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Without Yield Support, the Dollar Wilts

Overview: Falling US yields weigh on the US dollar.  The 10-year Treasury yield is flirting with the 1.50% mark, and the greenback is trading heavily against all the major and most emerging market currencies. European and the Asia Pacific benchmark…

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Overview: Falling US yields weigh on the US dollar.  The 10-year Treasury yield is flirting with the 1.50% mark, and the greenback is trading heavily against all the major and most emerging market currencies. European and the Asia Pacific benchmark yields are lower as well.  The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is edging higher for the fourth consecutive session.  The lower yields are not doing equities much good today.  Outside of China, the large equity markets in the region fell, and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index is posting back-to-back losses.  The three-day rally in Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is at risk as most sectors, but health care and real estate, are losing ground.  Financials are the largest drag.  US future indices are a little changed to slightly firmer.  Oil and other industrial commodities are firmer, and the CRB Index closed yesterday at new six-year highs.  Gold is unable to benefit from the weaker dollar and lower interest rates.  The upside momentum that had carried it briefly above $1900 fizzled.  

Asia Pacific

China reported a smaller than expected rise in last month's consumer prices but a larger rise in producer prices.  Falling food prices helped temper the rise in consumer prices to 1.3% rather than 1.6% that the median in Bloomberg's survey projected.  The decline in pork prices helped keep food prices in check, while non-food prices rose by 0.9%.  Producer price inflation accelerated to 9.0% from 6.8%.  The median forecast was 8.5%.  Oil, metals, and chemicals were the drivers.  Beijing is trying to finesse lower producer prices by cracking down on unauthorized activity, but it does not appear sufficient.  Reports suggest it is considering some sort of cap on thermal coal prices before peak summer demand.  One proposal would cap the price to the miners, while another proposal was to limit the price at the port.  Still, the discussion shows that Chinese officials are still reluctant to allow supply/demand to adjust prices.  If thermal coal prices or other commodities are not allowed to move freely, is Beijing really prepared to allow the yuan to be convertible as some are suggesting could take place with the introduction of a digital yuan?  

The Reserve Bank of Australia did not adjust policy last week, but comments today suggest it may join the queue of central banks adjusting their stance as the inoculations are gradually allowing some return to normalcy.  Former RBA member Edwards said that the RBA would likely scale back its QE next month, which others, including ourselves, had suggested was possible.   The RBA's Assistant Governor Kent admitted he has been surprised by the strength of the rebound and is optimistic about growth fueling wage increases and inflation.  Currently, the RBA targets the April 2024 bond at 10 bp.  It is to decide next month whether to switch it to the November 2024 maturity.  Targeting the 3-year yield at the cash rate is a way to underscore the lack of intent to raise rates in the interim. 

The dollar is trapped in almost a 20-pip range against the yen today in the upper end of this week's range.  It has not been above JPY109.65 so far this week nor below about JPY109.20.  There are about $1.2 bln in options in the JPY109.00-JPY109.10 area that roll-off today.  The benchmark three-month implied volatility reached almost 5.53% yesterday, its lowest level since February 2020. The Australian dollar is steady, trading inside yesterday's range, which was inside Monday's range (~$0.7725-$0.7765).  Like the dollar-yen, the Aussie is also in a 20-tick range so far today.  The Chinese yuan rose today, recouping the losses seen in the past two sessions.  The dollar reached CNY6.4120 at the end of last week but has consistently recorded lower highs and lower lows this week.  The PBOC's reference rate for the dollar was set at CNY6.3956, spot on expectations.  It is beginning to look as if official intent is more about breaking the one-way market that had appeared to develop and stabilize the yuan rather than reverse it.  Whether defending a set line, which some have suggested at CNY6.35 or not, still has to be seen.

Europe

The ink G7 finance minister agreement on the minimum corporate tax is hardly even dry, and the first exception is being sought.  The UK (and apparently the EU) want to exclude financial services from the new global tax regime.  Separately, the US and the EU will have a rapprochement that will resolve the two outstanding disputes:  The goal is to resolve the Boeing/Airbus subsidy issue by July 11 and end the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on national security grounds by the end of the year.  The US has protested but will not escalate the sanctions for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and the tax reform would see European countries drop their digital tax initiatives.  

Meanwhile, Europe is gradually taking a harder line against China.  The EU Parliament is not proceeding with the ratification of the EU-China trade agreement struck at the end of last year.  Italy, which was the only G7 country to sign on to the Belt Road Initiative, has blocked Chinese acquisitions under Prime Minister Draghi. Europe has endorsed the US call for new efforts to find the origins of Covid-19, even though the origins are unnecessary to combat virus and protocols to tighten security as labs during such work are necessary regardless of the precise origin.

