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Global Stocks Rise, S&P Futures Above 3,200 As Melt-Up Continues

Global Stocks Rise, S&P Futures Above 3,200 As Melt-Up Continues



Global Stocks Rise, S&P Futures Above 3,200 As Melt-Up Continues Tyler Durden Mon, 06/08/2020 - 07:59

One day after a record surge in Nasdaq trading volumes on Friday, which was coupled with a record spike in call option activity as both retail and hedge fund investors rush into stocks, global stocks inched higher again on Monday, adding to a 42% surge from their March lows, as the unexpectedly strong US jobs report data fuelled hopes of a quicker global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Emini futures jumped in early trading overnight then drifted in a range between 3,185 and 3,210.

In stock-specific news, Bloomberg over the weekend reported that AstraZeneca approached Gilead regarding a potential merger which would mark the largest healthcare deal on record. However, sources via The Times downplayed the prospect of any AstraZeneca interest, stating that it has abandoned a tentative interest, while Wall Street analysts puked on the prospects of the deal. Gilead was 3.3% higher in pre-market.

The MSCI all-country world stocks index was 0.1% higher and just 7% away from a fresh record high, while the benchmark S&P 500 is within striking distance of turning positive for the year.

In Europe, a surge in travel and leisure stocks helped cap losses on the pan-regional index, which traded 0.2% lower after poor German and Chinese economic data. The Eurostoxx 50 was weighed down by tech and healthcare names while the FTSE MIB and IBEX bucked the trend, rising over 0.5% supported by banks and autos.

Europe's fundamentals remain dismal with German industrial output slumping a record 17.9% in April and firms now expect a bumpy road ahead despite a massive stimulus package.

"European stocks are probably under pressure following weak China data overnight. However, we do not think this marks the end of the rally," said Marija Vertimane, senior strategist at State Street Global Markets. “We are beginning to see evidence of economic data improving gradually and thankfully no major secondary spikes in infections. We expect that to encourage investors to come back to the market."

Asia shares rose in a catch-up rally following Friday’s U.S. jobs data but were again capped by the Chinese data, published on Sunday, which showed exports contracted in May although an even bigger drop in imports resulted in a record trade surplus. All markets in the region were up, with Jakarta Composite gaining 2.5% and Singapore's Straits Times Index rising 1.4%. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 25% above the monthly average for this time of the day. The Topix gained 1.1%, with Asahi Broadcasting Group and Gumi rising the most. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2%, with Fujian Start Group and Changshu Fengfan Power Equipment posting the biggest advances.

In rates, the payrolls report pushed the 10-year Treasury yield as high as 0.959% on Friday, a level not seen since mid-March. It last stood just below 0.91%. The rise in U.S. yields has put more focus on the Fed which will hold a two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday.

“Steepening of the U.S. Treasury curve reflects to a significant extent high (bond) supply versus QE (quantitative easing),” Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, strategist at JPMorgan, said. "The Fed at $4-5 billion QE a day is not doing enough to offset supply. It would become more challenging for the Fed if the 10-year...yield approaches 1%."

Pointing to the spread between U.S. two- and 10-year Treasury yields widening above 70 basis points to its highest since February 2018, Panigirtzoglou believes there is scope for Fed to introduce yield curve control measures.

In Europe, Bunds and peripheral spreads were quiet ahead of ECB President Lagarde’s appearance at a European Parliament hearing later Monday.

