Connect with us

Government

Global Economy Heading For “Mother Of All” Supply Chain Shocks As China Locks Down Ports

Global Economy Heading For "Mother Of All" Supply Chain Shocks As China Locks Down Ports

Over the past month, as Wall Street turned increasingly optimistic on US growth alongside the Fed, with consensus (shaped by the Fed’s leaks and jawbonin

Published

on

Global Economy Heading For "Mother Of All" Supply Chain Shocks As China Locks Down Ports

Over the past month, as Wall Street turned increasingly optimistic on US growth alongside the Fed, with consensus (shaped by the Fed's leaks and jawboning) now virtually certain of a March rate hike, we have been repeatedly warning that after a huge policy error in 2021 when the Fed erroneously said that inflation is "transitory" (it wasn't), the central bank is on pace to make another just as big policy mistake in 2022 by hiking as many as 4 times and also running off its massive balance sheet... right into a global growth slowdown.

And, as we have also discussed in recent weeks, one place where this growth slowdown is emerging - besides the upcoming deterioration in US consumption where spending is now being funded to record rates by credit cards before it encounters a troubling air pocket - is China and its "covid-zero" policy in general, and its covid-locked down ports in particular.

But what until recently was a minority view confined to our modest website, has since expanded and as Bloomberg writes overnight, the effects of restrictions in China as the country maintains its Covid-zero policy "are starting to hit supply chains in the region." As a result of the slow movement of goods through some of the country’s busiest and most important ports means shippers are now diverting to Shanghai, causing the types of knock-on delays at the world’s biggest container port that led to massive congestion bottlnecks last summer that eventually translated into a record number of container ships waiting off the coast of California, a glut that hasn't been cleared to this day.

With sailing schedules already facing delays of about a week, freight forwarders warn of the impact on already back-logged gateways in Europe and the US and is also why HSBC economists are warning that the world economy could be headed for the “mother of all” supply chain shocks if the highly infectious omicron variant which is already swamping much of the global economy spreads across Asia, especially China, at which point disruption to manufacturing will be inevitable.

"Temporary, one would hope, but hugely disruptive all the same" in the next few months, they wrote in a research note this week first noted by Bloomberg.

For those who have forgotten last year's global shockwave when China locked down its ports for several days, a quick reminder: it led to an unprecedented hiccup in global logistics and shipping which hasn't been resolved to this day. That's because China is the world’s biggest trading nation and its ability to keep its factories humming through the pandemic has been crucial for global supply chains.

While the outbreak of omicron in China has been small compared to other nations (if one believes China's official data, which is a big if) authorities are taking no chances, especially with China's continued "zero-covid" policy. In recent weeks scattered infections of both the delta and omicron variants have already triggered shutdowns to clothing factories and gas deliveries around one of China’s biggest seaports in Ningbo, disruptions at computer chip manufacturers in the locked-down city of Xi’an, and a second city-wide lockdown in Henan province Tuesday.

Below is a brief timeline of the most recent events courtesy of Deutsche Bank:

  • China's first Omicron outbreak was detected in the city of Tianjin over the weekend. On the morning of Jan 8, two patients in Tianjin who actively sought medical treatment were confirmed as being infected with the Omicron variant. The local government immediately locked down certain districts, restricted travel, and conducted large-scale screening. A total of 41 positive cases have been reported as of the morning of Jan 11.
  • The source of the local cases in Tianjin is still unknown, and community transmission is possible, according to local disease control officials. All previous local Omicron cases in Tianjin belonged to the same transmission chain. However, the above cases cannot be confirmed to be in the same transmission chain as the sequences of the imported cases of the Omicron variant that have been found in Tianjin. The early confirmed cases do not have any travel history outside Tianjin either. The specific source of the local cases found in Tianjin is still unknown at this time.
  • More alarmingly, the same Omicron virus strain has already spread to outside Tianjin. Two positive cases were found in Anyang, Henan on Jan 8, and were later confirmed to be the same Omicron variant found in Tianjin. Through contact tracing and gene sequencing, the source was identified as a college student who returned to Anyang from Tianjin on December 28, 2021, and who did not show any symptoms. 81 cases have since been confirmed in Anyang over the past few days. This suggests that (1) the Omicron virus may have been transmitted in Tianjin for almost 2 weeks; and (2) other travelers might have already carried the Omicron virus from Tianjin to elsewhere in China.

