Connect with us

Government

Futures Soar In Sharp Rebound From Thursday’s Massacre

Futures Soar In Sharp Rebound From Thursday’s Massacre

Published

on

Futures Soar In Sharp Rebound From Thursday's Massacre Tyler Durden Fri, 06/12/2020 - 07:47

After the worst market rout since the March crash, which saw the S&P plunge almost 6% on Thursday, U.S. stock index futures surged about 2% on Friday along with European stocks, pointing to a quick rebound for Wall Street from its biggest one-day dive in about three months on fears of a resurgence in coronavirus infections. Big U.S. lenders including Bank of America Corp , Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley rose between 3% and 5% in premarket trading after taking a hammering earlier this week. The dollar dropped along with the yen and Treasurys as investors sold safa havens. The VIX eased about 4.5 points after spiking to 40, its highest level since April 23.

Why are stocks surging? Because it appears that the lunatic have taken over the asylum again, with Hertz stock up over 50% after the company announced on Thursday it would try to sell bankrupt stock (to manic Robinhood daytraders), in order to fund its operations during bankruptcy, something that has never been attempted before as bankrupt stock is traditionally worthless but to Robinhooders it has about $600MM in value.

"We see some positive points - the worst is over, the economy is gradually re-opening - but we also see downside risks,” Janet Mui, investment director at Brewin Dolphin, told Bloomberg TV. “Overall we are adding a bit of equities now, primarily to the U.S. and emerging markets ex-Asia.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index jumped, with car makers, banks and travel companies leading gains after driving yesterday’s losses. The Stoxx 600 Automobiles & Parts Index was the best-performing segment on the broader European share gauge after Goldman Sachs eased its prediction for 2020 global car-market contraction, citing better regional expectations: Renault +3.3%, Daimler +2.1%, Continental AG +1.8%, Faurecia +1.7%, Volkswagen +1.5%

Markets largely ignored dismal news out of the U.K., where the economy shrank a record 20.4% in April as businesses and workers reeled under the lockdown designed to control the coronavirus pandemic. Leisure & accommodation activity fell nearly 90%. "These data state the obvious, but they're not of much value; data for the rest of Q2, H2 and the fiscal response are far more important. The GBP barely moved in response" according to BMO's Stephen Gallo.

Asian stocks fell, led by energy and IT, after falling in the last session. Most markets in the region were down, with South Korea's Kospi Index dropping 2% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 falling 1.9%, while Jakarta Composite gained 0.5%. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 11% above the monthly average for this time of the day. The Topix declined 1.1%, with DLE and Access falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index was little changed, with Zhejiang Guangsha advancing and Beijing Changjiu Logistics declining the most.

In rates, Treasuries bear-steepened by up to 6 basis points in the long end while European peripheral bonds slipped, unwinding a significant portion of Thursday’s flattening move on heavy volume in cash and futures, triggered by profit-taking during Asia session. Haven demand further unwound during European morning as U.S. stock futures recovered a portion of Thursday’s losses according to Bloomberg. Yields were cheaper by up to 6bp at long end with 2s10s and 5s30s steeper by 4bp-5bp and front end little changed; 10-year higher by ~4bp at 0.71%, still lower on the week by more than 18bp tracking declines for U.S. stocks; bunds outperformed U.S. by ~3.5bp on the day, gilts by ~1bp. Futures volumes through 7am ET were 10% above 5-day average levels at the long end.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell after yesterday posting the biggest gain in almost two months; the greenback weakened versus all Group-of-10 peers apart from the Swiss franc and the yen while Scandinavian and antipodean currencies rallied as equities climbed, despite oil trading around month-to-date lows; the euro climbed back above 1.13 per dollar. The pound recovered against the dollar after a dip following data that showed a record contraction of 20.4% for the U.K. economy in April. The yen weakened for the first time in five days as haven bids wane after Japanese stocks trimmed losses.

In commodities, WTI crude steadied at around $36 a barrel in New York, while Brent was trading around $39 after dropping as low as $37 overnight.