In FX, the dollar fell against a basket of its peers and headed for the longest losing streak since 2011. The broad improvement in sentiment weighed on the safe-haven Japanese yen, which stood at 109.5 to the dollar, near Friday’s 10-week low of 109.85. The pound continued its long rally against the dollar on hopes that the U.K.’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be lifted more quickly. Australian dollar climbed as iron ore futures surged above $100 a ton after Brazil’s Vale SA was ordered to suspend operations that account for about a 10th of its output after workers contracted Covid-19, boosting concerns surging cases will disrupt its output

In commodities, Brent crude initially climbed above $43 per barrel, but faded some gains after Saudi Arabia said an extra month of production cuts is voluntary and will be self-policed. Over the weekend, OPEC+ unanimously agreed to extend current cuts for one month through July and will review if a longer extension is needed this month, while Saudi and Russia emphasised they want stronger compliance from other nations and both Iraq and Nigeria agreed to slightly deeper cuts.  Saudi Arabia set July Arab light crude oil OSP to Asia at Oman/Dubai +USD 0.20 and to north-west Europe at ICE Brent + USD 0.30, while reports noted that the July pricing for all grades to Asia was higher by between USD 5.60-7.30 and the largest hike in prices in 2 decades.

Iron ore jumped after a Brazil mine hit with Covid-19 infections suspended operations.

There is nothing on the US economic calendar for Monday; Thor Industries and Coupa Software are among companies reporting earnings.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,202.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.4% to 373.69
  • MXAP up 0.7% to 159.96
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 515.34
  • Nikkei up 1.4% to 23,178.10
  • Topix up 1.1% to 1,630.72
  • Seng Index up 0.03% to 24,776.77
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 2,937.77
  • Sensex up 0.5% to 34,463.87
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 5,998.72
  • Kospi up 0.1% to 2,184.29
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.2 bps to -0.279%
  • Euro up 0.1% to $1.1305
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 0.9 bps to 1.241%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to 0.569%
  • Brent futures up 1% to $42.72/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.6% to $1,695.49
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.1% to 96.84

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • China’s trade surplus surged to a record in May as exports fell less than expected, helped by an increase in medical-related sales, and imports slumped along with commodity prices, data over the weekend showed
  • Car sales in China rose for the first time in almost a year last month, evidence that the world’s largest auto market is rebounding from the coronavirus crisis and the trade war with the U.S
  • Saudi Arabia increased prices for some crude exports by the most in at least two decades, doubling down on a strategy to bolster the oil market after OPEC+ producers extended historic output cuts over the weekend
  • New Zealand will remove social distancing requirements after reporting zero active cases of Covid-19, indicating it has achieved its aim of eliminating the virus
  • Qatar’s peg against the dollar has been the only one in the region that hasn’t come under pressure even as local economies succumb to what may be their worst recession ever. The nation’s bonds have also outperformed those of the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council this year

Asian equity markets began the week relatively upbeat as the region took its first opportunity to react to the strong US jobs data which firmly lifted all major indices on Wall St last Friday and the Nasdaq to a fresh all-time high, with mostly encouraging Chinese trade data and early strength in oil prices following the OPEC+ extension agreement, adding to the constructive risk tone. As such, Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) gapped above the 23k level but with some of the gains later reversed after Final Q1 GDP missed expectations despite showing a significant improvement from the preliminary release, and the KOSPI (+0.1%) outperformed shortly after the open before it briefly wiped out all its gains amid a cooling of inter-Korean relations, as well as weakness in index heavyweight Samsung Electronics as de facto chief and Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee attended a court hearing on the arrest warrant related to accounting fraud. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (U/C) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) were kept afloat after the PBoC injected CNY 120bln of liquidity and announced to conduct an MLF operation in around a week’s time, while the latest trade figures from China over the weekend mostly topped estimates which included a record trade surplus in USD terms and a surprise expansion in CNY-denominated Exports. Finally, ASX 200 remained closed for the Queen’s Birthday Holiday and 10yr JGBs were higher despite the gains in stocks as prices reversed Friday’s selling pressure, in which the rebound in JGBs also followed the weaker than expected Japanese GDP data.

