because American politics had “a kind of professional code … embodying the practical wisdom of generations of politicians.

The rise of conspiracy theories

In the early 1960s, conspiracy theories were practically a non-issue because 75 percent of Americans trusted the federal government. Such credulity did not survive the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Seven days after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson created a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to suppress controversy about the killing.

Johnson browbeat the commission members into speedily issuing a report rubber-stamping the “crazed lone gunman” version of the assassination. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a member of the commission, revised the final staff report to change the location of where the bullet entered Kennedy’s body, thereby salvaging the so-called “magic bullet” theory.

After the Warren Commission findings were ridiculed as a whitewash, Johnson ordered the FBI to conduct wiretaps on the report’s critics. To protect the official story, the commission sealed key records for 75 years. Truth would out only after all the people involved in any coverup had gotten their pensions and died.

The controversy surrounding the Warren Commission spurred the CIA to formally attack the notion of conspiracy theories. In a 1967 alert to its overseas stations and bases, the CIA declared that the fact that almost half of Americans did not believe Oswald acted alone “is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization” and endangers “the whole reputation of the American government.”

The memo instructed recipients to “employ propaganda assets” and exploit “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out … parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists.” The ultimate proof of the government’s innocence: “Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.”

The New York Times, which exposed the CIA memo in 1977, noted that the CIA “mustered its propaganda machinery to support an issue of far more concern to Americans, and to the C.I.A. itself, than to citizens of other countries.” According to historian Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America, “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited … with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” In 2014, the CIA released a heavily-redacted report admitting that it had been “complicit” in a JFK “cover-up” by withholding “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission. The CIA successfully concealed a wide range of assassinations and foreign coups it conducted until congressional investigations in the mid-1970s blew the whistle.

“Conspiracy theory” allegations sometimes merely expose the naivete of official scorekeepers. In April 2016, Chapman University surveyed Americans and announced that “the most prevalent conspiracy theory in the United States is that the government is concealing information about the 9/11 attacks with slightly over half of Americans holding that belief.”

That survey did not ask whether people believed the World Trade Centers were blown up by an inside job or whether President George W. Bush secretly masterminded the attacks. Instead, folks were simply asked whether “government is concealing information” about the attacks. Only a village idiot, college professor, or editorial writer would presume the government had come clean.

Three months after the Chapman University survey was conducted, the Obama administration finally released 28 pages of a 2003 congressional report that revealed that Saudi government officials had directly financed some of the 9/11 hijackers in America. That disclosure shattered the storyline carefully constructed by the Bush administration, the 9/11 Commission, and legions of media accomplices. (Lawsuits continue in federal court seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose more information regarding the Saudi government role in the attacks.)

Conspiracy theories a tool for control

“Conspiracy theory” is often a flag of convenience for the political-media elite. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.” However, after allegations by anonymous government officials spurred Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, New York Times columnist James Stewart cheered, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington. After Biden was elected, references to the “Deep State” were once again labeled paranoid ravings.

Much of the establishment rage at “conspiracy theories” has been driven by the notion that rulers are entitled to intellectual passive obedience. The same lèse-majesté mindset has been widely adopted to make a muddle of American history. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the court historian for President John F. Kennedy and a revered liberal intellectual, declared in 2004, “Historians today conclude that the colonists were driven to revolt in 1776 because of a false conviction that they faced a British conspiracy to destroy their freedom.” What the hell is wrong with “historians today”?! Was the British imposition of martial law, confiscation of firearms, military blockades, suspension of habeas corpus, and censorship simply a deranged fantasy of Thomas Jefferson? The notion that the British would never conspire to destroy freedom would play poorly in Dublin, where the Irish suffered centuries of brutal British oppression. Why should anyone trust academics who were blind to British threats in the 1770s to accurately judge the danger that today’s politicians pose to Americans’ liberty?

How does the Biden administration intend to fight “conspiracy theories?” The Biden terrorism report called for “enhancing faith in government” by “accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse.” Will Biden’s team rely on the “solution” suggested by Cass Sunstein: “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups” by government agents and informants to “undermine” them from within?

Does the Biden administration also propose banning Americans from learning anything from the history of prior federal debacles? Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.” A 1976 Senate report on COINTELPRO demanded assurances that a federal agency would never again “be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats, to the established order.” Actually, the FBI and other agencies have continued secretly warring against “threats,” and legions of informants are likely busy “cognitively infiltrating” at this moment.

Permitting politicians to blacklist any ideas they disapprove won’t “restore faith in democracy.” Extremism has always been a flag of political convenience, and the Biden team, the FBI, and their media allies will fan fears to sanctify new government crackdowns. But what if government is the most dangerous extremist of them all?

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 22:45

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Government

“The Omicron Variant” – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.

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"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.

This was as entirely predictable as it is completely meaningless. The “variants” are just tools to stretch the story out and keep people on their toes.

