Are investors correct to be optimistic?
Investors appear remarkably calm at the moment given the level of uncertainty we’re facing this year, from inflation to interest rates and even Covid, when you consider China is still embracing lockdowns.
Throw soaring commodity prices into the mix and there’s plenty of reason to be pessimistic. But when you look at financial markets, that isn’t what we’re seeing. Equities aren’t far from record highs in many cases and the yield curve isn’t yet inverted in a way that suggests a recession is coming.
Instead, the Fed is warning of a very aggressive tightening cycle, telling us the labor market is too strong and that inflation will be under control again soon enough. For once, the central bank and markets appear on the same page. Which probably makes me feel more uneasy than it should.
The focus on Wall Street remains on geopolitics, but many traders will pay close attention to the economic readings about the US jobs market, consumer, inflation, and manufacturing activity. The Fed is confident that the economy is on solid footing despite surging inflation, but if the economic data tells a different story, that could change the front-loaded approach of supersized rate hikes.
The nonfarm payroll report will confirm that the labor market remains strong. The consensus estimate for jobs created in March is 450,000 which would be a decrease from the 678,000 gain in February. The unemployment rate is expected to tick lower to 3.7%, while average hourly earnings could rebound to 0.4%, an improvement from the flat reading seen a month ago.
It goes without saying that the focus next week will continue to be what’s happening in Eastern Europe and what the EU is doing in order to reduce its reliance on Russian energy and allow it to impose more severe sanctions. The latter is unlikely any time soon but the US LNG deal was a step towards it.
Next week offers an abundance of economic data, with the standout being flash inflation indicators. The eurozone flash CPI on Friday will be the one to watch but we could get hints from individual nations earlier in the week.
Central banks have been forced to back down on their transitory message in recent months and the ECB took a step in that direction a couple of weeks ago. Further unexpected inflation spikes will further pile on the pressure and make comments from President Lagarde and her colleagues all the more interesting.
Mostly tier two and three data from the UK next week, with a speech from BoE Governor Andrew Bailey on Monday the highlight. The MPC last week gave the impression that they were slightly softening their hawkish stance after three consecutive hikes but inflation last month accelerated faster than expected which may force them to persevere for a few more meetings yet. Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent also speaks on Wednesday.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, sanctions imposed on it by the West, and the Kremlin’s attempts to hit back – for example, the decision this week to insist on purchases of Russian gas to be made in rubles – there’s going to be little hype about the unemployment and manufacturing data next week.
Negotiations are continuing with Ukraine but appear to be making little progress. Meanwhile, sanctions are continuing to be imposed and the EU is slowly severing energy ties which will be damaging in the long run. In the near future, the economy is expected to fall into a two-year recession, with this year’s contraction being particularly sharp at up to 10%.
The SARB raised interest rates by 25 basis points this week but two members (out of five) of the MPC voted for a 50 basis point hike. The tightening cycle looks set to continue with inflation running at the upper end of its 3-6% target range and commodity pressures increasing.
There is a myriad of forces impacting Chinese markets in the week ahead. Evergrande is back in the headlines with foreign bondholders running out of patience. Covid-19 continues spreading in the mainland, raising the threat of lockdowns impacting manufacturing and logistics. US authorities are less positive about the audits of US-listed China companies than the noise from China. Russian support, tacit or official, is a huge risk point from a sanctions point of view.
China also releases its official and Caixin manufacturing and services PMIs.
All of this provides downside risk to Chinese equities which have quickly run out of steam after government jawboning to support the market last week. China left its LPRs unchanged, disappointing participants who wanted to see concrete action.
India releases its balance of trade on Friday, which could show the impact of higher oil prices. As a huge net energy importer, and with the central bank continuing its reluctance to hike interest rates, the INR remains near the weak end of its range. A sharp rise in oil prices, or US yields next week, could spark more INR weakness which could also see hot money exit the Sensex.