Top Asian News

  • New Zealand to End Social Distancing After Eliminating Covid-19
  • JD’s $4.1 Billion Hong Kong Listing Is Said to Be Oversubscribed
  • China’s Monthly Car Sales Rise for First Time in Almost a Year
  • Hong Kong’s Most Vocal Activist Investor Says He Has Cancer

European equities attempted to nurse earlier losses [Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%] following on from firm APAC trade as the region had the first chance to react to the blockbuster US jobs data. Europe kicked the session off with broad losses of over 1%, but thereafter recouped amid a lack of fresh catalysts and with investors focusing on reopening economies alongside Central Bank support. Major bourses now see a more mixed performance, as is the case for broader sectors which started trade mostly in the red; stateside, futures remain modestly in positive territory. Energy remains the top gainer, but overall sectors do not reflect a clear risk tone. The sectoral breakdown sees banks and oil & gas topping the charts whilst financial services and IT. In terms of individual movers – the story in focus: AstraZeneca (-2.2%) reportedly approached Gilead (+3% pre-mkt) regarding a potential merger, which would mark the largest healthcare deal on record. However, sources via The Times downplayed the prospect of any AstraZeneca interest, stating that it has abandoned a tentative interest. Meanwhile, Intesa Sanpaolo (+3.4%) and UBI Banca (+4.1%) are higher after the ECB authorised the former’s takeover of the latter. Wirecard (-1.6%) opened lower by over 7% amid reports late-doors Friday that Munich prosecutors said Co’s premises have been searched as part of a market manipulation probe initiated by Bafin; prosecutors have opened a probe against the Co, including the whole management board. Co. said it is cooperating with authorities and reaffirmed guidance. Elsewhere, IAG (+7.8%) extend on gains after British Airways has threatened to dismiss all its 4.3k pilots and rehire them on individual contracts unless it can reach a new employment agreement with the Balpa union. Finally, Danske Bank (+8.9%) has extended on initial gains after the group agreed to sell its troublesome Estonian business in a EUR 312mln deal.

Top European News

  • German Industrial Slump Hits Bottom With Record Output Drop
  • Johnson Seeks Path to U.K. Revival as Poll Ratings Slip Away
  • Private Equity Comes Back With Bridgepoint Reviving Agro Deal
  • Airbus’s Global Footprint Becomes a Burden as Sector Shrinks

In FX, although risk sentiment has stalled somewhat after Friday’s unexpected rise in US employment, the Greenback remains shy of best levels amidst doubts about the validity and accuracy of the data due to misrepresentation or reporting irregularities. Hence, the DXY has not been able to maintain momentum or revisit post-NFP peaks just above the 97.000 level with the index meandering between 96.985-741 as attention turns to the FOMC and the prospect that the Fed may edge a bit closer to enhancing forward guidance via a more targeted approach yield control.

  • AUD/NZD/NOK - In contrast to the Buck, bullish impetus is keeping the Aussie, Kiwi and Norwegian Krona elevated as the former hovers a fraction below 0.7000 in holiday-thinned trade, but underpinned alongside the YUAN (Usd/Cnh and Usd/Cny either side of 7.0700) in wake of significantly wider than forecast Chinese trade surpluses forged on above consensus exports even though relations between the 2 countries continue to deteriorate. Note, Aud/Usd has essentially carved out a double top, while the Kiwi is building a firm base on the 0.6500 handle and Aud/Nzd is straddling 1.0700 ahead of NZ fully reopening from COVID-19 lockdown due to no further cases and an impending shift to Alert Level 1. Elsewhere, Eur/Nok has now breached 10.5000 and eyeing the 200 DMA beyond technical support at 10.4387 (March 2 high) against the backdrop of firmer oil prices on the back of OPEC+ reaching agreement to extend the reduced output pact by a further month to the end of July.
  • GBP/EUR/CAD - Sterling has also retained its upward trajectory and sights on the 1.2700 marker in terms of Cable following a retest of Friday’s circa 1.2730 peak as UK PM Johnson comes under pressure to press ahead with the next stages of lifting coronavirus restrictions, with Eur/Gbp pivoting 0.8900 even though the Euro is keeping tabs on 1.1300 against the US Dollar after last week’s impressive gains and despite more weaker than anticipated Eurozone macro releases in the form of German ip and Sentix sentiment. Meanwhile, the Loonie is gleaning more crude traction around 1.3400 in advance of Canadian housing starts and the aforementioned Fed policy meeting.
  • JPY/CHF - Both narrowly mixed vs the Greenback and relatively rangebound between 109.69-39 and 0.9639-13 parameters with the Yen noting downward tweaks to final Japanese Q1 GDP and Franc paring some declines against the Euro from sub-1.0900 irrespective of mixed weekly Swiss bank sight deposit balances.
  • EM - Regional currencies have largely picked up where they left off las week, with the oil and commodity focused Rub, Zar and Mxn all on the front foot as oil remains buoyant, but the Try underperforming as an importer.