Looking at the day ahead now, the data highlights include UK GDP for April and Euro Area industrial production for April, in the US there’s the preliminary University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for June. We’ll also hear from the ECB’s Wunsch.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 1.6% to 3,057.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 355.57
  • MXAP down 1.2% to 157.07
  • MXAPJ down 1% to 504.86
  • Nikkei down 0.8% to 22,305.48
  • Topix down 1.2% to 1,570.68
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.7% to 24,301.38
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.04% to 2,919.74
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 33,435.34
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.9% to 5,847.80
  • Kospi down 2% to 2,132.30
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.5 bps to -0.419%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.1333
  • Brent futures down 1.3% to $38.06/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 5.2 bps to 1.37%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.5 bps to 0.643%
  • Brent Futures down 1.3% to $38.06/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,734.92
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.2% to 96.53

Top Overnight News

  • The European Union’s 27 member states agreed this week to sign off on legislation that would offset the “considerable negative impact” on capital requirements from any losses on government bonds, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News that summarizes the deal
  • Germany has moved forward with the implementation of the first elements of a sweeping 130 billion- euro ($145 billion) stimulus package to help pull the country’s economy out of the worst recession since World War II
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was due to testify Friday before prosecutors investigating the government’s failure to isolate two northern towns earlier this year, amid a bitter political tussle over handling of the coronavirus outbreak
  • North Korea accused the U.S. of breaking promises it made at a historic summit two years ago, saying the Trump administration had turned dreams for peace into “a dark nightmare” and dashed hopes for denuclearization
  • As host of this year’s Group of Seven meetings, the U.S. president gets to invite whomever he wants as guests. But his musings about including leaders from Russia, Australia, India and South Korea, while leaving out China’s Xi Jinping, have set off alarm bells in European capitals

Asian equity markets suffered losses after the bloodbath on Wall St where risk appetite collapsed due to several factors including coronavirus 2nd wave fears triggered by a surge in cases and following the recent glum outlook from the Fed, while a push back in stimulus hopes added to the depressed mood with the White House and Republicans said to not be planning formal negotiations on a fourth coronavirus stimulus package until late July. As such, the DJIA slumped by nearly 1900 points and the S&P 500 posted its worst day since March 16th with almost all its constituents closing in the red, although futures nursed some of the losses overnight after the E-Mini S&P and Mini Dow futures found a floor at the 3K and 25K levels respectively. Nonetheless, ASX 200 (-1.9%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.8%) weakened from the open with energy and financials front running the declines in Australia and with sentiment also not helped by the souring ties with China which reportedly moved to curb coal imports by stepping up customs checks, while the Japanese benchmark briefly retreated below the 22K level before paring the majority of losses in late trade with price action at the whim of currency fluctuations. Hang Seng (-0.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (U/C) conformed to the widespread negativity after another net liquidity drain by the PBoC and ongoing tensions between the global powerhouses as reports noted a Chinese PLA officer was arrested and charged with visa fraud as he tried to leave the US after having documented an incorrect rank on the visa application, while KOSPI (-2.0%) was also dragged by geopolitical concerns in which North Korea stated relations with US have currently shifted to despair and that it will build up a more reliable force to confront the US military threat. Finally, 10yr JGBs traded marginally higher amid the broad losses in global stock markets and following the bull flattening seen in US, while the BoJ were also present in the market today for nearly JPY 700bln of JGBs heavily concentrated in 1yr-5yr maturities.

Top Asian News

  • Hedge Fund Group Says Don’t Write Off Hong Kong as Finance Hub
  • India Credit Market Has Been Stung by Bankruptcy Suspension
  • Japan Passes $298 Billion Second Extra Budget Amid Pandemic
  • Hedge Fund Oasis Sets Up Tokyo Office, Plans to Hire Analysts

A rocky start to the final European session of the week, but stock futures in the region managed to nurse initial losses of almost 2% to trade higher on the day by around a percent. Cash markets meanwhile continue to recover from yesterday’s sell-off [Euro Stoxx 50 +1.7%], whilst participants remain wary on a second wave resurging – with Beijing reportedly shutting down a part of its key wholesale meat market as a coronavirus related countermeasure, which came alongside two confirmed cases in the city, whilst Houston is mulling reimposing stay-at-home orders. Sectors have shifted from a more defensive bias at the cash open to a cyclical tilt – with the Energy sector going from zero to hero as the session is underway. Financials follow a close second whilst healthcare falls to the bottom of the pile. The breakdown paints a similar picture whilst mirroring yesterday’s performance. In terms of individual movers, UBI Banca (+1.5%) and Intesa Sanpaolo (+1.4%) muster support from the lower yield environment alongside reports the Italian market regulator is likely to approve the Intesa takeover.