Germany reported a 15.5 bln euro trade surplus in April, down from 20.2 bln in March.  Exports growth slowed to 0.3% after a 1.3% gain previously.  Imports fell by 1.7%, more than expected after the March series was revised to show a 7.1% gain (initially 6.5%).  The smaller trade surplus translates into a smaller current account surplus (21.3 bln euros vs. 30.0 bln in March).   Unlike what we saw yesterday with the Japanese trade and current account figures,  the German current account is driven by the trade balance.  In Japan, the current account surplus is driven by foreign earnings, interest, royalties, and licensing fees, not trade in goods and services.  

The euro is firm, but it too is trading inside yesterday's range, which is inside Monday's range (~$1.2145-$1.2200).  There is an option for about 1.14 bln euros at $1.22 that expires today.  The market is also circumspect ahead of tomorrow's ECB meeting, for which a consensus has emerged that it will not return its bond-buying to that which prevailed before March.  We caution that knowing the ECB's bond-buying plans does not help trade the euro or European rates, both of which have risen since the ECB accelerated its buying.  Sterling, too is range-bound with last Friday's range (~$1.4085-$1.4200).  The general consolidative tone looks set to continue.  

America

The Bank of Canada meeting is the highlight of the North American session today.  At its last meeting in April, it announced it would slow its bond purchases and brought forward the closing of the output gap into H2 22.  Since then, Canada has reported back-to-back job losses.   The Canadian dollar has appreciated by almost 3.4% since that April meeting.  It is the strongest of the major currencies.  A decision on whether to proceed with tapering is expected at next month's meeting, not today. Yesterday, Canada reported an unexpected trade surplus for April.  Exports and imports fell, with motor vehicle trade disrupted by the line shutdowns due to the shortage of semiconductors.  Canada's energy trade balance was in surplus by about C$6.8 bln, while the non-energy balance was in deficit by about C$6.2 bln.  Canada had a C$6.4 bln surplus with the US and a C$2.2 bln deficit with China.  

The US reports wholesale inventory data today ahead of tomorrow's May CPI.  The focus, however, is shifting to next week's FOMC meeting.  Yesterday, the US sold $58 bln 3-year notes.  Although the high yield slipped fractionally, the bid cover ticked up, as did indirect bids.  Today, the Treasury sells $38 bln 10-year notes and tomorrow $24 bln 30-year bonds.  Tomorrow's four and eight-week bill auctions may draw more attention than usual as the earlier bill auctions showed a little uptick as the market anticipates that the Fed may have to tweak the interest it pays on reserves or the zero rate on the reverse repos (demand reached a new record of almost $500 bln yesterday). Separately, the US Senate passed (68-22) the bill to boost US competitiveness, which has some elements that were in the infrastructure bill.  The bill now gets taken up by the House.  

Mexico reports May CPI figures today.  The year-over-year pace is expected to pull back from the 6.08% pace seen in April but not sufficiently to change anything.  Moreover, the core rate is expected to quicken a little.  Through April, Mexico's core rate has risen by almost 5% at an annualized rate.  The market appears to lean toward a rate hike by the end of the year and as much as four hikes by the middle of 2022.   Brazil reports its IPCA inflation today as well.  The year-over-year pace is expected to have accelerated to nearly 8% from about 6.75% in April.  The central bank has already indicated it will raise rates next week by 75 bp, the third such move of the year.  It would lift the Selic rate above Mexico's cash target rate after having begun the year at half of it.

A little position squaring yesterday lifted the US dollar to almost CAD1.2120, but it has come back offered today and traded CAD1.2085 in the European morning.  This week's low so far is about CAD1.2055.  Key technical support is seen at CAD1.20, while CAD1.2145 marks the upper end of the recent range.  The Mexican peso is rising for the fourth consecutive session, the longest rally in two months.  The greenback finished last week near MXN19.96 and is testing MXN19.62 now, its lowest level in five months.  The next area of chart support is seen near MXN19.50.  The US dollar is also on its 2021 lows against the Brazilian real.  It has not been below BRL5.0 since last June. 


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Spread & Containment

Middle-aged Americans in US are stressed and struggle with physical and mental health – other nations do better

Adults in Germany, South Korea and Mexico reported improvements in health, well-being and memory.