In commodities, WTI and Brent futures hold onto modest gains amid the fallout from the OPEC+ meeting – which saw an extension of 9.6mln BPD cuts (barring Mexico’s 100k BPD) by an extra month to the end of July as anticipated. Focus meanwhile has now turned 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 to the pact over the weekend. On that front, Iraq has already hinted at possible problems regarding making up for its shortfall. In terms of over-compliance, Gulf OPEC producers (Saudi, UAE, Kuwait) are not planning to continue with their voluntary deeper oil cut of 1.18mln BPD beyond June, according to sources. Eyes will now be on the June 18th JMMC meeting where the committee will review secondary source data alongside current market fundamentals before proposing policy recommendations. Note: sources last week said that OPEC+ is to move cautiously to rebalance the market amid easing lockdowns, while possible Shale resumptions could also weigh on eastern producers’ minds. Thereafter, Saudi Aramco also released its July Official Selling Prices (OSPs) which showed steep increases for all crude grades to all regions. Furthermore, Libya’s El Sharara oilfield (300k BPD) has restarted output at 30k BPD and is expected to reach capacity within 90 days after 142 days of inactivity. Reports also note that the El Feel field (70k bpd) has restarted operations. Meanwhile, Cristobel made landfall over the weekend but has since weakened to a Tropical Storm as it moves further inland. Heavy Rainfall and storm surges continue along the gulf coast from Southeastern Louisiana eastward to the Florida Panhandle. It was reported that energy firms evacuated 195 Gulf of Mexico production platforms and 3 rigs ahead of Storm Cristobal on Sunday and that producers had cut 34% of offshore oil and 32% of nat gas output as of mid-Sunday. WTI July trades on either side of USD 40/bbl (vs high. 40.44/bbl) and Brent August dipped back below USD 43/bbl (vs. high 43.41/bbl). Spot gold trades on the firmer side of a USD 1678-97/oz range with little specific for the metal, whilst copper prices extend gains above USD 2.50/lb amid falls in stocks at exchange warehouses – falling to 139k tons which is the lowest since Jan 17th. Meanwhile, around 90% of the large Peruvian mines have received the green light at resuming operations following a pandemic-related disruption. Libya’s El Sharara oilfield (300k bpd) has restarted output and is expected to reach capacity within 90 days. Reports also note that the El Feel field (70k bpd) has restarted operations.

US Event Calendar

  • Nothing major scheduled

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

As far as I can see the two most ruinous financial decisions you can make are either to short US equities or buy an old house. Fortunately I’ve never done the former but I’ve done the latter twice over the last decade and would have been better off setting aside a big pile of cash and burning it. A year after finishing renovations on our dream home the latest saga arrived at 2:30am on Saturday night when I get a poke in the ribs from my wife. “Wake up. Wake up! Something terrible has happened downstairs and we need to go and investigate”. I take this pretty badly having woken out of a deep sleep and dismiss her claims that there was a very loud bang as nothing more than her having a bad dream. I begrudgingly get my dressing gown on and trudge downstairs. Half way down the stairs, dust starts rising everywhere and as the fog got more intense we reached the downstairs hallway to find rubble and debris everywhere and half our ceiling collapsed onto the floor. My wife and I were both in shock, especially once we realised how heavy the fallen plaster was and how dangerous it could have been. When we renovated we had to unwillingly replace virtually all of the ceilings as they progressively fell down during the heavy works but not this one. I’ll find out early this week what this latest problem is going to cost us!!! However at least no one got hurt.