Top European News

  • Soft U.K. Border Checks Planned With the EU, Deal or No- Deal
  • Airlines Challenge U.K.’s Quarantine in Bid to Resurrect Travel
  • Iconic U.K. Episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’ Pulled for Racist Content
  • Sweden’s Recession Set to Be Much Milder Than Feared, SEB Says

In FX, the Dollar has clawed back some losses, with the DXY on a relatively firmer footing between 96.940-491 parameters after recent dips just below 96.000. However, sellers continue to fade rebounds in the Greenback and the Buck is still underperforming G10 counterparts aside from safer havens that soared on Thursday amidst heightened risk aversion due to second wave coronavirus concerns and spill-over from the Fed’s cautious economic outlook. Looking ahead, US import/export price data is unlikely to be pivotal in terms of direction or insight, but the more timely preliminary Michigan sentiment survey could be insightful as a gauge of economic conditions for the current month.

  • NZD/AUD/CAD/NOK/SEK - Not quite all change following yesterday’s abrupt retreat, though the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie have all regained some composure within 0.6395-0.6472, 0.6800-0.6900 and 1.3666-1.3553 respective ranges. A degree of stability in crude and commodities is keeping the high beta and risk sensitive currencies afloat, albeit with the Aud still wary about escalating trade and diplomatic tensions between Australia and China as the latter turns its attentions to coal imports for more stringent customs scrutiny. Conversely, a fillip for the Nzd via a rebound in the manufacturing PMI, while the Cad will be eyeing Canadian Q1 capacity utilisation for some independent impetus. Elsewhere, the Scandinavian Crowns are benefiting from the mildly constructive or less destructive risk tone, as Eur/Nok and Eur/Sek reverse from 10.9300+ and 10.5500+ to nestle under 10.8500 and 10.5000.
  • GBP/EUR - Both pivoting round numbers vs the Buck and well within this week’s extremes, at 1.2600 and 1.1300, with Cable shrugging off a raft of mostly worse than expected UK data on the basis that it was widely anticipated to be bad in April during almost complete COVID-19 lockdown, but the Eur/Gbp cross elevated alongside prospects of a no deal Brexit given the ongoing stalemate and Britain sticking to its December 2020 transition deadline. Meanwhile, Eur/Usd has not really been hampered by no further Eurogroup progress on the Recovery Fund, but ran into resistance ahead of 1.1350 and could be anchored by 1.2 bn option expiry interest residing just above 1.1300 (1.1305-10) even though the headline pair has breached the 200 HMA (1.1284).
  • CHF/JPY - In contrast to all the above, safe haven unwinding has pushed the Franc and Yen off Thursday’s lofty pinnacles, as Usd/Chf bounces firmly from sub-0.9400 and Usd/Jpy circa one big figure from 106.40.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures have drifted off lows now reside in positive territory as the complex nursed losses seen during APAC hours, with fears of a second COVID-19 wave weighing on the demand side of the equation during overnight trade. That being said, the benchmarks saw some support from headlines nothing that China imports of US crude are on track to reach a record level next month. In terms of Bank commentary, Barclays said it raised its oil price forecasts in which it sees Brent at USD 41/bbl and WTI at USD 37/bbl this year but remains cautious regarding the curve near-term, while it suggested the pace of recovery in oil prices is likely to slow as the steepest decline in supply and fastest improvement in demand is likely behind us. WTI futures currently reside around USD 36/bbl, having printed a current base at USD 34.50/bbl, while its Brent counterpart found overnight support at USD 37/bbl. Looking ahead to next week, the OPEC and IEA monthly oil reports will be released but focus is likely to remain on the JMMC meeting and any accompanying sources, where the committee will review secondary source data alongside current market fundamentals before proposing policy recommendations. Sources last week said that OPEC+ is to move cautiously to rebalance the market amid easing lockdowns, while anticipated Shale resumptions could also weigh on eastern producers’ minds. Participants will also give credence to compliance and how the heads of the group plan to enforce full/over-compliance – namely among the known laggards Iraq and Nigeria – who reaffirmed commitment. On that front, Iraq has already hinted at possible problems regarding making up for its shortfall, whilst compliance enforcement also remains in question as producers are to “self-police” adherence to the pact. Elsewhere, spot gold continues to grind higher amid the softer USD with prices now above its 50 DMA at USD 1729.70 as it eyes its 100 DMA at USD 1744.55/oz. Copper tracks the recovery in stocks with added impetus from a weaker Buck.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.6%, prior -2.6%; YoY, est. -6.4%, prior -6.8%
  • 8:30am: Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.5%, prior -3.3%; YoY, prior -7.0%
  • 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 75, prior 72.3; Current Conditions, est. 85.2, prior 82.3; Expectations, est. 69, prior 65.9

