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Futures Tread Water As Critical EU Summit Begins

Futures Tread Water As Critical EU Summit Begins



Futures Tread Water As Critical EU Summit Begins Tyler Durden Fri, 07/17/2020 - 07:47

S&P futures were flat in a especially low-volume session, rebounding from losses late yesterday after Netflix surprised investors with a dismal subscriber outlook, while European shares fluctuated ahead of a critical EU summit in which leaders met in Brussels to try and hammer through a 750 billion euro post-pandemic recovery fund. 10Y yields continued their slide, dropping to 0.60%,as the dollar weakened.

The Nasdaq Composite has managed to go two months without posting back-to-back declines, but that may be under threat as investors question the resiliency of tech’s searing rally following Netflix's deplorable guidance.

European and world equity markets were heading for their third weekly gain in a row, but they were the smallest yet and Friday’s go-slow involved all the main asset classes from commodities to bonds according to Reuters. London’s FTSE, Paris, Milan and Madrid had all sagged into the red in early trading and though the euro ticked up, Italian and Spanish bond yields were struggling to stay anchored to their recent lows. An eventual green light to the €750 billion plan should finally lead to joint European debt, but investors are seeing their broader list of uncertainties and questions growing again.

"Presumably, as is the way of Europe, they will agree to come back from more talks followed by a compromise and a watered down deal," SocGen FX strateigst Kit Juckes said of the EU discussions. “The positive though is that we are getting a recovery fund.”

Europe's Stoxx Europe 600 Index erased gains of as much as 0.3% led by declines in travel, banking and oil sectors, after Germany’s chancellor said that big differences remain in today’s EU recovery fund talks. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, one of the main resisters to the recovery fund including mass grants, also said that he was “not optimistic” that agreement would be reached on Friday as he arrived for the meeting.  The Netherlands wants countries receiving EU support from the fund to agree to reforms in their labor markets and pension systems, and is leading a group of several smaller EU nations calling for stricter conditions.

Among individual movers, Novartis -1%, Shell and Total decline more than 1.5% as oil retreats. Automakers were the biggest gainers, with Daimler rising 4.1% after 2Q earnings were ahead of expectations.

Earlier in the session, in Asia Japan’s Nikkei slid 0.3% on concerns about rising virus infections in Tokyo. The Topix declined 0.3%, with Yoshimura Food Holdings and Teac falling the most. Chinese shares were steady after a more than 4% slide on Thursday, with investors assessing moves by policy makers to tame signs of exuberance. China’s CSI300 index climbed 0.25%, though that was after a near 5% slump on Thursday. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1%, with Xinjiang Xuefeng Sci-Tech Group and Xinjiang Youhao Group posting the biggest advances. South Korea's Kospi Index and India's S&P BSE Sensex Index rose while the Jakarta Composite fell.

Adding to the recent rise in U.S.-Sino tensions, Washington had said it was considering banning members of the Chinese Communist Party traveling to the United States. The party totals more than 90 million people.

Meanwhile questions remain: will the COVID-19 pandemic force economies into lockdown again? The United States reported at least 75,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a daily record. Spain and Australia reported their steepest daily jumps in more than two months, while cases continued to soar in India and Brazil.

Investors are also counting on more stimulus. As well as Europe’s recovery fund, the U.S. Congress is set to begin debating a new aid package next week, as several states in the country’s south and west implement fresh lockdown measures to curb the virus. While retail sales for June released on Thursday beat market expectations, real-time measures of retail foot traffic and employee working hours and shifts have flatlined after steady growth since April.

"We now see higher risk of a market correction, considering the improvement in hard economic data we have seen over the past couple of months is likely to halt," said Tomo Kinoshita, global market strategist at Invesco in Tokyo.

In rates, it was a muted session with Treasury yields lower across the curve after all but 30-year drifted to weekly lows on light futures volume during Asia session and European morning. Curve flatter with long-end yields lower by ~1.7bp into early U.S. session. 10-year yields lower by ~2bps just below 0.60%, extending the weekly decline despite gains for U.S. equities during first week of 2Q results reporting, to more than 4bp; 2s10s and 5s30s curves each flatter by ~1bp; U.K. 10-year lags U.S. by 3bp, German 10- year by ~1bp. Futures volumes were around 70% of 20-day average levels as of 7am ET.