The AUD/USD is close to recent highs thanks to the new surge in commodity prices and potentially some haven inflows, although risk sentiment remains better than the previous week. Employment data was strong and the week ahead features retail sales, private sector credit, and manufacturing PMI. AUD and local equities will also be sensitive to the China PMI prints.
There is a lot of good news built into AUD at these levels, helped also by AUD/JPY buying. Weak data, a sharp sentiment swing, or weak China PMIs could cause an abrupt correction lower by AUD, which could also be reflected in equity markets.
The New Zealand Dollar has rebounded sharply on commodity prices and haven inflows as markets prime for a faster RBNZ tightening. There is a lot of good news built into the price like AUD/USD, and that leaves NZD vulnerable to a sharp correction lower.
ANZ business confidence on Tuesday may provide that excuse if confidence slumps due to the Ukraine war and soaring inflation.
USD/JPY has risen 400 points in the past week as the US/Japan rate differential exploded wider. The BoJ and MoF have tried to talk them down with limited success. Currency markets should now be on alert for more “watching FX closely” comments, which could send USD/JPY sharply lower intraday over the coming weeks.
Japan has a heavy data calendar featuring unemployment, retail sales, and arguably most important industrial production and the Tankan Large Manufacturers Survey. The latter two will give a snapshot into whether the Ukraine disruption and inflation wave are impacting business. Low prints could be a headwind for local equities.
Inflation rose this week, setting up a MAS tightening in April. Local markets have been buoyant though as Covid restrictions were dramatically eased. PPI has upside risk this week which could increase the MAS noise and dampen equities. USD/SGD remains content to continue running with the USD/Asia pack, which is moving entirely on Ukraine sentiment swings right now.
Sunday, March 27
China industrial profits
Monday, March 28
US wholesale inventories
President Biden to reveal 2023 budget request
South Africa unemployment
Norway Norges Bank Deputy Governor Borsum speaks to the bank’s regional network
UK Chancellor Sunak appears before Treasury Committee to discuss his Spring Statement
BOE Gov Bailey speaks on the economy at an event organized by European think tank Bruegel
Tuesday, March 29
US consumer confidence
Australian Treasurer Frydenberg presents the annual budget
Philadelphia Fed President Harker discusses the economic outlook at an event hosted by the Center for Financial Stability in New York
Bank of England quarterly bulletin
Australia retail sales, consumer confidence
Mexico international reserves
Wednesday, March 30
US Q4 final GDP
Fed’s Barkin speaks at a conference on investing in rural America hosted by his bank
BOE’s Deputy Governor Broadbent speaks at “The MPC at 25” conference
UK PM Johnson appears before the Liaison Committee
New Zealand building permits, business confidence
Thailand rate decision: Expected to keep benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.50%
Japan retail sales
Eurozone economic confidence, consumer confidence
EIA crude oil inventory report
Thursday, March 31
US consumer income, initial jobless claims
OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting on output
SNB’s Maechler, Moser speak at a money market event in Zurich
Fed’s Williams makes opening remarks at a conference
Bank of Italy Governor Visco makes an annual address on the state of the economy
France and Italy CPI
Czech Republic GDP
Japan industrial production
South African trade balance
Eurozone and German Unemployment:
China manufacturing PMI, non-manufacturing PMI
Australia job vacancies, building approvals
India fiscal deficit, eight infrastructure industries, BoP
Japan housing starts
Singapore money supply
Friday, April 1
US Mar change in nonfarm Payrolls: 450K v 678K prior, construction spending, unemployment, ISM Manufacturing, vehicle sales
Europe-EU virtual summit with Chinese President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang along with European Council President Michel and European Commission President von der Leyen
Eurozone Manufacturing PMI, CPI
Eurozone ECB’s Schnabel and Knot speak at an event in Cernobbio, Italy
Germany manufacturing PMI
UK Manufacturing PMI
New Zealand house prices, consumer confidence
Japan vehicle sales, PMI
Singapore home prices
Australia home loans value, house prices
China Caixin PMI
Thailand PMI, foreign reserves, business sentiment index
Sovereign Rating Updates
– Poland (S&P)
– Turkey (S&P)
– Italy (Moody’s)
– South Africa(Moody’s)
– France (DBRS)recession unemployment covid-19 yield curve equities fed governor recession gdp recovery interest rates unemployment oil singapore africa india mexico japan european europe uk france italy germany poland czech russia ukraine eu china
Tesla rival Polestar reveals lineup of its new electric vehicles
The Sweden-based electric vehicle maker completes key testing before launching production of its new SUV.