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Happy birthday to me today and a move firmly closer to 50 than 40. My birthday present is looking after the kids tomorrow while my wife has a covid-19 antibody test. Readers with a long memory will remember that our Xmas holiday in the Alps was ruined by my wife being ill in bed for two weeks with what we thought was awful flu. She struggled to breathe, couldn’t move without feeling shattered and lost her taste. As Covid-19 subsequently started to spread around the world we did wonder whether she was a very early victim. Clearly this test won’t prove it but it may give us some additional info. If she did have it then, it’s fascinating with regards to the timing and because the rest of us just had bad coughs at worse at the time. So possibly expect me to have wild theories about Covid-19 on Monday. All bets off if she tests negative though.

Staying with the virus, earlier this week we highlighted Robin Winkler’s excellent analysis ( link here ) on the risk of a second wave in certain US states. Well over the last 24 hours the market has certainly become much more concerned about this, with yesterday being the worst day for equities since March. In today’s pdf (click on “view report”) we show the problem US states in terms of the virus in the context of our usual case and fatality tables.

The states that look most problematic currently are California, Texas, Florida and Arizona. The first three are the largest states in terms of population in the US (combined at 90.5 million people) and all have seen growing cases rates in the last 2 weeks. While Arizona is a somewhat smaller state (7.3mn), it has the fastest growth rate in the last week. While these states have not seen the sort of case numbers that New York has (fourth in overall population and nearly 20,000 total cases per million), the total case per million for each of those states is between 2,700-4,100. This is similar to the numbers out of Italy and France and just below the U.K. even if fatalities in these states are so far relatively low. See the full tables for more.

However, unlike in European countries and New York today, cases in these states are continuing to rise. California enacted shutdowns relatively early, but has not been able to bend its curve sufficiently with daily case growth between 1.5-3% for the last 33 days. Texas and Florida both were among the first to open, and have consequently not seen the same drop in case rates as other regions that remained closed. Florida in particular seems to have seen a ‘second wave’ of sorts over the past 2 weeks. Daily cases have risen by 1.9% on average over the past 14 days, while the 14 days prior to that was 1.5% on average. Texan cases have grown by 2.3% over the last 7 days, higher than the daily case rate 2 weeks back of 2.0%. To give an idea of how things have turned in Texas, Houston may need to reopen an emergency hospital that was set up in a stadium to accommodate possible hospital overflow. Arizona is one of the most worrisome states currently, with cases rising an average of 4.6% over the last 7 days, which is considerably higher than the daily rate 2 weeks back at 3.3%.

Using the rtlive effective transmission rates (Rt) that Robin references in his note, Florida, Texas and Arizona all have R-values over 1, indicating the virus is still actively spreading. California’s Rt is estimated at 0.97, but the confidence intervals extends north of 1, meaning the virus could still be spreading rather dwindling. An additional concern from this recent spike, or in some cases a lack of plateau, is what it might mean for the seasonality argument. These are some of the warmest states in the US, and if the virus is continuing to spread there it means the northern hemisphere has to perhaps tread more carefully this summer. Finally on this, our US economics team updated their Covid-19 impact tracker last night (link here). The report notes that even as overall cases continue to fall across the US, 20 states saw an increase in the growth rate of confirmed cases over the past 7 days.