The week after payrolls is normally light on activity and to be honest it might take me a week to get over the shock of a collapsed ceiling and a week for all economists to work out how the data missed their payrolls forecasts on Friday by probably the biggest amount ever for an economic data release (more later). Having said that it’s likely to be quiet the market highlight is undoubtedly the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision on Wednesday. Elsewhere ECB President Lagarde appears today at a European Parliament Committee but don’t expect too much given the close timing to the ECB meeting last week. We also have another Eurogroup meeting on Thursday where the recovery fund will be the main interest, as well as the release of US CPI data for May on Wednesday.

For the Fed on Wednesday, our economists expect the meeting to mark a first step away from a complete focus on crisis prevention towards more traditional goals of providing accommodation to support the recovery. In particular, they expect the Fed to announce an open-ended QE program consistent with monthly Treasury purchases of between $65bn and $85bn. In addition, the meeting statement should slightly enhance the commitment to keep rates lower for longer. An updated SEP should reflect a cautious outlook where elevated unemployment and below-target inflation should result in the median dots signalling that officials expect to keep rates unchanged at least through end-2022. See here for their preview.

The meeting comes after a remarkable payrolls report on Friday. To recap, headline nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.509 million with private payrolls increasing by 3.094 million versus consensus of -7.5m and -6.75m respectively. In addition, the main U-3 unemployment rate fell by 1.4ppts to 13.3% versus 19% expected. While the BLS noted that the U-3 rate was likely boosted by ongoing classification issues, and should likely have been three percentage points higher, the U-6 unemployment rate also fell to 21.2%, down 1.6% from its April all-time high. Just as three sectors of the labour market (food service & accommodation, health care & social assistance and retail) accounted for 55% of the February to April decline in private payrolls, the same sectors comprised 64% of the May gain, recovering between 15.5% and 17.5% of their declines over the previous two months. Hiring though was broad-based, with the payroll diffusion index surging to 64.0%, its highest since December 2018 (64.9%). In our economists view, the unexpected bounce in employment may reflect rehiring ahead of planned re-openings within states that was not quite captured in the initial jobless claims data. In short, the May payroll figure was what they would have expected for June. Overall there’s little doubt that this was a very positive print but it will take time to work out whether this was more of a bringing forward of re-hirings or something more structural.

As we’ll see in the weekly recap at the end, the payrolls report helped drive another bumper day in equities (S&P +2.62%). Looking deeper at US equities, DB’s Binky Chadha, in a report late on Friday, suggested positioning is still as low as the 8th percentile for the US helped in part by new retail money coming into the market. He also argues that there is a cash mountain in money markets after $1.2 trillion went in since March with almost none moving out so far. This now amounts to $5 trillion (25% of GDP) and is still at financial crisis highs and any re-allocation away should be beneficial across risk assets. However positioning in the mega cap growth stocks (MCGs) we discussed at length last week now look stretched so there is still room for a catch-up for the rest where positioning is very light. See Binky’s full report here.

On a similar vein Craig in my team has looked more at the bifurcation in US HY credit. If we look at a bucket of what we perceive to be the most defensive BB sectors, making up 28% of the BB and single-B market (ex-financials), this group now has a cash price higher than what it was pre-covid. Spreads have also repriced to the point where they rank in the 61st percentile (100% equals tightest). The other segment of the market is simply the rest of the BB and single-B market. This bucket has a current cash price which is 5pts lower than it was pre-covid. The repricing in spreads is also less significant, with spreads now ranking in the 20th percentile. However, like the equity market, these less favoured names have started to 'catch up' to the BB defensive bucket in recent days. As investors continue to search for dislocations, assuming this move towards less favoured sectors continues, opportunities within this segment of the market are likely to be far greater. See Craig’s note here for more on this.