Tesla's Model Y crossover, the best-selling vehicle globally, is the standard that electric vehicle makers strive to compete with. The Austin, Texas, automaker sold about 267,200 Model Y vehicles in the first three months of the year and continued leading the pack well into the second quarter.
It's no wonder that the Model Y is leading all vehicles in sales as it retails for about $39,390 after tax credits and estimated gas savings. Ford (F) - Get Free Report hopes to compete with the Model Y about a year from now when it rolls out the new Ford Explorer SUV that is expected to start at $49,150.
Plenty of competition in electric SUV space
Mercedes-Benz (MBG) however, has a Tesla rival model with its EQB all-electric compact sports utility vehicle with an estimated 245 mile range on a charge with 70.5 kWh battery capacity, 0-60 mph acceleration in 8 seconds and the lowest price of its EVs at a $52,750 manufacturers suggested retail price.
Tesla's Model X SUV has a starting price of about $88,490, while the Model X full-size SUV starts at $98,490 with a range of 348 miles. BMW's (BMWYY) - Get Free Report xDrive50 SUV has a starting price of about $87,000, a range up to 311 miles and accelerates 0-60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds.
Polestar (PSNY) - Get Free Report plans to have a lineup of five EVs by 2026. The latest model that will begin production in the first quarter of 2024 is the Polestar 3 electric SUV, which is completing its development. The vehicle just finished two weeks of testing in extreme hot weather of up to 122 degrees in the desert of the United Arab Emirates to fine tune its climate system. The testing was completed in urban cities and the deserts around Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“The Polestar 3 development and testing program is progressing well, and I expect production to start in Q1 2024. Polestar 3 is at the start of its journey and customers can now visit our retail locations around the world to see its great proportions and sit in its exclusive and innovative interior,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a statement.
Polestar plans 4 new electric vehicles
Polestar 3, which will compete with Tesla's Model X, Model Y, BMW's iX xDrive50 and Mercedes-Benz, has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of $83,000, a range up to 300 miles and a charging time of 30 minutes. The company has further plans for the Polestar 4, an SUV coupé that will launch in phases in late 2023 and 2024, as well as a Polestar 5 electric four-door GT and a Polestar 6 electric roadster that the company says "are coming soon."
The Swedish automaker's lone all-electric model on the market today is the Polestar 2 fastback, which has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $49,900, a range up to 320 miles and a charging time of 28 minutes. The vehicle accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds. Polestar 2 was unveiled in 2019 and delivered in Europe in July 2020 and the U.S. in December 2020.
Polestar 1, the company's first vehicle, was a plug-in hybrid that went into production in 2019 and was discontinued in late 2021, according to the Polestar website.
The Gothenburg, Sweden, company was established in 1996 and was sold to Geely affiliate Volvo in 2015.
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Fauci And The CIA: A New Explanation Emerges
Fauci And The CIA: A New Explanation Emerges
Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,
Jeremy Farrar’s book from August 2021…
Jeremy Farrar’s book from August 2021 is relatively more candid than most accounts of the initial decision to lock down in the US and UK. “It’s hard to come off nocturnal calls about the possibility of a lab leak and go back to bed,” he wrote of the clandestine phone calls he was getting from January 27-31, 2020. They had already alerted the FBI and MI5.
“I’d never had trouble sleeping before, something that comes from spending a career working as a doctor in critical care and medicine. But the situation with this new virus and the dark question marks over its origins felt emotionally overwhelming. None of us knew what was going to happen but things had already escalated into an international emergency. On top of that, just a few of us – Eddie [Holmes], Kristian [Anderson], Tony [Fauci] and I – were now privy to sensitive information that, if proved to be true, might set off a whole series of events that would be far bigger than any of us. It felt as if a storm was gathering, of forces beyond anything I had experienced and over which none of us had any control.”