In currencies, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index headed for a third week of declines as Treasuries advanced for a second week. The euro gained on the day despite a slide in European stocks after Germany said big differences remain in EU recovery fund talks. The pound steadied yet headed for the biggest weekly drop among G-10 currencies, weighed down by weak economic data that fueled expectations of another interest-rate cut by the Bank of England. The yen was up fractionally at 107.13 per dollar and Sweden’s high-flying crown was up again.

In commodities trading, oil prices were little changed with Brent down 0.25% at $43.26 per barrel and U.S. crude down 0.15% at $40.87.  The two benchmark crudes had fallen 1% on Thursday too after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, agreed to trim their record supply cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2 million bpd, starting in August.

Looking at the day ahead now, as well as the aforementioned European Council meeting, we’ll get US housing starts and building permits for June, and the preliminary University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for July. Central bank speakers include BoE Governor Bailey, ECB Vice President de Guindos, and Executive Board member Schnabel, while earnings releases to watch out for include BlackRock, Danaher and Honeywell International.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 3,201.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.07% to 371.86
  • MXAP up 0.3% to 164.36
  • MXAPJ up 0.7% to 540.35
  • Nikkei down 0.3% to 22,696.42
  • Topix down 0.3% to 1,573.85
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 25,089.17
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.1% to 3,214.13
  • Sensex up 0.6% to 36,694.16
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 6,033.63
  • Kospi up 0.8% to 2,201.19
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.3 bps to -0.468%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1404
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 1.06%
  • Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 0.402%
  • Brent futures down 0.8% to $43.01/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,801.84
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.2% to 96.18

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • ECB policy makers didn’t agree on whether they expect to use the full amount of their 1.35 trillion-euro ($1.5 trillion) pandemic emergency purchase program when they met Thursday, despite President Christine Lagarde subsequently saying that’s likely, according to people familiar with the discussions
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce more than 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) of extra funding to help prepare the U.K. National Health Service for the risk of a second peak in coronavirus cases
  • Florida and Texas reported record numbers of virus deaths. Brazil surpassed 2 million cases as the virus spreads in the country’s poorer, remote areas. Dr. Anthony Fauci said many states reopened too quickly and called for “a time out” yet said he expects results for a clinical trial on monoclonal antibodies by late summer or early fall
  • Nearly two-thirds of health-care industry leaders anticipate the coronavirus pandemic will continue into the second half of 2021 or longer as hopes for a vaccine this year dwindle
  • U.S. central bankers still have some time to ponder how to best update their public guidance on the likely future path of interest rates and whether they need to deploy a yield-curve control strategy, New York Fed President John Williams said
  • Oil held losses in Asia after a U.S. jobs report cast doubt on the strength of the demand recovery in the world’s largest economy
  • A copper-supply crunch that’s sent prices soaring as producers scale back operations on coronavirus restrictions could still worsen, according to Rio Tinto Group, one of the world’s top miners

Asian equity markets were somewhat mixed as efforts to recoup some of the prior day’s losses heading into the weekend were fettered by the record increases in coronavirus numbers in US and abroad which continued to fuel second wave fears. ASX 200 (+0.3%) traded indecisively with notable weakness seen in tech names after similar underperformance of the sector stateside and after Victoria state suffered a record increase of coronavirus cases which surged by 428 vs. Prev. 317, while Rio Tinto shares failed to sustain the opening momentum that had been spurred by stronger quarterly production and shipment updates. Nonetheless, downside for the Australian benchmark is only marginal as the index just about kept afloat of the 6000 level and the Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) swung between gains and losses as sentiment navigated through a wavy currency. Hang Seng (+0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) both initially outperformed after nursing the pain from recent heavy selling that resulted to losses in the mainland of about 5% yesterday, which China downplayed as a normal market adjustment, while a firm liquidity effort by the PBoC also contributed to the early improved tone in which it provided a total weekly net injection of CNY 330bln. However, the optimism in for Chinese bourses gradually faded amid the lingering doubts regarding the economic recovery. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher alongside the indecision in the region and with the BoJ also present in the market for over JPY 1.2tln of JGBs heavily concentrated in 1yr-10yr maturities.

