Connect with us


Week Ahead – Bring on the Fed

Focus on the US next week Europe took centre stage last week as leaders waited nervously to see if gas would start flowing through Nord Stream 1 again…



Focus on the US next week

Europe took centre stage last week as leaders waited nervously to see if gas would start flowing through Nord Stream 1 again following scheduled maintenance (it did) and the ECB raised its deposit rate to 0%, ending eight years of negative rates. Next week the focus switches back to the US which has a big interest rate decision of its own and a number of major earnings reports.

The Fed is expected to raise interest rates by 75 basis points, although it may be tempted to follow the Bank of Canada in hiking by a full percentage point and show the world it means business. This is happening against the backdrop of mounting recession fears which makes next week’s earnings reports all the more important.

Elsewhere it’s a little quieter on the central bank front which is hardly surprising considering how many we heard from late last week. There’s always the possibility of an inter-meeting decision if a central bank deems it necessary. Many have taken that option over the last couple of years and the SNB is no stranger to surprising the markets. If not, there’s no shortage of economic data which traders will no doubt be scrutinizing for inflation clues.

Will the Fed raise rates by 1%?

Inflation data eyed as the ECB starts raising rates

Will Australian inflation data increase calls for more RBA rate hikes?


This week is all about the Fed. On Wednesday, the Fed will have to decide how high they want to raise interest rates this time. The consensus estimate is for a 75 basis point increase, but some are expecting the Fed to slow the pace of tightening to a half-point increase, while a couple of economists think an aggressive full-point increase is justified and on the table.  

On Thursday, we will find out if the US fell into a technical recession. The first look at Q2 GDP is expected to show a modest expansion of 0.9%, an improvement from the -1.6% reading from the prior quarter.  The Bloomberg GDP estimate range from 55 economists ranges between -0.6% and 1.2%.  

This is also a massive week for earnings. Tuesday will contain quarterly updates from GM, GE, UPS and 3M.  Apple and Amazon both report after the close on Thursday. A lot of traders still believe any stock market rebounds are bear market rallies as the Fed will remain committed to fighting inflation for the rest of the year. If corporate America starts showing more troubles with the jobs market, that could make some investors reassess how aggressive the Fed will be going forward.    


In a strange way, the inflation data next week has lost a little something following the ECB’s decision to hike by 50 basis points on Thursday. That decision was taken on the assumption that price pressures are building faster than anticipated and more widespread. It would probably take a shocking number to drastically change expectations. And coming six weeks ahead of the next meeting, a lot can change. That said, in a week of big data points – unemployment, GDP, Ifo – it remains the standout.

Russian gas started flowing along Nord Stream 1 as planned on Thursday, albeit only at 40% as it was before the maintenance began. While a relief, it’s clear that Europe’s energy situation is going to remain extremely challenging in the months ahead given the tendency for flows to be reduced for various reasons.


A quiet week ahead of the Bank of England meeting the week after, at which the MPC is expected to accelerate its tightening with a 50 basis point hike. 


The CBR cut rates again on Friday and much more than expected, bringing the key rate down from 9.5% – where it was before the invasion – to 8%. The rouble remains more than 20% stronger against the dollar despite the rate cuts and more are likely to follow. CBR Governor Nabiullina expects the economy to contract less sharply this year than previously thought but for the downturn to be more prolonged. Unemployment and industrial output figures will be released next week. 

South Africa

The SARB accelerated its tightening with a 75 basis point hike, bringing the repo rate to 5.5% as it prepares for a prolonged period of above-target inflation. PPI is the only economic release of note next week.


The CBRT opted to continue to bury its head in the sand at its July meeting, leaving the repo rate unchanged at 14% while blaming everything else for eye-watering inflation, which now stands at 78.62%.

The quarterly inflation report will make for interesting reading on Thursday. Enough to change their direction? Almost certainly not although there must come a point when the experiment will need to end.


The SNB is expected to raise interest rates a further 50 basis points when it next meets, with some suggesting it may be higher after inflation hit a 29-year high earlier this month. The central bank does love a surprise though so we can’t discount the possibility of an inter-meeting announcement. 

Retail sales on Friday is the only release of note next week. 