If you want to know exactly how the Omicron variant is going to affect the narrative, well The Guardian has done a handy “here’s all the bullshit we’re gonna sell you over the next couple of weeks” guide:

  • The Omicron variant is more transmissable, but they don’t know if it’s more dangerous yet (keeping their options open)

  • It originated in Africa, possible mutating in an “untreated AIDS patient” (sick people are breeding grounds for dangerous “mutations”)

  • “it has more than double the mutations of Delta…scientists anticipate that the virus will be more likely to infect – or reinfect – people who have immunity to earlier variants. (undermining natural immunity, selling more boosters, keeping the scarefest going)

  • “Scientists are concerned” that current vaccines may not be as effective against the new strain, they may need to be “tweaked” (get your boosters, and the new booster we haven’t invented yet)

  • “Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, will work as effectively against the new variant” (more on this later)

  • It’s already spreading around the world, and travel bans may be needed to prevent the need for another lockdown

We’re already seeing preparations for more “public health measures”, with the press breathlessly quoting “concerned” public health officials. We’re being told that a new lockdown won’t be necessary…as long as we remember to get boosted and wear masks and blah blah blah.

Generally speaking, it’s all fairly boilerplate scary nonsense. Although it is quite funny that the Biden administration has already put a bunch of African nations on a travel ban list, when Biden called Trump a racist for doing the same thing in 2020.

AFRICA

It’s interesting that the new variant has allegedly come from Africa, perhaps “mutating in the body of an AIDS patient”, since Africa has been the biggest hole in the Covid narrative for well over a year.

Africa is by far the poorest continent, it is densely populated, malnourishment and extreme poverty are endemic across many African nations, and it is home to more AIDS patients than the entire rest of the world combined. And yet, no Covid crisis.

This is a weak point in the story, and always has been.

Last Summer, the UK’s virus modeller-in-chief Neil Ferguson attempted to explain it by arguing that African nations have, on average, younger populations than the rest of the world, and Covid is only a threat to the elderly. But five minutes of common sense debunks that idea.

The reason Africa has a younger population, on average, is that – on average – they are much sicker.

There are diseases endemic to large parts of Africa that are all but wiped out in most of the Western world. Cholera, typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria. Access to clean water, and healthcare are also much more limited.

And while it has been nailed into the public mind that being elderly is the biggest risk factor for Covid, that is inaccurate. In fact, the biggest risk factor for dying “of Covid” is, and always has been, already dying of something else.

The truth is that any REAL dangerous respiratory virus would have cut a bloody swath across the entire continent.

Instead, as recently as last week, we were getting articles about how Africa “escaped Covid”, and the continent’s low covid deaths with only 6% of people vaccinated is “mystifying” and “baffling” scientists.

Politically, African nations have shown themselves far less likely to buy into the “pandemic” narrative than their European, Asian or American counterparts. At least two “Covid denying” African presidents – Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and John Magufuli of Tanzania – have died suddenly in the last year, and seen their successors immediately reverse their covid policies.

So maybe the Omicron Variant is a way of trying to fold Africa into the covid narrative that the other continents have already fully embraced. That will become clear as the story develops.

Of course, it’s also true that being “African” is media shorthand for being scary, relying on the deeply-seated xenophobia of Western audiences. See: “Africanized killer bees”.

But, either way, Africa is the long game. There’s a more obvious, and more cynical, short term agenda here.

THE MAGIC PILLS

Let’s go back to the Guardian’s “Omicron” bullet points, above:

  • Scientists are concerned by the number of mutations and the fact some of them have already been linked to an ability to evade existing [vaccine-created] immune protection.

  • Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, [will work effectively] against the new variant

The “new variant” is already being described as potentially resistant to the vaccines, but NOT the new anti-viral medications.

Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer are both working on “Covid pills”, which as recently as three days ago, were being hyped up in the press:

US may have a ‘game changer’ new Covid pill soon, but its success will hinge on rapid testing

In the US, an emergency use authorisation can only be issued if there is no effective medication or treatment already available, so the vaccines not being proof against Omicron would be vital to rushing the pills onto the US market, at least.

If Omicron is found to be “resistant to the vaccines”, but NOT the pills, that will give governments an excuse to rush through approving the pills on an EUA, just as they did with the vaccines.

So, you bet your ass that testing is gonna be “rapid”. Super rapid. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapid. Rapid to the point you’re not even sure it definitely happened. And now they have an excuse.

Really, it’s all just more of the same.

A scare before the new year. An excuse to make people believe their Christmas could be in peril. An exercise in flexing their control muscles a bit, milking even more money out of the double-jabbed and boosted crowd, now newly terrified of the Omicron variant, and a nice holiday bump to Pfizer’s ever-inflating stock price.

At this point either you can see the pattern, or you can’t. You’re free of the fear machinery, or you’re not.

There is one potential silver lining here: It feels rushed and frantic. Discovered on Tuesday, named on Friday, travel bans on Saturday. It is hurried, and maybe that’s a reaction to feeling like the “pandemic” is losing its grip on the public mind.

Hopefully, as the narrative becomes more and more absurd, more and more people will wake up to reality.

It has been pointed out that “Omicron” is an anagram of “moronic”.

One wonders if that’s deliberate and they’re making fun of us.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:45

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