Looking at the recent data, China's Covid outbreak this winter could be worse than in the previous winter - as shown in the chart below more provinces have detected Covid outbreaks this winter. Entering Q4, there are 12 provinces which have found more than 19 local cases in the past 14 days. More significantly, the total number of new cases in the past 14 days in Shann’xi has already exceeded 1500, which is a record high, except for in Hubei when Covid first occurred in early 2020, and this has happened despite China now having very high vaccination rates and strict regulations such as lockdowns. In addition, comparing the differences between months near Chinese New Year in 2021 and 2022, not only have the number of news cases been larger this year, the provinces hit by Covid outbreaks this year also tend to have higher GDP and population density.

As Bloomberg adds, Henan and Guangdong, which also has an outbreak, are centers of electronics production. If cases continue rising there, it could impact the supply of iPhones and other smartphones.

This also brings us to what Bloomberg calls the paradox of China’s aggressive “Covid-zero” strategy: while on one hand it helps contain the virus spread, to do so usually requires significant disruption or lockdowns as authorities limit the movement of people. The repeated mandatory testing of whole cities interrupts businessess and production, although nothing to the extent seen in places like the US, where the omicron wave caused an estimated 5 million people to stay home sick last week, leading to further economic slowdown (as discussed in "A March Rate Hike? Not So Fast")

That risk of disruption for factories is already prompting companies to spread their risk by ensuring they have alternative production facilities, Stephanie Krishnan, a supply chain expert at IDC in Singapore, told Bloomberg.

“We are starting to see companies mitigating risk, seeing where they can increase capabilities for production of different products in different factories so they can shift that around,” she said.

Echoing what we said last night in "New Year Brings New All-Time High For Shipping's Epic Traffic Jam", Krishnan doesn’t see an end to the global supply crunch anytime soon and cautions it could take several years for the snarls to unwind. It’s a sobering outlook to start a year that many had hoped would mark the beginning of the end of the Big Crunch which dogged producers and consumers through much of last year.

Clearly what happens next is critical, and how China’s control of the virus plays out will ultimately be crucial, said Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre. Those companies whose supply chains are fully located inside China may be insulated by the country’s mitigation strategy. But that won’t apply to everyone, she said.

“Lots of products in supply chains come from outside China,” Elms said. “Given challenges elsewhere, even zero Covid doesn’t solve all the issues of disruption.”

* * *

In its assessment of next steps, Deutsche Bank expects the government will try to contain the Omicron outbreak with more lockdowns and quarantines rather than taking a "live with Covid" approach. This will pose downside risks to near-term growth. The impact on consumption could be significant, although probably not as large as what happened in 2020.

While Omicron is far less deadly than other Covid variants, it is still deadly enough to cause healthcare service shortages in China, at least in some regions. Vaccination has proven to be ineffective in preventing Omicron from spreading, and while it offers protection against hospitalization, China still has some 20% of the population who are not vaccinated and will face serious health risks if Omicron becomes widespread. As such, DB says that a containment approach is still the government's optimal choice for this winter regardless of how fast Omicron spreads in the next few weeks. It will be good news if travel restrictions, lockdowns and large-scale testing and contact tracing work in containing the outbreak. Even if outbreaks cannot be contained in some regions, these measures will still be considered necessary in flattening the curve and preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed nationwide.