As investors assessed the chances of a second wave in the US alongside some weak economic data, yesterday saw the biggest risk-off moves for financial markets since the initial March selloff. By the end of the session the S&P 500 had completed its 3rd successive move lower with a -5.89% fall. It was the first time the broad index had retreated for 3 straight days since March 9th. The selloff was incredibly broad, with every company in the index lower on the day except one (the supermarket Kroger rose +0.40%). The S&P opened down with a slightly more than -2% gap down and then steadily sold off throughout the session, trading in a fairly tight band. This was the worst day since March 16th (-11.98%) and the fourth worst day of this Covid crisis. Overall it was the 46th worst day for the S&P 500 out of all 23,221 trading days for the index going back to January 1928. The NASDAQ was not able to hide behind the Tech outperformance, falling -5.27% yesterday. The DOW was down -6.90% with Boeing (the second worst S&P performer) leading the charge and down -16.42%. In a further sign of sentiment erosion, the VIX volatility index rose by +13.2pts to its highest level in over 6 weeks – this was also the biggest one day move in the index since March 16th.

The weakness has continued into Asia this morning however the good news is that markets are well of their lows. As we type the Nikkei is down -0.74%, Hang Seng -1.27%, Shanghai Comp -0.38%, ASX -1.77% and Kospi -2.25%. In currency markets the US dollar index is up a further +0.11% this morning after the +0.81% gain yesterday. Meanwhile, yields on 10y USTs are up +2.5bps to 0.696% and futures on the S&P 500 are up +1.17%. Elsewhere, WTI oil prices are down -1.82% to $35.66.

In terms of the various snippets of newsflow overnight, North Korea has accused the US of breaking promises it made at a summit two years ago, saying the Trump administration had turned dreams for peace into “a dark nightmare” and diminished hopes for a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In Europe, the head of the Single Resolution Board in Brussels warned against using taxpayer’s money to rescue lenders that were barely surviving before the coronavirus pandemic. She also said that proposals from some European officials to set up an EU-wide bad bank to buy soured loans are premature and probably unworkable because they’d hand a manager a “hodgepodge” of assets while adding, “I’m not very much convinced that a broad bank that is then collecting from everywhere is a manageable solution.”

Moving on. Even with fears of a second wave, US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview yesterday that “We can't shut down the economy again. I think we've learned that if you shut down the economy, you're going to create more damage”. There’s little doubt that the US response to this virus has been far less coordinated than the EU’s even if the latter has been done by independent governments. When history writes the book on this pandemic it’ll be interesting as to which is economically better in the long-run. Chaos but with more short-term activity vs control but a deeper initial slump. The answer probably won’t be black and white, but without a vaccine the virus will either have to die out naturally, be totally suppressed by control, or we will have to revisit the concept of herd immunity at some point. I don’t think any of us can safely say which is the best long term strategy yet, although many will have very strong opinions.

Back to markets and looking at yesterday’s moves in more detail, energy companies led the equity declines (-9.45% in US and -6.19% in Europe) against the backdrop of serious falls in oil prices. In fact, both Brent (-7.62%) and WTI (-8.23%) each had their worst day in over 6 weeks, something that could well mean that this week finally sees the end to a run of 7 weekly gains. Oil-producing currencies took a hit too, with both the Norwegian Krone (-3.25%) and the Russian Ruble (-2.49%) weakening noticeably against the US dollar. There were smaller declines in Europe, as the US equity market continued to fall after Europe had closed. The STOXX 600 (-4.10%), the DAX (-4.47%) and the CAC 40 (-4.71%) all moved sharply lower. European banks were -7.04% with US banks -9.61% not helped by the zero for longer Fed message the previous night.

The big move away from risk saw investors move strongly into safe assets, with yields on 10yr Treasuries falling by -5.7bps, as those on 10yr bunds fell by -8.3bps. Periphery debt widened yesterday with both Spanish and Italian debt more than +3bps wider to German bunds. In FX markets, the safe haven Swiss Franc (-0.04% against USD) and the Japanese Yen (+0.23%) were the two strongest performing G10 currencies, while the dollar itself climbed +0.81% yesterday, following a run of 9 declines in the last 10 sessions. Highlighting the greenback and US equity correlation, the dollar had not rallied that much in one day since 19 March, the same week the S&P last fell as much as it did yesterday.