Top Asian News

  • Reliance Said to Plow Billions From Stake Sales Into Debt Funds
  • China’s Manic Traders Test the Communist Party’s Grip on Markets
  • Hong Kong Gives Nod to Asia’s Biggest Healthcare Listing in 2020

European equites (Eurostoxx 50 -0.2%) have staged a relatively mixed performance thus far with price action broadly contained as participants await updates from the EU Council summit in Brussels. On which, the bar for expectations has been tempered somewhat by comments on arrival from the likes of Dutch PM Rutte who assigns a less than 50% chance of a breakthrough by Sunday, whilst German Chancellor Merkel has cautioned that large differences remains and negotiations will be very tough. The DAX (+0.1%) is faring slightly better than its peers amid support for the auto sector after Daimler’s (+4.8%) prelim Q2 release revealed a smaller decline in EBIT than feared with the Co. also looking to make circa EUR 2bln in cost savings. Furthermore for the index, reports note that Deutsche Boerse could propose new rules that would enable a quick expulsion of companies from the DAX if firms file for insolvency. If adopted, Wirecard (-7.2%) could leave the index in August. Elsewhere, the bulk of the corporate updates this morning have come from Scandinavia with earnings from the likes of Ericsson (+10.4%), Saab (+2.8%), Volvo (+1.1%), Danske Bank (+1.1%), Assa Abloy (-2.8%) and Electrolux (-5.8%) to name but a few. From a broader sectoral standpoint, asides from autos, the tech sector is faring better than peers amid upside in chip names such as Infineon (+2.7%) and STMicroelectronics (+3.1%). To the downside, losers include banks, travel & leisure and insurance names.

Top European News

  • Ericsson Jumps After Profit Boost From Network Upgrades
  • ECB Officials Didn’t Agree on If They’ll Use Full Bond Plan
  • U.K.’s Debt Chief Prefers Going Green Over Borrowing for Century

In FX, the single currency is attempting extend gains above 1.1400 vs the Dollar again having posted a lower high from Wednesday’s circa 1.1450 peak amidst post-ECB reports about divergence among GC members on the PEPP that President Lagarde assumes will be used in full. However, the latest retreat seems more to do with apprehension ahead of the EU leaders meeting to try and resolve differences over the Recovery Fund and Budget, as participants continue to play down prospects of reaching an agreement by the end of the 2-day Summit.

  • USD – The Greenback is mixed against G10 counterparts beyond the Euro, and the restraint is highlighted by the confined 96.331-083 DXY range compared to yesterday’s 96.404-95.890 extremes on the back of fluctuating risk sentiment and largely upbeat US data dampened by the ongoing increase in COVID-19 infections and fatalities across Sun Belt states in particular. Ahead, housing data and preliminary Michigan sentiment, but the Buck remains driven by the overall tone and equity performance alongside moves in rival currencies.
  • AUD/NZD/CHF - All benefiting from the aforementioned US Dollar retrenchment, with the Aussie back within striking distance of 0.7000, Kiwi revisiting 0.6550 and Franc holding off sub-0.9450 lows, even though Victoria suffered another record high tally of coronavirus cases and the PBoC bucked the recent trend with a 7.0000+ midpoint Usd/CNY fix overnight (albeit with the onshore Yuan closing back above the psychological level and CNH currently around 6.9970). Conversely, the Nzd will have taken note of a strong rebound in the manufacturing PMI from contraction to expansion following re-opening from lockdown and the Chf has pared some underperformance vs the Eur after sliding to multi-week lows near 1.0800 on Thursday.
  • GBP/JPY/CAD - Sterling is still grappling with a bearish combination of technical and fundamental factors as Cable loses grip of 1.2600 and returns to the midst of a cluster of hourly MAs ahead of Fib support (at 1.2520), while Eur/Gbp remains elevated close to 0.9100. Elsewhere, the Yen is meandering between 107.36-11 and Loonie even more contained either side of 1.3575 against the backdrop of idling crude prices and subdued risk appetite in the run up to Canadian wholesale trade.