What is much more important for the US, global capital markets and the Fed's monetary policy - which has assumed much stronger growth in 2022 - is that China's Omicron outbreaks are significant downside risks for near-term consumption demand. Restrictions will likely be imposed nationwide to reduce travel before the Chinese New Year and encourage people to stay where they are. Cities where new cases were found will reimpose lockdowns and social distancing measures. The impact in each city will depend on local authorities. Experience from the past 2 years was that while some cities (such as Shenzhen and Shanghai) can manage outbreaks in a less disruptive way, other cities (such as Xi'an) have resorted to stricter and larger scale lockdowns, causing severe disruptions to consumption and service sector activities. Businesses such as restaurants, as well as those linked to travel, and leisure & entertainment will suffer from sharp revenue reductions or even temporary shutdowns. This may also cause temporary job and income losses and negatively impact consumer goods purchases. Retail sales growth dropped by 3ppt in Jan-Feb 2021 (in 2-year average terms). Retail sales might weaken again in Jan-Feb 2022, though the YoY growth rate might not drop much owing to the low base in 2021.

Nevertheless, consumption will likely recover rapidly once lockdowns are lifted. Similar to what happened before, such negative shocks will likely be transitory and will be followed by strong recovery once lockdowns are lifted and businesses reopen.

Still, the notorious bull-whip effect will emerge once again, as supply chains once again become stretched, and like in 2021 the question will be how the trade off between rising costs - as goods in transit end up stuck on a ship far longer than expected - and slowing growth will impact the Fed's view on what the optimal policy response is. While the Fed's prerogative for now is clearly to contain inflation, the reality is that much of the inflation experienced today is on the supply side, something which Brainard told the Senate in her confirmation hearing the Fed is powerless to address. Meanwhile, if we see a "surprise" drop in growth in the coming months, the Fed will have no choice but to delay or at least stagger its tightening as the last thing the Fed can afford to do is hike into another recession, which will then quickly be followed with even more easing. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/13/2022 - 13:06

Read More

Continue Reading

Commodities

The Link Between Soaring Food Prices & Political Instability

The Link Between Soaring Food Prices & Political Instability

The Russian war in Ukraine has had immediate repercussions for global food…

Published

on

The Link Between Soaring Food Prices & Political Instability

The Russian war in Ukraine has had immediate repercussions for global food markets given the countries’ role as major exporters of essential agricultural products, such as wheat, sunflower oil, barley and corn, while also affecting perishable foods like fruits and vegetables.

As shown in FAO data, the price of basic food products has surged since the invasion of Ukraine after already having followed an upward trend since 2020 over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

You will find more infographics at Statista

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz notes, in the past, similar surges in the price of food have led to unrest, mostly in developing countries, and even coincided with the Arab Spring in 2011, when populations in North Africa and the Middle East cornered by oppressive regimes and feeling the additional squeeze on their livelihoods due to high prices rose up and toppled several regional regimes. The current level of food prices is even surpassing the peaks observed in 2011 and 2008, when food and other prices rose dramatically, causing unrest in several African countries as well as in Bangladesh, Haiti, Indonesia and Yemen. The onset of the global financial crisis put an end to the price surge that year.

In the current situation, Human Rights Watch has warned that food crisis could hit North Africa and the Middle East again, as several countries in the region are major importers of Russian or Ukrainian food products

According to Cornell University economics professor Chris Barrett, the potential for unrest is again heightened.

As of early June, food prices had already fueled protests all over the world, including in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/24/2022 - 23:20

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

An Investor’s Look Back for 2022

As we approach the end of June, now is a good time to look back over the market to see what has been happening. The price action is in the bottom right…

Published

on

As we approach the end of June, now is a good time to look back over the market to see what has been happening.

The price action is in the bottom right corner of the charts, whereas, at the end of 2021, it was in the top right corner of the charts. Who could have seen the problems coming? I think the technical analysis arena did an excellent job of showing the risks for downside momentum to increase.

On December 17th, I recorded a video about the technical problems aligning in the market and how they created the situation for a rough start to 2022.