At that point in the trajectory of events, intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic had been put on notice. Anthony Fauci also received confirmation that money from the National Institutes of Health had been channeled to the offending lab in Wuhan, which meant that his career was on the line. Working at a furious pace, the famed “Proximal Origin” paper was produced in record time. It concluded that there was no lab leak.
In a remarkable series of revelations this week, we’ve learned that the CIA was involved in trying to make payments to those authors (thank you whistleblower), plus it appears that Fauci made visits to the CIA’s headquarters, most likely around the same time.
Suddenly we get some possible clarity in what has otherwise been a very blurry picture. The anomaly that has heretofore cried out for explanation is how it is that Fauci changed his mind so dramatically and precisely on the merit of lockdowns for the virus. One day he was counseling calm because this was flu-like, and the next day he was drumming up awareness of the coming lockdown. That day was February 27, 2020, the same day that the New York Times joined with alarmist propaganda from its lead virus reporter Donald G. McNeil.
On February 26, Fauci was writing: “Do not let the fear of the unknown… distort your evaluation of the risk of the pandemic to you relative to the risks that you face every day… do not yield to unreasonable fear.”
The next day, February 27, Fauci wrote actress Morgan Fairchild – likely the most high-profile influencer he knew from the firmament – that “be prepared to mitigate an outbreak in this country by measures that include social distancing, teleworking, temporary closure of schools, etc.”
To be sure, twenty-plus days had passed between the time Fauci alerted intelligence and when he decided to become the voice for lockdowns. We don’t know the exact date of the meetings with the CIA. But generally until now, most of February 2020 has been a blur in terms of the timeline. Something was going on but we hadn’t known just what.
Let’s distinguish between a proximate and distal cause of the lockdowns.
The proximate cause is the fear of a lab leak and an aping of the Wuhan strategy of keeping everyone in their homes to stop the spread. They might have believed this would work, based on the legend of how SARS-1 was controlled. The CIA had dealings with Wuhan and so did Fauci. They both had an interest in denying the lab leak and stopping the spread. The WHO gave them cover.
The distal reasons are more complicated. What stands out here is the possibility of a quid pro quo. The CIA pays scientists to say there was no lab leak and otherwise instructs its kept media sources (New York Times) to call the lab leak a conspiracy theory of the far right. Every measure would be deployed to keep Fauci off the hot seat for his funding of the Wuhan lab. But this cooperation would need to come at a price. Fauci would need to participate in a real-life version of the germ games (Event 201 and Crimson Contagion).
It would be the biggest role of Fauci’s long career. He would need to throw out his principles and medical knowledge of, for example, natural immunity and standard epidemiology concerning the spread of viruses and mitigation strategies. The old pandemic playbook would need to be shredded in favor of lockdown theory as invented in 2005 and then tried in Wuhan. The WHO could be relied upon to say that this strategy worked.
Fauci would need to be on TV daily to somehow persuade Americans to give up their precious rights and liberties. This would need to go on for a long time, maybe all the way to the election, however implausible this sounds. He would need to push the vaccine for which he had already made a deal with Moderna in late January.
Above all else, he would need to convince Trump to go along. That was the hardest part. They considered Trump’s weaknesses. He was a germaphobe so that’s good. He hated Chinese imports so it was merely a matter of describing the virus this way. But he also has a well-known weakness for deferring to highly competent and articulate professional women. That’s where the highly reliable Deborah Birx comes in: Fauci would be her wingman to convince Trump to green-light the lockdowns.
What does the CIA get out of this? The vast intelligence community would have to be put in charge of the pandemic response as the rule maker, the lead agency. Its outposts such as CISA would handle labor-related issues and use its contacts in social media to curate the public mind. This would allow the intelligence community finally to crack down on information flows that had begun 20 years earlier that they had heretofore failed to manage.