In terms of data, weekly initial jobless claims from the US fell to 1.542m (vs. 1.550m expected) in the week ending June 6th. Although this is the 10th consecutive weekly decline in the number of initial claims, more concerning was the dip in the number of continuing claims for the week ending May 30 to 20.929m, this was above the 20m reading expected, with the insured unemployment rate only falling to 14.4%, down just two-tenths from the previous week’s revised 14.6%. Taken together the report added to concerns that the improvements in labour markets as lockdowns are eased might not be as strong as many might have hoped for following last week’s jobs report.

In Europe, we got some further Brexit news yesterday as the FT reported that the long-awaited high-level talks between the two sides would be taking place this coming Monday. This will feature Prime Minister Johnson for the UK, along with European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel for the EU. This meeting is one that’s been planned for some time but further news broke later that more intense talks will follow over the next several weeks. Overnight, Bloomberg has reported that the UK’s Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove will today detail a plan that will have the country introduce a temporary light-touch customs regime at its border with the European Union next year. The report suggests that the new light-touch border checks will come into force whether or not the UK and EU reach a new trade deal at the end of the year.

Wrapping now up with yesterday’s other data. Italian industrial production fell by -19.1% in April (vs. -24.0% expected), which follows a -28.4% decline in March. We also got US PPI data for May, which saw final demand producer prices rise +0.4% month-on-month (vs. +0.1% expected), rebounding from a -1.3% decline in May.

To the day ahead now, the data highlights include UK GDP for April and Euro Area industrial production for April, while from the US there’s the preliminary University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for June. We’ll also hear from the ECB’s Wunsch.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Why it May be Time to Start Stocking up on Weed

There’s an important change coming that may force users to change their behavior.

Published

on

There's an important change coming that may force users to change their behavior.

While inflation has already ruined many people's plans for a summer trip cross-country, the impact of rising prices may soon hit some people where it'll really hurt.

Cannabis, and many of its related products, has so far largely escaped the kind of double-digit increases seen in many food products such as chicken to avocados — one analytics firm even reported that the price of marijuana flowers, edibles and vaping products fell by a respective 16.7%, 11.8% and 12.4% between January 2021 and 2022.

But for interconnected reasons having to do with everything from lack of available materials to supply chain disruption, prices for most things have been rising steadily and at a rate unseen in 40 years. 

Even if the main item hasn't increased in price, rising costs for packaging material has left almost no industry unaffected.

Between June 2021 and 2022, the consumer price index rose by 9.1%.

Has Inflation Finally Come For People's Weed?

And, as the latest report from cannabis industry and accounting firm GreenGrowth CPAs shows, inflation may have finally started coming for the cannabis industry.

Amid rising cost of labor and materials necessary to make ready-to-consume cannabis, one in every four retailers that produce it reported that they have either raised or plan to raise prices by more than 10% in the next year.

"The COVID-19 pandemic had a comparatively limited impact on cannabis operators," reads the report. "According to last year’s data set, the top two reported issues, supply chain and difficulty hiring, affected nearly all sectors in 2021. [...] In addition, the most common issue impacting operators today are supply challenges."

Shutterstock

The survey examined over 700 companies in states where either recreational or medical marijuana use is legal. These include both start-ups and large multi-state operators.

While 70% of operators said they would try to absorb rising costs instead of raising prices, 30% plan to raise prices preemptively to prevent losses.

Pointing the Finger 

The study's respondents split over who to blame for rising inflation, with 40% citing Biden administration policies, and 30% citing carryover effects from Trump administration policies.

Other reasons cited by operators include supply chains, conflicts with countries like Russia and China and impact from petroleum companies' way of doing business.

Nationwide numbers rarely tell the whole picture since cannabis use and production are currently illegal at a federal level. But even with rising prices, demand has been strong both during the COVID-19 outbreak and after. Some online delivery services in California reported a 500% rise in sales since the start of quarantine.

"After two years marked by crisis and uncertainty following a global pandemic, financial operators in cannabis find themselves navigating a list of new complications and business obstacles," reads the report. "But it isn't all bad news. Many operators benefited from a surge of demand and used this new windfall to enact ambitious growth plans."

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Sex work is real work: Global COVID-19 recovery needs to include sex workers

Societally, we need to recognize that sex workers have agency and deserve the same respect, dignity and aid as any other person selling their labour.