In commodities, WTI & Brent remain subdued this morning with Brent Sep’20 future having given up the USD 43/bbl handle to a low of USD 42.88/bbl as we stand while WTI Aug’20 has tested touted support at USD 40.35/bbl at worst. Overall, performance for the complex is somewhat tentative with European bourses currently trading with little conviction as we await the press statement from the first of the weekends European Council Summit meeting (time TBC); for crude explicitly, the only scheduled event is the weekly Baker Hughes rig count. In terms of spot gold, the precious metal is modestly firmer and has recaptured the USD 1800/oz mark, but only just, as the USD continues to drift lower in this period of tentative trade. Elsewhere, Rio Tinto posted a 1.5% increase in iron ore shipments in their Q2 update as well as commenting that demand out of China for iron ore is rising; although, as most updates have, cautioned that the possibility of second COVID-19 wave could be a headwind.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Housing Starts, est. 1.19m, prior 974,000; Building Permits, est. 1.29m, prior 1.22m
  • 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 79, prior 78.1; Current Conditions, est. 86.8, prior 87.1; Expectations, est. 74, prior 72.3
  • 12:30pm: Former Fed Chairs Yellen and Bernanke Testify to Congress

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

xRisk assets fell back yesterday as weak economic data combined with rising numbers of coronavirus cases dampened investor sentiment. By the end of the session, the S&P 500 had fallen back by -0.34% as technology stocks led the decline with the NASDAQ closing down by a larger -0.73%. European indices traded lower as well following a quiet ECB meeting but ahead of the recovery fund summit today. The STOXX 600 was down -0.47%. In terms of the individual moves, there was a large pullback in the ‘normalisation’ travel trade that we saw on Wednesday. Cruiseliners reversed the previous day’s gains as Norwegian Cruise Line (-15.62%), Carnival (-9.73%), and Royal Caribbean Cruises (-7.57%) were the 3 worst performers in the US index, while the 4th and 6th worst performers were American Airlines (-7.37%) and United Airlines (-5.17%). In Europe, similarly the Travel and Leisure sector led the index lower, falling -2.08% after leading the way the day before. Otherwise, Morgan Stanley (+2.49%) had a strong performance after the bank reported adjusted EPS of $2.04 (vs. $1.14 estimated), though Twitter fell -1.11% after the hack of a number of high-profile accounts the previous evening. NFLX fell over -8% in after-market trading in a rare hiccup for the mega-cap growth stocks after reporting they expected 2.5m new subscribers vs. the 5m that analysts expected. The company announced “growth is slowing as consumers get through the initial shock of Covid and social restrictions.”

Talking of tech, yesterday’s CoTD looked at the remarkable rise of Tesla (up +315% since March) which is now over a third of the combined market cap of the combined US, EU and Japanese auto indices. Since March, Tesla has added just over 8 Fords or 27 Renaults. A bit like Sweden’s virus response this divided opinion in my mailbox with many saying Tesla’s valuation is crazy but some highlighting the potential for their battery operations to be scalable and one response suggesting Elon Musk was a genius. See here for a bonus chart that wasn’t in the original mail on global auto market share. Email if you want to be added to the direct mailing list of Chart of the Day.

In the absence of any fresh overnight triggers, Asian markets are trading a little mixed this morning with the Nikkei (-0.34%), Shanghai Comp (-0.51%) and Asx (-0.12%) down while the Hang Seng (+0.61%) and Kospi (+0.65%) are up. In Fx, the US dollar index is down -0.10%. Meanwhile, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.27%.

A key piece of data that dampened the mood yesterday was the US initial weekly jobless claims for the week through July 11, which came in at a higher-than expected 1.3m. Although this was the 15th consecutive weekly decline in the numbers, they were down by just -10k on the previous week, which is the smallest decline since the peak was reached back in late March, raising fears that gains in the labour market have stalled as cases numbers have risen across the country. Though the other US data released yesterday struck a more positive tone (more on which below), these were all more backward-looking numbers, that didn’t take into account the latest virus upsurge across numerous states.

Speaking of the coronavirus, yesterday the main headline came from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which said that Russian cyber actors were targeting organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, the US and Canada. Their website said that the group known as APT29 that was exploiting organisations, “almost certainly operate as part of Russian intelligence services”. Russia has denied the accusations however.

