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Week Ahead – Aggressive tightening

US Many on Wall Street are watching the Fed’s rate hiking cycle and are getting nervous they will tip the economy into a recession.  With scorching…

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Many on Wall Street are watching the Fed’s rate hiking cycle and are getting nervous they will tip the economy into a recession.  With scorching inflation, the FOMC may consider a full-point rate hike but will likely settle on delivering its third consecutive 75 basis-point increase. At Wednesday’s policy meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell will likely acknowledge downside risks to growth are here and unrelenting inflation is forcing them to maintain an aggressive pace of tightening.  Inflation risks are still tilted to the upside and will likely keep the Fed from providing any hints that a “Fed put” is coming.

EU 

The ECB appears to be one of the few major central banks not holding a monetary policy meeting next week but that won’t keep them out of the headlines. Policymakers are scheduled to make regular appearances including Philip Lane on Saturday which may present some weekend risk.

On Friday, the flash PMIs could give an idea of how the economy is coping and whether it is heading for a recession in the fourth quarter, as some fear.

UK

Monday is a bank holiday in the UK as the country pays its respects to Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her funeral.

After being pushed back a week due to the 10-day period of national mourning, the BoE will meet on Thursday and it has a big decision to make. Inflation is running extremely hot – although it did drop back below 10% last month – and while it has likely not yet peaked, the high should be much lower now that the new government has announced a cap on energy bills. 

That may come as a relief to many but it could mean higher core inflation and interest rates further down the road. How the BoE responds to all of this without the aid of new economic projections is what will interest investors.

The week draws to a close with PMIs on Friday.

Russia

Markets continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine amid a strong counteroffensive that saw Russia concede a lot of ground while raising the prospect of defeat and waning support for Vladimir Putin.

The only economic release next week is PPI inflation on Wednesday. 

South Africa

The SARB is expected to hike rates by another 75 basis points to 6.25% on Thursday as inflation continues to rise. The CPI is currently well above the 3-6% target range at 7.8% and the central bank will get an update on this the day before their decision, which could play a role in just how aggressive they’ll be this month. 

Turkey

One central bank that almost certainly won’t be raising interest rates next week is the CBRT. Last month, it unexpectedly cut rates by another 100 basis points to 13% despite inflation running at almost 80%. That has risen further since but the central bank will not be deterred. No change is expected from the CBRT next week but clearly, another rate cut should not be ruled out.

Switzerland

Inflation continues to run hot which makes a large rate hike on Thursday from the SNB highly likely. Markets are pricing in at least 75 basis points, maybe even 100, taking the policy rate out of negative territory for the first time since early 2015. The central bank loves to spring a surprise though, the biggest recently perhaps being that it’s waited until a scheduled meeting to act. We’ll see how bold it’s prepared to be on Thursday. 

China

China is expected to keep rates unchanged at 3.65%, as the 1-year LPR (Loan Prime Rate) was just recently adjusted down from 3.7%. If the Chinese central bank unexpectedly adjusts rates to a lower level again, it may be detrimental to the yuan.

The PBOC’s fixings are must-watch events now that the yuan has weakened beyond the key 7 against the dollar.  

India

Traders will pay close attention to the second quarter current account data.  Expectations are for the current account deficit to widen from $13.4 billion to $30.36 billion.  India has been weakening as trade balances balloon and foreign investment takes a big hit.  

Australia & New Zealand

Traders are awaiting the release of the minutes of the RBA meeting next Tuesday and upcoming speeches by RBA’s Kearns and Bullock. The RBA seems poised to move forward with smaller rate hike moves, but traders will look to see if the latest round of RBA speak confirms the downward shift discussed by central bank chief Lowe. 

It will be a busy week in New Zealand as a steady flow of economic data is accompanied by a couple of RBNZ speeches by Governor Orr and Deputy Governor Hawkesby.  The big economic releases of the week are Wednesday’s credit card spending data and Thursday’s trade data.    

Japan

The FX world is closely watching everything out of Japan. Traders are waiting to see if policymakers will intervene to provide some relief for the Japanese yen. What could complicate their decision is that Japan has a holiday on Monday.  

The divergence between the Fed’s tightening cycle and the Bank of Japan’s steady approach continues to support the dollar against the yen. The BOJ is widely expected to keep rates on hold even as core inflation extends above the BOJ’s 2% target.   

Singapore

The focus for Singapore will be the August inflation report that should show pricing pressures remain intense.  The year-over-year reading is expected to rise from 7.0% to 7.2%. 