It is a quiet week for data in China, with just industrial profits on Wednesday, as world markets remain laser-focused on the US FOMC decision later that day.

China sentiment will be driven by political developments at home, notably the ongoing mortgage payment strike by apartment buyers, this is putting more financial pressure on developers. More stress in this sector will weigh heavily on the Shanghai Composite (lots of banks) and the Hang Seng (lots of developers).

Covid-19 cases are rising in China once again and the ever-present risk is that centres like Shanghai or Beijing could face partial shutdowns again. Potentially a major negative for local and regional equity markets.


No significant data in the week ahead. Foreign investors have continued to sell out of Sensex holdings heavily, weighing on the rupee. USD/INR remains near record highs as the current account deteriorates due to high energy prices and domestic export restrictions. The RBI appears to be intervening to cap USD/IDR near 80.00, but a 1.0% FOMC hike this week may see the RBI fold. The RBI may well be considering another unscheduled rate hike, which could be negative for equities.


The Australian dollar remains at the mercy of international investor sentiment flows which have been positive for the past week. It could drop suddenly if investor sentiment swings south.

Australia releases inflation data on Wednesday which should generate short-term volatility. A high print could have markets scrambling to price in more aggressive RBA tightening, which may be positive for AUD and negative for local equities.

New Zealand

New Zealand releases business and consumer sentiment this week. There is substantial downside risk as cost-of-living and weakening property prices bite. A potential negative for local equities.

The New Zealand dollar remains at the mercy of international investor sentiment flows.


Japan has a heavy data week ahead but Friday’s consumer confidence, industrial production and retail sales are the most important. All three could show a gentle recovery which may be positive for local equities, although the Nikkei 225 is mostly correlated to the Nasdaq at the moment.

USD/JPY has fallen below 138.00 on lower US yields. If US yields fall again into the early part of next week, USD/JPY is in danger of a large downward correction to wash out USD/JPY longs. Conversely, a hawkish FOMC decision next week could see the USD/JPY uptrend resume as the rate differential widens.


Singapore releases industrial production on Monday, but Friday’s PPI and import/export prices is likely to be more important. With the MAS already tightening this month, and October’s policy meeting looming, high data prints could see markets’ position for another hike in October, a potential negative for local equities.

Economic Calendar

Sunday, July 24

Economic Events

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will begin his trip across Africa

Monday, July 25

Economic Data/Events:

Germany IFO business climate

Singapore CPI

Taiwan industrial production

A key debate between the UK’s final Conservative Party leadership candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

Tuesday, July 26

Economic Data/Events

US new home sales, Conf. Board consumer confidence

Fed begins 2-day policy meeting

Key earnings from Alphabet, GM, GE, UPS and 3M

Mexico international reserves

Singapore industrial production

Bank of Japan releases minutes from its June meeting

The IMF releases its world economic outlook update

EU energy ministers expected to have an emergency meeting

Wednesday, July 27

Economic Data/Events

FOMC decision: Fed expected to raise rates by 75 basis points

US wholesale inventories, durable goods

Australia CPI

China industrial profits

Mexico trade

Russia industrial production, unemployment

Thailand trade

EIA Crude Oil Inventory Report

Thursday, July 28

Economic Data/Events

US Q2 Advance GDP Q/Q: +0.9%e v -1.6% prior; initial jobless claims

Mexico unemployment

Australia retail sales

Eurozone economic confidence, consumer confidence

Germany CPI

Hungary one-week deposit rate

After the close, Apple and Amazon report earnings

Friday, July 29

Economic Data/Events

US consumer income, University of Michigan consumer sentiment

Eurozone CPI and GDP

France CPI and GDP

Poland CPI

Czech Republic GDP

Germany GDP

Italy GDP

Mexico GDP

Japan industrial production

German unemployment

Japan unemployment, Tokyo CPI, retail sales

Sovereign Rating Updates

Norway (Fitch)

Finland (Moody’s)

Austria (DBRS)

Read More

Continue Reading


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

Read More

Continue Reading


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.

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).

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

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…



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.




For more information please contact:

Matt Innes-Leroux

Media Relations

McMaster University

647-921-5461 (c)


Photos of Philip Britz-McKibbin can be found here

Credit: McMaster University

Read More

Continue Reading