Meanwhile, in terms of the latest on case numbers, Florida reported a further 4.6% increase yesterday, above the previous 7-day average of 4.4%, along with a record 156 daily deaths. Arizona continued to see a slight slowing in cases, with a 2.5% increase vs. the 2.8% weekly average. The positivity rate remains very elevated at 24.5% though. California had just over 9400 new cases, which is above the recent 7-day average of 8900, while fatalities have ticked up in the state with 118 new deaths in the last 24 hours vs. a 94 7-day average. Texas also saw a 5.5% jump in new cases as against the 7 day average of +3.7% while reported fatalities came in at a record 169 in the last 24 hours as against the 7 day average of 88 per day. Overall US cases rose by 2.5% with nearly 64,000 per day over the past week, which is twice as much as the first peak seen in early April. Amidst rising case numbers in the state, the Republican National Committee said that they would be scaling back the Republican National Convention, which is due to be held in the state next month. Arkansas and Colorado were added to the ever growing list of states requiring masks in public spaces. Texas Governor Abbott warned attendants at the Texas Republican Convention yesterday that the recent outbreak may leave him with few options outside of shutting down the second most populous U.S. state. This comes as Pennsylvania rolled back their own reopening yesterday, shuttering nightclubs and lowering occupancy across bars and restaurants. Overnight, Brazil has surpassed the 2m mark of confirmed cases with confirmed fatalities at 76,688. As ever see our table in the pdf of this report.

Meanwhile, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, has tightened restrictions for gatherings and venues, including clubs and cafes as the state fears undetected cases of community transmission could spread rapidly. All restaurants, clubs and cafes will be limited to bookings of a maximum 10 people and restricted to one person per four-square-meters. Meanwhile, Victoria reported a fresh record of new cases at 428 in the past 24 hours. Tokyo’s Governor also said that today’s new cases are expected to be at the same level as yesterday (286) without giving specific figures. Elsewhere India has become the third country to cross the 1m confirmed cases mark.

Separately in Israel, where cases have also risen sharply, Channel 12 reported that senior ministers were in favour of returning to a full lockdown at weekends. Also Germany announced that they were imposing some travel rules on citizens moving within the country as summer vacation gets underway. Primarily the rules require those coming from a ‘hotspot’ show proof of recent negative testing and those coming from risk areas abroad quarantine at home for 14-days.

Here in the UK, Bloomberg has reported overnight that PM Johnson is set to announce more than GBP 3bn of extra funding to help prepare the National Health Service for the risk of a second peak in coronavirus cases. Meanwhile the PM will announce today plans to ramp up antigen testing for the virus to 500,000 a day by the end of October to boost its test and trace program in preparation for the testing capacity needed for the winter. PM’s office said late yesterday that, “Tomorrow, he will set out a broad package of measures to protect against both a possible second wave, and to ease winter pressures and keep the public safe.”

The other main news yesterday came from the ECB, where President Lagarde struck a decidedly cautious note on the recovery, and said that “ample monetary stimulus remains necessary to support the economic recovery and to safeguard medium-term price stability”. Though monetary policy was left unchanged, Lagarde notably pushed back against the idea that the ECB wouldn’t use the full €1.35tn PEPP envelope, saying that the ECB’s baseline was that they would use it in full barring positive data surprises. This isn’t just for market stability, but also as a way to ease the monetary policy stance. For more, see our Europe economists’ views here. Sovereign bonds rallied across the continent in response to the press conference, and 10yr yields on French (-1.7bps), Italian (-1.4bps) and Spanish (-2.1bps) debt all fell to their lowest levels in 4 months.

We also heard from some Fed governors yesterday who shared President Lagarde’s sentiment, painting a wary picture of the economy. First we heard from New York Federal Reserve Bank President Williams, who acknowledged that the efforts of the central bank “over the next few years…needs to be making sure that we can get back to a really strong, robust economy with sustainable, strong sustainable growth and inflation at our 2% goal." While also saying that it was not the time to even think of ‘exit strategies”, as the economy is still in a very uncertain situation. This was also the opinion of Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Bostic, who noted that the lack of clarity on fiscal policy may be affecting sentiment in the region as case numbers increase across the country, citing business leaders and consumers in the region. He noted that, “Real-time data that we are getting today is really suggesting there may be a leveling off in terms of level of business activity, in terms of the amount of jobs that are being returned to the economy.” Lastly, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Evans said he saw the U.S. recovering its previous peak in output “in middle or late 2022”, and that he is “looking at the end of this year for the unemployment rate to be 9-9.5%.” On the popular topic of YCC, Evans acknowledged that there was a potential use for it, but that he was undecided and that he is a big advocate of forward guidance and strategies that convince the public that the Fed can fulfill its dual mandate. Overall central bankers continue to provide a lukewarm reading of the economy, but a willingness to continue supporting it in whatever ways it can.