Middle age was often a time to enjoy life. Now, it brings stress and bad health to many Americans, especially those with lower education levels. Mike Harrington/Getty Images

Midlife was once considered a time to enjoy the fruits of one’s years of work and parenting. That is no longer true in the U.S.

Deaths of despair and chronic pain among middle-aged adults have been increasing for the past decade. Today’s middle-aged adults – ages 40 to 65 – report more daily stress and poorer physical health and psychological well-being, compared to middle-aged adults during the 1990s. These trends are most pronounced for people who attained fewer years of education.

Although these trends preclude the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19’s imprint promises to further exacerbate the suffering. Historical declines in the health and well-being of U.S. middle-aged adults raises two important questions: To what extent is this confined to the U.S., and will COVID-19 impact future trends?

My colleagues and I recently published a cross-national study, which is currently in press, that provides insights into how U.S. middle-aged adults are currently faring in relation to their counterparts in other nations, and what future generations can expect in the post-COVID-19 world. Our study examined cohort differences in the health, well-being and memory of U.S. middle-aged adults and whether they differed from middle-aged adults in Australia, Germany, South Korea and Mexico.

A middle-aged woman looking sad sitting in front of artwork.
Susan Stevens poses for a photograph in her daughter Toria’s room with artwork Toria left behind at their home in Lewisville, N.C. Toria died from an overdose. Eamon Queeney/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

US is an outlier among rich nations

We compared people who were born in the 1930s through the 1960s in terms of their health and well-being – such as depressive symptoms and life satisfaction – and memory in midlife.

Differences between nations were stark. For the U.S., we found a general pattern of decline. Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s experienced overall declines in well-being and memory in middle age compared to those born in the 1930s and 1940s. A similar pattern was found for Australian middle-aged adults.

In contrast, each successive cohort in Germany, South Korea and Mexico reported improvements in well-being and memory. Improvements were observed in health for each nation across cohorts, but were slowed for Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s, suggesting they improved less rapidly than their counterparts in the countries examined.

Our study finds that middle-aged Americans are experiencing overall declines in key outcomes, whereas other nations are showing general improvements. Our cross-national approach points to policies that could could help alleviate the long-term effects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will COVID-19 exacerbate troubling trends?

Initial research on the short-term effects of COVID-19 is telling.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the fragility of life. Seismic shifts have been experienced in every sphere of existence. In the U.S., job loss and instability rose, household financial fragility and lack of emergency savings have been spotlighted, and children fell behind in school.

At the start of the pandemic the focus was rightly on the safety of older adults. Older adults were most vulnerable to the risks posed by COVID-19, which included mortality, social isolation and loneliness. Indeed, older adults were at higher risk, but an overlooked component has been how the mental health risks and long-haul effects will likely differ across age groups.

Yet, young adults and middle-aged adults are showing the most vulnerabilities in their well-being. Studies are documenting that they are currently reporting more psychological distress and stressors and poorer well-being, compared to older adults. COVID-19 has been exacerbating inequalities across race, gender and socioeconomic status. Women are more likely to leave the workforce, which could further strain their well-being.

A older women hugs her daughter.
Middle-aged people often have parents to take care of as well as children. Ron Levine/Getty Images

Changing views and experiences of midlife

The very nature and expectations surrounding midlife are shifting. U.S. middle-aged adults are confronting more parenting pressures than ever before, in the form of engagement in extracurricular activities and pressures for their children to succeed in school. Record numbers of young adults are moving back home with their middle-aged parents due to student loan debt and a historically challenging labor and housing market.

A direct effect of gains in life expectancy is that middle-aged adults are needing to take on more caregiving-related duties for their aging parents and other relatives, while continuing with full-time work and taking care of school-aged children. This is complicated by the fact that there is no federally mandated program for paid family leave that could cover instances of caregiving, or the birth or adoption of a child. A recent AARP report estimated that in 2020, there were 53 million caregivers whose unpaid labor was valued at US$470 billion.

The restructuring of corporate America has led to less investment in employee development and destabilization of unions. Employees now have less power and input than ever before. Although health care coverage has risen since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, notable gaps exist. High numbers of people are underinsured, which leads to more out-of-pocket expenses that eat up monthly budgets and financially strain households. President Biden’s executive order for providing a special enrollment period of the health care marketplace exchange until Aug. 15, 2021 promises to bring some relief to those in need.

Promoting a prosperous midlife

Our cross-national approach provides ample opportunities to explore ways to reverse the U.S. disadvantage and promote resilience for middle-aged adults.