Published

on

Globally, sex workers have been left to fend for themselves during the pandemic with little to no support from the government. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

During the pandemic, business shifted from in person to work-from-home, which quickly became the new normal. However, it left many workers high and dry, especially those with less “socially acceptable” occupations.

The pandemic has adversely impacted sex workers globally and substantially increased the precariousness of their profession. And public health measures put in place made it almost impossible for sex workers to provide any in-person service.

Although many people depend on sex work for survival, its criminalization and policing stigmatizes sex workers.

Research shows that globally, sex workers have been left behind and in most cases excluded from government economic support initiatives and social policies. There needs to be an intersectional approach to global COVID-19 recovery that considers everyone’s lived realities. We propose policy recommendations that treat sex work as decent work and that centre around the lived experiences and rights of those in the profession.

Sex work and the pandemic

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently reported that apart from income-loss, the pandemic has increased pre-existing inequalities for sex workers.

In a survey conducted in Eastern and Southern Africa, the UNFPA found that during the pandemic, 49 per cent of sex workers experienced police violence (including sexual violence) while 36 per cent reported arbitrary arrests. The same survey reported that more than 50 per cent of respondents experienced food and housing crises.

Lockdowns and border closures adversely impacted Thailand’s tourism industry which relies partially on the labour of sex workers.


Read more: Sex workers are criminalized and left without government support during the coronavirus pandemic


In the Asia Pacific, sex workers reported having limited access to contraceptives and lubricants along with reduced access to harm reduction resources. Lockdowns also disrupted STI or HIV testing services, limiting sex workers’ access to necessary healthcare.

In North America, sex workers have been excluded from the government’s recovery response. And many began offering online services to sustain themselves.

A woman stands backlit next to a dimly lit bus that reads 'Thailand' with green lighting.
Sex workers stand in a largely shut-down red light area in Bangkok, Thailand on March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Government vs. community response

Globally, sex workers have been left to fend for themselves during the pandemic with little to no support from the government. But communities themselves have been rallying.

Elene Lam, founder of Butterfly, an Asian migrant sex organization in Canada, talks about the resilience of sex wokers during the pandemic.

She says organizations like the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform are working in collaboration with Amnesty International to mobilize income support and resources to help sex workers in Canada.

Organizations in the United Kingdom, Germany, India and Spain have also set up emergency support funds. And some sex worker organizations have developed community-specific resources for providing services both in person and online during the pandemic.

Global recovery needs to include sex workers

The International Labour Organization’s “Decent Work Agenda” emphasizes productive employment and decent working conditions as being the driving force behind poverty reduction.

Sociologist Cecilia Benoit explains that sex work often becomes a “livelihood strategy” in the face of income and employment instability. She says that like other personal service workers, sex workers also should be able to practice without any interference or violence.

In order to have an inclusive COVID-19 recovery for all, governments need to work to extend social guarantees to sex workers — so far they haven’t.

As pandemic restrictions disappear, it is crucial to ensure that everyone involved in sex work is protected under the law and has access to accountability measures.

A woman stands wearing a mask with a safety vest on in front of a collage of scantily clad women and a sign that reads 'nude women non stop'
A volunteer helps out at Zanzibar strip club during a low-barrier vaccination clinic for sex workers in Toronto in June 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Recommendations

As feminist researchers, we propose that sex work be brought under the broader agenda of decent work so that the people offering services are protected.

  1. Governments need to have a legal mandate for preventing sexual exploitation.

  2. Law enforcement staff need to be trained in better responding to the needs of sex workers. To intervene in and address situations of abuse or violence is critical to ensure workplace safety and harm reduction.

  3. Awareness and educational campaigns need to focus on destigmatizing sex work.

  4. Policy-makers need to incorporate intersectionality as a working principle in identifying and responding to the different axes of oppression and marginalization impacting LGBTQ+ and racialized sex workers.

  5. Engagement with sex workers and human rights organizations need to happen when designing aid support to ensure that an inclusive pathway for recovery is created.

  6. Globally, there needs to be a steady commitment towards destigmatizing sex workers and their services.

Despite the gradual waning of pandemic restrictions, sex workers continue to face the dual insecurity of social discrimination and loss of income support. Many are still finding it difficult to stay afloat and sustain themselves.