Today all attention will shift to the special European Council summit, with EU leaders gathering this morning in Brussels to discuss the proposed recovery fund along with the EU’s long-term budget. As a reminder from yesterday, our view here at DB is that although an agreement is still possible this weekend, it would now be a positive surprise, and there’s no indication so far of the differences of opinion between the member states having been bridged yet. The meeting gets started at 10:00 Brussels time, though is scheduled to continue into Saturday, so its likely the final news of what’s happened will only be known over the weekend.

Here in the UK, gilt yields fell to another record low yesterday, with 10yr yields down a further -2.7bps to 0.14%. It comes amidst increasing speculation that the Bank of England might be forced into further rate cuts, potentially even into negative territory. Meanwhile yesterday’s labour market release from the ONS said that early indicators for June suggested that the number of employees on payrolls were down around -650k compared with March, although the unemployment rate for the 3 months to May remained at 3.9% as many of the people out of work were not looking for work, and hence weren’t counted as unemployed. That said, the total number of weekly hours worked fell to 877k in the three months to May, their lowest level since 1997, while more up-to-date data on vacancies showed them falling to 333k in the three months to June, which is below their lowest level after the financial crisis.

Finally on the US, the more backward-looking data for June was more positive than the weekly jobless claims, with retail sales increasing by +7.5% (vs. +5.0% expected), and May’s growth being revised higher. Furthermore, the continuing claims for the week through July 4 (the week before the initial claims) fell to 17.338m (vs. 17.5m expected), and the insured unemployment rate fell to 11.9%. As in Europe, 10yr Treasury yields ended the session down -1.3bps at 0.617%.

To the day ahead now, and as well as the aforementioned European Council meeting, we’ll get the final Euro Area inflation reading for June, US housing starts and building permits for June, and the preliminary University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for July. Central bank speakers include BoE Governor Bailey, ECB Vice President de Guindos, and Executive Board member Schnabel, while earnings releases to watch out for include BlackRock, Danaher and Honeywell International.

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Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers…



Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made at least 25 statistical or numerical errors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the overwhelming majority exaggerated the severity of the pandemic, according to a new study.

Researchers who have been tracking CDC errors compiled 25 instances where the agency offered demonstrably false information. For each instance, they analyzed whether the error exaggerated or downplayed the severity of COVID-19.

Of the 25 instances, 20 exaggerated the severity, the researchers reported in the study, which was published ahead of peer review on March 23.

The CDC has expressed significant concern about COVID-19 misinformation. In order for the CDC to be a credible source of information, they must improve the accuracy of the data they provide,” the authors wrote.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

Most Errors Involved Children

Most of the errors were about COVID-19’s impact on children.

In mid-2021, for instance, the CDC claimed that 4 percent of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 were kids. The actual percentage was 0.04 percent. The CDC eventually corrected the misinformation, months after being alerted to the issue.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky falsely told a White House press briefing in October 2021 that there had been 745 COVID-19 deaths in children, but the actual number, based on CDC death certificate analysis, was 558.

Walensky and other CDC officials also falsely said in 2022 that COVID-19 was a top five cause of death for children, citing a study that gathered CDC data instead of looking at the data directly. The officials have not corrected the false claims.

Other errors include the CDC claiming in 2022 that pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations were “increasing again” when they’d actually peaked two weeks earlier; CDC officials in 2023 including deaths among infants younger than 6 months old when reporting COVID-19 deaths among children; and Walensky on Feb. 9, 2023, exaggerating the pediatric death toll before Congress.

“These errors suggest the CDC consistently exaggerates the impact of COVID-19 on children,” the authors of the study said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 20:20

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NIH awards researchers $7.5 million to create data support center for opioid use disorder and pain management research

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant…



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

Credit: Wake Forest University School of Medicine

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

The NIH HEAL initiative, which launched in 2018, was created to find scientific solutions to stem the national opioid and pain public health crises. The funding is part of the HEAL Data 2 Action (HD2A) program, designed to use real-time data to guide actions and change processes toward reducing overdoses and improving opioid use disorder treatment and pain management.