The nations we studied vastly differ in their family and work policies. Paid parental leave and subsidized child care help relieve the stress and financial strain of parenting in countries such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Research documents how well-being is higher in both parents and nonparents in nations with more generous family leave policies.

Countries with ample paid sick and vacation days ensure that employees can take time off to care for an ailing family member. Stronger safety nets protect laid-off employees by ensuring that they have the resources available to stay on their feet.

In the U.S., health insurance is typically tied to one’s employment. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic over 5 million people in the U.S. lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs.

During the pandemic, the U.S. government passed policy measures to aid people and businesses. The U.S. approved measures to stimulate the economy through stimulus checks, payroll protection for small businesses, expansion of unemployment benefits and health care enrollment, child tax credits, and individuals’ ability to claim forbearance for various forms of debt and housing payments. Some of these measures have been beneficial, with recent findings showing that material hardship declined and well-being improved during periods when the stimulus checks were distributed.

I believe these programs are a good start, but they need to be expanded if there is any hope of reversing these troubling trends and promoting resilience in middle-aged Americans. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that paid family leave has a wide range of benefits, including, but not limited to, addressing health, racial and gender inequities; helping women stay in the workforce; and assisting businesses in recruiting skilled workers. Research from Germany and the United Kingdom shows how expansions in family leave policies have lasting effects on well-being, particularly for women.

Middle-aged adults form the backbone of society. They constitute large segments of the workforce while having to simultaneously bridge younger and older generations through caregiving-related duties. Ensuring their success, productivity, health and well-being through these various programs promises to have cascading effects on their families and society as a whole.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]

Frank J. Infurna receives funding from the National Institute on Aging and previously from the John Templeton Foundation. The content is solely his responsibility and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

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Commodities

Euro 2020 – a football tournament where the big players come from China and the US

Much of the money that pays for the competition is spent to build global brands.

Simon Lehmann / Alamy Stock Photo

With Euro 2020 now under way after a year of pandemic delay, football fans will be hoping for great performances from Europe’s finest players. Some of us will watch the tournament unfold on our Hisense televisions, and many will choose to order in some half time refreshments, maybe via the Just Eat delivery service, possibly sent using a Vivo mobile phone.

Sustained by cans of Heineken, as goals are scored, supporters will upload celebration clips on to TikTok. And after the final, what better way to recharge than by arranging a holiday on Booking.com, perhaps flying on Qatar Airways.

For while fans will have their eyes firmly fixed on the efforts of players worth billions of pounds on the field, another big money game will be taking place off it. The Euros is one of the world’s biggest sport events, and a bonanza for corporate sponsors and partners (just a few of which are mentioned above).

In return for being exposed to the eyes of the world, Euros sponsors pay huge amounts of money. Just how much is difficult to say, as fees are commercially sensitive data. But in one case – that of Alipay (part of the Alibaba empire) – it is believed the Chinese company paid £176 million for an eight year deal.

UEFA has sold these deals in three ways: National Team Football Official Sponsors, Euro 2020 Official Sponsors, and Euro 2020 Official Licensees. And the origins of the companies and brands sponsoring this year’s event are a clear indication of how the beautiful game is valued by the corporate world.

Alongside UEFA partners such as FedEx and Konami, each of the national teams bring their own roster of sponsors, which makes for quite a cluttered selection of brands competing for attention. There’s England’s £50 million, five-year contract with BT, for example, while the Germans will bring Lufthansa to the tournament, Carlsberg will promote its association with Denmark and South Korea’s Hyundai will be represented by the Czech Republic.

The list goes on (and on). To capture the complex network of sponsors at Euro 2020 we created a network graphic of some of the most prominent and significant deals on show over the coming weeks. For reasons of clarity, we wern’t able to include every sponsor, but the range on display is revealing.

Graphic of Euro 2020 teams and sponsors.
Euro 2020 teams and associated sponsors. Paul Widdop and Simon Chadwick, Author provided

What becomes immediately clear is that although the UEFA European Championship is a continental tournament, its commercial reach is truly global. A significant number of sponsors are either not European or else have divisions that operate way beyond the borders of Europe.

At the same time, the sponsorship portfolio shows us that football is at the heart of the entertainment, lifestyle and digital economies. Gone are the days of motor-oil and office photocopier sponsorships. Instead we see a profusion of drinks brands, confectionery products and airlines.

In addition, the sponsorship of teams appears to go hand-in-hand with the promotion of national identity and national industry. “Brand Germany” for instance, is strongly represented by some of the country’s most important corporations, including Adidas and Volkswagen.