Societally, we need to recognize that sex workers have agency and deserve the same respect, dignity and aid as any other person selling their labour.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

OU researchers award two NSF pandemic prediction and prevention projects

Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its…

Published

on

Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, which focuses on fundamental research and capabilities needed to tackle grand challenges in infectious disease pandemics through prediction and prevention.

Credit: Photo provided by the University of Oklahoma.

Two groups of researchers at the University of Oklahoma have each received nearly $1 million grants from the National Science Foundation as part of its Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, which focuses on fundamental research and capabilities needed to tackle grand challenges in infectious disease pandemics through prediction and prevention.

To date, researchers from 20 institutions nationwide were selected to receive an NSF PIPP Award. OU is the only university to receive two grants to the same institution.

“The next pandemic isn’t a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “Research at the University of Oklahoma is going to help society be better prepared and responsive to future health challenges.”

Next-Generation Surveillance

David Ebert, Ph.D., professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering in the Gallogly College of Engineering, is the principal investigator on one of the projects, which explores new ways of sharing, integrating and analyzing data using new and traditional data sources. Ebert is also the director of the Data Institute for Societal Challenges at OU, which applies OU expertise in data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data-enabled research to solving societal challenges.

While emerging pathogens can circulate among wild or domestic animals before crossing over to humans, the delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new early detection methods, more effective data management, and integration and information sharing between officials in both public and animal health.

Ebert’s team, composed of experts in data science, computer engineering, public health, veterinary sciences, microbiology and other areas, will look to examine data from multiple sources, such as veterinarians, agriculture, wastewater, health departments, and outpatient and inpatient clinics, to potentially build algorithms to detect the spread of signals from one source to another. The team will develop a comprehensive animal and public health surveillance, planning and response roadmap that can be tailored to the unique needs of communities.

“Integrating and developing new sources of data with existing data sources combined with new tools for detection, localization and response planning using a One Health approach could enable local and state public health partners to respond more quickly and effectively to reduce illness and death,” Ebert said. “This planning grant will develop proof-of-concept techniques and systems in partnership with local, state and regional public health officials and create a multistate partner network and design for a center to prevent the next pandemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes One Health as an approach that bridges the interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment to achieve optimal health outcomes.

Co-principal investigators on the project include Michael Wimberly, Ph.D., professor in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences; Jason Vogel, Ph.D., director of the Oklahoma Water Survey and professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science; Thirumalai Venkatesan, director of the Center for Quantum Research and Technology in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences; and Aaron Wendelboe, Ph.D., professor in the Hudson College of Public Health at the OU Health Sciences Center.

Predicting and Preventing the Next Avian Influenza Pandemic

Several countries have experienced deadly outbreaks of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, that have resulted in the loss of billions of poultry, thousands of wild waterfowl and hundreds of humans. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are taking a unique approach to predicting and preventing the next avian influenza pandemic.

Xiangming Xiao, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and director of the Center for Earth Observation and Modeling in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, is leading a project to assemble a multi-institutional team that will explore pathways for establishing an International Center for Avian Influenza Pandemic Prediction and Prevention.

The goal of the project is to incorporate and understand the status and major challenges of data, models and decision support tools for preventing pandemics. Researchers hope to identify future possible research and pathways that will help to strengthen and improve the capability and capacity to predict and prevent avian influenza pandemics.

“This grant is a milestone in our long-term effort for interdisciplinary and convergent research in the areas of One Health (human-animal-environment health) and big data science,” Xiao said. “This is an international project with geographical coverage from North America, Europe and Asia; thus, it will enable OU faculty and students to develop greater ability, capability, capacity and leaderships in prediction and prevention of global avian influenza pandemic.”

Other researchers on Xiao’s project include co-principal investigators A. Townsend Peterson, Ph.D., professor at the University of Kansas; Diann Prosser, Ph.D., research wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey; and Richard Webby, Ph.D., director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Wayne Marcus Getz, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is also assisting on the project.

The National Science Foundation grant for Ebert’s research is set to end Jan. 31, 2024, while Xiao’s grant will end Dec. 31, 2023.


Read More

Continue Reading

Trending