A historical look back

In six-month increments, let's take an educational look back on what has been happening.

June 2021

Starting in June 2021, we came off the effervescent high of the SPAC boom. As the book Reminiscences of A Stock Operator highlights so clearly, when there is an abundance of money trying to enter the market, the bankers will respond with new offerings. Nowadays, venture capitalists have all the data they need to be ready to hand over these companies at lofty valuations and step aside for the downside slide. By June 2021, the SPAC announcements had slowed to a relative crawl compared to the 4th quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

The defensive side of the market was out of favour, still showing positive returns to their investors, but vastly underperforming. Energy raged forward as the vaccines were rolling out, suggesting the economy would surge with post-pandemic freedom. More on that later. Real Estate and financials were on fire. Interestingly, the growth areas of discretionary, communications and technology were middle of the pack.

December 2021

As the second half of 2021 rolled in, the market changed significantly. Communications and industrials vastly underperformed everything. Technology was back to a glory story, while discretionary and real estate continued to flourish. Financials were in the bottom third. Materials, energy and defensive names were middle of the pack.

By late December, we were also narrowing our focus on the Sexy Six large cap names that kept holding up, even while there was a large breakdown in many of the trendy areas of the market. We didn't know it at the time, but the November high in the Nasdaq was behind us. The move to electric cars and the investment theme around them came and went. Copper made a high in May 2021 and most of the metals moved sideways for the remainder of the year. Oil continued its steady climb in a big bull market that kicked off with the vaccine announcements fourteen months prior.

June 2022

As we turned the corner into 2022, almost all of the upward momentum was focused in energy. Technology stocks, including semiconductors and software, moved down meaningfully as the sexy six slowly let go. Alphabet, Meta and Amazon were the early leaders to the downside. Consumer discretionary and communications dropped hard.

By the end of June, the continuous slow demise of investors' love for the technology space came to the fore. By March, investors were touting the start of a new bull market in Energy. After a 1000% gain in the oil and coal stocks, the relative strength community reluctantly decided it was a new bull market in fossil fuel energy. (You can't make that stuff up!) Still, the technology investment community has been reluctant to dive into the dark side. While the tiger cubs watched 50% of their asset valuations disappear, they couldn't muster a shift into the best performing sector for the past 18 months.

To end the quarter, the financials wobbled sideways but slowly moved lower. On Friday, June 17th, the bank ETF closed at new 52-week lows. Commodity stock markets like Australia and Canada dropped meaningfully as oil names sold off hard. Oil stocks quickly plummeted for 10 days from new highs to their 200-day moving averages, casting down 25%. The technology names continue to be sold as inflation roars. The Fed is speeding up their time line for rate hikes as the economy slows quickly under the pressure of firm gasoline prices and rising food prices.

What's next?

The graph below shows the stock market price/earnings ratio (P/E) ticking down over the past 6 months. The move down is a 20% drop from all-time highs. Because this is a 100-year chart, the log scale makes the move down look small. An arithmetic chart would show this as a 20% plunge of the entire chart height. With the Fed continuously providing a trampoline for the markets from 2008 to 2022, the market has stretched into higher and more extreme valuations compared to history. Since the early nineties, the market has hugged the red line a lot more than the middle of the range at the blue line. Now that we are below the red line, we are in a relative value area for investment managers, as they have seen the market above the 20 P/E level most of their careers.

The next move for the market is unknown, but the fight between the headwinds of inflation forces and the desire for investment managers to make money before year-end should be an epic battle. Throw in the US Mid-terms and that adds more pressure.

The strength indexes we use at the Osprey Strategic website to evaluate when to put money to work are trying to turn up. If you are interested in getting help evaluating the market, check out the one-month trial at $7 on the homepage of OspreyStrategic.org. We are looking for the fourth buy point of the year right now. The last three were very short. Will this one be the one that extends into the next bull market?