The appearance of Gazprom meanwhile, reflects the increasing use by nations of sponsorship as a geopolitical instrument. Indeed, the state owned Russian gas company has recently put its associations with UEFA and others to influential use.

Europe’s own goal

Equally, “Brand China” is now a major industrial and political power, and home to five of UEFA’s biggest tournament sponsors (Alipay, Antchain, Hisense, TikTok and Vivo).

Corporate America continues to endure too, represented by the likes of Coca Cola and IMG. The US has always been the home of contemporary sport sponsorship, and the country’s businesses continue to derive significant commercial value from it.

In fact, the underdogs in this big-money corporate competition appear to be the Europeans themselves. For an event being staged in countries including England, Italy, Spain and Romania, UEFA draws very few of its sponsors from the continent. Instead, it is clear that organisations from China and the US have both the financial muscle and the tactical brains to successfully dominate the tournament.

This reflects broader global trends which indicate the declining presence of European industry. European companies account for a falling percentage of global output. The market capitalisation of European firms is way behind that of American corporations and is fast being caught by Chinese firms. And the world’s technological hot spots are found in places such as Shenzhen and Silicon Valley, not in Europe.

Whether the footballing squad from France, Portugal or Switzerland lifts the trophy in July, there is no doubt that the UEFA tournament will be an on field triumph for Europe.

But the forces of globalisation, digitalisation and politico-economic change, reflected in the Euros’ portfolio of sponsors, will keep on playing long after the final whistle blows. And European industry could pay the penalty with a swift exit from the global industrial competition.

Simon Chadwick works with UEFA on its Certificate in Football Management programme.

Paul Widdop ne travaille pas, ne conseille pas, ne possède pas de parts, ne reçoit pas de fonds d'une organisation qui pourrait tirer profit de cet article, et n'a déclaré aucune autre affiliation que son organisme de recherche.

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Science

EU adds another rare blood condition as side effect of AstraZeneca shot

Europe’s drug regulator on June 11 identified another rare blood condition as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and said it was looking into cases of heart inflammation after inoculation with all coronavirus shots.

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EU adds another rare blood condition as side effect of AstraZeneca shot

(Reuters; )

Europe’s drug regulator on Friday identified another rare blood condition as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine and said it was looking into cases of heart inflammation after inoculation with all coronavirus shots.

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee said that capillary leak syndrome must be added as a new side effect to labelling on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, known as Vaxzevria.

People who had previously sustained the condition, where fluids leak from the smallest blood vessels causing swelling and a drop in blood pressure, should not receive the shot, the EMA added.

The regulator first began looking into these cases in April and the recommendation adds to AstraZeneca’s woes after its vaccine was associated with very rare and potentially lethal cases of blood clotting that come with a low platelet count.

Last month, the EMA had advised against using the second AstraZeneca shot for people with that clotting condition, known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

The committee reviewed six validated cases of capillary leak syndrome in people, mostly women, who had received Vaxzevria, including one death. Three had had a history of the condition.

A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is seen at a vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

AstraZeneca declined to immediately comment.

More than 78 million Vaxzevria doses have been administered in the European Union, Liechtenstein, Iceland & Norway and Britain.

Britain’s regulator, the MHRA said on Thursday it had received 8 reports of capillary leak syndrome in the context of more than 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine given, and currently does not see a causal link.

Separately, the EMA said it was continuing its probe into cases of heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pericarditis, primarily following inoculation with the Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N), (22UAy.DE) and Moderna mRNA shots, but also after the J&J (JNJ.N) and AstraZeneca vaccines.

U.S. health officials said on Thursday they had registered a higher-than-expected number of heart inflammation cases in young men who received a second dose of the mRNA shots, though a causal relationship could not be established. read more

Israel’s Health Ministry said this month it had found a likely link to the condition in young men who received the Pfizer/BioNTech shot. read more

Both Pfizer and Moderna have acknowldged the observations but said a causal association with their vaccines has not been established.

BioNTech said adverse events, including myocarditis and pericarditis, are being regularly and thoroughly reviewed by the companies and regulatory authorities.

“More than 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally and the benefit risk profile of our vaccine remains positive.”

The United States and Israel have been months ahead of the EU in vaccinating men below 30, who are particularly prone to heart inflammation, giving them potentially more cases to analyse.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/eu-advises-against-astrazeneca-shot-people-with-rare-blood-condition-2021-06-11

 

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