With the support of the grant, researchers will create a data infrastructure support center to assist HD2A innovation projects at other institutions across the country. These innovation projects are designed to address gaps in four areas—prevention, harm reduction, treatment of opioid use disorder and recovery support.

“Our center’s goal is to remove barriers so that solutions can be more streamlined and rapidly distributed,” said Meredith C.B. Adams, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology, biomedical informatics, physiology and pharmacology, and public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

By monitoring opioid overdoses in real time, researchers will be able to identify trends and gaps in resources in local communities where services are most needed.

“We will collect and analyze data that will inform prevention and treatment services,” Adams said. “We’re shifting chronic pain and opioid care in communities to quickly offer solutions.”

The center will also develop data related resources, education and training related to substance use, pain management and the reduction of opioid overdoses.

According to the CDC, there was a 29% increase in drug overdose deaths in the U.S.  in 2020, and nearly 75% of those deaths involved an opioid.

“Given the scope of the opioid crises, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that we improve and create new prevention strategies,” Adams said. “The funding will create the infrastructure for rapid intervention.”

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How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how…



How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how Donald Trump came to be the president who shut down American society for what turned out to be a manageable respiratory virus, setting off an unspeakable crisis with waves of destructive fallout that continue to this day. 

Let’s review the timeline and offer some well-founded speculations about what happened. 

On March 9, 2020, Trump was still of the opinion that the virus could be handled by normal means. 

Two days later, he changed his tune. He was ready to use the full power of the federal government in a war on the virus. 

What changed? Deborah Birx reports in her book that Trump had a friend die in a New York hospital and this is what shifted his opinion. Jared Kushner reports that he simply listened to reason. Mike Pence says he was persuaded that his staff would respect him more. No question (and based on all existing reports) that he found himself surrounded by “trusted advisors” amounting to about 5 or so people (including Mike Pence and Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb)

It was only a week later when Trump issued the edict to close all “indoor and outdoor venues where people congregate,” initiating the biggest regime change in US history that flew in the face of all rights and liberties Americans had previously taken for granted. It was the ultimate in political triangulation: as John F. Kennedy cut taxes, Nixon opened China, and Clinton reformed welfare, Trump shut down the economy he promised to revive. This action confounded critics on all sides. 

A month later, Trump said his decision to have “turned off” the economy saved millions of lives, later even claiming to have saved billions. He has yet to admit error. 

Even as late as June 23rd of that year, Trump was demanding credit for having followed all of Fauci’s recommendations. Why do they love him and hate me, he wanted to know. 

Something about this story has never really added up. How could one person have been so persuaded by a handful of others such as Fauci, Birx, Pence, and Kushner and his friends? He surely had other sources of information – some other scenario or intelligence – that fed into his disastrous decision. 

In one version of events, his advisors simply pointed to the supposed success of Xi Jinping in enacting lockdowns in Wuhan, which the World Health Organization claimed had stopped infections and brought the virus under control. Perhaps his advisors flattered Trump with the observation that he is at least as great as the president of China so he should be bold and enact the same policies here. 

One problem with this scenario is timing. The Oval Office meetings that preceded his March 16, 2020, edict took place the weekend of the 14th and 15th, Friday and Saturday. It was already clear by the 11th that Trump was ready for lockdowns. This was the same day as Fauci’s deliberately misleading testimony to the House Oversight Committee in which he rattled the room with predictions of Hollywood-style carnage. 

On the 12th, Trump shut all travel from Europe, the UK, and Australia, causing huge human pile-ups at international airports. On the 13th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a classified document that transferred control of pandemic policy from the CDC to the National Security Council and eventually the Department of Homeland Security. By the time that Trump met with Fauci and Birx in that legendary weekend, the country was already under quasi-martial law. 

Isolating the date in the trajectory here, it is apparent that whatever happened to change Trump occurred on March 10, 2020, the day after his Tweet saying there should be no shutdowns and one day before Fauci’s testimony. 

That something very likely revolves around the most substantial discovery we’ve made in three years of investigations. It was Debbie Lerman who first cracked the code: Covid policy was forged not by the public-health bureaucracies but by the national-security sector of the administrative state. She has further explained that this occurred because of two critical features of the response: 1) the belief that this virus came from a lab leak, and 2) the vaccine was the biosecurity countermeasure pushed by the same people as the fix. 