In terms of weekend news OPEC+ agreed to a one-month extension in its recent output cuts and suggested a stricter compliance approach to those who breech this. Oil is up around +1% so far this morning after six weeks of gains and another good week last week as we’ll see in the weekly recap below. Elsewhere, China’s trade surplus came in at record $62.9bn (vs. $41.4bn expected and $45.3bn in April) in May with exports sliding to -3.3% yoy in USD terms (vs. -6.5% yoy expected and +3.5% yoy last month) while imports tumbled to -16.7% yoy (vs. -7.9% yoy expected and -14.2% in April).

Nevertheless, markets in Asia have kicked off the week on the front foot with the Nikkei (+1.23%), Hang Seng (+0.17%), Shanghai Comp (+0.28%) and Kospi (+0.16%) all up. Futures on the S&P 500 are also up +0.24% as we type. Overnight, Japan’s final Q1 GDP came in at -0.6% qoq (vs. -0.5% qoq expected).

Looking back to last week now. Global equities continued to rally to new post-shutdown highs as economic data improved throughout the week, accentuated by the US payroll data on Friday, and further promised stimulus in Europe. Equities that lagged the most throughout the pandemic, such as retailers, cruises and airlines were some of the best performers on the week with hopes for a faster than expected economic recovery taking hold. The S&P 500 rose +4.91%, with the largest one-day gain coming on Friday after the jobs report (+2.62%). The index is now +42.75% off the March lows and is down just -5.68% from all-time highs and ‘only’ -1.14% YTD. Equity markets both in the US and Europe continued to see a rotation into value-oriented stocks with US banks up +17.11% (+4.86% Friday) on the week, while European Banks rose +20.18% (+7.55% Friday). The tech-focused NASDAQ underperformed the S&P for a second week in a row, up “just” +3.42% (+2.06% Friday). However, the index has outperformed throughout the crisis and on Friday closed just -0.03% below February’s all-time high having briefly traded above it in the session.

European equities rallied even further on the week as the ECB announced an increase to the size of their PEPP by a further €600bn, the German government agreed additional fiscal stimulus, and virus case counts remained contained even as economies are slowly reopened. The Stoxx 600 rallied +7.12% (+2.48% Friday) over the five days with the core continental ones up around +9-11% on the week. Asian indices rose alongside their European and American counterparts. The Nikkei was up +4.51% over the week (+0.74% Friday) while the CSI 300 was up +3.47% (+0.48% Friday), and the Kospi rose +7.50% (+1.43% Friday).

Oil rallied further on the week as demand expectations rose with economic data improving. Prices were also helped by hopes that OPEC+ would extend production cuts as has been confirmed over the weekend. WTI futures rose +11.44% (+5.72% Friday) to $39.55/barrel and Brent crude rose +19.73% on the week (+5.78% Friday) to over $40/barrel for the first time since the first week of March.

Credit spreads on both sides of the Atlantic tightened on the week with risk sentiment continuing to drastically improve. European HY cash spreads were -83bps tighter on the week (-30bps Friday), while European IG spreads tightened -35bps (-13bps Friday). US HY cash spreads were -121bps tighter (-33bps Friday), while IG tightened -25bps on the week (-10bps Friday).

Peripheral debt tightened as well, with Spanish 10yr yields -17.5bps tighter to German bunds over the 5 days, while Italian BTPs were -23.5bps tighter, Greek 10yr yields tightened -33.8bps, and Portuguese bonds tightened -13.6bps. With risk assets rallying, core sovereign bonds sold off as US 10yr Treasury yields rose +24.3bps (+7.2bps Friday) to finish at 0.895%, while 10yr Bund yields rose +17.0bps over the course of the week (+4.3bps Friday) to -0.28%.

Also on Friday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that “the truth is that there was no substantial progress” following the latest round of talks with the UK on their future relationship after Brexit. He also said that a full legal text would need to be ready by the end of October given the time needed for ratification. Nevertheless, the pound strengthened further against other major currencies, reaching its highest level against the US dollar in nearly three months (+0.56% Friday and +2.63% on the week).

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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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