Economic Calendar

Saturday, Sept. 17

Economic Data/Events

Thousands pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster 

European Central Bank chief economist Lane speaks at the Dublin Economics Workshop in Wexford, Ireland

Monday, Sept. 19

Economic Data/Events

World leaders attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in London

UK Bank Holiday

Japan Bank Holiday

New Zealand performance services index

RBA’s head of domestic markets Kearns delivers the keynote address at the Australian Financial Review Property Summit in Sydney

ECB’s de Guindos speaks at the annual Consejos Consultivos meeting  

Tuesday, Sept. 20

Economic Data/Events

US housing Starts

Canada CPI

China loan prime rates

Japan CPI

Mexico international reserves

Spain trade

Sweden rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 75bp to 1.500%

UK Parliament in session

Annual UN General Assembly in New York

Dockworkers at the UK’s Port of Liverpool are expected to begin a two-week strike

Norges deputy central bank Governor Borsum speaks

German Economy Minister Habeck speaks at the congress of municipal energy suppliers

RBA releases minutes from its September policy meeting.

BOC Deputy Governor Beaudry delivers a lecture on “pandemic macroeconomics” at the University of Waterloo in Ontario

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Economic Data/Events

FOMC Policy Decision: Fed expected to raise rates by 75bps

US existing home sales

Argentina unemployment, trade

Australia leading index

New Zealand credit-card spending

South Africa CPI

Big-bank CEOs testify before the US House Financial Services Committee at a hearing titled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable.”

RBA Deputy Governor Michele Bullock speaks at a Bloomberg event in Sydney

ECB’s de Guindos to speak at Insurance Summit 2022 organized by Altamar CAM in Cologne, Germany

EIA crude oil inventory report

Thursday, Sept. 22

Economic Data/Events

US Conference Board leading index, initial jobless claims

China Swift global payments

Eurozone consumer confidence

BOJ rate decision: No changes expected with rates and 10-year yield target

Japan department store sales

New Zealand trade, consumer confidence

Norway rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 50bps to 2.25%

South Africa rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 75bps to 6.25%

Switzerland rate decision: Expected to raise rates by 75bps to 0.50%

Taiwan jobless rate, rate decision, money supply

Thailand trade

Turkey rate decision: Expected to cut rates by 100bps to 12.00%

UK BOE rate decision: Markets remain split between expectations for a half-point or a three-quarter-point hike.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses the Atlantic Festival in Washington.

The UN Security Council holds a meeting on Ukraine  

BOE’s Tenreyro speaks at a seminar at the San Francisco Fed on “climate-change pledges, actions and outcomes.”

Friday, Sept. 23

Economic Data/Events

US Flash PMIs

Australia prelim PMI

Canada retail sales

European Flash PMIs: Eurozone, Germany, France, and the UK

Singapore CPI

Spain GDP

Taiwan industrial production

Thailand foreign reserves, forward contracts

Norway Central Bank Governor Wolden speaks

Sovereign Rating Updates

Germany (S&P)

Hungary (Moody’s)

Sweden (Moody’s)

European Union (DBRS)

Finland (DBRS)

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International

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…

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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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Could the common cold give children immunity against COVID? Our research offers clues

Certain immune cells acquired from a coronavirus that causes the common cold appear to react to COVID – but more so in children that adults.

Rawpixel.com/Shuttersock

Why children are less likely to become severely ill with COVID compared with adults is not clear. Some have suggested that it might be because children are less likely to have diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, that are known to be linked to more severe COVID. Others have suggested that it could be because of a difference in ACE2 receptors in children – ACE2 receptors being the route through which the virus enters our cells.

Some scientists have also suggested that children may have a higher level of existing immunity to COVID compared with adults. In particular, this immunity is thought to come from memory T cells (immune cells that help your body remember invading germs and destroy them) generated by common colds – some of which are caused by coronaviruses.

We put this theory to the test in a recent study. We found that T cells previously activated by a coronavirus that causes the common cold recognise SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID) in children. And these responses declined with age.


Read more: Does COVID really damage your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infections? The evidence is lacking


Early in the pandemic, scientists observed the presence of memory T cells able to recognise SARS-CoV-2 in people who had never been exposed to the virus. Such cells are often called cross-reactive T cells, as they stem from past infections due to pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2. Research has suggested these cells may provide some protection against COVID, and even enhance responses to COVID vaccines.

What we did

We used blood samples from children, sampled at age two and then again at age six, before the pandemic. We also included adults, none of whom had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

In these blood samples, we looked for T cells specific to one of the coronaviruses that causes the common cold (called OC43) and for T cells that reacted against SARS-CoV-2.

We used an advanced technique called high-dimensional flow cytometry, which enabled us to identify T cells and characterise their state in significant detail. In particular, we looked at T cells’ reactivity against OC43 and SARS-CoV-2.