The CIA would hobble and hamstring the US president, whom they hated. And importantly, there was his China problem. He had wrecked relations through his tariff wars. So far as they were concerned, this was treason because he did it all on his own. This man was completely out of control. He needed to be put in his place. To convince the president to destroy the US economy with his own hand would be the ultimate coup de grace for the CIA.
A lockdown would restart trade with China. It did in fact achieve that.
How would Fauci and the CIA convince Trump to lock down and restart trade with China? By exploiting these weaknesses and others too: his vulnerability to flattery, his desire for presidential aggrandizement, and his longing for Xi-like powers over all to turn off and then turn on a whole country. Then they would push Trump to buy the much-needed personal protective equipment from China.
They finally got their way: somewhere between March 10 or possibly as late as March 14, Trump gave the go ahead. The press conference of March 16, especially those magical 70 seconds in which Fauci read the words mandating lockdowns because Birx turned out to be too squeamish, was the great turning point. A few days later, Trump was on the phone with Xi asking for equipment.
In addition, such a lockdown would greatly please the digital tech industry, which would experience a huge boost in demand, plus large corporations like Amazon and WalMart, which would stay open as their competitors were closed. Finally, it would be a massive subsidy to pharma and especially the mRNA platform technology itself, which would enjoy the credit for ending the pandemic.
If this whole scenario is true, it means that all along Fauci was merely playing a role, a front man for much deeper interests and priorities in the CIA-led intelligence community. This broad outline makes sense of why Fauci changed his mind on lockdowns, including the timing of the change. There are still many more details to know, but these new fragments of new information take our understanding in a new and more coherent direction.
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.
North Korea Enshrines “Permanent” Nuclear Power Status In Constitution
North Korea Enshrines "Permanent" Nuclear Power Status In Constitution
On Thursday North Korean state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying…
On Thursday North Korean state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying more advanced atomic weapons are needed to counter the threat from the United States.
This signals the death knell for Washington's long stated policy goal of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, given that the remarks came as Kim enshrined the DPRK's status as a permanent nuclear power in its constitution.
North Korea's "nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout," Kim told the State People's Assembly, according to state-run KCNA.
Starting last year he declared the north as an "irreversible" nuclear weapons state, and has in the last couple months ramped up ballistic missile tests in response to intermittent, ongoing joint US military drills with the south. This has already been a record year in terms of the number of Pyongyang's missile tests.
The north's rubber-stamp parliament, which met Tuesday and Wednesday, has approved the nuclear update to the constitution. Kim described that this was necessary as the United States has "maximized its nuclear war threats to our Republic by resuming the large-scale nuclear war joint drills with clear aggressive nature and putting the deployment of its strategic nuclear assets near the Korean peninsula on a permanent basis."
In July, the nuclear-armed USS Kentucky Navy ballistic missile submarine made a port call in South Korea, which marked a first in decades. It has stayed there since, enraging Pyongyang.
Kim in his Thursday address also blasted growing defense cooperation between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo as the "worst actual threat," saying that as a result "it is very important for the DPRK to accelerate the modernization of nuclear weapons in order to hold the definite edge of strategic deterrence."
A similar message was delivered in New York on Tuesday by Kim Song, North Korea's representative at the UN, who said in an address to the UN General Assembly that the region is close to the "brink of a nuclear war".
NEW: North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. issued a stark warning that the Korean Peninsula has reached a “hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war breakout,” delivering a speech at the 78th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. https://t.co/Rwtxf37wkW— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) September 27, 2023
"Owing to the reckless and continued hysteria of nuclear showdown on the part of the US and its following forces, the year 2023 has been recorded as an extremely dangerous year that the military security situation in and around the Korean peninsula was driven closer to the brink of a nuclear war," he said.
"Due to [Seoul’s] sycophantic and humiliating policy of depending on outside forces, the Korean peninsula is in a hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war," the ambassador continued. He further blasted the US for attempting to erect an "Asian NATO" that will bring a "new Cold War structure to northeast Asia."
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