Knowing this, we gain greater insight into 1) why Trump changed his mind, 2) why he has never explained this momentous decision and otherwise completely avoids the topic, and 3) why it has been so unbearably difficult to find out any information about these mysterious few days other than the pablum served up in books designed to earn royalties for authors like Birx, Pence, and Kushner. 

Based on a number of second-hand reports, all available clues we have assembled, and the context of the times, the following scenario seems most likely. On March 10, and in response to Trump’s dismissive tweet the day before, some trusted sources within and around the National Security Council (Matthew Pottinger and Michael Callahan, for example), and probably involving some from military command and others, came to Trump to let him know a highly classified secret. 

Imagine a scene from Get Smart with the Cone of Silence, for example. These are the events in the life of statecraft that infuse powerful people with a sense of their personal awesomeness. The fate of all of society rests on their shoulders and the decisions they make at this point. Of course they are sworn to intense secrecy following the great reveal. 

The revelation was that the virus was not a textbook virus but something far more threatening and terrible. It came from a research lab in Wuhan. It might in fact be a bioweapon. This is why Xi had to do extreme things to protect his people. The US should do the same, they said, and there is a fix available too and it is being carefully guarded by the military. 

It seems that the virus had already been mapped in order to make a vaccine to protect the population. Thanks to 20 years of research on mRNA platforms, they told him,  this vaccine can be rolled out in months, not years. That means that Trump can lock down and distribute vaccines to save everyone from the China virus, all in time for the election. Doing this would not only assure his reelection but guarantee that he would go down in history as one of the greatest US presidents of all time. 

This meeting might only have lasted an hour or two – and might have included a parade of people with the highest-level security clearances – but it was enough to convince Trump. After all, he had battled China for two previous years, imposing tariffs and making all sorts of threats. It was easy to believe at that point that China might have initiated biological warfare as retaliation. That’s why he made the decision to use all the power of the presidency to push a lockdown under emergency rule. 

To be sure, the Constitution does not allow him to override the discretion of the states but with the weight of the office complete with enough funding and persuasion, he could make it happen. And thus did he make the fateful decision that not only wrecked his presidency but the country too, imposing harms that will last a generation. 

It only took a few weeks for Trump to become suspicious about what happened. For weeks and months, he toggled between believing that he was tricked and believing that he did the right thing. He had already approved another 30 days of lockdowns and even inveighed against Georgia and later Florida for opening. He went so far as to claim that no state could open without his approval. 

He did not fully change his mind until August, when Scott Atlas revealed the whole con to him. 

There is another fascinating feature to this entirely plausible scenario. Even as Trump’s advisors were telling him that this could be a bioweapon leaked from the lab in China, we had Anthony Fauci and his cronies going to great lengths to deny it was a lab leak (even if they believed that it was). This created an interesting situation. The NIH and those surrounding Fauci were publicly insisting that the virus was of zoonotic origin, even as Trump’s circle was telling the president that it should be regarded as a bioweapon. 

Fauci belonged to both camps, which suggests that Trump very likely knew of Fauci’s deception all along: the “noble lie” to protect the public from knowing the truth. Trump had to be fine with that. 

Gradually following the lockdown edicts and the takeover by the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with a very hostile CDC, Trump lost power and influence over his own government, which is why his later Tweets urging a reopening fell on deaf ears. To top it off, the vaccine failed to arrive in time for the election. This is because Fauci himself delayed the rollout until after the election, claiming that the trials were not racially diverse enough. Thus Trump’s gambit completely failed, despite all the promises of those around him that it was a guaranteed way to win reelection.

To be sure, this scenario cannot be proven because the entire event – certainly the most dramatic political move in at least a generation and one with unspeakable costs for the country – remains cloaked in secrecy. Not even Senator Rand Paul can get the information he needs because it remains classified. If anyone thinks the Biden approval of releasing documents will show what we need, that person is naive. Still, the above scenario fits all available facts and it is confirmed by second-hand reports from inside the White House. 

It’s enough for a great movie or a play of Shakespearean levels of tragedy. And to this day, none of the main players are speaking openly about it. 

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 17:40

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