We found SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive T cells were closely linked to the frequency of OC43-specific memory T cells, which was higher in children than in adults. The cross-reactive T cell response was evident in two-year-olds, strongest at age six, and then subsequently became weaker with advancing age.

We don’t know for sure if the presence of these T cells translates to protection against COVID, or how much. But this existing immunity, which appears to be especially potent in early life, could go some way to explaining why children tend to fare better than adults with a COVID infection.

A little boy sleeps with a teddy bear.
Children are less likely to get very sick from COVID than adults. Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

Some limitations

Our study is based on samples from adults (26-83 years old) and children at age two and six. We didn’t analyse samples from children of other ages, which will be important to further understand age differences, especially considering that the mortality rate from COVID in children is lowest from ages five to nine, and higher in younger children. We also didn’t have samples from teenagers or adults younger than 26.

In addition, our study investigated T cells circulating in the blood. But immune cells are also found in other parts of the body. It remains to be determined whether the age differences we observed in our study would be similar in samples from the lower respiratory tract or tonsil tissue, for example, in which T cells reactive against SARS-CoV-2 have also been detected in adults who haven’t been exposed to the virus.


Read more: Colds, flu and COVID: how diet and lifestyle can boost your immune system


Nonetheless, this study provides new insights into T cells in the context of COVID in children and adults. Advancing our understanding of memory T cell development and maturation could help guide future vaccines and therapies.

Marion Humbert received funding from KI Foundation for Virus Research (Karolinsk Institutet, Sweden) and Läkare mot AIDS (Sweden).

Annika Karlsson receives funding from the Swedish Research Council (Dnr 2020-02033), CIMED project grant, senior (Dnr: 20190495), and Karolinska Institutet (Dnr: 2019-00931 and 2020-01599).

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Where there’s smoke, there’s thiocyanate: McMaster researchers find tobacco users in Canada are exposed to higher levels of cyanide than other regions

HAMILTON, ON – Mar 24, 2024 – Tobacco users in Canada are exposed to higher levels of cyanide than smokers in lower-income nations, according to a…

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HAMILTON, ON – Mar 24, 2024 Tobacco users in Canada are exposed to higher levels of cyanide than smokers in lower-income nations, according to a large-scale population health study from McMaster University.

Credit: McMaster University

HAMILTON, ON – Mar 24, 2024 Tobacco users in Canada are exposed to higher levels of cyanide than smokers in lower-income nations, according to a large-scale population health study from McMaster University.

Scientists made the discovery while investigating the molecule thiocyanate – a detoxified metabolite excreted by the body after cyanide inhalation. It was measured as a urinary biomarker of tobacco use in a study of self-reported smokers and non-smokers from 14 countries of varying socioeconomic status.

“We expected the urinary thiocyanate levels would be similar across regions and reflect primarily smoking intensity. However, we noticed significant elevation of thiocyanate in smokers from high-income countries even after adjusting for differences in the number of cigarettes smoked per day,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, co-author of the study and a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at McMaster.

Tobacco-related illness remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Canada, contributing to approximately 48,000 deaths annually. According to researchers, the findings could be caused by the type of cigarettes smoked in high-income countries like Canada.

“The cigarettes commonly consumed in Canada are highly engineered products with lower tar and nicotine content to imply they’re less harmful. Heavy smokers with nicotine dependence compensate by smoking more aggressively with more frequent and deeper inhalations that may elicit more harm, such as greater exposure to the respiratory and cardiotoxin, cyanide.”

Smoking rates in Canada have declined from 26 per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2020. But participation in smoking cessation programs has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to concern about a potential uptick in smoking rates, including cannabis use and a plethora of vaping of products popular among young adults.

Researchers say urinary thiocyanate can serve as a robust biomarker of the harms of tobacco smoke that will aid future research on the global tobacco picture, since most smokers now reside in developing countries. As smoking rates have decreased here in Canada, at-risk groups like youth and pregnant women have been prone to underreport their tobacco use when surveyed, making a reliable biomarker more valuable.

“Historically assessing tobacco behaviors have relied on questionnaires that are prone to bias, especially when comparing different countries and local cultures. The idea is to find robust methods that can quantify recent tobacco smoke exposure more reliably and objectively, which may better predict disease risk and prioritize interventions for smoking cessation.” says Britz-Mckibbin.

The study was published in the latest issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research and received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Genome Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Hamilton Health Sciences New Investigator Fund, and an internal grant from the Population Health Research Institute.

 

-30-

 

For more information please contact:

Matt Innes-Leroux

Media Relations

McMaster University

647-921-5461 (c)

leroum2@mcmaster.ca

 

Photos of Philip Britz-McKibbin can be found here

Credit: McMaster University


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