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Reactivation Of Chickenpox Virus Following COVID-19 Injections On The Rise

Reactivation Of Chickenpox Virus Following COVID-19 Injections On The Rise

Authored by Meiling Lee via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Doctors…

Published

on

Reactivation Of Chickenpox Virus Following COVID-19 Injections On The Rise

Authored by Meiling Lee via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Doctors and scientists are seeing an increase in the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, known as varicella-zoster virus (VZV), following the COVID-19 injections.

A child gets a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Hartford, Conn., on Jan. 6, 2022. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

The chickenpox virus is one of the eight herpes viruses known to infect humans. After a person contracts and recovers from chickenpox, the virus never leaves the body but lies dormant in the nervous system years later until it gets reactivated as shingles, or herpes zoster (HZ).

Federal health authorities claim that there’s no correlation between COVID-19 injections and shingles, but studies show that there is a higher incidence of shingles in people who’ve received the vaccine.

Israel was one of the earlier countries to publish a case series of six women (out of 491 participants) with an autoimmune disorder who developed shingles 3 to 14 days after receiving the first or second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 shot. None of the 99 participants in the control group developed shingles. The study was published in the journal Rheumatology in April 2021.

To our knowledge, there were no reports of varicella-like skin rash or HZ in the mRNA-based vaccines COVID-19 clinical trials and our case series is the first one to report this observation in patients within a relatively young age range: 36–61, average age 49 ± 11 years,” the authors wrote.

They hoped that publishing the case series would “raise awareness to a potential causal link between COVID-19 vaccination as a trigger of HZ reactivation in relatively young patients with stable AIIRD [autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases].”

Man with scarring from shingles on June 21, 2022. (Meiling Lee/The Epoch Times)

In a different case study from Taiwan, researchers reported three healthy men ages 71, 46, and 42 who developed shingles two to seven days following the first dose of the Moderna or AstraZeneca COVID-19 injection.

HZ does not often appear after the administration of other kinds of vaccinations,” the researchers wrote. “But we believed that there might be a link between COVID-19 vaccine and HZ emergence.”

“One of the reasons is the short delay of onset after vaccination. The other reason is that these three patients were immunocompetent,” they added.

The largest study to date, based on real-world data (pdf) of more than two million patients, found that there was a higher incidence of shingles among the vaccinated (who received a COVID-19 shot within 60 days) than in the unvaccinated cohort, who were diagnosed with shingles within 60 days of visiting a healthcare office for any other reason.

According to the researchers, the risk of developing shingles was calculated as 0.20 percent for the vaccinated group and 0.11 percent for the unvaccinated, and the “difference was statistically highly significant.”

“Reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus appears to be a potential ADR [adverse drug reaction] to COVID-19 vaccines, at least for mRNA LNP-based formulations,” the authors wrote, adding that “vaccination against COVID-19 seems to potentially raise the risk of precipitating HZ [herpes zoster].”

Dr. Richard Urso, an ophthalmologist, and drug design and treatment specialist, told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program in April 2022 that of the three to five patients he sees a week with long COVID or problems after receiving the COVID-19 shot, “a huge number of them have reactivated Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, CMV.”

Regardless of the rise in reports of shingles after the rollout of the COVID-19 shots, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that it has not detected any safety signal between the two.

“FDA has not seen a safety signal for shingles/herpes zoster following administration of the approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines,” Abby Capobianco, FDA press officer told The Epoch Times via email last month, adding that the agency “will continue to closely monitor the safety of these vaccines.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also alleges that “there is no current connection” between COVID-19 vaccines and the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

CDC spokesperson Scott Pauley said that any adverse reactions experienced after receiving a COVID-19 shot are temporary and a positive sign that the vaccine is working.

“Some people have side effects from the vaccine, which are normal signs that their body is building protection,” Pauley wrote in an email to The Epoch Times. “These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects, and allergic reactions are rare.”

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/24/2022 - 20:20

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending